O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay

I have just this moment sent back the final draft of One Bright Star to Guide Them to the editor. In the modern, fast paced electronic age, that means this novella (17000 words) will probably be published this month, maybe this week, instead of ten months from now.

Of everything I have written, it is my personal favorite. Now, that may or may not be a good sign. I seem to recall the favorite thing C.S.Lewis ever wrote was my least favorite of his works. Well, we shall see.

Here is the editor’s book description. I hope he does not mind if I unveil it slightly early:

Once as children, long ago, Tommy Robertson and his three friends, Penny, Sally and Richard, passed through a secret gate in a ruined garden and found themselves in an elfin land, aiding a bold prince against the forces of the Winter King. Decades later, stout and settled in his ways, Tommy is long parted from his childhood friends, and their fantastic adventures but a half-buried memory.

But on the very eve of his promotion to London, a silver key and coal-black cat appear from the past, and Tommy hears himself summoned by the fair and ancient words to serve as champion against the unconquerable Knight of Ghosts and Shadows.

The terror and wonder of Faerie has broken into England, and his eyes alone can see it. To gather his companions and their relics is his quest, but time and weariness have changed them.

Youth is gone. Perhaps they are too foolish, too worldly-wise, too old. But dark things from young stories grow older with the years, and darker yet.

ONE BRIGHT STAR TO GUIDE THEM begins where other fairy tales end.
Brilliant and bittersweet, the novella hearkens back to the greatest and best-loved classics of childhood fantasy. John C. Wright’s beautiful tale is not a subversion of these classics, but a loving and nostalgic homage to them, and reminds the reader that although “ever after” may not always be happy, the road of Life goes ever on and evil must be defeated anew by each and every generation.

N.B.: A previous version of One Bright Star to Guide Them appeared in F&SF in their 2009 April-May, but at the editor’s suggestion, I made some changes.


The daring idea of the the text being entirely rewritten to eliminate all male and female pronouns, and a scene where the heroine wishes her husband were a dinosaur and fantasizes about him in graphic sexual detail, as well making each character have a nonbinary sexual  orientation, like Leehallfae, but without any imagination or point, were all contemplated as possibilities, but in the end the editor forced me to write a story that had a beginning, middle and end, so I will not be able to win any prestigious awards, or get a government grant to not write a novel.

(However, in retaliation against my editor, I wrote a story without a beginning, middle and end — at least not in that order, and not with only one ending — and sold it to him as CITY BEYOND TIME. Hoo hah!! On sale now!)



  1. Comment by Montague:

    By Lewis’ favorite, do you mean Perelandra, or Till We Have Faces? And which one is the one you rather dislike?

    I’ve got my fingers crossed for Faces, as Perelandra ranks among my favorite works (at least, the part where he duels with the devil till the end of the book), and I doubt an author of Sicence Fiction and Fantasy would dislike that sort of thing.

    The description of this story gives me the chills. The theme is that of those chilling bits in the Last Battle, the heartrending ending of LOTR and the Scouring of the Shire, the cry of Charlemagne at the end of The Song of Roland, of Chesterton in To Edmund Clerihew Bentley and The Ballad of the White Horse.

  2. Comment by deiseach:

    Delightful news, Mr Wright! I will be anticipating publication keenly so I may exchange monies (via the magic of the new-fangled electronic age gizmos) for the pleasure your writing gives me!

  3. Comment by TJIC:

    > I will not be able to win any prestigious awards, or get a government grant to not write a novel.


  4. Comment by pancakeloach:

    I look forward to reading the novella! Also, the end part about your editor made me burst out laughing at the table, so of course I had to read it out loud to my husband… :D

  5. Comment by R.Carter:

    I hesitate to ask because I fear I already know the answer. Will this be published only as an e-book or will there be a hard copy made available for us poor souls who live in caves without e-readers and smart phones?

    • Comment by Carbonel:

      They also make better gifts.

      Second question: will it have pictures?

      • Comment by ChevalierdeJohnstone:

        It shouldn’t be all that difficult to fabricate a hard copy version of an e-book. Any printing company can do it for you. You could even do it on a reasonably-priced household printer, and with binding supplies bought at your local office products store.

        Of course it will be quite a bit more expensive than buying one of thousands printed by a major publishing house, but those who want a hard-copy of an ebook ought to be willing to pay the real cost rather than asking the author and his publisher to do so.

        • Comment by Finlay:

          You assume that ebooks come in a format that can be changed or printed…. I was under the impression that they cannot.

          If they did, I would gladly buy them by the hundreds and typeset, print, and bind them myself because I am insane and enjoy such work. I did this with Mr. Wright’s “Pale Realms of Shade” and made it into a nice little saddlestitch booklet.

          As it is, I am being to get the impression that I will never be able to buy a new JCW book as they will all be future books inaccessible to us Luddites. :'(

          • Comment by Mrs. Wright:

            We have been told that there will eventually be physical books for some or all of these.

            John…what about illustrations for One Bright Star?

          • Comment by Carbonel:

            If you like the story enough, and have the patience (and the typing speed skills) you can make any book into bound book. I own most of James H. Schmitz’s short stories and a few rare Suzette Haden Elgins stories in hard copy. I even have a hard copy (the printer’s dummy) of Awake in the Night.

            Of course, I had to teach myself bookbinding to do it :::evil grin:::

            • Comment by Finlay:

              I tried to do that for a typewriter manual I’d found a pdf of, which was not the best quality scan. It proved to be too time consuming and I suspect I was adding a fair number of mistakes to it… (I ended up printing that one off as is and it isn’t too bad.)

              Also, I get headaches from looking at screens for long periods of time. Which of course means my typesetting will never be very good, but then I don’t have InDesign or any of the right kind of software for it so it’s not like it’s ever going to be very good.

              Any excuse to learn bookbinding is a good one! I need to make a sewing frame so I can do real case binding. :D

    • Comment by NRMD:

      Castalia House’s books are DRM-free. When you buy them on them on their website, you can download them and read them on your computer with calibre (, which is free.

      Castelia House’s website ( also mentions another solution using Google Books, but I don’t know anything about how that works.

  6. Comment by Fail Burton:

    Awards are as useful as underwear made from the core of a neutron star. Surely you have at least one revenge fantasy against straight white males in you. How about one where a wizard mistakenly utters a spell where all heterosexual ethnic European men are swallowed up by cracks in the earth. Paradise and unparalleled virtue ensues. Minimum wage would be one million dollars a year and war vanish. Gender-hatred becomes a distant memory as does all crime.

  7. Comment by oldcoyote:

    Perhaps a Joy Chant spell from Red Moon Black Mountain: White Magic shall prevail over the Dark!!

  8. Comment by meunke:

    Mr. Wright

    Have a question for you that I would REALLY like your opinion on. Do you have a public email available? It doesn’t address a very recent topic you’ve posted, and I don’t want to sidetrack any of your current topics.

    If you don’t have a public email, I can simply post it. Thanks!

    • Comment by Mrs. Wright:

      You may write him at Arhyalon at gmail.

      That is my public email, but I will pass it onto him.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      I love questions. If it is not something too personal to you, just post it here.

      • Comment by meunke:

        Ok, I’ll just jump right in. My question is regarding immigration and national borders.

        First, a little background. This isn’t critical to the question asked, so if you are pressed for time, please feel free to skip to the final line or two where I will state the question again directly.

        There seem to be two major groups that get the most traction with this problem (yes there are others), and both seem to politically support a nearly limitless importation of people: Democrats and Business Interests. The Democrats seem to support it, mainly as I can see, because once settled, these migrants almost always can be counted on to push for Democratic policies and politicians. Business interests like in seemingly because it provides a supply of cheap labor.

        BTW, I use ‘importation of people’ instead of ‘migration’ on purpose, as from conversations I’ve had, people seem to see these people more like a product, like a foreign made car stereo, to be brought in and used as opposed to actual people.

        As I’ve mentioned in other comments, I deal it C and D class real estate, ie, low income apartments. We don’t have any in the Kansas City ‘war zone’, but some are fairly close. Due to the cheapness and location, we end up getting a lot of Hispanics. The company I work for doesn’t care about citizenship one way or the other, simply checking ability to pay and if there is a criminal history that touches on violence or drugs. Even though we don’t check, I’m fairly certain that if ICE ever raided some of the buildings, the company would lose quite a few tenants.

        That aside, the people themselves are the best tenants you could ever want in the C and D range. They pay their rent, they don’t trash the place, they watch each other’s kids, clean out trash outside even before our maintenance guys get to it sometimes, the families try to chase away hookers and anyone they think might be selling dope, or at very least, they have approached us letting us know of certain problems. There are exceptions, yes, but they are just that. The biggest problems are the occasional family trying to sublet their apartment to other families and getting complaints because they are being too loud. About half don’t speak more than a few words of English. Too be honest, I would love it if that was all we had to deal with. Unlike the buildings that are mostly Hispanic, other buildings we own have majority black tenants and problems from those tend to mainly lean toward drug problems to outright murder on more than a couple of occasions. My opinion is shared by pretty much all the managers I’ve dealt with: were it legal to do so, they’d try to get nothing BUT hispanic migrants in their buildings.

        This is starting to get a little long. Sorry about that. My main purpose is simply to let you know that I’m not approaching the question as perhaps someone who has never stepped foot outside suburbia and who’s only knowledge of migrants comes from watching TV.

        Anyway, to get to the point, I’m really confused about this immigration question. I can understand how many want to assist the suffering of others who are seeking a better life. As a Catholic myself, I can’t helped but be moved to pity at the plight of these people, particularly the children.

        Then again, I can’t quite get behind the idea of many that, if we are to be truly generous, we should make no attempt whatsoever to prevent or slow ANYONE who wants to come to the US by any means, in short, simply pretending that we have no borders at all, or if they exist, they are meaningless.

        The latter seems particularly dangerous to me. Most of these immigrants don’t come here to be US citizens, they come here to earn some money for a better life of some kind. This of course matters a LOT, particularly if you don’t have any money and no real way of getting any in your own country. Most have family they are trying to support back in their home countries. Just stop by any place that does Western Union transfers on payday and see. These people (again, yes, exceptions can be found) don’t want to ‘become American’. How this shakes out is that you have large and growing sections of population that don’t really share much in common with the rest of the country. I personally have never automatically believed that ‘diversity is strength’. If that were always so, then Kosovo, northern Ireland, Syria, etc would all be havens of solidarity. Maybe things will work out great. I sincerely hope so.

        So, directly to my question: What is someone like myself to think of this immigration issue? I know very well that what one’s government wants is NOT always in accord with what we as Catholics must do. We MUST feed the hungry, clothe the naked as they are made in the image and likeness of God. Does this mean we must NEVER turn away anyone away. Must we abandon any borders or control to do this?

        Would REALLY appreciate your insight into this topic. Thanks!

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          Allow me in answer directly to quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which contains teachings on social justice conservatives find distasteful:

          V. Justice and Solidarity Among Nations

          2437 On the international level, inequality of resources and economic capability is such that it creates a real “gap” between nations. On the one side there are those nations possessing and developing the means of growth and, on the other, those accumulating debts.

          2438 Various causes of a religious, political, economic, and financial nature today give “the social question a worldwide dimension.” There must be solidarity among nations which are already politically interdependent. It is even more essential when it is a question of dismantling the “perverse mechanisms” that impede the development of the less advanced countries. In place of abusive if not usurious financial systems, iniquitous commercial relations among nations, and the arms race, there must be substituted a common effort to mobilize resources toward objectives of moral, cultural, and economic development, “redefining the priorities and hierarchies of values.”

          2439 Rich nations have a grave moral responsibility toward those which are unable to ensure the means of their development by themselves or have been prevented from doing so by tragic historical events. It is a duty in solidarity and charity; it is also an obligation in justice if the prosperity of the rich nations has come from resources that have not been paid for fairly.

          2440 Direct aid is an appropriate response to immediate, extraordinary needs caused by natural catastrophes, epidemics, and the like. But it does not suffice to repair the grave damage resulting from destitution or to provide a lasting solution to a country’s needs. It is also necessary to reform international economic and financial institutions so that they will better promote equitable relationships with less advanced countries. The efforts of poor countries working for growth and liberation must be supported. This doctrine must be applied especially in the area of agricultural labor. Peasants, especially in the Third World, form the overwhelming majority of the poor.

          2441 An increased sense of God and increased self-awareness are fundamental to any full development of human society. This development multiplies material goods and puts them at the service of the person and his freedom. It reduces dire poverty and economic exploitation. It makes for growth in respect for cultural identities and openness to the transcendent.

          2442 It is not the role of the Pastors of the Church to intervene directly in the political structuring and organization of social life. This task is part of the vocation of the lay faithful, acting on their own initiative with their fellow citizens. Social action can assume various concrete forms. It should always have the common good in view and be in conformity with the message of the Gospel and the teaching of the Church. It is the role of the laity “to animate temporal realities with Christian commitment, by which they show that they are witnesses and agents of peace and justice.”


          My comment: The current so-called crisis was created by the Obama administration the same way the gunrunning crisis in Mexico was created. There is no famine and no plague in Central America. The illegal aliens are coming in droves because they have been told that this administration will not deport anyone here illegally.

          There is a law in place since the Bush Administration that requires minors being brought across the national boundaries to be detained for a time if there is a credible suspicion that the child is being used as a sex slave. The operant provision reads, in part:

          Upon receiving credible information that a child described in subparagraph (C)(ii)(I) who is seeking assistance under this paragraph may have been subjected to a severe form of trafficking in persons, the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall promptly determine if the child is eligible for interim assistance under this paragraph. The Secretary shall have exclusive authority to make interim eligibility determinations under this clause. A determination of interim eligibility under this clause shall not affect the independent determination whether a child is a victim of a severe form of trafficking.

          Any child coming over the border, legally or not, who falls under the provision of this law must be detained while his eligibility for interim stay is examined.

          As for the rest, the law which prevents the free movement of peoples across national borders is neither unjust nor heartless, but absolutely necessary for this or any nation to maintain its sovereignty. That said, there are current provisions in our laws to allow persons to enter the country if they are fleeing political oppression, and certain other hardship cases.

          The current laws are wise and fair and easily in keeping with Catholic social teaching. The problem is that these laws are not being enforced, and this encourages trespassers to come across the border, secure in the knowledge that they will not be sent back. This creates an incentive to encourage more to come, who are not welcome.

          We can have a welfare state, or we can have low immigration barriers, but we cannot have both.

          Now, the current law does not have a working bureaucracy to enforce it. The Naturalization and Immigration Service does not keep proper records and does not enforce the laws we have.

          That said, we cannot, as Christians, merely let the children starve. Each man personally should feed and cloth one or more of them for the amount of time it takes to locate their parents and send them home. The Catholic Social teaching does not forbid the government from exacting taxes to pay for some of this charity work, albeit we Christians get no spiritual benefit from that. However, as a practical matter, we have to care take of them in such a way that it does not create an incentive for more lawlessness.

          The idea of allowing anyone in any numbers across our borders to receive free food, clothing, housing, education and medical care in not in keeping with Catholic teaching, or with reality.

          At the moment, whether or not this administration created the crisis artificially, we must take care of them until they can be shipped home.

  9. Comment by Zaklog the Great:

    I was blessed enough to snag a reviewer copy from Vox when he posted the announcement this morning. I finished it this evening and plan to write a review in the next few days. Greatly enjoyed it.

    • Comment by tmbridgeland:

      I as well. Quite a…nice…read. (Nice isn’t the word I want, I’ll have to consider.) Suffice to say, I enjoyed it, only wishing it were far, far longer.
      I can just imagine silly people saying it is nothing but a rip-off of Narnia.
      Mr. Wright, any plans to continue the tale?

      • Comment by John C Wright:

        Not only should you imagine silly people saying it is a ripoff of Narnia, that was one of the first comments made by the first reviewer, in a Olympic-class display of missing the point.
        I have no plans to write a sequel to One Bright Star to Guide Them. If the muse has other plans, she has not seen fit to inform me.

  10. Comment by AstroSorcorer:

    Congratulations on the new/old novella!

    I’m rather surprised to see that short story publishing mags for speculative fiction are still around. I could actually have built a home form my old Analog copies. Full length novels are rather intimidating for the neophyte such as myself to undertake (though I have begin the long road). I likely would have tried my hand at such a magazine had I known of it.

  11. Comment by Rainforest Giant:

    It is my favorite as well. I was wishing I could have read about the kids’ adventures all day long. Better I can let my ten year old read it without worrying. Usually you have to let them read insipid multi-cult pseudo-Tolkien junk or old Andre Norton and CS Lewis type stuff. It is rare to see good new fantasy with real religious themes that doesn’t actively offend me.

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