Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A Second Ark Makes For A First-Rate Read!

"Once upon a far, far future time, God led a group of true believers to build and dwell within the safety of a new ark, one that did not float on the waters, but hid underground, protected from the blight and toxicity of a post-apocalyptic Earth. At the right time, a vision from the Lord instructed the dwellers of the new Ark, the Birthrighters, to send out emissaries--young and smart, healthy and brave and well-trained godly ones--out above to the world that was left after the Endless Wars damaged the surface.

Four were initially sent, the first-evers among the Outriders. Then more were sent in small groups to staff enclaves of Outriders upon the continent. Their mission was to seek flora and fauna to send back to the Ark for study and protection. The Outriders also spread truth and goodness through the harsh and brutal world populated by "naturals" and mutated and transmogrified plants, animals, and, yes, humans.

But things do go wrong for the Outriders, because evil never rests, and lessons of the past are often forgotten...."


Since I began this blog, I've received requests for recommendations for Christian fiction (and especially Christian SF/F, which produced a relatively recent post full of novel and story recommendations, mostly secular). Well, I am strongly recommending OUTRIDERS by Kathryn Mackel This is a novel that I would classify as Christian Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction.

(You might even call it science fantasy, but I'll keep it simple.)

Don't let that classification put you off, okay? Move out of your genre comfort zone. Try something new. Stretch your mind. You may like it.

If you're not a regular reader of science fiction or fantasy or science-fantasy, you need to allow yourself that rather thrilling (if sometimes irritating for some) sense of disorientation at the start. You are entering an unfamiliar world, and, granted, the opening of OUTRIDERS is a bit confusing. Carry on, though, In short order, you'll start connecting with the tale. And it's a terrific tale. Inventive. Exciting. Fast-Paced. Touching. Spiritual. Cautionary. Violent.

And pertinent: This book resonates with current events and controversies--euthanasia, stem cell and other genetic research, crass consumerism, out-of-control vanity, and ecological issues.

It also had some sweet, and some painful, romantic subplots.

And it's not at all dull. That's a good thing in The Mir's book. In fact, that's number one. Bore me and you're gone, baby.

(Not to say the book's perfect. I think having a battle scene before I get to know the main warrior makes me care less whether he lives or dies. And the prose is a bit stiff in parts, and really lovely in others. That slight inconsistency did not detract but negligibly from my enjoyment of the novel. It might not even hit your radar.)

Westbow is really rising in my estimation. They gave us real Christian Chick Lit before other CBA houses, they're doing some fun thriller/suspense stuff, and now they've got this primo science fiction offering. I hope they plan to offer more SF to Christian fandom. Soon.

Just so you know, I'm not the only one who has found this a rivetting read:

~Sally Apokedak reviewed the book at her site and calls OUTRIDERS "extremely satisfying." She gives it four stars.

Harriet Klausner chimes in on OUTRIDERS over at Best Reviews. She says it's a "great young adult post-apocalyptic thriller."

Novel Reviews' Gina Holmes says this: "The sweetness of the spiritual thread and the tenderness of budding love stories should appeal to those who don't normally like fantasy. Gina's husband got hooked by the novel as well.

The site for the The Birthright Project books (of which OUTRIDERS is the first)is here. You'll find a sample chapter there. (Although, sorry, too late to enter the Create a Mog contest.) I say don't judge it on any sample. Get the novel. It just gets better and better the farther on you read.

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