Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Corroding Empire (NAME SUBJECT TO CHANGE) by Johan Kalsi (AUTHOR SUBJECT TO CHANGE)

(INSERT COVER PICTURE WHEN FINALIZED)

This book has drama attached, and it's pretty funny, latest rundown on it here. It's a parody of a book that was actually published the day before its subject, thrown together in a hurry more to show off the mobility of Castalia House's Kindle-first strategy than to poke fun at any aspect of Scalzi's new series. It's not a parody of The Collapsing Empire, it's a parody of Tor, who gave millions of dollars to an author to get, over a year behind schedule, a parody of a much older book.

In that respect it's great, just great. It's a sign of a healthy market, feuding companies playing pranks. It lets you know there's a human in charge. The issue, though, for someone wanting to spend their time in a book is is it good?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Trial of Daddy Warpig



SCENE: A gray morning in Paris. Smoke rises from the wreckage of the Bastille and the Governor’s palace. A COURT has been set up in the main plaza, with planks set on barrels forming the benches. To the side a guillotine has been erected, by which an EXECUTIONER glowers. Surrounding is a horde of angry PEASANTS in rustic, picturesque clothing, clutching farm tools. At the center of the court, sitting on a fine velvet chair raised on a platform of cobblestones, sits the JUDGE, played by Jesse Lucas in a powdered wig. To the JUDGE’S left sits the DEFENSE ATTORNEY, played by JESSE LUCAS in a ragged officer’s uniform, chewing on a licorice-filled cheroot. To the right sits the PROSECUTOR, a disheveled aristocrat with an off-centered ascot, also played by JESSE LUCAS.

Enter BAILIFF.

BAILIFF: Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! May it please the Court and the Revolutionary Council that charges are to be brought against one DADDY WARPIG, also known as JASYN JONES, that said Mr. WARPIG has engaged in acts of treason against the Pulp Revolution, by knowingly and in violation of honored statute engaging in foul practices of declaring those who are having fun to be wrong, and by leading the public to believe that such are the acts of true Pulp Revolutionaries, by repeatedly and wrongfully declaring hard science fiction and its readers and proponents to be enemies of the revolution, thus casting out the very fans the Revolution was engendered to protect. Mr. 

PROSECUTOR, do you recognize these charges as those you are sworn to determine the truth of, before the JUDGE, the PEOPLE, the STATE, and ALMIGHTY GOD?

PROSECUTOR, closing a hand mirror: I do.

BAILIFF: And you, the DEFENSE, do you also recognize these charges on the same terms?

DEFENSE, sighing: Yes.

BAILIFF: Mr. WARPIG, how do you plea?

DEFENSE: He isn’t here.

The CROWD gasps.

DEFENSE: He’s more important than us, you know. He has a much bigger blog, ten thousand Twitter followers, and regular Castalia articles. We’ve just been featured on Sensor Sweep a couple of times.

The CROWD jeers. Someone throws a tomato. The DEFENSE ATTORNEY dodges, and begins to 
clean his fingers with a knife.

BAILIFF: Will you enter a plea on his behalf?

DEFENSE: Yes, of course. NOT GUILTY.

Someone in the CROWD screams and faints. Angry hoots and shouts arise. The BAILIFF raps the bench with his truncheon until the CROWD quiets.

The BAILIFF is seated.

JUDGE: The attorneys may present their cases.

The Prosecutor rises.

PROSECUTOR, pacing before the bench:  The PROSECUTION has found, and will present, evidence, that Mr. Warpig has repeatedly placed himself in the position of an arbiter of fun, against the will of the Revolutionary Council, by presenting these articles (he waves a sheaf of paper) before the public on the Castalia House blog, and by repeatedly defending the treasonous positions therein on the comments section of that and other websites; the main argument being, that the science fiction known as “hard SF,” “Blue SF,” or “Men with Screwdrivers,” is not fun, and that it stifled and stifles the more fun Pulp style of fantasy and science fiction; that the distinction between hard and not-hard SF is meaningless; that “hard SF” remains the standard of true or righteous science fiction among the mainstream, preventing Pulp authors from rising to prominence due to their lack of scientific rigor; that distinctions between fictional genres at all are unnatural and unnecessary. This is prima facie evidence that Mr. WARPIG is opposed to several founding Pulp Revolutionary principles, to wit, that we do not care what other people like, and that we do not place ourselves in the position of inquisitors of other peoples’ fun.

Someone in the CROWD cheers. The DEFENSE shifts uncomfortably.

PROSECUTOR, continuing: Therefore, Your Honor, there can be no decision, other than that Mr. WARPIG be found guilty of high treason, and symbolically executed on yonder symbolic guillotine, and be no longer considered a proponent of the Pulp Revolution at all.

Scattered clapping in the CROWD. The PROSECUTOR is seated.

DEFENSE, leaning forward in his seat: The prosecution fails to make his case on three points. First, my client has not told anyone how they should have fun. That’s ludicrous on its face. Daddy Warpig is a GamerGate veteran. He knows exactly what it’s like to be told you’re doing your hobby wrong. The articles my associate has presented do not show my client being critical of hard SF or blue SF fans. He’s critical of their authors.

Scattered mutterings in the CROWD. The PROSECUTOR folds his arms, a frozen smile on his face.
DEFENSE, raising a second finger: Second, that my client has a point. Campbell didn’t like the pulps. He liked rationality. He didn’t want Romantic adventure and primal forces, he wanted Modernist humanism and scientific reasoning. The dudes that came after him were even worse. Knight and Blish and Moorcock went against everything this Revolution stands for. If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t even need a revolution. We wouldn’t have forgotten Burroughs, Brackett, and Merritt. Del Rey would have reprinted classic fantasy instead of raising Terry Brooks as the fantasy Antichrist. Baen would have been one of many. Correia would never have had to self-publish. Pink SF could never have gained any power. This needs to be said.

DEFENSE, continuing: Third, that this court doesn’t even have any power. My client is bigger than us, and everyone that you could really call leaders of the Pulp Revolution stands with him. Cirsova has come out and said that hard SF doesn’t exist at all. Jeffro himself stands with my client. What do we contribute? Twenty-five hundred clicks in two months? Half a novella that we’re totally going to finish soon? All we can accomplish is to read ourselves out of the movement. Someone will start chanting “we don’t care” whenever we show up in comments sections, Vox Day will declare us a cuck, and it’ll be over. Our list of Traits aren’t legally binding, they’re suggestions. Who are we to tell Daddy Warpig how to have fun?

The CROWD is in uproar. The ring of SOLDIERS around the court shoves them back with their rifles. The EXECUTIONER shifts uncomfortably.

BAILIFF: Order! Order!

PROSECUTOR: My dear colleague, have you forgotten the charges? Mr. Warpig is not guilty of blasphemy against twentieth-century science fiction critics; he is guilty of crimes against the revolution itself.

The PROSECUTOR rises again, and advances to the DEFENSE’S bench.

PROSECUTOR: Can you deny that the atmosphere is now tense, charged, full of division? Can you argue that the comments section at Castalia House, once the cheerful soul of the Revolution, are now a blackened and charred warzone? That the elements of snobbery and disunity that in the Appendix N days were nowhere to be found now dominate? And whose fault is that?

He turns to the CROWD.

PROSECUTOR: Is it Cirsova’s? Is it Jeffro’s?

CROWD: NO!

PROSECUTOR: Is it Nyanzi or Mollison or Fear or the Bushis or any of the neutrals?

CROWD: NO!

The CROWD pushes against the ring of SOLDIERS. Several of them discharge their rifles in the air.

BAILIFF: ORDER! ORDER I SAY!

PROSECUTOR (shouting): NO! The enemy of the unity of the Revolution, the one who summoned Vox Day and the Dread Ilk to the sacred halls of Pulp Reverence and Fun, who challenged the life’s work of no less a luminary than JOHN C. WRIGHT, who sought to transform the Revolution into a SINGLE-ISSUE MOVEMENT dominated by PURITY SPIRALING and RIGHT-WING VIRTUE SIGNALING, is none other than DADDY WARPIG HIMSELF! On charges of sedition, corruption of the youth of Athens, misuse of the #Pulprev brand, and of filling the whole Earth with violence, the defendant is GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY!

The CROWD breaks through the SOLDIERS. A group tackles and disarms the BAILIFF. The DEFENSE stands on his bench and draws his sword. The Prosecutor leans back smiling into the arms of a group of PEASANTS. The words, “To Be Continued” appear onscreen. Roll credits.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

NOMAD

Night underfoot
Back creased, mouth dry
Clouds part, sun breaks
Won't stop

Overhead glory
Inferior are right and left
This temple is motion
This frame shifts

Madness writ gold
I speak with the tongue of holy men
My dust is the dust of ages
Worship crawls my skin

Afterward, fades
Crunch of gravel
Whistle of wind
Road, again, road

Day ends
Sun breaks, clouds close
Mouth creased, eyes dry;
King's progress.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Stalin in the Soul

In light of the pernicious fiction that science fiction started with Mary Shelley and proceeded to oppress women until Ursula K. Le Guin, it's fitting that Le Guin is herself a prolific essayist, giving us eyes into the pseudogenesis of SFF in the 60s-70s. The collection The Language of the Night has essays that show Le Guin getting it in ways no one else has - "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie" is the best explication of Fairyland from anyone not an Inkling - as well as laughably boneheaded mistakes ("Why Are Americans Afraid Of Dragons?").

What's most relevant to Pulprev (aside from "Poughkeepsie," which everyone who wants to write fantasy should read) are her observations on the state of SFF and what she wanted to happen to it. "The Stalin in the Soul," dated 1973-77 with snarky footnotes from 1989, highlights both her naming sense and the irony that Stalin isn't persona non grata in her circles anymore.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Why The Ender's Game Movie Failed


Somebody just read that and thought, "it didn't fail, I liked it!" They're probably coming up with reasons it was a good movie to try to prove me wrong, but they know there's just something off about it that they can't put their fingers on.

Let me help you with that. The novel was not a middling-good novel that barely broke even. It was a phenomenon. It's in every school library. It was put on military required reading lists. It won the double crown of Hugo and Nebula when those meant something the year it was released and shines so bright it overpowers everything else Orson Scott Card wrote, including its also double-crowned sequel. Fans were reading it and saying, "now this should be a movie" and putting it on top of their personal this-should-be-a-movie lists since it was released in 1986. To put that in perspective it's way older than me. And I'm an old man.

This is a AAA+ story. It was in development hell for so long some people said it was unfilmable. Maybe it is. I've got some ideas about it though.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Tokyo Ravens


Came across an article recently about the fall of Japan's Dragon Magazine from a trend-setting training camp for classics to a trend-following generic fiction magazine. I won't try to contest the main point, because I don't really know much about Japanese publishing, but I generally come out against what I see as nostalgic chauvinism in anime, which Mr. Cowan (who's giving up social media for Lent, so I guess this will be a spread-out conversation) uses to shore up that point.

Basically, if I may, he brings up a list of absolute legends - Slayers, Patlabor - incubated in Dragon Magazine, and then a list of duds that have gone nowhere that they're currently running. My contention is on the process of legend creation, and how much bearing that has on the quality of the original work. In particular, he mentions Oda Nobuna no Yabou and Tokyo Ravens, which I absolutely loved.

I firmly believe that both of these could have been legends if they had had Slayers resources poured into them. Oda Nobuna, while somewhat leaden and cliche-bound in print, was adapted by the fiery Kumazawa Yuuji and Madhouse Studios into a high-energy stampede through a color-bursting Sengoku period with enough manly men, cliffhangers, death-defying heroics, and real conversations about the morality of changing history to put it up there with the greats Cowan mentioned, if it hadn't been intended as a thirteen-episode light novel advertisement. And Tokyo Ravens, well, that's the sort of story that's so great even when it's not being great that I can't help but gush about it, so I will.

Transfigurism: Explanation and Response


Some time ago I published an emotion piece on transhumanism, passion in religion, and the lack of fire I felt from the Mormon Transhumanist Association. Much to my surprise, as I am not a popular blogger, I was contacted by two members of that society. Its founder, Lincoln Cannon, held a conversation with me via Twitter, and its current president, Carl Youngblood, left a comment. I found that not only had I failed to coherently express my feelings about those three subjects, I had underestimated the ideological distance between myself and the MTA.

I'm going to post some of their comments directly, attempt to express their beliefs as if they were my own, and then respond with, I hope, a more logical declaration of my thoughts on this matter.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Sword and Flower by Rawle Nyanzi

So. Right. Sword and Flower by Rawle Nyanzi. Rawle's a dedicated fan who seems to be coming to to the Pulp Revanchist movement from the 90s anime/D&D side of things, I see him on Twitter a lot, and now he's published a novella that has good claim to be the first direct literary output of Pulprev as such, not something backclaimed even with as much authority to do so as Jon Mollison.

If Mollison is Pulprev's kindly wizard figure, Rawle is its young protagonist. You'd especially think so if you look at S&F's Amazon reviews. They're all about his growth potential. I'm not going to talk about his growth potential, confirm or deny, I'm going to talk about his book, as she stands, and also about the movement some.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Wyrm's Bane by John Mollison


https://www.amazon.com/Wyrms-Bane-Five-Dragons-Book-ebook/dp/B01MD1ZP9H
My good friend Jon Mollison seems to be some kind of kindly godfather to the PulpRev movement. He writes encouraging reviews for new authors, records audiobooks for Castalia, and does a lot of reading on his own - he once told me that if the big publishers were doing their jobs, he'd be content with just being a fan.

He's not just a fan, though, he's published a series of four loosely-linked dragon-themed novellas that are now bundled with an extra short story from the dragon's perspective as Five Dragons. I picked "Wyrm's Bane," the second story from that collection, to review for the 3/3 challenge.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Weird Western: Fangs of the Dragon by David J. West


http://seagullrising.blogspot.com/2017/02/three-for-three-pulp-revolution-call-to.html

 I don't know much about David J. West. We follow each other on Twitter and he posts on the Castalia House blog, so I guess he's one of us. Out of the three author's I'm reading for the three for three challenge he seems like the one who needs the least help, as this novella and his novel, Scavengers, are pretty highly ranked in the Western Horror section of the Kindle store. Maybe that just means there isn't much Western Horror, I don't know, if so that's a good section to write for, but it's no stretch at all to believe that people just like his stuff and pass it on.

"Fangs of the Dragon" is a Porter Rockwell story. If you're not familiar with Porter Rockwell he was a gunslinging Samson figure in the early days of Utah settlement. You can look him up, he's real, but this novella is a decent introduction to him. It's a nicely structured story of Porter coming to a frontier town to deal with a lake monster, with refreshingly straightforward twists and turns after it. It's 54 pages as Kindle sees them, so it's not a long read. It was previously published in the Monsters and Mormons anthology, but I didn't really get into that one.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Edge of the World by Michael Swanwick





We did a lot of reading when I was growing up. If we had grown up on the set of a movie about precocious children we would have been reading classics to each other, referencing lines the audience would be able to pat themselves on the back for remembering, but I have to admit that a lot of what we read was pretty generic, all things considered, and while the Fantasy and Science Fiction shelves of the public libraries in Augusta and El Dorado held great treasures of wonder, there were greater treasures that I missed¹.

One library book, and I can see the bunk bed I read it on right now thinking of it, was called "Full Spectrum 2." There was another Full Spectrum close by but I don't think it hit me as hard. Two stories especially landed in my mind with such power that they still make their way to the front. One was about an RPG group (something we would have had if we had grown up on the set of a movie about precocious children in the 90s) that used drugs to hallucinate their sessions, and an Asian domestic servant who used their drug to astrally project instead; the other was about some Cold War Army brats and a bottomless cliff.