A J Dalton: The Satanic in Science Fiction and Fantasy


The Satanic in Science Fiction and Fantasy by A J Dalton

Back in February 2018, we announced that Luna author A J Dalton was hard at work again, to deliver a new book for Academia Lunare.

After the welcoming reception of 'The Sub-genres of British Fantasy Fiction', longlisted for the BSFA Awards, A J Dalton's new project for Luna's academic arm is now here: 'The Satanic in Science Fiction and Fantasy'.


About the Book:


Satan, Dracula, Sauron, Lord Foul, Darth Vader. The motif of the Satanic Dark Lord is ever-present in science fiction and fantasy, a malign intelligence seeking to thwart the Chosen One.

In the literature of the 1980s and 90s, the Dark Lord is always defeated. However, post-millennium, there are signs that he has finally begun to get the upper hand, as we witness his change from anti-hero to hero.

In this enthralling study, prize-winning author A J Dalton considers how our understanding and characterisation of Satan has developed over time. From early depictions of Satan as a brutal dragon in the Bible, to the playfully seductive friend in the works of Chaucer and Marlowe, to the sympathetic and sensitive vampire of the modern-day, to the alien and unknowable artificial intelligence of tomorrow.

This book provides a starting point for researchers, writers and fans of science fiction and fantasy interested in the development of one of the biggest tropes in speculative fiction.


A J Dalton

Adam told us:


"As long as literature has existed, so has the motif of ‘the dark lord’. However, it was not until the emergence of fantasy and science fiction as distinct literary genres that the dark lord truly became enshrined in popular works. From Bram Stoker’s Dracula, to Tolkien’s Sauron, to Donaldson’s Lord Foul, to Lucas’s Darth Vader, the dark lord was ever present in SFF. Sometimes he was a mad god, evil emperor or evil corporation, but always there was that malign intelligence seeking to thwart the goody-goody Chosen One of the 1980s and 90s. And he had servants in the form of demon armies, alien invaders or intelligent machines, seeking to drag the unwary into the underworld, to conquer us or to make humanity entirely extinct.

Come the new millennium, and the emergence of sub-genres like ‘grimdark fantasy’ and ‘dystopian YA’, we tend to see everything in shades of grey far more. We still have invading hordes, be they zombies or Dothraki, but they are mindless disease-carriers and immigrants-with-a-cause rather than out-and-out followers of Satan. Our sense of evil has perhaps changed. We seem to understand that ‘evil’ is really a matter of perspective. And what has become of ‘the dark lord’ himself? Well, he is now the star of tv series such as ‘Lucifer’ or ‘Dracula’. Has he actually changed from anti-hero into hero? Has he won in some way? Or do we now recognise ourselves in him? Were we really fighting against ourselves all along?

This book considers the early literary origins of the character of Satan and his embodiment within SFF, in order to show how our idea of evil has changed over time, to identify how SFF has shifted since its early days, to suggest the trends which are yet to emerge and, perhaps, to help us better understand ourselves."

The Satanic in Science Fiction and Fantasy will be released on the 7th of April 2020, and will be launched at Eastercon 2020. Pre-orders will open on the 1st of November and subscribers will receive an extra discount voucher, on top of the already discounted pre-order price!


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