Categories

Categories

Categories | Guy L. PaceSomeone, somewhere, defines and decides what to label things. They put things in categories. They set the criteria for the pigeon holes into which things are stuffed.

The publishing industry is much like the old hardware stores, where walls of tiny little drawers house little parts of an endless variety. Someone in those old stores knew how to find even the most obscure part, screw, or nail. It was a gift.

Those old hardware stores are gone. But, in the publishing industry, those categories are still around. And they change. Sometimes they change year to year. Sometimes they change from one bookstore to another. Even online booksellers have different, often incompatible, categories.

Amazon

Amazon allows an author to set up the categories for his/her book(s). As the author dives into this, though, restrictions rear their ugly head. Certain topic areas can’t be included in certain age categories, for example. You can’t start with science fiction, and roll down to teen or young adult and then Christian. You have go another way.

Then there are limits to how closely you can define your genre via the categories. Some allow only two or three levels.

Publisher

When Sudden Mission was first published, the publisher set the primary category as “middle grade.” I thought that included teen or early teen. Silly me. I found out that this put my books in the classification of children’s books. I don’t think the Spirit Missions books qualify as children’s books.

So, when I re-launched the books after that first publisher closed their doors, I set the initial categories as teen or young adult. Then I had to struggle to get things to accept Christian and science fiction as a genre. What fun.

Maddening

Sometimes the whole category things gets a bit maddening. I grew up reading science fiction, but that’s not all. I read biographies, mysteries, historical novels, history, drama, and classic literature. Even Shakespeare’s plays. My favorites were Julius Caesar, The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, and Midsummer Night’s Dream. So, how does one categorize all that?

Or, how important is it to categorize all that?

Could the entire motivation to read something is for a good story. Interesting and compelling. A good story.

Maybe the only category we really need for books is “a good story.”

Keep writing.

 

P.S. The summer and early fall have been very busy with travel and other things. I hope you stick with me.

Science and Faith

Science and Faith

Science and Faith | Guy L. PaceSome folks keep trying to separate science and faith. Like they are totally exclusive of each other. I don’t find them so exclusive, myself.

Science helps us understand the world, and the universe our world moves through. It helps us with the “What.” Faith helps us understand ourselves, our relationship to each other and our creator, God. It helps us with the “Why.” Together, science and faith allow us to make sense of who we are and what we’re doing here.

Science alone cannot explain everything about our world, our universe, or why things are the way they are. Some science ends up as guesswork based on sound principles and scientific method. And, there’s nothing wrong with that. It often takes years of research, analysis, and testing theory, to come up with explanations of what things are.

Faith alone cannot resolve all our questions about why we’re here, what it all means, and what is our relationship with God. Much as we struggle with the questions and ideas, we fall short of a perfect understanding. And, there is nothing wrong with that. We’re human. We are not perfect. Faith is knowing that we cannot perfectly understand everything, and rest on our trust in God.

How does one reconcile these two things? For me, it boils down to accepting that God created the universe. The universe is infinite, fascinating, and full of things we cannot yet understand. Since God created it, God is infinite, fascinating, and we cannot fully understand him. Trying to box God into a human frame of reference to explain physical events in our world or universe demonstrates our extremely limited understanding of God. Just as trying to prove or disprove God’s existence using science is an exercise in futility, not to mention that God created all the tools you would use.

Christian Science Fiction

So, I can write a story or novel about humans and interstellar exploration and still have a Christian theme to it. No problem. So, we have Christian Science Fiction. As with any good science fiction, science is the main story point even though we have to possibly “suspend belief” on one scientific point to make it all work. Christianity isn’t a point to suspend belief. The suspension of belief normally involves the type of drive capable of getting the characters from point A to point B in the universe. Warp speed, hyper-drive, jump drive, or any number of other methods of travel to bypass the mind-numbing distances and time required to move people around in space are the usual suspects.

With the mode of travel aside, the rest of the story can focus on: the science of growing Earth-like food on a new planet; human survival on a planet with no Van Allen belt; social patterns to support the colony; even sharing the Christian story with an alien species in a first encounter. The last one depends on your take on God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and just how far God went in the plan of salvation. All that without going too far afield of the basic doctrine.

Outside of our little corner of the universe, we know very little. Are there other civilizations or are we alone.

Isaac Asimov’s approach, especially in the robot novels, had humans alone in the universe. Though he was an avowed atheist, Asimov’s universe model makes for a simpler approach to the salvation plan. This opens up story opportunities for missions to human colonies that have fallen away, or social-governance structures on colonies or empires.

Robert Heinlein’s universe was full of other civilizations, some antagonistic to us (Starship Troopers), and some so advanced that they “twisted” troublesome worlds out of the current reality (Have Space Suit, Will Travel). This kind of universe model offers some challenging story opportunities for a Christian Science Fiction writer. Just don’t hurt yourself thinking of the complications.

It Can be Good

As in the post last week, Can Christian Science Fiction be good? Get the Christian part integrated into the character’s role and world view. Get the science right. Keep the suspend belief limited to one thing, like hyper-drive. Also, social science, political science, governance of a colony, can all be important elements of a story. Science doesn’t just mean math, chemistry, physics.

I’m sure there are many folks out there who will poke holes in my thoughts here. Fine. Feel free. So long as it gets you thinking, examining, challenging. When it comes to Christian Science Fiction, that’s what it should do.

Keep writing.