Dr. James Dobson answers six questions about his debut novel Fatherless (FaithWords), a dystopian thriller co-written with Kurt Bruner. Relentlessly-paced, faith-based, and torn from today’s headlines, Fatherless features well-drawn characters in multiple plot lines that are slowly drawn into a national conspiracy—with thousands of lives in the balance…
imagines a future, really just 30 years down the road, where America faces bleak choices. How likely is this?
“You don’t have to look down the road. The problems faced by characters in Fatherless are happening now in Japan and Russia where low birth rates meet a ballooning elderly population. As elderly health care needs increase—and the cost of that care—along with longer life spans, the number of workers contributing to government-subsidized care programs shrinks. It’s not science fiction—it’s demographic fact. Fatherless simply imagines how this plays out in America. When we save more—and inherit sooner—if the older generation dies—does their death become a financial decision?”
But could that really happen here?
“It is happening here. A declining birth rate. A mindset that scarce resources create a moral imperative for small families. An aging population that lives longer with increasingly sophisticated, and costly, health care. Fatherless doesn’t work off ‘predictions’ so much as ‘projections.’”
The novel assumes we’ve crossed not only a demographic tipping point but a moral one, too. In the world of Fatherless, the elderly and disabled can choose to end their lives. Isn’t that far-fetched?
“What we’re talking about is death for expedient reasons, not the end of a natural life. We’re talking about the value of life—is it intrinsic or utilitarian. You only have to look at the abortion issue in our country or the one-child policy in China to see how easily we move toward that line. Selective abortions to ensure parents produce a child with their desired gender are already happening.”
You tackle male-female relationships, too. What do you see there?
“We see increasing hostility to traditional marriage. In Fatherless, married couples with more than one child are derisively called ‘breeders.’ We see the well-documented trend of male adolescence extending further. So, capable, professional women have fewer and fewer desirable options for relationships, leading to yet more single-parent families. Ultimately, Fatherless is about the importance of families to a society and what might happen if the influence of families is minimized or withdrawn.”
There are many dystopian future novels in publication. Do we need another one?
“Books such as Fatherless are page-turners because characters the readers care about land in situations that make them tense. But a dystopian novel becomes more than entertaining, it becomes important when the world it describes speaks truth to the world we live in now. Fatherless doesn’t populate some far off future based on outlandish assumptions; this is 30 years away, and the trends are in motion now.”
Fatherless is more than pleasure reading. What action are you hoping people take after reading the book?
“First, we hope Fatherless encourages every reader to re-evaluate the vital importance of godly families in American society, and, in fact, in every nation. Second, we hope it spurs debate on the moral consequences of what many view only as lifestyle or economic choices. These choices ripple into every aspect of our lives and the lives of succeeding generations.”
About the Authors of Fatherless
Counselor, broadcaster, author and family advocate Dr. James Dobson is the founder and president of
Family Talk, a nonprofit organization that produces his nationwide radio
program, Family Talk with Dr. James
Dobson. He is also the founder and chairman emeritus of Focus
on the Family. The author of more than
80 books dedicated to the preservation of the family, Dr. Dobson has sold more than 25 million books
worldwide. Fatherless is his first foray into fiction. PHOTO: Harry Langdon
Bruner serves as pastor of spiritual formation at Lake Pointe Church and on the
adjunct faculty of Dallas Theological Seminary. A graduate of Talbot Seminary
and former vice president with Focus on the Family, Kurt led the teams creating
films, magazines, books and radio drama. As president of HomePointe Inc., he
helps local church leaders create an ongoing culture of intentional families.
Kurt is the best-selling author of more than a dozen books.