Mythology in Science Fiction

Mythology plays a very important part in establishing the culture and world in fantasy novels. It is often the basis for the magic system, the religious beliefs, and the antagonist. There’s often an influence by gods or other supernatural beings, and the amount of power could be limitless.

In science fiction, mythology is quite different. It may not even be present. In Star Wars, the Force is almost mythological. In Dune, the religions have changed so much that they’ve become the new mythology. In the Hyperion Cantos, the Shrike is often regarded as a myth or legend. Much of the time, mythology draws on older religions, but not always.

In my Ariadne universe, there will be a couple cases of new religions and mythologies that develop. One has an origin that will change over time as the centuries pass, but it’s an interesting mix of elemental and old Earth religion, mainly Christianity. The Christianity part fades away, but the basis is there. In the other case, Earth itself becomes almost mythological, and it’s revered by a large portion of the population.

What are some other examples of mythology in science fiction? Let me know in the comments below.

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8 thoughts on “Mythology in Science Fiction”

  1. The cartoon Ulysses 31 is a space adventure retelling of the epic poem about Odysseus and his adventures. But myth in science fiction can more subtle or less direct than that. So in the God Complex episode of Doctor Who the myth of the Minotaur becomes the story of an alien creature trapped in a physical prison that takes the form of a digital maze where his ‘food source’ are the unwitting human sacrifices. Star Wars is absolutely mythological. It is the typical Hero’s Journey, where, in order for the young male to become a man and realise his true identity and succeed in his quest, he must gain control over his powers & win the conflict with his father. In his quest The Force is the mystical and physical element that is part of the over-arching mythology of his universe. It is the element that connects him to Vader and realising its potential aids him to join the Jedi tradition. I would say myth is almost always present in science fiction because beings are always making myth: they mythologise ‘earth that was’ (to quote Serenity), or the past, or new sources of wealth and power like spice in Dune. Myth is one of the ways humans understand the world and our place in it. It is ancient and current and just as valid in fantasy as science fiction.

            1. Ahhh. Since you asked:) Complex: it’s strange and familiar at the same time. For one, the Greek Persephone and her underworld myth has its provenance with Inanna visiting and returning from the Underworld. I’m more interested in Inanna and the (real) poet Enheduanna who was her foremost promoter. If you combine Homer and Shakespeare that is Enheduanna, but she was also a princess and priestess who basically reshaped worship for the next 500 years.

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