Pay No Attention to that Man Behind the Curtain

Posted December 18, 2014 By John C Wright

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 remainder of this entry »

40 Comments so far. Join the Conversation
      

Radioactive Dinosaurs & Writing as Fishing

Posted December 17, 2014 By John C Wright

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 remainder of this entry »

16 Comments so far. Join the Conversation
      

Superversive: Why Christian Comic Books Are So Necessary

Posted December 17, 2014 By John C Wright

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.

19 Comments so far. Join the Conversation
      

What Wages Pay the Unpaid Apologists for Utter Evil?

Posted December 16, 2014 By John C Wright

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 of fear, terrified of the weather, convinced the earth is about to be fried like an egg by Global Warming. (Or Global Cooling. Or Alar. Or DDT. Or arsenic in drinking water. Or a hole in the ozone layer. Or acid rain. Or radiated foods. Or…)

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 remainder of this entry »

40 Comments so far. Join the Conversation
      

Hillaire Belloc on Mohamedanism

Posted December 16, 2014 By John C Wright

A priest of Opus Dei, Fr. C. John McCloskey, joins me in calling for a new Crusade. The original is here: http://thecatholicthing.org/2014/12/10/spirited-visitor/

My old friend Hilaire Belloc spoke to me from heaven, where the Catholic sun doth shine and there is no need of plenty of wine. I was delighted to see him, even though he interrupted a fine sleep to communicate some suggestions to me and my confreres on how to handle the current threat to the civilized world posed by resurgent and aggressive Islam.

As many readers of The Catholic Thing already know, Belloc predicted that Islam would return as a major world threat, this time even more dangerous and armed with weapons of mass destruction, posing a serious challenge to the decadent West, which no longer even procreates at levels that replace its population. Over time Islam may well win the battle against the West via procreation, without firing a shot.

…First, as a good Catholic Belloc, urged that the NATO nations and other countries willing to pitch in should come up with and immediately implement a rescue plan to offer humanitarian asylum to all endangered Christians (and peaceful members of other religions facing Islamic persecution).

Second, Belloc envisioned all European countries of Christian origins, including Russia (though this is a long shot in the current geopolitical situation), and their erstwhile colonies that are Christian, including Latin America, forming a coalition of armed forces to attack and destroy the forces of the Islamic State and its allies and lookalikes.

He cautioned that, of course, such a coalition should strictly abide by just-war principles – among other things, by stopping short of the use of nuclear weapons and other WMDs, giving warning of attacks, and doing everything possible to save innocent lives and civilians.Next, Belloc the historian referred to an era of European history now widely vilified, but (despite lapses) worthy of present-day emulation. He argued (also a long shot) that if the Islamic nations were signing on for jihadism, bent on killing and maiming, we of the West should once again don the Crusader’s cross, seeking from Pope Francis the customary plenary indulgence and the blessings of our separated Christian brethren, the Orthodox churches of the East.

Assuming that such a modern Crusade would meet with the success (unfortunately, temporary) of the one that wrested away control of the Holy Land from Muslim invaders in 1099, Belloc advised that we confiscate our defeated foes’ weapons, reopen all formerly closed Christian places of worship, and rebuild the demolished churches, financing the reconstruction with money from the oil-rich Muslim countries (such as Saudi Arabia and others) that have armed the jihadists.

Of course, Muslims in these territories should be allowed freedom of worship, but their (rebuilt) mosques should be open for all to see and hear the proceedings to prevent any secret incitement to violence against Christians or other peaceful religions or sects in the Middle East.

Read the whole thing: here: http://thecatholicthing.org/2014/12/10/spirited-visitor/

40 Comments so far. Join the Conversation
      

The Saints and Mahound

Posted December 15, 2014 By John C Wright

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 remainder of this entry »

33 Comments so far. Join the Conversation
      

Defending Lovecraft (S.T. Joshi replies to Charles Baxter)

Posted December 15, 2014 By John C Wright

This column was brought to my attention by Larry Correia, and I wish to pass the favor on to my readers.

Mr Correia in his column was responding, in his incounterfeitable style, to Grimi Wormtongue, son of Gálmód, who, writing for the British printed matter called Guardian, we find busily if frenetically savaging HP Lovecraft for reasons best explained by the Anonymous Conservative.

To anyone attempting to exploit the link and read the Guardian column, I must include a ‘trigger warning’ to those who, like me, love the the nuance, precision, and strength of expression of the Queen’s English, for the Guardian publication (I cannot in good conscience call it a newspaper) retains a most negligent editor, who permits his writers yammer in jargon not as amusing as the neologisms of Dr Seuss, nor as gay as those in a Marry Poppins song, which seemingly erupt in an epileptic spasm of ink. This phenomenon, which is of interest in alienists, seems similar to glossolalia, in that it seems to be the fluid vocalizing of speech-like syllables that lack any readily comprehended meaning, but is prompted by the inspiration of a spirit somewhat more unclean and dubious than that which inspires revivalists and evangels. 

Here is my trigger warning: always keep the trigger finger outside the guard until you are ready to shoot. Do not point until you are ready to shoot, do not shoot until you are ready to kill, aim for the center of mass and empty the cylinder.

I include below the cut an image of Mr Correia holding his typewriter as a warning to the wise. Read the remainder of this entry »

10 Comments so far. Join the Conversation
      

Supermanity and Dehumanity (Complete)

Posted December 13, 2014 By John C Wright

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 remainder of this entry »

53 Comments so far. Join the Conversation
      

Gamergaters Rally! To Arms, Citizens!

Posted December 12, 2014 By John C Wright

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.

7 Comments so far. Join the Conversation
      

Diamond Hard SF to Mushy Soft SF

Posted December 12, 2014 By John C Wright

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
46 Comments so far. Join the Conversation