Angels in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Messengers, Guardians, and Beyond

man on boat facing a legendary angel in the dark forest, digital art style, illustration painting

Angels, celestial beings with ethereal qualities, have long been a source of fascination and inspiration in religious and mythological traditions. In the realms of science fiction and fantasy literature, authors have reimagined angels in diverse and imaginative ways. These celestial beings, often depicted as messengers, guardians, or otherworldly entities, bring unique perspectives and themes to the genres. Let’s explore the presence and significance of angels in science fiction and fantasy books and how they add depth to these captivating narratives.

  1. Messengers of Destiny: In many science fiction and fantasy stories, angels serve as messengers delivering prophecies, visions, or critical information to mortal characters. These divine emissaries often set protagonists on extraordinary journeys or bestow them with unique powers. For example, in “His Dark Materials” by Philip Pullman, angelic beings called “daemons” are companions and guides, closely linked to their human counterparts, reflecting the complex interplay between destiny and free will.
  2. Guardians of the Divine: Angels frequently take on the role of guardians, protecting humanity from otherworldly threats or guiding them through perilous adventures. In “Good Omens” by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley become unlikely protectors of Earth as they seek to prevent the Apocalypse. Their portrayal explores themes of morality, choice, and the blurred lines between good and evil.
  3. Explorations of Morality and Free Will: The presence of angels in science fiction and fantasy often prompts profound philosophical questions. These celestial beings, with their divine missions, provide a backdrop for examining concepts like morality and free will. In “Supernatural,” the TV series created by Eric Kripke, angels are portrayed as complex beings with differing beliefs about humanity’s destiny, highlighting the tension between fate and personal choices.
  4. Dystopian and Apocalyptic Narratives: Angels can also be central to dystopian and apocalyptic tales. In “The Leftovers” by Tom Perrotta, the sudden disappearance of a portion of the world’s population triggers an existential crisis. While not traditional angels, the book explores themes of grief, faith, and the search for meaning in a world seemingly abandoned by a higher power.
  5. Incorporating Mythology and Religion: Some authors draw inspiration from real-world religious and mythological angelic traditions. In “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman, deities and mythical beings, including angels, manifest in contemporary America. These characters bring ancient beliefs into the modern world and challenge the nature of faith in a rapidly changing society.
  6. Angels as Allegory: In certain science fiction and fantasy works, angels are used as allegorical figures. Their celestial nature allows authors to explore abstract concepts or societal issues. For instance, in “The Sparrow” by Mary Doria Russell, a mission to a distant planet is framed as a religious journey, raising questions about faith, cultural misunderstanding, and the consequences of human actions.

Angels in science fiction and fantasy literature are far more than celestial beings with wings; they serve as vessels for exploring a wide range of themes and ideas. From messengers of destiny to guardians of the divine, angels provide authors with a canvas on which to paint intricate narratives that delve into morality, free will, faith, and the human condition. As these celestial beings continue to inspire and challenge characters and readers alike, the worlds of science fiction and fantasy remain enriched by their presence, reminding us of the enduring power of the divine in our collective imagination.

About M. R. Pritchard

M. R. Pritchard is a two-time Kindle Scout winning author, her short story "Glitch" has been featured in the 2017 winter edition of THE FIRST LINE literary journal, and her short story "Moon Lord" has been featured in Chronicle Worlds: Half Way Home (Part of the Future Chronicles). M. R. Pritchard holds degrees in Biochemistry and Nursing. She is a northern New Yorker transplanted to the Gulf Coast of Florida who enjoys coffee, mint chocolate, cloudy days, and reading on the lanai. Visit her website and sign up for her twice monthly newsletter. You'll get a newsletter with updates, day to day shenanigans, and book deals.
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