From the Jedi Order to the Torturers’ Guild: Science Fiction’s Preoccupation with Monks in Space | #SciFiSunday

NewHope ObiWan

Great piece from Max Gladstone up on Tor.com.

Why are there so many monks in space?

The Jedi are the obvious root example. Robed and reclusive, prone to politics when by all rights they should steer clear, any given Jedi Knight is a tonsure and a penguin outfit away from the Order of St Benedict. Dune’s Bene Gesserit have a distinctly monastic (or convent-ional) quality, in their withdraw from the world and their focus on the Long Now via their messiah breeding scheme. Hyperion has its Templars, robed dudes who hang out in spaceship trees—along with its xenoarchaeological Jesuits (priests, sure, but relevant to this conversation) and Jewish academics. A Canticle for Leibowitz follows monks through the postapocalypse, and Stephenson’s Anathem culminates in a double handful of monks being launched into space for a hundred-fifty page EVA. (Surely the spoiler limit on this one has passed by now?) Sevarian’s Torturers’ Guild is a monastic order of St Catharine, and the berobed, contemplative Utopians in Ada Palmer’s Terra Ignota series have more than a whiff of the monastic about them.

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