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message 1: by Werner (last edited Jul 28, 2009 06:18PM) (new)

Werner | 1923 comments Since I recently started a thread about Christian supernatural fiction, it occurred to me that other genres ought to be represented as well; and since I read more in the speculative than the descriptive genres, starting with the former comes naturally to me. :-) SF lends itself quite readily to serious speculation about the human future, the nature of the cosmos, ultimate philosophical questions, etc., as well as about human society and its problems and prospects (since social science is as much grist for the SF mill as the natural sciences). On the face of it, the genre would seem to be one that would naturally attract Christian writers, as an ideal forum for Christian themes. In the modern U.S., though, around the time (back in the 1920s) that the literary world and book trade were beginning to think in terms of "genres" and "niche marketing," the SF genre became mired in a sort of literary ghetto centered around a handful of pulp magazines. The attitude of their editors had a disproportionate influence in shaping the subsequent outlook of the whole genre; and that attitude tended to be a gadget-oriented, technophilic, evolutionist and secular humanist utopianism that substituted a supposed future heaven on earth for the real one. (Today's Star Trek franchise is the most visible heir of this tradition.) To the degree that that view shaped the image of the genre, Christians tended not to be drawn to it, either as readers or writers. My Goodreads friend Frank Creed speaks of SF as the "lost genre" in Christian fiction.

That designation is an exaggeration, though --the American pulp ghetto and its direct descendants were never the whole SF universe, and a Christian strand in the genre has a very long and healthy history. It can be traced back to Sir Thomas More's Utopia; but just to focus on modern works, C. S. Lewis (especially in his Space Trilogy) was sort of the patron saint and founding father of modern Christian SF. (Harold Myra's popular Escape from the Twisted Planet --originally titled No Man in Eden-- for instance, is clearly influenced by Lewis.) Even in the U.S., some of the great mid-20th century figures of the genre were practicing Christians, including Cordwainer Smith, who was an Episcopal layman, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction founding editor (and devout Catholic) Anthony Boucher, his co-religionist Walter M. Miller, Jr., and lifelong Methodist Zenna Henderson. All four of these reflected their faith, in various ways, in their writings, notably in Boucher's "The Quest for Saint Aquin," (which is included in the Science Fiction Hall of Fame), in Miller's Hugo Award-winning A Canticle for Leibowitz, and in the corpus of tales that the New England Science Fiction Assn. re-published in the 1990s in Ingathering: The Complete People Stories of Zenna Henderson. And no thread on Christian science fiction should fail to mention Madeline L'Engle's Newbery Award-winning series opener, A Wrinkle in Time!

The last several decades have seen at least a modest upsurge of SF writing by Christians. Just to stick to those works I've personally read, I've mentioned my Goodreads friend Andrew Seddon (Red Planet Rising; Iron Scepter) already on another of our threads. In Winterflight (1981), the late evangelical author Joseph Bayly produced, IMO, the most perceptive dystopian novel of the later 20th century. And some of the recent richness of Christian SF in the short story format is illustrated in the impressive collections published by Sky Song Press, Sky Songs: Stories of Spirituality and Speculative Science (2002) and Sky Songs II: Spiritual SF (2005).

Maybe you'd like to explore these writers more, or you have other favorite Christian SF authors to recommend or discuss; or maybe you just have questions or comments about the genre in general, or perhaps you're critical of some of these or other writers. But whatever you have to say about the whole field of Christian SF, this is the thread for saying it!

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 33 comments I'm always open to reading speculative fiction that is written by Christian authors. I invited a friend of mine on GR who is a Christian who writes science fiction and urban fantasy. I hope she will join us.

message 3: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Hebert (jjhebert) | 8 comments I love Christian speculative fiction. My former agent represented Ted Dekker before he hit it big. I'm sure you've heard of Ted, right?

Check out Marcher Lord Press. They specialize in Christian speculative fiction. And no, I'm not associated with them.


J. J. Hebert bestselling author of Unconventional

message 4: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandikal) The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell is a fabulous example of the blending of faith and science fiction. However, I do believe it is possible to come away with the impression that it's anti-Christian unless one also reads the sequel, Children of God. They form a cycle, much like Milton's Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. Russell was raised Jewish and converted to Catholicism as an adult. That quest shows in her novels.

message 5: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1923 comments J.J., I've heard of Ted Dekker, but haven't read any of his work yet. I recently picked up a copy of a book he co-wrote with Frank Peretti, so it joined the mountains of owned-not-read books I have on my shelves. :-)

Sandi, thanks for the info on Russell's books! I'd heard of her, too, but wasn't aware of her background.

message 6: by Crin (new)

Crin Werner wrote: "Since I recently started a thread about Christian supernatural fiction, it occurred to me that other genres ought to be represented as well; and since I read more in the speculative than the descri..."

I didn't know C.S. Lewis wrote a space trilogy or I should say I didn't remember it. I need to go back and research that. I vaguely remember he had an odd form of space travel. So it will be an adventure to find those stories and read or reread them. I have been reading non-fiction for a long while. I am resurecting an old science fiction story of mine and it would be good to sample works that have a similar theme. Thanks for presenting your thoughts on Christian science fiction. This information is a big help to me right now.

I also very much like the work of Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti. I am reading one of Paretti's books at present.

message 7: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1923 comments Crin, glad this helps! The three novels that make up Lewis' Space Trilogy are: Out of the Silent Planet; Perelandra; and That Hideous Strength. (Knowing the titles might make it easier to track down the series.)

message 8: by Crin (new)

Crin Yes that does help. I will be following this thread. It gives me some energy and focus for the project I am working on.

Sometimes it seems like magic when I am working on something and follow a thread of information and suddenly there are answers to questions I have hardly formulated. This website is a treasuretrove.

Now I am going to click on those titles you have so generously given to me. Perelandra sounds very familiar. Who could forget a name like that. Thanks again Werner.

message 9: by Crin (new)

Crin Werner wrote: "J.J., I've heard of Ted Dekker, but haven't read any of his work yet. I recently picked up a copy of a book he co-wrote with Frank Peretti, so it joined the mountains of owned-not-read books I hav..."

May I ask the name of the book Ted Dekker co-wrote with Frank Peretti? I will put it on my to-read list.

I am currently working out a writing schedule for my Christian Science Fiction project. I have many ideas and stories outlined and in progress so I am narrowing my focus. I am going to stick with this discussion group as a way to help me keep that focus until this project is well underway. I have chosen this story to work on because I have an excellent reader for this project. The story I have read that matches my story line is Heinlein's story with the Lazurus character. Is there a Christian science Fiction Story that you know of that is similar to that story that could be discussed in this thread?

message 10: by Crin (last edited Sep 21, 2009 05:37PM) (new)

Crin Werner wrote: "Since I recently started a thread about Christian supernatural fiction, it occurred to me that other genres ought to be represented as well; and since I read more in the speculative than the descri..."

Another thought I had was that since you mentioned a "Wrinkle in Time" and I read that many years ago and recently began to reread it with my granddaughter, I would love to discuss that book and again it is near to the storyline of my current writing project. My project is more at the young adult level with similar themes on good versus evil. I have not read any of the sequels and I would like to read and discuss those from the standpoint of comparing them to currently popular sequels which tend to degenerate with each subsequent book.

The material in my story is more mature and deals with the struggle of those who are trying to cope with the sexual mores or lack thereof in today's young adult culture. I am speculating on how this would play in the future and also in a time travel scenario.

I would like to write on these topics with a sensitivity to present the pressures young folks deal with but without the graphic violence and sexually explicit content. I am sure there are books out there that do that in this genre but I have not encountered them. I want to address the issues while carefully avoiding offensive content. Maybe this is not possible to do effectively?

message 11: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1923 comments Crin, sorry to be slow in replying --I tried to post something this morning, and the software had a "problem" saving it. :-) The book by Peretti and Dekker that I was referring to is House, first published in 2006. So far, I haven't read it, but have heard good things about it.

Since I haven't read any of Heinlein's Lazarus Long books, I don't know if there's any Christian SF that's similar. Like you, I also haven't read any of the sequels to A Wrinkle in Time (though I'd like to someday). But I'd say any or all of the books in that series would make great topics for discussion here!

What you're wanting to do with your planned writing certainly should be possible to do effectively, and I wish you all God's blessing in that project. To my knowledge, there isn't much if any Christian YA fiction in any genre that attempts to do this. Sex, no matter how it's handled, isn't a topic the CBA- dominated Christian publishing industry is very comfortable with, for the same reason that many Christian adults aren't comfortable talking about it at church or at home. (Of course, that's why a lot of Christian teens lack sexual guidance, and end up making bad decisions.)

message 12: by Crin (last edited Sep 22, 2009 01:34PM) (new)

Crin Hey Werner,

My granddaughter was reading "Twilight" and that is why we w ere reading "A wrinkle in Time" together, as a way to bridge the gap between what her peers were focusing on and something I could endorse wholeheartedly. The "Twilight" book is so sexually provocative, I confess I couldn't get past the first few chapters.

I wondered where Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy could make an inroad into the young adult world of today. My story, I think could possibly do that but I don't want to compromise my Christian values by in any way emulating the sexual provacative aspect of the pop culture. My focus is on relationship much the way that "A Wrinkle in Time" focuses on relationship.

There must be a way to address the sexual pitfalls my characters face in my story without sensationalism. I was thinking the "Christian love for one another" could be compared over and against the "popular love as power over others" in a story.

message 13: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1923 comments Crin, neither A Wrinkle in Time nor Twilight appear to be written with the conscious intention of directly addressing the sexual anarchy of modern culture, but they both depict young couples who share an attraction to each other. And they both do so from a theistic and moral viewpoint (L'engle is an evangelical, and Meyer a Mormon). A key difference between the two, though, is that Meg and Calvin are in their very early teens (or preteens?), while Bella and Edward are significantly older. I think that probably has an effect on the author's portrayal of their relationship.

Interestingly, I didn't find Twilight to be so sexually provocative --beyond, of course, the basic fact that it depicts real romantic attraction, which every reader recognizes has a physical aspect. (That awareness underlies any fictional portrayal of love and courtship.) But --especially compared to characters in a lot of modern fiction-- Edward and Bella are (and, indeed, have to be) quite restrained in their expressions of physical affection; those are confined to being close, holding each other, and kissing --and the latter not usually too forcefully. They don't talk or fantasize about sex, and Meyer seems to me to stress the feelings of the heart, not so much those of the glands. (Of course, I'm a male reader; maybe female readers react to the book differently.)

Just as a general thought, it seems to me that any honest case for premarital sexual abstinence, by both teens and older people, has to start with a recognition that humans have a God-given capacity for sexual attraction, which is intended to be part of the foundation of marriage and family life, and which is going to enter into a couple's feelings as they date and grow closer together. That doesn't mean that we have to treat that attraction as some kind of pagan god on a pedestal, which just has to be mindlessly served --very much the reverse! But it does mean, IMO, that we do have to take it seriously, not ignore it in the hopes that everybody else will ignore it, too. :-)

message 14: by Crin (new)

Crin Thanks for your perspective... I didn't see the restraint in Twilight (I did recently find out the author was Mormon) though indeed I am female and probably am more sensitive to the sex as power mistaken for sex as an expression of love scenaario.

Saving one's physical expression of love for marriage is an old fashioned concept but there is an emotional bond that forms that is important for later development of a stable permanent bond. That is the issue that I would like to emphasize in my writing. There is new scientific research on a possible brain developmental aspect of physical intimacy. I will get you the reference for that.

Bonding pysically before the age of 20 may also provoke a decision for a life partner that is not a person that is compatible or as compatible as a choice after early adulthood, there are references for that as well.

The other problem I had with Twilight was that it wasn't as well written as say the Harry Potter books, and I know she is a new author. The Potter books are also highly entertaining. The sequels became increasingly dark and delved more into exploring spiritism. I think I got through part of the fourth one on that series. The movies of Twilight and of Harry Potter were far less occult like than the books were.

Are there some literary award winning Science Fiction novels that explore the value of commited relationship over and against love as power or as sexual freedom to have many partners? The Science Fiction I have enjoyed in the past does not help me formulate a way to portray the thrill of waiting for a committed relationship.

I have heard of groups of young people that are now exploring chastity before marriage and how to prepare for a committed marriage relationship. I don't see why Science Fiction can't be written to support this trend. Perhaps it can't be written as a provocative or exhilirating experience but I am up for the challenge to make it so.

There is an exciting aspect to the dorky guy that wants to wait to kiss the girl he marries. It is intriguing to wait with the shy young girl as she holds back her hand holding for the young man of her dreams. I'm kind of talking about a Jane Austen character exploring where no one has explored before or Jame Eyre discovering that alien from the fifth dimension is hiding a lifemate in the sixth dimension. Then his wife's brother lets the cat out of the bag on their wedding day.

Also there is the bad girl/bad boy as the only partner the hero/heroine can possibly be attracted to and must commit to. Where is the storyline for exploring waiting for the person who might make him/her feel loved and cherished for a lifetime or the hero who knows his destiny is such that he must remain celebate. This must be a lost frontier and I would like to explore it.

Oh! Hey! I do have an analogous story. The Highlander movie before it became a series, and then a train of love em and leave em partners in the same lifetime, was about loving someone in a commited relationship until the partner died. It was entirely from the male perspective though. The females did not seem to have the love till death us do part ethic. I loved that about that movie and I don't even know if there is a novel behind that screenplay or not. I will definitely look for that. Thanks Werner, this may be just the analagous scenario I am looking for.

If there is no Highlander book could we discuss the screen play or the movie?

message 15: by Werner (last edited Nov 02, 2009 06:07AM) (new)

Werner | 1923 comments Crin, I've read a fair amount of science fiction, but I honestly can't think of any, right off the bat, ("award-winning" or not) that concentrates on giving a pro-chastity message. (Though there are certainly several where particular characters conduct themselves in a chaste fashion.) So your book will be filling a void; and as I said, I think what you're attempting to do can (and should) be done.

BTW, when I think of "spiritism," I think of seances and mediums --an attempt to learn secrets of the next life or the future from the dead by necromancy. In the Potter series, that element isn't present. (Of course, Hogwarts has its resident ghosts who haven't moved on; but they don't have any more secret knowledge than humans do, and the characters don't try to conjure them with ouija boards, etc.)

Yes, I saw the Highlander movie some years ago, and appreciated Connor's willingness to faithfully stay with his wife until she died, even though he didn't age while she did. (Winzy in Mary Shelley's story "The Mortal Immortal" does the same thing --and Edward in the Twilight series is willing to do so for Bella, though she has misgivings about the idea.) That does make a powerful statement about what committed love really means (though later in the movie, Connor's role modeling is less exemplary when he and a female cop let themselves get carried away with each other without benefit of clergy.)

I've never heard that the movie was based on a book, though there is at least one spin-off book based on the TV series (where the protagonist, Duncan, is most definitely not a role model for sexual restraint!). Yes, I'd say the movie is certainly fair game for discussion in this group. Even though Goodreads is mainly about books, many groups discuss movies, too; they're both expressions of creative art. And as a group, we're about discussing creative art from a Christian perspective --not just about discussing only Christian creative art. :-) My suggestion would be to start a new thread for it, or for movies/TV in general.

message 16: by Crin (last edited Sep 23, 2009 09:04PM) (new)

Crin Hey Werner, I have not got time to do this note justice but an odd thing happened today. One of my granddaughters wrote a report on Sir Francis Drake, a distant ancestor of ours if my Aunts that do our family geneology are right. At any rate she researched this character and found out some great historical data on him. He also happens to be a distant ancestor of the hero in my current writing project so suddenly I have some data I did not even have to look up. This story must be meant to be told. I just can't believe how many resources are coming together for ths project.

BTW, you are right on the Duncan character(I loved your decription of the TV series Duncan: definitely "not a role model for sexual restraint"), I had forgotten my disappointment when he was so quick to bed a wench he just met. I have not read or watched that material in a long time. I am looking for material that more clearly enhances my Christian walk and my creativity so I have limited my reading and movie watching to material that challenges the prevailing world view with a more Christ centered view. I especially liked the movie,"Amazing Grace" I saw recently.

I just struggle with how to write that Christ centered focus and at the same time write authenically on the pressures facing young adults (as well as the pressures facing the families that are trying to launch those young adults) in this all too imperfect world. Peretti does a good job of addressing the evil of the occult and drugs etc. but comparing and contrasting the Christian world view on sexuality and the prevailing world view on sexuality is not as easy for me to envision.

The pirate archetype for me represents the rebel that when confronted with evil attempts to choose the lesser evil and pursue the higher road. I don't know if Drake in real life attempted the Robin Hood path but my character, (Drakes name sake, in my story) does attempt the higher road. Pirates in science fiction, both future oriented and time traveling scenarios are a popular hero/heroine type. So that part of the story is going well, it is the creative way of presentiing evil, particularly sexually provocative/corrupted lover /power abusing evil and the attractiveness of it that I want to present well.

I am going to let this percolate a bit. I guess using similar modalities as those writing in other genres might lead me to a method I can use in my science fiction work.

Lastly, I am going to look up the book by Mary Shelly, "The Mortal Immortal" and see what that has to say about the chaste aspect of managing sexual attraction. I read a review of Twilight just a few moments ago and I will get that reference for you. It made a point regarding "sexual abstinance" as practiced by the characters in that story as not especially positive. However chastity is really not avoidance as abstinance is. It is more like channeling (or sublimating) that God-given attraction into something equally or maybe even more attractive. Ah well the hour is late and I have a bit more research to do.

message 17: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1923 comments Crin, it sounds like your research and story development are progressing very well! When you get your book published, it sounds like one that I'd like to put on my to-read list.

Yes, pirates do enjoy a highly romanticized, Robin Hood image in modern popular culture, and there's nothing wrong with making good literary use of that. :-) And it has a degree of factual basis; no doubt, some of the men (and, rarely, women) who became pirates were pushed into it by circumstances like poverty, and operated with a certain moral code and sense of honor. But most real-life pirates were vicious, greedy, treacherous, self-serving thugs, as Stevenson portrays them in Treasure Island (despite being a Romantic writer, he pegged them very realistically!). Some, like Bartholomew Roberts (the model for "the dread pirate Roberts" in The Princess Bride) were quite sadistic; and at least one, Captain Edward Low, was a Satanist. Pirate sexual behavior generally was animalistic and predatory as well --female victims ran a high risk of being gang-raped. (And there is plenty of documentary evidence that, operating with all-male crews confined in close quarters for years-long voyages, pirate ships had, to put it delicately, some of the same problems that beset same-sex prisons today.)

Drake preyed on Spanish merchant ships, and certainly was regarded by the Spanish as essentially a pirate; but he would have regarded himself as something technically different. He was, like many others in his day and for centuries afterwards, a privateer: a citizen authorized by his own nation to capture the cargoes of enemy nation's ships, and keep the profits for himself and his crew. This may be thought of as a form of "legalized" piracy (and some captains and crews shifted back and forth from privateering to piracy according to the state of foreign relations at the time). Interestingly, the U.S. Constitution still gives Congress authority to grant individuals authorization to act as privateers.

"The Mortal Immortal" is a short story, not a book. You can find it in The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women.

It sounds like the review of Twilight you read has a different perspective than mine! However, I'll read it with interest, and an open mind. :-)

message 18: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1923 comments Thanks, Elizabeth!

message 19: by Crin (new)

Crin Werner wrote: "Crin, it sounds like your research and story development are progressing very well! When you get your book published, it sounds like one that I'd like to put on my to-read list.

Yes, pirates do e..."

This is one of the Twilight critiques. I know you have an open mind and better yet you have an analytical mind which I am shamelessly using to balance my perspective. I agree with you and Elizabeth for the most part on the difference of Wrinkle in Time versus Twilight on the way they depict relationship and the preteen versus YA attraction and conflict resolution in the two stories. It isn't a fair comparison and I admit I just have not read enough of this genre to say why I am uncomfortable with the Twilight series.

It is worth it for me to hear and learn just why this story is so popular with even Christian parents and kids when I feel a little dismayed about my granddaughter reading the book.

My grandadaughter does not actually like the book and although she is a voracious reader, she is only reading it a little at a time and then making a case for why her peers read inferior literature. I don't like her attitude on this so we discuss ways to disagree with others while still valuing them and their opinions.

I give this review with a little trepidation because it too seems a bit one sided. I come at this discussion from the behavioral science side of the house and teen attitudes on expressing physical attraction seem to matter on an empirical basis. I am still looking for the lay book reference for you. I have a raft of scientific journal articles which just aren't appropriate for this forum.

I am interested in literary works at this time in my life though I use all my life experience and my science background weaves itself into my stories because I have never stopped my learning in science, I just realized the Christian perspective of science is gaining some pretty awesome evidence. Thus writing science fiction from a christian perspective has become a lot more interesting for me these days.

Ah well here is the review:

This second review may be more balanced:

I look forward to your comments.

BTW, I loved your great insight on the pirate topic and want to explore that a bit in my next post.

message 20: by Crin (new)

Crin Sandi wrote: "The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell is a fabulous example of the blending of faith and science fiction. However, I do believe it is possible to come away with the impression that it's ..."

Sandi, I just read and reread your post then I read the descriptions of the books. There is so much more to science fiction than I have read. I have always loved this genre but there is a whole new aspect to science fiction that I have never even heard of. Thank you for mentioning the The Sparrow and Children of God books. I am new to this website but even narrowing my focus to primarily science fiction right now, my "to read" list is expanding nearly as much as my awareness that Christian science fiction is such an underutilized genre for exploring human relationships and the meaning of existence.

God bless, Crin

message 21: by Werner (last edited Sep 25, 2009 06:07PM) (new)

Werner | 1923 comments Crin, thanks for those links to reviews of the Twilight series; I'm always interested in other readers' takes on books I've read. By now, I've had a chance to read and digest both reviews, so can offer my two cents worth by way of reactions. :-) Interestingly, my perception of the stance of the two was the exact reverse of yours: I didn't find the Huffington Post piece by Sarah Seltzer to be at all balanced, while the Washington Post online column by John Mark Reynolds (of Biola Univ.) is very fair and level-headed.

Seltzer, who describes herself as a "freelance progressive writer," approaches the series from the blinkered viewpoint of what's often called "gender feminism." (I'm what's called an "equalitarian feminist" -- and, yes, I'm a male, but you don't have to be female to be an equalitarian feminist.) Her basic starting assumption seems to be that literature MUST depict women as independent of males and as the self-serving centers of their own worlds, and MUST declare that this ought forever to be so. The second assumption, just as clearly, is that religious believers such as Meyer are "misogynistic" and "patriarchal," so that any fiction they produce must, by definition, denigrate women. Of course, it may be hard to detect how it does so; but this is simply a challenge for "feminist media critics" to rise to. Despite her admission that she avidly read the books, Seltzer is ready (once she manages to put her normal human reactions aside and get her shining armor attached) to pick up the gauntlet. Bella, it seems, is a "cipher," a slave to Edward's "control", and lacking in "spunk." Seltzer splatters her scorn for the very idea of sexual restraint all over the page, and finds it ludicrous that here the restraint comes mostly from the male side. (The irony that the "feminist media critic," not Meyer, is the one engaging in the blithe gender stereotyping is quite obvious, but, alas, unconscious.) Her biggest peeve, however, is that Bella doesn't abort her baby when the pregnancy is physically difficult --clearly, she's shirking her sacred feminist duty.

If you don't start by unquestioningly sharing Seltzer's assumptions, her review won't convince you of anything --she's clearly preaching to the choir. It might be worthwhile to point out, though, that in New Moon Bella saves Edward's life (at great risk to her own), not the other way around; that in Twilight she tells Edward that she doesn't always want to be Lois Lane in the relationship --she wants a chance to be Superman, too; and that her character is anything but a "cipher." Strength isn't revealed primarily in selfishness; real inner strength shows itself in willing service to others.

In contrast, Reynolds, as befits an academic, is very fair and dispassionate in his discussion, and he has a lot of good things (with which I agree) to say about the series. His main criticism is that the portrayal of love here makes it an idol; it assumes the place of God as the highest loyalty. Of course, in principle, we recognize that human love has to be subordinated to the love of God. But I'm not sure it's fair to expect every work of romantic fiction to clearly articulate that principle, especially when you're dealing with a nonreligious heroine. Reynold's appeal to Wuthering Heights and Romeo and Juliet as examples of a more proper approach aren't convincing --the latter pair kill themselves for love, and Heathcliff's passion for Catherine Earnshaw is a very sick, selfish and ultimately destructive one.

message 22: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1923 comments Re my comment above, I think Sarah Seltzer's approach to the Twilight series starts from flawed premises and is too ideologically-driven; and there's nothing wrong with saying so. But she deserves to be respected as a fellow human being, so I shouldn't have yielded to the temptation to take a sarcastic, ridiculing tone towards aspects of her review. I apologize to the group for that, and I'll try to do better!

message 23: by Crin (last edited Sep 26, 2009 11:02PM) (new)

Crin I am so sorry Werner, I had a raft of things happen with the little family on the prairie as my husband and I call our son and his wife and daughters. They are the other persons of my writing team and they were having a rough go but now seem to be doing better.

My son is a disabled veteran so things kinda get to him. The conflict is heating up in the middle East and the plight of our trrops makes him wish he could go back in and resume his Army career. Hopefully editing my stories will help him get his mind off that.

I too have to watch my sarcastic kneejerk reactions to things. When I first heard about Twilight from the parents and kids I know and began reading it. one of the kids said Bella's half vampire baby became fully mature as a sixth month old. That is when the werewolf guy became sexually attracted to her. He had also been a suitor to her mother, Bella. I could not read past the first couple of chapters and I skimed ahead a bit.

Skimming ahead is a bad habit of mine but I do that when I think that something bad is going to happen to a character I get attached to. I really hate when people or animals are tortured in any way. Physical or emotional torture bothers me. If I think something like that will be in the book, I skim ahead and try to determine if the value of the book is worth the agony of going through that with the character. I am digressing a bit but there is a point coming up here.

The Hiding Place by Cori ten Boom was well worth the awful torture scenes for what I gained in understanding the concept of forgiveness in extreme circumstances. I read a Science fiction book once that had such horific torture scenes I still have vivid recall. It had a character called Thermopile who had a device that could give pleasure or torture and had a woman he kept and tortured until the protagonist finally saved her. I must have felt some kind of masochistic fascination with it but it was during a time of my life when I was exploring that kind of thing (I was also working in a prison and the court documents I was reading were excruciatingly graphic about the damage to the victims). Wish I hadn't explored that stuff but I did. Like David with Bathsheba there was a penalty to pay for that little period of exploring the boundaries of the dark things in life.

Back to Twilight. Sexual attraction to a 6 month old anything didn't sit well with me and instead of being wise and prudent, my knee jerk reaction was, sounds like, "Pulp fiction for tweens". I now deeply regret that those words came out of my mouth and I am backpeddling trying to understand this book and the fascination it is for so many people.

I also agree with you that the Reynolds review was the better of the two reviews, certainly more scholarly. His choices of Wuthering Heights and Romeo and Juliet as more positive choices for depicting sexual attraction is odd at best. Romeo and Juliet was a suicide pact. What is romantic about that, Ah well..

I thought the other article was more balanced in this way. Many people are remarking on the strong sensuality portrayed in the book. That kind of thing pervades our culture right now. There are some pluses about the book but that kind of sensuality is addictive for some folks. I am one of those folks who gets concerned for the "least of these". Some kids don't have the benefit of an adult who will discuss the pros and cons of sexual material and
positive role models versus negative role models for them to emulate. The peer pressure around this book in the schools is intense even here and we live in the Bible belt. One parent I talked to said she enjoyed reading it but probably wouldn't let her kid read it. I asked why and she apparently didn't think she wanted her daughter to read something that sensual because it was something like the sexy romance novels and she thought that wasn't a very healthy focus for her daughter. I have heard others say they liked their kids involvment in school plays or parties based on that series. There are placards advertising a Twilight party at the High School up the road from me. So I am really trying to understand both views because it seems to be more than a passing fad here. For selling books it is amazingly compelling and on the other hand, what exactly is the direction it is taking us.

The folks at my Church got over Harry Potter especially after about the 4th book. The grandparents were just so pleased that the kids were interested in reading that the subject matter really didn't matter.

Twilight has folks taking sides and I wonder about that. Seltzer I think was trying to call attention to a darker side to the sensuality in that book. I do agree that she is over the top when it comes to the feminist entitlement to choice, etc. She does have a point on what kind of a strong female role model we want for our girls. What kids read matters. I want to present some strong positive female rolemodels in science fiction. One of the the unsung heroines in science fiction is a strong female rolemodel in a commited married relationship. A relationship unswervingly committed to protecting young people not only in thier family but kids in the community.

Star trek and even the Twilight Zone provided some training in cultural conficts and ethics that I really apreciated as I was growing up. The female role models were mostly awful but the Vulcan women seemed like they had more going on than just being convenient sexual objects. So science fiction as a way to explore relationships has a long if not always helpful past.

The economy is putting pressure on families right now and I would like to see stories that show the absolute joy in sublimating sexual attraction into serving others. Sorry I can't get off that soap box but lately seeing kids and family pets getting caught in the crossfire of families in crisis is a sore subject. I have firends whose families are in turmoil and breaking up over thinking they are missing something because their love life isn't as exciting as the media portrays. The only good thing is some folks are staying together because they now can no longer afford the easy divorce and are choosing to stick it out through an unhappy time.

Next post it is back to space and/or time pirates but in my story even the pirates are going to have to be socially responsible or "it be walking the plank fer them me matey" Besides "A wrinkle in Time" is science fiction and Twilight is technically not science fiction so I can let it rest. There are other sexual attraction scenarios in science fiction I am beginning to remember, both good and bad so I am ready to refocus back to a Christian perspective on Science fiction. Forgive my distraction with the off topic stuff.

message 24: by Crin (new)

Crin Heaven

This book may not be fiction but it is researched well and this guy can write. It could probably be considered speculative of future events but I'm hoping it is true. Anyway though I have read several of his books, Randy Alcorn may be able to present our future world in a very realistic way. Enjoy...I am not only wanting to add this to my to read shelf. I am going to find a copy ASAP

message 25: by Crin (new)

Crin Imperial Legions A Novel

I had some time tonight to read more of your first post Werner and I thought this novel might have some insight into how to effectively portray love and attraction is a Christian fiction book. Since one of the time periods I had envisioned for my story was during the early Christian church era, it would have relevance on several levels.

There are so many books I would like to read it is difficult to order my priorites for this project. I realize in the past that has distracted me from focusing effectively on one project. I am determined to stay on task. My idea is to skim a couple of the books suggested here for references though I hate to do that with books I really wanto to savor. I am the type of reader that rereads books. (I am also a repeat movie watcher) I don't know why but I am always suprised at what I missed the first or even second time through. So I checked out the Andrew Seddon books you suggested Werner. The Sparrow suggested by Sandi looks promising as well.

I just slashed my tv subscription since I am really assessing where my time and resources are going. I am also assessing my reading commitments and deciding which are most likely to advance my story project. I will watch for the comments here and I am practicing pirate dialogue on one of the roleplay discussion groups. I have a writer's group and now that I have announced my intention to commit to this project, a couple of foks have also dredged up some science fiction story ideas. I am better at organizing than setting priorities but I am finding myself talking about this project more and more with others and I have this discussion group to thank for that.

message 26: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1923 comments Crin, there's never any need to apologize for not responding to a post right away --as you can tell, I don't always respond very quickly, either. :-) We've all got busy lives outside of Goodreads! I wish your son and his family all the best; all of us owe a really big debt of gratitude to our veterans, especially the disabled ones who've sacrificed so much.

You're right that the Twilight series isn't science fiction, but I wouldn't feel too guilty about being "off topic." Personally, I'm more interested in good, energetic discussion than strict topical relevance, and I think the mention of Twilight sparked plenty of the former! As soon as I can get around to it, I'll start a separate thread for that series, since I suspect it might continue to generate a lot of comment.

Yes, Andrew's Imperial Legions --which is a historical novel set in Roman Britain; he writes in both the historical and SF genres-- does a very good job of presenting love and romantic attraction in an appealing (and not overblown) way. He's also --to reference another point you made above, with which I agree strongly-- very conscious of the importance of presenting strong, positive female role models. The heroine here is an example, as are his SF heroines, such as Capt. Carolyn McCourt in Red Planet Rising. Historically, science fiction wasn't a genre where you'd find a lot of positive portrayals of strong women; especially in the U.S. during the early modern pulp period, it tended to be a very male-dominated literature, written almost wholly by males for a heavily male fan base, and relegating women to a subservient place in the background. But the SF world has changed a great deal, in all of those respects, in the last several decades.

message 27: by Jon (new)

Jon (jonmoss) | 111 comments Crin wrote: "Imperial Legions A Novel

I had some time tonight to read more of your first post Werner and I thought this novel might have some insight into how to effectively portray love and ..."

Thanks for making me aware of this book, Crin. I'm a sucker for Roman Britain historical fiction and it's a major plus if it's Christian fiction as well.

message 28: by Crin (new)

Crin Hey Jon (off topic but these were some of my most loved reads) There is a favorite author of mine that wrote several early Christian historical novels. Taylor Caldwell I especially liked the one about Paul and the one about luke listed below:Great Lion of GodDear and Glorious Physician

message 29: by Mary JL (new)

Mary JL (maryjl) | 14 comments Cris: I read the two Taylor Caldwell books as well and found them vey good. Imho only, the one about St. Paul (Great Lionof God) was just a little better than the one about St. Like (Dear and Glorious Physician). However, both are well worth a read.

Also, for fans of Roman historical fiction, Taylor Caldwell wrote a novel about Cicero, A Pillar Of Iron.

message 30: by Crin (new)

Crin Mary JL wrote: "Cris: I read the two Taylor Caldwell books as well and found them vey good. Imho only, the one about St. Paul (Great Lionof God) was just a little better than the one about St. Like (Dear and Glo..."

Yes she did. Taylor Caldwell wrote some very interesting and historically credible books. I think that I have read them all and reread some of them. I didn't really like the non-historical novels but she does have a way of weaving the dynamics of relationship into historical context. I love that perspective, particularly when the confict has implications for the Christian walk. Not that the Christian perspective is easy in any time period.

I find this just amazing that I can discuss the Christian perspective on science fiction and fantasy or any other genre with such a broad based group. It is just a wonderful experience for me.

message 31: by Crin (new)

Crin I am back to doing research for my project. I am speculating on some evidence from creation science or from the viewpoint of the world designed by a creator.

There are some new claims lately on the creation side and the evolution/secualar humanist side. I have a way to project some of the creation science evidence in to a different future. What if those that are not going to heaven are destined to work through this type of world over and over until they get it right (not reincarnation).

Taking into account that Christ died once for all, it should be possible to read about the Christ story or project a documentay of it into the future.

I think C.S. Lewis thought that folks continued on alive with the saved progressing in closeness to Christ. Those that reject it would continue on infinitely getting further and further from Christ.

What if the outer darkness that some folks may go to is more of this world slowly grinding people down and steadily offering opportunities for redemption?

I know God has a plan and in advance knows which folks will never turn to Him. I also know God is a God of second chances, third and forth, even seventy times seven? Some folks say those that reject Christ will just be mercifully destroyed. The Bible seems to say that it is an ongoing place but I never could see how that would be. So any opinions?

message 32: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1923 comments Crin, you pose interesting and worthwhile questions! Christian theology over the centuries has grappled with the fate of the damned after death --of course, the Bible is our basis for whatever we believe, since it gives us God's revelation of things we can't know naturally. But the Bible isn't written like a human systematic theology textbook; things it says have to be interpreted, and it doesn't tell us everything we want to know --just what we need to know.

You accurately described what C. S. Lewis believed about the matter. He agreed with the traditional view of the Catholic and Orthodox churches, accepted by most all Protestants, that the souls of the damned exist forever. But where medieval theology -and a lot of modern belief, too-- tended to picture them as suffering fiendish physical torture for eternity, Lewis and many other modern Christians modiify that view to make their suffering psychological and spiritual: eternal alienation from God, that makes true happiness forever impossible.

The (minority) view that the souls of those who reject God's mercy are destroyed in the final judgment is called conditional immortality, or conditionalism for short. A good, clear treatment of this view, and the Biblical arguments for and against it, is The Fire That Consumes by Edward Fudge, which is on our group bookshelf. (You can read my review of it there, if you want to.) That offers a pretty comprehensive, Genesis-to-Revelation treatment of every Bible passage bearing on the subject.

The main reason that both of the above positions have always rejected the idea of a second chance after death is that the natural meaning of Hebrews 9:27 would appear to preclude it. (God, of course, gives people lots of chances to repent before death.) Of course, there have occasionally been some Christians who believed in posthumous chances for repentance, and even that eventually everybody would take advantage of them --Origen even believed that Satan would eventually repent and be saved. (I'm not that optimistic, however. :-)) Hope this helps!

message 33: by Crin (new)

Crin Werner wrote: "Crin, you pose interesting and worthwhile questions! Christian theology over the centuries has grappled with the fate of the damned after death --of course, the Bible is our basis for whatever we ..."

Hey Werner, how can I resist asking questions when you give such thought provoking answers...

I have seen some work by a Catholic priest, Andrew Greely, who imagined that Satan would be saved. He wrote a book called "Angel Fire," about the lives of angels. It postulates an extention of our physical relationships in heaven, both for us and for angels. That didn't quite ring true for me but it was an interesting supposition.

I thought the Bible said something about Satan and his his minions, fallen angels and/or the Nephalim (angel/human hybrids?) are destined for destruction. I will have to review that. Though it does seem that if humans are sent into the outer darkness to live tortured lives forever that there may be some redemptive opportunities.

God loves folks more than we mere humans can fathom, so if redemption is possible, God has a plan for even the darkest souls (why would they exist forever? What might be the reason for it?). Satan is not human and probably could remain unrepentant forever and would merit destruction.

message 34: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1923 comments Crin, glad you think my answers are thought-provoking! I was thinking that the Bible passage you were referring to might be II Peter 2:4 and/or Jude 6; but neither of those verses specifically refers to "destruction" --just "judgment."

message 35: by Crin (last edited Oct 26, 2009 02:30PM) (new)


Werner, I also was not able to see destruction aluded to, except in Revelation. I am going to check some translations. The key may be back to Nephalim, that the angels and humans that were tainted by having relations with each other and their progeny were the ones destined for the Lake of Fire. This is according to some commentaries that interpret the sons of God as angels.

This leaves the "outer darkness" referred to in the Bible as a place where folks go if they are turned away from heaven. Sounds like an environment for a science fiction story! A place to work out one's rebellious attitude? "What dreams may come", was a movie about heavenly second chances to escape that fate. That possiblity is really compelling for me and for many people.

Let's face it some folks we love might be in serious need of a possible second chance because like the Laodiceans, they are neither cold nor hot. Although the saying "there are no atheists in fox holes" might come into play. The economic challenge has really helped folks become seekers after the truth, folks I never expected to consider spiritual thingsa are definitely asking questions.

Science Fiction speculates on the basis of science evidence extended into the future. Creation science fiction could also take some of the Biblically based scientific evedence and extend that into the future to a place where the "worm never dies"

Sort of a "Dune" type thing updated. That was taking the worm thing to heart. I just realized that is probably a premise the "Dune" author had in mind. He ran out of steam on his last books of the series.

Another author sort of went that route as well. The series really ran out of steam at book "Number of the Beast" book. I could never get through that book, it seemed so convoluted. My local used book store owner might have an opinion on why that book doesn't work for me. If it doesn't work for him then it might be actually convoluted and I can let that rest.

Nevermind I saw some Goodread reviews and other folks had problems with it as well.

message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

Whether you enjoyed or didn't enjoy Twilight for whatever reason, I've a series out there that has garnished readers from both the general market of Christians readers and the closed CBA market of Christian readers (though the CBA/ECPA group doesn't recognize my work since neither of my publisher's pay to be affiliated.)

Give them a shot. Us non-affiliated Christian authors could really use your support. My first novel Never Ceese was short-listed for a Bram Stoker award in 2007 and was book club choice of the month of April 2007 at the American Christians Fiction Writer's Association before I unjoined because I learned this group was only designed to help authors find exclusive affiliated Christian publishers. (That was a bummer.)

Anyway, Werner can tell you more and there are enough reviews to help you make a decision. Though the book was written with general market Christian readers in mind, (the original Christian market) both Never Ceese and Forever Richard have been approved by Spring Arbor to the Christian market more specifically associated with affiliated publishers.

Do check my series out if you get the chance. It's Sue Dent's Thirsting for Blood Series. Never Ceese and Forever Richard are the first two installments. Cyn no More will be the third . . . and so on . :)

message 37: by Werner (last edited Oct 26, 2009 03:09PM) (new)

Werner | 1923 comments Crin, interesting comments, as always! The major NT reference that I can think of to destruction, in the context of individual eschatology, is Matt. 10:28. Jesus' reference to "where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched," seems to be an OT quotation, from Isaiah 66:24, if that's of interest.

Thanks for the link. I haven't read Heinlein's Number of the Beast; but I can definitely say that he wasn't a professing Christian, and none of his work would be written from a Christian perspective. In this case, the title (like, for instance, John Steinbeck's East of Eden) is just one of many examples where writers of that generation and earlier ones employed Biblical images or terminology in their writing for the symbolic effect. (They could still assume, at that time, that most readers were Biblically literate enough to recognize and understand the allusions --which isn't the case today.) As far as I know, Frank Herbert was not a professed Christian either; and having read (and really liked) Dune, I didn't actually think of the sandworms as modeled on the Bible verse
--although Herbert was interested in religion in a general way, and well read in the subject, so I can't categorically say that the reference didn't influence him. The biography of him written by his son Brian might shed more light on that, but I've never read it.

Re Sue Dent's work, I can give Never Ceese my hearty recommendation! Our group has a discussion thread devoted to that book (and, by extension, to her other work as well) and she's also mentioned on the Christian Supernatural Fiction thread; so interested folks may want to check those out as well.

message 38: by Crin (last edited Nov 01, 2009 10:42AM) (new)

Crin Werner wrote: "Crin, interesting comments, as always! The major NT reference that I can think of to destruction, in the context of individual eschatology, is Matt. 10:28. Jesus' reference to "where their worm do..."

Yes I agree Heinlein and Herbert are not Christian but their work is strongly affected by the Bible. Stranger in a Strange Land is lifted right from the Moses story. Herbert's Dune appears lifted from Old Testament prophecy and the Koran? possibly. Both authors took the Biblical themes and extended them forward only in terms of evolution theory which itself is a religion of sorts.

BTW in later books in the Dune series the protaganist eats enough spice and it affects his supergenetics and he takes on the shape of an immortal worm. I can't beleive I read them all once but I skimmed later ones. The veiled hints about Biblical perspective is a thread throughout, though much of the references are negative or reworked into an evolution framework. Possibly more palatable for self as God belief.

Heinlein's books seemed to follow a super genetics pattern as well though his books became a message that the elites can make up their own rules and live happily ever after.

The Freman, the prophectical clan in Dune, on the desert planet sounded like the mideast meets Western Monarchical oppression and decadence. The Freman seemed much like essenes possibly representing the war in self to deny self physical pleasure in order to survive long enough to be close to their coming Messiah. The Dune Messiah though was to bring a "Holy war, Jihad", so they may also represent Islaamic lore as well.

The Freman's Messiah turned into that immortal worm thing by eating Spice, supernatural potion, made by the Dune worms which had a couple of side effects, you could live forever, transcend time and it turned their Dune Messiah into a big worm. That last side effect gives one pause.

Ah well, Messiah archetypes are interesting but they have some limits, being conceived by man they don't have a clue about being God.

Hey Werner, "Controversy is the stuff of dreams and dreams are the stuff of inspiration" (This might be a paraphrase of a quotation I have heard but if not I will claim it.) So I am definitely working up a background plot for my current Science Fiction project. Thanks for your dual role as devil's advocate and as an angel of inspiration. You are the best, Crin Stranger in a Strange LandDune Messiah

message 39: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1923 comments Thanks, Crin; I'm glad I could help! Your project has a lot of promise, and I wish you all the best with it. Keep us posted as it progresses.

I've only read Dune itself, not any of the many sequels. Although I didn't pick up much similarity to the Essenes, I was struck by the parallels between the Fremen and the desert-dwelling Arabs of early Islam; and I'm sure that those affinities were intentional on Herbert's part.

message 40: by Kelsey (new)

Kelsey (musicfreak) | 8 comments I was wondering If any of you guys have read the Left Behind Series?? And if you have, what do you think of it?

message 41: by Jon (new)

Jon (jonmoss) | 111 comments I read the first book and found it entertaining but not uplifting or enlightening. Probably has to do with my Methodist upbringing. :)

message 42: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 90 comments Crin wrote: "I am so sorry Werner, I had a raft of things happen with the little family on the prairie as my husband and I call our son and his wife and daughters. They are the other persons of my writing team ..."

I can see how someone might offhand say regarding the Twilight series that "Bella's half vampire baby became fully mature as a sixth month old. That is when the werewolf guy became sexually attracted to her. He had also been a suitor to her mother, Bella." Just to clarify, in the Twilight series Bella's baby is not fully mature at six months. She does grow faster than a human baby and can speak at a very young age, but if I remember correctly, the book states that she will not reach full adulthood until she is about 7 years old. Also, the werewolf Jacob is not sexually attracted to Renesmee, Bella's baby, when she is six months old. In fact, he is not sexually attracted to her at all in the book and when the idea of his being sexually attracted to her is suggested he responds with disgust. Jacob imprints on Renesmee when she is born. Although in some relationships of people of the same age imprinting includes sexual attraction, it is explained in the series that imprinting is not the same as sexual attraction and does not always result in that kind of relationship. Instead it is a form of love and devotion to care for and protect the person a werewolf imprints on and form whatever kind of relationship that person most needs with age taken into account. So the imprinting relationship may be one of physical love, but it may also be best friends or big brother, etc.

message 43: by Lynne (new)

Lynne Stringer | 73 comments I know numerous authors (myself being one of them) who are Christians who write speculative fiction. I think I'm the only one I know who's done sci-fi, although I know several who write fantasy. There's definitely a growing number, especially when it comes to fantasy with a God-concept, and frequently a triune God, at that.

message 44: by Lynne (new)

Lynne Stringer | 73 comments Jessica wrote: "I can see how someone might offhand say regarding the Twilight series that "Bella's half vampire baby became fully mature as a sixth month old. That is when the werewolf guy became sexually attracted to her. He had also been a suitor to her mother, Bella." Just to clarify, in the Twilight series Bella's baby is not fully mature at six months. She does grow faster than a human baby and can speak at a very young age, but if I remember correctly, the book states that she will not reach full adulthood until she is about 7 years old. "

I'm a Twilight fan, and I can confirm that everything you've written in your post is correct. Jacob will not be sexually attracted to Renesmee until she is an adult. His imprinting drives him to want the best for her, whatever it is, so he will not even feel something like that for her until she is of the right age for him to feel that.

message 45: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 90 comments Kelsey wrote: "I was wondering If any of you guys have read the Left Behind Series?? And if you have, what do you think of it?"

I have read the Left Behind series several times and am rereading them again now. They are some of my favorite books.

message 46: by T.C. (new)

T.C. Slonaker | 62 comments Kelsey wrote: "I was wondering If any of you guys have read the Left Behind Series?? And if you have, what do you think of it?"

Yep, read them all, and I was really hooked. It aligned well with my beliefs about the end times.

message 47: by Beverly (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 40 comments Sandi wrote: "The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell is a fabulous example of the blending of faith and science fiction. However, I do believe it is possible to come away with the impression that it's a..."

Thanks for your info. I only read the first one, and was so put off by it that I never read the sequel. Maybe I should give it a chance now.

message 48: by Valerie (new)

Valerie Jackson | 6 comments Kelsey wrote: "I was wondering If any of you guys have read the Left Behind Series?? And if you have, what do you think of it?"

I read it a long time ago. Enjoyed it. It no longer lines up with my end times theology but that's okay. It is Bible-based fiction.

message 49: by Valerie (new)

Valerie Jackson | 6 comments I like the Lamb Among the Stars series by Chris Walley. And am re-reading it for the umpteenth time.

message 50: by Werner (new)

Werner | 1923 comments Up to now, we've never mentioned Robert Hugh Benson's 1907 dystopian novel Lord of the World (which I've recently finished reading; my review is here: ), but it's a significant contribution to the very early history of dystopian writing, and one with a message that's extremely relevant for today, despite being 110 years old. Benson was a Roman Catholic priest who wrote from a very Catholic perspective; but though he probably didn't see Protestants as part of his audience, I believe the book is worthwhile reading for Protestants as well in these times.

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