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.


Blogger chrisd said...

There are some who will not be pleased with any fiction at all. I thought that the book had a good selection of speculative fiction with a Christian base.

Good review~

June 5, 2007 at 9:08 PM  
Blogger Frank Creed said...

Thanks for the review, Terri. Few recognize the worldview strength of Biblical Speculative fiction.

His will be done,

June 6, 2007 at 3:22 AM  
Blogger Karina Fabian said...

I love your last comment. All too often, people have to take fiction too serioiusly. It is meant to entertain and to make us think-not to present us with undeniable fact or dogma.


June 6, 2007 at 12:37 PM  
Blogger cyn said...

Thanks for reprinting the review Terri!


June 6, 2007 at 7:18 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Nice review, Terri!

June 7, 2007 at 4:23 AM  
Blogger SteveDoyle said...

Thanks for the review, Terri. I agree with Karina that people often forget they're reading fiction and wish to argue the theology of the work.

June 7, 2007 at 5:51 AM  
Blogger Daniel I Weaver said...

Nice review, Terri. I think you highlight the key points of the anthology. Making people think and entertaining are two great aspects of fiction. With everything else going on in the world, a little escape is often refreshing. Why not escape to a place that shares our Christian worldview?

June 7, 2007 at 6:12 AM  
Blogger Virginia said...

Hey Terri:

Great review.

As writers, I think we all express our personal beliefs to some degree. I try to keep mine unintrusive. Christian fiction is not about starting religious debates. It's simply entertainment from a Christian perspective.

V.B. Tenery

June 7, 2007 at 2:44 PM  
Blogger A.P. Fuchs said...

There will be extremely dark times ahead for Christians and the Word will be stamped out everywhere. This just in: a scout's forest chapel has been torn down after 70 years because the Scout Assoc. thought it might offend non-Christians. This politically correct society we live in is going to usher in the Apocalypse very quickly if we keep it up.

June 8, 2007 at 12:36 AM  
Blogger Terri said...

>>>I love your last comment. All too often, people have to take fiction too serioiusly. It is meant to entertain and to make us think-not to present us with undeniable fact or dogma.<<<

It's like the opening song of "Mystery Theater 3000" which said, "If you wonder how they eat and breathe and other science fact, remember it is just a show and then you can relax."

I do, however, think we walk a tightrope. I don't think we should promote in a realistic manner anything that we personally believe to be immoral. For instance, having a Christian main character sleeping with his girlfriend out of wedlock without feeling any pangs of guilt over it would, in my opinion, be wrong. As would creating "Christian" characters who act in hatred toward others and treated as being right in doing so. Or promoting a doctrine that may not be supported by scripture as fact. For instance, I can read Davinci Code as a work of fiction, but I could not in good conscience write it because it purports to be based on "historical materials" which are shaky at best.

OTOH, postulating magic in a fantasy alternate universe or mythical time is a different matter. AFter all, anyone reading it knows it is not a depiction of the author's beliefs about the reality of the world.

So, like I say,it's a balancing act.

But I do think too many Christians take speculative fiction way too seriously. Hey, people, Harry Potter doesn't exist and nobody sane thinks he does or thinks he represents anything remotely approaching real.


June 11, 2007 at 9:56 AM  

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