Today, I’ll venture into the future of Christian science fiction. But first, let’s set the mood:
Whither Christian science fiction?
It feels strange to speculate about the future of a genre that speculates about the future. Kind of like stepping into the Department of Redundancy Department.
I’ll just toss out a few educated guesses. Yours may be better. Feel free to weigh in.
What sorts of stories can we expect to see a few years down the road?
More of the same, plus some stories extrapolating from scientific advances (and the ethical questions they raise), cultural changes, and human anxieties emerging today.
- More apocalyptic dystopias and End-Times novels.
- Stories about genetic engineering, transhumanism, artificial intelligence, beginning- and end-of-life issues, and stories springing from what we learn about the numerous other solar systems with planets we’re discovering right now.
- Cultural/civilizational clashes, particularly involving Islam, perhaps using alien societies as allegory.
- Natural and manmade disasters such as profound climate change, runaway technology, pollution, asteroid impacts, and pandemics as plot elements.
How will new information technologies transform the way we write, publicize, and sell these stories?
We’re already seeing a democratization of the publishing process, where anybody with a computer can create an electronic book and sell it to the whole world without any outside help.
- Kindles, Nooks, and IPads will continue to proliferate. Short stories and anthologies will be in demand as multitaskers squeeze their reading time into shorter gaps in their schedules
- Printed books will continue, though I think they’ll increasingly be reserved for major/prestigious works, so actually having a book in print will be a bigger deal. This may be subverted when/if micropublishing technology allows the affordable manufacture of a commercial-quality print book using a device the size of a filing cabinet or thereabouts. Bottom line, there are going to be a lot more books in circulation, and more lousy books than ever before. Here’s a cautionary tale. It’s going to be harder for good young writers to rise above the noise.
- In the world of Christian sci fi, I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that successful small independents like Marcher Lord, et al, will be absorbed by major publishers under a subsidiary imprint (something like Harper-Collins’ line of new/experimental sci fi, Angry Robot Books). Every large corporation needs a Skunk Works or a Pixar to give its innovators a place to play. Publishers are no exception.
How will changes in secular and religious culture impact Christian science fiction?
I would expect the best Christian science fiction to take the lead in speculation on cultural and religious issues, such as the future of:
Sanctity of Life
Third World religious movements and leadership
Ecumenism, its promises, pitfalls, and possible limits
Theological controversies and heresies
Who are the emerging talents in the genre who will help define its future?
Obviously, it’s hard to identify emerging talents before they’ve emerged, but…
- Look for authors who seem to have their finger on the pulse of new ideas and trends, and who alert you to them in their stories.
- You finish one of their books and want more. Many more.
- They weave Christian values and faith seamlessly into their story rather than figuratively sticking them on with a hot glue gun.
- Something I’m seeing in the secular world that I’m sure will soon become more prominent in Christian sci fi is multicultural authors–people with more than one cultural heritage, often writing (very fluently) in English as a second language. They bring a fresh perspective and often deal with issues nobody else is thinking much about.
Okay, time to stop this crazy thing. Hope you’ve had a fun trip through time the past few days. Before you go, please visit the other fine stops on this month’s Tour, listed below.
Next month, we’ll return to the world of the Spider King and the superpowered kids who oppose him in Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hooper’s Venom and Song. Bring your bug spray.
Thomas Clayton Booher
Morgan L. Busse
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Rebecca LuElla Miller
New Authors Fellowship
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Rachel Starr Thomson