Thursday, 14 March 2019

Another Update from the Wasteland

Welcome back to another super-exciting update post. After a series that took a lot of time and energy to put together you might have assumed I would be taking it easy. It isn't entirely wrong. That series of posts did take over two months to cobble together.

Nothing much has changed. I'm still alive.

I'm currently off of social media for the next month and change and focusing on writing and editing stories. One novel is very far down the line and I still want to finish editing another back into shape. I have one more short story to write in order to finally cobble together a short story collection themed around my superhero stories. By the end of April I'm hoping to have a lot of that done and ready for publication later this year. So I need to buckle down and concentrate.

In regards to my other works I can give you a quick sum up.

Gemini Warrior, the first in a series, is complete and at Silver Empire right now. What happens next is up to them. I will update you on when that is out, but as of now I don't know its release date. Nonetheless it is only a matter of time.

I've also gotten some solid ideas for a follow-up (two!) to Grey Cat Blues. I hope to keep them short and punchy like the original, but at the same time I don't know how long it will take me to get to them so I'm not going to go into what they will be about. Nothing is more annoying than teasing a story that takes forever to come out. If you haven't yet read the original book, I highly suggest it! It tells a complete story so you won't be left on any sort of cliffhanger for anything that comes out next. I'm still proud of that one. Those who have read it have left some rave reviews.

I've written a flurry of other short stories that I still have to give the once-over twice to, including one done in the giant robot oeuvre that is much different from modern military fiction or the Gundam mold. Yes, I'm not done with short stories yet. I'm still waiting to hear back on a few other stories I've submitted but have heard nothing back from yet. Again, once I have news I will share it.

This year, as I've mentioned before, is going to be a novel year instead of one focused on short stories. I'm still a little annoyed I didn't get a novel out last year and I want to make up for it this time. Short of real life very probably getting in the way I will have more done.

Outside of that we've just hit season 4 in Cannon Cruisers and I've been getting more and more interested in '80s cinema because of it. Despite the revisionism in what remains of pop culture currently trying to make the decade out to be some new sort of terrible era I'm discovering more and more things storytellers simply aren't allowed to do anymore. Especially when it come to smaller films, the '80s were pretty impressive. For those that want to know we are planning to take the podcast up to season 6 and into the '90s when Cannon closed so we are more than halfway through.

My personal life might be having some changes of its own soon, though to what extent I am still not sure of. That's life. Nonetheless, I will still be writing and posting here regardless. It's what I do.

2018 wasn't the best year, but 2019 is shaping up to be a solid end point for a decade that started off pretty terribly. There's a lot coming down the pipeline that should hopefully make it out in time. I'm going to make sure I get more out there.

And I'm not alone.

I started this blog as an outlet to see if I could understand the growing divide inside and outside the arts and how it got so bad. Turns out there were many factors to that. I think I've gotten past that point, and now I want to focus on bringing it back together again. Throwing out the Fanatics and the True Artists and bringing the creator and customer together for a conversation again is paramount. We're still living in a wasteland separated from the sky, but at least we could try to reach a little higher.

Mainstream culture is still dying, and I don't suspect it will live out the 2020s, but those of us outside of that wheelhouse are still going strong with plenty of energy to spare. The Pulp Revolution is here and it's not going anywhere, folks. We've got the fire.

It is funny that in 2009 I had no hope remaining at all. The ensuing decade of Hollywood's implosion and geek culture becoming a religion also meant that anything was unlikely to change for the better. I wouldn't have considered looking to the past and seeing what we're missing and apply it to what we need today. Collapse was inevitable. Still is. Most of us were just taking what we could get and reluctantly indulging in material that would make us cringe today. The '00s were just a long downhill slide into the mud pit that was the '10s.

Now in 2019 there is no shortage of newpub books, middle market and indie video games, Retrowave music, and a growing number of creators and customers who now know what they are being robbed of coming together to build something far unique. Creators and customers have both had enough. I discovered much new that I didn't expect to. Not to mention the old pulps, games, and movies I missed back in the day help even more. There is a surplus of wondrous escapism and not enough time to go through it all. Who needs what the shambling old relics of corporations are putting out now?

Times really are strange, and they're about to get stranger. Hard to believe where we are now. I can't imagine where we will be in the future. The '10s are just about to end.

Spring's just a little while off, and I can't wait.

Sorry for the shorter post, but there is a lot going on behind the scenes and not just from me. We're going to end this decade off strong, so stick with us.

We're coming for you!

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Fandom: An Illustrative History (Part V: The Human Angle and Adventures in the Pulp Jungle)

At last we reach the end of this series. It's been quite a ride! We've gone through the development of genre fiction from the early Gothic Horror days up until the then-current New Wave movement and everything in between. For such a straightforward book it has certainly gone all over the map. It is only a shame the author had agendas of his own.

In this installment we will look at the final two chapters of the book in which we cover the two most important areas of the genre. The first is on the Human Angle and the second is on the Pulps. Strange that he would close out this book on such a subject as the latter, but here we are. Don't worry, they intertwine better than you would think.

The Human Angle is the notion that fiction should have some sort of appeal to the soul of the person beyond random noise and disparate events happening on the page. More or less what every piece of fiction contains. In this, surprisingly short, chapter Mr. Lundwell gives his pitch as to what the Human Angle for Science Fiction should be.
"The "Sense of Wonder" is rightly pointed out as a main ingredient in science fiction does alienate the genre from other, less spectacular aspects of human life and endeavour."
"Sense of Wonder" is the main ingredient in any fiction that relies on adventure or the fantastical, but it is true that many post-pulp authors have made it their goal to bolt down the more freewheeling aspects of the genre to a sort of Secular Bible of what can and cannot be done. More and more rules were made up that had nothing to do with the genre's roots. Years of this left the genre confused and lost at sea. This is, after all, why New Wave came into existence at all.

But the focus on human endeavor in genre fiction (and literary fiction for which it is attempting to ape) frequently devolves into unimaginative think pieces about middle-aged childless weirdos working a soul-crushing city job and being oppressed by whatever government policy the propagandist pretending to be a writer wants to whine about. The difference in this aspect between genre and literary is that the former sometimes involves a scientific (or not) invention to battle their boring oppressors or keep their dreary life away from a noose. Readers don't read to be lectured to, so this approach has never taken off despite so many trying to make it so.

The truth of the matter is that this approach is not really a Human Angle at all. It's the angle of a bitter person who hates the world they live in and believe that they can wake the masses up by preaching their message of the Bad News. The Human Angle is about more than social issues because people are more complex than what government programs they do and do not endorse.

The author quotes genre writer Poul Anderson in this aspect perfectly. This is a quote from the fourth Nebula anthology from 1970:
"(Science Fiction) remains more interested in the glamour and mystery and existence, the survival and triumph and tragedy of heroes and thinkers, than in the neuroses of some snivelling faggot."
What Mr. Anderson meant to get across here is that genre fiction is bigger than any one person's personal pet peeves. He specifically points out the type of pathetic loser individual with the words he chooses that would write such stories. Only a selfish small-minded fool, in Mr. Anderson's words, would want to limit the wonder of the world and universe in such a way. It runs counter to what imagination is for.

And time would prove his words right.

If you thought Mr. Lundwell would take this message lying down then you don't know our author very well yet. He responds in kind to Mr. Anderson's assertions:
"Anderson was referring to American science fiction, but these tendencies can be found in other parts of the world as well, which surely must suggest that something is very wrong with the genre. It is not heroes that carry the world on to new and greater heights, it is and has always been the malcontent, the alienated, the neurotic, the "snivelling faggot" as it were, and this has indeed been recognized in much science fiction. Still, and particularly in a time and age when success is what counts and the devil take the loser, we might expect that sort of sentiment."
This might be the most revealing passage in this entire book, and might describe the entire divide from the originators of the genre up until the days of the pulps and the schism that came when they died out. There is much to unpack in this passage, but I feel it is overall a matter of health, the good and the true.

The elite has had a growing fascination with evil throughout the entirety of the modern age. It's not an insult--you just saw the writer admit it here. Ugly is true, beauty is false.

Mr. Anderson's claim is that the heart of the genre (and all fiction I would argue) is about celebrating the good and elevating the reader and the human race in the process. This is his Human Angle of the healthy man who sees the Good and wishes to celebrate it.

Mr. Lundwell's claim is that sick people have always ruled the world so sick stories should be written for them since they are the ones that will lead us into the glorious future you now see around you in the 21st century. His perspective comes from a different place.

The final sentence in the above quote also exemplifies the same very pathetic loser mentality that Mr. Anderson was berating. The only science fiction that celebrates the loser is the kind that doesn't sell because it doesn't connect with the wider audience who are not losers. This would prove Mr. Lundwell's assertion incorrect.

I suppose if you can't win by truth then usurping and distorting a medium to your whims is the only way to get what you want instead of accepting defeat.

We soon get more of this when he dives into the difference between the sexes:
"The women in science fiction are helpless creatures, the reward of the virtuous hero, pieces of property to be abducted by villains or slimy monsters and recaptured at the end of the story. They are not really human beings, they are pieces of delicious meat owned by the hero, and woe to the villain who tries to steal it!"
Once more I suppose I must explain basic social norms.

The male fantasy is to risk his life for the woman he loves, to show her how valuable he is and why she should have him around. The female fantasy is to have someone strong enough and with enough of a desire to want to rescue them. They need each other.

You may want to pretend the two sexes do not have different interests, but then ask yourself the last time any woman you know raved about the crybaby weakling who bursts into tears when someone makes a joke at his expense. These norms exist because that is what the sexes want from each other at the basis of it, and should be nurtured because we were put here on this planet to procreate in the first place.

Your uncountable number of ancestors didn't live and die in ditches and battlefields so you could get obese in your cat-filled city apartment and die of a heart-attack at age 38 because you were too prideful to understand you can't change nature.

Pro-social ideas should be upheld as they benefit the populace. Anti-social selfish ones that stem from some bitter loser in a classroom to explain away why they were dumped should be laughed away.

But Mr. Lundwell is more than a little dishonest here as the one work he uses to explain his point is the Gor novel series by John Norman, which is an extreme case no matter how deceptive you are being. Outliers as main examples is not an honest tactic.

Then he once again drops this nugget in the middle of his description:
"For all women, Mr. Norman assures us, want to be whipped, raped, and subjugated. Women are like that, he tells us. Examples could be taken from any of the Gor books, they are depressingly similar in their attitude towards women . . ."
Yes, Sam J. Lundwell just called John Norman a rape sympathizer. The height of professionalism. Why? Because he wrote it in a book. I can't imagine the size of the author's imagination right now. And these are the people trying to tell you the old way of storytelling that went back centuries was more limiting when they can't even divorce the stories the author writes from the person they are. Is it any wonder they laud people like Walter Breen, Ed Kramer, and Marion Zimmer Bradley?

If you want to talk about disturbing sex fetishes parsed from an author's work, I have to tell you that John Norman is relatively tame compared to what we learned of many of Fandom's "stars" years later. Many of them turned out to be very disturbed individuals. John Norman was not one of them. And he also isn't a sex offender.

And if we're going on about John Norman's novels why no mention of Samuel Delaney's Hogg? Or is sexual degeneracy more palatable if children are involved? You might think I'm being unfair but the book was floating around in Fandom at the time, even if it wasn't published until the 90s. Not to mention his support of NAMBLA has been glossed over to this day. This degeneracy is ignored to focus on Norman's very tame (in comparison to those freaks) fetishes instead. Very telling, no?

But we can tell why all these degenerate losers were ignored to focus on an outlier like Norman. The author reveals it quickly after his gleeful bashing of him.
"A large part of the blame for this love-romance-home-and-children version of women in science fiction must be attributed to the fact that American science fiction was a creation of the pulp magazines."
Normality is treated as a disease again, but hey another admission that mainstream sf comes from the pulps. Women were not treated as garbage, either, though you would never know it from the way lies are spread about the pulps.
"No one questions the fact that women are weak and helpless and impractical and unfit for anything but admiring the hero and occasionally being abducted by the villain."
Because to be considered a worthy character a woman has to be a man with tits, apparently. Instead of a woman using her female strengths to adapt to situations better, she is required to play the man's part as well. Is it any wonder that after 80 years of this that most people can't even write normal male and female relationships anymore?

What should be celebrated is what got us to where we are in the first place. The majority of people are relatively normal in the western world, and the fiction was once made for them. That is, until it was made to engineer and warp their thoughts and ideas, which sent them running to other mediums. Guys want to read stories in which they're needed, and women like reading stories in which they are wanted. Why do you think romance still sells while genre fiction is in the trash?

In Mr. Lundwell's world, this is all wrong. To be equal every character must look and act exactly the same with modern political ideas to steer their thoughts and fight for the same future that Mr. Lundwell has etched in his dream journal. Everyone must be the same in his very diverse future.

One only has to look at current sales in his genre of choice to see where this idea has ended up among the unsophisticated masses.
"We all know that women indeed are property in a large part of the world. But this does not excuse science fiction, which we expect to be more far-seeing and open-minded."
So open-minded that their brains have fallen out. How he can say this after insinuating John Norman was pro-rape because he wrote a story with it happening in its pages is colossally imbecilic.

There is no human angle here. This is all failed anti-human claptrap disguised as "progressive" and "far-seeing" when all it is is a straight-jacket on storytelling to suppress normal man and woman relationships (and yes, even their stupid fetishes) in order to change the way they interact with each other in order to create a Utopian society where everyone acts and thinks the same about everything. This was always the goal.

Once again, look around you. Do those who espouse spreading a great and glorious social justice future look happy to you? When they're not attacking people with bike locks or dumping child porn on image boards, anyway. Do you think these problems will go away when they have control? This whole project to push humanity forward has been a failure, and yet they keep at it.

After going through some of the failed and forgotten "commentary" (read: propaganda) of his Futurian pals on women, the author finally gets around to men. Specifically "real" men.
"Pulp magazine heroes were, of course, also supermen; Kapitan Mors, Perry Rhodan, Captain Future and Doc Savage are only a few examples of this breed of saviors of mankind, These, however, are only crude variations on a crude common theme with which we need not concern ourselves here."
The crudeness the author doesn't want to touch is that of the male hero surpassing the odds and showing bravery when the tide is against them. Instead he would rather talk about "classic" novels you have never heard of because they are now forgotten to time. These are, instead of about men overcoming their limitations, are about supermen showing us feeble humans failing because Earth just isn't ready for supermen yet. Perhaps if we all held hands and thought the correct thoughts we could change that. Is that how the messaging is supposed to work? Because I'm still waiting for it to in the 21st century. Who would have known social engineering would need to continuously fail for nearly a century and still not beget any questioning or reassessment.

However, I should give the quote to give a bit of context as to why this author might prefer this sort of sad sack story.
"It is a story about loneliness, of an outcast in a society which cannot understand him or even communicate with him, and the story up to the boy's final destruction by a hydrocephalous idiot (the only one over whom the boy has not control) is a moving one."
Someone got pantsed one time too many in high school.

But he does show self-awareness with this passage a little further down:
"Science fiction fans tend to form a high opinion of their own group of science fiction fan friends, strengthening the conviction that they are really a breed of select supermen, standing apart from the mundane world which does not read or understand books--particularly science fiction. Tests made by and on fans many occasions, in many countries during the past thirty years or so, unanimously suggest that fans--in their own opinion, at least--are more intelligent than other people. No wonder superman tales have always been popular in science fiction."
Indeed. No wonder fans thought themselves unique and special enough to subvert an entire genre to their own purposes, then attempt to change the past to prove they were always there to begin with. "Fanatic" is not a word that should elicit a positive response, and yet "Fan" is supposed to. Perhaps there is something more to this than we might have thought.

There are a few more examples he gives of his supermen but I would like to finish this section on the one Mr. Lundwell chooses to end his chapter on the "Human Angle" to really sum his position up. It really shows the difference in mentality between health and sickness. His final example of a human story is Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke.

For those unaware, Childhood's End is a story about demonic looking aliens coming to Earth, tearing apart humans and their world, destroying the planet, and taking their children off into some other section of the galaxy to be amoral super-beings floating in a void of nothing until time runs out and the universe dies.
"Like Huxley and Capek, Clarke offers immortality only at the expense of humanity, but whereas Huxley and Capek offers with it a scornful smile, Clarke regards it with the eyes of a mysticist, as an immortality beyond the understanding of men, mankind's true destiny as it were. Thus we gain immortality, and somehow it sounds much more plausible, both as the final comment on the dream of superman, man's immortality and man's faith, than perhaps anything else written on the subject in science fiction."
This is the ultimate anti-human story, and it is the one Mr. Lundwell has chosen to end his chapter on humanity with. I should think that says it all.

Or as science fiction writer John C. Wright puts it in his essay on this very Gnostic story:
"Arthur C. Clarke answers C.S. Lewis with speculation of his own. “What if science can take the place of religion? What if evolution, the striving ever upward, can replace these primitive superstitions, and offer a transcendence that is real? What if it is not only good, but necessary, for us to venture into space? What if that venture is the source of our salvation, the very thing that will overcome our quarrelsomeness and wickedness? Why must C.S. Lewis and H.G. Wells assume the meeting between man and alien will be warlike? Why assume the creatures of space are devils? Well, even if they look like devils, what if the meeting were … Wondrous!”"
Yes, it's more religion replacement. Once again, it is a way to warp the world to being more like the broken people in Fandom than it is to reflect the hopes and dreams of those who already live in it. What if transcendence was utterly horrific! How wondrous.

Once again, there is no Human Angle here. If there was science fiction would certainly not be the absolutely miserable place it is today. This is where we will leave this section and our author's view of humanity behind. It is best left in the miserable '70s where all that stale bitterness should have stayed.

It is time for better ways. It is time to talk about the most pro-human genre fiction: the pulps!

Now we come to the final chapter of our journey. In this one Mr. Lundwell takes on his hated nemesis, the pulps, one last time. This is the climax to our entire trip, so buckle in. It must certainly say something that this book is bookended by story types that were subverted to build the house of cards Fandom now resides in, but I digress.

The pulps are here, and our author is going to tell us all about them!

Finally we reach where the whole Fandom mess started, and who is the one responsible for all this? That would be Hugo Gernsback.
"The modern history of magazine science fiction began in April 1926, in New York when a Luxembourg-born immigrant launched a science fiction magazine filled with short stories by French, German and British writers and visually dominated by the artwork of an Austrian-born artist. The magazine was Amazing Stories, the publisher was Hugo Gernsback and the artist was Frank R. Paul."
Mr. Lundwell then describes much of Gernsback's career with subtle and not-so-subtle jabs at the man. This is very important, mind you, not for the readers, but for the message he needs to get across here.

To add context to this chapter in the greater scope of this series of posts, a certain aspect needs to be framed. More so than any other literature category sf's descent can be categorized by editors and their stranglehold over their obsession, choking the life out of it, and leaving a husk behind. Much of the reason this book exists is to devalue and step on those that came before in an attempt to birth a new narrative about what the genre is.

This is why this passage exists to try to devalue Amazing Stories as not being original:
"Even the United States had a few magazines catering for science fiction readers, notably Argosy and Weird Tales."
They are so notable that this is the second off-hand reference to Weird Tales, which was ignored in many otherwise relevant chapters, and the first time he has mentioned Argosy at all, despite the history of the genre and the magazines being the focus of this book. But they can be used as weapons against Amazing Stories, so here they finally rear their heads but just enough to not give them any of the due they deserve.

It gets worse from here. I may not be enamored with Fandom's dishonesty or what Hugo Gernsback created by birthing them, but I can't imagine the lack of self-awareness it took to write this chapter's contents. More so than any other section, this one is nasty.

Every complaint levied at Gernsback is one that boomerangs back on Fandom itself. For example, let us hear why Amazing Stories survived while many of its fore-bearers died.
"There were many reasons for this, one of course being that Hugo Gernsback appeared with the right product at the right time, offering a simplified version of the future to an audience ignorant about science, politics and sociology, and thus worried about the rapidly changing world in which it was caught. Using the pulp magazine formula of cops and robbers in a slightly new overcoat, and reprinting those European works which best fitted into this formula, he presented American readers with the sort of science fiction that Jules Verne had written fifty years, and H. G. Wells thirty years earlier. It was old hat in Europe, but American magazine readers had never seen anything like it before."
Amazing Stories succeeded because the audience was stupid, in other words. It wasn't because Gernsback was smart enough to lure an audience already aware of names like Verne and Wells and interspersed them with new and upcoming talent, but because the audience was just plain ignorant and not on the same intellectual playing field as the group who never sold anything nearly as well as Gernsback ever did.

Not to mention that both authors were taught in North American schools at the time and put on reading lists. They were not unknown on any level. This whole passage is amazing.

Bitterness is unbecoming, but it plays a big part in Fandom's history. The wrong people spread the wrong gospel and you have to mop it all up lest the wrong knuckle-dragging simpleton sops it up. It's hard work.

How else to you write oblivious projection of this level:
"Gernsback then started moulding local authors into the sort of writers he wanted--Murray Leinster, Ray Cummings, Otis Adelbert Kline, Francis Flagg and others, who soon learned to write exactly the pulp magazine fairy tales exhorting the wonders of science that Gernsback felt the public needed and secretly wanted."
If your jaw didn't hit the floor upon reading that passage then maybe I should remind readers of a similar passage written about John W. Campbell mere chapters earlier:
"With time, of course, strong-willed and single-minded editors appeared, forceful enough to affect a change. Good editors, such as John W. Campbell [. . .] found new authors by the dozen and also had enough muscle to develop them into the new generation of writers so urgently needed."
When Gernsback did it he was dealing in disgusting subhuman fiction styles, but when Campbell did the exact same thing it was revolutionary and beautiful. The problem is that Gernsback's approach was a success, not Campbell's. Only cultists could believe purposefully shrinking a genre and kicking out the plebeians could lead to a Golden Age, but that is exactly what happened here. And the author is framing this as if it is a good thing.

It should also be mentioned that all of the writers mentioned above were systematically dismantled by Fandom not too dissimilarly from what happened to A.E. Van Vogt by Damon Knight. None of those authors can be found in decent print editions these days. But that needed to happen. You have to tear down golden idols before you can worship the new ones.

Some readers of this series may have questioned why I am not as hard on Gernsback as many others, and I can say that this sort of thing is exactly why.
While I am not happy with how Gernsback warped a field into shape then handed it over to fanatics to dismantle and turn into a veritable garbage dump, I can easily say that everyone who came after him was far worse. The ghetto got smaller, the stories got more insular, and eventually the scene would become nothing but angry gender studies students and arrogant grey hair boomers chatting in empty conference rooms about the correct ratio of skin colors and genitals. There the rest of the world is designated as uncouth and unworthy to come into their filthy playpen of social propaganda to fix the diseased masses.

Gernsback gets trashed for this, but these sycophants never do.
"[Amazing] was an out-and-out pulp magazine of the sort which was very popular in the United States at this time, a Kapitan Mors science fiction magazine in a slightly modified version, minus the slight political undertones. Gernsback's magazine filled an empty niche in magazine publishing, and it was a success."
Amazing also sold more than Analog and all of its hangers-ons ever did. So much so that rights squatters still whore out the name to publish their own propaganda wrapped in nuts and bolts under its moniker. Isn't that just convenient?

Despite all the hate Gernsback received and continues to receive from Fandom they certainly can't resist profiting off his name and legacy regardless. It's fairly pathetic, but then so is this entire war.
"What Hugo Gernsback did--and this was his great accomplishment, the one that could have made science fiction into an important literary tool long before it actually happened--was to create the specialized science fiction magazine into a culture and at a time which was eminently receptive to it. [. . .] By concentrating on the adventure and the popular side of science fiction, ignoring all those qualities that had made science fiction respected in Europe, he created a new type of pulp magazine as it were, with obvious mass appeal."
Mr. Lundwell's argument is that since the US wasn't destroyed by war like Europe had that its positivity and Utopianism was out of date with the far more advanced culture of post-war Europe. Why Europe is the one designated as advanced and North America as backwards is never actually explained, but we can guess why. His argument is that Gernsback's propaganda was out of date with the anti-human doctrine Europe has been defecating out into the world in the decades since the second World War.

This pessimism that made science fiction "respectable" among audiences that don't exist and among fan circles that hate their fellow man enough to endeavor to destroy their societies is what had led to it's irrelevant state now. While Gernsback's naive scientific utopia (also touched on by Campbell) was an impossibility, it is no more ridiculous than what actually replaced it. In fact, Fandom's try was objectively worse--no matter how pretty the prose might be.

Hugo Gernsback created Fandom, Fandom overthrew him, Fandom proceeds to lash out at and drag down anything it can get its tentacles in.

That's the science fiction history of the 20th century: a group of self-appointed elites guarding an artificial genre ghetto they built while the rest of the world swings lightsabers and shouts in excitement when the bad guys' star cruiser gets destroyed. That gap is absurd, is it not? It shouldn't even be there. This division only exists because of Fandom.

And what would a Fandom acolyte be without a jab at Average Joe the reader?
"Amazing Stories and the dozens of other science fiction magazines that soon appeared to cash in on this virginal market--Astounding Stories, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Air Wonder Stories etc.--reached those who could not afford to read books or who just never ventured into book stores and libraries; the garish four-colour covers promised unusual thrills and the contents were not much more complicated than most people could understand. This was in contrast to science fiction in book form, particularly in Europe, which was becoming more and more highbrow as it were, demanding more of its readers than they apparently were willing to give. All that Gernsback demanded of his readers was a dime or two. This was frowned upon by intellectuals, of course, and with their unwitting help Gernsback proceeded to turn mass market science fiction into a self-contained universe, blew up all bridges connecting it with the outer world, and created the science fiction ghetto."
This claim might be both the most revealing and moronic in the entire book, and we're dealing with a man who called E. E. Smith a racist and John Norman a rape apologist. To think that post-1940s science fiction connects with any zeitgeist or greater cultural trend is absurd. It exists in a bubble that has long since popped and is forgotten while pulp influence still exists in every other medium from video games to anime. Fandom is the ghetto.

But that is only part of it. I would rather focus on his vision of the average reader.

How does one type the above passage seriously? This claim essentially states that the common reader is an idiot that would rather spend dimes on a magazine instead of more on a book or going to a library and getting one for free. If only they were more enlightened like the anti-human death cult of Fandom in Europe they would understand how pedestrian their love of heroes, hope, and wonder is, and just roll in the mud with the rest of the misanthropists and their dead culture. Poor people and simple stupid blue and white collar workers are just not smart enough to get into the nihilist fiction that they should be swallowing whole.

This is the bitterness and anger Fandom had inside when the wrestled science fiction away from Gernsback and created their own pathetic scene of losers and freaks. This is the same group that pitch a fit and shudder whenever Star Wars is mentioned. This tiny cabal of anti-human propagandists are the problem.

By the way, that is the science fiction ghetto, and not what the author states it as being.

Our author even admits it here:
"This led to one good thing, though, even if that was an unexpected bonus and one that he never planned on. In the June 1926 issue of Amazing Stories, Gernsback commented in his editorial on a surprising phenomenon of science fiction:

"One of the great surprises since we started publishing Amazing Stories is the tremendous amount of mail we receive from--shall we call them "Scientification fans?"--who seem to be pretty well oriented in this sort of literature. From the suggestion for reprints that are coming in these "fans" seem to have a hobby of their own of hunting up scientification stories, not only in English, but in many other languages."

"What Gernsback had stumbled upon was the fact that readers of science fiction are generally not only interested enough to hunt up their favorite literature, but also care enough to comment upon it. Gernsback was not the first one to notice this, but he was the first to treat his readers decently. He started a reader's department, called "Discussions", which proved to be of immense value for the rapid development of American science fiction when other science fiction magazines caught on and introduced their own readers' departments."
Of course this goes directly against our author's earlier musing that readers of this magazine were illiterate, but that is beside the point. The claim here is that Gernsback allowed fandom in the door and they would soon overtake everything.
"This was Hugo Gernsback's main contribution to the field of science fiction, the successful feedback system, creating in time science fiction of high quality, when former fans like Donald A. Wollheim, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, Frederik Pohl, Forrest J. Ackermann and John W. Campbell put the stamp of their own personalities on the genre."
And this is much of the problem with the way things are to this day. None of those writers has an influence that exists today in the "field" and are all relegated to ghettos themselves. This is the main contribution of Fandom to any field it infests. It only exists to constrict the majority to focus on the fetishists instead and the old guard has to be executed over and over. It's anti-social at its best and downright hateful and bitter at its worst. It never ends any other way.

A good majority of this chapter is dedicated to tearing down Gernsback to establish the new narrative that science fiction only got good when "X" got involved. That "X" depends on the year in question and which member of Fandom is willing to make the claim, but it is always the same even to this day.

At the end of the day this entire endeavor has been a waste of time. With the traditional publishers a hair away from collapse and self-publishing and small pubs taking advantage, the gates have never been wider, and many writers and readers are discovering just how much they were lied to and their opinions shaped by those who dedicated themselves to pulling the wool over their eyes.

Tearing down the man who created them? That is necessary.
"Hugo Gernsback has been hailed as "the father of science fiction". He was obviously not. He was the father of American pulp magazine science fiction, with all that implies for good and bad, and the father of science fiction fandom."

Now what did that get him, in the end?

This entire chapter is an attempt to smear the pulps and call them in aberration to a tradition that didn't actually exist when in the first chapter he proved exactly how they did link up. But we're well aware at how Fandom exists to destroy escapism and whatever the wider audience wants to create a kingdom of cards for themselves with the unwashed as their footstools. To do this the man that created them must also be sacrificed at the altar of purity.

Fandom is a hive of locusts that destroy. You have been bred to become one, and it isn't for your own interests, but because it benefits them.

Corporations prefer fans to customers because they will blindly buy and support anything with the right branding. They want you hooked. This is why they created "lifestyle brands" and trash any dissent to their products as a campaign by Hated Political Group X. They want your loyalty so they can get rich off of it.

Creators prefer fans to customers for much the same reason, but with the added benefit of being thought of as a True Artist. You see, an Artist can do no wrong and they are above the common man. They could put out a painting with nothing but a single black dot in the center of the canvas and call it Art and who are you to argue? It doesn't matter that it is objective garbage: you are not the artist so your opinion doesn't count. Your only choice is to be a fanatic over it and call it genius or walk away and keep your head down. They can do whatever they want and never face any criticism. No wonder so many postmodern "artists" got in on the scam.

The only one who benefits from customers instead of fans are the customers themselves. Having a healthy separation between products and the self allows a better perspective on everything, especially art. You are more than your interests, but only you can understand that and make it work. Everyone else wants you in chains to feed them. So why give them that?

This is a symptom of a decaying culture that views art as a weapon instead of art and the person as a social warrior instead of a person. This is why drivel like this chapter was allowed to be printed unchallenged and was left to fester in fan circles for decades despite its harmful nature. Fandom doesn't care about the truth despite how much it pretends to.

While the previous chapter showcased Fandom's destructive and insular worldview on humanity, this one highlights how much they detest their roots. Mr. Lundwell devotes much of his time slamming positive pulp science fiction tales shipped overseas (which were sent with detective tales, westerns, and every other sort of pulp) for "infecting" world literature with its inferior hopeful good vs evil tales instead of his masterful anti-human literature. As if post-war Europe needed more misery.

To do this he must also tear down other countries and their histories as well. It is intensely important to make sure the Word is bolstered over the false gospels.
"Pre-revolutionary Russia had more than its share of pulp adventure magazines, just as bad or worse than their British and American counterparts, very much like Argosy."
I should remind the audience that this is the second time Argosy has been mentioned in this book and not once has the author deemed it suitable to actually explain what it was. But sf magazines that sell far less than it ever has? He cannot shut up about them.

Also take note of the "Pre-revolutionary Russia" bit above. Notice how the fiction became bleak and sterile afterwards with messages at the forefront and entertainment ejected entirely. It is important to be sure the audience is molded, not entertained. It is similar to what happened to post-war Europe and where elites had been trying to send North America for decades. They want misery and they want you to know they have the way out of it. They don't want you to experience wonder when you should be worshiping them.

In the end, this is why this book exists. It's to reinforce the Fandom mutation they had been establishing since the 1940s. It's to convince passersby that they aren't writing those silly rocket-ship stories anymore but have become real literature! Now the serious and smrt set can finally pick up a book in the dusty and infinitesimally small section of the shrinking number of big chain book stores and not feel embarrassment as they read their stories of tri-gender aliens talking about overthrowing a poorly camouflaged stand-in for colonial Africa or slavery-era America. All they had to make sure was that those who liked adventure stories not have them anymore and pretend they never existed in the first place.

Now their book industry is failing with less readers than ever before, and no sign of them ever returning. Once the big publishers are gone then so is all that hard work to stifle the old ways.

Time well spent.

The biggest laugh of this chapter is the repeated assertion that the age of magazines are dead and now we have come to the age of books and therefore everything is as it should be. It is too bad he did not have the foresight to see Fandom being usurped once again and casting his beloved classics in the pyre and leaving them out of print aside from mangled old paperbacks in the used bookstore that get passed over for whatever Edgar Rice Burroughs or Ray Bradbury paperback is there instead. All this progress he brags about was demolished faster than his group buried the pulps.

This is how we get completely oblivious passages such as this:
"I am not trying to belittle the importance of the authors, but between the author and his audience always stands the editor who decides what is fit to print and who finds and encourages new talents. This can lead to situations like the one in the late 1920s, when Hugo Gernsback and other American magazine editors laid down their "theory of limits" for their authors, who either had to go along with them or starve."
For an author that spent an entire book deciding what proper science fiction was I am amazed he was able to write this with a straight face.

We now live in the world of online publishing so we can see what the audience wants even after decades of conditioning by those like our author to tell them what they should not like. And what happened? We soon learned that his version of science fiction is the least popular and the one the audiences rejected. So he is right that editors were gatekeepers, but he does not understand that his gang did just as much damage to his supposed beloved field.

They took it away from the audience and now the audience is telling them flat out what they do not want.

They do not want Fandom.
"When Hugo Gernsback launched Amazing Stories in 1926, he brought science fiction from the book stores and the libraries to the streets, to the sellers of popular magazines. Since he was not an experimenter, he also brought down the quality of the genre to the lowest common denominator of other magazines. The quality of science fiction has gone up since then, and away from the magazine racks, and I find without much surprise that science fiction is back where it started, in the book stores and the libraries, cleansed and purified, perhaps even ennobled, by its time among the slave-gangs of pulp fiction."
The pulp tradition is not new. It did not pop into existence with Hugo Gernsback. Mr. Lundwell already admitted as much in the first chapter of this very book. Adventure stories went back through the pulps into novels and Gothic stories as far back as the earliest known myths. They always existed and they were always meant to excite and entertain the reader.

What the pulps did was continue a tradition of fiction for the common man on the street who wanted just that little bit of excitement and wonder to get him through the day. What the literary set want is to shape his mind to believe the correct thoughts and send the world in the right direction--to do this they need to treat human beings as cattle to be experimented on. One of them follows the original point of storytelling; the other is glorified propaganda.

And we have the statistics. We know what the readers want, and what Mr. Lundwell wants is not it. Fandom is the aberration.

After all, what has their quest ended in? A ghetto of a genre cut off from the largest populace and away from the filthy commoners. The lowest selling "genre" and his brand of it is the lowest selling group in said ghetto. They have done it better than Gernsback ever could!

"As a European, I find myself having a particular love-hate relationship with the American science fiction scene, particularly the side of it represented by its magazines. I was born in 1941, and like many other Europeans of my generation I found science fiction through the writings of Jules Verne and Hans Dominik, and then through American science fiction magazines. It took me many years to realize that there actually was a European heritage of this literature, that the genre actually had originated in Europe--and, in a sense, I felt that America had stolen this heritage, transforming it and vulgarizing it and changing it beyond recognition. A generation of European science fiction readers are now re-discovering their own background, and it is a quite painful process."
This was fairly obvious from the first chapter of this book. However, it is also a lie.

Mr. Lundwell is well aware that the pulps republished classics all the time from Amazing putting in stories by Verne to Weird Tales throwing in Poe. They did this to establish a tone and link it with the masters that Europe had left behind for its crybaby nihilism and self-important arrogance. It is funny that "re-discovering their own background" is what led to the Baby Boomers utterly discarding and spitting on their ancestors, but I suppose that is out of the scope for this criticism.

Americans stole nothing. They merely wrote what Europeans used to: stories that appealed to the masses. This is why so many countries from Russia to Germany to Japan were inspired by the like of Jules Verne and why nothing from our author's era has ever had a modicum of the success he has. In this scenario the Americans were correct because they looked at what the audience wanted and they gave it to them.

The science fiction writers that came from Europe in the 20th century were almost uniformly bitter, anti-human, and miserable, writers. There is a reason only Fandom ever talks about them. Meanwhile we still go on about Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard to this day, and they still sell.

I'm not certain why this is so difficult to understand after decades of the genre being in the toilet but I suppose it must be repeated again.

What Fandom wants is not what the audience wants.

But this is also when we learn why this book exists.
"This book is not an impartial one; no book of this kind is or can be. But European science fiction readers have too many times seen books purporting to tell the true history of science fiction, ending up telling nothing but the true history of English-language science fiction. This, if you will, is the inevitible backlash. There is a world outside Britain and the USA; it cannot be ignored any longer."
For one that spent the majority of the book spitting on Gothic Horror, the pulps, pre-Campbell works, New Wave, and non-Communist Russian works, as well as ignoring important authors and stories to frame a narrative, this is rich.

It is very possible to tell an honest account of the history of the genre. The author simply chose not to do it.

He then goes on a lengthy diatribe about what he is tired of. Among them:
"I am tired of reading about the magazine Amazing Stories as "the first science fiction magazine in the world" and its founder as "the father of science fiction" when I know this is simply not true. I am tired of seeing, year after year, the "Award for the best science fiction novel in the world" being restricted to novels published in the United States, when I know that the majority of new science fiction books are not published there but in Europe. I am tired of checking lists of books in science fiction series in the Argentine, or Japan, or Germany, and finding the same tired old American authors popping up again and again. I am tired of seeing self-proclaimed American and British scholars of science fiction revealing their complete ignorance about everything outside their own countries, confidently acting as if there did not exist a world outside their own. I am tired of Europeans, Asians and Latin Americans actually believing this. I am sick and tired of seeing European countries importing science fiction junk, when our own junk is bad enough."
Throughout this soppy sobfest is the recurring problem of "I am sick of the audience not being smart enough to know they enjoy the wrong things." It never once occurs to the author that maybe American works did the best because even the international audience preferred them? We already know Germany took to space opera like a duck to water. Though Japan also took to Verne very well and they have a pulp tradition that continues to this day. Material gets republished when it is popular. The fact is that the majority of 20th century European literature is not good and the material that the audience wants is savaged by Fandom just as our author has done throughout this book.

But let me tell you what I am tired of.

I am tired of self-proclaimed masters of Fandom deciding what the audience can and cannot buy in book stores. I am tired of authors having their works buried and trashed because of views they had decades ago when they were still alive. I am tired of anti-social losers telling happy and healthy people what is good for them and taking away what is bad. I am tired of being told what I am allowed and not allowed to like due to my genitals and skin color. I am tired of absolute failures being held up as smashing successes despite the audience not being interested. I am tired of everything being made today being made to check boxes at the audience's expense and when a complaint is made they are shouted down by fanatic freaks who stand with billion dollar corporations. I am tired of Fandom.

This entire book has been a secret master of Fandom running defense for a failing genre that was so pathetic it was entirely usurped by single movie that came out months after this book's publication. I have to keep repeating it because of how amazing it truly is. But what that movie did was shine a light on things like this. It is now easy to see what they are doing and what their goals actually are. Entertainment is not the point to them, and it never has been.
"[. . .] I am confident that we will see a more mature literature emerge, one that combines the best of American, British, European, Australasian, Asian, and Latin American into a new and exciting whole. British and American science fiction magazines have done the genre much good; without them I am not sure we would have much science fiction anywhere today. Still, I am happy to see them go."
How very Utopian. If only we could all join hands and end world hunger today. But that isn't how reality works out.

If only he could foresee editors refusing to publish books due to having certain political views, trigger warnings, book workshops, "sensitivity readers" and the glorification of censorship by idiots who still unironically quote Fahrenheit 451 as prophetic, and the state of the dying industry now being swallowed by Amazon. We are more segregated now than when adventure stories were the norm in the pulp days.

This predication never came to pass, because it never could. It was about controlling the field, not letting multiple styles in. We learned this back with Gernsback, and Fandom only made it worse over time.

Now we are left with the joyless, grey husk of miserable stories about bitter people flooding the shelves of the dying book stores.

What a time to be alive.

And that is the legacy of the 20th century genre wars. Nobody won.

This is how Mr. Lundwell chooses to end the book:
"I was one of those science fiction fans brought up on pulp magazines. I still love that particular smell of old, cheap paper slowly disintegrating into dust. I love the lurid Paul, Bergey, Schomburg and Wesso covers, depicting every stupid hack situation you could ever think of. I have yards of these magazines lining the walls of my study, and the all-pervading smell (my wife says stench) of these goodies makes me greet each new working day with renewed enthusiasm. They were a part of my youth, my formative years, the things that fired my imagination once and prepared me for more subtle science fiction. But this is all emotion. I know they are mostly bad, that the writings are crude and the famous artists of the "golden" era less than acceptable by any standards other than those dictated by nostalgia. Let's face it: they were no good. They did much bad for science fiction, and much good, but their time is over. Science fiction remains, warts and all, and our place is not in the 1930s, 1940s or 1950s, but here and now. Science fiction is changing, as it should do, and the heroes of yesterday are the villains of today. Science fiction magazines brought us part of the way, and they did their job well. Now it is time for other ways."
Here is the problem with this statement: nobody gave Fandom or Mr. Lundwell the right to decide any of this for the rest of us. Unlike him, I have no nostalgia for pulp magazines, but I can look at things unclouded by elitist brainwashing and can see that the pulps sold better than anything in the genre has since. There are many authors who put out fun stories that have aged exceedingly well. The pulps, at least their stories of blood, thunder, and romance, were what the audience wanted and it was stolen by a group of self-appointed scholars who decided what they should be allowed to read. Fandom deliberately smothered action, adventure, and true romance, to replace it with social engineering tales meant to educate them to Utopia. You took this from us without even asking. Your way, Mr. Lundwell, has failed.

We are forty years removed from this book, just as the book was forty years removed from John W. Campbell taking over Astounding Stories. Every prediction is wrong. Every opinion is tainted with Futurian stink. Facts, authors, and editors, are left out to frame a specific narrative. And we can all see it. Just what they attempted to do to the pulps back then when can do to Fandom now. And the beautiful part? Fandom actually deserves it.

As the genre fiction world implodes and oldpub self-destructs under its social engineering propaganda the readers and writers are rediscovering what was taken from them, the bodies buried under the floorboards. The pulps are being rediscovered, and not just in an ironic way, but as a valid story-craft that was torn apart by failures who have themselves been buried by their followers. Not only is this book out of date, but it serves as a reminder as to just how much Fandom hates the audience, and how much they took from them. As a time capsule it is quite enlightening.

I don't know how much of this book Mr. Lundwell still believes, but that is irrelevant to this series. He believed it when he wrote it and that is what we must discuss.

He was right about one thing, however. It is time for other ways. It is time to leave Fandom in their nursing homes and walk away to better pastures where the sun shines brighter and the Morlocks are down in their tunnels. It is time for a pulp revolution.

With that we end our journey through 1970s Fandom and shake the dust from our feet. It has been quite the trek and I'm not quite sure what exactly I learned.

There is one thing that should be taken away from this, and that is that fanatics should never be given control over anything. They do not love the things the purport to love but merely their warped interpretation of it that they can use to plaster over the holes in their damaged souls. These are people with their hearts in the wrong places that put themselves over the audience and believe the customers should beg at their feet. They look at their patrons as putty meant to be molded and shaped and not to be communicated with otherwise. Fandom is a cancer on everything and exists purely for itself--it only destroys because it does not live to lift the audience and bring it to a better place but to beat them down and tear apart their world. It is in fact so weak that it can be destroyed by a single movie.

In the end all we have to do is remember the purpose of art and why it exists. Just as humans exist to commune with each other and grow as a society art exists to keep the populace connected and communicating their shared values. It is meant to be social. Art exists to rise the patron and the artist to higher levels while also connecting the two at the same time. There is little like it in this world, and it is something we must fight to keep alive. Those that blur the line between the two, or that exist purely to destroy the Good and Just, are those that should be watched closely and never allowed control. Because if they do gain control everything will be lost.

Simply look around the world of art we have today. Not very happy, is it? Art run by subversives has nowhere to go but inward into their damaged psyches, and that ugliness offers nothing to the world. We have lost sight of ourselves, and this is the art that we get now.

But the future is wide open: that is what the space operas told us is it not? We might still have our problems but there is always the hope of a wider world of stars waiting above to be discovered. A place where faith, family, friendship, and romance, all await us, is one we can aspire to meet. Better days are ahead. With the growth of non-traditional publishing and the death of Fandom the sky is no longer the limit.

And is that not the point of art in the first place?

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Fandom: An Illustrative History (Part IV: Robots and Mechanical Men and Galactic Patrol)

For the fourth part of our series we touch on two of the biggest tropes in science fiction and fantasy, and we deal with what brought them about. Of course because we are being guided by Mr. Lundwell we have to be reminded at just what a great and marvelous time we are (were) living in.

The 20th century was a hot mess of good intentions and brazen attempts to seize the new throne in the expanding wild west of civilization. Whereas it started with wars, sparks of ideas, and hope, it ended in wars, decadence, and pure nihilism. In every respect that counted it was an utter failure. Much of this change came from the shift of existential thinking twisting to focus on the broken, meaningless, and endless, quest for man to finally take his place as master of the universe. Many lives had to be sacrificed for this goal that never happened, and never will, but it wasn't for lack of trying.

Fiction itself changed from being a past-time to entertain the masses and instill satisfaction and optimism as they went about their day building civilization, to being about ways to teach and instruct them their place under the boot of ideas from big brained men that were clearly superior to them. The people were taught to hate themselves, their ideals and their beliefs, and, of course, their past. They were made to look back with scorn towards a world run by fools that was nothing like the magical wonderland of emptiness they live in now.

Science fiction was a particularly useless tool in this endeavor ending in what is known as the science fiction ghetto where friends give each other awards and everyone who has the incorrect view is *miraculously* a terrible writer and is therefore justified in not being rewarded or talked about. One look at the embarrassment known as the Hugo Awards, and how few people pay attention and how small sales are gained from the nominations and winning, would be enough to tell you that much.

So it's when I find a book like Science Fiction: An Illustrated History that I feel a sense of relief. It is not just my paranoia speaking, but proof that the group of Fandom's elite have had a stranglehold on a fractured and small segment of fiction and squeezed the life out of it so hard that the pulp, juice, and even the orange peels, have been ground up into atoms leaving no trace behind. Whatever we had at the beginning of the 20th century was lost by the end, and it was done deliberately.

For example, the next chapter in Mr. Lundwell's book is about one of the 20th century's favorite subjects for fiction: robots. How can they change the way we operate in the modern world and what changes could they bring about? The answers are not as plentiful as you might think, especially from our current position in the neighboring century.

But of course we have to go back to the beginning first. Very early in the chapter Mr. Lundwell takes on a topic that current heads of Fandom are apparently too lazy to look into themselves as this particular bit of science had been settled mere decades ago. That would be the constant and ever-shifting usage of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein as a weapon to politicize science fiction with endless arguments about how badly women are treated in a genre that has never treated them badly. To do this we must blow up a Gothic Horror story to cartoonish proportions in order to exaggerate the influence that it actually had.

The fact of the matter is that Shelley created nothing: she was part of a tradition bigger than herself.
"Some critics think Frankenstein was the first science fiction tale ever written. It was obviously not, but this traditional British Gothic tale with the German Marchen tales proved successful and popular . . . "
You see, the arguments over this always shift. The current masters of Fandom cannot be consistent for even one second.

First it was "the genres never mixed" . . . until it is brought up and shown conclusively that they did. Then it was true that X genre didn't start until Y story . . . when that is easily proven false by the words of those they deem the originators. Then it is changing the usage of words like "genre" in order to get the meaning they want out of the word.

It never ends.

The only reason this happens is so that a small clique can continue playing pretend in their sandbox away from the big dumb mean kids who used to beat them up every day after class in high school. It is personal validation. It is a way to put themselves above others by deifying the raygun romance books they read, all while using terminology and examples from usurpers who can't even keep the story straight mere decades later. The worst selling genre has no claim to elite status: it has a claim to basement and fire sales and being a laughing stalk to anyone watching from the sidelines.

There is a certain level of arrogance about being seen as above the common sheep for diving headfirst into propaganda, not being self-aware enough to realize you have been swallowed by it, then chastising those not spreading the propaganda in lieu of giving the audience what they want. But it wouldn't be Fandom otherwise.

Case in point:
"The robot clanked on in North America, getting more silly and murderous with every passing day, and it probably would have stayed within the realms of the penny dreadfuls had it not been for two now classic works, one novel and one play, that saved this ingenious tool for social commentary from the American pulp jungle (or, rather, saved the robot in Europe. Nothing really happened in the United States until the late 1940s)."
If it wasn't for those blasted pulps giving the audience what they wanted: entertainment instead of a sermon!

Truly if we're being serious, robots have a very limited shelf-life in what they are capable of in stories. There is the everlasting quest for a soul, and there is the man-made monster that turns against its creator. sometimes both in the same story. The audience enjoys both which is why they have stuck around for so long. But as stated in the Monsters section the audience has a particular fascination with the weird and the dangerous. So enemies are the more popular usage of robots.

Not to mention there has been a trend for anti-human authors to use robots to stand in for the oppressed and man to stand in as whatever enemy they have in their heads at the time. This particular approach has never truly stuck with audiences for the same reason that most terrible genre fiction doesn't. The audience doesn't want to be told how worthless they are by people who hate them.

I'm going to be straight, and this will not be a popular view, but I will say it anyway.

The reason audiences and writers of the time were more interested in reading and writing fun stories that expanded wonder and imagination instead of trying to preach messages and change society is because they already had a religion. They already went to church, gave to the poor, ran for political offices, had communities they trusted, ran social programs, and believed in something higher than they were, which gave them a purpose. They didn't need what the elite were peddling.

The audiences weren't pathetic enough to need a story about a robot with the personality of a dish rag or mopey oppressed aliens to give their lives' meaning. They already thought about these things through theology, non-fiction, philosophy, and discussions. They read raygun romances for other reasons: it was to imagine that world of wonder and excitement that they already knew existed. They didn't need stories to paint the numbers in for them.

This is why the most successful stories of the 20th Century are entertainment based works that present a world where the heroic is rewarded and the dastardly is denounced. Audiences are already smart enough to have their own worldviews, they don't need to get them from silly books that will be found for a nickel at garage sales or left in a landfill.

But still this attitude from Fandom persists that they need to create their own religion to fill the void that can't be taken by talking these issues out or reading a non-fiction work or going to church. Still this idea that a low selling subgenre is worthy of being the modern bible of secular thinking. Still the Mediocre Word must be preached.

One look at today's climate is enough to show that it is the wrong approach, and the one audiences want less than anything. What they want is to soar the skies: not be chained by ideology.

With that I'm going to move on to the next chapter. The rest of this one is typical of Mr. Lundwell and will just be treading water should I follow on. Instead, I want to continue from my last point about escapism into the next chapter. This shows the split in difference between the clique and the normal reading audience.

For a case in point of how the existence of Fandom hurts others, see the attempted burying of the subject of the next chapter: Galactic Patrol. This might objectively be the worst chapter in the entire book. That is right, the author wrote an entire chapter based on the only popular version of science fiction: the space opera, and thrashed it.

Of course, as established, the space opera is pure adventure and escapism. There is nothing the customer loves more, so naturally Fandom abhors it. Now, let us see how the audience is wrong.

He begins the chapter using E.E. Doc Smith's Lensman series for creating his definitions:
"... [T]he fundamental fact of any self-respecting space opera tale is that the hero is, literally, the greatest, bravest, most handsome and most intelligent man in the entire universe, a wonder of a man who can out-think and out-draw any being in this universe or the next. He is ruthless when the need arises, but he is always willing to risk his life for blue-eyed and fair-haired WASP females in distress."
Not much in the way of being charitable, is it?

I'm not quite sure what the skin color or beliefs of the women have to do with anything unless the author is trying to imply something sinister about Smith or his work. Not to mention that alien (and therefore, foreign) women are a main attraction of most of Edgar Rice Burroughs' tales. But Burroughs has been quite ignored this entire book aside from an offhand mention or two.

It's about keeping the message on target, not being truthful. Already this chapter is off to a horrendous start via a generalization and attempted tarring of a giant of the genre. That he has to do this should set off alarms for any honest reader.

For now we will let this slide. What is more important is this next part where he describes a passage in the final E. E. Smith Skylark book and compares it to a western.

One might consider this respectful and somewhat accurate. Many action tales have their roots in the warrior archetype, and the cowboy is one that the west is infamous for. It is a fair comparison and once again establishes a link with a long-running tradition. Warriors are men at their peak: brave, strong, and a force to be reckoned with.

What kind of fiction would be poor and miserable enough to defecate on such a person?

Before Fandom took control? Propagandists. I am not exaggerating. But at this point it is to be expected. Demoralization is important to create change, and it is a very useful tool to create social change. Destroying the western is paramount to this.

Mr. Lundwell doesn't let us down. He does his comparison between the space opera and western like this:
"However, E. E. Smith assures us, "No human world was destroyed." This shows that the hero is a nice guy after all, although forced by circumstances to out-do all the mass murderers in history. Whereas the Wild West, or Horse Opera, hero defends the white race and Western civilization with his trusty six-shooters, the space opera hero carries the White Man's Burden on his broad shoulders around the entire universe, killing off everything that appears too alien. The difference lies not in attitude or philosophy, but in scale; at bottom, we still have the age-old desire to externalize evil, to create adversaries that are truly and unquestionably evil. It is too easy to feel compassion for Indians, Chinese or Vietnamese--thorough evil, as embodied in Satan or the Alien, comes closer to the mark. Thus, the space opera tale vindicated a bloodlust that is all too common in this day and age."
There is so much to unpack in this one passage I hardly know where to begin. Nonetheless this is all buzzwords and mantras taken from a classroom with no weight in reality.

Needless to say, he is wrong.

I could explain the nature of evil and why readers enjoy this sort of story once again, but that would be repeating myself. It's easy to say that people enjoy stories where the hero is good and someone to aspire to and where the villains are the exact opposite. That would be true. It's simple dynamics. I'm certain the author would unquestionably assert Adolf Hitler is a pure black hat that deserves no pity. And yet he asserts such people do not exist with idiocy like his above passage. This is a typical trick of moral relativists to assert insane things they do not really believe in order to cover for some vice they do not wish to disclose. But that is hardly the audience's fault.

Whether black and white hats exist or not is irrelevant. This is a story where they do. This is how imagination works, as poisonous as it is for Fandom to admit. To assert that readers (and writers, by extension) read this material because they believe those who think differently than themselves are total demons and wish to see them eradicated is an intellectually childish and outright insane conclusion to jump to.

The author might need to actually talk to someone who reads these stories. A lot of these assumptions are nutty and pure lunacy to an outsider looking in. But since he did the same to Christian beliefs in an earlier chapter I would say understanding his fellow man is not at the top of his list when it comes to being a science fiction scholar. Not when there is subversion and table-tipping to be done.

Now as for charges of genocide and the author's obsessive and frothing hatred of White Anglo Saxon Protestants I can only say it borders on dementia at this point. It is also completely off-topic, though admittedly not off-message. By this point we know which is the more important of the two.

No one who has read a western thinks they are about crushing the Natives and enforcing their values on them because they aren't about that. At all. This is revisionism to try and paint those who lived back in another time (and another continent, as our author is not from North America) as horrible irredeemable monsters who should have their evil influence wiped out. This is fiction, according to Mr. Lundwell, that exists to grind its heel in other peoples and cultures.

At the time of that writing I'm fairly certain he had never read a western. The only people who say these sorts of things about the genre have never engaged in it or deceptively pick outliers to prove their vapid points.

Westerns are about good, normal people living in a lawless land trying to find peace and order while the bad threaten to overwhelm and destroy what has been built. This is battle between extremes on a knife's edge. It's once again a black and white situation which the author hates because his imagination towards such situations is limited. But no, it's an evil racist genre with no good to it at all. Whether he truly believes that or not is hardly the point. He needs the audience to believe it so he can get it out of the way.

The irony of this hatred coming from someone who reportedly doesn't believe in straight black and white morality is blindingly ridiculous. Every time the author uses the term "WASP" it is a code-word for "bad" or "evil" and nothing else. This is ridiculously transparent.

But lastly, the passage is infuriating because it is implying that E. E. Smith is a white supremacist. Why else would he write such works? Mr. Lundwell has already said several times that if an author writes it he believes it, so this is his charge. As stupid and obviously wrong as it is it must be stated anyway. There is a genre to destroy here.

Mr. Lundwell makes his assertion this based on nothing but a shallow interpretation of a genre he has never bothered to understand beyond what his overlords in Fandom wold him to believe about it. In the process he has painted Smith as either a racist, an idiot that didn't know what he was writing, or cashing in on his audience's internalized hatred of the other. No matter how that is read it is an insult and uncalled for.

The chapter has just begun and it is already off the rails.

He then goes on to explain George Griffith's novel Stories of Other Worlds (1900), which is what he considers the first space opera.

It does indeed share much of familiar aspects of the genre from world hopping to martian threats to larger than life heroes and villains. For a moment we are almost back on track again.

Of course the author can't help himself making stupid claims, and this one is a humdinger.
"Here, then, is the mould in which all space opera stories have been cast. Details are different in modern space opera, but the basic attitude is the same. This is apparently what has made this particular branch of science fiction so popular and, in my personal opinion, rather dangerous. Racism and the glorification of violence is still the main ingredient of space opera, albeit usually discreetly hidden somewhere among the mind-boggling space armadas."
Everything is sexist, everything is racist, and you have to point it all out all the time, indeed. This is tin-foil hat territory.

This is the problem with having an ideology as a religion. You see things in other people that they themselves don't see as if you are some sort of psychoanalyst or mind reader. You're not. You do not know them better than they know themselves. You are not a Special Person or Secret King. Especially not in this case where the author does not even know what a western actually is yet feels confident explaining them.

People enjoy things because the aesthetics tickle their fancy on a surface level and the themes resonate on a deeper level. The themes that resonate with audiences are natural and normal. The ones that are carefully concocted in cluttered classrooms by those who use a failed economist's guidebook as their bible are not natural. They are made to subvert, misrepresent, and destroy, so that they may take the place of the original and the agent can be hailed as a genius.

And what else is Fandom's goal but to control?

Starting to see what happened to science fiction? Unless you believe writers and readers of space opera and westerns are simply racist because of a nebulous form of indoctrination that can't be quantified except by those who themselves get their beliefs from admitted subversives and propagandists, that is. Then you might see nothing wrong. But that is a level of insanity that can only be taught.

It amazes that such blatant cultism was allowed in the front door and nobody said anything.

Of course what would be a space opera chapter without the requisite jabs at the audience's intelligence?
"In essence, they were written for boys by a writer that never quite grew up; E. E. Smith is like a child playing with stars and galaxies, without bothering for a second about credibility or morals or anything that could possibly take the fun out of the game."
For a man like Smith who was widely read by scientists and engineers (like Burroughs was) this is a profoundly stupid statement. Few writers in the 20th century inspired audiences to the level he did, never mind raygun writers. And he did it with tales of wonder, excitement, and celebrating the good. Our author has completely missed the point. But what can one expect of someone whose idea of "growing up" is believing exactly the same anti-social drivel as he does.

I have heard tell that E. E. Smith was respected when he was alive, but I have never seen such a dishonest attempt to smear the dead since Damon Knight's offhanded insult of Abraham Merritt's appearance. There is no sense of tradition or respect for those that came before in this industry. How can there be when there is a constant game of thrones going on behind the scenes that no one except Fandom gives two spits about.

Respect for the dead isn't on the author's radar, and neither is it for the, at the time, recently deceased. This is what Mr. Lundwell had to say about Edmund Hamilton who died just as this very book was coming out in 1977:
"Edmund Hamilton (1904-1977) was a surprisingly mature and sensitive author who might have become one of science fiction's most important writers had he not spent most of his time and energy writing blood-and-thunder juvenile space operas is, however, most fondly remembered for one series of space opera novels, rivalling E. E. Smith's novels in popularity."
If only he would have spent his time writing what the clique wanted they might not have tried to keep his works out of print and hard to find over the years. Marvelous. Also, a classy passage to have in this book the very year Hamilton died. He is one of the most important writers of the genre despite this blatant attempt at revisionism before the body has even gone cold. These agents work fast.

Fandom's quest to tinker with the past is a never ending game.

Hamilton is fondly remembered as one of the best writers of genre fiction for those who had ever bothered to read him and was highly influential in the field, even if he didn't write the "correct" books. He was a man who wrote works where genre boundaries didn't matter much and the universe was as wide open with possibilities as his stories were. He was one of the titans of the field, and pretending otherwise is deceit. That he isn't currently in print is a crime.

According to the author, Hamilton's only real competition for the space opera crown was John W. Campbell.
"For some years in the early 1930s Hamilton was competing for the place of the leading American space opera author with John W. Campbell (1910-1971) who produced quite a number of incredible space opera yarns . . . until in October 1937 when he found his true vocation as editor of Astounding Stories (Now Analog), and started an editorial career during which he advocated the ideas of a large number of cranks, notably former science fiction author, now prophet, L. Ron Hubbard, whose strange religion Dianetics, now Scientology, found its first home in Astounding. Campbell wanted to create super-science in real-life; Hamilton was more modest."
It isn't that well known today that Campbell was an author since not long after taking control of Astounding Stories he spent most his time subverting the original intent of the magazine and by 1940 shaking out all the older mainstays in the magazine. But one of these two gets lauded, and the other gets tossed off as a curiosity.

As a side-note, it was Campbell's predecessor F. Orlin Tremaine who picked up and ran E. E. Smith's Galactic Patrol, H.P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness and Shadow Out of Time, and Colossus by Donald Wandrei, among many others in Astounding's pages. Tremaine also wrote stories and contributed to such magazines as Weird Tales and even wrote detective stories. He was also involved in Christian, humor, and many different types of magazines from Crime to Romance throughout his editing career. He did much. It is a fascinating career.

I bring this up because Tremaine has been airbrushed out of most genre discussions as if he was utterly disposable to Fandom. Perhaps he was. He edited and wrote to appeal to a mass market audience and genre boundaries didn't appear to matter all that much judging by what he was willing to publish. He was not interested in turning stories into secular scripture and yet he was responsible for much of what others take credit for. He helped make Astounding Stories a success.

Mr. Lundwell does not mention F. Orlin Tremaine once during this entire book that is meant to cover the genre's history. His name is not even brought up in an offhand manner. This is worth mentioning. That tells us quite a bit about the aims of this work.

Especially when unneeded and rude passages such as this drivel are included:
"A whole generation of American fans who read these stories during their formative years still think Captain Future is the greatest literature ever written."
Or this:
"It also appears that Perry Rhodan fans read very little science fiction except the Perry Rhodan stuff--naturally enough, since Walter Ernstring et al have managed to cram all hack science fiction into this single series."
No citation needed, of course. The smear is more important than the job of a scholar. Fandom approves.

But perhaps the best insult is saved for last. This is a case of missing the forest for the trees so hard that one ends up walking into a lake instead:
"For space opera is, when you get down to it, not a matter of futurism or credibility or literary quality or any of the traits that makes good science fiction good; it is Sense of Wonder in pure undiluted form, the dreams of the absolute, unlimited power as the basis, and gigantism and good versus evil as the main ingredients. It takes place in space and the far future, since this gives ample room for gigantism, but apart from that it has more in common with Wild West fiction than modern science fiction. It is not good literature by any standards, and it is certainly not good science fiction . . . it has always been written by hacks who cared little about what they wrote, as long as they got paid for it."
It is also the only version of science fiction that sells to this day despite Fandom burying the works and keeping them out of print and out of focus except to insult and smear the long deceased writers. There is nothing Fandom hates more than escapism because they cannot use it as a social engineering tool. Reminder that this book released in 1977 just before Star Wars came out to prove this assertion that Fandom hates Wonder. How many tortured explanations of "Star Wars is not science fiction" have you heard? You can safely ignore them all. They were spearheaded by subversives who specialize in destroying the past.

This lie needs to be pointed out, and this revisionism needs to end. Fandom must be called out for the destruction they have enacted. Do not peddle lies by those who hate you.

Space opera is about grand scale happenings in an unlimited world and space where possibilities are endless. It goes beyond the small cracked mirror of the moderns and instead takes place in a frame where the edges are quite nearly invisible and the future is ongoing. Anything can happen in a world where wonder rules and hope reigns supreme, where man can rise beyond themselves to face problems beyond their own petty ones. It is an ode to joy in prose form.

Yes, space opera is more than hack literary fiction with nuts and bolts sprinkled in the cracks by authors begging at the table of New York cocktail party elites: it's about the wide-open future and far-off worlds beyond our own that anyone can reach. One is tiny and warped and the other is big and bright. As God has decreed: the universe is endless! Anything can happen, and everything does. How is that for excitement and wonder?

It is only a shame that Fandom is filled with those who would rather navel gaze about their genitals or petty personal problems they can't talk out with their loved ones instead. They have chosen a small-minded sandbox to play in when they could have whole planets, suns, and galaxies. It is a self-hating thing for a writer to scorn imagination.

Is it any wonder how things got as bad as they are now?

That is all for this part. Next time we reach our final installment! The author once more journeys into the Pulp Jungle and asks the human question, and we will be there with him. There will be more to discuss.

Thank you once again to everyone sharing this series. It has been a strange trip, and it is only getting stranger. We're almost there. One more to go!