Follow Me: Religion in Fantasy & Science Fiction

It is somewhat dubious for me to review a book that I have an essay in, but I am very fond of the Academia Lunare series from Luna Press Publishing, so I want to encourage you to buy the books.

Follow Me: Religion in Fantasy and Science Fiction, is the latest volume in the series. The theme should be obvious from the title. The ways in which contributors have engaged with the theme differ widely.

There are several essays on Tolkien, which is hardly surprising. Religion was very important to him, and he created an entire mythology for Middle Earth. That may not be obvious if you’ve only watched the movies, but it is all there in the background. What’s more, there are Tolkien fans who have adopted that mythology as their religion, as Elyse Welles explains in her essay, “Neo-Pagans and the Ainur Pantheon”.

One of the most fascinating essays in the book is Steph P Bianchini’s discussion of the Zelazny novel, Creatures of Light and Darkness. I know I read that book a very long time ago. Given what Bianchini says about it, I suspect that I didn’t understand it very well. Now I want to go back to it, because it seems that it was a very interesting work that would reward in-depth reading with the knowledge of Ancient Egyptian religion that I now have.

The other essay that really leapt out at me is the one by Giovanni Carmine Costabile about the video game, Final Fantasy X. I know nothing about that series of games, nor did I know anything about the French philosopher, René Girard, until I read Costabile’s essay. Now I’m intrigued about how much thought video game writers can put into their work.

The one thing that is missing from the book is an examination of Earthseed, the religion that Octavia Butler created for her Parable books. That was the first thing that occurred to me to write when I saw the call for papers, but I then thought that I should leave that to a person of colour to write. Eugen Bacon, whom I thought might write it, has an essay in the book, but she has chosen a different topic. As no one else stepped forward, we have gone without. Hopefully someone will write that essay for another venue at some point, because it needs writing.

My own contribution to the book is about queer gods. To whet your appetites, here’s the abstract:

In modern Western society, we tend to assume that religion is the enemy of the LGBTQ+ community. Some religious people certainly give us plenty of ground for thinking that. Outside the Abrahamic religions, however, attitudes towards queer people could be very different. Some gods were decidedly queer. Also the history of the Abrahamic religions is nowhere near as heteronormative and cisnormative as some modern church leaders would like to make out.

This paper will look at queer gods from history and their provenances. It will look at how the gender of god/s is understood. It will also argue that for much of human history, religious cults were one of the main safe spaces for queer people.

book cover
Title: Follow Me: Religion in Fantasy & Science Fiction
By: Francesca T Barbini (ed.)
Publisher: Luna Press Publishing
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