Sometimes I’ve felt as though the decision to study a sci-fi series for my dissertation on the emerging church was a bit too wacky! So I was greatly encouraged by Mike Alsford’s work on ‘Religious Themes in Science Fiction’, especially as he describes the way in which this particular genre encourages us to face both hope and dread.
'To contemplate a destiny amongst the stars whilst at the same time recognising our capacity for greed and self destruction; to aspire to new levels of existence, transformations to ever more blessed states of being, while acknowledging our equal potential to create and become monsters; to look forward to a future paradise or to dread the end results of urban decay and social collapse: hope and dread –these are indeed two of the poles that define us.'
Alsford, M, What If? Religious Themes in Science Fiction, (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 2000) pp2-3.
Maggie Burns seems to take this a step further by declaring that Sci-fi makes us face our hopes, fears (=dread) and the truth.
‘… the highest goal of science fiction is to tell us the truth about ourselves. We find it in every sci-fi work that has ever tried to say: “This is how it is. Don’t pretend, don’t turn away, don’t lie. This is who you are. This is what we are.” … Firefly … sets out to show us our world through a created one.’ Burns, M, ‘Mars needs Women’ in Espenson, J (ed), Serenity Found: More Unauhorized essays on Joss Whedon's Firefly Universe, (Dallas, TX: Benbella Books, 2007) pp15-16.
This belief, in the power of story to touch us at a deep level, is my starting point.