Inspiration from Ancient Rome and the Hyperion Cantos

One thing about speculative fiction, particularly fantasy and science fiction that takes places in the far future, is that you have to consider the culture.  It can’t be a copy of today’s culture.  In fantasy, you have to create it from scratch.  In science fiction, you have to evolve it from what it is today.

While reading The Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons, I was interested in how he handled the evolution of religions.  Also, while doing the Archaeology of Portus course at FutureLearn, I found it interesting how the religion changed in a very short time from the native Roman Pagan religion to Christianity.  I ended up looking up some information about Catholic Popes, mainly because of The Rise of Endymion, and saw how the names were often reused.  The current Pope, Francis, has an original name.  No other before him had this name, and he’s the first non-European Pope since the year 741.

Why am I talking about this?  Well, in fantasy, religions are often developed for the cultures and magic systems, all of them integrated with each other.  In science fiction, religions are often involved in some way in the story or somewhere in the background, but they show how things have changed.  With current trends, atheism is growing, and some science fiction would regard religions as mythological beliefs and obsolete.  Others will have the religions evolve.

What I’ll be doing with Ariadne is not only showing the evolution of religions, but also the creation of a couple.  Cults form, grow, and are recognised as religions.  They spread across the land, and there are often conflicts, persecution, and crusades.  Over the years, decades, and centuries, religions can become such a strong part of a culture, it actually shapes the culture.

Inspiration can come from interesting places.  This just shows that reading is a great source of inspiration.  Also, it seems that all these online courses are giving me a lot of things to think about, and giving me plenty of ideas.

Has your writing been inspired by something similar?