Are We in Narnia Yet?

I have been to see “Chronicles of Narnia III: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” and it makes me fear for the future of this series of movies. I’ll be writing a full review for www.chalcedon.edu , so this is just a preview. (Hint: When you go to the movies these days, arrive late enough to miss the commercials and the previews. You’ll be glad you did!)

“Dawn Treader” has received mixed reviews so far (not a good sign). Apparently a lot of the reviewers don’t know the story as C.S. Lewis wrote it, and are blissfully unaware that the story has been radically changed. In fact, they changed so much of it, I wondered why they bothered to make the movie at all.

Why, why, why do they do that when they make a movie? If C.S. Lewis’ story was so inadequate as he wrote it, why would you want to make a movie out of it in the first place?

And then we’ve got Liam Neeson, who provides the voice for Aslan in these films, flapping his jaw in public about how Aslan isn’t just Jesus Christ, he’s also Mohammed and Buddha, blah-blah… How stupid can you get?

Forest Schultz’s Cellar Review

The quests of each of the first two books in Lee Duigon’s children’s fantasy series pertain to legacies of the renowned King Ozias which must be activated by two children, Jack and Ellayne.  Book One ends with the inauguration of a new age produced when Jack fulfills the first quest by ringing the Bell of Ozias on the summit of Bell Mountain.  The second quest is retrieving the secret scrolls of Ozias by descending deep underground into a secret cellar.

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The Harry Potter Rage Continues

The Worldviews of Fantasy

The present generation was raised on Harry Potter. It is the most popular book series and most popular movie series of all time, exceeding the box office receipts of Star Wars and Avatar! But what shall we say of this Dark Tale? The good guys are homosexuals and witches. And the bad guys definitely look uglier than the good guys. We’ve come a long way from the Bobbsey Twins. Not many kids raised on the Bobbsey Twins became interested in Necromancy, Human Sacrifice, and Homosexuality. The next twenty years are going to be. . . different, shall we say? Kevin Swanson interviews Christian fantasy author, Lee Duigon on the basic differences between corrupting man-centered witchcraft and God-centered story-telling.

Check it out here

Sketch of Thunder King Cover (Book 3)

Just thought I’d share the sketch work of the third book. It is going to be called The Thunder King. Obviously not the final look of the book but it is a very nice start.

So I Went to See the Harry Potter Movie…

First they clobber you with commercials, all of them featuring exceptionally bad music with the volume turned up so that your bones vibrate.

Then come the previews, about a dozen of them. And they all look like the same movie! Is it my imagination, or are movies getting uglier? They previewed a new Stephen Spielberg film based on a video game, “Cowboys and Aliens,” and all the actors looked like they’d just crawled out of the gutter trying to find another drink. I guess they just don’t make movies like “Casablanca” anymore–you know: with smart dialogue, fascinating multi-dimensional characters, and an actual story line. Who needs that stuff, when you can base your movies on video games and comic books?

I’ll have much more to say about “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I,” in the review that I’ll write for Chalcedon (www.chalcedon.edu ). But here are a few short takes.

1. Why do some of the characters in this movie say “My God,” when there is no God in J.K. Rowling’s alternative universe? Correct me if I’m wrong, but what role would God play in a world where children and bad guys wield fantastic magic powers and function as gods themselves?

2. Is it my imagination, or does one of the female villains in the movie bear a striking resemblance to Hillary Clinton?

3. If there is no God in the Harry Potter world, and the good guys and the bad guys use exactly the same techniques to get their way (you can tell the bad guys from the good guys in this movie because the bad guys are even uglier than the good guys), what is the source of morality in this alternative universe?

4. Why do so many Christians, especially Christian parents, seem to have no problem with this stuff?

Once again we see that modern Christians seem perfectly content to take the culture as they find it, and make no effort to bring it under the dominion of Christ the King.

Maybe that’s why our culture is turning into a cesspool.

My Writing History (in case you wanted to know)

I started writing monster stories in grade school, mostly because my friends liked them. My teachers didn’t.

By junior high, I was writing science fiction, culminating in my immortal The Apes of Grath. But then I discovered Edgar Rice Burroughs and J.R.R. Tolkien, and realized I wanted to write fantasy. I have no idea how many fantasy novels I cranked out, over the next few years. They had titles like The Sword and the Whistle and The Westending Tale. They were horrible. I actually submitted them to publishers, but they didn’t show much interest in 18-year-old Tolkien wannabes. Hopefully all those manuscripts have perished.

After college, I got a job writing term papers (not legal anymore). I should mention that my four years of higher education converted me, unawares, to a shabby secular paganism.

From term papers I graduated to a career as a newspaperman. I was in journalism long enough to forget how to write fiction. When I left in 1980, I started writing short stories again–mostly mysteries, with a little horror. After about 300 or 400 rejections I finally sold my first story, The Bun Man, to Mike Shayne’s Mystery Magazine. After that, Shayne’s published half a dozen more of my stories.

Book 2 Is Here!

If you liked Bell Mountain, Book 2 of the series, The Cellar Beneath the Cellar, is now available–just in time for Christmas, if you hurry. You can order it now directly from Chalcedon, http://chalcedon.edu/store/Books/the-cellar-beneath-the-cellar-bell-mountain-series-2/ .

Books 3 and 4 have been written and are now in production, while Book 5 is currently being written.

How many of these books will I write? Search me! I have a whole word to write about, with a history going back thousands of years and whole continents as yet to be discovered. If the Lord keeps giving me the stories, I’ll keep writing them. Besides, I’m as curious as you are to see how the story turns out.

Living with Fantasy

Fantasy writers are perceived as having lively imaginations. Who can deny it? But when it comes to actually putting over one’s fantasies, and making people believe in your fantasy and even order their lives around it–well, we just can’t compete with those folks in science, the government, and the news media.

Our fantasies are clearly labeled as such. No one would dream of introducing a bill in Congress to fund an expedition to Bell Mountain. That money is already spoken for by other fantasies. Here are two of the more outrageous examples.

“Man-made global warming is real–but big government can control it.”

“Life on earth arose spontaneously from non-living materials like mud and gravel, and by an infinite series of totally random mutations, went from bacteria to Beethoven.”

Those are big fantasies! Nothing ever cooked up by C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien comes even close to these for sheer audacity of the imagination.

It’s staggering to realize that millions of people–who would never, never expect to see Mr. Toad in his motorcar passing them on the freeway–have actually been brought to believe in these colossal fantasies. You’d think they would just burst out laughing at a statement like, “Paying teachers’ union members higher salaries, and granting them tenure and fabulous pension packages, will improve your children’s education,” but they don’t. They don’t even crack a smile.

Maybe it’s saying too much, to say that anyone actually believes that particular fantasy. But people act like they believe it.

When it comes down to the serious business of telling whoppers, we fantasy writers are pretty small potatoes. But we like to believe that our fantasies, at least, are edifying: and never cost our readers anything beyond the price of a book.

Putting the Bite Back into Juvenile Fiction by Robert Knight

Lifeless. Bloodless. Predictable.

That describes too much of Christian fiction for young people, once you get past C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia and a few other good reads. But now comes Lee Duigon’s Bell Mountain, a new novel that’s full of life, is modestly and discretely bloody in places, and is anything but predictable. Here’s the opening sentence:

This is a story about a boy who was so haunted by a mountain that it gave him bad dreams. You may have had bad dreams when you were Jack’s age, but not like these.

READ THIS ARTICLE

Missing Aslan: A Review of the Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

You have to be careful when you try to improve a work of art. Sometimes when you gild the lily, you lose the lily.

I’m afraid this is what has happened with Prince Caspian, the second installment in the Disneyfication of C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. They’ve lost the lily, and only the gilt is left. It’s pretty, but it’s not enough.

Caspian has gotten off to a good start at the box office. But then it’s only competing with movies based on comic books and video games. Even with its flaws, it can’t help being better than these.

Where’s Aslan?
As Lewis wrote them, the Narnia tales are centered on the figure of Aslan, the Lion—and Aslan represents Jesus Christ the Lord. It is Aslan who gives life to Narnia and all its creatures, who draws children from our world into Narnia to carry out important missions: who, by sacrificing himself on the Stone Table and then rising from the dead, is Narnia’s redeemer. Without Aslan there is no Narnia, and no Chronicles of Narnia.

But you would never get that from this retelling of Prince Caspian.

If you didn’t see The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe first, or read the books, you’d have no idea, from this film, who Aslan is or why he matters. You’d think he was just another fantasy creature in a fantasy world inhabited by fauns, centaurs, dwarfs, talking animals, river gods, and whatnot.

Aslan’s in this film, of course, but the filmmakers have played him down. This is where they’ve lost the lily they were at such pains to gild.

They should not have assumed that the audience, especially the children in it, already knows all about Aslan. Some will surely never have seen or heard of him before.

But even if that assumption were correct, Aslan is still the most important person in the story, and should have been treated as such. No direct mention is made here of his atoning sacrifice. If you didn’t know about it from another source, you won’t learn about it in Prince Caspian.