How likely is that?

Someone in the Czech Republic read and reviewed “Running Black” over at Smashwords. Here’s the review:

A tautly written, workmanlike Gibsonesque action thriller, not dazzlingly original to say the least but quite open about its debts (one of the main characters is even named ‘Gibson’). Definitely worth a read if you like the genre, but don’t expect it to change your life.
There’s a religious aspect which I found a bit off-putting: it’s not too much in this book, but there’s a gradual ratcheting-up of the Christian schick at the end that makes me worried that the next volume will go too far (shades of Greg Bear there). This won’t be a problem if you’re a Christian, I guess. But if you’re into this genre, how likely is that?

Before you think I’m offended, I’m not. It’s fair and accurate in many respects. I mean, I’m grateful he/she read it at all, and then took the time to post a review.

I wasn’t aiming for transformative/transcendent literature, so no problem there. Spiritual content aside, Running Black is a Run and Gun story. Entertainment with a shred of substance. That said, I do question the assessment of book’s Christianity as “schick”, the implicit dismissal of faith in general, and the assumption sci fi readers are largely atheistic/agnostic.

(WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD)

1. Is it the characters’ Christianity the reader finds trite and/or insipid? Gibson’s death scene? Or do they object to my including religion/faith as a dynamic in the first place? I mean there are 6.8 billion people on the planet: of them, it’s estimated 2 billion are Christians, 1.5 are Muslims, 1 billion are Hindus, and 1 billion are Buddhists. (Approximate numbers from multiple sources) Give or take a few hundred thousand, it’s obvious Faith and Spirituality plays an important role in a majority of the planet’s population. Is it strange to find fictional characters in the same vein? Is it (as one editor put it) the ‘definite worldview statement’ implied in Gibson’s final monologue that comes off as cheesy or ham-fisted?

2. I understand lots of Westerners believe that religion is the last refuge of scoundrels and a person of definite faith has committed intellectual suicide. I don’t believe science and religion are as antagonistic as is commonly held, but are science fiction and faith now mutually exclusive? A person can’t enjoy cyberpunk action fiction and be a Christian? (or Muslim, or Hindu, or…) Seems to me issues of faith and religion have been addressed in Sci Fi for decades, and even more blatantly in the recent BSG/Caprica series. Religion and it’s effects on individuals and societies is one of the great mysteries of human motivation and interaction. How can it not be included in a fictional future of mankind?

I’m curious what other readers think and whether or not their immediate circle of acquaintances feel the same way.

And by the way, what is Greg Bear writing these days?

4 Comments on “How likely is that?

  1. “I don’t believe science and religion are as antagonistic as is commonly held,”

    Correct: they’re not and never have been. Do a search for Draper-White or the conflict thesis, if you’ve never read about them.

  2. How cool that Running Black has reached the Czech Republic! Magic of the internet.
    The reviewer sounds a bit superior in his/her wording : “How likely is that?”

  3. I’m a lone Christian in a group of atheistic (agnostic at best) sci fi fans. The rest of them grew up in Christian homes and even Christian schools, just like I did. But somewhere in there they decided that they were Too Smart For God and started grooving on Sci Fi where authors not only advanced science but did their best to paint future societies that are either beyond all that God nonsense or slaves to a cruel, manmade exploitative religion. These guys see scifi as the lone genre that Tells It Like It Is. In other words, yeah, the rest of the world is religious, but they shouldn’t be.

    So to these folks any Christianity in Sci Fi is an unwelcome intrusion into their clubhouse.

  4. Oh, btw…

    PLEASE put a “Spoiler Alert” on this one, for the sanity of your future readers. I knew going into RB that Gibson dies and that made his parts really hard to read from an emotional standpoint.

    Granted, I usually peek ahead in any book to see if the characters I like (or the dogs) die so that I can steel myself and I likely would’ve done so for Gibson, too. But still.

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