John C. Wright's Journal » John C. Wright's Journal Fancies, Drollery and Fiction from honorary Houyhnhnm and antic Science Fiction Writer John C. Wright Fri, 24 Apr 2015 21:08:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Monster Hunter Wright Fri, 24 Apr 2015 21:08:45 +0000 Larry Correia made on his blog the following announcement:

From editor Bryan Thomas Schmidt: I am very pleased to announce that Larry Correia and I have signed a contract as co-editors with Baen for an anthology with the working title MONSTER HUNTER TALES which will feature stories set in the universe of his NYT Bestselling MONSTER HUNTER INTERNATIONAL series. Besides Larry, authors will include Jim Butcher, Jonathan Maberry, Jessica Day George, Faith Hunter, John Ringo, Sarah A. Hoyt, John A. Pitts, Jody Lynn Nye, Mike Kupari, Maurice Broaddus and more. For release in 2017.

And then in the comments, added this little tidbit:

I am happy to announce that John C Wright is in there. (Bryan only listed like half the names on his announcement for space)

Unless Mr Schmidt insists on changing the title, my story is called The Manticore Sanction.

]]> 16
The Wall of Awesome Thu, 23 Apr 2015 17:00:28 +0000 I wanted to start a list of what science fiction and fantasy stories need to capture in order to be awe-inspiring. So far I have two entries.

First is the ‘I wanted a Roc’s Egg’ speech from Robert Heinlein’s GLORY ROAD:

What did I want?

I wanted a Roc’s egg. I wanted a harem loaded with lovely odalisques less than the dust beneath my chariot wheels, the rust that never stained my sword. I wanted raw red gold in nuggets the size of your fist and feed that lousy claim jumper to the huskies! I wanted to get up feeling brisk and go out and break some lances, then pick a like wench for my droit du seigneur — I wanted to stand up to the Baron and dare him to touch my wench! I wanted to hear the purple water chuckling against the skin of the Nancy Lee in the cool of the morning watch and not another sound, nor any movement save the slow tilting of the wings of the albatross that had been pacing us the last thousand miles.

I wanted the hurtling moons of Barsoom. I wanted Storisende and Poictesme, and Holmes shaking me awake to tell me, “The game’s afoot!” I wanted to float down the Mississippi on a raft and elude a mob in company with the Duke of Bilgewater and the Lost Dauphin.
I wanted Prestor John, and Excalibur held by a moon-white arm out of a silent lake. I wanted to sail with Ulysses and with Tros of Samothrace and eat the lotus in a land that seemed always afternoon. I wanted the feeling of romance and the sense of wonder I had known as a kid. I wanted the world to be what they had promised me it was going to be–instead of the tawdry, lousy, fouled-up mess it is.”

Second is from a comment here, by Steve.  I have edited out the specific authoresses name, because I want the reader to notice the point of the comment as it applies generally, not just to this case:

In turbulent times such as these, I take comfort in knowing there are skiffy authors … who know how to write a compelling story:

[…] I have a book with an ace protagonist coming out next year.

When I was a wee lad in the 1980’s, “ace” meant “cool”. So will [the authoress] be writing about a rakish, devil-may-care space pilot who women love and men want to emulate? A dashing cavalier of the cosmos, a man who aims to misbehave and definitely would shoot Greedo first, but who – underneath his galaxy-weary cynicism – has a heart for romantic adventure and derring-do? The sort of man who rescues space princesses, smuggles Romulan ale, fights cylons, and has smoked kippers for breakfast?


“Ace” apparently means “asexual”, as in people who are so sad and wretched that not only can’t they get Pon Farr at the sight of a pretty young Vulcan’s logically heaving bosom (or space-codpiece), they don’t even want to.

Fun times, right?

And there will be a no-prize for anyone who catches all the allusions in both speeches, from Arabian Nights’ to Ace Rimmer.

]]> 76
Personal Appearance Thu, 23 Apr 2015 16:40:40 +0000 My lovely wife, L Jagi Lamplighter, and I will be guests are Ravencon 10 this weekend.

Doubletree by Hilton Richmond Midlothian

1021 Koger Center Blvd, Richmond, Virginia 23235
Guests of Honor:
AUTHOR: Allen Steele
ARTIST: Frank Wu
GAMING: Brianna Spacekat Wu
SPECIAL AUTHOR: Lawrence M. Schoen

Here is the facebook page with details:
And here is the registration page:

]]> 0
An Unexpected Gift Thu, 23 Apr 2015 14:58:48 +0000 Here I reprint a fan letter for my work, with some unfan comments about Mr. Sandifer’s recent and unfortunately public attack of verbal gas, and an observation about the duty of due diligence reviewers owe their readers:

Before this post is buried by time, I wanted to share this experience with our host. On my bus ride home I was reading through Castalia’s collection of your Hugo-nominated works, and “Parliament of Beasts and Birds” came up. I had noticed Mr. Sandifer included it among his “Very Lousy Pieces of Science Fiction” that he compared unfavorably to “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love.” I was pleased that I had the opportunity to finally read your tale, which came to me much vaunted after several months of my lurking here and reading related blogs, and compare it with Mr. Sandifer’s analysis.

I was spellbound. From the opening lines to the conclusion, I was enraptured. The conceit, the rich detail and description, the poetic and Biblical allusions, the characterizations of these animals that fit like gloves, the living vein of the fabulous that underlay and animated the story just embraced me and sucked me in. I felt as I did at the conclusion of your “The Ideal Machine,” except for the entire length of the tale instead of just the grand finale. “Parliament” was, in a word, beautiful. Your story was like the empyrean garments presented to the beasts, except spun with heavenly words rather than heavenly threads. It was a story like a fine glass of wine and a hearty roast beef dinner. You gifted me a most rewarding, uplifting, fulfilling and gorgeous tale and one hell of a magical bus ride home. My sincerest thanks.

With my mind aglow with “Parliament,” I get home and after dinner and coffee I return to Mr. Sandifer’s blog to read his arguments for why it’s lousy and weigh them against the story. True, I thought it marvelous, but surely Mr. Sandifer will deliver on the promise he makes in his section heading that “several very lousy pieces of science fiction” will be “analyzed in depth.” Perhaps his critic’s eye, honed by years of comics and Doctor Who analysis, caught something. I scroll down, eager for his critical analysis of “Parliament,” and…

Four sentences. That’s it. Four sentences that boil down to “I didn’t like it.” No argument, no analysis. Just dismissal.

I am agog. If you assert a work is lousy, you are making an objective statement you must back up with arguments. You must show how the prose and technique were poor, point out how the author failed to deliver on his promises, demonstrate a plethora of plotholes or the egregious failure of the author to think through the logical consequences of his story’s conceit, etc. “I didn’t like it” is not an argument. It’s rhetorical jazz hands, and does nothing to prove “Parliament of Beasts and Birds” is a lousy work. It simply proves Mr. Sandifer doesn’t like it, and we already knew that from his section header. He wasted words and his time restating his opinion. Ironic for a guy who faulted “Parliament” for being tautological. Moreover, he promised in-depth analysis, and instead gave me a brief opinion. He wrote me an intellectual check, and it bounced. As a fellow academic-in-training (classicist, currently an M.A. student in classical archaeology), I’m both betrayed and insulted. We academics slip up, giving sloppy arguments, usually in the heat of passion, which Mr. Sandifer was certainly in (it’s not long before he starts flinging f-bombs like poo). I forgive Mr. Sandifer such a transgression. I’m just worried it’s indicative of a deeper failure to reason. If so he is pissing on the Grove of the Athenian hero Akademos, a grove I reverence for its roll in nurturing and sustaining Western civilization and assisting man in discovering God’s truth, which is why I intend to enter it in spite of the barbarians within hacking down its olive trees and torching its out-buildings. I pray this is not the case with Mr. Sandifer, and my reading of his comics and Doctor Who analysis will soundly demonstrate the truth of the matter.

Thank you, Mr. Wright, for “Parliament of Beasts and Birds.” It is a living tale which one day I shall read to my own children, hoping they in their innocence will be even more enchanted and enthralled than I was. And worry not, I have not stopped to listen to your song without throwing change in your guitar case. Back around Christmastime I used my Amazon gift money to buy several of your works, “Book of Feasts and Seasons” included. Castalia’s free collection of your Hugo-nominated works simply gives me a second copy. If “Parliament” is indicative of the rest of “Book of Feasts and Seasons,” I’ve many more magical bus rides ahead of me. You have richly earned your wage, which if I recall your sentiments correctly, is the most I can do to honor you as an author. I feel it’s the least I can do, but enjoy a meal out with your family on me. You earned it, and a devoted fan.

My comment:

When I decided, roughly at age nine, to be a science fiction writer, I never one imagined I would get fan mail, much less fan mail like this. I am republishing it, first, because I am proud, but second, because I want to share with anyone who is curious about my motives why I do what I do. I do it not to get letters like this, but to be worthy of such letters, whether I get them or not.

As for Mr Sandifer, I did not have the patience to read his whole screed.

When I reached the sentence where he conflated a sentiment I was describing, namely, the nostalgic basis of high fantasy, with a sentiment he alleged I possessed, namely, the alleged medieval yearning for modern nationalistic socialist fascism, I realized I was dealing with a third rate mind, driven into fourth rate performance by the indoctrination of his anti-education. At that point I walked with him no further.

For this buffoon to wave his credentials at someone with an education like mine, a real education, as is appalling and grotesque as a sideshow freak who eats chicken heads waving his certificate of lobotomy, to prove the bad parts of his brain have been successfully excised. One would think it a matter of shame rather than pride.

He cannot even do a hit piece correctly!

A hit piece is supposed to be short, ironic, arch, and make allusions to things without stepping into actionable libel. You do not talk about yourself, but try to be unseen by the reader, as if you are passing along facts, real or invented, and letting him decide. A quote or misquote is necessary, and then the lift of an eyebrow, and the reassurance to the reader that there are even worse things, albeit unprintable. Statements that are literally accurate but with defamatory implications are a must; such innuendo is a dark art, and forms the backbone of properly done character assassination journalism.

What an amateur. What a maroon.

Read the hit piece that Popular Science did on me. That was a pro job, done by a pro thug, a yob who knew how to deliver a dirty punch below the belt without letting the ref spot it.


]]> 5
James May on Jack Vance Wed, 22 Apr 2015 21:11:10 +0000 An excerpt:

When Jack Vance, one of the greatest writers of SF and fantasy, died in May of 2013, one of SF’s new breed of racialized feminists, Aliette de Bodard, multiple nominee and winner of SF’s highest awards, the Hugo and Nebula, Tweeted, “I don’t actually think I’ve read any Vance. Should I?”

Had Jack Vance been a non-white gay woman, de Bodard would’ve sent up rocket flares when he died, since she is well acquainted with the most obscure women, non-white, non-Western authors in SF and fantasy. De Bodard represents a culture within SFF that fetishizes a black mid-list SF author like Octavia Butler whose influence and talent compared to Vance is minimal but whose race, politics, and gender represents a trump card. Vance represents the complete opposite: devoted to word and artistry to the exclusion of all else. And yet Vance has been enrolled in a de facto supremacist ideology by radical feminism by fiat and so is of no interest to them whatsoever other than an example of a smotheringly oppressive patriarchy. Aside from that, an SFF writer who had never read Vance is like an Egyptologist missing a dynasty or two. It’s betrays a rather stunning disinterest and lack of knowledge of one’s own literary ancestors and history of one’s own genre.

On her blog and Twitter, De Bodard never ceases recommending literature according to the race and gender of those writing it; whether they’re actually any good or not seems immaterial. It shouldn’t be any surprise that in this new climate, de Bodard is relentlessly nominated for awards based on her own patronized and pandered to racial identity and that of her stories rather than her skills, which are nominal.

Some people saw this coming years ago, such as Gary Westfahl:

“In all the science fiction of the last half-century, the influence of the pulp tradition is, to any knowledgeable reader, not merely palpable but overwhelming. It would seem an era that science fiction scholars would be eager to study in depth.

“In the case of science fiction, the process of excluding the pulp magazines from the history of science fiction can already be observed in a number of critical studies, some of them well respected, for reasons that demand little discussion. Stories from the pulps cannot qualify for preservation on the basis of their literary quality, which is uneven at best, and given our contemporary commitment to diversity, the literature of the pulps appears to be discomfitingly and overwhelmingly white, male, North American, heterosexual, and middle class.”

The truth about SFF’s politically correct is they don’t admire any part of America’s past but condemn it wholesale, the whole ball of wax. The same is mostly true of America today, which they routinely portray as an oppressive, misogynist and racist gulag.

What is an art community that doesn’t know who its Jack Vance is? In the visual arts, what if the greatest expert on Van Gogh died and an artist said, “I’ve heard the name ‘Van Gogh’ but I’ve never seen the work; should I?” Aside from the laughingly obvious fact the answer wouldn’t depend on a dead artist’s race and gender, as is so painfully obvious with now deceased Octavia (one true cross) Butler, the answer depends on what you imagine a world of artistic endeavor looks like that doesn’t know Hemingway, Hendrix, Rembrandt, Lloyd Wright, and by extension Frazetta, Shelley, Poe, Heinlein, Lovecraft, Wells, and Burroughs. Some of the people on the wrong side of that answer are as predictable as machines:

“Cecily Kane ‏@Cecily_Kane Jun 24 Re: misogyny in SF/F. This is a rough day so far and it’s only lunchtime. *clutches new O. Butler stories*”

SFF author Michael Swanwick addresses this issue at his blog in a post titled “Losing Our Literary History.” In it Swanwick writes:

“…somebody reported attending a panel of fantasy novelists at Comic Con where a reader asked if any of them were influenced by Lord Dunsany. None of the writers had ever heard of him.”

To me, if that’s true, it’s stunning. Dunsany is a key voice in the evolution of fantasy literature and people who were fans of that literature used to be connoisseurs; without Dunsany there is no H. P. Lovecraft. When fandom failed a half-century ago there was the fan/historian/editor/writer to pick up the slack and and bring back into focus a lost voice such as Lin Carter did with Robert E. Howard and many other fantasy authors, and Sam Moskowitz did with William Hope Hodgson. What is a fan who has lost the ability to connect the dots in the evolution of his own genre? Worse, what kind of a writer is that? For an SFF writer to not know who Jack Vance is is like an architect not knowing what the Chrysler Building is. What will that architect build?

This is from an eye-opening monograph on the Death of SFF at the hands of SJWs

My comment:

SFF =/= SJW for the simple reason that no literature, speculative or not, survives the ignorance of its partisans concerning their own field. Certainly no field survives the willful, blatant, vainglorious, aggressively insolent ignorance of partisans who entered the field solely to destroy it, or, as they would say, radically transform it.

To evolve a field into new forms, as classical music grew out of baroque, is fundamentally conservative, because it honors older forms by building on them. Modern painting did not grow out of the Preraphaelite movement, or the Mannerists before them, because it merely destroyed, and did not create, leaving a wasteland, a junkyard, a cesspool.

Cesspool science fiction winning awards makes puppies sad.

]]> 30
Signal to Noise Wed, 22 Apr 2015 19:59:32 +0000 The beautiful and talented Mrs Wright holds forth on an issue of timely import:

Ever wonder why you are having such a hard time getting along with that once-dear friend who is now on the far side of the political Great Divide? This post might help bridge that knowledge gap.

]]> 5
Do presently lose all desire for light Wed, 22 Apr 2015 13:58:17 +0000 A man with a PhD in English holds forth on my hidden neofascism:

“If you got John C. Wright drunk at the bar, you could get him to admit that he thinks transhumanism and black people are ugly for the same reason.”

Actually, I am a teetotaler, and I always tell the truth, and I have absolutely no inhibitions about telling the truth requiring the seduction of wine to overcome. It will come as a surprise to my adopted daughter that I am a racist, I assure you.

Someone who pretends to know me well enough to discern the secret and yet strangely always discreditable workings of my hidden heart would know those two things about me.

This is the way of evil. Evil lies because no one is attracted to evil when its nature is clear. The lie serves only limited use, and must be extended and expanded in order to maintain credibility. The lie metastasizes, and grows to a point when no sane man can believe it any longer.

They tell lies even beyond the point where anyone is expected to believe or be deceived by them, pointless lies, absurd lies, unintentionally comedic lies. (Note this comment here.)

At that point, a man makes a decision: either he is loyal to sanity, abandons the lie and saves himself; or so great is his loyalty to the lie, he makes himself go mad, hating sanity and sunlight, and he rides the cherished wreck down through the maelstrom into the darkness.

Even such souls as that can be saved. I was sunk lower than this, and so I pity and do not despise. How empty his life must be if he has nothing but these cold and angular self deceptions to clasp to his breast for comfort, false as the smile of a harlot, and nothing but venom for his milk.

For those of you who do not catch the obscure reference above, it is from the pen of Tim Powers:

“…They move in dark, old places of the world:
Like mariners, once healthy and clear-eyed,
Who, when their ship was holed, could not admit
Ruin and the necessity of flight,
But chose instead to ride their cherished wreck
Down into darkness; there not quite to drown,
But ever on continue plying sails
Against the midnight currents of the depths,
Moving from pit to pit to lightless crag
In hopeless search for some ascent to shore;
And who, in their decayed, slow voyaging
Do presently lose all desire for light
And air and living company-from here
Their search is only for the deepest groves,
Those farthest from the nigh-forgotten sun.. .”
-from “The Twelve Hours of the Night”
(The Anubis Gates)

]]> 50
Architect of Aeons TODAY Tue, 21 Apr 2015 23:06:37 +0000 ARCHITECT OF AEONS

The next volume of my ‘Eschaton Sequence’  has been published today, and should be in your bookstore right now.  Rush right out in a panic of haste, without pausing to think, and buy nine volumes for your ghosts, noospheres, potentates, powers, principalities, virtues, hosts, archons, thrones.

Potentates are Kardashev I civilizations for terrestrial planets and powers for Gas Giants; Hosts are Kardashev II civilizations; Thrones are Kardashev III.

Anything of a higher order may not be interested in this book, because I do not deal with the Kardashev IV, V and VI order of magnitudes until the last volume.

I forgot was this book is about. I think Blackie Del Azarchel and Meanie Monstrose have lost the Earth because the posthumans moved it. Darn those pesky posthumans! Either they are cooperating or trying to kill each other. And the End of Days arrives, and is not actually, literally the End of Days. Four new race of mankind are created, history goes off the rails at least once, and we move from the millennial scale to the tens of millennia.

And someone gets shot in the last chapter. You’ll have to read it and find out.

The promotional materials all say this is the last volume of the sequence, but it is not. That was a clerical error not caught in time. Two more volumes are in the pipeline: THE VINDICATION OF MAN, which is (as of this writing) sitting on the editor’s desk; and COUNT TO INFINITY, which I was supposed to be working on last night, but I watched Netflix’s Marvel’s DAREDEVIL instead.

cover Architect of Aeons



]]> 72
Not so much Dino-hate, Please! Tue, 21 Apr 2015 03:24:58 +0000 At the risk of alienating my beloved fans who voted either for Sad Puppies or Rabid   and elevated my humble work to a world-record number of nominations, I would like to state something for the record.

A lot of us are ragging on Rachel Swirsky’s prose poem ‘If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love‘ which was Hugo nominated and won a Nebula for its category.

And, for the record, I for one do not think ‘If You Were a Dinosaur’ is bad. I do not think it is great, but tastes differ.

The author with admirable brevity of space establishes a gay and playful mood, using a stream of consciousness technique and adhere to a strict textual scheme (lifted from IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE) and then fishtailing into a surprise ending that is poignant and moving, all within less than 1000 words.

More to the point, she did what she set out to do, and created the emotional effect she meant to create if a fashion I and other readers found memorable and moving. She hit the mark at which she aimed. Not every writer can say that.

It is not a great story, not the best of the year. I do not like it because it places technique above story telling — indeed there is no story at all, no characterization, nothing outside the vignette. But that, again, is a matter of taste. Some people do not like Shakespeare sonnets.

And her editor should have polished on or two roughs spots, which in a story so short are more obvious, have more ability to jar the reader out of suspension of disbelief.  One rough spot was the one-line depiction of the bigoted Southern bigots as ‘gin-soaked’ — this was lazy writing, laughably inept.  Gin in not what we drink in roughneck bars in the rural South.

Another was that in a racially motivated beating the racists usually know the name of the race they hate, and do not need to guess.

And, had I written it, I would have taken a different approach: but her muse is hers and mine is mine, and the realm of the imagination, being infinite, grants generous room to all.

But, please, the lady wrote a serviceable story that appealed to the tastes of many readers, and, of course, to the corrupt clique which gave her an undeserved award.

I hope I offend no Rabid Puppy by saying that, in a certain light, the story could be seen as above average, and showed originality and clear professional craftsmanship.

Let us give credit where credit is due.

]]> 98
Prayer Request Mon, 20 Apr 2015 17:16:18 +0000 I got this letter today:

Dear Mr. Wright,

I am writing to ask if you would be so kind as to put a prayer request on your site. Through channels at my church it came to my attention that a family in Wisconsin, the Rogen family, is in dire need of prayers and help.

Mr. Rogen dropped his wife off at the hospital to give birth to their eighth child. On his way to drop his seven children off for care while he stayed with his wife, an oncoming car hit a deer and the deer was flung through Mr. Rogen’s windshield. Mr. Rogen and his children were taken to the same hospital where his wife was in labor for treatment where Mr. Rogen later died. Thankfully, her children and their new baby are all well.

A Go Fund Me site was started for the Rogen’s to buy them a new vehicle, to pay for funeral costs and to give them a cushion. I do not know this family personally, but my heart goes out to them. I’m a wife and mother and this is utterly unimaginable to me. I am trying to do what I can to help them out.

Here is the Go Fund Me site and there is more information there:

The news story is found here:

I greatly appreciate your consideration in this.

]]> 6