4

From Star Wars to Harry Potter having a Chosen One is very common in science fiction and fantasy.

What was the first science fiction or fantasy work to feature a Chosen One? I'd preferably like the first example of a character who meets the criteria of being a Chosen One and the first character to be explicitly referred to as "The Chosen One."

The definition of "Chosen One" I'm going with is "A character specifically chosen by destiny/the gods/the spirits/etc. to save or otherwise permanently change the world.

I only want examples from science fiction and fantasy. That means no examples from religions, mythologies, real life or any non sci-fi/fantasy genres!

  • 3
    How do you distinguish fantasy from religion in very old writings? Does Gilgamesh count as an answer? – Buzz Mar 25 '16 at 0:26
  • @Buzz Fantasy is written as fiction in order to entertain. – Rogue Jedi Mar 25 '16 at 0:28
  • @Buzz +1 for Gilgamesh. He was definitely the elect of god, quite literally a paragon of manhood – Valorum Mar 25 '16 at 0:31
  • 1
    "Then Jesse let Abinadab follow; but neither did he appear to be the chosen one of Yahweh." - Young People's Bible - Published 1900 A.D.. – Valorum Mar 25 '16 at 0:39
  • 1
    @rosesunhill No, I don't think someone created by people really counts. He himself wasn't chosen. – Rogue Jedi Mar 25 '16 at 0:39
7

One interesting concept about heroes and chosen ones is the Monomyth described by Campbell. He describes the phases the journey of the chosen one goes through, and it happens to appear in a lot of cultures.

One could consider the Epic of Gilgamesh (arguably the first fantasy literature ever to exist) to be one of such stories. Another very old example could be the Arthurian legends. I may add (don't throw anything at me please, is not really of my liking) John Galt character in Atlas Shrugged written in 1957.

2

The comments to the OP make it clear this is going to bog down in definitional issues, so we might as well throw out some possibilities:

  • Paul Atreides (Muad'dib) from Dune as a sort of Messiah

  • Aragorn (Elessar) from the Tolkein canon as a fulfiller of prophecies

  • Aslan from the Narnia series as an allegory of Christ

  • Sorry, you need 10 reputation to post more than 2 links or I would have linked them all. – Spencer Mar 25 '16 at 1:57
  • The OP ruled out Paul in a comment above because he was the result is a deliberate breeding program. Aragon, perhaps, but I have to think there must be earlier answers. Isn't Aslan more part of the frame of the story? – rosesunhill Mar 25 '16 at 2:12
  • 1
    All of these "what wre the first" questions are looking for a rainbow-striped unicorn with seventeen hairs in its tail. Atreides was a Messiah to the Fremen quite apart from being Kwisatz Haderach to yhe Bene Gesserit. – Spencer Mar 25 '16 at 2:19
  • @rosesunhill If Paul had been deliberately bred then maybe. But Jessica disobeyed to bear only daughters (and not for reasons of making a Chosen One) and that produced The Chosen One. So i think it still fits – Machavity Mar 25 '16 at 3:04
  • @Machavity - there was enough ambiguity to make me wonder, but if the OP rules him out, then . . . – rosesunhill Mar 25 '16 at 3:17
1

What about an off-the-wall answer or perhaps anti-answer, where an Anti-Christ is the "Chosen One?"

Written from a Catholic perspective very much of its period, it describes the near obliteration of Christianity and the rise of an Anti-Christ proclaimed by the populous.

Even though it is very much a polemic, it is still science fiction with predictions of technological impacts.

Lord of the World is a 1907 novel by Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson that centers upon the reign of the Anti-Christ and the End of the World. It has been called prophetic by Dale Ahlquist, Joseph Pearce, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.

Writing during the pontificate of Pope Pius X and prior to the First World War, Monsignor Benson accurately predicted interstate highways, weapons of mass destruction, and passenger air travel in an advanced form of Zeppelin called the "volor". However, he also presumed the survival of the British Empire and predominant travel by rail. Like many other Catholics of the era in which he wrote, Monsignor Benson shares the political and economic views of G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc. - Wikipedia

I haven't the novel, but this section comes close to what you are seeking.

Then, a curtain is torn aside, revealing a statue of a naked mother and child. Felsenburgh leads all the assembled worshipers in prayer to the "Mother of us all." All those present hail the statue as Queen and Mother.

The chapter ends with the words, "Then in the heavenly light, to the crash of drums, above the screaming of the women and the battering of feet, in one thunder peal of worship ten thousand voices hailed Him Lord and God."

Can a decidely negative depiction, based on the Bible, meet your criteria?

  • Was that written as entertainment, or as a religious work? It isn’t clear from Wikipedia. – Molag Bal Mar 25 '16 at 2:44
  • @amarillo - you're right, it isn't clear from the description, and that makes a difference. But since it tells a story, apparently doesn't break the wall by directly addressing the reader, and has a detailed plot, I'm giving it a break and viewing it as both. As such, it wouldn't be the only or first book with a dual purpose. – rosesunhill Mar 25 '16 at 3:04
1

A couple more possibilities:

  • Thomas Covenant, who stumbled into a situation where there were prophesies of a savior, which appeared to fit him ("half-hand" with ring of white gold).  As he first saw print in 1977, he's probably not the first.
  • If we're going to mention LotR, I nominate Frodo.  He was literally chosen (albeit by fate, family history, and being in the right place at the right time) to undertake the task on which the freedom of the world hung.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.