Speculative Friction

Interesting the things you discover while you’re stumbling around in the dark…eyeglasses (and that sickeningly crunchy sound they make when ground between heel and floor), dogs (yes, Ginger does both bite and snap), sharp corners (attracted magnetically to forehead or toe)…the list goes on, and it’s a process very much similar to what I’m going through trying to figure out what to do with this blog.

“Give up! Give up!” the audience screams.

“Never!” the erstwhile author thunders, striking an heroic pose on the flaming deck.

Anyhow, whilst browsing a digest from an Eastern Orthodox newsgroup I lurk, I noticed a post from a very odd fish indeed…an Orthodox science fiction & fantasy writer, R.L.Copple.  Orthodox Christians firmly and confidently claim to have preserved the faith of the Apostles in doctrine and practice essentially unchanged for over 2000 years, so the idea of someone from that particular faith community playing about in a genre dedicated to imaginative pasts/futures and their impact on the human condition was passing strange. I had no choice but to investigate further.

He wasn’t bad, actually.  Yes, I know, this is a rather condescending assessment from someone who hasn’t himself published anything commercially, but, like the man who doesn’t know anything about art, I still know what I like, and this was nice stuff.  Some of the ideas weren’t breathtakingly original (the climax of “Facing the Cave” brought the movie Men in Black  instantly to mind), but he made them his own, as the American Idol folks like to say, and I expect to see more of his work in larger, better venues down the road.

Additionally, in the course of thumbing through Mr. Copple ‘s curriculum vitae, I discovered a couple of webzines (one linked here) devoted to Christian F&SF, and spent two hours reading some pretty well-written and entertaining stories.  This was encouraging, because most of my previous experience with self-proclaimed “Christian” literature of this sort was negative.  It was, frankly, dreck, and poorly written dreck at that.  The authors were well-intentioned, but they were trying to be Lewis or Tolkien (or worse, shamelessly plagiarized their work) without the Oxford/Cambridge credentials or the simple love of a good story, well-told.  This current crop of writers, on the other hand, seems to be intentional, that is, they do want the light of the Good News to shine through their writing, but there is evident in their work a greater understanding that characters don’t require neatly-printed signs hanging about their necks to tell us what they represent or whose business they’re about.  It’s all very un-self-conscious, at least in the short stories I’ve read thus far.  It may be harder to resist the temptation to preach in a longer format.

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