But what about the other eight hundred or so Christian speculative books that are on the market? Might there not be some good books in the bunch? Undoubtedly so. But how to find them.
One way, of course, is to use the SpecFaith Library resource and hunt down books—based on genre, cover, story description, or key words—which you might like, then click on the Amazon link next to each and read an excerpt.
Another plan is more circuitous and long term: how about starting with short fiction? For some time, Christian speculative fiction has been available via free digital magazines on the Internet. Mindflights was one quite popular publication which had merged two others: The Swords Review and Dragon, Knights, and Angels. Others took a less overt Christian and more science fiction approach. Ray Gun Revival was one such publication, Residential Aliens, another.
More recently Digital Dragon made a foray into the world of online Christian speculative stories. None of these has lasted, however, in part because they don’t have a sustainable income. Consequently the editing falls to volunteers who come and go or to the editor-in-chief who ends up doing all the work and eventually wearing out or moving on to other venues, depending on his or her career path.
Does that mean these ventures were all busts? I don’t think so at all. In the first place, these sites offered writers a place to test the waters, to see if their stories measured up, to see if they’d be accepted for publication. Furthermore, they offered readers a place to find stories they wanted to read–fantasy or science fiction stories which had a Christian worldview or Christian characters or a Christian theme.
Now here comes the circuitous route I mentioned earlier—the method readers can use to find the good books they want. Many of the authors of online short stories are novelists. They write short fiction to hone their craft AND to develop an audience. In other words, you can discover new authors who might become your next Favorite Author by reading their short stories. And your investment in time is minimal.
A new, not-Christian-but-created-by-Christians publication came out a few years ago. Splickety Magazine has since developed into the Splickety Publishing Group, with three imprints catering to different genres. One, Havok, specializes in speculative fiction:
Havok is the premier publication for speculative flash fiction. We publish stories in the following genres (but this is not an exhaustive list): science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, cyberpunk, paranormal, supernatural, horror, techno-thriller, superhero, and more.
The good thing and the bad thing about the Splickety publications is that they have found a way to be self-sustaining: they solicit advertising AND they charge for subscriptions. In other words, these online and/or print magazines are not the free content of yesteryear. However, they are quite affordable. A digital subscription to Havok, which comes out quarterly, costs $9.95, or approximately $2.50 an issue.
While there are some ebooks or e-novellas available for a comparable price, the beauty of a short-story publication is the variety and the number of authors with whom you can become acquainted.
In addition, Splickety publishes a Lightning Blog containing articles, announcements, and, yes, several short stories! Why not dip a toe into short fiction this summer and see what authors you might meet who you’d like to continue reading.