Join The Chorus: The Blog as a Serial Fiction Outlet

Benjamim Cheah has a good serial story–“Night Demons”–going on at PulpRev this week. You can read it starting here, and it’s a good follow-up to Rawle Nyanzi’s “Enemy at Blood River” (which starts here). Both men have made good use of the blog medium as an outlet for serialized fiction.

If you want to join the chorus, now is the time and using a blog to serialize your stories is a great way to get started. The risk is low, the cost is nil, and you can home your craft by learning and practicing the skills that made the masters great until you are ready to start pushing for people to pay you for your work.

It doesn’t stop there. You can continue to use serialized fiction on your blog to attract and retain your audience, using the stories to advertise for upcoming books while getting readers interested in your growing backlist as your career in writing progresses. Be it just a feature on your otherwise not-specifically-fiction blog, or one you launch for that purpose specifically, it does work. Just look at John C. Wright’s blog if you want a great example in practice.

Be it as a hobby or as a professional development tool, fiction or not, consider using a blog for a writing outlet. I would not have gotten into the PulpRev Sampler if I didn’t blog daily, nor be posting here or at PulpRev (or guest-posting elsewhere, such as Castalia House), so it has benefits that should not be dismissed.

Join the chorus. There’s always room for another voice.

The Superversive From Japan: Mobile Suit Gundam Wing

It’s been a while since I recommended a series for Superversive seekers, and once more I bring a series from the Gundam franchise to your attention. This is one of the “alternate continuity” series from the 1990s, one that hit big in the United States: Mobile Suit Gundam Wing.

It is now remaster for HD, and the folks running the Gndam Official channel have made the entire series available for free to view in the hopes that you’ll head over to Amazon and buy the Blu-Ray disc collections.

This is one of the Superversive entries in the franchise, as the pretty boys who form the core of the cast are expressly out to liberate the world from a corrupt and oppressive world-state. What they do, and how they do it, vary greatly. Their opposition isn’t stupid or hamstrung, and the series’ antagonist is himself motivated by high ideals that contrast well against the heroes’ own. For a show aimed at boys entering adolescence (just a few year younger than the heroes), that’s some heavy storytelling.

You get a lot of philosophical conflict over the morality of government, of artificial intelligence, of the centralization of power and authority into an elite vs. decentralization into autonomous communities, and of the possession of warfighting capabilites by private individuals. (Alas, it also has one of the worst Straw Pacifist tropes in world fiction, but they can’t all be perfect.)

If your household has youths of roughly that age, or a little older, this is a perfect series to use to get them talking about things that they need to handle as adults- this is a story that is timely despite being over 20 year old, featuring concerns that they will have to deal with sooner than later.

And in the end, despite significant missteps, it is an overall Superversive series. Recommended.

Hackjobs & Horror Shows: Finding the Superversive in Anime

I’ve talked a lot here about the wonderful stuff Japan has to offer, and I’ve got something in that vein below, but first let me talk about something I hear a lot about people who complain about anime and manga- and have for years: genre mashing.

The West’s establishment, for commercial reasons as often as not, divided up fiction into genres generations ago. Today we’re conditioned from an early age to think in categories that are only appropriate to someone selling a product at retail on a shelf- where space is finite, and thus precious and scarce. The consequence is that our popular entertainment–including popular written fiction–got increasingly siloed into commercial categories and we see this as How Things Are, instead of conveniences for commercial ends. Fantasy here, Horror there, and Don’t Cross The Streams.

It’s not quite so severe over in Japan. Be it comics, games, or film/TV you’ll find blends that would never happen in the West become successful (e.g. Neon Genesis Evangelion)- and it’s been that way for generations. Some of it is cultural, some of it is down to individual preferences by the productions, and some I can’t explain because it tends to cross into what TV Tropes calls “Fridge Logic” (i.e. just coherent enough to hold up while watching or reading).

And sometimes, when something out of Japan comes West, we don’t get the real thing. This isn’t so much of an issue now, but back in the 80s and 90s that involved wholesale rewrites and hackjobs that neutered the original’s content- including its themes, motifs, etc. such as what happened to Super-Dimensional Fortress Macross, Super-Dimensional Cavalry Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber MOSEPEDA to make Robotech and what happened to King of Beasts GoLion to make part of Voltron.

This is a shame, because when I’ve seen the real thing I find that often the excised elements–while horrific, and often tragic–can lend dramatic weight to a narrative that is ultimately Superversive. The aforementioned GoLion starts not on an alien world, but on an occupied Earth, and the series (being an ’80s production) doesn’t pull punches on what it takes to defeat Evil and rebuild what is Good. The Galaxy Express 999 series has full-on horrific elements that seem tame due to presentation, but rightly chill to the bone when you think about it, and yet the heroes go what needs be done anyway despite what they suffer and lose along the way.

Of all these blends, none work so well as Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. It’s gothic, romantic, Romantic, horrific, and so very tragic- down to the viewpoint character as well as our protagonist (who are not the same individual), with the point driven home in the epilogue.

So go give our friends in the East another chance, especially the older stuff in its pure form, and eschew the Flanderized and Bowlderized adaptations because sometimes the real horror isn’t the story, but rather the story about what was done to the story when butchers got their hands on it as it came to the West.

The Superversive in Games: Final Fantasy XV and the Power of Brotherhood

Final Fantasy XV took a decade to get to market. Its time in Development Hell is legendary, even for a business notorious for long delays and other production problems. When it arrived this year, the hype train had built up quite a bit of steam and its demo had shown some serious promise of both fun gameplay and a story that you will invest in. I won’t be talking gameplay here; that’s for another venue. Here, I’m talking story.

Is the story in this game good, as it “well-done”? Yes, to the point where some players who really ought to know better actually miss its key points due to their subtlety. I won’t name the guilty here, but one woman who finished the game had a ranting melt-down during her livestream while the credits rolled because she couldn’t get why the hero and his companions were so choked up at the end.

It’s Superversive because of two elements: the story, brick-to-face in its obviousness, is about sustaining and rebuilding the fundamental cultural institutions against a wicked enemy bent on their destruction. Your character is the crown prince, and his story involves undergoing the changes necessary to attain the maturity that a true and faithful king must possess to successfully fulfill his duty to his people and country. His companions are life-long friends, with him through thick and thin, even unto the end of all things.

The game’s theme features the power, strength, and necessity of brotherhood in the development of boys into men- such that the cultivation of virtue (without which overcoming the villain is impossible, thematically) is difficult, if not impossible, without it. If I recommend anything, it’s for fathers to play this game with their sons, because there’s something so strongly inclined to the male experience that it would be a waste to not take the opportunity to use this story to show what being a man is about- and that you should not do it alone.

Superversive? ABSOLUTELY! (The gameplay is solid for the franchise, so don’t worry there.) And once you hear Florence Welch sing “Stand By Me” at the end, you will never forget it. Best use of licensed music in a videogame this year, by far, and once you get to the end you will understand why. Recommended. Totally.

Alt-Hero Launches!

As noted on the blog of the Supreme Dark Lord, Vox Day, the Castalia House comics project known as “Alt-Hero” launched its funding round at Freestartr today.

Vox talks about this in the Darkstream tonight. The video is embedded below. He goes over the goals of the campaign, and the project, there. I encourage you to view the stream, and to check out the project’s page at Freestarter, because if you’ve been disturbed by the anti-Civilizational propaganda put out by DC and Marvel then this is your opportunity to do something useful about it. Here’s the pitch video from the campaign:

You can’t just destroy; you have to fork and replace to complete the victory. To defeat the subversive in comics, it requires forking and building a parallel structure that is intended to supplant and supercede the target. Alt-Hero is that forking and replacing, so if you want comics to be Superversive again then back Alt-Hero.

UPDATE: Alt-Hero met its initial funding goals in 4 HOURS! Fantastic!

Wonder is the Fire Fueling the Superversive

You’re wanting to come join to the party, eh? Well, this pool gets pretty deep, so you’re going to want something to use as a diving platform, and that something is “wonder”.

  • n. One that arouses awe, astonishment, surprise, or admiration; a marvel: “The decision of one age or country is a wonder to another” ( John Stuart Mill).
  • n. The emotion aroused by something awe-inspiring, astounding, or marvelous: gazed with wonder at the northern lights.
  • n. An event inexplicable by the laws of nature; a miracle.

You’ve got to bring the wonder. It’s part-and-parcel of the Superversive, and the audience you’re looking to court wants it, seeks it out, and cherishes it as if it were a newborn child. Wonder is priceless, and in that moment of wonder you can do something so profound for the reader that–in satisfying their desire for entertainment–you give them something True and Beautiful, even if your work is a tragedy.

Go back. Look again at all your favorite stories, artworks, music, etc. and pay attention to those moments of wonder. Remember how you felt the first time you experienced those moments? Take another look above at those definitions; that’s your desired outcome from the reader. Pay that experience forward; give them the wonder that your predecessors gave unto you.

Don’t worry about how you’ll make that happen. You’ve got friends here, and you’ve got friends elsewhere who are no less dedicated to bringing that wonder back. Just ask, and we’ll find a way to help you learn how to bring it to the people.

Wonder shared is wonder multiplied, so share yours today. Join the Superversive chorus.