Foods of the Gods: Eating and the Eaten in Fantasy and Science Fiction by Gary Westfahl
Gluttony and starvation, pleasure and pain, growth and decay. These and other extremes of our condition related to food, though all but banned from the "civilized" tables of mainstream fiction, are ideal topics for the "undomesticated," free-roaming modes of fantasy.
As acts and ideas, food and eating are fundamental to all that makes us human and dominate our symbolic realms of art, literature, and cuisine. These essays show us the power of speculative modes of fiction to help us look anew at prehistorical and psychomythical attitudes toward food and eating; historical Western-cultural attitudes toward the material fact of food and the necessity of eating; and the relationship between attitudes toward food and how, how much, when, and where we eat.
The contributors come from a variety of backgrounds, including anthropology, film, and French, Russian, English, and medieval literature. Ranging in their focus from shamans to cannibals, utopias to social Darwinism, muscle magazines to supermarket tabloids, the contributors discuss the theory and practice of science fictional eating; the dialectic, at the level of eating, between individual needs and collective norms; and the ways that eating habits and the availability and choice of food serve to contextualize and demarcate modern fictional genres. In addition to discussing such writers as C. S. Lewis, Stephen King, Octavia Butler, Jonathan Swift, and Anne Rice, the contributors also consider such films as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast.
Gary Westfahl teaches at the University of California, Riverside. George Slusser is a professor of comparative literature and director of the Eaton Program for Science Fiction and Fantasy Studies at the University of California, Riverside. Eric S. Rabkin is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of English at the University of Michigan.