Monday, February 5, 2007

Light at the Edge of Darkness

One of the advantages of having an online presence is that you sometimes get perks. One of those perks arrived in my mailbox last week. It was a book, Light at the Edge of Darkness, an anthology edited by Cynthia MacKinnon and published by Writer's Cafe Press. The book features "Biblical Speculative Fiction" which the book defines as " speculative fiction that is written from a Christian world view intended to inspire and entertain readers.

The book covers a wide spectrum of speculative fiction including horror, fantasy, supernatural and science fiction. The mood ranges from light hearted parody, as in Stephen Rice's "At the Mountains of Lunacy" with a light tip of the hat to H.P. Lovecraft and Andre Norton to "Undeniable," a haunting, horrific story of martyrdom and triumph.

Several of these stories project dark times ahead for Christians. Even though, I personally tend not to fall for the more paranoid prognostications of repressive western governments stifling Christianity. Mostly, I believe this because, Satan doesn't need to resort to such extreme measures. The popular media, the greedy televangelists, and the politicizing of Christianity has been doing the job nicely for him over the past 75 years or so with Europe having a head start on the U.S. No one needs to ban the Bible in America. There's one in every home but hardly anyone reads it anyway. Spiritual apathy among non-believers, and secularization of believers has done more in America to neutralize the Christian witness than the persecution of Nero did in Ancient Rome.

However, these apocalyptic tales are powerful, with strong characters, and lots of action. They are not my favorites, but that is a matter of personal taste. The craftsmanship in these stories is superior and the equal of anything to be found in the major science-fiction magazines.

Beware, though, as you read through these stories many may be disturbing. Some for reasons I outlined in another post, but mostly because they cause you to see the world differently. You will meet greedy aliens, doubting martyrs, and a righteous man rewarded for his righteousness ... well, I don't want to give that one away, but it may mess up your theology when you read it.

It is important to remember, that these are works of speculative fiction. That means they are unrealistic by nature. In some ways they are the parables of the 21st century. If you spend too much time nitpicking the theology of aliens or even the ethics of militaristic martyrs, you will miss the power of these stories. So, kick back, relax, and enjoy these stories of
Light at the Edge of Darkness.

Light at the Edge of Darkness will be available in April from Writer's Cafe Press.

By the way, read what other bloggers are saying about this book this week. Go to Christian Fiction Review Blog for a list of blogs that will be featuring Light at the Edge of Darkness this week.


Blogger Daniel I Weaver said...

I'm very glad you enjoyed the anthology, Terri. This is an encouraging review that would definately make me want to read this collection. Christians by nature believe in the unseen and the unexplainable, so speculative fiction should really appeal to a lot of folks. I just think its exciting that, like your Wayfarer's journal, people out there are offering tales of speculative fiction from a Christian worldview.

God Bless,
Daniel I Weaver

February 6, 2007 at 5:25 AM  
Blogger Terri said...

Thanks, I'm just hoping the launch comes off on time. I feel like I'm running to stand still right now. But I thrive on that sort of thing. I guess it's my old journalism background with the adrenaline rush of chasing a deadline.

I like what you say about Christians should be the first in line for speculative fiction because we do believe in the unseen and inexplicable forces of the supernatural realm, but I think that may be part of the problem.

Some have an almost magical view of the world being afraid that even speaking of these things other than in the context of a sermon or Bible study will somehow make them vulnerable to demonic forces. Many have difficulty separating out a work of imagination from a work of theology.

It's like my observation about "militaristic martyrs." I personally have issues with Christian heroes acting like Rambo trying to fight the good fight with a machine gun in one hand and a .45 automatic in the other.

But I don't find those to be "evil" and I can enjoy them as allegories of the spiritual battle. The blaster ray becomes the sword of the spirit and the force field, the shield of faith.

I've actually considered rewriting Pilgrims Progress as space opera. Instead of walking a road, Christian follows a navigation beacon. But I've got to get out an e-zine this week.


February 6, 2007 at 10:35 AM  
Blogger Frank Creed said...

Substantive review--Thanks!

A word about Christianity's dark future in North America. Gene Edward Veith is my favorite living published theologian. In Veith's Modern Fascism, one may find realistic groundwork for Christian dystopian or cyberpunk fiction. It's even scarier Than Daniel I. Weaver's spiritual thrillers, because there are historical absolutes and social trends at work. The greed for power may come from mega-corps or government--if one goes too far right or left, one winds up in the same tyranny.

Of course things could go all Road Warrior or Left Behind between now and then. 1984 is my favorite novel, but I'm very open minded about mankind's future. 2k years ago, too many Jews judged Christ to be a cult-leader.

Our job is to ask WWJD, and live His love.

Light at the Edge of Darkness, The Writer's Cafe Press, April 07

February 6, 2007 at 7:39 PM  
Blogger Terri said...


My own theory is that any type of religious oppression in America is more likely to come from the Religious right than some atheistic type of government conspiracy.

It would be sold with a concern for "morality" but a morality which excludes compassion and excuses excesses of corporate greed, police corruption, and militaristic adventurism, even torture in the name of doctrinal purity and national security.

It would require making coalitions between different religious groups, mostly from the mainstream of fundamentalism which would exclude Catholics, pentecostals, charismatics, Mennonites, and politically liberal evangelicals.

It would be just as repressive and insidiously non-Christian in the sense of New Testament Christianity. My own belief (without any solid Biblical evidence to back it up) is that the "False Prophet" of the anti-Christ will likely pretend to be some sort of televangelist and lead people to believe he represents a Christian perspective. My only evidence comes from a scripture which says, that he would deceive even the elect if it was possible.

It will be a safe, morally strong, but spiritually distorted image that can be very deceptive to a world in which Evangelical pastors have become more politicians than shepherds. Hmmm... premise for a story???

February 6, 2007 at 8:28 PM  
Blogger chrisd said...

I agree with Dan. This was an encouraging review. I've read most of the stories way back when and they are really good.

I think a time will come when the CBA and its community will recognize this genre and it's potential.

February 7, 2007 at 2:45 PM  
Blogger Andrea Graham said...

I think, with the current climate in America, should religious persecution of any flavor break out, the justification will be, in so many we have to oppress them to keep them from oppressing us. And truth be told, it's the left in the best position politically right now to pull such a stunt. As Adam has said on his blog, the right is way too fractioned for a theocracy today.

But I do see the possibility in the scripture referenced for the Antichrist to show up as the ultimate wolf in sheep's clothing, with his own heretical brand of Christianity, and unite a coalition that gains strength enough to persecute the true church.

But as to which side of the aisle he'll be on, I also tend to think, given our tense political situation, that the Antichrist will be a moderate . . .

May 4, 2007 at 1:11 PM  

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