I love anthologies. My first real encounter with science fiction was Nine Tomorrows, an anthology of Isaac Asimov short stories I found in my high school library at lunch one day. The stories were nothing like anything I’d read before, they were all different, and they were bite-sized–very appealing to my short-attention-span teenage brain. In the secular publishing world, there are entire bookstore racks devoted to science fiction anthologies such as Year’s Best SF, Universe, Tangents, and so on. In the harsh wasteland of Christian sci-fi, not so much.
In fact, I’m pretty sure the only anthologies of science fiction short stories written from a Christian perspective (aside from the C.S. Lewis collection, Of Other Worlds) are the ones Robert and Karina Fabian have assembled: Infinite Space, Infinite God, and Leaps of Faith.
Leaps of Faith is a collection of 14 short stories, from a wider faith perspective than the Catholic-focused Infinite Space, Infinite God. There’s a good mix of adventure, drama, introspection, and humor, and I found most of the stories both entertaining and thought-provoking. They don’t all end cheerily or with every theological conundrum neatly tied up in a bow. As Dr. Simon Morden says in his foreword to the anthology, “Good storytelling isn’t safe.”
Reviewing all 14 stories individually would be way too tranquilizing, so I’ll just hit the high points:
“High Hopes for the Dead” by Alex Lobdell: The collection leads off with a poignant tale of pathfinders in the early days of interstellar travel, their mortality rate so high that the job amounts to a suicide mission. One character’s simple act of faith transforms despair into hope for the entire community—then that individual’s faith is put to the ultimate test.
Faith and prejudice grapple in “Comprehending it Not,” by Cherith Baldry. A priest must choose whether to solemnize the union of a man and an android, a biologically-manufactured woman. Can an artificially-created being have a soul, and if so, what are the implications for religion and society? Similar questions are posed in Susanne Marie Knight’s “The Convert,” but here the intended union is between a human and a very alien being.
Vincent Malzahn’s “Quantum Express” is a chilling little story that speculates on quantum teleportation technology and its implications for the human soul. I won’t be stepping into that transporter booth, thank you very much.
“Leap of Faith,” the anthology’s namesake, co-authored by the Fabians, is a story from their Rescue Sisters universe, in which an order of spacefaring nuns watches over travelers and workers in Earth orbit and beyond. In “Leap of Faith,” a young Sister must overcome her fear to accomplish a rescue mission, and we discover that sometimes even miracles need a hand.
Is human history written in stone? Time travel and its possible results are addressed humorously in “Moses Disposes,” by Frank C. Gunderloy Jr., and more seriously in Karina Fabian’s “Tampering With God’s Time.”
Martyrdom is the theme of the last two stories. “Sometimes We Lie” is Barton Levenson’s gripping tale of an alien convert to Christianity, a master spy who must run a lethal gauntlet for a chance to practice his new religion in peace. In “Lost Rythar,” by Colleen Drippe, missionaries attempt to evangelize a lost human colony that has fallen into barbarism. Both stories eloquently communicate the truth that faith is more often and effectively spread through sacrifice than through persuasion.
This is a wonderful selection of quality science-fiction stories with Christian themes, and it’s strong evidence that we could use a lot more collections like it.
Yes, I’ve only covered nine of the stories. You can read the rest yourself.