Monday, June 26, 2017

Appendix N: The Generation Gaps

The recent series of posts over at Vox Popoli relating to the sins of the Baby Boomers and GenXers set my mind wandering down strange paths.

That the true giants Burroughs, Howard, Moore, and E.E. Doc Smith were forgotten and the fraudulent three - pervy Heinlein, snowjob Asimov, and pedo Clarke - elevated by the Baby Boomers for political reasons is beyond doubt.  Anyone looking at the field of science-fiction with an impartial eye cannot deny the influence enjoyed by the former to this day, nor can they deny the steady downward trend in science-fiction's inspirational qualities or creative vision that was concurrent with the rise of the false trinity  (I won't dignify that slight by capitalizing the words.)

There may be more to the situation, however.  The Baby Boomers are notorious for believing that the world began with their generation.  We see this in their writing on film, art, politics, and literature.  Everything is viewed through a lens of "what did they ever do for me", and they gleefully ignore the culture that allowed them to live out their sheltered lives relatively free from the frothing cycles of history and economics that have always plagued mankind.

"Don't trust anyone over thirty," was the catch-phrase that highlighted their ignorance of the past, and so pervasive was that attitude that it only makes sense it would infect the field of science-fiction.  If Dad liked to read Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard then that old stuff just had to be substandard compared to the new hotness of edgy writers like Damon Knight and Harlan Ellison.  You know they are cool because they are total dicks, man.

They rejected the things their fathers honored like selflessness, romance, virtue, and...well, honor itself.  And you can't read Burroughs or Howard without being infected by those ideas, so in order to preserve their carefully manufactured worldview that put them at the center of everything good and right and just, they had to treat the hard working and creative men and women who built the world of science fiction just as they had memory holed everything about the Silent Generation that wasn't focused exclusively on how great the Baby Boomers are.

It might not be quite as great a sin as squandering the financial wealth accumulated by the west over hundreds of years, but squandering the cultural wealth of Burroughs and Howard certainly serves as just one example of how they left the world a worse place than the one they inherited.

On a surface level, there is a certain irony in me - a GenXer myself - repeating the cycle and rejecting the actions of the generation before me.  But where the Boomers rejected everything that came before and assumed that they could create a better world from whole cloth in a generation, we GenXers are looking back beyond those poor misguided fools to the generations that came before them to see if we might heal the world they poisoned in order to leave a better world for our children than they left for us.

We don't reject the wisdom of our predecessors, we just reject the foolishness of our immediate forebears.  And it's this focus on the lost wisdom that will allow us to reject their false promises and build a better world.

And that includes a better science fiction culture.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

More on "Escaping infinity"

On Wednesday, I posted a review of Richard Paolinelli's Escaping Infinity, in which I lamented the inclusion of an extended post-script that felt like a separate story in its own right.  After giving this book more thought, I have to revise my opinion of it. 

The #PulpRev channel has been crackling over the last few weeks with discussions about the foolishness of the traditional hero's journey story structure, of which Dario Ciriello's post at the Castalia House blog is just one example.  It occurred to me after writing my review of Escaping Infinity that my view of it has been unduly affected by a lifetime of exposure to the standard 3-act story structure.  This book defied my expectations, and my initial response was one of confusion, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that Paolinelli should be commended for taking a huge risk. 

He didn't stick to traditional story structures, and instead let the story unfold in a far more natural manner than if he had tried to squeeze it into a formula.  Risks like these are what the #PulpRev is all about, and we should always be on guard against adhering to the old rules.  Richard Paolinelli has the guts to ignore them to craft a better story.  As readers, we should learn from his example.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Salon Admits Jeffro Was Right

Jeffro's detractors have called him a crackpot conspiracy theorist for daring to point out the concerted effort by major publishing houses filthy with secular midwits and tedious intersectionalists to commandeer the ship of science-fiction and steer it away from the open waters of action, adventure and heroism and onto the deadly rocks of collectivist thought.  They don't want to see that attempts to weaponize science-fiction is straight up non-fiction and so have ignored all of his cogent observations and connections.

Well, Slate (ramping up for the Hugo Awards - these stories always hit the press in greater numbers in June in order to help establish street cred for their garbage reporting on the Hugos) let the cat out of the bag.  I'm not linking to that fake news site, but here's my proof:
A few choice quotes:
If you’re surprised to hear that that science fiction might actually have a meaningful real world impact, you haven’t been paying attention. Science fiction and science reality have often found themselves in a feedback loop.
Okay, that's not exactly news.  We all know this to be true.  The article takes a turn for the sinister when it reports on an organization seeking ways to bridge the gap between dreaming of SJW futures and implementing them:
The newly announced Science Fiction Advisory Council, composed of a stellar selection of 64 bestselling sci-fi writers and visionary filmmakers, has tasked itself with imagining realistic, possible, positive futures that we might actually want to live in—and figuring out we can get from here to there.
Does anyone think that this council will be inviting Dragon Award winning author Brian Niemeier or best selling science-fiction (and non-fiction) author Vox Day or even a Nick Cole?  Beuller?  Beuller?  Yeah, didn't think so.  No room for badthinkers when you've got towering luminaries like Cory Doctorow, Charlie Stross, checkbox hire Malindo Lo, and colossal douche Neil Gaiman.  Although, you have to give 'em credit for including a few tokens like Niven and Mike Resnick.

This is a council interested in directing the future along paths that are pre-approved by the Narrativists and they cannot welcome guys with clear vision and deep understanding of how humans actually operate rather than how they might operate if only they would surrender control over their lives to the SFAC.  So you won't see even moderate voices like Larry Correia, John C. Wright, Brad Torgerson, or Sarah Hoyt win that Golden Ticket.

Bear in mind that this council goes well beyond previous instances of science-fiction writers - actually engineers who write science-fiction - advising the US military on potential new technologies.  The SFAC lists numerous roadmaps designed to steer the future along a "preferred future state" including "Planet & Environment; Energy & Resources; Shelter & Infrastructure; Health & Wellbeing; Civil Society; Learning & Human Potential; and Space & New Frontiers" (emphasis mine).

Anyone want to bet that the civil society they envision will include criminal sentencing for rodeo clowns who wear the wrong mask, but plenty of room for staged political assassinations (when the assassins' target is on the wrong side of the political divide?   Anyone want to bet that a big part of the roadmap for civil society will be finding way to reduce or eliminate the influence of Christianity, free speech, or the preservation of European culture?

 With a council like they have assembled, that's a sucker's bet.

But take heart.  Their roadmaps will be clumsy, ineffectual things.  They will be predicated on the same false notions of humanity possessed by most of the members of the council.  As their view of humanity is so fanciful, their roadmap will be a rainbow bridge built on dreams and wishes and just as effective at carrying vehicle traffic.  This is largely a collection of authors whose works do not resonate with readers, whose works have driven mainstream readers away from books, and whose only recourse is the ever popular appeal to amenable authority.  Their roadmaps will all be less about maps and more about traffic laws and ensuring that they control the highway patrol to force humanity to drive the direction they want, regardless of what the people want and regardless of what will be healthy for humanity.

Unfortunately, although their plans are guaranteed to fail, there's no telling how much damage they might do to civilization in the meantime.  So do your part to help stave off their inevitable dystopian futures - don't read anything written after 1940, and if you must, don't read anything published east of the Hudson River.

Hey, here's something that meets the latter criteria
and it's a heck of a lot of fun, to boot!