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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

"Every man is wealthy in storyland!" Or: The Hatred Of Money Implicit In Fiction

Priceless comment in Nick Mamatas' blog:

silviamg notes:
Everyone is wealthy in storyland! 

Livia Llewellyn corrects her:
"Every man is wealthy in storyland!"


They put the finger on the central issue with so much fantasy fiction (and fiction in general):

The big "escapism"/"flight of fancy" part isn't that the protagonist visits The Land of Oz... or finds a magical power ring... or anything like that... but that he (it's usually a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) doesn't have to worry about, handle, or be dependent on money.

There's of course the blatantly racist aspect of this cliché: Too many fictional stories implicitly tell us that if you're a WASP, you're automatically wealthy. If you're not... well, then you simply do not exist. You're erased from the fictional world. Naturally, this is an insult to the great majority of humanity who are neither White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant nor wealthy.

But others have argued better about the implicit racism in fiction. I think there's also a deeper issue behind it. I am convinced that racism as a historical phenomenon is mainly profit-motivated. Racism was constructed around slavery to justify the profits of slavery, not the other way around.

So let's "follow the money" and see where it leads...

I ask you: Why does so much fantasy fiction feature characters who live in a world like our own, except it's untouched by money? 
Have you ever asked yourself: All these people in TV shows, when do they work?  For a wage?
(The exception would be cop shows: policemen, as shown on TV, do nothing but work. But they mostly seem suspiciously well-off, as if they didn't have to worry about their meager police wages.)

If you're wondering what I mean, come on: Who pays for your electricity, housing, car, food, education, social standing... or even your elected politicians? None of us can "stand apart" from capitalism. We are marinated in it.

So why doesn't much fantasy fiction glorify the adventure, excitement and fancy of Capitalism? (Except the fantasy fiction of Ayn Rand, maybe...)

I arrive at the possible explanation that people have a desperate need to dream themselves away from our money-oriented society.

I'm not really sure what that means, but it could mean that somewhere, deep down, most of us hate money. Not just on the level of envy (that someone, somewhere has More Stuff Than You) but the system of money itself.

Communism is dead, stone dead -- I never believed in it, despite some pathetic attempts to make us kids growing up in 1970s Sweden think that life in Cuba or China or the Soviet Union was good.

But clearly, I detect from the fantasy fiction of today -- the dreams of our society -- this persistent and deep unease with money, the medium of exchange that makes capitalism possible. We want to wish it away, pretend that money doesn't exist.

There should be a fairly easy way to test this hypothesis. Watch a whole day's worth of TV shows, or read a whole novel by some very popular writer, and count
1) The number of times someone buys or sells something in the story, plus
2) The number of times actual money is described or shown in the story.

I assure you, you will find that money is rarely shown or described. (The exception is the cliché of "dirty" money: cash stacked into an attache case in a drug deal, stolen money, or otherwise ill-gained.)

In medieval Europe, money was considered unclean. A whole social class, the Jews, was "condemned" by Christian society to be the despised money-lenders. And the resulting hatred mixed with confused envy felt by the Christians, went so deep it probably culminated in the Holocaust. That's what the feelings nurtured by money can produce: that much hate.

But the Medieval scheme to banish money from society didn't last; the lure of money proved irresistible even to the Catholic Church. Soon enough the Church was raking it in, selling tickets to Paradise to believers, which angered Martin Luther and triggered the Reformation -- and the 30 Years War.

Conclusion: Our hatred of money -- actually amplified by the bottomless greed for it -- persists to this day.
Right now, everyone knows that greed is threatening to tear apart the very fabric of the global economy (have you been watching the news lately?). And the problems caused by money is a daily complaint on all levels of society.

So should fantasy fiction (virtually all fiction, regarding the subject of money) deal with this, confront the issue of money, or continue to dance around it?

I could go on, but I don't have enough money to do so...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Nick Mamatas Gives Advice To Newbie Writers

Choice quote from Nick's blog:
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Actually, after the moment when one has eliminated all the usual tyro errors—POV shifts at inappropriate moments, tantalizing the reader from the beginning, keeping unusual dialogue tags to a minimum—about 90% of the battle for a writer is to eliminate the need for external validation.

Of course, plenty of writers, some even quite good, remain desperately hungry for external validation, but sooner rather than later they either burn out or end up with a bunch of material they ultimately regret writing or that goes OP forever when some fad passes.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Nurglon(r) Demands Ban On All Non-Cthulhu Worshippers Near "Ground Zero"


POX News, Aug.10, 2010: Nurglon(r), the hundred-eyed, many-armed Thing From Beyond which emerged in Alaska and ran for President in the 2008 elections, currently the leader of the Rage Party (formerly the Republican Party), has finally made a public statement on the "Cordoba Center" controversy.

Since leading Rage Party members began a campaign against the construction of a mosque two blocks from the site of the former World Trade Center, Nurglon has been strangely silent on the issue.

This prompted talk radio host and Rage Party leadership contender Rash Limburger to recently claim that "Nurglon is soft on terrorism." Limburger has since disappeared, and Rage Party spokesperson Dick Flack claims that "Nurglon did not eat Limburger, honestly, cheese gives her gases".

But today, Nurglon broke her/its silence and made a lengthy official statement to the media:

Nurglon: THE CORDOBA CENTER MUST BE STOPPED, AND SO MUST ALL UN-AMERICAN PLACES OF WORSHIP NEAR THE SACRED, HOLY, SUPERGOSHDARNAMERICAN PLACE CALLED "GROUND ZERO".

AS YOU KNOW, ONLY AMERICANS WERE KILLED IN THE WORLD TRADE CENTER ATTACKS OF 9/11... PURE, WHITEBREAD, APPLE PIE-EATING, GOD-FEARING AMERICANS. NO SWARTHY, BEARDED HEATHENS EVER SOILED THE PURE, ETHEREAL SPIRES OF THE WORLD TRADE CENTER.

SO, IN ORDER TO SHOW PROPER GOSHDARN RESPECT FOR THE SACRED GROUND ZERO, WE MUST BAN ALL HEATHEN WORSHIPPERS AROUND IT, AND ON THE ENTIRE ISLAND OF MANHATTAN.


POX News: Do you mean Muslims, Nurglon?

N: I MEAN ALL WHO DO NOT BOW DOWN AND WORSHIP GREAT CTHULHU... AND CTHULHU'S MISTRESS... LITTLE OLD ME!

THEN, WHEN ALL THOSE WHO LIVE AROUND THE SACRED GROUND ZERO BOW DOWN BEFORE THEIR ONE AND TRUE MASTER, THEN AND ONLY THEN CAN THE WORLD BE CLEANSED IN RIVERS OF BLO... I MEAN, ONLY THEN THE TRUE, WHITE, APPLE PIE-EATING AMERICANS CAN LIVE SAFE AND SECURE, DARN IT.

Nurglon then paraded before the media her/its adorable 50-armed offspring H'Thffluh, before leaving.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Do Fiction Writers Have Moral Duties?

I ask you: Do fiction writers have moral duties?

1. Ah, but whose morals?
- A problem arises, in my view, when the most reactionary reader/critic/person demands that only his morals should be applied to literature. That is how we get absurd censorship cases where prissy people try to remove Shakespeare or Mark Twain from public libraries.

2. And duties to whom
- To the person who actually reads the work? Or to every potential reader?
The second demand is sometimes made in the real world, but it is an absurd one. You cannot tailor every story to suit every 4-year-old reader who might come across it.
(Picture, if you can, a nightmare world where all the classics of literature have been rewritten for small children and that's all there is.)
People choose what to read. With choice comes the freedom not to read.

3. And shouldn't readers share the responsibility for how books are read and used?
Readers read, and they interpret the text (despite what fundamentalists will tell you, there is more than one way to read the meaning of a story)... so if writers are responsible for their words, then readers are responsible too.

I feel that I have some moral duties as a fiction writer. But I only have my conscience to guide me in this area.
My conscience tells me:
- Do not glorify evil
- Be honest
- Try to rise about primitive thinking and willful ignorance
- Avoid rigid dogma or fanaticism - people are more important than ideas

- Do not suck up to power

But you may think, why should writers worry about these things? Are stories really that much of a big deal?

Oh yes. The surest way -- perhaps the only way -- to get into a person's mind is to tell her a story. When writing was new, it frightened people: they saw its power to influence the minds of others, how it could move one person's thoughts into another person's head.
Since we take writing for granted now, we may have lost that insight.

A folk singer put the slogan "This Machine Kills Fascists" on his guitar. I might as well put a slogan on my PC or notepad: "This Machine Goes Straight Into Your Brain."

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Nurglon Proposes Sending "Hate Boat" Convoy To Palestine, Israel


POX News, June 04, 2010:

The resident Rage Party leader and Folksy Thing From Beyond, Nurglon (r) responded today to the aftermath of the "Ship To Gaza" shootings, in a statement to POX News:

Nurglon: I CONDEMN THE USE OF DEADLY FORCE AGAINST THE AID CONVOY -- THE FORCE WAS WAS NOT DEADLY ENOUGH! THERE WERE SURVIVORS! I WOULD HAVE USED A TACTICAL NUKE. BECAUSE, GOSH! I'M A MAVERICK!

POX News: Will the tragic incident lead to any sort of change in the current stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians?

N: GOLLY, NO! SO WHAT IS NEEDED IS ANOTHER AID CONVOY TO BOTH GAZA AND ISRAEL. A HATE BOAT! I WILL PERSONALLY GATHER THE RESOURCES TO SEND MORE HATE TO BOTH PARTIES, AND SEAL THEIR MANIFEST DESTINY. YOU BETCHA!

P: What do you mean by their "manifest destiny", Nurglon?

N: TO DIE IN A CAULDRON OF NUCLEAR FIRE WHICH WILL GROW, AND GROW, AND CONSUME THIS PITIFUL PLANET. AIN'T POLITICS, LIKE, FUN? GOSH!

Nurglon then interrupted the interview, and paraded before the media her/its latest offspring -- the adorable thing called H'Thffluh, which was born with the severe handicap of only having 50 eyes.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

NURGLON SLAMS PRESIDENT'S FINANCIAL REFORM BID, PRESENTS OWN SWEEPING REFORM PACKAGE

POX News, Washington, D.C., April 22:
POX News reporter Bill Hairdo has had a brief Q & A with Rage Party leader Nurglon, where she/it outlined a response to President Obama's finance reform bid:

Bill Hairdo: Nurglon, how do you react to worries that another big bank failure might cripple the economy, repeating history, if nothing is done about limiting the size of banks?

Nurglon: I AM AGAINST LIMITING THE SIZE OF ANYTHING! I MUST GROW, AND GROW, AND PRODUCE MORE OF MY SPAWN TO ENGULF THIS PITIFUL PLANET!

B: But how will that stance go down with small-town America?

N: SMALL-TOWN AMERICA WILL GO DOWN INSIDE ME! HA HA HA!

B: Critics accuse your party, the Repu... sorry, the Rage Party, of being in the pockets of the financial sector...

N: SO? WHAT IS WRONG WITH BLIND OBEDIENCE TO POWER? ALL-AMERICAN, PATRIOTIC, FAMILY-VALUES-FRIENDLY, GOD-FEARING, PRO-MILITARY POWER. GOSHDARN IT.

B: So your party will do nothing?

N: OF COURSE NOT! BY GOLLY! WE SHALL SEIZE POWER TO PUSH THROUGH OUR OWN FINANCIAL REFORM PACKAGE!

B: Tell us more.

N: FIRST, AS I'VE MENTIONED BEFORE, THE DOLLAR WILL BE REPLACED WITH THE CURRENCY OF BLOOD. SECOND, THE BIGGEST BANKS WILL BE GIVEN FREE REIGN TO TRADE AND SELL THE GREAT UNTAPPED AMERICAN RESOURCE.

B: Offshore oil?

N: THE POOR.

B: And by "the poor," you mean...

N: THE UNEMPLOYED! FOR STARTERS! THEN... WE'LL REDEFINE "POVERTY" ALONG A SLIDING SCALE.

B: Wait a minute... do you propose we reinstate slavery??

N: OF COURSE NOT! THAT WOULD BE WRONG! AMERICANS ARE TOO LAZY AND UNRELIABLE TO MAKE GOOD SLAVES! WE TRADE THEIR BLOOD AND ORGANS INSTEAD.

B: In your reform package, what about boosting trade exports, for instance to China?

N: WHEN I CLEANSE THE WORLD FROM TERROR WITH TORRENTS OF NUCLEAR FIRE, FOREIGN TRADE WILL CEASE TO BE AN ISSUE.

B: Wouldn't global war put a strain on the already strained U.S. budget?

N: ANYONE WHO TALKS ABOUT NUMBERS AND BUDGETS IS AN ELITIST SOCIALIST UN-AMERICAN SECRET MUSLIM WITH A FALSE BIRTH CERTIFICATE!

B: Thank you, Nurglon.

N:
BOW DOWN AND WORSHIP NURGLON, MISTRESS OF GREAT CTHULHU! YOU MAY KISS ONE OF MY TENTACLES.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Nurglon (r) Unveils New Midterm Campaign Poster

POX News, April 8:  
Nurglon (r), self-appointed new leader of the Rage Party (formerly the Republican Party), presented today her/its new campaign poster for the 2010 midterm elections:



The new slogans appear made to match Nurglon's endorsement of the Pope and are consistent with her/its previous stance on waterboarding and war.

When asked about the new slogan "MORE Nuclear Weapons," Nurglon responded to POX News:

Nurglon: THE SHINING ONE'S DISARMAMENT AGREEMENT WITH RUSSIA MUST BE REVERSED! SUCH UNPATRIOTIC SOCIALIST DEFEATISM IS UN-AMERICAN... AND WORSE, IT MOVES THIS PITIFUL PLANET ONE STEP AWAY FROM THE ANNIHILATION OF THIS WEAK, DESPICABLE HUMAN RACE.

POX News: Don't you think the goal of "annihilation of the human race" might alienate many voters?


N: NOT AT ALL! THE POPE HAS PROMISED MY GOD-FEARING VOTERS SALVATION ON JUDGMENT DAY! ALONG WITH EVERY SINGLE BISHOP AND PRIEST! HA HA HAAAA!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Nurglon Assumes Command of Republican Party, Changes Its Name To "Rage Party"

POX News,  March 23:
GOP National Campaign HQ, Washington, D.C. - During a conference signaling the start of the run-up to the 2010 Midterm Elections for the U.S. Congress, tentacled politician Nurglon (r) interrupted the GOP party chairman to make the following declaration:

Nurglon: THIS DITHERING HAS GONE ON FOR LONG ENOUGH. I HEREBY ASSUME FULL COMMAND OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY. STEELE!! COME HERE, YOU.

Nurglon paused to devour a screaming Michael Steele (r), and continued:

N: I HEREBY DECREE! FROM NOW ON, THE ORGANIZATION FORMERLY KNOWN AS THE REPUBLICAN PARTY SHALL BE NAMED THE RAGE PARTY.

POX News correspondent Sarah Tannin: What's your party program, Nurglon?

N: PROGRAM? WE DON'T NEED NO STINKIN' PROGRAM! THE RAGE PARTY SHALL HAVE ONE GOAL ONLY: DESTROY!! REPEAT AFTER ME: DESTROY!! SAY IT LOUD, I'M ANGRY AND PROUD!

Attendant party members, some waving Confederate flags and nooses, then joined Nurglon in a 5-minute "Destroy!" chanting session.

Several overexcited attendants were injured from biting each other.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Nurglon Endorses Pope


POX News, March 17: 
While retreating from Capitol Hill, stating that her/its movement away from the building was merely a "temporary realignment," hundred-eyed politician Nurglon (r) made some rare and frank comments on the recent scandals involving the Pope and other Catholic Church officials.

In this transcript of a hasty running Q & A between Nurglon and POX News correspondent Sarah Tannin, Nurglon explains her/its stance.

Sarah Tannin: Nurglon, what is your religion?

Nurglon: I WORSHIP GREAT CTHULHU. BOW DOWN AND WORSHIP NURGLON, MISTRESS OF GREAT CTHULHU, LORD OF THE UNSPEAKABLE BEYOND!

ST: And what is your relationship to Earthbound religions like, say, Catholicism?

N: THOSE WHO DO NOT BOW DOWN TO THE ELDER GODS ARE ONLY FIT TO BE FOOD FOR MY SPAWN.

ST: So you don't approve of --

N: HOWEVER... I AM WILLING TO ALLOW THE VATICAN TO CO-EXIST WITH MY FAITH WHEN I AND MY SPAWN RULE THE EARTH.

ST: How come?

N: BECAUSE I LIKE YOUR POPE! HE'S SUCH A CHARMER! HIS EYES REMIND ME OF GREAT CTHULHU'S! HE AND HIS MINIONS SHARE MY GOAL, TO CRUSH THE SOULS OF YOUR OFFSPRING AND TEACH THEM UNQUESTIONING OBEDIENCE TO POWER!

ST: Now that's a little harsh --

N: I WOULD GLADLY LET POPE RATZINGER AND CARDINAL BRADY LIVE FOREVER AS UNDEAD HUSKS, ANIMATED ONLY BY MY TIMELESS MALEVOLENCE, IF IT WOULD HELP ME CRUSH THE SOULS OF ALL YOUR WEAK, PITIFUL CHILDREN!

ST: Jesus...

N: NO! DO NOT UTTER THE NAME OF THE BURNING LIGHT!

ST: What do you mean? Jesus Christ...

N: YOU SAID IT AGAIN!

ST: What? Jesus?

N: STOP SAYING "JESUS"! GOSHDARN! I SAID IT!

The interview was interrupted as Nurglon began to spout smoke and fled the site. The Vatican has since refused to comment on Nurglon.

A cardinal who wishes to be anonymous said to POX News that "Nurglon is welcome to join our Holy Church, if she/it agrees to publicly condemn the evil of contraceptives".

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Health Insurance Ex-Boss Admits To Signing Blood Pact With Nurglon In 1945

Washington D.C. (POX News): During the annual fundraiser gala Phyllis Schlaflitt Sings Hitler Jugend Evergreens For Charity, POX News correspondent Sarah Tannin made a surprise interview with Bernie Geldliebe, retired ex-CEO of the Iron Cross Health Insurance Corporation.

When asked about Nurglon's recent bid to seize control of Congress, and her/its challenge to President Obama, Mr. Geldliebe made the surprise admission that he had been familiar with Nurglon since the end of World War II.

"Frankly, I don't know why the old ball of pus hasn't gone public about it. She'll be in charge of things soon enough, so let's not beat about the bush any longer.

"My corporation was the first to sign a pact of allegiance with Nurglon back in '45. In blood, of course. Wanna see the tattoo of fidelity she drew on my back, with her own tongue?

"All the other health insurance cos were quick to follow -- but I was first, dammit. We swore to obey, to gain power in her name, to rid the land of the weak, and she'd help us ride this stinkin' country like a harp from hell. Damn, this is good vodka. Hey, is that thing on?"

Mr. Geldliebe then hastened to correct himself, but suddenly collapsed and turned into a puddle of putrid black goo before the eyes of the other guests. The puddle was rapidly taken away to Mr. Geldliebe's own private emergency ward in D.C., and his condition is reported as "undead but stable."

For more on the developing Nurglon situation, stay tuned with POX News.

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Related stories:

- NURGLON IN 2008!
- Nurglon Rises From Grave

Friday, January 22, 2010

NURGLON For ALL Of Congress In 2010

NURGLON (r) today unveiled its first 2010 midterm election campaign poster:


Nurglon is running for all seats, as she/it will not accept compromise or negotiation -- and he/she, being 150 feet tall, needs all the space to fit inside the assembly.

Nurglon's campaign promises have been announced as the following:

- "NURGLONCARE": All unemployed shall be fed to Nurglon, thus ridding the nation of any who cannot afford private health insurance, and thus also solving the job crisis.

- FAMILY VALUES: The Many-Eyed Spawn of Nurglon, now counting roughly 100,000 surviving hatchlings, shall be incorporated into the U.S. federal government and replace its human members.

- PRO-TORTURE: Waterboarding shall be made mandatory for interrogating all suspects when they are taken away. Everyone is a potential suspect.

- MONETARY REFORM: Blood shall be the new currency, the value of which is absolute.

- WAR: Nurglon shall cleanse the earth from terror with torrents of fire and suffering. The survivors (if any) shall be safe to fight in the next war.

- FAITH: All must bow down and worship Nurglon, Mistress of Great Cthulhu.

In related news, talk radio host Rash Limburger has accused Nurglon of being "soft on terrorism" and a "Republican in Name Only."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: Nurglon Rises From Grave, Takes U.S. Government Hostage, Spits In President's Face, Proposes Eating Nation's Unemployed


Nurglon (archive photo, 2008)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (POX News): Former Presidential candidate Nurglon (r), long believed to be dead, appeared in the nation's capital and slithered into the Capitol building. Democratic Congressmen fled the site in panic, while scores of Republican politicians and staff bowed down in worship, chanting Nurglon's name.

Once seated across the entire Democratic segment of Congress, Nurglon promptly declared herself/itself the "de facto U.S. Government" and made the following proclamation on C-SPAN:

Nurglon (r): THERE IS NO HEALTH CARE REFORM BECAUSE THE WEAK ARE NOT FIT TO LIVE. I PROPOSE MY OWN REFORM TO SOLVE BOTH THE HEALTH CARE CRISIS AND THE JOB CRISIS IN ONE SWIFT MOVE.

I SHALL EAT ALL THE NATION'S UNEMPLOYED, AS THEY CANNOT AFFORD HEALTH CARE. PROBLEM SOLVED. BOW DOWN AND WORSHIP NURGLON YOUR GOD!

Nurglon received wild cheers from Republican Congressmen, who proceeded to chant "Eat the poor! Eat the poor!" for half an hour.

President Barack Obama (D) then appeared before the remaining half of Congress, and began to speak -- but was interrupted when a giant gob of spit hurled from Nurglon's maw knocked him off the speaker's pulpit. He was carried unconscious from the building but is reported to have suffered only a mild concussion.

When POX News' correspondent Sarah Tannin asked Nurglon why she/it no longer seemed afraid of the President, Nurglon explained:

HOW LITTLE PERSPECTIVE YOU PUNY HUMANS HAVE. THE SHINING ONE LOST FOR THE ONE REASON I HAVE KNOWN FOR DECADES: BECAUSE THE DEMOCRATS TURNED FROM THE PARTY OF THE CONFEDERACY INTO THE PARTY OF THE WEAK.

AND IT IS THE FATE OF THE TOOTHLESS TO BE EATEN BY THE RUTHLESS. BOW DOWN AND WORSHIP YOUR GOD AND PRESIDENT -- NURGLON!!

For more on the developing situation, stay tuned with POX News.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Meanwhile, Back In 2008, Nurglon Said...


Interviewed by POX News during her campaign back in late 2008, Nurglon(r) said....

Sean Inannity: [...]You may have heard some critics attack you for coming from another dimension in Alaska.Now, the Justice Department has assured voters that your dimension legally speaking lies within U.S. territory. 
How do you respond to critics who claim your citizenship isn't strictly legal?

Nurglon: IS TORTURE LEGAL? HA HA HA!


Well, thank the stars that Nurglon's dead and isn't coming back. Right?

Right......?