Hanged for the Few
by James T. Carpenter

"But what of morality? he thought, wandering through the dead and dying. And what of the morality of God?"

In a post-apocalyptic America, the dominant religious text reads "In the year 1969 as figured by the people Before the Crash, Empresidente Ricardo Nixotus issued an edict to all the lands of the Great Amer Empire that each person and his family were to report to his home village for the first great census." This conflation of the New Testament Herod and Richard Nixon is the result of the some great conflagration that has set humanity back to a pre-technological medievalism where religious factions and petty warlords vie for domination. Five religiously disaffected warriors set out to find Weslin, a city of fundamentalists that a powerful King wants to destroy. Each has their own motives and their fates are tied up with these internal reasons, often tied to events deep in the past.

The theme of religious belief as a potentially destructive force in civilization is clearly in view. The transference of the four main Abrahamic religions to this far future scenario is not difficult to perceive. His great focus is on "Flanditism," founded by a "Reverend Jimmy" from the Time Before, which his main character has rejected and suffers the repercussions. Perennial questions of morality, law, and meaning are raised. Never do we meet a purely altruistic motive in any of the characters. Religion is mixed up with self-righteousness, prejudice, and intolerance. Self-deception and blindness rule. It is an emotionally honest work, even if profoundly skeptical.

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