Reformed Science-Fiction: Rich Coffeen’s “The Discipling of Mytra”

A couple of weeks ago, I started rooting around the internet for Christian science-fiction, mostly wondering how Christians might utilize and interact with some of the futuristic technology described in science-fiction books.  Though I am not all that interested in this kind of reading, my enjoyment of the post-apocalyptic genre sort of gives me a sort of “tangential” interest in this sort of thing.

One of my Google searches for Christian sci-fi hit something that called itself something like “a Reformed alternative to the Left-Behind series.”  This, of course, piqued my curiosity.  The book was titled The Discipling of Mytra and was written by Rich Coffeen, a minister in the PCA, although it looks like he is now a school teacher.  (Click here for what looks like a personal website devoted to the book.)

This has been a very interesting read.  I cannot judge it on its merits as a sci-fi book, simply because I know nothing about what constitutes excellence in the genre, but I have been glued to this book!  Coffeen weaves together a dramatic and action filled storyline with theological discussion and Reformed worldview.

The premise of the book fascinates me; it takes place in the future (I can’t remember the date, but I think it at least 500 years in the future) and it concerns an inter-planetary mission board, IPM, who sends mission teams throughout the universe, seeking out colonized planets to “open” them with the hope that their new-found openness will make them fertile ground for the gospel of Christ.  Mytra is a planet that was colonized by some 50+ homosexual scientists who sought to create a male-only planet, committed to athiesm and exclusive homosexuality.  This was achieved by cloning only males, then making sure that these males are escorted always by two robots who protect them and provide for them.

The book progresses with nearly the entire mission team being killed by a native, Alex, who they have kidnapped from the surface of the planet.  Sarah, however, as the only human without a neural implant, was spared.  (Alex hates all things robotic and initially didn’t believe that the people with implants were even humans.)  The book continues to chronicle the relationship between Sarah and Alex, as Sarah works to pre-evangelize him, so that he might be open to hearing the gospel.  Mytra had been a planet that forbid the humanities, so topics like history, religion, the arts, etc., are irrelevant to him, even if he knows of such topics.  Sarah works hard to cultivate these fields which help Alex to think differently about such topics as duty, revenge, war, truth, good, evil, etc., all of which come into play as he considers returning to Mytra to kill all the men who rape the boys, to destroy all the robots, and to free the boys.

Though the book has this mission emphasis, complete with Sarah giving long biblical and theological answers to Alex’s questions, it doesn’t feel cheesy or forced.  Perhaps I like these theological excursuses because of my theological interests, but I especially find it interesting to see how Coffeen applies Reformed theology and evangelism to these concrete settings.

The book does have some adult content.  Though careful and not overly graphic, sexuality is a theme running throughout as Sarah seeks to convince Alex of the goodness of marital sex.  After all, he has spent his entire life on a planet devoted to the propagation of homosexuality which included even the systematic rape of the boy population in an effort to ensure that they too would men committed to the homosexual lifestyle.  (The book later explains that the founders tried to create homosexuality genetically, but found it was impossible to do so; sexual abuse was the only way to secure a more widespread continuation of the practice).  There is some violence and even some strong language, but all in all, I felt it was used appropriately.  (I’m afraid I can’t remember which “strong” words were used, though I don’t remember any outright profanity. )

This has been a completely addicting book.  The plot is very engaging, and drama has kept me glued (even into the late hours of the night), and the theological topics have been fascinating applications of Reformed evangelism.  Often so-called “Christian” fiction is just flat-out lame; I did not think that this was the case with Rich Coffeen’s The Discipling of Mytra.

___________________
Rev. Andrew Compton
Christ Reformed Church
Anaheim, CA

9 thoughts on “Reformed Science-Fiction: Rich Coffeen’s “The Discipling of Mytra””

  1. I’m curious to know if you’re aware of the Christian sci-fi novels of Yvonne Anderson. I haven’t read them myself, but I know Glenda Mathes recommends them heartily, and coming from the semi-official news reporter for the URCNA, that is high praise. ;) Here is the link to Mrs. Mathes’s most recent blog post regarding the series:

    https://ascribelog.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/i-get-by-with-a-little-help-from-my-friends/

    For whatever it’s worth.

    Michael Kearney
    West Sayville URC (member/musician)
    Long Island, New York

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  2. I absolutely love Christian sci-fi and fantasy books. One of the best resources out there is http://www.marcherlordpress.com/ The founder realized that there was not a good “home” in the other Christian publishing houses for speculative fiction.

    Two of my favorite authors are Kathy Tyers and Karen Hancock. I’d love to chat with you about Christian sci-fi.

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      1. Glad to help. I’m an avid reader and love sharing great books.

        My most favorite sci-fi/fantasy books (by Christian authors) are:

        Karen Hancock: Arena http://www.kmhancock.com/Arena.htm
        Kathy Tyers: Firebird series http://www.kathytyers.com/bibliography/firebird/the-annotated-firebird/
        C.S. Lewis: That Hideous Strength
        Karen Hancock: Legends of the Guardian King series http://www.kmhancock.com/Eidon.htm
        Patrick Carr: A Cast of Stones http://www.amazon.com/Cast-Stones-The-Staff-Sword/dp/0764210432

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    1. The last one in Lewis’ space trilogy is the best and most accessible. That Hideous Strength can be read without having read either of the other two in the trilogy. It’s one of a handful of books that I re-read on a regular basis.

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    2. Lewis’s Space Trilogy is some thick reading. As Rachel said, That Hideous Strength kind of stands apart from the first two books of the trilogy; but I also found it the most difficult to understand. And it reflects a lot on Lewis’s theology, for better or for worse. I plan to read it again soon–maybe I’ll come away the second time with a different impression.

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