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Live Long and Prosper

Posted February 28, 2015 By John C Wright

Leonard Nimoy has passed away. By portraying Mr Spock on Star Trek with such even tempered humor, so convincingly, he had an effect on me greater than any other imaginary character has had. He was the model I followed and still do, the example of how a rational man should act.

We have now seen other actors and actresses play Vulcans, a race that represents the paragons of logic, and Leonard Nimoy was the sole actor who carried it off convincingly and delightfully.

color_nimoy_headshot

Contemplate for a moment how much acting craft it takes to portray a cold, reserved, remote and dignified person, not even a human, while wearing make-up that gives one an appearance either elfish or diabolical, and make the character one of the best beloved in the television.

Because I loved Spock. The concept of a man utterly devoted to reason, to truth, to matters of the intellect, battling forever his human side that tempted him into emotion, passion, confusion became the core concept of my childhood, and, I say without a blush, of my life.

A philosopher is nothing more or less than a Vulcan, that is, a man who puts human emotion aside to cleave to divine reason as if to a cold but beloved bride, forsaking all others. He lives by the icy light shed by his intellect alone, where all things are seen clearly and in proper proportion. A philosopher is someone who uses reason to ponder the nature of duty versus self indulgence, or of virtue versus vice, and, rejecting the false allure of vice, cleaves to virtue.

Every soldier and every saint has a bit of philosopher in him, because he also must put aside cowardice and doubt. The soldier puts aside the cowardice his discipline tells him is irrational and deadly, even as the saint puts aside the doubts his discipleship tells him is irrational and damnable. Both of them, in part, in this little way, are Vulcans.

Consider the shape of the world when Star Trek came on the scene. Self discipline was for squares. Philosophy was word games and rubbish. Logic was a swear word, because gushy and infantile emotions were the order of the day, and arms were for hugging and all you need is love (usually with a tilted heart for the letter o).

Leonard Nimoy’s portrayal of Spock was the only portrayal in popular media of what a man of virtue, a man of logic, a man of reason, was supposed to be. And, unlike some robot, his was portrayed as a constant struggle.

Now, the cold and utterly heartless scientific genius was a stock character ever since the days when Jules Verne penned Robur the Conqueror, or E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith introduced Blackie DuQuesne to the universe, but such dispassionate logicians were always a stock villain character, a bad guy. To make a cardboard blackhat into a living and three-dimensional hero takes not only good writing, but great acting, even genius.

The show intended Spock to be the foil and counterpart to Dr. McCoy, who was meant to represent the conscience and passion of the human race, all the parts that Mr Spock lacked. Be that as it may, I mean no disrespect to DeForest Kelley, but he had the easier task of it as an actor, because his role was to portray a doctor with compassion. That is a side of life most of us understand, and we have seen in many other shows and tales, science fictional and otherwise.

But Nimoy’s genius was to put across the human warmth, the loyalty to ship and friends, and especially to his commanding officer, James T Kirk, and make this alien monstrosity of logic humorous and human and lovable.

Spock was the only figure representing logic in a world filled with illogic, and the difficulty of the portrayal, and the brilliance of the success, cannot be explained only admired.

When we see a light too bright to see, we call it blinding, and there little else aside from that word we can use to depict it.

Likewise, when we see an actor take what could and should have been a trite and cardboard concept for an alien character, and turn him into a beloved icon and exemplar which will live in the hearts of fans and admirers for generations, that we can call genius, and there is little else to say beyond that: the light is too bright, and a tear must be in the eye of anyone who sees how dark this world is, now that that light is gone from us.

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If you were curious about my voice, or what my basement looks like, or why my video account uses a pokemon icon, all these mysteries can be deepened by listening to this podcast by Geek Gab, where I talk over people, refuse to answer questions, and make many remarks so odd that a team of psychologists are discussing the matter now, as well as a team of psychohistorians, irked that this one podcast may disrupt the Seldon Plan.

 

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The Vacant Forever Village

Posted February 27, 2015 By John C Wright

I offer this as a vignette for my readers. It is a scene that was removed from VINDICATION OF MAN for reasons of space. Whether any fan of the work will find anything to entertain him, I do not know; which is, of course, a second and stronger reason why it was removed. I proffer it as a curio only:

The Vacant Forever Village

1.       He Laughs

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And, as suddenly as that, he knew what nagging fear and hidden error had been bedeviling him.

He laughed at himself and laughed for joy, and the noise was so like the braying of a donkey that Trey danced back in a swirl of blue-gray films, startled, and the eyes on the hat of Mickey grew wide in shock, but, off to one side of the field, Blackie del Azarchel scowled and rose up and threw his uneaten half bag of popcorn to the grass.

That made Montrose laugh all the more.

He resolved not to break off any more subsections of himself to watch himself sleep or keep wary eyes Del Azarchel on. What could the man do, now? It was so close to the happy ending that would crown the epic of lonely longsuffering waiting with love and victory. What could he do?

Just as suddenly, Montrose felt sober, and even slightly sick.

Mickey, seeing the look of nausea in his face, asked him what was wrong.

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The Needs of Drama and the Needs of Culture

Posted February 27, 2015 By John C Wright

The eternal war between Vesta and the Muses:

http://www.ljagilamplighter.com/2015/02/25/superversive-blog-the-needs-of-drama-vs-the-needs-of-culture/

My beautiful and talented wife pens a column which identifies a clear and simple idea absolutely crucial to be understood before any discussion of the merit of a work begin:

It takes a superb writer to make the process of painting a landscape interesting to an outsider. It only takes a writer of ordinary skill to bring excitement to a chase scene with a thief and the Company assassin on ski mobiles in the midst of the Winter Olympics.

… We would like to teach our children to be peaceful and chaste, but violence and sex sell. They draw readers. But this does not keep those who would be the guardians of culture for criticizing our entertainment for the places where it falls short of the demands of culture.

So What Are These Needs of Culture?

What are the values those favoring improving the culture wish to put across? Currently, they fall into two categories: traditional cultural values and modern cultural values.

Traditional culture covers the kind of thing listed in the Ten Commandments or the Boy Scout’s Law. It wants people to be honest, upright, brave, clean, etc. The needs of traditional culture require that good guys be upright, bad guys always get their comeuppance, and that the line between the two remain crisply defined.

Modern culture, too, has needs, things it wants drama to portray as good and to encourage in its audience. This desire is so prevalent in our society that it has its own name: Political Correctness. Races must get along. All people, regardless of rank or birth, must be treated as equals. The old taboos are to be laid to rest, no one needs them any more. Nobility and grandeur are to be sneered at, and women must be the equal of men—or better.

What About The Needs of Drama?

The needs of drama are quite different from those of culture. They are ruled by the desire to entertain. Whatever enthralls the audience most, that is what drama requires.

Unfortunately for those who would use stories to teach cultural mores, what makes a story entertaining is often directly at odds with what is good or virtuous or politically correct.

Drama is about conflict. It is about breaking taboos, the more shocking the better! Thieves, prostitutes, gamblers, alcoholics, adulterers – all the things that traditional culture does not wish to glamorize make for entrancing drama. But it is not just traditional culture that get trampled. Bigots, class struggles, and inequality among the sexes also makes for excellent storytelling!

Are the people who fear the effect of drama on society starting at shadows?

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Reviewer Praise for FEASTS AND SEASONS

Posted February 26, 2015 By John C Wright

Yard Sale of the Mind has a fulsome and flattering review of BOOK OF FEASTS AND SEASONS. I had the odd sensation of wanting to read the stories thus described, they sounded so fascinating.

The reviewer makes the unintentionally funny comment that I might mislike being compared to one of the most famous writers of the century, Flannery O’Conner. I also might mislike being told I am as handsome as Adonis, strong as Sampson, and as logical as Spock, but then again perhaps I might not.

https://yardsaleofthemind.wordpress.com/2015/02/25/book-review-the-book-of-feasts-and-seasons/

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A Fan Manifesto

Posted February 26, 2015 By John C Wright

Challenge accepted, Mr. Torgersen!

Background: More than rabbit-souled one self-declared foe of the Sad Puppies slate of Hugo candidates has urged their fellow lapines to shun us and bite us with their wee square rodential teeth to drive us trembling into exile, away from the fuzzy and comfortable warren of right-thinking, that is to say, left-leaning, that is to say, non-thinking conformists.

Their claim of right and clamor of noise was that we were all disqualified from being heard, on the grounds that we are not ‘real’ science fiction fans.

Nothing wrong with fans holding forth their opinions, far from it: Science fiction is blessed to have such an active and enthusiastic fanbase. Nothing wrong with fans telling pros how to conduct their business, far from it. You fans are the employers. The customer is always right.

But their is something wrong with one fan wagging the insufferable finger of correctness at other fans, and telling them they are not members of the one, big happy family, because then you are frelling with my customers, you loon, and mucking with my paycheck. So shut your fat and drooling trap, friend.

My normal Vulcan equanimity is perturbed, causing me to raise one supercilious eyebrow an alarming inch and a quarter up my otherwise unwrinkled forehead by anyone who claims that I and mine are not ‘real’ fans because our participation in fandom is somehow insufficient or politically incorrect.

One Rob at CDN (https://anthrobob.wordpress.com/2015/02/17/so-im-not-cool-enough-to-be-a-fan/) takes exception to the restrictive definition; and was joined in his umbrage by Brad R Torgersen (https://bradrtorgersen.wordpress.com/2015/02/22/my-fanifesto/) and Paterick Richardson (https://otherwheregazette.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/not-a-real-fan/) and Kerry English (http://karyenglish.com/2015/02/on-discovering-sff-and-becoming-a-fan/) and an anonymous passer-by on the internet, who, because he happens at the moment to agree with me on this one issue, I trust as I trust the Oracle at Delphi and the Sibyl at Cumae, combined! (https://westfargomusings.wordpress.com/2015/02/22/a-fan-in-my-own-way/)

So, in that spirit, let me say that, while you were still in kneepants, I was a fan. I embarked on my life of crime for the sake of fandom.

My life as a criminal began in the Fifth Grade. During lunch period and recess, because I preferred to read rather than play on the playground, and because my book and my MUNSTERS lunchbox were too big for my small hands to carry both, it was my habit, just before the bell rang, to walk over and unlatch one window the merest crack. Then, while other children were getting healthy exercise, I would sneak back to the classroom building, open the window deftly, and slither inside, retrieve my book, close the window, and depart my the front door, locking it behind me. I would have gotten away with it, too, if Mr Geisel, my teacher, had not collared me during one break-in. My career as a first-story man, or boy, seemed cut short. But when he realized I was trespassing in order to get a book, to read it, something no other child seemed wont to do, I was not sent to Alcatraz, nor to the Principal’s office.

I agree that, compared to the career of Adam North, the Napoleon of Crime, or Professor Moriarty, that Irish mastermind, or of Blackie DuQuesne, that superscientist of villainy, my crime wave was short lived. But I got away clean as a whistle, which is more than two of the three of them can can say.

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Help Cure Puppy Related Sadness in Short Stories

Posted February 25, 2015 By John C Wright

The follow announcement is from my publisher. The words below are his:

Sad Puppies Short Fiction Bomb

The Mountain That Writes turns around and comes back for a second pass:

This Book Bomb is a little different. Because the ones I’m doing right now are to get more people exposed to the works we nominated for the infamous Sad Puppies slate, we’re bombing a bunch of works at the same time. I don’t like putting this many links, but time is of the essence, and next week I’ll post about the Campbell nominees and Best Related Works.

We did three novellas last week and it was a huge success. They’re still selling well a week later. Overall we sold a couple thousands novellas, which in novellas is freaking huge.

But shorter fiction is tough, because it isn’t always available for sale by itself, but is usually bundled as part of an anthology, or in a magazine which often isn’t available on Amazon.

As you can see from the list below, luckily many of these are available on Amazon, and some are available for FREE: Read the remainder of this entry »

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Woot!

Posted February 24, 2015 By John C Wright

Unlimber the big guns, ring the church bells, release the kraken, remit all executions, free the gladiators, gather the greenskinned Orion dancing girls, decree a clone parade of endless twins, and have the Death Star blow up the peaceful and unarmed planet Alderaan in joyful celebration! Two firkins of water shall be distributed to every Fremen!

I just typed the last period of the last sentence of VINDICATION OF MAN, which is the sequel to ARCHITECT OF AEONS. One last read through for glaring errors, cut some material to make room for my appendices, and then I ship it to the editor! Hurrah!

Boy, that Menelaus I Montrose, he has a life that just sucks lemons. A really, really long life that really, really sucks. So glad I am not he. Read the remainder of this entry »

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Suggested Reading List for Racialist Whineloons

Posted February 24, 2015 By John C Wright

Right Fans posts the list:

Commentary: If You Want to Avoid Reading White, Straight, Cis Male Authors for a Year…

.. have I got a list for you!

Sarah A. Hoyt, for example, is a first generation Portuguese immigrant who grew up in an impoverished village (at least by our standards). She is also a winner of the Libertarian Futurist Society’s Prometheus Award, which honors outstanding fiction with pro-liberty themes.

Larry Correia is also a “writer of color” who grew up in disadvantaged circumstances. As he relates in a recent post, “I grew up with all that fancy Portuguese Dairy Farmer Privilege, where I got to have an alcoholic mother and a functionally illiterate father… where I got to spend my formative years knee deep in cow shit at 3:00 AM, so that I could later work my way through Utah State.” Despite starting life on the bottom rung, however, Larry persevered and is now a multiple-award-winning urban fantasy author.

Jason Cordova is yet another “writer of color” and a survivor of sexual abuse who was bounced from group home to group home in his formative years. After a childhood fighting the oppression of “the system,” he went on to write some pretty fun kaiju novels. The one at left is especially noteworthy.

And let’s not forget James Young, an up-and-coming African American writer who has dipped his toes in both military science fiction and alternate history. An Unproven Concept is an excellent place to start sampling his work.
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Book Bomb Tomorrow!

Posted February 24, 2015 By John C Wright

We have received a message, via the Gridley Wave from our Warlord, Marshal, Ninja-sensei, Cowpuncher and Commander-in-Chief of Sardaukar Terror-Troops, the International Lord of Hate, Larry Correia, about the next planned bombing run.

Sad Puppy Update: Book Bomb for the short fiction this Wednesday.

Mark your calenders. We will be Book Bombing the short fiction categories this Wednesday.

The Novella Category Bomb was a huge success. Thousands of copies were moved. A week later and they’re still on their respective genres bestseller lists. So basically we made sure that these will be the most widely read items in their category.

Now we’re going to do the same thing for the short stories and novelettes. Sad Puppies is all about getting people to nominate based on what they like, as opposed to what they are supposed to like.

Sad Puppies is all about you guys enjoying what you want, regardless of the finger shaking scolds.So, mark your calenders, Book Bomb this Wednesday. Where you can check out some of the awesome short fiction we’re suggesting on our Sad Puppies slate… Oh, and I think some of the authors aren’t horrible white “cismales”, and thus K. Tempest approved, but I since I don’t give a shit I haven’t bothered to check.

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