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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in John C. Wright's LiveJournal:

    [ << Previous 20 ]
    Thursday, December 18th, 2014
    11:48 am
    Pay No Attention to that Man Behind the Curtain

    A reader with the inattentive yet fraternally equine name of Distracted Brony asks:

    One thing I’m curious about. Do you have any, how to say this… infrastructure for your writing? Like, notebooks with scientific facts you often need to refer to, half-formed plot ideas, or personal notes on how to write a given character or convey a given idea most effectively? Or do you just hold all that stuff in your head?

    All writers I know carry with them at all times a notebook in pocket or purse where he can jot down story ideas as they occur to him. Most also maintain a continually updated file on his home computer labeled ‘story ideas’ where he carries his story ideas, possible titles, scraps of dialog, and so on.

    The idea of carrying all the information that goes into a science fiction novel in one’s head is not feasible for anyone other than a mentat.

    The notes for my current series is a document in its 375th iteration reaching 164 pages long. This is not the outline, which is the plan of the plot, just the notes, which contains background material.

    I run the risk of ruining the mystery and mystique of novel writing, let me describe this monstrous document to anyone curious about my particular, personal writing process. I am not suggesting the creative method is useful for other writers, and I may not use it for other books.

    Under the first header is my chart of Orders of Ascensions, including the thematic element they represent, and the conflict in the plot.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Originally published at John C. Wright's Journal. Please leave any comments there.

    Wednesday, December 17th, 2014
    4:58 pm
    Radioactive Dinosaurs & Writing as Fishing

    A reader writes in with two unrelated questions:

     In your opinion, what is the best Godzilla movie?

    I love questions, silly or serious. Every question is a little doorway into the walled garden of truth, big or small.

    I have several Godzilla flicks that I like. What lawyer does not like Godzilla movies? All the titles sound like law cases.

    The original first one, which I finally saw in Japanese (without Raymond Burr), was really a work of art that worked on several levels, as a myth, as mystery story, as a meditation on the dangers of atomic weapons, and as a monster story.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Originally published at John C. Wright's Journal. Please leave any comments there.

    4:58 pm
    Radioactive Dinosaurs & Writing as Fishing

    A reader writes in with two unrelated questions:

     In your opinion, what is the best Godzilla movie?

    I love questions, silly or serious. Every question is a little doorway into the walled garden or truth, big or small.

    I have several Godzilla flicks that I like. What lawyer does not like Godzilla movies? All the titles sound like law cases.

    The original first one, which I finally saw in Japanese (without Raymond Burr), was really a work of art that worked on several levels, as a myth, as mystery story, as a meditation on the dangers of atomic weapons, and as a monster story.

    Aside from that, I like the sixth film in the series, GODZILLA VERSUS MONSTER ZERO, where the menacing aliens of Planet X, the Xiliens, use the various Toho kaiju to attack  the Earth.

    kumi

    Part of my reason for liking the film was the actress Kumi Mizuno looks delightful in her spacesuit.

     

    kumi 4

    I rather like DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, just because it will filled with monster goodness, and I liked when Toho returned to the same them with GODZILLA FINAL WARS, and not only did our old friends from Planet X, the Xiliens, again show up, but so did the flying submersible boring-drill machine battleship Gotengo from the movie Atragon.

    Next question:

    Do writers seek to make a masterpiece everytime they write a new story, or do they simply try to write to the best of their abilities? Is there a difference?

    I can speak for no writer but myself. I write the same way a cobbler makes shoes. He wants each pair to be made in a craftsmanlike fashion: well-made, serviceable, watertight, comfortable to the foot, long-lasting, and good to the eye.

    Likewise, I want my books to do the service for which the customer paid the money: to be entertained on a rainy day, to praise the praiseworthy, blame the blameworthy, and remind the reader that grass is green, snow is white, and water will wet you and fire will burn.

    I do not seek to make a masterpiece each time I write, or any time I write. Nor do I seek to crank out hackwork, stuffed with lazy writing. I do not really think about me and my motives when I write: I only think about the work itself.

    Writing is the art of being brave in the face of a blank sheet of paper.

    I write what I am inspired to write by that mysterious thing that compels writers to write, the thing pagans call the muses, or Christians know to be heaven, and postchristians call the subconscious mind.

    Technically speaking, a masterpiece is the work a journeyman in a guild wrights in order to show he has mastered his craft. By that standard, one’s first professional sale into a major market is one’s masterpiece, and, by no coincidence, often it is a writer’s best work.

    But we are not speaking technically: you are asking whether writers attempt to make their current work their best.

    The difference between doing one’s best and doing a masterpiece is the difference between a comparative and a superlative. Doing one’s best means straining each nerve and muscle to the utmost, whether those efforts are met by success or failure. Writing a masterpiece means the work itself merits fame and applause, whether it was done with great effort on the author’s part, or, ironically, tossed off without a second thought.

    My editor says my best work, the best thing I have ever written, is a short story that I penned in an afternoon off the top of my head in one draft. The story made no impression on me and I hardly remember it.

    On the other hand, I sweated and labored over my favorite thing I ever wrote, and expected it would win awards. When it appeared in the magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, it received no comment, no applause, no awards.

    Writing is like fishing. The fisherman wakes early, finds a good spot where the salmon are running, selects his bait, and uses his skill to tie his lure and to cast. He can be proud of his part of the work, which is the skill at fishing.

    Sometimes you stand in the cold for hours and catch only small fry. Sometimes you have to know what to throw back. Sometimes you struggle with a huge fish too big for you, and the line parts, and it gets away from you. Other times a prizewinning fish leaps at the first moment, with no effort on your part.

    Trying your best is like the fisherman’s task, and the masterpiece is the fish.

    You catch the fish, and you can feel a quiet pride in your fishing skills. But you did not make the fish.

    God made the fish.

    * * *

    And, speaking of fishing, we need more Gotengo!

    (Maser?! Maser?! What gives? That is clear the Zero Canon from the movie ATRAGON!)

    Originally published at John C. Wright's Journal. Please leave any comments there.

    4:58 pm
    Radioactive Dinosaurs & Writing as Fishing

    A reader writes in with two unrelated questions:

     In your opinion, what is the best Godzilla movie?

    I love questions, silly or serious. Every question is a little doorway into the walled garden or truth, big or small.

    I have several Godzilla flicks that I like. What lawyer does not like Godzilla movies? All the titles sound like law cases.

    The original first one, which I finally saw in Japanese (without Raymond Burr), was really a work of art that worked on several levels, as a myth, as mystery story, as a meditation on the dangers of atomic weapons, and as a monster story.

    Aside from that, I like the sixth film in the series, GODZILLA VERSUS MONSTER ZERO, where the aliens of Planet X use the various Toho kaiju to attack  the Earth.

    Part of my reason for liking the film was the actress Kumi Mizuno looks delightful in her spacesuit.

    kumi

    (Maser? We all know that is the famed and dreaded Zero Cannon! What gives?)

    kumi 4

    I rather like DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, just because it will filled with monster goodness, and I liked when Toho returned to the same them with GODZILLA FINAL WARS, and not only did our old friends from Planet X, the Xiliens, again show up, but so did the flying submersible boring-drill machine battleship Gotengo from the movie Atragon.

    Next question:

    Do writers seek to make a masterpiece everytime they write a new story, or do they simply try to write to the best of their abilities? Is there a difference?

    I can speak for no writer but myself. I write the same way a cobbler makes shoes. He wants each pair to be made in a craftsmanlike fashion: well-made, serviceable, watertight, comfortable to the foot, long-lasting, and good to the eye.

    Likewise, I want my books to do the service for which the customer paid the money: to be entertained on a rainy day, to praise the praiseworthy, blame the blameworthy, and remind the reader that grass is green, snow is white, and water will wet you and fire will burn.

    I do not seek to make a masterpiece each time I write, or any time I write. Nor do I seek to crank out hackwork, stuffed with lazy writing. I do not really think about me and my motives when I write: I only think about the work itself.

    Writing is the art of being brave in the face of a blank sheet of paper.

    I write what I am inspired to write by that mysterious thing that compels writers to write, the thing pagans call the muses, or Christians know to be heaven, and postchristians call the subconscious mind.

    Technically speaking, a masterpiece is the work a journeyman in a guild wrights in order to show he has mastered his craft. By that standard, one’s first professional sale into a major market is one’s masterpiece, and, by no coincidence, often it is a writer’s best work.

    But we are not speaking technically: you are asking whether writers attempt to make their current work their best.

    The difference between doing one’s best and doing a masterpiece is the difference between a comparative and a superlative. Doing one’s best means straining each nerve and muscle to the utmost, whether those efforts are met by success or failure. Writing a masterpiece means the work itself merits fame and applause, whether it was done with great effort on the author’s part, or, ironically, tossed off without a second thought.

    My editor says my best work, the best thing I have ever written, is a short story that I penned in an afternoon off the top of my head in one draft. The story made no impression on me and I hardly remember it.

    On the other hand, I sweated and labored over my favorite thing I ever wrote, and expected it would win awards. When it appeared in the magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, it received no comment, no applause, no awards.

    Writing is like fishing. The fisherman wakes early, finds a good spot where the salmon are running, selects his bait, and uses his skill to tie his lure and to cast. He can be proud of his part of the work, which is the skill at fishing.

    Sometimes you stand in the cold for hours and catch only small fry. Sometimes you have to know what to throw back. Sometimes you struggle with a huge fish too big for you, and the line parts, and it gets away from you. Other times a prizewinning fish leaps at the first moment, with no effort on your part.

    Trying your best is like the fisherman’s task, and the masterpiece is the fish.

    You catch the fish, and you can feel a quiet pride in your fishing skills. But you did not make the fish.

    God made the fish.

    And, speaking of fishing, we need more Gotengo!

    Originally published at John C. Wright's Journal. Please leave any comments there.

    4:58 pm
    Radioactive Dinosaurs & Writing as Fishing

    A reader writes in with two unrelated questions:

     In your opinion, what is the best Godzilla movie?

    I love questions, silly or serious. Every question is a little doorway into the walled garden or truth, big or small.

    I have several Godzilla flicks that I like. What lawyer does not like Godzilla movies? All the titles sound like law cases.

    The original first one, which I finally saw in Japanese (without Raymond Burr), was really a work of art that worked on several levels, as a myth, as mystery story, as a meditation on the dangers of atomic weapons, and as a monster story.

    Aside from that, I like the sixth film in the series, GODZILLA VERSUS MONSTER ZERO, where the aliens of Planet X use the various Toho kaiju to attack  the Earth.

    Part of my reason for liking the film was the actress Kumi Mizuno looks delightful in her spacesuit.

    kumi

    kumi 4

    I rather like DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, just because it will filled with monster goodness, and I liked when Toho returned to the same them with GODZILLA FINAL WARS, and not only did our old friends from Planet X, the Xiliens, again show up, but so did the flying submersible boring-drill machine battleship Gotengo from the movie Atragon.

    Next question:

    Do writers seek to make a masterpiece everytime they write a new story, or do they simply try to write to the best of their abilities? Is there a difference?

    I can speak for no writer but myself. I write the same way a cobbler makes shoes. He wants each pair to be made in a craftsmanlike fashion: well-made, serviceable, watertight, comfortable to the foot, long-lasting, and good to the eye.

    Likewise, I want my books to do the service for which the customer paid the money: to be entertained on a rainy day, to praise the praiseworthy, blame the blameworthy, and remind the reader that grass is green, snow is white, and water will wet you and fire will burn.

    I do not seek to make a masterpiece each time I write, or any time I write. Nor do I seek to crank out hackwork, stuffed with lazy writing. I do not really think about me and my motives when I write: I only think about the work itself.

    Writing is the art of being brave in the face of a blank sheet of paper.

    I write what I am inspired to write by that mysterious thing that compels writers to write, the thing pagans call the muses, or Christians know to be heaven, and postchristians call the subconscious mind.

    Technically speaking, a masterpiece is the work a journeyman in a guild wrights in order to show he has mastered his craft. By that standard, one’s first professional sale into a major market is one’s masterpiece, and, by no coincidence, often it is a writer’s best work.

    But we are not speaking technically: you are asking whether writers attempt to make their current work their best.

    The difference between doing one’s best and doing a masterpiece is the difference between a comparative and a superlative. Doing one’s best means straining each nerve and muscle to the utmost, whether those efforts are met by success or failure. Writing a masterpiece means the work itself merits fame and applause, whether it was done with great effort on the author’s part, or, ironically, tossed off without a second thought.

    My editor says my best work, the best thing I have ever written, is a short story that I penned in an afternoon off the top of my head in one draft. The story made no impression on me and I hardly remember it.

    On the other hand, I sweated and labored over my favorite thing I ever wrote, and expected it would win awards. When it appeared in the magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, it received no comment, no applause, no awards.

    Writing is like fishing. The fisherman wakes early, finds a good spot where the salmon are running, selects his bait, and uses his skill to tie his lure and to cast. He can be proud of his part of the work, which is the skill at fishing.

    Sometimes you stand in the cold for hours and catch only small fry. Sometimes you have to know what to throw back. Sometimes you struggle with a huge fish too big for you, and the line parts, and it gets away from you. Other times a prizewinning fish leaps at the first moment, with no effort on your part.

    Trying your best is like the fisherman’s task, and the masterpiece is the fish.

    You catch the fish, and you can feel a quiet pride in your fishing skills. But you did not make the fish.

    God made the fish.

    And, speaking of fishing, we need more Gotengo!

    Originally published at John C. Wright's Journal. Please leave any comments there.

    11:32 am
    Superversive: Why Christian Comic Books Are So Necessary

    Superversive literature is needed in the name of realism, both to correct the grim and horrid stories of socialist-flavored realism so popular in the mainstream, and to correct the opposite error of happily optimistic stories of simple heroism where the heroes never fail.

    Dan Lawlis, a comic book artist, has a column on the second topic over on the Superversive blog.

    http://www.ljagilamplighter.com/2014/12/17/superversive-blog-guest-blog-why-i-think-christian-comic-books-are-so-necessary/

    Why I Think Christian Comic Books Are So Necessary

    Consider your average kid is reading your average comic book, let’s say its Batman. You know the story, the Joker is threatening the city, and in comes Batman, he throws his batarang, it hits the switch that turns off the death ray, and saves the city in the nick of time.

    The problem is, it always works out. Batman never faces death, so he doesn’t have to confront life. This is fine if you’re a little kid. Kids shouldn’t have to deal with the real world. But more and more comics are being read by older teens. That’s a problem, because those fantasies aren’t preparing them for the real world.

    These teens get out in the real world, and things don’t work out so well. In the real world Batman misses with his batarang and innocent people die. On top of that the jerk usually get’s the girl.

    Since Batman always wins he can avoid the need for God. The writers can neatly avoid God by filling any need with fantasy. When the kids try to mimic their heroes in the real world and lose, they aren’t prepared for that, and they fall apart.

    Over the years comic book story lines have grown up in subject matter, that is, the heroes face death more, but they haven’t grown up spiritually. What’s the result of this development? Well, you can see it all around you. The characters get angry at life. They become bitter, grim, mean, dark brooding types. Batman, Wolverine, even formally colorful upbeat characters like Spiderman and Superman have become more evil looking, grey and colorless.

    Read the whole thing: http://www.ljagilamplighter.com/2014/12/17/superversive-blog-guest-blog-why-i-think-christian-comic-books-are-so-necessary/

    I had noticed the evil-looking and colorless comics myself, growing steadily ever since the days of THE WATCHMAN by that child pornographer neopagan whose name I forget, the author of LOST GIRLS. Alan Moore? He did a really good job with SWAMP THING and with almost everything he’s written. This work is all dark and nasty and vulgar, of course, as morally empty as the grin on a skull. Imagine comic books written by Hannibal Lector. It is a pity his immense skills could not be used for the side of goodness and truth.

    Originally published at John C. Wright's Journal. Please leave any comments there.

    Tuesday, December 16th, 2014
    7:46 pm
    What Wages Pay the Unpaid Apologists for Utter Evil?

    A reader with the celestial yet thaumaturgic name of AstroSorcorer comments on the alliance between the Left and their beloved Jihad, for whom they act as unpaid apologists:

    I suspect that many of the apologists are also motivated by terror. A coward without virtue will cleave to whoever is the most violent, the most threatening, the most evil. Thus, do cowards become the agents of evil.

    With all due respect, I strongly disagree. None of the apologists for this evil seem to speak or act as if they fear the Jihadists. Indeed, if anything, quite the opposite, as if they are utterly unaware of the danger, and regard anyone with a rational apprehension or caution toward the enemy to be the victim of a neurotic and irrational fear, namely, Islamophobia, or motivated by an irrational and contemptible hatred, namely, racism. These are not the words or actions of appeasers. The bespeak not fear, but a blindness to the danger nearly impossible to comprehend; and meanwhile, like Chicken Little, they take trembling steps under the sky, eyes wide and wet with unshed tears, terrified of the weather, convinced the earth is about to be fried like an egg by Global Warming.

    The Anonymous Conservative has a rather elaborate theory to explain this, or, rather, since it can neither be proved nor disproved, a rather elaborate ‘just-so’ story (http://www.anonymousconservative.com/blog/warfare-and-group-selection/):

    If the r-type psychology curried favor with this enemy, before initiating the defeat of their population, they would be well positioned to actually use the K-type Warrior’s competitions against him, ala the r-type transvestite cuttlefish’s exploitation of the rules governing their flashing competitions. Following their society’s defeat, the conquering force would likely allow them to survive, and might even promote them to positions of power within the new occupation. Meanwhile, their primary competition within the population, the K-type Warriors, were killed in the defeat, without the r-type individuals even having to compete against them.

    Since the r-type adaption to group competition is such a complex divergence from simple individual Anticompetitiveness, we differentiate this further evolution of the r-type psychology by naming it Appeasement.

    In the book, we show how the Liberal’s diminished amygdala volume in their brain is associated with a tendency to judge threats as allies, as well as exhibit diminished pro-sociality, both of which would tend to produce defeat in group competition. We examine research showing Liberals will show increased openness to out-group interests, and diminished loyalty to in-group interests. We also point out how r-strategists need a form of mortality, applied to their population, to free up the resource availability they need to enjoy advantage, relative to K-strategists. Using violent conflict to reduce population loads, and kill local K-selected competition is a brilliant strategy to increase the ability of the r-strategist to survive, under what would otherwise be lethal K-selecting environmental conditions

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Originally published at John C. Wright's Journal. Please leave any comments there.

    Monday, December 15th, 2014
    3:00 pm
    The Saints and Mahound

    Some quotes from a column What Did the Saints Say about Islam? By Andrew Bieszad appearing on the fine site OnePeterFive on August 12, 2014:

     

    The following is a brief list of quotes from Catholic saints about Islam and its founder, Muhammad. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it is illustrative of how Catholics — particularly those favored sons and daughters of the Church we now know to be in heaven — viewed the Muslim faith in prior generations:

    “Whoever does not embrace the Catholic Christian faith is lost, like your false prophet Muhammad.”

    -St. Peter Mavimenus (d. 8th century), martyr from Gaza. Response reported in the Martyriologum Romanum when he was asked to convert to Islam by a group of Muslims.

     

    “There is also the superstition of the Ishmaelites which to this day prevails and keeps people in error, being a forerunner of the Antichrist…. From that time to the present a false prophet named Mohammed has appeared in their midst. This man, after having chanced upon the Old and New Testaments and likewise, it seems, having conversed with an Arian monk, devised his own heresy. Then, having insinuated himself into the good graces of the people by a show of seeming piety, he gave out that a certain book had been sent down to him from heaven. He had set down some ridiculous compositions in this book of his and he gave it to them as an object of veneration.”

    -St. John Damascene (d. 749), Syrian Arab Catholic monk and scholar. Quoted from his book On Heresies under the section On the Heresy of the Ishmaelites (in The Fathers of the Church. Vol. 37. Translated by the Catholic University of America. CUA Press. 1958. Pages 153-160.)

     

    “We profess Christ to be truly God and your prophet to be a precursor of the Antichrist and other profane doctrine.”

    -Sts. Habenitus, Jeremiah, Peter, Sabinian, Walabonsus, and Wistremundus (d. 851), martyrs of Cordoba, Spain. Reported in the Memoriale Sanctorum in response to Spanish Umayyad Caliph ‘Abd Ar-Rahman II’s ministers that they convert to Islam on pain of death.

     

    “Any cult which denies the divinity of Christ, does not profess the existence of the Holy Trinity, refutes baptism, defames Christians, and derogates the priesthood, we consider to be damned.”

    -Sts. Aurelius, Felix, George, Liliosa, and Natalia (d. 852), martyrs of Cordoba, Spain. Reported in the Memoriale Sanctorum in response to Spanish Umayyad Caliph ‘Abd Ar-Rahman II’s ministers that they convert to Islam on pain of death.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Originally published at John C. Wright's Journal. Please leave any comments there.

    Saturday, December 13th, 2014
    11:52 pm
    Supermanity and Dehumanity (Complete)

    This is one of my longer and older essays on a topic very near and dear to my heart, from 2010, which I reprint for the benefit of any newer readers. I note with considerable satisfaction that there have been more examples in the cinema of comic book or science fiction films since this writing that lend support to my theme:

    Part I — On Dehumanity

    Let me address a question which, if answered, would answer several questions at once. Why are crass popular comic book superhero movies better than mainstream Hollywood movies?

    Why are they better and more honest, more sound, and more true than a modern comedy or tragedy or melodrama, or what passes for it? Why are they better drama?

    There are some deep questions unexpectedly connected to this shallow question. Let us see into what oxbows of digression the river of conversation leads. A prudence of space may require the discussion to be drawn over several parts.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Originally published at John C. Wright's Journal. Please leave any comments there.

    Friday, December 12th, 2014
    3:51 pm
    Gamergaters Rally! To Arms, Citizens!

    A request from the Dark Lord of the Evil League of Evil, whose signal I wish to boost:

    #GamerGate crushed Gawker

    Nero reports on the costs to Gawker of attacking #GamerGate:

    The cost to Gawker Media of its ridicule and viciousness toward video gamers was “seven figures” in lost advertising revenue, according to the company’s head of advertising, Andrew Gorenstein. In addition, founder Nick Denton has stepped down as president and editorial director Joel Johnson has been removed from his post and will probably leave the company, reports Capital New York….

    And now here is a chance to kick the SJW while he’s down. An Ilk suggests action:
    A few of us were inspired by that stupid Change.org petition that got GTA5 banned to try to use the same tactic against Gawker’s biggest revenue sources. I figure it may be especially effective to kick them when they’re already reeling from the previous damage we’ve done, while Hulk Hogan’s suit and their insurance company threaten to bleed them further. The petition is here: Get Google and Amazon to stop advertising on Gawker Media.

    Originally published at John C. Wright's Journal. Please leave any comments there.

    12:11 pm
    Diamond Hard SF to Mushy Soft SF

    I draw your attention to this handy chart devised by M Kazlev (I think) grading the realism of the science in SF stories. He is clear to emphasize that this is not grading the overall craft of the story, just the scientific plausibility of the props and settings.

    I add this so that my compliment of THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir by calling it ‘Diamond Hard’ one can see what company he keeps. INTERSTELLAR, by contrast, is somewhere between ‘Very Hard’ and ‘Plausibly Hard.’

    For the whole discussion (which I frankly thought was fascinating!) see here: http://www.kheper.net/topics/scifi/grading.html

    Major Categories Rating used here Common Tropes A few examples
    Hard Sci Fi “Present Day Tech” Cutting edge Present Day Tech, some developments and speculation, but nothing major that has not been attained today (so no AI). Basic space exploration, very near future Technothrillers, Allen Steele’s Orbital Decay
    Ultra Hard (Diamond Hard) Plausible developments of contemporary technologies – AI, Constrained Nanotech, DNI, Interplanetary colonisation, Genetically engineered lifeforms. Nothing that conflicts with the laws of physics, chemistry, biology etc as currently understood William Gibson, Neil Stephenson, Kim Stanley Robinson’s “Mars” Trilogy, Robert Forward
    Very Hard Plausible developments of provocative contemporary ideas, bot nothing that conflicts with the known laws of physics, information theory, etc – Assembler Nanotech, Nano-Goo, Uploads, Interstellar colonisation, Relativistic ships, vacuum-adapted life Greg Egan, Linda Nagata, Greg Benford’s Galactic Center series, Stephen Baxter’s Manifold Series, GURPS Transhuman Space
    Plausibly Hard The above but with the addition of some very speculative themes, some of which may well turn out to be impossible, others may be possible. Requires some modification of current understanding, but nothing that is logically impossible, or has been conclusively proved to be impossible (so no FTL without time travel) – Wormholes, Reactionless Drive, Sub-nanotech (Femto-, Plank, etc), Domain Walls, exotic matter, FTL drive with time travel, etc Stephen Baxter’s Xeelee universe, Greg Bear’s Forge of God series, Orion’s Arm
    Firm As realistic as the above categories were it not for unrealistic/impossible plot devices (e.g. FTL without time travel paradoxes), although these are kept to a minimum as much as possible Asimov’s “Foundation” Series, “Giants” series by Hogan, Vinge’s A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky
    Medium Similar to the above but with a larger number of unrealistic plot devices; e.g. FTL without real explanation (ore with pseudo-explanation), alien biota in some instances very similar to terragen life, psionics, a great many alien civilizations. However still preserves plot and worldbuilding consistency, and the science is good and consistent. Niven’s “Known Space” series, Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, Banks’ “Culture” novels, David Brin’s “Uplift” series, Frank Herbert’s Dune, Traveller RPG
    Soft Sci Fi Soft A number of unscientific themes – e.g. aliens as anthropomorphic “furries”, handwavium disintegrator guns, Alien Cultures and psychology all extremely uniform, and so on. However, still retains story consistency. Various TV series: Babylon 5, Farscape, Andromeda, Matrix, StarGate for the most part
    Very Soft As above but either even more unscientific elements (humanoid of the week, lifeless planets with beathable atmosphere, etc), and story with less consistency Various TV and movie series; for the most part the Star Trek Canon and Star Wars Canon
    Mushy Soft As above but even more unscientific (alien races never before encountered speak perfect English without a translator, animals too large to stand in Earth gravity (Godzilla), weapons that make energy beams without putting energy in, interstellar travel without FTL or centuries long voyage, mutants with super energy powers, etc) Godzilla, Comic Book Superheros, badly written TV sci fi, elements of some franchises

    Originally published at John C. Wright's Journal. Please leave any comments there.

    Thursday, December 11th, 2014
    4:02 pm
    Release the Correia!

    Another must-read too-good-to-miss fisking and public flogging by Larry Correia against the forces of darkness, or, at least, the forces of nagging nattering nonsense about nothing.

    http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/12/10/fisking-the-guardian-again-this-time-for-hp-lovecraft/

    As usual the original article is in italics and my responding comments are in bold.

    Move over HP Lovecraft, fantasy writers of colour are coming through.

    A stupid title. If you are so desperate to prove racism in sci-fi you’ve got to dig up somebody who has been dead for 77 years, your argument might be a little weak. 

    By Daniel Jose Older.

    Normally when the Guardian tries to prove how horrible racist/sexist/misogynist/homophobic sci-fi or fantasy is they trot out village idiot Damien Walter. This time they’re using somebody who has actually published something. Good for you, Guardian. Way to step up your game.

    Non-white readers and writers are falling in love with speculative fiction in increasing numbers –

    Excellent!

    which is why we need to remove its racist figurehead

    You’ll note that almost all SJW articles start like this. Here is a good thing, but here is why you are actually racist because of it.

    Last month I walked through the crowded corridors of Javits Center with tears in my eyes.

    Maybe it is just because I’m a manly cismale gendernormative fascist who is required by the patriarchy to keep my feelings bottled up, but the only thing that made me cry at the Javits Center was the line at the food court.

    It was New York Comic Con and around me flourished a sea of black and brown faces, many partially concealed beneath goggles, prosthetic zombie wounds or masks.

    I was also at this very same convention. I gave out a couple thousand free paperbacks and talked to people for three straight days. But since I’m not a SJW I didn’t feel the need to keep a tally of what color, religion, or sexual orientation every single person I talked to seemed to be.

    The people I talked to were people who liked to read books. If you are an author and you feel the need to subcategorize much beyond that, you are setting yourself up to fail.

    For one of the first times since I started writing speculative fiction five years ago, I felt at home in my own genre.

    I started seriously writing speculative fiction seven years ago so I’m assuming we’re about the same age and we’re dealing with the same industry. This statement is either horseshit or Older hasn’t been to very many sci-fi conventions.

    I’ve been to dozens of them all over America. I attended thirteen in 2014 alone. Cons and fandom are usually about the most inclusive bunch you’ll find anywhere. Hell, they accept Furries… FURRIES. Your argument is invalid.

    But SJWs love to look for invisible micro aggressions at cons. Here is one where I fisked a SJW who tried to make GenCon sound racist  http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/08/19/no-tor-com-gencon-isnt-racist-a-fisking/ (short version, it isn’t).

    Earlier this summer, the old guard of fantasy got very uncomfortable over a petition I started asking for the World Fantasy Award to remove the bust of HP Lovecraft as its statuette and replace it with Octavia Butler.

    Uncomfortable? I don’t think that is a synonym for WTF.

    A few things for those not in the loop. HP Lovecraft is one of the most famous authors in history, who basically created a whole genre. Authors commonly use the word Lovecraftian today to describe themes and elements that he popularized. Among the creators who list Lovecraft as a major influence are Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Joe Lansdale, Alan Moore, F. Paul Wilson, Brian Lumley, Clive Barker, Guillermo Del Toro, H.R. Geiger, John Carpenter, Mike Mignola, and Neil Gaiman. Plus thousands of other authors, artists, and film makers.

    Have you heard of Cthulhu? Yeah. That guy.

    Lovecraft has influenced video games, movies, comics, and more heavy metal bands than you can count. Almost eight decades after his death every nerd in the world knows who HP Lovecraft is. There have been thousands (not an exaggeration) of stories set in Lovecraftian worlds.

    And hell, Lovecraftian is actually a word!

    Octavia Butler was also an author. She passed away in 2006. I think I read a couple of her books as a kid but don’t remember anything about them. I’m certain she’s had some influence, but Lovecraft influenced orders of magnitude more.

    Butlerian isn’t a word.    

    Read the whole thing.

    I actually used the word Butlerian in a novel of mine (JUDGE OF AGES) in total shameless ripoff respectful homage to Frank Herbert, but as I rushed to make the snarky comment on the blog, some machine intelligence beat me to it! Darn those machine intelligences! The Bene Gesserit Sisterhood should do something about them — if only I could think of what —

    Originally published at John C. Wright's Journal. Please leave any comments there.

    12:54 pm
    The Torture and Martyrdom of the Apostles

    I thought today would be an edifying time to review the fates of Apostles, which at one time, all Christians knew, in these days inexcusably forgotten. I list them here in order tradition assigns:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Originally published at John C. Wright's Journal. Please leave any comments there.

    Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
    11:45 am
    SUPERVERSIVE: Why “Realism” Isn’t

    As part of the world-storming Superversive Literary Counterrevolution, my beautiful and talented wife describes the fundamental unreality of so called realistic literature:

    http://www.ljagilamplighter.com/2014/12/10/superversive-blot-why-realism-isnt/

    I have never liked dark, gritty, ‘realistic’ stories—the kind that are unrelentingly grim. The kind where there’s no hope, everything is covered in dirt, and terrible things are happening one on top of another like a stack of pancakes. (Sometimes, these stories have a lot of blood or sex, sometimes not.)

    For a long time, I could not put my finger on why.

    Friends would say, “Oh, I understand, they are too dark for you.” Or “They don’t bother me, I don’t find them scary.” But that did not seem to put into words the impression I suffered when reading/watching such stories.

    I wasn’t scared. Something else was wrong.

    Oddly, it was a funeral that finally solved the mystery for me.

    Originally published at John C. Wright's Journal. Please leave any comments there.

    Monday, December 8th, 2014
    3:26 pm
    Another Comment on INTERSTELLAR

    A reader expressed his view of this Hard SF Masterwork so well that I wanted to quote his thoughts here, and emphasize them:

    “The “What are you doing?” “Docking” “It’s impossible.” “No, it’s necessary” exchange Cooper has with Dr. Brand and TARS before the spinning docking is one I found inspiration in recently during my general exams week for the PhD program
    here at Oklahoma University, in which I had to write about 40 pages in one week. Despite the challenge feeling like having to climb mount everest, I just kept thinking that to myself–“it’s necessary”.

    I am currently studying William Shakespeare’s Catholic background and its influence on the plays–great time to be doing that since Shakespeare and religion has become a hot topic in the field.

    I also loved in the film how Cooper’s son has a controlled reaction to Cooper leaving earth, but (at least in my viewing) is the one to first give up hope that his father is going to return (at the end of the 20+ years of messages Cooper watches, his son says something to the effect of him feeling like his father is not hearing these messages, that they’re just being sent off into the dark, and that he hopes Cooper is at peace) —Murph has a completely devestating reaction when Cooper leaves, refuses to send out messages for a long time, but actually has the strongest hope–nay, “faith”—that her father will return.

    It’s great how both she and Cooper both have to make an act of faith — she when she turns the car around to go back to the house and figure out what was happening with the “ghost” so long ago, and later Cooper, when he’s in the tesseract, having faith that she will remember and care enough about the watch he left her to figure out the data he’s going to leave for her.

    To my mind, when TARS asks Cooper in the tesseract why he’s so confident that Murph will know that the answer is in the watch, and Cooper says something like “because I told her to” this is a moment nicely paralleled later when cooper asks the elder murph why she knew he’d come back and she answers “because my father promised me” — to me, the movie is very much about the miraculous things that can happen if we don’t accept the mundane “realities” and lies of life and instead walk by faith, performing actions which God has promised us will have a good effect in the end even if we can’t see those results in the moment of the here and now.”

    My comment: when I saw this film, I honestly thought it had found that long-sought point of maximum overlap for all audiences, Leftwing and Rightwing, Science Fictioneers and Muggles, Faithful and Infidel, carefully crafted to put across its message of hopeless hope and the brightness of love in the darkest of worlds in a way that everyone would like.

    I was a little surprised, but perhaps I should not have been, when Leftists hated it, though. They are simply much crazier than in my youth when they still had the Soviet Union to lust after. Now they have nothing aside from accusing the innocent to warm their cold and empty souls. While they talk about hope and change, and say they like films with messages, actually they don’t. So a message of faith and hope and love will of course provoke their ire. Gollum cannot eat the Elfish waybread.

    When Science Fiction people started criticizing it, that shocked and confounded me, and the little numbered badge at my robotic neck began blinking, requesting help from Norman.

    I could not fathom how anyone could find fault in a film that had taken far, far, far more painstaking trouble to get the smallest of astronomical details right, and complain about the science.

    One critic complained about the size of the wings on the drone seen in the opening scene as being too small to hold enough solar cells. But the film never establishes anything about the propulsion or composition of the craft, nor how many years in the future this is, nor what technologies have been developed. The film simply does not say.

    Another critic complained that the spectrum shift of dark lines seen through a spectroscope of the accretion disk surrounding rapidly rotating supermassive black hole should have created a visible brightening on one side of the accretion disk — even though such Doppler shifts are invisible to the human eye, and even though the film gives no figures of mass nor rates of spin nor temperature or anything else could be determined. The film simply does not say.

    I did my homework on such things for one of my previous books, but even among science fiction writers, knowing the esoterica of Doppler shift and black hole spin rates and so on is rare, and no science fiction writer in his right mind expects the reader to know. Nonetheless, the what the film did say or show, the film got it right, and the critics got it wrong.

    Such criticisms are not like complaining about the lack of altitude jets on Larry Nivens’ RINGWORLD, a story where there is teleportation, unobtainium materials stronger than possible, faster than light drive, and successful breeding for magical luck. There, Niven actually made an oversight in his world building which he corrected in a later sequel. It is like complaining about the lack of a counterweight asteroid on the beanstalk in Kim Stanley Robinson’s MARS Trilogy, when the author took the trouble to put the counterweight in!

    This kind of thing is inanely trivial. If the wing size of a futuristic drone or the lack of a visible special effect for a phenomenon that, in real life, cannot be detected without an instrument anyway, or other trifling minutiae inconsequential to the plot jars you out of the film and ruins your ability to enjoy it, then there is no science fiction story, much less any science fiction film, nothing in the genre which can ever satisfy you.

    There are more sound complaints: why does the earth liftoff require a multistage rocket, but liftoff from a world with 30 percent higher gravity not? How can a rocket make a transit to Saturn in merely two years? Again, the film does not say, but anyone with a highschool smattering of astronomy could answer the questions: the Earth liftoff is to get to escape velocity, which is a higher velocity than the orbital, or even suborbital velocity needed to rendezvous with a ship in orbit. The two year figure for Saturn is very low if a ship is matching the speed of Saturn, because a ship would accelerate, turn, and decelerate; but not if she is passing through a point in space near Saturn at a high speed, in which case the ship might as well accelerate the whole way.

    The theological complaint is even less comprehensible to me. My brothers in Christ, if you cannot see that this film about faith, hope and love does far more to spread and confirm our worldview than infinite numbers of movies like LEFT BEHIND or FIREPROOF, you don’t know the power of story telling.

    For nearly a hundred years the Left has used the power of story telling to propagate lies, but the stories are so well crafted, that they become part of the unspoken shared assumptions of the culture. How many people believe that institutional racism exist in America? How many people believe JFK was shot by a rightwing conspiracy rather than by a Commie? How many people believe sex outside wedlock is normal, expected, natural, wholesome, but premarital virginity is shameful?

    If this is the way the Science Fiction readers or the Christian community, or just people who like good and complex stories that do not recite the trite messages of whining or sentimental pudding-headed Leftist bromides are received, we cannot expect film makers to go to the trouble to tale about the future in the future.

    A little more gratitude and a little less criticism would seem to be in order.

    Are you not sick and tired of the endless nihilism that pours out of Hollywood like an explosion in a sewerage factory?

    This was a tale about a hero who does not boast and loves his daughter and who just wants to do his job and go home. It is a story about a pilot who loves to fly. It is a story about a little girl who grew up but who never grew out of her sense of hope and her sense of wonder.

    This is the only film I have seen all year where the father was portrayed as a man, an actual masculine man in a leadership position who worked hard and could do a hard job well, and who was, as all fathers should be, willing to sacrifice everything for his family.

    Even if all the criticisms about the theology and the science in this movie were true — and, so far as I have seen, not one of them are even making a prima face case — are you not hungry for heroes, O fans of science fiction? Do you not thirst for wonders? Let my eyes feast on the majestic rings of Saturn or the dark and blazing horror of a supermassive singularity!

    Originally published at John C. Wright's Journal. Please leave any comments there.

    2:13 pm
    First Sale! Riding the Red Horse

    Mr Tedd Roberts of our own Evil League of Evil announces that he has made his very first sale: his story ‘They Also Serve’ is to appear in the anthology RIDING THE RED HORSE, forthcoming from Castalia House, my publisher, to be released on Dec. 15.

    The anthology is meant to reprise the format of Jerry Pournelle’s old THERE WILL BE WAR: a mix of military SF and military futurology, written by a SF authors, serving military personnel, and experts in military subject matter.

    Related: the publisher is looking for some beta-readers for the anthology, or other contributors. See his announcement here: http://voxday.blogspot.com/2014/12/riding-this-way.html

     

    RH1_475

    Originally published at John C. Wright's Journal. Please leave any comments there.

    9:31 am
    The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is Today

    So remember to go to Mass!

    For those of you who are curious, let us see what the Catholic Encyclopedia has to say on the matter:

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07674d.htm

    In the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December, 1854, Pius IX pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary “in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Originally published at John C. Wright's Journal. Please leave any comments there.

    Saturday, December 6th, 2014
    3:51 pm
    An Open Letter to the Sci Scoffer of INTERSTELLAR

    Dear everyone attempting vainly to find some scientific errors in the recent science fiction masterpiece INTERSTELLAR, I have two words: go pound sand.

    Now, technically speaking, that is three words, not two, but the accuracy of my count is about the same as the average scientific accuracy in such critiques.

    But, first, before I tell you to go pound sand, let me thank you for the compliment you pay the film. No one critiques the scientific accuracy of a film unless it is an honest-t0-goodness and serious attempt to write serious John W Campbell Jr style Hard SF.

    With that out of the way:

    It is perfectly fine to tell a muggle that the science in a science fiction film is bad, but I am a science fiction writer. I do this for a living.

    If you make the story so accurate to modern and known science that there is no deviation from current technology, that is not science fiction. One overly critical critic told me that the solar powered aircraft seen in the opening scene of the film had wings that were too small to support the amount of solar cells needed to power a craft, made up of, um, unknown materials, with an unspecified power and propulsion source, based on technology not yet developed in the current day, etc.

    No science fiction book whatsoever, not even a diamond-hard Hard SF book like the wonderful THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir, no, nor FALL OF MOONDUST by Arthur C Clarke, indeed not even a Tom Clancy novel could satisfy that level of skepticism and scrutiny.

    We are not talking about a gaff where a space pilot says he can make the Kessel run in 12 parsecs, or even a fantasy where ships can fly faster than light or robots can think and talk like people. These are two examples of things routinely accepted as believable (or, technically suspension of disbelief believable) in the hardest of hard science fiction, works by Clarke and Heinlein and Asimov. We are talking about someone’s opinion about engineering details on a technology which is not only not speculative, we have it today.

    So to anyone making criticism on that level, all I can say is that science fiction is not the genre for you. Go read a newspaper.

    The other allegedly scientific criticisms I have read or seen so far are based on assuming facts not established in the film.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Originally published at John C. Wright's Journal. Please leave any comments there.

    Friday, December 5th, 2014
    5:55 pm
    Atheist Coffee and Feminist Envy

    This post is originally by past-version John Wright of 2011. But see my note below.

     

    “I would love to see your thoughts on the current dust-up the Atheist community is having (right now) over coffee.”

    For those of you who have not heard of this case, the fact pattern is this:

    The young lady in question objected to a man attempting to court her according to what the modern world holds as a perfectly acceptable method of courting: after talking with her until four in the morning at a bar, he asked her to go up to his room for a cup of coffee. She objected, not that his attentions were unflattering or ill timed, but that he was sexually attracted to her at all. In other words, it is the fact that mother nature made her female that the young lady find appalling. With the utter inability to restrict her comments to proportionality (or sanity) typical of the Left, she likened the awkward proposition to rape.

    Richard Dawkins, in the scathing fashion typical of the Internet, left a message on her blog mocking her for complaining about what was at most an imposition on courtesy, hardly an act of oppression or male dominion.

    Need anything be said? It is one of the few times I agree with Richard Dawkins, who otherwise is a disgrace to the cause of Atheism I once served. He is right to hold the belligerence of the feminista up to mockery, and to contrast it with the real oppression of women by the Mohammedans

    If the young lady were sane, or sincere, or in other words not a Leftist, she would be agitating for the return of Victorian standards of modesty, such that men and women would have a set of unwritten rules, known to both beforehand, as guidelines for when a young lady can be courted, and by what means, and when not.

    You see, the idea of leaving the rules up to the individuals to agree upon each man for himself contains an absurdity: you cannot court a woman, or even ask her to dance, if you are already in a relationship with her and know her well enough to negotiate your own rules. The rules of courtship are rules on how to approach a woman who is a partial or a total stranger. Strangers can only be bound by unwritten rules that bind the whole society, with few or no exceptions.

    And, of course, the hypocrisy of a woman who has been out drinking until 4.00, without an escort, suddenly wanting the protect of Victorian rules of modesty, but without being willing to pay the price demanded, i.e. to act modestly, is rank. If you are in a bar without an escort, and you are young and female, expect to be hit on. You and yours helped make this society exactly what it is: you cannot expect men to act like gentlemen when every single damn word out of your collective mouth for the past three generations has been a denunciation, a mockery, an insult, and a discouragement to gentlemanly behaviors.

    In morals as in economics, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Do you regard modesty and chastity to be mere patriarchal restrictions and oppression, O ye ladies of the Left? Then utter no complaint when immodesty and unchastity of yourself and your sisters is answered by immodesty and unchastity by your menfolk.

    That all parties involved are atheists makes the situation deliciously ridiculous. So, you think you can create a rational set of moral and ethical guidelines to guide human behavior, based merely on human reason and human appetites? Go ahead.

    Behold the result: once group of morality-hating zealot screaming in holier-than-thou perfection of hot temper at another group of morality-hating holier-than-thou zealots. The cool reasoning powers that atheists praise seems not much in evidence.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Originally published at John C. Wright's Journal. Please leave any comments there.

    4:06 pm
    No Word Whose Power to Move is More

    This is a Guest Blog by a reader who goes by the pen name of Fail Burton. The words below are his (excpet, of course, the quote at the end, which he quotes).

         ***                ***                ***

    Starting around mid-century there arose simultaneous ideologies with different issues and goals but with a common theme: reconciling their own failures with reality.

    Their failures became someone else’s oppression and lack of morality.

    An example of this is Qutbism, named for Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood icon Sayd Qutb. He developed an ideology that reconciled Islam’s obvious technological and societal failures with that of the West. The reconcilement is always similar: one’s opponent is successful by virtue of exploiting others or possessing a type of spiritually empty cleverness (success) at making TV’s or rocketships. In fact Qutb simply didn’t like non-Muslims and Americans, but he can’t just come out and say that. Nevertheless he was hanged by President Nasser for his troubles.

    These ideologies are always a form of bigotry and resentments, but are always passed off as anti-oppression movements which are then piggy-backed onto actual women’s and civil rights anti-colonialism movements. One doesn’t like Jews but instead says Israeli’s are colonialists. One has a phobia of men and heterosexuality and passes it off as an oppressive patriarchy. One doesn’t like whites and starts a power/privilege “punching up” theory whereby one can blather racism all day long while calling everyone else a racist.

    Another example is queer feminist theory that arose in France mid-century, typified by Simone de Beauvoir and Monique Wittig and later Judith Butler in America, who borrowed French Theory. They reconciled their own estrangements from society by claiming it wasn’t they who are abnormal but heterosexuality (success) itself. They claim the sexes were an artificial construct and that by eliminating them and the family and marriage, women (read lesbians) would be free. In fact these people simply resented the normal world and that resentment today has been successfully and falsely mainstreamed into America as an equal rights feminism that long ago packed its bags and left, happy at its success.

    The race-baiting inheritors of the civil rights movement operate within these same confines. They blame their own cultural failures on that of whites. The tip-off there is if one is using logic and reason, one cannot so fully embrace the idea of a failure of one racial culture while dismissing as laughable the idea of the failure of one’s own culture.

    All this has been empowered by cultural relativism – political correctness – which mandates all opinions are valid thanks to endless excuses about why one is not successful. The idea of simple failure is eliminated except, ironically, on the part of one’s opponents. In short these are ideologies of childish resentments and even madness and breaks with reality, because success and failure exchange places.

    Add your own examples. It explains why heroes are not heroes and villains become noble. It is an upside-down Orwellian world, and one which Orwell unsuccessfully warned us against. His basic claim wasn’t about fascism, but how it would come at you unawares because it draped itself in new identities but that were transparently false yet nevertheless effective perceptual traps. Thus the Ministry of Peace and it’s analogy today to our PC anti-racist racists; just repeat a lie often enough. The PC are not civil rights marchers but just that: racists, and their middle class useful idiot allies are the passive inhabitants of 1984.

    So what does that all add up to as the villain? Straight, white and male. The people who hate us can’t actually produce anything but they have nice judgments.

    It is a mistake to think of this as liberalism. Rather, the echoes of old and real anti-oppression movements makes liberalism a good hidey-hole.

    “‘There is no word whose power to move is more implicitly trusted than ‘progressive’.’” – “‘Nazi Gods’ and ‘Jewish Devils': The Dehumanizing Rhetoric of Nazi Propaganda,” Kelly M. Sutter, A Senior Honors Thesis Submitted to the Department of Communication of Boston College May 2008

    Originally published at John C. Wright's Journal. Please leave any comments there.

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