Shadow at Evening by Chris Walley is among the books I read on the return trip from Asia. This book is self-described as “Christian Science Fiction” a genre I have never before approached. In the fiew works of Chrisitian ficion I have read, normally Christian themes, teachings on soterieolgy, salvation, or a recasiting of the Chrsitian myth are essayed. In this, it seems to me different.
In Mr Walley’s story (of which this book is the first half of the first book of a tirlogy), starts with an expansion fo the City of God as it were. 12,000 years ago, in the battle of ideas which comprise our world, Chrsitianity had a decisive victory. As a result, the known world(s) are all Chrisitan based and caled the Assembly (of God is assumed it seems but not stated). Thousands of world have been terraformed, and Gates lead from star to star. Interstellar travel is slow by ship, which is how initial (robotic) terraforming ships initially move out, survey and being the terraforming process. After centuries, when the world is inhiabitable Gate traffic commences and settlers arrive. But the technology isn’t the striking, or startling aspect of this story. Everyone in the Assembly society is Christian, and not just Chrisitianized or basically secular but heavily influenced by Christian thought as in the Western world today. I have less trouble believing it “might be nice”, than believing “it might be possible”.
Howeve, on suspension of disbleif, the story then commences. Our main character Merrel is a forester, which in these modern times means surveying land and observing (and I guess tweaking occaisonally) the eco-system as it adjusts to the new world. However, all is not well, in our Universe for Farholme (and the Assembly as a whole perhaps by stories end) are entering a time of testing. Victory over unbelief was apparently not as complete as we (and our heroes) were lead to believe. Contact with those dissenters from “the Way” from some 11,000 years past … are back … and “they’re bad”. Actually, the “badness” of the enemy is not just a philosophical viewpoint, for it seems in their exploration of Gate technology, the depths of hyperspace is where dwelt the fallen angles, devils, and demons who have come to some sort of an “arrangment” with the forces opposing the Assembly which fled 11 millenia ago. So our heroes have more to deal with than a reacquiatance with sins long forgotten (war and such) but this battle will be fought on venues as well. For example, a fronter family Merrel meets at first, in the indirect (spiritual?) influence of the “invader” starts to evidence unusual behavior. The husband lies, he and his wife quarrel, and even (gasp) take to bolting their door from the inside.
Mr Walley’s book is well paced, well imagined, and engaging. Proof is in the pudding as they say, and I’ve ordered the sequel (the end of “book one”) which arrived today. Book two (the full 2nd book of the trilogy) is ordered and due for release in September. I’m still not sure what I think about what this society and it’s almost complete “victory” has to say about the fall of man and relationship between the City of God and the City of Man but, nevertheless I want to know what happens next. So … on to the next, and maybe for further reflection on Mr Walley’s eschatological vision.