|Janet and I have a special interest in stories about Mormons. In Janet's case there's a loose genealogical connection. In my case, there's an interest in any group that considers me a Gentile.|
|-- Isaac Asimov
Laughing Space. Boston: Houghton Mifflin (1982), p. 334
Moving Mars (1993)
|This annotated bibliography list, a subset derived from the Adherents.com Religion in Literature database, is intended as a resource for literary research. It lists mainstream science fiction and fantasy novels, short stories and movies (speculative fiction) which contain references specifically to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to Mormonism in general. This list is certainly not comprehensive, but it does list all Hugo-, Nebula-, and Locus-winning novels with Latter-day Saint characters or references.
This list does not include every reference to Latter-day Saints within each novel. Each novel or story is listed only once, with a brief explanation or sample quote. Many works include more than one reference, and in some, Latter-day Saints are a central element. (Titles in bold are those with the most extensive Latter-day Saint references.)
Once again, this is a literary research resource; this list is NOT a source of information about the Church of Jesus Christ, nor is it a "recommended reading list" (Parkin has such a list here). Many stories and books here are excellent, award-winning literature which both Latter-day Saint readers and a general audience would enjoy. For example, Greg Bear's Moving Mars is a fascinating, Hugo-winning novel with an important Latter-day Saint character who is realistic and three-dimensional. Little, if anything, in the novel would offend most Latter-day Saint readers. Slant, on the other hand (by the same author) has only one brief mention of a Latter-day Saint temple, so Latter-day Saint literature researchers would have little reason to read the book. Furthermore, most Latter-day Saint and non-Latter-day Saint readers would find the novel offensive, if not for its excessive vulgarity and gratuitous sex, then for its incomprehensible, boring plot and its unlikable characters.
At least 70 Latter-day Saint authors have published science fiction/fantasy novels and/or stories in the mainstream press. Others have published SF/F specifically for the Latter-day Saint market, through publishers such as Deseret Book, Covenant Communications, Horizon, and Cornerstone Publishing. Essentially all science fiction and fantasy published specifically for the Latter-day Saint market contains features Latter-day Saint characters and references. (See separate list: Latter-day Saint Market Science Fiction and Fantasy.) We have not yet attempted to add Latter-day Saint references specifically from Latter-day Saint-authored speculative fiction. Most of the authors of works on this list are not Latter-day Saints.
| As an increasing number of prominent non-Mormon scholars such as Thomas O'Dea, Harold Bloom, and Martin Marty have noted, Mormons are, in important ways, an ethnic people, like Jews or Native Americans: They have characteristic and interesting, even richly varied, folklore, customs, cultural history, anthropology, literature and art.
- Eugene England
Utah Valley State College
Note that some of these authors may appear on both the Latter-day Saint and Utah lists, but these links only lead to one list:
Glenn L. Anderson
M. Shayne Bell
Brian Michael Bendis
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Orson Scott Card
Jack L. Chalker
G. K. Chesterton
Arthur C. Clarke
J. M. DeMatteis
Philip K. Dick
Thomas M. Disch
D. B. Drumm
H. Clayton Earls
Kevin Michael Esser
Philip Jose Farmer
Alan Dean Foster
Robert A. Heinlein
James P. Hogan
Dafydd ab Hugh
Kathryn H. Kidd
Ursula K. Le Guin
Elliot S. Maggin
George R.R. Martin
Mary Catherine McDaniel
Vonda N. McIntyre
Walter M. Miller, Jr.
L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Kristen D. Randle
Kim Stanley Robinson
Bruce Joel Rubin
J. Neil Schulman
Robert J. Sawyer
John F.X. Sundman
Brian K. Vaughan
Walter Jon Williams
Robert Anton Wilson
Robert Charles Wilson
J. Steven York
Related Links to Other Sites
This novella was awarded first-place in the 1997 Writers of the Future Contest and published in Writers of the Future Volume XIII, Bridge (1997). Runner up in the 1997 Sidewise Awards for Alternative History. This is an alternate history story about the Mormon Battalion.
This story, written by a Latter-day Saint author, contains numerous subtle Latter-day Saint allusions, in addition to the explicit description of the main character's experiences with Latter-day Saints. Pg. 202:
"After the war, I spent a year studying in the Vatican. Another year in Canterbury. Six months touring the American Bible Belt. Finally three days in Salt Lake City."Pg. 219:
"Only three days? You seemed to have given the Mormons pretty short shrift in your studies."
"Sometimes three days are enough."
"Now you know what I learned [from the Mormons] spending those three days in Salt Lake City." He slowly edged over the door and closed it, locking it shut.[By the end of the story, it is revealed that Verwoerd's time with Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City was a major turning point in his life. Much more about Latter-day Saints. See also pages 183, 201, 203, 220.
"There's no way you can escape, Hans. The courtyard is swarming with commandos."
"Nietzsche was right all along," Verwoerd said as if he hadn't heard her. "Right about so many things. "Once I thought of little else but Nietzsche"--would that I had ever been able to stop!
"Those three days I stared into the abyss--'thou heaven above me, thou pure, thou luminous heaven! Thou abyss of light!'--and it stared back at me."
[The two main character in the novel are Latter-day Saints. Many references throughout.] Pg. 17:
"What do you think it means?" he grinned.
The scriptures were open to Deuteronomy next to her plate. She swallowed a bite and scanned the column for the passage in question. They had run across it during one of their late-night scripture-study-and-shoot-the-Gospel-breeze sessions the previous evening. They had brushed over it without comment then. But the words had come back to her while she had been dressing that morning.
"Well, obviously it refers to the Lost Tribes, don't you think?"
"He nodded with the same grin. "I think so, yes."
She stopped her finger at verse four. "So here's what it says: 'If any of thine be driven out into the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee, and from thence will fetch thee'." She looked up at him. He raised his eyebrows.
"You mean a race as advanced as yours still believes in God?"[Also, pg. 7, 36, 70. A character -- a guard at the White House -- is named "Lorenzo." He is apparently probably named after Lorenzo S. Snow, a historical president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.] Pg. 36:
"No," said the visitor.
Aaronson smiled and nodded. "That's what I suspected."
"We know there is a God. Listen, Mick Aaronson, and learn. Worlds without number lie beyond the reach of humankind, worlds that are constantly changing..."
Lorenzo didn't know what it was about the number 2000 that made people crazy for the Lord's return... Ultimately, of course, the joke would be on them, because it was a biblical fact that not even the angels in heaven or Jesus Christ himself knew when the end was coming. That was written in God's own hand, on a calendar that only he could see.
"He'll take you to Portland and drop you off at a house where the family won't ask questions and you can get some sleep and decent food. They aren't Homelanders, by the way. I have my tentacles in assorted places. Survival demands it."[In this book, the Avantists are the central antagonists, an authoritarian regime which has taken over North America. The protagonists are allies with the Mormons.]
"What are they? I may need to know."
"Nu, be forewarned and don't ask for a drink. They're Mormons, if that rings a bell in you. The Avantists are particularly hard on their church. The claim is that its premises are antiscientific, but the truth is that its congregations object loudly to the molding of posthuman man."
His search brought Fenn back to the Foresters of Vernal... That left only North America, more or less above the 35th parallel--the polity of Vernal. It looked hopelessly large and diverse... Like every adult Forester, he had the title of caretaker; but mainly he cultivated a patch of ground, fished, hunted, and occasionally guided a tourist of a sportsman through the woods... "He's married again, did you know?" To a woman who had had her own quota of offspring... This woodland lacked the scenic grandeur of Yukonia, but it gave the same sense of freedom and life, the same spaciousness, from the Rockies to the Alleghenies, from southern prairie to northern tundra. The Foresters who had scattered their little settlements and isolated steadings throughout it were practically a polity to themselves within the Vernal Republic, keeping to folkways bequeathed them by ancestors whose lifespans had filled centuries. Their stubborn selfhood always pleased him.[There is no explicit identification of the Foresters of Vernal as Mormons, but contemporary Vernal is a Mormon community, and the brief description of this people in the book matches Mormons most closely.]
Novelette, post World War III. Includes an equally brief reference to Nevada (and possibly Arizona):
...lands mostly desert, claimed by the Saints, who were no longer a menace, but with whom there was scant commerce.
[Vision of Tarot is the 2nd of a trilogy. The novel is essentially an exploration of religious history and themes couched within a science fiction framework. The main character is Brother Paul, of the apparently pan-denominational "Holy Order of Vision." In his quest on the mysterious planet of Tarot he is accompanied by Brother Lee, who acts as a conscience and representative of Goodness and faith, and the devil-worshipping Therion, who represents Evil and cynicism. Various non-Latter-day Saint characters engage in some lengthy attacks on the Mormonism, but others offer rebuttals. Other religions are criticized as well.
In one lengthy section of the novel three aspects of Mormonism are alternatively attacked and defended by various non-Latter-day Saint characters: 1) polygamy (defended in part by a Muslim character and using comparisons to Biblical patriarchs); 2) Book of Mormon authorship (regurgitating the discredited Spaulding manuscript theory, indicating that Piers Anthony had not read the now-available actual Spaulding book), and 3) the Mountain Meadows massacre led by the renegade John Dyle Lee, ancestor of the book's character Brother Lee.
Other religious groups such as Muslims, Protestants and Catholics are described in this book as being responsible far greater bloodshed and entire wars, and non-Mormon characters point out that the historical Lee was acting on his own, in direct violation of Church teachings and authorization. (In fact, the historical Lee was severely punished by the church because of his actions and was executed by government authorities in 1877 for the crime). Nevertheless, the book's character Lee is shown as having been previously ignorant of the details of this event, and is personally in anguish about this because he is a descendant of the historical Lee and had looked up to his ancestor as a hero figure. Most readers would find this scene (in which Lee breaks down sobbing at hearing about Mountain Meadows) contrived and unrealistic. But the novel soon moves on to dissecting other religions.
Piers Anthony attacks the origin of the Book of Mormon, but he does the same to the Bible in this and the following volume in the series. (Characters in the book describe the Old Testament as having been pieced together from various non-Hebrew myths popular among different pagan cultures in ancient times). In balance, Piers Anthony (who describes himself as agnostic) appears to have great respect for Mormons as individuals and for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in general, especially in comparison to many other religious groups mentioned in the book.]
"... What matters is what the religion is today. Many worthy religions have foundered when their adherents forgot their original principles--but here is a religion that became greater than its origin! The Mormons today constitute one of the most powerful forces for good on Earth. Their uprightness stands in stark contrast to the hypocrisy of so many of the more conventional religions. Therefore, there is no crime in this man who faithfully honored the fine principles of his faith. Let us crucify no more people for being better than we are!"
Brother Paul is sent to Planet Tarot by his superior, the Reverend Mother Mary, to discover whether the Deity manifesting there is or is not God... Brother Paul... is befriended by the Mormon Lee and the devil-worshiper Therion, who become his Good and Bad Companions in the vision, leading him respectively toward improvement or mischief.
[This book, set primarily in a Dante-esque vision of the underworld, contains imagery and dialogue calculated to be offensive to most every religion Anthony could think of, including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and specific denominations such as Catholicism, Christian Science, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc. There are some instances of characters being critical of Mormonism, but most attacks on Mormonism were done in the preceding volume Vision of Taron. In the final scene of the book (and of the series), the main character of the Tarot series, Brother Paul, is thrilled when the Mormon character Lee asks to marry his daughter.]
"Carolyn? She is not my daughter, in reality she has red ancestry. The Swami was Amerind, not Asiaind."
"Oh?" Lee said, surprised. "The Mormons have compassion for Amerinds, who are the descendants of the early Israelite colonies of America. But this is irrelevant. I do this neither to show my freedom from the racial bias I carried into Hell nor to test it; I mention it only to clarify that without your intercession I would have been unable to consider it."
"Consider what?" Brother Paul asked, confused.
"The merging of the races of man... Sir," Lee said formally. "I humbly request permission to take your daughter's hand in matrimony."...
"Yes!" he cried, hugging her close, joy bursting upon him like the light of a nova. "Yes, Carolyn, yes--marry him! There is not a finer man on the planet! You will never burn, you will never suffer fear again, you will never be alone! You will make your own family, needing no other!"
Janet [Asimov's wife] and I have a special interest in stories about Mormons. In Janet's case there's a loose genealogical connection. In my case, there's an interest in any group that considers me a Gentile.Pg. 90:
Janet likes this story because she doesn't drink coffee. She turns up her nose even at mocha icing. What's more, finding herself not quite able to force me to join her in this strange abstention (though in most things I consider her word law) she has wheedled me into shifting to the decaffeinated version for some weird medical reason or other (She's a physician and it's gone to her head). Anyway, she says this story proves how upsetting a factor the coffee break can be.[Also interesting to note: Asimov mentions Mormons specifically and discusses freedom of speech and freedom of religion (a core Latter-day Saint teaching, one of the Articles of Faith), in his essay "Freedom", first published in IASFM.
Asimov's wife Janet was a Mormon, which may have something to do with the inclusion of this clearly pro-LDS joke in his book. Pages 127-128:
The Pope had called together a meeting of the cardinals and said, "I have some good news for you and some bad news. The good news is this. Our blessed Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, has returned to earth for the long-awaited Second Coming, and the Day of Judgment is at hand."[More]
There was an exalted silence for a few moments and then one cardinal said, "But Holy Father, with good news like that, what's the bad news?"
The Pope mopped his forehead with his handkerchief and said, "The information has reached us from Salt Lake City."
Academic symposium in Nanavit, year 2195. Pg. 305:
The need for what I call birth services was already recognized in the pre-Gilead period, where it was being inadequately met by "artificial insemination," "fertility clinics," and the use of "surrogate mothers," who were hired for the purpose. Gilead outlawed the first two as irreligious but legitimized and enforced the third, which was considered to have Biblical precedents; they thus replaced the serial polygamy common in the pre-Gilead period with the older form of simultaneous polygamy practiced both in early Old Testament times and in the former state of Utah in the nineteenth century.
[Telman is talking with the head lama in a monastery in Thulahn, a fictional country near where Nepal is.] Pg. 268:
"What about other faiths?" I asked. "Do you, for instance, get Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses turning up here?" I had a sudden comical image of two guys in sober suits and shiny shoes (covered in snow) shivering outside the giant doors of a remote monastery.
"Very rarely." The Rinpoche looked thoughtfully. "Usually by the time we see them they are . . . changed," he said.
It was okay with me that we went to CP stuff all the time, and the demonstrations were kind of fun, but it was like being born a Witness or a Mormon--you weren't exactly like the people around you, but you weren't not like them, either. You just had a slightly different set of adult friends and links to different families than other kids did.Latter-day Saints have been incorporated into this novel's ecumenical Christian movement, as indicated by the reference to Brigham Young, 2nd Latter-day Saint president. Pg. 172:
...the Ecucatholic Movement [Pope Paul John Paul] had launched  was the kicker... By canonizing practically every Protestant leader since the Reformation... PJP had somehow gotten millions of Protestants to come back under the Roman umbrella. Realizing that there was now a Saint Brigham Young and a Saint Mary Baker Eddy gave me an idea of how far things had gone.
The place [the diner in Green River, Utah] is not at all crowded; there's a young family in there, one of those that seems to have a number of kids just beyond counting, all spread about a year apart, mostly quiet and mostly behaving, but the statistical population is so large that there is always some noises and some misbehavior going on; it rises and dwindles but never falls to zero.Pg. 202:
The father, a dark-haired young man in a white shirt, and the mother, who is alarmingly well-made-up, slim, and pretty for someone who has presumably had all those kids, are both reasonably attentive to the kids and on top of the chaos, but it's clearly a battle, and Berlina finds it fun to watch them. She stops watching the street for a while and concentrates on her own dish of strawberry ice cream and the logistics of two parents, each with a cone in one hand, managing to eat their own ice cream while constantly wiping young chins.
"...But suppose we infected the Pope with a program that made him a Mormon, or Medal of Honor winners with something that totally destroyed their courage..."[Also, one of the main characters has a very personable and good-natured Mormon girlfriend who lives in Green River, Utah.]
I had dipped into records of past prophets during my Earth research. Zarathustra. Jesus. Mohammed... Al Mahdi, who had defeated the British at Khartoum. Joseph Smith, who had read the Word of God from golden tablets with special glasses, and Brigham Young... And all the little ones since, the pretenders whose religions had eventually foundered, the charlatans of small talent, of skewed messages...
[In this novel Mormons constitute one of the few remaining significant religious cultures on a future Earth in which most people have artificial knowledge and personality enhancements. The main character, a native of Mars, travels to Earth. She is assisted by a very positively described Mormon senator and find that she is, in many ways, culturally closer to the Mormons than to mainstream Earth culture.]
Mendoza... "Like me, you have no enhancements and you haven't gone through the secular purification of therapy. You're old-fashioned. I can sympathize with you. I've read your lit papers and student theses. I sense strongly that you belong to the next generation of leadership on Mars."Pg. 227:
"You know, I've been an outcast of sorts in Washington for a decade. I'm a Mormon, I'm not therapied. But I've managed to do well. If anybody found out about my talking to you, I could lose everything I've fought for, all status, all power, all influence."
[A character is a Mormon.] Pg. 67:
Eldridge Gorn, a horse trader. That was his euphemism for rounding up range horses and selling them to knackers. He had been in the trade for thirty years, starting in 1959, two years after he had been dishonorably discharged from the Navy.[Novel has three or four more pages about Gorn.]
He had come back to Utah and been received by his Mormon family with chilly aloofness. Eldridge Gorn had not lived up to his father's expectations. His father was a hard, unforgiving man, whom Gorn loved very deeply, and the rejection had hurt.
He had moved to Colorado...
During his last hours, Trevor Hicks sat at his computer skimming and organizing genetic records sent from Mormon sources in Salt Lake City. He was staying at the home of an aerospace contractor named Jenkins, working in a broad living room with uncurtained windows overlooking Seattle and the bay. The work was not exciting but it was useful, and he felt at peace, whatever might happen.Pg. 389:
"Smoky haze hung high over the valley from fires in the east: Idaho, Arizona, Utah. The morning sun glowered bright orange through the pall, casting all Yosemite in a dreamy shadow-light the color of Apocalypse."Pg. 305:
"He would travel around the country, and in late March or April he would end up in Yosemite, where he would settle in. The first part of his journey would give him a great overview of North America, as much as he could cover--something he had always wanted to do. He would spend a few weeks in the White River Badlands of South Dakota, a few days in Zion National Park, and so on, hitting the geological highlights until by full circle he came back to his childhood and the high rocky walls of Yosemite."
Omphalos dominates Moscow, Green Idaho. It glows pale silver and gold like a fancy watch waiting to be stolen. A tetrahedron four hundred feet high, with two vertical faces and a triangular base, it is the biggest thing in town, more ostentatious than the nearby Mormon temple, though not so painfully white and spiky.
Two journalists from Utah, at least one of whom is a Latter-day Saint, are the main characters of this W.O.T.F.-award-winning story about what happens when the world's first space elevator is taken captured by terrorists.
This time travel story is set in Salt Lake City, Utah, and includes many Latter-day Saint characters and settings. The plot involves an opera singer who is befriended by Utah's governor after giving a performance in the Mormon Tabernacle. Page 79:
You'd already locked that into true time on your last shift, and on this shift it is now time for Marian's concert in the Mormon Tabernacle on Temple Square.
This surprisingly humorous story about plant extinction features a team of scientist/law enforcement types searching for remaining specimens of near-extinct plants in corporate offices. The story takes place in Salt Lake City, and includes some Latter-day Saint buildings and characters. Example, pg. 280:
If a company's employees had traveled around a lot, or if they had family ties with other countries, they sometimes ended up with the kinds of plants we were looking for. UP&L [Utah Power and Light] has stayed put for a good long time, plus its employees include former Mormon missionaries who've poked around obscure corners of the planet. World Botanics hoped to find something in Utah.
The main character, Jake, is a descendant of Swiss Latter-day Saint pioneers who settled in southern Idaho. Jake is from Alma, Idaho (a town named after a Latter-day Saint prophet), but is apparently not a practicing church member himself, although he embodies many of the values endemic to the region.
[This time travel story takes place in Salt Lake City, Utah, and revolves around a concert by Marian Anderson with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.] Pg. 80:
You'd already locked that into true time on your last shift, and on this shift it is now time for Marian's concert in the Mormon Tabernacle on Temple Square. You watch her climb down the icy fire escape, trying to hold her concert gown out of the slush, and walk the half block to the Tabernacle to warm up--'literally,' Megan says--for her concert. Franz goes to work immediately to make sure the piano is tuned... while Marian runs through scales in the space under the choir seats--the Tabernacle equivalent of backstage...
|Dave Wolverton||Wheatfields Beyond|
|B.J. Fogg||Outside the Tabernacle|
|James Cummings||Space People|
|M. Shayne Bell||The Shining Dream Road Out|
|Diana Lofgran Hoffman||Other Time|
|D. William Shun||Rise Up, Ye Women That Are At Ease|
|M.W. Worthen||You Can't Go Back|
|Diann Thornley||Thunderbird's Egg|
|Melva Gifford||Scrap Pile|
|Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury||Signs and Wonders|
|Virginia Ellen Baker||Songs of Solomon|
|Charlene C. Harmon||Pueblo de Sion|
|Elizabeth H. Boyer||A Foreigner Comes to Reddyville|
|Glenn L. Anderson||Shannon's Flight|
|Lyn Worthen||Rumors of My Death|
|Orson Scott Card||Pageant Wagon|
Mary Jane Watson is invited by Mark Raxton to go to a club to hear his punk rock band peform. She goes to watch them. One of the band members wears a T-shirt featuring the words "The Used," the name of a popular real-life Mormon/Utah rock band.
Details/images: Reference to the Mormon/Utah rock band "The Used" in Ultimate Spider-Man #78
Latter-day Saint professional basketball player Shawn Bradley plays himself in this film, which includes a playful reference to Bradley's two-year service as a Latter-day Saint missionary.
In this episode featuring the return of Kes (Jennifer Lien), The Doctor (EMH, played by Robert Picardo) muses aloud about names he is considering for himself. All of the names are of famous historical doctors. He mentions "Jarvik", i.e. Dr. Robert Jarvik, the Latter-day Saint doctor who pioneered artificial heart technology and first used such devices in people.
He... had never heard of Jomo Kenyatta, Steve Biko, Robert Mugabe, or Eldridge Cleaver.
Ratings were at an all-time low; we were falling in just behind the Mormon network. I should've known Tawny was prepping for something risky. Something dangerous. Anything for a few more points in the ratings.
[Joseph Smith listed with other major religious figures.]
The Pope [said] "We are, in a way, born again in Christ, but there are still too few of us--too few even if we include those other handfuls who are not of our faith, but still acknowledge God through the teachings of Luther or Laotse, Gautama Buddha or Joseph Smith. Too many men still go to their deaths hearing no gospel preached to them but the cynical self-worship of the Technarchy. And that is why, Thomas, you must go forth on your quest."
Killifer explained the series of events, tracing the break of the news blackout to Tamara Bonai in Kiribati.
"Kiribati?" General O'Conner's ravaged face glared at him. "Where's that?"
"In the Pacific. Micronesia."
The general seemed to sink in on himself, thinking. Then he started crackling.
"What's funny?" Killifer asked.
"I did missionary work out there when I was a kid."
That surprised Killifer. "You did?"
"Tonga. Fiji. I wore the black suit and tie and went out among the heathen." He wiped at his eyes with a frail hand.
"They were good people. They listened to me and smiled and agreed with everything I said. Helped me build a church for them. They even attended services."
Excerpt from a review written by Orson Scott Card:
...I only picked up this book because a critic I respect recommended it highly -- and did so with the comment that the book explores Mormon doctrine and culture in much the same way my work does.
My conclusion, after reading After Sundown, is that it is, in fact, a remarkably powerful and well-written horror novel... But an exploration of Mormon doctrine it certainly is not. After Sundown proves once again how difficult it is to write meaningfully about a culture you have never been a part of.
Every time a Mormon doctrine or practice is mentioned or hinted at, it is howlingly wrong. Even more telling is the fact that the characters supposedly live among Salt Lake City's middle class, and yet seem to be utterly untouched by Mormon culture. They don't even have a negative attitude toward it. And folks, that just doesn't happen. Nobody lives in Salt Lake City's middle class neighborhoods for a single year without getting some kind of attitude toward the Mormon[s].
Let's fact it. It's hard to write accurately about a culture you know nothing about. Unfortunately, it isn't all that hard for a good writer -- which Boyll certainly is -- to write convincingly about such a culture. At least convincingly enough to fool readers who know even less. People who aren't Mormon won't be bothered a bit by the apparent lack of even cursory research. What bothers me is that they'll come away from the book thinking that now they do know something about Mormons. And that's a... shame.
I only caught the errors in this book because I happen to be part of the culture being distorted. I'm quite certain that many other writers -- perhaps most -- are just as careless in researching and writing about the many other cultures that are used in fiction. Writers, I urge you: If you are going to create a society whose features are designed to fit the needs of your story, have the decency to give it a fictional name instead of misrepresenting it as the beliefs and practices of a real community.
[This is one of Bradbury's most famous books, and was been made into a feature film in 1966 by Francois Truffaut. Three specific Christian denominations -- including Baptists and Mormons -- are mentioned in the context of being minority groups which writers sought to avoid offending in mass-market media.] Pg. 64:
"Now let's take up the minorities of our civilization, shall we? Bigger the population, the more minorities. Don't step on the toes of the dog-lovers, cat-lovers, doctors, lawyers, merchants, chiefs, Mormons, Baptists, Unitarians, second-generation Chinese, Swedes, Italians, Germans, Texans, Brooklynites, Irishmen, people from Oregon or Mexico. The people in this book, this play, this TV serial are not meant to represent actual painters, cartographers, mechanics anywhere..."
[Bradbury's reference to Mormons in this essay is probably inspired by his time working with a Mormon theatre near his home in Los Angeles, which was headed by Mormon movie star Laraine Day. He wrote plays performed by the theatre, and sometimes clashed with Day about their content.] Pg. 178:
For it is a mad world and it will get madder if we allow the minorities, be they dwarf or giant, orangutan or dolphin, nuclear-head or water-conversationalist, pro-computerologist or Neo-Luddite, simpleton or sage, to interfere with aesthetics. The real world is the playing ground for each and every group, to make or unmake laws. But the tip of the nose of my book or stories or poems is where their rights end and my territorial imperatives begin, run and rule. If Mormons do not like my plays, let them write their own. If the Irish hate my Dublin stories, let them rent typewriters.
"Hold on to your hat. I've joined the Church."
"You--what church?" I stammered.
"Good grief! There's only one!"
"You have a lot of Mormon friends, and a few Lutherans on the side . . ."
"My God," she cried. "Catholic, of course."
"Since when have you liked Catholics? I thought you were raised in an Orange family, family from Cork, laughed at the Pope!"
"Silly. That was then, this is now. I am certified."
"No! Give back my hands! Cleanse my mouth!"
"Enough," said an inner voice, Philip.
"We're wasting time," said Peter.
"Let's greet the young lady," said Jack.
"Aye!" said the Mormon Tabernacle Choir from a single throat. Grandpere was yanked to his feet by unseen wires.
But driving in search didn't do it. It wasn't like calling in lost dogs or telephone-poled cats. They must find and cage an entire Mormon tabernacle team of soprano springtime-in-the-Rockies birdseed lovers to prove one in the hand is worth two in the bush.
But still they hastened from block to block, garden to garden, lurking and listening. Now their spirits soared with an echo of "Hallelujah Chorus" oriole warbling...
This passage has references to the character's involvement with many Christian groups, including Pentecostals, Latter-day Saints, and Baptists. This passage alludes to the time that Bradbury wrote plays for a Latter-day Saint theater headed by LDS movie star Laraine Day. Pg. 112:
"...How come you been all those places?"Also, pg. 124 refers to Mount Rushmore.
"You read the Talmud? Koran?"
"You came too late in my life."
"Let me tell you what really comes late--"
I snorted. "The Book of Mormon!?"
"Holy mackerel, right!"
"I was in a Mormon little-theatre group when I was twenty. The Angel Moroni put me to sleep!"
J. C. roared and slapped his stigmata.
"Boring! How about Aimee Semple McPherson!?"
"High school friends..."
This is probably a coincidence, but when the characters start to discuss geneaology (a field associated most closely with Mormons in the real world), they mention a family prominent on their planet by the name of "Vormoncrief." Later, the Vormoncriefs are described as the heart of the political conservatives on the planet. (In popular opinion, Mormons are often associated with conservative politics in the U.S.) "Vormon" may seem similar to and derived from "Mormon," but actually, the name may be a combination of "Vor", the prefix most commonly used in names throughout this series, and "Moncrief," a European-sounding name. On the other hand, Bujold wrote this novel not long after she was the guest-of-honor at the annual academic SF symposium "Life, the Universe, & Everything," held at Brigham Young University, which is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Burroughs, who lived in Latter-day Saint parts of Idaho and in Salt Lake City, Utah, borrowed elements from the Book of Mormon in writing his Mars novels. [article]
[In this book, a fanatical Evangelical Christian denomination called the "Church of Christian America", led by Rev. Jarret, formerly a Baptist minister, is responsible for murdering and raping members of religious minorities. Author Octavia Butler, who was raised as a Baptist and whose grandfather was a Baptist minister, said she drew on many of her own experiences in writing the novel.]
Jarret supporters have been known, now and then, to form mobs and burn people at the stake for being witches. Witches! In 2032! A witch, in their view, tends to be a Moslem, a Jew, a Hindu, a Buddhist, or in some parts of the country, a Mormon, a Jehovah's Witness, or even a Catholic.
[This is a collection of stories set in the same post-nuclear war America. Most of the stories are about Mormon survivors living in or traveling to Utah. This collection includes "America", which was chosen as one of the best modern North American science fiction stories for The Norton Book of Science Fiction.]
[The main character is an active Latter-day Saint computer programmer living in Greensboro, North Carolina. Elements of contemporary Latter-day Saint life are mentioned realistically and frequently.]
[This novel features the character Ender Wiggins. Ender's mother was Mormon, but he is not himself a practicing Mormon. At this future time, extreme measures are taken by most governments in the world to control childbearing.]
"...Your father was baptized with the name John Paul Wieczorek. Catholic. The seventh of nine children."...
"Well, no one wants a Third anymore. You can't expect them to be glad. But your father and mother are a special case. They both renounced their religions--your mother was a Mormon--but in fact their feelings are still ambiguous. Do you known what ambiguous means?"
"They feel both ways."
"They're ashamed of having come from noncompliant families. They conceal it. To the degree that your mother refuses to admit to anyone that she was born in Utah, lest they suspect. Your father denies his Polish ancestry, since Poland is still a noncompliant nation..."
A major character in this novel is Ender Wiggins' mother, who is a Latter-day Saint. She also appears in chapter 10, on pg. 160-164, 178-179. Example, pg.148:
"I didn't mean it as an attack," said Bean. "...You really believe in your religion, and you resent the fact that you had to hide it from others. That's all I was saying."Afterword by author, pg. 361:
"Not religion. religions," she said. "My husband and I don't even share the same doctrine. Having a large family in obedience to God, that was about the only thing we agreed on. And even at that, we both had elaborate intellectual justifications for our decision to defy the law. For one thing, we didn't think it would hurt our children at all. We meant to raise them in faith, as believers."
...but I also read Mormon scripture (most notably the Book of Mormon stories of the generals Gideon, Moroni, Helaman, and Gidgiddoni, and Doctrine and Covenants 121) and the Old and New Testaments, all the while trying to imagine how one might govern well when law gives way to exigency, and the circumstances under which war becomes righteous.Afterword by author, pg. 364:
...took part in my online communities at http://www.hatrack.com, http://www.frescopix.com and http://www.nauvoo.com...Also, Sister Carlotta, expresses Latter-day Saint-based philosophical and religious views, such as on page 80:
...within the small community of his family, of school friends... and of church friends in the Greensboro Summit Ward..."
"I'm not going to repent and get baptized, so I'm bound to go to hell, therefore no matter when I die, I'm doomed," he [Bean] said.
"Nonsense. Our understanding of doctrine is not perfect, and no matter what the popes have said, I don't believe for a moment that God is going to damn for eternity the billions of children he allowed to be born and die without baptism. No, I think you're likely to go to hell because, despite all your brilliance, you are still quite amoral. Sometime before you die, I pray most earnestly that you will learn that there are higher laws that transcend mere survival, and higher causes to serve. When you give yourself to such a great cause, my dear boy, then I will not fear your death, because I know that a just God will forgive you for the oversight of not having recognized the truth of Christianity during your lifetime."
[This novel features once again the character Ender Wiggins, now an adult living in the far future thanks to the effects of near-lightspeed travel time dilation. Ender's mother was Mormon, but he is not himself a practicing Mormon.]
"You were baptized?"[Ender, and this discussion, are on Lusitania, estimated year 5268, but the time and place of his birth was long before: Earth, around the year 2120.]
"My sister told me that yes, Father baptized me shortly after birth. My mother was a Protestant of a faith that deplored infant baptism, so they had a quarrel about it." The bishop held out his hand to lift the Speaker to his feet. The Speaker chuckled. "Imagine. A closet Catholic and a lapsed Mormon, quarreling over religious procedures that they both claimed not to believe in."
[The main character of this novel is Ender Wiggins. Wiggins was the child of Mormon and Catholic parents in the 21st century, but practiced neither religion. In this book, on the Catholic planet of Lusitania he is more or less Catholic in practice, if not sentiment.
The metaphysical and philosophical elements in this novel make it the most radically Mormon book in the Ender series. The book was, in fact, chosen as Best Novel of 1991 by the Association for Mormon Letters, an honor rarely granted to science fiction or fantasy novels. Xenocide is one of the most extensive and fascinating literary explorations of the concept of uncreated intelligences.]
It dawned on Ivan that he wasn't going to be able to beg off the way he might have done in back in Tantalus, politely turning down an invitation to have dinner with a new acquaintance or attend the Mormon pageant at Palmyra.
[One of two main characters is a Mormon, shown at first as a child visiting South America and later as governor of Utah. Mormons are mentioned by name in multiple passages.]
Sam Monson and Anamari Boagente had two encounters in their lives, forty years apart... The second was for only an hour near the ruins of the Glen Canyon Dam, on the border between Navaho country and the State of Deseret.
When they met the first time, Sam was a scrawny teenager from Utah... When they met the second time, he was governor of Deseret, the last European state in America...
[The novel is about the beginning of a giant generational colony ship, leaving Earth to travel to another planet. Villages aboard the colony ship ("Ark") are divided primarily by language, and secondarily by religion. The relatively small number of Mormons traveling on the ship have been accepted into a liberal Protestant village. Although Mormons are mentioned only in passing in this novel, one of the central plot elements is visiting teaching, which has been adopted wholeheartedly but without attribution by the Protestant village. Some negative sentiments regarding Mormons are expressed by two characters, but these are intolerant and/or anti-Semitic characters.]
"We're pretty open-minded here. Presbyterians are tolerant folks. All religions are the same, anyway, as long as they're Christian. In fact, we even have three Jewish families who live with us, because Bethel Village is too Orthodox for them and there are also some Mormons because nobody else wanted them. They have their own services, of course, but otherwise you'd never know they belonged to a cult."
"How interesting," said Mamie, plainly uninterested. It did not particularly please her to know that her village was one that included Jews and fanatics. She had never in her life had to associate with such people except when they served her in such roles as lawyer, store clerk, or maid.
This Joshua had grown up in a small farming community in the deep woods of Idaho, a community that was very much a theocracy run by some elders who were part of a breakaway sect of the Latter Day Saints and excommunicated by the big church for it, an act they did not recognize as valid... calling themselves the Old Order Saints, and they enforced a kind of isolation and discipline. No television, little but religious literature, but, still and all, plenty of close family and a real rural upbringing. Boys were taught to read the Holy Scriptures and otherwise mostly did farming and manual labor. Joshua had little formal schooling and knew little beyond Idaho and an idealized United States established by God and a lifestyle revealed to Joseph Smith.[More about Joshua, pg. 204-222, etc. Other Latter-day Saint and Utah references include pg. 13, 18, 204, 214]
Apparently it was "Latter-day Saint Month on X-Files." One week after "L.A. 2000 A.D." (the episode by Duchovny based on an incident from 1980s Latter-day Saint history), the two opening segments of "Fight Club" (written by Chris Carter) featured Latter-day Saint missionaries. Technically, the two missionaries wearing white shirts, dark slacks and ties, riding bicycles through a Kansas City suburb never identified the name of the church they represented. And they were not wearing black nametags. But the imagery was unmistakably based on Latter-day Saint missionaries. The episode begins with a fairly normal, if stereotypical, scene in which the elders visit a home and attempt to present the occupant with a Bible tract (featuring a picture of the cross of Jesus on the cover). Turned away, they visit another home a few blocks away and are surprised that the woman who answers the door looks like an identical twin of the woman at the house they had just come from. This "X-Files twist" is followed by a very Chris Carter-esque strange scene in which the two elders start a fist fight with each other on the front porch.
In the second scene two FBI agents who look strangely like Mulder and Scully (but aren't) approach the house where the fight occurred, and explain to the woman who lives there that they're investigating a possible religious hate crime. The elders, bruised and bandaged, are in the back of the FBI agents' vehicle. The elders don't have any lines in the second scene, but they watch on as the two FBI agents begin to fight each other, just as they had done.
Left unexplained by the episode is why it was that the two missionaries visited one never-before-visited house, skipped many other homes and streets, and then happened to visit the exact house occupied by the first home's doppleganger. X-Files reviewer Autumn Tysko noticed the same thing:
So, do those missionaries just pedal around until the voice of God tells them to stop somewhere? They sure did not seem to be going from house to house.
Strangely enough, these two episodes of "X-Files" featuring Latter-day Saint themes and characters first aired in the same month that Richard Dutcher's movie "God's Army" began to play in selected theaters nationwide. "God's Army" is about a Latter-day Saint missionary from Kansas serving a mission in Los Angeles, while the X-Files episodes took place in Los Angeles and Kansas. Compounding the odd coincidences this episode: In this same month the national entertainment show "Access Hollywood" ran a story called "Mormon Fight Club" about the real-life pugilistic matches held in Provo Utah by Latter-day Saint returned missionaries and BYU students.
This may be a mystery novel, and not sf/f. Chesterton is one of the most significant Christian science fiction/fantasy authors in the genre, along with C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Orson Scott Card, and Madeleine L'Engle. But he also wrote many non-sf mystery novels. Father Brown's quote in this novel is:
Sir Arthur St. Clare, as I have already said, was a man who read his Bible. That was what was the matter with him. When will people understand that it is useless for a man to read his Bible unless he also reads everyone else's Bible? A printer reads a Bible for misprints. A Mormon reads his Bible and finds polygamy; a Christian Scientist reads his and finds we have no arms and legs."
This book contains two pages of an address on the nature of God, given at BYU, the university owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where 98% of the students are Latter-day Saints. The comments do not necessarily reflect Latter-day Saint views. The professor speaking appears to be one of the less than five percent of the school's faculty who are non-Latter-day Saints. Pg. 70:
"...Just as a real understanding of geology was impossible until we were able to study other worlds besides earth, so a valid theology must await contact with extraterrestrial intelligences. There can be no such subject as comparative religion as long as we study only the religions of man."
El Hadj Mohammed ben Selim
Professor of Comparative Religion
Inaugural Address, Brigham Young University, 1998
"But back to Alpha [Judeo-Christian concept of God]. by mid-millennium, it had more or less faded from human concerns. Virtually all thinking men had finally come to agree with the harsh verdict of the great philosopher Lucretius: all religions were... Yet a few of the old faiths managed to survive, though in drastically altered forms, right up to the end of the Earth. The Latter Day Mormons and the Daughters of the Prophet even managed to build seedships of their own. I often wonder what happened to them."
It was a very straightforward project to incorporate the three Testaments of the Latter-Day Koran... exactly what the Prophet intended... the co-called "Cold Fusion" revolution, which brought about the sudden end of the Fossil Fuel Age...Pg. 91:
"Dead Sea-gate"... when the final release of the long-hidden Scrolls revealed that the Jesus of the Gospels...[The term "Latter-Day" here doesn't isn't necessarily borrowed from the name of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, although Clarke has made references to Latter-day Saints in other books, and may have intentionally incorporated Latter-day Saint elements of in this novel's story of "Chrislam."]
Possibly based in part on the life of Joseph Smith, Jr., but there are no references to Latter-day Saints by name. There are several references to an ancient religious leader called "The Master." He fled Earth - perhaps one jump ahead of a lynch-mob. When the book's young hero is able to visit the planet from which the Master fled, he discovers an enormous obelisk, apparently set up as a memorial. Evidently the Master's defeat was only a temporary setback and his followers triumphed in the end.
"The year is 2084 and authorities on the Moon have just discovered the badly mutilated bodies of the first lunar mass murder. A labyrinth of clues leads to a heretical runaway from the Lunar Mormon society." [According to the Locus Index of Science Fiction, this is the only published sf/f book or story ever written by Cohen, i.e. Bernard Halsband Cohen.]
This is apparently a genre-crossing literary crime/sf/thriller novel set in "New Jerusalem," a near-future America run as a theocracy, which has become both Utopian and dystopian in various ways. Drawing on his background, the author has included Latter-day Saint, but also many Evangelical/Christian fundamentalist elements.
Statistical AnalysisThe highest awards in the speculative fiction field are the Nebula and the Hugo awards. Up through May 2000, a total of 84 novels have been awarded Nebula or Hugo awards in the "Best Novel" category. (There are other awards for short story, novella, etc., but those have not been surveyed and are not considered here.)
Because some novels have won both the Hugo and the Nebula award, there are only 68 distinct novels which have won a Hugo or Nebula. All of the 68 novels have been surveyed. Of these, 12 have Mormon characters or explicit references to Mormonism. An additional 6 have Utah or Salt Lake City references. For example, Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle mentions the Rocky Mountain region frequently, with one reference to Utah by name. The classic science fiction treatment of the topic of religion, Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz takes place mostly in the state of Utah, although it does not appear to mention Mormons by name.
This yields a total of 18 books with Latter-day Saint/Utah references, or 26% of all Hugo/Nebula-winning novels.
These 18 references do not include Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers (the movie version of which mentions Mormons), Carl Sagan's Contact (Mormons are mentioned in the novel and Utah mentioned in the movie, but it was the movie and not the novel which won a Hugo award), Swanwick's Station of the Tide (Nebula award and possible but unconfirmed Latter-day Saint reference); Harry Turtledove's How Few Remain (a novel in which Mormons are one of the primary subjects, and which was nominated for, but did not win, the Nebula award), Clifford Simak's Way Station (which includes a possible reference to Mormons, but not by name), John Brunner's The Sheep Look Up (this is the sequel to a Hugo-winning novel), Orson Scott Card's Xenocide (which was nominated for a Hugo award, written by a Mormon, features a half-Mormon main character, and deals primarily with Mormon metaphysics as its subject matter); or "Galaxy Quest" (Hugo award for best dramatic presentation, story written by a Latter-day Saint author).
At least 4 of the 19 novels which have won the Locus award for fantasy have Latter-day Saint characters or references, but we have not yet finished surveying this group of books, so this number is preliminary.
| Mormons... represent a cultural entity whose traditions, heritage, and experience deserve to be considered a vital part of the American mosaic... "Mormo-American literature" should be considered an important part of American literary studies...
- Michael Austin
Shepherd College, Maryland
Copyright © 2005 by Adherents.com. Please send comments, questions, corrections, etc. to firstname.lastname@example.org
Page created 18 December 1999. Last modified 10 February 2006.