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Non-Religious/Ethnic Topics Indexed in Adherents.com Literature Database


The primary function of the Adherents.com literature database is to index references in literature to religious, ethnic, and tribal groups. "Religious groups" and "religions" have been defined broadly during this process, so that many philosophies or groups not always included under such a heading have been indexed. Obviously traditionally recognized religious systems or groups such as "Quakers" and "Buddhism" have been indexed. Also, ethnic and tribal groups have been indexed, such as Basques, Kurds, Ndebele, Navajo, Anasazi, etc.

Nationalities have not been indexed, although in some cases there is overlap between nationalities and the ethnic groups indexed. These are ethnic groups which retain high degrees of cultural autonomy for multiple generations even when outside outside national boundaries (e.g., Chinese, Japanese, Korean). References to race (black, Asian, etc.) have not been indexed, as these would clearly be too numerous. Selected bibliographies about such topics as "African Americans in science fiction" are available from other sources.

In addition, systems which can (but don't always) act as de facto religions have been indexed as well, such as Freudianism and Animal Rights.

Some of the "pseudo-religious" philosophies or groups which are indexed include:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous
  • American Civil Liberties Union
  • Animal Rights
  • environmentalism
  • Feminism
  • Freud
  • Jung
  • Kant

Although the main subject matter indexed in the database is primary identity sub-groups (religions, tribes, ethnicities), some other topics, mainly relating to popular culture, have been indexed as well. Such indexing does not imply that these are religions. It is simply convenient to index these topics during the data collection process. Some of these are listed below, along with brief explanations:

artificial intelligence - This category includes references both to "A.I.s" (artificial intelligences), whether mobile or within a stationary computer system, as well as to robots. Some stories and books refer to statistical indicators about the numbers of robots, or to distinct robot culture, or to robots/A.I.s as full citizens in society. Such references are favored, but any references to robots, even in passing, may be referenced. As many works of s.f. include extensive references to A.I.s or robots, usually only a sample reference is added to database for a particular work.

centaur - Centaurs, mythical creatures with a human-like head and torso and a horse-like lower body, show up occasionally in both fantasy an science fiction (i.e., Varley's Titan). This category has been indexed for non-obvious reasons, although other mythical creatures, such as griffins or werewolves, have not been indexed.

cetaceans - Cetaceans is a term which encompasses a variety of highly intelligent aquatic mammals, primarily whales and dolphins. Other extensive bibliographies of cetaceans in science fiction are available and we have not attempted to duplicate those efforts. But where our own indexing efforts come across cetacean references, these have been added to the database. The reason for this is that dolphins an whales are often depicted as highly intelligent, sentient species in literature, and they thus have their own culture.

cola - Cola (Coca Cola, Pepsi, Dr Pepper, etc.) and non-cola sodas (7-Up, Sprite, root beer, etc.) have been indexed under this category. Certainly colas in no way constitute a religion or primary identity group, but it is interesting to observe how frequently these references appear in science fiction.

comics - As with other intense, fan-driven industries, comics can function as a primary-identity sub-group, a de facto "religion," but they generally serve simply as a hobby. References to comic books and comic book characters are indexed in this category. Most such references are not suggestive of intense devotion to comics, but simply refer to well-known characters that are part of the popular culture. Comics are often (but not always) a sub-category of science fiction, but comic book references are usually only listed once -- in the "comics" category. Likewise, references to comic book-based movies or television shows ("The Incredible Hulk" tv show, "Batman" movies, etc.) are typically indexed under "comics", not under "movies" or "television." A separate web page summarizes some of the comic book references, listing them by character or artist/writer.

Disney - Few media companies have the brand name recognition and cultural influence that Disney has. The literature is replete with references to Disney films and characters, as well as to Disney theme parks such as Disneyland. Such references are indexed here, and are usually not indicative of strong cultural identification. Disney may, rarely, function as a pseudo-religion, especially among children, but this isn't a topic addressed directly in the literature indexed.

Kentucky Fried Chicken - Now known officially as "KFC", this is one of the most popular fast food franchises mentioned in science fiction. Although the franchise was started by a Kentucky restraunteur and Latter-day Saint businessmen, the business certainly has no official ties to either the state of Kentucky of to Latter-day Saints.

literature - Books and authors mentioned by name are indexed in the "literature" category. Often only the title or author's name, along with the page number, is indexed. Science fiction stories and books are included in the separate category "science fiction."

McDonald's - McDonald's, the world's largest fastfood chain, is also the most frequently mentioned restaurant chain in science fiction.

movies - References to specific movies and movie stars are frequent in s.f., and have been indexed under "movies". Science fiction films, however, are indexed separately under "science fiction." Many novels and stories refer frequently or at length to one or two movies. Although the full text of brief references to movies may be included in the database, lengthy and frequent references are usually indexed simply by adding the name of the actor or movie title to the database, along with the page number from the novel. (The film Citizen Kane, for example, is mentioned in Greg Bear's The Infinity Concerto, Time's Arrow Book 2: The Present by DeFalco and Castro, Elliot S. Maggin's Kingdom Come, Illuminatus, Vol. III: Leviathan by Shea and Wilson, and Walton Simon's "Two of a Kind".) Much of the movie references in the database have been broken down by movie title and by actor's name on a separate page.

music - References to specific composers, musicians, singers, songs, orchestras, etc. are sometimes, but not consistently, indexed. References to music in general (without proper names) are not indexed.

mutants

psychology

science fiction - References to specific science fiction/fantasy novels, stories, movies, television shows, etc., as well as references to science fiction writers as characters, references to "science fiction" by name, or references to science fiction as a culture/philosophy, are indexed here. Some specific science fiction/fantasy books or franchises that are mentioned frequently (Star Trek, Star Wars, Wizard of Oz, etc.) are in their own category.

Scientists - Science fiction is, of course, replete with scientists. This category includes passages which clearly refer to science as a type of religion or philosophy, or to distinctive cultural attributes of scientists. This subject is not necessarily indexed comprehensively.

simians - Simians, including chimpanzees, gorillas, and monkeys, are sometimes depicted as sentient, often after genetic modifications. References to simians such as these, as well as some references to simians in passing, are indexed, for reasons similar to those behind the "cetaceans" category.

television - References by name to specific television shows, actors, personalities, and stations are indexed in this category. Generic references to television are not indexed, unless television is prominently described as a distinct culture.

vegetarian -

witch - Adherents of the contemporary neo-pagan religion known as Wicca frequently refer to themselves at "witches." There's nothing wrong with this, but it is inaccurate to say that all witches are Wiccans. In those rare instances where Wiccans are mentioned in science fiction and fantasy literature, they are listed under "Wicca." Where witches, wizards, sorcerers, and other magic users are mentioned, they are listed under "witch." The witches and other magic users indexed in the "witch" category (whether Ozma, the Wicked Witch of the West, Gandalf, or Harry Potter) have nothing to with the religion known as Wicca. Similarly, the classic Fred Astair movie "The Gay Divorcee" had nothing to do with gays and lesbians and NASA's Pioneer rockets had nothing to do with Mormons.

YMCA - Occassional references to the YMCA (which stands for "Young Men's Christian Association") are indexed, as are references tot he YWCA. The name is evidence of a vestigial Christian influence, but the YMCA itself is not like a religion for people.