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Sci-Fi and Fantasy Alive and Well

by Dina Sleiman

During November we celebrate the birthday of one of the true greats of Christian literature, a man I have always aspired to emulate, C.S. Lewis. So, for this month’s backlist promotion, let’s take a look at two genres he helped make famous, Christian science fiction and fantasy.

Let me start with something for a little shock value. I was not allowed to read or watch sci-fi or fantasy while growing up. That’s right. No Star Wars, Star Trek, or ET for me. Even Disney movies were closely monitored. Good should be good and evil should be evil and there should be no confusion. The concept of “good magic” was not appreciated by my parents because, let’s face it: there is no good magic in the real world, only the power of God and the power of Satan. Of course, with my own children I’ve taken a different approach, talking with them about the symbolism and how it can be applied to the actual spiritual universe.

I hold no ill will towards my parents for this restriction, though. In the genres of sci-fi and fantasy, authors create entire new worlds with their own spiritual laws and realities. If the author writes from a Christian world view, then wonderful. We have an amazing opportunity to learn spiritual truths. Just think of the scene in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when Aslan gives his life in exchange for Edmund's. That portrait changed me for ever, as I’m sure it did most of you. But, what if the writer comes from a secular, atheistic, or New Age world view? Suddenly the tables turn. Readers (especially children and teens) might be subjected to negative spiritual messages without even noticing.

Over time, I discovered sci-fi and fantasy written by Christians. I found myself particularly fascinated by Madeline L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time Series and C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien is a bit male and action-packed for my tastes, but also stands out as a classic in this genre.

As an adult, I’ve had a great time exploring the genres of Christian sci-fi and fantasy. My personal favorite author is Karen Hancock. She is a master world-weaver, and infuses spiritual truths into her books like no other writer I’ve yet to find. I’ve learned so much from her about spiritual warfare, spiritual gifts, hearing God’s voice, and even the very nature of salvation. I also love anything written by Kathy Tyers. And, as I prepared this post, Stephen Lawhead was highly recommended by several friends.

Now for the bad news, buzz on the street is that there is not a big market for Christian sci-fi and fantasy. I've heard that my two favorite authors have not done great in the sales department despite their critical acclaim. Here’s what I’ve noticed, though. If I walk into my local Christian bookstores or Books-A-Million, probably less than 1% of the adult Christian fiction is sci-fi or fantasy. However!!! If I move a few shelves down to the Christian Young Adult section, close to half is sci-fi and fantasy. Now I don’t claim to be a marketing guru, but if I decided to write in this genre, I know who my audience would be. Famous authors such as Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker are currently writing YA fantasy titles.

When I began to collect this list, I found far more Christian sci-fi and fantasy titles than I expected: some by small specialty presses, but also a surprising number by large CBA publishers. I have tried to give a feel for the type of book each author writes but have mixed teen fiction and adult because of the popularity of YA novels in these genres. I’m sure I’ve missed many, so please leave comments about your favorites. I also want to mention that Rooms, by our follower James Rubart, is a new release with an allegory/spec fiction feel. You need to check it out. This book will change your life. One last plug, I happen to know that one of our regular followers, Janalyn Voight, has a literary fantasy novel called Dawn Singer coming out in 2011 with Port Yonder Press, so look out for that one too.


Resources – Check out these links for more great books and related genres

Christian Sci-Fi and Fantasy Central http://www.christianscififantasycentral.com/

Splashdown Reviews http://splashdownreviews.blogspot.com/

Christian Fantasy Reviews http://www.christian-fantasy-book-reviews.com/

Where the Map Ends http://www.wherethemapends.com/books_images.asp

Lord Marcher Press http://www.marcherlordpress.com/


Classics

Madeline L’Engle – (YA sci-fi) Wrinkle in Time Series

C.S. Lewis – (YA fantasy) The Chronicles of Narnia, (sci-fi ) Space Trilogy


J.R.R. Tolkien – (fantasy) The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Series


Current Christian Sci-fi and Fantasy Authors

Rick Barry - (teen fantasy) Kiriath's Quest JourneyForth (2008)

R. E. Bartlett - (sci-fi) The Personifid Invasion Marcher Lord Press (2008)

Wayne Thomas Batson - (YA 9-12 fantasy) The Door Within Trilogy Thomas Nelson (2007)

Theodore Beale - (fantasy) Summa Elvetica Marcher Lord Press (2008)

Chuck Black - (YA 9-12 fantasy) The Kingdom Series Multnomah Books (2006)

Mitchell Bonds - (satire fantasy) Hero, Second Class Marcher Lord Press (2008)

Grace Bridges – (sci-fi) Faith Awakened Splashdown Books (2009)

Dean Barkley Briggs - (teen fantasy) The Book of Names NavPress (2008)

Bryan Davis - (teen fantasy) Dragons in Our Midst Series Living Ink Books (2004)


Susan Page Davis - (teen fantasy) Feather JourneyForth (2006)

Ted Dekker - (fantasy) The Circle Series, Thomas Nelson (2004)

Robert Elmer - (teen science fiction) The Shadowside Trilogy Zondervan (2008)

Michelle Griep – (a Wizard of Oz Tale with a Medieval Twist) Gallimore Black Lyon Publishing (2008)

Karen Hancock – (sci-fi) Arena Bethany House (2002), (fantasy) Legends of the Guardian King Series Bethany House (2003)

Sharon Hinck - (fantasy) The Sword of Lyric Series NavPress (2007)

Christopher Hopper - (fantasy) The Lion Vrie Tsaba House (2007)

Randy Ingermanson and John Olson – (sci-fi) The Oxygen Series Bethany House Publishers (2001)

Steven James – (YA fantasy) Quest for Celestia Thirsty (2006)

Stephen R. Lawhead - (adult fantasy) Song of Albion Series Reprint Thomas Nelson (2010), The Raven King Series  Thomas Nelson (2007) The Pendragon Cycle Eos (1990)



Michelle Levigne – (romanticYA and Adult sci-fi and fantasy) The Bainevah Series Amber Quill Press (2006) and others 

Robert Liparulo - (teen urban fantasy) House of Dark Shadows Thomas Nelson (2008)

Mike Lynch and Brandon Barr – (YA sci-fi) When The Sky Fell Silver Leaf Books (2009)

Cynthia MacKinnon (Editor) – (anthology) Light at the Edge of Darkness (Lost Genre Guild Books) Writers Cafe Press, (2007)

L.A. Marzulli – (sci-fi) The Nephilim Series Zondervan (1999)

Nancy Moser – (sci-fi/spec) Time Lottery Barbour Publishing (2005)

Kerry Nietz – (sci-fi) A Star Curiously Singing Marcher Lord Press (2009)

Kirk Outerbridge - (dystopian) Eternity Falls Marcher Lord Press (2009)

Jeffrey Overstreet - (adult fantasy) Auralia’s Thread Series WaterBrook Press (2007)

Donita K. Paul - (adult/ teen fantasy) Dragon Keepers Chronicles Series WaterBrook Press (2004)

Andrew Peterson - (teen fantasy) The Wingfeather Saga WaterBrook Press (2008)

George Bryan Polivka – (fantasy) The Trophy Chase Trilogy Harvest House Publishers (2007)

Steve Rzasa – (sci-fi) The Word Reclaimed Marcher Lord Press (2009)

Brian Reaves – (sci-fi) TimeSlip Trilogy IUniverse (2003)

Jonathan Rogers - (YA 9-12 fantasy) The Wilderking Trilogy B&H Fiction (2004)

Marc Schooley - (dystopian) The Dark Man Marcher Lord Press (2009)

Stuart Vaughn Stockton – (sci-fi) Starfire Marcher Lord Press (2009)

Kathy Tyers – (sci-fi) Firebird: A Trilogy, Shivering World Bethany House (2004)

Thomas Williams – (adult fantasy) The Crown of Eden, The Devil’s Mouth Thomas Nelson (1999 & 2001)

Jill Williamson - (medieval fantasy) Blood of Kings Series Marcher Lord Press (April 1, 2009)

Timothy Zahn – (sci-fi) Angelmass Tor Science Fiction (2002)



* For series and multiple books, earliest copyright date is given

Comments

  1. Hi Dina,
    I loved this post. I fell in love with Star Trek the first year it aired. I've been hooked on Sci-Fi ever since. One of my other favorites, that I still watch from time to time is James Caviezel and Dennis Quaid in Frequency.(An accidental cross-time radio link connects father and son across 30 years. The son tries to save his father's life, but then must fix the consequences. IMDB.http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0186151/)Love it. Love it!
    Have a great weekend.

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  2. Dina, it's obvious what a lot of work you've put into this, as Gina has previously. What an amazing list! I wish I had more time to read.

    I don't know what dystopian means. I think I know utopian, but can you explain that one for me?

    thanks!
    Hey Jilly, great to see you here. I will look for Frequency.

    Have a great weekend, everyone!
    God has something in mind for you today.

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  3. Thanks, Dina. I think interested readers would enjoy the massive booklist we've put together at WhereTheMapEnds.com, as there are over 450 Christian SF and fantasy titles listed there.

    And of course I think MarcherLordPress.com is the premier publisher of Christian SF and fantasy, as our recent Christy Award and Carol Award attest.

    Fans of Kathy Tyers will rejoice to learn that Marcher Lord Press has acquired Kathy's trilogy and the final two books in the Firebird saga. Go to www.marcherlordpress.com to learn about the release schedule.

    Thanks again for the post!

    Jeff

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  4. I am a late-comer to science fiction, though have been reading fantasy for a long time. I don't runs creaming from magic in fantasy, just vampires. No vampires. If a vampire appears, I do run screaming. Yuck.

    Back to SF--I only saw an episode of Star Trek about a year ago and have never seen one of the movies. I have, however, watched every episode of and loved Deep Space 9. But Babylon 5 holds my heart. J. Michael Straczynski (I'd be shocked if I spelled that right) is a genious. For a self-proclaimed atheist, he sure can explore some wonderful themes of faith.

    It's good to see SF in the Christian market. Sadly, small presses have such a poor survival rate, I would like to see more of the mainstream publishers take it on.

    Or publishers like Marcher Lord become big presses. I think esp. in young adults and male readers, it's a way to draw in a different readership.

    I tried, but Tolkien bored me to sleep. So my question is: Do you think he'd get published today, with contemporary publishers wanting snappier dialogue, less narration and scene description, more action and less navel gazing?

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  5. Deb, dystopian is basically the opposite of uptopian. It's sort of the world gone mad. Jeff can correct me if I don't have that quite right.

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  6. Jeff, my daughter is ecstatic about two more Firebird books coming out!!! You made her night :) Kathy Tyers is probably her favorite author. I think she's read the full Firebird trilogy two or three time and has gotten many of her friends to read it also.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, and thanks for all the great work you're doing in this genre.

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  7. Hi Laurie. Always good to see you here. In college I watched the full Next Generation Star Trek series because my roommate had a crush on Captain Picard. She got me hooked on it, and I watched Voyager and some but not all of Deep Space 9 also.

    I can't really comment on Tolkein because I have a problem reading anything with too much action, and I didn't make it far. I did enjoy the movies, though.

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  8. Dina, thanks for the great post and list. I still remember watching the original Star Trek sitting in my dad's lap. I'm so thankful for publishers like Marcher Lord Press who consistantly bring us great new authors and keep our favorites out in front. I know the future holds great things for Christian Spec.

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  9. I agree Edie. There were also many other books in similar genres like spec fiction, supernatural thriller, and even Christian vampire novels that were recommended to me. I just couldn't fit everything. See some of the resources for those.

    I should at least mention that Frank Peretti has written great supernatural thrillers. To me, though, these aren't fantasy. They are an attempt to illustrate the actual spiritual universe. I've also heard Tosca Lee's Demon is incredible. It's definitely on my TBR list.

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  10. Dina, thanks for providing this list to our readers and to others who are interested in learning what Christian sci-fi and fantasy novels are out there.

    ;-)

    And I'm glad Jeff stopped by to share more about Marcher Lord.

    ReplyDelete

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