Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Heart of a Book is not its Genre

I’m pushing the sci-fi angle of my book. It’s futuristic. Some of it’s really coming—at least that’s the plan of certain people. Another angle I push is the Christian Fiction factor. It’s who I am and somebody told me to write what I know. And I won’t stop—the message of the Gospel will permeate whatever I write to some degree.

But when I think about Wake the Dead, the parts I love most aren't the techno-babble scenes, and there is no line defining the call of Christ—not in this book. (But Killswitch is coming this summer, and maybe…) My favorite moments are when Chase is dropped into his own past. God puts him there to prepare him for his astonishing future. 

Here’s one of my favorite scenes:

    Chase looked at the big screen, only it wasn’t a GV. It was more like an old movie screen. Landscape, lush and green, filled his vision. It looked like the place where he’d grown up. A seagull whizzed past. The sound of rushing water told him he was near the river. And then, he was on the screen. Only there wasn’t a screen anymore. Chase looked at his hands. They were small and sandy. He looked at his feet, at the blue sneakers he wore when he was ten.
    “Hey, get me out of here,” Chase whined.
     No one answered.
     He thought he might cry, but he didn’t. He was a grown man. An influential man. This was some kind of new game. A new prize for contestants. And SynVue was trying it out on him. Well, OK, he could play along. As if he had any choice. He turned a circle. He knew the way home.
     He came up past Braden River High School. Stupid teenagers. They were always messing with him. His house was just a couple of blocks away. He started to run.
     “Hey, Chase.” A little girl waved from across the road.
     Chase waved back to her. “Hey, Kathleen.” He ran a little faster.
    He came to his house and went up the walkway to the front door. Chase could hear his mother singing. What was that? Something about the light of the moon. She had a lovely voice. Chase had forgotten she used to sing. He opened the door. “Mom?”
     “In here, Chase. I’m baking your birthday cake.”
     “It’s my birthday?”
     She walked into the front room with a dish towel in her hands. “You silly boy.” She smiled, and he ran to her and threw his arms around her.
     “What’s this? Did you miss me that much? You’ve only been gone for a couple of hours.” She patted his back and kissed the top of his head.
     She smelled like chocolate and soap. That’s when the dream, or the game—whatever was happening on the screen—became real.
     He looked up. “I think it’s been more than a couple of hours.”

As it turns out, Steve Austin (not the wrestler, but the 70’s TV astronaut who got some bionic parts) was a wind-up toy compared to Chase Sterling. But all of Chase’s days (yeah, I know he’s not real) are ordained by God.

As are all of our days. Our experience, the people we encounter, every moment of love, hate, disregard, and reconciliation transforms us. No, it’s not like the transformation Chase endured. And yet it is. Science changed his brain, his body, and his function. God altered his mind, his soul, and his purpose. Science is grand. God is revolutionary. I don’t want what’s coming from the gods of science.

Just let me be revolutionized. That’s what I want to write about.

Maybe pushing the sci-fi angle doesn’t cover it. I never liked calling it sci-fi anyway. Speculative, yes. A what-if story about a transhuman written from a Christian worldview. Too wordy? How about Radical Techno Inspirational? Hmmm. 

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