No Books of Men: World Building – Supernaturals, part VI

Angels and Demons. A sticky topic, to say the least, which is difficult to wiggle out of a religious context. Also one which seems somehow unavoidable in the context of modern fantasy. Of all the supernatural “races” which commonly appear in modern fantasy, these two bother me the most. “Angels” all too often fall into one of two categories: either they are flawless beings used as a Deus Ex Machina or deeply flawed beings which stand to represent the falliability of faith/God/whatever and is most often used as window dressing to make a character “more interesting.” Conversely, Demons are also prone to one of two groups: either the moustache twirling “EVIL” being which tempts or provides an easy target for monster-of-the-week killing, otherwise they’re on some sort of redemptive arc to prove that even “Demons can be good.”

While these two groups (and it is rare when one appears without at least some reference to the other) can be used in interesting ways, even within the aforementioned stereotypical roles, but its rare I want to deal with them in my own writing. Hell, one of my favorite novels (Good Omens) stars both an Angel and a Demon. I prefer reading them to writing them though, and despite faith in their existence being a true thing in No Books, the entities themselves…

    Angels/Demons

    • Angels & Demons do not exist in the No Books setting
    • While there are a number of creatures which resemble the classic idea of an Angel or Demon they are not.
      • Some are actually just non-sentient creatures resembling the concept sufficiently to “convince” viewers of their categorization as “Angel” or “Demon”
      • Some are spirits “created” by belief and conception, but are more reflections of an expectation than proof of either creature’s “true” existence.
      • Some stories of both/either are actually misunderstood encounters with Heralds or their ilk.
      • Many in-universe believe in one, the other, or both. In these case they either see one or more of the above examples as “proof” and deny evidence to the contrary; or they see such beliefs as a matter of faith and cast aside doubt.
      • Note: This does not “disprove” the existence of any higher power in the setting. Indeed, the existence of “higher powers” is undeniable. The question is the level of authenticity of any/all religions in the setting, versus misunderstandings of those entities confirmed to exist.
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