Mixed Content: Part 1. Audience and Vocation

There’s a C.S. Lewis quote about the necessity of writers who are Christian as opposed to Christian writers, that has always resonated with me. That sentiment in mind, I want to touch on the idea of “mixed content”, and some of the difficulties of genre fiction writing as a Christian over the course of the next several posts. Author of a single book, drafting my next project, I’m by no means an expert. I can only discuss my experience.

One of the first complaints about “Running Black” is the use of profanity and the depictions of violence, the indictments coming that A. they negate any Christian message; and B. that those things obviously reside in my heart and thus render my faith suspect. Now there’s not much I can do about other people’s opinions, but if you think I didn’t struggle with it, think again. I’ll address the idea of negating later.

Part of my responsibility before God is to walk in the vocations He’s called me to. I use the plural because I’m called as a man, a husband, a father, grandfather, neighbor, glass artisan, and writer, each with their own peculiar boundaries and responsibilities. None of them absolve me from cultivating moral character, but each makes specific demands in the context of pursuing them to the best of my abilities.

Now I believe it was John Stott who said Christians shouldn’t pander to an unbeliever’s intellectual arrogance, but they must cater to their intellectual integrity. My intended audience is those already familiar with military sci-fi and cyberpunk, and one of the cardinal rules of fiction is to “Show, not tell.” I don’t dare classify “RB” as a Christian novel. It’s not, and it was never meant to be one. It’s a straightforward sci-fi run and gun that happens to have Christian characters in it, written by someone with a definite Christian worldview. These Christian characters act and speak – I hope – consistent with their faith, while those who are not, act accordingly as well. The novel’s setting isn’t in the grim darkness of the far future or a galaxy far, far away; it’s grounded in real-world politics, society and technology, and I have populate this realistic, recognizable world with credible characters. That’s part and parcel of the necessity of the story and the vocation of fiction writing.

Given the demands of genre fiction, the setting, and the audience, I think typical readers are more likely to be discomforted by the Christian elements than by occasional bad language or violence in a science fiction action story. That’s all for now. Feel free to comment. Thanks for your time.

Fonts, sub-titles, and text boxes

Several people commented on the utility of the sub-title, and I’ve included it as a signal of intention. There are two other books planned, and I’d like to establish continuity from the start. Here’s the latest iteration. My wife thinks it odd, given the title, that the font should be white, but it seems more legible.

Are we the baddies?

Waiting on editors and artists, so I figured I’d post one of my favorite YouTube vids. Kids, pay attention in school, ’cause this is only really funny if you know enough history.War history at that.

This one is great too.

Eshu International – a private security firm

(I know Blackwater is “Xi” now)

News reports today highlighted the withdrawal of America’s last combat brigade from Iraq, although nearly 50K troops will remain in “non-combat” roles until 2011. The name of the operation has also been changed from “Iraqi Freedom” to “New Dawn” , as if the garnish of a new title would make the situation any less volatile, the country any less fragile. Close your eyes and call it something else… we’ll see how that global strategy works. A news footnote mentions that the size of private security forces will be doubled. (Won’t be near enough)

For more on that precarious decision, I suggest Peter Singer’s “Corporate Warriors” or Robert Pelton’s “Licensed to Kill”. Or read Ralph Peter’s articles in his recent compilation “Endless War”.

Back to the fiction…

Set in the near future, “Running Black” centers on a small team of former soldiers, an indentured corporate hacker, and illegal combat clones who’ve formed a “private security” outfit doing dirty work for tomorrow’s massive financial entities. Think it’s far-fetched? Think again. Private security is a rapidly growing, multi-billion dollar industry, and with politics, budget cuts, the constant need to maintain strategic interests, the opportunities are only going to increase.  As global markets expand, corporations are going to need real security in the face of terrorists, pirates, and constant internecine war in Africa, Asia, and the ME as they compete for consumers and resources.

The bottom rung, sketchy transactions of a shadowy outfit like Eshu International are more a matter of time than plausibility. Nations and corporations will always need dirty work done and there will always be people willing to do it for cold cash. Like Jace says in the novel, they’re ‘deniable, deletable, and disposable.’  The perfect tool for ruthless pragmatism.