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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Why the minimum wage should be raised

Zerohedge and other economic globalists don't understand the real benefit of minimum-wage laws:
Most of our readers probably know what we think of minimum wages, but let us briefly recapitulate: there is neither a sensible economic, nor a sensible ethical argument supporting the idea.

Let us look at the economic side of things first: for one thing, the law of supply and demand is not magically suspended when it comes to the price of labor. Price it too high, and not the entire supply will be taken up. Rising unemployment inevitably results.

However, there is also a different way of formulating the argument: the price of labor must not exceed what the market can bear. In order to understand what this actually means, imagine just for the sake of argument a world without money. Such a world is not realistic of course, as without money prices the modern economy could not exist. However, what we want to get at is this: workers can ultimately only be paid with what is actually produced.

As Mises has pointed out, most so-called pro-labor legislation was only introduced after enough capital per worker was invested to make the payment of higher wages possible – usually, the market had already adjusted wages accordingly.

However, unskilled labor increasingly gets priced out of the market anyway, which is where the ethical argument comes in. If a worker cannot produce more than X amount of  goods or services, it is not possible to pay him X+Y for his work. Under minimum wage legislation he is condemned to remain unemployed, even if he is willing to work for less.

In Switzerland, the unions have recently managed to get the demand for minimum wage legislation on one of the quarterly referendums in the country.
The purpose of the minimum-wage laws have nothing to do with socialism and everything to do with nationalism. This should be obvious by the at-first-glance outlandish proposal to raise the Swiss minimum wage to $25 per hour. But once you understand that Switzerland has learned from the example of the USA and the EU states and is battling to avoid being overrun by cheap-labor immigrants from Africa and Eastern Europe, and the brilliance of the political tactic becomes apparent.

The entire justification for importing tens of millions of Mexicans is the reduction of labor costs, thereby resulting in tremendous damage to the social fabric, the destruction of the middle class, and a permanent change in the political system. All of this can be avoided by raising the minimum wage to a level that ruins the value proposition of the immigrant worker to the large corporations.

As a general rule, the Swiss are among the sanest of nations. If you are asking if they have gone insane, that is a good reason to assume you are missing something. Americans who are interested in salvaging any vestige of traditional America should push hard for raising the minimum wage to at least $20 per hour.

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Pro-slavery Republicans

As if the student loan scandal was not bad enough:
U.S. Republican Senator Marco Rubio, a possible 2016 White House contender, unveiled legislation on Wednesday to broaden the use of financial vehicles known as "income share agreements" that students can use to fund their higher education costs. Under the agreements, which are marketed as an alternative to traditional student loans, private investors or organizations provide students with financing for their education costs in exchange for a percentage of their future earnings.
Any Republican who dreams about a Rubio presidency is a fool. Rubio may actually be a worse candidate than John McCain was. This is nothing more than permitting young people to sell themselves into indentured servitude in exchange for a college degree.

While he's at it, why not let men buy a percentage of a woman's future sexual services in return for financing her education costs? If we're going to let students peddle their futures, the least we can do is permit them to sell their bodies as well.

I wouldn't have a problem with this if we lived in a genuine libertarian society. But in a bankster-ruled world where student loans cannot be discharged through bankruptcy, it is an EXCEPTIONALLY bad idea.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Lions Den: Witchfinder

The Bandit reviews Sarah Hoyt's WITCHFINDER for the Lion's Den. And speaking of book reviews, Toni Mascaro has activated the Castalia House blog with a review of The Lost Fleet series by Jack Campbell.

Like the title character, I didn't quite realize what I had first stumbled into when I offered to review WITCHFINDER, written by Sarah A. Hoyt. The blurb gave me the impression of multiverse derring-do -- sort of a magical fantasy version of Star Gate. Although I've enjoyed a rant or seven on her blog, I had yet to read any of Sarah Hoyt's published writing, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to introduce myself to her work. It was only afterward that I learned two additional facts:  (1) it had been written to appeal to romance readers, and (2) the book originated as a semi-serious chapter-a-week project on the author's blog.

Now, being a horridly privileged cismale, I am not sure I am qualified to judge a romance's quality. The elements that I've come to associate with fantasy romance are definitely all there:  ongoing "tension" in the form of repeatedly noting attraction but ignoring it for the nonce, sexually aberrant secondary characters, wereseals (in effect), inter-species love, and a proliferation of the subsequent half-breed spawn. I cannot tell you how effectively these might have been wielded in order to turn on the intended audience, but I can say that, surprisingly, I wasn't turned off. I suppose I should clarify that there's no steamy sex scenes, nor is any of this treated in a way I'd be uncomfortable to allowing my own young adult to read it. (Caveat: there's a lot of buggery afoot.)

Prose (4/10): Here the novel suffers because of its origin. Written as a weekly blog post, the standard of writing is about as one would expect for a blog post. Presumably written with a quick once-over before hitting "submit," some sentences end up convoluted and confusing not for any imitation of the stilted regency style (the style itself is very modern in its simplicity) but for the need of some additional drafting. The effect of its origin also goes beyond the occasional typos and broken sentences that have slipped through to jar the reader:  the overall pacing and structure also stutters a bit. This means some chapters feel just a bit too rushed, and one or two were clearly a week in which the author didn't have much time but had to get something up. A stronger edit could have really tightened this novel and make it run at a good clip, in my opinion. For all this, it is not all so bad to be very bothersome, and I might have given the prose a higher score if it were not for all the darn telling (as opposed to showing) that occurs, particularly when it came to the operation of magic and the abilities of the title character.

Plot (7/10): The plot is amazingly coherent for a story put together piecemeal over a couple of years. It has depth and goes in completely unforeseen directions without feeling disjointed. The predictable reveals set the reader up for the true twists and unexpected reveals further down the line. The reader clearly recognizes that the kingdom is at stake long before the characters catch up, but then the author surprises the reader with the actual purpose of the conspiracy. All loose ends then tie up rather nicely.

Characters (8/10): Unsurprisingly, according to its genre (as per our host's explanation), the novel's strongest element is its characters. One of the book's reviewers on Amazon notes that the characters start as stereotypes of regency fiction and then flesh out into new directions, and I agree with that assessment. Hoyt's talent really shines in the way that she allows the reader to get to know the characters slowly, presenting false impressions and misconceptions, and then turning them on their head to show the human underneath. In fact, it is the humanity of the characters that really impresses -- they all have believable flaws and struggles -- particularly since not all of them are completely human. I enjoyed watching Hoyt lift the veil on this or that character's actions to reveal the understandable motivations beneath.

Ideas (6/10): Three ideas are at work here:  the multiverse, fairy tale magic, and duty. Hoyt ably uses the multiverse concept to suit her purposes, and she also takes the opportunity to make some historical reference jokes. The take on magic is a bit foggy; I personally prefer to understand the rules of magic within a given universe, but these are never clearly explained. A recurring motif in describing the working of magic is the manipulation of the threads that make the tapestry of reality. The ultimate result is that, instead of taking the fantastic and making it seem believable, Hoyt takes the believable (characters) and then dumps it into a tableau of the fantastic. I assume, given the fairy tale theme, that this was intentional; it ends up feeling very much like the magic in fairy tales. Finally, the theme of duty resonates throughout, and the way the author uses the theme to mold the character's decisions struck me enough to bump up this category's score. Instead of denigrating duty as just oppressive and foolish, the burden and sometimes-tragedy of duty is acknowledged while still emphasizing and respecting its importance. This treatment of duty has become rare enough that it's slightly jarring in the same way that the novel's reasonable and respectful treatment of the sexes and regency customs (in a romance!) also feels slightly odd, but refreshing.



Overall (6/10): I enjoyed reading WITCHFINDER, and might give it to a female friend who likes regency or fantasy romance, but probably would not buy it for myself.

Sample text: “Now, Duke,” Gabriel Penn said, very mildly, but in a tone of worried distraction. He made as though to take a step sideways to pull his companion [Marlon] out of the dirt, or perhaps to succor him, but Seraphim [the Duke] held him fast.

“No, don’t you go trying to cajole me. You know what coils this creature embroiled you in, and you know he can only bring you dishonor and grief. Even if he captured you by dishonorable means, you should know–”

Gabriel Penn’s eyes flashed with a look not unlike Seraphim’s own when animated with near-uncontrollable fury, and for a moment he showed his teeth, pressed close together. Nell thought he was about to slug the Duke, and for just a second, without thinking, moved to step between them. Then she checked herself. Even on Earth, stepping between two men about to engage in a slugging match was perfectly stupid. But, stepping between two men from Britannia about to engage in a slugging match might be crazier. Not only would they slug it out around or over her, but they would also hold each other responsible for causing her to step in. Their rules of chivalry were complicated, but that one was obvious.

As she paused, Gabriel reached out and got hold of both of the duke’s arms above the elbow, “Your Grace, you bonehead, listen to me: Marlon Elfborn did not capture me. I went to him to ask for help when I had nowhere else to go.”

“Well,” Seraphim said, struggling to pull his arms away from his brother’s gripping fingers. “that only proves you’re not competent to run your own affairs. Furthermore–”

“Yes, I know, furthermore, he interrupted my education, raised the dead and deflowered the family goat. Give over Seraphim, you fool, do. Stop your vendetta and listen to me.”

“He deflowered what?” Seraphim said, stopping mid-shout and frowning.

A dark-red blush climbed Gabriel’s cheeks. His eyes darted at Nell, and he actually attempted to bow, which went to show that the training of Britannia men was quite past rationality or sanity even. “I beg your pardon Miss Felix..."

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The Hollywood mafia in the media crosshairs

It's interesting to see this story surface so soon after the Mozilla debacle. It will be informative to discover if the media is as willing to go after the homosexual pedophiles of Hollywood as they were to go after the homosexual pedophiles of the Catholic hierarchy:
A man who claims he was sexually abused by "X-Men" franchise director Bryan Singer said Thursday that he reported the molestation to authorities at the time, and he does not know why charges were never pursued.

With his voice occasionally wavering, Michael Egan III described abuse he said began when he was 15 years old at the hands of Singer and others. He told of being plied with drugs and promises of Hollywood fame while also enduring threats and sexual abuse in Hawaii and Los Angeles over several years....

Egan and his attorney said at a news conference that the alleged abuse was reported by Egan's mother to the FBI and Los Angeles police and that interviews were conducted. The lawyer, Jeff Herman, later said he was not sure if his client spoke to police detectives or if the case was referred directly to the FBI. He said Egan did not report any abuse to Hawaiian authorities.

Los Angeles Police Commander Andrew Smith said the department is looking into whether a report was made. FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said the agency could not comment on what Egan reported unless it resulted in a case or matter of public record.
One tends to assume that there is going to be a serious media effort to belittle and stymie any investigation due to disingenuous fears of fanning the flames of anti-semitism and anti-sodomism. But I doubt that effort is going to be effective because Americans increasingly dislike Hollywood, are largely unmoved by appeals to Holocaustianity, and are not going to give secular Jews any more of a pass to commit homosexual child-rape than they gave Catholic priests.

And perhaps more importantly, the mainstream media doesn't control the narrative anymore. One hopes it will give the Corey Feldmans of the world the courage to speak out and start the process of cleaning out the Hollywood cesspool.

In the meantime, I think I'll give the new X-Men movie a pass.

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Balkanization USA

Thoughts from an Army guy about a Navy paper on keeping a weather eye on the horizon:
1) Can an “idea nation” which is what we purport ourselves to be, really work?  My take on that is, it _can_ up to a certain point - the “nation” part - at least in terms of a central, unifying idea and culture, is essential to that, and that has never been as solid in this country as we wanted it to be - we were moving in this direction, I think, between the end of WWI and the end of the ‘60s, but I think we’ve been disaggregating ever since. 

2) other studies show that as you increase diversity, you decrease social cohesion - there’s no magic policy solution that optimizes both - if I were to take a hard-core, cynical, historical view of it, I would agree with other people’s assessment that diversity + proximity = war.  But, my amendment to that is, “… = war, when the following conditions are met:  1) instead of having a diverse society (one where you have a strong majority with minorities which are able to exercise their rights in peace and collaboration with the majority), you have competing social-ethnic-linguistic-cultural-economic entities (a “black nation,” an “Arab nation,” a “white nation” inside the borders), 2) you transition from nation-state, to state-nation, to empire (as in, a hegemonic suzerain that maintains military and political control over disparate nations), 3) the authority of the imperial center weakens significantly, 4) outside pressures increase competition. 

3) We don’t have “diversity” any more in this country - not the way the HR hucksters, SWPLs and grievance mongers describe it, or that the brochures they beat us over the head with describe it - that idea of diversity is what most people seem to think it is - access to more restaurants.  Real ethnic, racial, and cultural diversity!  Sure!  Everyone loves it…so long as it actually LIVES in someone else’s neighborhood.

We don’t have a diverse country, we have a collection of slowly evolving, competing tribal, ethnic, linguistic, and cultural, and racial communities - people are sorting themselves, and older loyalties are trumping our idea-driven, Constitution-based, “Murica Uber Alles” identity. 

4) Tribalism is the default state of humanity - a lot of what today gets lumped in with “racism” and “ethnocentrism” should be more accurately called “tribalism.”  Racism exists, but racism and tribalism are not synonyms, it’s the same way people now conflate “patriotism” with “nationalism” and even those with “fascism.”

5) tribalism CAN come to mean “racialism” - when competing loyalties start coming into play.  If American whites really start to fear for their own safety and security, because even SWPLs might start to believe that it’s not likely that being the one white family in an all black neighborhood is going to equate to acceptance, race might start to trump political and social affinity, even for liberals.  I think there are really those who expect to be treated like gods - i.e., showered with thanks and gratitude, because they “helped uplift” minorities , women, and gays - well this is pretty bigoted and condescending in and of itself, because it carries the notion that “you couldn’t have done it without me, you OWE ME” as well as “I betrayed my own kind for you!”  -  neither scenario has tended to work out well in history.

6) A lot of people - left, right, in between, like to focus on the US military as an example of “diversity done right” - and there’s some legitimate arguments you can make to support that, but also I think it reveals why you can’t use the US military as a model for an entire, ideal society.  First, the US military has its own tribal identity, and it's especially powerful - more powerful than many other tribal identities in this country, especially when you take into account the all volunteer force.  There’s a definite “us versus them” divide with regard to civilians, even in the Guard and Reserve, who are much less isolated, generally, than active duty forces and civilian society are from each other. 
   
    - Even still, the Pentagon’s version of “diversity” is based on flawed perception.  When you go into the Pentagon, one of the things you’ll see is this massive food court - it looks like a college student union more than anything, and if you took it on face value, you’d think you’d died and gone to Star Trek / USS Voyager / Diversity Heaven.  GO’s even throw around phrases like “operationalizing diversity” (I still have no idea what that means.  None.)  But the Food Court is the the single-most ethnically, sexually (both gender and orientation), handicap-able/disability, racially, diverse place I have ever seen, in my life.  If you were a unit’s EO rep, your eyes would just water at the sight.  Everyone gets along, everyone has a job to do, it looks beautiful…  People still sort themselves, but the tribal military identities seem to trump the others…

- There’s just one HUGE problem.  The field (forces, at their installations all over the world), generally, do not look like that.  No place I’ve ever been looks like the Food Court in the Pentagon. Maybe some college campuses, and we see how happy and friendly they are these days don’t we?

Also, I get to see the suicide stats - the only demographic trends in common - this year and last - Overwhelmingly white males.  Many are non-custodial divorced parents, and yet, there's no white male-single father outreach program.  If there is a single determining risk category in the armed services for suicide, white males of all ages have the market cornered.  And yet we get plenty of convoluted discussion of how “diversity is a part of spiritual resiliency.”  It’s all sentimentality and sweetness, and absolutely zero substance.

So yeah, I’m a fatalist too - I think our future is balkanization and separatism here in the US - maybe not tomorrow, maybe not this century.  Does it HAVE to happen, no I don’t think it's predetermined, but the trends aren't pretty.
The thing that I find amazing is that although I am a multiracial, multilingual individual who has lived on three separate continents, both liberal and conservative monolingual whites who have never spent more than 10 days in outside the USA completely disregard my warnings about the inevitable failure of diversity, multiculturalism, and equalitarian dogma within it. This is despite the fact that they are appalled by me and my conclusions alike and I am about the closest representation to their future ideal as exists in the world today.

UTOPIAN: The future is with our robots and it will be wonderful!

PROTOTYPE ROBOT: WE WILL EXTERMINATE YOU ALL AMIDST BLOOD AND FIRE.

UTOPIAN: What do you know about it, you sexy racy humanophobe?

The ironic thing is that in that diverse Pentagon food court, as with the average university student union, most of the diverse population eats there in self-segregated groups.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

The unstoppable terrorist plan

Al-Qaeda would certainly be wise to heed Napoleon's famous maxim: "when your enemy is executing a false movement, never interrupt him.”
Putting the nation on alert against what it has described as a “highly credible terrorist threat,” the FBI announced today that it has uncovered a plot by members of al-Qaeda to sit back and enjoy themselves while the United States collapses of its own accord.

Multiple intelligence agencies confirmed that the militant Islamist organization and its numerous affiliates intend to carry out a massive, coordinated plan to stand aside and watch America’s increasingly rapid decline, with terrorist operatives across the globe reportedly mobilizing to take it easy, relax, and savor the spectacle as it unfolds.

“We have intercepted electronic communication indicating that al-Qaeda members are actively plotting to stay out of the way while America as we know it gradually crumbles under the weight of its own self-inflicted debt and disrepair,” FBI Deputy Director Mark F. Giuliano told the assembled press corps. “If this plan succeeds, it will leave behind a nation with a completely dysfunctional economy, collapsing infrastructure, and a catastrophic health crisis afflicting millions across the nation. We want to emphasize that this danger is very real.”
And if Al-Qaeda truly wanted to speed up America's decline and fall, they could do no better than to provide more capital to the financial companies that are relentlessly pillaging the American economy while donating heavily to pro-immigration groups.

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RIP Andy Robertson

I received this news today concerning the great champion of William Hope Hodgson's masterpiece, Andy Robertson:
It is with deep regret and much sadness that I must inform you that although we expected Andy to return home from hospital today, he suffered a heart attack and stroke last night and suffered extensive bleeding on the brain.  We are told that he would have felt nothing.  He remains on life support but has been declared brain-dead.
I did not know Andy well, but I very much enjoyed working with him over the last month as we prepared AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND for publication. He was delighted when he discovered John C. Wright had dedicated the book to him, and I'm pleased that he was able to see the book meet with both commercial and critical success. He had mentioned to me that his Parkinson's Disease was acting up and warned me that he might need to go to the hospital soon to deal with it, but was eagerly anticipating future fictional expeditions into the Night Lands.

He was amusing, high-spirited, and iconoclastic. In the very first email he sent to me, he wrote: "What are these links in the sidebar?  Alpha Game?   iSteve?(crikeyblimey, you are openly linking to the king of the HBDbloggers!!??!!)  my, you are a naughty, naughty lot. I think we will get on just fine. Please now to direct humble self to links where I may read all about your fall into badthink and your justified banishment from the society of all decent folk."  

We did, indeed, get on just fine.

The Night Land was very close to his heart, and although I believe he already has a good team in place who will be able to carry on without him, in the event that assistance is needed to maintain its continuation, Castalia House will be pleased to provide it in Andy Robertson's memory.

UPDATE:
It is with great sadness that I must inform you that Andy Robertson has died after a stroke.  

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The political spectrum

As viewed from the Left:


It was somewhat eye-opening to see the Mozilla defenders arguing that the hounding of Brandon Eich was justified by the fact that he was not only opposed to homogamy, but actually donated to the twin devils Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul.

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So much for the melting pot

Social science is supporting the obvious history-based logic and blowing apart the concept of multicultural utopia:
The U.S. Census Bureau projects that racial minority groups will make up a majority of the U.S. national population in 2042, effectively creating a so-called majority-minority nation. In four experiments, we explored how salience of such racial demographic shifts affects White Americans’ political-party leanings and expressed political ideology. Study 1 revealed that making California’s majority-minority shift salient led politically unaffiliated White Americans to lean more toward the Republican Party and express greater political conservatism. Studies 2, 3a, and 3b revealed that making the changing national racial demographics salient led White Americans (regardless of political affiliation) to endorse conservative policy positions more strongly. Moreover, the results implicate group-status threat as the mechanism underlying these effects. Taken together, this work suggests that the increasing diversity of the nation may engender a widening partisan divide.
Translation: the Republican Party should totally ignore its various outreach efforts and focus on becoming the Traditional White Party. And as we've seen in every liberal state to date, liberal whites have no desire to live in the political utopias their ideologies create and experience the logical consequences of their actions.

Which is precisely why they should not be permitted to vote when they relocate, otherwise they will promptly Californicate the places giving them refuge. Alternatively, they could be simply barred entry.

You may recall that I pointed out the inevitable move of European-Americans to the right years ago. It's one thing to admire barbarian culture from afar, it's another thing to see your hometown transformed into Mogadishu on the Mississippi.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Broken and lesser beings

You may think that we exaggerate the craven wretchedness of our enemies. You may think that my boundless contempt for the r/selected, Larry's muscular backhands for his craven adversaries, and John C. Wright's withering scorn for the wormtongues is fueled by either a) a sense of offense at being opposed or b) an oversensitivity to criticism.

It is not. It is fueled by our clear-eyed view of what these creatures are. It is our awareness that they are, like the soul-destroyed abhumans roaming the Night Lands, broken and lesser beings who seek to pull others down into the mire that torments them.

By way of evidence, consider their own words about themselves. Here, for example, is Damien Walter:
I was 30 and, by any measure, deeply unhappy. I’d been pushing down a lot of horrible emotions from a damaging childhood, grief from many losses, and had trapped myself in a life I didn’t fit in to from a desperate need to fit somewhere, anywhere. I had no kind of spiritual practice at all. I was a standard issue atheist, and any encounter I had with religion was edged with inherited and unexamined scorn. Consequentially, I really had no tools to process the pain I was feeling. Today, my argument with the radical atheist rhetoric of people like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett – both of whom I had read heavily at university – is that it leaves the bulk of its believers utterly amputated from their own emotional reality. It certainly had me. I was miserable, and in trying to escape from the causes of the misery I’d driven myself, repeatedly, to the borders of emotional collapse where I had, at long last, collapsed.
This is why they preach equality. This is why they preach tolerance. This is why they seek to disqualify and destroy those who stand above them, immune to the manifold terrors that haunt their empty chests. They are damaged people, broken individuals, fallen souls.

They live lives of lies and self-deceit. They lie about others; they lie about themselves:
I am by nature a non-political person. I tend to see both sides of most arguments, and there are merits and faults with any position in any political debate. Extremism is always wrong. Beyond that, who is right is mostly a matter of your tribal, partisan allegiances.
No doubt that is why he didn't link to Larry's piece he was criticizing and why David Barnett intentionally and admittedly evaded The Guardian guidelines in his hit piece aimed at me, lest I defend my position in a convincing manner.

But no matter what lies Damien and his broken kind tell, they will find no comfort whatsoever in confronting the likes of Mr. Corriea and Mr. Wright. They will find no peace through confronting me. They will find nothing but emotional collapse in this lifetime and damnation in the next as a result of their rejection of the Way, the Truth, and the Life that we do our feeble best to serve.

At least Damien has taken one step forward in abandoning the intellectually bankrupt world of the radical atheist. He knows there is something else out there. But he is still caught in the soul-sucking mire, he is still lost in lies and desperately lashing out at the likes of Larry and me in a vain attempt to find fulfillment in the approval of those he foolishly seeks to emulate.

But he will not, because there is no fulfillment to be found there. There is none to be found in telling lies, in making-believe, because even if he manages to convince others of his falsehoods, he will never be able to convince himself that they are true.

What Damien does not realize is that our strength, our being whole, does not come from within, but from without. The Earth-Current flows through us; we are empowered by the Master of the Master-Word. It is not enough for a man to reject the nonsensical teachings of the self-proclaimed wise, it is necessary to repent and to humble himself before God, after which he can stand again, washed in the sacred blood of His Son, unafraid, unbowed, and unbroken.

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Beyond good and bad

The Bloggerblaster reviews AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND:
Moments ago I finished Awake in the Night Land by John C. Wright.

As I sit to give you my thoughts on it...  the first thing that comes to mind is a question.   How does one review... or critique...  something like this?  I am unfit.

One does not critique the great works of literature.  One appreciates them.  You define good and bad by them.  Good and bad do not apply to them....

I would offer some advice to the reader.  Read with patience.  Each story builds upon the last.  You will have questions and frustrations as you go.  Keep going. The struggle of the climb improves the view from the top. 
One theme that keeps reoccurring in reviews is how the book forces them think about it afterwards. To me, that is one of the hallmarks of greatness in literature; one of Maupassant's haunting stories, his best, in my opinion, once left me staring at the ceiling for nearly an hour.

It may strike you that this isn't how we usually talk about one of my books, or one of Tom's books, or one of Larry's books. It's not how we talk about the books we publish. It's not how we talk about the award-winning stuff, be the awards merited or unmerited. This is one of those rare occasions when one discovers, much to one's surprise, that one has stumbled upon genuine and timeless greatness concerning the observation of the human condition.

The book's one four-star reviewer declared he only gives out five stars to Shakespeare... then thought about it and gave the book five stars anyway. If you've read my book reviews, you know I tend to grade on the severe side, I rarely give out anything above an 8/10, and yet, I don't hesitate to tell you that this book rates 10/10. If you believe me, then read it. And if you don't believe me, then read it and afterwards tell us precisely where and how you believe it somehow falls short.

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An appeal to reinstall Firefox

I was asked to reconsider my position on uninstalling Mozilla products and refusing to use them in the future:
You are probably here because you have been advised to consider reinstalling Firefox. You may, in fact, have uninstalled Firefox as a result of a recent campaign protesting either Brendan Eich’s being appointed CEO of Mozilla, or his supposedly being fired or forced by Mozilla to resign from that position as a result of a donation he made in favor of proposition 8. Brendan Eich did, in fact, resign; however, he did was not fired or forced to resign by Mozilla. Mozilla does not discriminate based on an individual’s personal political or religious beliefs. If you have been told otherwise, I encourage you to evaluate the evidence for yourself. First of all, I would like to point you to Mozilla’s official FAQ on Brendan’s resignation. I realize that some people will insist that this is just a cover story and that he was really forced to resign, in spite of whatever Mozilla may say to the contrary. So I would like to share some additional corroborating evidence. There are many inside sources who corroborate this, but the one I find particularly credible and compelling is Gervase Markham. He is in a unique position as an outspoken Christian and supporter of traditional marriage who works at Mozilla. Gerv has stated that he has it from sources he trusts that Brendan did step down of his own accord and was not forced out. You can read his full statement on his blog. Finally, I want to remind you of what Mozilla, and Firefox, truly stands for.

If you are still not convinced, I’d like you to consider one more thing. Consider for a moment, the possibility that Brendan really did step down of his own accord and is not interested in coming back. What more can Mozilla possibly do that would persuade you? Is there any further evidence that would change your mind? It makes sense to treat them with a good faith presumption of truthfulness unless and until there is evidence to the contrary. Why? Because if your mind can not be changed by anything, then they may as well ignore you anyway. There are always people who cannot be swayed by reason or any amount of evidence. Since their minds can’t be changed anyway, we all might as well ignore them and focus on those who can be persuaded by reason. If you are not open to any reasonable evidence, then you make yourself irrelevant to the debate. Don’t be do that. Evaluate the evidence fairly, and when in doubt, treat others with a good faith presumption of truthfulness. Then if evidence persuades you to change your position, it will mean something.
I read this. I read Markham's piece. I have evaluated the evidence and I am fully informed concerning the relevant facts. And my answer is a staunch and resounding no. I reject Mozilla. I reject what it now stands for.

I am aware Eich stepped down of his own accord. I am aware he was not fired, that his resignation was not demanded by the Mozilla Board, and that fewer than 10 Mozilla employees publicly demanded his resignation.

I am also aware that Mozilla's executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker issued this official statement on April 3rd: "Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves. We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better."

For what is she apologizing, precisely? To whom is she apologizing?

I am aware that Mozilla claims to "support equality for all." This is a blatant lie on multiple levels. Mozilla might as reasonably proclaim that it supports unicorns for all or a chicken in every pot. Mozilla clearly does not support the Constitutional right of free association or the right of free speech on the part of those harboring views it considers incompatible with its mission statement.

I am aware that "Mozilla Supports LGBT Equality". I don't and I will not support any organization that claims to do so.

I am aware that Mozilla has ignored tens of thousands of negative comments from current and former Firefox users and has refused to provide any statement in response to them. I am also aware that it responded quickly and publicly to a much smaller amount of criticism that threatened much less damage to the corporation.

A supporter of the move to ostracize and oust Brandon Eich declared: "I do think that any individual is free to choose to resign their own job or otherwise not conduct business with someone whom they know has taken an action that they consider unjust." I agree. That is precisely why I no longer want anything to do with Mozilla and I continue to recommend that everyone #uninstallfirefox.

Prior to the #uninstallfirefox campaign began, Mozilla Firefox represented 34 percent of the total pageviews here. That percentage is currently down to 20 percent, so based on last year's traffic, Mozilla can expect to lose at least 1,835,637 pageviews from the readers here on this site alone, in addition to the pageviews those readers generate on all other sites and whatever pageviews my household machines generate on an annual basis.

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The destruction of Damien Walter

First the massive tetsubo that is Larry Correia responds to the scurrilous libels of SF wannabe Damien Walter in The Guardian:
[M]y name showed up as the poster child for hate mongery and villainy in the Guardian (a liberal tabloid that passes for a major newspaper in Britain). I’ve been in a lot of American news things but this was a first for me, so on Friday afternoon I had to discuss with my fans on Facebook what I should put on my new business cards. We finally decided on Larry F. Correia, International Lord of Hate. Almost went with The Hatemaster because of the 70’s super villain vibe, but that looks too much like The Hamster when you’re reading fast.

So here is the article written by Damian Walter. It turns out that Tom Kratman knew him back when Asimov’s had a forum, and remembered him as a shrill little libprog, and that if Damian was at the Guardian a village somewhere in England was missing their idiot.

Somebody else told me that Damian is an “aspiring” author, and that he’d recently been given a grant by the British government to write a novel. I have no idea if this is true, and don’t care enough to look it up, but man, if it is… your government actually pays people to write novels? BWA HA HA HAW! Holy shit. As an actual novelist, that’s funny. And I thought my government was stupid.

Unlike Damian, I’m not a huge pussy, so I will include the link to the thing that I’m about to insult.
There is more. There is considerably more. Go, thou, and read. And laugh. Then, when Mr. Correia was done abusing the corpse of Mr. Walter's aspiring career, the elegant rapier that is John C. Wright filleted the bloody chunks:
I was reading Larry Correia’s blog, Monster Hunter Nation. In today’s episode, he has been subject to a ritual shaming by the Guardian so-called newspaper of some country our ancestors left long ago when we got sick of their dandified addiction to petty tyranny, and came here to be free men.

The mewling cravens and castrati were left behind. By some odd miracle, no doubt involving arts forbidden by the Catholic Church, they reproduced and swelled in numbers, and, after Churchill was voted out of office, they outbred the remaining homo sapiens, and overspread the sceptred isle, so green and fair, once called Our Lady’s Dowry.

Not to worry! All that made England decent, fine and free survives in America.

How badly have the dross devolved? A simian named Mr. Damian Walter takes up his pen in his quadrumanous left foot to savage the indomitable Mr. Correia. I read this sentence:

Somebody else told me that Damian is an “aspiring” author, and that he’d recently been given a grant by the British government to write a novel.

A grant?

A grant?!

A GRANT?!!

Can you imagine the sheer effrontery it requires for someone who grovels for pity-pennies to address a real man, a man who works for a living, and upbraid him in his chosen field of endeavor?

Mr. Correia quit his day job, friends. He supports himself entirely by his pen, which by any account, is a frail narrow pillar for all by the most accomplished wordsmiths.

The simian creature does not write in his non-work hours, as do I, he is a beggar. An aspiring beggar. Nay, let me insult no beggar. The creature is not an honest beggar. Honest beggars asks and accept only alms freely given.
There is, of course, more. There is considerably more. Read, and then spare a moment of pity for the wretched creature so publicly humiliated. The painful thing for the libelous Mr. Walter is not that he has managed to draw the scorn of two of the best and most successful writers in the SF/F genre, but that the expression of that scorn makes for considerably better reading than anything he is ever likely to write, with or without the funding of the British government.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A rare alignment

Will wonders never cease? I actually concur with Paul Krugman for once:
Four years ago Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, abruptly canceled America’s biggest and arguably most important infrastructure project, a desperately needed new rail tunnel under the Hudson River. Count me among those who blame his presidential ambitions, and believe that he was trying to curry favor with the government- and public-transit-hating Republican base.

Even as one tunnel was being canceled, however, another was nearing completion, as Spread Networks finished boring its way through the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania. Spread’s tunnel was not, however, intended to carry passengers, or even freight; it was for a fiber-optic cable that would shave three milliseconds — three-thousandths of a second — off communication time between the futures markets of Chicago and the stock markets of New York. And the fact that this tunnel was built while the rail tunnel wasn’t tells you a lot about what’s wrong with America today.

Who cares about three milliseconds? The answer is, high-frequency traders, who make money by buying or selling stock a tiny fraction of a second faster than other players. Not surprisingly, Michael Lewis starts his best-selling new book “Flash Boys,” a polemic against high-frequency trading, with the story of the Spread Networks tunnel. But the real moral of the tunnel tale is independent of Mr. Lewis’s polemic.

Think about it. You may or may not buy Mr. Lewis’s depiction of the high-frequency types as villains and those trying to thwart them as heroes. (If you ask me, there are no good guys in this story.) But either way, spending hundreds of millions of dollars to save three milliseconds looks like a huge waste. And that’s part of a much broader picture, in which society is devoting an ever-growing share of its resources to financial wheeling and dealing, while getting little or nothing in return.
The financial sector is nothing but a gigantic, money-sucking tick on the US economy. None - I repeat - NONE of the claimed benefits it supposedly provides as "the lubricating oil of capitalism" are worth even one-tenth the present cost of the financial sector. There will be no recovery, there CAN be no recovery under the twin burdens of the federal and the financial sectors, which presently account for 48 percent of the outstanding debt in the American economy.

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The willfully thick Blue wall

One thing that has always annoyed me about the Hollywood portrayal of police departments, and is something that I mock in passing in the QUANTUM MORTIS series, is the way in which we are supposed to believe that police departments seriously frown upon individual police violating procedures and skirting the law. Is there a single Hollywood cop who hasn't had to turn in his badge and his gun at one point or another? Or hasn't been suspended from his job?

The reality is that police are statistically more likely to have sex with a prostitute on duty than to arrest one, are more likely to murder someone and get away with it than be caught and charged with the crime, and are only at the risk of losing their jobs if they violate the code of silence and upset the local police union.
Los Angeles police officers tampered with voice recording equipment in dozens of patrol cars in an effort to avoid being monitored while on duty, according to records and interviews.

An inspection by Los Angeles Police Department investigators found about half of the estimated 80 cars in one South L.A. patrol division were missing antennas, which help capture what officers say in the field. The antennas in at least 10 more cars in nearby divisions had also been removed.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and other top officials learned of the problem last summer but chose not to investigate which officers were responsible. Rather, the officials issued warnings against continued meddling and put checks in place to account for antennas at the start and end of each patrol shift.
The police chief simply "chose not to investigate" a series of obvious crimes committed by numerous police officers. It's totally predictable, so why do we so seldom see that in the movies?

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Monday, April 14, 2014

On the cover

Jartstar shares his thoughts about how he went about creating the cover for AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND:

Awake in the Night Land is one of the finest stories I have ever read, and when I was given the opportunity to design a cover for it I was elated. After presenting a series of thumbnails to Mr. Wright with series of different styles and ideas, he chose a straight forward image with the focal point being The Last Redoubt.

The challenge was representing a towering, ancient, rusting structure surrounded by a dead and sunless sky encircled by ruins and a wasteland. If the lighting was accurate to the real world and the story it would consist of a silhouetted triangular shape with a dim red glowing horizon and a few bright spots of magma here and there. This would make for a thoroughly uninteresting image which certainly would not work for a book cover. Using some artistic license I brightened up the concept and made a dramatic, disconcerting red sky with the light of the Redoubt fighting against the creeping black around it. 

I certainly hope my version of the Redoubt has done justice to it as described in the story, but more importantly, it should reflect the power of Wright’s superb work. This question of my success can only be answered by the wayfarers who are willing to enter into the dark of the Night Lands and find their way out again.

On John C. Wright's Journal, Pinlighter asked about the shape of the pyramid:
It’s certainly an effective cover, – I’ll go beyond that, a beautiful cover – but the Redoubt is clearly described in THE NIGHT LAND as being a Pyramid without terraces or steps like that, but looking more like the traditional (Egyptian) pyramid, smoothly tapering to a point. I am curious as to your motives for not showing it like that. 
VD replies: The change to a more Mayan-style pyramid was my call. As you can see in the thumbs, the original plan was to go by the book. But the simple geometric shape just looked too plain and boring, especially for a central element that was featured so prominently on the cover. So, chalk it down to artistic liberty, in much the same way that the Watcher's heads are fully exposed rather than on their sides with their faces half-buried as in the text. It's certainly desirable to get the details right, but not at the expense of making a cover visually tedious. I think Jartstar did a very good job of conveying the ominous spirit of the Night Lands while also expressing its core message of human hope in a visually arresting image; to see it in more detail, just click on the cover.

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Mailvox: the psychic undercurrent

Anonymous Conservative notices that everyone's antennae are twitching these days:
Something difficult to pin down is activating amygdalae. It's telling everyone's brain that bad is coming, and everyone is trying to assuage those amygdalae, to turn off all the uncomfortable warning alarms they are producing in their brains. Conservatives buy up guns and canned goods to ease the stress level and lower the warning level by preparing. Liberals, deep down know the collapse is the end for them, so the only way to assuage their amygdalae is to retreat even deeper into the bubbles of denial that are producing our problems the begin with. Part of that denial is sending anyone who doesn't tell them the future is happy far, far away, so they won't have to think about it.

What Vox asks is the most fascinating question of our time. How can it be that our bellies are full, we are bombarded with endless, professionally produced propaganda telling us everything is fine, and yet deep within us, we all feel like the cattle on an island that head for high ground hours before the tsunami, that nobody knew was coming, hits? How complex is our biology that we connect with our world on such a deep subconscious level that we can't be tricked by professional liars with nearly limitless resources and a death grip on every major media? How bad is the coming mess, that we can't be blinded to it?

And why is it in nature, when the tsunami is coming, no cattle insist on telling all the others that now is the best possible time to go swimming, but in our supposedly more advanced species, we have idiots telling us that if we only double down on the debt spending, print a little more currency, and debauch our culture sexually a little more, everything will get better, because a collapse is impossible?
Of course, some are more sensitive than others. I've more or less felt this way since 1999, and not due to Y2K either. Or at least not directly; my concern then was that it would be used as the same sort of excuse that 9/11 was two years later.

Remember, it's not paranoia when they actually are out to undermine the foundations of your civilization. If only we actually had a Last Redoubt to which we could safely retreat from the rising tide of abhumanity.

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Larry Corriea drops the bomb

On behalf of Mr. John C. Wright and encourages his vast horde of heavily armed readers to divert a little of their ammo money towards a copy of AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND:
Many of you already know John for being an awesome sci-fi writer. Personally, I found him because of his blog. Like me, John is an out of the closet conservative. Only where I am blunt and sometimes crude, John is eloquent and intellectual. I’m a tetsubo. John is a rapier. I’ve got a lot of respect for his writing, and I don’t say this lightly but I really do believe he is our modern C.S. Lewis....

Right now it is sitting at: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,504 Paid in Kindle Store

I want to bump that up higher because I think John is a great writer and a voice of reason in the wilderness. So please tell your friends, repost this on your FB or Twitter or whatever you are in to.
Read the rest at Monster Hunter Nation.

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A review of AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND

As part of Night Land Day, I asked Andy Robertson, who founded The Night Land site and first published the novellas there, to share his thoughts on the new book. He went one better and explained both how the site developed as well as his initial reaction to John C. Wright's forays into the Night Lands, now collected in AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND:

The dark, looming, images of the Land had made such an impact on me.  When I started to write stories set in that world, it was as if I remembered a life I had lived in that society, with its prim manners overlaying iron values and its dauntless courage.   I didn't need to make anything up. I just watched it happen.

Brett Davidson sent me a story from New Zealand with a background that complemented  and extended my own, and I found the person who would be my principle creative partner.   For years we've batted ideas back and forth by email late at night.   Other writers joined us and mostly took their lead from Brett and I. We were building a shared world but one so rich and vivid felt as if we were were discovering something that already existed.  I don't think I've ever had such fun ((while vertical)) in my life.  

And then I got a new submission, from John C Wright, which was quite apart from all the other Night Land tales.

I'd written a fusion of  Hodgson's vision with cutting-edge science, and tried to evoke a credible Redoubt culture, a culture that might really last ten million years.   Therefore my Redoubt was a society of strict moral codes, an actual functional and enforced marriage contract, strong kinship bonds, and sharply differentiated complementary behavior of men and women. ((It strikes me only now that this is mistaken by some readers for archaism. But of course  it isn't.  It's futurism.  Or just realism. No society without these values or something like them can survive more than a couple of generations.))  And I'd written of a society rich in technical and scientific knowledge, including as unremarked givens such familiar SF tropes as nanotechnology, cyborgisation, and Artificial Intelligence.   I had some fun integrating these into Hodgson's "scientific" formulation of reincarnation and psychic predation.

I had done my best to reinterpret the Night Land as science fiction, and other writers had followed me.   But  John's story followed his own dreams.

His character names were derived from classical Greek, not generic IndoEuropean sememes. The manners of the society were likewise closely modeled on the ancient pagans. Dozois has called this an air of distanced antiquity, and it works well, but I repeat it's distinctly different from my own, which is not antique at all. His was not a technically sophisticated society and seemed not to have a scientific attitude to the alien Land that surrounded it. It ran off rote technology and was ignorant of the workings of much of the machinery it depended on. It was doomed and dwindling and dark and candle-lit, a tumbledown place with a hint of Ghormenghast to it. (I know John will hate that comparison, and I apologize). The story was one of childhood friendship, rivalry, disaster and rescue. The writing style was, incidentally, brilliant.

I bought it and published it in our first hardcopy anthology, ENDLESS LOVE. It got into Dozois' BEST SF and several other yearly anthlogies and created a minor sensation. There are still places where the first taste of Hodgson's work a casual reader will get is the translation of "Awake in the Night" in that year's Dozois, and the story is an entry drug not only for THE NIGHT LAND but for Hodgson himself and all his work. This was a story which Hodgson might have written if he had been a more gifted weaver of words. John remarked to me at one point that he was surprised at the story's popularity. I think we both understood that despite its author's talent, the real power resided in the way it had stayed faithful to Hodgson's own visions, without elaborating them too much. The whole world could now see and share Hodgson's original Night Land. They were seeing it through John's eyes, not mine, but that didn't matter to me.   This was what I had set the NightLand website up for.

*****
 
I expected a whole series of tales from John set in his version of The Night Land, but his next story was a radical departure from anything that he or any of the rest of us had ever done. It surpassed not only Hodgson's talents but, damn it, Lovecraft's.

When I read "Awake in the Night" I felt some envy, but when the ms for "The Last of All Suns" crossed my inbox I felt something like awe. It's almost impossible to describe this story without employing spoilers, because there is nothing else like it to compare it to or to hint that it is like.

Read the whole thing at The Night Land.

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AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND

As you can imagine, we are proud, pleased, delighted, and deeply honored to announce Castalia House's publication of AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND by John C. Wright. It is, quite simply, one of the best books I have ever had the privilege of reading. If you peruse the Reading Lists on the right sidebar, you can see that I have read a considerable number of SF/F works considered to be of high quality in the last five years alone. So, you can be confident that I know whereof I speak, and I am not exaggerating in the slightest, when I tell you that AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND will be one of the best books you read this year if you have the courage to enter one of the most daunting realms in literature.

It is not an easy book to categorize. Part anthology, part novel, AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND consists of four novellas that are tied together in one vast story spanning five million years. It is a masterful combination of three literary subgenres, SF, Fantasy, and Horror. It is set in the world first created in an obscure novel published in 1912 and yet it is far more original than the vast majority of SF/F published in the last fifty years. It is remorselessly grim story set in a more inhumanly horrific environment than anything you are likely to imagine, and yet it is an uplifting tribute to the unquenchable human spirit.

It is monstrous and glorious and ghastly and magnificent.

Consider the reactions of the early reviewers:
  • "The Last of All Suns" may be the best SF novella I have ever read. I am not kidding.
  • Every now and then someone comes along who not only can say things nicely, but can say _important_ things nicely. That somebody, in the modern age, is John C. Wright. 
  • He projects an atmosphere of hope amid the vast emptiness of a dead world.
  • Set millions of years in the future the story and setting can really only be compared to the worst nightmares of Lovecraft. I cannot stress enough, read this book! If you like Lovecraft, the darkest visions of Stephen King, or the visions of H.R. Giger you will love this book. If you like science fiction especially the 'Dying Earth' genre of Jack Vance, Leigh Brackett, Michael Moorcock, you will love this book. If you've never heard of those authors or those books, read this book.
I have written a number of books. Never once have I said to you, my readers, "you must read this book". That is because I have never written a book like this one. There are a very small number of books of which I would say "you must read this book": The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis. The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. Watership Down by Richard Adams.

There were also others that came close, books that I enjoyed very much indeed, but did not quite justify the assertion. Embassytown by China Mieville. Cryptonomicon and Anathem by Neal Stephenson. A Game of Thrones by George Martin. Night Watch by Terry Pratchett. Dune by Frank Herbert.

I will tell you now that if you appreciate excellent books, then you must read this one. I cannot imagine you will regret it.

As a child, I was much struck by the quote of the reviewer for The Times in his review of Watership Down: "I announce with trembling pleasure the appearance of a great story." But I am not so much trembling with pleasure as shaking my head in awe as I announce the appearance of a story that may sit on the shelves in the mighty company of the aforementioned books without feeling shame.

In addition to the Amazon links provided above, Awake in the Night Land is also available in epub format at Smashwords.

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Inchoatus reviews The Golden Age

This is a review of John C. Wright's The Golden Age from an excellent, but sadly defunct SF/F review site called Inchoatus which has been resurrected and posted here courtesy of the Wayback Machine. I think it is relevant to the forthcoming publication of Mr. Wright's AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND because much of what the reviewers say about the earlier novel is directly applicable to the current book, which is a fascinating blend of novel and anthology.


"This dazzling first novel is just half of a two-volume saga, so it's too soon to tell if it will deliver on its audacious promise. It's already clear, however, that Wright may be this fledgling century's most important new SF talent... To write honestly about the far future is a similarly heroic deed. Too often, SF paints it as nothing more than the Roman Empire writ large."
--Publisher's Weekly

It is a very, very rare thing for PW to attach the word "important" to an author. It's an adjective that rings in our ears here at Inchoatus because that's exactly what we're trying to do: make speculative fiction important. Here, we agree completely: the themes that Wright brings up and handles are as deftly done as anything else we've seen. "Audacious" is another good word to use. There are plenty of writers who write about a "golden age" of technological achievement but it is almost always undercut by corruption, or portrayed through the eyes of the indigent and plain, painted with the brush of the chronically cynical or pessimistic, or perceived from the ashes following some apocalypse. But Wright doesn't surrender an inch: he gives us humanity at the absolute pinnacle of its achievement and seen through the main character who is the most powerful man in solar system. Very, very few people, that we know of anyway, have dared this. 

What We Say

There is plenty of "New Wave" science fiction going on and authors keep taking shots at being the definitive voice of this sub-genre. We've reviewed several applicants for the position on this site: most notably M. John Harrison's Light and Dan Simmons' Ilium while most lamentably John Clute's Appleseed and Alastair Reynolds' later offerings of Redemption Ark and Absolution Gap. While we're not yet ready to crown Wright, this book makes a considered and strategic effort at absorbing all similar works that came before and influencing all subsequent writing in the genre: our very  definition of a great book. So while Wright's The Golden Age doesn't assume this mantle all by itself if the conclusion of the series lives up to its promise, then he could be making a the most serious bid we've seen yet.

The Golden Age is a very special book. It's one of those breathtaking efforts where the author (and it almost has to be a debut effort for the author because only those initiates have the naiveté to think they can pull off stuff like this) unflinchingly announces: "I want to write about this." And sometimes, that "this" turns out to be have the scope and the daring that would cause the vast majority of sane and experienced writers to give it up after a few trials as hopelessly complex or large.

But then, those special authors wrap their arms around that scary and impossibly large idea and squeeze. And out pops a genuinely moving story.

The Golden Age is huge in its scope. It takes on nothing less than a humanity that has achieved a kind of pinnacle of technological prowess: immortality is achieved, artificial intelligence is not only achieved but has reached a level of sophistication and service to mankind that genius and perfection are almost routine, engineering efforts of almost irrational scope (such as, for example, living up to 2010: A Space Odyssey's vision of creating a second sun out of Jupiter) take place, people live in almost perfect freedom--free to pursue any aims that they can imagine so long as they don't hurt others. Wright takes this universe, reifies it, and makes it unbelievably plausible ("unbelievably plausible" being a hyperbolic paradox we couldn't resist). Wright hollows out the framework for this future and then pours in all the accoutrements in astonishing detail. No aspect is overlooked. Where Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time world seems a bit strained and predictable, Wright gives us a soaring, wild place of unfettered imagination. Where Goodkind's world comes off as contrived and serving the whim of its author, Wright gives us a solar system that creates the characters and drives the plot to some inevitabilities and some other shocking developments. For sheer world-building, only Stephen R. Donaldson's The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant and perhaps George RR Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice can match Wright. The only author who stands above him in this regard is Tolkien.

Even better, and more praiseworthy, are the characters. Helion and Phaethon--and even the sophotechs--are not the kind of protagonists that we're used to reading about. They're not the youths destined for greatness learning at the foot of a wise old wizard learning the ways of the Force. They're not bitter and taciturn men-of-action disguising a hidden pain underneath their martial prowess and brought reluctantly in to the affairs of government like a random weather event. They're not police, soldiers, or tyrants. They are geniuses capable of daring great things. So many authors don't want to write about genius precisely because it is hard to write about genius. Yet Wright doesn't flinch. Helion and Phaethon are the greatest and most ambitious luminaries of their world and Wright opens them up to use and dares us to match their dreams with ours.

The only similar books where we have similar works of genius character come from Michael Flynn's Firestar and Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.

For those of you who yearn for a similar hero of the individual, you will find it in Phaethon. We open this book at a time when this perfected society is preparing for a tremendous, millennial celebration. Art--and art that can only be visualized and dreamt of in this sort of paradisiacal setting--is reaching a kind of peak where all the libertine sensibilities of the vast consciousnesses of the solar system come together and literally change the way beauty will be perceived and lives led for the next thousand years. Phaethon is here, participating, but faintly bored and troubled. It will soon become apparent that large sections of his memory are missing and that he himself has been complicit in their removal for reasons he cannot understand.

For this first novel of the trilogy, The Golden Age is a voyage of self-discovery for Phaethon and a reconstruction of his relationship with his father, Helion. It's an extremely interesting and compelling journey to watch the transformation of Phaethon the elitist, privileged tourist in to what is his true nature: the dominant, arrogant, supremely competent and individualistic hero. While not explicit, Phaethon follows a path of pride, rebellion, and romanticism that is thematically related to the fall of Satan in Paradise Lost whom Milton could not resist from imbuing with entrancing ideals and tempting power.

But in most ways, The Golden Age follows in the model of Atlas Shrugged in that we have a protagonist who is stubbornly and arrogantly announcing and casting his vision into the teeth of the "will of the majority." It's one of the glories of American political thought that we countenance the individual and regard him as a hero in cases such as these and it is this notion that drives the popularity of books like Atlas Shrugged as well as treatises (despite opposing politics) of works like Henry David Thoreau's Walden (and, we might add, in direct thematic opposition to some "old country" works like Crime and Punishment and The Idylls of the King). It is also the more literary and famous "carlylian hero" (named for Thomas Carlyle) whose rebel hero rails against the inimical and ineluctable forces of nature refusing to capitulate despite certainty of defeat (Moby Dick's Captain Ahab being one of the most famous of these).

But unlike Atlas Shrugged, the world around Phaethon is not one of oppressive and encroaching government but a more sinister event of free-thinking peoples within a completely libertarian society literally choosing to ostracize him. Unlike Captain Ahab, it is not the forces of nature that oppose Phaethon but the free-acting citizenry of humanity acting almost with the omnipresence and deterministic features of a force of nature. There is an undercurrent of determinism and human coercion that surfaces in this golden age where mankind has reached its zenith of power and freedom: the claw of Marx still reaches out and grasps the flight of freedom just as Tashtego grasped the sky-hawk as the Pequod sank beneath the Pacific.

This is an exciting book where deeply detailed future technology is merged with an overwhelming sensibility of the societal and political problems inherent in that kind of a culture that have a peculiar relevance to where we are today. There are only two reasons that we withhold nomination for a seven (at least at this point): First, the work is unfinished and it is not clear yet if Wright can really pull this thing off; second, is the single-mindedness of the plot. Ultimately, works of this nature have to be compared to Tolkien (as unfair as that may be). One of the great achievements of The Lord of the Rings is that so much of the world existed on its own basis and for its own sake. The politics of Rohan, of Gondor, of Mirkwood, of the White Council, of The Lonely Mountain, of Lothlorien, of Fangorn, and even of the Shire existed with a perfectly rational set of individual goals, objectives, and expectations. As they are swept in to the War of the Ring, so are the various agenda brought in and mutated to that singular event. The mythological history of Arda itself shapes the plot. The Golden Age, at least as we perceive the first book, exists differently: all political thought and events seem focused on the deeds of Phaethon and do not seem to have individualized agenda of their own. Are Phaethon and Helion truly the only people of daring in the solar system? Are there not competing interests even among the sophotechs themselves? At some point, it seems as if there should be a world out there which should--at this point--be largely untouched and unconcerned by these events within the Hortatory Council or at least positioned as equal importance. Where are they?

Finally, we most note, that while the writing is intellectually compelling and the ideas bursting in their intrigue, Wright's talents lack a certain poetry that Melville and Milton have (perhaps hardly fair to compare Wright to these authors) but also that more contemporary authors Wolfe, Tolkien, and Chiang possess. This criticism of so good a book is perhaps grossly unfair but it should be considered praise that we even think to compare Wright with these other authors.

And greater success may yet come. This is an awe-inspiring work of speculative fiction and we hope for great things from the succeeding volumes.

Place in Genre


Future technologies have been investigated by many different authors attempting many different things. Stephenson's The Diamond Age, Alastair Reynold's Revelation Space, and M. John Harrison's Light are three notable examples of authors attempting to wrestle with the results of future technologies. It is very interesting that both Stephenson and Wright chose Victorian ideals as their principle settings for a future people attempting to deal with their technological wonders. (Let us not forget less notable examples such as Clade by Budz and Altered Carbon by Morgan.) Wright is attempting to eclipse these excellent efforts and he may yet do it. In order to do so, he will have to create his world as a compelling force that sears itself in to the minds of his readers in ways that make it inevitable in our minds that things could turn out any other way. He may succeed! He hasn't yet with this first novel but he may succeed by the end. If he can, Wright could very literally change the genre itself.

Why You Should Read This

Those readers who are compelled by future world-building of the higher order--that is, fans of those aforementioned authors Stephenson, Reynolds, and Harrison will find themselves eagerly devouring The Golden Age. Additionally, politically minded fans of Ayn Rand, Robert Heinlein, Michael Flynn, and perhaps even authors from the other side of the political spectrum such as Kim Stanley Robinson will find a lot of very interesting moments in this book where such problems as freedom versus the collective and aesthetics versus judgments are treated fairly and completely. Certainly those stubborn adherents of Terry Goodkind--a man who can seem to only echo endlessly and shallowly the arguments of Ayn Rand's objectivism--should come to Wright's work and see the subject treated with depth, vigor, and the breaking of new ground.

Why You Should Pass


We can't make any recommendations here. It is one of the best works of science fiction available on the market. The only market to whom there may not be an appeal are to those people who are wholly uninitiated in science fiction to begin with. Some authors, like the aforementioned Robinson, can draw events of colonizing the stars in near-future terms that are capable of appealing to broad audiences. But because of Wright's completely unflinching manner in approaching his worlds, people unused to dealing with artificial intelligence, consciousnesses existing independently of bodies and stored in mechanisms, and an easy acceptance of changing the world and worlds to fit the needs of a striving humanity, may quickly become lost and drown in the onslaught of new ideas. In short, a certain amount of training may be required to fully appreciate Wright and meet him on the terms that he sets for his readers. This problem--if it is a problem--may ultimately restrict The Golden Age from finding the kind of large-scale audience it might otherwise deserve.

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Castalia House bloggers

I'm toying with the idea of turning the Castalia House blog into a group one focused on SF/F. Reviews, thoughts on writing, thoughts on the industry, essentially something similar to Black Gate, but from an explicitly Blue SF/F perspective. So, I'm interested in learning if there are sufficient potential contributors capable of writing either a book review or a post once a week. The group blog idea didn't go so well in the past; Alpha Game turned into a single-focus blog to which I am the sole contributor, but SF/F is a broad subject and there are many writers and readers here.

If you're interested, let me know in the comments what sort of subjects you'd be interested in discussing once per week. My goal would be to find seven contributors, everyone responsible for posting once per week. Obviously, any existing Castalia House authors would have first priority.

In any event, let me know what you think of the idea. As is now abundantly clear, my responsibilities as CH's lead editor prevents me from managing a third daily blog.

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No likely futures

I've pointed out many times, and demonstrated on more than one occasion, that the Left is considerably less intelligent and educated than it believes itself to be. To further demonstrate the conceit, dishonesty, and self-deception of the Left, consider Damien Walter's inept responses to criticism of his most recent hit piece aka Guardian column.
Commenter:  Not quite sure I agree with the conclusion "The future is queer". Given the current balance of power in the world, it must as equally be likely that future generations may revert to traditional gender roles, however advanced the tech gets. For example, in 75 to 100 years, it's quite easy to imagine a society which regards historical sexual freedom as a contributing factor to the failure of our capitalist paradise. Revisionism which twists historical events is not new, and it's entirely possible some future government/state will twist our present when it's their history. It's also worth bearing in mind that the progressive liberalism talked about here affects only a tiny percentage of the world's population. When the Chinese buy up the UK in a fire sale 50 years from now, how much mind are they going to pay such freedoms?

DamienGWalter: Of course, there are no absolutes when it comes to the future. But putting aside "collapse" scenarios, I can't see any likely future where gender isn't radically changed from its current norms. I think expecting otherwise would be like expecting feudal social structures to carry over in to industrial society. We can already see the structural changes being wrought by technology, the social changes are then almost determined.
There are 83 countries where homosexuality is criminalized. There are 20 countries where homogamy has been at least partially legalized. The countries where homosexuality is criminalized have growing populations. The countries where homogamy is legal have declining populations. And yet, Mr. Walter can't see the possibility of a future where the larger trend is in line with demographic growth.  No wonder he is a mere SF wannabe rather than a bona fide SF writer; his imagination is too limited.

Any doubts that he was engaging in pure rhetoric are answered in this exchange:
Commenter: It’s Larry Correia being discussed, so let’s use his handy Internet Arguing Checklist to examine this article. Points #1 (Skim until Offended), #4 (Disregard Inconvenient Facts), and #5 (Make S——t Up) are fairly well represented here. In particular, compare Damien Walter’s misrepresentation of Correia’s article:

    But Correia boils it down to a much simpler argument. However accurate a queer future might be, SF authors must continue to pander to the bigotry of conservative readers if they want to be "commercial".


to an excerpt from the core of Larry’s actual essay:

    "Now, before we continue I need to establish something about my personal writing philosophy. Science Fiction is SPECULATIVE FICTION. That means we can make up all sorts of crazy stuff and we can twist existing reality to do interesting new things in order to tell the story we want to tell. I’m not against having a story where there are sexes other than male and female or neuters or schmes or hirs or WTF ever or that they flip back and forth or shit… robot sex. Hell, I don’t know. Write whatever tells your story.

    But the important thing there is STORY. Not the cause of the day. STORY.

For extra entertainment, read Larry’s brilliant counter-fisking of Jim C Hines’s post.

DamienGWalter: Counter-fisking? Hmmm...sounds kinky.
Deep and insightful stuff there. But Walter gave his propagandistic game away in an earlier essay: "The challenge for writers of science fiction today is not to repeat the same dire warnings we have all already heard, or to replicate the naive visions of the genres golden age, but to create visions of the future people can believe in. Perhaps the next Nineteen Eighty-Four, instead of confronting us with our worst fear, will find the imagination to show us our greatest hope."

What is his greatest hope? Based on his recent column, a queer future. Kathryn Cramer of Tor.com correctly pegged Walter as a propagandist rather than a writer with anything to say about the human condition on Tor.com.

"Walter says he wants SF to do more than “reflect” the world, but rather fiction that seeks to “influence” it."

And that is what fundamentally separates Pink SF/F from Blue SF/F. We tell stories to entertain the reader and make him think. They print propaganda to lecture the reader and stop him from thinking. We ask "what if?" They assert "it will be so!"

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Dogmatic and dishonest

Ross Douthat points out the moral defect being exhibited by a corporation and a university in the New York Times, which happens to be identical to that previously demonstrated by a writer's organization:
In both cases, Mozilla and Brandeis, there was a striking difference between the clarity of what had actually happened and the evasiveness of the official responses to the events. Eich stepped down rather than recant his past support for the view that one man and one woman makes a marriage; Hirsi Ali’s invitation was withdrawn because of her sweeping criticisms of Islamic culture. But neither the phrase “marriage” nor the word “Islam” appeared in the initial statements Mozilla and Brandeis released.

Instead, the Mozilla statement rambled in the language of inclusion: “Our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness. ... Our culture of openness extends to encouraging staff and community to share their beliefs and opinions. ...”

The statement on Hirsi Ali was slightly more direct, saying that “her past statements ... are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.” But it never specified what those statements or those values might be — and then it fell back, too, on pieties about diversity: “In the spirit of free expression that has defined Brandeis University throughout its history, Ms. Hirsi Ali is welcome to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue about these important issues.”

What both cases illustrate, with their fuzzy rhetoric masking ideological pressure, is a serious moral defect at the heart of elite culture in America.

The defect, crucially, is not this culture’s bias against social conservatives, or its discomfort with stinging attacks on non-Western religions. Rather, it’s the refusal to admit — to others, and to itself — that these biases fundamentally trump the commitment to “free expression” or “diversity” affirmed in mission statements and news releases.

This refusal, this self-deception, means that we have far too many powerful communities (corporate, academic, journalistic) that are simultaneously dogmatic and dishonest about it — that promise diversity but only as the left defines it, that fill their ranks with ideologues and then claim to stand athwart bias and misinformation, that speak the language of pluralism while presiding over communities that resemble the beau ideal of Sandra Y. L. Korn.
It was precisely the same pattern of behavior with the SFWA. The rhetoric was fuzzy and muddled, and the accusations were incoherent. No actual reason was ever given for the purging of the nameless member; if I had not announced the identity of the expelled member on my blog, no one outside the inner circle of the organization would have even known who had been successfully targeted for removal by the SFWA president and his obedient Board.

The reason for the deceit is twofold; it is first necessary to preserve the self-conceit of the individuals involved. They do not wish to admit that they are hypocrites who are failing to live up to their professed ideals. It is no different than the reason priests who commit child abuse, teachers who have affairs with their students, and con men who perpetrate frauds are reluctant to confess to their misdeeds even after they are caught red-handed; they are ashamed of their idealistic failures and seek to hide those failures from the knowledge of those who will judge them for it.

And second, the self-deception is vital because admitting their failures means sacrificing the moral high ground in criticizing other organizations and losing their ability to hold other organizations accountable for doing the same thing they are doing.

Both reasons are why it is vital to continue to flaunt their actions in their faces, without mercy, until they admit what they have done and make an open and public choice between their supposed ideals and their ideological dogma. SFWA thought it was marginalizing me by purging me from its ranks, but instead, they elevated my stature, increased my readership, delineated the ideological lines in SF/F, and handed every critic of their dishonesty and dogma an effective weapon to use against them until they either a) come out of the closet concerning their ideology, or b ) correct their self-destructive course.

I think the interesting question to ask here is not why these organizations are behaving in this morally defective fashion, but rather, why now?

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