Sacred Space: The Quest for Transcendence in Science Fiction Film and Television

Sacred Space: The Quest for Transcendence in Science Fiction Film and Television

by Douglas E. Cowan
     
 

Science fiction, according to Douglas Cowan, is the genre of possibility and hope, a principal canvas on which writers, artists, and filmmakers have for generations sketched their visions of humanity's transcendent potential. 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

Overview

Science fiction, according to Douglas Cowan, is the genre of possibility and hope, a principal canvas on which writers, artists, and filmmakers have for generations sketched their visions of humanity's transcendent potential. 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, Sacred Space reveals the multivalent religious ideas present in these media. Why do the 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 demonstrates 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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
www.theofantastique.com - John W. Morehead

Highly recommended. Here we learn that science fiction is more than bug-eyed aliens and saucers—and that it often reveals our quest for the sacred.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781602582385
Publisher:
Baylor University Press
Publication date:
08/15/2010
Pages:
326
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Conrad Ostwalt

From the ‘millennial dreams’ and ‘apocalyptic nightmares’ of alien contact to the Buddhist visions of Neo’s matrix, Doug Cowan weaves a grand adventure for fans and students of religion and science fiction. If the hope for transcendence is the universal human religious question, as Cowan ably presents, then science fiction film and television are the blank screens most qualified in our media-rich culture to propel us on that journey.

John Lyden

Cowan convincingly demonstrates that modern science-fiction films and television shows have made religious questions and answers central to the issues they raise about human identity, values, and purpose. By emphasizing the diversity of religious ideas present in these media, Cowan shows how they are as multivariant as the nature of religion itself. In so doing, he sheds light not only on what religion is, but also on what it might be.

Gabriel McKee

Cowan’s in-depth exploration of the religious content of science-fiction films and television shows is a great step forward for the study of religion and popular culture. By taking fictional religions on their own terms, he uncovers complex meanings within some of science fiction’s best-loved films and television shows. His discussions of the role of religion in War of the Worlds, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Stargate SG-1 are the most thorough you’ll find.

Meet the Author

Douglas E. Cowan (Ph.D. University of Calgary) is Professor of Religious Studies at Renison University College, University of Waterloo.

Baylor University Press

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