Two weeks ago, I told how I’d rediscovered a few gems in current Christian SF/F … today I’ll touch on a few other titles I’ve particularly enjoyed, and why.
Having already mentioned the works of Karen Hancock and Kathy Tyers, I’ll skip those.
Kathryn Mackel: I had the joy and wonder of meeting her in that “Thick-Skinned Critique” workshop. She offered me a recommendation to her editor at WestBow, which fell through on the basis of my story’s length, but through which the Lord worked very deeply in me. But in the course of the months leading up to all that, she asked me to read the then-unfinished first draft of Outriders. Talk about a thrill … that was right about the time I’d been assigned to Donita’s crit group, and had just begun helping crit her second fantasy. Oh, yeah, those were heady days …
I found Outriders fresh, gripping, utterly compelling—even in rough draft form where Kathy wrote things like “insert [blank] scene here” when she was in the grip of writing and couldn’t stop to research something just yet. The character of Nikki grabbed me and wouldn’t let go—and then there was the heroic Brady, and the winsome Timothy, and the heartwrenching Jasper. It is, I believe, quite an inventive twist on some old themes.
L.A. Kelly: I discovered her fantasy novel Tahn while doing market research. It’s hard to decide if it’s more historical or fantasy—there’s little in the way of the supernatural, but the setting is clearly fictional. The story starts with enough mystery to pull a reader in—with a bad-boy protagonist highly reminiscent of some of my own favorite characters. She includes a twist involving drug use that I found myself just a little envious of. The writing was smooth and effortless, her style gentle even during the more tense moments. My husband and I both were surprised at how much we enjoyed this one, given how little hype accompanied it.
Randall Ingermanson and John Olson: Oxygen. A must for fans of SF/F with faith elements. A bit off the beaten track of my own tastes, but I enjoyed the interweaving of the characters and the attention to research.
Randall Ingermanson: Transgression, Premonition, and Retribution. The first one is a time-travel, the next two the continuing adventures of Rivka and Ari. I loved the time-travel element—moderns thrown back in time. Randy portrays first-century Jerusalem in a way that no other writer ever has, and breathes life into the Jewishness of the early church. The second book is perhaps the stiffest, writing-wise (it was written right about the time Randy was perfecting his famed Snowflake method of novel crafting), but the third book is utterly beautiful and had me in tears in renewed awe over what Yeshua did for us in taking on the sins of the world. The first title is out of print, but well worth the search on half.com to find. Note of interest: Randy doesn’t go the way of the “easy converstion” in this series. ‘Nuff said.
More mini-reviews next time, unless I stumble across something more amusing and erudite.