I just returned from a long work trip, so writing time is in short supply as I catch up on all the stuff that piled up while I was gone. Rather than submit a story or a piece of original commentary this week, I’d like to direct you to an interesting discussion I stumbled across at Schlock Mercenary, a webcomic written and illustrated by the talented Howard Tayler.
Schlock Mercenary is a space opera, a Star Trek-ish story of the adventures and mis-adventures of a band of spacefaring soldiers of fortune. You can read my review at *this link.* It’s been nominated for a Hugo Award the past couple of years, and Tayler is a popular guest at SF&F conventions worldwide.
He also happens to be a Mormon, an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and though there’s no obvious Mormon content in Schlock Mercenary, Tayler’s perfectly comfortable acknowledging and talking about his faith community. The other day, he addressed a question he gets with some regularity: Why do so many Mormons write genre (speculative) fiction?
Here’s part of his response:
This may be the wrong question. It’s probably better to ask “why does it seem like Mormons are better represented among genre-fiction writers than are other denominational demographics?” That question is one that a good statistician can start digging up data on, and it’s possible that the data will yield facts like “Mormons are NOT better represented, but they’re more visibly denominational.”
But that’s not where most people like to go with this question. Most people like to hypothesize that something in the nature of Latter-Day Saint beliefs, something intrinsic to Mormon doctrine makes an authorial career in one of the escapist genres appealing. Some folks suggest that after having wrapped their brains around the acceptance of modern-day prophets and golden books of scripture, Mormons are somehow better at writing Science Fiction and Fantasy than the average person.
It is not difficult to find this hypothesis offensive. Occasionally non-Mormons present it in a condescending manner, as if to say “you’re already a little crazy, you might as well make a career out of it.” More than a few Mormons present it rather self-righteously, as if to proclaim that anyone adhering to a set of teachings purporting to enable exaltation in the eternities must needs be really good at world-building here in mortality.
Please, please, please read the whole thing at *this link,* and also the background article he cites at *this link* before engaging in discussion, and please stick to the high road…I’m not after a critique of Mormon doctrine here, I’d like to hear your thoughts on this issue of whether there is a Mormon advantage in writing spec-fic, and if so, what’s its source, and is there anything we could learn and apply from Mormon writers? Just like in sports, when you scout the competition, you come away not only with a better idea of their weaknesses, you usually pick up a few plays you’d like to try yourself.
Anyhow, I think it’s an interesting issue to examine, given the prevailing level of angst in our community about writing and publishing Christian fiction, and the perceived lack of understanding/support/enthusiasm for spec-fic on our side of the fence.