Brothers and sisters, do you have faith? Writer and editor Maurice Broaddus would suggest to you that you do, whether you think you do or not. And it’s that sometimes evanescent nature of the thing that infuses Dark Faith, a collection of stories on faith from science fiction, fantasy and horror authors — not necessarily the group you expect, basically. But then, as Broaddus explains below, that’s part of the point.
If I said I had a collection of stories revolving around the idea of faith, I bet if I were quiet enough, I could hear the collective eye roll of disinterest. Oh, you might hear me out on the topic, but only with the glazed eyes of indifference. I can guess what you’re thinking: a bunch of preachy stories dressed up in horror and fantasy, but you know and I know they are a bait and switch waiting to happen. A stuffy collection of Sunday School stories trussed up alongside Jesus tales.
Sheesh. I wouldn’t want to read that … I got stuff to do. Judging from far too many stories encountered in my slush pile, many writers THOUGHT that’s what we were trying to put together. What we wanted were stories from a variety perspectives using faith as a jump off point.
Dark Faith began as a tribute anthology to the convention that I put on, Mo*Con (yes, Maurice Convention). If you could do a convention in the con suite for a weekend, that’s Mo*Con. Sometimes billed as “the intersection of spirituality, art, and social justice”, the convention is built around a series of three conversations: typically, one on matters of faith, one on matters of writing, and one on some social issue.
The fact of the matter is that we all believe in something and no matter what our worldview is, it begins with a leap of faith. Faith is edgy. Faith is risk-taking. Faith is scary. Then again, maybe I have a broader definition of the word faith than some.
So I invited horror, science fiction, and fantasy writers to riff on the idea of faith. Who we are, artists and people of faith, expressing our theology, whatever it may be, in our writing. And with the challenge to take it to another level: Art is never for its own sake, but people’s sake. I believe that art should be engaged with and, in its own way, explore truth – and we shouldn’t be afraid of truth, no matter where it takes us.
And in this anthology, it has taken us to new and interesting places. Life can be magical and terrifying, filled with both fantasy and horror. There is life and there is death – everything in between is unknown. We live in the throes of “why?” We react to injustice, we question why bad things happen to good people. The existential terror of what it means to encounter God, the ultimate Other. On the other side, there’s the idea that God is personal and relational, Jesus can be a guy you can sneak around back and share cigarettes with. We can see faith lived out in love and relationships; or be horrified by the things done in God’s name. Faith in action can move us to do something, to confront the sins of our age, such as sexism, homophobia, racism to name a few.
That’s the big idea. The small idea looks something like this: I wanted to give writers an intriguing theme and then get out of their way. So we get a zombie story from Catherynne Valente, a dark science fiction tale from Gary A. Braunbeck, and stories that blur and transcend genre labels from Nick Mamatas, Lavie Tidhar, and Tom Piccirilli. Some stories are violent, some are funny, some are sex filled … all will move you.