Friday, March 24, 2006


I feel like I'm catching up with the rest of sf fandom now, having had the chance to catch the first couple of episodes of Firefly last night.

And I think it might turn out to be as good as everyone keeps saying it is.

I have to admit I was surprised just how much Western had been crammed in. So far I'd say it's more a Western-with-spaceships than a sci-fi-with-cowboys. But what cool spaceships!

There was plenty of that Whedon humour that made Buffy so good too.

Oh, and there's a sort of a priest, so hey, I might find an excuse to comment on it again.

I think it's safe to say I'm hooked, and I'm preparing myself for the abject disappointment when I get to the end and realise there's no more.

Except Serenity, which I also haven't seen.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Essential reading

Well, just in case anyone else decides to follow my suggestions for Christian science fiction, I've added the amazon links for those that crop up and which are, in this blogger's opinion, essential reading in the Christian sf genre. Eventually I will get round to reviewing them properly, but that might take some time as it will involve a re-read in many cases.

I will be adding to the list steadily, in the meantime, please feel free to recommend anything I might have missed.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

In the image of God

I just threw this in at the end of yesterday's post, but it started a train of thought I decided might be worth finishing here.

There is indeed more to 'the image of God' than just a passing resemblance; in The Message, mankind is made 'reflecting God's nature'.

Whether or not God is basically humanoid (or at least, humans basically God-shaped) we probably won't find out just yet, and will each have to come to our own decision as to what to believe (or indeed if it even matters).

Let us assume that it does matter. Depending on how we decide to interpret these verses, there are two basic responses when confronted by intelligent insectoids from Betelgeuse:
  1. Our interpretation is confirmed, and our understanding of scripture enhanced:
    Ah, it did refer just to the nature of God. Presumably God doesn't have a body, after all...
  2. Our interpretation is challenged:
    But God's a humanoid! How can these... things be more intelligent than us? Perhaps they are demons. Perhaps the Bible isn't as inerrant as I thought...

And all this before the alien ambassador can get his mandibles round 'Take me to your leader'.

Once he has appeared on Parkinson and Oprah, regaling us all with tales of interstellar travel and what it's really like on Betelgeuse, it surely cannot be long before some other long argued over point of belief is challenged.

How long before the established church falls apart, a rift opening up between those unable to reconcile alien life with their version of Christianity and those using the opportunity to enhance their understanding of God.

How does secular culture react to this new schism in the church?

How does our alien ambassador react?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I Want To Believe

As a teenager, I believed in possibilities.

I believed in the possibility that dead people sometimes hung around their old house, just in case they didn't like the new occupants.

I believed in the possibility that this planet wasn't the only one capable of supporting intelligent life.

I even believed in the possibility that the universe didn't just spring into existence of its own accord, but was the creation of a superior being. (I also believed in the possibility that said superior being kept the universe in a fishtank in his kitchen, but that's not important right now.)
When I became a Christian some of my beliefs were altered, but not entirely thrown out (except the fishtank one).

I believe there is a spiritual realm to the universe, demons and angels, if you like, and that this may account for many of the ghosts people claim to have encountered.

I still believe in the possibility of life on other planets. Why not? Speculation as to how the story of God may have played out a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, was what led me to create the Old Testament Space Opera.

It also leads to one of christian sf's interesting dilemmas: If man is created in God's image, what happens when intelligent alien life turns out to have ten arms and no head? or be a shapeshifter? or a super-intelligent shade of the colour blue?

Friday, March 17, 2006

A heads up to you American readers...

If you haven't seen the latest incarnation of Doctor Who yet, it kicks off on the Sci-Fi Channel tonight.

I raved about it in my other blog just before it aired here, and here afterwards.

I was running round like a demented 8-year-old waiting for the first episode, and it has to be said, I was not disappointed.

I'd be interested to hear what anyone else thinks of it.

(Incidentally, it seems I was wrong about the Doctor only having seven lives. Apparently I'm a rubbish Whovian as well as a rubbish Trekkie...)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

So what makes sf Christian then?

In certain aspects of life there is a perception among some people that science and religion are necessarily at odds with one another. Science fiction, by definition, depends upon an element of science, be it robots or clones, space ships or time machines. This, perhaps, is one of the reasons why in much science fiction, religion barely gets a mention. What happened to the religions of Earth in Star Trek, for instance? As I recall the first mention of any kind of religion as we know it was when Kirk went one-on-one with God in The Final Frontier. And won.

I don't subscribe to the view that science and Christianity are mutually exclusive, and I don't believe that science fiction and Christianity should be so either. I suspect readers of this blog will agree, unless they're just here to mock me.

Having established that science fiction covers a fairly broad subject area, perhaps we should define Christian science fiction. I've bandied about terms like 'Christian fiction' and 'Christian novel' on my other blog and elsewhere occasionally, knowing what I mean but never really sure anyone else knows.

Essentially, what I call Christian fiction is that in which some aspect of the Christian life plays a significant role - by significant I mean more than Christianity being just another character trait plucked out of the bag.

This gets a bit complicated in the realms of science fiction, not least in my own 'Christian' novel, which (a) has Old Testament roots and therefore no Christ, and (b) is set in a fictional universe entirely separate from our own, where there is no such thing as Christ, Christianity, or even Judaism. It is, however, written from my worldview as a Christian, and has at its core The Creed, an essentially Judeo-Christian faith.

Which seems an appropriate point to direct you to Becky's blog, where she has been discussing the Christian worldview in fiction for a few days. It saves me typing any more, anyway. :-)

Monday, March 13, 2006

A Mars a day...

Just in case anyone doesn't stop off at google on their way anywhere on the 'net, this is the little toy they're plugging today.

I'm not currently planning on sending any characters to Mars, for which this would be a nice, simple tool, but it's been such a mainstay of sf over the years - from H G Wells to War of the Worlds - that it has to be of passing interest to many sf fans.

And yes, it's a landscape already plundered by Christian sf too, right back to C S Lewis' Out of the Silent Planet, which may well have been the first instance of Christian science fiction - if anyone knows better, let me know!

A more contemporary version of Lewis' Malacandra - and therefore one more in accordance with current knowledge of Mars - is rendered by Stephen Lawhead in Dream Thief. This is one of my favourite Christian novels of any kind - worthy of a re-read and a proper review, but for now I will just say that Lawhead's sf books should be on any list of must-read Christian fiction.