Kathy Tyers: High Standards in Christian Speculative Fiction

T is for Tyers, Kathy...

T is for Tyers, Kathy…

For today’s post, we’re going to delve into a more obscure niche of speculative fiction – Christian speculative fiction, to be exact.

(I do just want to take a moment here to say that I love my Ferrets – we’ve all come from such different backgrounds and experiences to be writers, and yet mesh so well. It’s wonderful to have a place like this where we can each contribute toward a common goal and yet be so unique.)

I grew up reading a lot of Christian fiction, not because it’s what I was forced to read, but because it’s what my mother read most of the time, and I’d just pick up her books when she was done.

My first true tastes of speculative fiction were obscure little things like The Joona Trilogy, The Seven Sleepers, The Bracken Trilogy, and The Winds of Light.

And of course there were the more well-known ones, like The Chronicles of Narnia.

But I grew older, and while those books still held a dear place in my heart, I wanted something… grittier. Something with more mature writing (not necessarily mature content, though there is a place for that, but fiction written for adults vs. children), and different stakes.

I knew I liked fantasy, and some science fiction, but I’d not read a lot. So I started poking around.

I didn’t know what to look for. Speculative fiction was, at that time, a term I was unfamiliar with, so I was pretty much stuck with browsing bookstores and the library, or scrolling through genres on Amazon, and seeing what caught my interest.

Not to mention that Christian speculative fiction, as a genre, was so very tiny at that time. It has come a long way in the decade (*cough* or more *cough*) since then.

I don’t even remember how I came across Kathy Tyers.

I’m almost positive it was at the public library, though. (I do so love libraries.)

And I found this little gem called Firebird. Written by Kathy Tyers, of course.

It captivated me.

My much-loved (pre-loved) copies of Kathy Tyers' Firebird series.

My much-loved (pre-loved) copies of Kathy Tyers’ Firebird series.

I read this book, and its two sequels, before I read The Lord of the Rings, and while I wrote not too long ago about how Tolkien’s writing changed my life, I probably owe just as much to Kathy Tyers. Because while Tolkien gave me the courage to write, Tyers first sparked the desire to write inside me.

As long-practicing Christian, I could pick up any of Tyers’ books and see the message in them. But I’m very well versed in preachy books, and hers are not preachy. Her stories are realistic, filled with characters who are diverse both in background and race, and all have reasons for their belief – or lack of it. And not all of her characters come into a realization of faith. And some of them deliberately disobey.

But most of all, I realized I had so much in common with her reasons for writing when I read an interview she did back in 2011 at Speculative Faith:

Science fiction writers often start writing with a “what if” question… [a] “what if” that underlies Wind and Shadow and Daystar:  What if one young Galilean woman had not had the courage and reverence to say “Be it unto me…”?

I love Kathy Tyers as an author because her ideas are unique, her writing voice is strong, and she’s not afraid to tackle hard or controversial subjects.

If you’re looking for something new to read, and have never delved into Christian speculative fiction – or Christian fiction, period – then I highly recommend her Firebird series as an excellent starting point.

Also, she’s written two official Star Wars universe novels. How cool is that?

You can find out more about Kathy Tyers and her books at kathytyers.com.

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8 thoughts on “Kathy Tyers: High Standards in Christian Speculative Fiction

    • Speculative fiction is basically an all-encompassing term – it includes fantasy, science fiction, and sometimes horror. Anything that falls into those categories – even loosely – is often included in the ‘speculative fiction’ title, especially on the Christian market.

      • More like most fiction that deals with things that can’t happen in our world with the natural laws that are already in place.

        Futuristic fiction of almost any kind would fall under speculative fiction. All science fiction and fantasy does. Horror CAN – especially if it’s dealing with paranormal/supernatural occurrences – but it doesn’t necessarily have to.

        For example: Pride & Prejudice (1813) by Jane Austen is NOT speculative fiction in anyway. Frankenstein (1818) by Mary Shelley IS speculative fiction.

        Pride & Prejudice deals with the societal norms of that day and challenges her characters to rise above them. Frankenstein deals with the then-unknown (and, in some cases, still unknown) factors of death, but we know it’s not actually possible to reanimate a corpse, especially one that’s made up of different pieces of different corpses, and not as long after death as happened in Frankenstein. But it DOES happen in that story. That’s what makes it speculative.

        Does that make sense?

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