Here’s another item from the archives – a piece by Harry Harrison written for The Humanist magazine in 1961. Harry Harrison’s views on religion are well-known – see his short story “The Streets of Ashkelon,” probably his finest – and he has spoken on the subject many times on conventions panels. What follows is an early article on the topic.
Science Fiction Comes of Age
by Harry Harrison (1961)
Science fiction has become a medium in which the implications of humanism can be freely explored
The recent publication of two books heralds the entry of Science Fiction into the ranks of legitimate literature. Kingsley Amis’s New Maps of Hell (Gollancz) is a sympathetically critical survey of SF by a writer of reputation in literature, criticism, and education. Aspects of Science Fiction (John Murray), edited by G.D. Doherty, is no less than a sturdy stone in the underpinnings of the Institution itself – a grammar school text-book. This coming of age of SF is reminiscent of the acceptance of detective thrillers some years ago, but it is of far greater importance to the humanist.
The public image of SF has never been a very good one. When the term is mentioned lurid cover magazines and monster-horror films have a tendency to leap instantly to mind. Science fiction was never quite socially acceptable – at least, not until quite recently. Of course the same could be said about humanism. A glimpse beneath the surface of SF reveals that this is not the only thing these two have in common. Many of the advanced philosophies written about in the pages of this journal are already accepted SF conventions. (more…)