Thursday, February 5, 2009

Science fiction and religion

Whoo, that's a title, isn't it? Anything with religion tends to whip up the folk's attention. It worked for me, when the Internet Review of Science Fiction's digest email arrived today, with this intriguing title: Wrong on Religion, Wrong on Science Fiction. I just had to read that.

McKee's article is about a new nonfiction book, Scientific Mythologies, by James A. Herrick. It's a very smart and surprisingly thorough deconstruction. Here's a brief passage of McKee's review:

It's clear from the beginning that Herrick doesn't like science fiction, and that's perfectly acceptable. But what soon becomes clear is that he doesn't respect it either. Scientific Mythologies is filled with errors both large and small. For instance, it's riddled with spelling errors: the villains of Battlestar Galactica are "Cyclons"; the director of 2001 is "Stanley Kubric"; the star of Contact is "Jodi Foster". There are also a number of factual errors regarding the release dates of novels and films. If Herrick can't be bothered to spell "Kubrick" correctly, what does that say for the attention he gives to the actual content of the works he's discussing? Not much, as we see in his discussion of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. His interpretation of the final scenes is somewhat odd:
Moreover, these aliens actually vaguely resemble some, though certainly not all, of the members of the gathered and adoring humans. Spielberg's camera lingers on an alien face, and we notice its childlike high forehead, large eyes and small chin. The director's camera now focuses on particular human faces in the crowd. Again we are struck by the large eyes, the high foreheads and the receding chins of these special humans.
Now, I may be mistaken here, but I've seen Close Encounters many, many times, and I never thought that Spielberg was trying to compare Richard Dreyfuss to the briefly-glimpsed grotesque alien in the film's final scene.

If you find all discussions of myth and science as fascinating as I do, you should read the whole review. It will save you having to read the book:

1 comment:

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Great topic, Louise.

Every now and then 'religion and being a scientist' comes up on the lists I'm on and people go at it hammer and tongs.

Cheers, R.