Because Ideas Matter...
The faculty and staff of Butler University's College of Liberal
Arts and Sciences presents
The Science Fiction
by M. Keith Booker and Anne-Marie Thomas (Malden:
Reviewed by James McGrath
The Science Fiction Handbook by M. Keith Booker and
Anne-Marie Thomas offers a great overview of sci-fi that engages
its many philosophical and other interesting academic questions.
Each major section provides an angle on science fiction that could
have been a book in its own right. After the introduction, part 2
focuses on subgenres (such as apocalyptic, dystopian, utopian and
cyberpunk), part 3 on representative authors, and part 4 on
individual texts. As a result, one can dip into the book easily as
a reference work and find general and/or detailed information on a
theme, an author, or a work of interest. Although the focus is on
literature, movies and TV shows are also included.
As someone particularly interested in religion in science
fiction, I was delighted to find significant mentions and
treatments of this topic throughout the book. Whether one enjoys
stories of time travel or alternate universes, alien invasion and
apocalyptic or politically satirical sci-fi, religion often plays a
role in the narrative. An additional delightful feature of the book
is the inclusion of multicultural sci-fi rather than simply
"Western" works, as well as highlighting the ways in which sci-fi
authors have addressed and helpfully problematized issues related
to gender and sexuality.
In short, I highly recommend the book, which drew to my attention
works of science fiction that I haven't read and left me wanting to
go out and read them.
- James McGrath is an Associate Professor of
Religion at Butler University.