Monday, August 24, 2009

Face-Lift 667


Guess the Plot

Seraph

1. Rafaeno is at last a seraph, a member of the highest caste of angels. But his skills grow rusty as he manages the cherubs, virtues, and principalities. When a chance comes, to be a guardian angel again, he takes it, if only to relieve the boredom. But can he handle a foul-mouthed ninja goth by the name of Trixie Morgan?

2. Thithariel, Angel of Lisps and Speech Impediments, is finding life hard as one of the Principalities, so he asks God for a transfer to another angelic order. Unfortunately, God's in a really pithy mood.

3. edtrs always want u 2 use font with seraphs. I mene, com on, they keep rjectin my qury bc i use arial. dude, mby u can hlp/

4. 2998. Ever since the return of Jesus a thousand years ago, Earth has been completely at peace. But now the perfidious Perfirians threaten to eradicate mankind, and it's up to a handful of humans to turn back these space invaders. Can they do it? What about if a seraph helps them?

5. The angel font is a new free download from Kingdom Come ltd. What no one realizes is that when the counter hits 666,666,666 the font isn't the only thing that will be downloaded -- as hacker Nero Williams is about to find out.

6. Jack thought he'd found a stress-free calling as chapel caretaker, where his narcolepsy attacks would cause minimal damage. Then, the statues start rearranging themselves and the pews whisper at night. Can Jack stay awake long enough to solve the mystery of the shuffling . . . Seraph?



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Exterminating demons was hard enough back in 2012. In 2998, Earth has aliens to worry about. [I'm not sure this comparison is working for me. If it were the same people doing it, it would make sense, but with a thousand years between the demons and aliens, not so much. It's like a British soldier in 1944 saying, "Man it was hard enough fighting William the Conqueror back in 1066; now we have to take on Nazi Germany." I would probably begin: The year is 2998. After 1000 years of peaceful coexistence, mankind faces . . .] Now a septet of intrepid young recruits must risk their lives and souls to repel the extraterrestrial menace that threatens to eradicate the human race.

All Matthias wants is to end the war and return to his ailing family, and all Sic wants is Matthias. Kate and Clement must choose between their separate military careers and their future together. Tib, an outsider with something to prove, makes it his mission to stymie Genny, whose insatiable ambition sets her on a course to awaken a once-vanquished evil. The quintessential soldier Kenneth is Earth's best hope, but a loathsome conspiracy forces him to question his destiny. [Are you saying these seven people must defeat an alien invasion capable of eradicating the human race? If we're counting on seven people to save us, I propose that we dump everyone except Kenneth and start the recruitment process all over. This sounds like what would have happened if the Allies had relied on the cast of Big Brother to defeat the Axis powers.]

A thousand years ago, Jesus Christ joined forces with mankind to repel Satan and the legions of Hell. [If I were JC, I think I'd rather go it alone than join forces with mankind, who screw up everything they touch.] All of Earth is a bicameral Christian state. [All of Earth? As I find it hard to believe all Christians and Jews and atheists would become Muslims if Mohammed returned to Earth, I'm having trouble buying into everyone becoming Christian if Jesus returned.] The arrival of the rapacious Perfirians jeopardizes a millennium of world peace by spurring an ideological divide between the pacifist Church and the militant Sword of God. [Based on the adjectives "pacifist" and "militant," I would say there was an ideological divide before the Perfirians arrived.] For our heroes, the task at hand is not only to defeat the bad guys in space, but also to thwart the ones on Earth. [With Earth under attack by aliens, I can't tell whether the bad guys are the pacifists or the Sword.]

Seraph (160,000 words) merges Catholic dogma and deep space into a fast-paced and dynamic commercial fantasy. [Nothing that merges Catholic dogma with anything is fast-paced.] Game-changing revelations, stolen kisses, and jargon-laced one-liners abound. [That's too general to be helpful.] The full manuscript is available on request. I am seeking your representation because only the best editors are evil.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Notes

Even Christians would react poorly to a guy saying, "I'm Jesus, and I'm back. Yes the Jesus. What's so funny? Hey, where you taking me? Wait, watch, I'll turn water into wine." Cynical times. His best bet might be to become a stage magician.

Out of curiosity, how did Jesus dress when he returned? Flowing robes? Coat and tie? Jeans and T-shirt?

I'm not crazy about throwing away a whole paragraph to tell us the names and a tidbit about seven characters. If you have a main character or two, focus on them. Note the tagline from the movie Fellowship of the Ring and the summary of the book:

In a small village in the Shire a young Hobbit named Frodo has been entrusted with an ancient Ring. Now he must embark on an Epic quest to the Cracks of Doom in order to destroy it. (IMDB)

Frodo Baggins knew the Ringwraiths were searching for him—and the Ring of Power he bore that would enable Sauran to destroy all that was good in Middle-earth. Now it was up to Frodo and his faithful servant Sam to carry the Ring to where it could be destroyed—in the very center of Sauron's dark kingdom. (BN.com)

No mention of the other hobbits, Gandalf, Legolas, etc. Just the two main characters and the enemy. Maybe Kenneth, Earth's best hope, should be the query's focus, especially if he's the group's leader. You can get specific about the loathsome conspiracy he's dealing with.

Now, if no character has a bigger role than the others, just talk about them as a group. Here are the short and long descriptions of The Big Chill. (IMDB)

A group of seven former college friends gather for a weekend reunion at a posh South Carolina winter house after the funeral of one of their friends.

A seminal Thirty-Something movie in which a group of old college friends who are now all grown up and hardened by the big wide world come together for the funeral of Alex, a barely glimpsed corpse, who was at one time the brightest and the best of them, and yet who never managed to achieve half as much as any of the others. The friends use the occasion to reacquaint themselves with each other and to speculate as to what happened to their idealism which had been abundant when they were younger.

No names, nothing specific about any one of them. A film closer in theme to your book, The Seven Samurai, is similarly described. We don't get each Samurai's name and something about him.

Without wasting that paragraph you'll have room to tell us why the fate of the world has been placed in the hands of this particular group of people. How can they hope to defeat the aliens? Do they have the backing of a seraph?

54 comments:

~Aimee States said...

I like the premise well enough, but he's right about the query. Stick to the MC and plot and theme and what have you.

blogless troll said...

WDJG?

There's probably a simple answer, and I should probably know it, but I grew up Catholic and therefore never read the Bible, so... Where Did Jesus Go?

I mean, once the Son of God enters the picture and defeats the legions of Hell, aliens would seem kind of trivial, even a thousand years later. Wouldn't Jesus know the aliens are coming eventually? And if so, why did he usher in a millennium of peace, leaving the Earth unaccustomed to war and ripe for invasion? Unless...

Also, aren't aliens God's creatures too?

We need more of the plot.

_*Rachel*_ said...

One of the things that most puts me off your book is that it's landing the Second Coming back in 1998. It made me look up Matthew 24:23-25, and now my inner dialogue about this is pretty sarcastic. Not my cup of tea.

The problem is that this is too close to something I believe. That means that anything that feels implausible makes the alarms in my head ten times louder than normal. Though honestly, if it weren't for the Second Coming bit, I'd probably enjoy this, because it's straightforward SFF. If it were, say, some random government that had made world peace, I'd snort it off with a "whatever, it's obviously fantasy" and keep reading.

You never do tell us what the title's all about.

Hanne said...

You have the setup (alien war layered over religious civil war with deep roots) and the stakes (survival of human race in a peaceful state) but are missing the hero. Evil Editor is right about that. Plus, if you could possibly squeeze in how it happens that the seven are the only hope, that would plug a believability hole that is one of the perils of the short query format.

Isn't 160,000 words waaay to long? I don't understand how it can be fast-paced. Are you sure this isn't two books?

I love game-changing revelations. If you save space on the seven-characters paragraph, would you have room to hook the agent/editor by showing one of them?

Anonymous said...

This query has one of my pet peeves (I have at least a dozen pet peeves, all named "Pookie"): it's a thousand years from now, yet the characters are named things like Kate and Kenneth. Names change in a thousand years. While some names seem impossible to get rid of (such as John and Mary), we have very few people now named Godgifu and Aelthred....

Steve Wright said...

So ... Jesus came back in 1998? Dammit, why am I always the last to know?

Though it doesn't seem to have made a lot of difference, does it? Insatiable ambitions, loathesome conspiracies, ideological divides - sounds like the Millennium is pretty much business as usual for most of the human race.

I'm inclined to agree with blogless_troll about the theological aspects of this ... Surely, the Christian approach to the Perfirian invasion is to evangelize them? Although, thinking about some of the people I've seen spreading the Good News, maybe the Perfirians would prefer to be shot.

(Hmm. I think this idea has potential, though ... Jehovah's Witnesses versus the Klingons ... or Scientologists versus the Borg! "Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated." "Hang on, that's our line, isn't it?")

Anonymous said...

Ugh. Why Jesus? Why not get your own character? Is it meant to be Christian scifi or what? I'm not a Christian so it's not blasphemy to me, but Jesus as a character is generally not appealing. What's your audience? Is this something that would more widely be seen by Christians as Christian lit or anti-Christian lit? Or perhaps some kind of satire or other form of commentary on modern theology &/or practices of religion? Maybe you can just use Replace All to change the name to Brian or Sparky something and pitch the book as one with an original character, which is what everybody else does for reasons too numerous to list here.

BuffySquirrel said...

If I were JC and felt I needed a little help, I'd go ask Dad.

The film Dogma not fast paced enough for ya, EE?

Surely if JC comes back that's the kickoff for lots of war plague and famine, not peace. Or has Catholicism rewritten that as well?

150 said...

If you're going to write a book that deeply based in Scripture (as opposed to allegory or something) you'd better put right up front. There are agents who want to see this kind of project but Jesus suddenly popping up in the third paragraph will throw everyone for a loop. The premise should show up immediately, along with the main character. (Almost a thousand years after the return of Christ, Protagonist Fullname does such-and-such.) Agree with EE's comments. If you put a revised version in the comments, we'll look at it again. Good luck!

Sarah Laurenson said...

Damn. I wanted GTP#1.

ril said...

Actually, The Rapacious Perfirians sound rather dashing to me. I'm imagining an army of Errol Flynn like characters.

Teucer said...

First, some snark: "In a small village in the Shire a young Hobbit named Frodo has been entrusted with an ancient Ring. Now he must embark on an Epic quest to the Cracks of Doom in order to destroy it." [If all that stands between me and total destruction is a furry-footed pygmy and his lackey, I'm stealing the ring and going for it myself.]

EE, your wit never fails to satiate (and we all love satiety, am I right?). Three things:

1. When demons are destroying everything on Earth, Jesus floating on down from Heaven looks a lot more credible. In this day and age, chances are at least a few people got it on YouTube.

2. He came down dressed as Mohammad and Buddha combined. He's developed a sense of humor.

3. Some commenters have lamented the lack of a single, concrete hero. You've advised a "Big Chill" approach, so I must ask: is a nameless amalgum-hero okay? Would you keep reading if you saw such a thing in a query?

Now to feed the minions.

blogless troll: the beautiful thing about Christianity is the maxim about God and mysterious ways. In a setting where brevity is key and backstory is abhorrent, I think it's best to stick to the broad strokes. But if you're really curious: after the crucifixion, Jesus didn't come back to save the Jews from Hitler. If a Cambodian warlord started ravaging the Orient, I doubt the captives would say, "Meh, he's pretty trivial compared to Genghis Khan."

I think a good query will leave the reader with questions; otherwise, why would he request the manuscript. EE's questions must be answered, though, which makes him EE. I won't mind if prospective agents ponder your last inquiry after they're through with this one.

_*Rachel*_: As there is evidence in Revelation for false Christs, there's evidence for the real one too. Should I waste words citing it in the query?

What else feels implausible?

P.S. The Apocalypse occurred in 2012 (doubtless many minions will pick up on the Mayan thing). I understand how the "thousand years" terminology might be misleading, but "exactly 997.25 years later" hurts the narrative a little, don't you think? That's why I elaborated both years.

Hanne: For a work with comparable narrative structure to mine, see George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. Each of these books follows as many narrative lines as mine (sometimes more), and each is longer than 160,000 words. Many novels follow one character for 75,000 words. Mine has seven, so if you look at it that way, this book is damned short.

Anonymous: This troubled me too at first, but many names, especially solid Christian ones, survive for millienia. My pet peeve along the same lines is when the names are totally off-base, like Sat...well, never mind.

Steve Wright: See my postcript to _*Rachel*_.

"Evangelize" takes many definitions, one of which is "decapitate from on top of a horse." Jesus Christ spread a pretty good set of rules to live by, and look at us now. That was two thousand years ago, but the global pace has quickened since then.

Anonymous: I'm afraid you stopped reading the query after you saw the word "Jesus." The Christian apocalypse is the backstory, and you'll be delighted to know that Jesus does not feature in the plot except as a foundation for modern thought...kind of like He does in real life.

BuffySquirrel: The last time God the Father intervened on behalf of the human race, he sent Jesus Christ. That worked out better than the time before, when he eradicated everyone with a flood. For the purposes of this story, He decides to go with what worked better.

150: The Jesus-comes-on-down paragraph originally began the query, but the Law of Abhorrent Backstory forced me to relegate it. This book is not deeply based in Scripture. For all intents and purposes, I've invented my own Scripture. Once again, the story does NOT take place when Jesus is walking around.

Sarah Laurenson: Actually, I'm considering GTP #2.

ril: They're pretty ugly.

Thanks for your insight, guys. A revised query is forthcoming.

Dave F. said...

I'm in serious trouble over these years:
Exterminating demons was hard enough back in 2012. In 2998, Earth has aliens
and
A thousand years ago, Jesus Christ joined forces with mankind to repel Satan and the legions of Hell.

Now 2012 is the year the Mayan Calendar ends and the doomsday nuts are all over it. There is even a disaster movie 2012 just going open in time for Christmas (I think).

1998 was nothing. Christian millennial years are 1000, 2000, 3000 etc... Even 2001, the first year of the millennium would be easier to use if Arthur C. Clarke hadn't got there first.

Fixing this isn't hard. It might not be a problem in the novel but in the query, it's confusing to think about two separate millennial timelines.

For those who don't know about the Second Coming, Wikipedia explains it rather well.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Coming
And for those minions still not asleep or comatose, Christian Eschatology is also explained in Wikipedia. What's Christian Eschatology? It's the beliefs behind the "Left Behind" series of books.

_*Rachel*_ said...

Now THAT was a true, keyboard-in-danger, so-absolutely-true LOL, Steve.

Evil Editor said...

Some commenters have lamented the lack of a single, concrete hero. You've advised a "Big Chill" approach, so I must ask: is a nameless amalgum-hero okay? Would you keep reading if you saw such a thing in a query?

Depends. On things I might know if I read your synopsis, but I'm too lazy to read anything until it's absolutely necessary.

If your seven heroes work together, you can call them the Magnificent Seven or the Impossible Missions Force or Kenneth's team.

If each is working separately, and we don't see them together, I'd choose one and focus on him/her. Kenneth must overcome a conspiracy while coordinating a far-flung team of specialists as they each...


I assumed your 1000 years was rounded up and the second coming was in 2012. But there's a good chance this book won't hit the shelves before 2012. Maybe you should forget the Mayans and set the second coming in 2112.

Rick Daley said...

How interesting that this tale of the second coming wasn't face-lift 666. Missed it by that much...

EE, are you stacking the deck?

I can accept that the second coming of Jesus could unite the world into a single religion, especially when approached from the common Christian interpretation of his arrival.

The issue for me is that the Jesus tie-in seems to be unnecessary back story when you look at the rest of the plot, which seems to focus on the repulsion of an alien invasion.

I agree with the other commentors who question the connections between Jesus, God, and the aliens. Is God just God of earth, or all the universe.

Did Jesus go on another hiatus after the second coming, similar to the length of time between appearances after his initial life (his rendering in oils stains and toast notwithstanding).

If you want to laugh at a different take on the second coming, click here (warning: intense satire and foul language, author not responsible for any smotings as a result of your enjoyment of said writing)

Dave F. said...

I think a good query will leave the reader with questions; otherwise, why would he request the manuscript.

That sentence give me pause. A query has a one person audience -- the agent who will wholeheartedly adopt your book and sell it to a publisher. The query should leave no questions other than how fast you can get the agent several chapters.

The other thing that gives me heartburn is the necessity of the demons being defeated by Jesus in the Second Coming.

I get the feeling that this is backstory. If so, then spending as many words on it in the query as you do, is bad for your query. Set this up in one sentence... something like:
1000 years after the Second Coming of Jesus Christ in 2012, Earth is now in peril from alien invasion and the nations of the earth, split between Christian militants and pacifists, have no plan to deal with the invasion. The salvation of Earth lies in the hands of seven misfits.

And after that, tell the story of the the seven versus the aliens. Leave all of the 2012 stuff as hints and legends in the telling of the 3012 story (whatever years you pick). That might provoke a revision to the novel. But I think that strategy would serve you well.

Remember, It took Harry Potter seven novels to discover his true destiny. Also, Battlestar Galactica took 5 years to fully explain all of its mythology and even then, those authors left sufficient story untold to create the CAPRICA series which is a prequel. Also, I can go back to Babylon Five where the author wrote two spectacular endings that agreed with each other (year 4 and 5 both end with climax stories). Even with the Lord Of The Rings, the story of Middle Earth is only told obliquely and in reference.

BuffySquirrel said...

We were all drowned like unwanted kittens on our own behalfs? Maybe plague famine and war are preferable.

blogless troll said...

2. He came down dressed as Mohammad and Buddha combined. He's developed a sense of humor.

If it's satire I think you need to be a tad more explicit about that in the query because of the religious subject matter. These days you never know if someone's trying to convert you or just pulling your leg.

But if you're really curious: after the crucifixion, Jesus didn't come back to save the Jews from Hitler. If a Cambodian warlord...

That's not really apples to apples since in 2012 he did come back to throw down the legions of hell, but whatever. If the story is more tongue in cheek, it doesn't really matter. I understand about leaving questions for the agent and all that, but if you leave too many questions you risk being too clever by half. I'd certainly like to see the revised query with more plot.

Eric P. said...

I think my problem is that, at least in the eschatology I'm familiar with, the Return of Christ is "the proverbial 'It'--nothing penultimate about this one!" (HHGTG reference for you.) So to have that as the backstory for an alien invasion feels a little off. "Last week, we saw the Apocalypse that vanquished the Devil, determined the eternal destiny of the quick and the dead, and established peace on earth... in today's installment, some aliens show up." Bit of an anticlimax, innit?

Natasha said...

Anonymous 11:20 AM,

This would not be seen by Christians as Christian lit--especially when the author admits, "For all intents and purposes, I've invented my own Scripture."

So I have to agree: if non-Christians (after seeing the words "Jesus Christ" and "second coming) will dismiss the book before seeing it isn't a Christian novel AND most Christians won't read it because it's based on made-up ideas but uses Bible names, then why destroy your chances of getting published and selling well by using Christian terms?

Dominique said...

I'm sorry. I just read that whole thing, and while I'm sure I know loads about what happens in your book, I don't think I know squat of what your book is about.

You need to tell people things other than who is there and what's going on somewhere near them. What's the whole connecting deal?

Teucer said...

Here's the revision.

2012: Satan's risen army prompts the second coming of Christ and an earth-shattering war between Heaven and Hell. The forces of good narrowly prevail, and Earth's survivors embrace Christianity and join together to reconstruct society.

2998: Earth has enjoyed nearly a millennium of peace as a bicameral Christian state. But when a fleet of rapacious aliens challenges humanity, the ideological divide between the pacifist Church and the militant Sword of God mutates into a dangerous schism. With the Church excommunicating war-supporters and the Sword conscripting every able-bodied man and woman available, the human race teeters on the edge of a civil war it cannot afford.

After killing a man in self-defense, expert marksman Kenneth Barrett enlists to avoid a capital sentence. On the Sword megastation Seraph, he rises through the ranks and establishes himself as Earth's best hope. However, the discovery of a loathsome conspiracy in the Sword's highest echelon complicates his mission and calls his destiny into question.

Genevieve Brennan foresees a glorious future in the Sword. When a vacancy opens up in a prestigious excavation, she drops everything and immerses herself in the project that will make her career. Blinded by her insatiable ambition, Genny feverishly unearths the prize: an imprisoned demon with insuperable coercive powers. Now Genny is set to spoil Christ's thousand-year-old victory...unless she can find the strength to stop herself.

Kenneth has his work cut out for him on Seraph: unravel the Sword's corruption and defeat the alien foe. With the help of five trustworthy specialists and a brilliant engineer, he just might manage. But with Earth embroiled in civil conflict and Genny sowing the seeds of chaos besides, will there be anything left to come home to when he's done?

Seraph (160,000 words) merges Catholic mysteries and deep space into a fast-paced commercial fantasy. The full manuscript is available on request. I am seeking your representation because all the world's wisdom can be found in your shorts.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Teucer said...

Sorry to post another revision so soon, but I think this one's actually better.

Dear Evil Editor,

2012: Satan's risen army prompts the descent of a whole crapload of seraphs and an earth-shattering war between Heaven and Hell. The forces of good narrowly prevail, and Earth's survivors join together in agreement that any bad thing to happen subsequently will be negligible compared to this really bad thing that just happened.

2998: Earth has enjoyed nine hundred and ninety seven years, thirty-three days, and six hours of peace as a bicameral Christian state. But when a fleet of rapacious weredingos challenges humanity, the ideological divide between the lollipop-licking Church and the water-gun-shooting Sword of God gets even more ideological and divisive. With the Church excommunicating war-supporters and the Sword's generals lisping all over the place, the human race teeters on the edge of a [zombie reckoning] civil war it cannot afford.

After killing a man in a fit of editorial rage, expert marksman Kenneth Barrett enlists to avoid being turned into a seraph. On the Sword megastation Seraph, he rises through the ranks and establishes himself as Earth's best seraph...I mean hope. (Everyone else is rejected as unutterably lame.) However, a loathsome cabal of Borg Jehovah's Witnesses with a predilection for Tom Cruise and war birds complicates his mission and calls his destiny into question.

Kenneth has his work cut out for him on Seraph: unravel the Sword's corruption and defeat the weredingo foe. With the help of five trustworthy seraphs and a brilliant other seraph, he just might manage. But with Earth buried in seraphs, will there be anything left to come home to when he's done? And what's the significance of the title, anyway?

Seraph (way too long) merges Catholic shoot-outs/chase scenes/freaking exciting goddamned stuff and deep space into an epic detective thriller/office-themed romance. The full manuscript is available, but I screwed up the printing so each page has one side upside-down in relation to the other. I am seeking your representation because Jesus Christ turned me down. He said writing a book about Jesus is a pitiful cliché.

Anonymous said...

If this is a sarcastic parody, you're getting the tone down better, and the format of the query is better, too. On the other hand, it's offending me even more.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but your revisions seem to be leaning toward word salad, which does not resolve the issues.

Evil Editor said...

The new version (not the joke version) is better. Eliminating several characters cleaned it up. It doesn't seem likely to fit on a page; if you want to cut it the easiest paragraph to dump is the first. Removing a lot of adjectives and unnecessary phrases could probably cut each paragraph by a line or two. For instance, paragraph 2 could be trimmed to:

2998: Earth has enjoyed a millennium of peace when a fleet of aliens drops in. Suddenly the divide between the pacifist Church and the militant Sword of God mutates into a dangerous schism. With the Church excommunicating war-supporters and the Sword conscripting every able-bodied person, humanity teeters on the edge of civil war.

Xiexie said...

I do like the revision better, but the mentioning of Genevieve does kind of crop up from not-really-nowhere for me.

I'd want to read this, and with the plethora of interpretations on The Second Coming, I'm not quandaryed by your eschatology.

Just cos I want to know: Where is or what is Jesus and/or God doing now whilst all this goes on?

Teucer said...

Anonymous 1, offensive stuff sells. Have you looked at the Amazon best-seller list lately? Besides, I think you were referring to the joke query.

Anonymous 2, what exactly is "word salad" about this query? As far as I know, the term basically means nonsense. Are you taking umbrage at words like "echelon" and "insuperable"? Here I thought I'd found the only business where people encourage words like that.

287 words now. That's pretty close to the original, and it easily fits on a page, contact info and all. A thousand thank yous, EE, for your help, and plaudits to the minions for their snarky persistence. If you have any more criticism, please inundate me with it. We haven't got much else to do here until tomorrow's much-awaited update, right?

Teucer said...

Xiexie, I can answer you with another wonderful Christian cliché. This one involves the Lord and those who help themselves. Yeah, when it hits the fan, the big guys step up to the plate, but generally we've got to find our own way.

Also, I hate to even bring this up, but I plan to cover a lot of Christ's and God's motives in the prequel. (Ugh, a prequel! Vomit!)

Evil Editor said...

Those interested in religion/science fiction merging may recall my recommending The Sparrow back when we were reading Mary Doria Russell for a book chat.

Dave F. said...

Calm down Anonymous. This isn't blasphemous yet. It's rude but not blasphemy. It actually squares with prophecy (except for the aliens).

I'm not a big believer in "End Times" or eschatology (it's proper name). So this will sound a bit skeptical.

Some Christian Eschatology distinguishes between the Second Coming and the Final Judgment. So this plot fits into the broad outlines of the "End Times."

One interpretation of End Times is that there will be a tribulation and on the day of wrath, Jesus will descend from the heavens on clouds of glory surrounded by angels. Even the Rapture (the bodily ascension of the true believers into heaven) occurs before the tribulation and the Day of Wrath. After that, Jesus establishes the Christian Kingdom. It depends on which version of the End TImes you follow as to whether he "divides" the remaining human race into "sheep and goats" (see Matthew). However, this is the kingdowm of Christ Jesus on Earth, the new Church that remains on Earth for a Millennium. The Final Judgment is for all humans, both living and dead. Thus this second judgment is the Resurrection of the Dead and the return of the Kingdom of God to the Father.

So this plot fits into eschatological thinking.

And if you think that this is far out thinking or merely evangelical or pentecostal or whatever branch of Christianity, the Fathers of the Catholic Church established the Nicene Creed (in Latin, Credo). Four of the great articles of faith close the Credo: We believe in one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. We confess one baptism for the remission of sins. And we look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.

There is the End Times in common prayer: Christ unifies mankind in one Church, one baptism and gives us the forgiveness of sin, the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting in the Kingdom of Heaven. These are the pillars of Christianity.

So I might play skeptic to the details, but the elements are there.

Like I said above, if you're awake or not comatose, you might make it to the end.

Anonymous said...

No where in the Bible does it say "God helps those that help themselves." That's a myth.

In fact there is a plethora of scripture in the OT and NT that says God helps those that ask, that worship, that praise, that suffer, that are humble and so forth and so forth. In fact, Jesus said that God blesses the righteous and the unrighteous. Mathew 5:43. (God loves all of his children and does not require anything in return. Salvation, however, takes faith and that a different subject.)

I have stayed out of this because I absolutely refuse to discuss scripture or Christianity with those that simply want to debate dogma, and any comment I had on your query would involve such a discussion.

Dear author - I am not reading your work but I very happy to live in a country that allows you to write a book that may insult, (or may not), many Christians without persecution.

I actually think this may be an interesting book - if you took your interpretation of Christianity out of it.

I think another Minion had a good point - why use Christianity or Jesus Christ in your book - you'll turn off people that are not interested in either and you will make no fans by writing your own scripture to those that do practice Christianity. And essentially, you made your own religion anyway.

Why not make your own world, your own religion and thus possibly have a great novel that allienates no one?

I am foremost a Christian and I do have a belief system based on the Bible that concerns the second coming. I am bit offended by your story only because I am concern that if your book is published those that do not know the Bible will believe your imagination has something to do with Christianity - when in fact it does not.

I hope you put a disclaimer to that effect in your book, if it gets published.

vkw

Anonymous said...

Please tell me I'm not the only one who momentarily read "Perfirians" as "Perfidians."

_*Rachel*_ said...

Exactly, vkw.

You're not, Anon 9:24.

Teucer said...

vkw, I did not state or even suggest that "The Lord helps those who help themselves" is in the Bible anywhere. You are being needlessly contentious, and I understand why you refrained from joining the discussion for so long.

I have to clear something up: I did not rewrite Scripture. In Seraph, the Bible contains a third testament that
comprises gospels relayed from the original Seven Soldiers who joined Jesus Christ to command the human race to victory. Everything prior to the Apocalypse remains as is, and rightly so.

This book was written by a devout Catholic. It is overwhelmingly pro-faith, as reflected by the unwavering devotion of the main characters. The Catholic element is crucial to the book's message, and I'm not about to remove it for fear of offending people. I am as passionate about my faith (which helped birth this novel) as you are about yours.

I will be utterly shocked if every non-Christian ignores this book for its religious bent and Christian throws a fit because it presents the faith from a different perspective. Forgive my bluntness, but if every reader is this touchy, then I've entered the wrong business. To condemn a book out of hand because you find it offensive baffles me. I believe that even someone who thinks she knows everything about the Bible could stand to learn from the unique perspective of a fellow traveler.

(The Perfirian-Perfidy connection is intentional, by the way. It's a marketably sinister name bestowed upon them by the Sword.)

Anonymous said...

I believe that even someone who thinks she knows everything about the Bible could stand to learn from the unique perspective of a fellow traveler.

Unique perspectives -- I fear them.

blogless troll said...

The revised query is much better.

While it doesn't answer my original question of where did Jesus go, it provides enough detail to suggest you probably cover that in the book, whereas the first version didn't.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9:24 here again. (Sounds like biblical references!)

The Perfirian-Perfidy connection is intentional, by the way. It's a marketably sinister name bestowed upon them by the Sword.)

Okay, the theological aspects don't bother me the least little bit, but this etymology surely does! It doesn't work and is sufficiently close and yet sufficiently wrong seem like... well, like a target missed for lack of research. Or a word subconsciously recalled and transformed into something else, the author not being aware of what s/he's done. It also sounds close to "Porfirian," but that's maybe a bit too obscure to worry about, unless a large part of your target audience is Hispanic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porfirio_D%C3%ADaz

(The name "Porfirio" derives from the Greek porphyry, "purple," which is probably not of much help to explain" Perfirian"!)

Admittedly my college Latin is a wee bit rusty, but I can't find a Latin root that would explain the "fir." ("Fid" is from fidus, "faithful," and I can find no Latin word at all with "fir," nor is there a "fir-," "fyr-", "phir-", or "phyr-" in the multi-lingual Dictionary of Word Roots and Combining Forms)

Though perhaps it's just that the Sword's Latin is even worse than mine...?

Dominique said...

I liked the revised version much better. It seemed much more cohesive.

Anonymous said...

Teucer -

Many people I have met believe the Bible says God helps those that help themselves, which you did reference and, which I mistakenly believed you thought as well. Clarifying that misbelief was really the only reason I responded.

But - I never said I knew everything about the Bible - in fact I know very little of it. I study it, I attend worship, I read it - but yet I probably could tell you more about the LOTR than the Bible.

I am not insulted or offended by your book idea. I am not going to read it because it contradicts my belief system about what is to occur after the Second Coming. I believe I will live the rest of my life in heaven - at peace, under the loving eyes of my father. I will not be fending off your space aliens nor will any child of man. I believe that after Jesus returns there will be no more suffering, hardships, disease or war. Again, this contradicts your book.

Just as I have no desire to read alternative history - I have no desire to read your ideas about what will happen in the future. I have already received from the highest authority knowledge of what my future will be and the future of mankind.

You have great passion, great imagination, from what I have seen you write well and I believe it is possible for you to relate your ideas about faith into your book without springboarding it off of Christainity or using the Bible as a tool.

I don't wish to know or understand what your Christian beliefs are - especially if it is filtered thru your imagination. I am more concerned refining what my beliefs are and when I read fiction I wish to entertained.

This does not mean you offended me or I condemn you - it means simply - I have no interest.

vkw

Evil Editor said...

This blog is not a place to declare one's religious beliefs. The author came for feedback about a query letter, not to convert anyone.

Xiexie said...

Well your proposed book, Teucer, has caused some salvific themed debate.

(There are not enough moments in life where I could use one of my favorite words "salvific". I just couldn't resist the opportunity.)

Steve Wright said...

I'm still a bit puzzled, though, by the way these Perfirians fit into the religious background. Many of us, I think, would regard Satan and his legions of hell as pretty much the ultimate evil ... if ultimate evil has already been defeated, how do these less-than-ultimately-evil aliens pose any credible threat? Possibly this is explained in the book, but (since the question is bugging others besides me) it may need to be addressed in the query.

While I agree with EE about the overall wonderfulness of The Sparrow, perhaps a more relevant (to this query) mix of religion and SF might be Olaf Stapledon's Star Maker. Stapledon might be described as a sort of vague theist - Star Maker, though, is a serious attempt to address the idea that God is, by definition, the God of everything in the universe, not just our small planet. The Perfirians, we must assume, are God's children too ... unless your query tells us different.

BuffySquirrel said...

I read fiction that contradicts my personal beliefs all the time. I thought everybody did!

~Aimee States said...

I love being gone for a day and finding 45 comments to a religion based novel. I would snort if I wasn't drinking.

Dave F. said...

Steve asked: Many of us, I think, would regard Satan and his legions of hell as pretty much the ultimate evil ... if ultimate evil has already been defeated, how do these less-than-ultimately-evil aliens pose any credible threat? Possibly this is explained in the book, but (since the question is bugging others besides me) it may need to be addressed in the query.

Teucer should furnish an explanation that squares with the novel and query.

I can tell you that not all "End Times" (Christian eschatology) simply ends with Jesus Christ coming down from the sky on a throne of glory. That is not the Last Judgment. The "Kingdom of Christ on Earth" can exist for a millennium before the Last Judgment. The situation could be very analogous to Heaven and Hell right now with the "sheep" living in the Kingdom and the "goats" cast out into darkness. Milton creates the burning hell for Paradise Lost but Dante (an evangelical in his own right) posits a frozen hell in The Inferno.

So if the new Kingdom can remain on earth for period of time before the Resurrection of the Dead and the return of the faithful to God The Father, then aliens can threaten earth without disturbing the apocalyptic prophecies during that period.

There is nothing in scripture that says aliens are equals of men. They may not have a redeemer, they may not even have original sin. But then again, they might be the cast out "goats" of their own world. The most stunning alien revelation would be of a alien redeemer. That has serious implications. Kinda gets complicated, doesn't it? Ultra-deep metaphysics and religion. Philosophically messy, at least messy for me.

The new version of Battlestar Galactica touched on religion like this with visions, prophecies, angels and stuff like that. It's those really tough questions that we all ask -- who am I? Why am I here? etc...

blogless troll said...

Dave, why should Teucer furnish an explanation of anything? He/she wrote a query. Posted a revision. It was better. The end.

Dave F. said...

I only said that because Tuecer may have an alternate and equally valid explanation for all of the events. I felt that while I could speak to the general ideas, I couldn't speak for the query or novel since I haven't read them.

Robin S. said...

Wow. Late to the party. I love contention (anybody here remember the biggie last year about...oh, what the hell...the thing where everybody jumps on the bandwagon..the Nazi-fied thing)....well, hell.

Anyway.

Teucer said...

~Aimee States, Robin S., I'm right here with you. Fifty comments! I would never have imagined!

As to the current burning question, the answer will show up in the synopsis, which I believe is forthcoming. If EE has rejected my synopsis, then I'll explain the big game-changing revelation here for those who are still interested.

I seem to be having some cognitive rift here regarding the question on whether aliens would be so bad after demons. If you wrestle a raging bear and survive, would you scoff at a deadly snake thirty years later? That fact that the one is really bad doesn't nullify the nocuousness of the other.

Or, more to the point, don't you think your great-great-grandchildren would still find the snake harmful? They didn't fight the bear. All they have to go on re: the bear is Into the Wild.

The Bible talks about worldwide floods, massive subjugation, plagues, entire towns smitten...but we don't say "ehhh, after all that, Nazis/mongols/global warming" doesn't seem so bad."

(Well...maybe global warming...)

BuffySquirrel said...

I think I'd feel more confident facing down a snake if I'd already dealt with a bear. After all, the next time my cat comes trotting into the house with what looks like a snake, I'm sure I'll be calmer than last time.

Ahem.

_*Rachel*_ said...

Matthew 10:28 reads, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell."

Mortal danger is scary, but I still have trouble comparing demons to aliens. Unless you've got very strange aliens.

Leah said...

Just briefly:

Teucer, the new query is miles better and sounds like something I'd need to take a look at. It sounds original, the level of detail lets me believe that things that look like plot holes are patched in the actual book, and you seem to be telling a story about people, not just making an obscure religious arguement.

Well done and best of luck.

Oh, and, for the record, I'm a dyed in the wool atheist, but I still read this kind of book if a) the plot sounds cool and b)it is talking about humans and why they are interesting.

You've got me on both now.