So did you read the latest Christian novel? You know, the romance. You know, the historical one. Oh, then there was the other one that made me think, “Boy, all my unsaved loved ones will be so sorry they got left behind.”
Thus, you can summarize the vast majority of well-known Christian novels. Many new authors are stepping into this mix, but none take a bigger leap than Frank Creed, author of Flashpoint, the first novel in what promises to be a series called, “The Underground,” the first ever Christian Cyberpunk series.
Cyberpunk movies such as Blade Runner and The Matrix have gathered cult followings, yet the stark genre has been untapped by explicitly Christian authors until now. Flashpoint takes us to 2036 where David and his sister join up with the Body, an underground Christian resistance group that struggles against the One State, a somewhat stereotypical one world government.
Flashpoint focuses on David/Calamity Kid’s attempt to rescue his suburban church from the clutches of the One State.The process of re-formation through which Calamity Kid and e-girl join the Body will undoubtedly raise some readers’ hackles as the process uses technology to upgrade the knowledge and abilities of human beings (as technology seems to be mainly good for distracting us from God.) Along with this comes heightened spiritual understanding, including memorization of the entire Bible.Readers who can get past this are in for quite a ride.
Creed provides a thrilling tour through dingy city scenes with a snappy Film Noir dialogue style that permeates the book. The novel twists like a pretzel through multiple dead ends, blind leads, and unexpected turns to make for an enjoyable and satisfying whirl through Creed’s dark Chicago of 2036.Creed succeeds in creating believable 2030s Street Slang, fantastic technology, arsenals of powerful weapons, and action-packed fight scenes. This isn’t your dad’s Christian fiction, this is too cool to be left on a bookshelf action mixed with a good dose of high tech weaponry.
This is not to say the work is without flaws. The beginning chapters crawl and the book suffers from some redundant passages. The villain Calamity Kid fights at the end of the story is a tad two dimensional. When I read what “Nasty Nero” had to say, my first thought was, “Somebody found your average bitter Internet Atheist and gave him a ton of weapons.”
When I saw the Matrix, the wanton violence disturbed me. While the movie had enjoyable scenes, I couldn’t help but cringe at the gunfire scene that in part inspired the Columbine killings.Flashpoint seems to suffer from an opposite problem.
The good guys, the Sandmen, only knock out One State soldiers, to give them a second chance (and a third, fourth, ad infinitum.) The only deaths are those of Sandmen who go on an ill-advised raid. While Creed has obvious reasons for the Sandmen’s tactics (it’d be counterproductive to the argument that Christian Fundamentalists aren’t terrorists to have them out mowing down rows of government officials with machine guns,) it seems a tad unrealistic, given the high explosives that Sandmen play with, that no matter what, when the One State comes along, their soldiers will wake up and scream, “I’m okay!”
Creed’s work expresses concerns about society’s war on fundamentalism, beginning with attempts to link Christian Fundamentalists (Protestants with a belief in basic tenets of Christianity) with violent Islamic Fundamentalist terrorists. The book focuses on the question of what a post-modern society does with faithful Christians and suggests suppression and even persecution as the most logical answer.While this will touch the fears of many Christians, I see another pressing message.
Calamity Kid and e-girl come from a suburban church that has enjoyed material prosperity, but is spiritually weak. It is only in the Body that their lives find true meaning and purpose. Flashpoint speaks to a hunger for authenticity in a western Faith that has become more program and ritual than life-transforming reality. That hunger for true closeness with God, community with believers, and opportunities to serve God shine through in Creed’s work.
Though not perfect, Flashpoint is an enjoyable novel that has, “Read the sequel” written all over it. It’s a reasonably priced volume, with short and accessible chapters. It’s also a historic attempt by Creed to go where no Christian has gone before. And for that he deserves plaudits.