The Religion Of Science Fiction by Frederick A. Kreuziger (book review).

Two things that surprised me most about Frederick A. Kreuziger’s book, ‘The Religion Of Science Fiction’. Although printed in 1986, you can still get first hand copies of the book. Either it hasn’t sold well or it’s had a bigger print run than anticipated. Of course, it might just be a title containing ‘religion’ that causes potential readers to pause but as I tend to be pretty fearless…

Please note the title. It’s not an ‘And’ but an ‘Of’, so the topic is how much belief we have in Science Fiction. All of its book references tend to cover the Golden Age of Science Fiction so if you’re familiar with books up to that time, then you shouldn’t have any problems with the main sources. It would have been interesting to have seen Kreuziger write a more up-to-date version of this book if only to see what he makes of the likes of ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Star Wars’ in this context and how they’ve ingrained themselves into fan psychology mantras.

In the meantime, Kreuziger makes a good point in that Science Fiction is written for believers. By that, he means for people who understand what SF is all about which is us folk. Think about all the people you know who say, ‘They don’t get SF.’ I think it’s the same thing as those people who can’t read comics, the concept of reading in panels seems to be beyond them or they aren’t prepared to make the effort. Is SF more acceptable today because of films or because there are more people brought up to get it, making it mainstream? Mind you, when Kreuziger goes on to discuss Bob Dylan lyrics about the apocalypse, I have to confess that I wasn’t really paying that much attention to them in that context. Kreuziger does explain mythological legends in an SF context which goes to show that we’ve always like a bit of fantasy in our lives. There are some biblical references but Kreuziger uses these for comparisons than for religious conviction. In fact, I would go as far to say that he is exploring the concept of belief and that we’ve always done it than just applies to Science Fiction.

A significant thought by Kreuziger is that Science Fiction exists in two camps, utopia and Armageddon, the end of the world. He gives a good case for it but I wish, like I do with other scholarly authors, they would explore why other categories don’t work for them. You can make any argument work on people by ignoring others that don’t fit the argument but it can stop readers thinking about other choices. Anyway, Kreuziger’s argument is more towards us in that SF is a fiction for the future and what is going to happen there which means only one of two choices and it is a ‘literature of wonder’ which I doubt any of us would disagree with.

Don’t treat Kreuziger’s book as a light read despite the low page count. I think I would have liked him to have explored further but a book of 32 years age is bound to have had a lot of changes in the interim. If anything, it shows how far we’ve gone in that time.

I do think he’s made a mistake in terms of putting us all under one categorisation. Some fans are more extreme than others and that there are different levels of obsession but that happens with any interest. The real obsessives in SF focus on a single interest within it. We SF generalists take it all in but far more liberal in our tastes. There is room for all, providing if it’s all by free will.

From a writing point of view, Kreuziger cites SF writers are more intent on looking at current social society and reflect that in our fiction. I think that’s been lost a lot in the current stories so if you want to bring that back you need to select books that deal with this and see if publishers take notice. In the meantime, read this book as it will make you think.

GF Willmetts

May 2018

(pub: The Bowling Green State University State Press, 1986. 166 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £16.75 (UK, $14.95 (US). ISBN: 0-87972-367-X)

check out website: https://uwpress.wisc.edu


Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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