The tide goes out

Even popular literature appears to be slowly shifting its center of gravity from murder stories to science fiction — or at any rate a rapid growth of science fiction is certainly a fact about contemporary popular literature. Science fiction frequently tries to imagine what life would be like on a plane as far above us as we are above savagery; its setting is often of a kind that appears to us as technologically miraculous. It is thus a mode of romance with a strong inherent tendency to myth.

— Northrup Frye

In his cyclic theory of modes, Frye places our contemporary literature (or that of the 1950s, when he was writing) somewhere at the ironic phase, which implies a pending return to the mythic.

Assuming it’s early enough to say so, did science fiction ever end up ushering in a new age of myth? Star Wars, Star Trek, Blade Runner? I don’t think of those as myths: mythic literature (to Frye) concerns the gods, as opposed to even demigods and heroes, so I don’t think he’d count them. Even comic book superheroes aren’t usually literally considered gods in the sense of being those who created the universe.

Would Frye say that we skipped the mythic and move directly into the romantic period because we’re now mostly atheistic as a culture, or are we still waiting to leave the ironic period?