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Strangers and Aliens: Science Fiction & Fantasy from a Christian Perspective » Featured, Podcast » EPISODE 1 – “Why Sci-Fi”

EPISODE 1 – “Why Sci-Fi”

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Our first episode of Strangers and Aliens the podcast is up and ready to go!

In this episode, our intrepid heroes discuss what got them interested in science fiction and fantasy in the first place and why imaginative fiction engages them now.

After you listen to the episode, we’d love to hear what you have to say. If you want to contact us privately, you can click on the contact button above and send us a message using the contact form there.

Do you want to share what first got you interested in sci-fi? Or maybe what keeps you from getting into it? Do you have some thoughts about the “power of story”? Or do you think we’re just plain wonky? Go ahead and leave a comment below! We’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for listening and Godspeed!

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Ben Avery is a storyteller. He uses comic books, podcasts, puppets or whatever else he can get his hands on to tell those stories.

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16 Responses to "EPISODE 1 – “Why Sci-Fi”"

  1. Great podcast! The discussion about the idea of the balance of the force in Star Wars vs. the clear moral arch of the movies (e.g., rooting for the jedi) reminded me of the book “The Christian Wisdom of the Jedi” which also touches on the balance idea.

  2. avatar Ben says:

    I have that book, but haven’t read it yet. I’ll have to pick it up again and see what it ways.

  3. avatar Gary Voelker says:

    Great podcast, guys!! Love it!!

    1. avatar Ben says:

      Thanks, Gary. It’s been a lot of fun putting it together! Let us know if you have any topic ideas for future episodes . . .

  4. avatar Nikki says:

    Just finally got around to listening to the first podcast after being told about it a long while ago. I’m an old friend of Jayce’s wife – she and i were part of the same church family back in the day. πŸ™‚

    Don’t know if you’ve covered it more yet but yeah, the Geek Girl contingent is strong these days, i’d say. I grew up a little geekling myself. We didn’t have much in the way of TV and i didn’t have much in the way of friends so i practically devoured whatever the library had to offer. Sci-fi was a huge part of that, though i’d say i had at least a partially balanced book diet. But i was reading Issac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy in early middle school, so i ate it up early.

    Luckily i also had a mom who, while a strongly faithful woman, realized that i was savvy enough to separate reality from fantasy and always trusted my choice in reading material. More than once i picked something up and partway in decided it wasn’t for me because of gory or racy content and simply put it down again. And yeah, like you said i may not have agreed with the answers to some of the questions that were raised in those books, but i loved that the questions had been asked. πŸ™‚

    What you were saying about a need for community is HUGE, and i think i may have very well become lost in the fandom of Sci-fi myself if it weren’t for a trip i took in high school. i was the new kid in town and headed to Mexico with my youth group to build houses. We caravaned with a whole string of youth groups but i pretty much stuck with my group until halfway there, where they decided they wanted someone new in our van so could i travel with a different group? Needless to say i was feeling pretty alien – new kid, and even though i sort of knew the others in my group i was pushed out, sitting alone with strangers…

    And then we reached Mexico and that first night’s campfire. I heard someone quoting Monty Python and instantly gravitated toward it. I found myself immediately welcomed by three fellow geeks, and the rest of the week was a blur of our combined Star Wars fan fiction planning along with house building. The other Christian kids hadn’t been interested in finding a place for me but the Christian Geeks were. I’m still close friends with those three. And they also got me started on the path of Multi-Geekdom, which i think is actually a good thing. πŸ™‚ I think being a Multi-Geek helps spread that tendency toward obsession around a bit and introduces you to more concepts so that you can keep a broader view. I mean, my current “obsession” might be Doctor Who, but if i’m also busy being a Knitting/Fiber Geek and a Theater Geek and a Costuming/Sewing Geek and an SCA Geek, i’m still out there in the world with other people learning other things and not focusing ALL my energy on Doctor Who. There were times when i was young that Star Wars was all i could think or dream about, but having those three friends who encouraged me to be a budding SCA/History Geekling and learn about the renaissance kept it from consuming me then.

    I think it’s really important for there to be Christian Geeks out there. The mentor thing is huge – you’re in a position to meet folks who are seeking that sense of community and may not even realize it, and to have a new friend and mentor with a built-in common ground but who also has a good grip on reality can be a big boon. It’s also important to show others that yeah, you can have faith and have fun with science fiction, too. I know it was a huge boon to me, having Geek friends who held my same values, especially when it came to finding save new material to read/watch/whatever. When i started getting interested in anime it was HUGE to have these people to go to who could tell me what was fun and weird and entertaining without being gory or raunchy. I could have figured it out for myself but i’m really glad i had those people to tell me in advance. Yeah, i can turn the show off and return the disk but you’ve still caught some of what you consider yuck. And for a kid with a horrifically vivid imagination, i knew that catching more than i intended could lead to weeks of bad dreams.

    Anyhoo, that turned into a whole essay and i didn’t really mean it too. Thanks for the podcast, guys! And if you ever need someone to blather about Hitchhiker’s Guide in ALL it’s incarnations (radio, book, tv, movie) or Doctor Who or a girl’s take on Star Wars or whatever, i’m just a sucker for being the center of attention. ^_^

    ~Nikki

    1. avatar Ben says:

      Nikki, thanks for the comments … you bring up a lot of intriguing comments, and many of them could be episode topics in and of themselves! Also, nice to get the “geek girl” perspective on things — keeps us boys honest.

      Your comments about “community” are especially insightful. Interesting how it parallels some of our own experiences, and many, many other people’s as well.

      Keep in contact. If we do a Dr. Who episode we just may need your help — Steve and Dr. Jayce both haven’t entered that world. I only really found it last year, when I signed up for Netflix, and I simply love it (I had casually seen some of the OLD Doctor Who, and enjoyed it as camp and as sci-fi history, but the NEW Who seasons have been golden). Although Torchwood … well, that’s another story.

      ~ Ben

      1. avatar Steve says:

        I’d really like to do a comprehensive Hitchhiker’s show! Consider it “on the list”! Now, where did I put that list…?

        And, for the record, I haven’t immersed myself in Who-Dom but have watched a bunch of them (even a few black and white oldies!) AND my wife is a HUGE Who geek!

        1. avatar Nikki says:

          Oh good glory, don’t get me started on Hitchhiker’s… I own every incarnation there is, from the original radio show to the books to the TV series to the NEW radio show to the movie and even the original radio script… When the 10th Doctor made a comment about saving the world in his jammies being “very Author Dent” i just about squealed out loud in joy. πŸ™‚

          And the B&W Who are really cool. It’s so neat to see what people who were creating the show thought of the future and the technology back then.

          i should stop threadjacking and go listen to the latest show, shouldn’t i? ^_^ What was that you were all saying about “geek community” and all that? Hee. Trying to get a fan to stop jabbering is like trying to escape the gravitational pull of a black hole.

  5. avatar Ryan says:

    good podcast, interesting discussion, but it’s a bit long. little more focus and less rabbit trails in the future would make it excellent.

    1. avatar Ben says:

      Hey, Ryan, I hope that when our topics are more specific you find the conversation more streamlined as well. Thanks for listening!

  6. avatar Nikki says:

    Does it say something about my love for the series that i’m knitting the Fourth Doctor’s scarf? All 14 feet of it? ^_^

    And i have watched all of Torchwood, at least what Netflix has so far. They have a fondness for finding ways to proclaim “LOOK! WE’RE NOT A SHOW FOR THE KIDDIES!” don’t they? Would be happy to help comment on anything. I’ve actually got my own recording setup for other podcast work. πŸ™‚

    1. avatar Ben says:

      Regarding Torchwood, it’s not just the adult-ness of it … The nihilism of it sort of gets to me. It’s good sci-fi, with super interesting ideas, but in Dr. Who you have a hope and an optimism. Same universe, same creators, same writers, but complete tonal shift. I watched Torchwood as I was watching Dr. Who, so I could follow the “story” in chronological order, and when Jack moves between the stories, it’s really interesting how he becomes a better person around the Dr. More interesting is that his ultimate end, his final death, has a very optimistic feel (IF that’s really him!).

      1. avatar Nikki says:

        Good point, the last two series of Torchwood were really bleak, and even though the good side of humanity eventually won out the dark side seems so very pervasive and oppressive. I guess a lot of people like the apocalyptic type of story, and i admit it does give an edge of realism to the whole thing, which is sad in its own way. Sad that to make a story “real” it can’t end with everybody living and going along their merry way – there has to be terrible sacrifice. I know the happy endings happen in the real world, it just seems so overshadowed.

  7. avatar Mike Poteet says:

    I loved your pilot episode, guys! I am always interested in discussions of story and why it matters, and why and how it relates to The Story. As a sometime preacher, I also appreciated the reminder that Jesus told more stories than preached sermons (or perhaps the stories were the sermons!). I also love Acts 17 – I wrote my seminary application essay about that passage, back in the day – and do think it is the best biblical warrant for finding “points of contact” between the human imagination and the truth of God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ.

    Leonard Sweet gave a recent presentation on the importance of stories in Christian formation – I didn’t get to hear it myself, but from this write-up, it sounds like it was a good one! http://www.pcusa.org/news/2012/8/2/narraforically-speaking/

    I have long wondered (and sometimes, to be frank, even worried) about the humanistic nature of most sci-fi, so I am glad you guys touched on that. I guess I’ve come to peace with it by falling back on what you say earlier in the episode: the intended artistic effect or meaning is not always what is accomplished. The Spirit is free and can use even intentionally a-religious or anti-religious art to work the Spirit’s will. Also, Christians are free to “separate the wheat from the chaff” when dealing with any kind of entertainment. Paul in Philippians tells us to focus on “whatever is good, excellent, honorable, praiseworthy…” and there is much of that in good science fiction (and art in general). Also, I don’t need all of my entertainment to confirm my beliefs; faith is strong enough to engage in honest dialogue with other worldviews. Still, it is a great question and one I think we all have to keep asking ourselves from time to time, to keep our priorities straight!

    So glad to be catching up on your show – looking forward to more! (No “Pride and Prejudice”… but what about “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”?!?)

    1. avatar Ben says:

      I’ll have to read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for me to adequately knock it . . . and I have no intentions of that right now.

      Although, watch for my new book, “Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego . . . and Zombies” . . .

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