Tosca Lee is the author of the critically acclaimed Demon: A Memoir—a
2008 Christy finalist and Silver Award winner of ForeWord Magazine's
Book of the Year. Her next book, Havah: Story of Eve, releases this
...the juicy morsel at the center of the weirdness* that is speculative fiction is this: Everyone does it.
“This was no rock garden but a rich and lush new world, teeming with life! Who could have fathomed such delicate complexity? . . . I was enthralled by the veins on the back of leaves, by the seeds growing inside fruit and pod,” he said, lifting his hands from the wheel as though to hold—as he must have held—each leaf between his fingers, each pod, broken apart to reveal the seeds within. “The sticky pollen on the stamens. It was bizarre. It was awesome. This was beyond your science fiction to us. I had never even dreamt such things. And by the look on Lucifer’s face, neither had he.”
The Demon Lucian, Demon: A Memoir
Something might be mildly wrong with someone who drives around, say, the outskirts of her Nebraska hometown, wondering what a demon might have to say about God’s love affair with humans. Or as she shops the produce aisle she wonders what Eve might say about waking up to the stare of the only other human on earth. Not that I would do this, mind you, because, clearly, normal people don’t think like that.
The inherent “what if” at the heart of any story (What if a Danish woman moved to Africa to start a coffee farm? What if a promising lawyer took a job with a law firm—only to learn it was run by the mob?) ventures beyond the everyday plausible with speculative fiction. What if the rapture happened to passengers riding on a commercial airplane (Left Behind)? What if a soccer mom got sucked into another universe (The Restorer)? What if a vampire had an existential crisis (Interview with the Vampire)?
Something must be wrong with these authors because it’s not normal to wonder about such things.
After all, we live in the real world.
But the juicy morsel at the center of the weirdness* that is speculative fiction is this: Everyone does it.
So there it is: guilty pleasure and validation. We are not so strange, surely, if other people are wondering this kind of stuff—others going on record with their wonderings and fleshing them out in such detail, and those who gladly suspend disbelief and go along for the ride.
As Christians, we might view the bizarre with a bit of suspicion. Readers sometimes ask my opinion on whether letting the mind wander strange and dark corners of existence violates conscience or faith. I normally say no and suggest that we
should be more comfortable with the idea of the strange than anyone else. One look at the divine legacy reveals the outlandish, the unthinkable, the downright bizarre: worlds from nothing; people from mud; people turning into pillars of salt; parting seas; plagues of frogs; water turned to blood. I think you get the idea.
That’s some weird stuff, but that ain’t all. Try the God who dies for his creation. Bodies resurrected from the dead. Souls renewed.
Outlandish! Unthinkable! Surely outside the realm of the possible.
Sometimes we take the inconceivable and put it into everyday terms. (Owing a debt so large you could never pay it off in your lifetime, you’re on your way to debtor’s prison, when the man you owe the debt to shows up and takes your place.)
It also makes sense to examine the everyday truth of our spiritual lives through a fantastic lens, because, let’s face it, some spiritual truths are so woven into the backdrop of our culture that we have forgotten how truly fantastic they are: good and evil—of course; creation, Adam and Eve—we’ve seen the flannel-board story; the Messiah—yes, yes, of course, and amen.
Sometimes it helps to dust away the ordinary from the brilliant and outlandish facts of a truth that really is stranger than fiction.
Even the speculative kind.
For more on speculative fiction and writing, check out the resources, interviews, and book list at WheretheMapEnds.com.
*WheretheMapEnds.com and Marcher Lord Press founder Jeff Gerke calls speculative fiction “anything weird.”