Fans of speculative fiction all know J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. In fact, I recently heard Tolkien referred to as the father of modern fantasy. This was an acknowledgment that he did not invent the genre, per se. Before him was Celtic, Norse, Gaelic, and Greek mythology. Nevertheless, his legacy rests on the fact that he created, or “sub-created,” as he said, a world and myths that belong to the modern world.
Speculative readers can hardly talk about Tolkien without mentioning Lewis because they both have had such a far-reaching effect on the genre.
But besides these two greats, who else has had an impact on Christian speculative fiction? Specifically, what titles would you consider “required reading” for someone trying to understand the shape and history of present-day Christian speculative fiction?
The question isn’t actually mine. Friend, author, and occasional Spec Faith guest, Mike Duran posed the question over at Facebook.
Unless you’ve already entered the discussion there, I urge you to hold off reading Mike’s question (because he gives some of his answers which might color your own) and the ensuing comments.
As much as I’d like to give my answers, I’m going to refrain for the same reason. I really want to know what you all think.
Mike’s goal is to form a list of ten books that might be considered “required reading,” and he is having a hard time finding that many titles. Personally I think the more a person reads in a genre, the easier it is to find the titles that belong on the list, but that’s beside the point.
In Mike’s question he clarifies that the titles he’s interested in are “not necessarily the best written, but the most influential or enduring books” (emphasis added).
I commented this morning that deciding on which books will last from the contemporary list is next to impossible–something I think commenters here at Spec Faith mentioned in previous posts on this subject (See for example “Hard Work And Cotton Candy“). Personally, I’d prefer to see a “required reading” list consist of the best of the genre.
So maybe we can do both. How about if you Spec Faith readers nominate as many books (or series, since speculative fiction often comes in groups 😉 ) you wish, but specify which list you think these belong in–1) influential and enduring or 2) best books (which means they are both well-written and rockin’-good stories). Remember, we’re looking for titles of present-day (within the last twenty-five years, or so) Christian speculative fiction.
Oooohh, I can hardly wait to give my answers … but I will. I want your pure, unadulterated opinions. Please include title (book or series), author, and list on which you think your nomination belongs.
Looking forward to your answers!