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Orthodoxy and science fiction

7 February 2009

Excellent article by Father Stephen on Orthodoxy and science fiction.

I have long thought of science fiction as a form of modern theology – or at least of modern theological thought. It is a sad tragedy that a science fiction writer, in at least one case, was so bold as to create his own religion – but it seems a not so strange result from a genre that is so inherently theological.

I was a great fan of science fiction in my teens and early twenties. Now I find that much in the genre bores me. I don’t know whether that’s just a result of getting old, or because the genre has changed since my youth. Certainly the stories that I liked most are among the older ones.

Something I found interesting was that in the old Second World countries during the communist period science fiction was quite popular, and some science fiction fans became Christians partly through reading C.S. Lewis’s space trilogy. It made them interested in taking a closer look at Christianity, which they had previously thought would have nothing of interest for them.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Lola LB permalink
    12 February 2009 5:02 am

    Interesting. I’ve read Anne McCaffrey and love her Pern books. It troubles, me though, that religion is completely out of the picture, and that she indicates that the settlers’ ancestors long ago gave up belief in anything religious. Humankind just doesn’t work that way – they are almost conditioned to have some form of belief in something greater than them.

  2. 14 February 2009 5:15 am

    Lola,

    I did read the very first of the Pern books, so that I would have the background in case I wanted to read more, but never did. Few science fiction books appear to have overt religion in them. An exception that comes to mind is A case of conscience by James Blish.

  3. 15 February 2009 12:57 am

    thanks for this post and the pointer to Fr. Stephen’s longer post.

    Here are some books worth looking at, though they don’t always have overt religion either.

    http://www.christian-fandom.org/readlist-rec.html

    I personally recommend Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan space opera series. The characters face moral dilemmas and have values in many ways informed with traditional religious values, though most of the characters are not actually religious themselves. But one very interesting episode based on the tale of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste takes place in a short story called “The Weatherman”, subsequently forming part of _The Vor Game_.

    Connie Willis also has excellent stuff. Doomsday Book, being a time travel to the time of the black plague, has a certain amount of religious content.

  4. 15 February 2009 1:01 am

    Another site of interest– religious background and/or affiliation of various writers:

    http://www.adherents.com/lit/sf_other.html

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