ch-ichat-logo.pngIt’s a busy Monday already and it’s supposed to be my day off! πŸ˜‰ But lots of great action happening around here today and the next few days, so stay tuned.

Jennifer and I just returned from the NYS Southern Tier Youth Baptist Association’s annual winter conference at Watson Homestead outside of Painted Post, NY. I’m busy working on a full write up which I hope to post later today or tomorrow. Meanwhile, if you attended the event, you can head on over to The Warband and join in the discussion about the marvelous, God-filled weekend we had. The more the merrier, so please add your thought, stories and testimonies!

Today also marks the monthly return to the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour, something which I have really come to enjoy and look forward to. This month we are highlighting the writings of a fabulous author from Wales named Chris Walley. With just a brief review of Walley’s bio, you’ll immediately understand that we’re dealing with a pro here–not just in his writing–but in his handle on the subject matter.

lamb-among-the-stars.pngIn The Lamb Among The Stars Series–a true mixture of theology and fantastical futuristic science fiction–Walley has woven together two seemingly diametrically opposing elements into one seamless composition. I say that because, for the most part, as westerners, we tend to think of the end of the world as dangerously immanent (even more so in 2nd and 3rd world nations). From preachers declaring the impending rapture to movies illustrating the end of mankind, we seem conditioned for either the return of Christ if your a Christian, or the destruction of civilization if your a modern secularist. Normally we don’t think of our inhabitation of Earth lasting another 200 years, let alone another 2,000. Honestly, I sometimes wonder how we’re going to make it through the next hundred!

But then Walley does something I find quite extraordinary. He reminds the reader of the divine sovereignty of God. Oh yeah, I said to myself, God is gracious and merciful. And I’m suddenly convicted about my own lack of faith, realizing that if I was one of the original twelve disciples and you asked me when I thought Jesus was going to return a second time, I would have told you, “Next week.” Maybe “Next month.” But the fact is, it’s been 2,000 years, hasn’t it? Likewise, Walley paints a picture of the same long-suffering grace in which God intervenes in humanity’s dismal plight and brings about a great Intervention, as he calls it, thus mixing a provocative theological notion with a popular forecasting of the distant future.

Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical at first. With so much knowledge at our fingertips in our information age today, I think it’s a real challenge, first of all, to not only write futuristic sci-fi, but believable futuristic sci-fi. Eesepcially when it takes place 11,000 years in the future. You heard me: Eleven-thousand years.

chris-walley.pngYou can check out plenty of his stories’ plot summaries and reviews on the links I posted above and on his blog. Walley sets this theological stance in the context of a marvelous storyline, one in which I’m thoroughly engrossed at the moment, and has taken the prized status of “Book I’m Carrying Around Everywhere Until I’m Done With It.” Merral and Vero have become characters I’m genuinely concerned about and I look forward to every turn of the page.

Like some of my other favorite authors, the pacing at first was a bit slow. That always bothers me. But then I wonder if that’s the reason for the gripping quality it has on me as a reader once things pick up? The ability for a writer to have you age with the characters, to travel with them and not skip huge sections of time and space (no pun intended), is one of the beautiful things about books.

I also had a hard time getting used to Walley’s phrasing. He tends to write long, multi-comma, multi-adverb sentences that are, at times, hard to follow and make you have to stop and re-read the sentence. But then again, read George MacDonald and have fun wrapping your brain around his paragraph long sentences! The fact is, I think our “reading culture,” like our “listening culture,” has been manipulated to the literature version of a 3-minute pop song, as opposed to the 30-minute movements by the greats. So really, I can’t point a finger at Walley–just my own diet of short pros.

So enough with the commentary from me. I’d like to pose a question today, allowing you to elaborate on it through comments to this post. After the great Intervention that Walley writes of, mankind returns to almost a pre-Fall morality in which evil and sin are not only forbidden, but a genuine bygone of a forgotten era. Of course, to make a great story (and a great theological study), evil makes a return visit. (I’ve really enjoyed seeing the the futuristic side of how I envisioned and wrote Rise of The Dibor!) And this return has an effect on two different aspects of humanity: Spiritual and Natural.

Today, I want to focus on the supernatural and mental elements. If you’ve read Walley, then your answers will be much more telling (and you’re still welcome to comment). But if you haven’t, I’d like to ask this:

If sin returned to a faultless, futuristic society, what implications would it have on the psyche of humanity? What do you think would be the first mental, emotional and moral elements to degenerate and how would they affect man’s moral behavior interpersonally and with God?

Got to it! I welcome your thoughts and hope we even get some feedback from Mr. Walley himself!

CH

– – –

Check out what my other fine blogging friends are saying about Chris Walley!:

 

Brandon Barr, Jim Black, Justin Boyer, Grace Bridges, Jackie Castle, Carol Bruce Collett , Valerie Comer, CSFF Blog Tour, Gene Curtis , D. G. D. Davidson, Chris Deanne, Janey DeMeo, Jeff Draper , April Erwin, Marcus Goodyear, Rebecca Grabill , Jill Hart, Katie Hart, Michael Heald, Timothy Hicks , Christopher Hopper, Heather R. Hunt, Jason Joyner, Kait, Carol Keen, Mike Lynch, Margaret, Rachel Marks, Shannon McNear, Melissa Meeks, Rebecca LuElla Miller, Mirtika or Mir’s Here, Pamela Morrisson, Eve Nielsen, John W. Otte, John Ottinger , Deena Peterson, Rachelle, Steve Rice, Ashley Rutherford, Chawna Schroeder, James Somers, Rachelle Sperling, Donna Swanson, Steve Trower, Speculative Faith, Robert Treskillard, Jason Waguespac, Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

Categories: news

12 Comments

Janey DeMeo · 18 Feb ’08 at 1:24 pm

Hey Christopher, great job on your book review today. (I just posted mine — I’m on the W. Coast so while many were blogging, I was still sleeping).I agree with you about the lengthy sentences, and made a comment about the book’s overall momentum at the end of my post, after the links.

Meanwhile, I received your comment in my mailbox (not on my blog). Amazing that you’ve contacted Louis and the whole France thing. We need to talk. We’ll be going to France again ourselves this Spring and have American friends who’ll also be there all summer. It would definitely be good to talk. I’m also doing a weekly radio broadcast in French (I didn’t get to post last week’s yet…but it’s archived). Maybe we could all talk by phone sometime.

Oh, your kids are adorable.

Janey — http://www.JaneyDeMeo.com

Rebecca Grabill · 18 Feb ’08 at 2:32 pm

Interesting question, Chris. I also wondered, as I read, what would slip first. I expect it would probably involve parents wanting to feed their young to the alligators, because that’s the thing I struggle with most frequently. My kids sure are glad there are no alligators where we live.

Seriously, though, I had trouble with this part of the premise. It seems that evil is something that is outside of the human heart. Bind it up, cast it away, and society can be pure, free from all sinful impulse. What about original sin? Why have a society (beyond the obvious fun of writing a book about it) in which the fall touches everything *but* the human heart?

It also didn’t take seriously, didn’t so much as mention, childrearing. Were children in this new era born sinless (major problem with the premise there; born sinless in a post-fall world that is *not* the eschaton?) or did this come about through education and training?

Anyone who has had a three-year-old look them in the eye and say, “No, I won’t do it!” or a seven-year-old with chocolate on his front tooth say, “Nope. I don’t know what happened to the chocolates.” would recognize any “sinless by six” notion as horridly simplistic.

Perhaps, at a stretch, I could see this as a global (universal, pardon me) outgrowth of total sanctification. My father-in-law believes this is possible. I’d contend that every time he’s feeling joy in his sinlessness he may be on the edge of pride, but, I can’t see in his heart so I don’t know. As I was saying, I *could* see total sanctification undergirding the society, but that takes a lifetime of devotion and growth. It certainly wouldn’t begin at birth.

Interesting question. I hope you get some discussion going!

Michael A. Heald · 18 Feb ’08 at 3:44 pm

Hello! Nice comments. I enjoyed the books, and there are two more to wrap up the series! Best regards.

Michael A. Heald

Christopher Hopper · 18 Feb ’08 at 6:28 pm

Janey: Nice of all you Californians to join us! πŸ˜‰ My publisher is in Reedley so I often feel terribly when I forget about the time difference and get the CEO on the phone at 4am! But she has an amazing (if not crazy!) work ethic and is often up doing email at the hour anyways. Great to be back in touch with your family, Janey!

Rebecca: I find it SO ironic that as I was just reading your comment I was contending with my three year old daughter to not talk back to her mother, and with my one year old son to “release” his sister’s leg. If Walley’s “Intervention” was a communal sanctification, it would HAVE to include the sinful natures of children or else I want a refund! πŸ™‚ lol But in all seriousness, my experience is that MY OWN human heart is desperately wicked (“who can know it?”) and is in need of a Savior.

Michael: Thanks for the kind comment and for gracing my site with your presence!

Blessings!

CH

Jason · 18 Feb ’08 at 10:00 pm

Chris,
Thanks for the drop-by and the encouragement to keep going. I was at the point of giving up, but I just may keep pushing through (though I may not make it for the blog tour).

As an author, can I ask you a question though? I am at page 125, and I am not remotely invested in the book other than “the blog tour is coming”. As a wannabe, you always hear the first 10/25/50 pages are so important to catch people’s attention. How can you take a chance on such a slow build if everything a potential author hears is “It has to catch them quickly”?

Thanks!
Jason

valerie · 18 Feb ’08 at 11:06 pm

Interesting thought on child rearing, Rebecca. I hadn’t thought of it…my kids are in their 20s and so far childless themselves. But yes, definitely a valid question!

Christopher Hopper · 18 Feb ’08 at 11:26 pm

Jason: Fabulous question. And there is honestly no easy answer, though I certainly have my own opinions (which I’ll share in a sec). There are many “trade rules of thumb” that you’ll come across, but, as with most things, rules are made to be broken and there are always exceptions. “Don’t elude to any back story in the first 50 pages…” “Cut out 75% of your adverbs on your first read through…” “Don’t have more than four sentences in a paragraph…” But all of it, in the end, is subject to the Laws of Art–which are–there aren’t any.

For me personally, my writing is to convey morality, yes, truth, yes, commentary, yes…but it’s also to entertain! And part of entertaining means knowing my audience and making sure they are having fun and enjoying the book.

Honestly, with regard to Chris’ work, if I didn’t have the blog tour, I may have not gotten into it (which would have been a shame because somewhere right around page 175 or so it really got my heart pumping and I would have missed out on a very compelling story). Granted, I don’t have a lot of time to sit around and read so I’m much more particular with what I pick up. But the fact certainly stands against him that if I didn’t have the CSFF tour, he wouldn’t have a fan. That should speak for itself.

The two main schools of thought at the moment are:

1.) Hook your reader by the nose and get out of the gate fast. RUN! Action. Suspense. Drama. Crisis.

and, on a completely other note…

2.) Introduce a character (and story) slowly and establish his or her amiable qualities, then pit them against circumstances that will test their adherence to those personal morals.

Crazy, right?

Personally, I find that there is a balance. Books are written on characters…at least good ones. But no one wants to read 300 pages of “boring.” That’s why people read in the first place, because we need a break from the monotony of our own lives! Get into space! Go to Africa! Deep sea adventure! Spiritual battle! You name it… But in the end, people want something that’s fun, I think. I wrote my books with one thing in mind: I want people who don;t like to read to like these. (As I was writing them for myself!). I also knew that a large part of my audience would NOT be highly educated (not saying they can’t be) so that meant I didn’t need to be C.S. Lewis when it came to logic; I also knew they were not in it for some huge long dissertation on what a forest looked like (why they can read Tolkien). My audience would be unique and I wrote for them.

If Walley was trying to bring the epic scope of Tolkien to his space thrillers, then I guess he succeeded, but I’m not sure that’s today’s audience.

Hope that helps at least a little.

Valerie: Thanks for stopping by! Hope you get grand-babies soon!…my parents are different people around ours! Ha!

CH

Kait · 19 Feb ’08 at 1:48 am

You are so right about the pop song comment. It seems that the books that I tend to enjoy these days are the “brain candy”, the books that I can read in an afternoon because they are fluff. They have no substance, and are pretty much pre-chewed. The Shadow and Night is definitely NOT like that, which makes it harder (that’s not the right word) to read.

mooney · 19 Feb ’08 at 1:20 pm

Yeah Baby! I haven’t read a single page of Chris Walley, but here goes my answer.

First, I love this question, “What if?” So here we go.

Personally, I would manipulate all the naive “innocents” into a scheme that combines MLM, envelopes with $1 in them, and a vitamin selling pyramid scheme. Using the millions of dollars that I would generate in this venture, I would build the Death Star and hold entire worlds ransom. As payment for a peaceful existence, all of humanity will be required to by my books so that I continuously hold all of the NY Times best-seller records along with holding the Amazon #1 sales rank.

On a side note CH, it was coincidental, not ironic.

– mooney

Pixy · 19 Feb ’08 at 2:39 pm

LOL…that’s good, mooney. Very wise.

Rebecca LuElla Miller · 19 Feb ’08 at 2:45 pm

Christopher, great discussion here.

As to the slow pace, I found it interesting that, from something Pam quoted of Chris Walley’s, he started writing these books as far back as 1988/89Ò€”before much of the writer-rule-of-thumb list was formulated. His book, therefore, does read much slower.

But there’s also this, and it may be a question I explore in my post tomorrow. Since fiction is built on conflict and his world, at the outset, was in essence perfect, how do you create the tension to move the pace along faster?

Yeah, if I remember, I’ll write more of that tomorrow.

Becky

Christopher Hopper · 19 Feb ’08 at 3:40 pm

Mooney: You’re a riot. And thanks for the correct word.

Kait: “Brain candy.” Love it!

Rebecca: I never thought of that! SO TRUE! We were still a MacDonald’s culture back then, but no where near where we are now in my estimation! Great point.

Thanks for chiming in gang! You make my blog so rich!

CH

Comments are closed.