My latest is up at Every Joe:


The modern science fiction writers are the heirs to those ancient philosophers sadly because mainstream writers, while believing themselves technically more proficient in the story telling art, in fact are less proficient in the exercise of the imagination, which is the more fundamental of the two skills. In a word, the modern mainstream is not imaginative enough to write of a world other than his own, much less one better than his own due to some philosophical or technological improvement of the condition of mankind.

As a thought experiment, we are asking which utopia would be best to dwell in and raise a family, presumably in freedom comfort not less than what an average American currently enjoys. The Republic of Plato and the Utopia of Thomas More were briefly described, and rejected on the grounds that neither comfort nor freedom were available in these imaginary commonwealths, nor could any responsible father condemn his children to live as cattle.

The ancient philosophers were not penning science fiction, that is, not even trying to propose a speculation, realistic or not, of what life in a better world would be like. They were describing (with what degree of sarcasm scholars to this day debate in doubt) the situation best suited for the government of men. Both Socrates the pagan sage and Thomas More the Christian saint saw man as a creature wretched due to vice and sin, and saw the instrument of the State is needed to chastise, correct and inspire the beast within us to domestication and obedience: hence their utopians were both as disciplined as a military camp, or a Spartan city.

Now we turn to the three generations that followed the birth of American science fiction, which, for convenience, I shall call the Golden Age, the New Wave, and the Crazy Years. For better or worse, the view of mankind changed dramatically. The ancients saw nature, including human nature, as fixed, and saw the main effort of man to be a struggle for virtue, particularly the virtues needed to domesticate our crooked inner natures and unwholesome desires. Since the Victorian Age, an age of naivety, the modern has seen nature, particularly human nature, as subject to a gradual but benevolent evolution, and hence the main effort of man to be a struggle to study, outwit, domesticate and command nature, either by technology or improvements in the social order.

With the view of man evolved to an evolutionary view, hence the prescription of in what form of commonwealth men should best live changed as well.

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Hoyt and the Redheaded Step Genre

Posted September 3, 2014 By John C Wright

Sarah Hoyt has a simply excellent meditation on her blog about her early love of science fiction (where I notice she is a fan of all the authors I love) about the narrowness of her teachers, and about the bitter and boring and petty narrowness of those who confuse ‘serious literature’ with good and deep and thoughtful literature.

She is in rare form, and this column should be the rallying cry of all of you who love science fiction and who do not love the locusts coming to eat up the fruit of our imaginations ,nor the harpies coming to befoul our feasts.

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Posted September 2, 2014 By John C Wright

This is a decades-old dream come true. It is unseemly for a writer to praise his own work, but, honestly, of all I have written this is the one novella I most wish I could have read, if a time machine lending library were available, when I was a youth.

For sale now. Here is the announcement  from my publisher:

One Bright Star To Guide Them

At long last, we are very pleased to announce the publication of ONE BRIGHT STAR TO GUIDE THEM by John C. Wright. It is a beautiful novella in which Mr. Wright once more proves himself to be the Master of the Final Word; in all my reading I have yet to discover an author who is more accomplished at writing elegant, perfectly-fitting endings that leave the reader in breathless awe. The novella is available in Kindle format for $2.99 at Amazon and in DRM-free EPUB format at Castalia House.

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Science Fiction now a Hate Crime

Posted September 2, 2014 By John C Wright

From the pen of Jerry Pournelle:

Rage and grief prevent me from making any comment.


UPDATE: A reader named Vespers reports it may be a false alarm, thank God:

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Joseph Moore of Yardsale of the Mind had weighed and measured the merits of THE HERMETIC MILLENNIA, and, by some kindly accident or quirk of inattention of his part, overlooks the flaws in the work and praised the merits.

His review is here:

He says, in part:


I will assume you’ve read the first book here, so, if not, there are minor spoilers ahead.

Menelaus Montrose survives his duel with Blackie – sorry for the spoiler, there, but c’mon – and has retreated to the lair of cryonic tombs spread around the globe  he was building in Count to a Trillion. The Hyades aliens are coming in 10,500 years to enslave the earth. Montrose, true American cowboy and superlative genius that he is, figures humanity must stand and fight. The Hermeticists  merely want to engineer races of men worthy of being enslaved, for the Monument says that an enslaved race will eventually be freed if it turns out to have made it worth the trouble of travelling for 10 millennia to enslave.

In the same way as in that first book, the story is told mostly inside-out: As on his round-trip to V-886 Centari, Menelaus has been sleeping the centuries away, and so every new awakening is a mystery story where he has to catch up on what’s been happening.

Pellucid, his global AI,  hidden and distributed deep in the earth, has algorithms for waking him up: when events have reached a point where his personal touch is requires to set them straight. The Hermeticists, lead by Blackie Del Azarchel, have retreated to the far side of the moon, where they brood and plan and manipulate the races of man to their purposes. Through the centuries, Menelaus must awaken once in a while and have a classic Western showdown with a Hermeticist. So far, so good.

But something has gone very, very wrong.

Only 400 years remain until the enslaving aliens are to arrive, and the earth is a mess: an ice age has gripped the planet, and, except for some bald blue grave robbers who have inexplicably gotten past Montrose’s layers and layers of defenses to rob the tombs, no one seems to be around.  By some miracle,  no one recognizes him – he’s pretending to be a Beta Chimera, one of the past races of men. It is only a matter of time before he and the other Thaws are of no use to the robbers – and Motrose has to figure out what to do and how to do it before they are all murdered.

The chief ‘whoa’ of this book: Montrose has a standing offer to all the intelligent life on earth: come to the Tombs, and ride out the manipulations of the Hermeticists, to be thawed at some future date. This offer has resulted in the Tombs containing a collection of humanoid life forms that make the bar crowd at Mos Eisley look like a drill team. Each form, from Giants to Sylphs to Nymphs to Chimerae to Witches to Savants to Hormagaunts and so on, is the result of one or another of the Hermeticist’s attempts to control human development, and reflect the plans, biases and flaws of their creators. Each subspecies has its own languages and customs, and hatreds based on what prior species they conquered and what subsequent subspecies supplanted them. The Thaws awakened by the tomb robbers are a mix of these races. Montrose has managed to become the main translator for the Blue Men, who are apparently in charge of the tomb raiding. Thus, he gets to interview the various races, and we hear their stories. Wright is both playful and humorous as well as serious and scary in his incorporation of ideas current now and his extrapolation to where those ideas might lead, if the whole world were to commit to them.

In order to save them, Montrose has got to get them to pull together. He is honor bound to protect anyone who voluntarily entered the Tombs. Co-conspirators are recruited and schemes are hatched….

Of course, after the manner of its kind, we have another cliff hanger. And I only have to wait a week or three to see how it comes out.

So, go read Count to a Trillion and Hermetic Millennia! What are you waiting for?

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Musteline yet Lacking a Male Member

Posted August 30, 2014 By John C Wright

A comment by Brad R. Torgersen about a recent unsightly eructation at the Guardian

The piece he criticizes so sharply and ably is here:

You may read it if you wish, although I recommend against it. The column is the vaporings of a stranger to the science fiction field applauding the applause given a book called ANCILLARY JUSTICE on the ground that, let me quote:

It continues the tradition of feminist writing within science fiction, famously adapting its pronoun usage as the central character struggles to understand the alien concept of binary gender.

This battle for the political high ground, while it is often petty, is far from unhealthy. The future science fiction has forecast and helped to shape, the future we are now deeply enmeshed in, is a profoundly political place.

The theme of the column proposes that there is a political war going on in science fiction between evil reactionaries who want to enjoy stories and benevolent social justice warrior whose mission is to enlighten us.

By Klono’s brazen claws, does anyone actually READ these preachy novels of feelbad flounderheaded pontification-fests for fun?

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Reviewer Praise for COUNT TO A TRILLION

Posted August 29, 2014 By John C Wright

My books seems to have caught Mr Moore over at Yardsale of the Mind when he was in a good mood. He begins as follows:

Nutshell: This is a good book. Go buy it now, and get a couple copies to give to unsuspecting friends.

The large pile of books I bought last year has been barely touched – I did get to read Mike Flynn’s excellent Eifelheim, reviewed here, as well as some Gene Wolf that crept into the pile of its own volition, and several good books for a Catholic reading group I’m in. But wasn’t making much of a dent.

But not anymore! I’ve got my Great Books man-cave set up, with all the stuff off the floor and into a bookcase atop a large desk, where a couple hundred books to be read or reread sit at approximately eye level, taunting me. So, cracked into John C. Wright’s  Count to a Trillion, the first book of an epic six book space opera.


First off, the experience of reading this book brought me back to my time in high school – in a good way. Back then, I didn’t give a crap about schoolwork (have I mentioned I’m a terrible student?) and so, when a book grabbed me, I’d read almost till sunrise if that’s what it took to finish it. Well, over the few days it took to read Count to a Trillion, I twice stayed up past midnight reading (I get up before 6 every day, and have a job and dependents and stuff, so the ‘read until 4:30 a.m.’ thing ain’t happening – but 1:30 is the moral equivalent at this point in my life.)  That’s a pretty gripping book to do that! AND – I picked up The Hermetic Millennia immediately upon reaching the end and its cruel cliffhanger. I’ll review volume 2 in a day or two when I’m done.

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Five Current Work Questions

Posted August 29, 2014 By John C Wright

What am I working on?

I am working on several projects: A short story for Sci Phi called ‘The Ideal Machine’; my next Count to the Eschaton, tentatively titled THE VINDICATION OF MAN volume is due early next year to Tor; I have agreed to deliver a short story to a possible anthology tentatively titled TRIGGER WARNINGS by this time next year; but at the moment and for the next month I will be polishing my second draft of the first volume of my Unwithering Realm trilogy to Castalia Books, called SOMEWHITHER.

In a nutshell:

I am writing an alternate history novel when the son of the buttkicking Deacon-ninja Templar working for the secret ‘special operations’ branch of the Vatican Swiss Guard has to outwit and outfence the evil Astrologers from an alternate timeline where the Tower of Babel was never destroyed by a miracle, so that planet has one race, one nation, one language and nothing they attempt is denied them.

Because of their ability accurately to predict the future, the Babylonians are conquering the other timelines (The other timelines include one ruled by giants where Noah’s flood never came; one ruled by Mummies and ghosts of mighty Pharaohs, where the rebellion of Moses never robbed Egypt of her work force; one ruled by mermaids where the waters of Noah’s flood have nor yet receded; the one where Christ was welcomed by the Jews and escaped the Roman authorities is ruled by vampires, because there are no crucifixes to drive them back.)

My young hero, Ilya Muromets, has to join forces with an invisible gypsy, a headless giant, an unpredictable monkey-girl with a weapon made of living metal, a levitating old-testament style prophet, Captain Nemo, and a sexy maneating mermaid from the conquered parallel worlds, and cut his way with his grandfather’s katana to where the mad scientist’s beautiful daughter from the Haunted Museum is imprisoned, slaughtering Latin werewolves and Greek Kallikanzaro and large-eared flying midgets and one-legged sciapods and one-eyed Arimaspians along the way, until he finds the forty-story tall prayer-powered robotic suit of armor needed to wrestle the Atlantis-sized leviathan turtle, to pick up the twenty-story tall burning neutronium spear, trample the armies of the dark tower, cleave the diamond admantium chains holding the trapped archangel of …

Never mind the rest. I am trying to write something as over the top as I can possibly get away with. That is why I am bringing this manuscript to Vox Day rather than Tor books. I think he has the vision to approve of the fight scene between the armored and over-adorned Babylonian Zeppelin driven by Emperor Nimrod the Hunter and the ironclad submersible Nautilus captained by Nemo, warrior-Maharaja and superscientist of Lemuria.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I don’t know, but maybe the answer is, that this work differs from other alternate history books BY BEING TOTALLY AWESOME.

Also, the theory of how the parallel timelines divide is unique.

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Nobody Expects

Posted August 29, 2014 By John C Wright

I read this article in the Community Digital News, which reports an attack by an angry mob against a group of Mohammedans.

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Labor Day Sale!

Posted August 29, 2014 By John C Wright

My publisher has an announcement:

Labor Day Sale on Amazon

Amanda Green of Nocturnal Lives has put together a Labor Day Sale in which all of the books listed are on offer for $2.99 or less. Check out the entire list there. Castalia House is participating and the following books are available for $2.99 all weekend at Amazon:

John C. Wright: Awake in the Night Land

John C. Wright: Transhuman and Subhuman

Rolf Nelson: The Stars Came Back

Vox Day: A Throne of Bones

Vox Day: The Altar of Hate

Steve Rzasa and Vox Day: QUANTUM MORTIS: A Man Disrupted  

Tom Kratman: Big Boys Don’t Cry

In addition, the following books are free for the next three days:

John C. Wright: Awake in the Night

Vox Day: The Last Witchking

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