Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Genre--Speculative Fiction

Today I’d like to talk about a much-underserved genre in the CBA, that genre being speculative fiction. That may sound odd coming from me, as my first three published novels were firmly in the “suspense/thriller” camp. But with the sale of my latest, a science fiction novel called The Radiance, to a secular house, I now find myself on a little bit of uncertain ground.

That’s not so stay the story itself is unsound--I think it's one of the best things I've written--but having to take it to a general market house was … unexpected. You see, in the CBA there are really only two publishers that have much to do at all with science fiction or fantasy, the first being Realms, and the other, Marcher Lord Press. Both of these houses are solid, well thought-of, and their authors have garnered numerous awards. But still, why only two, especially when the general market is fair to bursting with publishers actively seeking not only these two genres, but subsets of them as well: horror, urban horror, steampunk, cyberpunk, and more?

The charge has been leveled by some the CBA as an entity is unfriendly to works that could be considered outside the norm. Is that charge true or false? My honest answer would be it’s true, but changing.

I think the main reason for this ongoing struggle is CBA novels must contain, in whatever small measure, a Christian element; general market works, of course, aren’t under such constraints. That’s not to say many of the works published there don’t have agendas of their own, because they do, be they humanism, New Age claptrap, psychic phenomena, or what have you. But the CBA requires that problemactical faith element, and some houses require it to be displayed in the work more openly than others.

For some writers that causes an issue, because which side of the line the Christian scribe comes down on depends in large part as to how critical to their story that faith element is. If it’s utterly germane, and to excise it would fundamentally alter the tale, then the CBA is the logical choice. On the other hand if a Christian wants to write stories without this faith element—while staying true to their own walk with the Lord—they may want to consider the general market.

So the question: for those of you who read (or write) fantasy, SF, horror, or any of the others I mentioned, which side of the line claims your allegiance? General market, or CBA?
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