Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Mormonism in Science Fiction

     As a Latter-day Saint, it is easy to recognize the many (many) Mormon themes and elements in Seventh Son, but only because we were told to keep an eye out for it. So I have to wonder, if I hadn’t been purposefully looking for Mormon themes, could I have picked up on them on my own or would this story be just like any other science fiction/fantasy story, no relation to Mormonism whatsoever? Furthermore, does including so many LDS themes (because in my opinion this book is loaded with them) a good thing or a bad thing? Could Orson Scott Card have written this book without including any LDS elements and still relate the message of the story effectively? If he could, then why would he include so many Mormon themes? Maybe the question isn’t why, but why not? After all, he is LDS himself, and as Martha Bartter re-states Colling’s observation, “Card is so steeped in LDS traditions that he cannot avoid the viewpoint and assumptions of a lifetime” (158). How can any LDS not include Mormon elements in their works when it is our way of living? Therefore, including these LDS viewpoints and elements in this story, is not a bad thing (even though there is just a little too much in my opinion) as long as it helps serve the main purpose of the story.
    This story is about struggles and perseverance and as a Mormon, Card would know about this seeing as his own family and pioneer ancestors went through it, so it would make sense for him to weave these Mormon elements throughout the story. Besides, it is not as if he’s trying to convince or convert anyone to the Mormon faith by including these elements in his stories. Yet, it is interesting to point out Colling’s implication that perhaps “science fiction is the best (perhaps the only) vehicle to carry the fundamentals of Mormonism to the Gentiles; or perhaps…science fiction readers are those best fitted to appreciate the LDS beliefs that underlie Card’s work” (Bartter 159). If this is the case then, Card’s achievement is noteworthy.

Bartter, Martha. "In the Image of God: Theme, Characterization, and Landscape in the Fiction of Orson Scott. Contributions to the Study of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Number 42 by Michael Collings." Utopian Studies 6.2 (1995): 158-59. JSTOR. Web. 20 January 2015.


  1. I don't know if I would have picked up on Mormon themes or guessed that Alvin Maker is inspired by Joseph Smith. Of course, since I was aware of it already, I saw it everywhere. It's a good question.

    I agree, that since our religion seeps into every part of our lives, it's hard to "keep it out," and we don't necessarily need to anyway. You might be interested in the young-adult novelist Carol Lynch Williams. She doesn't try to be an LDS author, but in some books her character have family prayer, or move from Provo, or sing a hymn. I think she incorporates her religion in a way that doesn't distract from the overall story and isn't too over the top.

  2. I asked myself the same question. I think, at least I hope, I would have seen the truths in this story but would I see the Mormon aspects if I hadnt been told? I agree that it is difficult to completely seperate one's experience from one's writing. Growing up LDS, when I write my values and beliefs definitely come through.

  3. I agree how we would not make the connections if we weren't looking for them.I know there have been many time when I read something without seeing any of the themes and then later analyze it in a lit class and I feel like, "why didn't I ever see that before!?" I wasn't looking for it and I was having my own interpretation for my own experiences with life. Thanks for your post.