Archives for: July 2008
It's just over two months until the Fantasy Fiction Tour '08 hits the West Coast, so as part of the "warm up" for the Tour, all eight fantasy writers have agreed to try their hands at a collaborative, fantasy fiction story. I wrote the first "page" if you will, and posted it yesterday, and last night, Wayne Thomas Batson added another.
Now we're all pretty busy, so it is hard to say at this early date how frequently we'll be able to contribute or how fast the story will develop and grow, but it is a pretty interesting experiment - 8 writers with close to 40 published books among them working together to create a free, online story for their readers to enjoy. If that sounds interesting to you, then click here to go and read some for yourself.
Or, if you haven't yet, bookmark the Fantasy Fiction Tour main site and while you're dropping by to check out what's the latest there, click on the heading for "Group Fiction" and it will take you to the page where the story is developing.
At any rate, I hope you'll enjoy the varied styles and approaches of the 8 writers, all brought together in this unique way to tell a single story - whatever it may turn out to be!
This post is to inform fans of my series and of the fantasy genre in general, that my friend Eric Reinhold, one of the other authors on the Fantasy Fiction Tour '08, is running a contest at his blogging site that you can access here. Basically, the contest is designed to have you spend some time at all the websites for each of the Tour authors, and if you can answer a question correctly for all the sites, you can win a free book from any of the 8 authors. This could be a terrific opportunity to dive in and try a book from one of the other authors if you've ever thought "that looks interesting, I should try that book."
So go to Eric's site, read the rules of the contest, and happy hunting! If you'd like to read more about Eric, he's the featured author this week at the Tour website which you can access here, so go read his interview if you'd like to know more about him.
A Time For War
I have to admit it, I like war stories. I like war books and war movies. I like non-fiction books on war like Band of Brothers and Flags of Our Fathers, and I like historical fiction war accounts like Killer Angels. I like the film version of these books too - the HBO miniseries based on Band of Brothers, Clint Eastwood's film based on Flags of Our Fathers, and the 4 hour movie Gettysburg based on Killer Angels. These just scratch the surface, though, as I've read many other books, less well known than these three (including the masterful collection of short stories on Vietnam The Things They Carried - the title story alone is brilliant - though be warned, while milder than most war stories, there are some violent moments & uses of profanity), and I've seen other war movies, including some of my very favorites, like Glory, Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line, We Were Soldiers and one of my all time favorites, Black Hawk Down. So, it naturally surprised me when some readers of my series began referring to the books, especially the recently released final book, All My Holy Mountain, and to me as being "pacifistic."
Now, I'm not really one to avoid expressing myself even if my view is unpopular, so I would acknowledge the label and embrace it if it applied, but it doesn't, so I thought I'd take a moment to address this subject here. First of all, where does the idea come from that my series might be pacifistic in nature? The answer to that, I suppose, is that the making of weapons is what I use as a clear symbol of "the fall" of my fantasy world, and conversely, the unmaking of weapons is a clear symbol of restoration and redemption. Consequently, one of the clear conflicts in All My Holy Mountain is between Valzaan, a prophet of Allfather, and Aljeron, the main captain of the army of Kirthanin as it wages war against Malek. Valzaan suggests that even those who serve Allfather and wield the sword in service to Him can love the blade too much, and he goes even further in suggesting that Rulalin, an enemy of sorts in Aljeron's eyes and Caan, a mentor for Aljeron, shared this trait - a love of the blade that was perhaps a bit strong. This suggestion doesn't go over well with Aljeron, and in the end, Aljeron finds surrendering his sword when it is no longer necessary surprisingly difficult.
So, I understand why this notion of the sword as a symbol of what's wrong with our world might be misunderstood as pacifism, but it is a misunderstanding. Pacifism is the idea that one should never fight/kill/go to war, and so forth. Never. Clearly, no one in the books held up as a laudable character makes that argument. You do see some of the older and generally wiser characters, like Monias for instance, be more measured in their enthusiasm and less gung ho for war in general, but none of these characters say "War is always wrong."
C.S. Lewis has a very clear essay on this called "Why I Am Not a Pacifist" which is in his collection, The Weight of Glory, which I'd recommend for any who are interested in the topic. Lewis' simple point is that to be pacifist, you have to believe war is the worst of all things. In short, since there is nothing so bad you'd go to war to avoid it, that means war must be worse than all states or situations which warfare might prevent. As Lewis doesn't believe that, he is not a pacifist. As I do not believe that, neither am I, nor are the characters in my book.
However, and it is a big however, the older I get, the more I realize that war is indeed a symbol of the brokenness of our world. While there are things worse than war, things worth fighting for and dying for, even so, if the world was the way God had intended it to be, war would not be necessary. Do we not grow weary of the fighting in this world and long for a day when it will be finished? A day when the swords and spears will be laid down and the world will be at peace? I hope you do, as it is the great vision of God's eternal kingdom that this will one day be.
So, even though I'm not a pacifist, I have come to see that war is more of a necessary thing than a good thing. Why then, do I still read and watch war movies, you ask? It is a fair question, and while there are a number of things I would say to it, I will limit myself to one as this post has grown long. One thing I find fascinating about war stories is that they show the best and the worst of human nature. The crucible of combat lays bare the character of the soldiers who enter it, and one moment you read or watch some horrific atrocity that exposes the deep depravity of man, and the next you read or watch some tale of unbelievable goodness, courage, friendship or self-sacrifice that is so poignant it makes battle-hardened, grown men weep. For a writer, for an observer of human nature, for a Christian always fascinated by the mysterious interplay of man's sinful nature and yet the glory of God's image, the imago dei inside us, these stories are in a way invaluable. They teach me much about who we are, about what we have become, but also about who we were meant to be, and one day, Lord willing, who we shall be.
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