Monday, October 18, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Indifferent

I picked up F. Paul Wilson's penultimate Repairman Jack Novel, Fatal Error, Wednesday night. One more book to go after this before Jack's saga dovetails with Wilson's novel Nightworld and that's all folks. Thinking about that set me to considering the powers behind the cosmic war in Wilson's books, The Otherness and the Ally. What little we humans know of these two powers is that they are playing some cosmic game that we can't hope to understand and that Earth is a playing piece in that game. The Otherness is basically trying to convert our world to a Hell on Earth and the Ally is trying to prevent them. Wilson stresses in the books that this isn't a matter of good and evil. The Otherness is inimical to us and the Ally is less so, but neither of them really care a jot about our world other than claiming it for their own as part of the game. In the big picture, we don't matter.
In this sense, the Otherness and the Ally are somewhat like H.P. Lovecraft's Great Old Ones. Cthulhu and his ilk may be interested in reclaiming our world, which once was theirs, but mankind might as well be an infestation of bacteria. In Lovecraft's stories, humanity is an accident and our place in the universe is random, orderless, and ultimately futile. Later on, writer August Derleth tried to take Lovecraft's mythos and divide the various cosmic entities into camps of good and evil, but that was never Lovecraft's intention.
Another set of powers who seek to use humans (and other races) as gaming pieces to some degree are the forces of Law and Chaos in Michael Moorcock's work. Moorcock too is quick to stress that Chaos isn't evil and Law good. Ultimate, inflexible Law would be every bit as horrific as uncontrolled Chaos, and so the only hope for the peoples of the various universes which make up Moorcock's Multiverse is to strike a cosmic balance. Moorcock's chaotic and lawful deities resemble the Otherness and the Old ones in that they can't usually take an active roll on Earth in the conflict, but have to work through human agents.
Comic book writer Don Glut has his own set of elder gods, The Dark Gods and the Warrior Gods who appear in Doctor Spektor, Dagar, and Glut's other comics, but they are perhaps closer to being representations of good and evil than the others I've discussed here. There are other analogs to the Elder gods in various comics and fantasy novels, but that would take up a post all to itself. Suffice to say, there are many strange forces at work in the worlds of fiction. Some good, some bad, and some who simply don't care.

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