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Where Are All The Speculative Titles Going?

Today’s post is going to be a departure from my “Last Son of Earth” series in order to bring you some highlights from the ICRS (International Christian Retail Show) in St. Louis. For the uninitiated, ICRS has been the primary […]
| Jun 25, 2013 | No comments |

Today’s post is going to be a departure from my “Last Son of Earth” series in order to bring you some highlights from the ICRS (International Christian Retail Show) in St. Louis. For the uninitiated, ICRS has been the primary conference for booksellers, authors and publishers to meet and engage in business for the Christian Book Industry. Bookstore buyers meet with publishers to place orders for this next year’s products today, authors meet with the publisher’s acquisition editors to pitch new ideas, and a whole lot of networking happens in between.

In light of my being here, I thought it would be advantageous to share with you a little about some of the upcoming Speculative Fiction titles that are heading our way in the months to come. In past years, Speculative fiction has had a fairly visible role in the marketplace as it has continually been a growth category for both Christian and Secular publishers. I imagined, perhaps foolishly, that this year the trend upward in fantasy fiction and speculative fiction would only continue to grow in exposure at ICRS.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Finding speculative fiction titles on the show floor has been far from easy. End times novels aside (for there are always a few of those) finding a fantasy fiction was a hero’s quest in and of itself. At times I wandered for hours scouring the shelves of major and minor publishers in search of anything that remotely resembled a fantasy title and could not find much at all.

I was horrified.

It makes me wonder – where are all the speculative titles going? Is the Christian marketplace really over speculative adventures?

Perhaps the only oasis in the desert of this marketplace (as far as our category goes) was the newly launched “Blink” imprint from Zondervan which is purportedly will focus on YA titles within the speculative faith genre. But this soon to come imprint was certainly not in the forefront of their booth display. In fact, I only spotted it and heard about it because I had to ask the booth attendee if they had any fantasy fiction titles being released this year.

Granted, the lineup looks intriguing (some of them familiar titles newly moved into Blink line) and I feel silly that I might have missed it on first glance.

Nevertheless, the exposure of Christian fantasy & speculative fiction was significantly down and I am baffled.

What follows is the results of my “Where’s Waldo” search. As you will see, the list is not long.


I did not include “End Times” novels or sequels to already existing series. I did include futuristic novels, alternate history and dystopian worlds in my search.

AcquiferAquifer by Jonathan Friesen – Coming August 2013

In the year 2250, water is scarce, and those who control it control everything. Sixteen-year-old Luca has struggled with this truth, and what it means, his entire life. As the son of the Deliverer, he will one day have to descend to the underground Aquifer each year and negotiate with the reportedly ratlike miners who harvest the world’s fresh water.








Doon by Cary Corp & Lorie Langdon – Coming September 2013

A re-imagining of the “Brigadoon” story. Veronica doesn’t think she’s going crazy. But why can’t anyone else see the mysterious blond boy who keeps calling her name? Not only has the imaginary kilted boy followed her to Scotland, she and her friend Mackenna uncover a strage set of rings and a very unnerving letter from Mackenna’s great aunt. When the girls test the instructions Aunt Gracie left behind, they find themselves transported to a land that defies explanation.





2013-06-25 13.01.26Dark Reflection by Daniel Clarence Cobb 

This is a self-published title at Xulon press. When Princess Angela finds a mirror in a haunted castle, her alter ego awakens. Her simple life shatters. Unless she finds all the missing pieces and puts it back together in time, she’ll fade away forever – replaced by a reflection.

One of the things I found intriguing with the book (having forced myself to look past the uninspiring cover) was the humor Daniel used on his back copy which claims “Knight in shining armor not included.” and “No dragons were slain in the making of this book. (Well, ok… Maybe one…)”






Equally short and difficult to find are speculative novels that continue or conclude a series already in the public eye.


A Draw of Kings (The Staff & The Sword series) by Patrick Carr – Coming February 2014


Shadow Hand (Tales of Goldstone Wood) by Anne Elisabeth Stengl – Coming February 2014

2013-06-25 10.32.42Exodus Rising (Tales of Starlight Series) by Bryan Davis – Coming July 2013


Merlin’s Shadow by Robert Treskillard – Coming October 2013


Remnants: Season of Wonder by Lisa T. Bergren – Coming October 2013


Guardian (A Halflings Novel) by Heather Burch – Coming September 2013



And that, folks, is all that fits our category this upcoming year. It could be there are many more that simply were not being promoted or presented to buyers in any visible way yet. However, nearly half of the titles I’ve shown above were not even physically presented or shown in any way at the show (I had to dig through the publisher’s catalog to find them). This does not bode well for our genre. After all, if bookstore buyers can’t find them to buy them, how will the public find them and buy them.

I’ll keep looking for the rest of the day, but the trend is surprising to say the least and has left me pondering the state of the industry even more than before.

Story matters. As the balder half of the Miller Brothers writing duo, Christopher is convinced that his receding hairline is actually a solar panel for brilliant thought. While the science behind this phenomenon is sketchy (at best) one thing is undeniable – his mind is a veritable greenhouse of crazy story ideas. Oh, he's also the co-author of three award-winning youth fiction novels (The Miller Brothers) and newly released novel based on a video game and a pair of children's books. Their books are written for kids and adults who aren't afraid of adventure. His hobbies include dating his wife, raising three children and providing for his family through copywriting, web design and launching a free to read platform for novelists called BookJolt.com. One day, Chris and his brother hope to delve deeply into the realm of interactive fiction.

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Joanna Wilson

Even sadder is most of the above is written for and aimed at teens. It’s almost impossible to find good speculative novels that are written for a more mature audience — not so much in terms of content advisory but in terms of the issues the stories explore and deal with.

Robert Mullin

Well, a number of authors have attempted it, only to find that their books don’t have publishers willing to take a risk. So you have to delve into the indie titles to find what you are looking for.


Young adult author Krista McGee has a new sci-fi/speculative book coming out next month. A copy arrived in my mailbox today for review, and I’m excited to read it soon! It’s called “Anomaly” and looks fantastic. Published by Thomas Nelson.

Teddi Deppner

That’s disturbing, Christopher, to be sure. Especially with the previous years’ upward movement. This can’t really be the top of the pendulum’s swing. We’re just getting rolling!

I hope next year shows improvement, but let’s not leave it to chance. Let’s continue blogging about Christian speculative fiction and promoting the good titles we find — and not just here. Everywhere we can. Twitter, Facebook, our personal blogs, our guest blogging, etc.

Anybody who knows agents, editors or high-profile authors friendly to our genre: When we find trends that indicate the growing appeal of spec fic or the numbers it reaches, let’s talk it up. Raise awareness. Promote the genre. Get the word out that there’s a small, but thriving, community of both writers and readers.

And keep writing. And reading. And reviewing.

And raising children who enjoy the genre. 😉

And for the sake of the number-crunchers — keep buying! The Christian retail world is a for-profit business. It’s possible we’ll never have the numbers in this niche genre to gain their attention. But hey, we can try.



I love Stengl’s work and am anticipating Shadowhand with joy.


Great blog.

I have to wonder if this might be attributed to the buying behaviors of speculative fiction’s target demographic. For example, I download most of my books and read them on a kindle. I wonder if there’s any data to suggest that most readers of this genre do the same.

Obviously I’m not suggesting that these books shouldn’t be in bookstores. Christians who would enjoy this genre are a dramatically underserved demographic in terms of literature, music, and film. I’m just wondering if that’s why this is happening (or rather, not happening).