Separation of Church and Spaceship VI

By one of those odd (may I say Providential?) coincidences, someone answered by challenge to write a fantasy in a Christian background.  I had just been writing about Job, and lo, here is a modern take on the oldest and saddest tale still in print.

I was just sent an advanced reading copy of THE BOOK OF JOBY by Mark J. Ferrari. I don’t know when the book is going to hit your bookstores, but probably not this quarter, since the publisher is still soliciting quotes for the dust-jackets. Maybe by Spring of next year? Usually I cannot recommend the books I am sent; some are bad, some I have no time to read, and I do not want to lend my name to a work I cannot confidently recommend, lest my recommendations be no longer honored.

But this one … this one … is something special.

This book is the real thing. It has the strong moral core of something by Tolkien or C.S. Lewis, but also the sense of elfin awe and melancholy one might see in the “People” stories of Zenna Henderson.

Three children are talking about their new schoolteacher:

“How did he hear anything outside a closed ring?” Bellindi insisted.

“So, he’s of the blood and doesn’t know it yet,” said Sophie. “Hawk didn’t know it either when he first came, remember? Lots of people don’t.”

“And what about the Earthquake and the Storm the night he got here?” Asked Vesper.

The BOOK OF JOBY should have been called the Book of Joy. The magic of childhood, the magic of Camelot, the grand mystery of Creation, the tears of humanity, the petty cruelties of Hell, all are within these leaves. From schoolboy bullies to homeless shelters to an enchanted hometown where time stands still, from shy first love to tragedy and death, the Mark Ferari weaves his spell. If you have been wearied by the dry, narrow, sarcastic books, bitter in the mouth like iron, so much in evidence these days, here is an oasis in the wasteland, here are deep waters to refresh you.

If Wormwood from SCREWTAPE LETTERS had been assigned the task of corrupting Wart from ONCE AND FUTURE KING, set perhaps in Pottersville from ITS A WONDERFUL LIFE or The City from LITTLE, BIG then the result might approach what Mark Ferari has done. Return to the wonder and grandeur and, yes, the sorrow you once knew, back when the earth was young and heaven was near.


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