Monday, November 11, 2002

Science fiction friendly to religion?

Recently I complained that in Star Trek, the only races to have any sort of religion were the Klingons, and theirs was a primitive warrior cult. A friendly reader pointed out to me that the Bajorans from Deep Space Nine also were religious. I apologize for my error. I never quite had time to keep up with DS9.

But the letter got me thinking: what novels or movies in the field of speculative fiction are most congenial to religious belief, and specifically to a Catholic understanding of human nature? (I prefer the name "speculative fiction" rather than "science fiction," since often the subject matter has little to do with science. Lord of the Rings is certainly speculative fiction, but not at all science fiction.)

So I want to start a bit of a contest: send me your list of the best Catholic speculative fiction. After a week or so I will publish the top ten, if I get that many responses. Keep in mind that we want good books, and that the books need not be overtly Catholic. Walker Percy points out that if a novel is perceived to be a religious novel, it probably isn't a good novel; the novelist must be tricky, a master of deception, so that themes of God and salvation are absorbed, but not perceived. These books should be good, first of all, and Catholic second. Further, The Lord of the Rings are in my opinion the most Catholic of all novels, and there is not one bit of Catholic doctrine in the books. They are Catholic because they show a Catholic understanding of sin, grace, and redemption. Note further that I say Catholic mostly to keep out the Left Behind garbage; otherwise, non-millenialist Christian novels will be accepted.

I'm interested to read your responses, so send me a list, with some explanation, of the best and most Catholic novels in the genre of speculative fiction. I will print names when I post the results unless you specify otherwise.

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