Tuesday, January 26, 2010
A Star Curiously Singing
It's hard to find good fiction. And by good I mean good. There is a disturbing lack of Christian fiction these days. What happened to the days of Tolkien and Lewis? My preferred genres are fantasy and science-fiction. Good luck trying to find something that is both fantasy/sci-fi and Christian! Oh, wait - I did.
Marcher Lord is a small Christian publishing company specializing in Christian speculative fiction. Recently I read the debut novel from author Kerry Nietz entitled A Star Curiously Singing. When the book arrived I really didn't expect much. Some small publishing company I've never heard of, an author I've never heard of, and Christian sci-fi. What kind of sappy drivel was I going to read? My expectations were, needless to say, low.
The cover was the first thing that hooked me - I know what they say. I knew nothing about the book when I got it, but the cover started to give me an idea. I immediately started browsing through it and started in on the first couple of pages - then I never stopped. I put down Ender's Shadow for this book.
Nietz has done a wonderful job creating a compelling and richly realized new world. Set in a technologically advanced future ruled by sharia law, A Star Curiously Singing sets the mood early on and it is bleak. Slavery, behavior control, a wide division between rich and poor, a strict caste system, and an overbearing sense of hopelessness and apathy. Just what you'd expect in a place ruled by extremists but with robots.
The story is told through some very interesting and different literary devices for this genre. A Star Curiously Singing is told in the first person present. I'll give you a minute to pull out your high school text book. The main character is telling the story as it happens. Not only this but he occasionally speaks directly to the reader. This creates a real sense of urgency and involvement on the part of the reader and it works very well.
Sandfly is a debugger, a person with an implant in his brain that allows him to interact with the nanotechnology of the time and with the stream, something akin to the internet. Debuggers are basically paid slaves of their "abdul" masters. Sandfly is chosen for a task in which he must solve the mystery of what happened to the servbot that accompanied the crew of an experimental deep space flight to a distant star. The robot picked up a transmission and promptly tore itself apart.
Now none of this may sound very Christian and that's exactly what I was thinking as I read it. However, this is the first in a series and at the end of the novel you get the first real sense of the Christianity in this story ("He stoops!"). A Star Curiously Singing is a quick and easy read, yet a compelling and intriguing novel. I look forward to future novels in the Dark Trench Saga as well as other books from Marcher Lord.
I know I haven't said too much about the plot, but that's because I don't want to spoil this deceptively simple novel. I highly recommend it.
Thanks to Karin Beery. Her blog got me a copy of the book and she has an interview with Kerry Nietz.