Wednesday, 14 February 2007

CSFF Blog Tour for February -

Review of Jefferson Scott’s ”Terminal Logic“ (1997)
for the CSFF Blog Tour

I hope you will all excuse me for reviewing another “old” book. Yet having just read it for the first time, I believe its contribution to the Lost Genre is significant. I came upon it at wherethemapends , where there’s a great list of Bib-spec-fic classics. Funnily enough, the author of this book happens to be the owner of wherethemapends too. He offers a lot of good tips for writers, and as I am getting towards publishing my novel Faith Awakened I would like to get Jeff to do an editorial review. So I thought it might be a good idea to read something he wrote before I hire him.

I’m not disappointed. This guy claims to be an expert, and I think that’s justified. He writes so well that he’s invisible; it felt like I was watching a movie rather than reading a book. Okay, so it’s set in 2006 – old hat for something supposed to be in the future – but everything else is blockbuster quality. This is the second book of a trilogy, but it stands on its own as well.

The story is chillingly realistic. Programmable characters from multi-user online games are released into the Web and go about wreaking havoc in a world they are not equipped to understand. One particularly powerful character “decides” logically that it’s time to wipe out life on Earth and begin again, unaware of the difference between the virtual world and the real one. There is a lot of interaction with computers, edge-of-your-seat action both in VR and outside it, and a well-founded spiritual basis for the plot.

It starts getting scary when you realise the similarities to many games that exist today. The scenarios start sounding very familiar and distinctly possible. The Christian characters ask themselves if the devil could be behind this – but no one knows for sure. The reader is left to decide for himself, amidst disobedient appliances, skeptical army generals, undercover cowboys, and whiz kids. I find it better this way than if everything was pinned down too precisely. It leaves a pleasant sense of “what if”.

The ending is a little predictable – the heroes save the human race and get to meet the President of the USA. But to be honest, that’s the only way this plot could have ended. It’s nice how the President’s Christian values come through.

Well worth a read, if you haven’t come across this one yet. And do take a look at wherethemapends for all sorts of fascinating writing stuff.

Grace Bridges

Sunday, 4 February 2007

Review: Light at the Edge of Darkness

“An Anthology of Biblical Speculative Fiction” – a mouthful, yes, but it’s worth finding out what it means. How? By reading it, of course!

Biblical speculative fiction is the hobbyhorse of the Lost Genre Guild – bridging the gap between traditional secular fantasy and our Christian faith as a living, breathing reality. Many have said it couldn’t be done. This book is proof that it’s possible. All it needs is a little tolerance on both sides. Some Christians may need to adjust their ideas of what is acceptable, and mainstream fantasy fans may need to get used to a bit of spirituality. Let me tell you, it’s worth it. When I met this group of authors, I knew they were set to make history... and now they've done it.

The speculative tales in this volume cover a great many sub-genres, such as science fiction, supernatural, fantasy, time travel, cyberpunk, futurism and horror. Now you don’t need to have a soft spot for all of these genres to get a lot out of this book. Take me, for example – I can’t stand horror. Guess I’ve got a delicate constitution in that respect. Easily solved: skip the four stories labelled as horror – it's all defined in the contents list. By the way, you might want to make sure those are kept out of the reach of children, too. If you like a good scare, go for it! For me the enjoyment begins with the other twenty-three tales...

Here begins a journey through fantastic realms near and far, and the occasional true story. Spiritual planes interact with everyday life. Biblical prophecies are fulfilled in rather surprising ways. Futuristic scenarios challenge the faith of those living there, and perhaps your own, too. Don’t be shocked if the undead show up now and again, or if insects turn out to be spiritual, too. Oppressive governments can’t stifle the light within. Saving the children becomes a matter of life and death. And some farcical tales use fantasy elements to make fun of a great many things.

It’s so hard to pick out the best among so many magnificent tales, but I have to say my two favourite stories are “Allison” by Deborah Cullins-Smith, all about a little girl who lives in Heaven – it might just bring tears to your eyes – and “Your Average Ordinary Alien” by Adam Graham, where an abduction scenario isn’t quite like one sci-fi fan imagined it would be.

In short, this collection is a tour of many surprising aspects of the Lost Genre. I enjoyed having my horizons widened once more – laughter and tears and unexpected twists, beauty and hardship, farce and danger, evil and bravery, trials, faith, and the ultimate supremacy of God.

Want more information? Try CFRB and Karina for a great start!
You can place an advance order here.
And if you haven't visited the Lost Genre Guild, you really must...