John C. Wright (johncwright) wrote,

Manifesto for a New Literary Movement in Speculative Fiction

The esteemed John Scalzi at http://www.scalzi.com/whatever/004884.html has decided to write a non-literary manifesto, and to approach the writing of science fiction in a professional and even-headed fashion.
 
I've read OLD MAN's WAR and can give it high praise for its readability—Mr. Scalzi knows the secret trick of making a reader turn pages—and for its likeable characters—I felt sorry for the main character by the end of three paragraphs, and I am something of a cold and standoffish man known for caning my inferiors. So, good for him.
 
I picked up the book because I saw Mr. Scalzi acting zany on YouTube, ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQ2eSH585Dk ) and I thought: “Funny! Me Laugh!” which is a sufficient recommendation for works of speculative literature created by the same artist as far as I am concerned.  

I have some minor reservations about the book ( actually, two: 1. recreational sex in the co-ed military has no effect on unit cohesion, and all recruits indulge in the general orgy without thought, scruple, hesitation and without any personal attachments being formed 2. the technology of mind-transfer, immortality, and mind-creation has no impact on society.  When a character breaks a leg, they don't just switch him into a new body, and no nonhuman bodies are used: no fish-bodies donned for aquatic campaigns, for example), but my reservations  would be pertinent only if one takes the book more seriously than I think the writer meant it. One reservation was that the plot threads were not wrapped up neatly: but since there is a sequel to the book out, THE GHOST BRIGADES, I may have to look at that to see if my reservations hold water. The book was good enough to make me want to read the sequel, so I am willing to give it a Harriet Klausner level of praise—four stars out of five.

Mr. Scalzi’s non-literary manifesto boils down to the idea of writing to allow novices ease of comprehension, what we economists call a low entry cost. It is an idea I think every writer should follow.
 
But me. 

In that same spirit, I would like to announce my own literary movement and literary manifesto: THE NEW SPACE PRINCESS MOVEMENT.

The literary movement will follow two basic principles: first, science fiction stories should have space-princesses in them who are absurdly good looking. Second, The space princesses must be half-clad (if you are a pessimist. The optimist sees the space princess as half-naked). Third, dinosaurs are also way cool, as are ninjas. Dinosaur ninjas are best of all. 

Looks like that's three principles, no? Well, I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, "Mr. Wright, if you actually could tell what I was thinking, wouldn’t you be out somewhere using your mind-reading powers for the good of mankind?" The answer is, of course, no. If I had mind-reading powers, I would dress up in a black cloak and skull mask, and try to take over the world. I would be careful to speak of myself only in the third person, and describe my plans to my worthy adversary. Said plans should include dinosaurs, or ninjas, or dinosaur ninjas, and involve melting the polar ice cap with my space-based particle beam weapon. If I am lucky, my worthy adversary will be some bold consulting detective from England, with a name like Neyland or Sherlock, and he will have a doctor for a sidekick to write up the adventure. If I am unlucky, I will be thwarted by meddling teenagers and a talking dog. If I am very unlucky, my adversary will be The Shadow, who does not fool around. He knows; he laughs; he shoots. You frell with The Shadow, its not some comfy ride to Arkham Asylum for you, you just get a slug from a .45 blown through your ribs and lung tissue, and have an exit wound the size of a grapefruit. Even Shiwan Khan bought the farm, and he had MIND POWERS fer crissake. After surviving three encounters, The Golden Master gets locked in a golden coffin and dropped from a crumbing building into an inferno. If I am even more unlucky, I'll get Richard Seaton as my adversary, which means the planet I am standing on, my entire race wherever situate in time and space, and maybe my galaxy might get wiped out by his seventh-order rays. 

So you are probably wondering at this point: what about Space Princesses? Good question. The first thing to remember, in writing a scene with a space princess, is not to show her actually ordering her marine guards to drub the uppity peasants with the butts of their space-rifles. In fact, avoid mentioning that she is a monarchist at all. She can express concern for the common people to indicate her warmheartedness. Have her engaged in a political marriage to the odious Prince Blackworm of planet Doomshadow IV (or insert your own space-name here), but when she breaks off the engagement to wed and bed the hero, by no means have the space-kingdom lose the peace treaty on which the marriage, and all the hopes of her whole planet, depended. Indeed, no state marriage or alliance should ever be shown having any purpose or any consequences whatever. If the queen of Sparta runs off with Paris to the city of Troy, she is just being true to her own inner self: what possible bad consequences could come of it?
 
The second thing to remember: bare midriffs. 











This is what science fiction is actually all about. Let no one tell you differently.
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