Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Touching the Face of the Cosmos: Call for Papers and Stories

Touching the Face of the Cosmos: On the Intersection of Space Travel and Religion

Call for papers, articles, short stories, for anthology edited by Paul Levinson and Michael Waltemathe

Short explanation:  Military advantage and scientific advances have been the main motivations for humans leaping out into space so far.  Commercial reasons have also become more important recently.   But there is a deeper reason that most human beings would want to see us get off and beyond our planet: we will never know who we truly are in the larger scheme of things, never understand our place in the cosmos, from just our vantage point here on Planet Earth.  Touching the Face of Cosmos will explore the intersection of space travel with religion and philosophy, with the goal of tapping into the public's latent but keen interest in this.  The anthology will consist of essays, short fiction, scenarios, and any form of writing which works best to delve into these issues.


Human spaceflight has always been closely connected to religion. There have been Bible readings and communion on the Moon, Christmas celebrations and Islamic prayer on the International Space Station, and Chanukah dreidels spun on the Space Shuttle.  Religious scholars have written treatises on how to uphold religious tradition in the new environment of space and rituals have been transformed to be valid in space.  Astronauts have spoken about their religious experiences during their time "out of this world".

But humans in space and religion have an even deeper connection. Themes and topics that have for centuries been recurring in religions all over the world are now represented in human spaceflight. There are saints and martyrs of spaceflight. Outer space itself can be described as sacred insofar as the destiny of humanity; it can be seen as a physical haven of salvation for the human race beyond the eventual possible extinction of our planet and solar system.   Although military advantage spurred the initial drive into space, and scientific dividends and knowledge  as well as potential profits from commercial ventures continue as powerful benefits of people in space,  humans beyond this planet may provide answers to some of the most fundamental questions in our existence – what are we doing here in this Universe – and such philosophic and spiritual insights may provide the ultimate motive, still as yet largely untapped,  for space exploration.

This anthology will address the connection between spaceflight and religion from different perspectives.  Examples of religion in contemporary space-activities are welcome, as is theoretical thought on the structural analogies between a space mission and a religious undertaking such as a pilgrimage or construction of a cathedral. We think it is high time to address ways in which religion and human presence in space can benefit each other.  Our goal is to motivate space exploration by drawing on the tradition of religious thought throughout history and explicating ways in which humans in space and religion profoundly coincide.

Papers from 500 to 5000 words. Style can be scholarly or more suited to the popular press. Science fiction scenarios and stories could also work. Atheistic and agnostic perspectives on these issues are also welcome. Due 1 July 2015.   Query with proposals first, or just send the paper. Terms: non-exclusive rights, for ebook and print publication. Authors receive a pro-rata share of 50% of the sales (e.g., if the anthology contains 10 papers, each author will receive a 5% royalty).   This anthology will be published as an ebook by Connected Editions shortly after all papers and stories have been received and accepted.



Contents of anthology as of 1 August 2015

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