Fantasy Blog Tour—Christian Fiction Review, Day 1

Talking about fantasy is one of the best work-related jobs I “have” to do. It was with pleasure I discovered some months ago that one of my favorite reviewers, Tim Frankovich, had featured fantasy on the front page of his site in a section entitled Focus on Christian Fantasy (now locate by the link at the bottom of the page) at Christian Fiction Review.

This week I plan on taking a look at what Tim has done (and continues to do, since he has reviewed other fantasy books since ending his special).

Other sites also participating in this inaugural fantasy blog tour include:
Mirtika Schultz’s Mirathon blog 
Insights from Beth Goddard
Jason Joyner’s Spoiled for the Ordinary
Marci’s Writer Lee blog
Sally Apokedak’s All About Children’s Books blog
Steve Trower’s Old Testament Space Opera blog
Cheryl Russell’s Unseen Worlds blog
LaShaunda’s See You On The Net blog
Shannon McNear’s Shenandoah’s Eclectic Musings
For Monday only: Chris Well’s blog

By the way, I am happy to announce that Bryan Davis, author of the highly successful Dragons in Our Midst series, has offered to support the fantasy blog tour by giving away an autographed set of these four books. I will hold a drawing at the end of the week of all who visit A Christian Worldview of Fiction and leave a comment.

For today, I want to suggest you take a few minutes to peruse Tim’s site, specifically the fantasy page, then come back here and give your reactions.

From Tim:

This is certainly not a comprehensive list of all Christian fantasy, and not even a list of all Christian fantasy reviewed on this website! There’s much more to explore, and much more to come in the coming year!

Enjoy!

Published in: on May 15, 2006 at 9:43 am  Comments (36)  

36 Comments

  1. […] Find more links and discussion at these fine blogs: A Christian Worldview of Fiction […]

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  2. Becky, I’m not just commenting to get in on the contest (icing on the cake)– I have an actual question. If you were going to compile a top ten list (or top five or whatever) of the best Christian fantasy reads, what would it look like?

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  3. You might be interested in my overview of sf, fantasy and faith which starts here: http://clawoftheconciliator.blogspot.com/2006/03/science-fiction-fantasy-and-faith-part.html

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  4. So do tour participants get entered in the contest without leaving a comment? Oh wait, I’ve just left a comment! Yes! 😉

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  5. Mark, I thought I would formulate my top five and post it at some point down the line, but I am actually scrambling to read some of the latest releases. I still have a couple of the Strang publications to read, plus Mackel’s Outriders and some of the ones Tim reviewed on his site.

    I was planning on doing more secular fantasy this year, then read Elliot’s posts and realize I have a HOST of unread works. All that to say, my top five will be … from a fairly uninformed point of view. But at some point, yes, I’ll make up such a list.

    Becky

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  6. Elliot, thanks so much for passing on the link to your fantasy discussion. Wonderful stuff. I need to spend more time there!

    Becky

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  7. Jason, see, by leaving the comment AND participating in the tour, you’re in a drawing for Bryan’s books and in one for Randy’s Landon Snow. I think you’re putting yourself in a good position for a book! 😉

    Becky

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  8. Those interested in this topic might also like to visit Christian Fandom’s long-running website and mail-list, of reviews and discussions: see http://www.christian-fandom.org/ .

    -GD

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  9. Thanks for including the link, Graham. I’m hoping we can include Christian Fandom as one of our fantasy blog tour stops one of these months in the not too distant future.

    Becky

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  10. I look forward to reading many exciting things about fantasy during this blog tour. I would have loved to be a part, but have too much on my plate for that at the moment. So I’ll just enjoy browsing . . . 🙂

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  11. Katie, browsers are welcome! 😉 And there are other months ahead. Maybe your schedule will allow you to join us for one of those.

    Becky

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  12. Becky, Thanks for the blog tour. It’s a great way to find new books and authors.
    Are online Christian fantasy magazines, like theswordreview.com and http://www.dkamagazine.com, included in the tour?

    Thanks,
    Tim

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  13. Hi, Tim. Thanks for your interest. Yes, we are open to magazine sites. In fact, both The Swords Review and DKA are on our short list. We’ve thought our next will be an author, since one of our collegues will be releasing a new novel in June. That will give us variety, too. But we’d like to include as many sites, authors, books as possible.

    Becky

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  14. Way to start this off with a Bang, Becky!

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  15. I’ve added my blog to the tour. I don’t read much fantasy myself, but all these links will be very helpful when my teenager wants to know what to read next. Thanks, everybody.

    Meg

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  16. Oops, I left out the blogspot part on my address. It’s http://www.megawriter.blogspot.com. Sorry about that!

    Meg

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  17. No problem! I’m happy to see there’s other people interested in this whole topic. Like I said on my blog, there seem to be huge gaps between different groups who actually share interests – ‘literary’ Christians, secular sf/fantasy fans, Christian fans, Christians who write for secular markets, and the sympathetic people who straddle those various worlds. Not to mention the way evangelicals, Catholics, and ‘mainline/oldline’ folks often have the same interests but end up overlooking each other.

    Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help with your fantasy blog tour.

    I guess should also point out my ‘scattered crumbs,’ which collects various other thoughts on Christianity in sf/fantasy: http://clawoftheconciliator.blogspot.com/2006/04/science-fiction-fantasy-and-faith_18.html – it includes a review of Kathy Tyers’ ‘Shivering World,’ which some people in your tour have mentioned.

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  18. Elliot, I appreciate the offer to help. If you link to one of us and point your readers to what we’re doing that would be a significant help.

    I agree there are gaps between groups of readers who enjoy fantasy, some of it predicated by the defining of good and evil, I would postulate. After reading through your work yesterday, I realized that there really is no HISTORY of evangelical Christian fantasy. The Catholic or mainline church writers or the ones who were quasi-Christian have sometimes contributed to evangelicals viewing fantasy with suspicion, I think, and widening the gap. That’s a theory, sort of off the top of my head.

    But the fact that evangelicals have left fantasy writing up to others in the past does seem to explain why those of us trying to break into the genre find it so hard.

    I’m going to check out your other link now. Thanks again.

    Becky

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  19. Done and done!

    Here it is:
    http://clawoftheconciliator.blogspot.com/2006/05/fantasy-blog-tour.html

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  20. PS:
    In terms of the history of evangelical fantasy writing – I think evangelicals could choose to look to George MacDonald and C.S. Lewis as ancestors, as well as to Zenna Henderson.

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  21. Great site! I hope I win the contest. I’ve got a kid in mind who would LOVE Bryan Davis’ books.

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  22. I wish you the best, Ginny. It was a generous offer Bryan made. I’ll make the drawing after Friday, midnight Pacific Daylight time and post the winner Monday. Then that person and I will work out details about getting the books.

    Becky

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  23. Elliot, you’re right—evangelicals DO look to MacDonald and Lewis (I don’t know anything about Zenna Henderson). That’s the reason evangelicals got behind the Narnia movies. My point is, first, those writers were not evangelicals in strict sense of the word (OK, I suppose that means I should define the word! Well, maybe in another post. Leave it today with the fact that they were not part of an evangelical denomination).

    Second, Lewis was published, what a half a century ago? Since then, who?

    I really think we are trying to do something that is LONG overdue, but it is with much less foundation than I had realized.

    And is it any wonder that readers are ignorant of our efforts?

    Is it any wonder that readers turn elsewhere for their science fiction and fantasy?

    We are bucking a trend, trying to do something that hasn’t been done for so long it feels new. Would that something so “fresh” as fantasy with evangelical faith elements will catch on.

    Becky

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  24. I think it certainly is possible. As I’ve said, I thought Kathy Tyers’ Shivering World was top notch, and I’m sure there’s comparable work out there.

    My impression is that evangelicalism has been inward-looking for a long time, emphasing Christ-against-culture. It’s been flexing its muscles culturally lately, with varying levels of success. The great temptation, though, still seems to be the ghetto mentality – so much evangelical art is created for consumption within the subculture. The standards seem pretty low, and a lot of it seems to follow a formula of ‘copy the mainstream culture, clean it up, and add some Jesus.’ But I think there are promising signs, like the ones in this article: http://www.culture-makers.com/articles/omit_unnecessary_words. The Books and Culture crowd are mostly evangelicals (as far as I can tell) and they’ve been doing very fine work.

    It’s going to take a lot of faith and a lot of courage – evangelical writers will have to be willing to venture out into the world and aim for the highest standards.

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  25. PS: Zenna Henderson was a once-popular female sf writer. I’ve been informed that she was raised a Mormon and then became a Methodist. But from what I’ve read of her so far I think most evangelicals could gladly embrace her writing as being close to their own roots.

    As I said in a recent post, maybe evangelicals need to dig back farther and look to John Milton and John Bunyan as forbears.

    I wonder what evangelical fantasy/sf writers see as their distinctives. What can they say about Christ and the Christian life that’s unique? What can they emphasize that’s different from Catholics and Anglicans and Methodists? I tend to see the different branches of Christianity as the different parts of the body, as in 1 Cor. 12:14-26. Which part do such writers play?

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  26. PPS: Oops! Those above two comments were from me. Sorry.

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  27. Elliot, great comments. (I was wondering who daystar was! 😉 )

    I think you are right about John Milton and John Bunyan. In fact, one of my arguments FOR Christian fantasy in the past has been that Christians pretty much invented the genre.

    I agree with you, too, about what I consider the reactionary attitude evangelicals display toward the general culture, but becoming involved in the writing business has taught me a lot. Part of this issue is dictated by publishing companies that are … well, businesses, not ministries and certainly not charities. They have bills to pay like any other company and need to have some assurance that they will have some return on their investment.

    The ghetto mentality is an interesting subject. I think many writers have in mind writing for the general populace, but the avenue for selling Christian fiction, until recently, was through Christian bookstores which service … Christians. What did those bookstore (also businesses) want on their shelves? Books that Christians would buy. This, in turn, fueled what acquisition editors looked for.

    As far as the quality of the literature, I think your observation is again accurate. There are still short comings, but there is a movement toward improving the craft, and you see that in every genre. Not that there isn’t more growth needed.

    Your last question about the distinctives of evangelical faith fantasy needs more thought. Might even need to turn into a full post!

    Thanks again for your interaction.

    Becky

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  28. Enjoy good Christian sf/fantasy very much. Have a friend who teaches at a Christian university who reads the Tolkien trilogy through every year. I also teach at a university, though not a Christian one. So intelligent, informed people love this genre. Good Christian books can also make great witnessing tools. Why is it so hard to find well-written Christian fantasy/sf at many Christian bookstores ? Why aren’t more in hardback ?Why are there not audio books out on our favorites ? Recent favorites include Karen Hancock’s Guardian King series. Thanks for other suggestions.

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  29. Gail, your questions are inviting me to climb up on my soapbox! 😉

    I had a discussion with one editor recently who told me that Christian sf/fantasy writers are always saying that readers are out there, but sales numbers don’t show it.

    You’ve identified the problem from the other side. Why would readers go to Christian bookstores to buy their sf/fantasy when traditionally there has been none and what is there isn’t of particularly good quality?

    One of my biggest arguments for fantasy is that the Harry Potter generation–the young adults in college or just beyond–are not going to stop liking fantasy just because they are older. I see a vast group of readers just waiting for the next thing worth their loyalty. It’s a matter of putting the readers in touch with the books, then editors will start believing us writers that there really is an interest in this kind of fiction.

    Thanks for your comment, Gail.

    Becky

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  30. Becky, I actually saw some stats a few years ago (maybe a lot of years ago, now) in Locus that support your contention that SF/F readers do not change their tastes when they grow up, but continue to embrace the genre throughout adulthood. My reader letters also support this as I hear from many who have been lifelong readers of SF/F.

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  31. Karen, I am so happy to hear that there is corroborating evidence–statistical and anecdotal. I’m planning on an article on this subject as well as the teaching opportunity I’m looking forward to in the fall. The more info I garner, the better.

    Becky

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  32. […] doing a favor for a fellow writer. If you’re interested, my inaugural post for the tour is here. We ran that first tour for the entire week, and by the end had collected four more bloggers. The […]

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  33. Hey,
    I am a prison chaplain at a youth facility (ages 15-21) in N.C. Many of the incarcerated youth I visit in segregation (like solitary confinement)don’t want anything to do with the Bible. However, they will read Christian fiction. I am eager to see what books other readers suggest that will appeal to these young men. I want books/series that bring a powerful Christian message of such things as grace, forgiveness, and the possibility for change. They also must have a lot of action, and not be too “churchy”.
    Grace & Peace, Chaplain Mark Menhinick

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  34. […] We highlighted Donita Paul the next month as our first author. If you check out that inaugural post, you’ll see a few names you may recognize as current active tour […]

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  35. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now
    each time a comment is added I get four e-mails with the same comment.
    Is there any way you can remove people from that service?
    Bless you!

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    • Sorry about that. Some glitch, obviously because you shouldn’t be getting four, even if you wanted them.

      I can’t remove you but you can remove yourself. I’m not sure what it looks like in your browser, but I have a “following” button in the ribbon at the top. Click on that and it should change to unfollow. Otherwise I think you could go to the WordPress site and search for unsubscribe.

      Hope that helps.

      Becky

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