Reviews and news

By , 20 June 2008 6:30 pm

The Infinite Day has been out now for best part of three weeks and so I am more or less able to take stock of where things are going. The good news is the reviews (all Amazon, my Facebook site or e-mailed to me) are excellent. Let me share three with you from last week alone.

From email
This is some more random fan-mail 😉 I’ve just finished reading The Infinite Day, and wanted to say a big thanks to you for writing the Lamb Among the Stars series. It’s been the most enjoyable series of novels I’ve read in the last 10 years. Not only did I enjoy the story and the characters, but their world, faith and technology was well done, intrigued me and kept me hooked.
You’ve managed to write novels where the story revolves entirely around the Christian faith, yet kept subjects of the faith very natural and integrated, and without any of our modern day jargon. As a Christian, I found it quite thought provoking. I felt you did a great job of presenting the essentials of our faith and how it works out and yet without dogmatically presenting a fixed view of the end times etc.
Please keep writing!
Oh, and – good ending to The Infinite Day! Certainly not what I expected by the time I got there.

From Amazon.com

5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant finish! June 13, 2008
By E. M. Tennessen (The Windy City)
The Infinite Day is the concluding book in the Lamb Among the Stars series by Chris Walley. The book brilliantly finishes the adventures of Merral D’Avanos and his friends as they battle the return of evil to the universe. Chris Walley is adept at combining science fiction with Christianity. While the Christian worldview is mostly Protestant, as an Eastern Orthodox Christian I found much that resonated with me about how God is and how much He loves us. The Assembly was a wonderful preview of how the Kingdom of God may be acted out. And Jorgio is very much a “fool for Christ.” While the book deals with the evil one and his minions, the story is more about how the characters battle the growing evil and corruption within themselves, how they throw that off, and how they continue to struggle to be like Christ. The ending had definite C.S. Lewis overtones–resembling the ending in The Last Battle (Narnia)–where all is revealed and beyond imagining. It was thrilling and brought tears to my eyes. If you enjoy a good tale about the triumph of good over evil with characters that will touch your soul and heart, this series is for you. And it’s superb science fiction, too! Highly recommended.

Bravo Chris Walley! June 19, 2008
By Patricia Cummings “dogs5” (Maryville, MO USA)
The final book in this series was not only well worth the wait … it shows the author’s growth as a writer throughout the series. The first book was a slow read, but the profound concept of a sinless world once again having to battle evil made it worth the effort. The pacing picks up in the next and the theology deepens. The final book is a masterpiece of Christian fiction. The author balances multiple plot points, a host of believable characters, and never loses the reader’s interest. The battle against evil occurs on many fronts … there’s a real enemy to be fought externally but it must be done in community and within each individual human heart. It’s beautifully done. Add to that mix the dimensionality of heaven and hell and probably the most satisfying ending in modern fiction… wow. Well done, Mr. Walley! May the REAL force be with you!

It’s hard to complain about things like that. I find it particularly satisfying that I am praised for effects I have tried to achieve.

Anyway that’s the good news. What however is less good is that sales figures are not particularly high. The most obvious source of information on how the books are actually doing is Amazon.com. Here I find a slightly worrying phenomenon: while the final book is doing okay-ish, the first two books have shown no pickup in sales. In other words, it seems that people who have started the series are happily reading the conclusion but the final book is not lifting the series as a whole. As you can imagine I find this all rather frustrating; had the series being critically damned I would have shrugged my shoulders and said ‘well I guess I deserve low sales’. But to get praise and low sales seems perverse. But then perhaps the whole point is that the universe is indeed just that; perverse. Short of that rather naive theological reflection has anybody got any bright ideas what we do about sales, promotion and the rest?

Chris

12 Responses to “Reviews and news”

  1. Anonymous says:

    As a marketing campgain, perhaps you could send the entire series to the pre-eminent rapture theologians of the United States – such as Jack Van Impe, Tim LaHaye etc. and hope that they read your book and denounce it on their TV broadcasts. This way, people would go out and see what the problem with the book was. I know this is probably a bad parallel, but didn’t that sort of thing work well for Mein Kempf?

  2. Boaz says:

    If you really want controversy, let it leak out that you advocate the ritual sacrifice of kittens to empower sorcery. Gary Larson (_The Far Side_) always said that his most-feared enemies were the people who loved cats. Much more vehement than dog people, Christians, or anyone else.

    Another idea might be to have Tyndale talk with Baen (large sci-fi publisher) about things like marketing, perhaps what Baen looks for in a manuscript.

    Another possibility to get to the same audience that Baen normally goes for is: is anyone reading this blog or on the Facebook club an active sci-fi/fantasy convention participant? If someone takes your books to the cons and discusses them, that would get your book exposed to people who would not ordinarily look for them.

    I don’t know how useful any of these would be. I don’t think that getting your school to do a modern literature class on your books would do much, though, as the students would all be pestering you for the answers to their papers.

    Boaz

  3. KIRSTY says:

    I think the problem is that there is no real heresy in them. However since that might not be a good solution, here are a few thoughts.

    I first got into the books because:
    a) I heard an interview with you on UCB radio, and the idea intrigued me. I thought of it as a kind of Left Behind from a different theological stance, but I liked the way you said you weren’t trying to push a particular view.
    b) The first chapter or so of The Power of the Night was in one of those free books they give away at summer time in Wesley Owen (even had a £ off token!). I enjoyed this chapter, which made me buy The Shadow at Evening.

    Not sure how easy it would be to wangle either of those again.

    By the way, I bought the first book because both of these made me think of it as Science Fiction (like Asimov) – although I enjoy fantasy, it was the SF slant that sold it to me. I think it really is closer to SF – with supernatural elements, of course, but then real life does, and I guess the end times might have more.

    Haven’t read the final one yet – still waiting on it coming. A bit scared about what will happen to the characters – not so much that they’ll die, but I don’t want any characters I like to “fall away”. Well, all will be revealed soon!

  4. My Boaz's Ruth says:

    Honestly? I don’t think Tim LaHaye would denounce it (don’t know the other name). 1) Its a fiction book, not saying ANYTHING about how this is truth or trying to teach it. and 2) He’s not that petty as to think there are no other views out there.

    My expectation is that the book may not even be read. Not everyone is out to get you just because you disagree.

  5. Catherine Brislee says:

    Chris

    I can understand that it is discouraging not to see a huge jump in sales, but I honestly think this is a series that is going to build up sales gradually.

    For one thing, it appeals to intelligent readers (she says modestly!), so you are not going to get the huge short-lived popularity of a mindless thriller. Also, it presents a Christian view of reality, but not a dogmatic one, in the sense that there are a lot of moral and ethical issues raised, both in how the characters act in a crisis and in how the Assembly functions. A lot of people prefer a simple world view, as we can see by the popularity of some writers (mentioning no names!)

    I guess I want to say wait ten years, and see how it goes, but you probably don’t want to hear that!

    Meanwhile, may I suggest that we all go into our nearest large bookshop, put on a puzzled expression, and ask the sales person why a certain brilliant series isn’t on their science fiction shelves!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Anonymous,

    Thanks to the insight here on the Adolf H. marketing strategy. I suppose I could always try and invade Poland too. The trouble is that this wretched Christian morality keeps getting in the way of marketing 

    Boaz, I loved the reference to the ritual slaughter of kittens. I am thinking of developing this further in my next book which will involve the hero in wholesale
    feline extermination. In the UK, this is no doubt a capital offence. The Baen reference is an interesting one. Before I go on holiday – which is not long away – I will e-mail my editor at Tyndale and maybe mention this. Of course if they are reading this blog then I may have done the trick already.

    Kirsty. Interesting to hear your tale… I did wonder whether I had had any effect on that Christian radio broadcast. But possibly some sort of deal on the three volume set could be considered. But do read the final one before the inevitable spoilers circulate. All the feedback has been that it is a rewarding and fulfilling read.

    Catherine, thank you for the encouragement to look on the long-term. Mind you, the pragmatic advice of, in the short term, asking libraries and bookshops for copies is one I definitely endorse. But thanks again.

    Chris

  7. Benjamin says:

    If it helps, I could always pull a little “yellow journalism”–you know, don some thrift store Communist Russian garbs, a poor accent, and mutter my (former) country’s frustrations with “such blatant capitalist blasphemy, trying to steal communist glory with this ‘assembly’!”…promptly burning a fake copy of the series for all youtube to glare at in stunned silence. Pavlov’s bell chimes minutes later and Amazon.com would spike in sales.

    Or, being the Christian I am, I could simply and ardently go on a walking tour of my area, proclaiming the beauty and insight LatS offers to both the speculative, skeptical, and spiritual.

    Cheers,
    Ben

  8. Else10 says:

    Chris, don’t be discouraged. The Lord will use your books in many ways, I believe. Have you tried sending your books to Christian book reviewers? And perhaps your publisher can help you with some publicity ideas? Thank you, by the way, for featuring my review on your blog (I am EM Tennessen). I and my children read your books and are delighted with them. In fact, we fought over who would get “dibs” to read the last one when it arrived! One of my sons said to me after finishing the last book, “I wish the world was like the Assembly.” It truly touched his heart in a special way. God bless you, Chris!

  9. Jonathan C. says:

    I just picked up “the infinite day” today and have gotten pretty far in it. So far I love it. good job once again

  10. Tom Terry says:

    Chris:

    I just returned to Mongolia from the States. I was not able to find a copy of Infinite Day! So, I want to take you up on your offer to have a copy shipped. Perhaps in return I can ship you a copy of “City of Heaven.”

    Tom Terry

  11. G.R. ''Scott'' Cundiff says:

    Congratulations on the entire series. My favorite was the first book. I enjoyed your vision of the Millennium. As I neared the finish of the last book I was surprised when you, the author intervened in the story to tell me that we were fast forwarding to the battle for Earth. It seemed strange to have that happen after reading so far into the series. The epilogue also surprised me. I don’t want to give away details that some may want to discover for themselves, but I kind of expected some sort of “new heaven and earth” right at the end. Still, I’m glad to give you a thumbs up for a unique and compelling Christian sci/fi/fantasy series. I recommend it to others and have reviewed it in my own blog.

  12. Matthew says:

    Thought I might as well post this here as anywhere: you’ve been mentioned alongside Don Carson in the final comment to this blog post: http://reformedcatholic.wordpress.com/2008/05/01/another-question/ .

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