Skip to main content
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 6
  • Cited by
    This (lowercase (translateProductType product.productType)) has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Kerry, Stephen Craig 2017. Australian Queer Science Fiction Fans. Journal of Homosexuality, p. 1.

    Raine, Susan 2015. Astounding history: L. Ron Hubbard's Scientology space opera. Religion, Vol. 45, Issue. 1, p. 66.

    Cokinos, Christopher 2014. The Pastoral Complexities of Clifford Simak. Extrapolation, Vol. 55, Issue. 2, p. 133.

    Lan, Kuo-Wei 2013. Apocalyptic post-human and techno-religious transcendence in Casshern. Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema, Vol. 5, Issue. 1-2, p. 77.

    Locke, Simon 2012. Spirit(ualitie)s of Science in Words and Pictures: Syncretising Science and Religion in the Cosmologies of Two Comic Books. Journal of Contemporary Religion, Vol. 27, Issue. 3, p. 383.

    Umberto Rossi 2012. The Shunts in the Tale: The Narrative Architecture of Philip K. Dick’s <em>VALIS</em>. Science Fiction Studies, Vol. 39, Issue. 2, p. 243.

  • Print publication year: 2003
  • Online publication date: May 2006

20 - Religion and science fiction

from Part 3 - Sub-genres and themes

The fascination of sf with faith and with ritual can be located in the geography of two strands of genre development. The first, scientific romance, bestowed upon sf a sense of grandeur and wonder at the cosmos and its works. From the scientific romance were drawn the great space operas of E. E. 'Doc' Smith, the spiritual journeys of David Lindsay (A Voyage to Arcturus, 1920) and the eschatological futurism of Olaf Stapledon. While the scientific romance did not support a religious interpretation of the world, it revelled in the immaterial and imparted to genre sf a desire for the transcendent; this vision of the future represented an attempt to peer into the heavens. The second, sf as it developed in the pulp magazines, leaned towards a much more material and ritualistic understanding of religion and, on the surface at least, this became the dominant mode of the sf encounter with religion.

Genre publishing began in the USA in the 1920s and much of what I describe in this chapter is consequent upon this specific cultural milieu. Most superficial accounts of the USA in this period adopt a particularist, northeastern approach in which America emerges into scientific and political rationalism at the beginning of the twentieth century. Yet most Americans remained deeply religious. From 1926 onwards, while court cases appeared to be ruling for ever greater secularization, legislation restricting the teaching of scientific knowledge and method quietly sneaked on to local statute books (this did not come to light until the curriculum reforms of the late 1950s, prompted by the Russian launch of Sputnik). By 1960, secularism, or at least a liberal interpretation of most faiths, provided an apparently hegemonic intellectual tradition in the USA.

Recommend this book

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction
  • Online ISBN: 9780511998805
  • Book DOI:
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to *