Spawn of Mars
Don't worry. If you like your religion, you can keep your religion.
No, Not That Kind of Pulp
Here's the Kind I Mean
Tuesday, November 21, 2017 10:53 am
Old pulp has a reputation as vulgar, trashy, lurid, and low; and in their apologetics, the proponents of new pulp are usually quite aware of that reputation.

Sometimes the apology is an outright apology. Some proponents, for example, explicitly disavow the "racism" and "misogyny" of old pulp. Well, okay. I'm not here to hate races or women, either. But declaring against "racism" and "misogyny" is a concession to the very Stalinist conformity that has been destroying our fiction. Those words are no longer reasonable; the enemy has defined them. These days, putting a woman in a dress and saying she is not the same thing as a man is considered "misogyny." Virtue signaling is not the path to better fiction. 

But generally the apology is an affirmation. It is not trying to stay in the good graces of the modern zeitgeist but simply reminding people of the excellence to be found in old pulp; an excellence that is grounded in the pulp style.

Even so, there was something a bit vulgar about pulp. Consider the extent to which the Good People of the time sought to suppress pulp as injurious to morals. The Good People had a point. Scantily-dressed women and salivating killers are not precisely sublime.

But two things can be said.

First, there is a sense in which some vulgarities are better than others. George Orwell, in considering the naughty postcards of Donald McGill, noted that the cards, though obscene and (in Orwell's view) rebellious, were only funny because they presumed a stable society of indissoluble marriage, family loyalty, and the like. I myself have noted that pulp presumes the natural order. So long as the salivating killer is the villain and is so precisely because he is salivating and a killer, morals are not necessarily injured.

Second, even if one were to concede that a lot of old pulp was total trash and beyond redemption, there's still a lot that wasn't. As I read it, the Pulp Revolution has never been about total reversion to the past. It idealizes pulp. And ideals are not bad. Every revolution idealizes. A revolution is only guaranteed to be bad when its ideals despise the past. One can embrace old pulp and still set aside the vulgarity; for it is rather the wonder and excitement that guide new pulp.

Writing About Pluto
Get a Free Copy of Poof Poof Ya Does Me a Favor
Sunday, November 19, 2017 5:12 pm
Superversive Press is creating a series of anthologies, each of them focused on one of the nine planets in our system. I really like this idea and, when I heard about the series, immediately wanted to contribute.

Several anthologies, such as those for Mars and Venus, were already closed for submission. Luckily I wasn't left with only Uranus. Pluto was still available. 

I have written one other story about Pluto; one of my favorites. But I didn't want to recycle something old. I took the parameters of the anthology — science fiction about some combination of wealth, death, or Pluto the world — and wrote something entirely new. It's a nice tale of natural mysteries near Charon, Pluto's primary moon. I also worked in a nice lot of philosophy.

As I wrote it, though, I wondered how many of the contributors would be touching on similiar ideas. It's a thematic anthology, after all. For example, I added a (relevant) defense of Pluto as a proper planet, contra the pedantic killjoys. How many such defenses will the editor have to read? How many can the anthology bear?

Anyhow, what I wrote is pretty good. I'm optimistic about its chances. But we all know how this goes. It's been submitted; acceptance is another matter entirely.

In celebration of the new story and its submission, I thought it might be nice to make my other Pluto story available. Poof Poof Ya Does Me a Favor was originally published in Thundershine, way back in 1999. Between 11/21 and 11/25, you can get it for free on Amazon. Enjoy!

Sample the Revolution
And Give My Story a Read
Monday, October 30, 2017 8:40 am
Back in August, the folks at PulpRev put out a call for stories. They wanted stories no longer than fifteen hundred words, and we aspirants were given one week to submit. Obviously, had I a suitable story lying around, I could have simply polished it a bit and leisurely submitted it; but I entered the spirit of the call and wrote a fresh tale.

I took a very old, tiny idea that had never become the novel I imagined — "A king on the run refuses to abdicate" — and combined that with a little pulpy weirdness, and created The King's Portion.

You can get the sampler by buying it directly for all of 99 cents at Amazon or by signing up for the PulpRev mailing list (details here).

Go, now! Become enjoyified!

P.S. As with StoryHack, it was nice working with the PulpRev folks. If nothing else, the Pulp Revolution does not treat little-known authors with disdain!
Why the Pulp Attitude Has Attracted Me
On Becoming a Fellow Traveler
Tuesday, September 26, 2017 10:09 am
You can be shaped by what you will not do. I will not drink. I will not curse. I will not lose my temper. Exclude the vices and you become other than vicious.

But “other than” is not enough. The bad is a privation of the good; but the good is not a privation of the bad. You must also be shaped by what you do. Include the virtues and you become virtuous.

We all know science fiction has become vicious. It is a platform for despising God, truth, men, women, and civilization. It gathers the mentally disordered and celebrates their diverse disorders. I just want to read about the defeat of killer robots and instead I must read about six-way sex on the planet Luvwyns. 

As a writer I can — rightly, wisely, sanely — refuse to serve the vicious. No, I will not bash the Church. No, I will not bash masculinity. No, I will not bash the family. No, I will not bash this civilization or the people who built it.

But in some ways that is easy. It is easy enough to say I will not step in filth. The real question, the thing to ask of my stepping along, is: Quo vadis?

Whither are you going?

Without question, whither I go as a writer should be towards the virtuous. However, I don't want merely to propagandize for the good. Nothing wrong with propaganda, per se; the Gospel is propaganda, after all. But fiction, as we all know, suffers when story is subordinated to the message. That has been a primary lesson of these past dreary years of SF. In writing, as in all art, whither is only part of it. The more pertinent question may be: Quomodo efficis?

How are you doing it?

As you can tell from this blog post, I have a condition that might be called High-Falutinitis. My work can be overdone. Yet a virtuous work is best if it is at ease with virtue; if it is at ease in general.

Pulp is so much at ease.

I've read a lot of commentary from the Pulp Revolution. And what have I gathered? That pulp accepts the natural order of things and just runs with it. Right; wrong. Good; evil. Men as men; women as women. Even when weird, pulp is not deviant. That doesn't mean pulp is simple-minded, or that it foregoes high artistry, or that it disallows moral ambiguity in its characters. Pulp simply starts with story and, hewing to story above all, lets virtue take care of itself; because a good story cannot be in service of the vicious.

Nihilism is never served by a rip-roaring tale.

I have been writing for a long time. I have written my share of more or less nihilistic works. To be sure, even nihilism has a place in art. If nothing else, a privation depicted (but not extolled) can inspire a healthy lament for the good that was lost. But in this age of nihilism ascendant, I've wanted to be more manifestly on the side of good. I wrote The Giant's Walk to accept, against this age, the reality of God, but also to acknowledge how hard it is, in any age, to be on God's side. Since then, as I have watched the Pulp Revolution unfold, I have learned a forgotten lesson, an efficacious way to write on behalf of right:

Tell an exciting story.

Let heroes be heroic. Let villains be punched and girls be kissed! And God will inevitably be smiling in the background.

Now, you may notice that the title of this post refers to a pulp "attitude" and the subtitle to my being a "fellow traveler." I have not actually read lots of pulp and I can't claim to be among the revolutionaries. Of late, and prompted by the enthusiasm of bloggers, I've been exploring authors like Moore and Brackett and magazines like StoryHack and Cirsova, but my definition of “pulp” comes primarily from those bloggers. For all I know, the Pulp Revolution is misapprehending the nature of pulp. But I don't think so. It sounds right, given my independent experience of pulp (such as Hammett and van Vogt).

And I'm being only a little hyperbolic when I say that God smiles at pulp. It's akin to the assessment that pulp presumes a Christian worldview. It's why the Pulp and Superversive movements overlap so much. But in some ways Pulp seems the safer path, at least initially, for those trying to escape the modern modes of writing. Superversive, insofar as it consciously rejects the subversive, risks creating its own kind of message fiction; and whatever its exemplary attitude towards wonder and grandeur, it might be a better second step away from the modern rot.

Anyhow, I'm learning to pulp my fiction, and enjoying it.

StoryHack #1 Is Out
Read My Story in It!
Tuesday, September 26, 2017 9:45 am
StoryHack is the magazine that accepted my story this past summer. Bryce Beattie, the editor, was a refreshingly responsive and professional contact. He did a fine job editing me, too, making things better without undoing my voice. (Cirsova rejected the same story, but its editor P. Alexander was another wonderfully responsive contact.)

Anyhow, StoryHack #1 is out. Buy it on Amazon (to give the publisher money). Review it on Amazon (to increase its rank). Read my story Some Things Missing From Her Profile and be amazed by my superlativiosity. Go, now!

P.S. It's awesome to be in the inaugural issue. Yes, there was a proof-of-concept issue #0, but being in #1 feels nice.
Magazines
StoryHack #1
Cirsova #6
PulpRev Sampler
Categories
50-Word Story
Art
Catholic Faith
Catholic Life
Family
Fantasy
Language
Literature
Men & Women
Metaphysics
Movies
Music
Personal
Publishing
Science
Science Fiction
Television
Trifles
Writing