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This is part of the background information by Sylvia Engdahl for her science fiction novel Stewards of the Flame. If you don't see a menu on the left, please click here.

Background Information for the Flame Duologies

I wrote the first draft of early portions of Stewards of the Flame many years ago. When I came to revise it and write the rest of the story, I discovered to my surprise that some of what I'd imagined isn't science fiction anymore. In fact, in a few cases reality had surpassed my original imagination and I had to add things, such as the high-tech toilets (which are now on the market in Japan). Furthermore, after finishing the book and looking for ways to publicize it, I discovered a lot of excitement on the Web about issues I hadn't realized are already "hot," notably the implanting of microchips in humans.

Some of the good developments in the story are already on the way, too. For example, several months after it was completed and many years after the first draft of Part Two was written, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science published a paper describing research in which people have been taught to control pain perception through real-time functional MRI brain scanning. And of course, the reality of psi powers, and of the influence of the mind on health, are well-researched fields about which a great deal has been written in the past few decades, although not everyone is aware of this material.

And so, I am offering here links, booklists, and even some videos on these subjects, along with my comments about them. Just choose the topics you want to explore from the menu at the left.

Note: These pages were first posted in the fall of 2007. At that time, medical overtreatment, a main theme of Stewards of the Flame, was not a "hot" issue in our society; it was so rarely discussed in publications for the general public that I titled my page about it "Heresy in Medicine." Since then it has received a good deal of attention in the press and a number of recent books have appeared. As of December 2014 I have updated and retitled that page, and have also revised the pages on psychiatry, natural death, compulsory healthcare, and implanted tracking chips. Pages on other topics will be updated in the near future.