An Announcement from my Publisher

Posted July 8, 2014 By John C Wright

The words below are those of my Publisher, Vox Day, of Castalia House:

As mentioned when we announced the book, a substantial portion of the first month’s sales revenues will be donated to Stillbrave, the children’s cancer charity. According to my calculations, after the first two weeks $658.84 has been raised for Stillbrave to date. There are still more than two weeks to go, so if you have any interest at all in Mr. Wright’s superlative excursion into the philosophy and morality of time travel, I would encourage you to buy it now, either from the Castalia House store (EPUB format) or from Amazon (Kindle format).

If you have not read the reviews, of which there are 12 averaging a 4.8 rating, perhaps a selection of quotes from a two or three of them will encourage you to give the book a shot.

Review 1:

 

I urgently and without hesitation, recommend City Beyond Time. Atlantis, Hi-Brazil, Tartessos. Or if you don’t read the classics; Krypton, Gallifrey and Valyria.

The forever doomed, forever lost and forever beautiful true city and true home. The seat of all grace, all wisdom and all power, destined from it’s creation for destruction by it’s own hubris.

Welcome to Metachonoplis.

Writers don’t dream this big anymore. They don’t dare, they would be laughed out of the business. Much easier to take the path most commonly taken. Much easier to drop the F-bomb eighteen times before the end of page six and call it art. Just describe every vulgar experience you’ve ever had and call it refined. Just pretend your words can become a muse for the readers mind and call it good…enough.

John C. Wright is clearly and obviously a rather drastic anachronism. If H. Rider Haggard, Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Chandler and Roger Zelazny had got together in a bar and decided just for kicks to have a genetic recombinant uterine replication vanity project together the result would be John C. Wright.

Review 2:

 

I’ve noted a theme in my so far sadly limited (but soon to be comprehensive!) readings of John C. Wright that he speaks in a voice sui generis among modern literary pretenders — that is, all those who are not in fact John C. Wright — portraying what for lack of better nomenclature we could term “inspirational dystopias”, shining the light of human fulfillment from amidst what in lesser hands would be overwhelming nihilism and/or despair.

This collection of stories raises that artistry to masterly finesse; it reads like Moorcock’s Dancers At The End of Time as plotted by a collaboration of Neal Stephenson and C.S. Lewis, with a subtle sprinkling of the absurdist wit Messr. Wright displays abundantly in his online presence.

Unconditionally recommended!

Review 3: 

 

John Wright does it again. This is the second book of collected stories I’ve read from him, the other being Awake in the Night Lands, and cannot recommend him highly enough.

I’ve read, and watched, my fair share of time travel stories and Wright leaves them all in the dust, even Mull’s Grip of the Shadow Plague subplot which I had just read to my kids. His vision is far more expansive, far more human and far more frightening than what I’ve encountered elsewhere. Not only does he pursue the logical and moral ramifications of what unfettered time travel would entail and what that would do to those that master it, he also presents two sides, a heaven and a hell, the costs of each, and lets the reader decide which one he would seek.

For what, one wonders, can you possibly be waiting? Especially if you consider yourself even a casual reader of science fiction.

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My comment: all of the reviews on Amazon are very flattering, but I notice they are all readers just of my Castalia House offerings.

I have written or appeared in other books. They are listed below.

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Writing with an Ax to Grind

Posted July 8, 2014 By John C Wright

A reader with the pastoral name of Pastor writes to ask:

 

Do you think that propaganda (using your definition from above as “that which is designed to manipulate readers into an ideology”) and ordinary stories are different in kind or in degree? I understand, from your last, that you think they are different in some essential way. Is that right?

Excellent question. The answer is a qualified yes.

The topic is a difficult one because it does not lend itself to simple answers. We must proceed carefully, like explorers in a mire, since too bold a step, much less leaping to any conclusions, might suck the conversation into the swamp of mutual incomprehension.

Let us also distinguish several cases:

(1) a story which gives honest, nonstrawmanlike, portrayal of both sides of the question is not propaganda. This is a difference of kind.

(2) the more logic and less sophistry and rhetoric is involved makes the propaganda more tolerable. This is a difference of degree.

(3) a story that persuades the reader on a point that is not related to an ideology is not propaganda. This rule is difficult to apply, because modern ideologies attempt to be as all embracing as religion, so that opinions about woman or the weather become political statements. This could be a difference of kind when the story is not related to an ideology; or a difference in degree is the relationship is tentative or indirect.

(4) A story where the message is skillfully woven into the tale may or may not be propaganda depending on its intent and point, but how obvious and obnoxious the message-preaching becomes is a difference of degree.

(5) All stories portray an author’s assumed worldview. Not all worldviews are primarily political. Not all stories aim at persuading the reader to adopt the author’s world view for longer than the duration of the story.

(6) All stories have a moral that can be read into it. Not all stories are written to moralize.

Let us see if we can explore these six point, and perhaps we can be excused if this is a rambling exploration filled with digressions. The subject matter is mazelike; we may need to turn and return at several points. Read the remainder of this entry »

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Prayer Request

Posted July 7, 2014 By John C Wright

A friend of mine writes in with this prayer request:

Could you please share this prayer request on your journal? Super Typhoon Neoguri is bearing down on the Ryukyu Archipelago where my friends, coworkers, and many kindly island folk live. It’s already battering Okinawa and is predicted to strengthen to a Category 5 as it moves north to strike the other islands in the next day or so. Please pray that we all make it through safely. It may strike mainland Kyushu afterwards, but there’s a chance it will veer off into the Pacific and away from civilization.

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Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder

Posted July 7, 2014 By John C Wright

It is commonly held by apologists for modern and postmodern mysticism that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and therefore the whole matter beyond dispute, beyond reason, and ergo of no interest whatsoever.

There is also a small, aggressive, abrasive and vile school of thought which holds that all art is a political statement, by which is mean not a statement about the justice and beauty of ordering the polity to serve the greater good, but a statement about the sadomasochistic power struggle between oppressor and oppressed. These freakish jackals do not mean by the word ‘politics’ what we mean.

Like most untruths, the myth of beauty being in the eye of the beholder is partially true. By the same token, it is mostly untrue.

There are three ways in which it is partly true and mostly untrue that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Read the remainder of this entry »

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The Last Castle by Jack Vance

Posted July 4, 2014 By John C Wright

The novella THE LAST CASTLE won Jack Vance both the Hugo and Nebula Awards, and this was in the days when those awards still meant something.

I had occasion to reread this novellas recently, and was deeply impressed at how the passing of time has not outdated it. Now, in the middle of the second decade of the Third Millennium, these tales are half a century old: as if a reader who enjoyed H.G. Wells’ WAR OF THE WORLDS first published in Pearson’s Magazine in 1897 were to reread it in Analog in 1947.

Jack Vance is sadly less well remembered than other science fiction writers of his generation, for reasons which are not clear to me. I suspect part of it is the rather dark and mordant nature of his wit, and the mildly disquieting examination of the nature of mankind.

Since I had read the tales both at 15 and at 51, what I notice first and foremost is the nuances invisible to me as a child. This review hence may emphasize unduly elements that are minor, but which I as the reader note for the first time.

SPOILER WARNINGS. I intend to discuss the plot, surprise ending, and plot twists along the way — but since we are talking about fifty year old novellas, your pride as a science fiction fan should long ago have urged you to seek out and read such luminary and seminal novellas as this one.

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Man shoots an anvil through a smokering

Posted July 4, 2014 By John C Wright

Gaze upon the AWESOME!
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Dungeons and Greengrocers

Posted July 4, 2014 By John C Wright

In re a recent article in this space, we note that even corners of our culture which have nothing whatsoever to do with Christianity, or sanity, or sex, or reproduction, or marriage, have now firmly made a public statement to despise and denigrate Christ and kiss the rump of the Antichrist.

Just to remind you of our last episode:

James Wyatt, the designer of the latest Dungeons & Dragons starter set, is trumpeting how progressive the game’s values are:

d&d pervert

And what could possibly be more authentically faux medieval than that?

You may be wondering, why in the world would Mr. Wyatt, a game designer, take an obnoxious public stand on an issue where he is in the wrong, he knows he is in the wrong and there is no possibility that even as a joke he regard himself as being in the right. He is saying something absurd, and he knows it, and we know it, and we know he knows it.

So why do it? Why not announce that Dungeon Masters can run worlds where twice two is five, or children are older than their parents? Or some other absurdity equally as stupid?

In this regard, allow me to quote Vaclav Havel.

THE MANAGER of a fruit-and-vegetable shop places in his window, among the onions and carrots, the slogan: “Workers of the world, unite!” Why does he do it? What is he trying to communicate to the world? Is he genuinely enthusiastic about the idea of unity among the workers of the world? Is his enthusiasm so great that he feels an irrepressible impulse to acquaint the public with his ideals? Has he really given more than a moment’s thought to how such a unification might occur and what it would mean?

I think it can safely be assumed that the overwhelming majority of shopkeepers never think about the slogans they put in their windows, nor do they use them to express their real opinions. That poster was delivered to our greengrocer from the enterprise headquarters along with the onions and carrots. He put them all into the window simply because it has been done that way for years, because everyone does it, and because that is the way it has to be. If he were to refuse, there could be trouble. He could be reproached for not having the proper decoration in his window; someone might even accuse him of disloyalty. He does it because these things must be done if one is to get along in life. It is one of the thousands of details that guarantee him a relatively tranquil life “in harmony with society,” as they say.

Obviously the greengrocer is indifferent to the semantic content of the slogan on exhibit; he does not put the slogan in his window from any personal desire to acquaint the public with the ideal it expresses. This, of course, does not mean that his action has no motive or significance at all, or that the slogan communicates nothing to anyone. The slogan is really a sign, and as such it contains a subliminal but very definite message. Verbally, it might be expressed this way: “I, the greengrocer XY, live here and I know what I must do. I behave in the manner expected of me. I can be depended upon and am beyond reproach. I am obedient and therefore I have the right to be left in peace.” This message, of course, has an addressee: it is directed above, to the greengrocer’s superior, and at the same time it is a shield that protects the greengrocer from potential informers. The slogan’s real meaning, therefore, is rooted firmly in the greengrocer’s existence. It reflects his vital interests. But what are those vital interests?

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Dungeons and Perverts

Posted July 3, 2014 By John C Wright

James Wyatt, the designer of the latest Dungeons & Dragons starter set, is trumpeting how progressive the game’s values are:

d&d pervert

And what could possibly be more authentically faux medieval than that?

Read the remainder of this entry »

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The Wright Perspective: On Beauty

Posted July 3, 2014 By John C Wright

My latest is up at EveryJoe:

http://www.everyjoe.com/2014/07/03/politics/robbed-of-beauty-by-the-left/

I usually write about trivial things. This is perhaps the most important column I have ever written, because it explains the central mystery of our time: why our age alone of all ages of Christendom has no fine arts, no public effort to create and retain beauty.

Unfortunately, I sent in my first draft which was accidentally misfiled in my ready-to-send folder, and so the published copy left out the conclusion. (I sent this in today, too late, hoping the publisher would update the publication, but it was a tyro’s mistake on my part, very unprofessional. Alas.)

Here for my readers is the version of the column as it was originally meant:

Why do they adore such imagery? That answer is not difficult: the desolation of
ugliness aids the Leftist cause in a very real and very subtle way.

Imagine two men: one stands in a bright house, tall with marble columns adorned
with lavish art, splendid with shining glass images of saints and heroes,
mementos of great sorrow and great victories both past and promised. A
polyphonic choir raises their voices in golden song, singing an ode to joy. The
other stands in a slum with peeling wallpaper, or a roofless ruin infested with
rats, hemmed by feces-splashed gray concrete walls lurid with jagged graffiti,
chalked with swearwords and flickering neon signs advertising strip joints. Rap
music thuds nearby, ear-splitting, yowling obscenities. A bureaucrat approaches
each man and orders him to do some routine and routinely humiliating task, such
as pee in a cup to be drug tested, or be fingerprinted, or suffer an anal cavity
search, or surrender his weapons, or his money, or his name. Which of the two
men is more likely to take a stand on principle not to submit?

Which one will automatically and unconsciously assume that human life is sacred,
human rights are sacrosanct, and that Man is made in the image and likeness of
God? The man surrounded by godlike images? Or the man surrounded by mocking filth?

Which one, in other words, is more likely to fall prey to the worldview of a
dark world cosmos without meaning, without truth, without virtue?

The point of nearly a century of aggressive ugliness in the fine arts is to
produce disgust. (etc)

UPDATE: without a minute’s hesitation, the publisher updated the text. Wow. Things move quickly in the modern, electronic world — it is much more forgiving than the print world.

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From the Pen of Sean Davis

Posted July 3, 2014 By John C Wright

This could almost be a haiku representing postmodern nonthought on the topic:

 

“Get your politics out of my bedroom!”
“Not a problem. I’m just going to grab my wallet before I leave.”
“The wallet stays, bigot.”

https://twitter.com/seanmdav/statuses/483647455662055426

And also this gem by Sean Davis, brought to our attention by a reader:

 

“Go bake my wedding cake. Then go buy my contraception. And after that stay out of my bedroom and mind your own business you creep, geez.”

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