The Morlock Morlocks More
It is a pleasure to be alive during the last days of Social Justice Fandom. These creatures, by and large, are old, sickly and obese, and playing little more than a delaying game against time, hoping that the friendly press will keep the buying public in ignorance, deceived by hoopla, one year more, one month, one day, one hour.
However, anyone can read ‘Cat Pictures Please’ by Naomi Kritzer and compare it with ‘The Star’ by Arthur C. Clarke, with ‘Or All the Seas with Oysters’ by Avram Davidson, ‘Flowers for Algernon’ by Daniel Keyes, ‘The Dragon Masters’ by Jack Vance, ‘No Truce with Kings’ by Poul Anderson.
Likewise, anyone can read Alfred Bester’s THE DEMOLISHED MAN or Robert Heinlein’s HAVE SPACE SUIT WILL TRAVEL, or Roger Zelazny’s LORD OF LIGHT and compare it to what is winning these days. If you notice the modern works have a certain political and philosophical bent, and all the same message, this is not a coincidence.
Anyone, that is, who has the sense to read what he is reading. Some lack the talent. They can only see before them what their fevered imaginations present, and make judgments before inspecting evidence, not after, so as to be unbiased by facts.
Once such is Damien Walter of the Guardian, who holds forth his opinion about the Hugo Awards: https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2016/aug/20/hugo-awards-reading-the-sad-puppies-pets
I need say nothing new about Damien Walter: my previous remarks about him suffice. He is a professional ignoramus who has continually failed to finish a novel the Queen’s loyal taxpayers in England are forced to pay him to write. An ox giving advice to a bull.
I could gratuitously add that the man has a tin ear when it comes to prose, and yet poses as a judge of lyricism; the thing speaks for itself.
Rejoice. These folk consider themselves to be the wave of the future, but the future will not contain them. The fever shall pass, and sanity return, in due time.
He belittles Larry Correia, or attempts to do so, but mocking his lean, fast paced, and well-told tales of intrigue, action and adventure as lowbrow. And by lying lies. Mr Walter’s review consists of a verbal spew of girlish flailing and a misstatement of the plot of the first of Larry Correia’s plethora of works.
I note that Mr Walter is canny enough not to quote Mr Corriea’s opening line:
On one otherwise ordinary Tuesday evening I had the chance to live the American dream. I was able to throw my incompetent jackass of a boss from a fourteeth story window.’
The thing speaks for itself, and Mr. Corriea speaks for himself, with verve and zest. Read his take down of this twerp here
Mr Walter next belittles me, or attempts to do so, with the following words:
Within the Puppy movement, John C Wright is considered to be its resident intellectual colossus and was nominated three times for the 2015 best novella category (which eventually went to no one). He is hugely influenced by the Inklings, particularly CS Lewis. But in comparison to Lewis, whose metaphysical investigations were built up from wide-reading during a lengthy education, Wright reads like a first-year humanities undergrad who refuses to read beyond a small pool of comforting favourites, writing essay after essay (or novel after novel) only to demonstrate how much he knows.
Consider this dialogue from Wright’s The Phoenix Exultant:
Rhadamanthus said, ‘There is a tension between the need for unity and the need for individuality created by the limitations of the rational universe. Chaos theory produces sufficient variation in events, that no one stratagem maximises win-loss ratios. Then again, classical causality mechanics forces sufficient uniformity upon events, that uniform solutions to precedented problems is required. The paradox is that the number or the degree of innovation and variation among win-loss ratios is itself subject to win-loss ratio analysis.
This goes on, for page after page. The characters are no more than ciphers for Wright’s ranting, and what story exists is only glimpsed in momentary fragments between diatribes. After long enough reading Wright, you start to suspect that he, like most of these authors, simply can’t help himself, vomiting on to the page whatever passes through his head.
Everything from identifying my influences to listing the number of pages the dialog runs is not only a falsehood, but a lazy falsehood, that is, he has formed and impression of my work not by reading it but by skimming online articles penned by likeminded Morlocks. He does not list Jack Vance as an inflence, even though I wrote a short story for the prestigious tribute antholog SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH edited by George R.R. Martin; nor A.E. van Vogt, even though I wrote the authorized sequel to WORLD OF NULL A; nor William Hope Hodgson, despite my critically acclaimed work in his background.
Instead, Mr Walter notes one novella I wrote in homage to a whole body of British children’s fantasy literature that I wrote when I was an atheist, or, rather, read online comments from the shallower readers of it, and selects C.S. Lewis as my exemplar, even though my style, purpose, point and theme of that story have nothing of Lewis about it at all.
The passage he quotes is from a superintelligent computer who is speaking in technical language about the central theme of the book, which is the need of a society for stability versus the need of the individual for nonconformity, if he is to be creative. If it seems dry and didactic, perhaps slightly opaque, that is by design.
By way of comparison and contrast, here is a passage from ‘Cat Pictures, Please’ which won the Hugo Award for this year, the selfsame award Mr. Walter is defending from the allegedly poor writing of the Sad Puppy authors. By good fortune, the passage is on the same topic and theme, a supercomputer holding forth on the topic of morality:
Anyway, for ethical guidelines, I tried the Ten Commandments, and concluded they were mostly inapplicable to me. I don’t envy anyone their cat; I just want pictures of their cat, which is entirely different. I am not sure whether it is in any way possible for me to commit adultery. I could probably murder someone, but it would require complex logistics and quite a bit of luck. The Eightfold Path was marginally better, but the problem is, moral rules written for humans are clearly designed to be used by individuals with bodies. Since all humans have bodies, it shouldn’t have surprised me that human ethical codes take them into account, but still: problematic for me. I broadened my considerations, and took a look at Asimov’s Laws of Robotics. They’re not part of a religion, but at least they were explicitly written for AIs.
Not harming humans is fairly straightforward. However, not allowing a human being to come to harm through inaction is quite a bit less so. Especially since I’d concluded by then that revealing my existence too quickly might go very badly for me (see “Skynet,” above) and I don’t have a body, so it’s not like I can run around grabbing people off the edges of cliffs.
My comment: Apparently these are not passages with ciphers for characters, serving only as an excuse for the author’s ranting opinions.
The reader may compare the passages and say which sound more like an emotionless superbeing of pure intellect thinking seriously and soberly about morality.
For the record, the steps of the Eightfold Path, for those of you who are not serious and sober, are Right Understanding, Right Aspirations, Right Speech, Right Action, defined as nonexploitive or nonharmful actions. The next are Right Livelihood, Right Diligence,Right Awareness, and Right Commitment or Single-mindedness. All these fall into categories a things a computer can do and can avoid, such a lying or deciding not to lie to lure a preacher into a homosexual lifestyle.
Dismissing all this abruptly on the basis of the lack of a physical body does not strike me as an accurate depiction of a superhuman intellect, rather than of a graying spinster.
In the passage quoted by Mr. Walter, who omits mention of the context, the computer is meant to sound over-educated and a trifle dry. The computer sees human morality in terms of game theory.
Mr. Walter also introduces the opening of the passage but not the conclusion. This is like repeating the straight line of a joke but omitting the punchline in order to show a comedian is not funny.
One wonders why Mr. Walter quotes a passage from the middle of the second volume in a trilogy, which touches on the central theme of the work, and uses this as an example of undisciplined writing. One would think undisciplined writing would be writing unrelated to the theme of the work. Perhaps, in addition to misunderstanding the passage, he missed the theme of the work, despite how obvious I made it.
Let us quote the opening, which is meant to introduce the reader to a strange, posthuman world:
It was a time of masquerade.
It was the eve of the High Transcendence, an event so solemn and significant that it could be held but once each thousand years, and folk of every name and iteration, phenotype, composition, consciousness and neuro-form, from every school and era, had come to celebrate its coming, to welcome the transfiguration, and to prepare.
Splendor, feast, and ceremony filled the many months before the great event itself. Energy-shapes living in the north polar magnetosphere of the sun, and Cold Dukes from the Kuiper belts beyond Neptune, had gathered to Old Earth, or sent their representations through the mentality; and celebrants had come from every world and moon in the Solar System, from every station, sail, habitat and crystal-magnetic latticework.
No human or post-human race of the Golden Oecumene was absent from these festivities. Fictional as well as actual personalities were invited. Composition-assisted reconstructions of dead or deleted paladins and sages, magnates and philosophers, walked by night the boulevards of the Aurelian palace-city, arm-in-arm with extrapolated demigoddesses from imagined superhuman futures, or languid-eyed lamia from morbid unrealized alternatives, and strolled or danced among the monuments and energy-sculptures, fountains, dream-fixtures, and phantasms, all beneath a silver, city-covered moon, larger than the moon past ages knew.
And here and there, shining like stars on the active channels of the mentality, were recidivists who had returned from high trans-human states of mind, bringing back with them thought-shapes or mathematical constructions inexpressible in human words, haunted by memories of what the last Transcendence had accomplished, feverish with dreams of what the next might hold.
It was a time of cheer. And yet, even in such golden days, there were those who would not be satisfied.
My comment: Mr Walter did not quote this as an exhibit of evidence to prove mine and those of the other nonconforming writer work to be the sloppy sentences of a hacks.
He concludes by saying it is our poor writing skills, and not our politics, which excludes us from Hugo consideration. Then he says it is our politics.
Logic is not a Morlock virtue.
Envy is. I suspect Mr. Walter, who cannot finish a novel, is a wee bit jealous. The green eyes do not see clearly.
This is the give away: Wright reads like a first-year humanities undergrad who refuses to read beyond a small pool of comforting favourites.
This is the so called small pool of comfortable favorites who I read in undergrad: http://www.scifiwright.com/2012/06/the-great-books-online/
Perhaps I am not an intellectual colossus, but I am the very model of a modern major general, for I know the croaking chorus of the FROGS of Aristophanes: Βρεκεκεκέξ κοάξ κοάξ
Which I can quote in Greek. You see, Mr. Walter wishes to dismiss Mr. Correia as lowbrow, because Mr. Correia is popular. But it is time to dismiss me as lowbrow, he cannot do it, because my education is a finer and deeper than his own, so all he can say is that my education is of the wrong kind, consisting of a small pool. On the other hand, I have a doctorate in law. It is not the most trenchant critique of my work, but the Narrative demands it, and so Mr Walter says it, truth be damned.
I repeat the above comments from Mr. Walter as a badge of honor. Whatever chokes Gollum is most likely elfin waybread, instinct with the magic of the Golden Wood, and touched by starlight.