Superversive Music: Eye of the Storm

Link

One of the more interesting bands out there, The Cruxshadows is part Goth, and part Catholic. One might go so far as to say that they are Superversive by nature. Take for example, their song, “Eye of the Storm.” Honestly, look at the lyrics (below the video) and tell me that some verses don’t look like articles from the website.

Images from Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core.

The trials you now are facing,
They are not greater than your will,
For there is nothing under Heaven,
You cannot overcome.
See the door that lies before you,
And know – this too shall pass.
The confrontation of your fears,
In strength drawn from the past.

Where the silent voices whisper,
‘Find the course that is your own,
And however great the obstacle,
You will never be alone. ‘
For I have watched the path of Angels,
And I have heard the Heavens roar.
There is strife within the tempest,
But there is calm in the eye of the storm.

In fragments of an instant,
The chaos has returned,
And all that was left to sentiment,
Beneath the banner burned.
And as that voice was slow receded,
Into echoes, memory,
My doubts were re-ignited,
And fear awakened from it’s sleep.

I believe in what I fight for,
And I have paid for it with pain.
I am here because my contributions,
May help turn this fate away.
And all who stood by and did nothing,
Who are they to criticize?
The sacrifices of others-
Our blood has bought their lives…

This is the moment of truth,
At the point of no return.
Place faith in your convictions,
As boundaries start to blur.

There is no love untouched by hate,
No unity without discord.
There is no courage without fear,
There is no peace without a war.
There is no wisdom without regret,
No admiration without scorn.
There is strife within the tempest,
But there is calm in the eye of the storm…

The pages of our history,
Are written by the hand,
With eyes and ears and prejudice,
Too far removed to understand.
And so the heroes of the ages
Are stripped of honesty and love.
To make them seem less noble,
And hide what we can become.

This is the moment of truth,
At the point of no return.
Place faith in your convictions,
As the boundaries start to blur.

There is no love untouched by hate,
No unity without discord
There is no courage without fear,
There is no peace without a war.
There is no wisdom without regret,
No admiration without scorn
There is strife within the tempest,
And there is calm in the eye of the storm…

There is no love untouched by hate,
No unity without discord
There is no courage without fear,
There is no peace without a war.
There is no wisdom without regret,
No admiration without scorn
There is strife within the tempest,
And calm in the eye of the storm…

There is no love untouched by hate,
No unity without discord.
There is no courage without fear,
There is no peace without a war.
There is no wisdom without regret,
No admiration without scorn.
There is strife within the tempest,
And there is calm in the eye of the storm…

If you find the courage within you,
To face the path ahead,
It matters not the outcome,
If what you will gain instead,
Is a heart deepened in the knowing,
That experience carves the soul,
And the very thing that empties you,
Shall surely make you whole.

Where the silent voices whisper,
‘Find the course that is your own,
And however great the obstacle,
You will never be alone. ‘
For I have watched the path of Angels,
And I have heard the Heavens roar.
There is strife within the tempest,
But there is calm in the eye of the storm.

 

Declan Finn is a Dragon Award nominated author. His “Catholic Vampire romance novels” can be found on his personal website. As well as all the other strange things he does.

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.

lightinthedarkness_fc_r_a

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.

 

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.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/webuiltthatnetwork/2016/09/11/the-catholic-geek-poetry-and-superversive-sf-with-ben-zwycky

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.

Continue reading

Improving on a Perfect Day

An impossible burden is bearable,
an obstinate obstacle moved;
a sorrow is shortened and lightened,
a perfect day is improved;
 
the briefest sweet moment’s eternal,
transient joy multiplied;
you’ll not stay down when you’ve fallen,
you’ll quickly get back in your stride;
 
a difficult journey’s adventurous,
defeat is not always the end;
mistakes are things you will learn from,
you’ll turn round that negative trend;
 
an evil is simpler to bring down,
likewise a village defend;
battle scars heal so much cleaner
when all these are shared with a friend.

Not Forgotten

Not long ago, Sir Nicholas George Winton passed away. Since the heroics for which he is most famous took place less than 20km from where I live, I thought it appropriate that I write a poem about him:

Not Forgotten

The accolade of hero is oftentimes bestowed
Quite carelessly and flippantly, and not where it is owed;
The above cannot be said of those who chose to praise
A certain late Sir Nicholas, who did in bygone days
Observe the signs of his own times, the shadows that unfurled
Of an evil threatening to swallow up the world.

Primarily he saw a throng of innocents no doubt
Marked for extermination, and all with no way out.
All they could do was send their treasured children far away,
In the hope that they might live to see a better day.
But who would take them in, and would the Nazis let them go?
They’d need official invitations to present and show.

For unsuspecting thousands, time was growing short,
With no-one there to help them flee, for fear of getting caught.
That quiet English stockbroker then went where others quailed,
To save so many lives that would have ended had he failed.
Mountainous bureaucracy had to be waded through,
In London and in Prague he built himself a loyal crew.

Together they worked day and night to free all those they could.
Funds were raised, papers obtained, they were doing good;
But war loomed ever closer, and papers came too slow.
Some documents they had to forge and hope it wouldn’t show.
Train after train departed, and many lives were spared
In all six hundred and sixty nine with families were paired

And yet two hundred and fifty more sat waiting on a train,
But war broke out, the borders closed, their hopes were all in vain.
Mr. Winton travelled home and did not tell a soul
Of all he’d done to rescue many from a deadly hole.
Not even his beloved wife; he clearly sought no praise
For all of his heroics back in those disastrous days.

It was by chance that in their attic his wife found a book
In which were written all he’d done and all the work it took.
She shared his secret with the world, and honours poured on in.
Admiration well deserved, not just from next of kin;
For the six hundred and sixty nine he’d saved at great expense
Had grown to fifteen thousand in the generations hence.

Great accolades and titles, and medals he received;
When heaven’s final call came for him, many millions grieved.
Six years past a whole century he had graced this earth,
Now we remember his great heart and life so full of worth.
Let his example inspire crowds to choose the higher way
To heal and help and rescue from the evils of today.

7 ways it may be the end of the world as we know it

Amy Lane has an interesting post up called The Robot Apocalypse And 6 Other Terrifying Futuristic Technology Scenarios. Give it a look its fun.

Let’s travel back in time to 1984. Apple just unveiled the Macintosh personal computer. The Internet wasn’t really a thing. In other news, a cyborg was thrown back through the space-time continuum to kill Sarah Connor, and with it came the first big case of the cyber-heebie-jeebies.

Doomsday style thriller The Terminator introduced a fear of technology to the masses, just as technology was beginning its rapid climb to where it is today. To fear technology in 2015 is to be incapacitated. From drone warfare, to making coffee – robots walk among us.

If you think it’s only paranoid basement dweller types that fear the robot apocalypse, you’d be wrong.

Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has gone on the record a few times to warn about the great robot takeover looming on the horizon.

Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak, has even said that humanity will be reduced to robot pets in the future.

How else could we be trumped by technology? Read on…

Read the rest

Superversive Blog: Guest Post by a Ghost

I am reposting this essay because I love it so much. It was written by Andy Robertson, the man for whom John wrote his Night Land stories.

Mr. Robertson ran a website dedicated to William Hope Hodgeson’s book, The Night Land. Back when all the other magazines were paying 2 and 5 cent a word. Mr. Robertson paid 10…and John writes a lot of words! Furthermore, Mr. Robertson paid in British Pound Sterling, so by the time the check was converted, we had a nice chunk of change–more than enough to buy a major appliance.

At one point, our refrigerator, our stove, and our dishwasher had all been paid for by Mr. Robertson. (Our dishwasher has been replaced twice, but the others are still going strong.)

Last year, Castalia House gathered all John’s Night Lands stories into an anthology. A day before Awake in the Night Lands was published, just about two weeks after penning this essay, Mr. Robertson permanently rejoined his wife. He is missed, but the legacy he struggled so hard to create–and, thanks to him, that of William Hope Hodgson’s–lives on!

Awake in the Night Lands eBook Cover 4 a

The following words are Andy. Robertson’s:

—-

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND by John C Wright: a review

About thirteen years ago, I started a little website.

*****

My wife was only a few years dead then, and she still visited me from time to time.  I would wake up in a bed full of her warmth and musk, and feel her sleeping just beside me.  I would turn over and  kiss her, and she would whisper love sleepily.  I would get up and go to wash my face, and go back to the bedroom to kiss her awake.  Then I would really wake up.

My daughters would come to the door-gates of their rooms,  holding up their arms and saying daddy, and I’d pick one up and snuggle her and take her downstairs to where their grandmother had breakfast ready, then go back upstairs for the other, then grab a bacon sandwich and a mug of coffee and walk down to the train station and go to work.  They waved from the windows till I was out of sight.  I’d come home late and just have time to kiss them goodnight.

It was along hard day until they let me telecommute, and I suddenly had a lot of spare time.

 
*****

There was a man who had a beautiful young wife.
She died, and he dreamed of meeting her again, at the end of time, when the Sun was dead.

*****

I had always been fascinated by the book.  The Final Arcology of mankind, Earth’s Last Citadel, surrounded by an entire universe that had been taken over by Hell.  I wanted to read more stories set in that Land, and now I had the time to do something and a little bit of spare money, I took advice.  I was a subeditor for INTERZONE back then in its glory days, and I had Dave Pringle to explain the legal side of buying fiction to display online.

I set rates and contacted Ranlan.com and waited for stories to come in.  Meanwhile I started the trimmings. Essays.  A gallery of book covers.  Then a little step up: Stephen Fabian’s terrific paintings of the Watchers, illustrations for the 1973 edition of THE DREAM OF X, the abbreviated version of THE NIGHT LAND Hodgson published in the US to keep the copyright.   I was careful to pay Fabian for his work, for these pictures are surely the first example of someone actually adding to the original NIGHT LAND, adding something that will always be connected to it from now on.                        .

Look at them. They do not so much illustrate the story as form a collateral theme.

 

And quite quickly we got our first story, “An Exhalation of Butterflies” by Nigel Atkinson.  This was its basic idea.    Every so often, as a gesture of defiance, the Redoubt turns the production of its Underground Fields over to the creation of  butterflies.  They’re kept on ice for a  few years to build up numbers and then they are all hatched  and sucked up by  the ventilation  system of the Redoubt and ejected Out into the Night.   No practical reason.  Just a gigantic  Fuck You to the forces in the Night and the horror and the darkness.

I thought it was brilliant.  Dave took it for INTERZONE, and I put it online next month.

I tried my own hand and wrote “EATER“.  It was the story of a female Seer, telepathically surveying the Land, who is taken over and used to invade the Redoubt.   The invasion fails and she dies burned body and soul by the  Redoubt defense systems.   It’s a reasonably good tale, and Dave accepted it to run in INTERZONE, and Gardner Dozois gave it a tick mark in his year’s best recommended.  There is nothing special about it, except it was the first time in my life I had ever tried to write a piece of fiction.

The dark, looming, images of the Land had made such an impact on me.  When I started to write stories set in that world, it was as if I remembered a life I had lived in that society, with its prim manners overlaying iron values and its dauntless courage.   I didn’t need to make anything up. I just watched it happen.

Brett Davidson sent me a story from New Zealand with a background that complemented  and extended my own, and I found the person who would be my principle creative partner.   For years we’ve batted ideas back and forth by email late at night.   Other writers joined us and mostly took their lead from Brett and I.   We were building a shared world but one so rich and vivid felt as if we were were discovering something that already existed.  I don’t think I’ve ever had such fun ((while vertical)) in my life.

And then I got a new submission, from John C Wright, which was quite apart from all the other Night Land tales.

I’d written a fusion of  Hodgson’s vision with cutting-edge science, and tried to evoke a credible Redoubt culture, a culture that might really last ten million years.   Therefore my Redoubt was a society of strict moral codes, an actual functional and enforced marriage contract, strong kinship bonds, and sharply differentiated complementary behavior of men and women. ((It strikes me only now that this is mistaken by some readers for archaism. But of course  it isn’t.  It’s futurism.  Or just realism. No society without these values or something like them can survive more than a couple of generations.))  And I’d written of a society rich in technical and scientific knowledge, including as unremarked givens such familiar SF tropes as nanotechnology, cyborgisation, and Artificial Intelligence.   I had some fun integrating these into Hodgson’s “scientific” formulation of reincarnation and psychic predation.

I had done my best to reinterpret the  Night Land as science fiction, and other writers had followed me.   But  John’s story followed his own dreams.

His character names were derived from classical Greek, not generic IndoEuropean sememes. The manners of the society were likewise closely modeled on the ancient pagans. Dozois has called this an air of distanced antiquity, and it works well, but I repeat it’s distinctly different from my own, which is not antique at all. His was not a technically sophisticated society and seemed not to have a scientific attitude to the alien Land that surrounded it. It ran off rote technology and was ignorant of the workings of much of the machinery it depended on. It was doomed and dwindling and dark and candle-lit, a tumbledown place with a hint of Ghormenghast to it. (I know John will hate that comparison, and I apologize). The story was one of childhood friendship, rivalry, disaster and rescue. The writing style was, incidentally, brilliant.

I bought it and published it in our first hardcopy anthology, ENDLESS LOVE. It got into Dozois’ BEST SF and several other yearly anthologies and created a minor sensation. There are still places where the first taste of Hodgson’s work a casual reader will get is the translation of “Awake in the Night” in that year’s Dozois, and the story is an entry drug not only for THE NIGHT LAND but for Hodgson himself and all his work. This was a story which Hodgson might have written if he had been a more gifted weaver of words. John remarked to me at one point that he was surprised at the story’s popularity. I think we both understood that despite its author’s talent, the real power resided in the way it had stayed faithful to Hodgson’s own visions, without elaborating them too much. The whole world could now see and share Hodgson’s original Night Land. They were seeing it through John’s eyes, not mine, but that didn’t matter to me.   This was what I had set the NightLand website up for.

*****
I expected a whole series of tales from John set in his version of The Night Land, but his next story was a radical departure from anything that he or any of the rest of us had ever done. It surpassed not only Hodgson’s talents but, damn it, Lovecraft’s. When I read “Awake in the Night” I felt some envy, but when the ms for “The Last of All Suns” crossed my inbox I felt something like awe.

It’s almost impossible to describe this story without employing spoilers, because there is nothing else like it to compare it to or to hint that it is like. Baldly, then: the universe is in its final contraction, falling back on itself into a massive black hole, the last of all suns. In one sliver of it, life remains: a gigantic starship, millions of years old . On board this Starship,ruling it, are the great powers and forces of the Night, who have been victorious not only in the Night Land they turned Earth into but throughout the cosmos.

To oppose them on the ship there are a scattering of human escapees, their bodies artificially regrown from some ancient recording, their souls compelled to one final reincarnation for unknown reasons. The oldest is a Neanderthal, or something similar. The youngest is an inhabitant of the Last Redoubt. Yet it is now so very much later than even the Last Age of the Redoubt that the entire time span from the earliest to the latest lives of these reincarnated ones is like the blink of an eye at the start of a long, dark, night.

And now what can I say? How can I possibly describe what happens next?  Even if I could, I would probably have to go beyond what is allowable in a review.  As I said, this story is unique.  I can’t describe its plot as “like” anything else.  I’d have to go through it section by section, practically retell it.

Yet certain things can be said.  For example, I can tell you that when these resurrectees talk to each other, their language automatically translated  by some mental trick, their concepts of the universe are so diverse that only method they have to communicate with each other is to employ the metalanguage of myth.  And yet this works, and Wright’s genius effortlessly makes it credible to the reader that it would work.  By selectively recounting the foundational myths of their diverse societies, they are able to discuss their situation, plan their actions, and the plot is rapidly and convincingly advanced.

One recalls the marvelous passage in Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Out Of Time” which lists the enormous range of human societies the Great Race of Yith has plucked its time-swapped prisoners’ minds from.  The dialogue in this story is the sort of language those time-stolen scribes would have had to employ to talk to each other.  And Wright drops a few hints that let us know that “The Shadow Out Of Time” is exactly the ur-SF story he is drawing from here.   Wright excels Lovecraft – Lovecraft  – by this enormous margin; he does not merely list the societies his characters have been plucked from; he gives us their dialog, word for word, and effortlessly makes it believable.

And this is only one tiny facet of a story that integrates THE NIGHT LAND with THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND and goes on to swallow the modern mythos of Lovecraft and Stapledon and most of the GraecoRoman foundational myths of Western society.  And modern physics, as easy as an after-dinner mint.

Finally it comes down to this. In place of a soulless mathematical Episode of Inflation or the mindless flutings of Azathoth, Wright gives us  cosmos that is founded on the pattern of eternal love between man and woman.  And he does it convincingly.  He does it without breaking a sweat or drawing an extra breath.

*****
There was a man who had a beautiful young wife.

She died, and he dreamed of meeting her again, at the end of time, when the Sun was dead.

*****
I am not that man. That man was a fiction. I know death is merely the end, there is no reincarnation, that her presence in my bed was merely dream, and we shall never meet again in any age or realm or dimension,  not hand in hand looking out from the battlements of the Last Redoubt of Man nor anywhere else.

So how can I write about Eternal Love? Is love a laughable delusion, or is it the only real thing? I’m quite an old man now, suddenly and cripplingly ill, but it seems only yesterday that she was in my arms and our lips and hands were always reuniting.  I understand human sociobiology, I took the red pill decades ago, without the help of the Internet.    I understand what they call Game nowadays. I’ve read and admired its accurate application, I respect people who truly are using this to strengthen marriage, but the bloggers with their bedpost  scores and their flag counts are children fighting for bottles of fizzy drink. Love is another dimension. Love is the only thing stronger than death. And I’m writing this as a man who has lost his loved one and might meet death quite soon.

I don’t “believe” in love.  I know.

*****
It’s odd that the one flaw in this, John’s best story, is the portrayal of the Mirdath-figure, the multi-souled narrator’s eternal mate. The story rings like fine bronze when the men from different aeons resurrected in the death starship speak to each other: but it klunks juat a tiny bit whenever she pops up her eager-sex-partner-and-ideal-mother head. Surely the eternal female would in most of her incarnations be an ordinary unexceptional woman only made special by love? But I’m not going to fuss about this.

There is nothing like this story, nothing like it, anywhere else. It is incomparable.

 

*****
John sent us two more stories. They are both good stories, but I’m going to end this review with only brief mentions of them.

“The Cry of the Night hound” concerns a doomed attempt to domesticate these monsters, and were it not for Wright’s ever-beautiful prose and his moving portrayal of his Redoubt society in  (temporary) decay, it might be judged rather improbable.

“Silence of the Night” is a mad,fractured episode that must come from a time close to the Fall.   I think it does not work too well, though the beautiful writing and imagery carries it through.

I don’t know if Wright has written himself out, and said all he has to say about the Night Land. Maybe he has. Maybe not.  (But if you have, I have a theme for you, John, that I think you’ll like, that might rekindle your interest, that might produce something as good as “The Last Of All Suns”. I really do. But I gave it to another writer who has first dibs on it, and he’s doing nothing. If he gives it up, you’ll hear from me.)

Anyhow. I messed up the marketing of “The Last Of All Suns”, and the story fell into an obscurity from which I hope this new edition will rescue it. Now it’s been republished by professionals, along with Wright’s other three Night Land tales, I hope it sells a million copies.

 

*****
A final word.

Did the stuff about my wife with which I stared this review strikes you as forced, unreal?   Probably.  But it was in fact the simple literal truth.  I really did experience that, many times, though I have no doubt it was merely a dream.

Perhaps I could have made this review more plausible by leaving it out, even though it was the truth?  Indeed I could have.   And perhaps in the same way I could have made this review more effective, more believable, by being less effusive, by toning down my praise a bit.  Perhaps I could have.  But I’m not going to do that.   If you doubt my word, doubt away.  But truth is truth, and I don’t see why I should dodge it just to convince you. Buy this book, read the stories, read especially “the Last of all Suns”, and whatever you think about me after reading this review, when you have read the book you will know that every word of praise I give it here is the truth.

– Andy Robertson

REVIEWED

AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND

A collection of four stories set in William Hope Hodgson’s Night Land

by John C Wright

Castilla house 2014

$4.99

ISBN XXXXXXXXXX (to be announced)

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This essay was originally posted at The Night Land.