Saturday, April 12, 2008

MidSouthCon - Non-Secular Science Fiction and Fantasy

Because I am a Christian, I am always pleased to see panels related to religion at science fiction conventions. For too many years, I used to hear "intelligent" people disparage those of us who were believers. It was the intellectual position that science with all its knowledge had propelled man beyond the need for a creator.

I've always believed that science and religion do not have to be mutually exclusive. There is much that even science admits it does not know.

The panel today consisted of Dan Gambler from Meadowhawk Press, and Bryan Davis, author of the Dragon in our Midst series, and Bill Snodgrass, author and Executive Director of Double-Edged Publishing.

Each of these Christian men came to this panel with a different perspective. Bryan Davis has a very successful series of young adult dragon books and a new series coming out for adults. He and his wife spend an hour in prayer every day as they take a three mile hike. One of the fans in the audience has a child who loves these books. I am eager to get the first one and get a sample of his work.

Bill Snodgrass seems to write Christian themes or allegories into his work. He publishes several web magazines:
The Sword Review
Dragons, Knights and Angels Magazine
Ray Gun Revival
Haruah: Breath of Heaven - A Magazine of Inspiration

Don Gambler publishes books choosing content that you would not worry about handing to your children. A portion of the proceeds of One of Meadowhawk's recent publications, Touched by Wonder is being donated to Breast Cancer Research. I picked up a copy of this book in the dealer room but I have not yet had a chance to read it.

One of the issues brought up by the audience was that Christian readers are often thrifty and many times Christian fiction books costs more than other books the same size and quality. Because of Henry's work, I did know the answer - smaller print runs cost more to produce than mass production. But I liked the comment from the panel: If you enjoy reading Christian fiction, support your small press by purchasing these books even when they do cost a little more.

Other interesting things from the panel:
The response from Christians to Christian fantasy and Christian fiction is interesting. Many of the more fundamentalist groups have problems with fantasy. And so the writers get mixed feedback. Some families are so excited to get an alternative to Harry Potter and others have issues with some of the fantasy elements. Since I got home (and after starting this post) I read the first of the Dragon in our Midst series. I thoroughly enjoyed it. But, he commented that it really hurt when one Christian blog called him lower than a roach. While the concept of how dragons are living in our current world is a bit of a stretch, I found that the main characters exhibited Christian values and Christian faith to deal with the issues that confronted them. Yes, scriptures were used, but tastefully. This would be a great book to give older elementary and middle school kids (and I think it is enjoyable enough for all ages.)
When they asked how many of us read Christian fiction, I was a little ashamed that I could not truthfully raise my hand. Early Christian fiction felt a little syrupy to me. I think I need to revisit the Christian bookstores and check out some of the latest fiction.

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