Monday, December 17, 2007

Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour-Wayfarers Journal

Welcome to the our December tour featuring the Wayfarers Journal. Editor-in-chief Terri Main has graciously agreed to an interview. Today, I will let her answers tell you about the journal. Tomorrow I will review "Phobos" by Stoney Setzer.

1. What science fiction and fantasy books do you enjoy reading?
My favorite are "hard" science fiction books. These are books that are based, even if loosely, on actual science. I don't mind taking a few liberties with Faster Than Light travel or teleportation, but for the most part I like to stay mostly grounded in science for science fiction. I like books with strong characters and plots that make me think. I'm more about an interesting plot than an exciting action adventure. My favorite writers are the classic SF writers like Asimov, Clarke, Simak, Bradbury and the like.
When it comes to fantasy, I'm not a big sword and sorcery fan. I get a bit tired of seeing people trying to rewrite Tokien and Lewis. They did a fantastic job with their fantasies, but it's time for us to move on. I like fantasies that feel real. Perhaps my favorite ones are L.E. Modesitt's Recluse series. The "magic" is simply part of the natural physics of the planet with sensitives being able to manipulate them sometimes for very mundane things. The wizards of chaos are trained in controlling chaos fire by cleaning out the sewers of the towns. Then there are the character conflicts and the political stuff. He makes it seem natural.

2. Were you inspired by any existing magazines?
I don't know if I was inspired for WJ by any in particular, however, I would say I was inspired by the old classic SF journals such as Fantasy and Science Fiction, Fantastic Stories, Amazing stories, Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. To a lesser extent, I found the slick, but now defunct, Omni to be a great example of what a speculative fiction publication could be.

3. What led you to start Wayfarers Journal?
Well, I was looking around for a science-fiction journal featuring stories with a spiritual basis. I found a lot of e-zines that had some science fiction, but were mostly publishing fantasy. Also, when I did see some science fiction, too many of them were sermons wrapped in a story. I was finding it hard to find stories which actually struggled with the moral, ethical and spiritual issues raised by current or future technology.
I always felt that defining a narrow focus was better than trying to be all things to all people. I love hard science fiction. I wanted to create a venue for writers to explore the spiritual implications of future technology and social trends in an interesting and non-preachy way. That's what resulted in WJ.

4. Based on the submissions you have received, are there any types of stories you are looking for but have not seen?
Actually, I have been supremely blessed by the stories I've received. Some miss the mark and I have to reject them. That's part of running a publication. However, most of the writers get the idea. I would like to see a few more that deal with possible aliens and alien theology. There is no Biblical reason to believe that God only created sentient life on this planet. I would love to see stories dealing with say the theological implications of first contact with another species or missionaries trying to minister to aliens who already know God but in a different way. Those sort of stories I would find fascinating.

5. What is your vision for the future of the journal?
Interesting that you should ask that. I am taking some time off from reading submissions until February to consider the future. I'm actually preparing my own review of WJ and I have to say there are some criticisms I have.
First, I am reconsidering the "magazine" model we use for online publications. That print model assumes that you will create a new "publication" every month, quarter, etc. and put all the other materials into an archive. I'm thinking of moving to a website model which is constantly being updated with new materials providing a new experience every few weeks but still featuring important stories from the past. The web, unlike print media, allows for such a dynamic model for content creation.
Secondly, I would like the journal to become more visual. WJ is weak graphically. Since this is currently a one-person shop, and that one person is not an artist, the site hasn't done much with graphics. Tony Qwade did a wonderful job creating a banner for me. I love it. But classic science fiction magazines were as much about the art, even if some of it was garish, as it was about the writing. I would like to have some of that in WJ.
Thirdly, I want WJ to become a destination site and build a community around it. For several months we have been hosting a discussion group in Second Life, a popular virtual world. That is on hold while I acquire a new location and "build" a new science fiction center there. I would also like to have live chats several times a week hosted by different writers and fans on different topics. I have build a "tools" page that people can use as a home page with search engines, news, science news, a calendar, to do list and weather.
Finally, I want WJ to develop a reputation outside of the Christian Speculative Fiction community. I attempt to keep the presentation low key and seeker-friendly. Even unbelievers are interested in the moral, ethical and spiritual implications of modern technology. This can be a gateway for many to start thinking about spiritual issues. Most of the stories at WJ would be of equal interest to Christian and non-Christian alike. I wouldn't be unhappy if more non-believers than believers visit the site.
Too many websites designed by Christians are created for other Christians. I have an internet evangelist friend who points out that 90+ percent of all Christian web sites are designed for other Christians. Yet, many of the owners of those sites think they are doing evangelism. I hope that WJ will act as a "bridge" website drawing in people to read some good science fiction, but opening the door for a conversation about spirituality as well.

I was impressed with her ideas for the Wayfarers Journal. With people like Terri involved, Christian science fiction looks to have a bright future.

Please take the time to visit the other sites participating in the tour.


Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Amy Browning
Jackie Castle
Carol Bruce Collett
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Chris Deanne
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Michael Heald
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Rachel Marks
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika or Mir's Here
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Steve Rice
Cheryl Russel
Ashley Rutherford
Hanna Sandvig
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise


John (Grasping for the Wind) said...

Nice Interview.

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Great interview! You asked excellent questions, Jim, that really brought out solid information about Wayfarers Journal. Nice job.


Mark Goodyear said...

I like her final comment about exploring what it looks like to design a Christian website that doesn't have an intended audience of Christians.

Thanks for this interview, Jim.