The Science Fiction Mythmakers: Religion, Science and Philosophy in Wells, Clarke, Dick and Herbert
by Jennifer Simkins
Edited by Donald E. Palumbo and C.W. Sullivan III
Cover Artist: iStock
Review by Mel Jacob
McFarland Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781476668093
Date: 30 August 2016 List Price $35.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
In Science Fiction Mythmakers, Australian Jennifer Simkins compares four noted science fiction authors and the use of creation and messiah mythologies in their work. While not explicitly stated, this appears to be an outgrowth of work on a Ph.D. Simkins attempts to identify influences on each of the select authors.
The book is four chapters and is heavily annotated with footnotes for each chapter as well as an index of works cited by Simkins. The first chapter considers H.G. Wells, evolution, morality, and religion. Chapter 2 focuses on Arthur C. Clarke, mysticism, and religion. Chapter 3 is devoted to Phillip K. Dick and science fiction as truth. Chapter 4 discusses Frank Herbert's Dune and the Messiah Myth.
Critics and reviewers, especially academic ones, often assign grand themes and meanings to an author's works that were not considered by the author who focused primarily on telling a good story. It is also true that fiction is sometimes used to comment on and consider sensitive issues facing a society but set in a futuristic setting. Hence any such third party analysis must be questioned and studied based on one's own knowledge and experience.
This short analysis is sure to be enjoyed as a subject of debate by those involved with literary analysis and critiques. On the other hand, the average readers of science fiction are unlikely to read it or care.