Question for the Readers

Someone has asked me to submit some of the essays I have written here at my journal site for publication. I am a little at a loss, since I am not sure what is good and what is forgettable.

To any loyal reader with an opinion, therefore, allow me to solicit it. I’d like your help to make the decision. I have ten years of material here. Which essays stuck in your mind? Which do you think should be published?

(And maybe we can have a professional editor go through and correct the spelling errors…)

I am not sure what the book will be called. Probably something like ALARUMS AND CONVERSIONS, but in my personal opinion the title should be something calculated to boost sales, such as HARRY POTTER AND THE SPARKLY VAMPIRES OF DUNE.



  1. Comment by deiseach:

    Off-topic, but you might be interested that I have just received the Kindle down-load of “The Judge of Ages” thanks to the sorcery of Amazon, and I will be reading it this evening as soon as I have a free minute.

    With great anticipation and with gratitude for your work, Mr. Wright!

  2. Comment by Bruno Moreno:

    ‘submit some of the essays I have written here at my journal site for publication.’

    Yes, please. It’s really good material. I, for one, would love to read it in book form.

    ‘Which essays stuck in your mind? Which do you think should be published?’

    It depends on how much material you have. If there are enough articles, I suggest a monographic book about political correctness. I’ve always admired your articles about that subject. Maybe with a subtle title, such as ‘Political correctness, an ideology from hell”.

    In my experience, books with a specific subject (as opposed to a general multi-purpose collection of articles about sundry matters) are a lot easier to sell.

  3. Comment by Finlay:

    This is a fantastically difficult question to answer. The sheer volume of awesomeness this blog has… how can anyone pick out just a few posts? Is there any theme proposed for such a collection?

    By the way, your post on the Green Hornet sparked a bit of a Green Hornet obsession over here. I remembered that I had some that I hadn’t listened to yet and passed them on to my dad and my brother, which then led to us watching the TV show every night for a week and starting one of the movie serials.

  4. Comment by Sean Michael:

    Dear Mr. Wright:

    Off the top of my head I would surggest including in any such book revised versions of your “Transhumanism” essay and possibly the note you wrote in response to my own question to you of whether or not an opinion can be wrong, false, incorrect. etc. Another item might be your reflections on religion and SF. And if you want to be controversial your critical comments about why the later works of Robert Heinlein, Sir Arthur Clarke, and Isaac Asimov were so unsatisfactory while those of Poul Anderson were not.

    Sincerely, Sean M. Brooks

  5. Comment by harry w:

    Greetings, Mr. Wright.

    Your writing has been an inspiration for me on so many levels.
    I think you have enough essays to write a wonderful book on Catholic apologetics. Why I became a Catholic, why Catholicism is the Truth, How Catholicism infuses my life, What happens when we turn away from the Truth ( e.g., your four essays on Restless Heart of Darkness).

    You’re an insightful writer. I always look forward to the pleasure of reading your essays.

    Harry Woodward

  6. Comment by Nate Winchester:

    I would divide the book into sections and put the best in there.

    For example, your recent “heart of darkness” and another long essay series you did (I’ll recall the title probably after I’ve posted this) would obviously be first contenders (anything that’s multi-part, really) Then there’s been some of your humorous work – those involving catwoman pics for example.

    Your personal testimony is worth preservation and I quite enjoy some of your “intros” to economics & philosophy & sci fi.

    Should we just start posting links? Is there a max?

  7. Comment by Stephen J.:

    I’d do some rough organization of the content by theme. All the essays are very philosophical, in that they are concerned with starting from first principles and demonstrating how some current state is arrived at, but after that the best ones seem to me to fall into three types:

    – Socioeconomic/-political, in which the biggest common thread is the examination of today’s Progressive-Gnostic postmodernism, and how and where it splits off from traditional Judeo-Christian metaphysics (e.g. “Restless Heart of Darkness”);

    – Aesthetic/pop cultural, in which the influence of those two schools of thought is divined within science fiction and fantasy, and pop culture more generally (e.g. “Saving Science Fiction from Strong Female Characters”);

    – Apologetic/historical, in which popular misapprehensions about Church history and Church teaching are examined and corrected (e.g. “On Canonicity”).

    There’s a lot of overlap here and many works fall plausibly into more than one area, but this is the organizational structure that first comes to my mind.

  8. Comment by The OFloinn:

    What StephenJ said. First decide how large the book will be; then break this up into topics and select essays to fill each bucket. Perhaps pithy excerpts from some of the longer posts. Shorter pieces on more topics.

  9. Comment by Brian Niemeier:

    This essay anthology idea intrigues and excites me. I enjoy Mr. Wright’s essays on writing craft and philosophy best. Of course, it’s desirable for any book to have a unifying theme. Happily, he often manages to combine both subjects in coherent and entertaining ways. I’m sure that his archives contain enough material to fill a volume on the philosophy of science fiction.

    A few of the essays that I’d love to see included are:

    “Walking through the Valley of Mist”

    “Transhumanism and Subhumanism”

    “Faith in the Fictional War between Science Fiction and Faith”

  10. Comment by Jubal Freeman:

    The first thing I thought of was your answer to the fanboy question “Who would win in a fight between Lord Mavors, and Atkins”. I’ll need to look through the archives to remind myself of titles of the serious essays I really liked. I think you should have at least a few of your holiday short stories in there (unless the book is only esays) because I have really enjoyed those.

  11. Comment by Maypo:

    Your entire Universal Apologia series would make a fantastic stand-alone book.

  12. Comment by The OFloinn:

    Oh. And movie reviews like “Desolation of Tolkien”

  13. Comment by Republican Swag:

    I really like this idea!

    Make sure you put in that cut scene from CTAT with Father.

  14. Comment by ronvanwegen:

    “professional editor”? Hah! You could employ a team of monkeys banging away at typewriters for a thousand years and they’d make fewer spellong mistakes than you (!) However, after you decipher the code your work is brilliant and I’d read everything you wrote again.

  15. Comment by Patrick:

    I have a demand: leave out the Never-ending Dialogue Concerning Materialism in it’s entirety. I can’t take it anymore – it’s the worst topic in the history of topics.

    On the other hand, I never fail to be entertained by your opinions on science fiction and things make-believe. I would totally read for pleasure you on the history of sci-fi, the future of sci-fi, women in sci-fi, men in sci-fi, men of Gor in sci-fi, on comic books, on Chick tracks, on Jack Vance and Judy Bloom and even Harold Bloom (but not Leopold Bloom), on space opera, space princesses, Space Invaders, Time lords, Dark lords, Dark Knights, Green Lanterns, and more. I would gladly seek your thoughts on anyone and anything fantastical, from Ringworld to Ronnie James Dio. Fantasy is, on balance, an optimistic subject.

    But please, for the love of all these things, desist from and disappear that depressing, miserable exchange. Don’t try to publish it.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      Granted. I did not have a partner worth expending a weapon on.

      There were one or two ideas, if only by oversight, that I expressed more clearly during that exercise than I previously had expressed in my own mind — but that is a very small pearl for a very large and rotted oyster.

      The whole conversation stalled after the first three exchanges in the first month of the three year long nightmare. The conversation halted the moment Dr Andreassen voiced a conclusion which sprang from this assumptions about the nature of reality, ontology, and the nature of true knowledge, epistemology, but not even all my cunning, finagling, questioning, querying, patience, impatience, nor all the kings horse and all the kings men could get him to respond to any question on either topic.

      I said this to him not once or twice, but many times. No reaction. I asked about his ontology and epistemology, and I used small words so that even a layman, even a dull layman, could follow what the question was about. No reaction.

      He had a conclusion B which came from his assumption about reality and empiricism A, but he could not express or voice A, could not be made aware of A, did not have any argument to support A, did not react to any argument questioning A. And when I said I did not believe in B because I did not believe in A, his next question would always be based on the assumption B was true, but the assumption was never open to discussion.

      He would not say anything one way or the other; he would just continue the same round of same conclusion B as if it were an axiom without having the slightest curiosity where conclusion B came from or how it could be attacked or defended.

      It was such an odd aberration of psychology that for YEARS I could not bring myself to believe any man had so little curiosity, and no training whatsoever in logical, rigorous, and scientific thought.

      It was not as if he thought his unsupported assumptions were too firm to require defense; it was as if he could not hear any word I said whenever I asked him a question about those assumptions. He could not tell me why he assumed them. The closest I ever came was his admission that he had never encountered any reason to believe otherwise, which is the same as saying, he could not bring himself to think about it.

      He would just blank-out. He would drop out of the conversation for a while, and then start it up again as if I had not said anything, had asked no question, and as if I accepted without question an assumption of his I specifically told him I rejected.

      He said he was a PHYSICIST, for goodness sake! I am embarrassed to admit that this pretense fooled me.

      So, yes. Your request is entirely reasonable. I am not publishing a book on psychology.

      • Comment by Pierce O.:

        I would argue that “The Parable of the Chessmen” merits inclusion in some form, as it succinctly sums up the argument against the false dichotomy proposed by materialists, and you have republished it on this blog no less than three times by my count. I would also include “Thinking of Catwoman”, as that essay was the one that really made your position ‘click’, as it were, in my mind (though the licensing issues for the images might be problematic).

  16. Comment by Pierce O.:

    Off the top of my head, some of my favorites over the years have been:
    “Harry Potter and the Christian Magicians” Parts I-III(perhaps not as topical as they used to be, but still an excellent series of essays in their own right)
    Any version of your conversion story+”Assumption Cost”
    “How to Find God”
    “The Pure Church of Imagination Land”
    “True Love and Mere Lust” (I greatly appreciate your essays on morality from back when you were an atheist, as it is a rare chance to read the writings of a modern Stoic. Reading them not only cleared away many assumptions I had about atheists, but they armed me against our mutual foes, the Hedonists, and allowed me to defend the Catholic Church’s moral teachings from atheists on their own terms.)
    “Saving Science Fiction From Strong Female Characters”

    “What’s Wrong with the World” could easily be edited into an excellent standalone work, though I believe G.K. Chesterton has already claimed that particular book title.

    I would also love to see your short stories collected into one volume or multivolume set for ease of purchasing (and it would be a chance to publish your sequel to “Murder in Metachronopolis”).

  17. Comment by Lisieux:

    Your take-down of Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy – and that last rolling-in-the-aisles review of Desolation of Smeg.

  18. Comment by JudgeDeadd:

    Whistle While You Work

    Science Fiction: What Is It Good For?
    I love these two.

    And perhaps John C. Wright’s Patented One Session Lesson in the Mechanics of Fiction

  19. Comment by ladyhobbit:

    I vote for the apologetics and the movie reviews! And I am willing to do proofreading gratis, just for the fun of reading it all again!

  20. Comment by Xena Catolica:

    I’d like to see the essays on early SF writers, particularly those which trace the history of conflicting ideas through folks like Wells, Lewis, etc. And perhaps you could shorten the Doc Smith material into one essay. I think the value of them is that they maintain the perspective of an educated artist rather than reducing them to mere ‘vehicles’ of philosophy, as if the fiction itself were a paper plate.

  21. Comment by robertjwizard:

    Man, I can’t believe this question came out on the 11th. Unfortunately one of my favorite living science fiction authors had a book come out on the 11th (and a favorite deceased author on the same day) called Judge Judy for the Ages – or something like that.

    Great so far, btw!

    Anyway I finally got time and went way, way back in your archives. I pulled out some gems that I like. A lot of them are already posted by others. Here are mine – so far – but not more until after I finish your book, and Lafferty’s as well! [and 2-6]’s-block/

  22. Comment by GiveEmBothBarrels:

    Sounds like you are a Chesterton reader, because your title sounds suspiciously like “Alarms and Discursions”

  23. Comment by Nostreculsus:

    A book of your essays – how delightful! There is an affinity between your occasional pieces here and Chesterton’s columns in that you both often start with some fairly unlikely or mundane topic and proceed to examine the deeper philosophical underpinnings, with unexpected results. The difference being that you are more likely to start from some aspect of sci-fi or nerd culture, while Chesterton starts from cheese or winding roads or civic monuments.

    So, “Alarums and Conversions” seems like a very good title. As to selection, I much prefer your line of rather ponderous drollery to the pieces where you inveigh against the Suffragettes or Kaiser Bill – sorry, I meant feminists and militant Islam (I confused you with Chesterton for a second there) .

    And, contrary to the erudite Patrick, I found the never-ending dialogue on materialism a marvel and absolutely hilarious. They are a philosophical version of the Chuck Jones Road Runner cartoons. Episode after episode, you (Wile E. Coyote) carefully constructs a foolproof logical device to catch your quarry and the Road Runner (Dr Andreassen) looks it over, announces “Meep, meep” and zooms away. Of course, the humour lies in Wile E. Coyote’s persistence, his imagination and his eternal faith in the logic of his constructions.

    I’m not sure how you can convey the flavour of this dialogue in a one-sided selection of essays, but the topic is of intrinsic interest since there are believers in the Singularity, who expect to upload their minds, greatly enhanced, into some evolving Matrix.

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