Mind Meld! A Plethora of Pantheons
The fine folks over at SfSignal
asked a number of SFF-fans (or "Slans" as we call ourselves) (including professional writers--just because you write the stuff does not mean you stop reading it) the following question:
Q: In a created fantasy world, gods can proliferate by the hundreds. When building religious systems for fantasies, what are the advantages/disadvantages of inventing pantheons vs. single gods, or having no religious component at all?
Naturally, being an opinionated man, I had an opinion! Indeed, I used to write an editorial once a week for my newspaper, and fill up twelve to sixteen inches on the opinion page, and get paid for it, so one might say I am a professional opinionater. http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2009/04/mind-meld-gods-by-the-bushel/
When I was fired in disgrace or quit in disgust from the weekly paper here in Fairfax (it was a simultaneous desire for severance on the part both of yours truly and the editor in chief, like two fencers who pierce each other simultaneously--as to whether I quit faster than they fired me, one would need to consult the photo finish photographer) I was out on the street begging alms that day, me and my hand-drawn sign: WILL OPINIONATE FOR FOOD.
Charitable passers-by, looking with mingled pity and contempt on my disheveled rags, the fragment of a presscard still lodged pathetically in my hatband, a five o'clock shadow on my face at four o'clock, and my wheezy breath redolent with the smell of bookdust, trembling fingers stained with ink, and red-rimmed eyes bleary from squinting at fine print, would toss a dime rattling into my tin cup, and ask me to editorialize on a topic where they had no opinion and needed one, such as bimetallism or the Caledonian war, panspermia or the Markian Hypothesis.
Naturally, they all had opinions of their own on topics of the day, sports, politics and religion, but when they did not have an opinion on Diffussionism or Cubism, or on the possibility that Magellan saw Nephilim in Patagonia, and needed a firm opinion and need it fast, I was the go-to guy.
How I long for the easy days of retirement, when I can rest from the labor of opionating, and fill my mind with a vague and warm blankness of thought, and merely agree affably that everyone has a good point, and that we should all simply get along! Oh, those days will be halcyon, and verily the pundits will bend their pens into ploughshares!
But that time is not yet. So I have an opinion the advantages and disadvantages of monotheism versus polytheism in speculative fiction.