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The Gospel according to Science Fiction: From the Twilight Zone to the Final Frontier Paperback – January 2, 2007
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Starred Review. Aliens, spaceships and giant robots may not seem to have much in common with matters spiritual, but in the mind of Harvard-trained writer and blogger McKee, they hold important theological insights. McKee's knowledge of science fiction is impressive. He quotes esoteric short stories from the 1930s alongside contemporary sci-fi and fantasy films, showing an encyclopedic command of the genre. It serves him well as he combs the genre for examples of religious themes such as sin, faith, religious experience, the apocalypse and the afterlife. The author all too briefly touches upon the issue of science and faith, but this can be forgiven in a book primarily about science fiction. "The main goal of SF [science fiction]," writes McKee, "... is to show us how we can face the future and overcome the new challenges that our changing world may develop." By utilizing a solid theological background and culling the world of science fiction literature and films for help, McKee illustrates that organized religion should have a similar goal: "It must be willing to face whatever changes may come and adapt itself to the spiritual questions of the future." This fascinating hybrid of theology and sci-fi is creative, lucid and contains impressive scholarship. (Jan.)
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About the Author
Gabriel McKee earned his Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School. He is the author of Pink Beams of Light From the God in the Gutter: The Science-Fictional Religion of Philip K. Dick, as well as articles on religion in popular culture for the Revealer and Nerve.
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Though he obviously comes from a Christian standpoint, he is very balanced in his treatment, looking positively at pro-theistic and anti-theistic standpoints, as well as works embracing Islamic, Buddhist, and Hindu perspectives. You will never again be able to look at the science fiction genre as anti-religious, or even irreligious. (One juicy tidbit is McKee's very convincing revelation that science fiction is simply the modern aspect of the ancient apocalyptic religious genre.) The primary drawback of this book is that I now have a whole host of new books to read, even though I decided to peruse only about 5% of the books mentioned.
From the moment that I started reading McKee had me hooked. Admittedly, I am a big science fiction fan. Not just film either. My good friend Alvaro Zinos-Amaro made certain of this by providing a gift of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One, 1929-1964, which opened my eyes to the progress that science fiction has made through the years and also to the way that science fiction speaks to the zeitgeist.
Today, we are inundated by science fiction focused on the end of the world because we are worried about it. I am convinced that a student of history could read the science fiction of the day and get a better understanding of the concerns of the generation that they study than by using university history texts.
In the same way that science fiction is focused on the same things that all people are, it is only natural that we find science fiction to be preoccupied with religion. What more important question can there be than, "Is there a God?" Followed closely behind by, "If so what or who is it?" These are the starting points of any human's quest to find purpose. "Why am I here?" "How do I live?" or even, "Am I real?"
McKee's book is an enjoyable lesson in the history of science fiction that deals with religion. Fans of science fiction and people of faith will undoubtably enjoy this book immensly as I did.