Chris Walley’s The Lamb Among the Stars series came out over ten years ago now. Unfortunately, it’s out of physical print, though used copies can be had, and ebooks are still out there. But let’s dive right in to the prologue:
Listen! This is the tale of how, at last, evil returned to the Assembly of Worlds, and how one man, Merral Stefan D’Avanos, became caught up in the fight against it.
Right away, we have one of the oldest beginnings of a story. At least as old as Homer, calling on his audience to listen as he told the subject of the tale. Whether or not it is a deliberate homage, the imagery is of a poet or bard of old, instructing others. And then we get to what makes this speculative fiction: the assumption of something contrary to fact, and exploring what happens from there.
Eleven hundred years have passed since the long-prophesied incoming of all the children of Abraham and the spiritual renewals of the Great Intervention ended the shadowed ages of the human race.
Translation: this book is set in the Millennial Kingdom told of in Revelation, only it has lasted since around 2045 until the present day of 13851. What have people been doing all this time? Slowly taming and terraforming other worlds that humanity my go forth and multiply, for the glory of God. To bring life where there was none before, and most of the prologue is a description of how the terraforming takes place. We learn this particular world is a frontier, physically farthest from Earth. Worlds’ End. And we learn a bit more of the Assembly of Worlds: Christian, working together, the Lord’s Peace reigning for over eleven thousand years, and no reason why it should not continue the slow, steady growth of bringing life where there was none, and rejoicing in God.
But ultimately the Assembly is not Gates and worlds, still less banners and emblems. It is people: men and women, flesh and blood, bodies and souls. And as planets swing in their orbits, as the fabric of space is pierced at the Gates, and as atoms are broken in the forges of rocket fires, down on the surface of Farholme, a lone figure rides a horse northward into the gathering twilight of a winter’s day.
And so the prologue closes with the camera zooming in (metaphorically) on a single figure and the action is about to begin. Not too much action, but a beautiful and thought-provoking setting. My first question when I read this was, “What sort of society is the Assembly?” Equivalently, “What will the Millennial Kingdom be like?” And we find out Walley’s vision as we read through the books.
A digression: I am only a reviewer. I am not the author, and cannot speak for anything in the author’s head. Only the author’s words can be examined. I recall asking about a theme that I had noticed, but it was coincidence. Correlation, not causation. Another point is that the reader of a book should bring willing suspension of disbelief to the setting, at least to start with. Mr. Walley had lamented that there weren’t more denunciations of his work on various grounds, and I replied that many science fiction readers are perfectly willing to accept something contrary to what they know, or believe, to be true for the sake of setting.