It's reader's choice this month on the CSFF blog tour, and it's a bit of a challenge, trying to come up with just a few favorites and not a long list.
Thanks to the tour, I've encountered many excellent new science fiction and fantasy titles; for me, the standout titles are Blaggard's Moon by Bryan Polivka (awesome yarn!), The Enclave by Karen Hancock, Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos, Lost Mission by Athol Dickson, and Vanish by Tom Pawlik. There are also a lot of books I've missed on the tour over the past couple of years, so there's a lot of catch-up reading to be done. Aw, shucks, darn: I have to read. (That's kinda like a kid secretly pleased to be banished to his room, so he can dive under the bed and dig into the boxes of comic books stored there.)
In the 1980s and 1990s, I didn't encounter a Frank Peretti novel I didn't like. Oh, I might avoid one for a bit -- The Oath, for instance, or The Visitation -- but if it was in my sphere, I read it. This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness had a profound impact on me, and I read them several times -- devoured them, actually. But The Oath and The Visitation were too close, too much like my own life, so that the line between fantasy and reality stopped existing. An argument might be made that those books aren't really fantasy, but they are most certainly speculative fiction. The Oath challenges misconceptions of sin and consequences, and The Visitation evaporates "Christian" illusions and false miracles.
Shortly after reading that book, someone loaned me a nonfiction volume by Peretti: The Wounded Spirit. Coming right behind The Visitation, it reinforced the truths found there, and literally changed my life. I was not alone. Someone else, a fellow believer, had experienced circumstances uncannily like mine, and his faith had survived.
Some among the church looked askance at my reading material, and many of the elders did not believe fiction (lies) had any place in a good young Christian's library. And the crazy stuff I enjoyed reading actually inspired warnings and lectures. I smile now to imagine what some of those same people might say of my writing!
Yet it is this "questionable" fiction that led me toward Truth, and stoked the fires of imagination.
A list of the other stops on the blog tour can be found here; check out what other bloggers are saying about their favorite Christian science fiction and fantasy novels!