Kurt Vonnegut: Unlikely Apologist

The late Kurt Vonnegut inspires loyalty among his readers. He’s the kind of author whose fans devour book after book, reading one after another in rapid succession. Or at least I did. Back in 1997 a coworker recommended Vonnegut to me, specifically Slaughterhouse-Five. Unable to get my hands on that novel, I checked out Deadeye Dick. I was hooked. By the end of the year, I’d read at least ten Vonnegut novels, only whetting my appetite for more.Vonnegut is often thought of as cynical, edgy, an … [Read more...]

Science Fiction’s Dark Star: Alfred Bester at 100

It would be easy to miss, but December 18 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Alfred Bester, one of the pioneers of modern science fiction. A Manhattan native, Bester began his career as a writer in earnest in the 1940s, publishing pulp science fiction, penning radio scripts, and doing work for DC Comics on Superman and Green Lantern titles. In the 1950s, however, he followed the trend of science fiction away from the short story magazine world to the realm of novels. It was in this … [Read more...]

Doctor Who’s Doctrine, Part 2: Genre Roots

Before “Doctor Who” officially turns 50 this November, Christ and Pop Culture will spend 12 weeks delving deep into the science-fiction series phenomenon. You can find part 1 in our series here.by Royce HuntThe British sci-fi series Doctor Who returned to television in 2005, finding thousands of new fans. But my love for the Doctor’s stories goes further back in time.In the 1970s I enjoyed a host of new and syndicated science-fiction programs, cheering on the feats of The Six Millio … [Read more...]

Defeating Gnostic Forces In Fantasy Fiction

Kathy Tyers has more reasons than most to track the development of the new Star Wars films.While Disney may be the franchise’s new owner, able to continue its story in film, Tyers was among the first authors to explore that world officially after the (chronologically) final film, Return of the Jedi. At the recent Realm Makers conference for Christian fantasy writers and fans, she wonders aloud: Will the new films keep Luke Skywalker’s marriage that Tyers happily supported, and her role as … [Read more...]

The Future as Myth: Celebrating 100 Years of Cordwainer Smith

Many fans of science fiction literature will be noting that today (July 11th) marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger, better known by his pen name Cordwainer Smith. I first discovered his work when, as a middle school student, I found a copy of The Best of Cordwainer Smith on a shelf at my local haunt, Annie’s Used Book Stop. Remembering that David Pringle’s Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction had given that book its highest rating, I spent a dollar or so to purc … [Read more...]

Why Does Science Fiction Invent So Many Foreign Gods?

The defining moment for my interest in science fiction came when I was in seventh grade and found a copy of David Pringle’s Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction on a bookshelf at a Mr. Paperback store near my grandparents’ home in Maine. I had already long loved the speculative genre, but Pringle’s book -- which gave capsule summary reviews of over 3,000 novels, collections, and anthologies -- proved an almost inexhaustible resource in my hunt for new titles to explore. I carried it with me to book … [Read more...]

Music Matters: Death, The End of All Things and Hope Laid Up in the Heavens in Muse’s “Exogenesis Symphony”

Each Tuesday in Music Matters, Matthew Linder explores the intersections of music, culture and faith."Our wonder will become realigned to God’s grace and our hope is not in escaping this earth but making our stand here as the God of the universe one day will bring heaven down to us."From the day we are born, all of us are spiraling towards one thing—death. Yet in most Western cultures we rarely think about death on a personal level. Not many of us wake up in the morning struggling “wi … [Read more...]

Does the Church Have Room for Science Fiction?

Back in 2011, The Catholic World Report posted a piece titled "The Cross and The Stars" that looked at the possibility for Catholics (or any Christians, presumably) to find value in science fiction (aka, "speculative fiction") literature. It begins by noting the potential challenges that the genre poses for Christians: What do Worlds of If have to do with Jerusalem? Do Catholic writers have a place among the wizards of fantasy and the starships of science fiction? The very pervasiveness of … [Read more...]

Science Fiction and Theology: A Match Made in Heaven?

Science fiction can be more than just stories about big-headed aliens, evil robots, and laser guns. It can probe complex and provocative theological ideas, or so claim the theologians interviewed in a recent io9 article titled "Big Theological Questions that Science Fiction Should Answer".The article's author, Charlie Jane Anders, interviewed several theologians who also happen to be sci-fi nerds, including Lorenzo DiTommaso, Robert Geraci, and James McGrath. The reason for this interest in s … [Read more...]

Books Besides the Bible: Is Science Fiction un-Christian?

Every Monday in Books Besides the Bible, Ethan Bartlett considers the value and pleasure of reading for Christians.While I don't know how widespread this perception is, I've had several people -- all of them pastors or lay Bible teachers -- immediately ask me something like, “Isn't the worldview of science fiction inherently anti- or at least un-Christian, since it views science as the ultimate savior of mankind?” after discovering that I'm a fan of the genre. The first few times this happ … [Read more...]