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Sacred Space: The Quest for Transcendence in Science Fiction Film and Television Paperback – July 29, 2010
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"From the 'millennial dreams' and 'apocalyptic nightmares' of alien contact to the Buddhist visions of Neo's matrix, Doug Cowan weaves a grand adventure for fans and students of religion and science fiction. If the hope for transcendence is the universal human religious question, as Cowan ably presents, then science fiction film and television are the blank screens most qualified in our media-rich culture to propel us on that journey."―Conrad Ostwalt, Professor of Religious Studies, Appalachian State University
"Cowan convincingly demonstrates that modern science-fiction films and television shows have made religious questions and answers central to the issues they raise about human identity, values, and purpose. By emphasizing the diversity of religious ideas present in these media, Cowan shows how they are as multivariant as the nature of religion itself. In so doing, he sheds light not only on what religion is, but also on what it might be."―John Lyden, Professor and Chair of Religion, Dana College, and author of Film as Religion: Myths, Morals, and Rituals
"Highly recommended. Here we learn that science fiction is more than bug-eyed aliens and saucers―and that it often reveals our quest for the sacred."―John W. Morehead, editor, www.theofantastique.com
"Cowan's in-depth exploration of the religious content of science-fiction films and television shows is a great step forward for the study of religion and popular culture. By taking fictional religions on their own terms, he uncovers complex meanings within some of science fiction's best-loved films and television shows. His discussions of the role of religion in War of the Worlds, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Stargate SG-1 are the most thorough you'll find."―Gabriel McKee, author of The Gospel According to Science Fiction
"Sacred Space is a valuable exploration of the place of God through a particular genre. It is an original contribution to an underexplored subject, and it establishes an important reference for future research on this element of life."―David H. Pereyra, Religion and the Arts
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Although there are introductory and concluding chapters, extended discussions of War of the Worlds, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Stargate SG-1, Babylon 5, and Battlestar Galactica make up the bulk of the analysis contained in Cowan's Sacred Space. Essentially he seeks to explore some of the most germane themes in human philosophy about life, the universe, deity, creation, and meaning. Each of these science fiction dramas explore these questions through their characters and circumstances. Most of these fictional works reaffirm dominant paradigms about humanity and deity, but some question in deep and moving ways those dominant beliefs. Few add seriously to the exploration of great thinkers in human history even as they broaden public consideration of key components of the debate.
That's good as far as it goes. But there is quite a lot more in this intriguing book. Perhaps the most interesting chapter deals with the various reimaginings of the relationship between God and humanity as expressed in War of the Worlds. H.G. Wells was an avowed atheist who promulgated his beliefs in his novels.Read more ›
Since science fiction has always commented on present day issues, but in a way that usually doesn't feel threatening to society as a whole, this is a terrific way to look at humanity's universal quest for transcendence. This book doesn't try to be the last word on the subject, but instead to be a detailed look at the various ways the quest for transcendence is shown in popular films and shows. I think the author has chosen his subjects well, and displays quite a depth of knowledge about the specific shows and films and the ways transcendence has been approached in them.
From the usual suspects such as Data in the Star Trek: The Next Generation to perhaps less widely known characters as Delenn in Babylon 5 the author shows how these characters attempt to transcend their beginnings and how that affects them and their relationships to others. The chapter on War of the Worlds is quite fascinating because he contrasts how the original atheist author HG Wells' intentions were drastically and completely changed in the movie adaptations of the novel to fit the times they were produced: George Pal's 1950s version and Steven Spielberg's 2000 version.
If you enjoy delving deeper into a science fiction movie or show looking for other meanings, I highly recommend this book.Read more ›