I’m always happy to hear about something new and wonderful from the creative imagination of Karina Fabian. Today, I’ll be interviewing her about the debut of Infinite Space, Infinite God II, an anthology of science fiction stories with a Catholic flavor that she co-edited with her husband, Rob. Regardless of your religious persuasion, these stories demonstrate that speculative fiction and a Christian worldview can coexist quite happily and tell thoughtful stories with incredible emotional resonance that everybody can enjoy.
I’ll post a review of Infinite Space, Infinite God II tomorrow. On to the interview! For those of you who aren’t familiar with Karina and her writing, here’s a short bio:
After being a straight-A student, Karina now cultivates Fs: Family, Faith, Fiction and Fun. From an order of nuns working in space to a down-and-out faerie dragon working off a geas from St. George, her stories surprise with their twists of clichés and incorporation of modern day foibles in an otherworld setting. Her quirky twists and crazy characters have won awards, including the INDIE book award for best fantasy (Magic, Mensa and Mayhem), and a Mensa Owl for best fiction (World Gathering). In May 2010, her writing took a right turn with a devotional, Why God Matters, which she co-wrote with her father. Mrs. Fabian is former President of the Catholic Writer’s Guild and also teaches writing and book marketing seminars online.
Fred – Infinite Space, Infinite God (ISIG) garnered quite a bit of critical praise and the 2007 EPIC Award for science fiction. How do you think ISIG II stacks up against the original?
Karina – At least as good in storytelling, but different in content. This time, the focus is more on individuals and adventures. There’s a great variety of subgenres, including a very nice historical/time travel story. We also have an incredible novella by Ken Pick and Alan Loewen, who wrote for Infinite Space, Infinite God. The book definitely stands on its own.
Fred – You’re a very busy author, and it would have been easy to rest on your laurels and focus on other projects. Why a second volume of ISIG? Will this be a continuing series?
Karina – Rob and I did it because the publisher asked, which is really very flattering and encouraging. However, I can’t say if there will be another until we see what happens with this one. I think if we should do another, it will be a little easier to find terrific stories, because the subgenre is growing, and because I’m better connected in the Catholic writing world than I was two years ago.
Fred – This anthology is unique in that it focuses on Catholic writers and topics. What is distinctive about the Catholic voice in speculative fiction?
Karina – Actually, not all of our authors are Catholic. I can’t even tell you for certain how many are–we didn’t ask. What mattered to us was that the story itself have significant Catholic elements and a respect for the Catholic religious institutions and beliefs. So, I can’t really answer your question about the Catholic voice as it applies to ISIG II. I do think that in general, a Catholic voice in speculative fiction has some common elements: a living of the faith (even if there’s none of the “obvious” signs like rosaries or Mass); a respect for life in all its forms; an understanding that science and faith are not mutually exclusive, but each have a part to play in understanding God’s creation. This is not exclusive to Catholics, mind you, but I think they are necessary for truly Catholic works.
Fred – Has anyone in the Church hierarchy noticed ISIG I or II and given you any feedback?
Karina – Other than as casual readers, no. It’s not the kind of book that gets an Imprimatur or other kind of official recognition. Brother Guy Consolmagno, the Vatican astronomer who has been in the news over the years speculating on the faith life of aliens, wrote an endorsement for ISIG I, but I’d lost track of him for ISIG II. I’m going to send a copy of each to Pope Benedict this month.
Fred – What was the most difficult challenge you faced producing ISIG II?
Karina – Waiting! The economy tanked right around the time we were going to publish, and our publisher was waiting to see how the financial winds blew. A couple of contributors had to cancel launch parties at conventions, although Derwin Mak is having one at Futurecon on New Year’s Eve.
Fred – As with ISIG, you’ve edited this anthology in partnership with your husband, Rob (note to readers, Rob’s an Air Force officer). How does that process work? Do you handle different tasks or just divide the workload?
Karina – Rob was busy in the Pentagon when we were putting this together and this is my job, so I did the bulk of the work in putting out the call for submissions and being the first reader. Rob was my sanity check on stories I had doubts about and had great suggestions when something needed a tweaking from the science or politics side. I secured the contracts (and his salary paid them!), and we went out to dinner and figured out the order and introductions by candlelight.
Fred – I won’t put you on the spot by asking which story in ISIG II is your favorite, but tell me about one or two stories in the anthology that typify what you were seeking as you gathered submissions.
Karina – “Cathedral” by Tamara Wilhite is probably the least obviously Catholic of the stories. The main character isn’t even religious, but is using the cathedral to throw the people tracking her off her trail. The only clergy we see is the priest who escorts her out. But what we liked about it (aside from the story itself) is that the priest didn’t have a problem with who she was (unlike the rest of the population), but did admonish her for the things she had done. I think a lot of people, even Catholics, forget that the Church can love the sinner, but that doesn’t mean they accept the sin. “Dyads” by Ken Pick and Alan Loewen is on the other side of that scale. This story incorporates Mass and the Litany of the Saints (with a few made up ones since it’s millennia in the future); it looks at the Vatican’s role as a political as well as spiritual entity–and the delicate balance it maintains–and it has a strong, intelligent, compassionate priest as the hero. It also has an incredibly detailed universe populated with delightful “furry” aliens (“furry” in the genre as well as the fact that they’re furred and feathered and scaled), two complex languages and the most incredibly developed alien religion I’ve ever read.
Fred – I was happy to see another Rescue Sisters story in ISIG II. You’ve featured this community of spacefaring nuns in several short stories, but I understand we’ll be seeing them in their own novel soon. Can you share some more details about that?
Karina – The team of Sisters Rita, Ann and Thomas are in the story, “Antivenin,” which is Rita’s first rescue. Ironically, she has to confront her fear of snakes when they find the shuttle they’re checking out full of venomous ones. These three ladies star in Discovery, my novel which is being developed. They’ll join a team of researchers and miners on a mission to explore and recover a crashed alien ship. They’ll find the ship has a wing full of mysterious devices that affect human minds. Only Sister Ann understands what they’re all about, but who’s going to believe when Little Sister insists that God is giving them the gift of seeing their own souls?
Fred – What else are we going to see from Karina Fabian in the next few months?
Karina – In December, my next novel, Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, comes out from Damnation Books. Yes, I appreciate the irony of a Catholic author writing for Damnation. It’s a comedic horror about Neeta, a zombie exterminator who is training up apprentices on a reality TV show. Can she get her bills paid, keep her ratings up and her trainees alive, and still maintain her sanity? I had a lot of fun writing this one, and I’m looking forward to telling you more about it next month.
Fred – Sounds great. I’ve been compiling notes on the zombie apocalypse for some time now, just in case. Thanks for stopping by today, Karina, and best wishes for the success of ISIG II and all your other projects.
For lots more info and news about Karina Fabian, check out her website: http://www.karinafabian.com/