5/06/2007

THE PROBLEM

Reprint from The Christian Writer's Notebook

Finding Christian speculative fiction (sci-fi and fantasy and horror), in my youth was impossible. C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia and Space Trilogy graced the lonely shelf. Every modern genre author credits Lewis as their inspiration for good reason: he's all that genre fans could find.

In the seventies and eighties of my childhood, Mom would take me into the local Christian bookstores, and I'd straight-edge for the fiction shelves. After years of only finding Lewis' titles, I stopped looking in Christian stores. My favorite fiction came from secular stores.

I'd given up in the early eighties—about a year before Steven Lawhead's Empyrion was published. After Peretti's Darkness books came out, I hopefully scanned Christian shelves again for a couple more years before abandoning hope. Obviously this was a once per decade event.

A year ago the only Christian spec-fic authors of which I'd ever heard were Lewis, Peretti, Dekker, and arguably, Jenkins. Since then, I've discovered dozens of Christian spec-fic authors on the Web. I formed the Lost Genre Guild in September of 2006, and we've erected a respectable Web infrastructure for the promotion of our favorite fiction. Genre fans, read on for a killer link with more traditionally published titles than you'd ever dreamed existed.

Some spec-fic sub-genres have recently broken the CBA publishing dam.
  • Doors opened for Christian fantasy after the Lord of the Rings films scored at the Box-Office.
  • Genre purists and book-retailers don't lump horror into the genre, but the definition of setting and characters does. The race we call "angels" are supernatural extra-dimensional beings. At some point when nobody was looking, some creative librarian tacked up a "spiritual thrillers" label on the shelf that ought to have read "horror." "Spiritual thrillers" sounds more like Hannibal Lechter sitting across a confessional from Clarisse Starling than fallen angels under the bed, but at least the belief system that inspired The Exorcist is also moving forward. I wonder if The Prophecy series of films, featuring Christopher Walken, didn't also have an effect. And Anne Rice accepting Christ surely looked good to the CBA world.


That leaves one of spec-fic's three main sub-genres still floundering behind the dam: science fiction. I believe there are several reasons for this. There have been no sci-fi cross-over films or popular culture fiction to shoehorn publishers into risking bets on new authors. Many view Christianity and science to be a contradiction in terms. Sci-fi's been such an anti-Christian world-view genre it's no real surprise that mothers dodge children around the aisle.

You've just read introduction to a four part series that will explore the concept of Christian science fiction. Because you're still reading, you get a cookie! The most complete Biblical spec-fic book store I've ever found belongs to Jeff Gerke, AKA novelist Jefferson Scott. Any genre fan will want to see and bookmark this site of Lost Genre novels:
http://www.wherethemapends.com/Booklist/booklist_intro.htm


Frank Creed
www.frankcreed.com
email: admin@frankcreed.com
http://www.lostgenreguild.com/index.html

4 comments:

Grace Bridges said...

Did you link to me without me seeing it? :) Since you posted, my hits went up...
Love this article. Talk about hitting the nail on the head! Folks, this is the guy with the hammer...

Terri said...

Of course, there is one place on the web for Christian Science Fiction. :-)

Seriously, it is overlooked. But I have to say it is not just the science-fiction establishment which sees a disconnect between science and Christianity. It is also Christianity that sees it. As long as we are sitting on opposite sides of the room not talking to each other it will continue.

Well, duty calls. A student just came in.

Anonymous said...

As a starting out SF writer with a Christian bent, I can attest that you get very familiar very fast with the concept of "Friendly Fire".

As one blogger in similar straits put it "I LOVE to beat my head against a wall while being two-by-foured from both sides!"

Anonymous said...

When the only science your target audience is interested in is Young Earth Creation Science...

When the only future your target audience is interested in is the no-future of Late Great Planet Earth and Left Behind...

Do not expect Hugo-level material.

It's why I've been a vocal proponent of mainstreaming whenever possible.