This was originally written for the Holy Worlds Speculative Fiction blog marathon, here: http://www.holyworlds.org/blog/?p=1366
We are in the era when the inclusion of speculative or paranormal elements is almost required for fiction, especially fiction targeted at teens and young adults. So where is the Christian response to this ever-increasing share of the fiction market? Right where it has been for the past several years: nowhere to be seen.
As speculative fiction has been expanding exponentially, seeming to grow a new sub-genre every few months, the response of the Christian publishing industry has been lethargic at best. A few– a very few– Christian authors have written speculative fiction of one type or another and enjoyed reasonable success. Still, within the Christian publishing industry, speculative fiction is regarded as a sort of ‘fringe market’.
So what does the future hold for aspiring authors of Christian speculative fiction? I will refrain from saying there is no hope, because even large publishing houses have been known to change their practices from time to time. But the hope there is will not, in my opinion, be found with ‘established’ publishing houses, or even imprints of those publishing houses.
Instead, there is now a move to produce quality speculative fiction outside the normal publishing market. Micro-presses, many of them specializing in Christian speculative fiction, have sprung up across the internet and have become popular with aspiring authors who can find no place for their work within the traditional hierarchy of Christian publishing.
Self-publishing through companies such as CreateSpace, Snowfall Press, and Lulu.com has maintained and grown in popularity as well. Even though choosing to self-publish often means more work for the author and does not necessarily produce the returns even a micro-press can provide, Amazon’s virtual bookshelves are groaning under a plethora of unnoticed Christian speculative fiction works of decent quality.
Even though the quality of much of this micro-press and self-published speculative fiction is, at times, lacking, the very fact that it exists is progress in the right direction. Over the past few years, both the quality and the quantity of Christian speculative fiction available from alternative markets has increased dramatically, and young men and women from Christian backgrounds have taken an interest in creating speculative fiction. These young people are leading the way in the transformation of Christian publishing– and these young people are us.
We have the chance to change not only the face of Christian publishing, but the way in which the Christian community as a whole regards speculative fiction. The moral and technical excellence of your work, your dedication to it, and your promotion thereof should all give witness to Christ.
Go forth and write!