Monday, March 19, 2012

Flights of Fantasy

I love fantasy.

I always have. It combines two of my loves so perfectly I can't help myself. I love history and I love imagining new worlds. To me fantasy has always been taking history and slapping a whole new face on it. I refer to it as the great and powerful 'What if?'

Growing up these books filled me with wonder that very few things could touch. The Lord of the Rings kick started my infatuation, like you had to guess. Next came Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain. In rapid secession came Robert E. Howard, Michael Moorcock, Christopher Stasheff, who might be more scifi, but his books were fantasy at heart, Robert Asprin, and Anne McCaffrey, another scifi with a fantasy bent. Science fiction and fantasy hand in hand. It's hard to separate the two, especially when you find and author who can blend them so seamlessly you can't tell the difference.

But, before those authors came one who instilled wonder in me at a very tender age. I first read C.S. Lewis before I knew what fantasy was. I just knew I'd fallen in love for the first time. From the second Lucy, Peter, Edmund and Susan walk through that wardrobe, and I was hooked. I can remember crying when the evil witch ties Aslan to the stone and cuts his mane, only to cry with joy when he comes back. By the end of the book, I was panting for more. When Sister Regina told me the next day in class she had the rest of the books in the library at school, I almost lost my fear of nuns. Almost mind you. Needless to say I devoured the books in less than a month.

Thinking back, I should have guessed there was an ulterior motive for Sister Regina giving me those books. After I returned the last book, she smugly told me that I'd just read the greatest books next to the Bible, and that they'd all been about God. I didn't even feel duped or cheated. They were the greatest books I'd ever read. It took me a few years before I began to work my way through the Bible, but The Chronicles of Narnia were never far from my thoughts or bedside table. I think they were the first books to start the massive collection that dominates my house in every room.

Now, I have a new author to add to that lists of authors who have inspired me to think not to the stars but to a world within the one I already know. Jennifer Hartz's Future Savior series embodies all those things my early loves held so dear. Savior starts in our present day world where Christina is like the rest of us, living a life so normal it hurts. Then on her thirtieth birthday something amazing happens. She finds out that normal is just the tip of the iceberg. Okay, she also finds herself in another world where nothing makes a lick of sense. From that simple beginning, an explosion of rich vibrant details draws you into a story that spans both time and the imagination. See, we're treading dangerously close to science fiction, but like Stasheff and McCaffrey, Hartz dispels your disbelief and demands you believe every word you're drinking in.

Like C.S. Lewis, Future Savior is more than a fantasy. It is a message wrapped around fiction. That message isn't in your face but its impact is the same nonetheless. You want there to be clear distinctions between good and evil. You want hope to shine through the blackness of everyday life. Above all else, you want there to be a Savior out there, who's willing to die for us. Here's a hint. There is one and He already did. Future Savior brings those things to your heart and so much more.

Three books into the series, and that initial spark of wonder has not diminished. If anything, it has grown. Evacuation was a nonstop ride of emotions and action. To me, hands down, it is the best book of the series. I seriously hate talking about the species of a book because to me, doing so always gives away something. Spoilers, sweeties! So I'm asking you to believe me when I say that Jennifer Hartz has penned an amazing series that will strap you in for the ride of your lives. To say anymore would spoil--see above Doctor Whoism--the unraveling of the books before your eyes.

I started this discourse to show my journey through the many worlds of fantasy, and I think I've succeeded to illustrate that I'm not responsible for the person I am today. I place the blame solely on the authors who created worlds more interesting that the one I was born into. To sum it up in a neat little package.

Thank God for authors!


  1. I remember weeping reading the same scene you talk about... when Aslan's mane was shaved and they sacrificed him. *sniff*

    I, too, was a lover of fantasy growing up. My first exposure was The Belgariad, and then The Mallorean series by David Eddings. Now there are sooo many books connected to this universe I have little hope of catching up. But, a friend let me borrow them when I was out of school sick for about three weeks... and I was hooked. I also enjoyed Terry Brooks' Shannara books.

    Now, while I see your point about sometimes fantasy and science fiction being closely linked in some books -- I find it irritating when they are constantly lumped together. I don't think Science Fiction and Fantasy should be shelved together -- whether virtually or on an actual bookstore shelf. It's frustrating for a SciFiRom fan like myself to be looking for a good SciFiRom or futuristic and have to shuffle through lists of fantasy (as in swords and dragons and tunic/cowl wearing heroes) to find someone carrying a 7-setting pulse weapon and flying a space ship.

    However, I agree with you wholeheartedly on Jennifer Hartz. I love Future Savior (and I'm not just saying that because I'm the publisher!). She has a great imagination, a great plot, and a great message all woven together. It's not easy to do, but she's done it well.

    Okay, it's very early and I'm still drinking my coffee... so I'm going to stop before I ramble too much. (Or, have I done that already?)

  2. I think the only fantasy I read growing up was CS Lewis, but I remember loving it. My favorite of the Narnia series was "Prince Caspian." It was the 1980's back then. Didn't get into Dungeons and Dragons but I always thought Dragons were cool. I didn't get exposed to The Lord of The Rings until I went to the movie theatre with my husband to see it. I loved the series. Now, I'm wicked into Game of Thrones so much so it inspired my upcoming fantasy story, "The Green Rose." I think what makes a good fantasy work is just the right balance of character driven story and plot. Haven't read Jennifer Hartz yet, but I'm looking forward to it.


    1. Steph, I did play D & D and it was fun. I miss it so.

  3. ***Blushing***
    Thanks JMO and Gail! I am a huge fan of both sci-fi and fantasy. I think this is why I sort of blended them together with Future Savior.