Tag Archives: Athol Dickson

The 2010 Christy Awards: fantasies are winners!

The 2010 Christy Awards were announced over the weekend. I’m proud to say that three of the recipients were reviewed here at the Christian Fantasy Review, all of them part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour. I found all three to be outstanding works.

They are:

SUSPENSE

    Lost Mission by Athol Dickson – Howard Books: a Division of Simon & Schuster

VISIONARY (meaning speculative fiction)

YOUNG ADULT

There were six other categories in the Christy awards, ranging from contemporary romance to historical.

Notice that the winners were in two other categories besides “visionary.” These two books, Dickson’s and Peterson’s, are winners in their “other” genres: suspense and young adult. Way to go, writers! Maybe the heart of the market is softening toward science fiction and fantasy, told from a Christian worldview. I sure hope so.

The Christy Awards are a way for the industry to recognize outstanding fiction sold in the Christian marketplace. They are named for Catherine Marshall’s beloved novel Christy.

Source: Rebecca Luella Miller

A controversial book!

The Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour bloggers had enormously varied reactions to Athol Dickson’s 2009 book Lost Mission. Many, like me, loved it. Others couldn’t get into it. Yet others disapproved of it. What a wild tour!

Here’s a little roundup of some of what they said:

Amanda Barr “Lupe was such an inspiring character. Her faith, optimism and thankfulness were convicting.”

Keanan Brand “Faith without works is dead, but works do not make faith. We show our faith by our works. Many of the works done by the characters spring from reliance on themselves rather than faith in God. Sounds like us, doesn’t it?” He also finds this book to be like a mirror.
Keanan Brand again
Use of omniscient narrator works well.
Valerie Comer Found a podcast interview of the author and discussed it.

Timothy Hicks Full of contrasts and parallels
Timothy Hicks again “As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, many of the characters started out with good intentions. When they took their eyes off God they lost their life’s focus or mission.” Hence the name Lost Mission.

Cris Jesse Objects to a woman, Lupe, as a preacher teaching men. Switching time and location too confusing. Foreign names too confusing. Doesn’t like the book.
Jason Joyner Found “a rich tale to chew on for a while.”

Krystine Kercher “Each of these four characters does things that we as readers may disapprove of. Each of them also does things that are right. But in the end, the real story is not about them; it’s about The Story; HIS story…
Dawn King Couldn’t finish the book–didn’t see any sci fi or fantasy in it, found it dragged.

Rebecca LuElla Miller Themes of obedience, how Christians handle wealth
Becky Miller again
This book produced controversy!
John W. Otte Interested in idea that America needs evangelizing

More from John Otte In each of these cases, each person lost sight of what God really wanted. They trusted in themselves and their own abilities and ultimately, they wound up seeking after their own will.
Donita K. Paul What is “magical realism”? Turns out some Latin American writers made it up. She quotes a definition for us, and tells us she seems to be writing a magical realism novel too.
Chawna Schroeder “Yet there does seem to be an underlying, unifying thought, captured by the title—lost missions. At its core, the novel seems to focus on people who feel called or driven to a specific purpose and somewhere along that way loses sight of that purpose. The reasons are as diverse as the characters themselves, as are the results and their responses to such lost mission, but this only gives more for the reader to ponder.”
James Somers “It wasn’t my cup of tea.”
Steve Trower It “isn’t science fiction. Or fantasy. At least, not in the strictest, where-to-look-in-Waterstones sense.”

Phyllis Wheeler A review
Phyllis Wheeler again An author interview

Athol Dickson speaks

Lost Mission author Athol Dickson agreed to an email interview. Here it is:

Q. The Christian characters in the book are both Catholic and protestant; the protagonist is Catholic. Are you a Catholic? What is your take on the Catholic faith vs protestant? What can you tell me about your own faith journey, briefly?

A. I am not a Catholic because I don’t agree with some of their doctrine. I
don’t believe in the immaculate conception, for example. I believe the Bible is very clear that Jesus is the only person who ever lived a life unstained by original sin. I have a few other areas of disagreement which make it impossible for me to be a Catholic, but think God has faithful followers in every part of His church, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant, just as there are many people in every part who are tragically mistaken and lost.

We can disagree on everything except the basics of the gospel, and still be
brothers and sisters in Christ. The Catholic Church has gotten the gospel wrong in the past, basically making the mistake Paul warns against in Galatians, but then so have many Protestant denominations. Many Catholics believe that we are reconciled to God by faith in Jesus Christ through God’s grace alone, and not by virtue of baptism or christening, nor by any other liturgical ritual, nor because of anything else that we might do. As far as I’m concerned, that makes them my dear brothers and sisters in Christ.

Q. There is a character in the book I would call an angel. Is this how you
think of him, or would you categorize him as something else?

A. I was careful not to use the word “angel” in the book, because I wanted
readers to decide for themselves about the nature of that character.

Q. The plot is “paranormal” except for the fact that the spirit being appears
to be an angel, not a demon. (Though there does seem to be a demonic
influence as well, which isn’t very developed–the one that keeps the friar
from painting the retablo.) Do you think this book belongs in the paranormal
genre?

A. Ah, genre. That’s always been my nemesis. I focus on making my stories as interesting as I can. In the service of telling a fascinating story, I’ll
follow an idea almost anywhere. Sometimes that means my novels end up
straying far outside the lines of any one genre. People have called
different novels I’ve written everything from suspense to mystery to gothic
romance to speculative to magical realism.

Now you’re calling it “paranormal.” Ha! A new one. The publisher’s marketing people get headaches trying to tell people what my work is like, but I think that’s okay. There’s something to be said for opening a new book and not knowing exactly where the ride will take you. Where I try to be consistent is in a high quality of craftsmanship, a sense of redemption, a love of the natural world, and in the fact that the stories are as fresh and original as I can make them.

Q. Was this book a long time in the gestation? It seems very difficult to pull
together, with the parallel stories in different times.

A. Yes, it was hard to write. It took me about a year, including all the back
and forth with editors, which is about how long most of my other novels have required. They’ve all been hard to write, mainly because I won’t follow a
formula.

Q. Did you intend parallels involving the duo of the warring friars and the duo of the rich man and the pastor?

A. Oh, absolutely. Everything that happens in LOST MISSION is connected across both space and time, just as it is in life. That’s one of the themes in the story. How do we deal with that reality? What does it mean in terms of the choices we make next? Are we stuck in some kind of eternally repeating loop, or can we break patterns and strike out in new directions?

Q. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

A. Writing is a rotten way to make a living, so the only sane reason to do it
is because you love it.

So, readers, this book is generating quite a bit of discussion on the CSFF blog tour. Take a look!
Amanda Barr
Keanan Brand
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Timothy Hicks
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Julie
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
KM Wilsher