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What? No Christmas

Here I am a couple of days before Christmas and am I wrapping, or shopping, or singing carols? No, I've got a shiny new facebook page - thanks, Gary! - and I thought I'd write about Christmas in the world of Abendau.

Then I had an oh-no moment when I realised there was no mention of a Christmas in that world. No Winter solstice. And it came to me that, by and large, in all my books the matter of religion isn't cut and dried.

Don't get me wrong; religion features. When I'm not writing Abendau I write a lot about Ulster and there are many things you can get away without mentioning, but religion isn't one of them. It's never a main theme, though.

So, is there religion in my Abendauii world? Yes. The main characters aren't believers - they grew up on a rebel base with no defined religion. In the marriage ceremony I show, the prayer is to a non-named force. It was written, as it happens, with the help of a sf loving Parson of my acquaintance and I hope carrries belief at its core, but it's not a ceremony of our worlds. When Lichio faces his toughest moment he wants to pray, but lacks the words and belief: in the Banned, it seems, religion is acknowledged but not espoused.

Yet when one of the main characters learns of a religion growing up around himself it hardens his belief that people will make a church out of anyone - even an evil Empress. Her church is seen through the eyes of the tribes people she leads. It is slavish, replacing earlier, older gods, who have not been forgotten. It is, in truth, less of a religion and more of a regime. Sam, my one truly religious character, attends her church but prays to his older religion, one loosely based on Catholicism.

I'm not sure why I took the line of faith being sporadically portrayed rather than central. In the notes about my world - as with any writer wider than the world ever shown in the books - it is there. Central mythologies, lost gods, credence and beliefs which grew up on planets both separate to others and linked. The power of the church elders is recognised - especially in book three where more of the world is known and the point of view characters more diverse. The value base that carries a belief is there. But the focus is not and I believe that is where I have made a choice as a writer: there are many Ulster writers who tackle it as a theme, but I'm not one of them. I'm not convinced I have anything new to add to the cyclic arguments, or anything erudite to say except the least interesting thing about most people, to me, is what religion they are.

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