A funny thing happened on the way to promoting my book, Emprise (free through 1/17/2014!). I discovered I had written a book in a different genre than I originally thought. It was quite an awakening, to say the least. When I penned Emprise, I’d set out to write a piece of contemporary fantasy, although I knew that would be a challenge, as I have never been a huge fan. Sure, books like The Dragonriders of Pern and Roger Zelazny’s The Chronicles of Amber hit my literary spot, but others, like J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy bible The Lord of the Rings series left me … well, bored. However, there have been books and movies that sparked my interest – The Shack, in terms of its spiritual themes, and What Dreams May Come, in its investigation of life after death come immediately to mind. Some of these themes surfaced during my writing Emprise, along with others, namely:
- Investigating life beyond death – What is the afterlife? Can it interact with the life we know as “reality?”
- Investigating God – What is (are) God(s)? Is it omnipotent? Caring? Is good absolute? Are there beings that exist beyond the plane of reality … in a Heaven (Spiritual) Plane, so to speak?
- Investigating Dreams – Would God really advocate a religion? Do ancient mythologies and Native American philosophy have a place in this scenario?
- Investigating Dreams – Are dreams really the mind’s fiction engine? What if it was simply another plane of reality, or access to a different plane that includes the Spiritual Plane?
- What is Evil? – How does it operate? If there were a “devil” (which I don’t believe in) what would its faces be? How could we think of it apart from Christian teachings about evil?
- What if the different planes of existence merged? – This includes time, space, other universes in the “multiverse.” What if the afterlife became accessible to the plane of reality?
- What if mythical creatures began to exist in the real world – Would they evolve? Would they just become myths, like “Bigfoot?” (My creatures would eat a damn bigfoot.)
- Investigating Self – What would our spiritual selves were the true “us,” requiring only that we awaken them. How would that work? Do we have actual Spirit Guides? Would the death of one be the birth of another?
Oddly, all of these themes emerged in my head as one cohesive story, which became my book, Emprise. I made a mistake initially in promoting it as a part of The Stream series, which it is, but that’s like implying you can’t enjoy Star Trek Next Generation without seeing the original series. One is derived from the other, but not dependent on it. Imagine my surprise when, after finishing the book, I discovered there is a genre that covers the work – Visionary and Metaphysical Fantasy. I’ve searched for definitions, and there are a few: Author Karen M. Rider wrote of metaphysical fiction on her website:
Metaphysical works may address topics like energy healing, past lives, the power of the mind over matter. Themes of spirituality and even fantastical creatures may inhabit the story, but the story takes place within a real worlds and real time (or between worlds, or between real time and some other notion of time).
- In Metaphysical Fiction, the metaphysical elements are both set against and intricately woven into ordinary human experience, creating chaos (conflict) for the characters in the story.
- The metaphysical element may be the focus of the plot or a device within a more complex plot. For example, suspense combined with characters who possess talents that defy physical laws, which other characters want to possess and control.
- Visionary Fiction has strong spirituality component. The Native American tradition of “teaching stories” comes to mind.
Similarly, the Visual Fiction Alliance defines it as follows:
Characteristic Features of Visionary Fiction:
- Growth of consciousness is the central theme of the story and drives the protagonist, and/or other important characters.
- The story oftentimes uses reincarnation, dreams, visions, paranormal events, psychic abilities, and other metaphysical plot devices.
- The plot [or story] is universal in its worldview and scope.
As Emprise does have visionary themes as a strong secondary plot line, particularly the growth of consciousness in its lead characters, and it explores dreams, reincarnation as primary plot lines, I’m fairly comfortable saying it has elements of visionary fiction, woven into metaphysical fantasy that uses some Sci-Fi elements to explain the hows explored in the book. I’ll be exploring more of this genre, especially the authors noted in the referred sources. I may have found a home for The Stream at last.