Christian Speculative Fiction: Why do we need it and why you should read it

All fiction has power to it. Words both spoken and non-spoken are powerful things. Words among their many uses have the power to enthrall, teach, entertain, and change a person’s viewpoint. Now perhaps we can all agree that the prototypical romance novel plot line or say an Old Western era novel aren’t going to change anyone’s viewpoint on anything. You either love them or hate them for their genre setting. In other words you know what you’re reading before you even start reading. It may come in different flavors, but nothing typically that lies outside your expectations of the genre. This is not so for Speculative Fiction. Speculative Fiction doesn’t prescribe itself to a stereotypical image other than to say that it’s imaginative and you’re never quite sure what direction it will take, which is why it’s both fun to write and to read.

Christian Speculative Fiction is an even rarer bird. Most Christian fiction falls into a very precise stereotype, which I often refer to as “nicey nice”. When you pick up a Christian novel you have a range of expectations of what typically you do not expect to find within the pages of the book. Christian Speculative Fiction is the exact opposite of this perceived stereotype, because while Christian ideals should be maintained, the door is open however for a full host of opportunities and experiences to be perceived that one might not find anywhere else.

Fantasy and Speculative Fiction go hand in hand, in that it takes a good bit of fantasizing to come up with something speculative in nature. Take C. S. Lewis’s popular writings for instance. They easily stand alone and are not conforming to any fictional stereotype in the time period that they were written in. They’re unique to the author’s imagination and anything goes and in turn the reader is treated to a glimpse of something that they’re potentially not going to find anywhere else in genre specific literature. Going non-Christian fiction related for a moment—take, for instance, the writings of Edgar Rice Burrows and in particular his John Carter of Mar’s series. They’re imaginative and completely unfounded in any known reality and yet they are meaningful, entertaining, and resonate strongly with the core of many people’s need for the discovery of something new and the desire to create something. We are after all made in the image of the Great Creator so it’s only natural to be creative in turn.

Speculative Fiction as well Fantasy explores the reaches of the human intellect in that it exemplifies the freedom to do something else than anyone else ever has. In short: good Speculative Fiction is original. Now nothing is new under the sun as King Solomon once put it, but there is a scarcity of people through the ages who just let their imagination flow. I’d say it’s an even smaller minority of writers who pray for their inspiration to occur—as opposed to being locked in a room with an extreme case of writer’s block and a floor strewn with crumpled up pieces of paper. Writing should be fun and Speculative Fiction, in my opinion, is that and more. Mainlined genres have invisible lines of conforming stricture that can’t be crossed which inhibit what imaginative vortexes can be given birth to with pen and ink.

Can you tell I’m biased? Perhaps I am, as I have written an entire series of books that more than fit into the realm of Speculative Fiction.

Some write for money or to gain social notice, but I like to write something that causes a profound experience to occur in both myself and the reader that is often unexpected as to the path it takes or where it winds up. Now such experiences can happen in regular mainline genres, but with Speculative Fiction you really are reading at the core of what an individual’s journey through imagination looks like. It’s powerful and when combined with a strong Christian based element of belief what could be more powerful? Think about what C. S. Lewis did for the last century alone. Many people have traveled his imaginative highway and many have tried to duplicate it, but his thoughts remain unique to him just as mine do to me. Now all people are influenced by a number of factors including the work of other writers, but few I believe actually step out and risk the social exposure of criticism to begin something new. I for instance received harsh criticism from a close family member—not on whether my writing was good or not, but rather because my writing didn’t line up with any of the excepted icons in the fantasy realm such as J.R.R. Tolkien or C.S. Lewis. It was actually offensive to this person that I had written something that contained the elements of many styles arranged in a new configuration uniquely my own. You’re going to get that from some people when anything new is first introduced. Some people seemingly don’t have the ability to adapt outside of their set standards for what a story should contain, but then there are some readers who thirst for that new adventure. The latter group desire to experience something new and bold or even something old told over in a different way. My friends, if the latter is you, then you’ve found what you’re looking for in Speculative Fiction, where anything goes. This is regrettable in some cases, though it shouldn’t be the case, but in general this type of book provides a bold flavor more suited to those who like some variety in their literary diet.

I’ve written examples of Christian Speculative Fiction in my The Warrior Kind series, but really one could say my writing has a blend of all of the following genres contained within it: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Inspirational, Action Adventure and Romance. What separates me though is that I didn’t limit myself to any of them, but I borrowed what I wanted from each. I ran with it and thus I have provided my readers with a speculative, and yet powerful, experience into worlds of my creation peopled by individuals—who make decisions and face reality in a way that stereotypical settings fail to. They call it Speculative Fiction, but really it’s the genre for writing that has everything and is definitively the height of entertainment. I write stories that are speculative by nature, but Divinely inspired in underlying message and that’s the way I like it.

Have a Blessed Day Everyone!

Guy Stanton III