The Superlative Stream
He crossed the stars to follow a song … so where’s the Singer?
Sandfly is free of the rules and free of Earth, but now there’s a new mystery to solve.
With his female companion, HardCandy, and a secret ship named DarkTrench, he travels across time and space to find the source and meaning of the transmission that changed his life.
When they arrive in the Betelgeuse system, they discover something the former crew did not—a planet. On it lives a civilization of humanoids that are technologically advanced, peaceful, and mystifying. Is their meeting an occurrence the Scriptures predicted? HardCandy thinks so. Sandfly is not so sure.
But what he most wants to know is why is he seeing things no one else can. And where is the song that brought them here—or its singer? Where is the Superlative Stream?
Book 2 in The DarkTrench Saga series.
With a more fantastic setting and a simpler plot than the first book in The Dark Trench Saga, The Superlative Stream goes bravely where I’ve never seen an explicitly evangelical novel go before. Unlike A Star Curiously Singing, it could be classified as a space opera (among other subgenres), evoking some of the wonder-lust and sense of scale. The darker dystopian feel from the previous book is downplayed here but is present in flashbacks and perhaps reinforced by theme.
As one of the stereotypical ex-Evangelical (or reluctantly Evangelical) millennials, I was wary of the recurring conversion theme. When the big conversion moment finally came, a fairly standard use of the typical “chair metaphor” for faith did start my inner artificiality alarm ringing. However, even that moment ended up working for me as a story beat, for several reasons. The conversion scene itself was written with the same exceptional skill found throughout, and it contained a strong character beat with an outstanding oracle-archetype. More importantly, the Christianity was presented with metaphors that seem more competent and more honest (in a literary sense) than Evangelical pragmatism.
My favorite dialog moment was actually in the conversion scene, demonstrating the trilogy’s recurring metaphor for the Christian incarnation:
There’s a interconnected tapestry composed of both theme and imagery. God stooping, angels falling — all tied into a theme about free will that I find vastly more interesting and uplifting than the conversion theme. The thematic elements are rooted in the backdrop of Islamic culture. The sideplot is brave enough and nuanced enough to cast a good Muslim in a sacrificial Christ-figure role. Islam isn’t the problem — the stifling of the truth beneath human authoritarianism is, and one of the stifled truths is that of the Christian scriptures. The Bible is treated as supernatural in its own right, a theme that anchors the book’s identity as evangelical fiction.
The characters are individually well portrayed, but I disliked some aspects of the gradually developing romance between Sandfly and HardCandy. There’s too much stereotypical eyelash batting and stuttering and the like.
I don’t think The Superlative Stream is perfect. For one, I think it could have explored the good and the bad ramifications of fundamentalism a little more. There were awkward moments for me. But the vision is glorious and portrayed with masterful skill. It’s an improvement from A Star Curiously Singing, which was excellent already. This book encourages me about the depth and honesty of both Christian fiction and Evangelicalism.
It is always neat when someone “gets” what I was trying to do, no matter how imperfectly. (Your remarks are the kind of thing I’d like to see show up on Amazon, where this book gets beat up compared to the other two.) Thanks, bainespal!
[…] fiction did well. Not only did I sell books across my list, from Amish Vampires in Space to The Superlative Stream, science fiction books represented a sizable portion of the overall […]