A Simple Act of Creation

On Books: A Simple Act of Creation

A Simple Act of Creation by Alexander Veligor

A Simple Act of Creation by Alexander Veligor

Spiritualism is problematic in science fiction; many authors struggle to walk the delicate triple tightwire between highflown C.S. Lewis-style allegory, cheap Indiana Jones-ish exploitation, and full-on Evangelical fan fiction. Luckily, Alexander Veligor is equal to the task in A Simple Act of Creation.

The plot of this quick read focuses on Marcus, a janitor who develops miraculous psychic powers after surviving a terrorist attack. Ridden with survivors’ guilt, he uses his new gift to secretly heal the sick in his hometown of Portland, Maine. When the FBI calls upon him to save the life of the First Lady, his life quickly spirals out of control. Marcus soon realizes that he is the only person in the world who can defeat a force of pure evil.

While at times Marcus seems almost unbelievably good, his altruistic personality is explained satisfactorily by the end of the book and his entertaining but down-to-earth persona will keep readers engaged. Secondary characters are generally well rounded out, though sometimes just a little too quickly forgotten, and generally provide a fine emotional backdrop for Marcus’ quiet but significant acts of kindness.

For such a spiritual book, Simple Act behaves like a solid action thriller. Moving at a fine clip, the plot never lets readers get either bored or overwhelmed. There is just enough character development, just enough setting, just enough of everything—Veligor has a fine sense of balance. A multiplicity of threats keeps the hero on his toes even as he struggles with higher philosophical and metaphysical matters, none of which are dwelt upon so long that the reader loses interest, in between walks downtown in his beloved Portland. Aside from one somewhat enigmatic plane crash, events fit together logically.

Alexander Veligor, author of "A Simple Act of Creation."

Alexander Veligor, author of “A Simple Act of Creation.”

Though the ending follows with Simple Act‘s predominant Christian themes, it isn’t common for a work like this to allow such a likable character to take the Jesus plunge. A reader may dread it, hope for a miracle until the last minute, and ultimately appreciate Marcus’ exit as both graceful and human.

The spiritual parallels present in Simple Act veer into allegorical territory when Veligor addresses organized religion. While religious and secular individuals function in both good guy and bad guy roles, the book directly and unabashedly criticizes current evangelical Christian culture. This decision is risky, considering the subject matter. Veligor may not miss the fringe element that exists at the edges of Christian religious establishment, but moderate Christians who might have appreciated Simple Act‘s spiritual accessibility may find themselves repelled by a polarized representation of this subculture.

Otherwise, Simple Act goes out of its way to include everyone. Marcus’ friendly interactions with the FBI, the Catholic church, and the LGBT community of Portland are touching and often funny. This is the kind of inclusive, easygoing Christ figure that fans of the original’s work will appreciate. Simple Act may as well be fan fiction about Jesus Christ, and many Christian readers may appreciate this. But the book is such a good balance between philosophy, characterization and action that a wider range of readers could get into it without feeling preached at.

Readers may find themselves reading Simple Act cover to cover not just for its many enjoyable aspects, but because it is fairly short—only about 52,000 words. A few hours are sufficient to finish the entire thing, and though it is somewhat more philosophical than most action novels, the intellectual investment remains fairly light. This may be a good pick for unsure readers trying to “get into” the burgeoning genre of religious fiction.

A Simple Act of Creation is a comfortable, easy book that is equally appropriate for a conservative grandmother and a young science fiction nut.

 

Anna Call is a librarian and educator. She holds degrees in both creative writing and information science. After working in the private sector for a number of years, she returned to public librarianship in March of 2012. She currently works for a small rural library on the North Shore of the greater Boston area. Her interest in speculative fiction and film is rooted in the work of Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov.

Anna writes for both Isotropic and The Big Brown Chair. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts.

A Simple Act of Creation
Alexander Veligor
Isotropic Fiction (May 2013)
Cover art (upper left) by C D Regan



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