“Book Reviews from an Avid Reader,” Joan Nienhuis

(Original post—Feb. 22, 2021)

Brimstone 1 by Jason William Karpf

Mankind has been trying to find evidence of life elsewhere in the universe for decades. In Karpf’s novel set a few years in the future, a Christian does exactly that. Starting some eighty years ago, Baxter Moore, founder of a Christian media empire, began sending Scripture recordings into the sky. Years go by and finally a reply. Some intelligence exists and is sending something to earth. Son and grandson of Moore make plans over the ensuing years, crafting a spaceship to capture whatever is coming.

This is a very interesting novel aimed at teen through college age readers. There is a good emphasis on science, such as a robotics contest. There are advanced drones and an exciting piloting of a jet caught in deadly turbulence. I appreciate that the Christians have no fear of science or of what might be found when sending the gospel out into space.

There is lots of action in the novel as a group of anti-Christians are trying to stop the work of the Moore media empire and specifically the success of the spaceship. The ruthless leader will stop at nothing, including mass murder.

This is a good novel for Christians who appreciate science fiction. Karpf’s writing style is good, the characters are engaging, and the story maintains a good pace. We’re left hanging a bit at the end of this novel so it will be interesting to see if more is revealed in a sequel.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Jason William Karpf grew up with storytelling. The son of a screenwriter, he was a child actor in the early 1970s, appearing on classic TV shows The Bold OnesThe Courtship of Eddie’s Father, and Bonanza. Screenwriting became his calling from his teens to early thirties. In 1994, he wrote Anatomy of a Massacre, the true story of the era’s worst mass shooting.

Today, Karpf is an author, speaker, college instructor, and marketing/fundraising professional. His blogging and nonfiction writing brings a Christian perspective to marketing and communication. His science fiction and thriller novels put Jesus first.

Karpf and his wife live in Minnesota and have three grown children. When he is not writing, speaking or teaching, he is making music, playing in the worship team of his church. A history and trivia aficionado, he was four-time champion on the TV game show Jeopardy.

Elk Lake Publishing, 225 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the author. My comments are an independent and honest review.

“How I Wrote a Christian Sci-Fi Novel” by Jason William Karpf

(Originally published on christianwritingtoday.com)

February 2016 at the Hollywood Bowl, my son, Brian, and I watched J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot as the L.A. Philharmonic played the score live. The music swelled in perfect synchronization when Capt. Kirk led Enterprise against the giant Romulan ship Narada. Phasers fired, the artificial black hole opened, and new versions of the classic Star Trek heroes were victorious.

As the audience of thousands cheered, I asked myself: Why can’t we have stories like this glorifying Jesus? I mulled the hardware, the action, the romance, the beckoning beyond—tenets of science fiction and its variants like space opera—with the Savior at the center. I wanted to make thousands cheer this kind of tale.

Research Came First

I did my research. I knew speculative fiction—the overarching term for sci-fi and fantasy—existed within Christian writing. I read encouraging examples, primarily by a noted genre author whom I met before moving from California to Minnesota. But that move, and the new life I had to create with my Anni in her beloved home state, took precedent. There are always reasons not to write, even worthy ones.

Once settled in Minnesota with my job situation stabilized, excuses dwindled. I started writing Christian instructional books, outgrowths of my adjunct teaching at Christian universities. I considered fiction but worried about being sufficiently commercial. Was my first love, science fiction, too much of a stretch in the Christian marketplace? I had written without success in the past—screenplays in my twenties never produced, a true-crime book in my thirties that crawled to a second printing and stopped selling.

What Would Christians Do With A Rocket?

Then the spark—what would Christians do with a rocket? Private spaceflight is a growing industry, thanks in large part to billionaires Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson.

A Christian tycoon could build his own spacecraft. He would need a reason and an enemy with equal reason to stop him. I didn’t want a Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne-style hero. The protagonist would have to be someone other than the billionaire, an underdog serving as the reader’s senses and conscience as he stumbles onto the secret project. Of course, the rocket had to be secret.

Every time the ideas flowed, I pushed back. Should I be writing Christian sci-fi? Brian flew to Minnesota to surprise me for my fifty-seventh birthday in 2019. He’d married his high school sweetheart just before we left California and would tell me later that year I was going to be a grandfather. I shared my thoughts about writing. The talk was less about writing and more about marketing, the subject I taught. I insisted on heavy research into trends and readership before putting any time into a book.

I Get the Best Writing Advice

Brian cut me off. “Shut up and write,” he said. If sci-fi was my passion, write the story of the Christian rocket. He had the genre adoration and blunt wisdom of his screenwriter grandmother, my original writing teacher. I heard my late mom Ellie’s voice in his. Still, I had to be sure. I asked pastors “Shut up and write.” I asked Anni.

“I love you. Shut up and write.”

Brimstone 1 took shape after that. I wrote a short story first as a hedge. Again, Brian channeled Grandma when he told me to go back and write a novel. I sought teachings and encouragement on writing Christian speculative fiction. I was delighted to discover like-minded communities online, illustrating the vibrance and variety of Christian writing. I published another Christian instructional book on Kindle after finishing the short-story version of Brimstone 1. Finally, I jumped into the novel.

By mid-2020, the first draft was done. Before submitting to publishers, I looked for an editor. A colleague who’d published a novel counseled me to make this investment. I found a trove of Christian editors online, much like discovering rich communities of Christian speculative fiction writers and fans. Amid correspondence about process and rates, I received a book contract from one of the contacts who had read my manuscript.

Self-Doubt About Releasing My Book

I had a lengthy phone conversation with my publisher. Brimstone 1 was “hard sci-fi” with spacecraft, drones, armored vehicles, and lots of action. My publisher enjoyed the same type of sci-fi that I did.0

I pointed out the sexual situations and the older woman/younger man romance between the protagonists, all depictions PG-13. The publisher said her mission to tell powerful, honest stories to Christian audiences. She was fine with the subject matter.

Soon, I realized I was filled with self-doubt when it came to signing the contract. Should I allow this book to be published? Would it glorify Christ as I intended? “Shut up and write” became “shut up and sign.”

A Targeted Audience

With the new year, Brimstone 1 is being released along with a free study guide. I’m marketing the book to homeschool families, English instructors, and church small groups as a unique means to study Christian truths.

I’m a student too, learning about publishing, writing, and my walk with the Lord. I don’t know how this story ends. But thank God, it has begun.

Jason William Karpf is an author and professor who lives in Minnesota with his wife, Anni. A history and trivia aficionado, Jason was a four-time Jeopardy champion.

Brimstone 1 is available in e-book and paperback at Amazon and your local bookstore.


Author/professor Jason William Karpf taps Hollywood upbringing to deliver tale of first Christian rocket

Twin Cities, MN – Brimstone 1 is a new Christian sci-fi novel by Jason William Karpf, author and professor from Minnesota. Raised in the entertainment industry, Karpf cites The Twilight Zone and James Bond as influences in this story of the first Christian rocket.

Brimstone 1 overview: Billionaire Baxter Moore and his family have been broadcasting scripture into space for eighty years. Now, a UFO heads to Earth in response. Brimstone 1—the first Christian rocket—will intercept, piloted by NASA veteran Jana McAlister. A young engineer, Elijah Lindstrom, unravels the secrets and falls in love with the beautiful astronaut. As the countdown approaches, an anti-Christian militia plots the annihilation of Brimstone 1 to end the extraterrestrial evangelism.

Author Jason William Karpf teaches marketing, media, and communication at Christian universities around the country. The son of a screenwriter, his first creative work was appearing as a child guest star on classic TV shows such as The Courtship of Eddie’s Father and Bonanza. He is the author of Christian instructional books and the true-crime book Anatomy of a Massacre. Brimstone 1 is his first novel.

“I came to know the Lord in my forties. I grew up on The Twilight Zone and James Bond,” Karpf said. “I wrote Brimstone 1 in the spirit of a sci-fi blockbuster while putting Jesus first.”

Visit brimstone1.com to view “secret files” about major characters and the spacecraft. On the site, request a free Brimstone 1 study guide with scriptural, literary, and history lessons from the novel, suitable for mature homeschoolers, college students, and church small groups. Buy Brimstone 1 in e-book and paperback at Amazon and your local bookstore.

• Brimstone 1
• Author: Jason William Karpf
• Genre: Christian science fiction
• Publisher: Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.
• 223 pages
• Advisories include: frequent action (PG-13 depictions), sexual situations involving antagonists (no actual depictions), older woman/younger man romance between protagonists, premise of intelligent life beyond Earth. Complete content advisories in study guide.

For Immediate Release

Date: January 19, 2021
Contact: Jason Karpf, author; jason@jasonkarpf.com


About the Author:
Jason William Karpf grew up with storytelling. The son of a screenwriter, he was a child actor, guest starring on classic TV shows, and is the author of Christian instructional books, the true-crime book Anatomy of a Massacre, and the Christian sci-fi novel Brimstone 1.

He is a four-time Jeopardy champ. Jason holds a master’s in Communication and teaches marketing, media, and communication at Christian universities across the country. A music school graduate, he plays bass and guitar in his church’s worship team. He lives in Minnesota with his wife, Ann. They are parents of three grown children.