The Transcendent Adventure: Studies of Religion in Science Fiction/Fantasy

The Transcendent Adventure: Studies of Religion in Science Fiction/Fantasy

The Transcendent Adventure: Studies of Religion in Science Fiction/Fantasy

The Transcendent Adventure: Studies of Religion in Science Fiction/Fantasy

Synopsis

"Reilly's anthology contains 15 essays and two checklists: 4 general essays on the relationships between religion and science fiction; 11 essays on various authors, including Philip Jose Farmer, Frank Herbert, and Doris Lessing; a primary checklist of religious SF and fantasy; and a secondary checklist of religious SF. In general, the essays are nicely handled.... Overall, a good beginning on the topic--and a book that SF collections, and many religious collections, will want. Undergraduate primarily; some graduate use; some general interest." - Choice

Excerpt

Robert Reilly

Before we begin to consider the reasons that lead authors of science fiction to utilize religion in their works, it may help to suggest what religion is. First, it is a set of beliefs, held by an individual or group, that serve to explain the source of order in the universe. Usually, this explanation postulates some power beyond human understanding as the source of order, as the cause of otherwise inexplicable events. Second, religion provides means by which believers can relate to the power or source of order--means such as ritual, prayer, self-abnegation, and/or principles of ethical conduct. At this level, religion becomes institutionalized, the means of relationship passing from the individual into the hands of some special group, usually a priesthood.

One can easily see that physical science can be included within the scope of this definition of religion. It uses rational means to explain order in the universe and provides a relationship (the experimental method) to the source of order. the scientists themselves are a sort of priesthood. Science fails to conform only with respect to the postulate of "a power" to explain the order.

One other point needs to be made initially. Rather than quibble over the much-debated distinction between science fiction and fantasy, I have chosen to include essays about both in this collection. Works by C. S. Lewis and Roger Zelazny may well fall into either category; adherence to any strict definition of science fiction might include some of their works and exclude others, it would certainly exclude . . .

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