Essays, Guest Posts, and Commentary

by Sylvia Engdahl

About Me and My Books

About Outlook Toward Space

About Writing and Publishing

About Human Mind Powers About Science Fiction About Medical Policy

Background on the Controversial Topics Dealt with in Stewards of the Flame
Last updated June 2019. Starred titles are included in my ebook Reflections on the Future: Collected Essays. This list includes everything I've written about me and my books, plus most of the essays and commentary accessible from the Tables of Contents of the SPACE and OPINION tabs above. A few are listed here in two categories.



About Me and My Books

Reflections on Enchantress from the Stars *

A more detailed and formal presentation of things I have been saying in my FAQs and elsewhere for many years. Please read it, especiallly if you are a teacher who has discussed the book with young readers. (2017)

Update on the Critical Stage: The Far Side of Evil's Relevance Today *

An explanation of why The Far side of Evil isn't oudated, with some of my later thoughts about the Critical Stage. (2017)

Are My Novels Set in a Distinct Science Fiction Universe?

To my dismay, some online sources grouped novels of separate series as "The Anthropological Service Universe series," causing confusion.

Faith as the Focus of Children of the Star *

The intended themes of the trilogy, and why the third book appeared long after the first two. Contains major spoilers.) (1972, 2017)

A Response to Some Reactions to Journey Between Worlds *

The reasons for my characterization of the heroine: a reply to those who criticized it. (2015)

Why My Flame Novels Aren't Suitable for Kids *

The reasons why the adult novels in my Flame duologies shouldn't be given to readers below high school age. (2017)

Autobiography: Sylvia Louise Engdahl *

Originally published in Something About the Author, Vol. 122, Gale, 2001 and Contemporary Aurhors, Vol. 195, Gale 2001. A long essay of about 20,000 words, illustrated with pictures. (1988, 2001)

The Mythic Role of Space Fiction *

Modified version of my acceptance speech for the 1990 Phoenix Award. (1990)

Not All Stories About the Future Should Be Called Science Fiction *

Introduction to the ebook edition of Anywhere, Anywhen. (2011)

Afterword to the 2003 Edition of The Far Side of Evil

Explaining what did, and did not, need updating in the new edition. (2003)

Afterword to Book One of the Rising Flame Duology

Its relation to Enchantress from the Stars and The Far Side of Evil. (2013)

Discussion Guide for Stewards of the Flame

Questions about the story for discussion by book clubs. A free copy of the book will be sent on request if your book club is considering it.

About Writing and Publishing

Perspective on the Future: The Quest of Space Age Young People *

Adapted from a speech presented to the Washington State Association of School Librarians. (1972)

The Relevance of Roots *

Based on a speech presented at Parkway School District, St. Louis. (1990)

How Genre Labeling Keeps Some Books from Being Discovered

Indies Unlimited, June 25, 2013

The Trouble with Genre Labeling *

Night Owl Reviews, February 2010

What It Takes to Write a Novel *

An invited contribution to Critique Magazine's "On Writing III," explaining why I haven't written more novels. (2003)

Are You Sure the Description of Your Book at Amazon Is Your Latest One?

Indies Unlimited, August 19, 2014

How to Post Author Updates at Amazon Author Central if You Don't Have a Blog

Indies Unlimited, July 29, 2016

Why Write for Today's Teenagers?

In Horn Book Magazine, June 1972, pp. 249-254. Reprinted in Crosscurrents of Criticism, Paul Heins, ed., The Horn Book, 1977. (Not available online.)

Do Teenage Novels Fill a Need? *

In English Journal, February 1975, pp. 48-52. Reprinted in Young Adult Literature in the Seventies, Jana Varlejs, ed., Scarecrow Press, 1978. (Not available online.)

About Science Fiction

The New Mythology of the Space Age

A series of 30 "lectures" I wrote for an online graduate-level Media Studies course I taught. Those most relevant to science fiction are also listed separately in this section. (1995)

Space Age Mythology Revisited *

The one thing in my Space Age Mythology series that's no longer true. (2017)

Mass-Media Science Fiction vs. Literary Science Fiction

Part of my Space Age Mythology series. (1995)

Mythological Nature of Science Fiction and Levels of Mythic Significance

Parts of my Space Age Mythology series. (1995)

Religious Aspects of Space Films: Gods from Outer Space and Humanism vs. "The Force"

Parts of my Space Age Mythology series. (1995)

More About the Appeal of Star Wars vs. Star Trek

Parts of my Space Age Mythology series. (1995)

The Changing Role of Science Fiction in Children's Literature

In Horn Book Magazine, October 1971, pp. 449-455. Reprinted in Children and Literature, Virginia Haviland, ed., Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1973. (Not available online.)

About Outlook Toward Space

Confronting the Universe in the Twenty-First Century *

Afterword to The Planet-Girded Suns as republished in The Space Review. (2012)
This 2016 version includes the update to it that is also on my "Plus 50 Years and Counting" page.

Thoughts on the 50th Anniversary of the First Moon Landing

Why we haven't yet returned to the moon and why that shouldn't be discouraging to space advocates.

Update on the Critical Stage *

Recent thoughts about the Critical Stage theory presented in my novel The Far side of Evil, and why I now think space colonization is a long way off. (2017)

Space and Human Survival *

Why Expansion into Space is Important and How Orbiting Colonies Could Achieve It. (1994)

Tragedy in Space *

Written at the time of the Challenger disaster and updated for Columbia (1986, updated 2003, 2017)

Space Colonization, Faith, and Pascal's Wager *

Essay published in The Space Review, arguing that it is not irrational to have faith that space colonization can ensure the long-term survival of humankind. (2017)

Space Age Mythology Revisited *

The one thing in my Space Age Mythology series that's no longer true. (2017)

Achieving Human Commitment to Space Colonization:Is Fear the Answer?

What may be needed to build sufficient public support for space colonies before it's too late. (2006)

The Significance of Belief in UFOs *

Why people believe in UFOs and abduction by aliens, and what this signifiies about the public's view of space. (1995, 2017)

The Meaning of Gaia in Space Age Mythology *

What the Gaia concept and devotion to Mother Earth reveals about public attitudes toward space. (1995, 2017)

The Long Tradition of Belief in Extrasolar Worlds

NFReads.com, April 1, 2016

Early Space Poetry

Annotated passages about space from poetry of the 17th through 19th centuries.

Hymn for Spacefarers

Intended for use by churches. (1971)

Myth as a Culture’s Adaptive Response to its Perceived Environment

Part of my Space Age Mythology series. (1995)

Introduction to The Apollo 11 Moon Landing

In The Apollo 11 Moon Landing (Perspectives on Modern World History series), Greenhaven Press, 2011. (Available at Amazon.com in the "Look Inside" and free download samples.)

Introduction to The Challenger Disaster

In The Challenger Disaster (Perspectives on Modern World History series), Greenhaven Press, 2013. (Not available online.)

Space Race

In Americans at War: Society, Culture and the Homefront, John P. Resch, ed., Vol. 4, Macmillan Reference, 2004. pp. 180-183. (Available in Infotrac, an online database accessible through public and school libraries.)

About Human Mind Powers

The Role of Psi in Human Affairs *

An essay discussing the influence of unconscious telepathy on society.(2017)

Transhumanism Is a Dead End *

An essay arguing that the premises underlying transhumanism will retard scientific understanding of the human mind. (2003, 2017)

The Evolutionary Significance of the Metanormal

A book review essay published in the Journal of Social and Evolutionary Systems. (1993)

ESP and Other Psi Powers Are Real

Part of the background information for Stewards of the Flame. Includes a book list and links. (2007, last update 2014)

The Mind's Influence on Health Is Now Recognized

a Part of the background information for Stewards of the Flame. Includes a book list and links. (2007, last update 2019)

Neurofeedback Is Already Used to Control Perception of Pain

Part of the background information for Stewards of the Flame. Includes a book list and links. (2007)

Firewalking Is Common Today

Part of the background information for Stewards of the Flame. Includes a book list and links. (2007, last update 2012)

About Medical Policy

The Worship of Medical Authority *

Introductory material for a Media Studies course I taught in 1995 about public attitudes toward medical care. (1995, 2017)

Overtreatment in Medicine Is a Serious Problem

Part of the background information for Stewards of the Flame. Includes a book list and links. (2007, last update 2019)

Government Control of Health Care Is a Serious Threat to Freedom

Part of the background information for Stewards of the Flame. Includes links. (2007, last update 2019)

Remote Health Monitoring Is Already Here

Part of the background information for Stewards of the Flame. Includes links. (2007, last update 2019)

Microchips Are Already Being Implanted in Humans

Part of the background information for Stewards of the Flame. Includes links. (2007, last update 2019)

Current Treatment of Mental Illness Is Often Harmful

Part of the background information for Stewards of the Flame. Includes a book list and links. (2007, last update 2019)

Today Most People's Death Is Painfully Prolonged

Part of the background information for Stewards of the Flame. Includes a book list and links. (2007, last update 2019)

Background on the Controversial Topics Dealt with in Stewards of the Flame

These pages were posted in 2007 at the time Stewards of the Flame was first published and were last updated in 2019. They include my comments on the status of these issues in today's world, plus in many cases, links to Web articles and lists of nonfiction books. These topics are of interest whether or not you've read, or plan to read, the novel.

Closer than you may think
Remote health monitoring
Implanted tracking chips
Compulsory healthcare

Truer than you may realize
Mind's influence on health
Advanced neurofeedback
ESP and other psi powers
Fire immunity

Worse than you may know
Medical overtreatment
Harmful psychiatric care
Prolonged death


Background on the Controversial Topics Dealt with in Stewards of the Flame

These pages were posted in 2007 at the time Stewards of the Flame was first published and were last updated in 2019. They include my comments on the status of these issues in today's world, plus in many cases, links to Web articles and lists of nonfiction books. These topics are of interest whether or not you've read, or plan to read, the novel.

Closer than you may think
Remote health monitoring
Implanted tracking chips
Compulsory healthcare
Truer than you may realize
Mind's influence on health
Advanced neurofeedback
ESP and other psi powers
Fire immunity
Worse than you may know
Medical overtreatment
Harmful psychiatric care
Prolonged death