Thursday, December 20, 2007

The 10 Best Science Fiction Stories About Religion

Gabriel McKee's blog "SF Gospel" has this fascinating list of The 10 Best Science Fiction Stories About Religion.

I'm particularly pleased to see him skipping such simplistic fare as Arthur C. Clarke's "The Star" and "The Nine Billion Names of God," and Isaac Asimov's "The Last Question," which usually choke such lists; and I'm delighted to see him including Michael Bishop's unaccountably little known "The Gospel According to Gamaliel Crucis."

(However, my own list would have included Michael Moorcock's original short version of "Behold the Man," which I think is a better, tighter work than the later novel; in a note at the end of the blog entry, McKee says he's excluded it because of the existence of the novel, and that's fair enough.)

McKee wrote the wonderful nonfiction book The Gospel According to Science Fiction -- a fine choice to keep in mind for the "Best Related Book" Hugo Award as we gear up to nominating works from 2007 in the next few weeks.

(As for short work of my own about religion, has my "Come All Ye Faithful" and my short-short "The Abdication of Pope Mary III," which Publishers Weekly called "gobsmacking.")

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


At December 21, 2007 9:51 PM , Blogger Josh said...

Thanks for the link -- I haven't read most of those. I did just run across Harlan Ellison's "Paingod" for the first time, which turned out to be surprisingly sweet.

At December 26, 2007 3:20 PM , Blogger Ariel Alejandro said...

hi i like your writing, i have read calculating god and the terminal expiment and i also read asimov, benford, niven and i like to know what did you mean with "Isaac Asimov's "The Last Question," which usually choke such lists" was that its chokes the list because is to good or because there are other good lesser-known stories

At December 26, 2007 3:35 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

I mean that they're the kind of short-short stories that teenage atheists think are oh-so-clever (and I myself was once once such a teenager), but that most people who have studied any theology (whether they're atheists or not) would find quite simplistic; they're overrated.

The best of lot is probably "The Star," whereas "The Nine Billion Names of God" is just plain silly. Douglas Adams essentially makes that point by lampooning it. He, too, has the whole universe created to solve a simple math problem (permuting alphabetic strings in Clarke; multiplying 6x9 in Adams) in THE HITCH-HIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY.

Thanks for the kind words about my work, Ariel!


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