Speculative Fiction: Truth is Out There

Kathy Tyers

Many Christians think speculative fiction, including science fiction, fantasy, time travel, and alternate history, is harmful. But many works of speculative fiction illustrate deep truths, including God’s wisdom, power, and love. As with any other genre, it’s all in how we write it.

Speculative fiction readers have been raised in an entertainment-rich but joy-impoverished culture. They long for confirmation that “something wonderful is out there.” A Christian storyteller becomes the matchmaker, nudging the seeker toward the One who is sought.

Eternal significance

Even while looking for “something wonderful,” today’s audience is also relativistic. Many aren’t ready to accept that there is one Truth. Many long to believe humans have eternal significance, though, and all of them love a good story.
Some speculative stories take place on worlds where larger-than-life characters battle obvious evil (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars). Or earthbound humans are endowed with unusual powers (the television show Heroes) and struggle with the ethical dilemmas they cause. People who wouldn’t sit through a sermon might devour a story that shows the consequences of sin or virtue, selfishness or service, and the importance of seemingly small choices.

Show truth in action

Writing speculative fiction does have professional pitfalls. Secular fans can call us naïve or dull if we honor scriptural moral boundaries when we create our plots and characters. It’s even more painful when other Christians accuse us of leading readers away from “whatsoever things are true….”

But, good writers can tell deeper truths in a story than in a how-to book by showing those truths in action. Serious speculative-fiction readers want deep, rich, internally consistent fantasy—or astronomically possible worlds that support realistic ecosystems and believable civilizations—as well as living, breathing characters caught up in a great story.

Deliver transcendence

Yes, there are dangers in the genre itself. Science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative fiction include an enormous variety of stories. Ugly, brutal, or heavily occult books are easy to spot on the shelf, but books that are superficially lovely, but spiritually dishonest, are even more dangerous.

Still, every genre has those and any mission field can be dangerous. God’s people are called to be part of His saving presence even there. Speculative fiction speaks to a generation that longs for transcendent experiences—and it delivers.
Speculative fiction awakens longings only God can fulfill and it raises questions only the gospel can answer. When Christians write in this genre, God smiles and beckons to this audience.

Comments

  1. Russ Jarvis says

    I am new to the Christian Writer’s Guild. Obviously I am a new, struggling writer. I was looking for advice and articles that would help me understand the market a little better. I have been working on a story for the past – oh I don’t know – fifteen years. I thought it was science fiction, but it looks like might be a techno-thriller. But it will probably still be considered speculative fiction. It just appears that speculative fiction in the Christian market is sort of a step child with a tiny share of the revenue. I’m not writing this story just to make money. But if there’s no market, no one will ever see it.

    I noticed that there was no reply to this article since it was posted in October 7, 2010. I now have a fear that there is no place for my story. I don’t want to discourage anyone. It’s just a concern that I have.

    I went to the web and researched who you were and bought one of your books (Firebird for 99 cents for the kindle). That was a free advertisement for you if anyone reads this. You can get this price only to the end of April. I am very impressed with your story. It’s great. I asked my kids about your Star Wars stories and, low and behold, they have one sitting on their shelf and they enjoyed it very much.

    I saw that you hosted a webinar on the same topic. I’ve got a freebee coming for my new membership so I think I’m going to check it out.

    Russ

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