Dr Strange!

Marvel’s DR STRANGE was not only the first comic I ever read as a teen, but it has remained my favorite from that day to this. So it is with some hope and excitement that I see he has finally been given the big production film treatment with an A-list actor.

Aside from an obscure television pilot, which I also recall fondly albeit it was not without its flaws (they turned the Ancient One into a White Dude named Linmer — get it? Merlin) and an even more obscure straight-to-video where Dr. Strange’s name was changed to Dr. Mordred, the cinema has never attempted to capture the mystery, awe, and comic booky wonder of the good Doctor.


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


Peace on Mars, Good Will Toward Puppies

Mr. George RR Martin expresses hope that the coming Hugo season will not be characterized by rancor:

So in the spirit of the season, I am going to say something nice about the Sad Puppies….

Last year’s Puppygate was an ugly affair. I am not going to rehash it here. My views are all on record, my original blog posts still up for anyone who wants to go back and read them. The last thing I want… the last thing anyone who truly loves science fiction, fantasy, and fandom would want… would be to have to go through the whole thing again in 2016. Whatever your view of how the Hugo Awards turned out at Sasquan, I think we can all agree that we would like MidAmericon II’s awards to be more joyful, less rancorous, less controversial.

And maybe… just maybe… we’ll get our wish. Call me naive. Call me an innocent. Call me too trusting by half, too nice a guy to see how things really are… but, really, I am starting to have some hope. All over the internet, people are already talking about the Hugo Awards, making recommendations, discussing the work… the WORK, the things we love, the stuff that unites us instead of the stuff that divides us.

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


Guest Review

Bobby Trosclair, in the comments, says in a few paragraphs what I said in twelve pages:

I have to agree that Lucas stumbled upon a conservative plot probably by accident in the first film. One has only to look at his first SF film, THX-1138, to see a film that was steeped in the doom-and-gloom views of much of 1960s and 1970s dystopian fiction.But, having written that, I have to question that premise – was the poor critical and box-office reaction to THX-1138 what led Lucas to appropriate wholesale the pop-culture motifs from an earlier, saner time? Did he recognize the cinematic dead-end such tales led to?

(And as anyone who grew up in that era recognizes, THX-1138 was just one in a long line of dark, dystopian, and apocalyptic SF films of that era – SOYLENT GREEN, ZPG, ROLLERBALL, PHASE IV, LOGAN’S RUN, WESTWORLD, FUTUREWORLD, COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, PUNISHMENT PARK, A BOY AND HIS DOG, DEATH RACE 2000… I have personal affection for a lot of those films, but all of them and THX-1138 shared the same dark Manichean world-view: the world is a crappy place, The Man will crush your free spirit, and individual heroism will earn at best only a temporary victory. It was the cinematic equivalent of a lot of the trends going on in the New Wave movement of SF literature.)

Lucas evoked the older tropes of a more Christian, even chivalric worldview (although I doubt he would recognize it as such) – where a community of like-minded, noble individuals can overcome the soul-deadening power of dark forces by doing what is right. It changed the nature of cinematic SF (in some ways for the better, arguably in some ways for the worse by creating a horde of imitators that copied the form but lacked the substance. I am not familiar enough with Lucas’s statements to say whether this was a conscious and commercial attempt to offer a bright, lively, and engaging alternative to the dystopian alternatives of the era.
And it’s of interest that many of the tropes that Lucas, cough, “borrowed” were from earlier eras, or from alternative genre worldviews of Lucas’s own approximate era that did not share the same Manichean world view – the Tolkienish (and very Catholic) fellowship of disparate heroes, assisted by a noble, sword-wielding wizard (played by the very Catholic Alec Guinness, perhaps coincidentally) who falls in battle and rises again to assist the fellowship; the scene-for-scene shots of aerial battles from WWII films like THE DAM BUSTERS; Jack Kirby’s Old Testament-derived comic book visions of the Fourth World, with a mystical “Source” that binds and unites all things and which can be manipulated by hero and villain alike (not to mention Kirby and Lee’s creation of a certain scarred, armored and cloaked Dr. Doom, master of both scientific and mystical powers); Japanese samurai films; western revenge dramas like NEVADA SMITH, the hero of which returns from the desert to find his family killed and burnt by marauders and who must be mentored by an older warrior-figure to pursue his quest; the upbeat, can-do Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers serials and shows; Frank Herbert’s Dune series, with its desert planet, sand worms, oppressive galactic empires led by an evil emperor and clans that control mystical powers and are able to control weak-minded enemies by the power of the voice alone and princesses Leia and Aliyah; even 1950s era comic books like “Planet Stories,” in which the alien villains (the Voltamen) of a long-running series (“Lost World”, written by SF pro Jerome Bixby) spoke with the exact same idiosyncratic speech patterns as Yoda, essentially Latin translated word for word into English, verb at the end and so forth: “Me to your leader take”; the planet-size weapons and psionic powers and Jedi-like galactic protective corps in E.E. Smith’s Lensmen series. And so forth.

In all these sources, heroism is not simply an alternative but the only alternative both individually and as part of a group, and the universe is not seen as inherently evil, but as an often wondrous place which is a stage for human creativity and nobility.

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


The Force Awakens and Hits the Snooze Button

I have written many articles on many unimportant social and political issues, but nothing has the weight and gravity of this, my attempt review of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS.

You may wonder why so much fervor and rhetorical pyrotechnics is now and ever will be expended on what is basically a Flash Gordon Space-Samurai Soap Opera adventure flick. Why is not the Internet invented by Al Gore (Peace Be upon Him!) lit up with discussion, debate and commotion about much greater, graver, more intricate and well-crafted films, such as CITIZEN KANE or THE SEVEN SAMURAI or ALEXANDER NEVSKY or SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO?

The answer is that there is no need to remake SPACE BATTTLESHIP YAMATO into a live action film, especially since Leader Desslok was not in the script, one of the most awesome villains of all Japanimation, if not of all sci-fi; he was replaced by some sort of generic hive-mind who possessed human host bodies, and what is up with that? What happened to Queen Starsha of Iskandar? Some remakes do not need to be remade, particularly if you are going to downgrade the villain, make the heroes less memorable and less likeable as the beloved childhood original, and do nothing imaginative with the material.

Just kidding. The real answer is that great, intricate, well-crafted movies are of interest only to a small cadre of socially awkward intellectuals. On the other hand, popular movies and stories define the dreams that define society. Mark Twain once quipped that the Civil War was caused by IVANHOE, with the popularization of notions of chivalry and manly honor among the South. Politics is downstream of culture, and culture is carried from one generation to the next in the form of storytelling.

Myths, not facts, rule mankind.

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


Reviewer Praise for SOMEWHITHER

A rather flattering review from Marina Fontaine of Liberty Island:

Book Review: Somewhither by John C Wright

Occasionally while reading a book, there comes a point where I pause, smile and tell myself, “This one will be special.” Sometimes it’s a particularly riveting action scene, or it’s a clever turn of phrase, or a personally relevant reference. Somewhither is full of all three,making it appeal todifferent readers in a variety of ways, as most novels do. For me, the key is found near the start of the book, when Ilya, the protagonist who is not yet the hero, explains why he had made the decision to-literally-rush headlong into danger.
“It was because of the guy I wanted not to be.”
Who says that? Especially now, when self-esteem appears inversely related to achievement, when everyone is special and everyone is a hero? This protagonist does, and the contrarian that I am, I immediately suspected he would, in fact become one of the more memorable heroes by the time the story is done. And I was not wrong.
Somewhither presents a world that is both recognizable and surreal, taking comfortable sci-fi and fantasy elements and using them as only Mr. Wright can. A young man on a quest? Check. A beautiful love interest? Of course. A Big Bad of world-shattering proportions? You bet. A team of quirky sidekicks? Oh yes, big time. The novel takes all of these pieces and lifts them into the stratosphere. There scope is bigger, the questions weightier, and the over-reaching vision is like nothing you might expect to come out from the sum of its parts.
The tone of the novel, to match both the age and the attitude of the first-person narrator, is surprisingly light for a work of this ambition.
The pacing is near perfect, alternating between breathtaking, at times extremely violent, action and the slower sections that allow the reader to absorb the wealth of information about the world. Although Amazon estimates the novel at over 500 pages, it comes to the end almost too quickly and provides just enough closure to make us impatient for the sequel, which, rumor has it, is in the works. I, for one, can’t wait.


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


Defy the Devil: Celebrate Christmas

Announcing A.D. Day!

Remember the scene in MERRY CHRISTMAS, CHARLIE BROWN, where our poor bald hero, Charlie Brown, dismayed and lost when he sees commercialization and selfishness robbing the meaning of Christmas, cries out in despair asking what the real meaning of Christmas is? And Linus, trusty blanket in hand, recites a fifty second quote from Luke, explaining in a few versus of brilliantly poetic, stirring, deep and moving words of King James’ English the meaning. No Christmas special ever dares mention the real meaning of Christmas, but this one did. Schultz, the creator of PEANUTS had to butt heads with the network executives, who, even in the 1960s, thought any honest message about Christmas was unbecoming, and might offend the audience, or offend advertisers.

Well, Schultz won that round. But now the hatred of Christ is much more serious, much more deep, and this generation is much, much shallower and stupider than that one. This generation not only hates Christ, they hate any mention of the hate, because they simply want Christ to go away and make no demands on them, say nothing to them, save no one.

So it is happening again:

Despite elementary school officials’ attempt to censor a Bible passage from a school play, one community took a stand for religious freedom and refused to let political correctness dictate the performance.

On radio Thursday, Glenn shared the back story of how the school district censored an elementary school presentation of a “Charlie Brown Christmas” in Johnson County, Kentucky.

He called for somebody to stand up and said what he would do as a parent in that situation.

“I would get together with parents and I would — if I knew this was coming — I would take the script of what Linus actually says and I would stand up as a block of parents and just stop the show,” Glenn said. “And all of the parents stand up and just start saying it.”

Well, it looks like that’s exactly what parents in the audience chose to do

My comment: The time for submission is past.

Christians have been slandered, libeled, demeaned, and buffaloed by a very small and very patient group of Leftwing zealots who have somehow convinced the world that there is no place for us in the this world: no place for our nativity scenes at Christmas, no place for Christian marriage, no place for the Ten Commandment in our courthouse decorations, no place for historical accuracy, reality or truth in our lives, and no prayers in our schools.

Enough is enough. We outnumber them. It is time to drive them from our midst, and return our civilization to being civilized.

Let us be Christendom again.

As gesture, I would like everyone who reads these words to go onto Wikipedia, and find ten articles which use the insulting term ‘B.C.E.’ for ‘B.C.’ and the insulting term ‘C.E.’ for ‘A.D.’ and change them. And if he anonymous editors change them back, change it again.

It is four days until Christmas as of the time of this writing, which is the memorial of the day from which our calendar takes its reckoning: our calendar, made by the Church, for the Church.

The abbreviation “C.E.” was instituted with only one sole purpose: to insult the Christian religion, to use our calendar without giving us credit, and to pretend that the central event of history, first, did not happen, and second, was a rude, unbecoming and unspeakable event if it did happen, and event so shameful that it cannot even be referred to by initials of words in Latin, so that you are rude, unbecoming and unspeakable, perhaps even a racist, if you insist on referring to dates honestly.

More than this gesture is needed, of course.

That time is not yet, but soon, when we must take further steps to prepare for the storm that is coming.

We must pry their hands from the levers of power, slap their megaphone from our ear, remove their boot from the neck of our economy, drive the swine from the public trough, remove the leprous private parts from their plundering the soul of innocence.

The Sexual Revolution, and no fault divorce, has done infinite harm to the public weal, and ruined countless private lives, including those in my immediate family and immediate circle of friends. Femininity, motherhood, fidelity, charity, chastity, honor, honesty, monogamy and family, all these things were demeaned and repudiated in the name of freedom. Freedom did not result, but slavery. Those chains must be broken. The feminist movement has grown into a corrupt parody of itself.

We want our men back. We want our women back. We want masculinity for the men and femininity for the women. The man-haters have no more arguments to make and nothing more to say.

How have we come to the pass where to indulged in unspeakable sexual perversion is a constitutionally protected right which overrides the rights of the faithful not to participate in the celebration of an abomination their religion, as well as common decency, condemns: but to use the word ‘pervert’ is to be shunned by the elite, subject to harassment and lawsuit, and in our neighboring countries, to jail?

Leftists have proven themselves unfit for positions of command and trust in our society. Even my little corner, the science fiction field, has been overrun by the termites that enter the moldy walls once the sunlight of truth is absent.

Once Christianity is gone, the postchristians do not do without religion. They merely adopt the religion of an antichrist. Instead of religion, they revere and honor lying for its own sake, which they called Political Correctness; they revere and honor sexual perversions and mental illnesses of several kinds; they reverse and respect race-hatred, provided that the hatred is directed against Caucasians; they respect and revere the heresies of Mohammed, and the brutal violence against the weak and innocent they adore and applaud. Whenever there is a mass shooting, they call for the disarmament of more victims, so that more shootings will be easier to take place.

They accomplished a decades-long march through each and every one of our social institutions, so that there is now no leadership for us, nowhere to coalesce our efforts.

That does not matter. God is on our side. Peace is on our side. Love is on our side. Truth is on our side. These things are stronger than court of law, the decrees of bureaucrats, the corruption of teachers and students, the shenanigans of central banks, the opinion manipulation and propaganda and continual stream of lies that issues from our entertainment media, news media, and social media.

It is time to be witnesses. It is time to oppose the princes of this world. It is time to expunge the barbarians among us, the filth who corrupt our children, the vermin who prey on our goodwill, who cannot even be trusted to put on something as small and insignificant as a children’s school play without thought-policing it in the vain and hateful attempt to remove Christ from our lips, our deeds, our hearts.

This is no longer a matter of polite discourse. The option of each man living and letting live was scorned when the government decided to force all Christians to celebrate sodomy, pay for abortions, and fund the contraception needed for a fornication-based attack on monogamy.

They will not quit and will not leave us in peace. They want every last dime of your money, they want to dictate the contents of every last syllable of your speech, they want to dictate how you buy health insurance, how you invest, how you work, whom you can applaud. They want you disarmed. They want to control your mind and soul, and leave you with nothing.

They are not on your side. Resist them. Defy them. Disobey them. Expose them. Hound them from our midst. Pray. Arm yourself with the full armor of God.

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


Encouragement to all Would-be Authors

The Devil invented lies to turn the power of speech into a weapon of falsehood. And God invented the parable, the poem, the epic, the song, and the sonnet in order to turn the power of lies into fables, myths, types and shadows, to turn fiction into a weapon of truth.

I know more people who were converted by Aslan than by Aquinas. What does that tell you about the power of fiction?

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


Quote for the Day

From a Some Random Guy on the Internet with the handle DC Sunset, but I thought it was as clear as anything from Poor Richard. This is why pride is the chief of sins and the father of all others:

All is lost when a man’s first vice is a delusion of infallibility.

All other vices will then cascade through their lives, and they will be forced by the resultant cacophony to jam their fingers ever more forcefully into their ears.

Wise people realize the limits of their own knowledge and accept that new arguments must be confronted or compel a change of opinion. Fools have all the answers and brook no new questions.

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


The Canon Gap

Jeffro Johnson wrote a herculean series of 48 entertaining columns of interest to the devout Dungeons and Dragons player. Gary Gygax in Appendix N to his rules left of list of authors and novels useful and inspirational for the campaigns in the way the early campaigns were run. Mr. Johnson decided to read and review at least one book from each author or series mentioned.

He posted his final in this cyclopean monument to retrofiction:

He peppers his review with observations about D&D and the way it was originally meant to be played, or insights about the influence of “picaresque” fiction on the giants of early Weird Tales and pulp fiction stories.

Picaresque is not a word I had heretofore met. I love learning new words. It refers to fiction starring lovable rogues outwitting the bullies and officials of a decadent society: think of Fafhrd and Gray Mouser, or, less lovable, Cugel the Clever.

Most D&D adventures that I have played in, were played not in the hero’s home town, and usually on the outskirks and ugly underside of society. It is ‘urban fantasy’ in the sense that “city mouse”morals apply. Earthsea and Middle Earth and Narnia have something more like “country mouse” morals. Sparrowhawk of Gont may be as ambiguous between light and dark as a Tao symbol, but there is nothing gritty, weary, or cynical about him. But most Weird Tales heroes would fit cheek by jowl with Phillip Marlowe or Sam Spade. (Except that Cugel would have pocketed the Maltese Falcon and gone with the Fat Man to Marrakech; and Solomon Kane would have stabbed the gunsel straight off with his Toledo steel blade.)

The columns are interesting to me not a book reviews — I’d read them all, or almost all — but as an artifact of sociology. You see, Mr Johnson and his generation are on the far side of an ‘canon gap’ from me and mine.

The boys of my generation read the adventure fiction and fantastic stories our fathers and grandfathers had. The boys of Mr Johnson’s youth, on the other hand, read only the slicker but more derivative texts of today, and have a disturbing and parochial tendency (which Mr Johnson himself does not share) to dismiss the older works unread, or, worse not to dismiss them because they never heard of them.

In times past, I could make reference to Solomon Kane or Cugel the Clever to a science fiction audience, and expect to be understood. Now, not so. We live in a golden age of science fiction: it is abundant, it is exploding. But the drawback is that the young whippersnappers have no need to seek back to prior decades of work to slake their thirst for the fantastic.

That itself would not be so bad a thing — Tempus Fugit, after all — save that a deliberate and concerted effort is afoot to stuff all the old writers down the memory hole, and work that is worth remembering is subject to calumny solely due to its age.

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


Report from Reason Magazine

My first column for EveryJoe was called ‘Why I am no longer a Libertarian.’

The short answer is that Libertarianism proposes that the government remain utterly neutral on all legal questions where no physical harm, trespass, or fraud is being done by one citizen to another. This requires that the law neither be used by the minority to trespass on the majority, nor by the majority to trespass on the minority.

But Leftism, particularly in its toxic pre-extinction form it has now assumed, the Social Justice Morlock stage of devolution, cannot allow for the neutrality of the law. Libertarians want victimless crime laws or vice laws taken off the books: but this calculates without a crucial fact of the psychology of vice.

The four virtues all men know by nature are fortitude, prudence, justice, self-command. The corresponding vices are cowardice, folly, partiality, and self-indulgence.

Those who indulge in vice, particularly in sexual vices, want not just to be left alone and to leave us alone. They want to be praised, applauded and petted, and demand that we normal people abjure, insult and avoid virtue under penalty of law.

Judgement, the mere act of preferring virtue to vice, is what they cannot tolerate. All their endless blather of self contradictory philosophies, the idea that truth is relative, that words are meaningless, that logic is local, the whole nonsense cavalcade of multiculturalism and moral relativism all is mean for one and one thing only: to suspend judgment hence perpetrate vice.

So the answer to the libertarian is: if you can create a truce with those who would use the law to attack virtue qua virtue, a neutral zone could perhaps be established, and a government which made no decisions one way or the other about vice, only about aggression, then your idea would be sound.

But since those who attack virtue qua virtue have repeatedly and publicly declared and shown that they have no intention whatsoever not to use the law to impose their vicious norms on us, and punish us for virtues, therefore your idea is not sound.

One more data point in the argument:

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