Sunday, July 29, 2012

Writing Christian Science-Fiction

by Darren Kehrer

"To Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before"
"A Long Time Ago, In a Galaxy Far, Far Away..."
"To Infinity and Beyond..."
"Roads? Where we are going we don't need roads..."
"Beam Me Up, Scotty!"
"May The Force Be With You!"

Several of these phrases might conjure up images in your mind's eye, a remembering of movies you watched at some point in your life, or even something you just watched yesterday. Yes, these are all science-fiction references. But, science-fiction can also be Christian themed (or flavored if you will). If you are not 100% sure what Christian speculative-fiction is, then here is a brief description: Christian speculative-fiction is speculative fiction that uses Christian themes and incorporates the Christian worldview through devices of science-fiction or fantasy-adventure.

My translation: Using science-fiction or fantasy themes, Christian speculative-fiction imagines what if, what could be, what could have been, what happened, and what will happen...all focused through a Theological, Biblical lens. Being speculative, the story does not have to take place in our own time, on the planet Earth, or even in our own "reality." For example, The Left Behind series takes place in the future, but on our Earth as we know it. The Chronicles of Narnia is set on our Earth, in the past, and in Narnia (which is not on our Earth nor in our modern day time-frame). And yet, both tell stories structured with Christian themes.

Christian speculative-fiction, while a small percentage of Christian fiction, has seen a steady growth over the past several years. Speculative-fiction has several sub genres within it by the way: science-fiction, fantasy-adventure, historical-future, etc). I prefer the science-fiction side of the coin. With the popularity of The Left Behind series and The Chronicles of Narnia (also helped via the movie versions), the growth of Christian speculative-fiction is growing (as noted by more and more of this genre type on the book shelves). Young adult and young readers sections are becoming the popular place for this genre. There is even a new publisher that strictly promotes titles in this field: Marcher Lord Press. Even at the ACFW conference in Indianapolis, there was even a class on this subject.

The trick in writing Christian speculative-fiction, however, is to make sure you do not cross any theological boundaries or contradict Biblical principles. This can set you on the wrong path and turn your readers away. A writer must remember that speculation does not mean contradiction. One must keep that in mind when telling stories that use these elements.

One advantage an author has in writing in this genre is that fact that it is a relatively "new" genre....meaning, it's easier to come up with a "new" concept. You can only re-invent the wheel so many times. In this area, the wheel has just been invented.

Bottom line: God's imagination makes ALL things possible. If God didn't have an imagination, we wouldn't be here. I feel blessed to be one that God has allowed to write in this genre. To imagine what is, what was, and what could, or anywhere. Don't be surprised if you continue to see this genre grow.

A few published Authors who write speculative Christian-Fiction:
Sharon Hinck Bryan Davis
Karen Hancock CS Lewis
Donita K. Paul Robert Elmer
The Miller Brothers Kathy Tyers
Chris Walley Morgan Busse  
Austin Boyd              Steve Rzasa
LB Graham Chuck Black
Alton Gansky            Jeff Gerke
Kirk Outerbridge
Stuart Vaughn Stockton
Rick Barry

Until next time, remember that thirty minutes of creative writing a day, keeps your imagination here to stay. Write from the past, write in the present, and always write into the future.

........Oh, and for those readers that have followed my previous posts, this post has been written to the soundtrack of Kung Fu Panda.


  1. Let me get this out of the way -- your advice at the end reminded me of a joke I heard yesterday: The past, the present, and the future walked into a bar. It was tense.

    Now that I've gotten that out of my system (and many probably wish I left it in my system), I'd like to add a few names. Darren, how could you forget Morgan L. Busse, a former (and hopefully future) contributor to this group?

    I'd also like to add two other authors to this discussion. One is Suzanne Hartmann, who is writing a series of mixed genre -- or is it just a story with no set genre? -- that has a strong sci-fi/superhero thread to it, with a character who has enhanced strength.

    I'm finishing up the first book in Eric Wilson's Jerusalem Undead trilogy. His speculations do, in my opinion, make me wonder if there are violated doctrinal issues, though I believe that those contradictions are just the logical conclusion if you follow the path of his premise -- I doubt the premise was meant to create those contradictions. (I'll be interviewing Wilson in my October blog, and he also has written novelizations for Flywheel, Facing the Giants, and Fireproof -- quite different from his Christian vampire stories.)

    One final note. Three open avenues to Christian speculative fiction include angels (as with Peretti's Darkness stories -- how could you forget Peretti on your list?), end-times (e.g. Left Behind series), or symbolic allegories (Pilgrim's Progress, Chronicles of Narnia).

    And the note following the final one -- not only did Lewis write fantasy, but he has a sci-fi series as well. My father had read part of the Space Trilogy when he was young, and at a youth group when the leader mentioned C. S. Lewis, my dad responded, "Isn't he a science fiction writer?"

  2. NIce joke. Ah, she IS on the list....granted, I left out the "L"

  3. Darren you make me laugh! Kung Fu Panda. Isn't writing to music the best?