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Idaho Science Fiction

X-Men: The Jewels of Cyttorak book cover This annotated bibliography lists science fiction and fantasy novels, short stories and movies (speculative fiction) which are set in Idaho, feature characters from Idaho, or contain references to Idaho. This is not necessarily a comprehensive list of such literature, but includes everything we are aware of and is growing.

This list does not include every reference to Idaho within each work. Each novel or story is listed only once, with a brief explanation or sample quote.

People starved in California, the Dakotas, Africa. In Idaho we'd always had at least potatoes to eat.

- From M. Shayne Bell

Current number of novels, movies and stories in list: 13.

References in bold are those with the most extensive references to Idaho.

Author Title Approx.
Sample Quote and/or Description
M. Shayne BellNicoji. New York: Baen (1991) 2200The two main characters are from Idaho. There are some flashbacks to their time there, before signing up as agricultural workers on the planet Nicoji. Throughout the novel, their background is a subtle but influential influence. There are some references specifically to Idaho. Some examples are listed here. Pg. 221:
Neither Sam nor Loryn had ever gone skiing, and I thought how could htese two live in Idaho and never go skiing? So I saved my money and gave them a one-day ski trip for Christmas...

We'd sat for hours in the little observation deck of American Nicoji's station orbiting Earth. The snow in the Arctic had shone so brilliantly white we'd been amazed. But we'd thought--coming from Idaho--that we'd never miss snow.

"We were crazy," Sam said.

To think we wouldn't miss snow or to leave Earth? I didn't know what he mean. Both, maybe. I didn't ask.

Pg. 239:
I wanted to laugh because she was explaining to me, a guy from Idaho, how to grow potatoes, but I didn't laugh.
Pg. 33:
But we were Idaho farm boys--what did we know about avocados?
M. Shayne Bell"The Shining Dream Road Out" in Washed by a Wave of Wind (M. Shayne Bell, ed.). Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books (1993) 2005Pg. 71:
I merged back behind a couple of Idaho Meat-Packers' trucks...
Elizabeth H. Boyer"A Foreigner Comes to Reddyville" in Washed by a Wave of Wind (M. Shayne Bell, ed.). Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books (1993) 1934Alien Christmas story set entirely in Idaho. Pg. 215:
A few years after we left Reddyville, Doctor Goodenough was drowned in the Portneuf river when his buggy turned over... Nothing was left of Reddyville. Everything had moved to McCammon or Arimo or Downey or Pocatello, looking for an easier life.
Pg. 202:
My grandfather, B. Y. Green, died three years ago, so I can tell this story now... what I remember most was star-gazing on Christmas Eve. He used to call me outside to look up at the furiously-cold Idaho sky...
David BrinThe Postman. New York: Bantam (1985) 2011Brief mention of Idaho geology. Pg. 6:
Welcome to Oregon, he thought bitterly. And I thought Idaho was bad.
Pg. 46:
He sighed and looked awa. "There aren't any letters for you folks because . . . because I'm coming west out of Idaho, and nobody back there knows you, here in Pine View..."

"Maybe someone down there will write to us, if we send them a letter first!" Abby's eyes were bright. "Then, when you pass this way again, on your way back to Idaho, you could give us the letters they send..."

[Other references.]
Les MartinTiger, Tiger (X-Files YA novel). Harper Trophy (1995) 1995In a city in Idaho, there is are strange happenings in that place, and a strange case attracts Agent Fox Mulder and Agent Dana Scully to investigate the strange sightings in this place. They're interested why the animals can escape from locked metal bars in this zoo.
Carolyn Nicita"Solitude" in Washed by a Wave of Wind (M. Shayne Bell, ed.). Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books (1993) 1993Brief mention of Idaho geology. Pg. 34-36:
...Idaho, lakes to small; Great Salt Lake, no volcanic activity... As she studies the maps, Chris learned that Lake Bonneville disappeared about 50 million years ago, before the Cenozoic Ice Ages. Sometimes the lake was small and sometimes it was huge, even extending into Idaho and Nevada and connecting to the Pacific Ocean.
Sue PaceThe Last Oasis. ?Young adult novel about an ecological disaster set in Washington and Idaho
Michaelene Pendleton"Dealer" in Washed by a Wave of Wind (M. Shayne Bell, ed.). Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books (1993) 2015Pg. 292:
Heading north on I-15 towards Idaho...
Frederik PohlThe Years of the City. New York: Timescape (1984) 2015Pg. 258:
"...that's about his fifth offense, and he'll be working it off in Idaho. Maybe the Aleutians! Maybe ten years!"
Dean Wesley SmithX-Men: The Jewels of Cyttorak. New York: Berkeley Boulevard Books (1997) 1997Much of this novel takes place in Idaho, and one of the main characters lives there. Pg. 45:
Albert appeared, to the few who met him, to be the very picture of an Idaho mountain man. He had a long white beard and white hair. His face was rough and red from the sharp wind and bring sun. In the early years, he'd only worn animal skins, but since the turn of the century, and the first real gold mining rush into this area, he'd worn regular clothes, bought at the store a week's walk away in the little town of Yellow Pine. He only went into town once a year. He never talked to anyone and no one had paid him any attention. Fifty years back, he had reported to the authorities that Albert Jonathan had died and left his land to his son, Albert Jonathan Jr. He had no son, but the little ploy had covered the fact that he was living so long.
Bruce SterlingHoly Fire. New York: Doubleday (1988) 2095Pg. 24:
"Daniel was in a very strange space in northern Idaho, a space beyond real possibility of contact.
Pg. 356:
He had put down roots here in Idaho. He had integrated himself into the depths of the Idaho landscape. He had become a genius loci, a spirit of place. Every tree, every bush, every flower, every caterpillar, genetically wired for sound. He didn't merely watch over this place--in some profound sense he had become this place. He had become a little piece of Idaho. In the winters, he hibernated.
Dave Wolverton"Wheatfields Beyond" in Washed by a Wave of Wind (M. Shayne Bell, ed.). Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books (1993) 1991One of two main characters is from Idaho. Pg. 8:
"Sit down," Tana said. "I got your jail records from Idaho, and your records from the mental hospital from Arizona. The psyche profile looks consistent. So, tell me, how does God speak to you?"
Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury"Signs and Wonders" in Washed by a Wave of Wind (M. Shayne Bell, ed.). Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books (1993) 2002Pg. 160:
"We can go up to Idaho and get lava--Max Morrison has acres of it--and spread it out on the salt flats. We'll make what--a fish? Something big enough to be seen from space."

"Why a fish, Grandpa?"...

"Early Christian symbol--fishers of men."

J. Steven YorkGeneration X: Crossroads. New York: Berkeley Boulevard Books (1998) 1998A significant segment of this novel takes place in Idaho. Pg. 58-59:
"There's a freeway junction up ahead," offered Chill. "This has got to be I-90."

...Recall... looked at the endless irrigated fields around them. Mobile sprinkler gantries sprawled across the landscape like giant metal centipedes, some of them spitting plumes of water with the force of fire hoses. "You think these are potatoes? I suppose, as Devo spud-boys," we should be thrilled."

"Famous potatoes." Chill repeated the slogan, which they had discovered on Idaho license plates even before crossing the line from Washington. "Sad when that's the biggest thing you've got to brag about."

It may be also noted that one of the most famous science fiction classics of all time, Frank Herbert's Dune, as well as its sequels, features a main character named "Duncan Idaho." These novels take place many centuries in the future on planets far from Earth, however, and have no actual connection to Idaho.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers from Idaho

  • M. Shayne Bell
  • Elizabeth Boyer
  • Vardis Fisher
  • Jack Weyland


  • Carpo Noctem - dark fantasy magazine (based in Idaho Falls)
  • Idaho Collections - Special Collections of Idaho-Related Materials in Idaho Libraries
  • Idaho Review - Boise State University's magazine of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction (mostly avoids genre fiction)
  • Rainy Day Fiction - quarterly journal of Northwest fiction
Page created 17 August 2000. Last modified 21 August 2000.
Research supported by East Haven University.
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