Since MindFlights is a speculative fiction e-zine, it's fair to look over the stories. Although MindFlights is technically new, it has a seasoned staff, so I'll set the bar higher than I did for the newer Wayfarer's Journal.
The best of the stories, in my view, is "The Significance of Snowflakes," by C. L. Dyck. It's also the best story from a scientific and philosophical standpoint. For that matter, it's the only outright Christian story in the group; all the others could have been written by an atheist or Wiccan with the right kind of imagination. (If you've ever looked at Isaac Asimov's "religious" fantasy short stories you'll know what I mean.)
"The Other's Mission," by Matthew Wuertz, is also good, showing how a spec fic story can be generally "Christian" without being particularly preachy. (On other hand, the basic plot could also be transferred to a non-spec fic setting: it's basically a missionary story.)
"The Red Unicorn," by Rebecca D. Bruner, is caught in a dilemma of the author's own making. In medieval symbology, the unicorn represented Christ, and Bruner appears to accept that. But that makes the importance of virginity work in a troublesome way, as though it were a means of grace or even salvation. Is there forgiveness for someone who marries for the wrong reason? Apparently not.
"On the Edge of Eternity," by Steve Stanton, has a few issues. The opening scene should've been deleted; the story proper starts in the lounge. I found the "sprite" idea excessively cute. It could work, but not this way.
"Heart of Flesh," by Michael Bonett, Jr., was depressing enough I didn't finish it. I suspect it has a worthwhile point; I just didn't care for the overall tone or spirit of the piece.
"Takin' Notice," by Susan Plett, just annoyed me. The narrator affects a folksy tone, yet when God shows up in quasi-Bubba gear, he talks like a regular city fella. It probably wasn't God at all--just Obama makin' a stopover in flyover country. (Zeb shoulda ast to see him bowl!) And remember, flyover folks at best are well-meanin' but childlike dolts who need a city slicker to straighten 'em out. And what's on God's mind anyway? Salvation? Repentence in general? No, just avoidin' critters on the road. Good point and all, Lord; should I save the whales while I'm up?
"Potato," by Ben Payne, and "Poisoned Thorns," by Jonathan Moeller, were both good stories at the start, but in the end they inexplicably took a sharp turn right into the wall. I wanted to like "Potato" in particular--its opening is reminiscent of my novella "Virtual Messiah," though the setting there is relevant to the story as a whole. In this case we seem to be looking at a fake existence that is changed (more or less) to something more real by evil. There's a wrinkle God never thought of! (Yes, God does use our evil deeds to confront us with our selfish, godless fantasies, but perceiving reality is a gift of God, not a direct result of evil.) And the solution to mindless fantasy is something poisoned and evil. Okay...
In "Poisoned Thorns" the main character decides that the answer to bad magic is not-so-bad magic. Though warned at every turn that there will be some kind of curse on the result, she perseveres--and no curse turns up! (Okay, her hubby may throw a hissy fit. Large whoop.) I was prepared for some kind of "Monkey's Paw" resolution, and indeed the logic of the story requires one. I have no idea where it got off to.
Someone will probably take issue with my statement that "The Significance of Snowflakes" is the sole specifically Christian story in the group. What about "Wedding at the End of Time," by Russ Colson? It does use some biblical imagery and terms, but the concept is a bit of a stretch. The early Christians realized that the big deal about the afterlife was being admitted into or barred from the presence of God. Here, rather like "Waiting for Godot," there's a certain amount of chat about the curiously absent deity (okay, no, there's way more in the play than in this story), but it's unsurprising that the story ends without his actually putting in an appearance.
So we have two stories out of nine that are good, perhaps two more than aren't bad, and the rest (in my view) hit the wall for one reason or another. Not bad, I suppose.
Anyway, tomorrow I'll make a few observations about the e-zine as a whole and why it's necessary to set the bar higher for spec fic than for regular fiction.
Other CSFF Blogs on the tour:
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Kameron M. Franklin
Todd Michael Greene
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Mirtika or Mir's Here
1 year ago