The Shapes of Christian Sci-Fi and Fantasy

imageWhile few people attended my class on the shapes of Christian Sci-Fi and Fantasy at Blue Ridge, it was the one class I taught that had the most interest overall. Several attendees made a point to talk to me about the subject. They’d wanted to come, they said, but they had appointments with editors, agents, and other more important people. Still, the interest in the subject was more than I had anticipated.

There’s a huge market for Science Fiction and Fantasy, and perhaps more than any other genre, a devoted readership. One advantage to writing in this genre is that you don’t have to worry about re-inventing the wheel. You likely want to write it because you’ve probably been reading it. And if you haven’t been reading it, you should. At least, if you want to write it you should.

We spent a few minutes going over some of the archetypes seen in literature and movies throughout the genre. Rather than taking all the time rewriting those, I’ll simply refer you to where I found them. Lisa Lawrence did a great job compiling a list of them here. Be sure to check them out, as she has several great concepts.

But Christian Sci-Fi and Fantasy presents a unique challenge: How to share the gospel message (or a portion of it) in a fantasy or sci-fi setting. Did Jesus die for aliens and dwarfs? One way several writers handle this is to write in allegorical form. Which is fine, but if you are, be sure to keep these things in mind: First, allegory must work on two levels. Your story must work as a story before it can be symbolic. If you worry only about the symbolism, the story will fail. If you worry only about the story, the symbolism will fail. This doesn’t mean it can’t be done. It’s just best to have a specific scenario in mind to guide your story.

Along those lines, and the lines of the archetypes, we discovered that the Bible is a great source of inspiration for all kinds of fantasy novels and science fiction. Both Sci-Fi and Fantasy have supernatural elements (though sci-fi’s is rooted in technology), and what is a better source for supernatural inspiration than the Bible? Just in the life of Moses, you see several archetypes fulfilled. But you also see the brass serpent that heals the Israelites with a simple glance, the hand of God writing 10 commandments for his people, the parting of the Red Sea, the plagues, and on it goes. These elements, when looked at either allegorically, or simply as inspiration  can help root Christian themes in your fantasy or science-fiction.

This is a shorter post, but if I let it be, it would be much longer. There are so many other elements we can look at, but for the sake of time, I’ll leave it at this. If you’re interested in more, let me know, either through Facebook or a comment on this post, or good old-fashioned e-mail. Until then, good writing.

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