In Dreams – a short review.


IN DREAMS by Darryl Knickrehm

A fan of indie sci fi and a writer myself, I picked up this novella on an Amazon recommendation and wasn’t disappointed. Told through diary and dream fragments with little ramp up, Knickrehm trusts his readers can jump in and follow along, something I admire. While this story-telling technique might not appeal to some, and would get tedious in the long haul, “In Dreams” is a solid start to the series. For the price of coffee at a convenience store, this little gem will last longer and scratch that sci fi itch. Looking forward to more. Three stars for the solid writing, + one for being Indie.

Available at Amazon for Kindle.

Sci Fi is Sin?

The first in a series titled “Spitballs from Baptisneyland.”* It deals with Christian worldview issues. So you’ve been warned.

IT’LL JUMP ON YOU!
I’m old enough and been around church long enough to remember the “Rock and Roll is Devil’s music” debate. “Words and motives don’t matter! Drums and electric guitars are Satan’s tools. It’s the beat – that pagan, idol-worshipping beat.”

Never mind God considers the heart before the appearance, that character and content matter more than cosmetics, that the root determines the fruit… scores of the faithful were burning other believers at the metaphorical heresy stake because they couldn’t/wouldn’t disassociate the medium from the message.

Offspring of shallow thinking, anec-data, bolstered with a few out-of-context Chapter and Verse, this things are evil doctrine is rooted in bad theology. Let me clarify right here, Stuff isn’t inherently sinful** – people are. We sin because we’re sinners – not the other way around. It’s not the THING- it’s how we use it. It’s us – not the item. Music is a vehicle for self-expression before it’s a vector for ideas. Same with film, theater, dance, art… To borrow a computer tech troubleshooting term, PICNIC: Problem in Chair, Not in Computer. Basic Christianity, right there.

That’s why salvation doesn’t merely forgive our crimes but transforms our criminal tendencies. It’s conversion of the soul, i.e the essence of who and what we truly are. But back on topic…

ROBOTS AREN’T REPROBATE
Now maybe you were expecting Yoda to be a little green Billy Graham, (died on tree, savior did) but is it really that shocking when non-believers express non-Biblical worldviews? When they speculate in speculative fiction? Aside from enjoying the experience, allowing yourself to be entertained, the key is shift your expectations, spit out the bones and discern (there’s that word again) the themes, virtues, principles that ARE portrayed. To stand on the common ground of our humanity. All truth is Gods and it’s the perfect place to start the conversation.

I believe artistic integrity, or faithfulness to the medium, is mandatory – I’ll talk about that in another post – but the notion that portraying the futuristic, the fantastic immediately disqualifies a story, renders it unprofitable and ineffective for Christian truths, betrays a blinkered, petty perspective based on ignorance and fear, not faith. That some use fiction to dissemble and deceive, and others follow along speaks more of a vacuum than inherent malice or conspiracy.

C.S. Lewis’ statement “The world does not need more Christian literature. What it needs is more Christians writing good literature” hits the mark. Unless you deliberately neuter your work in the editing process, Who and What you are can’t help but come out. The essence is transmitted. The challenge then is not simply to become an genuine Christian, but master your chosen medium and so authentically express the reality of redemption working in your life.

I’ll end with a quote from Dorothy Sayers. (I have a crush on her.)

“The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused him of being a bore – on the contrary, they thought him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified him ‘meek and mild,’ and recommended him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies.”

EXTRA CREDIT BONUS QUESTION: If a net-friend’s autocorrect on her IPad keeps changing “Jesus” to “Jedis”, is it possessed?

*So titled as my attempts to fend off wads of gloppy logic fired by the insular religious

**Gnostic duality (material = bad but spiritual = good) isn’t Biblical. Sanctification isn’t seclusion. Creation is damaged by sin, yes, but it is NOT implicitly evil. God created, inhabited and continues to animate the material world. He made it. He blessed it. The Incarnation sanctifies mortal creation.

The Real Question isn’t

“How do I get more Reviews?” but “Have I written something worth reviewing?”

When The Barrow Lover is released, I’m sending out copies no strings attached. Of course I’m hoping for READS/REVIEWS. Of course I’ll be looking for Indie/Small Press reviewers, run ads in appropriate markets, but my goal, my prayer, my struggle is to write stories a reader wants to tell others about. I want to craft better stories, sentences, characters – not get all greasy ninja devious to exploit the Amazon and Goodreads systems.

Just sayin’.

The Gospel according to Sci Fi


Consider the implications of the TED talk below. Or rather the ethical implications of this mind-blowing technology: techno-slaved insects/animals, designer hybrid pets, cloning, genetic engineering… If we do it with animals, it’s only a matter of time before the techniques and technology are used on people. Think it’ll never happen? We treat regular human beings with astonishing cruelty and callousness – how much more a being that is designed and grown? 50 Shades of Josef Mengele

One of my favorite books in recent years, Drew Magary’s ‘Post Mortal’, extrapolates a decidedly non-idyllic look at the near-future where age-freezing gene-therapy is developed, debated, then disseminated. Blunt, realistic, well-written, I highly recommend it to anyone, especially those wrestling with the inevitable struggle to integrate the Person and Principles of our faith with advancing technology in a global society. (Side note: I believe in the Rapture, but think it’s too often a cop-out of serious work and thought. After all, why dig deep or plan when you’re out of here at any minute, right?)

Far from being pagan or hostile, science fiction is an incredible opportunity for Christian writers. It challenges us to get a hold of Who and What we believe, then develop credible, consistent, working expressions of God’s redemption, compassion, and holiness. A cloistered, ‘Hold the Fort/Siege’ mentality won’t work. Does anyone actually remember the Alamo? Retreat and separation isn’t holiness – it’s heresy. All you’re really saying is ‘My God is small and stupid and no God at all.’

It’s a shame the TED talk cuts off. I’d love to hear the rest of the discussion.

But maybe that’s the point.

Rest and much geekery


Having finished both Shift Tense and The Barrow Lover (see below) recently, I’m feeling simultaneously relieved and drained. Now I’ve got ideas on the radar screen, the outlines/initial chapters of two novels, the start of the next Clar1ty Wars collection, but they’re all just kinda… sitting there.

The only shiver of excitement is seeing what Chila at Port Yonder Press does with The Barrow Lover. Someone asked if I was worried an editor would ruin the story, change its voice. I’m sure some do but I’m not sensing that here. I need and want a solid editor. A good book isn’t so much written as re-written, and having an objective yet sympathetic set of eyes to hone a story, tease out the best and grind down the rough edges is critical. Like Twain said, the difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightening and a lightening bug. A good editor helps you in that struggle.

So I’ve moved into a Reading Phase to step back and recharge. Right now, I’ve got Jane Gardam’s Old Filth, Iain Banks’ Surface Detail, Gorky Park, Story by Robert McKee, and The Moth at my bedside. (Plus a bunch of stuff on my Kindle) I’m especially looking forward to The Moth, as immersing yourself in good stories teaches you about good writing as much if not more than a book about writing.

To keep my otaku juices flowing, I’ve been gaming a new set of table top wargame rules titled Pulp Alley, adapting them to science fiction and post-apocalypse settings. My friend and I are having a blast. It’s refreshing to sit back and just enjoy a game.

Here are some pictures from three recent games:

There’s plenty more at my hobby blog if you’re interested.

I’ll also say turning 50 the other day turned out to be more a major blessing, and less one of those ‘acute sense of mortality/passage of time’ things. (I think those are good – in proper doses) My wife rented a house on a lake for a potluck with family and close friends, and we held a story slam that broke up around 11 pm. “All good” is an understatement; it was an opportunity to appreciate God’s grace on my life.

Eshu International backstories?

SHIFT_TENSE_final_rgb_flatten_6x9inches_with_bleeds I plan on releasing the full SHIFT TENSE novel in trade paperback and ebook late this year, but I want to add bonus material to distinguish the separate release from the serialized portions. I was considering short stories centering on Poet9, Tam and Jace, and the Triplets prior to the formation of Eshu International.

I’ve got a killer one for Poet9, but any preferences or suggestions?

I hate marketing

There, I said it.

I don’t want to be that guy joining forums, groups, discussions just to pimp my wares, a naked ego clothed only in my latest’s back-cover blurb and a Smashwords coupon code. Drive-by marketing is obnoxious, transparent, tiresome at best. And what with Mark Driscoll’s “Real Marriage” dust-up, the last thing I want to do is use ResultSource

I know advertizing and promotion is essential; a good book never read is the same as a bad book. The question is how to carve out the time to invest rather than impose? To locate places of genuine potential interest rather than spin up the hype where it’s unmerited? And contribute genuine support to other members of those online/physical communities?

Time is a precious commodity. With everyone already busy enough, it’s tough to maintain already established connections. And it’s getting more difficult to wade – to even want to wade – through the sludge these days. With ‘The Barrow Lover’ up next, I’m seriously struggling with how I’m going to honestly and earnestly promote it.

Any thoughts here?

Murdered girl’s ghost finds a home.

TheBarrowLover 2 eyes

Port Yonder Press Announcement for 2014 titles. Scroll down a bit

Looks like The Barrow Lover will feature a PYP imprint in 2014. Don’t know specifics yet, but I want to thank Chila Woychik for taking a chance on the story, and her staff readers for wading through the slush.

I suspect I’ll spend a few weeks grinding down rough edges, but at least I have the cover. It will be interesting to see how this small press-traditional publishing plays out. I’m looking forward to it. I’ll keep you posted.

PYP Website: Port Yonder Press
PYP FB: The inevitable FB page

And yes, I’ll make a Celtic stained glass panel to giveaway.