Friday, November 12, 2010

Twelve great stories to help you to cope with mortality

At io9, Charlie Jane Anders and Michael Ann Dobbs came up with a list of science fiction and fantasy stories that can help you deal with death.

One title on the list:
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

The book that gave us all the stoic, and somehow soothing, mantra "So it goes" also provides this wonderful, alien, way of looking at death:
The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just that way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.

When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in bad condition in the particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about this book is that this calm view of death is coupled with a fervent anti-war message.
Read about the other books on the list.

Slaughterhouse-5 also made Sebastian Beaumont's top 10 list of books about psychological journeys and Tiffany Murray's top ten list of black comedies.

--Marshal Zeringue