Rewriting the Christian Apocalypse as a Science-Fictional Event

  • Edward James


The anonymous author of The Epic of Gilgamesh, Homer, Plato, Lucian of Samosata, Jonathan Swift, and many others, have at one time or another been proclaimed as progenitors of science fiction: no-one in print, as far as I know, perhaps out of misplaced reverence, has suggested St John of Patmos, the author of the Book of Revelation.1 Yet he is one of the most widely quoted and influential of all writers on the future: the symbolic creator of a prophetic tradition that has influenced much more secular approaches to speculation about the future, and his Book survives to this day as an influential and powerful way of imagining the future. Utopian thinkers and activists have drawn on the apocalyptic theme of the millennium for their visions of the perfect world; the dramatic tales of cosmic struggle to be found in the Book of Revelation are comparable in the sweep and the ‘sense of wonder’ that they evoke to the most extravagent space operas of the science-fictional tradition. In this paper, I shall look at some of the interactions between what we might see as rival eschatologies: the vision of the end of all things presented in Jewish and Christian revelation (the Greek word for which gives us ‘apocalypse’) and the view of the end of all things presented by science fiction.


Science Fiction European Economic Community Popular Fiction Bibilical Criticism Science Fiction Writer 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

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  • Edward James

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