Tuesday, February 23, 2010

When sentience isn't just a human trait...

Fantasy often presents the reader with not just fictitious cultures, but diverse races of creatures that all share the blessing of sentience. What is an author to do with this situation when it comes to deciding what these races believe about their origins and their eternal destination?

Secular fantasy doesn't have any obligation to wrestle with this question, but I believe that fantasy that has a Christian sensibility at its core cannot overlook this conundrum. Biblically, we are told that God created man in His image, giving man a component that will live on forever, and differentiating man from all the rest of His creation with this eternal part of his being.

So, what happens when a world has not only men, but elves, dwarves, gnomes, dragons, centaurs, and myriad other thinking creatures? (In reference to this question, I really ought to read Summa Elvetica by Theodore Beale, but in the absence of any insight from that book, I'll just have to ruminate on my own.) Does the Christian author insist all of these races share the same creator? In my current "world" in which I write, I have taken that route...I suppose it's the smoother path.

Can Christian Fantasy fiction weather the concept that each race has it's own creator? J.R.R. Tolkien dabbled in this idea a bit in The Silmarillion, when Aule, in his eagerness to create as did Iluvatar, made the dwarves. But that act of creation worked to further illustrate Iluvatar's supremacy, in that he insisted Aule's children remain unquickened until Iluvatar had brought forth his firstborn, the elves. So does that address the idea of multiple creators? Not in the purest sense, although it does show precedent.

To be fair, however, Tolkien never set out to write "Christian fantasy." In fact, especially with The Silmarillion, he wove many different mythos together while adding his own twists, so while the battle of good versus evil underpins the work, to call it Christian fantasy is a bit of a stretch.

If we want to read and write Christian fiction that won't garner debate, my impression has been that a single creator is a necessary element. Others might add that a picture of fallen-ness and redemption are also key. So as usual, I end this blog entry with questions, rather than answers. Just how "biblical" does Christian Fantasy need to be in order to remain Christian and not simply become fantasy? My answer to that question is that Christian fantasy is storytelling that I can read without having that story challenge my worldview. Does it have to express every intricacy of that worldview? I don't think so. But in my opinion, multiple creators start to step over that boundary.

But even so, I've still read The Silmarillion. Call it trust.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

February DDM

Hello friends and readers!

Just wanted to blip a short message here to let you know that the February issue of Digital Dragon Magazine has hit the web. If you head over to www.digitaldragonmagazine.net, you'll find my ongoing serial, "The Windrider" in its seventh installment. The plot is getting thicker (or at least I hope you'll think so.)

If you do get a chance to head over there, I wonder what you think about the format changes for the e-zine. They are publishing to a downloadable PDF in addition to their online format. What do you think of that? How's the readability? They are making a lot of other changes there as they ramp up to launch Diminished Media, which will handle print publications as well. For reasons I cannot yet disclose, I am watching carefully how the transition goes. Things could get pretty exciting for those writers tied into Diminished Media's offerings, should all go well.

Also, if you do give the story(ies) a read, I'd love to hear any feedback you might offer. I have no way of tracking my readership or people's reactions through DDM, so I'd be gratified if you shared your impressions. And I'm not just soliciting pats on the back here. If you think the stories are drivel, judicious, constructive comments to that end are also welcome. To improve is to take the good with the bad, right?

Thanks in advance to any of you who have a moment to offer up your coveted opinions.