Originally published in the July 2017 issue of Education & Culture.
The difference between science fiction writers and fantasy writers is a generalization that holds up as well as a generalization can. Sci-fi authors tend to be liberal or libertarian, looking forward to the future and trusting in reason. Fantasy authors tend to be conservative, looking back to the past and believing in magic. In the decades after World War II, when the genres were more ghettoized and before cross-splicing had given us such prodigies as cyberpunk wizards in space, authors were even more likely than today to be true to type.
So what are we to make of a science fiction author of the 1960s and ’70s who sends his heroes to fight for the reactionary Spanish Carlists? Who believes in the literal reality of the Devil, who patterns an entire novel after the Interior Castle of Saint Teresa of Avila, who takes what he calls “the secular-liberal imposture” as his avowed and constant enemy?