Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Joining me today is author and editor, Karina Fabian. We’ll be chatting about the 2007 EPPIE award-winning Catholic Science-fiction anthology Infinite Space, Infinite God (ISIG), which is available in eBook format through Twilight Times Books - http://www.twilighttimesbooks.com/InfiniteSpace_ss1.html - or in trade paperback through Amazon, Bamm.com, Barnes & Noble, Borders, and other bookstores. Karina and her husband Robert edited and contributed to this anthology.
Welcome to The Book Connection, Karina. It’s great to have you here!
Thanks, Cheryl! This is Day Nine on the Infinite Space, Infinite God tour for readers, but something like day 45 for me! I've been filling out interviews, sending out synopses, and doing guest blogs in preparation for this for months. I love the Internet and I love sharing both ISIG and my stories with folks like you.
There is so much we could talk about, but let’s get started with finding out a bit more about Robert and you. How long have you both been writing? What other writing projects have you worked on--together or separately?
It sounds cliché, but I've been telling stories since around age five, and have been writing them since I could string sentences together. I tried to write my first novel in third grade. In high school, I did a lot of bad poetry and good Star Trek fanfic--about what you'd expect from a teen geek! In college, I started exploring my own worlds and characters, and finally got serious about it in 1995, after I'd left the active duty Air Force.
I've written nonfiction articles about parenting, pregnancy, travel, people, businesses--you name it, I probably wrote about it. In fiction, I mostly stick with science fiction and fantasy. I have three craft books out, all tied to the Little Flowers and Blue Knights clubs. In addition, I have a fantasy trilogy I'm shopping around, a fantasy comedy going to a publisher soon (Magic, Mensa and Mayhem), and stories published in Eternal Night, Samsara, Firestorm of Dragons and some others. Oh, and there's all that fanfic I had published back in college. In addition, I keep up my many websites, contribute to blogs and host a weekly authors' chat.
Rob's solo writing has mostly been in the non-fiction arena--military space operations and doctrine, ballistic missiles, space economic development--and published in professional journals like Proceedings of the Naval Institute and Astropolitics. However, he has notebooks of ideas (fiction and non-fiction alike) to pursue once he's retired and has more time to pursue his writing.
Together, we've edited the SF anthologies, Leaps of Faith and Infinite Space, Infinite God. We've also written several stories in a near future universe where humans have colonized the solar system and an order of nuns, Our Lady of the Rescue, conducts space search-and-rescue operations. We have stories in both anthologies and one in Hereditas Magazine (www.hereditasmagazine.com), and are working on our first novel in that universe, Discovery. We're already making plans for Infinite Space, Infinite God II.
Infinite Space, Infinite God is an anthology of Catholic Science-fiction. Being a former Catholic, this intrigues me. How do you mix Catholicism and science-fiction? Doesn’t the Catholic Church believe in creationism, not science?
It's a myth that the Catholic Church is anti-science. Nothing could be farther than the truth. The Church held onto the wisdom of the past through the Dark Ages, helping to foster the Renaissance. Mendel, the father of genetics, and Copernicus, who originally proposed the heliocentric theory of the solar system, were both Catholic monks. Moving into more modern times, the Vatican has a working observatory, a Pontifical Academy for science, and hosts symposiums for scientists of all religions.
What about Galileo? There are a lot of factors in that case, including the fact that we could not prove Galileo's theories until decades later when telescope technology improved, Galileo's slander of the Pope of the time, and other factors. It was not just a question of theology vs. science. The Catholic Church could not endorse Heliocentric theory--which was then unproven--but neither did it reject it or science out of hand. Proposing a new theory about the universe, not a problem. Bad-mouthing the Pope while you propose your new theory, yeah, that would get you into trouble.
As far as Creationism, the Church does not have a doctrinal position for or against it. Like evolution, it is a theory. The Church does not dictate a literal word-for-word interpretation of the Bible. Catholic teaching is that the Bible is for the salvation of our souls, not the scientific explanation of our universe. There are several genres included in the Bible, including history, poetry and allegory. The Creation Story is allegory, meaning it is True, but not literal. For example: Truths: God created the world in an orderly fashion; humans are a combination of the natural (of the earth) and divine (God's breath into Adam); God rested (as we should). Literalism: God said a sentence and light spontaneously appeared. God took six 24-hour periods to create everything. God made the first human out of dirt.
If you think about it, can you imagine God explaining the Big Bang to ancient man? "And God said: E = Amv^2 - Ze^2/r ..."
God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God has power over everything. That's what our souls need to know. Want to figure out how? Go for it, but don't expect that to get you to Heaven.
Having said all this, Catholic doctrine does not prohibit Catholics from embracing Creationism, either. It's another theory of how God created the universe.
The Catholic Church does, however, take very seriously its role as a moral guide, including in the area of science. Where science impacts on the Ten Commandments, or where it tempts humans to take the place of God, the Church will be there to advise restraint, caution and clarity of mind and soul. A lot of the stories in Infinite Space, Infinite God draw on this important role.
So a long story short is that science, science fiction and Catholicism blend together quite well.
Having read several of these stories already, the topics are very diverse with the Catholic Church playing a role in all of them. What inspired you to bring together the Church and a genre that Catholicism might not be typically associated with?
We believe Catholicism should be associated with science--and in a positive way.
As long-time science fiction fans, we were often frustrated at the lack of any religion in the genre, except when used as a foil for the "Evil Scientist" or to play the villain against Progress. To be fair, that's not the only time you saw it--Canticle for Liebowitz by Walter Miller is a classic of science fiction and undeniably Catholic--but they were rare enough that we wanted to explore the idea.
Our initial exploration was to create the universe of the Order of Our Lady of the Rescue. This led us to compiling our first anthology, Leaps of Faith (which covers many Christian faiths), then to Infinite Space, Infinite God.
Why these authors? Why these stories? What did you find in these fifteen different stories that made you want to include them in ISIG?
We had three criteria:
1. Engaging stories. They had to catch our interest with unique ideas, strong characters, well-done action or well-written prose, or preferably all of these things.
2. Sound science fiction: The science had to be internally believable and where based on real science, realistically projected. (We had some writers work with scientists for their stories.)
3. Sound Catholic doctrine: the stories had to stay in agreement with current Catholic doctrine, or the reason for going against those doctrines had to be extreme and well explained that it was not a casual choice.
In stories like The Harvest and Interstellar Calling, the main character goes through certain experiences that lead him or her to be called into service for the Catholic Church. But as I think about these stories, they truly seem to be more about the calling than about the circumstances which led the main character to decide to serve. But in Hopkins’ Well we find out something surprising about Bethesda. And it is that surprise, along with what he witnesses that makes him decide to want to share what he has learned with the Wellers and the people on Earth. So, in this instance, the story becomes more about the circumstances and less about the calling. Why do these different approaches work in the same anthology?
They work because this is an anthology. We wanted different approaches, fresh ideas, new twists, and varying angles. We were also blessed with some very talented writers with different backgrounds, faith experiences and writing styles. Finally, because religion itself affects people in so many ways, we felt the anthology should do the same.
As you've noted in our stories, some people are led to a Calling, and the Calling is the focus; in others, like "Little Madeleine," their Calling is the solution to their troubles. In other stories, like "Understanding," the Catholic faith, misused or badly considered, causes problems. In some, like "Brother John" practicing Catholicism brings peril, while in others like "Brother Jubal in the Womb of Silence," it brings incredible peace.
You'll see different approaches to the science fiction aspect, too. Science causes problems, solves problems, is the means to tell the story, or is simply the necessary background. Science acts in opposition to faith and in cooperation.
Finally, you'll find a variety of science fiction styles as well: hard science where the principles are based in fact, thought out and discussed, soft science where, for example, you're simply given "time travel exists" and the story moves on, space opera (a long time ago or ahead in a galaxy far, far away), "furry" (a genre I never knew existed until I started this, but that involves intelligent animals), adventure, mystery…
Like you said, it works. One consistent comment we get from readers and reviewers is that they kept turning the pages because they never knew where the next story would take them. We think that's the mark of a great anthology.
The opening pages of ISIG discuss the Catholic Church’s support and encouragement of scientific advancements through the centuries. Why was it important to include such history? Also included, was information about the Catholic faith which helped to introduce the aspects of Catholicism that these stories dealt with. How was this approach decided upon and what does this information add for the reader?
Actually, we did this, in part, as a nod to the original publisher. This would have been their first step into genre fiction, as they publish mostly non-fiction, historical, biographies, and such, and we thought this might prove a transition. When they turned us down--because of the genre aspect--we decided to keep them in. (I worked hard on those!)
The history specifically answers those who pick up the book and think, as you mentioned above, "Isn't Catholicism anti-science?" The story introductions provided some organization and framework. We thought it interesting to learn about the past and present before going on to the future. However, we also specifically crafted the introductions so that they are not necessary to understand or enjoy the stories. (So if you want to skip them go ahead; you won't hurt our feelings.)
Now that we're with a secular publisher, we're glad we included them, because one thing folks have said is that this book makes them think, and that was our goal. I wrote the introductions to try to give folks a reference from which to start, to know what the Catholic Church has done and is doing and may do in the future. Someday, we'd like to put together a study guide--but that's another project, and frankly will depend on how well ISIG sells and whether we think there's an audience for it.
I really could go on, but then what would people learn at the rest of your blog stops this month? Is there anything you would like to add?
Infinite Space, Infinite God is entertaining science fiction with a Catholic twist. That means you don't need to be Catholic to enjoy it--and in fact, our reviewers have spanned the spectrum of faith. (Our writers, too, for that matter.)
Folks can learn more about Infinite Space, Infinite God by checking out our website at http://isigsf.tripod.com. There, you'll find synopses of the stories, interviews, event news, teasers and more.
Infinite Space, Infinite God is already available as an e-book from www.twilighttimesbooks.com or fictionwise. After August 15, it will be available in print from www.twilighttimesbooks.com, amazon.com, or from your favorite books store.
If you enjoy ISIG, please consider asking your local library to purchase a copy so that others might discover it. And let us know how you liked it! Our contact information is on the website.
Thanks for stopping by Karina. I congratulate the authors, Robert, and you for putting together an anthology of thought-provoking, diverse, gripping stories. No wonder ISIG has received such rave reviews. I wish you all much success in the future.
Thanks, Cheryl. I enjoyed answering these questions for you and your readers!
To find out where the Infinite Space, Infinite God tour goes next check out the ISIG website at http://isigsf.tripod.com.