Christian Speculative Fiction discussion

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Christian vs Non-Christian Speculative Fiction

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message 1: by Lara (new)

Lara Lee | 507 comments Mod
I have been reading a lot of non-christian speculative fiction recently. I had often heard people say that non-christian writing was better quality than Christian writing. I used to hold this idea, but now I don't agree. I think perhaps we are comparing the editing quality of big publishers vs small and indie publishers instead. What are your thoughts on the subject?


message 2: by Stan (last edited Jul 31, 2018 10:06AM) (new)

Stan | 288 comments Mod
I read more non-fiction than fiction, and speculative is even a smaller portion of what I read. So, my perspective is limited.

I think the fiction that I have read is often more complex than the Christian fiction that I have read. Rarely do I see works of Christian fiction hitting the 600-1200 page mark. Page count isn't everything, obviously. But, carrying a story over that many pages allows much more complex plot(s) and sub-plots.

I am thinking of early Tom Clancy novels that were complex and presented both the plot of the good guys and the plot of the bad guys. Robert Ludlum's Bourne triology also comes to mind. Quite a few other works of non-Christian fiction are longer and more complex.

That said, I found Alton Gansky's Perry Sachs novels superior to Dan Brown's novels, especially comparing similar stories like Beneath the Ice and Deception Point.

As I said at the beginning, my reading of fiction is not nearly as broad as many others in this group. These are just my impressions. I do think Christian fiction is getting better. I'd be happy to learn of more Christian fiction that is more complex dealing with multiple sub-plots and developing for the reader a clearer view of the motivations of both the good guys and the bad guys.

Any recommendations?


message 3: by Stoney (new)

Stoney deGeyter | 134 comments I don't have any data to back this up, but I suspect if you look at the total number of non-Christian vs. Christian authors and the percentage of Great/Good/OK/Bad authors from each, it would be pretty equal. You don't see as many high-quality Christian authors because the pool is smaller. This is not just a spec-fiction issue but any genre.

What you have to do is compare the top non-Christian authors up against the top Christian authors and compare their writing. Does Ted Dekker's writing stand up against the top non-Christian writers in similar genres? Does Joel Rosenberg's thrillers stand up against James Patterson, Tom Clancy etc.?

I think the moment anyone says, "but they don't write Christian books," you have your answer. They are Christian books that happen to be good enough to have general market appeal.


message 4: by Stan (new)

Stan | 288 comments Mod
Stoney wrote: "I don't have any data to back this up, but I suspect if you look at the total number of non-Christian vs. Christian authors and the percentage of Great/Good/OK/Bad authors from each, it would be pretty equal."

Good point Stoney. It may even be that self-publishing has lowered the bar on non-Christian fiction and raised it on Christian fiction. This due to the smaller pool of Christian publishers who could not afford to take risks on unknown authors.

Stoney wrote: "I think the moment anyone says, "but they don't write Christian books," you have your answer. They are Christian books that happen to be good enough to have general market appeal."

Could you expound on this statement a little more. I am not familiar enough with the authors you mentioned to be confident that I understand what you are trying to say. My question is whether John Grisham popularity is what you're referring to, because I would not consider his books good examples of "Christian fiction" or even fiction that should be written by Christians. I've read about four, maybe five, of his books and do not find them pointing to Christ, nor to Christian values. I don't think that is what you were trying to say about being good enough to have general market appeal.


message 5: by Lara (new)

Lara Lee | 507 comments Mod
When it comes to fantasy fiction, I have felt like most Christian books are a little lazy and leaning heavily on allegory rather than doing real world building. Now, having read more non-Christian fantasy, I am finding that their novel worlds are really just based off of other beliefs: mythology from various cultures, Hinduism, Shintoism, Mormonism, or pseudo-scientific nonreligious magic systems. The familiarity with the hints of Christianity unfairly makes a book seem less creative.

I am also seeing a lot of repetition of character types that are not used in Christian fantasy fiction such a the dark, brooding hero and the abused orphan heroine. So far, I see more similarities in the Christian and non-christian science fiction and urban fantasy in writing style. Those are really all the sub-genres I can compare fairly.


message 6: by Stoney (new)

Stoney deGeyter | 134 comments Stan wrote: "Could you expound on this statement a little more.

Sorry, what I meant was that people can look at Ted Dekker and Joel Rosenberg, both Christians and say they don't count as "Christian Authors" because they don't write Christian fiction. But I think that makes the point in and of itself. They are not seen as "Christian Authors" because their work transcends that of most other authors on both sides of the spectrum.

And, no, I would not consider Grisham a Christain author of the likes of Dekker and Rosenberg (though he claims to be a Christian as well. Of that I make no judgment.) But, if you do want to read a really great Christian-ish novel of his, check out The Testament. One of may favs of his.


message 7: by Stan (new)

Stan | 288 comments Mod
Stoney wrote: "Sorry,"

No problem Stoney. I just wanted to make sure I understood you. That clarifies it well.

I have read The Testament and enjoyed it. Living in Brazil, I wanted to see how Grisham wrote Brazil. I thought he did a good job of expressing the realities without being negative towards the frustrations many non-Brazilians face living here.

Again, thanks for the clarification!


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