I’ve been considering the books I like to read and write lately, and how to connect with authors who also read and write the same things I do. As I’ve been sniffing around the internet, I happened across this Noblebright term. This is the official definition:
Noblebright fantasy is about how hope, courage, integrity, generosity, and kindness are not silly, pointless, and naive, but rather courageous choices that make the world a better place. Actions have consequences, and even good characters can make terrible mistakes, but in a noblebright story, even villains are not without hope. Redemption is possible, and justice is expected. Noblebright stories remind us that good is worth fighting for.-C.J. Brightley
Apparently, it was started to help readers to find hopeful, moral epic fantasy just when the market was being flood with grimdark Game of Thrones copycats.
a type of fantasy fiction with characters who behave in ways that are morally bad and a subject matter that is sad, hopeless, or violent.Google
Incidentally, Christian fanfiction writers on archiveofourown.org is doing the same thing with the Salt and Light tag. I was happy to see this and immediately added it to my own work.
Noblebright.org has a list of authors whose books fit this profile. They don’t necessarily have to be Christians, but their books tend to embrace a Judeo-Christian worldview: namely that good is rewarded, evil is punished, and virtue, nobility, peace, and justice are real things and they are worth fighting for.
I’ve been hanging around other authors whose books fit this profile, namely Shari Branning, JC Joiner, H.L. Burke, Marc Secchia, and others. I’ve also been thoroughly enjoying Clean Fiction Magazine, an indie magazine that reviews clean books in the general market to new adult age bracket. At last, an escape from the all-encompassing Young Adult scourge! I’m currently making my way through a nice little book called Grimkeeper that I found in the magazine, and I’ll be buying back issues to get more recommendations.
As I’ve gotten older, I find that I’ve aged out a lot of popular tropes in the fantasy market, and Christian fantasy in particular. For instance, I am 40 years old and I don’t want to read about high school anymore. I don’t mind reading about teens, just … don’t make me go back to cliques and mean girls and jocks, as well as all the other tired old stereotypes (“They call me a freak because I’m different from them”). I don’t want to read about people who doubt their faith. (“OMG God must not exist because he allowed that fairy to take away my magic!”) (Bonus points if this person is a burned-out pastor, which for some reason is a staple of contemporary Christian fiction.)
I want to read people who are grounded in their faith and stick to their principles no matter what. This means they don’t sleep around, they fight for what’s right and just and true. They get smacked down a lot, but they triumph in the end, because Good is ultimately rewarded and Evil is ultimately punished. (Especially the not sleeping around. I can’t tell you how many otherwise moral characters I’ve read who are so promiscuous you have to wonder if the author realizes how broken their worldview is.)
This isn’t really that difficult of a list of requirements. Heroism and virtue used to be a staple of adventure fiction, whether the heroes traveled via dragon or spaceship (or both!). But it’s surprisingly hard to find, even among nominally Christian authors. I’ve been trying to get back into reading more fiction, since I kind of fell off the bandwagon in the past few years. Seems like everything I tried to read was something I’d read a thousand times before. And not like … just a well-done trope. If you give me a good rendition of the Chosen One or the Prophecy or Arranged Marriage or the Super Secret Magic Power, I’ll read it all day. But most of them aren’t executed very well.
So I started trying to find specific authors who shared similar views as I did, and tried to work them into their fiction. Patrick Carr is one such author who succeeds in permeating his books with not only a Christian worldview (good is rewarded, evil is punished), but takes time to chew on philosophical arguments like “if God is good, why does evil exist?”
I’ve barely begun to scratch the surface of what’s out there, so I’ve been very thankful for Clean Fiction Magazine for lending a hand. They’re a new magazine with only four issues out on Amazon, but each issue is nice and thick with reviews in lots of genres. It kind of reminds me of what Reader’s Digest used to be, back when it featured, you know, stuff from books, and not women’s magazine slop. They got onto my radar when they reviewed Song of the Rose, and the next issue will also feature a review of Sanctuary. Fingers crossed that Blade and Staff for Hire makes it into the summer issue!
With a bunch of authors going back to blogging and beginning to drift away from social media, I’d like to join arms with them and help them out. Looking at you, JJ Johnson! I’m still thinking about how to do that, but maybe together we can start carving out a community of ex-social media people who just want to read a good book.