Occasionally I pick up a work of contemporary fantasy, especially if I have some acquaintance with the author. I know Mike Duran, author of The Resurrection, slightly through Facebook. He’s a writer who shows promise.
The Resurrection centers on a small, struggling church in a little California coastal town. The pastor is having a crisis of faith, and the elders are divided and contentious.
Ruby Case, one of a trio of faithful church members who’ve never quit praying for their congregation, attends the funeral of a teenage boy. To her amazement, a miracle happens, through her, and overnight she becomes the focus of a media frenzy, and her family is brought under stress, and even into danger. Meanwhile the pastor is being led, by an apostate seminary professor, into dangerous spiritual byways.
Author Duran has genuine gifts as a storyteller. There were moments in The Resurrection when I was authentically moved. The book reminded me, to be honest, of nothing more than my own novel Wolf Time (which is not to suggest in any way that it’s borrowed. It’s just the same kind of tale).
The author does need to work on the tools of his craft, though. He sometimes selects the wrong word, and he often throws verbiage at a passage when he would have done better to pare the words back and find the exact ones he wants for his desired effect.
But I read it all the way through, which I can’t say about a lot of Christian fantasy books, and as I told you it gave me some genuine thrills. So I recommend it. Suitable for most readers.
Last month, we talked about the place or lack thereof for language, violence, and sex in Christian fiction. Mike Duran was our source for that post, and now Mike says he has “learned of another fictional archetype that is, apparently, off-limits for mainstream Christian fiction — zombies.”
The reason is that a Christian worldview doesn’t allow for the undead. Since zombies can’t exist, then fictional zombies shouldn’t be in our stories.
Mike says, “Forcing fiction to neatly fit your theology is a losing proposition… at least, if creative storytelling is your aim.”
I agree with Mike. I wonder what imaginative cliches Christian fiction readers/publishers accept as normal but are just as unChristian (in worldview terms) as zombies and other creatures of the dead?
- God’s plan of prosperity for us?
- No one ever goes to Hell?
- Homosexuals as demon possessed?
- Hateful people repenting on the turn of a dime?
What do you think?
Other reading: Loren Eaton’s post on this question, “Is it legitimate to discover joy in works primarily intended to arouse fear?”
The Steve Laube Agency has purchased Marcher Lord Press (MLP) (link defunct), “the premier publisher of Science Fiction and Fantasy for the Christian market.” Follow the link for answers to a handful of questions about the acquisition, especially if you didn’t know there was a publisher of SF/F for the Christian market.
Steve Laube has not purchased the MLP imprint Hinterlands, which is defined this way: “to publish science-fiction and fantasy stories with mature content and themes (i.e. PG-13 or R-rated language, sexuality, and violence).” This is the imprint that published A Throne of Bones, which Lars reviewed last year. Apparently, that title raised the ire of a writer’s group that issues a prominent award, which was the motivation for starting the imprint–like zoning a red light district, I guess.
With the purchase of the press but not the imprint, another publisher could buy Hinterlands or the rights could revert to their authors. Mike Duran asks, does this “signal the end of Christian publishing’s ‘mature-content experiment’?” He suggests that it may be, but two things point away of it:
1. Vox Day’s A Throne of Bones was the first and most well-received title. The imprint’s chief says he received “astonishingly few” submissions for publication. Does that mean there isn’t much of an audience for this type of work or that too few authors are willing to go that direction?
2. Duran says Day is something of a lightening rod and some authors have refused to be associated with him. He doesn’t say they are right to shun him, but he does point to evidence that they may be doing it. To that end, he wonders whether “the non-acquisition of Hinterlands is more of a renunciation of Vox Day than a rejection of mature content.”
What do you think? You may already read books with this kind of content anyway. Have you read any of these titles (I’m having trouble identifying them).