Visionary Fiction on the Genre Shelf

Visionary FictionVisionary fiction is not metaphysical fiction.

Visionary fiction is not magical realism.

Visionary fiction is not religious fiction or sci-fi or fantasy.

What will it take for traditional publishers to make room on the shelf for fiction that “speaks the language of the soul and offers a vision of humanity as we dream it could be?”

In other words, what will it take for visionary fiction to be recognized as a genre?

Mystic Tea Finds a Genre

Though I don’t have a cup of mystic tea to help me see through time, I can come up with a simple – if not easy to accomplish – answer to the above question.

For visionary fiction to be recognized as a genre, it will take:

  • Visionary writers, such as Rea Nolan Martin, with the talent, perseverance, and willingness to write stories from the heart rather than cave to the dictates of what is currently selling.
  • Contests, such as the Independent Publisher Book Awards, that recognize visionary fiction as a category and award talented VF authors like Rea Nolan Martin awards for their superior work.
  • Reviewers, such as the impressive number that gave Rea Nolan Martin’s visionary novel Mystic Tea a five-star review.

Mystic Tea on Goodreads

I was first drawn to Rea Nolan Martin’s novel by the following blurb at Goodreads:

A community of quirky, mismatched, and endearing women struggle to find meaning and purpose on a ramshackle monastery in upstate New York. Having spent their lives in service to a church that seems to no longer serve them, they are confused about their own futures and … Continue reading

DIVERGENT and Visionary Fiction, Same Umbrella, Different Factions

Violence aside, I would gladly welcome the dystopian sci-fi novel Divergent into our “faction” here at Visionary Fiction Alliance.

Veronica Roth deserves her New York Times Bestselling Author status. She deserves her book’s 13,561 Amazon reviews (9,733 of which are five stars). She deserves her book sales of over eleven million.

All these accolades are merited because Divergent is fast-paced, well told, and pumps out enough what-ifs and why-nots to satisfy the “Erudite” in all of us. In other words, Divergent is a fantastic read.

The reason I cannot claim Divergent as visionary fiction is twofold:

  • It does not explore the paranormal.
  • It bypasses the spiritual.
  • Divergent and Visionary FictionDivergent is Devoid of the Paranormal

    According to Hal Zina Bennett, publisher, writer, and expert on the genre of visionary fiction:

    • “…good visionary fiction takes us deep into the realm of mystery beyond the boundaries of our five senses.”
    • “The best characters in these (visionary) novels serve as mediators between the physical world we’re familiar with and the less familiar world of dreamtime—what C.G. Jung called the collective consciousness.”

    As dystopian sci-fi, Divergent is categorized under the same speculative fiction umbrella as visionary fiction, but it differs from VF in that it does not include the paranormal, magical, or fantastic.

    Set in a futuristic Chicago, Divergent is played out in a world that has the same physical and biological rules as our own.

    The miracles that occur in Divergent are miracles of science, specifically computer and neuroscience, used in technologically-advanced—incredible, terrible—ways to control and manipulate faction members. Workings of the mind apply to the stimulation, rewiring, and control of the brain, including syringes with … Continue reading

    ‘A Winters Tale’ – a Movie Experience of Visionary Fiction

    We are well aware that Visionary Fiction, with regards to the publishing industry, is a genre in its infancy, though its form and mode of storytelling is perennial. One way to describe, define, and increase awareness of this genre for authors, readers, agents, and publishers, is to show by example. On our Visionary Fiction website we have compiled a list of books and movies that fall under the VF genre. Book and movie reviews also help increase awareness and understanding of VF. I’ve recently watched the new movie A Winter’s Tale, and found it to be a very good illustration of VF.

    1Originally a novel written by Mark Helprin and published in 2005, A Winters Tale is a time-travel love story that spans more than a century. Despite the movie trailer’s emphasis on the romantic love between characters Peter Lake and Beverly Penn, which is undoubtedly both believable and epic, the movie encompasses love on a much grander scale. And it incorporates the persistent struggle between good and evil, destiny and purpose, timing and fate.

    Peter, (played with deep emotion by Colin Farrell), is an orphaned burglar trying to break free from under the rule of crime boss Pearly Soames (played convincingly by Russell Crowe). Peter is clever, and under normal human circumstances, may have easily slipped away from Pearly’s jurisdiction. But it so happens that Pearly is a minion of Lucifer (played artfully by Will Smith). And Pearly’s demonic abilities include being able to follow streams of ethereal light to geographically locate whomever he wants to.

    Pearly is obsessed with his vendetta against … Continue reading

    Dean Koontz’s INNOCENCE; Sometimes We Are Wrong

    If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, what about ugliness?

    How do we define ugly? What repulses us? And why?Innocence

    In his latest novel, INNOCENCE, Dean Koontz shows us ugly.

    Little by little, step by step, he immerses us in ugly; until we are in ugly’s head.

    And then he holds up a mirror.

    Horror is not the final destination.

    In October of 2012, after reading three novels in Koontz’s Odd Thomas series, I felt compelled to ask: “Is Dean Koontz a Visionary Fiction Writer?

    Since visionary fiction brings forth universal wisdom in story form so readers can experience it from within, I concluded, yes. Koontz penetrates beneath the surface of things (the beautiful and the ugly, humorous and sad, inspiring and depressing), as if drilling deep for a fresh source of water. At first water gushes forth brown with silt (one reason, I suppose, his work is considered horror), but once the silt settles, we’re left with a nourishing, life-giving wellspring.

    After reading INNOCENCE, I again challenge those who label Koontz’s work as horror. Sure, angst and fear may be noisy passengers that fascinate—and repeal—us during our journey through Koontz’s novels, and apprehensiveness and uneasiness often morph into the vehicle in which we ride, but horror is not the final destination.

    Koontz’s intent is not to petrify, but to encourage us to think, see, feel, and ask questions—maybe even change our minds.

    In Innocence, Dean Koontz shows us ugliness that goes beyond definition, ugliness that may, in fact, be beautiful.

    Let me share a few words from Addison Goodheart, the protagonist of INNOCENCE:

    “I had remained hopeful that, … Continue reading

    PURE VISION by Perri Birney: Da Vinci Code Knock-off or Pristine Vision?

    Pure Vision: The Magdalene Revelation by Perri Birney

    The yellow lights came on, flashing furiously, at the blurb describing  Perri Birney’s, PURE VISION, The Magdalene Revelation: stolen ancient artifact…dangerous journey…legendary treasures…clandestine pseudo-Masonic group.  Not another one, I protested, all 586 pages of it. I admit to having been addicted to such yarns in the pre-Da Vinci Code era, lapping up everything of the type, fiction and non-fiction from Holy Blood, Holy Grail to William Valtos’s La Magdalena, so overindulging  that by the time Dan Brown’s tour de force came out, it was old hat. Now, post-DVC, any book paired with The Da Vinci Code or touting a similar storyline makes me buggy; my reading list is plenty long.

    However, I am currently on a mission to taste all flavors of works labeled visionary, metaphysical, spiritual or any combination of  thereof, aiming  to sort out when and how these related genres are the same, similar, or different. And since I first encountered Birney through the Visionary Fiction Alliance, I felt I owed what her Amazon Editorial Review touted as an “epic novel with feminine echoes of The Da Vinci Code” a fair hearing. If nothing else, it might help in judging  whether any of the ubiquitous DVC knock-offs of the breathless, globe-trotting, save-the-world variety might qualify as worthy Visionary Fiction.

    A couple of disclosures here. First, as someone who knows the heroic task involved in producing a coherent  first novel, especially such a lengthy one, I consider it a mortal sin to cast aspersions on the effort; worst case scenario, I’ll … Continue reading

    Review – Dreaming Worlds Awake

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    Dreaming Worlds Awake is the newest book by VFA member Esme Ellis.

    This is a book that offers glimpses into the soul journey of the author. It could have gone the way of many memoir or Visionary Fiction books and been self-absorbed or pedantic. This does not happen in ‘Dreaming Worlds Awake’. Esme expresses her life experience through narrative, through life synchronicities, through her dreams, through conversations with mentors (dead and alive), and through poetry. This variety proves creative and interesting. Esme’s writing drew me in.

    I particularly liked her description comparing the Heroe’s Journey and the Writer’s journey as being one and the same. How fashioning words, and paragraphs, and stories, is magic and is in effect casting a spell… (in its most basic form, when you ‘spell’ a word correctly you are casting a ‘spell’!)

    In one of the dreams and past life remembrances Esme related, a priestess appears and gives symbolic messages about the inner feminine and masculine of both Esme personally, and the world at large. These reflections are so crucial to our world today, where these two aspects are out of balance and struggling to come together in harmony as they are meant to be.

    Esme also asks an intriguing question which bears further contemplation – Is there an unconscious aspect to Divinity?

    Esme, when you studied the art of sculpture, one of your earliest mentors chose you to be in the college program because he said you had ‘presence’. This indeed, comes through in the art of your writing. Well done.

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    Valis – Book Review

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    Review by: Eleni Papanou

    Wow! That’s how I’ll start my review on this book. Philip Dick uses the vehicle of fiction to understand the meaning behind his spiritual experience. I have had a similar experience, and much of what is revealed in Valis runs parallel to what happened to me, which is why I personally resonated with the story.

    What drew me in was Dick’s use of first and third person in the narration. The reason for the switch was so that the narrator could be more objective about his spiritual experience. However, this split in narration evolves into something greater, which I won’t mention here. Dick’s decision to use two points of view is eventually made very clear. I couldn’t see this story being told any other way.

    Valis is filled with introspection, madness, and spiritual insight, all effectively seasoned with humor. Dick never takes himself too seriously and always makes it seem as if he’s open to every explanation that he muses over. My personal favorites in this book were the movie sequence, the banter between Phil and his friends about the meaning behind it and their subsequent meeting of Sophia, which I won’t go into here as I don’t want to give it away. During the reading of the book, I was noticing similarities between Dick and Robert Anton Wilson, and I was pleasantly surprised when Dick mentioned Wilson’s book, Cosmic Trigger!

    Valis is not an easy book to read, and the plot is thin, but if you’re looking for something with philosophical and spiritual depth, you’ll enjoy it.

    What makes this book visionary fiction? I only have to use some … Continue reading

    Review of Dreaming Worlds Awake – By Esme Ellis

    Review by Pat Perrin

    product_thumbnail.phpThis is a personal book, a narrative of experience that leads the reader through some very nice juxtapositions. In her introduction, the author says, “Of its own volition something began to take shape. Stories arose, dreams came, a poem or two, a letter here and there.” And that is what the book consists of. In poetry and various prose styles, Esme Ellis describes dreams, synchronicities, channelled entities, and everyday life. She treats them evenly, finding something to learn of all of them

    Esme Ellis is open to the wondrous without insisting on dogmatic interpretations. She says that dreams may, “if you learn to ‘live alongside’ them without pressing for instant disclosure, reveal their secrets later, in their own good time.” She could be describing her approach to adventures of all kinds. Her discussions range from the philosophies of Freud and Jung, to insights from the spirit of the sculptor, Jacob Epstein, to advice from an ancient consciousness, to encounters with animal totems and other unconventional topics. She looks on it all as a “playground of boundless discovery and spiritual expansion“ that is simply not to be missed.

    My personal favorite is a brief story about helping a blackbird to protect its nest from a feral cat by …. well, you’ll just have to read the book. I recommend it for those who are searching for a playground such as this.

    Reviewed by Pat Perrin.

    Purchase book here.

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