Science Fiction and the Abolition of Man: Finding C.S. Lewis in Sci-Fi Film and Television

Reviewed by:

G. Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.

Title:

Science Fiction and the Abolition of Man: Finding C.S. Lewis in Sci-Fi Film and Television

Author:

Edited by Mark J. Boone and Kevin C. Neece (foreword by Brian Godawa)

Publisher:

Pickwick Publications (an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers)

Publication Date:

December 13, 2016

Format:

Paperback

Length:

356 pages

OVERVIEW

In 1943, C.S. Lewis published The Abolition of Man, a critique of educators that treat all values as nothing more than emotions and taste. He argued that this would naturally lead to “men without chests,” people who had no sense of virtue or morality and eventually to governments where power and control would be abused. Lewis’ ideas are fascinating for many reasons, particularly because Lewis analyzed the same ideas in his novel That Hideous Strength. For science fiction fans, the ideas are especially interesting since many of Lewis’ themes in the book also appear in science fiction films and TV shows. These authors look at how The Abolition of Man applies to a variety of science fiction films and TV shows, including:

  • Blade Runner
  • Dark City
  • THX 1138
  • Gattaca
  • The Island
  • District 9
  • Person of Interest
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Several essays also consider the common ground between The Abolition of Man and the classic dystopian novels 1984, Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451 (as well as their various adaptations for film and TV).

It’s been said that while Lewis is well-known as a children’s author and apologist, his work as a culture and literary critic often gets less notice. This book helps correct that misconception, showing how The Abolition of Man’s perceptive ideas have concerned many other well-known writers. By showing how Lewis’ concerns connect to ideas in such diverse films as Logan’s Run and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the authors show The Abolition of Man has not only aged well, but still has plenty to teach people today.

The chapters comparing Lewis to writers who didn’t share his philosophy, such as Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, are especially interesting. The humanistic philosophy that runs through the Star Trek franchise seems to have little in common with C.S. Lewis’ more cautious view of human nature and technology. Yet this book shows how from its first iteration, Star Trek was contemplating the limits of humanity and the consequences of mechanical thinking replacing virtue and passion, a problem Lewis brought in his discussion about “men without chests.” Even in entertainment which reaches very different conclusions than Lewis did, there are surprising elements of common ground.

A great anthology of thoughts about Lewis, science fiction and the dangerous edge of technology replacing God.

ASSESSMENT

Rating (1 to 5 stars)

5 stars

Suggested Audience

Philosophy and literature students seeking to see how Lewis’s ideas apply to science fiction and more broadly to pop culture.

Christian Impact

As the authors consider Lewis’ views on humanity and morality in The Abolition of Man, they give great insights into what makes humanity valuable in the Judeo-Christian tradition. As each writer considers science fiction films, they show how those films describe the dangers of things like eugenics, cloning, and transhumanist philosophy.

Note: Readers who enjoy books that compare CS. Lewis to other writers and thinkers may also enjoy The Faithful Imagination edited by Joe Ricke and Ashley Chu. To read ECLA’s review of that book, go to:

Science Fiction and The Abolition of Man


No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: