Raising Thinkers Using Sci-Fi

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Editor’s Note: Today I am so very happy to share a guest post by my dear friend and award-winning Catholic author Karina Fabian. Karina is well known in Catholic writing ranks for her incredible creativity and her boundless energy. Be sure to check out her super books, including the Kindle versions of Infinite Space, Infinite God and Infinite Space, Infinite God II, co-authored with Karina’s husband Rob and a team of amazing writers and on sale now for only $2.99. LMH

Rob and I have a sci-fi/fantasy nerd family.  Given the choice between Secretariat and Star Trek, we’re going to choose Spock’s pointed ears every time.  If we are going to read about heartfelt angst, we’d better have healthy dollop of spaceships or wizardry mixed in.  When it comes to card games, we’ll take Munchkin Zombies over Seven-Card Stud.  Rob and I are taking a “second honeymoon” at the World Science Fiction Convention in Reno.

Science Fiction gets a bum rap.  Many people dismiss it as pure escapism with flashy special effects, confine it to Nerdism (though, my daughter says nerds are cool now), or consider it Godless literature.  However, Rob and I see it differently.

Sure, it can provide mindless escapism–nothing wrong with that in moderation–but it also provides a lot of educational opportunities in a fun and safe setting. Plus, in our increasingly technological world, it really is a compass to our future–good and bad.

By putting issues into a fantastic setting–another world, another future–you can look at issues in a more objective light.  Star Trek was, of course, famous for this, but there are many others: our concept of “Big Brother” comes from George Orwell’s 1984, one of the first SF novels (written in 1949.)  The TV series Alien Nation took a frank look at racism and cultural prejudice, using the alien race as the foil.  Remember the movie I, Robot?  It was based on the book by Isaac Asimov, who created the three laws of robotics, and explores the question “Can we legislate morality?”

Science fiction gives us a chance to explore technology.  Many of today’s inventions–from the solar sail to the cell phone–were explored in science fiction decades before they were created.  The challenge now for writers–and for readers–is to consider the future in light of so much scientific breakthrough.  Readers of science fiction, we believe, have a better acceptance of scientific advances. Even more, those that are taught to really think about what they read or watch can apply that same skill to real life.

What about its “Godless” approach?  True, the genre was born in the “Age of Enlightenment” and is written by many agnostics and atheists, but there are a lot of faithful authors who write it.  And of course, the genre of speculative fiction with Christian teachings is growing.  Rob’s and my anthologies, Infinite Space, Infinite God I and II feature Catholic characters and themes in tales of time and space travel, aliens and virtual realities. (http://isigsf.com)  There are several new publishers on the scene (Splashdown and Marcher Lord) that specialize in religious science fiction and fantasy and many secular publishers are accepting these stories.  Regardless, science fiction isn’t just about exploding spaceships; it’s about making moral choices, and there’s always room to bring God into that, even if the author didn’t do it himself.

In our house (especially thanks to my brilliant husband), we talk, analyze and apply.  We criticize the wrong use of science in a movie, we coach the hero in better using their tools, we gripe when they miss the obvious.  We discuss the issues–and because they are removed from our daily reality, we can pick them apart without feeling threatened or guilty if they go against society’s norms (especially the politically correct ones that might not be so correct after all.)  These develop the skills of thought that we and our kids apply to reality, and because they practiced doing this in a fantasy setting, they have greater confidence in applying it in reality.

This year at a parent-teacher conference, one of the teachers told us, “Your son can think.  Do you know how rare that is?”  It doesn’t have to be rare.  It’s about coaching your kids to examine what’s presented before them–and science fiction is a fun venue for that.

Check out Karina’s amazing books on Amazon

About the Authors:

On November 3, 1990, Rob and Karina Fabian were married at the Air Force Academy chapel, thus starting a collaboration that has resulted in four children and three anthologies.  While the children are still works-in-progress, their books have won an EPPIE award for best sci-fi (Infinite Space, Infinite God), and been top placers in the Preditor and Editor polls (Infinite Space, Infinite God and Leaps of Faith).  In their spare time, they like to play crazy card games and watch sci-fi and Mythbusters.

Robert Fabian: Rob is a Colonel in the USAF whose training is in military space operations, but whose career has ranged from commanding an ICBM maintenance squadron to tracking satellites in deep space, and from working as a space policy analyst for the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy to speechwriting for the Chief of Staff of the US Air Force. He served as an Air Force Research Fellow with the Rand Corporation. He has written several articles on the military and commercial use of space, the most recent of which appeared in Astropolitics: The International Journal of Space Power and Policy. A life-long sci-fi buff and real-life space enthusiast, Rob handles the technical/detail side of the Fabian writing team.

Karina Fabian: After being a straight-A student, Karina now cultivates Fs: Family, Faith, Fiction and Fun. From and order of nuns working in space to a down-and-out faerie dragon working off a geas from St. George, her stories surprise with their twists of clichés and incorporation of modern day foibles in an otherworld setting. Her quirky twists and crazy characters have won awards, including the INDIE book award for best fantasy (Magic, Mensa and Mayhem), and a Mensa Owl for best fiction (World Gathering). In May 2010, her writing took a right turn with a devotional, Why God Matters, which she co-wrote with her father. Mrs. Fabian is former President of the Catholic Writer’s Guild and also teaches writing and book marketing seminars online.

Copyright 2011 Karina Fabian

 

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About Author

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of CatholicMom.com and the bestselling author of the Chime Travelers children’s fiction series, The Grace of Yes, The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. As a board member and frequent host on KNXT Catholic Television, Lisa has produced and hosted multiple programs and has appeared on EWTN and CatholicTV. Hendey hosted “Catholic Moments” on Radio Maria and is the technology contributor for EWTN’s SonRise Morning Show. Lisa’s articles have appeared in Catholic Digest, National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor. Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and Catholic technology and communications topics. She was selected as an Elizabeth Egan Journalism Fellow, attended the Vatican Bloggers Meeting, the “Bishops and Bloggers” meeting and has written internationally on the work of Catholic Relief Services and Unbound. Hendey lives with her family in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Visit Lisa at www.LisaHendey.com for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish or organization.

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