Author Archive

Andrew Klavan on EMPIRE OF LIES

Posted November 26, 2014 By John C Wright

One last post before I depart for the Holiday: This is an interview done with Andrew Klavan, and it is the only thriller style book, not science fiction, that I have ever read with complete pleasure: Read the remainder of this entry »

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Morons Riot for Stupid

Posted November 26, 2014 By John C Wright

From the pen of Jordan179, in words so trenchant, biting and true, that I must repeat them here.

http://jordan179.livejournal.com/306459.html

Morons Riot in Ferguson to Defend Rights of Stupid Big People to Rob, Beat Up Small People

After Michael Brown, a really stupid big guy, strong-armed a box of cigars from a store, he was stopped by Officer Darren Wilson, who caught him with the cigars.  Because Michael Brown was a really big guy, and really stupid, he thought he could beat up Officer Wilson, and began doing so.  Officer Wilson then proceeded to demonstrate to him that force really does equal mass times (velocity squared), pumping six bullets into Michael Brown.

“Damn … I’m real big … this cannot be!” Michael Brown was not reported to say as the really small lead bullets, traveling at very high speeds, dumped large amounts of momentum into his body, because this was real life and Michael Brown was just an ordinary dangerously-violent bully, not a cartoon villain.  Nor did his body develop cracks, leak tremendous amount of energy, then erupt in a tremendous plasma explosion, though that would have been pretty cool.  Nevertheless, he died.  The average intelligence of the human race was reported to have slightly improved.

This was months ago.  Since then, mobs of morons, defending the rights of big people everywhere to beat up smaller people, have been looking to punish smaller people by devastating the neighborhood of Ferguson, MO, which is inhabited mostly by people smaller than Michael Brown and who he was in the habit of beating up whenever he felt like it.  They claim solidarity with the people of Ferguson, who are apparently dim-witted enough not to notice that this is where they LIVE and it’s THEIR stuff getting destroyed.

Today a grand jury, responding to the demands of the law instead of the whining of morons, refused to indict Officer Wilson because he engaged in a perfectly legitimate self-defense shooting of a dangerous, violent and let me add very stupid felon.  The whiny morons have now picked up guns and are shooting randomly in Ferguson.  Hopefully, the National Guard will march in and further increase the average intellect of the human race by shooting the morons, but who knows?  We live in a time of arrant stupidity at the highest levels these days.

There was probably a more dignified way of reporting this, but I’ve utterly lost patience with these fools.  If you want the version where Michael Brown was a poor widdle gentle-giant and Darren Wilson a cruel killer who ate babies for breakfast, just turn on CNN.  They’ll explain why this was all about race and nonsense like that.  I can’t be bothered to lie on my own blog.

My Comment:
I also pass along the coroner’s finding that Michael Brown was intoxicated with marijuana in sufficient amounts to cause hallucination. So in addition to being big and stupid, this brutal Ostrogoth thug with his knuckles still skinned from beating a tiny shopkeeper was high as a kite.

So naturally the press corps asks only his accomplice for his lies about the event, and they reported that as truth.

Newsmen these days seem to think that the devil in hell will assign them virgins, or houri, up to 72, to rape as their reward in the afterlife based on how many deaths, how much misery, and how much arson and destruction their shameless lies provoke and encourage.

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More Superversion

Posted November 26, 2014 By John C Wright

Another link to an essay worth reading. The inestimable Josh Young, who often comments here, responds to the Superversive Literary Counterinsurgency mission statement by hoisting the banner of the Red Cross Knight alongside ours, and leveling a broadside from the ironclad of his worldview.

http://thebadgercontemplates.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/on-the-superversive-a-science-fiction-credo/

I say only, hear, hear and I say amen.

Here is an excerpt

It’s not going to come as a surprise to anyone that knows me that I like my stories dark. I like my stories to be nailbiters, heroes fighting against all odds. I like my stories rough, and I want my heroes to suffer a bit. I’m not opposed to killing a beloved character, if that character’s death has meaning in some form or another.

“Meaning” doesn’t necessarily have a point to it, incidentally. There doesn’t have to be a moment of “He died so that we could live!” But compare the death of Macross/Robotech‘s Roy Fokker and Firefly/Serenity‘s Wash. Roy’s death, meaningless and stupid, came in the middle of a war, and narratively, told us this show wasn’t going to promise us that our heroes would make it out unscathed. Wash’s death came randomly and pointlessly, during a moment of relief and without context, just to remind us that Joss Whedon likes to make us cry.

Thing is, even in all these dark stories, I want heroes, light, and hope. One of the things that Jagi and the Superversive folk is the pointless nihilism of literature. There’s a sense you get, reading a lot of modern lit, that life sucks and nothing has meaning. Nothing will ever have meaning. (Jagi talks about Steinbeck, whom I have not read, but I got the cliffnotes version of while watching The Middle. It matched Jagi’s experience.) Even if I didn’t already prefer my stories to have spaceships and laser guns, that sort of thing would drive me away from mainstream lit.

Some folks would claim it’s escapism, that the nihilism of mainstream lit is the reality– and, well, I won’t spoil it for you, but read Jagi’s entry. She has some things to say about that. As a Christian and a seminarian I have to remind you that it is far, indeed from the truth. Our book tells us that things are dire and deadly and will get worse, but that, in the end, there is triumph, does it not?

It’s an interesting thing, and I keep trying to get a handle on it: but in a lot of ways, science fiction and theology feel very much the same when you dive into them.

My comment: he has a story coming out in the next issue of Sci Phi Journal , so buy it and support him and them, please.

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SF Book Openings

Posted November 26, 2014 By John C Wright

The fine folks at SfSignal have asked your humble servant, among others, to hold forth on the best book opens that open when you open a book. Here is my answer:

http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2014/11/mind-meld-the-best-book-openings/

The purpose of an opening line in a story is to invite the reader into a new world. But when the story is a science fiction story, a fantasy, a ghost story, or any other tale of wonder, the purpose is to lure him into a world of strangeness.

The art of injecting strangeness into a tale of wonder is like cutting a diamond: a proper stroke will bring out the brilliance, and an awkward stroke will shatter the diamond.

Let me offer two examples, in an opening line, of a single strange word or phrase that tells the reader he is opening a curious door into a world not his own:

“When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.”Fellowship of the Ring, JRR Tolkien

or

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell

Such is when it is done well. Invented words should have invented roots: something that implies the word grew up from the world. The fact that hobbits live to one hundred and eleven years is peculiar, and something of their rustic quaintness is implied by the neologism “eleventy-one.” If it is not something country gentry say, it sounds like it should be.

Again, the fact that the clocks strike thirteen hints that the future world of 1984 has gone to a decimal dial, with all the unpleasant associations of revolutionaries who revise calendars, making it Thermidor of Year One, and so on. It is done poorly when the newly-coined word has no roots and tells you nothing about the world involved.

And, of course, the other purpose is to arrest the reader’s attention, provoke his curiosity, tell him just enough of the new and strange world to allure him.

At times with his done curtly, wryly, directly:

“Marley was dead, to begin with.” A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

This establishes the spooky mood, slightly tongue-in-cheek, of the famous Dickens’ tale. It is ghost story, to be sure, but one where the ghosts perform the exorcism on the mortal, not the other way around.

or

“The building was on fire, and it wasn’t my fault.” Blood Rites by Jim Butcher

This establishes character, namely, the personality of our protagonist, a strongly pyrokenetic and mildly pyromaniac wizard from Chicago, with the punch of a well-timed one -liner.

or

“On one otherwise normal Tuesday evening I had the chance to live the American dream. I was able to throw my incompetent jackass of a boss from a fourteenth-story window.” — Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia

This establishes setting, for it puts across the personality of the hyperkinetic and violent world.

And adroit gambit for an opening line is to introduce an ambiguity, and oddity, which will resonant with any ambiguities present in the rest of the book. Again, two examples, both of which establish theme:

“Once upon a time there was a Martian by the name of Valentine Michael Smith.” Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

The contrast of the oddest of oddities, a Martian, and the most quotidian of names, Smith is here on display. The reader’s eye is pulled as if magnetically to the next line to discover how a Martian can have so very terrestrial a name. Also present is the slightest hint of one of the philosophical points of the novel: Smith is a not a man from Mars, for he is not a man at all, since by upbringing he is an alien. In other words, this story asks what it means to be human, and that opening line serves to establish the question to be asked.

“Dr Strauss says I shoud rite down what I think and remembir and evrey thing that happins to me from now on.” ~ Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

This contrast may be harder for the modern reader, raised on reading twitters and combox flamewars, to spot at first, but the oddity of the spelling errors and the command of the doctor to write down thoughts and experiences forms a contrast central to the story, which is of a man undergoing an intelligence augmentation experiment. This tale asks, if man is an intelligent animal, what it means to be intelligent?

In my humble opinion, however, the best opening lines are ones that do more than establish character or setting, mood or theme. Here are two examples that establish what I can only call the spirit of the story, and from the very first lines of these famous tales, the living force of the personality, a subtle and unmistakable, informs the opening.

“I’ll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination.”The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin

 

“It is possible I already had some presentiment of my future.”Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe,

Here words fail. If you, dear reader, cannot hear the strange and echoing depth of wonder and wisdom promised (and, in my opinion, richly fulfilled) by the adroit mastery of implied by the archaic and pregnant word presentment or the richness implied by the deceptively simple statement that Truth is a matter of imagination, my words cannot aid you. My only task is to invite you to read these classics if you have not already, to envy you the delight of a first encounter with Leguin or Wolfe, to step aside with a bow, and fall silent.

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THE WRIGHT PERSPECTIVE: Unthanksgiving

Posted November 26, 2014 By John C Wright

My latest is up at EveryJoe. Sorry about the tasteless girly pictures, but it is the Rightwing way to do what Buzzfeed does.

Please stop by and play whackamole with the live-in troll.

There is an old Chinese legend of a golden scroll on which the secret of human happiness was written; and sages and warlords, merchant-princes and emperors sought the scroll with fervor. When found, they saw the secret of the scroll consisted of one ideogram printed over and over, an ideogram they could not read. However, there was a beggar girl who could read the mysterious word.

If you know that word, then you know the secret of human happiness.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays for three reasons: first, it drives the Leftists crazy because it is a clearly and openly Christian holiday in the midst of a society they are fervidly attempting to dechristianize; second, it drives Leftists crazy because it is a holiday based on a historical fact, namely, Indian and Pilgrim cooperation, which flips the middle finger at the Leftist preferred narrative about non-civilized White men committing malign genocide on the non-savage Red men; and finally and most of all, it drives the Leftists crazy because the concept of being thankful, of feeling gratitude, of thanks for benefits never to be repaid, is utterly alien to their way of thinking and their way of life.

One benefit that accrues to the Christian, even if all of history, logic, and revelation should turn out to be false, and God a myth no more real than Global Warming, nonetheless, is that we Christian men feel gratitude toward our Creator for the infinite gift of creation. A noble pagan can indeed receive a gift in his stockings at Christmas, and be grateful to the giver, but a Christian can feel grateful for the legs he puts into his stockings each morning, and the world on which he walks.

The Left does not give thanks, not to anyone, human or divine, past or present, not for any reason.

Why not?

From the pen of Ayn Rand

“You—who’re depraved enough to believe that you could adjust yourself to a mystic’s dictatorship and could please him by obeying his orders—there is no way to please him; when you obey, he will reverse his orders; he seeks obedience for the sake of obedience and destruction for the sake of destruction. You who are craven enough to believe that you can make terms with a mystic by giving in to his extortions—there is no way to buy him off, the bribe he wants is your life, as slowly or as fast as you are willing to give it in—and the monster he seeks to bribe is the hidden blank-out in his mind, which drives him to kill in order not to learn that the death he desires is his own.”

No matter what one thinks of Ayn Rand‘s conclusions on other topics, one ought to stand in awe of her incisive and unparalleled clarity of insight into the mind of the Collectivist. Each time I am tempted to think that the villains in her novels are caricatures or exaggerations, I meet one in real life.

Hers seems an extraordinary statement, to be sure, but regard the logic of it: If a Leftist were ever to feel gratitude, this would mean he felt a satisfaction of his demands. His demands would cease, hence, he would cease to be a Leftist.

The Leftists do not even have gratitude to their own pioneers and forefathers. Instead of erecting shrines, like noble prechristian heathens, to their ancestors, these postmodern postchristian heathens turn on their ancestors and rend them, and dishonor the memory even of their own founders. Like Jupiter casting castrated Saturn into Hell, they maim and condemn their own fathers.

An example comes from my own field, science fiction. If you are unfamiliar with the name Robert Heinlein, he is rightly called the Dean of Science Fiction; his pen is the one that first broke through from the pulps into the slicks, and then into juveniles, and then into the mainstream. Were it not for him, we would still be a Hugo Gernsbeckian ghetto.

Heinlein was also a bold advocate for equality of all races and both sexes, at a time when such ideas were not discussed in polite society. He was the main champion in our little Science Fiction ghetto of all things Progressive and Leftwing, that is, the Leftwing of that time. (They have since reversed their standards, for example, swapping a principled opposition to censorship to a full-throated advocacy of it, or swapping an unprincipled opposition to monogamy to an even more unprincipled advocacy of abstinence combined with libertinism.)

The Left owe Heinlein an immense debt of gratitude. Ergo they are ungrateful.

While working on the novel that was to become Rocket Ship Galileo, Heinlein warned his agent that the inclusion of an ethnically diverse cast was not only deliberate—it was non-negotiable, and if an editor requested the removal of the Jewish character, Blassingame (the agent) was to take the book elsewhere.

This is from the letter Heinlein wrote to his agent about his wishes:

“I have deliberately selected a boy of Scotch-English pioneer ancestry, a boy whose father is a German immigrant, and a boy who is American Jewish. Having selected this diverse background they are then developed as American boys without reference to their backgrounds. You may run into an editor who does not want one of the young heroes to be Jewish. I will not do business with such a firm. The ancestry of the three boys is a “must” and the book is offered under those conditions. My interest was aroused in this book by the opportunity to show to kids what I conceive to be Americanism. The use of a diverse group . . . is part of my intent; it must not be changed. . . . I am as disinterested as a referee but I want to get over an object lesson in practical democracy.”

Commenting on this is one Matt Wagner, freak, writing on the blog maintained by Tor books — one of the largest and most well-respected names in science fiction publishing, as well as being my own publisher. This is not some overlooked corner or outlier opinion.

Wagner snarks:

This is all admirable, but let’s keep in mind what’s missing from this cast: Asians; disabled people; non-Americans of any kind; lesbians, gays, and the transgendered; Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, or representatives of the other major world religions. Heinlein’s book was enormously ethnically diverse in that it included the full variety of American Judeo-Christian boys.

And even the notion that the ethnically diverse boys are “developed as American boys without reference to their backgrounds” is a little creepy.

The freakish Mr. Wagner is not satisfied that Heinlein stormed the breach for them, being the first science fiction writer to put a Jew (Morrie Abrams from Rocket Ship Galileo), a Filipino (Juan Rico, Starship Troopers), a Negro (Rod Walker from Tunnel in the Sky implicitly and Mr. Kiku from The Star Beast explicitly) a Mohammedan (Dr. “Stinky” Mahmoud from Stranger in a Strange Land) or a Maori girl (Podkayne from Podkayne of Mars) in the spotlight as a main character and hero or heroine, but then criticizes Heinlein for not having as a main character … who? A cross-dressing homosexual castrati Hindu as a main character in a children’s book published in 1947? The Democrat Party still had Jim Crow laws and segregation in the South, and in those days the militant arm of the Democrat Party, the KKK, were still lynching blacks.

Do you understand to what the freakish Mr. Wagner is objecting? He is objecting to the melting pot theory that men of different races, locked into endless mutual hatred in the old world, can leave their hatred behind here in the new world. He is objecting to racelessness. Hence, he is a racist.

Heinlein showed backbone and gorm and ran the risk of being blackballed and put out of business by the Left (who, then as now, have major influence amounting to near total control in the New York publication industry) — and for this bold stance, unheard-of at the time, the gormless and freakish Mr Wagner criticizes Mr. Heinlein.

As Ayn Rand says, you cannot reason with such creatures, you cannot negotiate with them. Reasoning presupposes a standard of evidence that can be satisfied; negotiation presupposes a state of satisfaction that will silence further demands.

The extortion can be material, as for money, or social, as for status, or psychological, as for a sense of unearned self-esteem, but the defining characteristic of the Left is that these things extorted are not earned.

But a satisfied Leftist, a Leftist with nothing further to extort, is no longer a Leftist for the same reason that a Pirate who never plunders ships is not a Pirate, or a parasite without a host is no longer a parasite. They can never be satisfied.

Why? Do they want to be unhappy, always victims, always weak, always pathetic, whining, unmanned, absurd, pathetic, and gormless?

To find out why the Left are dickless and gormless, and what is the word written over and over again on the golden Chinese scroll, and what is the secret of human happiness, please read on.
http://www.everyjoe.com/2014/11/26/politics/unthanksgiving-leftists-hate-thanksgiving/

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Best Comment Ever

Posted November 26, 2014 By John C Wright

The most insightful, balanced, and indeed best comment I have heard on this topic comes from Larry Correia:
http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/11/25/the-legalities-of-shooting-people/

I’m writing this blog post because I’ve seen a lot of really ignorant comments from a lot of otherwise intelligent folks about some recent shootings. It is really easy to be swayed by knee jerk emotion, but luckily we live in America, where we have a justice system based on evidence and the rule of law. I’m not going to get into the Brown shooting too much because I wasn’t on the grand jury and haven’t read the evidence presented in that particular case, but I’m going to explain how use of force laws work so I don’t have to keep repeating myself.

This will vary state by state, but these are the fundamentals for most places in the US. There are some legal differences between police and regular folks shooting people, but basically the rules are similar. I’m not an attorney in your state, and this is not meant as legal advice for your state. Again, this isn’t meant as legal advice, rather as a primer to get people to not be so damned ignorant about the fundamentals of how the law works.

And the law usually does work.

I’m going to keep this simple. Before I became a novelist, I was a Utah Concealed Weapons instructor for many years. I’m condensing a few hours of lecture and discussion into one article. Again, this will vary state by state.

He gives a basic run down on the use of lethal force in self defense, and you can take my word for it that this is the same thing we lawyers learn in law school. Mr. Correia correctly identifies the elements of the reasonable man standard of the use of lethal force in self defense.

Let me repeat that: Mr Correia is correctly and accurately telling you the state of the law in the United States. Given an hour or three on Lexus, I could produce the law cases and statutes to confirm his every sentence. He is canny enough even to mention that the ‘Castle Doctrine’ applies in some jurisdictions and not in others.

He is repeating what the law is, and it is based on reason rather than based on the hysterical false-to-facts emotions of leftist, liberals, progressives, fascists, newswhores, anti-white bigots, and various rage-fueled or fear-drunk neurotics and lunatics. But I repeat myself.

Mr Correia also adds this word:

So my request is this, at least learn how stuff works before forming a super strong opinion on it.

Meanwhile, the President, now the Imperator, Barackus the First, our Race-baiter in Chief, who does indeed have a super strong opinion on it, has used this shooting as an example, no doubt as part of his effort fundamentally to transform America, to condemn not just every police force in the United States, but all Whites, and the whole system of government, our laws and traditions and way of life.

The President stirred up the mob and cheered on, nay, caused two days and counting of looting, robbing, riot, arson, and tumult, and then ordered the Justice Department to investigate not the mob agitator, but the police.

The woman weeping over her little store, her life’s work, which was burned to the ground, that gets no news coverage.

The boys who worked at the pizza joint are out of job, and there is no place to shop in that neighborhood now, and the professional rioters who were bussed in from out of state have homes to go back to. But not the folk who live in that neighborhood, who happen to be black, whose houses and shops were burned. Their lives were ruined in order as part of a confused and irrational plan on behalf of the White House to service Barack Obama’s political ambitions, and the self-esteem and ratings of various news and media agencies.

Such is the compassion of the Progressives. Read the remainder of this entry »

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Superversive Mission Statement

Posted November 26, 2014 By John C Wright

The Superversive Literary Counterinsurgency has published its mission statement. Here are the opening paragraphs. As it only appropriate for a movement of storytellers, it begins with a story:

Any new venture needs a mission statement. So, what are the goals of the Superversive Literary Movement?

Well…let me tell you a brief story.

As a child, I distained Cliffsnotes. I insisted on actually reading the book. I would like to instill the same virtue in my children. But recently, I made my first exception.

My daughter had to read Steinbeck’s The Pearl for class. We read it together. She read part. I read part. The writing was just gorgeous. The life of the people involved drawn so lovingly. The dreams the young man had for his baby son were so poignant, so touching.

Worried about what kind of book this  might be, I read the end first. It looked okay. So, we read the book together.

Turns out, I had missed something—the part where the baby got shot.

Not a happy story.

Next, she brought home Of Mice and Men. We started it together. What a gorgeous and beautifully writing—the descriptions of nature, the interaction between the two characters. A man named George, who could be off doing well on his own, is taking care of a big and simple man named Lennie, who accidentally kills the mice he loves because of his awkward big strength. In George, despite his gruff manner and his bad language, we see a glimpse of what is best in the human spirit, a glimpse of light in a benighted world.

The scene of the two camping out and discussing their hopes of someday owning their own little farm, where Lennie could tend rabbits, was so touching and hopeful, so filled with pathos and sorrow, and so beautifully written. Steinbeck is clearly one of the great masters of word use.

But I remembered The Pearl.  I glanced ahead, but this time, I looked more carefully.

On the next to last page, while discussing how their hoped-for little farm with rabbits is almost within their grasp, George presses a pistol against the back of Lennie’s head and shoots.

Now, in the story, he does it with a terribly heavy heart. He does it for “a good reason”—Lennie accidentally killed someone, but…

That doesn’t make it better.

I sat there holding the remains of my heart, which Steinbeck had just ripped out and stamped on. The devotion of this good man George had led to nothing. All their golden hopes turned to dross, sand.

And it wasn’t just the end. The book was full of examples of “the ends justify the means” type of thinking – such as a man killing four of nine puppies, so that the other five will have a chance.

Very realistic? Check. Very down to earth? Check. Very “the way of the world”? Check.

Why give a book like this to children to read? What are we trying to teach them? That life is difficult and meaningless? That sometimes its okay to kill something we love for a “good reason”? That life is pointless? That dreams and hopes are a sham? That no matter how you try, you cannot improve upon your circumstance, so it’s better not to even hope? (That was what The Pearl was about.)

What possible good is such a message doing our children?

Maybe if a child grew up in posh circumstances and had never seen hardship—maybe then, there would be a good reason for letting them know that “out there” it can get hard.

But this was my daughter—whose youth resembles that of Hansel and Gretel, and not the fun parts about candy houses and witches. There are many things she needs in life—but pathos-filled reminders of how harsh life can be is not one of them.

The book was also full of cursing. I’m not sure I would have noticed, but my daughter kept complaining.

I closed the book and refused to read any more of it. I told her we’d find the answers online. She ended up getting help with it from her brother (who had been forced to read the book at school the previous year) and from a friend.

I’ve seen some of the other books on the school curriculum. Many of them are like this. In the name of “realism,” these works preach hopelessness and darkness.

They are lies!

So, you might ask, why does it matter if our children are being fed lies? They’re just stories, right?

What do stories matter?

To find out why stories matter, dear reader, read here: http://www.ljagilamplighter.com/2014/11/26/superversive-blog-the-goal-of-the-superversive/

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”Repent, Harlan,’ Said the Ticktockman’

Posted November 26, 2014 By John C Wright

We were discussing whether or not Harlan Ellison, in his famous short story ”Repent, Harlequin’ said the Ticktockman’ pulled a lazy writer’s trick where he describes the brainwashing of Harlequin.

Here is the passage:

So they sent him to Coventry. And in Coventry they worked him over. It was just like what they did to Winston Smith in “1984,” which was a book none of them knew about, but the techniques are really quite ancient, and so they did it to Everett C. Marm [Harlequin], and one day quite a long time later, the Harlequin appeared on the communications web, appearing elfish and dimpled and bright-eyed, and not at all brainwashed, and he said he had been wrong, that it was a good, a very good thing indeed, to belong, and be right on time …

My comment, nor am I alone, was that I read that story when I was twelve, before I read Orwell, and it stuck in my memory as the most insolent lazy bit of break-the-fourth-wall and wink-at-the-camera writing I had ever seen, from that day to this. It is not an allusion, not even a reference. It is as if the writer expects to be clapped on the back for how cleverly he does not do any writing to create the effect he wants. I read it forty years ago, and I still recall how it jarred me out of the story, and thought the author was cheating.

The author was asking the readership to let Orwell do all the heavy lifting. I am not saying a torture scene was needed, but an author as adroit as Ellison could have summed up the brainwashing process in a sentence, or even a phrase, to make it seem horrible, without the distracting ‘product placement’ of another author’s work thrust jarringly into the end scene.

One reader, leaping nobly to Harlan Ellison’s defense (not that so formidable an author solicits or requires a defense) gave two arguments: first, that every reader of science fiction in that day and age was no doubt expected to have read Orwell, and would catch the reference, and second, that word counts were tight, and so no one could write a convincing and chilling description of torment and brainwashing, not even Mr Wright, not one hundred words or less.

We have already disposed of the first objection. Making an allusion to another work is a welcome ornament to writing, but pointing to another man’s work and expecting the reader to attribute to you the emotional reaction which that other author by his craftsmanship evoked in his work in your work is not welcome and it is not good craftsmanship. It’s a lazy writing.

As for the second, well, I cannot let the gauntlet simply lay on the ground, can I? I wrote this without forethought, just as I sit here and type. (I went back later and moved two words). If this is what I can do in a first draft, what could Harlan Ellison do?

The torment, the needles, the things they did to his eyeballs and to his mouth and scrotum in a room without windows or clocks or calendars,  — the only such room on the planet — just a medical rack in the center, and a drain for the blood, and Harlequin discovered what timelessness really was, and what people could do when they had no schedule to keep, but lingered and lingered over their work. They enjoyed their work, but they never smiled. A few sharp cuts in his cortex left scars on his head, and he smiled. He smiled because he loved.

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Feast on THE BOOK OF FEASTS AND SEASONS this season!

Posted November 25, 2014 By John C Wright

This is what the cover will look like:

.Feasts and Seasons Cover 2

The anthology will be available to New Release subscribers on Friday and officially released on Monday. ONE BRIGHT STAR will be one of the five free options for subscribers who buy it over the weekend.

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Today is the Day — Now is the Hour

Posted November 25, 2014 By John C Wright

Bitten By Books and THE UNEXPECTED ENLIGHTENMENT of L Jagi Lamplighter!

Here is the link for the Bitten by Books live online chat. Any of the many fans of my wife, or my fan, once he is released from Arkham Asylum, can come by for an online chat.

Ravens, Elves, and Witches of all grades and houses welcome!

http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=81766

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