Putting ‘religion’ and ‘Science Fiction’ in the title as in ‘The Religion Of Science Fiction’ will have many of you wondering what this book is covering. Me, too. Religion comes up a lot in Science Fiction in many different roles and would be the logical choice as for its discussion point. Er, no. Although written back in 1986, this is more about comparisons and how people treat Science Fiction as religion I think. Saying that, I still think author Frederick A. Kreuziger is still in a grey area, especially when he describes mathematics as a sacred language. A precise language perhaps but ‘sacred’ is a big word to associate with it. Maths is to do with numbers and as precise as many decimal points you want an answer.
The first third of the book compares apocalypses in religion and Science Fiction although I don’t think it’s happened with the former yet. For SF, you can’t get more final than the end to everything or even pulling it back from the brink or encouraging that there might be better things with a change of regime. SF authors tend to examine such things by looking at our own reality and where this might take them from certain circumstances, often using contemporary characters for the needed connection than those we couldn’t really relate to when set in the far future. Considering the use of a nuclear bomb is as final as you can really get, it’s pretty obvious that it’ll stand out over germ warfare and even deviant nanotechnology. There have been some SF covering these areas but aren’t as well remembered.
The choice of examples in any book discussing SF can show any author’s own taste in our genre. Do they pick out the significant novels, pick and choose from a subject checklist, totally randomly or actually fans first, understanding the genre and do a widesweep looking for good and bad examples. Kreuziger’s book selection, even for the 80s, hits on the more well-known authors but only in a way that backs his discussion rather than the more scientific approach and include the counter-arguments from the books that don’t. I came away from this book not really knowing what he was trying to get at.
Chapter 5 is more telling as it explores the concept of SF better. Kreuziger makes an interesting judgement in that SF builds upon itself, making itself better each time. He doesn’t exactly understand the mechanism though because as our technology has evolved, SF authors have done so to keep up or faces looking dated. This doesn’t mean the earlier books aren’t still read, being seen as classics, but the more successful ones have a futuristic setting that stops them dating so much. You can draw a comparison of that to the more popular film and TV series SF as they are all set in the future. Steampunk hadn’t really started back when he wrote this book and I think Kreuziger would have had to wonder what was going on instead of contemplating that a lot of SF is about change, which he actually recognises, and it doesn’t really matter what point in time we start from. He does recognise it as a fiction of wonder but that’s probably what got us all hooked in the first place as there is no other genre like it.
In many respects, I think his book title is a bit of a misnomer but as he’d already written a book called ‘Apocalypse And Science Fiction: A Dialectic Of Religious And Secular Soteriologies’, which I haven’t read, then there is a possibility that this book is just a continuation of that subject with a different title.
Although this book isn’t that bewildering, it does have elements of its age. However, if you’re familiar with the likes of Heinlein, Asimov and Clarke, then at least you will know what he is referring to. A lot of this book feels like old ground but only because there have been other books on this subject in more recent years. Probably the strongest thing I can say is it won’t corrupt you with faith.
(pub: Bowling Green State University Popular Press. 166 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £13.95 (UK), $14.95 (US). ISBN: 978-0-87972-367-5)
check out websites: www.bgsu.edu/colleges/library/pcl/pclms216_intro.html and www.eurospanbookstore.com