< Return to Adherents.com/lit

Science Fiction Featuring Various Specific Religions


This document lists mainstream science fiction novels and stories in which specific real-world religious groups are prominently featured, usually through characters who are adherents and/or stories which take place in a setting with a dominant religion.

The works of fiction mentioned here are included without regard to the actual religious affiliation or attitudes of the author. The mainstream science fiction portrayals of the religious cultures and characters range from negative, ill-informed and prejudiced, to essentially evangelistic and promotional. But usually, when a real religion is central to the story, the attitude of the writer is somewhere in between these extremes.

Regardless of the writer's familiarity with and attitude toward the religious group being described, these books, as works of fiction, should certainly not be used as a general introduction to the actual religion.

It is natural (and usually easier) for writers to write about what they know best. Walter Jon Williams' Days of Atonement is set in New Mexico, where he lives. L. E. Modesitt's alternative history novels Of Tangible Ghosts and Ghost of the Revelator take place in New Hampshire, Washington, D.C., and Utah -- the places where the author has lived. Stephen King's Bag of Bones, about a successful novelist, is set in Maine, which is where King himself lives.

Likewise, most science fiction authors who write about religion or a religious culture choose originally to write about the one they were raised in or are currently a part of. Walter M. Miller Jr.'s Hugo-winning Jr. A Canticle for Leibowitz and Clifford Simak's Project Pope both present alternative visions of Catholicism far in the future. Miller and Simak are both Catholic. Katherine Kurtz's Deryni and Camber of Culdi series are heavily influenced by the Celtic Christianity which is her chosen faith. Quaker writers who have published science fiction novels set in Quaker (or Quaker-like) communities include Molly Gloss (The Dazzle of Day); David E. Morse (The Iron Bridge) and Joan Slonczewski (A Door into Ocean).

It is also not uncommon for authors to write extensively about a religious culture they do not belong to. Usually they do so only after some research about the religion. Thoughtful, talented writers will usually do extensive research about a religion "foreign" to them before attempting to write about it. They may also seek feedback from adherents of the religion during the writing process. A good writer knows she can never write about somebody else's culture and get it "completely right." Even with considerable effort, the best they can do is to avoid embarrasing themselves with inaccuracies and attempt to capture some sense of an outsider's view of a culture.

Orson Scott Card addressed this topic in a speech given at Hillcon 11, in the Netherlands, in November 1991 (previously at: http://homepage.tinet.ie/~goudriaan/babel-card.html):

I believe in writing multi-cultural sf. I try to do it myself, but I can never write as well about a culture I'm not a member of, as I can about a culture I am a member of. I find it in reverse: whenever somebody who is not a Mormon writes about Mormons, they always get it humiliatingly wrong; really, really, badly done. And they've studied, some of them have tried, they've even lived among Mormons for a while. I'm talking about anthropologists who were writing scientific treatises on Mormon communities. And they blow it, they miss it, they don't understand what it means, they haven't been members, they don't know what it means inside the community. I could come to Holland and live here for the next twenty years. But I don't think I could ever write Dutch literature. Because it would always be filtered through my American eyes. I think only a Dutch writer could write Dutch sf and accurately portray that community. And when I do write about other communities, for example I've been in Brazil for two years, and I used Brazilian culture for Speaker for the Dead, even then writing about Brazilian culture, I had Brazilians who were furious because I wrote about Brazilian Catholic culture, and of course any good Brazilian will tell you that Catholicism is almost irrelevant. In vain do I point out that I'm the sci-fi writer, I get to decide, and this was a colony that was established under Catholic license, so naturally they're going to be filtering out all the macumba material, all the people who're sacrificing chickens on the seashore; they're going to have the good Catholics in this colony. But there were complaints.

When I tried working with Chinese culture in Xenocide, of course I got it wrong. I knew I was going to get it wrong, so I deliberately said, "Hey, this is three thousand years in the future." I made it a recidivist attempt for Chinese living 3000 years in the future to recover ancient China and therefore it is a horrible mishmash of Buddhist and Confucian and Taoist and ancient ancestor-worship and so forth, all of it mixed together in a horrible morass, but hey, this is three thousand years in the future, so I can get away with it. But I get it wrong, is the point and I know I'm going to get it wrong, and there's really no way around that. So, if anybody is ever going to do Polish culture right it's going to be the Polish writers; if anybody is ever going to do Dutch culture right it's going to be Dutch writers. If you don't do it nobody will. Even if they try, nobody can.

One of the most well-known examples of SF writing about a religious culture foreign to the writer is Harry Turtledove's "Agent of Byzantium" of series. Set in an alternative historical culture dominated by the Eastern Orthodox Church, the series is probably the most elaborate elucidation of Orthodox life in all of speculative fiction. Although Turtledove earned a Ph.D. in Byzantine History and has unsurpassable credentials qualifying him to write such books as an authority, his background Jewish, not Orthodox Christian. Turtledove used an Eastern Orthodox protagonist in The Great War: American Front. (This book, along with Turtledove's How Few Remain also feature Latter-day Saints prominently, with Utah as a major setting.)

Another popular example of science fiction featuring a religion foreign to the author is Orson Scott Card's Hugo- and Nebula-award-winning Speaker for the Dead. Card has never been Catholic, but the book takes place on the thoroughly Catholic colony world of Lusitania, and nearly every character, including the protagonist, is Catholic. Many of the characters are devout and many of their discussions are about theology. Some Catholic reviewers have called Speaker for the Dead the most Catholic novel ever written by a non-Catholic.

Judith Moffett, a non-Quaker, delved deeply into Quaker culture, doctrine and practice with Pennterra. Rosemary Edghill, a non-Pagan, features a positive portrayal of Wiccan/Neo-Pagan protagonists in a contemporary Neo-Pagan setting in Bell, Book & Murder. Piers Anthony wrote extensively and mostly positively about Roma (Gypsies) in And Eternity and Being a Green Mother. Bruce Sterling's Holy Fire also has extensive scenes in Roma camps. M. Shayne Bell's Inuit and Mike Resnick's Kikuyu are excellent examples of books which feature detailed, positive yet accurate depictions of primal-indigenous cultures, written by informed outsiders. Card wrote a very pro-Jewish, pro-Christian, and pro-Pagan novel with Enchantment, about a contemporary Jew who marries a devout Orthodox Christian and finds out his uncle is a minor Ukrainian folk deity.

On the other hand, some science fiction and fantasy writers use their fiction as a vehicle for an attack on a religious or ethnic group which they don't like. Such literature can often represent prejudiced, unthinking bias and uncritical thinking. In real life, no large community of people consists entirely of people who are evil and/or stupid. To portray an actual ethnic or religious group in this way is likely to reduce an author's work to unrealistic caricature. Most authors of merit realize this, and strive to achieve some semblance of balance in their work, even when writing about a group they personally find distasteful. Nevertheless, many science fiction and fantasy books have been published which the critical reader must consider little more than polemical writing, because the position is so one-sided and unrealistic.

The groups which are most often subjected to unrealistic, highly negative portrayals are Baptists and Fundamentalist/Evangelical Christians, and certain non-Abrahamic/non-Vedic groups, such as New Age, Wicca, radical atheists and Neo-Pagans. Strongly negative portrayals of these groups are often tied to criticism of conservative ("right-wing") or liberal ("left-wing") viewpoints.

All writing conveys a viewpoint. But most books published by the mainstream press do not include polemically-driven writing intended primarily to attack a religious group (although there are many which seem very polemical or didactic in other ways). Few if any Nebula and Hugo-winning novels have overt and clumsy attacks on specific religious or ethnic groups. But a considerable amount of science fiction from Evangelical Christian and gay/lesbian publishing houses features negative polemical attacks of this sort. Not that such writing is necessarily ineffective as used by its target audience. Fiction is often utilized to serve the needs of and affirm the position of a specific community. Nobody expects My Two Dads to present an Orthodox Jewish position and nobody expects Fiddler on the Roof to present a gay/lesbian position.

References to specific religious groups often echo perceptions embedded in popular sentiment -- even when such sentiments are incorrect stereotypes. Some times this is because the author has unconsciously accepted the popular stereotypes. But often this occurs when characters realistically express ideas held by real people of their background. For example, the Protestant soldiers who invade Utah in Turtledove's The Great War: American Front mistakenly consider the Latter-day Saint residents of the state to be non-Christian and subhuman, worthy of slaughter. Their sentiments reflect widely held views of the time period portrayed, but from the author's viewpoint it is evident that these soldiers are uninformed and prejudiced.

Some authors frequently offer penetrating and freshly considered looks at specific religious groups, without simply repeating either negative stereotypes or trendy endorsements. Examples of this approach include Walter Jon Williams's Sikh and Christian characters in Days of Atonement; the Jesuits of Russell's The Sparrow; the widely varied denizens of a Catholic monastery in Miller's Canticle for Leibowitz; and countless examples in the alternative histories of Harry Turtledove. There are surprisingly well-written, fresh Muslim characters in Sawyer's The Terminal Experiment, Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, and Niven & Pournelle's The Mote in God's Eye/The Gripping Hand.

One notable author who has produced often shockingly original looks at extremely specific, rarely considered groups is Piers Anthony. His controversial "Tarot" and "Incarnations of Immortality" series, with a total of 10 books, present some of the most unusual ruminations about religion anywhere in science fiction and fantasy. Anthony combines original observations and hackneyed stereotypes as he alternatively vilifies and glorifies such groups as Jehovah's Witnesses, pagans, Waldensians, Quakers, Latter-day Saints, Catholics, Vodoun, Christian Scientists, Roma, Albigensians, Unitarians, Communists and Scientologists.

Many of Neal Stephenson's novels (The Big U; The Diamond Age; Snow Crash) display similar wide-ranging traipsing about in the field of comparative religion. Stephenson's efforts in this regard have displayed more art, but less depth, than Piers Anthony's. Other notable examples of science fiction which refers to a wide variety of different religious groups include novels by Philip Jose Farmer such as the Riverworld series and Dayworld Rebel; Ian Watson's God's World; Dan Simmons' Hyperion; and Carl Sagan's Contact.

Many novels provide detailed looks at one or even two fictional alien religions. Jeri Taylor's Star Trek: Voyager novel Pathways is notable for its detailed look not only at the Native American beliefs of Chakotay, but also at the religion and culture of Klingons and Vulcans and Talaxians and Ocampa.

Book Lists on this Page:
Zoroastrianism
Jainism
Hinduism
Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Zen Buddhism
Judaism
Islam
Bedouin
Sufism
Ahmadiyya
Sikhism
Shinto
Taoism
Confucianism
Christianity
Arianism
Waldensians
Albigensianism
Eastern Orthodox
Amish
Dutch Reformed
Presbyterian
Lutheran
Quakers
Latter-day Saints
Catholic
Anglican/Episcopalian
Baptist
Pentecostal
Shakers
Manichaeans
Rastafarianism
Baha'i
Scientology
Discordianism
Neo-Pagan / Wicca
Polynesian
Native American
Yoruba
African Traditional Religion
Boer
Animal Rights
environmentalism
Gaianism
Feminism
Communism
Vulcan
GLBT



Zoroastrianism
Gore Vidal: Creation (historical fiction)
John DeChance: MagicNet
Philip K. Dick: The Cosmic Puppets
Kate Wilhelm: "Deathbird"
H. Beam Piper: Little Fuzzy; The Other Human Race; Fuzzies and Other People - set on the planet "Zarathustra", but do not really have anything to do with Zoroastrianism

Jainism
Gore Vidal: Creation (historical fiction)

Hinduism
Roger Zelazny: Lord of Light
Arthur C. Clarke: The Fountains of Paradise
Katherine MacLean: "Night-Rise"
Dan Simmons: Song of Kali

Buddhism
Roger Zelazny: Lord of Light
Aldous Huxley: Island - Huxley's vision of Buddhist-influenced utopia.
L. Sprague de Camp and Christopher Stasheff: The Enchanter Reborn - This sequel to The Complete Compleat Enchanter continues the adventures of Harold Shea. Harold visits more attractive places this time: Oz, the world of Don Quixote, and a Buddhist fantasy world.
Poul Anderson: Fleet of Stars (Amidism and Amaterasu)
Arthur C. Clarke: The Fountains of Paradise
R.B. Wilcox: Karma On Tap: The Online Buddhist Revolution

Tibetan Buddhism
Arthur C. Clarke: "The Nine Billion Names of God"
Kathleen Ann Goonan: The Bones of Time
Eliot Pattison: The Skull Mantra
Katherine Kurtz: Dagger Magic
Dan Simmons: Rise of Endymion
Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. Last Refuge

Zen Buddhism
Dan Simmons: Rise of Endymion
Carl Sagan: Contact

Judaism
Marge Piercy: He, She, and It
Virginia Ellen Baker: "Rachel's Wedding"
Orson Scott Card: Enchantment
Dan Simmons: Hyperion
Michael A. Burstein: "Kaddish for the Last Survivor"
Benjamin Rosenbaum: "Biographical Notes to 'A Discourse on the Nature of Causality, with Air-Planes'" (alternative history wherein Karaites achieved dominance and branded Talmudic Judaism as heretical)
* See Steven Silver's extensive bibiography of Jewish SF/F.

Islam
Frank Herbert: Dune
Bruce Sterling: "We See Things Differently"
Chris Lawson: "Written in Blood"
Robert Silverberg: "A Hero of the Empire"
Kim Stanley Robinson: Red Mars; Blue Mars; Green Mars
Orson Scott Card: Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus
Robert Sawyer: The Terminal Experiment
Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle: The Mote in God's Eye and The Gripping Hand
Robert A. Heinlein: Stranger in a Strange Land
Greg Bear: Hegira and Moving Mars
Dean Ing: Systemic Shock
John Brunner: Stand on Zanzibar
Frederik Pohl: The World at the End of Time
Javed Akhtar: Ultimate Revelations

Bedouin
Kim Stanley Robinson: Red Mars; Blue Mars; Green Mars

Sufism
Kim Stanley Robinson: Red Mars; Blue Mars; Green Mars

Ahmadiyya
Carl Sagan: Contact

Sikhism
Walter Jon Williams: Days of Atonement
William Moore: Bayonets in the Sun (historical fiction)

Shinto
Ken Kato: Yamato: A Rage in Heaven
Diann Thornley: Echoes of Issel
Orson Scott Card: Children of the Mind

Taoism
Orson Scott Card: Xenocide
Nicholas A. DiChavio: "Dao De Qing by Lao Tzu" in Alternate Tyrants
Richard Garfinkle: Celestial Matters

Confucianism
Neal Stephenson: The Diamond Age
Philip K. Dick: The Man in the High Castle
Gore Vidal: Creation (historical fiction)

Christianity
Essentially all English language literature contains references to Christianity. The Bible has been the most influential book and Christianity the single most influential religion in the development of Western culture, the English language, and modern literature. Simply using the English language entails some reference to Christianity, because of the large number of words and phrases which are Christian or Biblical in origin.

C. S. Lewis: The Screwtape Letters
Kathy Tyers: Firebird
Tim Powers: The Anubis Gates
Connie Willis: Doomsday Book
Cordwainer Smith: Norstrilia
Clifford D. Simak: The Fellowship of the Talisman
Zenna Henderson: Ingathering: The Complete Book of the People
Harry Harrison: The Hammer and the Cross

Many lists are available which list works of science fiction and fantasy in which Christianity is a particularly prominent theme, or which feature significant Christian characters. Some books and stories are listed below in which specific branches or denominations are featured prominently.

Arianism
Ursula K. Le Guin: "The Barrow"

Catholic
Walter Miller, Jr.: Canticle for Leibowitz
James Blish: A Case of Conscience
Doria Russell: The Sparrow
Orson Scott Card: Speaker for the Dead and Xenocide
Andrew M. Greeley: The Final Planet
Greeley, ed.: Sacred Visions - anthology of Catholic science fiction
Dan Simmons: Hyperion; The Fall of Hyperion; Endymion; Rise of Endymion
Rebecca Neason: Guises of the Mind (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Brian M. Thomsen: "Infallibility, Obedience, and Acts of Contrition"
Clifford Simak: The Pope Project; Way Station
Arthur C. Clarke & Gentry Lee. Rama II
Vonda N. McIntyre: The Moon and the Sun
Paul J. McAuley: Pasquale's Angel
Ben Bova: "In Trust" and "Acts of God"
Kingsley Amis: The Alteration
Lars Walker: Erling's Word
Robert Merle: Malevil
Poul Anderson: "Kyrie"
Stephen Baxter: "Inherit the Earth"
Jeff Duntemann: "Guardian"
Rick Cook: Limbo System

Eastern Orthodox
Harry Turtledove: Agent of Byzantium - Alternate history in which the Byzantium empire never fell
Orson Scott Card: Enchantment - Contemporary Jew travels back in time to 10th century Ukraine to an Orthodox village
Roger Zelazny: This Immortal
Nick Mamatas: "Time Of Day"
Yevgeny Ivanovich Zamyatin: "The Lion"

Waldensians
Piers Anthony: Tarot trilogy

Albigensianism
Piers Anthony: For Love of Evil

Amish
Paul Levinson: The Silk Code
Bruce Sterling: Holy Fire
Isaac Asimov: Foundation's Edge
Zenna Henderson: "The Effectives"

Mennonite
Leigh Brackett: The Long Tomorrow

Dutch Reformed
L. E. Modesitt, Jr.: Of Tangible Ghosts and The Ghost of the Revelator
Elliot S. Maggin: Kingdom Come

Presbyterian
Connie Willis: "Epiphany"
Arthur C. Clarke and Gentry Lee: Cradle

Lutheran
John Calvin Batchelor: The Birth of the People's Republic of Antarctica

Quakers
David E. Morse: Iron Bridge
Molly Gloss: The Dazzle of Day
Judith Moffett: Pennterra
C.M. Kornbluth and Frederik Pohl: "Quaker Cannon"

Latter-day Saints
Orson Scott Card: Folk of the Fringe; Lost Boys; historical: Saints
Arthur C. Clarke: The City and the Stars
Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle: The Gripping Hand
Avram Davidson and Cynthia Goldstone: "Pebble in Time"
Lee Allred: "For the Strength of the Hills"
Harry Turtledove: How Few Remain and The Great War: American Front
M. Shayne Bell, ed.: Washed by a Wave of Wind
L. E. Modesitt, Jr.: The Ghost of the Revelator
Walter Jon Williams: Days of Atonement
Michael Ritchey: Disoriented
* See also: S.F. with Latter-day Saint Characters

Anglican/Episcopalian
Connie Willis: To Say Nothing of the Dog

Connie Willis: Doomsday Book

Baptist
Pat Frank: Alas, Babylon
Octavia Butler: Parable of the Talents
Judith Moffett: Time, Like an Ever-Rolling Stream (SBC)
Patricia Anthony: Flanders

Pentecostal
Neal Stephenson: Snow Crash - extensive treatment of the subject of glossalia (speaking in tongues)

Assemblies of God
Robert Charles Wilson: Gypsies

Shakers
Gerald Jonas: "The Shaker Revival"

Jehovah's Witnesses
Piers Anthony: Vision of Tarot; Faith of Tarot


Manichaeans
C.W. Landsworth: The Manichaean War

Rastafarianism
William Gibson: Neuromancer

Baha'i
Philip K. Dick: Eye in the Sky
Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff: "Home Is Where..."
Tom Ligon: "The Devil and the Deep Black Void"; "The Gardener"
Joseph Sheppherd: The Island of the Same Name

Scientology
Greg Bear: Heads (negative)
Piers Anthony: Vision of Tarot; Faith of Tarot
Norman Spinrad: Mind Game

cargo cults (Melanesian)
Larry Niven amd Steven Barnes: Dream Park

Discordianism
Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson: Illuminatus

Neo-Pagan / Wicca
Rosemary Edghill: Bell, Book & Murder - Neo-pagan protaganist, NY Wicca and Neo-pagan setting.
Starhawk: The Fifth Sacred Thing and Walking to Mercury - set in 2048 about life in ecofeminist San Francisco
Orson Scott Card: Enchantment - contemporary home magick and Russian/Ukrainian paganism
Maurene Jensen: "Silent Justice"

Polynesian
Kathleen Ann Goonan: The Bones of Time - Hawaiian
Dan Simmons: Fires of Eden - Hawaiian
Orson Scott Card: Children of the Mind
Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury: "Signs and Wonders" - Tongan
David Brin: Earth - Maori
Robert A. Heinlein: Friday - Maori, Tongan

Native American
Walter Jon Williams: Days of Atonement
Jeri Taylor: Star Trek Voyager: Pathways
M. Shayne Bell: Inuit
Orson Scott Card: Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus and "America"
Alan Dean Foster: To the Vanishing Point; Maori and Cyber Way
Leanne C. Harper: "Blood Rights"
Diann Thornley: "Thunderbird's Egg" - Navajo
Charlene C. Harmon: "Pueblo de Sion" - Anasazi

Yoruba-based Afro-American religions
   (Macumba, Vodoun, Candomble, etc.)

Piers Anthony: Vision of Tarot or Faith of Tarot
Roger Zelazny: This Immortal
M. Shayne Bell: Nicoji
Lucius Shepherd: Green Eyes
Greg Bear: Queen of Angels
John J. Miller: "Beasts of Burden"

African Traditional Religion - other
Mike Resnick: Kikuyu
Eric Norden: "The Curse of Mhondoro Nkabele"
William Sanders: "Custer Under the Baobab" in Drakas! (Kalahari Bushmen/San)

Boer
Gregg Keizer: multiple stories
Neal Stephenson: The Diamond Age

Animal Rights
Connie Willis: "Cat's Paw"

environmentalism
David Brin: Earth
John Brunner: Stand on Zanzibar and The Sheep Look Up
Joan Slonczewski: A Door into Ocean
Michael Kube-McDowell: The Quiet Pools
Ellen Datlow: Vanishing Acts - anthology of stories about endangered species

Gaianism
David Brin: Earth
Judith Moffett: Time, Like an Ever-Rolling Stream
John Varley: Titan

Feminism
* See extensive web site on this subject: Feminist Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Utopia

Communism
Eliot Pattison: The Skull Mantra
Piers Anthony: Vision of Tarot; Faith of Tarot; God of Tarot
Harry Turtledove: A World of Difference

Greco-Roman classical religion and philosophy
Richard Garfinkle: Celestial Matters
Gregory Feeley: "The Crab Lice"
John Byrne: Wonder Woman: Gods and Goddesses

Vulcan
Diane Duane: Spock's World
Jeri Taylor: Star Trek Voyager: Pathways

GLBT
["GLBT" stands for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered. This is a semi-organized sub-culture/community/socio-religious grouping which has its own art, music, media and literature, as well as organizations, meetings, etc. The GLBT community is a societal construct. The GLBT community is not equivalent to "homosexuals." Although most (but not all) people within the GLBT cultural community are homosexual, the majority of people with homosexual tendencies are not members of the GLBT social community. In other words, most people who read gay/lesbian literature, watch gay/lesbian films, and go to gay/lesbian clubs or churches are themselves gay/lesbian/etc. But most people who could be classified biologically or psychologically as homosexual are not, in fact, part of the GLBT community, do not read books written specifically for the gay/lesbian market, and are not necessarily different from other people in their birth culture with regards to sexual behavior or marital status. Finally, members of the gay/lesbian community do not necessarily read gay/lesbian fiction, just as Catholics do not necessarly read Catholic fiction. Participation in gay/lesbian culture is no more determinate than participation in Catholic culture.]

Joe Haldeman: Forever War
Nicola Griffith: Slow River (also: everything else by Griffith)
Orson Scott Card: Songmaster; Wyrms
Tracy Hickman: The Immortals
Poppy Z. Rite: Exquisite Corpse
Camilla Decarnin, etc. (editors): Worlds Apart: An Anthology of Lesbian and Gay Science Fiction and Fantasy
Jeffrey M. Elliot (ed.): Kindred Spirits: An Anthology of Gay and Lesbian Science Fiction
Pam Keesey (ed.): Daughters of Darkness: Lesbian Vampire Stories

Books/stories about Science Fiction writers and fans (i.e., Recursive SF)
Anthony R. Lewis: Annotated Bibliography of Recursive Science Fiction (non-fiction)
Michael Resnick: Inside the Funhouse (anthology)
Michael Resnick and Patrick Nielsen Hayden: Alternate Skiffy (anthology)
Philip K. Dick: The Man in the High Castle
Barry Malzberg: The Passage of the Light (collection)
Michael Swanwick, Pat Murphy, Eileen Gunn and Andy Duncan: "Green Fire" in Event Horizon - features as main characters Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, L. Sprague De Camp and Grace Hopper
Anthony Boucher: Rocket to the Morgue - mystery with many characters based on sf writers (Heinlein, Hubbard, Williamson, etc.)
Michael Bishop: The Secret Ascension; or, Philip K. Dick is Dead, Alas - fictional novel about what PKD did after he died
David Barbour Richard Raleigh: Shadows Bend - about H.P. Lovecraft and Robert Howard
Ben Bova: "Inspiration" - Albert Einstein meets H. G. Wells
Lawrence Schimel: "A Stable Relationship" in Alternate Tyrants (Mike Resnick, ed.)
Robert Charles Wilson: "Divided by Infinity" in Starlight 2
Patricia Nurse: "One Rejection Too Many"
Larry Niven: "Footfall"
Harry Turtledove: "After the Suicide Wars"
Harry Turtledove: Earthgrip
Brian Aldiss: "The Saliva Tree"
Ray Bradbury: "The Exiles"
Frank Ramirez: "The Merchant of Stratford"
George Alec Effinger: "The Pinch Hitters"
Eric Norden: "The Curse of Mhondoro Nkabele"
Bill Pronzini: "Dry Spell"
Barry Malzberg: Beyond Apollo
Crystal Wood: Cut Him Out in Little Stars
David Howard: "Galaxy Quest" (film)

Miscellaneous
Williamson, George Hunt (Michel d'Obrenovic): Secret Places of the Lion
King: Retread Shop
Robert A. Heinlein: Revolt in 2100
L. Sprague de Camp: The Incomplete Enchanter
Michaela Roessner: Walkabout Woman
Philip Jose Farmer: Dayworld Rebel
Tom Holt: Odds and Gods


What's Missing?

The list above is not comprehensive, of course. We welcome all suggestions. Note that excerpts from most of these works are in the main Adherents.com literature database.

It is interesting that some the same groups are used over and over again as subject matter (Catholicism, Judaism, fundamentalist/Evangelical Protestant Christians, gay/lesbian, etc.). This is not surprising, as certain groups appeal more than others as subject matter to writers, whether it is because they are the groups writers are most familiar with, most interested in personally, or feel are most important or threatening.

There are some rather large and distinctive religious groups which have not been used as subject matter in any sf/f fiction we are aware of. Any author who wanted some extremely fertile but untouched territory could write about any of the following:

  • Juche (or "Kimilsungism", the North Korean state religion; approx. 19 million people)
  • Tenrikyo (over 2 million; 19th century Japanese religion that sf grandmaster Avram Davidson converted to)
  • Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (Brazilian-based group with branches throughout Africa and Latin America)
  • Jehovah's Witnesses (over 12 million adherents)
  • Lingayats (over 10 million)
  • Unitarian-Universalists
  • Soka Gakkai
  • Cao Dai
  • Jainism
  • Old Believers
  • Calvary Chapel
  • Coptic Orthodox
  • Seventh-Day Adventists
  • Community of Christ (Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)

Please submit comments, corrections, suggestions, etc. to webmaster@adherents.com.
Copyright copy; 2005. Web page created 22 November 1999. Last modified 12 April 2005.