The Framerunners by guest writer, Jef Murray
Press Release 2/20/2015
“Since the earliest of times, even from the dawn of man, when mystics first painted images on the walls of the caves at Lascaux and Altamira, there have been rumors: rumors that worlds drawn in pigment and charcoal exist not only in the minds of the artists who created them, but in actual fact. And in every age, children are born who gaze with wonder at these worlds and ask ‘are they real?’ and ‘can I go there?’”
Thus begins the prologue to the first of a new collection of serialized books for young adults by Jef Murray. The first book in the series is entitled In the Company of Angels, and it introduces us to characters that will continue to figure prominently in books to come.
It is difficult to describe the nature of these fantasy/sci-fi tales without revealing spoilers, but they all center around a group of individuals who work for and with a quasi-religious order called the Fratrum Simulacrorum, which, rendered into English, means the “brotherhood of images”, or, as coined by the series, “The Framerunners”. The latter title describes what members of the order do, but not why they do it.
So, what is “framerunning”, anyway? Simply stated, it is the ability to step into the world depicted by an image — any image — and to find oneself walking around in that world and able to interact with the characters in it. Thus, someone wishing to visit J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth, or C.S. Lewis’ Narnia, or Ray Bradbury’s Green Town, Illinois in 1928, could do so…if they knew how.
The Framerunners protagonists — Jill Jonsson, Sam Deckard, and Luke Lester, along with a host of others — are called upon to protect others, using framerunning as their primary means of doing so. They can travel through time and space in search of answers to mysteries, to the fate of people who have been lost in the past, and in order to stop terrible things from happening on other worlds, or upon our own.
Intended to be read by young adults, The Framerunner books are based on a strong moral compass and do not include material that would be unacceptable for young adults to read by virtue of gratuitous violence or adult themes. Modeling the writing and intent of the series on the works of luminaries such as J.R.R. Tolkien (The Hobbit), C.S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia), Madeleine L’Engle (A Wrinkle in Time), Ray Bradbury (Dandelion Wine), author and illustrator Jef Murray hopes that these books might bring younger readers back to the written word — rather than to movies and television — as a basis for spurring their own creative impulses and love of art and literature.
The style of The Framerunner books is that of 19th and 20th-century illustrated storybooks, with black-and-white and color illustrations punctuating the individual episodes. Episodes are posted weekly and are typically 1500 to 2000 words in length; long enough to engage, but not so long as to become difficult to read regularly. It is hoped that these tales can be brought to the attention of educators, and that study materials might ultimately be made available for groups and classes that would be interested in discussing them. The issues encountered by the protagonists of the stories bring up many questions that are worthy of discussion: What is the nature of evil? Can good come from evil means? What responsibility do any of us have for thwarting the bad actions of others? If I have a particular talent, how can I always make sure I use it wisely? What does friendship mean? What does love mean? Is honesty always the best policy?
This, then, in a nutshell, is what The Framerunners is all about: making readers think, and encouraging them to wonder and to dream as well. I hope many of you might join us on these adventures!