When I Discovered Fantasy…

2 Pellucidar books by Edgar Rice Burroughs - Ace F-158 F-280 | eBay

I was 13 years old when a friend lent me his copy of Pellucidar by Edgar Rice Burroughs–adventures in the inside-out world of the hollow earth, complete with dinosaurs and monsters–and it blew me away. I had no idea there were books like this! I couldn’t get enough of them. Happily for me, ERB wrote dozens of books. I’ve still got ’em (paperback price: 35 cents!), and I still read ’em from time to time.

Burroughs introduced me to other worlds, pure fantasy, anything goes. Just like Tarzan went to Pellucidar once.

But then in high school, sophomore year, I read J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings, and oh, brother! This took fantasy fiction a notch higher. I find it bordering on the impossible, to describe how much I enjoyed it. I spent the next ten or twelve years of my life trying to write a fantasy like Tolkien’s. What the heck, everybody else seemed to be doing it–you never saw so many unsatisfying imitations published.

I learned an awful lot about writing by reading and re-reading Burroughs and Tolkien. I also learned to give up trying to imitate them, and just write like myself: took more than a few years to learn how to do that, too. The end result is my Bell Mountain series.

I envy those of you, out there, who’ll someday discover top-flight fantasy, as I did, and just go to town on it. I know reading isn’t as fashionable as it once was. But as much as I love movies, there’s nothing better than a roaring good book. No special effects genius, no cast of actors, no director can ever quite match what that special book can do with your imagination.

Does it serve God? Does it give God the glory? I’d say that depends on what the reader does with it. Tolkien was a devout Christian, and I’m sure he hoped his books would do that. Just as I’m sure that for many readers, they did.

The Good Old Stuff: Andre Norton

Witch World: Norton, Andre: 9780441897087: Amazon.com: Books

Before science fiction learned to be pretentious, it was fun. And no one was more fun to read than Andre Norton–at least according to my own young teen way of thinking.

I grew up on her books. I didn’t know “Andre Norton” was a pen name for Alice Norton. Nor did I realize she had over 300 books in print. Impossible to read them all. So this Christmas I asked for three of her more noteworthy books that I hadn’t read when I was a kid: The Time Traders, Witch World, and The Sargasso of Space.

Hooked! They’re just as cool as I remembered them. Too bad she never married and had children and grandchildren. Imagine: “Grandma, tell me a story!” But millions of us read her books; and by the time her long career, 70-plus years, ended with her death in 2005, she had won practically every major award you could win for science fiction and fantasy.

Andre Norton wrote both science fiction and fantasy and didn’t seem to care of they sometimes got mixed together. Her science fiction was of the kind classified by Isaac Asimov as Type One Science Fiction–which I translate as “Science, schmeience, we’re in it for the adventure!” And you can’t say her work was ever pretentious. Not ever.

Understand, I’m not holding these out to you as great Christian literature. Anyone who wants to become a writer can learn much by watching a master storyteller at work. I don’t think God requires us to make everything an overt theology lesson. Do we not know that simple pleasures come from Him? Sometimes a ride on the merry-go-round, a yo-yo trick successfully performed, a sip or orange juice, or the sight of a bright red cardinal in a green pine tree–sometimes these simple little things are exactly what we need, and God knows that. That’s why He’s provided them.

 

‘How Did C.S. Lewis Do It?’ (2013)

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The government insanities that scared C.S. Lewis in the 1950s are still here, still tearing at our freedoms. A stolen presidential election wouldn’t have surprised him.

But I’ll always been in awe of his art–and of his Chronicles of Narnia.

How Did C.S. Lewis Do It?

I’m sometimes asked how one learns how to write a novel. The only sound advice I can give is “Read, read, read–and then read some more!” C.S. Lewis was a professor of literature. He would have known what good writing looks like. So you read, you study, you imitate–and if you have the talent, the technique will draw it out.

Just one word of warning: you’ll wind up writing what you read.

‘Souping Up the Classics’ (2017)

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C’mon, now! They wouldn’t really rewrite all the classics. Would they?

Souping Up the Classics

You may want to read the article linked to by Linda in the comments section: Wall High School, New Jersey, edited all references of President Donald Trump out of the school’s 2017 yearbook. No one took responsibility for this act of censorship, although the school principal denied having anything to do with it.

Incredible as it seems, there are still people out there who do not know that Leftism = No More Freedom. Unless they think it’s only other people’s freedom that’s going to disappear, never their own.

That’s what Zinoviev and Kamenev thought right up until the moment Stalin had them shot.

‘Another Red-Hot Sex Book for Me not to Review’ (2015)

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Don’t worry, I have no plans for writing a “Memory Lane” about Elliot Gould movies.

I think maybe this publicity firm has gone out of business. I haven’t heard from them lately.

Maybe publicizing books like this is not a good way to stay in business.

Another Red-Hot Sex Book for Me not to Review

It does seem the book was intended to teach a moral lesson only murkily understood by the ex-punk rocker.

And in those innocent days, the islands we imagined Bill Clinton going to seem almost wholesome when compared to a certain island he did go to. Jeffrey Epstein’s island. For once the nooze was worse than the porn.

‘We Are Not in Control’ (2015)

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Michael Crichton spent his whole career  writing books that warned of succumbing to the delusion that “we are in control.” Many of them were best-sellers; but there’s no evidence that anyone ever believed him.

We Are Not in Control

In Prey, the scientific golden calf is nanotechnology; but really it could be anything. And we have the usual Crichton scenario of cocksure scientists totally losing control and being devoured by their own creation. Shades of Frankenstein. He gives the reader a few memorably creepy scenes, while he’s at it.

Crichton ultimately lost faith in these idols–if he ever had any faith in them in the first place: The Andromeda Strain, his first best-seller, suggests he was always skeptical of that “Ye shall be as gods” sales pitch.

And how the Loving Left reviled him when he died! All because he had too much integrity to hop aboard their Global Warming bandwagon. But that’s the Diversity crowd for you: death to everyone who isn’t them.

‘”Christian Fiction”–a Stepchild’? (2015)

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It looks as fully appalling as any secular romance, doesn’t it?

You may be interested in the conversation that follows this post from 2015.

‘Christian Fiction’–a Stepchild?

Once upon a time it was hideously expensive to publish your own books. So there were vanity presses that would do it for you, it you paid them an exorbitant fee. But technology has changed all that, and made self-publishing much easier and less costly.

But for the qualifier “Christian” to alert the reader that the book will be inferior to its secular equivalent–well, we have to work to change that, we really do.

Our Universities: Waste, Waste, Waste

Cynical Theories - Audiobook

This was an unusual book review for me to do because the content of Critical/Cynical Theories is about as close as you can come to pure gibberish while still using the alphabet. It’s not the authors’ fault, but that’s what you get when you quote the Far Left Crazy.

https://chalcedon.edu/blog/critical-cynical-theories-a-book-review

The authors, a couple of liberals, fear that the Far Left will go too far and drive everybody else into the arms of the Far Right. Can’t happen soon enough, sez I.

As you plod through the verbal swamps of Far Left babble, you can’t avoid being appalled by the colossal waste that is “higher education”–waste of money, time, effort, and anything else that they can think of wasting. The billions of dollars spent every year to generate this garbage and drill it into the empty heads of gullible students constitutes a sin: the sin of incontinence. The money would be better spent on amusement parks.

The American people need to wake up and realize that they’re being scammed, if not outright robbed. For all the money they spend on higher education, they’re only getting garbage for it. As for the alumni who support these idiot factories with lavish gifts of money, shame on them: they have to stop doing it.

This is the result of insisting that everyone, no matter how intellectually undistinguished, must go to college.

Read a few chapters of this book and see if your head doesn’t start pounding.

 

A Cornucopia of B.S.

Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race,  Gender, and Identity―and Why This Harms Everybody: Pluckrose, Helen,  Lindsay, James: 9781634312028: Amazon.com: Books

I’m reading and reviewing this book for Chalcedon–or maybe I should say “trying to read it.” It’s an analysis, by two self-identified liberals, of all the Far Left Crazy bullschiff bubbling out of our colleges and universities these days, all the “Critical Theory” that’s addling human minds from coast to coast.

The authors are afraid that this movement, before it can devour itself, will grow so obnoxious, so demonstrably harmful, that it’ll drive millions of normal people into the arms of the “Far Right,” whoever that may be. Everyone who’s not a lib, I suspect. We are talking about authors who, in their spare time, are always looking under the bed for those looming “theocracies” they’re so afraid of. And then what’ll happen to their precious LGBT, transgender, and cockeyed humanist notions?

It can’t happen soon enough, says I.

Meanwhile, I’m finding it tough sledding to bull my way through all this analysis of poppycock that actually defies analysis–and indeed is purposely constructed to defy analysis. I mean, there’s only so much of this that anyone who’s not a kollege kook can take!

I guess I’ll write my review next week, wanting to get it out there before Election Day. I need hardly say that none of this nonsense would be possible without the lunatic sponsorship and support of the Democrat Party. That bunch needs an exorcist… big-time.

My Old Horror Novels

Schoolhouse by Lee Duigon

Pretty hokey cover, isn’t it? But that was Schoolhouse, my second published novel, from 1988.

My wife has been re-reading my old horror novels. I sold the first one, Lifeblood, in 1986 and the last one, Mind Stealer, came out in 1990. Not a very long career.

Anyway, she thinks these are terrific horror novels. It makes me wonder if anyone else out there has read them. Brief descriptions follow:

Lifeblood: A vampire preys on the people of an affluent suburban township.

Schoolhouse: This school is haunted by a lot more than just ghosts.

Precog: Can psychic powers be created by science? Rather harrowing, finding out.

Mind Stealer: What happens when you mix business theory with devilish occult practices?

Look, it was a long time ago, I was writing because it seemed my only chance to achieve something, anything, in life–and then the horror market imploded in 1990 and a lot of us horror writers got cast aside. Adios, muchachos.

I don’t write books like this anymore. I don’t write solely for my own aggrandizement anymore: if my books don’t serve Christ’s Kingdom, they might as well not be written. The horror novels are full of all those dirty words and morally dubious behaviors that seemed so up-to-date and with-it back then. But they also contain some memorable scenes and characters and I would rate them as very good examples of that kind of literature.

Some of you will disagree with me, but I don’t think that horror novels or horror movies are entirely without merit. If nothing else, a good one can blow out the cobwebs. It can, for a little time, allow you to forget the real horror of a nation menaced by Democrats. A good scare, administered by a haint or a monster that doesn’t really exist and will soon go away, has a therapeutic value.

The worldly monsters that we have to deal with, they never go away.