Thursday, March 7, 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. Lundwall 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. Lundwall 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. Lundwall'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. Lundwall'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. Lundwall 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. Lundwall 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. Lundwall'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. Lundwall 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. Lundwall 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. Lundwall 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. Lundwall 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. Lundwall 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 do 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. Lundwall'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. Lundwall 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. Lundwall 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. Lundwall 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. Lundwall 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. Lundwall 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. Lundwall 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. Lundwall, 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. Lundwall 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 they 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?


  1. I enjoyed this series of posts, thanks for writing them!

  2. Excellent post, in fact the whole series is.

    I'm not sure how making something more popular (Hugo Gernsback) turned it into a ghetto or how making its appeal more selective (Campbell) saved it. Don't get me wrong, I grew up on and adored the big men with screwdrivers stuff. I just understand that one needs a certain kind of mentality to do so. Most normal and well adjusted people aren't like that. Being like that is also not a mark of superiority.

    The fun stuff is popular because most normal (and intelligent) people reading for pleasure want to be entertained. It's really that simple. It doesn't make them stupid or unenlightened. It just makes rhem human.

    I'll end with a side note on Norman. Yes he is not the worst offender and yes he is most certainly not representative of the pulps (he actually started publishing in the mid-1960's), but yeah his stuff does go sideways with the pleasure slave thing. It's too bad too because the world outside of that is an interesting one. Norman just gets really fixated on socio-sexual dynamic and it interrupts the narrative.

    1. That is what I heard about Norman, but I've never felt compelled to read his stuff. Sex is just not an interesting subject, especially not in an adventure story.

      But that appears to be the main attraction of much 1960s entertainment and why I just can't get into so much of it.

    2. Norman's stuff is a cross between Edgar Rice Burroughs and (1960's)Hugh Hefner and you aren't missing anything. Adventure stories that are constantly interrupted by BDSM scenes are not very entertaining. As I said, it's too bad.

  3. This has been a great series. And if not for anything else, it's also great that this kind of literay antagonism can spark such thinking. Animosity can be inspiring.

    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?

    Good way to sum this all up.

    1. Thank you! It sure was interesting to go through this.

  4. Thanks for reading and reviewing Lundwall's screed, JD! Your review was thorough, fair, and spot on.

    I bought this tome back in the day in the 50-cent bin at a local used bookstore for its cover. Turns out that the cover was the only thing of immediate value. I couldn't complete reading it for all the contradiction and vitriol lathered on by this ... what I now know to be ... Secret King of Fandom.

    Your review just made the book worth the 50 cent investment. I'm placing a copy of your articles inside the Lundwall opus to ensure your excellent fisking travels with its rather sour source material.

    Lundwall as "warning to future generations" is at least a valuable teaching tool.

    Fandom. Kill it with purifying fire.

    1. Thank you for the kind words!

      When I saw the book on the shelf and flipped through it I just knew it would have some material to talk about. Didn't expect this much, but that's just how it goes. At least the cost was worth it.

      Fandom has definitely got to go.

  5. This series has been amazing. Well done.

    Off topic - I know Trigun is your favorite anime. Keep an eye on the Youtube channel of the Reading Rainbow Emperor. He's graciously letting me put up a video on the show. It's about how I believe most people misinterpret the show as a critique of Vash's pgilosophy when it's actually a reaffirmation.

    You may like it.

  6. This was a great series and I hope you keep going with more essays like this!

    Btw, is there something up with Mr Sam Lundwall himself? I took a look at his Wikipedia page and there's a very fishy header about how libelous and contentious material will be removed.

    That's always a smoke alarm!

    1. Thanks for reading!

      I checked his wikipedia before starting this series and I don't remember such a header being there before. There just isn't much information about him available.

  7. "The women in science fiction are helpless creatures"
    Who? Dale Arden, yes. Jirel of Jory, no. The Red Lensman, no. She knows how to shoot a DeLamiter with the best of them. Dejah Thoris, no. She is a scientist. The Red Martian women are also shown able to knife uppity guards who menace them. Red Sonya, Belit, and various Conan women, yes and no, depending on whether they are pirate queens or dancing girls. Ayesha is an immortal worshipped as a goddess, so that is also a no.