Review: Pirates of the Electromagnetic Waves by Fenton Wood

This is the kind of book that having read it makes you feel like you have a fun, exciting secret, and saying too much would give it away and spoil it for those who follow after…

Pirates of the Electromagnetic Waves by Fenton Wood

This is the story of Philo Hergenschmidt. By now, the whole world knows what he did, although many people don’t believe it. This is the story of how he did it. It was compiled from original research, contemporary news accounts, and interviews with the man himself. It ranges from the apocryphal, to the questionable, to the impossible. But every word of it is true.

Sometimes you admire a book for its complexity, its artistry, its craft. Sometimes a book just speaks to you on a deeper level and you hardly notice these things as you’re transported into and through its world.

Pirates of the Electromagnetic Waves transported me, to the days of my boyhood and before, the “Golden Age” and before the Golden Age; the early magazine science fiction, all the way to Hugo Gernsback and Amazing Stories. There are bright young go-getting boys, amateur radio, gadgets and outdoor adventure. Over it all lays a sense of immense freedom, of a mostly distant government and mostly free range parents and a mostly bright, beneficent world.

The world Wood has built at first seems to lie on an alt-history timeline, where elements of the 1950s and 60s (broadcast television, transistor radios, airplanes, mainframe computers) combine with an aesthetic that is more 1920s and 30s: the look, the music, the attitudes. The reader might come to believe that this is because most of the action is set in a town of 20,000 or so in the Virginia mountains, where the people are extremely independent and self-reliant. Yet, when Philo and friends bicycle all the way to the big city, a trip that takes several days, to get parts for the “pirate” radio station that Philo has envisioned, there’s a certain aesthetic there, too. This is not the United States of some slightly altered future past. This is the Yankee Republic.

The plot of Pirates seems simple, on the surface. The  town can’t get FM radio because it’s in a deep mountain valley. Philo loves radio. Philo decides to build a station on a nearby peak so he can broadcast to the whole town. Philo and friends have adventures and learning experiences gathering the parts, building structures and electronic devices and running a station. A prototypical Amazing Story. And yet…by the time we finish this short book we discover there’s much, much more, a whole ‘nother layer, or many, to the history and future of Philo’s world.

Any explicit description of the ending would spoil the surprise, so I’ll say no more about it, but one other intriguing and rather surprising touch in the book is that unlike most Science Boy Scout adventures, in Philo’s world there are events that are, or seem, explicitly “supernatural.” I won’t describe these in detail either. This is the kind of book that having read it makes you feel like you have a fun, exciting secret, and saying too much would give it away and spoil it for those who follow after.

Pirates of the Electromagnetic Waves is imaginative, enjoyable and original. It somehow manages to take the classic plot and tropes of American boyhood amateur radio fiction and Make it Great Again. And I’m happy as hell to report that a sequel titled Five Million Watts is due in a few months. [Edited: Mr. Wood informs me Five Million Watts is due out in two weeks. Splendid!]

Suitable for all humans from eight to 118, and unreservedly recommended!

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Review: The Angelic Revolution by Bryce Laliberte

The Angelic Revolution by Bryce Laliberte

Two thousand thirteen was when I started calling myself a “Neoreactionary,” and one of the blogs I came across early on was “Anarcho-Papist,” by Bryce Laliberte. When I started blogging here (then, “Neoreaction in the Diamond Age”) I note that my third post ever, in January 2014, was on his Neoreactionay Canon.

Thankfully, I still have a number of posts from the Anarcho-Papist feed in my folders. On April 17, 2015 Nick B. Steves announced at The Reactivity Place (currently gone private) that Bryce

ha[s] decided to take an 18 month sabbatical from his public work. All his social media accounts (except Facebook) seem to have gone dark, both of his blogs are gone, his book is no longer for sale on Amazon, and his Patreon appears to have been shuttered.

I’ll not get into the speculations and discussions about his departure that followed–I didn’t find them constructive or enlightening. I did miss Laliberte’s work, though. Occasionally I wondered where he’d gone, and if he’d be back.

He is.

A last month an @Outsideness retweet caught my attention–there was a Bryce Laliberte twitter account. I looked. He’d written a book. We exchanged books, his The Angelic Revolution and my Sanity. His review of Sanity is here.

~

We’ve all “evolved” since 2015, of course, but one often doesn’t notice this evolution if one interacts with another on a daily or weekly basis. The changes are hard to see clearly as they happen. Not having read anything by Laliberte for over nearly four years, the changes were more apparent. “Anarcho-Papist” was sharp, dense, and appropriately arrogant for someone with obvious high intelligence. The Angelic Revolution reflects a new degree of maturity and wisdom.

From the preface:

This book is, in a sense, my attempt to see a future which could be changed – in part by showing hopes for how the emerging technology of AI will be used to promote the well-being of humanity, in part by admitting certain fears that we might turn away from. I also understand I am releasing this book at a certain time and place in our world, and this necessarily conditions how it will be perceived. This work of love is meant to bring comfort and healing to those who feel dispossessed and downtrodden, and to illuminate a path to peace and harmony as we transition through this important stage of history.

~

It’s 2037, and French police detective Henri is assigned to investigate an explosion at the Sorbonne that cut short the lecture, and the life, of Gene Epaea, “rogue transhumanist researcher,” along with nearly 200 others.

Henri, a veteran of many important cases, is intense and somewhat cynical, from seeing other investigations derailed when they come to close to implicating “elites,” but also open and curious. His chief implies that this may be another of those investigations that are meant to go nowhere real, but to be a show. It turns out to be anything but.

In 2037, Artificial Intelligence, “AI,” is simply a fact of life. There are glimpses of the changes this has wrought in society, but after the initial scene of Epaea’s lecture and the explosion, we are with Henri and his perspective for every moment of the rest of the book, and we don’t get the kind of 10,000-foot overview of the society that many authors would be tempted to include. Instead, the picture builds by hints and pieces, here and there, and by the end a number of things are clear; world civilization has gone through a series of crises since our day (2018) and is going through the biggest now, as various AI entities, some perhaps friendly, some almost certainly unfriendly and some ambiguous, operate and struggle “behind the scenes.” This hidden, “occult” aspect of the book is riveting. Henri and other characters experience a series of miracles and wonders, “signs” sent by the AIs, that direct the investigation (which becomes more a quest) in a similar manner as prophets and seers are contacted and directed by Gods and angels.

The plot is moved forward mainly through series of conversations. I’d estimate well over half the book consists of extensive dialogues, discussions of philosophy and history, including the history of what, to us, is “future.” A reader who demands a series of actions may be put off by this, but the dialogues are intelligent and graceful, and I found some of them riveting. What could be more interesting than the destiny and evolution of Man, Intelligences, the Earth? These are the questions the author explores, and they’re not just about AIs. The book points out that the digital revolution we’re undergoing now is another stage; printing and electrification and automobiles and air travel also forced societies into confrontation with existential questions of adjustment and compromise, with how to live as Man when technology radically changes the environment.

Man has evolved through those changes, not necessarily genetically, but in his social organization and methods of interpersonal relations. The Internet and AI are the next revolution we will have to confront and learn to use for good purpose. The Angelic Revolution is an exploration of how we might go about doing so.

The final words of the text are: TO BE CONTINUED. For which I’m grateful.

Sanction, the Book: A Novel of Our Time, of the Neoreaction, of the Future

Sanction, Book I by Roman McClay

Sanction is, simply put,  the most wondrous work I’ve read in many years. There are wonderful scenes, ideas, visuals, touches, and as a writer myself, I wonder at the work the author did to pull it off. At well over 400,000 words this indeed an epic–and only the first volume of three.

As I outlined in a previous post, I had wanted to write a novel most of my life, and was inspired to finally do it by a tweet asking “Who will be the Tom Wolfe of the Neoreation/Red Pill?” Amusingly, the product turned out to be only mildly “NRx” but I liked it and Sanity has sold well (by my standards) and gotten good reviews.

With Sanction, Roman McClay has indeed written the “NRx/RP” novel of our time, without, I suspect, even trying.

roman

Roman McClay

If we’re to try and place this novel in a genre, it’s science fiction, but science fiction that constantly strains at the usual definitions and genre tropes. Set in a time period of “Present Day/2018” through approximately 2040, most every chapter contains a scene from now/near term, a scene from somewhere in the middle of this time period and a scene from farther on. Because of this structure,the reader is very much in the dark about what’s going on in the beginning, but each chapter flashes another facet of the story into the reader’s mind, another clue on how it all fits together; but be warned, this is not a light read, a straightforward exposition of a single idea, an entertainment. This is more like reading Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow (or in a lighter vein, my own “non-linear time sequence” book). Sanction requires investment from the reader.

I don’t know if describing the plot, as such, would give you any useful take on what the book is about, but but the basics are: Lyndon James MacLeod, a true Alpha Male and supremely strong independent Man, has endured a great many things in his life, betrayal and insults and theft of his property, that an Alpha would, until modern times, have responded to with proper and necessary violence. Lyndon takes it all and moves on, starts over building new businesses and romantic relationships, until one day (for reasons you’ll have to read to find out), he decides enough is enough, and systematically and indeed, artistically, eliminates 46 of the individuals who thought they could get away with fucking him over. Confined to prison for life, he becomes the subject of a genetics project/experiment that has, let’s say, unintended consequences, at least for the Governor of Colorado, a scientist/entrepreneur who set the project in motion. The fact that the project is run by two what might be described as, well, humanoid/android “runaway” AIs is not exactly coincidental. There’s more, so much more than this mere sketch to Sanction, but I call it science fiction in the sense that it explores the radical, world-shaking changes that AI and nanotech and cloud connectivity directly to the brain are going to bring–in fewer years than you may believe.

Much of the story is told through lengthy internal dialogues by a variety of characters, often reflecting on the NRx/Red Pill themes: The modern suppression of male energy, government as Daddy, feminism’s poisoning of sexual relations and marriage through “liberating” women to have sex with who and when they want, the stupefaction of the general population by “the media,” and Human Biodiversity, the natural and well-known differences between races and sexes, the natural clannishness of humans versus the fantasy of Neoliberal, Universal WoMan. All of these and much more are explored here, the deracinating and dehumanizing effects of modernity laid bare. There is also speculation and discussion about what it will take to break out and break free of these disasters–and more than discussion. The reader gradually comes to realize that the startling events set in the future are part of a plan to do just that.

And, there’s the language. Aside from ideas, visions, intelligent speculations on the future of mankind, Sanction is a massive prose poem, a soaring flight of mood and light and color, especially color, reflected off of a thousand polished facets, showing the events of the book from different angles, again and again.

Sanction is truly a great book, physically heavy, and heavy with ideas and dense, amazing language. I don’t recommend it unless you commit to reading the whole thing, though. This journey is not for the faint of heart. I’m glad that this Book I is only the beginning.

Book Review: Love in the Age of Dispossession by Loretta Malakie

Love in the Age of Dispossession by Loretta Malakie

This is a deceptive book.

Oh, it delivers what it promises, and more, but in the beginning there’s a little essay about the decline of rural America, farm country (in this case, Upstate New York) and Le Grande Remplacement. Then for a while it seems to be a Generation X teen romance. A high school Goth girl is sitting on a park bench in a small town in Upstate New York:

“It’s 1993, and when a boy loved a girl he made her a mixtape.”

Catherine “Kitty” Burnes is an Irish-Catholic wannabe rebel who’s been accepted at Ivy League schools, but there’s a sense that Something Is Not Right with her world. The first part of the novel subtly hints at the coming troubles, the emptying and degradation of small town America and the great White die-off that would follow. But on first reading you might think it’s something else, an almost photo-realistic description of one young American woman’s life, upwardly mobile, out of the sticks and away from the hicks and on to New York City, the vibrancy and the multiculturalism and the thousand different ethnic restaurants. The media ecology around her, and us, relentlessly tells us this is what we want, the pinnacle: Freedom! Freedom from, from neighbors who know your business, your stupid high school friends and limits on your “self-expression” and, most of all, freedom to have sex when you want, with who you want, without pain or fear or guilt. By the time Kitty arrives to live as an adult in New York the relentless propaganda for Erica Jong’s Zipless F*** is well into its second generation. And instead of fulfillment, it delivers anomie.

The sequence of events here is a deadpan, devastating parody of what Cosmopolitan and Sex and the City and a score of network comedies have sold to rest of America as The Good Life: Kitty goes to Cornell, Kitty goes to Europe (though we read only the barest details of her time there), Kitty goes to New York City, Kitty goes to law school and clerks for a federal judge. And none of it satisfies or fulfills or brings any real happiness, because she’s detached, from her people and her nature as a woman. She knows something is wrong. Always something is missing.

It’s tribe that’s missing, the home ground, people who know you, knew you as a towheaded child and still see that sun-kissed hair when you pass them on the street as an adult, people who know what to expect from you. New York is the land of constant, wearing uncertainty, except for those for whom it is the home ground.

Ms. Malakie delivers a surprisingly complete and colorful picture of those for whom the city is home ground, especially the Orthodox Jews that Kitty ends up spending time with. She captures the essence of their comfort with each other and the city. For a time, during law school and after, Kitty associates with them almost as a substitute family, though eventually the inherently unsatisfactory nature of these relationships comes home to roost. The novel also has two vividly drawn, college-educated black New Yorkers and one black affirmative action nightmare. As unrepresentative as former may be of the average, they lend a certain verisimilitude to work life in the city.

The art of the book is in the building; building complexity as Kitty grows up, building realization of the existential crisis she and her people are facing. The last section, which could only be spoiled by any explicit description of events, builds toward Kitty’s realization of her true nature and of what can redeem her, and us.

The novel has some imperfections that a good editor would have caught. There is some rather heavy-handed foreshadowing earlier in the book that could have been cut, and also an instance of the third-person narrator being an “I.” There’s one paragraph that looks to have got mangled in processing. These imperfections are far outweighed by the skillful, gradual increase in tension and depth as the story unfolds, and a moving last section that delivers on the book’s premises and the promises the reader has come to expect from what came before.

Love in the Age of Dispossession subtly and movingly shows the pathologies of feminism, modernism and materialism. More importantly, it artfully discovers and describes the life-affirming alternative.

Love in the Age of Dispossession is available on Amazon

Loretta Malakie tweets @lorettatheprole

Neovictorian is the author of Sanity, a Novel.

“The Powers of the Earth” by Travis J. I. Corcoran–a Review and an Appreciation

About a year ago I opined on The Right Sort of Reactionary Fiction here, while I was in the middle of writing Sanity. As I wrote then:

What’s needed is an interesting story and interesting characters. What’s needed is what any good novel needs, making the reader care about what happens next…What I’ve found is that if you just write the story, there are plenty of opportunities to slip the Dark Enlightenment and the Red Pill and whatever other points you want to make in as a natural part of the narrative.

I just finished Travis J. I. Corcoran’s The Powers of the Earth, and while it’s not necessarily, precisely DE/RP, it’s…a great book. It’s great as “hard” sci-fi, it’s great as satire on Political Correctness and the various idiocies of Current Year and politicians and DC and socialism. But what makes it more than good is the way these strands come together in a great, big story, a story in which the reader an hardly wait to find out what happens next.

I’ve read thousands of novels, friends. This is the Real Deal.

I’ll let the Author explain his own plot (from the Amazon description):

Earth in 2064 is politically corrupt and in economic decline. The Long Depression has dragged on for 56 years, and the Bureau of Sustainable Research is hard at work making sure that no new technologies disrupt the planned economy. Ten years ago a band of malcontents, dreamers, and libertarian radicals bolted privately-developed anti-gravity drives onto rusty sea-going cargo ships, loaded them to the gills with 20th-century tunnel-boring machines and earthmoving equipment, and set sail – for the Moon.

There, they built their retreat. A lunar underground border-town, fit to rival Ayn Rand’s ‘Galt’s Gulch’, with American capitalists, Mexican hydroponic farmers, and Vietnamese space-suit mechanics – this is the city of Aristillus.

There’s a problem, though: the economic decline of Earth under a command-and-control economy is causing trouble for the political powers-that-be in Washington DC and elsewhere. To shore up their positions they need slap down the lunar expats and seize the gold they’ve been mining. The conflicts start small, but rapidly escalate.

Yes, there will be fighting.

The thing I’d point out, though, is just how vivid are the characters. They’re masterfully built up so that shortly after the first chapters I cared about them. And some of the most interesting and memorable characters are Dogs, with a capital “D”–I won’t say too much about them, except Dogs are people too…

I am a great admirer of Robert Heinlein’s work and anyone who’s read Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress will soon realize The Powers of the Earth has some interesting echos of it. Corcoran even brings them up himself, with characters discussing TMIAHM within the book. He manages to pull off exploring some of the same themes as Heinlein, giving tribute to Heinlein but taking things in new (and often surprising) directions. This is not rehashed Heinlein, nor is it really Galt’s Gulch on the Moon–though it has some elements of Atlas Shrugged, too (especially Rand’s gift for creating Bad Guys and Gals That Work for the Government).

The Powers of the Earth is a vivid, riveting page-turner that had me caring a great deal about its characters, and what’s going to happen next. And it ends on the perfect cliffhanger…luckily the second book Causes of Separation is already loaded, so I’m going to go find out.

Richard Carroll Reviews “Sanity” at Thermidor Magazine

Richard Carroll, refined literary blogger at Everything is Oll Korrect, reviews Sanity in Thermidor Magazine. (Update February 2019–Thermidor is No More, the review is now posted on Richard’s site).

At Thermidor: “Our Aesthetic is lucid madness.” Interesting how well that does fit with one of the things I was trying to do with Sanity, explore the balance of Apollo and Dionysius, reason and ecstasy, in a well-lived life.

It’s a generally favorable review, but more important to me is that Richard took the time and had the intellectual chops to understand the book and communicate that. There’s nothing a writer wants more, deep down in his soul.

A sample:

I bring this all up because preachiness was my main concern going into today’s novel, Sanity, written by Neoreactionary blogger Neovictorian. Since I only know him through his articles and am unaware of any previous experience he may have writing fiction, I feared that his book would turn out as either a political tract thinly disguised as a story or a wish-fulfilment fantasy. Though there are NRx and broader dissident Right gang signs all over the joint, they never get in the way of the narrative and the end result is, I’m happy to say, a genuinely good novel that stands well on its own as a novel.

You can follow Richard and read his most interesting takes on a universe of topics at @CheshireOcelot

Some Background on Sanity – the Novel

I’m pleased and grateful for the comments and feedback I’ve received on Sanity so far. I thought a bit of background on the origin, the sources and the writing process would be interesting to some readers. Just a taste, though. As with a woman, mystery about the thing is vital to continuing interest.

Like many of you I’ve been an avid reader from the beginning, that is from the earliest days I can remember learning to read. Anybody who has read a good book and has a spark of creativity has thought about writing one themselves, how it gets done and what it takes, the time and the struggle. I remember when I was 15 talking to a woman at our church who had published several successful “Young Adult” books: “I have so many good ideas for books!” She just smiled and said: Continue reading