Mormon Artist

“Is It Something in the Water?” Why Mormons Write Science Fiction and Fantasy

In a 2009 article published in the Boston Globe, Mormon author Carol Lynch Williams explains how book publishers these days have a tendency to look at the proliferation of authors in Utah and wonder, “What the heck is in the water here?” They’re not the only ones who have taken notice. From book publishers to bloggers to scholars of Mormon culture, a number of people have noted the success of Mormon authors, particularly in the genre of science fiction and fantasy, and have speculated as to why Mormons seem to be unusually well-represented in this field.

The most well-known Mormon writer of science fiction and fantasy is, of course, Orson Scott Card. With the publication of his first science fiction story, “Ender’s Game,” in Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine in 1977 and his receiving the John W. Campbell Award for best new writer from the World Science Fiction Convention in 1978, Orson Scott Card was the first Mormon science fiction and fantasy author to achieve notable success in this field. He won both the Hugo and Nebula awards two years in succession for Ender’s Game (1986) and Speaker for the Dead (1987), something no author had done previously nor has done since.

A number of other Mormons have followed Orson Scott Card’s break into the science fiction and fantasy scene. Dave Wolverton, M. Shayne Bell, Susan Kroupa, James Jordan, and Virginia Baker, inspired by Orson Scott Card’s success, have all been winners in L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future contest, the highest-paying contest for amateur writers of science fiction and fantasy—one that is said to draw thousands of participants each year.

In just the past few years, there has been quite a bit of high-profile activity from Mormon authors in the national science fiction and fantasy market. Brandon Sanderson, who writes epic fantasy novels, is a New York Times bestselling author who was recently given the distinction of being asked by Robert Jordan’s widow to finish the Wheel of Time, a popular fantasy book series that has sold over 44 million copies worldwide. Shannon Hale won a 2006 Newbery Honor award for her bestselling middle-grade fantasy novel Princess Academy. Stephenie Meyer followed up her wildly successful vampire paranormal romance series Twilight in 2008 with a science fiction novel, The Host, which stayed on the New York Times Best Seller list for over a year. Internationally known crime fiction author Anne Perry has recently taken her own plunge into the market with the publication of two fantasy novels, Tathea and Come Armageddon. Brandon Mull, Aprilynne Pike, and other Mormon children’s authors have consistently shown up on the New York Times Best Seller list for their middle grade and YA fantasy series.

Along with the success and awards, there is also the strange trivia of Mormon involvement in science fiction and fantasy. According to Scott and Marny Parkin, who maintain the online Bibliography of Mormon Speculative Fiction (mormonsf.org), Zenna Henderson, another Hugo Award winner, was raised Mormon. Glen Larson, producer of the science fiction television show Battlestar Galactica, is famously credited with having included aspects of Mormon theology and culture (a planet of origin called “Kobol,” a Council of the Twelve, marriage for “all the eternities,” etc.) in the series. Screenwriter David Howard co-wrote the screenplay for the successful Star Trek spoof, Galaxy Quest, which won the 2000 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. Gary Kurtz was the executive producer of Star Wars: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and a fantasy film directed by Jim Henson called The Dark Crystal.

There’s even an unlikely connection between Mormonism and Ray Bradbury, one of the most honored and influential writers of science fiction and fantasy in the 20th and 21st centuries. According to BYU professor Linda Hunter Adams, Ray Bradbury once told her in a phone interview that he was good friends with Reid Nibley (Hugh Nibley’s brother) when he was a boy, that he sometimes attended MIA activities with Reid, and that they even wrote Mormon roadshows together—Ray writing the scripts and Reid composing the music.

Several people have speculated about why Mormons seem to be unusually represented in the science fiction and fantasy genre. Mormon scholar Terryl Givens points to Mormon theology as a possible source for the “affinity” Mormons have with science fiction in particular and speculative fiction (defined as “imaginative” or “non-literary” fiction) in general.

Says Givens in his book People of Paradox, “Science fiction (or the more-encompassing ‘speculative fiction’), though still struggling for respect as serious art, is the literary form best suited to the exposition and exploration of ideas at the margins of conventional thinking, whether in technology, ethics, politics, or religion. And indeed, some Mormon doctrine is so unsettling in its transgression of established ways of conceiving reality that it may be more at home in the imagined universes of Card than in journals of theology.”

Two examples of Mormon doctrine that Givens sees influencing Mormon science fiction and fantasy writers’ work are (1) the theme of apotheosis—that men and women can progress to the point of becoming divine beings, and (2) that God has created other worlds and other peoples. Givens points to examples of Orson Scott Card stories that include these themes. Stories that include other worlds and peoples definitionally fall into the category of science fiction and fantasy. Recent examples of apotheosis, however, can be seen in some works by Mormon authors, such as John Brown’s Servant of a Dark God series and Brandon Sanderson’s novel Warbreaker.

Scott Parkin identifies the same theological and cultural explanations that Givens mentions and also adds another explanation: the idea that Mormons tend to be comfortable with rational explanations of things, including our very relationship with God. Since Mormons are comfortable integrating their religious faith with rational explanations, science is something they tend to embrace rather than avoid.

Says Parkin in an interview on the Morehead’s Musings blog, “The idea that there are rational explanations and that it’s okay to explore those explanations is one of the reasons why the rigors of science fiction appeals to so many Mormons. For example, Mormons have a view that science is an explanation of the way God gets things done. Religion answers the question ‘Why?’ and science answers the question ‘How?’ and they are complementary disciplines. So that sense of rationalism within the LDS theological construct brings the religious and speculative science together.”

Shannon Hale seems to agree with Parkin and Givens about why Mormons, unlike some other religious denominations, are not afraid of science fiction and fantasy—that it comes from our theology. From the 2009 Boston Globe article: “Mormons believe a lot of things that are pretty fantastic—we believe in miracles and angels and ancient prophets and rediscovered Scripture—so maybe it is almost natural for us to dive into these other stories.”

In an interview on A Motley Vision, John Brown offers a less theological and more practical explanation for why Mormons have done well in the science fiction and fantasy genres. “Do we even know if Mormons are over-represented in the SF/Fantasy field?” he questions. His theory is that the inroads Mormons have made into speculative fiction, particularly science fiction, is more regional than it is religious and has more to do with several people having broken into the field (Orson Scott Card, Dave Wolverton, and Tracy Hickman) and then making efforts to teach their craft to young writers, which, because these authors lived in Utah and were affiliated with the tight-knit Mormon community, means they ended up teaching their craft to young Mormons.

While Brown’s idea that Mormon involvement in science fiction and fantasy is more of a regional than it is a theological or cultural phenomenon does seem to be a good explanation for why Mormons have been successful in the field, it doesn’t take into account why Mormons might originally have been drawn to the field—and that the Mormon tradition of speculative fiction is much older than Orson Scott Card. Mormon scholar Gideon Burton has pointed to a short story by Parley P. Pratt as perhaps the first example of Mormon speculative fiction. The story, called “Dream of the Future,” which was read “In a Council of the Church, in the presence of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” is a fantastical tale about a young man who is given a vision by an angel—a vision of an idealized theocratic society that flowers in the Western prairies after the existing American government collapses. Says Burton in his introduction to an online version of the story, “Pratt’s ‘dream of the future’ recounted in ‘The Angel of the Prairies’ demonstrates an early and ongoing affinity between Mormon theology and speculative fiction.”

Another early piece of Mormon literature that represents an early foray into speculative fiction is Nephi Anderson’s Added Upon, a novel that tells the story of several spirit children who progress through premortal life, mortality, and the spirit world. Added Upon was originally published in 1898 and remained in print until 2005 and is credited with having influenced later Mormon works such as Saturday’s Warrior and My Turn on Earth.

Mormons from the very beginning, it seems, have been interested in exploring their beliefs and imaginations through fiction, and science fiction and fantasy seem to be a natural fit for that exploration. The jury is still out on whether Mormons are actually over-represented in science fiction and fantasy, and Scott Parkin acknowledges that Mormons may seem to be particularly involved in the genre not because there are actually more Mormons writing science fiction and fantasy (proportionally to other religious and minority groups), but because Mormons “are more aggressive in identifying themselves as Mormon in connection with their work.”

Theology, regional tight-knit communities, a history of speculative fiction, and strong self-identification all seem likely explanations for what has been a highly fruitful relationship between Mormons and science fiction and fantasy. Whatever the cause, the relationship seems to be rapidly growing in depth and scope, as this issue of Mormon Artist illustrates.

And who knows, maybe there really is something in the water. ❧

Comments

  1. Dave Wolverton

    In reading these articles, an idea struck me. We as authors are often asked “What influence does the church have on you as a writer?” Well, it struck me that as a member of the church, many of us are teachers. I’ve taught as a missionary, as an early morning seminary teacher, in priesthood and Sunday school classes, and so on.

    So it’s natural for us as writers to share our interests and expertise with others. As Mormons, we tend to be very service-oriented.

    So perhaps much of our burgeoning writing community has more of its roots in the Latter-day Saint culture than we realize.

    I liked John Brown’s comments where he suggested that to a certain degree, this success is local in that we’ve developed a strong writing community in the area, and that has made it easy to get an education as a writer here in Utah. Yet I suspect that there are other strong factors. Certainly the fact that one can be a moral storyteller in speculative fiction is a huge draw. Still, there is a third element that we can look at, and that is that in our own community there are a lot of examples of authors who are “making it” in the field. When I was a missionary, I was introduced to the writings of Orson Scott Card by a local member and became an instant fan of his work. In the same way, when I teach writing workshops, I often hear from people things like, “Ally Condie lives just two houses down the street from me,” or “Stephenie Meyer is in my ward,” or “I listen to Brandon Sanderson’s podcast every week.” With so many stellar examples around us, it’s easy to get inspired as a writer.

  2. Katherine Morris

    Thanks for those thoughts, Dave. When I was listening to the podcast that Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler recorded for this issue, I was interested to note that all of them were motivated to become writers (or in Howard’s case a webtoonist) in part because they felt a sense of calling–that they had a certain talent, and they needed to share it with others. In another episode of their Writing Excuses podcast, I remember Howard saying that he became a webtoonist because he felt strongly inspired to quit his job and pursue his then “hobby” full time. And one of his motivations is that he wants to make people laugh and feel happy.

    So, I think you’re probably right that there’s a service element there–a drive to share something good. And perhaps growing up in tight-knit communities where we teach and actively serve people who we wouldn’t necessarily otherwise interact with helps cultivate that impulse.

    Personally, I would say that your other idea–that there are so many immediate examples of authorly success in our community (particularly in Utah)–has influenced me. The fact that I personally know a number of Mormon authors who have published books makes me feel all the more confident that (1) it’s possible and (2) when I have something I want to show to publishers, I already have a network of people who can give me excellent advice on how to do that.

  3. Orson Scott Card

    I think my regional influence is nil – I have lived outside of Utah since 1981, and my first real notoriety as a fictioneer came with the publication of the novel Ender’s Game in 1985. My career should have caused a great increase in North Carolina science fiction, and it hasn’t. Mere proximity to Mormon writers explains nothing and the hypothesis should be rejected.

    Mormons write sci-fi because we’re more open to strange ideas in general, and to these strange ideas in particular. We have a greater openness to fiction that challenges accepted ideas of how the world works or should work, because we already live as Strangers in a Strange Land, no matter where we are.

  4. Evan Black

    With respect, Mr. Card, your books sit on a shelf in my home and have profoundly influenced my own aspirations and techniques for writing. You don’t have to leave North Carolina to have influence in the Mormon community.

    I agree that our predilection for strange and challenging ideas is a big part of this phenomenon, but I don’t think local/cultural influence can be dismissed as a factor.

  5. Gerald Johnston

    I would rather say that we are more open to ideas and stories with consistency and an internal structure which rings true. Because our beliefs are already considered Sci-Fi by a lot of the people of the world, we are more comfortable exploring story lines which are off the beaten path while being different enough to surprise and delight others.

    Of course, it certainly doesn’t hurt that so many LDS authors can do these things without resorting to profanity and avoid wallowing in those perversions which so thoroughly disgust many readers of fiction, myself included.

    Thank you!

  6. Brad R. Torgersen

    As the latest Utah resident (and Mormon) to attend the Writers of the Future workshop — for volume #26 — I will admit to being very surprised at the strength and stature of the Utah Mormon speculative and fantastic arts community. I moved back to Utah in 2008, having spent the previous 14 years in the Pacific Northwest, and the spec-fic and fantasy community here in Utah is very, very robust.

    I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any animosity between SF&F Mormons and SF&F non-Mormons — either working in the genre, or who are fans of the genre. Once people have identified themselves as genre workers or fans, the divide that might exist otherwise, melts away. Thus we’ve got a lot of LDS and non-LDS cooperative participation in speculative and fantastic events, such as Life, The Universe & Everything (BYU) and the CONduit convention in Salt Lake City.

    For myself, I’m not a terribly spiritual guy. I am LDS because it’s bred into the bone, and while I have occasionally chaffed at this fact, I have long since accepted that this church and this doctrine are where I belong, for better or for worse.

    What I will say is that writing, for me, feels like one of those talents we’re always exhorted to explore, grow, and multiply. As a teenager I realized I had something in me — call it a knack or maybe an aptitude — and that I probably ought to do something seriously constructive with it. And though becoming professionally published has taken a lot of work — hat tip to my Patriarchal Blessing — I’m finally starting to hit pay dirt.

    And of course once you make a few sales – I’m on five now, after lots of years of bupkus — you realize that the shoulder-to-the-wheel effort never stops. It never gets easy. But the satisfaction is definitely there, and it’s terrific being able to go down to BYU every year, or to CONduit, and rub shoulders with other LDS writers, and to be able to talk about the work and the business with people who understand.

  7. Melissa R. Wolfe

    Another possible factor is that LDS authors are effectively shut out of the traditional Christian book market. Some sci-fi/fantasy books published by that market are classified as Christian books, not sci-fi/fantasy. As such, these books and their authors might not be included in the total numbers when trying to discover whether sci-fi/fantasy is dominated by LDS authors.

    The few LDS presses focus on other types of books, not sci-fi/fantasy. So when an LDS author has an idea for this type of book, they will not limit themselves to LDS presses when submitting. Authors who identify as strongly Christian will most likely submit to Christian presses, and have their books printed under that heading. Authors who identify as strongly LDS will submit to traditional publishers, and have their books published as sci-fi/fantasy.

  8. Rick Walton

    I was recently asked by a reporter if Utah had, as some assume, more YA writers than any other state.

    I did a little research and found the following American Library Association site. Now my research is not about SF&F, and many of the writers are not LDS. But there is a lot of overlap–

    It’s not a comprehensive list, but http://wikis.ala.org/yalsa/index.php/List_of_YA_Authors_by_State lists
    Utah with 14 YA authors–2.7M population
    states with more…
    California 45–36.7M
    New York 28–19.5M
    Oregon 21–3.8M
    Texas 32–24.3M
    Washington 31–6.6M

    Oregon has a higher per capita
    Washington is close
    and these two smaller states have a higher per capita
    Maine 9–1.3M
    Rhode Island 9–1M

    if you take out northern coastal states, Utah has it hands down

    I don’t know how accurate these numbers are. Since it is a wiki some states might be better at reporting.
    But there are quite a few authors left off the Utah list–
    Dean Hughes
    Louise Plummer
    Carol Lynch Williams
    Ann Cannon
    Mike Tunnell
    Allyson Condie
    Kimberley Heuston
    Margaret Rostkowski
    Dene Low
    Kristen Chandler
    Aaron Hawkins
    Sheila Nielson
    Barbara Williams
    Bree Despain
    Dan Wells
    Randall Wright
    Jeff Carney
    Ron Woods
    Laurel Brady
    Robison Wells
    Wendy Tolliver
    Sydney Salter
    Tess Hilmo
    Michael Spooner
    Paul Pitts
    Emily Wing Smith
    Scott Savage
    Tracy Hickman
    Laura Hickman
    Dave Wolverton
    Clint Johnson
    Kristen Landon
    33 of them
    for a total of 47
    and I know there are more.

    So maybe we are number one.

    This does not include authors who have passed through Utah and are associated with Utah such as Orson Scott Card, Alane Ferguson, Gloria Skurzynski and Stephenie Meyer.

    There are I believe multiple reasons for this success, but my feeling is that the strongest reason might be that there is a vibrant, tight knit, giving community of writers and it is fairly easy, if you are serious about your writing to get the support you need to develop and eventually publish.

  9. Brian Scharp

    I think the “openess to strange ideas” is helpful in understanding why Mormons are drawn to speculative fiction and why they do it so well. But I have always wondered if part of reason Mormon authors are so successful in reaching a broader audience is that no matter how fantastic the story, some reflection of faith finds its way into the writing –belief in God, the desire to love others more than yourself, the importance of family etc. I think this creates an especially inspirational quality in story-telling because no matter how “way-out” the fictional worlds are, the actions of the characters often seem to explore the kind of real truths that are part of faith.

  10. Kari

    Aw… I am in Washington and wished there were more support. As an aspiring writer of fantasy, support from fellow saints would be wonderful. I did manage to get my book club- made up mostly of members- to read my manuscript, I get their verdict in January!

    I liked Orson Card’s response best. Very funny and true. I really think it is an affinity to the genre…then again there are plenty of YA or romances and fictional history by Mormon’s as well. My all time favorite being Jack Weyland’s Charly. Overall this was a great article.

  11. Deidre

    “Strangers in a Strange Land” as Card puts it above, is one worth looking at. Our one commonality may well be that we are so peculiar and off-beat “no matter where we are” in relation to our local or even global community. Other than a large concentration in Utah, there is more diversity in background, locale, etc. than maybe recognized within those adherents to Mormon theology. Besides believing in prophecy, seers, ancient records and sounding like a JR Tolkien or Rowlings novel- there is also a strong belief in the hereafter, fore-ordination vs. agency, apocalypse, spiritual/intangible gifts, and an identity as ‘Deity in embryo’. In some orthodox communities it may be discouraged, but I think generally in Mormonism, perhaps due to its early roots with the likes of Parley P. as mentioned- speculation and discussion that explores the ‘yet to be revealed’ is passionately engaged in. I like the way the author of the article described the way Mormons connect God and Science. It seems this connection was prevalent in the first universities of the middle ages with Catholic and Muslim sponsored education. Today, within this genre, readers are perhaps positively affected by the ease and willingness of Mormon authors to put the why and how of sci-fi, fantasy and faith together to tell stories as they come. Very engaging article and discussion..I really could sit around a table with rice crispy treats and tall glasses of milk all night and talk over all the ideas above!

  12. Kate Gladstone

    Another Mormon SF author was Raymond F. Jones — see memorial web-site at http://raymondfjones.tripod.com

    Notably, Jones’ Mormon beliefs were credited (by ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION editor John W. Campbell) with making Jones a writer who could see beyond the cultural limitations that much of USA culture had inherited from mainstream Christian sects: for instance, Campbell specifically mentioned (and praised) the Mormon belief that the scriptures were and are not complete, and that human progress continues eternally even after death.

    A full transcript of Campbell’s letter to Jones on that subject (dated July 4th, 1953) appears in the 1985 book THE JOHN W. CAMPBELL LETTERS.

  13. Jim

    I didn’t see him discussed in the previous string – but Robert Heinlein although not a Mormon himself, referred to Mormons in positive ways in several of his novels: not so much from a religious faith standpoint, but from a fundamental family, community and patriotic values perspective. Many of his novels dealt with the dissolution of society, and in almost every case, RAH used the Mormon community as an example of a bastion of solidarity that could be relied upon to maintain important social and cultural values.

  14. Michael Owen

    I think just reading the Pearl of Great Price at a relatively young age expands the imagination enough to make you “get” spec fiction.

    OSC and Brandon Sanderson (and Stephanie Meyer’s success, though I haven’t read much of her work) have inspired me to be a spec fiction author.

  15. Amber Argyle

    When I first started writing fantasy, I had no idea what religion my favorite authors were, other than Orson Scott Card. I must say I agree with his comment. I didn’t become a fantasy writer because of the numerous other Mormon author. But I think the service oriented members have helped my books to succeed.

  16. Aaron Gifford

    All writers start as readers. I would be fascinated to see if there’s statistically significant influence of LDS religion or culture on reading, and in particular, love of reading. Does the LDS faith or culture (or whatever) tend to produce a statistically significant higher number of people who would describe themselves as “loving to read”? If so, it would make sense that with more readers who love reading, there would follow a higher number of writers as well. Any pointers to useful statistics that might validate or invalidate this possibility?

  17. Inari Porkka

    You might be on to something there Aaron, though I don’t know how one would go about gathering such a statistic. But I think there certainly is an important connection between the church and reading, mainly because most people need to be willing to read at least a little bit in order to have a testimony.
    I’ve heard many of the youth in church say that reading for example Shakespeare in school is easier for them than to their schoolmates because they read the Book of Mormon and the King James Bible with their thees and thous. And as a missionary I noticed clearly the importance of reading when we struggled with investigators who didn’t get a spiritual confirmation of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon because they “just didn’t like to read that much.”

  18. Rod Hjelm

    I really enjoyed this article. I read a lot of science fiction before my mission, but haven’t picked it up since then. It was very interesting how I was always able to grasp the concepts and ideas very easily like it made sense.

    I don’t remember the name of the book but it was about a group of people who colonized a new planet and one guy stayed in cold sleep and came out occasionally through the ages and came to be viewed as a God. I don’t think that matches reality in any way but has helped me realize that being in the presence of God may be much different than we imagine. I really got going with the comparisons in Star Wars with the development of faith in the force the Jedi needed to use it similar to the priesthood.

    I love it!

  19. David M. Brown

    There’s a big difference between playing with “strange ideas” speculatively and imaginatively, or learning to think outside the box in one’s life, and actually believing “strange ideas” that are not only unsupported by any evidence but that also glaringly contradict what we do know of the nature of things. Religious belief wipes out that distinction. And the history of SF shows that it is certainly not necessary to be a Believer to craft effective and believable tales premised on all sorts of sideways notions.

  20. JD Lerud

    As an as yet unpublished LDS writer of SF and Fantasy, I loved this article. Well done! I’ll admit without hesitation that Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game series is the reason I began trying to write professionally. It filled my mind with deep thoughts, and I loved that about it. It reminded me of reading the scriptures and how they cause me to explore and ruminate on difficult concepts such as eternity, intelligence, truth, light, afterlife, visions, prophecies, etc. The Old and New Testaments, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine & Covenants all illustrate the importance of endurance in the midst of opposition, the value of eternal principles and morals, and the necessity of strength of both body and character in battling the forces of evil (important in any good story). There are also examples of sacrifice, forgiveness, and the always exciting and fascinating miracles beyond explanation. And what is Fantasy without miraculous, inexplicable occurrences? Of course it’s an appealing genre.

    The Bible begins with the creation of the world and of the creatures and people on it. So why shouldn’t Science Fiction be appealing to religious-minded people? The King James version of Genesis 1:20 suggests evolution—that water and bird life was brought forth from the waters (although other animals and mankind itself were created from the dust of the earth). The creation of various human or human-like creatures is a staple in SF, whether they’re pieced together like Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, or magically spawned, or altered via an infusion or infection of some type. It appeals to the creator in us.

    Some SF writers love to write stories that portray the ideas that, through science, mankind can create and/or destroy worlds, move planets, create life forms, travel through endless space, put people into suspended animation, cause them to become immortal, etc. It has always been a curiosity to me that even atheists can believe that man has the potential to do such things using science, but a glorified, immortal man and/or a supreme creator could not possibly exist and do such things using science. Oh well. I’ll leave them to their narrower view and enjoy the broader view of a religious perspective. But it goes to show that we’re still thinking along the same lines. We’re creators of worlds and peoples and creatures at heart. Just like our Father in Heaven.

  21. Faith

    Intriguing article and comments. I think, as President Uchtdorf said, “we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before,” and that includes all genres of writing (and other art forms). The Mormon community is also quick to share who we are, what we do, and offer a helping hand or teaching moment to the persons we meet along our journey.

    If you are looking for additional learning/teaching opportunities in the writing world, you might want to check out the American Night Writers Association. http://anwa-lds.com/

    It is an LDS peer network for women writers with local chapters across the country.

  22. Joseph Thiery

    As a non-Mormon, and in fact a complete non-believer, I lack the perspective that many of you have on this issue. I don’t understand the cultural or religious context that may be related to this “issue.” But for what the thoughts of an outsider are worth, I’ll give you them:

    I can’t speak for whether there is actually a disproportionate percentage of LDS authors in the world, but I have noticed that a disproportionate percentage of my own favorite authors are LDS. I think this is because of something that was pointed out earlier as a trend in LDS SF&F: internal consistency. Authors such as Card and Sanderson offer up very complex, fantastical worlds - without needing to explain every single detail in painfully dry mathematical language - while still managing to string all the make-believe (be it a system(s) of magic or advanced technology) together in a very cohesive, rational way.

    Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy was one of the first examples of fantasy I can recall that bothered with this. His system of magic was, of course, illogical at its core. But it didn’t allow for “touchy-feely” moments of deus ex machina, wherein magic could achieve anything just because the author felt like making it happen. Nor did it indulge itself in lists of arbitrary rules and limitations - like magic words and wands, just to make it workable. Rather, Sanderson created a system of magic that, aside from the core exceptions to logic that must be accepted for its existence, adhered exactly to reality. The limitations placed on it were not of the author’s creation, but of the world’s.

    Stephanie Meyer is a little bit more “touchy-feely” - although less so than a great many others who’ve tried their hands at vampirism - but Orson Scott Card’s explanations of new technologies give me a similar vibe. I think this trend that at least I am noticing is a significant part of the perception regarding LDS and SFF.

  23. Arenelda Vapor

    I am an aspiring writer, and I am LDS. The story I’m working on now is fantasy. I had no idea that there were so many LDS people involved in sci-fi and fantasy! I actually thought that most of us refrain from reading or writing these genres because these genres seem to have roots from “liberal” or “democratic” beliefs, and most of us are republicans or conservatives. But then again, Shadow Mountain has published a lot of children’s and YA fantasy lately. Anyway, I agree that the LDS population is interested in speculative fiction because of how we were raised to believe in ideas that most other populations don’t believe. After reading this, I am glad to know that I’m not the only one interested in writing speculative fiction!

  24. Matt Anderson

    Glen A. Larson was heavily involved in other influential sci-fi shows. Knight Rider was about a high tech car and a face-swapped police officer. Six-Million Dollar Man dealt with bionics. Buck Rogers is another space adventure show. Manimal, Automan and The Highwayman were also sci-fi. He was also a mentor of Donald Bellisario, who later went on to create the early 90s time-travel gem Quantum Leap. Although Larson can’t be credited for that show, it does follow a similar style to Larson’s quirky sci-fi adventure shows.

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