17 Again Pt 4: The One About Love

 I REALLY like the romance in this. And I say “romancE” not “romanceS” because I don’t consider the fling between Yan and Little Liang to be any more than that, a fling. However, I know it was very real to Little Yan, so I’ll take a moment to say my piece about it.

It was a teenager in love. Fast, intense, exciting, but ultimately shallow. They had nothing really that much in common, only their infatuation and thrill of adventure. They shared some tender moments, but nothing truly deep. However, it’s hard for young hearts to know the difference between twitterpated love and deeper love, and heartbreak is no less painful because of it. Their story is of first love, and first heartbreak. Very suiting for Little Liang and her wild ways.

Now….. Let us talk about the important one. Mao.

Even though Liang and Mao are not actually married, from the very beginning I couldn’t help but think of them as if they were. The way they lived together and interacted around each other, the fact that they’d been together for so long, and how they had grown stale in their routine; everything about them was like a married couple, except for the ring and the kids. But they were not only like a married couple, more importantly, they were like a married couple that no longer wanted to be together.

See, in my view marriage is a very important and sacred union. Something that should be valued and respected. Too many people today treat the status of husband and wife with the same weight of girlfriend and boyfriend. It’s so frustrating to see people take that vow, and then toss it away when they loss interest, or they get bored, or loving that person becomes hard. True love isn’t supposed to be easy. A good marriage takes work from both sides. And that’s what people have forgotten.

That’s why I love the romance between Liang and Mao so much. She didn’t immediately give up on someone she deeply loved and go running off with someone new. Instead, Liang and Mao both have to work, grow, and ultimately come back to each other. To me this is very touching, for it shows perseverance and true love.

I’d like to get further into the character arc of Mao, but first there’s one other character I need to put some light one. Mao’s cute work assistant. She is always fluttering at his arm, and it’s obvious she likes him. Although Mao never expresses direct interest from what we can see, there are times when it’s hinted they might be seeing each other a lot more than work requires. To me, she is just one other thing dragging Mao away from Liang. It’s a subtle threat, but one I’m sure Liang feels. Often one relationship can be broken up by the forming of another. I don’t know for sure if that is what was happening here, but it’s a possibility.

Another thing we eventually see, is the shift in Mao. As I’ve mentioned before, Mao has no confidence in Liang. But then he sees her at the opening of the gallery. He sees her younger self, the one full of spunk and sparkle. This must be the first time he has really ‘seen’ Liang in a long time. He sees the girl he fell in love with.

If you watch him during these scenes, you’ll find he is slow in moving closer to Liang. Walking around the gallery, you see him closely examining her paintings. At the beginning of Liang’s speech, Mao is standing right next to his assistant, who was no doubt his date there, and yet he has all his focus upon Liang. There is a moment when his doubt comes back, when Liang runs away from the stage. But then she comes back, with the confidence of her younger self and the grace of her older self, and Mao is again transfixed. He doesn’t take his eyes off her while she paints, and we even see a little smile from him. The pretty little assistant casts glances at him, but in that moment Mao only has eyes for Liang. This is perhaps one of my favorite scenes of the whole movie. Because in a way, we see both Mao and Liang rediscovering themselves, and each other.

Following this scene, is a car ride and a conversation between Mao and Liang. In which Mao, having begun to realize how special Liang is and how much he’s taken her for granted, apologizes to her. Liang smiles sweetly and says, “You don’t have to apologize. Actually, it’s not all your fault. I just don’t want to stand behind and wait for you to turn around anymore.” This leaves Mao somewhat forgiven, but also further away from Liang than ever.

One other point, that might seem a little out of place at first, is the confrontation between, Mao and Yan. When Liang had went off to ask Ning to inform Little Liang not to waste any more time on Yan – after she had talked to him at the biker party – Mao gets his own revenge. Mao must have found out about Yan, because he comes to confront him….. With a punch. The very small fight scene may seem random, but really it’s not. What it is showing is that Mao still cares about Liang, he is jealous, and he wants her back.

And now we come to the end of the movie.

First we see Yan, sitting on his motorcycle, alone, looking up at a billboard with Liang’s face on it. He stares at it a moment, puts his helmet back on, and drives away.

And then there is Mao.

Liang is enjoying time with Ning and her little family, including the cute twin babies. This makes it obvious thatquite a bit of time has passed, and from the billboards and the smile on her face, Liang is doing quite well for herself. Then Ning notices something on the new. A man is running through the streets naked, trying to win back his love, holding up a sign with her name on it. At that moment, Liang hears her name being called from outside. She runs to the window to see Mao, holding the sign, in nothing but his running shoes, fulfilling the promise he made to her over a decade ago. The movie ends with Ning asking, “Well, are you sure you don’t want to reconsider him?” Then Liang laughs, and smiles down at Mao.

It’s a little open ended, but I think it’s satisfying enough. Liang is able to make something of herself, plus I really like that Liang and Mao come back together in the end. To me, this seems very pro marriage. In that, instead of throwing away the 10 years with Mao to go off with some other guy, Mao and Liang rediscover each other and why they fell in love.

This is very touching. Too often marriage is treated with no more gravity than just regular dating – and that when the going gets tough or boring, it’s easier to break up and move on, regardless of vows. At least, that’s the way I see it in movies a lot of times. It was so refreshing and inspiring to see the bad boyfriend get redeemed! It’s not often you see that, but I loved it! It shows that love takes work, and to never give up.

Realism in Fiction and the Spice of Life.

The hard SF debate has sort of come and gone, and between work, school, and a brand new infant in our house, I kind of missed the boat on it. But I’ve been chewing over “realism” in fiction a lot lately, and I wanted to weigh in.

I tend to prefer a sort of realism to my stories. I love my giant robot anime show, but I tend, as I’ve said, to drift towards “real” robots. Mass produced, engineered military equipment. Things that require fuel and repairs and ammo. Superhero stories have to work very hard for me, because I have a hard time accepting the superhero power set more often than not. I’m quite capable of enjoying something absurd and off the wall, but I’m happier when I don’t have to, say, sit there and wonder if Star Wars even takes place in a universe where space is vacuum.

But why? Why do I balk at giant face-robots powered by fighting spirit and embrace airplanes that turn into giant robots because of alien super-tech? The best thing I can think of is that realism, like “hardness,” is a sort of spice. Some things are great with lots of it. Some are better with little dashes. Some stories work better with it; some work better without it.

I’m a big fan of spicy foods—if you ask people who are not spicy food people. Real spicy food people probably think I’m a wuss, because I find there’s a point, right around the far end of the jalapeno level, where heat starts to make things lose their flavor. When you stop focusing on flavor, and start focusing on heat, you’ve lost the point.

Realism is like that, I think. There’s a time when slavery to verisimilitude makes you lose the point—and I think, like spicy foods, it’s actually a fairly low point.

But what are we using it for? Like it or not, all entertainment is, on some level, a manifestation of the author’s worldview; and as a manifestation of that worldview, meant for widespread dissemination and consumption, fiction has something evangelistic about it, whether we mean it or not. It’s one of the cardinals of the Superversive mindset: fiction has a perspective that is communicated (and internalized).

I’ve talked about the difference between good science fiction and bad science fiction before. To recap:

A good science fiction story will look upward, towards the stars and away from the self.

A bad science fiction story will fixate downward, towards the ground and focus on the self.

Realism can be used in service of either of these sorts of stories. It seems to me that, along with science fiction stories, realism comes in two flavors. I’ve tried to come up with pithy names, but turns out that you can find an already existent idea of  “[X] Realism” for just about any value of X, so I’m just going to call them what I want to call them: Mundane Realism and Superversive Realism.

Mundane Realism is the “bad” realism. It’s the realism of post WWI disillusionment. It takes V’ger’s question and turns it into a statement: “This is all that I am. There is nothing more.” Nothing greater. Nothing beyond our ken. Mundane Realism is the perspective of nihilism, of a deterministic meat machines, of  people who see only problems, who lump people into categories. Mundane realism is the death of dreams—and it’s the enemy of absolutely everyone who loves science fiction. I hate to keep harping on Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora, but I’m going to: it’s the kind of perspective that writes a book about colonizing another planet, only to spend the last third of it with the colonists coming home with their tale between their legs and the message that humanity is confined to one solar system, because anything else is impossible, and should be, because it’s cruel to expect your descendants to struggle for something. It’s the worldview that suggests that no external struggle is worth it or meaningful, that the only thing that matters is the small scale. Screwed up people doing screwed up things. It ignores the transcendentals: Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, because, hey. They don’t exist.

But there exists something else. I’m a theologian by training, and maybe that colors my perspectives. (We seminary folks would call it a “hermeneutical lens.”) Superversive Realism acknowledges that truth. That reality. Not every Superversive story is going to be hard SF—and, in fact, in Hard SF, or Campbellian SF, or Blue SF, whatever you want to call it, it’s probably going to be precluded by the worldviews of many authors. But it’s also not excluded by the nature of the sub-genre.

Consider Interstellar. The film’s pretty far up there on the hardness scale for most of the runtime. Some folks—particularly those of the Mundane Realist ilk—had a problem with the resolution of the film because it “softens” in the last act. All that gushy stuff about love. But I submit that from the perspective of a theology student, Interstellar is a realist film from start to finish. It posits a realist perspective that embraces our best knowledge of the universe’s mechanics—and then opens that up to embrace the theologian’s perspective of love as a motive force. (The motive force; some theologians talk about the Holy Spirit as the bond of love between the Father and Jesus.) Interstellar’s realism—and the strength of its realism—comes in precisely because it knows when to back down on realism. Interstellar recognizes a suprarealism. A Superversive realism.

At the end of the day, the issue is less about realism per se and more about our use of it. Overuse results in a bitter taste—a lingering, foul thing taste you can’t shake. But it’s a useful seasoning when applied with skill—or you’re just not trying to beat someone over the head with it.

17 Again Pt 3: The Meeting of Two Minds

Everything is going well, but it’s not long before a Liang hits a bump. Old Liang overhears Mao saying that he will probably never get back together with her. Deeply hurt, Liang turns to crying and eating junk food. All the while, she is watching the video of herself and Mao on that fateful day when he asked her to be his girlfriend. In her sad frenzy, she accidentally eats one of the chocolates.

Little Liang wakes up, very confused, in a pile of junk food. But then she sees the video that is playing, and she finds out about the younger Mao. She learns about how he said he loved her and that he gave his word that if he ever broke his promise of loving her, he’d run through the streets naked. Little Liang also realizes the inner turmoil her older self has been suffering because of him. For the first time, Little Liang is sober and serious. She realizes that even though she’s seen Mao as a jerk and boring, her older self still deeply misses him and loves him.

Little Liang does something to stand up for her older self, by leaving Mao the CD of that video and a note scolding him about the promise he broke. This makes Mao begin to question, and to remember why he and Liang got together in the first place. He is also reminded of his younger self. Because before this point, Mao has only been interested in business deals. He had little faith in Liang and stayed very skeptical of her abilities. He had only been going along with everything because that’s how Mr. Geo wanted it. But now… What should he think now? My guess about Mao is that it has been far too long since he’s seen Liang as anything more than a docile, house not-wife. He doesn’t even bother remembering what she used to be like. But now that’s starting to change, and so is he.

Liang has been struggling with Mao’s lack of faith in her, but that’s not her only trouble. Over the news, they find out the factory that makes the magic chocolate was hit by a meteor and destroyed. Now, I will admit that it is a bit odd, and a bit overly dramatic, with the whole explosion-by-space-rock. I’ve heard people ask, “Why the heck is that there?” For me, I thought it was hilarious. And the purpose is to give a limited time that Little Liang can be around. That adds just a little bit more conflict, and it pushes Older Liang to take action and get Little Liang to teach her how to paint again. But aside from that, things are going great. Her art has taken off, and she is enjoying herself. Life is going well.

And then she lives the dream of attending the opening of her new art gallery.

In the car with Ning on the way to the event, she decides to eat a chocolate and let Little Liang enjoy this moment. Because, as Old Liang tells her best friend, “She made me who I am.”

Little Liang is perfect for the clapping crowds and photographers. She bounces and glides and waves to everyone. Filled with life, youth, and energy, she gives a charming little speech. However, while on stage, she turns back into her 28 year old self and can do nothing but give the audience a blank stare. Ning saves her by clapping like that was the end of the speech, and everyone joins in.

At that moment, Mr. Geo announces he has a surprise. Liang will do a live painting for them! Everyone cheers as a blank canvas is brought out for her, but you can see Old Liang is seriously nervous. Apparently, no one told her about this. Liang excuses herself for a moment and runs off the stage.

In the bathroom, she is holding up the piece of chocolate. It would be the easiest thing to do, simply hide behind Little Liang’s skill and confidence. However, she hesitates, then slowly sets down the chocolate, deciding she will do this one on her own. Old Liang returns with her head held high. She pauses to hand the chocolate back to her friend, who watches in shock as she goes up to paint as her older self.

This is a very important moment. Up until now, Old Liang has been relying on Little Liang to paint for people, but now she is taking it into her own hands. When Little Liang stands up to Mao it is like she is becoming a little more like her older self: for she is thinking of others and trying to look out for them. Painting in front of everyone is Old Liang’s way of becoming a little more like her younger self: finding her passion and confidence once again.

With only ten chocolates left, but her art doing well and some of her confidence restored, Older Liang gives little Liang the rest of her time to do whatever she likes. At last! Little Liang can go see Yan! She’s been so caught up working, that she’s barely been able to see him, and now she’s no doubt envisioning a great reunion between them! But if only she had the vision to see that Yan had grown weary of waiting for her and moved on. She would have saved herself the heartbreak of see her beloved Yan with some other girl – cozying up with him on his motorcycle.

This time, it’s Older Liang who wakes up to find herself surrounded by junk food. Getting up, she discovers a painting Little Liang had done in her misery. The girl in the painting is crying and gray. Perhaps she even looks a lot like the Liang from the beginning of the moving, which would be an interesting parallel. Now it’s time for Older Liang to stand up for her younger self.

She goes and disrupts the biker’s party to talk to Yan. She asks him why, after she spent all her time drawing for others just so that she could see him, why he would go find someone else? He replied, “If you can’t give me what I want, why can’t I find someone else?” Liang splashes his drink in his face and storms off.

Finding her best friend, Older Liang gives Ning her phone, and tells her to show Little Liang the video of Yan rejecting her. “Tell her not to waste any more time on him,” Older Liang says, then she eats a chocolate.

Little Liang doesn’t listen (big surprise there) and runs after Yan. Banging on his door, she storms into his place. She says that he’s wrong, she can give him what he wants, and begins to try to kiss him and take her clothes off. She assumes when he said, “You can’t give me what I want” he meant physically. But we find out he meant that in a totally different sense. He pushes her away, and his new girlfriend comes up and slaps Liang, saying, “I can follow him wherever he goes, can you?” But the thing is, if Liang was to say yes, she’d be making the same mistake she made with Mao; giving up all her plans and dreams to follow his. So in the end, it’s good she doesn’t end up with Yan.

But Little Liang does not see it this way. She goes crazy, lashing out in an immature way by fighting with Ning to find the rest of the chocolates. Then when she does, she eats them all at once and chases after Yan. She is in love, heart broken, young, and crazy. As you might guess, this doesn’t end well. In other words, she passes out in the train station and falls into shock.

Then comes a dream sequence in which the two Liangs confront each other. Older Liang is trying to call Little Liang; trying to get her to come back. But just as Little Liang is starting to calm down and come, they encounter a wall, and Little Liang starts slipping away again. Out of desperation Older Liang breaks the wall and catches Little Liang. They share a moment together in this dream world, while out in the real world (on a hospital bed)her heart has flat lined.

This is the moment where the two Liangs finally come together. All throughout the movie, it’s been the story of the younger and older Liang finding each other and working together. At the beginning, they are so far apart they aren’t even aware of each other. Then they tolerate each other. Then they help each other. And now, at least, they make peace with each other. As Little Liang slips away for the last time, Big Liang promises to never forget her and to always hold her near.

In a hospital bed, Liang wakes up. No longer Little Liang or Big Liang, but just simply, Liang.

At first I thought this was the end of the movie. I was a little disappointed and almost clicked away…. but I’m so glad I didn’t! I would have missed something very important! What I had mistaken as the credits rolling in, was actually a montage of all of Liang’s art and accomplishments over the next few years. And then the loose ends are tied up, and we see what became of the two men in the story.

Poem: The Olive Pressed

We have some more guest poetry from Cameron Wood who blog at Cultural Rumbles

The Olive Pressed

I.

The Olive Tree that would my wild branch tame
Stood meekly by the pure spring drinking life
Unblemished, until false accusers came
With biting nails and hammers forged for strife,
And broke the mighty branches of that tree
Then razed it to Golgotha, drawing blood
While harsh ropes bound the tree in cutting tether.
The Pure Olive prayed: this I do for thee,
And – pressed – wept oil upon the blood-stained wood,
Which oil would sanctify all pure endeavor.

Thus issued forth the stream no sin could still,
To flood the thirsty cup of absolution.
And as accusers raged upon that hill
The Tree did weep the tears of purification
For sin-stained folk who would clean garments show.
For on the Olive Tree mixed blood and oil
Within the crushing press of our deepest pains;
And from such bitter drink the Tree does know
Our every leaf and root, and won’t recoil
From washing us until no dross remains.

II.

When, fasting, I came to the Olive Cross–
My wild branch in hand and heavily borne–
I thought that sacrifice was naught but loss,
And that such loss would end in bitter mourn,
Because I loved my sins. While the old wants laughed,
I tended to my branch as best I could,
But all that graced my branch when I was done
Was one weak blossom, so I took to graft
Onto my branch a Tree-grown shoot that would
Abet my own, for loneness grieved my one.

With two tame blossoms on my branch I knelt
And gave humble prayer upon that hill,
And wept for pain that all my years I’d felt;
Then I took symbols which I hoped would fill
My soul, and with hands still moist with oil
I poured a sacral drink and broke my bread,
And blessed them, reverencing the Olive torn.
Then succor came, abating my heart’s toil;
And saw I that which cast away my dread:
Pure olives from my blossoms had been born.

III.

That day the Olive Tree to me did say:
Canst thou be joyful even in duress?
Then came to me deep trials through which the only way
To pass did lay my fruits upon the Press.
My heart did sorrow, but in life’s stone crush
Sweet oil flowed out; then heard I through my rue:
Dost now though understand my love for thee?
And so again my verdant branch grew lush.
Heard I: As by thy pressed fruit I know you,
So by that very fruit dost thou know me.

And then upon the hill the Tree became
An Altar made of polished olive wood,
Enquiring me if all my fruit I’d tame,
Enquiring if I’d bind there all I could.
I wondered, could I sacrifice my all?
How could I not? The olives in my hand
Did show how trials had purged away the dross.
Thus, grafted to the Altar, straight and tall,
My branch became a tree that burst its band.
Heard I: True sacrifice is never loss.

IV.

In time I grew to ancient age as well;
My branches and my roots entwined complete
The Altar where upon my knees I fell
And where by grafting I did live replete.
My child, it said to me the day I died,
The Husbandman awaits, art though afraid?
Ah, dearest Lord, I smiled, I have no fears,
For it was Thee who blessed me when I cried,
And it is at Thy Altar I am laid,
And so beyond death’s veil you’ll kiss my tears.

For thou art Husbandman and Olive Tree,
And thou art Olive pure and Olive pressed,
So, too, Thou art the Altar at my knee,
Where spilled the blood and oil with which I’m blessed.
Well said, my child, well said! Thou hast been true;
‘Twere in my Press you overcame thy gall,
My blood and oil I gave as Olive Tree,
As Altar Pure thy best-grown fruits I knew,
As Husbandman I wash and dress thy all;
Now come, dear friend, and know Eternity!

by Cameron C. Wood
copyright 2017

An Easter Vision

On this special day, I’d like to share a brief vision I had a number of years ago, that ties in with and illustrates the message of Romans chapter 6.

In it Jesus was hanging on the cross. I ran over to him and embraced him as he hung there.

A voice behind me said, “You want to identify with this disgrace? Fine.”

A long metal spike was hammered into my back, piercing through my heart, through Christ’s body and into the cross, pinning me there, and we both died.

I woke up in the tomb next to Him, He helped me to my feet and we walked into the sunshine together.

He turned to me and smiled. “You have died with me, you have been raised with me. Now live like it.”

Superversive Vs. Pulp: The Big Bad Showdown That Will Never Happen!

So, after my fellow cohost of the Whippersnappers and editor of the anthology God, Robot (which produced a Hugo-nominated short story), Anthony, did a review of “Sword & Flower” by columnist and blogger Rawle Nyanzi, it sparked a small dust-up between the Pulp Revolution crowd and the Superversive crowd. So, on behalf of Superversive SF, I’m going to tell you why Superversive is better than Pulp… and why anyone who thinks this is very mistaken (the same goes for those who say the opposite, that Pulp is better than Superversive).

Pulp and Superversive are categorical variables, which is statistical-speak for variables that cannot really be quantified (to differentiate between, say, a variable like speed or height, which you can provide a numerical measurement for). Here’s the catch. Pulp and Superversive are separate categorical variables, but they’re not mutually exclusive; that is, a piece of fiction that is Pulp is not automatically excluded from being Superversive.

During the Superversive SF Roundtable where we discussed the Superversive Book List, we brainstormed the different types of qualities that make up superversive works of fiction, and I managed to distill them down into five categories. They are:

  • Aspiring/Inspiring- These mean that the characters aspire to something greater than themselves, and inspire others to seek greatness, and not remain where they are. This also refers to characters who theoretically aspire for uplifting things that aren’t necessarily a part of the moral sphere, such as beauty. “Betterment” and “wonder” both fall here.
  • Virtuous- This means that there is a right and wrong in the world. This does not mean there can’t be moral complexity and ambiguity – in fact, when done well this can be incredibly powerful – but even then there needs to be an understanding that there’s a difference between right and wrong. The characters themselves don’t necessarily need to be virtuous, but the concept of virtue must exist in the framework of the story.
  • Heroic- Closely entwined with the second category, the Heroic category means that there is a standard of heroism. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have a hero (for a brilliant superversive story that features a protagonist who isn’t a hero, see John C. Wright’s “Pale Realms of Shade”), it means that the protagonist has a code of ethics under which they work, a code of ethics that marks them as something more than a villain. To go back to “Pale Realms of Shade”, the protagonist, Flint, might be a Grade A jerk and even a murderer, but he’s different from the demons he’s fighting against; in fact, he has to be for the story to work, because the temptation to become demonic is central to the story. While having truly villainous villains is something of a lost art nowadays and can certainly help flesh out this category, it is not strictly necessary for an Agnes Trunchbull to exist – but a standard for heroism is an absolute must.
  • Decisive – This means that the characters are active; their actions matter. They are not bereft of agency, at the whim of fate, or purely reactive to the things going on around them. These characters make decisions that affect the plot, and their decisions have to mean something. Books that ultimately preach the meaninglessness of life and the futility of struggling to change it don’t fit this section.
  • Non-Subversive- This is pretty much exactly what it says on the tin. These are works that do not attempt to subvert the paradigms of healthy culture, and don’t mock and criticize needlessly. While many great superversive works contain certain subversive aspects – even Lewis’s Narnia series and Tolkien’s Middle Earth books aren’t free of this, nor should they be – the work as a whole should be predicated on building up society rather than bringing it down.

These are the five categories we’ve settled on, and a work should try to fulfill most of them, if not all (except for the last category). There is a sixth category, Noumenal, but that’s a discussion for another time.

So there is your peek behind the scenes at what the Superversive crowd is doing: Organizing. Now that I’ve laid down the criteria for Superversive literature, I’ll tell you of a story I’m writing.

It’s about a man, a man confronted with the injustices of a tyrannical usurper trying to slay the woman he loves, and to defend her, he becomes something greater than he is, using self-discipline and training to go from a plain warrior to someone of unmatched prowess. He’s morally straight and kind, but has courage in the face of incredible adversity, won’t shirk from trouble because it’s, well, trouble, and also refuses to do the wrong thing when that would make life easier, but compromise his conscience. Right there, that checks off two boxes listed above (Aspiring/Inspiring and Heroic).

He travels the world I have made, sees wonders, sees beauties unearthly. He goes into the most dangerous of places, and grows stronger for it.

He is guided by virtue, and eventually meets up with some other characters, many of whom are morally questionable. Through their interaction with him, these characters become more selfless, virtuous, and heroic themselves, and go from morally grey to heroes (there’s the Aspiring/Inspiring). In this world, there’s a clear line denoting what is good and bad, and that the evil usurper is bad, a cutthroat despot who isn’t scared to shed innocent blood (and she does this out of envy and desire for power, not because she was abused as a child or was a psychopath). Good is good, bad is bad, and while the hero isn’t %100 good, he aspires to be good (thus, the Virtuous box is checked).

And ultimately, the hero fights to restore the throne to the rightful ruler, and does so. He is not a pawn of chance, incapable of making his own decisions. He decides, and those choices have consequences. His actions have an effect, and he doesn’t react to the world, but proactively acts (thus fulfilling the Decisive category). And lastly, I’m not deconstructing ideals of heroism or other healthy cultural paradigms (thus fulfilling the Non-Subversive category).

So, I’m writing a Superversive story, one that will be published in a magazine.

Here’s the catch. It’s being published in Astounding Frontiers, Superversive SF’s pulp revival magazine. The description above is accurate, but focuses on the Superversive themes, not the pulp.

My story is about a soldier, charged with guarding the elegant and demure Space Princess, scion of a star (She kind of glows). He teams up with a stoic yet wise Void-wielding pseudo-Buddhist attack monk lizard alien man, a rough-and-tumble yet oddly maternal cyborg techno-necromancer (who’s art is drawn from Daoist philosophy), a giant crustaceanoid barbarian who’s bulletproof and very violent, and the crustaceanoid barbarian’s love, a sorceress insectoid-alien who is refined and demure (as refined and demure as an insectoid lady of high breeding level can be).

He flies in a ship that sails through the ether, and goes from a soldier to a sorcerer-knight who wields the ether and the Void, among other powers. He breaks into the vault of the imperial sorcerers to plunder its knowledge, and fights the horrendous beast that lurks in the heart of a sun. There’s travelling through the myriad avenues of death, Way Cool armor forged from the substanceless Void, action and heroism aplenty.

My story has battles on space ships, duels to the death, a classic romance, and a Space Princess, ethereal and beautiful. It has sorcery used alongside laser cannons and futuristic technology, where a battle can take place with scrambler beams or ether blades. Settings include the deadly library of sorcery, an ancient temple, and ruins of an M.C. Escher palace that is suspended in the heart of a hollow sun. It looks at genre distinctions and laughs in their face.

As for me writing it, it’s a bit shorter than the other novel I’m writing, but in every chapter I’ve tried to have some action scene. I draw from the works of authors like Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, and Brian Niemeier for inspiration. I add themes of Superversion in it, though I don’t have angels telling men to be better (I don’t have angels at all, but I do have a gigantic ten-story tall crab-dragon solar beast with super-healing).

So, I would simply like to state this: While not everything that’s quickly plotted and full of action and weirdness is Superversive (I’m looking at you, Elric of Melniboné!), and while not everything Superversive is about taking a fist to the face of evil (Andy Weir’s “The Martian” comes to mind), these two fields of writing can overlap, and I’d like to venture that they overlap quite well.

Superversive literature is against Subversive literature, works that try to destroy and undermine that which upholds civilization. Pulp is (from my experience) against non-heroic literature (or literary fiction), literature that focuses less on adventure and romance and more on stylistic gimmicks or characterization at the expense of plot (I’m not saying Pulp doesn’t have believable characters, just that Lit Fic overdoes it to the point where there is not a plot, merely a character… supposedly doing something vaguely plot-related). The Superversive writers and the Pulp revolutionaries are, I would say, natural allies in the quest to create truly culturally innovative and paradigm-shifting fiction. While we can have our doctrinal squabbles, remember that they’re about relatively trivial things, and that the guy you’re arguing with will probably be your best friend compared to the current subversive and literary SF & F authors.


Corey McCleery is a columnist and frequently top-100 listed fantasy author on the website Wattpad. His book, called Fever Blood, about a dragon-man who saves a woman and the adventures they have together, can be found here.

Jon Del Arroz on Political Correctness Killing Marvel Comics

A friend of the blog Jon Del Arroz has written an article for The Federalist explaining why forced diversity and political correctness are killing Marvel Comics. Check it out!

http://thefederalist.com/2017/04/12/forcing-political-correctness-employees-characters-killing-marvel-comics/