For Dr. Leire Olabarria and Dr. Eleanor Dobson’s conference “Do Ancient Egyptians Dream of Electric Sheep?” I have been trying to think of science fiction that engages with ancient Egypt. This was much harder than I expected, and the difficulty became the basis for my proposal. My understanding of science fiction is centered around people who published short stories and novels between the 1930s and the 1970s, but this is the list I came up with after talking to people in different places online:
- Dr. Who “Pyramids of Mars” tv series (1975) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyramids_of_Mars #
- Dr. Who ‘The Daleks’ master plan’ (1965) and ‘Dinosaurs on a spaceship’ (2022) #
- Battlestar Galactica tv series (1978) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battlestar_Galactica_(1978_TV_series) #
- Thundercats cartoon with Mumm-ra (1985) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mumm-Ra #
- Stargate film and spinoffs including several TV series and a roleplaying game (1994)
- The Fifth Element film (1997) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fifth_Element #
- Necrons in Warhammer 40k miniatures wargame (introduced 1999 and 2001 to an older setting)
- “A Pharaoh to Remember” Futurama #3-17 animated cartoon (2002) has jokes about ancient astronaut theories https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Pharaoh_to_Remember #
- Lord English’s Cairo Overcoat time-travel device / sarcophagus in the Homestuck webcomic (USA, 2009-2016) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homestuck #
The number sign # after an entry indicates that I have not seen or read it.
Of course this short list could just reflect my own taste and what was available in the libraries and used book stores of my home town in the 1990s. But writers who loved the ancient world like L. Sprague de Camp, Poul Anderson, and Harry Turtledove are absent, and the things in this list begin in 1975 rather than trailing off after 1975. And most of these films, shows, cartoons and games involve ancient astronauts or archaeologists digging too deep and awaking ancient horrors like in the film The Mummy (the famous ones begin with Universal Pictures, 1932). If you think I have left anything out let me know! And if you want to know what other people have come up with, check out the conference on 9 July 2021. Some talks will be streamed online.
PS. People suggested the following things which I am not sure are science fiction or I am not sure have a strong enough Egyptian theme to count.
- Hawkman as Carter Hall / Prince Khufu? (1940 onwards) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawkman_(Carter_Hall) #
- Roger Zelazny’s Creatures of Light and Darkness? (1969) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creatures_of_Light_and_Darkness #
- Philip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld? (1971-1983) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riverworld
- Timothy Powers’ Anubis Gates? (1983) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Anubis_Gates #
- Poul Anderson The Boat of a Million Years? (1989) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Boat_of_a_Million_Years #
- Peter Milligan, DC/Vertigo miniseries “Egypt”? (1995-1996) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egypt_(comics) #
- S.M. Stirling’s Nantucket series and the story “Riding Shotgun to Armageddon” (1998-2000) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nantucket_series
- Neil Gaiman, American Gods (2001) #
(scheduled 17 March 2021)
Edit 2023-03-17: added two more Dr. Who episodes/miniserieses care of https://kiwihellenist.blogspot.com/2023/03/chatgpt.html