Thursday, October 25, 2007

CSFF Blog Tour: Rewriting the Bible

CSSF Blog Tour

Well, the tour's officially over, but I'm hoping I might catch a few stragglers here, because I might just say something interesting.

Obviously, I haven't read Bark of the Bog Owl, but I have read a few of the reviews and other posts on the tour this week, so I've picked up that it isn't a guide to recognising the calls of fantastic creatures.

What it is, is a fantasy re-telling of the story of King David, and it is the comments on this aspect of the story which I have been most interested in.

For those who have figured out what Old Testament Space Opera is, it should be fairly clear where I stand on the subject - and why I'm interested in the opinions of readers of CSF.

Opinions like:
The plot is predictable. But how many children's stories aren't predictable? The joy is in the journey and the journey Aidan led me on was most enjoyable.(Sally Apokedak)
Now I'll be the first to admit that once you figure out where Countless as the Stars is going, you have a pretty good idea how it's going to end. I guess the story may be less well known than David and Goliath, but, at heart, it follows very closely the Old Testament story, embellishing it with spaceships, rayguns, and sub-plots of my own invention, all of which I hope would make for an interesting journey.

My problem is that while 'predictable' may be ok for a kids book, following so closely the OT, I have ended up with a lot of sex, drugs and violence. The sex is all behind closed doors, and it's included for good reason (it was in the Bible, after all) but it's enough to rule it out as a kids book - and I fear predictable may be less ok for an adult book.

On the other hand, Brandon Barr said:
Fantasy fiction can retell a story, giving it a new setting, new names, and can
refresh our senses, reminding us of the true power of the story. .
And Becky Miller wrote:
I discovered I had a greater understanding of the Biblical event and yet
experienced a story that was so unique and fun, it was in no way spoiled because
I knew key plot points in advance.
Which are the kinds of things I hoped to achieve in Countless as the Stars. Certainly, I learned a whole lot while studying the Biblical events and trying to relate them to 21st Century life through a science fiction novel.

That's why I translated wine into drugs, and deliberately kept the sex in. (My original intention was to continue the story, and explore the consequences of these actions; there's a semi-plotted sequel in existence, although it may never see the light of day unless some publisher is willing to remix Countless and put both novels out.)

If I were to re-write King David, he would be a computer nerd, dedicated to finding the achilles heel of the genetically engineered super-human Goliath (the pure space opera version already being well known of course - Luke & the Death Star). But I'd include all of David's less admirable traits - I would certainly make him a womaniser (he may be a nerd, but he's a nerd with fame, money and power). He may, for the sake of relating to real life, stop somewhere short of murder to get the woman of his dreams, but you can be sure it would be pretty unpleasant - and surprisingly ungodly.

And, probably, not really suitable for a children's book.


Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Steve, I may have also mentioned in my post that knowing Bark of the Bog Owl was a retelling of a well-known Bible story kept me from reading it for a long time.

Another author did a retelling of several Bible stories--set them in Ireland, if I'm right. I still haven't read those. I may not be typical, but I read first to find out what happened. That's why I don't like to look at the end of a book, why I tend to avoid reading spoilers, and don't want much of the story given away on the back cover of a book.

So if I already know what's happened ... my number one reason for reading the book is gone. My motivation is low. I read Bark of the Bog Owl only because my critique partner raved about it so much. She was right, but that doesn't change my opinion that marketing a book as a retelling of a Bible story may not be the best way to go.

Mirtika said...

I also would shy away from "retelling of Bible stories." Didn't stop me from reading THE RESTORER. :)

As far as your retelling of King David, just don't tell us after the last in the series publishes and your money is all safe in the bank that "King David" is gay, ok? Cause, that would be so uber tacky. Either make him gay in the book or shaddup. :D


UKSteve said...

You did say just that Becky, and I'm sure a lot of people would agree with you. Like I said this tour gave me a lot to think about on the subject!

And Mir, that would be an interesting twist... though I will be sure to point out any relevant character traits actually in the story.