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Sacred Space: The Quest for Transcendence in Science Fiction Film and Television
Baylor University Press / 2010 / Paperback
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* Are you a fan of Star Trek, Star Wars, or Babylon 5? Join Cowan on a journey where no one has gone before! Exploring religious ideas prevalent in science fiction films, he shows how the genre reinforces culturally constructed conceptions of hope---and reveals what the movies say about our society's worldviews and humanity's mission. 326 pages, softcover from Baylor University.
As humans, it is our trust in something larger than ourselves that invests our lives with meaning and value. We hope that outside the boundaries of everyday living there lies something greater. As Doug Cowan argues, science fiction is the genre of possibility and hope, a principal canvas on which writers, artists, and filmmakers have sketched their visions of this transcendent potential for generations. In Sacred Space, he leads readers in a compelling exploration of how this transcendence is manifested in science-fiction cinema and television of today.
From the millennial dreams of a future bright with potential to the promise of evolution from some as-yet-undreamed engine of creation, science fiction's visions of transcendence animate the pages of Sacred Space. Drawing on the most popular examples--Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Babylon 5, and Stargate SG-1--as well as the lesser known but no less important, Cowan reveals the multivalent religious ideas present in this media. Why do these themes that consistently appear in science fiction matter? What do they reveal about the often ambivalent relationship between outer space and our spirits? Cowan insightfully shows how these films and shows express and reinforce culturally constructed conceptions of transcendent hope, and along the way provides a provocative reflection on what this ultimately says about our culture's worldviews, hopes, and fears.
Cowan, a professor of religious studies at Renison University College, University of Waterloo, has investigated the intersections of religion and culture in previous books (Sacred Terror). He now turns an academic eye to science fiction movies and TV and what the genre reveals about human ideas of transcendence, examining such shows as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and the recently remade Battlestar Galactica alongside such movies as Contact and Blade Runner. While some concepts are treated more harshly than others--Cowan critiques several Christian films for their anthropocentric transcendent ideals--the author provides an intriguing and entertaining look into some of the questions that science fiction raises, especially what it means to be human, and sometimes more than human. Robots may be a common enemy in science fiction, but to Cowan, they also represent our fears, and hopes, of going beyond natural and social limits. While possibly better suited to a classroom than a general reader's bookshelf, even casual Trekkies and sci-fi buffs will be engaged by Cowan's interpretations and possibilities. (Aug.) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
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