1. Speaking of alternate universes, has anyone else read “The Dark Tower”–a novel fragment by C.S. Lewis?

    For some reason a lot of Christians got upset after its publication. Said Lewis couldn’t write anything so ungodly.

    Why was it ungodly? Because it was “dark.” *Eye roll.*

    • Yeah. Don’t write dark stuff for the general Christian population. They’ll crucify you. “Where’s my happy ending? Screw you, and I hope you burn!” That sounds crude, but honestly, that’s the attitude, and I hope the irony isn’t lost. When we say, “That isn’t pleasing to God,” we should be careful not to confuse our own pleasures with God’s.

    • Travis Perry says:

      I hadn’t even heard of that novel fragment prior to now, Rachel. Where could I find a copy?

      I imagine I will enjoy reading it, even if “dark.” Dark as in grim or scary can very much be laced with hope and genuine faith. Though some stories on the other hand can be dark in an unhealthy way…by no kidding celebrating evil.

      But I find some of the most sinister stories are those that seem bright and happy and fun, but come laced with a stealthy celebration of sin.

    • Every time I hear The Dark Tower I think of the Stephen King series. Even though I only read some of the graphic novels for those. :p

      It’d be interesting to read a ‘dark’ novel by Lewis, though.

    • Jay DiNitto says:

      I want to read it now.

      To be honest, his space trilogy wasn’t exactly cheerful, which is maybe why Narnia gets all the praise from the Christians who want the “nice stuff.” I recall the ending of That Hideous Strength involved a lot of animals gettin’ it on.

      • Travis Perry says:

        I think the greatest failing of the space trilogy is the longest of the three books didn’t take place in space at all. While NICE was interesting as a villain in a number of ways, Lewis set expectations with Out of the Silent Planet that he didn’t quite fulfill with Perelandra and totally ignored with That Hideous Strength.

        Plus, while his Wood Between the Worlds opened the door with a metaphysics to any kind of alternate reality, he shut the door to Christian space adventure by claiming only Planet Earth could be permanently occupied by sinful humans or creatures like us. That was interesting, theologically speaking, but didn’t inspire Christians to go out and write sci fi the way Narnia inspired fantasy.

  2. Stephen Smith says:

    If we think about sci-fi and fantasy, the following may come to mind:

    Talking animals
    Fantastical beasts
    Changing elements into others
    Instant transportation from one location to another
    Walking through solid objects

    You know where I’m going with this of course. 🙂 All we need to do is read our Bibles to see how speculative faith is not always that speculative.

    I’m like you, Travis. When I go on my morning or night time walks, my eyes lift up to gaze at the clouds, birds, stars, planets, moon, planes, and the occasional satellites I track on my phone. My heart is lifted up to those things–things that take me out of this world to the “what could be.” I’ve always been that way; I remember doing the same thing when I was five years old. And now as a new writer I want to share those stories and feelings with others.

  3. Well, I definitely agree that fiction is useful and should be taken with a decent amount of seriousness. Interestingly enough, I recently had a conversation with someone that doesn’t take fiction seriously and I guess doesn’t try to learn from it or anything. It wasn’t that they were talking like fiction was a waste of time, just that they didn’t take it seriously and thought it was silly when other people did so. The conversation was after they said something that, out of context, sounded kinda despicable and another reader of the comic in question got mad at them because it sounded like they seriously meant it.

    In a lot of ways, fiction is a way to run a simulation that can explore possibilities. It can help us learn about situations before we encounter them, or help people understand why certain things go wrong in their lives, and the best part is that since stories are entertaining, a lot of people will read willingly.

    Lessons from stories can be a lot more deep because then people can actually see the scenario playing out and feel it on a more real and emotional level. Like, when having a conversation with someone, it’s one thing to say ‘if you do x, then y and z will happen’. That is often easy to dismiss. But if that whole scenario is shown in a well written story, suddenly, it’s easier to actually see the concepts being discussed.

    Of course sci fi kind of does a lot of that when it comes to technology. I really like introducing a situation, world, or technology set to a story and then exploring how that would affect the chars’ society and behavior.

  4. Steve Courteol says:

    Nicely said… Great encouragement to keep writing!! Thanks!!

  5. Brenna says:

    Fantasy and sci-fi touch the longing in our hearts for something beyond this world and greater than it, as you said. They remind us that we were made for more. As Ecclesiastes’ preacher says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” The joy and longing that fantastical stories awaken in us are just one more reminder of the beauty we wait for God to reveal, of the eternity we were made for.

    I recently had a conversation with two people I’m close to, one of whom adores Lord of the Rings and has read it many times (like me) and one of whom appreciates the story of Lord of the Rings through the movies, not having read the book, but feels that limited reading time is best spent on instructional nonfiction such as Bible commentaries. The other LotR reader and I agreed that if you can only read one book, you should of course read the Bible. The nonfiction reader said, “And if you can only read two books?” to which I immediately responded, “The Bible and LotR.” The other LotR reader said he agreed with my choice, for reasons of spiritual growth, not merely entertainment. I don’t think we persuaded the third person, which is fine– high-quality commentaries and theological books are of course very helpful and spiritually enlightening.

    Great article. I agree with you wholeheartedly.

  6. Kirsty says:

    “Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can.”
    ~Terry Pratchett

What do you think?