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!!
“There werent many places to eat, so he parked the Mustang in front of a giant chocolate-covered Twinkie. He wasnt going to eat the Twinkie, [sic] it was a taco shop that just looked like a Twinkie, a yellow, wooden, A-frame building with dark-brown trim.”
Oh wow. It’s like the Sixth Sense of paragraphs. It’s a chocolate-covered Twinkie (that’s a thing?)! But will he eat it? No, because it just looks like one! It’s actually a building that sells tacos! Wait no, they just look like tacos! They’re actually sandwiches!
Anyone else have absolutely zero mental pictures of what is going on here? Having never seen chocolate-covered twinkies (wouldn’t they brown, not yellow with trim?) or sandwiches that can be mistaken for tacos, this paragraph is less than evocative for me. And I can only imagine what the Mustang is revealed to really be in the next paragraph. (Will he drive it? No, because it’s really a submarine!)
Bizarre. Is this insane God narrating here?
Yes. I dunno, I can easily picture a yellow A-frame house with a dark-brown roof as looking like a chocolate-covered Twinkie to God’s insane side when hungry. YMMV…
Thanks for the suggestion! I picked it up for my Kindle last night and already finished half of it. It’s nice to read something refreshing. It’s surreal at times, but so far it’s well worth it.
Sorry to infest the blog lately, but seriously, this sounds like a fun read for anyone who enjoyed Bulgakovs The Master and Margarita.
I’ve never read that one.
And no one should be sorry about commenting here too much — they should only be sorry about not commenting enough! 😉