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ORSON SCOTT CARD RECENTLY REMARKED, "IN MOST HUMAN SOCIETIES, THE religion is coterminous with the polity.and the powers of the state are not separated from the powers of the church." Card makes an interesting point when he connects the influence of religion with that of the city-state, though he is certainly not the first to do so. (1) Christian apologist Tertullian first treated the term "pagan" in the second century CE, modifying its meaning of "country-dweller," literally one residing outside the polity, to "one not enrolled in the army of Christ." In applying such a formulation to literature, however, Card does not acknowledge that the creation of such a political center requires a margin for its very existence or that the polity will, in its marginalizing efforts, demonize outsiders with terms such as pagan or barbarian. (2) This labeling translates into literature in the form of certain characters' monstrosity (from the Latin monere meaning "to warn"); such characters serve as portents or warnings of the dangers of admitting the excluded to the polity. It is from these terms of exclusion that we shall approach James Blish's 1958 novel A Case of Conscience to examine how the Lithians, an extra-solar race of rational lizard-like kangaroos, are excluded from the sanctioned center of the novel's inherently religious utopia. Blish originally published the novel in shorter form in IF Worlds of Science Fiction in 1953, a practice common among sf writers of the 1950s and 1960s. Such contemporaries as Manly Wade Wellman and Walter Miller, Jr. published short fiction in popular pulps of that time and turned their work into immensely popular novels that share religious themes with Blish's novel. Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz relies heavily on religion as an organizing principle for its plot, which portrays a future historical development of the Catholic Church in a post-apocalyptic landscape. Both novels, Miller's and Blish's, deal with historical and epistemological problems of the Church's encounters with an outsider, though Canticle is much more widely recognized for its irony. In Blish's work, one discerns more easily that the text deals with exclusion, especially the exclusion of the secular by the religious. Blish essentially tells us such is his intent in The Day After Judgment (1972), a prequel to Case, when he wonders (via Dr. Baines) whether "the possession and use of secular knowledge--or even the desire for it--is in itself evil" (103). In the present work, however, such exclusion takes a much more specific, bodily form as a monstrous kangaroo-like lizard from a planet called Lithia. (3)

Professional & Technical
September 22
The International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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