Due to Technical Difficulties, You may have Missed an Important Post

In the past couple weeks, the Visionary Fiction Alliance site experienced a technical difficulty that caused the site to either respond very slowly or not at all. Our tech team went after the problem as quickly as possible, but it took some time to isolate the source and rouse the appropriate vendors to take corrective action. We apologize for the inconvenience–very aggravating to have to wait for a link to respond–and assure you that the site is now up and running.

In the meantime, we went ahead and published a wonderful interview that Margaret Duarte did with Karan Bajaj, #1 bestselling novelist in India, who has just released his new Visionary Fiction novel, THE YOGA OF MAX’S DISCONTENT, through Penguin Random House worldwide in May. We believe that all VFA members and readers will benefit from Karan’s expertise and experience. We do not want to have that wealth lost in a technical glitch.

So, this special post is a reminder. Do click on this link to Margaret Duarte’s Interview with Karan, read and enjoy, give it a like and post a comment if you care to. Let’s give our newest VF star a warm VFA welcome.

Also affected by our technical difficulties was author Brandon Bosse. He offered a captivating 2-part guest post titled The Metaphysics of Lucid Dreaming – Visionary Fiction for Kids. See the second part here.

Thanks much.

The VFA Steering Committee

 

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The Anesthesia Game and Visionary Fiction – guest post by Rea Nolan Martin

(Editor’s note – Oftentimes our stories are culled from our life experiences – painful, joyful, mystical, paranormal – and forged into Visionary Fiction. Author Rea Nolan Martin tells her tale of how such an experience shaped her newest novel.)

The Anesthesia Game final coverThe story behind The Anesthesia Game is very close to my heart. The fifteen-year-old protagonist, Sydney, suffers a life-threatening illness that requires frequent spinal procedures for which she undergoes regular anesthesia. Having spent years accompanying my own child through such procedures, I understood from page one the spectrum of courage (or cowardice) my characters would likely exhibit, patient and family members alike. Having said that, this story is far from a memoir. The personalities of my characters vary greatly from those of my own family. I constructed the characters from scratch, asking myself—what if not one, but all of them suffered some kind of affliction, real or imagined? What if, in order to manage their afflictions, each one of them was also under the influence of her own version of anesthesia? How would they manage to help each other? How would they progress? Or would they? Who would lose a life and who would find one? After the first 100 pages or so, the characters showed me the way.

As a writer of Visionary Fiction, I imagined the child’s disease and the resulting anesthesia, not as a means of sedating her life, so much as awakening it. After all, what value do negative experiences contain if not to hone us and/or those around us? The problem is, at what price the experience? The risks in this story are as high as they can … Continue reading

What Is Women’s Visionary Fiction?  Part I – Guest Post By Mary Mackey

Women’s Visionary Fiction is not a new type of Visionary Fiction. It has been around for decades if not centuries. In fact, for all of recorded history (and thousands of years before writing existed) women have been associated with visions, mystical experiences, spiritual powers, magic, the ability to bring new life into the world, heal the sick, and speak to the dead.

When women authors finally cracked the Paper Ceiling of Publishing in the early 1970’s, they began to draw on their visionary heritage as they struggled for cultural recognition and spiritual identity.

The best of Women’s Visionary Fiction is not preachy or didactic. Mystical, flowing, beautifully crafted, it draws on folk traditions and esoteric sources as it creates new worlds, explores the after-life, and evokes other states of consciousness and other realities. Yet many of the early examples, fine they are, still remain unknown except to a small audience of readers.

Cover of Waterlilly by Ella Deloria

For example, in 1940, Native American author Ella Deloria wrote Waterlilly, a visionary novel that takes as its subject Lakota (Sioux) culture before the Lakota had contact with Europeans. This fascinating recreation of Lakota rituals, culture, and spiritual life, was not published until 1988, nearly twenty years after Deloria’s death.

In the past half century, women have written visionary fiction about witches, midwives, herbal healers, priestesses, goddesses, fairies, oracles, and angels. In fact, sometimes the authors themselves have been witches, midwives, herbal healers, and priestesses. Take for example Starhawk, San Francisco’s most famous witch. Her novel The Fifth Sacred Thing (Bantam, 1993), is a post-apocalyptic vision of the … Continue reading

Fables, Italo Calvino, and Visionary Fiction – guest post by Stephen Weinstock

Stephen vfa postThis summer I saw Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario. Teiresias was in drag, the Chorus intoned like gospel churchgoers, and the blind Oedipus appeared in the nude (an email warned us ahead of time). Despite the wonderful theatricality, I was put in mind how powerful the Oedipus myth is, with the oracle, the Sphinx, the plague, and the family tragedy as archetypal components. This great myth raised questions for me: is Sophocles’ drama Visionary Fiction? Here is a character grappling with the nature of Truth and his inner consciousness, blindness and all. This is the theme Sophocles renders, but then is the primal myth Visionary Fiction, a myth that has inspired great minds like Freud to transform human consciousness about our psychic nature?

We know this aspect of myth, of fairy tale, of fable, that they exist as pure story, often innocent on the surface, broad-stroke actions without inner character development or thematic commentary. But scratch a bit of that surface, do the least bit of interpretation, and worlds of meaning emerge, often the kinds of transcendental truth that Visionary Fiction embraces. How then do we include or approach these folkloric narratives, which have no original authors or first editions? They are at once the most visionary of fictions, and not technically fiction at all.

What of fable? On the one hand, this form may be the closest in definition to VF. A fable is a story intended” “to reveal moral or ethical consequences to life’s many choices.” This lesson component to the fable aligns with the higher truths that VF … Continue reading

The Visionary Fiction Revolution – And How Words Can Change the World Part 2 Guest post by Rory Mackay

(Read Part 1 of Rory Mackey’s The Visionary Fiction Revolution here)

We tell stories for a reason 

Mythology, which is storytelling at its most essential level, was not purposeless. It played an important role in shaping and sustaining society and, according to Campbell, had four primary functions. The first was to open the eyes of the individual and awaken a sense of awe, humility and wonder about the very nature of existence; to become aware of an interplay of tangible physical and elusive metaphysical realms.

The second function was cosmological; using stories and metaphor to help people understand the universe around them, making sense of time, space and biology. On a sociological level, mythology was also used as a means of forming and maintaining social connections. Having a shared narrative enabled tribes to stick together, supporting the social order and maintaining customs, beliefs and social norms.

On a more personal level, the tribe’s stories provided signposts for navigating life, sometimes reflected in ritual and rites of passage. The individual was not left to muddle through life without guidance. The epic tales of mythology were used as metaphors for dealing with the challenges and conflicts we face along life’s journey. These stories, properly understood, contained great wisdom and guidance.

Mythological tales were reflections of the human psyche and the conflicts and desires that drive it. The catastrophic battles between heroes and demons, the sacrifices, betrayals, jealously and love were reflections of the forces powering the human mind and heart. Furthermore, as stated before, Campbell believed that they could all be reduced to the same basic pattern, the same essential story: a story of trial, transcendence, rebirth and redemption. It was always a story of overcoming great adversity and conflict and finding that most cherished of all things, the true goal … Continue reading

The Visionary Fiction Revolution – And How Words Can Change the World, Part 1 – Guest post by Rory Mackay

It’s estimated that nearly 130 million books have been published in modern history. 28 million books are currently in print in English alone. When contemplating writing a book, I can’t help but reflect on these staggering statistics, as indeed I think all authors should. Does the world really need another book to add to those 130 million others? In what way is writing a book going to benefit the world and enhance the lives of its readers? Is there a reason for telling a new story – a need, and a purpose for doing so? If not, then why invest the substantial time and effort in writing a book? If it’s just to make money, then there are certainly easier and less labor intensive ways of doing so – particularly with the market as saturated as it is, with more books published than any time in history and an apparently downward trend in readership.

A changing landscape

The publishing industry is in the threshold of a transformation comparable to the advent of the Gutenberg print press over 500 years ago. The way we read is changing substantially, and the way writers release work is also changing. The advent of digital publishing has resulted in an explosion in the number of books being published. I’ve heard it said that we are experiencing an overproduction of books. The scarcer a commodity the more valuable it is, and indeed vice versa. There are more books to choose from than ever before, and to compete in this wild new literary world, authors and publishers must keep prices rock bottom and increase their output to compensate.

Our 21st century civilization is guilty of the crime of excess, if nothing else. In the current information age, we have more information than we’ll ever know what to do … Continue reading

The Scabbard and the Sword Part II – guest post by Marian A. Lee  

Part II: The Purer Archetype and the Warrior King

The second part of this blog explores the warrior king as the Jungian purer archetype with regard to the Qabalistic understanding of the scabbard and sword and its political application.

King_arthur__KarrMost of us know King Arthur as the courageous “once and future king” destined to unite Great Britain and establish the peaceful kingdom of Camelot by creating the Knights of the Round Table. However by examining his shallow understanding of the scabbard and sword, it is clear that he personifies the Jungian archetype of the Purer, and that this more than anything else shapes his destiny. The Purer is the quintessential “innocent” eternal male-child who acts in the world without thoughtful consideration often possessed of an early realization of deeper spiritual truths which are treated in a casual manner without mature judgment and value. Since Arthur chooses the importance of the sword over the scabbard, he acts like the quintessential Purer, unable to relate to the world with mature self-regulation. The Purer has an overly-developed fantasy life; layers of illusion cover the reality of his situation which is perhaps why he is unable to at first realize Morgan’s trickery in switching Excalibur and its scabbard for those of unequal value. According to Kime, the sword serves the psychological function as the “…main means of communication with the material world”. The end result is the misappropriation of the use of the sword.

The sacred task which Arthur must accomplish is to learn how to use the sword and more importantly when to use it. Discrimination comes with maturity, which the Purer never obtains. … Continue reading

What is the Difference between Visionary Fiction and Speculative Fiction and Why Should I Care? – guest post by Lee Jordan

Lee Jordan imageWell, to answer the last part of the question, writers need to care where their books fit on bookstore shelves, and in our case the virtual bookshelf. Gary and I, writing together as Phoenix, are genre rebels, writing what we want to write, but when it comes to having people find our stuff, well then we are forced into labeling our work (we hate that).

The key to speculative fiction lies in the root word: speculate. Think of this in terms of “what if” and you’ll see it. So now you might ask, but doesn’t that make all fiction speculative? What if the Wicked Witch really has monkeys that can fly? What if aliens really exist on Earth? What if we could be like Superman and leap tall buildings? And what if there was a separate world for regular folk and witches, where the witches attended an academy to learn their craft?

Does this not mean that fantasy, science fiction, and horror, are Visionary as well as Speculative? Does it exclude romance, science fiction and horror?

Fiction, by definition, is untrue, so all of it involves some degree of speculation. The difference is in what’s being speculated upon. My opinion is that Visionary Fiction is a genre that was created to specify a goal, not a genre. Romance, alternative history, weird tales, dystopian, apocalyptic, time travel, (think of time traveling World War II nurses, moving through time to Medieval Scotland), past lives, superheroes, all sorts of supernatural elements – but with a difference.

The difference is that the goal of the story would be to uplift, illustrate, and … Continue reading

Dion Fortune: Spiritual Teacher and Visionary Fiction Writer, Part 2 – by Theresa Crater

(You can read Part 1 of Theresa Crater’s series on Visionary Fiction author Dion Fortune here.)

“He thought less of death than most people think of emigration; in fact, he seemed to regard it in exactly that light.”

 

TavernerIn The Secrets of Dr. Taverner, Dion Fortune’s short story collection featuring the magical adept and psychiatrist by the same name, we met many interesting characters in the throes of mental crisis that have a spiritual cause, or the families of seekers who want to throw their relative who is not behaving according to social norms into an asylum so they can take control of their money. It makes for delightful reading. I can attest to that. I was going to thumb through the book to refresh my memory because I am quite busy these days with my own writing and teaching, but from the first story, I couldn’t stop reading.

Fortune explains in her preface that the character of Dr. Taverner is based on the real-life Dr. Moriarty, with whom she studied analysis and most likely magic. She says, “To ‘Dr. Taverner’ I owe the greatest debt of my life; without ‘Dr. Taverner’ there would have been no ‘Dion Fortune,’ and to him I offer the tribute of these pages.”

The nursing home depicted, where all manner of magical events occur, was a real place. I’m sure out there in the magical world there are people who could tell us stories about this man and the place. Sometimes one has to suffer a certain amount of smugness to extract such stories (not always), but it’s always well worth it. Fortune also claims … Continue reading