SF/F review blog Grasping for the Wind hosts a roundtable discussion on religion and SF, asking:
Does the very nature of science fiction (as opposed to fantasy) automatically preclude fair treatment of religion? Must religion always be seen as an outdated and outmoded way of thinking, or are there authors who can and have included religion (whether real or imagined) in its pages without forcing an either/or proposition between religion and science?
The discussion is similar to that in the recent SF Signal Mind Meld post on the same topic (in which I participated, natch). As with that discussion, there are a lot of assumptions buried in the phrasing of the question. The respondents generally discuss SF's surface treatments of religion: priest heroes, preacher villains, and god-spaceships. I think the real meat of the interaction between SF and religion runs deeper, on the level of themes rather than plot elements. That being the case, I think most of the responses, and the question itself, are barking up the wrong tree (or at least the wrong branches): the depiction of religious individuals and institutions isn't as interesting as the depiction of religious ideas (which may not be clearly identified as such). The responses name some good books, including a couple that are new to me, but for the most part they're talking about the likes of Creationism, eternal damnation, and other fundamentalist bêtes noirs, which are far from the most interesting topics in the SF-and-religion realm.
Read the full discussion here.
Apologies for the dearth of posting lately, which is mostly the result of three things: 1) my preparation for and participation in Cornell University's recent conference on hip hop (I was part of a panel presentation on the creation and use of Cornell's hip hop archive), 2) the fact that my son can now crawl, which means he can wreak much chaos, which makes working difficult, and 3) the fact that I am 600 pages deep in Neal Stephenson's Anathem. There will be a review, oh yes.