More Tales From Facebook

This was written in response to a half-joking comment that the big message of “Star Trek: Discovery” is that wars are all started by mean and dumb people for petty reasons.

It’s funny, because I’m doing my Big Miyazaki Project, and Miyazaki is obviously VERY anti-war.

The thing with Miyazaki is that wars in his works don’t start over “misunderstandings”. They are SERIOUS, and deal with SERIOUS issues, that are difficult to resolve. I just saw “Nausicaa in the Valley of the Wind” in theaters, and one of the most striking things about it is that the ostensible villains aren’t the ones who send the Ohmu (giant bug creatures, very dangerous) stampeding towards the Valley of the Wind. It’s the group trying to STOP the villains.

At one point a character frustratedly asks Nausicaa “What do you want us to do? Let them do whatever they want?” Keep in mind that the capital city of this character’s country was just burned to the ground by the villains. It’s a legitimate question!

My point – if you strawman all wars as starting from misunderstandings, pettiness, or anger, it becomes impossible to be truly anti-war, because you’re not respecting any of the very real and very serious issues involved. Miyazaki doesn’t do that, and as a result his movies are very powerful. But leftist claptrap often does.

Or Maybe I’ve Been Pulp Rev All Along

Taken and expanded a bit from a Facebook convo asking whether or not there were sources for a conspiracy where Campbell and co memory holed the pulps. Merritt was named specifically:

I think conspiracy is a word that trips up people…I don’t know if you’ll find any secret notes where people say things like “Step 1: Bash R.E. Howard daily”, but you will find…

– John W. Campbell renowned by one and all as the most influential editor in sci-fi history…

…Despite the fact that none of the works of the supposed biggest names in science fiction like Asimov, Heinlein, or Clarke ever reached the fame or popularity of “A Princess of Mars” or “Conan the Barbarian”. So how did they get to be known as “The biggest names in science fiction”?

– And of course, Campbell was the most influential editor of the time. He owned the magazines, where he would mold all of the writers to write “Hard” sci-fi [note: the extent of his influence was later disputed, but what is not disputable is that he HAD influence, and a good deal of it for a couple of decades].

This didn’t work out so great. How do I know that? Because since Campbell took over and the pulps died sci-fi readership has dropped like a rock.

– Damon Knight in his editorials and introductions to books would try and make the time to slip in a little dig at the pulp authors.

I can’t really tell you what it was that made Merritt disappear as thoroughly as he did, except that he was a pulp guy like all the others whatever his reputation, and his works simply never reached the iconic status of Conan the Barbarian or A Princess of Mars. He may have been very, very highly regarded at the time, but he just didn’t have enough force to get out of the black hole. Pretty much only Burroughs and Howard did, and NOT with reputation intact.

The term “pulp fiction” as used today was not created as a compliment, but is used to describe trashy, low-brow entertainment. Until the pulp rev guys claimed it it was only ever used in a positive manner ironically or nostalgically – like the Sam L. Jackson movie. Pulp was lesser.

This stuff isn’t made up. It’s in the language.

 I’ll end it with this – the revelation of the quality of the pulps was a big enough deal that it angered a lot of smart people. Genuinely angered.

Maybe you didn’t hear the stuff they heard about how bad the pulps were…but I did.

 if you don’t see the memory holing of the pulps as having been a serious issue, or the blowing up of Campbell’s rep, then sure, this will all sound silly.

But to a lot of people it isn’t.

I don’t think a bunch of supervillains got together into a room and concocted evil plans; I do think a bunch of folks felt it fit to puff up their own influence while looking down on or sometimes outright disdaining stories feom the past – and that this strategy worked.

Or maybe it didn’t, since you apparently didn’t see this attitude like I did, but I know a lot of folks who seem to think it did as well. And that’s why the pulp rev has gained so much momentum, and why the Campbellians are so looked down upon (even to the point where, yeah, it DOES get unfair). You can talk about changing tastes, but for some reason the “Golden Age of Science Fiction” is Campbell’s era and not the FAR more popular and influential pre-Campbell era.

How did that happen?

Extrapolating from there that Campbell and the Campbellian era writers liked and wanted to push this narrative isn’t exactly a hard sell.

Tales of the Once and Future King pre-order is Out!

Tales of the Once and Future King by [Marchetta, Anthony, Marchetta, Mariel, Nealen, Peter, Schmidt, Matthew P., Newquist, Morgon, Finn, Declann, Shipley, Jonathan, Nachampassack-Maloney, Mandy, Daue, Katharina, Brumley, Bokerah]Tales of the Once and Future King, the new collaborative novel edited by Anthony and Mariel Marchetta and co-written with a combined 20 authors, is coming on September 30, and can be ordered on Amazon today!

Featuring eighteen stories by as many authors interspersed with a post-apocalyptic fairy tale, “Tales of the Once and Future King” is ambitious, fun, and something you don’t want to miss!

It is said that King Arthur will return in Britain’s hour of greatest need.

That time is coming.

Four travelers, searching for the Pendragon, are quickly embroiled in a plot to rescue the beloved of a banished forest lord. And while they concoct their desperate plan a Bard, the new Taliesin, regales them with stories: Tales of Knights, yes, but also tales of robots and vampires, music and monsters, airships and armies – tales to inspire heroism and hope. And when all seems lost, perhaps these tales will be their salvation.

This book is an anthology.
This book is a novel.
This book is a romance
This book is science fiction
This book is a fantasy

This is “Tales of the Once and Future King”

Pre-order your copy now!

The Meaning of Superversive

We depict hatred so we can show that there’s something even more important.

We depict a curse so we can show the joy of breaking it.

What we also need to depict is the boy’s understanding of the girl and the process of the girl opening her heart to the boy.

At the end, the girl probably says to the boy

“I love you Ashitaka, but I cannot forgive humans.”

And then the boy probably smiles and says,

“That doesn’t matter. Live with me.”

That’s the kind of movie I want to make.

– Hayao Miyazaki, project proposal for Princess Mononoke

Coming Soon: “Tales of the Once and Future King”

Prepare yourselves, ladies and gentlemen. We are just a short two weeks away from the release of “Tales of the Once and Future King”, published by Superversive Press and edited by Anthony Marchetta (me), with assistant editor Mariel Marchetta contributing.

So what is “Tales”? Is it an anthology?

Well, yes and no.

Is it a novel?

Yes and no.

“Tales” is something different. “Tales of the Once and Future King” is both.

The main story is a post-apocalyptic fairy tale, and it is a full story – more than a simple excuse to fit other stories in between it, like what is seen in “God, Robot” or the original “I, Robot” that was its inspiration. It has action, romance, knights, vampires, banished kings and fair maidens locked in towers. It’s all there.

But in between it are the stories. And not just one or two. There are eighteen stories from the same number of authors, and they are not just stuck there, but integrated into the main plot. And not just one type of story either. We have your traditional medieval fantasies, yes, but there’s also steampunk, and Lovecraftian fiction, and stories set in the modern day, and stories in space, ranging from a child’s reading level all the way up to young adult.

“Tales of the Once and Future King” is a book with…everything. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

Enjoy the show.

“Coco” and “Spirited Away”

Anyone else see the trailer yet for the new Pixar animated film “Coco”?

Everyone is comparing the movie to “The Book of Life”, and hey, okay.

But I’m amazed that nobody has mentioned that the sequence where the protagonist first enters the spirit world was pretty much taken wholesale from the opening scene of “Spirited Away”.

Yes, “Stuck in fairy land” stories are nothing new. I get that. But watch closely. Individual moments and lines of dialogue from “Spirited Away” are practically just duplicated outright. At one point, our newly transparent protagonist looks at himself and freaks out…just like what happened in “Spirited Away”. Then he yells “I must be dreaming!”…also almost word for word a line in “Spirited Away”.

What’s funny is that I saw this trailer while at the theater to see an airing of “The Castle of Cagliostro”. The movie started with an interview with John Lasseter, apparently a huge fan of “Cagliostro” and a friend of Miyazaki. And after seeing Lasseter gush with the enthusiasm of a ten year old about his love for Miyazaki’s work, I find it hard to believe they didn’t know what they were doing.

I don’t really have anything bad to say here. I just find it interesting. Even the geniuses at Pixar will occasionally decide that copying somebody outright is the way to go, so don’t be afraid to do it yourself as long as you keep things in reasonable limits and attempt to tell your own story.

The Beginnings of Pulp

And a reminder that modern attitudes towards the pulps are certainly not new. This one is for the Castalia crowd.

Here is the estimable Mr. Tom Simon, in part 4 of his essay series “The Exotic and the Familiar”:

Up to the middle of the nineteenth century, while printing was relatively cheap, paper was an expensive commodity. It was made mostly from waste linen, and consequently, the quantity of paper manufactured could never exceed the quantity of linen that was thrown away. (You could make paper directly from flax fibres; but it was much cheaper to let the linen industry use the flax first, and buy up the worn-out linen afterwards.) Men and women made a decent, if undignified, living as rag-pickers – the recyclers of their time. Ragpickers scavenged all kinds of useful stuff from the rubbish-heaps of the world, but their chief stock in trade was linen rags for the paper trade: hence the name of their profession. So long as the supply of paper was limited in this way, books remained a luxury; literacy for the masses, a pipe-dream.

In the 1840s, separately but almost simultaneously, two men invented machines for turning wood into a fibrous pulp. One was a German, F. G. Keller; the other a Canadian, Charles Fenerty. This wood pulp, it turned out, could be used to make paper almost as good as linen-rag paper, and much cheaper. For a few years before this, a few small firms in London had been turning out cheap pamphlets containing lurid adventure stories for a mostly working-class audience. The new pulp paper allowed the pamphlets to be printed by the millions, and ‘pulp fiction’ was born. When The String of Pearls appeared, the usual thing was to release a novel in weekly instalments, and charge (in England) a penny for each issue. The stories were not chosen for highfalutin literary quality; they were written to please a large and not very sophisticated audience.

The English upper classes ignored the new medium. The middle classes, who feared anything that might diminish their advantages over the working class, hated it and sneered at it, dismissing all stories so told as ‘dreadful’. This was a calumny. As Theodore Sturgeon would certainly have said, nine-tenths of the penny serials were crap; but then, nine-tenths of the expensive books favoured by the middle classes were crap. The real sin of the penny dreadfuls was not that they were bad stories, but that they brought printed books within the reach of the Lower Orders.

Included in the article is a link to the also excellent G.K. Chesterton essay “A Defence of Penny Dreadfuls”.

Read the whole thing after the link! It is truly an excellent essay, as is the norm with Mr. Simon.