The “wrong” I’m referring to in the title is related to the poll I posted a week ago as part of my post “Where Do You Find Your Speculative Fiction?”
While the poll is still live, the results after one week are . . . not what I would hope. First, the number of visitors who participated in the poll is a fraction of those who come to the site. So why didn’t all visitors take part? I can only suppose that they are not particularly interested in the topic.
But this site came into being as a means for readers to discover Christian fiction. Are we failing to connect readers in a meaningful way to the very genre we most want to promote?
Secondly, I was surprised that not more people identified movies and TV as their source of speculative fiction, although many of the “other” comments opted for an “all of these” kind of statement. Still, the results would say that most of those who took part in the poll are reading! I find that encouraging.
Nevertheless, the largest share of the reading pie is going to general market books rather than to Christian speculative fiction.
We did have some good discussion in the comments—special thanks to those who gave more insight through that avenue. Here are a couple things that came up:
1) By “speculative fiction” I’m referring to the umbrella name that’s given to the genres of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. There are many permutations of each of those, too many to list. So the term “speculative fiction” is a type of catch-all that refers to any and all stories that include something of the imaginary based on the unseen world rather than only the imaginary dealing with the seen world.
2) Another comment addressed the quality of Christian speculative fiction. Since I wrote a recent post dealing with that subject, I won’t elaborate here, other than to say, bad fiction outnumbers good fiction, even on the general market side of publishing. Therefore, reading a few titles or authors is not the best way to make an evaluation of an entire genre. I suggest reading the books and titles that are getting wide acclaim. Those aren’t necessarily the books that are most popular!
3) This part of one of the comments piggy-backs on that point: “Unfortunately, as I have discovered, even if people do love the speculative Christian fiction genres, they hardly care to take the time to investigate and discover the authors that aren’t on the top of popularity. Because of this, several Indie and small traditionally published authors go unheard-of.”
People may not be aware of the changes in the publishing industry. Once Christian fiction was not well written, and even when the plots and characters improved, the story still came across as preachy. That’s changed to a large extent. In the same way, once self-publishing was called vanity publishing and authors were paying to get their books in print, often without adequate editing or well-designed covers. But that’s gone the way of the dinosaur, and not the Jurassic World kind. Small publishing companies and self-published books have come about, in part, as a revolt against those who say there is no market for Christian speculative fiction.
But the problem remains: how do those books find their readership?
That’s where reviews come in. And social media. And word of mouth. Those who read books they love need to take the few minutes it takes to write a brief review which they can post on Facebook or Twitter or Amazon (especially Amazon and/or B&N) or Instagram or Goodreads. There are also places where speculative readers hang out—like Spec Faith. Include your reviews here or at our sister site, Lorehaven, which happens to be dedicated to reviews of the best speculative titles written by Christians.
4) One last observation: many of the authors and titles that came up in the comments are . . . old. Or older. I think it’s fine to read Chesterton or MacDonald or O’Connor, but if Christian speculative fiction can have the impact on culture that I think it can, we need to be reading what’s coming out today. Who’s read Paul Regnier (science fiction) or Emily Golus (young adult fantasy) or Nadine Brandes (dystopian)? More importantly, who’s writing reviews and letting people know on social media sites what books they ought to be reading?
That, I think, is the only way Christian speculative fiction will be discovered.