I love Stephen King's writing style, but his tendency towards religious fantasy themes always put me off and killed my suspension of disbelief.

Of all his stories that I've read, "The Langoliers" is what I like the most, because it felt like science-fiction (though I understand why some people wouldn't classify it as such).

Are there more stories like that by King?

  • 1
    Although it's very specific, isn't this either (a) a list question, or (b) a recommendation question, which are both considered off-topic?
    – Tony Meyer
    Nov 8, 2011 at 6:13
  • 2
    Probably not the best author to go to when looking for SF without mystical ingredients ;)
    – Andres F.
    Jan 17, 2012 at 2:24
  • How is this 'Primarily opinion based'? Aug 5, 2014 at 14:01
  • @Shevliaskovic It's a recommendation/list question. P.O.B/Too Broad.
    – phantom42
    Aug 5, 2014 at 14:04
  • "The End of the Whole Mess" is an sf short story by King, which I enjoyed as much as "The Jaunt", another sf favorite by King.
    – Kyle Jones
    Oct 2, 2014 at 22:24

4 Answers 4


Some aspect of religion infuses almost all of Stephen King's works, and it's subject to opinion. But if you're looking for a sci-fi slant rather than horror (or fantasy), and one that goes easy on the morality play, I recommend:

  • Insomnia
  • Tommyknockers
  • The Long Walk
  • The Running Man
  • Night Shift (collection, includes Trucks and The Lawnmower Man)
  • Skeleton Crew (collection, includes The Mist, The Jaunt, and Word Processor of the Gods)
  • 4
    I might suggest adding Dreamcatcher to that list since the plot revolves around aliens trying to take over the planet via the use of a virus. It wasn't his best work, but it definitely struck me as more of a sci-fi horror book. Oct 31, 2011 at 13:17
  • 1
    It fits the bill, but I couldn't recommend it. I thought it was dreadful.
    – Robert S.
    Oct 31, 2011 at 15:59
  • 1
    Understandable - it definitely wasn't a shining example of his best work. Oct 31, 2011 at 18:07
  • There was a period of decline after he stopped using drugs, and then again after he was hit by a van, but I think the religious aspect--his "seeing the light" of sorts--has infused his modern work with a desperation that is an about face from his drug-infused writing, while still having the same punch.
    – Robert S.
    Oct 31, 2011 at 18:51
  • I'd have to say The Jaunt is one of my favorite sci-fi short stories of all time.
    – Doresoom
    Jul 18, 2014 at 21:21

Well, many of his stories have some Sci-Fi feel, as he tends to try to have some explanation behind most things, even if it's not revealed in the specific story. Similarly, religion is part of most communities, so it tends to crop up as well. But in general, he tries to have character driven stories much of the time, so it's possible to find some that are less religious based.

A few I've read that seem to fit your criteria:
- Firestarter (Psychic based powers)
- The Dead Zone (Again, Psychic powers)
- The Running Man (which inspired the movie of the same name)
- Cell (from what I understand; I've never read it, but it's a technological apocalypse.)
- Under the Dome (A reworking of Lord of the Flies, basically)
- Possibly Carrie, as, like Firestarter and Dead Zone, it's more related to Pyschic powers. Religion is a major component of it, but not as any of the explanation, but more as a driving force behind character actions, like many of his stories.

Good luck!

  • Under the Dome is almost all about religion.
    – Zoe
    Oct 30, 2011 at 21:27
  • @Keith, I get the impression that you haven't read very many of Stephen King's works.
    – Robert S.
    Oct 30, 2011 at 21:30
  • @Robert S. - No, not at all; I've actually read most of them, but have a hard time finding ones that lack at least SOME mystical aspects; he seems to like to flavor them with at least a little unknown/unknowable in his stories, even if he does want there to be SOME sense behind things. I suspect some of this goes back to his inspirations, such as Lovecraft, who liked the idea of the unknown and unknowable.
    – K-H-W
    Oct 30, 2011 at 21:39
  • I think religion WAS a significant, not as the point, but more as a vehicle to move it along. (Then again, my background is in Psychology, which is what I see here.) King's comment on it was "At the same time, what comes through in the Dome is the idea of using religion to justify terrible, political acts. We've seen a lot of that in American politics. I didn't want it to get in the way of the story, but I wanted it to be a part of the story." (From: thestar.com/entertainment/books/article/… , which has some more interesting stuff :) )
    – K-H-W
    Oct 30, 2011 at 21:42
  • Cell is definitely Science Fiction. A different take (zombie apocalypse) on it, but still Science Fiction.
    – Discord
    Jul 12, 2013 at 14:17

In 2011, King released 11/22/63, which is a time travel story. The main character himself declares he's not much of a believer.


I'd almost be willing to add The Shining and Dr Sleep to the list. Both rely on a certain amount of

psychic / psionic energy, which is, to me, more sci-fi than religious / fantasy.

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