|Available from Skysong Press.|
by Steve Stanton
Published by Skysong Press, 1997
Skysong Press: paperback
Recommended by: Donna Farley
Despite the misgivings of some about myth and magic, in recent years fantasy fiction has won itself a niche in Christian publishing. Its acceptance is due largely to the credibility of C.S. Lewis's classic juvenile Narnia series, and to J.R.R. Tolkien's seminal Lord of the Rings, both Christian works hugely successful in secular publishing. Science fiction, however, often lumped in with fantasy in the chain stores, seems to have made even less headway in the Christian market than it has in the secular field. The pity is that, as Mormon author and award-winning SF writer Orson Scott Card states in his short story collection Cruel Miracles, "science fiction... is the last American refuge of religious literature.... [which] explores the nature of the universe and discovers the purpose behind it. When we find that purpose, we have found God... the purposer..." While most modern American fiction avoids this question of purpose, Card notes, in science fiction, "the search for the purposer is still alive."
The markets being so daunting, but the potential of the SF form being so great for that "search for the purposer", it needed an independent Christian publisher like Skysong's Steve Stanton to bring out his own first novel, In the Den of the Dragon, a blend of Frank Peretti-style spiritual warfare with classic "hard" science fiction focussing on space colonisation and asteroid mining. Targetting two types of specialty markets science fiction book stores and Christian book stores the author sent the book off with a prayer that it would "influence a few people on the street to think twice about Jesus Christ..."
Results were positive enough to prompt the publication of Stanton's newest work, Superlight. If In the Den of the Dragon combines two diverse and specialized genres, Superlight is even more daringly outré a Christian cyberpunk novel, complete with clones, a reverse-AIDS virus that offers immortality, and an exhilarating tour of cyberspace, the virtual reality realm where the human mind interacts with the computer network, more complex and rich than any video game.
What sets the novel apart from the work of such secular authors as cyberpunk originator William Gibson (Neuromancer, Johnny Mnemonic) is Superlight's protagonist, cyberrunner Zakariah Davis. A fugitive in a dark, technologically-dominated future typical of the cyberpunk sub-genre of SF, Zakariah is not the expected existentialist anti-hero, but an idealistic family man whose overpowering motivation is his love for his young son, Rix, who does not yet possess the life-giving virus that infects his parents.
Superlight evidences a strengthening of the author's technical skills since his first book. It reads more smoothly than In the Den of the Dragon, parts of which had appeared previously as short fiction in a number of literary magazines in several countries. Superlight's images of blood and light, and themes of sacrifice, resonate strongly with the Christian psyche.
Science fiction has been called "the literature of ideas", for, unlike the majority of "sci-fi" that appears on TV and in the movies, it demands of its readers the courage to look into the future, to search out the wonders of the cosmos or to consider the implications of a Frankensteinian technological culture.
To the Gen-Xers who take for granted concepts like virtual reality and biological warfare, Superlight, with a glimpse of the transcendence of a purposer beyond this frightening universe, offers both challenge and hope.
(Note: This review originally appeared in B.C. Report on December 22nd, 1997, and has been reproduced here with the permission of the author.)
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