Paleophobia and Futurophilia

I came across this quote by Robert Heinlein, the Dean of Science Fiction.

“The future is better than the past. Despite the crepehangers, romanticists, and anti-intellectuals, the world steadily grows better because the human mind, applying itself to environment, makes it better. With hands…with tools…with horse sense and science and engineering.”
―Robert A. Heinlein, DOOR INTO SUMMER (1956)

The Heinlein quote is pure hooey, of course. Even he would not say that Communist Russia was better than Czarist Russia just because it came later, or life in Dark Ages Britain of the Sixth Century was better than Roman Britain in the Fourth. I doubt he would say that living after the Space Age, in an era of failure, was better than living during the Space Age, an era of triumph.

Continue reading

Posted in Drollery, Fancies, Musings | 7 Comments

Pray on March 25th

A message from, which I pass along:

At this moment in Washington D.C., nine Supreme Court justices are listening to oral arguments in two cases by for-profit
corporations challenging the HHS mandate.

Our case – Autocam v. Sebelius – is being held by the Court pending the outcome of these two cases (Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Co.)

Please pray with us. Go to:

Pray for the attorneys responsible for presenting the arguments in these cases. Pray for the Justices. Pray that God in His infinite wisdom, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, will grant our prayers and protect the religious freedom of every American.

But today we are asking you to join us in the most powerful
weapon of all — prayer.

All of these historic fights for the freedom to practice our faith are both temporal and spiritual battles. The media will miss the spiritual battle altogether. Yet that battle is the fight that matters most.

Please pray with us right now.

St. Thomas More, patron of religious liberty,
Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas,
pray for us and for the United States of America.

Posted in Blogbegging | 10 Comments

A Nice Warm Cup of Shut the Hell Up, Served by Correia

Larry Correia, that rough-cut but priceless gem of a man, responds to a review from some lumpish subhuman who did not read the book allegedly being reviewed. It seems the reviewer merely wanted to rant some economically illiterate gibberish about how electronic novellas should be priced, and to demean Mr Correia’s fine and worthy readers as chumps.

But, behold, the fighting spirit of ten irate devils arises in fire in Mr Correia’s eye at this, the gloves of nicety come off, and the bare-knuckle barroom brawn of words begins! Savor the whole thing, please:

Below the cut is a choice quote where Mr Correia is verbally sliding his hapless opponent facefirst down the bar across beer mugs and puddles into the bottles and plate glass mirror behind the bar while the showgirls shriek. WARNING,  a saloon is not a venue for ladies or youngsters or men of gentle breeding, so the language is a little salty.

Continue reading

Posted in Fancies, Only Posting a Link | 14 Comments

Time Shifters / Thrill Seekers

For those of you that might have heard a rumor of this and were curious, here is my movie:

It is ‘mine’ only in the rather limited sense that my friend Kurt Inderbitzen (the executive producer) asked me for an idea for a time travel story, and I came up with the basic idea and the opening scene.  I did not write the script, or even a detailed outline, but he did buy the idea from me, for money, which makes it (as far as I am concerned) a professional sale.

And now you can watch it on the computer free of charge!

The only other movie connected with me is one in which I appeared:

I play a character with the odd name of ‘Himself’. I have exactly one half a line of spoken monologue.


Posted in Fancies, Free Fic | 5 Comments

No Writer Save Flynn

A short story by a non-anonymous contributor:

no writer, not even the accomplished Mike Flynn, can draw deep water from a shallow pond.

Moonlight flashed off the still surface of the pond where the OFloinn stood hesitantly with the wooden bucket in hand. Full moon. He cast an eye about the woods and adjoining meadow and let out a cautious breath. Things walked the night under a full moon’s embrace; but at least you could see them coming. Was that a good thing or a bad thing? Or was it only a thing.

Plumblack Pond was hardly deserving of the name, being more puddle than pond. Faith was not required to walk across it, as one would sink at most to the ankles. It was not deep enough to harbor frogs, let alone fish, and insects skittered over it in fearless abandon.

The Shadow, Seancey Wight, required a bucket of water from the center of Plumblack Pond taken at the seventh hour of the night; but it seemed to the OFloinn that a bucket would empty it out entirely. He sighed and glanced at the handle of the little dipper and judged by the celestial clock face that the appointed time had come.

He had tied a two-fathom length of sturdy hemp to the bucket’s handle so he could throw it into the center of the pond without stepping through the sucking mud. Now he swung the bucket experimentally and, on the third swing, let fly.

The bucket fell dead center in the pond and sat there. How can I draw deep water from such a shallow pond? the OFloinn wondered.

But just at that moment, the water beneath the bucket seemed to give way and the vessel sank out of sight. Well, he thought, that solves that problem, although he did think it curious that the bucket could go under in such a shallow pond.

He began to haul back on the rope to collect the water, but the bucket proved remarkably heavy. He grunted and strained and the lip of the bucket just broke the black surface of the water.

But for just a moment. The two hands as dark as hunter’s green emerged from the pond and seized the bucket by its mouth and pulled it under. The OFloinn had a moment to ponder this sight when he was reminded that he had wrapped the rope around his arms for leverage.

The rope pulled him into the pond, sliding across the mucky pond-bottom, plowing from its slimy embrace grey worms and nameless creatures, drawing him toward the center where the rope was raveling rapidly under the waters.

But that is impossible, he thought. Unless…. Unless the pond were the surface of an n-dimensional hypersphere and he, like an unfortunate Flatlander peeled from his 2-dimensional sheet, were being pulled into a fourth dimension.

How can that be? he wondered. This is a fantasy, not science fiction! That’s mixing genres!

But the only answer was the maniacal laughter of the Wight, who had tempted him into this misadventure. At the last he realized the truth. The pond was not plum-black, but plumb-lack, and its waters were very deep indeed.

no writer, not even the accomplished Mike Flynn, can draw deep water from a shallow pond.

Sez who?

Posted in Free Fic | 7 Comments

The Eternal Whiner

Let no one be deceived by my last essay into thinking I have less than great respect for the fiction writing of Michael Moorcock. It is the essays of Michael Moorcock I despise.

There are several Moorcock books I like, and, indeed, like a great deal. He is an author that is almost good enough to write pulp like Robert E Howard or Edgar Rice Burroughs.

The idea of Elric is a cunning inversion of all the tropes and stereotypes of Robert E Howard’s Conan. Conan is a healthy barbarian who is basically decent and never complains, whereas Elric is a sickly and overcivilized albino who is basically decadent and never stops whining. The idea of the antibarbarian is a stroke of genius. It is very witty. I wish I had come up with the concept.

He then invented the multiverse — a wonderful word — and used it as the backdrop and an excuse to tell what is basically the same story with the same few cast of characters over and over again: the eternally whiny hero fighting for a cause that is pointless or fighting for hopes that will betray him, leading followers he will betray, his stalwart companion, a girl named Una, who is his incestuous lover, the evil brother who has her drugged or enchanted who is his incestuous rival … The Eternal Whiner stories is an elegant cheat, a solution to the writer’s dilemma of how to give the readers something that is fresh-and-new while somehow being more of what the readers like in your last book.

It is all very clever and imaginative on the surface, full of sound and fury, and indulges in profound ideas like the idea that fear (represented by a black vampire sword or a black jewel in the skull) is a bad thing.

And who does not like the masked and insane lords of Grenbretan (Great Britain) marching on an ancient bridge that spans the Channel, their mechanical ornithopters met by knights on giant flamingos from the marshes of Kamarg (Camargue)?

Michael Moorcock writes light, escapist fare that has nothing whatever to say about real problems in real life.

Deep he is not.

Continue reading

Posted in Fancies | 23 Comments

Writing Down the Dragon

A reader named Paul LaMontagne draws our attention to a simply excellent book of essays by Tom Simon. Here I reprint Mr LaMontagne’s comment in full, as this is the best way I can imagine to have my readers rush out immediately and buy Mr Simon’s book.

The bold text is Mr LaMontagne, the italics is Mr Moorcock, and the regular text is Mr Simon.

… Have you read Tom Simon’s excellent collection of essays “Writing Down The Dragon”? In “Moorcock, Saruman, and the Dragon’s Tail” (link to essay below) he also addresses and analyzes Moorcock’s infamous essay. Interestingly, at the end of the below passage he applies to Moorcock an analogy you yesterday applied to Edmund Wilson:

“…He [Moorcock] raises against Tolkien (and even more specifically against Heinlein) the old, threadbare charge of ‘escapism’:

‘The laboured irony, as it were, of the pulp hero or heroine, this deadly levity in the fact of genuine experience, which serves not to point up the dramatic effect of the narrative, but to reduce it — and to make the experience described comfortingly ‘unreal’ — is the trick of the truly escapist author who pretends to be writing about fundamental truths and is in fact telling fundamental lies.’

There, I think, is where the shoe pinches. Let us look at some of the ‘fundamental lies’ Tolkien offers us:

*Power is addictive.

*The habitual exercise of power corrodes the will and blunts the moral sense.

*There is evil in the world that we cannot hope to overcome, but it will never be overcome unless we do what we can to resist it.

*By conquering nature, we dehumanize ourselves, but by appreciating nature and preserving it, we supply a deep spiritual need.

*Good cannot be achieved by evil means. Moreover, evil itself cannot achieve the particular ends it desires by evil means: ‘Oft evil will shall evil mar.’

*There is no good excuse for cooperating with a tyrant. If you think he will spare you because of it, you are fooling yourself.

*It is better to resist evil, even if it means war, than submit peacefully to be enslaved and slaughtered.

*The desire for immortality is a cheat, for no matter how much power you have, you will never have power over death.

*If we oppose evil to the limit of our strength, though that in itself is inadequate, there is a Providence that can make our victory possible.

I think it is this last point above all that offends Moorcock. He is bitterly hostile to religion, and to Christianity in particular, and his own fiction does not suggest that he has a well-developed sense of ethics. The great struggle in the Elric books is not between Good and Evil, nor even between better and worse impulses in the human mind, but between Law and Chaos, either of which can be served just as well by evil means as by good. Actually it is a false dichotomy, as Fabio P. Barbieri has pointed out. Chaos can only occur in a context of order, and order, by the laws of thermodynamics, inevitably decays into chaos. The alternative to an ordered society is not a state of complete anarchy, but death; and everything that exists, however disorderly it may appear, is strictly subject to the laws that make its existence possible. As William Blake said, ‘Reason is the circumference of energy’: they require each other, like the poles of a magnet. But since neither law nor chaos can exist alone, there can be no final victory or defeat in any war between them. The combatants can go on fighting for ever, or at least until they grow tired and discover that the whole donnybrook was fundamentally silly.

Elric makes a pact with Arioch, a Lord of Chaos, who gives him the sword Stormbringer. Stormbringer gives its wielder great power, but also turns him, in effect, into a vampire, who must slay other living souls merely to stay alive. Nowhere in the Elric books is there any indication that Moorcock’s hero regrets his pact, or feels that his victims have any worth comparable to his own. In the end he builds up an army of barbarians, returns to Melniboné, kills the cousin who usurped his throne, destroys the entire city, and then betrays his allies to destruction themselves. From all this slaughter and betrayal he walks away more or less smiling, if the desperately melancholy Elric can ever be said to smile. It is a celebration of heroic nihilism so blatant that even Nietzsche might have averted his eyes in shame. All this is worlds away from the strict Judaeo-Christian ethics and Catholic sense of grace that permeate Tolkien’s work. Moorcock is not the only critic to have scented the presence of grace and reacted like Gollum to lembas: ‘Leaves out of the elf-country, gah! Dust and ashes, we can’t eat that.’ It is significant that Moorcock is a strong admirer of Philip Pullman, whose entire oeuvre is essentially an attack on a Gnosticized strawman version of Christianity.”

Here is a link to the whole essay, but the entire collection is, in my humble opinion, worth purchasing:

Your humble opinion is the same as my proud opinion, and I salute Mr Simon as inspired by a particular genius of insight. I strongly, strongly recommend his essays to anyone who wants to enjoy a thoughtful conversation about Tolkien.

Posted in Fancies, Reviews | 6 Comments

Epic Pooh-poohing

As an apt follow up to our last topic, this is but a brief but telling quote from Michael Moorcock concerning Professor Tolkien:

Like Chesterton, and other orthodox Christian writers who substituted Faith for artistic rigour he [Tolkien] sees the petit bourgeoisie, the honest artisans and peasants, as the bulwark against Chaos. These people are always sentimentalized in such fiction because, traditionally, they are always the last to complain about any deficiencies in the social status quo. They are a type familiar to anyone who ever watched an English film of the thirties and forties, particularly a war-film, where they are represented solid good sense opposed to a perverted intellectualism. — from Michael Moorcock, EPIC POOH

The paragraph come from an essay by Mr Moorcock, author of the Elric stories, where he attempt to prove, ah, pardon me, I misspoke, where he asserts without even making a token attempt at proving so as to buffalo the unwary, that Professor Tolkien’s popularity can be explained by saying the childish rhythm of Tolkien’s language lulls we admirers of Tolkien into sleep. Because we Tolkien fans are stupid and infantile fools, dontcha know.

The paragraph is exceptional in that it contains an error or two in every line. Let us  note them, line by line.

First, we orthodox Christian writers do not substitute faith for artistic rigor, whatever that means. The comment is merely a slander, or a sneer, meant to create the impression that Christianity (which can properly take credit for the novel, the cathedral, and polyphonic music) is naturally unartistic, and that antichristianity (which can properly take credit for absurdism, cubism, atonal music) is artistic.

If it is objected that Moorcock here means only that some orthodox Christians substitute faith for artistic rigor, and G.K. Chesterton and J.R.R. Tolkien are among those few, the comment is a slander or a sneer delivered against two men of letters of considerably more accomplishment than enjoyed by the author of SWORDS OF MARS.

To be fair, Mr Moorcock wrote considerably more books than this, or, to be precise, endless variations of the same book, all with the same main character, the Eternal Champion, and the same dreary plot, that life is a disappointing betrayal. The themes and plots are predigested. I know of no author in the fantasy field who exercises less artistic rigor.

Continue reading

Posted in Fancies | 33 Comments

Interview with Liberty Voice

Douglas Cobb of Liberty Voice does me the honor of interviewing me, asking me about my Count to the Eschaton Sequence.

Read the whole thing here:

The basic inspiration for the story came, oddly enough, from fans of my previous series, THE GOLDEN AGE. It seems there is a certain club or cult of folks, called Transhumanists, who take science fiction more seriously than I do, and they believe that the various marvels I predicted in that book, such as the ability to record human brain information, copy it, edit it, and download it into bodies much more durable than flesh and blood, are all to be discovered within the lifetime of men now living.  In several conversations I tried to point out that the main problem was a moral one, not a technological one, although the technological problems themselves are insurmountable. (We do not even, for example, have a precise scientific definition of human thought, nor any way to reduce it to measurement).

As the conversation progressed the transhumanists (or at least those with whom I spoke) began making ever more astonishing and even absurd claims. An astonishing one was that any superior intelligence created by humans should not be educated according to any human moral standard, but allowed by trial and error to fall into any sort of moral philosophy it saw fit.  This was based on an unspoken assumption that humans were so wicked that anything we tried to teach, even something as simple as the Golden Rule, would corrupt the pristine perfection of the Frankenstein’s Monster.  An absurd claim was that entropy itself could someday be reversed. At this point I realized I was not dealing a scientific speculation, but cultic emotionalism.

Fairness requires I emphasize that not every man calling himself a Transhumanist buys into those last two ideas. For all I know, only the man who said it believes it, and, as time passes, maybe not even him. But it pointed out to me the easy way a man who idolizes intellect over moral sentiments, a man who prizes genius over saintliness, will easily be tempted to make an artificial intellect an idol, complete with human sacrifice.

Continue reading

Posted in Announcement, Crowing | 4 Comments

Oo, Those Awful Orcs !

It is with the same disquiet that one might feel stepping into a cold morgue, where a body killed after continuous pain from some deadly nerve gas he inhaled on purpose might be seen laying on a steel slab, to reread the words of the dismissive review by Edmund Wilson on what history has since decreed unambiguously to be the best novel of the modern era.

The kind reader may well wonder why any time or effort should be spent on dissecting a review over half a century old, worthy of no attention and no memory. That we must answer only after reading the review itself.

From The Nation, April 14, 1956.

            Oo, THOSE AWFUL ORCS !
By Edmund Wilson

            J. R. R. Tolkien: The Fellowship of the Ring.
            Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings, Allen and Unwin. 21s.

            In 1937, Dr. J. R. R. Tolkien, an Oxford don, published a children’s book called The Hobbit, which had an immense success. The Hobbits are a not quite human race who inhabit an imaginary country called the Shire and who combine the characteristics of certain English animals – they live in burrows like rabbits and badgers – with the traits of English country-dwellers, ranging from rustic to tweedy (the name seems a telescoping of rabbit and Hobbs.) They have Elves, Trolls and Dwarfs as neighbours, and they are associated with a magician called Gandalph [sic] and a slimy water-creature called Gollum. Dr. Tolkien became interested in his fairy-tale country and has gone on from this little story to elaborate a long romance, which has appeared, under the general title, The Lord of the Rings, in three volumes: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King. All volumes are accompanied with maps, and Dr. Tolkien, who is a philologist, professor at Merton College of English Language and Literature, has equipped the last volume with a scholarly apparatus of appendices, explaining the alphabets and grammars of the various tongues spoken by his characters, and giving full genealogies and tables of historical chronology. Dr. Tolkien has announced that this series – the hypertrophic sequel to The Hobbit – is intended for adults rather than children, and it has had a resounding reception at the hands of a number of critics who are certainly grown-up in years. Continue reading

Posted in Fancies, Musings | 101 Comments

James Stoddart on Lin Carter

I met James Stoddart exactly once, at the convention when he was presented with the Crompton Crook award for excellence in fantasy, his book The High House. I have never met a more charming and unassuming man, one with whom I had so many shared interests. I deeply regret that he is not my nextdoor neighbor, so that we could spend our evenings talking over the back fence or sharing a barbeque or a cold beer.

high-houseThat year, I had just published my first Everness book, which stars a faerie-haunted house quite similar to the High House of Stoddard; so he and I joked that we should start a society of chroniclers of fantastical mansions, if only we could get Mr John Crowley to join us and lend dignity to the project.

He was instrumental in getting published my ‘Night Land’ short stories to the generous editor Andy Robertson’s webzine, which allowed me to buy a new refrigerator, stove and microwave.

With considerable emotion, I read“>Mr Stoddart’s tribute to Lin Carter. His opinions are as mine; his words would be mine were I as articulate as he:

For those of us who grew up in the late 60s and early 70s the years between 1969 and 1974 were the golden years in fantasy literature. It was during this six year period that Ballantine Books, under the auspices of Editorial Consultant Lin Carter, introduced the “Sign of the Unicorn” line of Adult Fantasy books, a series which was to publish some of the finest fantasy ever written. Although the series was based on the success of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, most of the books were classics predating Tolkien and owing nothing to his influence. At that time, under the ownership of Ian and Betty Ballantine, Ballantine Books seemed more like a quality, niche-marketing house than a mass marketer. A deep love of books pervaded their titles.

I was fourteen when my high school English teacher handed out an order form containing, among other books, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I had heard they were good, so I ordered all four volumes on a chance. Four dollars was not an insignificant sum in those days, but I had scarcely left Bag End with Bilbo before I knew I was on to Something Big.

At the back of the Tolkien books was a modest request form for Ballantine’s catalog of current titles. As memory serves, the catalog turned out to be a 9 by 12 inch, glossy, first-class brochure with pictures of the book covers in black and white. Soon I was ordering titles through the mail and searching for them in local bookstores.

Throughout each book, Lin Carter served as host and guide. He was much more than just the Consulting Editor of the titles. Drawing on his extensive reading of fantasy literature, he chose works of beauty and power and grace that burned into my young heart. Because of his enthusiasm, his spirited introductions became very much part of my reading experience. Although I never met him, never exchanged correspondence or heard him speak, he became my friend and my mentor, a man who understood a literature that was very important to me. It was as if we were two long acquaintances, the older and the younger, he pointing here and there saying: “Have you seen this? Did you notice that? Now, look here.”

Together we saw it all. I remember as Lin and I climbed onto the back of a reptilian shrowk to fly above the mountains of the Ifdawn Marest with Maskull and the wild and beautiful Oceaxe in David Lindsay’s A Voyage to Arcturus. Or when we stood by the cairn with Rhiannon in the world of The Mabinogion, the Welsh Iliad, through the works of Evangeline Walton, a quartet of books beginning with Prince of Annwn. Parched with thirst, Lin and I crossed the burning deserts of the dying continent Zothique and stood frozen in fear with Ralibar Vooz in the caves of Hyperborea with Clark Ashton Smith. We crept down the seven hundred onyx steps and beyond the Gates of Deeper Slumber with H.P. Lovecraft in The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath. We eyed one another in silent awe as we fled from the descending Powers of Evil, through the Utter Darkness toward the safety of the towering Great Redoubt of William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land, that bizarre and beautifully flawed story of an earth whose sun has died. Swords in hand, we fought the bloody manticore upon Koshtra Pivrarcha with Lord Juss and Lord Brandoch Daha in E. R. Eddison’s The Worm Ouroboros, a work written with power and elegance in archaic English.

Exhausted, heads spinning, panting, we threw ourselves down to rest. But after a moment Lin and I looked at each other and nodded. He smiled and said, “Let’s do it all again.”

I would have followed him anywhere.

Continue reading

Posted in Fancies | 22 Comments

Asimov’s Three Laws reduced to Two

A reader with the everpresent moniker of ‘Ubiquitous’ asks:

You made the observation yourself in The Golden Age, as did Asimov whenever he used them, that the Asimovian rules as we have them wouldn’t work.

What Asimovian rules would you suggest, out of curiosity?

I would program the computers with only two rules: first, love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, and second, love your neighbors as yourself.

So far as I know, not a single science fiction writer has ever written a story where an artificial intelligence was programmed to carry out those commands. I offer the idea freely to any writer who wishes to attempt the feat.

The closest thing we had was in the Steven Spielberg movie A.I., where a machine shaped like a cute little boy was programmed to love it’s owner as a mother.

I assume most science fiction writers would handle the idea as a parody or a tragedy. They can picture a computer acting like Torquemada but cannot picture a computer acting like Saint Francis of Assisi, or even like Saint Thomas Aquinas.

For that matter, I assume most modern people, science fiction writers included, cannot picture a Christian acting like Saint Francis of Assisi, or Saint Thomas Aquinas. Which says nothing very flattering about the attempts of modern Christians to live the Christian life, and be salt to a world of rotting meat, or light to a world of darkness.

Posted in Fancies | 77 Comments

Toposophy in Eschaton

Some readers may be interested in a peek behind the curtain. Here is a excerpt from my notes for my most recent project, the ‘Count to the Eschaton Sequence’ which starts with the book COUNT TO A TRILLION. It is frankly inspired by the ideas of Nicholai Kardashev and of the extraordinarily imaginative Orion’s Arm Universe Project. From them I stole the basic idea of a toposophy. (I do not mind stealing the idea from them; they stole the idea from the grandmaster Stanislaw Lem). I also stole an idea or two from Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite.

A toposophy is a Linnaean taxonomy of various levels of posthuman and hyperposthuman and ultrahyperposthuman minds. Here below is the toposophic levels (which I call ‘choirs’) used in the Eschaton Sequence of books:

The following Ascended Technology Levels are ranked according to size, processing speed, energy consumption, and cognition density.

Note that the “cognition density” is the ratio of unthinking matter to thinking matter in a system. The ratio of the support-matter to sophont-matter in all the following ascended levels is basically the same as with evolved biological humans.

A relatively low ratio of the cells in our body are nerve cells in the cortex. Likewise for global Noösphere (or ‘Angel’): the main mass of the life support is the inanimate molten rocky nickel-iron core of the planet, which contains neither information nor intellectual raw material affecting the thought of the minds involved. Even relatively massive changes to the interior of the planet would have no meaning, no influences on the thought of the biological Noösphere.

The “life support” is very widely spread, and, despite the fears of the Greens, major changes to the “meaning” of the ecology could be endured before the material effect of the ecology would negatively affect the human thought process: we would regret the loss of birds to DDT long before we would run out of breathable air or potable water. Even of the life support, the moiety of life support biomass goes to the support of actions other than thought: cows crop grass to feed all the cells in our bodies, not just our brains, so the ratio of sun-energy converted to brain-power is very low. A solar-panel powered cube of logic diamond would have a ratio much closer to unity (depending on how much matter-energy was occupied with maintenance and support).

By Choir—

  • ·THIRD ORDER: Angels, Archangels, (Potentates), Principalities
  • ·SECOND ORDER: Virtues, Powers, (Hosts), (Dominions), Dominations
  • ·FIRST ORDER: (Authorities), (Archons), Aeons, Cherubim, Seraphim

By Energy Use—

  • o(Posthuman): Angels, Archangels,
  • o(Planetary KI): Potentates, Principalities
  • o(Interplanetary): Virtues
  • o(Stellar KII): Powers, Hosts
  • o(Interstellar or Nebular): Dominions, Dominations
  • o(Globular Cluster): Authorities
  • o(Arm): Archons
  • o(Galactic KIII, IV, V): Aeons, Cherubim, Seraphim

Mälzel: so called because they are artificial intelligences that are not awake or self-aware, but are able to perform complex mental acts, including comparisons, aesthetics, judgment calls, and reasoning including proportions and imponderables. HERE: both the ship’s brain of the Croesus, and the Little Big Brother of the Hermetic are Mälzels, as are, in decentralized form, the serpentines of the Sylphs.

Augments: includes men who make changes to their nervous system, either cybernetic or biotechnological. Example: the familiar of Eron Osa (From Kingsbury’s ‘Historical Crisis’). Also called Daemons, (after Socrates) because they can inspire thoughts. HERE: Mr. Hyde is an augment. He is human in psychology, but able to do quickly and intuitively what human thought does laboriously.

Posthumans: Totally rather than partially artificial organism, advanced above human intellect. HERE: Rania, the Locusts, and the Melusine are posthumans. The Locusts (based on A.E. van Vogt’s Slans) are posthumans, but merely share brain information, not deep structures changes nor personality downloads. (Xypotechs): an ‘awake’ machine is a posthuman. The Iron Ghost is a transitional stage: a posthuman based on a mathematical model of the human nervous system.

THIRD ORDER  (Up to KI, Nanotech, Sophont-Matter down to the molecular level)

Angels: Artificial intelligences of the superhuman level, either in a mobile or immobile housing, who have achieved true Noösphere status. Example: van Vogt’s Silkie. HERE: the Swans are biotechnologically advanced humanoids with highly efficient and modified nervous systems. They are participants in a Noösphere, not merely a set of mind-linked electronic telepaths (cf the Locusts or the Melusine). The link is through a quantum entanglement effect, which maintains a vast volume of communication with minimal energy loss. The fundamental limit on Swan mental architecture is that they maintain individuality, and the xypotech participating in the Noösphere are subordinate to them.

Archangels: advanced Posthuman: includes any self-aware group-minds, civic systems, highly-evolved or efficient superintelligences. Usually housed in large mainframes, but may have a dispersed framework, as a shoal of fish or flock or birds. Roughly equal in thinking power to a city or a nation state. Example: the Morlocks of Baxter’s Time Ships, the Fourth Men of Olaf Stapledon’s Last and First Men. HERE: the Black Fleet have hollowed asteroids into logic diamonds, and interlinked mass-mind (like a corporate with internal cells and divisions, of course, but no securely permanent individuality) and biological extensions manufactured for ease of expense (like flimsy one-use containers).

Potentate: small-scale Planetary intelligences. Potentates are widely ranging neural networks, usually with highly complex sophontic interfaces, manipulators, sensors ranging from satellite observatories to subsea and ecological units. Uploads into human psychologically understandable mimetic environments. HERE: Pellucid, and later, Tellus is a world-brain occupying the entire core of the Earth.

Power: Jupiter Brains. Kardashev I. Ergoplanetary.Nanotechnology. Molecular technology. Able to make artificial substances. At the upper end of the scale, the entire planetary mass is reduced to support-matter to a molecular level. Example: Jupiter is a power.


SECOND ORDER  (KI to KII, Picotech and Femtotech, Sophont-Matter to atomic level)

Virtues: Interplanetary. A mass influencing several planets. Examples: the Bloom from McCarthy. HERE: Cahetel, Achaiah, and Salamander are Virtues, as are the Furies which destroyed the Second Empyrean Polity.   

Principalities: A partial Dyson sphere, a ringworld, or any macroscale engineering which reduces most of a solar system to sophont-matter. HERE: Ain is a Principality.

Hosts: Kardashev II: ergosolar. Entire solar system reduced to sophont-matter to the molecular level (although the atoms do not do anything in support, i.e. no information in the spin values of surface electrons). Picoscale technology. Able to make artificial elements. Artificial elements and artificial (lightweight) neutron-latticework. Example: the Morlock Dyson Sphere of Baxter’s Time Ships. The La Superba Dyson Sphere is a Host.

Dominations: Hyades Cluster. 300 to 400 stars. The Solid State Entity of Neverness. The Hyades Cluster is a domination. Kardashev does not have a class for this, but clearly Nebular Minds are a scale above a mere Dyson Spheres or Concentric Brains.

Dominions: Praesepe (350, but older and denser. Masses of Dyson Concentrics, and stellar nursery technology)


FIRST ORDER (Above KIII-KV, Attotechnology (10-18) to Yoctotechnology (10-24). Planck-level tech (10-35) to Spacetime Manipulation, Sophont-Matter to subatomic level)

Authorities: M3 in Canes Venatici Globular Cluster, Half a million stars. Femtotechnology: able to construct structures made of quarks, quantum fields, exotic matter. The Singularity Rosette used in the stardrive of the Swan Recusant (Rania’s return vessel) is an example of Femtotechnology. Note that the information processing involved in these high energy densities and small distances allowed for the creation of extremely elegant bits of molecular technology, such as the Blood Companion, the Ichor, which can be copied, but cannot be made, by lower orders. Intellectual-matter strata down to the atomic level: the Dominations do not use stratons (quarks) to house their own thoughts. The common behavior of Dominations is to begin stellar herding and gardening, such as triggering novae artificially to achieve a desired balance of elements in the circumambient universe. Example: The Absolute Authority at M3 is a “Authority”.

Archons: Orion Arm.

Aeons: Large scale Galactics: Kardashev III ergonogalactic. Able to control quantum phenomena on the level of superstrings, gluons, and even more strange quantum particles. Intellectual matter down to the subatomic (quark or quantum chronodynamic) level. The elemental latticework are neither matter nor energy properly so called, neither matter nor antimatter, but additional states of matter for which we have no names, matrices of balanced positive and negative energies, spirals of electrons and positrons carefully balanced is a dance of mutual annihilations, canceling each other out and giving rise to additional particles, which also cancel out. The main problem occupying all KIII is the mass-energy loss due to neutrino and weakly-interacting particle loss during cognition.  Example: the Galactic Mind of Starmaker. The Maiden of Andromeda is an Aeon. Orion of Milky Way is a (disorganized, at the start of the novel) Aeon.

Cherubim: Kardashev IV. Galaxy Groups or Active Galaxy output control. The Great Attractor is an example of a K-IV megascale engineering project. (Centaurus Supercluster is composed of clusters A3526 and A3627; A3627 is responsible for the Great Attractor) Able to control supersymmetric breaking in other symmetries, so as to create other basic forces aside from electromagnetic, nuclear, gravitic. Cherub basic philosophical problem is to find an answer to the question of the relationship of mind to matter-energy, in so far as the stratons are themselves used in the thinking process, change the thinking process, and are changed by the thinking process (as if a human were to record information on the electrons used to jump across his neural synapses, or alter the DNA code within each brain cell as cognition proceeded.) HERE: Virgo Cluster is a Cherub.

Seraphim: Kardashev V: Supercluster output control. There are 13 superclusters in the local area of space, of which Seven are Contenders for the centrality of the Eschaton Directional Engine. Able to engineer vast areas of spacetime. The Great Attractor and the Wall are evidences of their megascale engineering. Able to control the production of virtual particles in the spacetime foam so as to produce, at faster-than-light-speed, an influence that will be reflected in the three-degree background radiation. They can change the ratio of Dark Matter and Dark Energy to Baryonic Matter across the visible width of space. There is some signal conflict, because the messages are fundamentally anachronistic, appearing both in past and future from any given frame of reference.


Kardashev VI, able to use all the energy of the continuum.

Posted in Fancies | 35 Comments

More Brilliance from Matt Walsh

Man, I am really beginning to love this guy. Wish I could write like he does.

Bossy liberal feminists have just invented another ridiculous reason to be offended

A quote:

Sheryl Sandberg, a Facebook executive, has partnered with the likes of the Girl Scouts, Condoleezza Rice, Beyoncé, Jennifer Gardner, and Google to promote the “Ban Bossy” campaign. Calling it the new “B-word,” Ms. Sandberg claims that women — especially young girls — are typically dismissed as “bossy” when they attempt to take charge and assert themselves, whereas men and boys are praised as leaders.

She says that “bossy” has a specifically female connotation, and the word is partly responsible for holding women back and making them feel timid and self-conscience.

Now, as much as I appreciate Ms. Sandberg, Beyoncé, and the Girl Scouts chiming in to tell us all what we mean when we say things (kind of bossy of them, actually), I still prefer to consult the dictionary on these matters.

According to that old misogynistic book of lies, bossy means “given to ordering people around, highhanded, domineering, overly authoritative, dictatorial, abrasive.” 

Hmmm. Could it be that girls are called bossy when they’re… well, bossy? Continue reading

Posted in Only Posting a Link | 24 Comments

An Advertisement for Celestia

I am spending the evening, as every good science fiction writer should, creating and destroying planets. In my imaginary future history, from AD 11000 to roughly AD 65500, five great Diasporas are inflicted upon the earth, and the eleven or so artificial subspecies of man, biological or mechanical or both, are carried to all the worthless planet-bearing stars withing 100 lightyears of Sol.

Now, I am always vastly disappointed in authors who, in their imaginary histories of the future, do not tell us where their stars really are, and delighted with the authors who do.

For example, I rejoice that Larry Niven selected a real star,  61 Ursae Majoris, to be the home sun of the Kzinti Patriarchy, or that Frank Herbert selected a real star, Gamma Piscium, to be the thronestar of the imperial world of Salusa Secundus (albeit he cleverly calls it by its Chinese name of Wai Ping) and likewise placed planet Caladan around the star Delta Pavonis, the same star used by John Maddox Roberts and Eric Kotani as the setting for their diamond-hard SF novel of the same name.

Continue reading

Posted in Fancies | 28 Comments


Castalia Books announces my upcoming book today with these words:

Castalia had already announced that we would be publishing John C. Wright’s collection of essays, TRANSHUMAN AND SUBHUMAN: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth, which will be published in April. Today we are absolutely delighted to be able to say that we will also be publishing AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND, a collection of four novellas set in the Night Land of William Hope Hodgson.

AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND is the first of five novels and novellas written by Mr. Wright to be published by Castalia House. It clocks in at 116,500 words and will be priced at $4.99. We will release the English ebook later this month; the German translation is already underway with an anticipated July release. We also expect to publish a hardcover version this summer.


Speaking as a reader and as a fan, I can say that the Night Land novellas are spectacular. They combine the intelligence and gigantic scale of Iain M. Banks with the eldritch foreboding of H.P. Lovecraft, but with a humane soul that is alien to either of the two late authors.

Posted in Announcement | 8 Comments

Cosmos and the Cartoon Maker

It may be a breach of net etiquette to reproduce an entire entry rather than a hook line and a link, but (1) Mr Shea and I are two founding members of the Shea-Wright mutual admiration society, and, I believe, as of last meeting, still the only members and (2) the entry is short. Here is the link anyway. After you are done reading it here, read it there.

A reader writes:

What’s your take on this show? Was it overtly anti-catholic or am I being overly sensitive as a Catholic?

It’s overtly and stupidly anti-Catholic. History for people who think The Family Guy is the History Channel.

For a good all-around debunking of this simple-minded “Catholic Church vs. Science” narrative, go here.

For an honest atheist’s review of God’s Philosophers, which overwhelmingly demonstrates that, so far from being the enemy of Science, the Catholic Church is its mother, go here.

The reason the three same names–Hypatia, Bruno, and Galileo–keep getting trotted out by historical illiterates as evidence of “The Catholic War on Science” is because there was no Catholic war on science. Hypatia was killed because she was unlucky enough to live in Alexandria, where civil violence was a municipal sport. Bruno was not a scientist, but a practitioner of what has rightly been described as mystic woo woo. For Cosmos to herald him as a champion of SCIENCE[TM] persecuted by the Church is like wringing one’s hand because the Pope did not convert to Scientology. And Galileo? Well, what you want to do is read Mike Flynn’s magnificent and hilarious account of how, largely due to the work of Catholic scientists, we got from geocentrism to heliocentrism–and how Galileo being a pain in the neck who went beyond the evidence available at the time and wound up running afoul of a hierarchy reeling from the Protestant revolt and jittery about his rash theological claims.

Next time some historical illiterate talks about the Church’s “War on Science” ask for details on these three. Then give the real details. Then, ask for other names. A “war” with only three casualties is not much of a war, particularly when the Church has canonized St. Albert the Great, has a couple dozen craters on the moon named for Jesuits, was mother to Robert Grosseteste, Roger Bacon, John Peckham, Duns Scotus, Thomas Bradwardine, Walter Burley, William Heytesbury, Richard Swineshead, John Dumbleton, Richard of Wallingford, Nicholas Oresme, Jean Buridan Nicholas of Cusa, and Louis Pasteur (not one of whom the average Cosmos-educated sophisticate has even heard of), carefully fostered the work of Gregor Mendel (the Augustinian monk who founded the science of genetics), and fully supported the work of Jesuit Msgr. Georges Lemaitre, the formulator of the Big Bang hypothesis.

In sum, the iron truth remains that the more ignorant somebody is, the more certain they are they are obviously smarter than the common herd. Seth MacFarlane, the producer of Cosmos, is certain he knows what is talking about, and therefore has never bothered to discover how wrong he is.

Someday, somebody is going to have the guts to tell the story of the history of Science and the Faith that is not a cartoon. But one can hardly expect that from a cartoon maker.

Posted in Apologetics, Musings, Only Posting a Link | 23 Comments

Toward Totalitarianism by James E Keenan

This appeared today in the Frederick News Post. I have three questions about it.

The original is here:

Recently, there has been controversy about control of certain elements of the nation’s press and news media. While the president’s plan to place government monitors in newsrooms is temporarily on hold, it must be revived at some future time. The administration needs to act to prevent divisiveness and bias by controlling the information that is given to the American people.

There are some on the far right who will continue their prattle about freedom of the press or freedom of speech or freedom of religion. But even a cursory reading of our outdated Constitution shows that the so-called Bill of Rights restricts only laws passed by Congress. Continue reading

Posted in Musings, Only Posting a Link | 15 Comments

Mystery Men Role Playing Game: The Wrath of Pops Racecar!

To dispel any notion that in my free time between writing novels, I do anything becoming to a man my age, like reading Papal encyclicals, or translating Aristotle, or even ice fishing, I’d like to make it clear I have the same hobby as the nearsighted asthmatic teenager working in your local gaming store, to wit, I play role playing games. This is a game called Mystery Men, based loosely on the movie, based loosely on the comic book.

You play a squad of between four to six incompetent super heroes.  Below is a description of my third turn. This should be the last entry in this particular line of posts for about a month.

Continue reading

Posted in Drollery | 1 Comment

Mystery Men Role Playing Game: When Strikes the Super President!

To dispel any notion that I could become your next world leader, or even Beadle of Brampton, I’d like to share a private part of my life with you: I play role playing games. I believe this disqualifies me under the United Nations Organization charter from holding public office or serving on juries. This is a game called Mystery Men, based loosely on the movie, based loosely on the comic book.

You play a squad of between four to six incompetent super heroes.  Below is a description of my second turn.

Continue reading

Posted in Drollery | 10 Comments

Mystery Men Role Playing Game: Behold A Santa!

Lest there be some readers who think I am too fine to play something geekerific like role playing games, I’d like to share a private part of my life with you. This is a game called Mystery Men, based loosely on the movie, based loosely on the comic book.

You play a squad of between four to six incompetent super heroes.  Below is a description of my first turn.

Continue reading

Posted in Drollery | 8 Comments

Mystery Men Role Playing Game: Intro

Just so that my readers do not think I have a real life, I’d like to share a private part of my meager existence with you. I am currently playing in a game called Mystery Men, based loosely on the movie, based loosely on the comic book.

You play a squad of between four to six incompetent super heroes.  Below is a description of my hero team. I will post the write up of my first few turns (which I wrote out at length for the amusement of the moderator and my fellow players — this is not actually part of the game) for those few readers who might be interested in such arrant nonsense.

This what I do when I am not losing games are Arimaa to my eleven year old, one after another, or writing space epics, one after another.

Continue reading

Posted in Drollery | 4 Comments


It is amazing what you can find on the internet. There is a chess variant game called Baroque that my older brother Steven and his patrolleader Scott Turpin once showed me in my youth. I showed this game to my oldest and youngest boy, and both have played it with me and against each other.

For years and indeed for decades, through all my youth and almost all of my adult life,  I thought he and Scott had made it up out of their own heads. I cannot tell you the sense of disorientation it created to discover this was not the case.

Only quite recently, a year or two ago, did I discover that the game was invented by the mathematician named Robert Abbott (who has a web page here and an article on how incredibly stupid modern video games are is here The game was first published in Recreational Mathematics Magazine in August 1962, under the title ??? since Abbott had not yet given it a name. A contest was run, and Baroque was the winning name.

I do not think my brother and Scott were trying to deceive me, it is just that as a small boy I no doubt paid no attention to the origin the things, and the topic of who invented the game never came up, and I never met anyone who had ever heard of it.

There is also a description of the game here, where it is called Ultima, a name that makes no sense, and was added by some editor in later years. This page also has moving illustrations of the capture moves.

There are only minor differences between the game my brother taught me and the game as described. For example, we called the Immobilizers ‘Freezers’ and called the Pawn ‘Squeezers’ and called the Withdrawers ‘Reversers’  — all of which, in my humble opinion, are much better names. For example, ‘A frozen Squeezer can squeeze the Freezer freezing him’ is more fun to say than ‘A frozen Pawn can pinch the Immobilizer immobilizing him.’

I did not know about the frozen suicide move rule, which would have prevented a stalemate in the last game I just played with my son, and I also thought the point of the game was to capture all enemy pieces, not check the King.

So, if you want to play a game that is played regularly in the Wright household, and do go something with the kids not involving an electronic screen of some sort, here from the original article are the rules to Baroque. (I still think you should use my names rather than Abbott’s, however.) Continue reading

Posted in Musings | 44 Comments

The Autumn People and the Winter’s Tale

This is among the best movie, if not THE best I have ever seen. The critics panned it, no one went to see it, and it is already gone from the theaters.

What went wrong?

Continue reading

Posted in Fancies, Musings, Reviews | 51 Comments

Matt Walsh asks: If I call it a lifestyle will the bigots back off?

With Ash Wednesday being next Wednesday, now is a good time to link to a Matt Walsh article from last year on Easter:

And it is an even better time to remind the faithful what we face, and hold up a mirror to show the compassionate love-filled Left what hateful monsters they are.

I hope it is not a breech of net etiquette if I quote the whole thing. It is a short piece from a year ago, but please feel free to visit Matt Walsh’s blog and leave a donation:

Continue reading

Posted in Only Posting a Link | 10 Comments