Monday, June 11, 2007

Second Life Chat: Sword and Sorcery June 11

I wanted to let you know about tomorrow's speculative fiction chat in Second Life. The topic will be "Swords and Sorcery: Is there a place for magic in Christian speculative fiction?" Both C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien included magical elements in their stories, yet some claim that even in obvious fantasy such inclusion should never be made. We will be discussing, what, if any is the place of magic in speculative fiction and how it should be handled.

Second life is a virtual world where you move around using an avatar. The discussion will be held at my house in SL. If you have the SL software installed you can access it directly by pasting this URL in your internet browser: . It will open the software and take you directly to my living room. If you do not have the software installed, you can find it at . Once you install it and launch it the first time, you can configure the appearance of your avatar and learn how to move around in SL.

The following Tuesday (June 19) I'll have a traditional chat at Wayfarers Journal on the same topic. That is at . Both chats are at 7 p.m. Pacific time. (Which also happens to be SL time)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Have you seen the Light at the Edge of Darkness?

Editor's note: With the release of LAED I thought I'd reprint this review I made earlier. BTW, I hope you are enjoying the blog tour and Scavenger hunt. Hint: Think Psi-Cop B5]

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 is currently available in April from Writer's Cafe Press.