Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Asulon 3: False Negatives

This is normally the point where I'd mention any negatives in William McGrath's Asulon. However, because it's an unusual book, I think it's likely to generate some faulty criticisms--more than most books. So I'll take a few moments to deal with some false negatives.

Head hopping. Expect this from the dysfunctionally illiterate. McGrath doesn't really head-hop; he's using an omniscient viewpoint. That puts him a bit out of step with the received wisdom of writers' groups, which is likely a good thing.

Preachiness. It's surprising how many people preach against preachiness. I've already dealt with this in the past [1] [2] [3], but here I'll just point out that practically all modern speculative fiction is preachy. Matrix? Star Wars? Star Trek? Preachy, all of them. In fact, the big difference between them and Asulon is what (or Who) is preached. Now, some of the topical stuff is problematic; I'll get to that tomorrow. But preaching as such is not the issue.

Magic. The bad guys use it, which is the way that works. Simon the priest doesn't. In fact, he gives a very beautiful, moving, and accurate explanation of the difference at the end of the book.

Eschatology. Yes, the eschatology is a little unusual. But while I don't agree with all the interpretations, it's probably nearer right than the usual "Left Behind" view. As anyone who follows my reviews knows, I don't require authors to agree with my views; I just want them to be consistent and scripturally plausible. That's why I, as a premill, endorse the postmill The Shadow and Night. It's a good idea to know what other Christians think. If you're average, you're spending more time--way too much--absorbing non-Christian views anyway.

Production Values. Yes, it could look a little better. But if you're more interested in looking at pictures than in reading, you should probably skip Asulon and check out The Pokey Little Puppy instead. The text is definitely good.

Tomorrow we'll look at some actual (minor) issues, and I'll put in a final plug for the book.

Participating Blog links:
The Christian Fiction Review Blog
A Frank Review
Susan Kirkland
Melissa Meeks @ Bibliophile's Retreat
Geralyn Beauchamp @ The Time Mistress
Cathi Hassan @ Cathi's Chatter
Caprice Hokstad @ Queen of Convolution


cathikin said...

But one of the plusses, in my mind, was the use of drawings. Very few adult novels have an artwork at all. They may have only been sketches, but they are helpful for many peole to picture the story in their minds.

Steve said...

Actually, I think artwork can help a fantasy story, and it does so here. But the fantasy illustrations I've seen tend to be overdone. Tolkien originally had his own sketches for The Hobbit, and an artist I knew thought they were too primitive: he preferred the flashier, more realistic style. But Tolkien's sketches, like the artwork in Asulon, convey information and the proper tone of the work. So those who want to stare at pictures would be better off elsewhere.

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