Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
As Above, So Below

Earth as mirror of Heaven can provide justification for theocracy, for the Divine Right of Kings, for the Panglossian philosophy that things are best as they are, Evil included. But mirroring works both ways, allowing Heaven and Hell to be slyly modelled on earthly hierarchies. Thus Rudyard Kipling's "On the Gate" (1926) shows an Afterlife run like a benevolent, paternalistic army or civil service, finding technical loopholes in the law so that the most hopeless cases can be admitted to Heaven; James Branch Cabell's Jurgen (1919) presents Hell as an enlightened democracy, proud not to be a dictatorship as above (though elections have admittedly been suspended during the war with Heaven); C S Lewis's The Great Divorce (1945 chap) models Hell on grey London suburbs; the ten-lane Heaven Expressway in Michael Frayn's Sweet Dreams (1973) leads to the perfect reward for yuppies, a social round exactly like mortal life yet better; Robert A Heinlein's Job (1984) updates Heaven with necessary data-processing, crowd-handling and transport systems, while Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality sequence describes a similar high-tech Soul-handling operation in Purgatory; Terry Pratchett makes Hell a dreary hotel filled with middle-management types in Eric (1990); Tom Holt's Here Comes the Sun (1993) has the entire Universe supernaturally run with the majestic inefficiency of UK heavy industry. Further examples abound.

The physical structures of many fantasy Edifices, and of the Cities portrayed in much Urban Fantasy, also mirror the principle. [DRL]

see also: Great and Small; Little Big.

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.