The Contradiction of God: Brett Cottrell’s “The Valley of Fire”
Theology can be confusing and contradictory. If God’s omnipotence and omnibenevolence can be reconciled with the existence of evil, it kinds makes you wonder what’s going on in God’s head. Even if it doesn’t make sense, it makes a great premise for a fantasy-adventure novel!!
In The Valley of Fire the different aspects of the mind of God (God’s wrath, God’s genius, etc.) travel through space and time to recapture God’s Insanity — who escaped while helping Jesus and Contradiction help people understand God’s mysteries. Why can’t the other components of God’s mind recapture His insanity? Well — since it’s narrated by God’s Contradiction — the rules of this fictional universe are excused from having to be consistent or coherent. And it works. Our heroes battle angels of fire, have a dangerous run-in with the seal holding back the horsemen of the Apocalypse, and even enlist the aid of Porter Rockwell before discovering that Insanity was running his own polygamist sect. It’s easily a more interesting solution than simply sending God to a shrink and prescribing Him some lithium.
The fantasy aspects aren’t the whole story, though. The cool part is how the fantasy-adventure elements fit into a down-to-Earth, even sensual, setting:
There weren’t many places to eat, so he parked the Mustang in front of a giant chocolate-covered Twinkie. He wasn’t going to eat the Twinkie, it was a taco shop that just looked like a Twinkie, a yellow, wooden, A-frame building with dark-brown trim. It probably served as somebody’s home long before it served tacos. Actually, it didn’t even serve tacos, it served sandwiches masquerading as tacos. Whatever people called them, they loved them. The food was eaten and prepared behind a glass door surrounded by windows that allowed you to consume your food in all the privacy of a well-lit fishbowl. The better to keep an eye out, Insanity thought as he entered.
Brett Cottrell’s The Valley of Fire is an enjoyable and entertaining read. If you like action and fantasy — with perhaps a dash of speculative Theology — pick this one up!!