Several years ago, my friend Dan V. Davis introduced me to the writings of Gilbert Keith Chesterton. I like Chesterton and read him often. In Rebirths, the Dwarven Orthodox priest Father Phaeus is inspired by Chesterton’s Father Brown. GK Chesterton died in the 1930s, and the word has not seen one of his writing ability since.
The prolific Chesterton wrote in just about every genre he could put his hands on. He was a writing genius. He wrote nonfiction such as Orthodoxy, What’s Wrong with the World, Eugenics and Other Evils, and his masterpiece The Everlasting Man, an instrumental book in bringing CS Lewis to Christianity. In fiction, he gave the world Father Brown (the Catholic priest and detective who was once more popular than Sherlock Holmes), Manalive, The Napolean of Nottinghill, The Man Who Knew Too Much (another detective, in all he wrote at least 13 different detectives), and the anti-terrorist thriller, The Man Who Was Thursday.
GKC (as he is often called) was born into a Unitarian family but became an agnostic, or more precisely, he believed God existed but was not good (that is how he described himself in Orthodoxy). In trying to prove religion false, he became a Christian! The complete story is told in Orthodoxy, but GKC tried to show what a true religion would look like. To his astonishment, everything he considered had already been put in place within Christianity. Christian ethics, romance, authority, and others were already what he had reasoned the perfect system should have. He said
I have tried in vain to find modern writers who are similar, who have that same level of writing punch. However, about two months ago I stumbled upon the writings of John C Wright. When I read One Bright Star to Guide Them, my mind went to Lewis and The Chronicles of Narnia. Wright’s Book of Feasts and Seasons slammed me with some of the best short stories I’ve read. My favorite there is “Pale Realms of Shade.” Those who read both my own works and Wright might realize why (there is a scene that can be best described as “Lou’s Pawn Shop“).
Wright also writes nonfiction. His Transhuman and Subhuman essays are eyeopening and stunning in their depth and topics covered. It is well said that you never learn from those who only agree with you, and I don’t agree with him across the board. However, that only makes me think more about what I do believe. It can then be changed, provided reason and conscience are both convinced the belief is wrong. In these essays, you will think, rethink, and reconsider your opinions.
Like Chesterton, Wright’s spiritual journey was not a straight line. Wright grew up Lutheran but became an atheist in his teens. He was, in his own words, a militant atheist who talked believers out of their faith. Then something funny happened. He noticed that as he examined topics and stances for himself he was agreeing more and more with Christian thinkers than atheist ones. Eventually, he put God to the test and found Him real. Thus began some of the most joyful days of his life.
Well, on its official release day, I started the sample of Wright’s latest work of fantasy, Somewhither. The cover was beautiful (and yes, that is the Tower of Babel). The story, amazing. It’s crazy. It’s insane. It’s a great read. And in those first pages filled with frantic writing energy of a Jack Russell terrier chugging Red Bull I saw proof that this generation has its own Chesterton.
Somewhither tells the story of Ilya, a boy coming of age in rural Washington. Ilya’s dad serves as some kind of Catholic missionary except a black helicopter drops him off and picks him up for “mission trips.” His ministry also includes silver bullets and sacred relics.
Our hero has a love interest named Penelope Dreadful (Chesterton fans may smile when they realize her name would then be Penny Dreadful, a style of writing Chesterton was fond of). Of course, she gets in trouble when her mad scientist dad leaves the portal between worlds open (the doctors at the asylum won’t let him go back to turn it off) and only Ilya can save Penny from monsters beyond the realm of human understanding.
The book begins with an exploration of the nature of reality and explores the multiple universe theories-that every action, no matter how tiny causes a separate universe to be created. Ilya’s dad says the theory is faulty. Ilya says Dr. Dreadful has a theory that only moral choices cause a splinter. He’s right that there aren’t an infinite number, Ilya’s father says there are 49 known realities. And in one of those splinter realities, Nimrod completed the Tower of Babel…
I can’t wait to read the rest of it.
Update: The writer has stated that the book is definitely PG-13 material. As I’ve read more, I can see this. The main character is tortured by Nimrod’s son and swears (though sometimes the words are replaced). I will cut Ilya some slack on the swearing with what he had gone through in the torture chamber. :shudder: