Sword and Flower: A Superversive Perspective

In the comments of my review of Rawle Nyanzi’s “Sword and Flower”, Jeffro Johnson asked me this:

Okay, I can see you’re bouncing here. Not gonna argue with that!

What I want to know, though… is how superversive or un-superversive this is in comparison to, say, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, and first season Daredevil on Netflix. Anything strike you as being significant from that angle…?

A good question! After some thought, yes, I think there was an element of superversion “missing”, so to speak. I don’t think Rawle took advantage enough of his concept.

I’ll explain.

“Sword and Flower” is a book about dead people. Literally – the protagonists are all in the “Lesser Heaven”, a place where those who died sudden and violent deaths live out a sort of second life so they can get the fair shot they were robbed of to reach Heaven. Thus, everybody in it is, for all intents and purposes, a ghost.

Specifically here, this is a book about ghosts whose lives were literally cut so short that Heaven decided they didn’t get a fair shake at things.

So, here’s my question for you: What type of a story does this hint at?

This is the set-up for a redemption story. And when done well, a redemption story is perhaps the most powerfully superversive of all.

Let me try to give an example for what could have been done here. There is this book called “The Wish List”, by Eoin Colfer, that I think works pretty well as a comparison piece to “Sword and Flower”.

TWL is an underrated book by Colfer, whose Artemis Fowl series is quite good but sometimes dips it toe in too far in the feminism/environmentalism/gurrrrrrrrl power well. “The Wish List” actually hits a lot of beats in the pulp formula (in fact, Colfer is probably the closest super-popular modern equivalent to a pulp writer). It takes on fantasy from a clearly Christian perspective (in fact, it’s kind of astonishing how unashamedly, 100% Christian it is), it features a clear and powerful good/evil dichotomy, it has dynamic characters who act decisively and face moral dilemmas and, most importantly, it is very, very superversive. Also, unlike the Artemis Fowl series, there really isn’t any sort of feminism in it to speak of, which is nice.

It’s not a perfect book; the Chekhov’s gun used at the end was flashed a little too obviously and a lot of the beats it hit were predictable. But it was all very well executed and the book was fun and heartwarming. I’ll have to remember to do a review of it one day.

I go through all of this to try and show you the parallels. “Sword and Flower” comes at things from a clearly Christian perspective, features a clear good/evil dichotomy, and is about a character who suffers an untimely death at the beginning of the narrative (in fact, both main characters die from explosions!). But “The Wish List” was the far superior book. Why?

“The Wish List” motivated its characters. When Meg Finn reaches the afterlife, she is given a task: Help this man complete his wish list, and you can make it into Heaven. The book turns into a redemption story, as Meg finds that by helping Lowry complete his tasks, she is also atoning for the all of the wrongs she committed in life and learning how to think about people besides herself.

The characters in “Sword and Flower” are – and this will sound odd unless, I think, you’ve read the book – weirdly unmotivated. Dimity is in the Lesser Heaven, but she doesn’t seem to occupy herself with much more than surviving. Mash and the Puritans live normal Puritan lives punctuated with demon fighting. There’s no extra drive there outside of survival and self-preservation.

But the pieces are right there! Dimity gets a second chance in Lesser Heaven. What does this mean for her?

Well, what do second chances ever mean? She needs to atone for something. Maybe she was materialistic, or greedy, or selfish; this can even tie into her leveraging her fame to foolishly accept free money.Now atoning for this needs to drive her actions. What can she do to make up for her sins on earth? What sacrifices will she make? Will she redeem herself? Suddenly Dimity is given a much more powerful character arc.

Ditto Mash. Who is Mash, anyway? Why is he so sympathetic to Dimity and Elizabeth? Well, why is he a part of the Puritans? Maybe he’s so sympathetic because he joined the Puritans intentionally; because he’s ashamed of something he’s done, and believes the strict lifestyle of the Puritans is penance. This makes Mash different, and makes him interesting, and makes it plausible that he would be more interested in defending Dimity than the other Puritans necessarily would be.

I think that this element of redemption – of characters striving to better themselves and the world around them, to atone for their sins, to reach out to the divine – is what would put “Sword and Flower” over the top. The simple A to C story Rawle is telling becomes FAR more powerful when your protagonists have a goal and something motivating what they do.

And it makes it superversive. Redemption stories are about looking past yourself and to something higher and better – if for no other reason than that you want to make yourself higher and better. It means that you recognize a higher moral order that you’ve violated and need to make right.

Jeffro originally brought up “Daredevil”. “Daredevil’s” superversiveness comes from a few places. One is that Daredevil suffers in his fights, and keeps fighting anyway. He doesn’t walk away from fights; he limps, or gets thrown into dumpsters, or is absolutely ripped to shreds. He is beaten down and broken and bloodied like crazy. But he keeps fighting anyway. That’s superversive!

Daredevil remains a human character because he’s still acting like a real person, odd as that sounds. You always know why he does what he does; he’s helping people. He’s saving lives. When a child’s been kidnapped you can understand why Daredevil would allow himself to be beaten half to death if it means rescuing him.

Dimity is never really given the chance to make a decision like that. At the end of the story she does reject a demon’s offer to become an all-powerful god-like creature, but really, he just killed how many people? And implied that he might have raped her? It’s hardly a choice (though I will say that the effort to add in a moment like that is appreciated). Daredevil’s choice is much more powerful: He can walk away, save himself the pain, and nobody would be any the wiser, or really even blame him. But he goes in anyway, because he knows he can make a difference.

So there’s my answer: The lack of character motivation is also a lack of superversion. When characters aren’t motivated, then they’re not striving to improve themselves, and there’s no opportunity to let in something higher or greater. In a Christian cosmology, in a world that’s explicitly designed for people who get a second chance at life, the opportunity for a redemption story is there for the taking. And redemption stories are some of the most superversive of all. This could have been fantastic!

But we never get to see it, and the result feels like finishing a very unsatisfying meal: There’s just something missing…

So we go back to square one: What’s the biggest problem with “Sword and Flower”?

It needs to be more superversive. The story is just begging for it. Hopefully Rawle learns from the experience and is able to give us something more powerful in the future. I look forward to seeing what he comes up with next.

Why “Realism”…Isn’t

Today’s Throwback Thursday is one of my more-popular Superversive posts:

Subversive Literary Movement

Today’s post is a polished reprint of a post I did several years ago. This subject came up in the comments of my last post, so it seemed topical.

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Moments of Grace

or 

Why “Realism” Isn’t

I have never liked dark, gritty, ‘realistic’ stories—the kind that are unrelentingly grim. The kind where there’s no hope, everything is covered in dirt, and terrible things are happening one on top of another like a stack of pancakes. (Sometimes, these stories have a lot of blood or sex, sometimes not.)

For a long time, I could not put my finger on why.

Friends would say, “Oh, I understand, they are too dark for you.” Or “They don’t bother me, I don’t find them scary.” But that did not seem to put into words the impression I suffered when reading/watching such stories.

I wasn’t scared. Something else was wrong.

Oddly, it was a funeral that finally solved the mystery for me.

It was a few years ago. A friend’s father-in-law had died. It was a very sad thing. She had never known her own parents, and her upbringing had been difficult. This man had stepped in and become the father she had never had. His passing devastated her and shook her family. It was as if they lost a mainstay that kept them going. On top of this, they had new responsibilities. They needed to take care of an ill mother-in-law, for whom the father-in-law had been caring.

I was not able to attend the funeral, as I was out of town. What I remember was the looks on the faces of the people who had attended. When they talked about this man, light would fill their eyes. Again and again, I heard how they had not realized, until the funeral, how wonderful this man had been, what an amazing person and father he had been.

This death was a terrible and sad thing, but it touched their lives and brought to them an awareness of something greater. It brought a moment of grace.

I have read stories of soldiers in the battlefield suffering terrible conditions, yet often these stories are accompanied by someone rising above their ordinary circumstance to do something generous, something caring, something brave. Sometimes these events are extraordinary, but not always. Sometimes these are small things…but they are small things that stick in the minds of those who experience them.

Small things that make a difference.

What is missing from dark, “realistic” stories, in my humble opinion, are moments of grace – those precious moments when we see the silver lining of Heaven shining against the clouds of despair.

In real life, when things get bad, that is when we are called upon to rise beyond our narrow view of ourselves and exhibit something more.  In real life, we can always find signs of hope, if one is willing to look. What I don’t like about dark, “realistic” works is that they are stories about people who are not willing to look for hope, and that strikes me as unrealistic.

 

 

Miyazaki Retrospective: “The Wind Rises”

So here we are. Miyazaki’s final latest! film, “The Wind Rises”. What is there to say about it that hasn’t been said about the great man’s other films?

Quite a lot, as it turns out. “The Wind Rises” is one of the most difficult and uncomfortable movies I’ve ever watched. So of course I watched it twice.

The movie is a very, VERY fictionalized biopic of the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the creator of the Japanese airplane the Zero fighter, one of the most remarkable fighter planes of WWII and most notoriously one of the planes involved in the Pearl Harbor attacks. Given this knowledge, a movie that gives an extremely sympathetic, even kind-hearted, portrayal of the designer should be incredibly tasteless at best and horrifying at worst.

Well, perhaps for a normal director, but Miyazaki is no normal director. “The Wind Rises” is many things – an exploration of the role of art in society, the horror of war, the fleetingness of life, and one simple tragedy: In life, there are endings. But one thing it is very much not is tasteless.

As far as the production quality, well, it’s Studio Ghibli. Yet I can’t help but think that the visuals are stunning even for a Miyazaki film; the only one that really comes close on visuals alone is “Ponyo”. Jiro’s fantasy sequences, where he meets with his hero, the (real life!) Italian aircraft designer Caproni, are nothing short of stunning, and Miyazaki’s airplanes (also real airplane designs!) are magnificent. Miyazaki made the interesting artistic decision to have actual humans imitate the various airplane noises rather than use sound effects. It sounds kind of crazy, but it works, enhancing the already vaguely dreamlike feel of the world: This is all happening in a real historical place and time and even with real people, but not QUITE in the real world. This is the real world as imagined by Hayao Miyazaki.

One must be careful psychoanalyzing creators through their art, but after reading some interviews and quotes from Miyazaki it becomes difficult not to imagine Miyazaki’s version of Jiro as a creator analogue. The debates and discussions Jiro has with Caproni in his head don’t actually sound very confident; Miyazaki doesn’t seem overly sure of the answers he’s giving to the questions Jiro is asking. This is actually to the movie’s strength – instead of being lectured at with a message we’re exploring an idea.

You can perhaps say that the main conflict of the movie is reconciling Jiro’s love of aircraft design with Japan’s involvement in WWII. Miyazaki was inspired by a quote from the real Jiro Horikoshi: “All I ever wanted was to make something beautiful”. There’s something highly unsettling about the phrase due to the context – the “beautiful” thing Jiro is making is a WWII fighter plane that was used to kill thousands of people.

In one of the dream sequences Caproni addresses the conflict with this question: “Would you rather live in a world with pyramids or without them?”. When  I brought this up to a friend, he said “Well, no pyramids if it means not killing slaves, right?”

And he’s right! If it means not enslaving people and getting them to work to the bone, then it’s wrong to make pyramids!

But making planes for your country is a little more complicated, isn’t it? Helping your own country in a war is also a matter of patriotism and loyalty. After all, in our own country, draft dodgers are shamed, even if the war is a controversial one. Is it really fair to blame a man for making something beautiful to serve his country?

It’s not an easy question, and Miyazaki doesn’t shy away from it. By the end of the film, Jiro points out to Caproni that every single one of his planes has been destroyed in the war. As he says, flying is a cursed dream; for man to fly is also for man to use flying machines to kill each other.

The heart of the movie is the (in this case, fictional) romance between Noriko and and Jiro. For the first time I’ve seen so far (two films to go!) Miyazaki doesn’t have a strong female protagonist or deuteragonist to go with his male hero (his sister, who becomes a doctor, is a major character but not really on the level of a lead). This really isn’t a bad thing. Noriko is a lovely character, and her romance with Jiro is charming.

And tragic, of course. Noriko and Jiro’s doomed romance serves as another exploration of Miyazaki’s theme of endings, and of balance. Jiro’s love for his wife leads to him to…

…Okay, I’m going to stop here for a moment and talk about briefly why I stalled so long on this section of the review. Because I’ve been stuck, and now I think I know why.

Both times I watched “The Wind Rises”, the romance was actually my favorite part of the film. This is quite rare for me, as I don’t particularly like romances, but this one moved me. For a long time I wasn’t sure why, but I think I do now. It’s because I’ve been making a category error.

I separated the incredible visuals of the film from the storytelling. This cripples some of my language as a result, like talking about what I thought was so great about “Firefly” after passing over the dialogue in the first paragraph. The visuals aren’t separate from the movie, they’re at the heart of it (this was even more the case in “Ponyo”, which was a weaker movie and so leaned – quite successfully – even more on the quality of its animation than “The Wind Rises” does).

The romance is so wonderful because the images we get associated with the romance are some of the most memorable of the film. The umbrella scene – partially portrayed in many of the posters for “The Wind Rises” – is not only charming, but amazingly animated; only Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli cold make fighting over a windswept umbrella so compelling.

Similarly, later scenes intended to build the romance are sweet on their own but coupled with the animation sing with life. One scene has Jiro making and throwing paper airplanes off a balcony to Noriko. The scene is cute in itself but the effects of the wind on the little paper planes is simply stunning, bringing new energy to a simple, quiet moment between the couple.

This energy and life serves the movie well later when Noriko’s illness takes a turn for the worse. Early scenes with Noriko were deliberately set outdoors and in a bright, breezy, almost dream-like environment, but after Noriko’s first health setback everything shifts. The spark of life and energy to the scenes is gone; Noriko spends almost the entirety of the rest of the movie literally lying down. The brightness is gone – there is no sun. Everything is set indoors. There’s no umbrella chasing, no flying paper airplanes.

Much like in “My Neighbor Totoro” some of those earlier scenes seem to have no obvious point, but suddenly when Noriko is framed as the only thing that could potentially unfocus Jiro from his planes – and, perhaps tragically, does not – it all fits, because we saw the relationship, why it formed, who they are, and what makes it so wonderful and special. We know why Noriko puts rouge on her cheeks to hide the extent of her illness from Jiro, and why Jiro makes sure to move so he can be next to her every day. The biggest tragedy of the film isn’t really Noriko’s death; we knew that was coming. It’s that Jiro also knew it was coming but still decided it was worth it to leave town.

In a way, this reframes Caproni’s initial question: Would you rather live in a world with Noriko or without her?

Jiro ultimately makes the decision to leave his extremely ill wife behind for several days to see to his planes, yet in the end his planes are all destroyed, while his wife dies alone.

Was it worth it? Really?

In the end it doesn’t matter. The choices were made. And even while the whole world dies around him, for Jiro, the wind still rises. He must try to live.

And he does.

Jiro Horikoshi lived to be 78 years old. Excerpts from his personal diary made it clear that he greatly opposed Japan’s involvement in World War II.

The Needs of Drama vs. The Needs of Culture

Subversive Literary Movement

In honor of Monalisa Morgan Foster’s kind words about my “Dating the Monsters” essay from Ardeur, this week’s Throwback Thursday is a repost of excerpt she mentioned — possibly my most famous essay:

Sing O’ Goddes of the Eternal Tug of War between Hestia and the Muses!

Of the constant struggle between the efforts to entertain and the efforts to spread a message. In particular, today, this manifests as the divide between what people say life should be like and the way life appears in stories and TV shows.

One of the great needs in dealing with these matters is: the need for proper terms to discuss what is occurring around us. Without proper terms, it is easy to be bamboozled by folks who want to pretend that their way is the only way. Introducing terminology helps make distinctions and aids in clarifying one’s position.

To that end, I would like to introduce the concept of the terms “The needs of culture” and “the needs of drama.”

The below is an excerpt from my essay “Dating The Monsters: Why It Takes A Vampire Or A Wereguy To Win The Heart Of The Modern It Girl” which appears in the Benbella anthology Ardeur.  (An anthology about the Anita Blake books in which you can see yours truly slammed by Laurell K. Hamilton for being a romantic. 😉

I offer it as an introduction to the idea of the Needs of Drama and the Needs of Culture, which I hope to return to in later essays.

ardeur

Anita Blake — A series that went from serving the needs of drama but not of  traditional culture–to serving the needs of modern culture, but not of drama.

Throughout history, a tug of war has existed between the desire to use stories to teach and the desire for them to entertain. At times, such the Middle Ages with its passion plays, teaching has won out completely. [Or so I thought when I first wrote this. I recently found out that there was a lot more to passion plays than I had realized!]

Other times, such as in Shakespeare’s age, entertainment triumphed. (It is amusing to look back and recall that Shakespeare’s plays, which so many children dread reading in English Class today, were written as pure entertainment for the masses!)

The desire to use stories to teach, I shall call: “the Needs of Culture.” Proponents of this are hoping to use the medium of entertainment to lead people to make the choices necessary for a moral, law abiding society. Such societies are great to live in – not fearing that you are going to be car jacked or molested really makes a person’s day! And if we could make our children truthful, upright, and brave through examples in literature, that would be a very gratifying indeed!

The problem is that, most of the time, the more wonderful a culture is to live in, the less interesting it is to read about. A really fine writer can make anything interesting, but few writers achieve this pinnacle of brilliance. It takes a superb writer to make the process of painting a landscape interesting to an outsider. It only takes a writer of ordinary skill to bring excitement to a chase scene with a thief and the Company assassin on ski mobiles in the midst of the Winter Olympics.

In TV entertainment today, the needs of drama often outweigh the needs of culture. We would like to teach our children to be peaceful and chaste, but violence and sex sell. They draw readers. But this does not keep those who would be the guardians of culture for criticizing our entertainment for the places where it falls short of the demands of culture.

So What Are These Needs of Culture?

What are the values those favoring improving the culture wish to put across? Currently, they fall into two categories: traditional cultural values and modern cultural values.

Traditional culture covers the kind of thing listed in the Ten Commandments or the Boy Scout’s Law. It wants people to be honest, upright, brave, clean, etc. The needs of traditional culture require that good guys be upright, bad guys always get their comeuppance, and that the line between the two remain crisply defined.

Modern culture, too, has needs, things it wants drama to portray as good and to encourage in its audience. This desire is so prevalent in our society that it has its own name: Political Correctness. Races must get along. All people, regardless of rank or birth, must be treated as equals. The old taboos are to be laid to rest, no one needs them any more. Nobility and grandeur are to be sneered at, and women must be the equal of men—or better.

What About The Needs of Drama?

The needs of drama are quite different from those of culture. They are ruled by the desire to entertain. Whatever enthralls the audience most, that is what drama requires. Unfortunately for those who would use stories to teach cultural mores, what makes a story entertaining is often directly at odds with what is good or virtuous or politically correct.

Drama is about conflict. It is about breaking taboos, the more shocking the better! Thieves, prostitutes, gamblers, alcoholics, adulterers – all the things that traditional culture does not wish to glamorize make for entrancing drama. But it is not just traditional culture that get trampled. Bigots, class struggles, and inequality among the sexes also makes for excellent storytelling!

Are the people who fear the effect of drama on society starting at shadows? Perhaps, not. Shock value is temporary. The moment you have seen a few stories that violate a particular taboo, that tension becomes old hat. Nobody cares any more. There is no sense of surprise. People do not care if they see the same thing in another movie. They start thinking of that particular behavior as normal, or, at least, as a part of reality that must be endured.

So, those who wish they could guard culture by controlling drama do have a strong argument on their side. But they cannot change the facts; a story that explores boundaries, breaks taboos, is often a better story than one that does not.

Of course, these categories are only generalizations. The same story can serve both forces at different times or support some cultural values while chipping away at others.

 

 

 

Double standards – a “Strong Female Character” retelling of Star Wars

This witty re-imaging of Star Wars by author Monalisa Morgan Foster was inspired by Dawn Witzke’s recent post on Strong Female Characters.

The first Star Wars movie (now called “A New Hope”) opens with a poor farm boy who wants to be a pilot. Luke embarks on what’s known as “the hero’s journey” complete with an initial refusal of “the call” to be a hero, and a mentor. Classic stuff. I’m a fan of the original version.

In terms of plot, we start out with the protagonist reacting to things. Then as the story moves along, the protagonist is no longer just reacting, but calling some of the shots, even if he’s not in charge. This is standard plot-structure stuff. For Luke this midpoint change occurs aboard the Death Star where he appeals to Han Solo’s enlightened self-interest with the promise of a reward.

What does this have to do with double standards?

I’m so glad you asked. I’m going to tweak all the so-called feminists out there who demand that our stories be told through an exclusive “feminist” filter. Why? Because, frankly, I’m sick and tired of their attempts to redefine what makes a strong female character (SFC).

Let’s hop to the end of the prequels and have Ben deliver Leia to her family on Tatooine instead. She grows up on the farm. Let’s give her the same skill set.

Leia is a poor farm girl who wants to be a pilot. But she can’t. Because the oppressive patriarchy, via her uncle, won’t allow it. She’s practically a slave. She has to do chores and she’s not allowed to go out and have any fun. How will she grow to her full potential with such unfairness around her? She has no agency. She’s a weak character because she doesn’t cast off the chains of patriarchy. She’s weak because she doesn’t run away and chooses to stay in such an oppressive environment. So what if the family took her in and raised her? That wasn’t out of love. Obviously it was for the free labor she’s expected to provide.

The uncle bosses her around. She doesn’t get fair wages, or any wages at all. In fact, sometimes she seems like a prisoner as she’s told she can’t leave the homestead until her chores are done. It’s so sexist on Tattooine. The aunt is always cooking. She doesn’t work outside the home. At least she did’t bother to have any kids. Phew! Not barefoot and not pregnant. Go, Beru, go.

Read more…

Seeing the light on romance

Author Monalisa Morgan Foster has posted a very complimentary essay about my “Dating the Monsters” article. It makes an interesting counter to Dawn Witzke’s insightful piece on Strong Female Characters.

——–
I have to admit, the last person I thought I’d see with an essay in Ardeur, a non-fiction book about Laurell K. Hamilton’s, Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series, was L. Jagi Lamplighter.

I’d read several of the books in the Anita Blake series after a co-worker got me hooked. I did not stay a devotee of the series. I honestly can’t recall where the series lost me, and I really didn’t think much of it. Most series romances lose me a few books in. “It’s not you. It’s me.” Honest.

Lamplighter was someone whose reputation I was aware of and whose short stories I’ve enjoyed. I may or may not have read her back when I was reading just for pleasure (and the fact that I can’t recall if I had or hadn’t isn’t noteworthy either, trust me–ask me what I had for dinner last night; go ahead, I dare you!). I do miss the days when I never had to worry about reading-as-a-writer. Reading-as-a-reader is more fun. Honestly, if you love reading, and you’re considering writing, turn back now. “Danger, Will Robinson, danger.” (This is not a condition unique to writing. Beware of turning any avocation into a vocation.) But, I digress…

This enlightening essay is called “Dating the Monsters: Why It Takes a Vampire or a Wereguy to Win the Heart of the Modern It Girl” and here’s a woefully brief excerpt. To my happy surprise, said essay wasn’t about the failings of men. I almost did a happy dance.

Read more…

Pulp and Sci-Fi and Fantasy, Oh My!

This is a companion to my current bombshell post at Castalia House.

First: I’m delighted at the response it’s gotten to far. Lots of comments clarifying various positions was the point of writing it!

I didn’t really get into another point I hope to make: If we can define pulp as a thing, we can define fantasy and science fiction as a thing too.

Here’s the thing. Everybody and their mother knew and acknowledged what hard sci-fi was, what fantasy was, and what hard science fiction was…right up until the pulp rev folks started acting like the difference was difficult to distinguish. I’m not making this up. A whole post was written on how hard SF just doesn’t exist.

(Note, here, all of the things I’m NOT saying, and be careful what views you extrapolate).

The thing is, if it’s difficult and pointless to come up with a difference between science fiction and fantasy, then it’s even more difficult and pointless to define a difference between pulp and non-pulp.

Pulp is a much more nebulous, vague concept. In its broadest sense, it means the stories that were published in the magazines that used cheap pulpy paper – but that’s clearly not the only metric being used. Lots of other metrics have been added on qualifying fiction that counts as the modern day equivalent to pulp.

But from my perspective what we’re calling as a shorthand the pulp revolution is really more of an Appendix N revolution. And it’s silly to act on one hand as if pulp is free from those petty genre distinctions plaguing modern works while at the same time coming up with metrics and definitions to define what is and isn’t pulp. Of course you want to distinguish between genres; you’re just using a new pulp genre you created as your preferred form of fiction.

This is a good thing! If this wasn’t done, then we’d be talking about nothing at all! But it’s what’s happening.

Looking in the early comments (boy did I provoke quite a few comments quite fast) it seems that a lot of people A) Don’t believe me when I point out the many things that have been disqualified from pulp, B) Seem to think that a hard SF cabal is the source of this pushback, or C) Just misunderstand my point completely.

For example, I did not disqualify superheroes from pulp. That happened in the comments of a post where I brought up superheroes; it was Daddy Warpig who did it*. I’ll dig through the many, many comments on those posts to find exact quotes one day, but I’m not making this up wholesale.

Some commenters at least seem to be quite angry, but since I figured that was going to be the case anyway I won’t comment on it. The post was pushback against prevailing wisdom. When DOESN’T that provoke anger?

The other point too, that I’ve continually made, that (at least some) people seem to think I haven’t, is that I support the pulp revolution!

This “war” between the pulp revolution and the superversive movement? It simply doesn’t exist. Heck, we’re getting close to putting out a pulp magazine soon. We want to bring back pulp fiction!

I’ll leave that as the thought to chew on for now.

*To be fair, I should probably qualify that it was the post-Cambellian revolution modern superheroes that were being discussed as not being examples of pulp works; this has understandably lead to some confusion, since Batman has been acknowledged as a pulp character since the beginning. Misunderstandings on that front are really my own fault.