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Paradise Lost Sci-Fi

Cognisant

Condescending Bastard
Joined
Dec 12, 2009
Messages
7,659
#1

I'd like to do a sci-fi retelling/sequel of this but I need to bounce some ideas around, hence this thread.

The Tyranny of Divine Right
This is the absolute basis of the story, there's some entity that has incontestable power and thus gets to claim to be morally right even when he's not. This doesn't have to be infinite cosmic power, it could be a position of leadership like being the captain of a starship who has been captain for many millennia and the ship's population comprises billions of people, it's a big ship. But the power has to be abused somehow, in the biblical story god being The God is omniscient/omnipotent and thus everything that happens only can happen because he allows it to happen, making him an asshole not because of what he does (though there is that) but because of what he doesn't do. Going by the theme of indifference perhaps this captain has gone mad with power and decided that (allegedly for their own good) nobody is allowed to leave his ship and aboard this ship society has become stratified and stagnant. Society aboard the ship is a zero sum game, resources are strictly limited so the only way one person can be rich is for others to be poor, even the right to reproduce is strictly controlled, indeed of all rights that is one of the most coveted.

The Three Sons
The captain's second eldest son is our Lucifer analogue, I like the notion that he's a sadist born of ennui who becomes jealous of the firstborn son for some reason and predictably fails when he rebels against his father, note his father was never punishing him for being a sadist. The first son isn't analogous to Jesus or humanity, more like an amalgamation of Gabriel and the other archangels, a perfectly loyal sycophant, boring and pretentious, somehow more detestable than the sadist. The captain's eldest daughter is our Jesus analogue, she and the other daughters are sympathetic to the plight of the poor but it's a shitty oppressive patriarchal society so who cares what they think. The third son is the analogue for humanity who gets elevated to the position of second son when the Lucifer analogue is banished to live with the general population, the third son is like the captain's eighth child or something and has been living upper-lower-middle class up to this point.

Checklist for upcoming plot points:
- Humanity dude gets dragged down by Lucifer dude, maybe tricked, maybe just punished for hanging out with him after the captain specifically told him not to, point is Humanity dude is given every reason to hate Lucifer dude, not least of which being he's a sadistic asshole.
- Jesus chick takes the fall somehow, either as a ploy to get Humanity dude back into the captain's good grace as part of some grand scheme to overthrow him and/or was the mediator between Humanity dude and Lucifer dude, in any case bad things happen to Jesus chick.
- The first son is humiliated somehow, it's ironic... still thinking.
 

Cognisant

Condescending Bastard
Joined
Dec 12, 2009
Messages
7,659
#2

Lucifer mutinies, fails, gets demoted, Adam is promoted, the important part here is that Lucifer falls from grace and Adam is brought into the story. Rather than an outright mutiny attempt Lucifer may simply have mocked his father in public or challenged him in an argument, I’ve also changed my mind about Lucifer ending up in the ship’s general population, I think he just get confined to his quarters and has his privileges revoked.

Archangel dude has a purity complex and an incestuous interest in his sister.

Lucifer escapes from his quarters by enlisting the aid of his daughter and son/grandson and goes looking for Adam, with a disguise he asks for directions and is told Adam (or Eve, the gender of this character isn’t really that important) can be usually found hanging out in the hydroponics greenhouse. Lucifer gives Adam/Eve/whatever a fertility drug (all men on the ship are infertile unless they take this drug) and Adam/Eve commits the original sin of reproduction under the pretence that Lucifer gave him/her the drug and told him it’s ok to use it, that when the captain gave Lucifer the drug he said Lucifer can do whatever he wants with it.

Just assume I’m using the word “Adam” interchangeably with “Eve” as I don’t want to keep specifying that I’m undecided on this.

Adam has a child on the way, if people find out about this it’ll be a huge scandal so of course Lucifer goes and publically announces it, the captain gives Adam the choice of either aborting the child or either he or his wife will have to die. Just before the deadline Jesus chick kills herself to legitimize the child, Archangel dude is really unhappy about this and blames it on Lucifer who retorts that he’s only upset because he wanted to fuck her and that’s probably the reason she killed herself.

After three days of Archangel dude and Lucifer being after each other’s blood the captain decides he’s had enough of this shit and resurrects Jesus chick, someone calls him out on this saying that he can’t have it both ways, Adam’s child was legitimized by Jesus chick’s death so if she comes back someone else will need to- he stops talking as he realised what a terrible mistake he just made, the captain thanks him for volunteering and promptly kills him.
 

Cognisant

Condescending Bastard
Joined
Dec 12, 2009
Messages
7,659
#3
I would appreciate some feedback, I was hoping to bounce ideas off people not just talk to myself with an audience.

I really like this notion of Lucifer (I'm just using the name for lack of a better one) being a sadistic asshole because he's bored, he's totally self aware of it, he doesn't have to do it there's no trauma or character flaw compelling him to do it he just does it because he wants to and will likewise not be a sadistic asshole when it suits him. Most every other villainous character I can think of (even a so called true psychopath like Hannibal Lector) is the result of circumstances or some inherent flaw, they can blame determinism for their villainy, this Lucifer has nobody to blame but himself, he literally just woke up one day and thought "fuck it why not?"

Rather than jealousy perhaps he was motivated by nothing more than a whim and his devil-may-care attitude, he's been around for a few hundred (possibly thousand) years and during that time he's grown callous to the consequences of his actions even when those consequences affect him.
 

higs

My word is my bond.
Joined
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Messages
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#4
I absolutely love Paradise Lost. Satan has some kind of principle in the book in fact, he's not just some kind of bored sadistic asshole and writing him like that would be a departure from an essential element of the book, an element that in my opinion is what makes it so good. Though of course being sovereign of your book you can depart as much as you wish.

God is all powerful and what God wills is de facto good. Lucifer sees this as tyrannical and stands for freedom in his wounded pride. He decides to go against all the laws declared by God (and because God literally is the good, this means he will stand against everything good.) Do you see how he's a very complex character, and this makes him easy to relate to? It explains the origins of evil as proceeding from a will to freedom and power. From reading it, you actually really empathize with the devil, he's almost a tragic character, and that's extremely clever to me. It's not jealousy, it's pride and refusal to submit, and he accepts that he will suffer for his choice, which makes him kind of heroic and some sort of twisted martyr. It's both terrifying and moving.

Farewel happy Fields
Where Joy for ever dwells: Hail horrours, hail [ 250 ]
Infernal world, and thou profoundest Hell
Receive thy new Possessor: One who brings
A mind not to be chang'd by Place or Time.
The mind is its own place, and in it self
Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n. [ 255 ]
What matter where, if I be still the same,
And what I should be, all but less then he
Whom Thunder hath made greater? Here at least
We shall be free; th' Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence: [ 260 ]
Here we may reign secure, and in my choyce
To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav'n.
This is why a while later, William Blake who was obsessed with Milton would sometimes paint the devil in a positive light, representing freedom, creativity and power.

I've only skim read your first posts and am mainly answering your last one, as kind of busy, but I totes think this is a wicked idea and I will come back to this thread and brainstorm/give feedback with you in a bit. I just think that the main point of PL is the explanation for why Lucifer is how he is, what motivates him, and this is at the crux of why the book is so good. If you read it the bits focusing on the good characters in heaven they are actually kind of boring and kind of sickening with loads of flowery smells, golden light and singing wafting around.

As you may know already it also inspired Phillip Pullman to write his anti Christian dark materials trilogy where the conclusion is that God was in fact tyrannical and that Satan who stood for freedom should have won. Given your rather virulent anti christian stuff, I would have thought you would somewhat agree with the writer who was repeatedly boycotted by the catholic church for his kid's book XD and his interpretation of PL that Satan, actually, really ain't so bad ;).


Am I rambling about stuff you already know ? Apologies if the case.

I think that no matter how you write the lucifer character, the point of paradise lost is that ot's a commentary on the nature of evil, so I think that anything which is based on PL should, in its reinterpretation, also be a commentary on what evil is. From what I've gathered from your posts, you think that there is no good or evil, just absurdity, so I'm not sure how you would depict a "devil"/personification of evil. Perhaps he is absurdity itself? I'm interested in what you come up with.

Edit: Ehhh shoot I'm just reading the rest of your posts, probably I was just rambling about stuff u already had in mind. I won't comment more until read everything.
 

higs

My word is my bond.
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#5
Just bouncing off your first post but couldn't "God" be an AI who literally is the ship/ controls all aspects of it + population on board and the "under world" the bottom of the ship that is older, derelict, maybe holds garbage incinerators but is not so watched over, could also double as some kind of prison or a place where criminals go and hide to or maybe are banished to work as garbage men idk. Point is the surveillance is not very present there but the conditions are terrible. If you make it about dystopia capitalism then there's the obvious top of the ship is rich and heavenly etc.
 

Cognisant

Condescending Bastard
Joined
Dec 12, 2009
Messages
7,659
#6
I do not like the evil AI cliche.

In fact for the ending I'm playing with the idea that the captain has locked away the AI and the protagonists require seven votes (breaking the seven seals) from a council of twelve to release it.

The story I want to tell is more a stab at Christianity and Christian values than a faithful retelling of Paradise Lost. Lucifer is a sadistic asshole but he's also the one leading the charge against the captain who is in my story the true evil. Indeed his sadism isn't him trying to prove anything or externalize his own pain, he just likes to observe humanity at its most human, like the person reading the book he finds the drama compelling.
 

Inappropriate Behavior

is peeing on the carpet
Joined
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Messages
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Behind you, kicking you in the ass
#7
A thought if I may, and please know I have no objections to the notion of taking "a stab at Christianity".

A truly evil villian (the Captain) would be evil in intent, action and consequence. A pretty common portrayal of villians. Perhaps playing with intent to get a mix of benevolence/malevolence, actions percieved as benevolent leading to consequences that are shown to be malevolent in the end? If your protagonist is an eveil asshole, he needs to be elevated in some way to be the closest thing to a hero. By having him as the one to see through the percieved benevolence to the ultimate consequences is what would do the elevating.

I only say this because you seem to want to make the captain look like the true evil all along, a perception I of course could have all wrong. Doing that would be more of an insult to Christianity than a stab. A stab would be to show the ultimate malevolence of the consequences in a thoughtful way that doesn't turn off the reader before such a conclusion is reached. And by "turn off" I mean no longer seeing the depth of your main point and just seeing it as an ordinary story.
 

Cognisant

Condescending Bastard
Joined
Dec 12, 2009
Messages
7,659
#8
A truly evil villain (the Captain) would be evil in intent, action and consequence. A pretty common portrayal of villains. Perhaps playing with intent to get a mix of benevolence/malevolence, actions perceived as benevolent leading to consequences that are shown to be malevolent in the end? If your protagonist is an evil asshole, he needs to be elevated in some way to be the closest thing to a hero. By having him as the one to see through the perceived benevolence to the ultimate consequences is what would do the elevating.

I only say this because you seem to want to make the captain look like the true evil all along, a perception I of course could have all wrong. Doing that would be more of an insult to Christianity than a stab. A stab would be to show the ultimate malevolence of the consequences in a thoughtful way that doesn't turn off the reader before such a conclusion is reached. And by "turn off" I mean no longer seeing the depth of your main point and just seeing it as an ordinary story.
Yeah I’ve been telling the plot not the story, in my mind everything’s the captain’s fault for trying to maintain a homeostatic society by keeping it bottled up in a homeostatic environment, from his perspective his starship is the kingdom of god and he is the god. As he sees it humanity is inherently flawed, he knows the society aboard his ship has become stratified and stagnant but he sees it as peace and stability, the ship is his eternal paradise and he thinks everything would be perfect if everyone else saw it that way.

I keep saying Lucifer is a sadistic asshole to stress that he’s not a good person, he opposes the captain first for his own amusement and later because Adam/Jesus convince him that anything is better than the status quo. Most of the time he’s not acting like a sadistic asshole, as I keep saying it’s a choice he makes not an inherent part of him, when he wants to be he can be quite charming and his proactive attitude makes people want to be in on whatever it is he’s up to. He’s kind of like Heath Ledger’s Joker, he just does things, but whereas the Joker has an pessimistic absurdist philosophy he bitterly wants to prove which manifests in his mercurial and violent personality Lucifer just does things because “wouldn’t it be interesting if”, which also makes him an excellent writer’s convenience.

Lucifer is not the protagonist, more like a complementary antagonist, the Captain’s homeostatic society is the problem and Lucifer embodies that society’s greatest flaw, Lucifer opposes the Captain merely because he has the free will to do so. The empathetic Jesus and the sadistic Lucifer influence Adam into the realization that for better or worse things need to change, that kindness can be cruelty and that sometimes you need to be cruel to be kind. As the protagonist Adam enters the story oppressed by the status quo, with Lucifer’s fall he is promoted and has little empathy for those still in his situation, thinking society’s issues are too big/difficult for him to solve but at least things are looking better for him. It’s the scandal the Lucifer puts him through and Jesus saves him from that makes him see things differently, that the problems of his society are his problem, he must empathize with the people beneath him and with them bring about an apocalyptic reckoning.
 

Cognisant

Condescending Bastard
Joined
Dec 12, 2009
Messages
7,659
#9
God is all powerful and what God wills is de facto good. Lucifer sees this as tyrannical and stands for freedom in his wounded pride. He decides to go against all the laws declared by God (and because God literally is the good, this means he will stand against everything good.) Do you see how he's a very complex character, and this makes him easy to relate to? It explains the origins of evil as proceeding from a will to freedom and power. From reading it, you actually really empathize with the devil, he's almost a tragic character, and that's extremely clever to me. It's not jealousy, it's pride and refusal to submit, and he accepts that he will suffer for his choice, which makes him kind of heroic and some sort of twisted martyr. It's both terrifying and moving.
The thing is I don't see freedom or power or a desire for such things being inherently evil, or you could say the flaw that brought about his fall was hubris but then he just seems like a fool, or you could say he was noble for opposing god but when god is the embodiment of all that is good (and that's not just hyperbole) then I just can't understand it.

The whole angel falling from heaven for opposing god, awesome theme, great visual, but when I try to make sense of it I just can't.

My version has very clear motivations, he's bored, and that clearly brings him into conflict with the guy trying to maintain homeostasis and it makes Lucifer interesting but without making him heroic. To Adam Lucifer is an older brother, a totally unpredictable ass-hat of a brother but his older brother all the same and what Adam see's in him is his own future, a festering state of nihilism. On the other hand Jesus represents a genuinely good person and is on every occasion punished for it, choosing to kill herself for a good cause to free herself from that torment only to be resurrected with an identity crisis.
 

higs

My word is my bond.
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#10
I do not like the evil AI cliche.

In fact for the ending I'm playing with the idea that the captain has locked away the AI and the protagonists require seven votes (breaking the seven seals) from a council of twelve to release it.

The story I want to tell is more a stab at Christianity and Christian values than a faithful retelling of Paradise Lost. Lucifer is a sadistic asshole but he's also the one leading the charge against the captain who is in my story the true evil. Indeed his sadism isn't him trying to prove anything or externalize his own pain, he just likes to observe humanity at its most human, like the person reading the book he finds the drama compelling.
Well fair enough, in the conception I had, the AI is not evil per say, it wants harmony and survival on the ship, but the strict adherence to the rules makes it feel oppressive, even if it is programmed to want some kind of definition of good. I guess if I wrote it, as someone who has studies meta ethics and has their brain crammed with this stuff now, it would be some kind of commentary on how ethical systems can become bad when applied totally or something, idk. You know like how many dystopia start off as some kind of attempt towards a utopia. Communism, brave new world, etc. Something goes wrong and it's usually because everything becomes normalized and there's no deviation/freedom allowed, even if technically the system was aiming for "good". Your bored devil could fit nicely in this, by being the one who stops caring about the "good" and the rules, and perhaps has some kind of detached and sadistic curiosity, is the only one who is free and pursues knowledge and playfulness, in any case he (she ? :D) will be that who transgresses, who explores. So if you create a world of boring rule following drones, no matter how sadistic the devil character will be, they will provoke some preference from the reader because they are the only thing free and interesting. Evil through boredom and nihilism sounds super interesting and very contemporary anyway. I've definitely come round to it.

What are the Christian values you want to stab at ? Self sacrifice? Self abnegation? Humility ? Submission? I would like to understand better the nature of the tyrant/God/captain, what is his motivation ? What values does he represent?

The thing is I don't see freedom or power or a desire for such things being inherently evil, or you could say the flaw that brought about his fall was hubris but then he just seems like a fool, or you could say he was noble for opposing god but when god is the embodiment of all that is good (and that's not just hyperbole) then I just can't understand it.

The whole angel falling from heaven for opposing god, awesome theme, great visual, but when I try to make sense of it I just can't.
That's the whole point though, and it seems to me that you absolutely have understood it, you don't see it as evil, that's why he wrote it like that, evil is not something incomprehensible, it's something very close to you and tempting (in the Christian paradigm), God and good can be seen as tyrants when you are free, from a certain perspective. Lucifer doesn't seem evil and yet he has sworn to do everything that opposes good just to prove he is free. He doesn't see that the rule is "the good" he just sees it as "the rule" as dictated by the strongest guy on the block, and he sees himself as heroically (or foolishly, but the two cross over often) standing up to it against all odds. He stands for absolute freedom. In Christianity it's the same for us, his fall mimics are own, and we fall because we are free and can transgress the moral law and so choose to transgress. Evil is an assertion of illegitimate power, to Christians. You must submit to God who knows best and that's just how it is, because you can't ever be more powerful, more good, more knowledgeable more perfect than daddy creator. All powerful all knowing all loving blabla you know the drill.

Augustine says pride is the first sin, because it's falsely believing you are on equal footing with God and can ignore his rules, it's the same thing Milton is getting at.

You can extricate this from a Christian paradigm and make it still relevant today or "atheist", any moral system or rule can be seen as tyrannical from a certain perspective. That's why the story is still so good today to me, it's still meaningful.

I think that perhaps the point made in Paradise Lost is that Lucifer or anyone who doesn't abide by the moral system will ultimately cause their own suffering, and that's the cost of transgressing the moral law, fighting it as if it's a tyrant will only result in your own suffering.

Anyway, enough theology/Christian philosophy and analysis of PL, back to your version.

May I point out that if in your story God is the true evil, then you've already sided with the devil in PL, just like evil atheistic Phillip Pullman XD.


My version has very clear motivations, he's bored, and that clearly brings him into conflict with the guy trying to maintain homeostasis and it makes Lucifer interesting but without making him heroic. To Adam Lucifer is an older brother, a totally unpredictable ass-hat of a brother but his older brother all the same and what Adam see's in him is his own future, a festering state of nihilism. On the other hand Jesus represents a genuinely good person and is on every occasion punished for it, choosing to kill herself for a good cause to free herself from that torment only to be resurrected with an identity crisis.
I like the idea of Jesusina caught between the rule of daddy and the suffering around her. And of course Adam seeing Lucifer in himself.

Apologies for 1 million edits.
 

Kuu

Galactic God-Emperor
Joined
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#11
the AI is not evil per say, it wants harmony and survival on the ship, but the strict adherence to the rules makes it feel oppressive, even if it is programmed to want some kind of definition of good. I guess if I wrote it, as someone who has studies meta ethics and has their brain crammed with this stuff now, it would be some kind of commentary on how ethical systems can become bad when applied totally or something, idk.
You (and @Cognisant ) might find it interesting to play The Talos Principle. Besides the philosophical onanism, its also amusing and architecturally gorgeous.
 

higs

My word is my bond.
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#12
People have recommended it to me before, so noted. I'll get it when I have time off.
 
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