The OF Blog: Have aliens really taken the place of angels?

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Have aliens really taken the place of angels?

Guardian Unlimited | Arts Friday Review | 'Aliens have taken the place of angels'

In Friday's issue of The Guardian, Margaret Atwood tackles issues pertaining to the importance of speculative/science fiction in contemporary society. It was an interesting read and I found much with which I could agree, even if I do still disagree with her definitions for speculative and science fiction, as I see speculative fiction as being much more than just writing fiction based on plausible technologies.

But there's an interesting point she makes in her article, that of meaning. In a world where it seems like each discovery alternately excites and confuses us, where fundamentalists of all stripes have come clamoring for their voices to be heard as a clarion call to something concrete and specific in a world where it seems such certainties are chimeras, there is something about speculative fiction (or if you prefer, science fiction, fantasy, etc.) that reaches out to us, something to which we could grasp and hold tight in a sea full of undefinables.

Recently, there was a post over at SFF World dealing with the issue of whether or not the Bible could be considered a Fantasy. While the purpose of this post is not to debate that point (and my own opinions can be found embedded in that huge thread), perhaps it does serve to illustrate certain deep connections between our cultural religious past and our current society that serves us good and evil in Star Wars cups sold at fast food restaurants. Maybe the aliens will be our angels, but will there be a shift in the meaning that these potential creatures might hold for us? Perhaps, all we can do is just speculate and wonder.

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