Surviving the blog tour

By , 22 February 2008 7:36 pm

Well the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour on The Shadow and Night is coming to an end and I seem to have had a vast number of reviews. First things first; I would like to thank all of you who read the book, particularly those of you who seem to have found it, as we Brits would say, ‘not my cup of tea’. Had I time I would individually answer some of these reviews, particularly those that have raised helpful or challenging points. But you can’t do everything.

I will try to compile some of what I consider to be the more insightful reviews and post them on my blog. Yes, there were some negative ones but the general tone was surprisingly positive. One or two people – apparently sane too – praised my books with adjectives that went beyond those I would personally have used. I loved being a ‘fabulous Welsh author’; the word fabulous of course has a double meaning: ‘excellent’ and ‘mythical’. Anyway I need to go over all these reviews and think about them. I actually find reading reviews difficult: bad ones nag me and good ones make me feel vaguely guilty of pride. But I am very grateful to all who have been involved; it’s been a very helpful exercise.

Let me make a few comments. Some people consider the books have been misclassified and one or two clearly felt disappointed that the books didn’t fit in their definition of ‘fantasy’. Well, I have secular colleagues who plainly felt that the books are fantasy simply by dint of their invoking a God who acts. Perhaps we had better call them ‘genre-breaking’ or ‘speculative fiction’. (I have discussed this more at length on my monthly speculative faith blog). A few others felt that the tagline, ‘a fantasy in the tradition of C. S. Lewis and Tolkien’ was misleading because (surprise, surprise) I don’t write as well as they did. I am surprised anybody thought that such a phrase was a claim to quality.

One of two people frankly found the books rather hard going. Fair enough. Are there any books that everybody likes? Well, to this day I agonise over as to whether I should have speeded things up in Book 1. Yet, on balance, I think I made the right decision. Tall buildings need deep foundations and what I was doing in the first hundred pages was laying the foundation for the remaining 1,600. One theme which recurs on almost every page of the books is that of innocent men and women grappling with the novelty of evil. I do not see how this could have been remotely effective had I not, perhaps clumsily, tried to draw something of the world of innocence first.

One slightly curious point was that I expected two objections, but failed to get either. The first was that, unless I am mistaken, no one was terribly upset that I had deviated from standard North American imminent pre-millennialism. I also don’t recollect anyone getting terribly upset that I seemed to be happy with an old age of the universe. I suspect they made allowances for me being a Brit. and therefore de facto theologically suspect. Incidentally, a number of people were clearly struck by the accompanying letter I wrote, which talked about what I felt it meant to be a Welsh author. At some point, I really ought to post this on my website.

And now I better get back to my college work! With every blessing.

7 Responses to “Surviving the blog tour”

  1. Boaz says:

    To those who found the books slow to get into: so did I. I also found The Fellowship of the Ring, That Hideous Strength, and The Name of the Rose slow to get into as well. It was well worth it, and, in Umberto Eco’s case, he states in the author’s afterward that if you won’t bother to slog through the first hundred or so pages, he doesn’t want you to read the book. (You could also say that it illustrates the need for perserverence in all parts of our Christian walk, even in reading novels.)

    To you, Chris: it was a very interesting prologue, and it makes me wonder about the narrator’s setting. How much further in the future is he? Is he a history teacher in the expanded Assembly? Is there a matching Epilogue to The Infinite Day? Also, about the objections you thought you would receive, but did not: for my own part I filed them under “Suspension of Disbelief Necessary for the Setting” along with the faster-than-light travel and other parts of sci-fi or fantasy. So in my case it’s not that you’re from the UK, it’s that the setting is fiction.

    Boaz, a young-universe premillenialist from the States.

  2. Catherine Brislee says:

    I think the first book appeals to different parts of the reader’s imagination.

    So, the part of me that reads poetry loved the prologue, the part of me that reads thrillers loved the story, and the part of me that wants the world to be a better place was fascinated by the culture of Farholme and the Assembly.

    I do think the prologue is essential, and also a stunning piece of writing! The blackness of Space! The great ship hovering over the planet! Wow!

    What’s not to love?

  3. My Boaz's Ruth says:

    I was saved primarily as an outgrowth of the “Thief in the Night” video series. (IE the prompting to actually make that step. Of course the movies didn’t save me!)

    I loved the “Left Behind” series. I agree that your books are written better. (and I have gotten a non-Christian friend to read yours, intrigued with the concept, where the Left Behinds were too blatant for her).

    But the obvious difference in eschatology did not bother me. Nor did the long ages. Because your book, your story obviously demands these or it does not work. I read an awful lot of books that don’t even acknowledge God is real. I think I can manage to enjoy a few fiction books with a different look at the way God works in the universe, with no great heartburn.

    The God in your books is still very recognizable to me.

    Oh, and yes, I would put you in the same category as C.S. Lewis and Tolkien!

  4. Terry says:

    Chris,

    Many congratulations on a very successful blog tour. I waded through most, if not all, of the reviews (not that they were hard to take), and felt much about them as you did.

    As for the objections you thought you’d get:

    I find it interesting, but hardly surprising, that a geologist prefers an old-earth creation explanation to how our world got where it is. I have also studied enough geology to have difficulty with a 10, or even 20 thousand year-old planet. After all, I happen to have a coral reef a looong way below my feet. In the Canadian prairies. Hmmm.

    And as for the post-millenialism, well, how often through the ages have believers thought they had God and scripture figured out, and were wrong? Perhaps your audience represents a more open-minded generation. I personally think we’re better off planning for the long haul, while hoping for the short. And as you say, that raises some rather significant and sobering questions about how we’re managing this planet.

    Dr. Suzuki, that’s your cue.

    Take care,

    Terry

  5. UKSteve says:

    Well, I didn’t manage to participate in the tour as much as I would have liked (given that my blog is about Christian science fiction, and from the UK to boot), but I do intend to read the rest of the series soon. I shall endeavour to make my reviews lean towards ‘well, it was alright, for the most part’ to save the author from his own pride (or abject despair, as the case may be).

  6. Caleb says:

    The eschatology didn’t bother me at first because I didn’t even immediately realize the book was dealing with the end times.
    To me, it seemed that the story showed a sanctified humanity that had a long time to wait before the return of their king.

  7. Mark says:

    I think a lot of people miss both the creationism and the eschatology at first, because it’s not explicit. Actually the non-creationism is never explicit really, after all, even under a creationist framework we’d still have to make worlds as you have imagined.

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