Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Devil's Hit List, The Underground--an atypical Christian apocalypse


Frank Creed, longtime Internet pal of mine, is the creator of a unique dystopian world. Starting with Flashpoint, he spun forth a view of a future (starting in 2036) in which a one world government persecutes any who does not conform to its dictated, uniform, one-world culture. This persecution, quite naturally, focuses on devout Christians, because they refuse to conform.

"Wait a minute! We've heard all this before!" someone might object. "Almost every story about the future from an Evangelical Christian runs like this...first there is the Rapture, then the Antichrist takes over the world, then Christians are horribly persecuted, then Jesus comes back, and blah, blah, blah. Overdone--thus boring."

If you're thinking that, you're wrong. Frank does not run the standard apocalyptic script. The One State simply takes over, no Rapture is required. And the method the underground church uses to fight back? They go online...in genre, this series of tales is actually Cyberpunk...not something you see everyday in stories that unapologetically embrace Christian themes.

As Frank put it, "The Underground are techno-thrillers with high action pacing and non-lethal weapons, all run on God’s rulebook. This is true of the novel-length fiction as well as the short fiction of Underground Rising: Tales from the Underground." 

To give some flesh to the bones of Frank's comment, I've added details which I lifted mostly straight out of an Amazon.com customer review: The two main characters fleeing persecution wind up getting incorporated into "The Body," a community of physically, mentally, and spiritually-enhanced Christians, and transformed with a technologically-enabled wetware upgrade that grants them access to the full potential of their bodies and minds. Taking on the street names Calamity Kid and E-girl, they join a guerrilla war against the oppression by the One State and the One Church, racing against time to save their captured family. They quickly learn that they're battling more than just human enemies, and that survival means learning to trust God in a whole new way.

In spite of it's non-standard view of the future, this series takes its Christianity very seriously. One true God, one true faith, one true Church (capital-C, the Church Universal). The story isn't preachy, just forthright and honest. These characters have a very personal, dynamic encounter and ongoing relationship with God. For them to not want to talk about it or share it with others would be patently ridiculous. These are freedom fighters who do their best under incredibly trying circumstances to live Jesus' command to love their enemies, no matter how hateful and despicable those enemies may be. They use non-lethal weaponry. They work to better the decayed environment they hide in, the communities of down-and-outers forgotten by the government and dominated by criminal gangs. They pray for guidance and struggle with their own imperfections.

Unlike a lot of Christian lit, Flashpoint doesn't treat technology as an evil force in and of itself. Quite the contrary. Creed handles tech as a gift from God that can do useful and amazing things such as transformation, or 're-formation' as the stories call it, which echo that of Neo in The Matrix, but doesn't crib it. In the Underground, the protagonists gain enhanced abilities in the real world. Their brains are literally restructured--they move faster, think faster, gain enhanced senses and metabolic control, get a download of information critical to their new roles, and also obtain a window into spiritual reality.

The Underground series continued with War of Attrition, the story story anthology The Underground Rising, and now The Devil's Hit List. The back-of-the-book blurb for Frank's latest reads:

The One State has contracted the Ash Corporation to produce virtual-e, a brainwave technology chip so highly addictive that it’s eventually fatal.
The chip is used in the hottest new entertainment product that will hook any who experience it. Calamity Kid and his crew fight the production of virtual-e and get backing from the Body of Christ to run an operation to keep the chip from being marketed in North America. But how far can the underground heroes get when the global government and a megacorporation work together?




I gotta admit when I read that blurb, my first thought is "Why only North America? What about the rest of the world?" I guess I ought to read the book to see if Frank answers that :)
Frank's story ideas are of course his own, but he's done something I really like and admire in The Underground. He's taken a commonly used theme, in this case a Christian-themed view of a dystopian near-future, and has made it uniquely his own. Any friends tuning into my blog for fresh story ideas I recommend you, "Go and do likewise." Like Frank did, but with your own unique twists...
If you'd like to know more about Frank, his new book and series, and his unique views of the world, check out the following links:
Devil's Hit List Amazon link (kindle): http://tinyurl.com/92j7amx

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2 comments:

  1. You're right, it's all been done before. But the unique voice the author brings makes all the difference in the world. Nice job, Travis! :)

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  2. I didn't mean to say it all had been done before...though parts have been. But Frank not only has a unique voice, he has some ideas that strike me as unique, too. Or so they seem to me...thank you for commenting :)

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