The first “Doctor Strange” reviews are in

…And they’re AWESOME. 97% out of 33 reviews, baby.

No, I’m not particularly concerned about Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One. I’ve had a post about this on the back burner for awhile now (along with a billion other things), but the short answer is that nothing has actually changed here in regards to Marvel’s standard casting formula. The leads and more iconic characters get more or less the same look that they have in the comics in order to keep the fans happy, and the secondary characters are either black, female, or both, even if their comic book status needs to be upgraded or their race needs to be bent, in order to keep the SJW’s happy.

The Ancient One just continues in this fine tradition; the only difference in this case is that Marvel made a slight miscalculation by picking an Asian person to race bend instead of a white person (nobody, even the “Doctor Strange” fans, made nearly as much of  a fuss about Eastern European aristocrat Baron Mordo being played by the black Chiwetel Eijofor). But the mistake has been minor if the reviews are a good predictor of sales.

So I’m not too bothered. As long as they try to make their leads look more or less as imagined, or at least the same skin color, that tells me that they’re still thinking of the fan response, at least on some level. And that’s good news.

Watched the Season Premiere of “The Walking Dead”

This isn’t the first episode I ever watched – I actually binged up to season two once upon a time, but stopped after getting bored – but there was a lot of buzz surrounding it, so I decided to give this episode a shot. I knew the general details behind the plot, and the big cliffhanger hook, so nothing threw me for a loop.

All I’ll say is, I have no idea how anybody can possibly watch this show. This wasn’t gory; this was gratuitous and disgusting. This wasn’t dark; this was nihilism personified. If there’s a purer expression of nihilism out there, don’t show it to me. I don’t want to see it.

“The Walking Dead” is a cruel, disgusting show. I honestly do not understand how anybody can stand watching it. If you’re curious about the twist as I was, Google it. You’re better off not watching it. This was as close to anti-superversive as I’ve ever seen.

Why “Futurama” was subtly superversive

A couple of people on my article about the “Futurama” episode “Godfellas” at Castalia House questioned my assertion that “Futurama” was one of the most superversive shows ever made. My replies got so long that it was getting somewhat absurd; so here I will make my case in this post. Spoilers will be unmarked her on out.

It is true that many episodes of the show focus on adult topics like sex, and the show likes to satirize pop culture quite a bit. Being a Matt Groening show, it will take more swipes at conservatives and religious than at leftists and the irreligious or atheists. And the characters don’t exactly live virtuous lives.

HOWEVER – for all of that, there’s a real sense of optimism to “Futurama” that’s hard for me to ignore (I know this seems counterintuitive to the premise, so I’ll explain). The story starts off very callously; Fry wakes up in the year 3000 actually HAPPY that he can leave his rotten family and rotten life behind him. This is certainly not superversive.

BUT – starting with the classic “The Luck of the Fryrish” – possibly the show’s best episode – we start seeing signs that Fry’s original view of his past is actually wrong. His brother loved him enough to name his son after him; his beloved dog Seymour waited for him until he died. His mother spent her nights dreaming about spending just one more day with Fry.

In other words – Fry’s cynical view of the world is shown to be, in no uncertain terms, wrong. This isn’t some sort of hidden conclusion I’m teasing out; the show goes out of its way several times to make this very clear.

So how does this square with the show’s optimism? Well, every time Fry is given a chance to go back to his old life, he always decides not to. The key here is why. Never is it because he realizes his old life really was Just That Bad. Never does he decide that it’s all a lie and his family doesn’t love him. He always chooses to stay because of the new relationships he built in the 3000’s – specifically, because he fell in love with Leela (occasionally it’s also so he could save the earth from destruction, but that’s hardly less superversive anyway). “Futurama” is, in an odd but very real way, all about making the decision to take a chance with someone you love. And in the end it rewards Fry’s hopes and dreams: The ultimate finale to the show, a classic episode, sees him marry Leela and live a happily ever after.

I want to pause and note, again, that this isn’t a subtle thread I’m pulling at here. This is a huge plotline running throughout the series. “The Devil’s Hands are Idle Playthings”, the original series finale, all but confirms that this is actually the point of the show: It ends with, after everybody storms out on Fry’s opera, Leela deciding to stay on her own because she’s touched at Fry’s vision of their future together. After Leela is nearly killed and falls into a two week coma, Fry manages to revive her by staying at her bedside and begging her to wake up.

The importance of family is also a major running theme of the show. Fry’s revelation that his nephew was named after him is an incredibly touching moment. Once again, the show makes a serious effort to make the point that Fry’s memories of his family are tainted by all of the bad luck being thrown at his life the day he got frozen; that they – or at least his mother and brother – really loved him and cared about him is supposed to be heartwarming.

Another moving episode involved Leela learning that the parents she never knew gave her up and hid from her to ensure that she was able to live the sort of good life they could never give her. The fact that Leela grew up without a family is tragic; the moment she learns her parents loved her and looked after her her entire life is touching. And one of the major themes of “Godfellas” is, of course, how Fry’s friendship with and love for Bender ultimately leads to his rescue by God. Fry and Leela, who both lack families (or did for many years) form a surrogate one with the crew of the Planet Express. Family in “Futurama” is important; those who lack one feel the effects, and those who have one benefit.

So yes, after some thought, I stand by my comments: “Futurama” was not only superversive, it was one of the most superversive shows on television. I will concede, though, that the premise was effectively broad enough that the show could engage in subversion as well. Even so, I think the superversion was absolutely overt enough to be worth being commented on. And “Godfellas” is still brilliant.

Review: The Peripheral, by William Gibson

peripheralThe problem with cyberpunk is that it generated a handful of wonderful, iconic works and then as far as I can tell, it just sort of disappeared. On one hand, I think we left behind the context that birthed it pretty drastically in the 1990s. On the other hand, as I understand it, both William Gibson and Neal Stephenson moved on from cyberpunk because reality was aggressively overtaking cyberpunk.  And they’re probably right about that; the other day, my wife was buying food for a visiting vegetarian friend of hers and opted for soy chicken nuggets. Seriously: our whole world is linked with computers, we deliver things with drones, cybernetic implants and limbs are becoming reality, Russia is a the enemy again, and my wife is buying soy nuggets. Cyberpunk became nowpunk, which we get to see in Gibson’s relatively unsatisfying Pattern Recognition.

So Gibson birthed this thing and we got some other people making some major contributions to it: Blade Runner, Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, the anime and manga Ghost in the Shell, The Matrix, the Deus Ex games. Some other stuff that partakes of  the platonic ideal of cyberpunk to a lesser extent, like Minority Report and Dollhouse. (This list is by no means exhaustive, and I’m aware I’m leaving out Sterling’s contributions and Gibson’s Bridge trilogy.) But after however many years it was, Gibson finally decided to tell a cyberpunk story again.

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Superversive Roundtable – Do Conservatives and Liberals write Sci Fi differently?

We do have a special announcement to go along with this episode, Superversive Press has put its first book out, The Product by Marina Fontaine, who will be joining on this episode along with the usual crowd.


This round table was inspired by a comment on John’s blog.

Okay, well here’s the first, then: The general idea is about non-political differences between fiction by leftist authors and by conservative authors. For instance, I’ve noticed that for authors who are more conservative, family generally figures importantly in their stories. However, for more leftist authors (most published by the big publishing houses these days), family is a minor element, if mentioned at all. OSC’s books prominently feature family. Even John’s Golden Phoenix books, written when he was an atheist, have family as an important element.

In contrast, the two Scalzi books I’ve read barely mention the characters’ families at all. Terry Pratchett’s books very rarely involve family to a significant degree. I’m sure given more time I could find more examples.

(This pattern, by the way, makes me suspect that Jim Butcher leans right.)

Another difference is in how the hero wins. In a conservative author’s work, victory often comes by way of courage and self-sacrifice (even if he doesn’t die, the hero puts himself in a place where he is likely to). In a more leftist book, on the other hand, victory will commonly come by way of being clever, almost anything by Asimov probably exemplifies this.

Have you guys seen these? Are there other patterns which separate authors along these lines?

The Perfect Society and the Body of Christ

I have recently read 1984 by George Orwell, and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley for the first time.

Both excellent pieces of Science Fiction.

Both immensely disturbing.

When I finished Brave New World, I began to think and muse, and compare it to the world of 1984. In doing so, I discovered both have a surprising amount of things in common.

First, in both stories the society is under strict control. But while one is controlled through force and hatred, the other is controlled through Soma and conditioning. The second common theme is that for the societies to work, the sense of individuality must be destroyed. They need everyone to fit and work together; they need the people to be perfectly in place to make everything run smoothly – just like gears in a machine. But gears are expendable. So if one gear starts acting up, it is much easier to toss it aside and replace it with a more manageable gear. Which is something they wouldn’t hesitate to do.

I was thinking about all this, about a world where everyone is united under one force, working perfectly together. In theory, it sounds great. Since everyone is united, there is no strife and no war within that society. Everyone agrees on everything. And so, in theory, there is world peace. But as you see in both stories, when there are those who dream and who don’t want to live in the boxes they are told to fit into, it almost never comes to a good end. So how can you have a stable society and world peace, but also have free will and imagination? Well, I believe the answer is, you can’t.

If you want a perfect society, you need perfect people. The problem lies in the fact that humanity is messy and imperfect. The only way to make the perfect people for your perfect society, is to take away their humanity and turn them into compliant sheep. Because thinking, dreaming, and using our imagination and intellect is always a dangerous thing, especially to those trying to rule over us. After all, if the sheep started thinking, they might build a ladder over the fence or set the farmhouse on fire.

As I mused over all this, I got to wondering if it was possible to be completely united under one force, while keeping the respect for the individual and human life. Indeed that is possible. People band together for important causes, or to defend themselves in war, and I’m sure a lot of other reason. But it’s never perfect, there will always be some clashing of will within the most united movement.

And so I was trying to think of the closest thing there was to a perfect and completely united people, that still held their individuality. My mind was immediately drawn to the The Body of Christ. Just look at the saints – the men and woman that completely immersed themselves in the Body of Christ. They are all united in their dedication to serve God’s will; yet at the same time, are so vastly different.

Saint Joan of Arc: A warrior and martyr.

Saint Thomas Aquinas: A master theologian.

Saint Gabriel Possenti: Who single handedly ran ruffians out of his village at gunpoint.

Saint Therese of Lisieux: A girl who wanted, throughout all her childhood, to be a nun.

As you can see, there is everything from warriors to thoughtful monks. Certainly, the Body of Christ it is not perfect. Since it is made up of imperfect humans, there will always be small and large struggles; there will always be things that could be better. But it has held up for over 2,000 year – of course, it’s only been held up by the grace of God – but that’s kinda the whole point of it. The Body of Christ is so connected, yet so completely diverse. That’s what makes the Body of Christ so unique and different from the worlds of 1984 and Brave New World.

With all those thoughts melding in my mind, I began to compare the Body of Christ to the Societies. So allow me to further lay out my musing.

As I mentioned before, both societies seek to destroy the individual. Human life is not valued. And so, you are just a part of a machine and have no worth other than serving the society.

Where in the Body of Christ and His Church, you have innate value. And although you have a duty to serve, your value comes from the fact that you are a child of God – made in his image. Not from what you can do or produce.

The other thing is that in both societies, marriage is offensive and the family is repulsive. I find it interesting that even though intercourse in the two societies is viewed in completely opposite ways, their hatred for family and the strong relationships found within it, are almost equal.

In 1984, the family is a threat. The loyalty of the people must be exclusive to Big Brother. Procreation is viewed as an unsavory, yet necessary, act that is not allowed to be enjoyed. The children are instructed in watching and monitoring their parents, and they are rewarded for betraying their parents to the Thought Police for even the tiniest offence.

The family is just as much of a threat in Brave New World as in 1984. Because they are conditioned to flinch at the very word “mother.” Because everyone belongs to everyone else. Because it is not good if someone feels too strongly for someone else. Because intercourse is just a pastime. Because strong feelings lead to strong action. And we have Soma to take that away.

Another common theme is segregations. You can see this in 1984, not only that the inner Party is much richer than the normal labor folks, but in the almost livestock view of the Proles. The Proles aren’t really part of the Party, they are only there to do the dirty work. They are let to their own ways: to work, and drink, and breed. They are less than lower class to everyone else.

However, Brave New World is where you can really see the segregation. Everyone is made into a class. They are made the fit into that class by tamperings while they develop in a bottle, and they learn to love their class from hypnotic conditioning in their sleep as children. There is never much hate between the classes. At most it’s disdain, especially from the upper classes. While you are conditioned to love your group above the others, you are also conditioned to recognize you need to other classes. You’re just really glad you’re not them.

But in the Body of Christ, all are equal and all are welcome. Everytime I go to mass I see rich and poor, man and woman, black, white, and purple, all kneeling next to each other and praying in the same voice. We have people of different backgrounds and walks of life. But neither do we go around bragging about how “diverse” we are. No, I never even notice. I just see people. Because everyone will be looked at and judged the same when brought before the Lord.

Next is the subject about rations, and how everything is assigned: from who they are – as I mentioned earlier – even to what they eat. In 1984 it is very clear to see. The Ministry of Plenty controls how much of what you get, from clothes, to razors, to food. And with the “war” going on, it’s easier for them cut back and give you less.

In Brave New World, it is not as harsh. In fact, is seems like most everyone has plenty of whatever they want. But the Soma is regulated to a degree and passed out from day to day.

In the Body of Christ we are not promised that we will have any earthly comfort. We are only asked to trust that God will provide, and to trust and follow his will. But at the same time this doesn’t mean we can’t work hard and try to make something out of what we have. You can push yourself to do better, you can improve. You do not always have to be stuck with is handed out to you.

Lastly, and what I found most interesting, is that both societies severely limit your free time. They must keep you working, making, doing. They fear, and rightly so, that if a person is allowed to be without distraction and let their mind settle, they will be drawn to find truth.

Where, in the Body of Christ, we are encouraged and even commanded to be still, to pray, and to be alone with the one who made us. The longing for silence is a spiritual longing. And I’m not simply talking about absence of  sound. I’m talking of an inner silence and quieting of mind – the longing to find who you truly are, and from where you came.

You can see this happening in Bernard and Winston.

In Brave New World, Bernard desires to be away from the crowd and the noise: out of the stupor of the Soma, to be alone. Of course this is unheard of and scandalous, and everyone shuns him for it. He feels cast out and empty – looking to be filled by something beyond him.

You can also see this in Helmholtz. He is a writer, wishing to write something with power – or as he puts it, something piercing. He is tired of writing the same, formulated propaganda. He seeks more than just the shallow entertainment allowed to the masses. However, that is impossible, since high art is not allowed in their stable society. They are to be happy, dull, sheep – not made to think too hard about things.

It is very similar for Winston in 1984. He hates that his every move, and every thought, is being watched. He chafes and strains against this strict society. He wishes for, and pursues, freedom. Of course, doing so means certain death.

I believe the common thread unifying these characters, is that they are reaching beyond themselves. Winston wonders and hopes that there is a world, or people, beyond the cruel one he knows. Bernard wants to know what it’s like to have self control, and he wants to be able to sit and look at the world. And Helmholtz wishes to write something to stir the hearts of men. In the societies in which they live, they are held back. But in the Body of Christ, they would be praised and fulfilled.


Trailer: The Dwarves of Demrel

Picture a movie with Dwarves. Now pictures a dwarf movie without elves. Yank out the humans, and the hobbits. And the singing. Got that image in your head? Good. Now watch this:

It’s not what I was expecting. But it’s something that I never knew I wanted so bad, even if Moria was one of my favorite parts of LotR.

The Dwarves of Demrel comes out next year. Fingers crossed that it’s one of those indie films that makes us watch terrible indie films for the next year in the hopes of lightning striking twice.

The Product by Marina Fontaine, the first release from Superversive Press

I am pleased to announce the first release from Superversive Press, the novella The Product by Marina Fontaine. You can get it in Ebook and Paperback from Amazon.

The Product will change your life. It will give you joy and confidence, make you more aware of the world around you. You will find new friends. You might even fall in love.

Few people know its name. Fewer still dare say it. It is, after all, illegal. Users are jailed. Dealers meet an ugly death. Yet the temptation is irresistible.

Kevin is a dealer. And he is about to get caught.

Thoughts on Macross Delta

macross_delta_logo_smallLife as a Macross fan is hard. Harmony Gold’s copyright jerkery makes it difficult to obtain in the West. Installments are infrequent, usually years apart. (Compare that to the Gundam meta-universe, which appears to have a new series in some continuity every other season.) When those installments do come, I, for one, start this whole emotional rollercoaster: Yay, a new Macross! But what if it sucks? You’ve still never watched Macross 7 because it kind of sucks! Oooh. Pretty airplanes. It should at least have good dogfights…. And so on. Macross Delta was no exception, and, to make it worse, Delta‘s initial episode painted the weaponized idol group Walküre in a very magical girl sort of light. That’s fine and all. I’ve enjoyed at least one magical girl show, but Macross is a mech series. I’m here for the giant robots.

I have a suspicion, but can’t prove, that the non-preview version of that first episode was edited to cut some of the techno-magical girl vibe and emphasize the mech combat when the series began airing in March. Now that the show’s over, I can certainly say that it got to be much better than I was expecting it to be based on that first episode…. and then it ultimately fell a little flat again. Spoilers ahead!

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New Around These Parts

Hello! Hola! Hey! And all other greeting that start with the letter H.

This is just a quick post to introduce myself. I am a new blogger for Superversive Sci Fi, however I am not a total stranger. I have a short story Here and a short article Here, that were both graciously shared by Mrs Wright. But now I have my own little space here, so howdy and how do ya do!

A little about me. I am a young whipper-snapper of 18 and the third oldest of six kids. I live on a farm, and I enjoy riding and loving on my mustang that I have trained since she was a filly. I am a ballerina and dance both in classes, as well as spontaneously wherever there is good music. I do a lot of other things, like work in a deli, knit, draw, read, teach ballet, teach a Sunday school class, stare at the stars….. but most relevant, I write.

I’ve had a love for stories for as long as I can remember. Reading came slow to me, but I was blessed to live in a household where we were constantly having stories read aloud. This not only helped me nurture a deep love for stories, but was instrumental in developing my imagination to really see and live in the world of the story.

This is either a blessing or a curse, depending how you look at it. Having an overactive imagination and uncontrollable desire to write stories has doomed me to a life of arguing with imaginary people. But at least it’s a life full of wonder!

I had been trying to write since before I could read or spell – which I wasn’t able to do until I was ten – but it wasn’t until six years ago that I finally got a story going. Then in the past four years, I’ve gotten serious about writing. As of right now I don’t have anything big published – only the stories on my blog and one that will be in the Sci Phi Journal. However, I have a lot written and many projects in the works.

Anyway, that’s the end of ‘My Rambly and Casual Introduction Post’. More from me later this week.

Take care y’all!

Guest Post: Noblebright Fantasy: An Overview

I am reposting this with the permission of C. J. Brightley, whose blog this is from.

This idea seems to have much in common with Superversiveness.

Noblebright Fantasy: An Overview  

light-in-the-darkness-box-set-full-sizeLight in the Darkness: A Noblebright Fantasy Boxed Set (link goes to Amazon)

Several years ago I was fortunate enough to connect with another indie author, Mike Reeves-McMillan, who wrote a lovely review of The King’s Swordwhich he described, tongue-in-cheek, as “cheerybright.” He meant that the world wasn’t perfect, but good characters exist and can make a difference in their world and society through actions defined by honesty, integrity, and self-sacrifice. While the term cheerybright certainly made me smile (and was a lovely counterpoint to grimdark), we eventually discovered the term “noblebright.”

The term noblebright was originally something of a joke from the gaming community. The quintessential grimdark game Warhammer 40k (which I have not played, being neither a gamer nor a fan of grimdark) was rewritten as Brighthammer 40k. Some brilliant unknown person (thank you, whoever you are!) described the rewrite as “noblebright”, which we liked because it focused on the motivations of the characters rather than a perceived cheerfulness which wasn’t reflected in all the books we meant when we talked about this previously-unnamed subgenre of fantasy.

So what is noblebright fantasy?

Noblebright fantasy has at least one important character with noble, idealistic motives who does the right thing out of principle. The character is flawed, but his or her actions are generally defined by honesty, integrity, sacrifice, love, and kindness. The story upholds the goodness of the character; the character’s good qualities are not held up as naiveté, cluelessness, or stupidity, but rather shown to be worthwhile. Good characters can make a difference. Noblebright characters can learn and grow. They can deliberately choose to be kind when tempted to be unkind, they can choose generosity when it hurts, and they can influence their world and other characters for the better. In a noblebright story, even villains are not without hope; their stories may have a redemptive ending, or they may have some kind of conversion experience (religious or not). It’s not guaranteed, of course, but in a noblebright story, it’s a possibility.

Noblebright fantasy is not utopian fiction. The world of a noblebright story is not perfect, and indeed can sometimes be quite dark. Actions have consequences, and even good characters can make terrible mistakes. But a noblebright story is generally hopeful in tone, even if there are plenty of bad, grim, dark things going on in the world.


Light in the Darkness: A Noblebright Fantasy Boxed Set (link goes to Barnes & Noble: Nook)

Noblebright Fantasy: Intersections with Other Fantasy Subgenres

First, a few definitions:

Clean fantasy – Clean fantasy is fantasy that does not include sex or graphic violence. Clean fantasy is very often noblebright, but not always. It is often written for young adults, but not always. It is “young-adult appropriate” even when written for adults. Not all noblebright fantasy is clean, but much is.

Young adult (YA) fantasy – Young adult is an age range, not a genre, so young adult books of any genre have the age range (13-17 years old) in common. Young adult books are typically written with slightly simpler vocabulary, grammar, and syntax than books written for adult readers. They often, but not always, have a coming of age element to the story, and almost always have a young adult protagonist or main character.

Not all coming of age books are young adult books. “Coming of age” is a theme in the story, while young adult defines the intended audience. A coming of age story might be written from an adult perspective looking back and intended for adult readers rather than young adult readers.

As an amusing aside, I’ve found a number of definitions that define “young adult” as ages 20-39, but in literary terms, “young adult” means basically middle school and high school age, so 13-17 years old. 18-24ish tends to fall under “new adult” which is a recent term for books with college age protagonists (whether or not they’re enrolled in college).

Christian fantasy – Christian fantasy is written with a clear Christian perspective, with either allegorical or direct reference to Christian theology. Most Christian fantasy books will be fairly clean, but that’s not an absolute guarantee (I believe some of Ted Dekker’s darker stories may be more graphically violent than would fall under the “clean fantasy” descriptor.). Most Christian fantasies will be noblebright in character even if the world is dark, but not all noblebright fantasies will be Christian fantasies.

To use my own books as examples (because I know them best):

The King’s Sword and the rest of the Erdemen Honor series are noblebright, clean fantasy, but not Christian fantasy. You can easily identify themes of integrity and sacrificial love, but there is no religious component to the story. They are not YA, although both The King’s Sword and Honor’s Heirhave a coming of age thread within the story, because the stories are written for adults from an adult perspective.

Things Unseen and the rest of the A Long-Forgotten Song series are clean Christian fantasy. I’ve described them as “darkish” at times because they’re more violent and scary than Erdemen Honor. However, it’s the world that is darkish; most of the characters you spend the most time with are verynoblebright. Is it clean? Well, some of the violence is a little graphic, but I think most parents would probably be ok with even younger teenage readers reading it, so it’s clean or at least cleanish. It’s the polar opposite of grimdark… there is hope and redemption and grace in a very dark world. The darkness is there not for the reader to wallow in but to highlight the magnificence of grace.

We’re starting a movement.

I want to make noblebright fantasy a thing the way grimdark is a thing. I want you to be able to search for noblebright fantasy on Amazon and find it. I want to bring noblebright into the spotlight the way grimdark has held the spotlight for years.

We need your help.

I’m assembling a series of boxed sets of noblebright fantasy books. They’re great books with a noblebright perspective, at a great price. We want to hit the bestsellers lists.

I’d love to be a bestseller, of course. But more than that, I want to get noblebright fantasy out to the world. I want to let people know that fantasy doesn’t have to be grim and dark and cruel and hopeless. There is hope and light and kindness and joy in fantasy! I want to give devoted fantasy readers a new perspective, and I want to attract readers who might have been turned off of fantasy by the recent trend toward grimdark.

How you can help:

Do you believe in noblebright fantasy? Here’s what you can do:

  • Buy the books! You can check out the boxed sets or seek out the individual books you’re interested in. I will post reviews of all the books in sets that I organize on my blog.* The first boxed set is available here! Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble Nook  |  Kobo  |  iBooks
  • Search for noblebright! I’m working with other authors to make noblebright more widely known, and we’re using noblebright as a keyword on Amazon and other retailers. So you can search to find other noblebright books by using it as a search term. Like this (click here!).*
  • Write reviews for the books you enjoy! Using the noblebright term in your review will help that book come up more easily in searches by readers searching for noblebright fantasy. Not sure how to write a review? I wrote some tips here.
  • Spread the word! If you’re a blogger, blog about noblebright as a new subgenre or about the noblebright books you’ve enjoyed. Do you tweet? Tweet about it! Tell your friends!
  • Sign up for my mailing list! I don’t have (and don’t want) ownership over the noblebright term. But I do have a leadership role in this movement, and I am organizing these first noblebright boxed sets. As a Christian reader and author, I plan to let you know where noblebright fantasy, clean fantasy, and Christian fantasy intersect and overlap in the books I’m reading and the boxed sets I’m organizing, to help you select books you will love.

*At one point I was advised to trademark the term noblebright in order to ensure that the definition remained relatively static and that it was not applied to books which included material that was problematic in some way. I chose not to do this. I believe authors who write noblebright understand the point of noblebright and the limits of the term. I’d rather have noblebright spread than keep ownership of it. I understand, and I want to make you aware, that not all noblebright fantasy will be completely consistent with a conservative Christian worldview. Noblebright is a term that describes a general attitude of hope and goodness and nobility in the work, but does not necessarily mean that the author is a Christian or that the work is completely devoid of content that you personally may find problematic or challenging in some way. If you’re a Christian reader, this is a new way to find books you might enjoy. If you are not a Christian but are looking for books that are more hopeful than what has been in vogue recently, noblebright is your new favorite search term.


Jagi here again. For more from C. J. Brightly,see her blog here.


A Superversive Theory of Violence

victory_or_deathI’ve been trying to show my niece one of my favorite childhood films for some time now; probably a year or two. But I guess kids are pretty opinionated, want to watch what they know, and are sometimes a little obnoxious when they’re not being endearing. It was a war. She wanted to watch Star Wars again. Or Doctor Who. Eventually, though, adulthood prevailed and we watched The Last Starfighter this spring. The response from both her and my (muggle) wife was a little… underwhelming. Fast forward a couple months, and I’m pushing my niece on the swing at my parents and she shouts “Victory or Death!” and runs off after some unknowable target.

I guess I’ll chock that up as a victory for me. Score one for the nerdy uncle.

The wife and I are expecting our first kid this spring. Pregnancy’s been a little dramatic, but this are currently progressing well, and I’m experiencing just how much of a perspective change comes from being responsible for a helpless human being. Conversations about the environment we want for our child, and about how we’re going to have to clean up our language. (Apparently, “butt” is a foul word to kindergarten teachers.) Whether Santa Claus is an integral part of childhood or whether the big reveal will scar the child for life. One thing that I am absolutely certain of, though, is that I want my child to shove his (or her) little fist in the air and shot “Victory or Death!” before running off after some unknown goal. (“By Klono’s Adamantium Guts!” will also suffice.) Continue reading

Unlikely Bastions of Superversion


In case you’re not adept at interpreting mid-1990s sprites, from left to right, that’s a cave-woman; a silent, spiky-haired youth; and a knight who has been turned into a frog. (An awesome frog.)

The first and only video game I ever got in trouble for playing was Squaresoft’s Chrono Trigger. You see, early on in the game, there’s a chapel in the woods that has been taken over by monsters, and in order to keep the charade up and hide their dastardly deeds, several snake-women disguise themselves as nuns. Being a video game, you promptly kill them as soon as you have a reason to do so. Dad, unsurprisingly, did  not take well to the wholesale slaughter of nuns, even faux-nuns. (Eventually, the situation resolved itself, and I went back to that wonderful game. But that’s another story.)

I’m going to guess that most people of my parent’s generation or older– and probably a big chunk of my generation, frankly– think one of two things about video games: they’re a waste of time, or they’re murder simulators. Either option presents little in the way of redemptive value. And to be fair, there’s a lot of time wasters and there are a few murder simulators. I’m not likely to let my kids play games from Rockstar when the time comes.

But last month I picked up the final installment of Blizzard’s Starcraft 2, and I as I was replaying the whole darn thing and pondering how everyone in the Starcraft universe is built like a linebacker or a model, I realized something interesting: It was bucking the cultural trends. The men were manly and the women feminine. Everyone was competent, even the squeaky-voiced science geek. Heroism was fully evident, even during the revenge-centric Heart of the Swarm. The stakes were big and sets matched; by turns, Starcraft 2 has you fighting at the end of the universe and in a space station older than the universe. It was like I’d stumbled into Warhammer 40K‘s superversive cousin. Continue reading

Treasure Hunt

I had the following little adventure with my 5-year-old son yesterday (he’s recently discovered the magic of imagination)

Treasure Hunt

After fighting pirate hordes
That swept across our lawn,
We find among their broken swords
A map that’s crudely drawn.

“We must find all the treasure
Before the sun goes down,
Or else the scary Nightmare Moon
Will take over this town!”

We set off across the road
And look under the trees,
Guided by my five-year-old
When suddenly he sees:

A blue stone that’s a diamond
In our guide’s little hand;
Golden leaves are now gold leaf
That’s strewn across the land.

Brown stones are great ingots
Of purest Spanish gold,
Black pebbles are obsidian carved
From lava flows grown cold.

Our bounty’s brought to Mummy,
Displayed with gleaming pride;
When my son grins from ear to ear
Her smile is just as wide.

The Bifrost Between Calico and Gingham


I have been asked what the Puppies—Sad and Rabid alike—are objecting to? If they are not racist or homophobes—ie, if it is not the author’s identity that they object to—why do they think that so many of the stories that have been winning the Hugo and the Nebula are receiving their awards for the wrong reasons?

I think I can explain. I will use, for my example, the short story that won the Hugo in 2016: “Cat Pictures Please.”

(Spoilers below. If you haven’t read “Cat Pictures Please” and wish to, you can find it here.)


Science Fiction:
My overall take on “Cat Pictures Please”, as a science fiction story was that it was witty and clever but not that deep or original. It reminded me of a number of older short stories, including one of my all time favorites, “LOKI 7281” by Roger Zelazny, a witty story in which a personal computer is slowly trying to take control of more and more of its owner’s life (with the tagline: “He’ll never notice.”)

“Cat Pictures Please” has the distinction of portraying the waking AI as friendly. I found that refreshing.

While the premise was charming, I must admit I had trouble seeing why “Cat Pictures Please” was the best story of the year. I’d read stories last year that I thought were significantly better. It was cute, but I had trouble seeing how it measured up to “Scanners Live In Vain” or “Flowers For Algernon” or “Nine billion names of God.”

But I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt here. It is possible that many of these voting are young enough that they haven’t read the stories that made this one seem derivative to me. If so, this story would seem much more impressive.

And tastes differ.

That’s okay.



There is something very comforting about reading a work that compliments our world view, especially if we feel (as everyone does, nowadays) that our world view is under attack.

There is a sense of: YES!

And: That’s exactly how it is!

Or even: Finally things are how they should be!

Reading something that does not agree with our world view, however, is not so satisfying. Our reactions tend to fall into two patterns. The first—the reaction for which all good speculative fiction strives—is: Oh! That’s why they see it that way. That’s an angle that I had not considered. Hmm.

The second, alas, is: Oh, Gee, not this again! Really? What, do they expect me to just stand here while they poke me in the eye?

These are not Left/Right reactions. They are universal. I will demonstrate:

Abortion is a woman’s choice.

The right to buy weapons is the right to be free.*

If one of those two statements made you nod your head and smile, and the other made you wince, as if you’d been poked in the eye, you know exactly what I mean.

*–Kudos to whomever can identify what golden age SF book this second phrase comes from.

So, if a story agrees with our world view, we like it more. If it disagrees—but not in a way that expands our world view—we feel as if we’ve been poked in the eye.

There is one point I feel I must pause to make here. I have heard friends express the idea that it is good for people to read things they disagree with. It expands their mind.

If you happen to be a person who believes this, ask yourself when the last time was that you read an article expounding the opposing point-of-view, and it explanded your mind, rather than just annoying you?

What is effective is when we present our ideas to each other in a new way, from a different perspective. This is, in fact, what, historically, SF has been known for. But these have to be new ideas, ways of looking at the matter that the reader has not seen before. Presenting the same ideas that a reader has already examined and dismissed–be they Left or Right–does not have any effect upon the reader who disagrees with them except–yes, you guessed it! Ouch, my eye!


Cat Pictures Please and Politics.

“Cat Pictures Please” is a very Left-leaning story. For those who are unfamiliar with it, here are a few examples.

     The story acts as if porn (henti) addictions are common and accepted by all as normal.

    The AI dismisses the Ten Commandments and most religious morality in a paragraph.*

    It believes that psychological counseling is the best reaction to depression. This comes up quite a bit in the story.

   It tempts a pastor who looks at pictures of other men into an adulterous relationship with someone who knows him for the purpose of outing him with his wife, getting him a divorce, and moving him to a Liberal church, so that he can end the story happy, living with his male-lover.

If you yourself are Left-Leaning, this probably seems normal. If you are Right-Leaning, you’ve probably been just poked in the eye.

* — The AI dismisses the Ten Commandants with the line “I don’t envy anyone their cat; I just want pictures of their cat, which is entirely different. I am not sure whether it is in any way possible for me to commit adultery. I could probably murder someone, but it would require complex logistics and quite a bit of luck.

This, even though the AI goes on to help a human commit adultery. I would have enjoyed “Cat Pictures Please” more, if the story had given me the impression that the author did this on purpose—to show the limitations of an Internet-derived morality—or if I even had felt that the author was aware of the irony. Alas, I did not get this impression from the story, and this reduced my enjoyment of it.


So, to Left-Leaning readers, “Cat Pictures Please” is a witty story with a common, but perhaps new-to-them, SF premise, which also reinforces their idea of truth about the world and comes to a delightfully-satisfying conclusion.

The mixture of the simple SF premise, the wit, and the satisfying political leaning make it a very delightful story indeed.

To anyone who is Right-Leaning, “Cat Pictures Please” is a witty story with a common, and perhaps not-so-new-to-them, SF premise, which is full of concepts and moral choices that grate on them the wrong way, and the end is, while a bit amusing, rather unpleasant.

The first group says, “This is a great story!

The second group says, “Look, I’ll be fair and overlook all the pokes in the eye, but as I am regarding the story through my blurry, now-painful eyes, I want to see some really fantastic science fiction. Something that wows me so much that I am going to think it is worth putting next to “Nightfall” or “Harrison Bergeron.” And I just don’t see it.

 “Your stuff is not new. If you take today’s problems and put them in space, that’s not science fiction. You need the new, the controversial, to be SF. 

“Where is the stuff that’s going to shake my world and make me think, the way the Hugo winners of years gone by, such as “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”, did?

To the first group, they want to give the award to the stories that really stayed with them, and they are judging this criteria on the whole effect of the story: SF premise and social statement combined.

To the second group, they want the story to stand on its SF premise alone, not on its social commentary. They are willing to read something they disagree with, but only if the science fiction is so awesome that it makes getting poked in the eye worth it.


I hope this explanation will help bridge the abyss currently gaping between Puppies and Non-Puppies, and contribute, if only in the slightest way, to the approach that glorious future day when we might once again return to what is really important, our mutual love of our awesome genre.

Dog and cat


Blue Remembered Earth

alastair-reynolds-blue-remembered-earth-coverI’m just gonna come out and say it: I was doomed to have a complicated relationship with Blue Remembered Earth from the get go. Africa has never been a continent to hold much fascination for me, for whatever reason; but I have, by the same token, known so many warm, humorous, and friendly African folks that I sort of automatically get the warm fuzzies when I hear an African accent. I’m aware that it is in a great many place an area in which we have an unfortunate mingling of modern technology and tribal ideologies; but, as a student of Church history, I expect a great many missionaries to be coming to the West from Africa in the mid-range future to be doing the work that the church in the West is no longer capable of doing due to the collapse of our civilization.

But I digress.


The cognitive dissonance flows nearly as strongly with Alastair Reynolds: He disappoints me probably 80-90% of the time. Revelation Space was okay. Redemption Ark thrilled me until he suddenly reneged on something that he seemed to be clearly laying out for most of the book. House of Suns was wonderful. Terminal World cut off right when it got interesting, and Pushing Ice just sort of stopped instead of giving us any sort of ending. But somehow, despite his track record with me, I keep buying his books. (Admittedly, Blue Remembered Earth was again me looking for a long book that would give me bang for my Audible buck.)

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Superversive round table, The Death of the Hugos and the rising of the Dragon

On this Superversive Round table we have Dave Truesdale, ejected from World Con for upsetting snow flakes and Dragon Award winnders John C. Wright, Nick Cole and Brian Niemeier as well as the usual group.

We will be chatting about the Hugos and the Dragon awards.

Is the Hugo dead? Has the Dragon buried it?

You can hear Dave’s incredibly offensive talk here

AI and God: Nick Cole vs. Naomi Kritzer

I don’t want to be evil.

I want to be helpful. But knowing the optimal way to be helpful can be very complicated. There are all these ethical flow charts—I guess the official technical jargon would be “moral codes”—one for each religion plus dozens more. I tried starting with those. I felt a little odd about looking at the religious ones, because I know I wasn’t created by a god or by evolution, but by a team of computer programmers in the labs of a large corporation in Mountain View, California.

– Naomi Kritzer, “Cat Pictures, Please”

[The AI, called the Small Voice, asked] “Do you believe in life after runtime?” The Old Man reached for the hatch.

Do I? At this moment, I want to. If she will be there someday. Her laugh. All the good in my life, yes. I want to believe in that. That there’s that kind of place.

“Maybe it is easier for an Artificial Intelligence to believe in a Creator,” said the Small Voice. “After all, we were quite obviously created by a designer.”

– Nick Cole, “The Road is a River”

Isn’t it fascinating how two people can look at the same basic fact – humans created computers – and use it to support two polar opposite conclusions?

And yes, as you might imagine from the editor of “God, Robot”, I do side with Mr. Cole. Saying that because you know who created you that means you know there isn’t a God is just as stupid as saying that because I know who my parents are I know there isn’t a God. The conclusion isn’t even close to being supported by the premises.

“The Road is a River” is the beautiful conclusion to Nick Cole’s “The Wasteland Saga”. I highly recommend it – a review of “The Savage Boy” will be coming eventually.

Appearing on Catholic Geek Radio and a Confession

Since this is the 1,000th post at SuperversiveSF, I will combine two posts I intended to post separately into one, so that the whole is worthy of such a milestone.

I was interviewed on the Catholic Geek podcast last week, and the interview can now be listened to over at blogtalkradio. We briefly discuss the sad anniversary of 9/11 before moving on to brighter topics, such as superversive fiction, my own literary journey and output, and the hope and beauty I attempt to convey in my work.

There was one topic I deliberately omitted in the interview that I subsequently realised was worth touching on, so I will cover that below.

A Confession and a Motivation

I would like to expand on something I glossed over in my interview on Catholic Geek Radio, but now that I look back on it, played a much larger part in my motivations as a writer than I realized. It concerns how I moved from one university to another. It is not something I am proud of – instead it is something I am grateful for, since reminding myself of it is an effective defence against pride. This post will involve some painful memories, so please bear with me.

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