Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Excerpt from the Spark Notes for the Communion Mythos

I realized recently that a bunch of the Spark Notes for literature are available free online. They've got a decent collection of interesting reads for science fiction and fantasy lovers:
As I was thinking through some of the things I want to do in my writings, I found it helpful to look through the various sections of the Spark Notes: context (helping you understand the author and the literary world he or she wrote within), plot summaries, themes, motifs and symbols, and character analysis. The one on Dune is very interesting, thorough, and helpful. The whole process of reading through all of this has been helping me understand how to write a story using the Snowflake Method. Go, free Spark Notes!

Oh, and I came across this interesting tidbit that I thought you might enjoy from the "Context" section of a forthcoming Spark Notes for the first book of the Communion Mythos, the Last Day of Kinsarra:
R. Edward Campbell was born in Salem, Oregon in 1974. After receiving a B. S. in computer engineering in 1998, he worked for four years for a startup software company in technical services and product management. Returning to school in 2002, he received a M. A. in theology from Austin Graduate School of Theology in 2004. He started the Cascade Hills Church of Christ in 2005, during which he began writing The Last Day of Kinsarra, the first of the Communion Sagas. During the early 2000's, Campbell published short fiction and novels as well as works in theology. Campbell is known for mythic tales written in a vintage prose style, often massive in scale. His stories often explore fundamental themes of humanity and evil, power, mystery, truth, and the sources of knowledge. Campbell's fiction represent a return to the central wonder of fantasy, leaving aside his contemporaries' tendency to over-realize the tropes that have become mainstream in the fantasy genre; Campbell instead prefers to explore in new ways the awe and wonder inspired by myth, fairy tale, and classic fantasy.

Although Campbell is a minister and many of his works contain themes drawn from Christian theology, he avoids allegory or sharp-edged dogmatism in his fiction. He is known for stylistically rich works that engage seriously with philosophical themes. He favors mixed narratives and storytelling methods for his elaborate plots, drawing on intricate characters and a panoply of vividly realized settings. While many of his contemporaries revel in the dystopian nihilism of dark, urban fantasy or busy themselves with the construction of elaborate and self-indulgent epics in quasi-historical tone, Campbell strives to uncover beauty and wonder in the simply human: love, friendship, faith, community, hope.

The collected novels of the Communion Mythos is his most ambitious project to date, a sprawling narrative following dozens of characters across hundreds of worlds. The novels employ multiple apocalyptic scenarios and a desperate race to stop a world-eating evil. Campbell creates sui generis: this is no Tolkien derivative fantasy, or quite derivative of anything else; he crafts wholly unique worlds and populates them with wondrous creatures and peoples, complex cultures with rich histories and religious traditions. These worlds and cultures are not the sociological experimentation typical to science fiction, nor are they the symbols of easily identifiable allegory; rather, Campbell paints them to astonish, to horrify, to awe. The worlds themselves and the remarkable characters that explore them are the central conceit of the Communion series; after seeing a glimpse of their strange beauty, we fear for their destruction and long for their deliverance.

1 comment:

Jake Shore said...

I've read this guy's crap. It's way overrated.