shaggy god story n.

a story in which a religious (esp. biblical) myth is explained as having a science fictional origin

[punning on shaggy dog story ‘a tediously long story or joke having a pointless or absurd punchline’]

SF Encyclopedia


SF Criticism


  • 1965 ‘Dr. Peristyle’ in New Worlds Science Fiction Oct. 125 Brian W. Aldiss

    I confess to a weakness for the tale where it turns out that all mankind originated from a pair of escaping experimental animals from the lab of a visiting spaceship…. The story-type is a species of lay blasphemy; my label for it is ‘the shaggy god story’…. The shaggy god story is the bane of magazine editors, who get approximately one story per week set in a garden of Eden spelt Ee-Duhn.

  • 1966 C. Priest & G. Hall British Magazines in Vector (#40) 27 page image Christopher Priest

    And ‘Clean Slate’ by Ralph Nicholas (remember the name) is a neo-shaggy god story.

  • 1968 J. Simon Space, Spice, & Speciousness in New Leader 6 May 26/1

    The Slab, of course, is never explained, leaving 2001, for all its lively visual and mechanical spectacle, a kind of space-Spartacus, and, more pretentious still, a shaggy God story.

  • 1976 D. Pasko Science Fiction Review in CoEvolution Quarterly Summer 122/2

    For all the joking, Trout’s intention appears mainly serious. Or is it? Knowing Kilgore Trout, one is tempted not to take the book too seriously. It could even be a shaggy God story.

  • 1989 E. Hand Science Fiction & Fantasy: Adventures in Time and Space in Washington Post Book World 29 Jan. 6/4

    Finally, the short novel ‘The Mouser Goes Below’ begins with yet another minor deity’s pique and then wanders aimlessly, to its end—a sort of shaggy god story.

  • 1995 P. J. McAuley True & the Real in Interzone (#96) June 56/1 page image Paul J. McAuley

    They are Shaggy God stories, revealing that everything is run either by a wizard, or by a showman who runs the wizard from behind behind [sic] a curtain.

  • 2011 C. Steele The Field: Reviews in SF Commentary (#81) July 31/1 page image

    Kraken is set in Miéville's darkly magical London of 'dissident gods'. Miéville has described Kraken as a lighter work, ‘a shaggy-dog story. Well, a shaggy-god story...a kind of a romp.’

  • 2014 Coming Attractions in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction Sept.–Oct. 256

    Cat lovers might not like it, Native Americans may well take exception to one of the stories, folks of one religion or another might not care for the Shaggy God story in its pages, and if anyone is left unoffended, Paul Di Filippo’s tale is liable to ruffle their feathers.

Research requirements

antedating 1965

Earliest cite

Brian Aldiss, in New Worlds

Research History
Suggested by Bill Mullins

Last modified 2021-10-08 13:11:25
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.