Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Messianic Characters in Science Fiction

Adam Caldwell has been reading a lot lately and asks:

There are several things I've learned about SciFi:

1. A truly good science fiction novel tells us something about our current social structure.

2. N
anotechnology will some day destroy the human race, unless we are very...very careful

3. If there isn't a Messiah character, then it's just not good.

Question: If so many good science fiction writers can't survive without the aid of a Messiah (i.e., telling and retelling our story/God's story), why do we think we can get by without the aid of a Messiah?

Another Question:Does reality for these writers drive the ideas behind these stories, or are they simply making them up?These are the things I think about.

I think that so many sci-fi (and fantasy) writers use messianic characters because we all desire to escape the powerlessness of our human lives. Our earthly lives are, at best, a house of cards that can be destroyed with a gentle breeze. Messiahs change the world around them. Like Paul Mua'Dib in Dune: once a boy hunted in the desert, fleeing from place to place. After he understood and accepted his messianic role, he became a colossus bestriding the Empire, bending the great powers to his will.

It's not that so many people think that they can get by without a messiah, it's that we each want to be our own messiah ourselves.


Matt said...

I had posted my review of the movie Sunshine (directed by Danny Boyle) here, and the main character in that is an overt messianic figure (literally saving the world), as well as a covert Christ symbol.

To answer your questions - I don't think I can get by without the aid of (The) Messiah - Jesus.

For the second question, I think there are some writers (for example, C.S. Lewis, JRR Tolkien, and Gene Wolfe) who are evidently Christian and write sci-fi/fantasy that includes messiah characters (Aslan, Bilbo, and Severian). There are others (Terry Brooks, who I don't think has said what religion he is) who include the messiah characters because it makes for good reading.

truevyne said...

I'm such a sucker for these kind of questions. These are precisely the reasons I still love sci-fi.