CSFF Top Blogger for December

One of the goals CSFF has is to draw attention to our bloggers. Yes, we do want to bring to light good Christian speculative fiction, but that is not our only purpose. Because a number of us fall into the category of aspiring writers working on building a platform, CSFF recognizes the importance of helping blog readers find our bloggers.

One tool we have recently developed is the CSFF Top Blogger of the month award. Special thanks to Robert Treskillard for designing the button which winners can display on their blogs.

For December, the eligible bloggers are

Please take time to check out their CSFF posts, then vote for the blogger you think deserves recognition for their contribution to the December tour.

Published in: on January 6, 2009 at 12:52 pm  Comments (6)  
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The Lost Genre Guild on Tour, Day 3

As the third part of the CSFF Blog Tour featuring the Lost Genre Guild, I decided to continue the discussion of terms, specifically Biblical or Christian speculative fictionβ€”with an emphasis on the speculative side of thingsβ€”which makes up the lost genre at the center of the Guild.

For one thing, on a page defining terms LGG includes a list of subgenres I found interesting:

    Alternative History
    Apocalypse or Holocaust
    Coming of Age
    Contemporary Fantasy
    Dark Fantasy or Horror
    First Contact
    Genetic Engineering
    Hard Science Fiction
    Light Fantasy
    Light Science Fiction
    Military Science Fiction
    Post-Apocalyptic or Post-Holocaust
    Social Science Fiction
    Space Opera
    Traditional Fantasy

As noted below the list, the source for this information is one D. D. Shades who wrote an extensive article entitled “What Is Speculative Fiction?” Relying on material from an Orson Scott Card’s book, How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, (Writer’s Digest Books, 1990), Shade defines the term as “all stories that take place in a setting contrary to known reality.”

My first thought as I looked over the list was, Where is the supernatural suspense? These are books that would include works by Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti. There is nothing of the intent to frighten as the core purpose, so books like House and The Oath don’t seem to fit the traditional definition of horror. Works like Tosca Lee’s Demon: A Memoir and Miles Owens’ Daughter of Prophecy also have supernatural elements that put these books in a category other than those listed. Some would add in Jerry Jenkins’ Left Behind books, for certainly they speculate about the fulfillment of prophecy but don’t quite fit with Post-Apocalyptic or Post-Holocaust novels.

The second thing I noticed was that allegory isn’t on the list. True, there are few actual allegories, and most today can be categorized in one of the other sub-genres, so perhaps that isn’t a significant omission.

Next I noted “Coming of Age” as a speculative category. That’s one I would leave off, for certainly many contemporary and historical novels are coming of age stories. It could be that this coming of age has a different meaning, as in the coming of age of a planet or a world or a species rather than of a single character. Still, it surprised me that it merited a category all its own.

While all this naming is interesting (at least to me πŸ˜‰ ), I think it probably doesn’t play a big role in anything but marketing. The thing is, some of these categories are highly specialized, and it would seem to me that books in those areas would then have a slim niche readership they are aiming for. This seems to me to be both a strength and a weakness of “speculative fiction.”

The strength would seem to be that those readers and writers of speculative fiction have a place to go where their work is accepted and made available. The weakness seems to me to be that an impression is formed in the minds of general readers that only the niche readers will find anything to their liking in the speculative category.

Tolkien and Lewis faced some disdain for their “fairy stories,” for example. How sad if those classic works had been left to languish in a section of the bookstore reserved for “books like that” (of which none existed).

It’s a dilemma, I think. Can speculative fiction break out and become widely popular? Well, silly me, I forgot for the briefest moment a children’s series that recently seemed to do quite wellβ€”some stories by a J. K. Rowling!

Take some time to see what others on the tour have to say about the Lost Genre Guild and its many services. I especially recommend Tim Hicks’ Monday post in which he asked Frank Creed some thought-provoking questions.

Published in: on December 31, 2008 at 12:12 pm  Comments (3)  
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The Lost Genre Guild on Tour, Day 2

lggbuttonYesterday I mentioned that I would be addressing “issues that the Guild raises” during this month’s CSFF Blog Tour featuring the Lost Genre Guild. The first of these is terminology. Interestingly, a number of other bloggers on the tour have mentioned definitions as well, largely because the Guild addresses the issue as part of their explanation about the organization then again as part of the Guild Review.

On the latter page, a new direction surfaces in the last paragraph:

Christian and Biblical Spec-Fic then can be defined as speculative fiction that is written from a Christian world view: entertainment + scriptural framework. It
can be overt in its message as exemplified in Biblical spec-fiction; or the
message can be subtle as in Christian spec-fiction.

The thing that first caught my eye was the idea that Christian and Biblical speculative fiction are two different things. From my point of view, anything claiming to be Christian without being Biblical is simply misusing the word.

The second thing was the idea that Biblical speculative fiction is overt whereas Christian is subtle, referring to worldview more than to clear Christian content. In many regards, I think that would be a handy notation, but unfortunately, I don’t find this to be widely accepted as true. For the most part, the term “Christian” is used, and it refers to works with a wide range of content, from sermonizing to head-scratching (Huh? Even the author says it isn’t Christian.)

As I’ve recently commented here, I do think some change in categorizing Christian fiction, and by extension, Christian speculative fiction, would be helpful. But I have to say, I still don’t see what I write in any of these categories.

I’ll be plain. I write the gospel, but I do it subtly. It isn’t “Christian worldview” in the sense that I am showing characters who struggle through this world but do so the way Christians do. Nor do I write stories with allegorical religions that mirror Christianity. It’s more the “Moby Dick” way of writing, with the white whale symbolizing God, but no one in the story ever stops and says anything to that effect. Readers come to that conclusion by thinking about the story.

So is that Biblical? or Christian? or Christian worldview?

Tomorrow, thoughts on the speculative side of the term.

For more comments about the Lost Genre Guild, check out the posts by these bloggers. If you have some familiarity with the organization, you’ll especially appreciate the humor in Steve Rice’s Monday post, and Phyllis Wheeler at Christian Fantasy Book Reviews has some great ideas for improving the Web site.

Published in: on December 30, 2008 at 1:50 pm  Comments (6)  
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The Lost Genre Guild on Tour, Day 1

First, I want to apologize for my unannounced absence. It was unintentional, believe me. I’ve been battling the flu this past week, so blogging took a back seat, as I’m sure you understand.

I’m happy to come back this week to put a spotlight on the Lost Genre Guild as part of the CSFF Blog Tour. As you know, the tour usually features a fairly recent Christian speculative release by a traditional publisher, but from time to time we shift the focus to online endeavors that also promote the genre. Among others, we have featured Christian Fandom, The Sword Review, Mindflights, Wayfarer’s Journal, WhereTheMapEnds, and most recently, Marcher Lord Press. What these diverse sites have in common is Christian speculative fiction.

So, too, the Lost Genre Guild, the conception of Frank Creed and Daniel Weaver. Here is a mission statement:

The Lost Genre Guild’s mission is to promote quality works of Biblical Speculative Fiction (spec-fic) through its authors, fans; to endorse new releases that fit this criteria; and of course, to glorify Him.

As near as I can piece the development of the Guild, Frank started the group as an online place for writers who shared a similar passion for the genre to converse. The original members all belonged to Daniel’s critique group and from those members came the idea to publish an anthology of short stories. This endeavor became Light at the Edge of Darkness, edited by Cynthia MacKinnon and published by The Writers’ Cafe Press.

Since then, the Guild has taken off as an online gathering place for writers and fans of Biblical speculative fiction, with a forum, a blog, and any number of affiliated groups.

So for the next couple days, I’ll be exploring some issues that the Guild raises. Of course, we have a good number of participants on this tour, so I recommend you take some of your down time, now that the Christmas rush has slowed to the New Years steady stream, and stop by to read what these bloggers are saying:

Published in: on December 29, 2008 at 1:57 pm  Comments (9)  
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