Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Wayfarer's Journal

This month's CSFF tour is focusing on Wayfarer's Journal, an e-zine published by Terri Main - professor extraordinaire, and one of my most valued professional contacts. I could say we were colleagues, or even friends, but our connection has been mostly "in the biz". Often I have vastly appreciated her wise words in blog articles and mailing list posts. We both belong to the Lost Genre Guild, a group of writers dedicated to Christian speculative fiction. Do yourself a favour and Google it :)

Being a sci-fi freak, I am immensely grateful for the existence of this zine. Fantasy's okay, and I read a fair bit of it too, seeing as it comes with the spec-fic territory. But, except for Lewis and Lawhead, it doesn't make my spirit fly like good SF does. Of course, L&L both wrote SF too. Hang on, I'm getting off track.

As Mike Lynch said in his post, Christian sci-fi has often been the unwanted stepchild of Christian publishing. It's so hard to get anywhere with this genre. I'm glad at the recent wave of fantasy successes, but the Trekkie in me still wonders when SF will have its day in the sun.

Sites like this can only help the cause. Sure, as a new venture, there are still things to work out. The dynamic nature of a webzine takes some getting used to, but don't go thinking you've seen the whole site at one glance. There's more to it than that.

I encourage all writers of SF to contribute to this paying publisher. And even if your story is only slightly SF, you can still try, as Steve Rice said. Terri took my story, although there was only a passing mention of aliens. However, she is very mainly interested in hard sci-fi.

check out what the other bloggers are saying, too:

Brandon Barr Jim Black Justin Boyer Amy Browning Jackie Castle Carol Bruce Collett Valerie Comer CSFF Blog Tour D. G. D. Davidson Chris Deanne Jeff Draper April Erwin Marcus Goodyear Andrea Graham Jill Hart Katie Hart Michael Heald Jason Joyner Kait Carol Keen Mike Lynch Margaret Rachel Marks Melissa Meeks Rebecca LuElla Miller Mirtika or Mir's Here John W. Otte John Ottinger Rachelle Steve Rice Cheryl Russel Ashley Rutherford Hanna Sandvig James Somers Steve Trower Speculative Faith Jason Waguespac Laura Williams Timothy Wise

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Wind Follower by Carole McDonnell

I’d heard this book was controversial, and that it doesn’t fit easily in any one genre. I’d heard it was sensual and violent in places, and that there were people who had problems with it. Did it put me off? Nope. Rather, it intrigued me. I’m a fan of genre-bending – and genre-blending! Thus, the idea of a fantasy/supernatural romance tale linked to racial issues and the colonisation of America, among other things, provided plenty to provoke my curiosity. But it wasn't at all what I expected after what I'd been hearing.

Unlike most romances, this story begins with a wedding, a fine introduction to the culture and traditions of the tribes. Their normal world is introduced in vibrant colour and passion. It is only after their marriage that Loic and Satha must face the greatest challenges: separation, captivity, abuse, and battles within themselves.

The story is told from alternating viewpoints of both main characters, in such a way as to carry the story onward from the moment the other paused in their tale. There is a wonderfully clear distinction between two points of view; so clear as to make the apparent breaking of the “one-POV” rule irrelevant. The changing viewpoints are easy to follow; at every moment it is clear who is speaking. Their characters influence the words they tell, giving each narrator their personal flavour. This makes for a varied and colourful narrative of the continuous story flow as seen by two highly unique individuals – each of them strong-willed and stubborn.

At the beginning, I was simply plunged into the strangeness of the world described, and the passions of the two tellers. Yet as the tale moved on, parallels to America’s turbulent early years as a colony became more and more unescapable. The same is true of the commentaries revealed about the white man’s enslavement of other races.

The book is also brimming with Biblical allusions, direct quotes, and shadows of more ancient histories. As it moves towards the climax, spiritual elements flood into Loic’s life, and Satha’s too. Though still parted, their stubborn hope begs to be rewarded.

And the end is not really the end. It is as if a section of a larger history has been told, and much more is to come. Yet the story is complete and gives a sense of fulfillment, while leaving many questions to ponder regarding actual history, Christian parallels, and the deeper spiritual message hidden in every line of the manuscript.

Yes, this is a highly unusual book – in my eyes, typical of the new wave of Christian speculative fiction in its refusal to fall into a tidy category. What’s more, Wind Follower is anything but predictable. It is not a comfortable tale, but it is a solemn, mystical adventure, displaying the hero’s journey to his own heart, and the heroine’s discovery of her beloved’s faith in the midst of impossible circumstances. This one will make you think for sure.

Check out other reviews this week at Blog Tour Central!