SF and medievalism, or SF theology

“Science fiction, like medieval painting, addresses itself to the mind, not the eye. We are not presented with a representation of what we know to be true through direct experience; rather we are given what we know to be true through other means—or in the case of science fiction, what we know to be at least possible. Thus the science fiction writer can portray Jupiter as easily as the medieval painter can portray Heaven; neither of them has been there, but that doesn’t matter. To turn from other modern fiction to science fiction is oddly like turning from Renaissance painting with all the flesh and foreshortening to the clarity and luminousness of painters who paint ideas. For this reason, science fiction, like much medieval art, can deal with transcendental events. Hence the tendency of science fiction towards wonder, awe, and a religious or quasi-religious attitude towards the universe.”

– Joanna Russ, “Towards an Aesthetic of Science Fiction.” (1975)
(Reprinted in To Write Like A Woman, Indiana University Press, 1995)

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