Sunday, October 07, 2007

Review of Flashpoint by Frank Creed

Book One of the Underground
Author: Frank Creed
Published by Writers Café Press
ISBN: 978-1-934284-01-8
200 pages

Frank Creed pushes the boundaries of Christian fiction with Biblical cyberpunk—when he talks about "God in the machine," he's quite literal. He's been thinking and playing in the genre since long before William Gibson made it popular—and Creed can give Gibson a run for his money.

Creed starts with the basics for both cyberpunk and Biblical speculative fiction: a dystopic world run by a totalitarian global regime, with a pretty wide division between the haves and have-nots.

Those who support the regime live a prosperous life, while those who do not are left to the squalor of a crime-riddled underworld at best and slave camps, or "reconditioning" at worst. True to the Christian angle, the government has established a watered-down "feel good" religion, and true Christians (dubbed "Fundamentalists") are forced to hide their practices or go totally underground by joining the Resistance.

Dave and Jen are our young heroes. When the government finds out their family is part of a secret home church, they are taken to the underground by their father to save their lives. Daddy leaves them in order to draw off the authorities and is captured with their mother. Meanwhile, Dave and Jen are taken in by the Resistance and discover they have amazing abilities. They receive cybernetic mind enhancements that enable them to become the kind of perfected humans God created, before we were damaged by Original Sin. Dave becomes a superhero with Matrix-style abilities, while Jen becomes e-girl, the computer wizard no cyberpunk novel is complete without. They join the Resistance; their first mission: Save Mom and Dad and the members of their home church. And as they fulfill their mission, they learn what it means to be part of God's army.

There's nothing especially spectacular in the plot, but the real magic is in the execution. Creed does a fantastic job of weaving in all the things that make cyberpunk an exciting genre to read: the melding of human capabilities with highly technological advancements, exciting scenes that deliver the adrenalin rush, earthy but clever repartee, cunning twists to the mundane, some well-thought-out fight scenes… But what about the Biblical message? Here again Creed shows his genius. He immerses you in the Word of God just as he immerses you in the cyberpunk culture—in thought, word and deed. The thing I personally love about cyberpunk is the complete cultural mythos, right down to vocabulary.

Creed does the same thing; in addition to some really fun slang, he's woven in Scripture and the ideals of his Christian "Army" so that as you read, you are neither preached to nor pulled out of the story. It's all part of the program—literally and figuratively.

Flashpoint is a fast, fun read, something I was comfortable in giving to my 13-year-old son, and which I wouldn't mind re-reading again. (My husband can tell you that from me, that's high praise.)

If you are looking for Biblical speculative fiction the way it should be done, you need to read Creed!


cyn said...

Thanks Karina, for the great review. So many folks shudder upon hearing the term "cyber-punk" -- especially Christian readers. It is great that Frank Creed has taken his love of cyber-punk and created a novel that raises the sub-genre's visibility and places it in a positive light.

Frank Creed said...

This was the best Flashpoint plot synopsis in plain English I've yet seen.

To be compared with father of cyberpunk William Gibson? Thanks for this kind of encouragement. Neither science fiction readers, nor men shop Christian bookstores and my intended audience is both. As a rookie novelist, Biblical manly-man novels aren't on the NYT-bestsellers list, but I've got to do what the Boss made me to do.

I'm like you Karina, a re-read is the highest compliment. With all of the review and critique reading-demands an author like yourself has, that is the highest imaginable compliment.
Thank you.


David said...

Awesome review Karina. People are beginning to talk about this "woman of many talents" (you). We love you sis. You put so much of your heart in everything you do...and it shows.

David Brollier

cathikin said...

A well-written review. I also sat down to re-read the book and found more to enjoy the second time!