The Religion Bookline section of Publisher’s Weekly includes the following news item:
Fantasy 4 Fiction Tour Highlights Nascent Genre
“Four Christian speculative fiction authors from four different publishers are teaming up for the Fantastic 4 Fantasy Fiction Tour. After a kickoff July 9 in Atlanta at the International Christian Retail Show, the writers will visit churches, bookstores, libraries and homeschool groups in a dozen cities July 10-18.
“While mainstream fantasy and science fiction fill shelves in general-interest bookstores, the genre has yet to really take off in the Christian market industry insiders told RBL. Suspicion of the books as too dark or occult, combined with a primary demographic that isn’t drawn to the edgy—white, evangelical American women of childbearing-to-empty-nest ages—make the books less than attractive to many Christian publishers and booksellers said freelance editor Jeff Gerke. According to the authors, the goal of the Fantastic 4 tour is to raise the profile of the genre and demonstrate the inspirational qualities of the novels.”
When I read this item I was struck that Christians seem to have many of the same fears of alleged darkness and occultism in science fiction as they do in the horror and fantasy genres. This was a little surprising in that science fiction makes a greater appeal to technology and rationalism, two elements that strongly influence modern evangelicalism. I would thank that science fiction would be perceived by Christians as closer to their worldview and thus less likely to be feared as fantasy or horror, but it appears that is not the case, at least for some.
I was also struck by how curious it is that science fiction or speculative fiction is a genre that tries to imagine what alternative worlds and realities might be possible beyond this one. This is a form of utopian thinking that would seem to overlap with Christian concepts and desires for a New Jerusalem, and a New Heavens and Earth. Have Christians lost their baptized imaginations in the contemporary age?