Last week, I finished the charming and very wacky Larklight by Philip Reeve. This sci-fi adventure for kids 10 and older follows the Mumby family as they try to stop a mysterious race of giant white spiders for taking over the solar system. The novel takes place in a wonderfully-articulated alternate Victorian history, where Newton started the space race and all scientific discoveries after his time have not occurred or occurred differently than they did in our true-life universe.
Interestingly, G-d (and praying to Him) is referred to on several occasions as the ultimate Creator of the universe in this book. This is in keeping with the time period of the setting, and also very appropriate in the context of one particular character. The book does not refer to a Christian-specific deity, just “G-d” in the generically monotheistic sense. The mentions are mostly in passing, and are certainly not the focus of the novel, but I can’t think of any other mainstream sci-fi or fantasy books that actually include one character telling another, “Oh, yeah, G-d created the universe.” I was blown away.
This is such a change from the atheism, animism or paganism that has permeated the sci-fi fantasy genre for years. Some of these books go into elaborate detail about how to practice a fictional variety of avodah zara. These books appeal to tweens and teens, who gravitate towards them. One of the reasons that I started writing sci-fi and fantasy material is because of the dearth of such stories that nourish the neshama.
I’ve written a new (and, I fear, completely unpublishable) ending for my current Novel-In-Progress, and I’ve started to think ahead about the next project. About six months ago, I thought of a Jewish steampunk/alternate reality book, but I’ve wondered if the Orthodox book publishers would find it acceptable. Would it be yet another arduous project with an unpublishable result? I started to outline it with the Snowflake method over the weekend. I have transformed the original idea into a fantasy that is not Jewish–but does firmly establish the world I’m creating as created by G-d. I had contemplated this before (as a possible solution to my publishing issues), but felt discouraged due to the lack of such books in the mainstream YA market. Reading Larklight has empowered me to take the leap. Thanks Mr. Reeve!