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December 19, 2007



Have you discussed your definition of science fiction somewhere on this blog? (Just curious, I find it interesting to see how different people handle this "demarcation problem".)

Also, I think that Behold the Man was originally a short story. At least I'm sure that I've read it in a magazine, and it was not serialized.

Gabriel Mckee

In practice, I use Damon Knight's definition more than any other-- "Science fiction is what we point to when we say it"-- but I realize that's basically just a way of avoiding the issue. In the introduction to "The Gospel According to Science Fiction" I define SF thusly (and loosely): "A genre that takes current ideas, theories, and trends in the sciences... and extrapolates from them new worlds that could grow from our own." It's not perfect, and I am more than willing to stretch the boundaries-- so don't hold me to it too strictly! (Superheroes, for instance, are a particularly blurry area of definition, but I usually have no problem calling them SF.)

As for "Behold the Man"-- it certainly did appear as a short story first, but I think the novel is better, and my novels list hasn't been written yet...


I completely agree with you about Faith of our Fathers. Terrifying. I read it just as I was realizing I wasn't hated by God. It was good—Good?! Good like a rollercoaster ride to cure carsickness, maybe!—to see what I actually was afraid of and that someone else had already worked it out what it would mean.


Awesome! Thanks for this, Gabriel. I'm glad to see that there's only three stories that overlap with my own list, because now I have more great stories to read. :-)

Mike P

I loved the list and am really enjoying the blog. I'm surprised, though, that "The Star" by Clarke didn't make your list. Although it ends up as a challenge to religious truth, it does (as I recall) treat the protagonist's struggle of faith with respect and sensitivity, without resort to stereotype or carcicature of religion.

J.C. McGowan

Regarding religion and science fiction novels, I invite you to check out my recently published book "The Big God Network," which takes the culture wars into cyberspace, and features evangelicals with virtual churches, a UFO cult, a Wiccan group, and a Gaian religion. It has a stunning cover designed by Brazilian graphic artist Cristina Portella and can be found on Amazon:


I might have put "A Canticle For Liebowitz" somewhere on that list, maybe even "Cats' Cradle". Has anyone ever read "Stranger In a Strange Land" or "Dune" ? I feel the list is a little on the sci- fi snobby side.

John W. Morehead

Great post, especially for those of us geared toward consumption of our sci fi via television and film and not the printed text. Thanks for this.

I looked on your blog for contact information and couldn't find it. Can you send me an email? I'd like to bounce a couple of ideas past you.

Tim R. Mortiss

One of my favorite sf stories about religion is R. A. Lafferty's "Snuffles", about an inexperienced god whose creative work is not appreciated.

jenn v

I went and read "The Pope of Chimps" since I hadn't read any of the others and that was the most accessible. I get your point on why it made your list, but man, it was hard for me to read. It seems like it was written about chimps by someone who had never studied primates. Maybe I'm really, really wrong, and maybe the leaps and bounds in the stuides of primate cognition have all been in the last 30 years, but there were a lot of big assumptions there. Like that chimps don't think people die? That chimps consider people gods?

But anyway, I enjoyed the story a lot, and thought it brought up some interesting points, once I looked past the weird assumptions.


Intersting list, but I notice that most info on "Religion & Science Fiction" is about Christianity. I'm looking for info on Buddhism in Science Fiction. Any suggestions, anyone?


I am looking for a title or author of a short story I read years combined a supernova....the star of bethlehem and ultralong space journey involving a sociologist or historian....where would I seek such information????? thx


Denise: are you thinking of “The Star,” a short story by Arthur Clarke"


A short story I read many years ago made an impression. An astronaut is hopelessly lost, drifting in some kind of escape capsule. From one of the ports he then sees a Being, striding across space. The Being stops, examines the capsule for a moment, looks around and then... The next thing the astronaut knows, his capsule is on the ground, on Earth, near the Olduvai Gorge in Kenya. The Being had identified the human being and returned him to his "place of origin." An amazing story. Can anybody supply the author and title? Many thanks!

Steve Eykel

How a list like this could not only omit "Spelling God With The Wrong Blocks" by James Morrow, but not include ANY of Morrow's stories, is beyond me.

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