Aliens, robots and Christians. Religion in science fiction
Science fiction and religion are two things, at first glance, if not completely incompatible, then from different spheres. Religion is something from the Middle Ages, with monks and ceremonies, science fiction about the future, where, as it seemed to many (or even seems so far) there will be no religion. With that great pleasure, I will introduce you to several science fiction novels on religious themes. But before we say a few words about the relationship of this genre and religion.
If science fiction says nothing about religion, then it is her puncture. Religion is an essential part of human nature and man-made culture. Therefore, no matter how the author treats religion, you will have to talk about it – will something happen to her in the future?
On the other hand, if Christians in general and Christian creators in particular do not pay attention to one of the most popular genres, then this is a puncture of Christians. “To bring Christianity out of a medieval context into a future one, or simply to take advantage of the missionary and apologetic possibilities of a popular genre, is a task that Christian culture must obviously take upon itself.
The apparent incompatibility of science fiction and religion lies in the equally apparent incompatibility of science and religion as such. About the incredible confusion in the relationship of religion and science, we have already written. Here we will add only that for many historical and cultural reasons many of our contemporaries have a religious faith as stupidity. The only face of truth that they accept is “scientific fact.” However, the nature of man has not changed and he remains a religious being.
As a result, religious thirst, repressed into the unconscious, makes itself felt in the most unexpected places, as should be repressed. It is impossible to believe in angels, but it is possible in aliens – non-human beings who arrived from heaven. In God – it is impossible, but it is possible in the "Force", as in "Star Wars". Mystical experiments are impossible, no one is admired until the seventh heaven – but interplanetary travel is possible – in other worlds.
The most unpleasant example is Scientology, which is a science fiction religion. It seems to people that science fiction is infinitely far from religion, but in reality it is a surrogate for religion.
Before turning to the list of books, we will advise the wonderful project of Bogoslov.ru, “Religions of fictional worlds”. This is a series of studies of religiosity in various fantastic worlds – from the writings of Lovecraft to "Hyperion."
Collection of foreign scientific
Collection of stories in the genre of science fiction, each of which in one way or another concerns the topic of religion, for example, the fate of religion in the future.
Many works are infinitely far from Christianity, some, perhaps, are simply unsuccessful, others seem even blasphemous. But several masterpieces – “Balaam”, “The Quest for Saint Aquinus”, “The Battle”, “The Man” and others – more than pay for it.
"Anthem of Leibowitz"
Classic science fiction. Lem in his "Fantasy and Futurology" leads Miller's novel as the only worthy example of "metaphysical fiction and futurology of faith."
Humanity has gone through a global catastrophe. Survivors are thrown back centuries. The only institution that preserves civilization is the Church.
One of the most prominent science fiction novels of recent years. A cleverly and subtly worked out plot, an excellent and unusual sample of the genre. The unusual is why: “The Small Bird” is one of the few examples of religious and philosophical fiction: contact with other worlds is made by Christian missionaries.
The cycle of Scott Orson Card novels about Ender is one of the most striking examples of modern science fiction (Ender's game won the Nebyul-85 award, Hugo-86 award, Hamilton-Brequette-86 award, SF Chronicle Readers Poll 86 award; "Voice of those No ”- Nebula-86, Hugo-87, Locus-87, SF Chronicle Readers Poll 87). Beginning with the “Ender Game” as an almost childish, space adventure fantasy about alien invasion from romance to romance, the cycle is becoming more serious and deep. Philosophical, social, psychological prose and, what is especially interesting, religious, “openly” theological. Main topics – Contact with Others, in particular – the religious side of Contact (another race adopts Christianity, despite the opposition of some clerics; theological problems around this, etc.), the problems of peace and violence (the cycle begins with the destruction of an entire race and conflict – will not the other be destroyed) death, love and family, sin, responsibility for sin, thirst for redemption.
“Why call them
back from heaven? "
Socially-philosophical fiction. Most people voluntarily fell into anabiosis, believing in promises of future immortality. The novel tells about the investigation of abuses of the Center for Anabiosis.
Protesters against potential immortality come from Christian Today on death (and immortality).
It is wonderful how Saimak shows their faith, the faith of modern people:
“… It probably simply does not exist, and I was mistaken in choosing a path, appealing to a non-existent, and to a non-existent God. Or maybe I called the wrong name …
… “But they say,” the man grinned, “about eternal life.” The fact that you do not have to die. What then is the use of God? Why then some more life? …
… And why she, Mona Campbell, must alone seek an answer that only God can give – if it exists? … "
Perhaps this feature – the combination of sadness, insecurity, faith, despair – the most attractive in the novel. The main theme of it, as is probably already clear, is the social and existential position of a person in front of the possibility of changing his biological nature.
"Books of the New Sun"
Perhaps this novel is the main achievement of Wolfe – a writer who is called the best science fiction writer of our time, if not the best English-speaking writer at all (he was compared with Nabokov, and Le Guin called him the new Melville).
Here we have placed all four novels of the series “Books of the new sun” and “And the new sun has appeared” – the final book of the epic about the Northmen. The genre of these books is sometimes defined as "scientific fantasy": the distant future, where humanity has degraded and "fell into the Middle Ages." The plot is formed by the wanderings of the executioner (!) Severyan.
The first thing to note: a realistic world, while extremely unusual and picturesque. This series can, if desired, be counted as a psychological novel or even a novel of upbringing. But this book is considered a masterpiece for a wonderful baroque language, composition, a complex network of motifs, a system of riddles and traps.
In the saga of the Northerners find a lot of Christian symbolism. Note only two things. Wolfe himself said that he wrote a novel about "a Christian, not about Christ"; that is, the way of Severyan – from the executioner to the conditional "righteous" (but everything is much more complicated) – this is the essence of the novel. In an interview, Wolfe said: “In the Books of the New Sun,” I wanted to show a person who was specially educated to do terrible things and could change himself from the inside; so I made him an executioner and invented the executioners guild. ”
The second, interesting and alarming at the same time, is the “first impulse” that gave birth to the novel’s plan: it occurred to Wolfe that the Gospel only once shows how Christ does something with his own hands – a scourge.
"Collection of" Nine hundred grandmothers "
and other stories "
Lafferty's strange, wise, funny stories most of all with their quirkiness and humor remind of Chesterton's work. They are distinguished by the same deep and bright Christianity.
At the same time, not all Lafferty’s rassazi are “specifically” Christian, but, without any doubts, they belong to the pen of a Christian writer.
“Trouble is coming”
This novel cannot in the strict sense be attributed to science fiction, it is rather a “thriller”, or as they often say (disgustingly, in my opinion) – a “mystic”.
It is known that Bradbury, a classic of fantastic literature, was a Christian. In his many works, Christian motifs are easily guessed – besides the fact that all his work is somehow imbued with a Christian vision.
“Trouble is coming” – one of the most vivid examples of a truly Christian novel. In addition, it is impossible not to mention the signature atmosphere of the Bradbury books – bright and sad at the same time; exciting plot and deep thoughts about Good and Evil.
Philip Dick Novels
Philip Dick is one of the main authors of science fiction, and simply world literature. Dick's science-fiction plays a purely auxiliary role: newcomers, Martian colonies, spaceships – all this is rather the scenery of a poor theater, where brilliant plays are played.
The main thing in the work of Dick – Christianity. “The last enemy will be exterminated – death” is almost his fixed idea. On a personal level – loneliness and disunity, the nonsense of life; on the public – the evil power of the powerful and the rich of this world; ontological – monstrous illusion, death and corruption. These enemies Dick challenges.
In real life, Dick was a Christian, although his Christianity often took very peculiar forms. Therefore, we here do not offer all of his work, but the main novels, the most successful from an artistic point of view and integral from philosophical.
"Pour, tears …" – "Pour, tears, from empty sockets! From now on, I will forever be heard The melancholy cry of midnight black birds, Exile, loneliness …, longing ”is one of Dick's most sad novels. There is something legitimate in the fact that in the end it comes out, perhaps the brightest, “humane”. Here are all Dick's signature tricks – the domination of the powerful, the monstrous power of illusion, the transition from reality to non-reality. But the essence of the novel is human loneliness and its overcoming.
"Three stigma Palmer Eldrich." As almost always with Dick, it is about the forces of evil, destruction, corruption – here are concentrated in a strange creature named Palmer Eldrich.
“Do Electro-Electors See Androids?” Is a novel about “the human in man.” The protagonist, an android hunter on an almost destroyed Earth. But how to determine who is a person and who is an android? What determines humanity? On the backdrop of the action – the hunt of people on androids and androids on people – the world is increasingly plunging into destruction and filled with dust.
"Clouding": "Can you give me a dozen deaths?" (…) City of death, Fred thought, considering the drawing. That's what I see – death, and not in the only correct version, but everywhere. Little legless killers on carts … (…) – This is death, – someone else said, – when you look at what is in front of your eyes and you can not look away. No matter what the hell out there, you can't change anything, look away. It remains only to accept and accept what is. Here, the forces of death and evil are concentrated in "death" – a drug (this is Dick's creation – maybe the best "anti-drug romance novel"). The main character having gone through countless obstacles and agony still managed to reach the source of the production of Death.
"Shift of time in a Martian manner" – in this novel Dick's constant thought is horror before decay, the struggle with him is expressed with magnificent force. On a personal level, as hopelessness, loneliness, boredom, on a social level, as the destruction caused by capitalism and power, with corruption itself as a real ontological force. And yet, the heroes of the novel manages to defeat corruption.
"Ubiq". In order not to "sell" the plot, we will manage with the most common words. Like almost in any novel of Dick – but here with special clarity and force – “Ubiq” tells about the struggle with the world of illusion, corruption, death, evil. “Ubiq,” by itself, is something of a symbol of God. One of the most successful and unusual science fiction novels.
"Lord of Wrath" – humanity almost destroyed itself in a nuclear disaster. The man who launched it has been declared the Lord of Wrath, the embodiment of the "true God," the God of evil and death. Christians are almost gone. One of them goes in search of the "Lord of Wrath."
The novel was written together by two prominent authors – Philip Dick and Roger Zelazny.
"The Labyrinth of Death" is Dick's masterpiece, in which his Christianity can be best seen: however, in order to understand this, one must read the whole novel.
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