Complete Darkness – Matt Adcock
Burton Mayers Books 2019 £7.99 ISBN 978-0-9573387-7-7 209pp
“In the near future,” reads the blurb on the back cover, “we map the elusive ‘dark matter’ around us, only to find out that it is hell itself, and it is very real …”
This is the first sci-fi fantasy novel from media man and self-confessed sci-fi nerd Matt Adcock, and he’s written it primarily for his fellow sci-fi nerd friends, who aren’t Christians. This is important, as there are countless elements to the book that many Christians will not feel comfortable with: graphic brutal violence, coarse language, some sexual content and a ‘dark’ sense of humour.
So, for some, this will rule them out as Complete Darkness readers. Personally speaking, it’s not a style of book I would naturally pick up, and I struggle with the elements mentioned as content I’d happily consume. I’m not a sci-fi nerd though I do enjoy the works of Terry Pratchett, who manages to mix fantasy, surreal humour and a perceptive understanding culture, people and politics in a way that makes you think, but doesn’t revel in violence and sexual content.
Adcock’s nightmare world a few hundred years into the future is mapped in detail in a way sci-fi nerds will lap up (even if the plethora of footnotes in the first 30 pages do get a bit over the top), and he weaves a gripping theological thread into the story of a corrupt and depraved world designed to grab the attention of a contemporary audience weaned on superhero movies, gritty crime dramas and graphic novels.
The big question is: is Complete Darkness just another hardcore sci-fi fantasy with a twist of spirituality in the mix, or does the redemptive motivation of the author bear fruit and genuinely direct open-minded readers in the direction of Jesus? I’m not the target audience, so I simply don’t know. Time will tell, I guess.
For the moment, plenty in the Church will give this book a wide berth. They’ll find it unholy, too irreverent and much too willing to gaze on the worst attributes of a broken human race. But if it speaks the language of a contemporary generation and somehow helps people engage with the ultimate superhero, it will be filling a significant gap in the book market, and maybe giving birth to a franchise that does rather more than line a Hollywood film studio’s coffers.
Russ Bravo is editor of Inspire, and also edits the funeral industry’s independent monthly magazine, Funeral Service Journal.