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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Here Now, the Infinite Space, Infinite God Virtual Book Tour



Today, I am doing something special here at Life at the Frontier. I am honored and privileged to be host an interview with Rob and Karina Fabian to talk about their anthology of science fiction that is filled with themes of the Catholic Faith, Infinite Space, Infinite God.

Rob and Karina Fabian met in the Air Force, but their love for science fiction (and for puns) brought them together. Karina is a cradle Catholic, and attending church with her introduced Rob to the beauty of the Catholic Mass. He instantly felt at home and was confirmed just before their wedding. They now have four children, Steven, Amber, Alex, and Liam.

Writing is one way they stay connected and share a passion that doesn't result in children. While on a "date," they dreamed up a near-future where mankind has colonized the solar system and an order of nuns dedicated to space search and rescue protects the intrepid spacers for "air, shelter and the love of God." These stories led directly to their editing two anthologies, Leaps of Faith (Christian SF no longer in print) and Infinite Space, Infinite God.

Rob is a Lt. Col. in the Air Force and will be taking a Squadron Command in Minot, ND, this Fall. Karina writes novels, stories and articles and she homeschools their children.

Q. How did you become interested in science fiction and how did you begin to integrate faith and sf?

Like many of our generation, I (Karina) grew up with Star Trek. Kirk and Spock were regulars at our dinner table, and the first real novels I read--aside from Wrinkle in Time--were novelizations of the series. Rob grew up devouring the Heinlein juveniles, and he still attributes many of his attitudes and ways of thinking to those books.

As for integrating faith into our writing, that just seemed to come naturally. The more I write (for I do most of the fiction in the house), the more I find my characters and topics expressing their faith. When we started collaborating, the idea of a solar system populated by humans seemed incomplete without religious institutions--and what better charism for a convent of spacefaring nuns than search and rescue? Thus the universe of Our Lady of the Rescue was born, and from it, the anthologies Leaps of Faith (no longer published) and Infinite Space, Infinite God (2006: Twilight Times Books).

Q. How does the science fiction community respond to Catholic sf?

Depends on who you ask. It's a tough sell with publishers in part because it's a niche market--yet Tor published Sacred Visions, another anthology of Catholic SF. Canticle for Liebowitz is a recognized SF classic, and you can't get more Catholic than it. Many SF writers have turned to Catholicism for characters, ideas or even a model to base a future or alien faith upon.

There's not a lot of books or stories out that could or should bear the title "Catholic SF" and we think that's a good thing. Infinite Space, Infinite God has that moniker because all of the stories examine some aspect of Catholic faith or practice. However, we think the ideal would be to see stories and novels that embrace the Catholic faith out in the SF mainstream.

That means we writers need to write well-crafted stories which incorporate the expression of faith as naturally as they do the use of science. We think we've succeeded in that with Infinite Space, Infinite God. Most of our reviews so far have been from non-Catholics and all have loved the book. One said she was touched to the point of chills when an alien said, "But you have directions." It was holding out a Bible and the Catechism at the time.

Q. How do the Church and the Catholic community respond to Catholic sf? In particular, how much thought is being given to the Church's role in future space communities?

Catholics who love SF want to see more, naturally. Just as naturally, you'll find a great many Catholics who are vitally interested in space exploration and science fiction. I can give you a list or anyone can do a Google search for Catholic science fiction blogs and find a dozen.

An online search of the Vatican archives produced 2300 documents about space science, 737 about "space exploration" and one specifically on space colonization. Several Popes have spoken at international conventions on the topic, and the Pontifical Academy holds conferences about it. The late Pope John Paul II summed it up in his address to the delegates of the Interagency Consultant Group in 1996:
…we live in a very special moment. Using the talents given by God, people of
science have been able to develop unprecedented means of obtaining knowledge.
Extraordinary means of transportation and communication have been developed.
Computers have reached capacities and speeds previously unimaginable. Serious
plans can now be made for space stations, space colonies, and for manned
missions to planets as far away as Mars. Scientists and technologists are
developing the possibilities of making the whole planetary system a home for the
human family. But all of these developments will lead to truly significant
results only if they are employed within the frame-work of a new humanism, where
spiritual, moral, philosophical, aesthetic, and scientific values are developed
in harmony, and where there is a profound respect for the freedom and rights of
the human person.
As for the Church's physical role in space colonies--well, we need to get out there first. But Catholic religious have always followed close behind the explorers of new worlds, so where humankind goes, the Church will follow.

Q. Your anthology touches on issues of human life and human dignity. How do you see this literature playing a role in promoting a culture of life?

Science Fiction, more than any other genre is about examining ideas, asking "What if?" or exploring current trends. It can look at aspects of our society by removing them from the present (or even from humanity) and putting them in a new environment, where they can be seen more clearly. What we hope Infinite Space, Infinite God and other faith-filled SF can do is get people to think about these topics. There's no doubt that SF influences the way people think. A survey in the Library Journal (http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA447055.html) said the top reasons people read SF is to explore new ideas and to affirm their worldview. So Catholic SF can both present arguments for a culture of life in a way that entertains and influences and reaffirms that culture for those who already live it.

In fact, two of our goals for Infinite Space, Infinite God (beyond just being fun to read) were to make people think and to show the Catholic Church as a viable, valued presence in our future.

Q.One theme I explore on my blog is the contrast between a 'limits to growth'/population control scenario' and a positive future where space resources are used to provide for future generations. Do you or other Catholic sf writers explore this theme?

It's certainly a theme worth exploring, but we didn't cover it in this collection. We have several stories that looked at offworld colonization, but none that specifically considered it an answer to population control. "Hopkins' Well," however, did touch on the issue, but from a dystopic point of view--a world government rises which has insisted on population control along with other "quality of life" issues has persecuted the Catholic Church until there is only an underground movement and the one Catholic colony of Hopkins' Well on Mars.

Q. If given the opportunity (cost not being an obstacle), would you like to travel into space?

How many exclamation points do you want after our "YES"?

It's on our list of "Things to Do When We Win the Lottery" right after funding a new church in Pueblo West where Karina's dad's a deacon.

Q. Any final thoughts about Infinite Space, Infinite God and beyond?

Infinite Space, Infinite God comes out in print in August 2007. We hope people will enjoy reading it as much as we've enjoyed writing it.

If the sales pan out and Twilight Times is willing, we'd like to do an ISIG II. In the meantime, many of our authors are already putting out wonderful faith-filled and secular fiction. Karina is working on two novels--one in the Our Lady of the Rescue universe and one involving a Catholic dragon private detective. She's also shopping around her fantasy anthology The Miscria and hopes to have great news this year. We're also looking for a print home for Leaps of Faith, a Christian SF anthology. Anyone interested can keep up with the latest news at http://www.fabianspace.com/ and http://isigsf.tripod.com/.


FINAL NOTE: Thank you Karina and Rob. Best wishes on the move and the Squadron Command in Minot ND and I look forward to hearing of the success of Infinite Space, Infinite God.

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