Any Latin scholars out there?

Posted October 7, 2014 By John C Wright

I have several phrases in my current manuscript that are written in Greek, spoken by a werewolf. Originally, my idea was that werewolves are the Kallikanzaro of Greek legend, the critters busily chopping down the world tree every Christmas eve. But I changed my mind, and decided to make them Roman, sons of Romulus and Remus, and to speak Dog Latin.

I am fair hand at Greek, which I’ve studied, but not Latin, which I have not. Can any of my learned readers help me? Here are the phrases I need in Latin, and medieval or Ciceronian Latin is better, the older the better:

  • Immortal, you seem. I am a rational creature: be not occupied in deceiving me. Please.
  • speech without reason
  • if you please
  • Carrion-eater

Here is the surrounding text in the scene, along with the machine translation that I do not trust:

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Book Bomb! CHAPLAIN’S WAR by Brad Torgersen

Posted October 7, 2014 By John C Wright

I want to help out my fellow Legionnaire of the Evil League of Evil by spreading the word. This is from Larry Correia:

Today we are Book Bombing Brad Torgersen’s debut novel, Chaplain’s War.

A chaplain serving in Earth’s space fleet is trapped behind enemy lines where he struggles for both personal survival and humanity’s future.

The mantis cyborgs: insectlike, cruel, and determined to wipe humanity from the face of the galaxy.

The Fleet is humanity’s last chance: a multi-world, multi-national task force assembled to hold the line against the aliens’ overwhelming technology and firepower. Enter Harrison Barlow, who like so many young men of wars past, simply wants to serve his people and partake of the grand adventure of military life. Only, Harrison is not a hot pilot, nor a crack shot with a rifle. What good is a Chaplain’s Assistant in the interstellar battles which will decide the fate of all?

More than he thinks. Because while the mantis insectoids are determined to eliminate the human threat to mantis supremacy, they remember the errors of their past. Is there the slightest chance that humans might have value? Especially since humans seem to have the one thing the mantes explicitly do not: an innate ability to believe in what cannot be proven nor seen God. Captured and stranded behind enemy lines, Barlow must come to grips with the fact that he is not only bargaining for his own life, but the lives of everyone he knows and loves. And so he embarks upon an improbable gambit, determined to alter the course of the entire war.

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Mohammedanism and Science Fiction

Posted October 7, 2014 By John C Wright

Brother Paul writes and asks:

Wonderful talk – Christendom is a great place. You didn’t mention the influence of Islam. I’ve always been struck by the fascination of many sci-fi authors with Islamic culture, e.g. Dune, Riddick, Star Wars, etc. I’m sure with your encyclopedic knowledge you can think of more. I notice you mention but do not delve into it in the history of Count to a Trillion.

My pet theory as to why these writers are perfectly comfortable with the continuance of Islam (or its analog) into their sci-fi worlds is the “alien”. Allah is totally “other” and can’t be reduced to *any* human constructs, including reason. Pretty much the definition of alien. This philosophy provides a fertile ground not only for really cool aliens, but also for demolishing human ways of thinking (meaning rational Western ways). Existing human constructs, even if willed by Allah, are willed arbitrarily and are thus changeable, unbounded by a natural law knowable by reason. This justifies all sorts of things contrary to the natural law, from the hedonistic to the murderous to the experimental or “alternative”.

All of this relates well to Pope Benedict’s underappreciated Regensburg address. Left unaddressed by many of these authors is the stillbirth of science in Islamic cultures (a theory first proposed by Fr. Stanley Jaki, the great historian of science). In a nutshell, if Allah is not bound by reason, neither is the universe, thus no scientific enterprise as seen in the Christian West.

So, my question is: how do these Islam-“ish” cultures exist in these sci-fi futures? They have not (our history shows) advanced science, nor can they (my pet theory speculates). The answer, I suppose, is found by exploring how they continue to grow in today’s modern scientific age, as Herbert did in Dune. Nevertheless, my point about sci-fi: I don’t think many authors enamored of Islamic culture in their writings have thought through its consequences.

My comment:

I cannot answer the question because I do not accept the axiom on which it is based. DUNE arguably has a Mohammedan flavor to it, since it parallels the war between the Byzantines and the Mohammedans in the Seventh Century. Of course, Paul Muad-Dib is a false prophet, produced by eugenic witches who deceive the people with the ‘Missionaria Protectiva’.

And please note that Frank Herbert treats the Islam-flavored Fremen culture in the same role as history treats Islam during the Seventh Century: barbarian conquerors trampling an older, larger, corrupt ergo weaker culture. The Byzantine intrigues of Byzantium are even more Byzantine when portrayed as the intrigues of the Witches, the Padishah-Emperor and the Great Houses of the Landsraad, and so on.

However, there is nothing remotely Mohammedan in STAR WARS; the Force is not Allah, it is a vaguely Zen-flavored life energy as might have been imagined by Theosophists or Shavians.

And in Riddick there is one character, the Imam, who serves the same role as a preacherman in a Western. If his name had been changed, there would have been nothing Mohammedan about him.

The role of Islam in COUNT TO A TRILLION is mentioned more than once both in the text and in the Small Scale Timeline in the Appendix. The Jihad ignites a suitcase nuke in New York City, which is mentioned in the text as ‘The Burning of New York the Beautiful.’The Plague mentioned several times in the childhood of Menelaus Montrose, and the reason why he uses the names of diseases as swearwords, is because of a biological agent released by the Jihad in an attempt to wipe out the Jews. The Great Apes were infected by a mutation the disease, and went extinct: the statue of the final Great Ape is mentioned in the text. Islam ceases to be a player in history in the 22nd Century, when India becomes the world’s dominant superpower, and reacts to the Jihadist atrocities by atomic carpet-bombing of vast swathes of the Middle East in an event called The Kali Yugi, the Age of the Destroyer.

My assumption is that once Jihadists provokes a warlike culture that is not hindered by a Leftwing self-loathing, or chained by Christian notions of chivalry and charity, they will be hunted down and obliterated. The tactic of hiding behind your own children is serviceable only against a foe, like us, who cares more about your children than you do.


In all fairness, I have the Catholic Church swept off the world stage in 40th Century by the Simon Families, vulgarly called Witches, whose women have the secret of longevity: on the other hand, since most of the psychohistorians ruling history at this point are Spanish Catholics, I assume one of them attempts to maintain the continuity of the institution, perhaps with divine help, across the abyss of years.

The Sacerdotal Order of later aeons claims, at least, to be one and the same with the Uniate (Catholic and Eastern Churches recombined) Church, but theologians might debate the legality of the claim.

I selected India rather than China as the seat of the next great world power in history because China was selected by other science fiction writers, including David Wingrove, Cordwainer Smith, and Philip Francis Nowlan.

However, to return to the question, while I doubt the axiom of the question, I agree with the conclusion: an Islamic Civilization could exist built on the backs of a conquered Christian civilization, as existed in Northern Africa, the Middle East, and Asia Minor, that is, on the backs of the Byzantine Empire. It cannot exist without a host to feed off of. The scientific world view cannot exist outside the orbit of Christendom and never has — what happens in pagan cultures which study and practice science, is that the science become politicized, controlled by the pagan ideology: look at the sudden lack of contributions to science after the Thirteenth Century from the Middle East, look at Lysenko in Russia, look at the so-called Race sciences in Nazi Germany, look at the role of Junk Science, Global Warming and so on, in modern America. None of these examples halted the progress of real science, but we can imagine the result if they were the majority and the dominant paradigm.

This is because the central idea of a rational universe is impossible without a rational creator. The postmodernists do not believe in reason, or any narratives, and the Muslims do not believe the creator is rational, as this would impose an unendurable restriction on the majesty of their lonely non-trinitarian god.



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Prayer Request

Posted October 6, 2014 By John C Wright

A reader writes and asks:

On October 15th the Supreme Court of Canada is set to hear the Carter vs Canada case that seeks to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia in Canada.

Christians around Canada will be praying this does not pass for the next week until the case begins. We could really use all the support we can get as Canada is not the country most acquainted with reason.

I would very much appreciate any spiritual support you can offer.

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Theology and Science Fiction — Conclusion

Posted October 6, 2014 By John C Wright

A reader named Stephen J added a conclusion to my essay on Theology and Science Fiction sufficiently insightful and lucid that I thought it deserved its own spotlight as a short guest column


Science fiction is about the shock experienced when a certitude is shattered, followed by the realization of new certainties or new possibilities based on the information gained in that shattering; about, in other words, both the loss and the wonder requisite to the growth of knowledge and understanding. The great temptation of this spirit is the desire to turn that shattering upon the certitudes that make acquiring knowledge at all possible or worthwhile in the first place:

– The certitude that there is a valid moral distinction between means and ends is shattered and replaced by the conviction that power to accomplish an end is its own justification (social Darwinism);
– The certitude that love and mutual benefit is the highest and most natural form of human relationship is shattered, and replaced by the conviction that all relationships, both personal and political, are to be truly understood only in terms of their power dynamics (Marxism);
– The certitude that reason and logic are the most reliable tools for deducing and perceiving truth is shattered, and replaced by the conviction that all conscious human thought and perception is inexorably biased by subconscious emotional urges, biological instincts and reflexes, or even causally determined events of physics, all of which reduce in the end to a hunger for power (Freudianism) and which mean that only intuitive assertions, poetic imagery, emotional reactions unfiltered by reason, passions untrammelled by craft or technique, and declarations of hatred against one’s own or one’s group’s self-interest can be considered “sincere” or “honest” (mysticism);
– The certitude that human existence has an objectively perceptible and comprehensible universal meaning and purpose is shattered, and replaced by the conviction that the closest one can achieve, given all the foregoing convictions, is a personally satisfactory self-delusion of such (nihilism).

This is why all SF stories that make this error are ultimately examples of the same tragic trope, which may be called the Magician’s Bargain, as seen in Dr. Faustus or O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi”: a person pays a terrible price to accomplish some greatly desired good only to discover that paying that price has cost them the very thing that made that good desirable or worthwhile.

In science fiction, the terrible price of giving up our moral certainties is meant to endow us Gnostically with the power to be gods, but that very loss of moral certainty ultimately robs our godhood of any meaning and, as Lewis wrote in The Abolition of Man, reduces us to victims of the very Nature we gave up our morals to overcome.

Thus, if the spirit of science fiction is the wonder of shattering certainties through new discovery, the theology of science fiction involves knowing which certainties to leave unshattered.

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These are the notes that formed the basis of the talk given Saturday October 4th 2014 at Christendom College, St John the Evangelist Library:

It is always fitting at the beginning of any speculative enterprise to state the position one supports and to define one’s terms.

It is particularly fitting at the beginning of this particular talk, since the spirit of the modern world is very much opposed to defining one’s terms or stating one’s position too clearly, and opposition to that spirit is one of the themes this talk will address.

The subject of this talk is the theology of science fiction and fantasy stories.

An alert student will notice immediately that, technically speaking, there is no subject to this subject matter. There is no such thing as the theology of science fiction. Theology is reasoning about divine things; even the finest science fiction stories hardly fit into that category, much as fans like me idolize them.

So I am arguing that there is no theology in science fiction, but there is something like it.

To this end, I would like to submit to your candid judgment the following propositions:

  • FIRST, that every genre is defined by the protocols expected by the readership. These protocols are something like an unspoken contract, but something more like the animating spirit of a school of thought;
  • SECOND that science fiction is defined by the protocols specific to it; it has an identifiable spirit that animates it;
  • THIRD and finally that the spirit of science fiction, when in an uncorrupted form, is a natural ally of the Church and an enemy of the World and the principalities and powers ruling this world.

This spirit of the world is the enemy of the Church as well.

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Appearance by John C Wright

Posted October 3, 2014 By John C Wright

I will be making a personal appearance at the meeting of the Inkstains Club at Christendom College this Saturday, October 4th, at 4:00 PM.

There will be a talk entitled ‘The Theology of Science Fiction and the Opposition of the Spirit of the World.’

The address is 134 Christendom Drive, Front Royal, VA.

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Yard Sale of the Mind Reviews of Sci Phi Journal #1

Posted October 3, 2014 By John C Wright

Yard Sale of the Mind has a review of a short story by yours truly appearing in the first of a magazine I hope will spread like wildfire in the dry brush of lifeless politically correct establishment sciffy they sell these days.



Our culture used to be able to produce movies like It’s a Wonderful Life, where, whatever its other merits, Christianity was simply taken for granted, no apologies nor irony. There have even been times, in the misty past, when being a philosopher was considered an honorable profession. Not often, perhaps – a doom not helped by the small but noisy parade of narcissistic maniacs, political tools and empathy-free sociopaths, not to mention mere muddle-headed goofballs, who have claimed the title of ‘Philosopher’ over the centuries.

Yet – and here is a touchstone – there is and, since at least the ancient Greeks, always has been a perennial philosophy, around which serious people trying to live serious lives have gathered and studied. Any college sophomore can reach the basic conclusions of a Nietzsche or a Hume after a few beers and love affair gone bad. It takes a bit more, more skin in the game, as it were, to approach the Big Boys.

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An Unexpected and Enlightened Review

Posted October 3, 2014 By John C Wright

My darling wife’s book, THE UNEXPECTED ENLIGHTENMENT OF RACHEL GRIFFIN is reviewed Allie O’Neal of Geek Girl:

Ever since the students of Hogwarts captured the imagination of children and adults alike, YA Fantasy has remained a favorite genre for bookworms of all ages. L. Jagi Lamplighter’s Rachel Griffin is an adorable answer for all of us who wished Hermione Granger had been the title character instead of Harry Potter.

The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin is an amusing YA adventure, set at Roanoke Academy for the Sorcerous Arts, on an island invisible to the Unwary, but the destination for the children of The Wise from all over the world


The students are of many origins, and it seems that many areas of the world have secret magical royalty. If Rachel brings to mind Hermione, Sigfried is her Harry, the orphan raised by nuns who has already defeated a dragon before even entering Sorcery school. His utter distrust of adults is a perfect foil for Rachel’s deep respect for authority. There’s also a budding romance between Rachel and one of the older students. I’m very interested to see how it plays out over the course of the series.

The book at once has a whirlwind pace, taking place over the space of just a few days, while slowing at times, nearly getting bogged down with details about every single person Rachel encounters. It’s also made apparent from the beginning that this world is not quite the one we live in; though it is inexplicable at first that Rachel can’t identify an angel on sight, more apparent gaps in the world begin to appear to be made somehow… on purpose. The story itself is full of surprises as Rachel and her friends work to uncover the mysteries that surround them and turn out to be connected in unexpected ways.

Readers are periodically treated to whimsical drawings, done by Lamplighter’s husband, John C. Wright.

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Curse of the Fifty Worlds!

Posted October 3, 2014 By John C Wright

You may have heard the wondrous news that Pluto is once again a planet, eight years after being relegated to the status of dwarf planet by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Plutonians, Rejoice!

I commanded the initiation of a worldwide nine-year long feast, festival, festivity and celebration, culminating in the ritual trampling of Tokyo by Godzilla and the celebratory re-ignition of Mount Vesuvius as a Jubilee, with all public executions cancelled, all slaves freed, and all debts cancelled in this announcement here:

Unfortunately, I lack the legal and real power to have these commandments carried out, but I wish I could do what they do in Katroo for birthdays to solemnize the rebirth of Pluto. (Yes, yes, I know the rebirth is not officially official, but I care not a tinker’s damn. I never heard of Dr. Wesley Mouch, or any of the other alleged experts who declared Pluto not a planet before they committed their jejune act of cosmic vandalism. The thing was done on the sly, after most of the delegates had left the convention.)

Erik1880 left a comment. He quotes the Pluto-haters thus:

“If Pluto is a planet, the number of planets in our solar system could rise to 25, “with the possibility of 50 or 100 within the next decade. Do we want schoolchildren to have to remember so many?”

Erik1880 quips (and, in my opinion, with some justice) ‘Really? Science would now operate on the criteria that “we take a position dependent on it not making the public have to think too much”. If so then astronomy would be in a race with psychology to see which of the two is the most useless “science”.

Well said, Mr. 1880. I must add a comment of my own, which by pure coincidence addresses just this issue.

Allow me to quote myself. This is from ARCHITECT OF AEONS, Part Six, Chapter Two:

When Montrose was born, there had been eight planets in the solar system. Two hundred years before that, there had been nine; and two hundred years before that, only six; in antique times, there had been seven, counting the Sun and the Moon as planets, but not Earth.

During that brief golden age when he had ruled, it had offended the majesty of Nobilissimus Del Azarchel that older generations had more worlds in their solar system than his, and so the Hermetic Order had decreed any object pulled by gravity into a sphere and greater than 250 miles in diameter was a planet.

Hence from those days onward were there fifty planets in the solar system, including Ceres, Orcus, Pluto, Ixion, Huya, Varuna, Quaoar, Eris and Sedna, and many other small, cold, outermost worlds named after small, cold, outermost gods: from Apollyon and Ahriman, through Ceto and Chemosh, Eurynomos and Erlig, to Orcus and O-Yama, to Pwcca and Proserpina and Typhon and Tunrida, and onward.

And schoolboys for many centuries after cursed Del Azarchel whenever they had to memorize and rattle off all fifty names, from Abaddon to Zipacna, no doubt wishing that all the hell gods from the various world mythologies whose names they recited would torment him.

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