Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Book Tour--The Shadow and Night--Day 2

The reason that the prologue is present in Chris Walley's novel is that the history of all this world matters. For twelve thousand years (can you imagine that time frame? I sure can't!) a barrier has kept Evil away from the Made Worlds.

And we're not just talking major evil here. We're talking teensy tiny baby evil. In the first chapter, Merral has a shocking suspicion about his uncle. It almost seems--though it can't be possible--that his uncle might have told a LIE! Inconceivable! People don't lie any more. They don't do any wrong. They haven't done wrong for twelve thousand years.

I pause a moment while you think about the repercussions of that premise.

Now, let's switch gears and talk about fiction. Fiction pretty much demands good guys and bad guys. We are cautioned, as writers, against making our main characters too perfect. Readers can't identify with flawless characters.

So if the premise of your novel actually DEPENDS upon a perfect world and perfect characters, what's a writer to do? In The Shadow and Night, Chris Walley chose to show the perfection. This sets up a slow beginning. It pretty much has no option at that stage.

So now, by page 485, Merral and company have engaged Evil several times. And the action is getting rolling.

I wrestle with this. I think I would have tried to send this story idea back where it came from as impossible to pull off. I'm not completely sure Chris Walley DID pull it off, but I have to say, hat's off to him for a valiant effort. This is a really tough story to make work.

And honestly, I'm sure I'll finish it in the next few days. Because now I want to. I did get another 50 pages or so read last night.

So, this is a Christian novel, but is the concept of future human perfection (outside of heaven itself) really a Christian idea? Blogger John Otte presented a Millenial Primer on his post Monday.

For folks like me, who don't hold a passionate viewpoint on End Times Theology, it was helpful to be reminded of the various theological positions. It's been a long time since my Bible School Days. My personal opinion on that is God's gonna do it how God's gonna do it. Obviously some folks are going to be wrong in their beliefs because they don't all agree. So I say, we need to be ready for whatever the future holds and let God play it out the way He will do it. (So my personal opinion boils down to...whatever...!)

Is it theologically and physically possible for evil to be banished for twelve thousand years? I don't really think so. But science fiction is all about taking the world as we know it and extrapolating with a specific bias. What if...there was a golden age? As anyone who has read the Bible can attest, it's not laid out in a tidy outline that connects all the dots. There's plenty of room for imagination. And while mine wouldn't have taken me where Chris Walley's took him, there's no reason not to go along for the ride.


Kait said...

I guess that makes you a Panmellenialist - it's all going to pan out in the end! :o)

I find that a lot of theology is just an excuse for Christians to argue. There's nothing wrong with discussing "what-if's" until it starts to offend people.

Kait said...

Also, I'm aware that I spell millenialist wrong. I wasn't sure, then submitted it before I checked.

Rebecca said...

Agreed, Kait.

I understand the reasoning for the (to some painfully) slow opening, but I also know there are abundant literary devices to speed things up a bit/add tension. Walley used some - dreams, Merral's "sense" of things being not quite right. But, the very fact so many have seen the opening as a snorefest points to a problem.

My issue with the theology had nothing to do with the end times whatever it is. It was more the issue of evil being "bound" so completely. It just doesn't make sense in a world that is otherwise post fall.

Nor does it make sense that the inhabitants of these worlds understand what a lie is, or hate, or other "evil" impulses if no one has experienced them for x-thousand years. Or that their schooling in the past would be so complete as to educate them on these ideas, without at least one person (assuming they have free will?) in all those decades deciding, "Gee, I think I'll LIE! Could be fun!"

Or maybe I'm just around young children too much. Where it's truly unbelievable to imagine serving casserole-anything without having loud expressions of ungratefulness, or slabs slipped under the table to the dog.

As a novel, it was a fun read. As a theology textbook??? (hello, it's a novel)

Again, here via wordpress. My blogger account won't get you to anything related to this book. My own comments can be found here.

Valerie Comer said...

Kait...I think I'm on your page with my end times view. *Pan out in the end* indeed!

Rebecca, I saw your post yesterday and was going to point it out here. Forgot, sorry. But you make a very valid point. If evil is so completely banished, then all small children must be wonderfully polite and...perfect. I notice that the novel doesn't dwell on little kids much!

But you're right. It's a novel, not a theological textbook. That was one of the main points of my post today. It's a story built on an interesting premise. (That got off to a slow start!)

Thanks for stopping by.

Rachel A. Marks said...

I definitely think there's ways of stringing in conflict without there being any sin. Fear is of the unknown--not of just evil. I've read several book in YA that do an awesome job of taking a "seemingly" utopian society and drawing us into the world with conflict.

Rebecca makes some really good points as to the premise, though. Seems highly unbelievable. I'm with her. I've got four kids. They were not born innocent.

Christopher Hopper said...

Cheers to Rebecca once again. I actually had to wash my daughter's mouth out with soap this morning. (Am I allowed to say that on the internet?). I was appalled at how she talked back to *my wife* when she thought I wasn't listening. (The funny part was that when I did it, she just kinda' looked at me like, "What was that for?" Later I tasted the soap myself and realized it actually not only had a mango smell, but a mango flavor! Nice, dad!).

Valerie, I have to agree with you. Despite being far fetched, the use of his "futuristic parable" would be easier thought of as an Adam and Eve version of Star Wars. If we're just trying to point out the affects of sin on humanity and use the context of a sci-fi world, cool (which I think was his point, at least from what I've read of his commentary). But if it was to pose an actual suggestion for how the next 11,000 years might play out....eeeek!


Valerie Comer said...

Hi, Rachel. Thanks for stopping by! Yes, fear is a valid technique for building tension. But for how many pages, with nothing to spur it on? Dunno.

Christopher: mango flavored soap, eh? Got me a good laugh there, and I needed one today. Yep, Walley wrote a story. Doesn't have to mean we all believe it could happen! Most of our stories (in our chosen genres, anyway) never could.

So be it.

Gene Curtis said...

panmillenialist--me too. It doesn't matter what we think. Great post!