Photo: João Paulo Serafim

Arda Re-made: Finding Meaning in a Pandemic Through the Works of Tolkien, Sapkowski, and Straczynski

Kristine Larsen

Central Connecticut State University

Abstract | This essay examines the author’s three favorite Secondary Worlds of science fiction/fantasy: J. Michael Straczynski’s American tv series Babylon 5 (1993-98) and various spinoffs, the Witcher Saga of novels and short stories by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski (English trans. 2007-18), and Brit J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (1954) and other tales set in his fictional Middle-earth. The author reflects on her revisiting of these beloved works as a source of comfort during the time of COVID-19 and draws connections between human (and extraterrestrial) responses to pandemics described in these fictional worlds and numerous missteps and complications witnessed in the global response to our current pandemic. The essay argues that many of our hard-won lessons from COVID-19 were previously reflected in these fictional worlds, lessons we forget only at our own peril in our return to the so-called “New Normal”.

Keywords | COVID-19; science fiction; secondary worlds; racism; conspiracy theories.