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The Ecklesia Project

[The Ecklesia Project] The Ecklesia Project
by Ray A. Hansen
Published by Xlibris Corporation, 1999
248 pages
Amazon.com: hardcover, paperback
Amazon.ca: paperback
Amazon.co.uk: paperback
Recommended by: Greg Slade

One of the ways I have come across Christian SF works is simply by searching the web. Search engines such as Alta Vista help, but most of my most promising leads have come simply by following links from known Christian SF sites. With such a small field, you'd expect that most of the sites would simply point to each other, but the field is actually amazingly fragmented, and virtually every site I come across leads me to another site which no other site links to. It was through following these links to links to links that I first tripped over Ray Hansen's site for The Ecklesia Project.

The Ecklesia Project is the first volume in a promised trilogy. The premise is that there is an empire taking over the galaxy, enslaving every world it conquers, but that a leader named Sogol has established a sanctuary where refugees can find life and freedom. The Christian allegory is a bit obvious for my taste. (The character names, particularly, give the game away, and I must confess that I'm not one of those who enjoy the game of "spot the real person behind the character.") I fear that the prologue, especially, will turn off many non-Christian readers, because it makes the allegorical nature of the work so blindingly clear. (Actually, the prologue is a powerful piece of writing, with one particularly striking image. Nevertheless, and this probably sounds contradictory, the book would probably work better without it.)

I also have to warn you that Hansen has not been served well by his choice of publishers. The proofreading seems to have been quite cursory, as there are typos scattered all through the book. (Yes, almost every book published has some typos. Christian publishing houses, alas, seem to be more susceptible. But Hansen's work seems to have come in for cruel and unusual treatment.)

Hansen admits that he set out to write a work in the same "Space Opera" style as Star Trek and Star Wars. (I will spare you any discussion of scientific impossibilities in the work. Space Opera simply isn't about science.) The hommages are quite clear. In the sequence when Admiral Bishop is approaching the Ecklesia in its construction bay, I could practically hear the theme for the first Star Trek movie playing in the background. And Nomed, for example, is quite Darth Vader-ic. (Or do I have that backwards?) Oddly enough, however, the closest parallels, both in the general layout of the ship and in the climactic space battle, were to Battlestar Galactica, which Hansen didn't actually watch. (I am not one of those who would claim that he has been deprived of any great inspiration.)

Despite the limitations of his chosen sub-genre, Hansen does manage to pull off some surprises. I'm interested to see where he takes the story in the subsequent books.

Hansen took part in an online interview on the CHRISTIAN-FANDOM mailing list in July, 2000.

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