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Religious SciFi

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  • Had to read it frosh year for my Catholic high school.

    Since it was a "forced" summer reading book, all I remember is hating it, because I hated all forced reading on principle! ;)
  • But the Christian religion does play a part in a lot of sci fi. I believe it is mentioned in Dune. The Deathstalker series has The Church of Christ the Warrior, which is a distant future's perversion of christianity. Whether or not there are any directly religious scifi books/films, I don't know, but if we ask nicely, maybe Mel Brooks could really make Jews in Space.
    • I don't know, but if we ask nicely, maybe Mel Brooks could really make Jews in Space.

      Don't get me excited! I think Mel is done doing films, though (which is very depressing with the crap comedies we get from the wayans brothers).
    • Jews in Space

      Closest you're going to get from Mel is Space Balls.

      Great, great, great movie.
  • In everything I've seen, from art to literature to music to talk shows, using "christian" as an adjective is a way to say "we couldn't make mainstream, so we'll hide in this pseudo-minority."

    Like it or not, American society IS Christian. Compassion for others, taking 12/25 off every year to exchange gifts, etc., etc. Saying "this is a CHRISTIAN Science Fiction novel" is a good way to find one audience--and ostracize everyone beyond that audience.

    All that said--humanity has been nearly-obsessed with religion since shortly after we started speaking. It's jarring to see science fiction that doesn't even mention religion.

    • Please note that I meant no offense. Honestly, I was looking for the next book to read after I was done with Return of the King.
      I'm a big fan of scifi and I was just wanting to see how Christianity was perceived by (Christian) scifi authors in the future.
      • As was mentioned earlier in the thread [slashdot.org], Dune does mention Christianity, as well as other modern religions. For example, Paul is given a copy of the Orange Catholic bible near the beginning. The Fremen are descended from the Zensunni, a religion that doesn't exist today, but is descended from modern religions. And, of course, there's no way that Dune: Messiah doesn't have something to do with religion; it is, in fact, based on modern ones.
        • by forged (206127)
          Frank Herbert has got a cool description of some pretty religious stull. In Dune, everything is about power, politics and religion (which is used as a tool for power and control).

          Forget Dune for the Sci-Fi, because it's primarely a political novel !

    • Like it or not, American society IS Christian. Compassion for others...

      I disagree entirely. Compassion is not solely a Christian value. It's disrespectful to other religions to assume so.

      ...taking 12/25 off every year to exchange gifts, etc., etc.

      I think this depends on where you grow up. Personally, I had all major Jewish holidays off as well. Not everyone celebrates Christmas...

      Although, I totally agree with the adjective...it tends to alienate a lot of people.

      • Compassion is not solely a Christian value.

        That's what I get for positing while eating.

        "Compassion for the enemy" is a core value of Christianity. While other religions may value this as well, I know of none where it's such a central tenet.

        • It doesn't seem like "compassion for the enemy" is predominant in America AT ALL (neither domestically nor in international relations), so then why would you conclude that Christianity is dominant in American culture if this tenet is central?
          • It doesn't seem like "compassion for the enemy" is predominant in America AT ALL (neither domestically nor in international relations), so then why would you conclude that Christianity is dominant in American culture if this tenet is central?

            You obiously missed the protestors ranting about Iraq.

            Trust me, we're overflowing with compassion by any historical standard. Name one other historical emperor who said "we're not at war with the people of country X, we're at war with their petty tyrant of a leader." Ceasear, Napoelon, and even Roosevelt would have just bombed them and be done with it.

            And, besides which, Christianity's predominance in America is a matter of statistical fact. Calling oneself "Christian" has the same effect as business calling itself a "white business." There are simply so many of us that pointing it out is rude and obnoxious, and almost never a good thing.

            (The exception, of course, is when we're talking about something that takes these into account, such as "what church do you go to," "what religious holidays are you going to take off," "Do you qualify for any equal opportunity assists?")
            • And, besides which, Christianity's predominance in America is a matter of statistical fact. Calling oneself "Christian" has the same effect as business calling itself a "white business." There are simply so many of us that pointing it out is rude and obnoxious, and almost never a good thing.

              There's a subtlety you're missing. The "Christian" in "Christian rock", for example, doesn't refer to Catholics plus Unitarians plus Episcopalians plus [....]. It's used by born-again evangelicals to refer to themselves, in opposition to mainstream American culture.

              Honestly, I'm a religious Jew and don't get offended by it in the slightest. On the contrary, I find it preferable to the unspoken assumption that everyone is like the majority.

              • There's a subtlety you're missing. The "Christian" in "Christian rock", for example, doesn't refer to Catholics plus Unitarians plus Episcopalians plus [....]. It's used by born-again evangelicals to refer to themselves, in opposition to mainstream American culture.

                I know. But how they phrase it, there's a grammatical undercurrent that says "if you're not like us, you're not Christian."

                The only people who want to say that are those that believe, deep in their buried dogma, that everyone else really isn't as "Christian" as they are.

                Honestly, I'm a religious Jew and don't get offended by it in the slightest.

                Who said I was offended? I can find something to be rude and obnoxious and not take offense to it, Otter.
            • Name one other historical emperor who said "we're not at war with the people of country X, we're at war with their petty tyrant of a leader."
              -Mohommed and almost every Muslim general in the first through third generations of Islamic conquest.
              -Henry V (during the Agincourt campaigns)
              -Alexander

              And so on.

              This whole nationalism thing is a recent invention. The old way of doing things was to say "Overthrow that bunch of yahoos ruling you now, open the gates to your city, and join our empire". Especially in cases like the Agincourt campaign where Henry considered himself the rightful ruler of France anyway.
              Happened all the time. Even some of our early 1800's border conflicts with Canada had odd moments since the US troops kept expecting the Canadians to get rid of their British commanders and welcome the "liberators" with open arms. Oops.

              As for Caesar (please note spelling), he was amazed and appalled at how un-Roman these odd barbarian tribes like the Huns and Britons and Gauls were (Britons especially) in no small degree because it connoted the difficulty of their becoming Roman citizens.

              Rustin

  • I've seen independent type stuff done in the "Christian Sci-fi" genre on the web, but just about zilch in the bookstores. I would think the cloest might be C.S. Lewis' Space Triolgy [amazon.com] books, although I've never read them.

    • Re:Web stuff (Score:2, Interesting)

      by SamTheButcher (574069)
      I was going to suggest this, too, without even remembering the titles of the books. I read them at a fairly early age, as I recall, and my young mind missed a lot of the allusions. I just recall them being somewhat over my head, and filled with bizarre imagery and kind of spooky. But did remember they had Christian underpinnings. Maybe I should read them again.

      Interesting that they have a study guide [amazon.com] as well.

      • The works of C.S. Lewis are a lot like an onion. Every time you read them there are whole new layers to be explored. The first time I read through the Chronicles of Narnia ("The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" series) in middle school I totally missed the Chrisitian underpinnings. Then I had a teacher who knew I was a believer point it out to me, and a whole new level to the books opened up to me.

        I have heard it said that the Chronicles of Narnia should be read at least three times in life. Once as a child, once as young adult, and once in middle age. I would say that you could extend this to any work of C.S. Lewis. As you grow in knowledge and faith there will be something new in his works time and time again.

        If anyone does decide to read the Chronicles of Narnia, do yourself a favor and read them in the "classic" order. The publishers have reordered them into a chronological order, but I think they are best read in the classic order (starting with "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe).
        --
        As a side note, many people don't know that J.R.R. Tolkien actually led C.S. Lewis, one of the most influential Christian writers of the 20th century, to Christ.
        • Thanks for the input on Lewis.
          I always knew Lewis and Tolkien were Christian writers (I'm about to finish LoTR), and was planning on reading Narnia for Joey when he gets a bit older (we have a collection that puts the chronicles in the order Lewis wanted them read, not in the order they were released), but now you've given me a reason to reread them now and get something new out of them.

          Honestly, I was looking for future scifi and got a lot of 'fantasy' responses, but maybe I should give narnia a second look through.
          • As far as the "order Lewis wanted them read" there isn't a clear cut concensus on this. For some more details on this take a look at this site [demon.co.uk]. Personally I've always been partial to the classic order (publication order) mainly because it puts "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" first, which preserves the sense of discovery and wonder.

            As far as sci-fi, its not really "future scifi" but the Space Trilogy by Lewis might be more of what you are looking for. I stalled mid way through the third book, but I think that was more because I had been reading nothing but Lewis for about 3 or 4 months (a lot of his non-ficition as well as space trilogy) and got burned out on him.
  • I can think of few examples in Sci-Fi, since the genre tends to explain mysteries rather than fixate on them, but in Fantasy an excellent example is _The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe_ and its following books. In Sci-Fi, the best example I can think of is certain aspects of the Ender's Game series. The author is a Mormon if I remember correctly. Call me a bigot if you must, but my best attempt at unbiased observation has lead me to believe Mormons have a greater tendency to evangelize than other Christian sects and he is no exception. BTW, check out Wyrms if you get the chance and tell me if you find religious themes in that book. It has been more than a decade since I read it and I am not certain and honestly curious in others' opinions on this.
  • Try "Strength of Stones" by Greg Bear (who isn't particuarily religous).
  • Try the compilation by Ted Chiang titled "Stories of Your Life and Others." A couple of the stories - "Tower of Bablyon" and "Hell is the absence of God" I would label as religious sci-fi, and quite good stories as well.............
  • but I found the whole Ender's Game series to have a religous undertone.
    • Other Card books deal with religion even more overtly. The "Ships of Earth" series comes to mind. The Bean books, which I guess you could include in the Ender series, deals with issues of religion and faith quite a bit as well. I don't think Card is doing this to evangelize since there aren't many Mormon characters in his books. I think he feels that religion plays a large part in many people's lives and it should also play a part in "authentic" science fiction.

      He does write non-sci-fi books that are aimed pretty solidly at the Mormon market (as far as I can tell) as well.

  • by glh (14273)
    Here are some books that I've read that are by "Christian" authors.. not totally sci-fi but might have some elements.

    Frank E Paretti::
    This Present Darkness
    Piercing the Darkness
    Prophet

    One of my favorite series that has a fantasy/king arthur twist is by Stephen Lawhead:

    The Pendragon Cycle:

    Taliesen
    Merlin
    Arthur

    I guess I've never really come accross hugely sci-fi Christian genre.

  • ...About a year ago, I had a dream where a whole idea for a Christian sci-fi book was just played out (I wasn't even a character) in front of me in movie form. I started writing what I could remember, and I remember having coffee with shimmin and asking him about some things. He actually discouraged me a little (he only reads hard sci-fi, and thus wouldn't have been any of the ideal audience) b/c this wasn't exactly based upon entirely known technology (technology that is sure to be possible some day, but just isn't possible now, and right now no one really has a clue how to do it). But I wasn't going to write a technical manual for anything I was mentioning, I was just going to write a story based upon discoveries made while using said technology. But I still remember feeling discouraged and I abandoned the project.

    After having read the Niven interview though, I sort of feel like maybe I should start it up again. I've been longing to write again for a while. Maybe I should go ahead and invest in that laptop I've been putting off buying and get to work. I really do feel inspired to write. What thinkest everyone? Do you think there is an audience for this kind of book... futuristic books with clearly Christian characters (or in the case of my book, a main character who isn't a Christians at the beginning, but ends up thus by the end)? (Don't worry, I have no intentions of writing another _Left_Behind_ series.)
  • The Left Behind series details the how/when/where/why of things in Revelations come to pass on society in the future, interesting "fantasy" reads.
    C.S. Lewis is mentioned above and I recomend him fully. Joey is a little young for the Narnia series just yet, but at 5 or 6, it might be a good year or 2 worth of bedtime stories that are engrossing to the reader and the listener.
    There are several authors that detail how various miracles in the Bible have sound backing in natural phenomena, some use the info to try to debunk the effect of the Devine on man, but others merely view it as an explanation of God's use of Creation to fulfill his will.
    Milton is great literature that has strong foundations in religon

    <rant>This is one area where the fatalism of some of our fellow Christians comes back to bite us in the rear. Historically, most Christians take the uncertainty of when Jesus will return and try to project that the end must be near, at most 1-2 generations beyond your own (Going back to the early church in Asia Minor and Rome, there is schollarly interpretation of AD 100-200 being the longest possible time for the events of Revelations to begin to play out. The concept of a future society more than 500 years beyond our own is viewed as unrealistic in terms of God's plan. However, since no man shall know the hour of His coming, why do we have this attitude. There are churches in MA and VA that are fast approaching their 400th aniversary, and some churches in Central America/Caribean have celebrated their 500th, did their founders expect their congregation to grow and prosper into todays age? We are taught that Christ brings freedom from Death, but it seems that the concept of eternal life kind of overshoots many peoples ability to comprehend what that means. I would love to see a work that details the world after the rise of the New Jerusalem, without Sin and Death, unfortunately, I can't write fiction worth a hoot (and my NF skills are suspect at best acording to some ;-))</rant>
  • I hesitate to call these books science fiction at all; they're not really fantasy in the traditional sense, either. I'm a huge fan of James Morrow. He wrote Towing Jehovah, Blameless in Abaddon, and The Eternal Footman.

    The basic premise of all three books is that God has died and his body-- two miles long from head to toe-- has fallen into the sea.

    In Towing Jehovah, the surviving angels ask a sea captain with a burden of guilt to tow God's body to the Arctic where it can be entombed.

    In Blameless, which is a sort of sideways sequel, scientists demonstrate that God's brain is still alive, so his status is upgraded from dead to terminally comatose; a cancer-stricken judge brings God up on charges of crimes against humanity at the Hague.

    In Footman, God's body disintegrates and his skull goes into geosynchronous orbit above Times Square. The people of the west are stricken by a plague of theothanatopsis that threatens to wipe out the human race, and the mother of a plague-ridden boy makes a journey to seek a cure.

    Of course a major theme of the books is the question of whether God is actually, literally dead, or whether he merely wants to send the world into a new, posttheistic age by faking his own demise, as it were. Did God commit suicide, or merely construct a fantastic artifact of himself? How would the world react if absolute, incontrovertible proof of the past existence of God were to appear, but still leave the question of his present existence open to doubt?

    Morrow also wrote several other books. One was a collection of short stories called Bible Stories for Adults. I gave my copy away years ago, but recall enjoying it very much. Another was Only Begotten Daughter, but I seem to remember not liking that one as much.

    I think my favorite Morrow book is This is the Way the World Ends, about nuclear war and the surprising aftermath. It's terribly dated now; it was written at the height of the Cold War, but it's a great read, and near, not quite at, the end it includes the three most wrenching words I have ever read. I remember reading that one line and just sitting in my chair and weeping for hours.

    If you decide to read the Godhead trilogy, pick them up in order. They're only indirect sequels to one another, but one segues into the next so they should best be enjoyed in order.
    • That all sounds... painful. I like my religion Frank Herbert style. Cynical and cold. A tool of information warfare.

      To ask yourself if god is dead is to accept that he existed in the first place =)

      • I like my religion Frank Herbert style. Cynical and cold. A tool of information warfare.

        Whatsa matter, Bungi? Scared?

        ;-)

        • Nyet. I have logic on my side =)
          • I have logic on my side.

            I have yet to see logic explain how I-- the eternal I, the ego, the reflexive, the one who refers to himself-- came into existence.
            • I've never been able to understand why that must be explained in some sort of celestial, higher-intelligence-giveth and higher-intelligence-taketh way. Look up to the sky at night. Do you really think we're that special? I'd wager not.

              Nature is a wonderful thing. Intelligence is just a result of evolution and millions of years of hands-off testing in the most amazing laboratory.

              Religion is a psychological crutch for people who can't accept that we're just an accumulation of happy accidents. That ego you talk about - its normal reflex is to discard whatever it finds insulting, as it were. It's much more comfortable to think that there's a higher being that gives and takes according to some ill-conceived rule system that espouses ethics and self-deprecation above all else. The carrot and stick thing.

              Religions are just organized belief systems. As far as I'm concerned, they don't "explain" anything any more than science does. It's just that religions ask for "faith", whereas science requires proof.

              Logic can't explain what you want explained by itself, but it can drive the search in a much more realistic way.

              • Look up to the sky at night. Do you really think we're that special?

                The answer is right in front of your face! "Do you really think we're that special?" The mere fact that you're contemplating that question answers the question. We are the ego, the reflexive. We contemplate. This puts us in a different class entirely from other things: rocks, trees, stars.

                Are we special? Obviously we are.

                Intelligence is just a result of evolution and millions of years of hands-off testing in the most amazing laboratory.

                Prove it. Science accepts nothing as truth without proof. We have no proof of the origin of the ego. We don't even have any evidence of it. So your blind advocacy of the position that life is "just an accumulation of happy accidents" is no more rational that the most primitive animistic belief-system.

                Logic can't explain what you want explained by itself, but it can drive the search in a much more realistic way.

                How? How can logic-- though I get the sense that you're using that word somewhat loosely-- give us any insight whatsoever into aspects of existence that are beyond our observations?
                • The answer is right in front of your face!

                  What you're describing here is consciousness. At a higher level than cats, but not miraculous. Unless you can prove that this didn't happen somewhere else in the universe? =)

                  Are we special? Obviously we are.

                  That's just the ego talking there.

                  Prove it. Science accepts nothing as truth without proof. We have no proof of the origin of the ego. We don't even have any evidence of it.

                  Eh? So the fact that it hasn't been scientifically proven automatically validates the mystical explanation? We didn't have an explanation for the rings of Jupiter 500 years ago. Does that mean that it's OK to say "god created them"?

                  So your blind advocacy of the position that life is "just an accumulation of happy accidents" is no more rational that the most primitive animistic belief-system.

                  Touche. How is "having faith" not blind advocacy of the worst type?

                  How? How can logic-- though I get the sense that you're using that word somewhat loosely-- give us any insight whatsoever into aspects of existence that are beyond our observations?

                  It has until now. And you're insulting my intelligence by suggesting that there's something that's "beyond" my observation. That's the ego talking again =)

                  • That's just the ego talking there.

                    Oh, ha ha. ;-)

                    So the fact that it hasn't been scientifically proven automatically validates the mystical explanation?

                    The fact that there's no evidence one way or another means that religion is just as valid as way of explaining the ego as any other hypothesis.

                    We didn't have an explanation for the rings of Jupiter 500 years ago. Does that mean that it's OK to say "god created them"?

                    Yup. It's perfectly okay to say "God created them." (We're talking in the fiat lux sense here, of course; a Christian could just as easily argue that God created the mechanism through which the rings of Jupiter came into being, which is a different argument than the one we're having.) When evidence arises to the contrary, then the "God said let there be rings" hypothesis loses strength in favor of the "tidal forces prevent agglutination" hypothesis. But until then, both are equally strong.

                    How is "having faith" not blind advocacy of the worst type?

                    When you say "blind advocacy," you imply that it's advocacy even in the face of evidence to the contrary. We're talking about a subject for which we have no evidence at all, one way or the other: the dawn of the reflexive. Why do human beings contemplate themselves, and more importantly why do human beings leave evidence of their self-contemplations, while other objects-- organisms, rocks, whatever-- do not? Two hypotheses present themselves: either human beings are essentially like other multicellular, vertibrate organisms, but are unique in our reflexive nature; or human beings are not like other organisms at all. We have evidence of our uniqueness; we have no understanding, scientific or otherwise, of how that uniqueness came about. So advocacy in the religious hypothesis is not necessarily blind advocacy; it's merely advocacy.

                    And you're insulting my intelligence by suggesting that there's something that's "beyond" my observation.

                    Um. There are plenty of things that are beyond your observation. Events that transpired before your lifetime are beyond your observation. These are not merely things that are not being observed; they cannot be observed. We can merely observe the world as it is right now, and make up explanations for how it got to be that way. We test those explanations by using them to make predictions, then waiting around to see if those predictions come true. But when you talk about the events that led to the dawn of the ego, our hypotheses are inherently unproveable. Until we witness the creation of another group of objects like ourselves, of course.
                    • Just a minor interruption here.

                      If you guys are debating and aren't getting emotionally worked up, then fine.
                      But if I detect either of you getting frustrated, upset, violent, etc... about this, I'm deleting the entire JE.
                      It wasn't meant to be a religion debate (cause they usually grow into a flamewar), but if you guys keep it cool, I won't get in the way.

                      I'm not saying you are getting worked up, I just don't want it to escalate to that.
                    • Actually, I think we're both just fooling around. We'll drop it if you like.
                    • What Twirlip said =)

                      And hey, you started it! "Religious SciFi"??

                    • I guess that's what I get for just 'scanning' the conversation instead of reading it.
                      Sorry to sound like a hardass :-P
              • I've never been able to understand why that must be explained in some sort of celestial, higher-intelligence-giveth and higher-intelligence-taketh way. Look up to the sky at night. Do you really think we're that special? I'd wager not.

                You are correct that it doesn't have to be explained in a higher-intelligence (read: God) sort of fashion, but some people do think that the existence of self-conscious as the proof of something supernatural. Do I think that we're that special? Absolutely. The human brain is the single most complex thing we've ever witnessed in nature. Of course, there could be more advanced things out there with the enormous scope of the universe, but you are presupposing that what has happened here can happen again "by accident".

                Intelligence is just a result of evolution and millions of years of hands-off testing in the most amazing laboratory.

                There are plenty of scientists out there who would disagree with you. And I'm not takling about the quasi-scientists of the "creation science" branch. I'm sorry that I can't remember the exact name but I think you want to look into a theory of science called "intelligent design". Many of those who are involved with this science are not religious folks at all. They are just convinced that some of the basic constructs of life simply could not have happened by accident.

                Religion is a psychological crutch for people who can't accept that we're just an accumulation of happy accidents. That ego you talk about - its normal reflex is to discard whatever it finds insulting, as it were. It's much more comfortable to think that there's a higher being that gives and takes according to some ill-conceived rule system that espouses ethics and self-deprecation above all else. The carrot and stick thing.

                Ah yes, I was waiting for the "crutch" comment. Yes, the majority of the world's population is simply mentally unstable to the point that they require a psycological crutch to deal with life. You, however, are much more enlightened right? Of course, appealing to the majority is not logic at all, but I'm just amazed at the ability of the non-religious to insult so many people at once. :-)

                Personally, I find that it is much more comfortable and easy for people accept the idea that there is no higher being that sets an absolute standard of right and wrong, but maybe that's just the people I've come across in life.

                • some people do think that the existence of self-conscious as the proof of something supernatural

                  Oh, look, if I quote you out of context you start sounding like a crackpot =)

                  The human brain is the single most complex thing we've ever witnessed in nature

                  So we've witnessed everything now? Are we done?

                  but you are presupposing that what has happened here can happen again "by accident"

                  And you're against the idea that it can - OK. But that and "it was made to happen" are two very different things.

                  They are just convinced that some of the basic constructs of life simply could not have happened by accident.

                  Whoa, I'd say it's precisely the basic constructs of life that are happy accidents. The rest is just evolutionary accumulation.

                  Yes, the majority of the world's population is simply mentally unstable to the point that they require a psycological crutch to deal with life

                  Har, har. Well, I'm entitled to my opinion, right? Hey, my mom is a devout catholic. Does that mean I think she's dumb? Nope. But deep down, somewhere in a dark corner of your psyche, you're probably scared of the enormity of existence and you'd rather not think about it too much. It's so much more convenient to sing hallellujah and pass the biscuits.

                  But don't feel bad. You're in a well-populated minority =)

                  [BTW, take all this with a big GRIN, eh?]

              • some quotes:

                "All religions, arts, and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom."


                "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

                "God does not play dice with the universe."

                "When the solution is simple, God is answering."

                who said all of these things? albert einstein. (a quick google search will confirm this.) he knew at least a little bit about science. i'm not saying that einstein definately followed any specific religion's beliefs. i just find it interesting that he saw science and religion as convergent, not antagonistic. now, that doesn't account for religions that are intollerant of science, but it would be unfair to label all religion the same way based on a few (very loud) people. there are both believers and unbelievers that have problems with allowing this connection. there are believers and unbelievers that don't.
      • In which case, have you read Forty Thousand In Gehenna? In fact, a case could be made that the implications of a conscious decision to create an architecture of belief is one of the big three themes of the entire vast Union/Alliance/Cyteen story arc. Amazing stuff.
        On a related note, how about the constantly reexamined theme of the beliefs of the societies in or after generation ships, from Heinlein to Herbert to Harrison? Even Blish's Cities In Flight (repeatedly) and the Darkover novels go into it. So does Niven's own Integral Trees series. It's a safe bet that Alan Dean Foster has picked it up at least once or twice. It seems to me that the idea of what beliefs would pop up after a generation ship has gone wrong is like pollen to bees in the eyes of speculative fiction authors.

        By the way, if this is to digress into handling of Christian themes in general in SF, how long are we going to continue before *somebody* takes up Stranger In A Strange Land? Since I'm, to put it mildly, not looking at this from a Christian perspective, I'm leaving that hot potato to somebody else; same goes for all of Heinlein's mid-career to late career explorations of that territory. His takes on evangelical churches and the Bible's take on compassion alone should be worth a few comments.

        Rustin
        • In which case, have you read Forty Thousand In Gehenna?

          No, I haven't. I must now =)

          It seems to me that the idea of what beliefs would pop up after a generation ship has gone wrong is like pollen to bees in the eyes of speculative fiction authors.

          Oh yes. The ones you mentioned and Herbert's own Voidship series (The Jesus Incident, et.al). it's a fascinating (and frightening sometimes) peek into the mass psyche and its response to messianic stimulation. Perhaps, as Herbert speculates, it's something that's burned into our DNA!

          how long are we going to continue before *somebody* takes up Stranger In A Strange Land?

          OMG. No pun intended but I ain't going there =)

          • Re FTIG, I'm warning you now that many of the reasons for the Gehenna Project don't get revealed until several books later.
            Ol' C.J. writes 'em complex and she writes 'em mean. Just the way I like it. If she were ever to start a management consulting firm, let alone a political action commitee, I'ld apply for a job in a hot minute.

            btw, having just *finally* read the Niven thred I'm reminded that Footfall has some passable things to say about generation ship cultural changes too.

            Rustin
  • Anything by Madelaine L'Engle (A Wrinkle In Time,etc.) can be assumed to come from an explicitly or at least implicitly Christian viewpoint.
    C.S. Lewis (Narnia, etc.) made it quite plain that his work was meant to promote Christianity (Note his letters to/from Tolkien).
    Dozens of authors have taken on the idea of going back and studying Jesus using a time machine and IIRC Pournelle did a book where he and friend die and end up in Danté's idea of Hell (i.e. the Inferno).
    Phillip Jose Farmer has had a lot of fun with Christian themes but he is not, shall we say, reverent.
    Almost any mainstream movie out there that deals with death assumes a Christian universe (Ghost comes to mind).
    I'ld put in another vote for Canticle for Leibowitz but it is in large part a satire on the everyday becoming "sacred" due to circumstance (in this case an electronics engineer after a nuclear war).
    Rick Sutcliffe like to write on this turf but I've never read his stuff so don't have an opinion one way or the other.

    Cordwainer Smith's approach was, well, his own but fundamentally has a deep concern with Christian themes and traditions.
    Of course, you could start out with the dozens of sets of weblinks on this theme, such as this one [speakeasy.org] or this one [adherents.com].

    Personally, I far prefer the swiftly increasing legions of writers doing speculative fiction from a neopagan/druidic/animist perspective, such as Katherine Kurtz (Lammas Night) or the many children's books like Over Sea, Under Stone but, hey, that's me.

    Rustin
  • When I get home from work and have access to my library at home, I'll write up a fairly detailed list of the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Books I've personaly read.

    In the mean time, you might want to pose your question to www.radiofreetomorrow.org it's a scoop site dedicated to science fiction and fantasy. Some of the people there have a very extensive knowledge of sci-fi and I'm sure that they'll be able to give you a very good list of what you're looking for.
  • While I've found that a great deal of science fiction seeks to deal with religious issues, if you're looking for a Sci-Fi author who writes from a specifically Christian viewpoint try Frank Peretti [amazon.com]. Prophet and the "Darkness" series are pretty good. The Oath is a little muddier with its message.

    Actually, now that I think about it, these books are probably more fantasy than sci-fi. At any rate, they take place in the present or recent past. You can check out Peter Hamilton's [amazon.com] Night's Dawn trilogy (The Reality Dysfunction, The Neutronium Alchemist, The Naked God) for an excellent story of Christians (and others) wrestling with futuristic issues.

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