1. bainespal says:

    I hadn’t known about Connie Willis — thanks for the introduction.

    This is why I don’t think we should assume that any particular group or sub-culture is out to get us, even if the antipathy against Christians and Christianity is real. Only individuals within the SFF community can dislike and discriminate against Christians, not the SFF community itself.

    • I think there is some real antipathy toward Christians or at least Christianity on the part of some individuals, for sure! That’s definitely true of the authors, too, like James Morrow… his “Towing Jehovah” is basically hate mail to God. But, yes, I think that good art is respected in the SFF community regardless of the religious background of the authors. It helps that it’s a genre of ideas….

  2. Thanks, sounds great, since I love and also write time travel fantasy novels! I just bought three of her books!

    • Awesome! I hope you enjoy them. My daughters absolutely LOVE the Gates of Heaven series, by the way.

      • Aw, thanks so much! The next one (book 6) will be out in a week or so as an ebook, and then the print version of The Sands of Ethryn will release in March. It’s inspired by the book of Zechariah, the poem “The Hound of Heaven,” and my favorite Star Trek episode (you’ll have to guess which one)! Hope you read it too!

  3. I’m another one you’ve introduced to Connie Willis, Matt. I’m not big on time travel, but Stephen Lawhead’s Bright Empires books have about convinced me that, if done well, the stories can be engaging.

    What I find most fascinating is how you say the science fiction elements are the ones used for the spiritual conversation. How does that work? Is it bordering on allegory? Or would you characterize it as using symbols?


    • It’s interesting, because until the most recent novel it was rarely (maybe never?) directly addressed. It was treated almost like scientific metaphor (like if we talked about “electricity always seeks ground” even though it’s not sentient and can’t consciously seek anything). So there were a lot of comments about the “desires” of the time stream, the time stream repairing things, healing itself, etc. but always a bottom-line idea that the time stream was a natural process of some sort.

      In the early books look especially for the metaphors flowing out/around from cathedrals. They’re a constant presence in the books and the “time stream” seems particularly concerned about them and their contents.

      Because it’s never directly addressed, it’s really up to the reader to import the meaning to the time stream. In “All Clear” though, the characters start to overtly discuss this toward the end. Time as God… and you can begin to see that the travelers themselves are an outpouring of God’s grace, designed to keep the world on course.

      Like I said, keep an eye out. It’s definitely more subtle than what we’re accustomed to elsewhere, but it’s undeniably there.

  4. So glad you pointed us to this author. Not sure how I missed her, with all those awards! Then again, I’ve been out of the fiction-reading loop for a decade or two, busy with work or raising kids.

    Thanks — I’ll check her out!

  5. Julie D says:

    I read the Doomsday Book once, never heard of the others.

  6. If you’re looking for a more overtly spiritual read, I’m told that “Passage” has clearer Christian themes. I haven’t actually gotten to this one yet, but it’s about a scientist experimenting, trying to understand Near Death Experiences. There’s a drug she takes to get closer and closer to a death experience as she goes along.

    Many of her short stories have strong spiritual themes as well… in fact, I seem to recall that Mir talked about one of the stories on the previous incarnation of this site long long ago in a galaxy far far away. I believe it was the story “Samaritan.”

    • notleia says:

      I have to say, I’m impressed by the impression of her sense of subtlety. I think there’s a shameful dearth of subtlety in Christian fic. I’m sure there’s points I disagree with her about, but I can’t help but admire, even at secondhand distance, the ways she plays with the ideas.

  7. dmdutcher says:

    I have to say I know of her, but never read her. I’m not big on historical or alternate world SF, which is why. I have’t read Harry Turtledove as much as I should either.

  8. Mirtika says:

    Yes, way back when Speculative Faith was spanking new, I did some defining of what Christian SF was and used some mainstream stories (by Gene Wolfe and Connie Willis, to name two) to examine how the definition plays out. And it was “Samaritan.”

    Sadly, the reader comments are lost from those early posts (that were hosted on another site), but my entry is here: http://www.speculativefaith.lorehaven.com/2006/08/17/samaritan-by-connie-willis-is-it-csf-what-can-we-learn-as-writers-and-readers/

    PASSAGE was terrific, and for those paying attention, she uses the structure of the hospital and as part of the metaphor. I read it when it first came out about 12 years ago, so I’ve forgotten most, but it certainly has one of those “there is more than mere materialism” type of endings. 😀 It won the Locus Best Novel award and was nominated for a Hugo and some other awards.

    If someone wants to see a stunning story craftsperson in action, you should read her short stories. I posted a link some months back to her “Death on the Nile”, which I find utterly haunting. Let me get that url…. here ya go. Thank me later. 😀 http://library.worldtracker.org/English%20Literature/W/Willis,%20Connie/Connie%20Willis%20-%20Death%20on%20the%20Nile.pdf

    And she’s won just about every major SF award there is, some multiple times. And for those of us who lurk about Speculative Faith, it’s not just that she’s a majorly skilled writer from whom we could learn a thing or two, but it’s that among those who are at a literary level of writing in our genre, such as Gene Wolfe, she also is a person of faith. Those are not so common a joined occurrence that we can ignore their contributions. 😀

  9. Love Connie Willis. Doomsday Book was totally fun..but I’m a sucker for time travelstories.

  10. Ha ha ha. I wondered if this would get Mir to surface. 🙂 Thanks for the links to all the stories!

  11. mflabar says:

    Thanks! I’ve been following Speculative Faith for several years, and have often wondered why Willis was never mentioned.
    There’s another prominent Christian writer of speculative fiction, Elizabeth Moon, who has received almost as many awards as Willis.

  12. Donna Farley says:

    My daughters & I have been big Connie Willis fans for years. Click on my website link for a short review of Passage and Lois McMaster Bujold’s Mirror Dance. 

  13. Pat says:

    I love Willis’s books. Probably my favorite speculative faith story is “Epiphany.” She so captures that elusive sense of faith in people’s hearts that is constantly played against cold “reality” in the outside world. I reread the Christmas short stories and Doomsday every holiday season.

What do you think?