“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.

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Sanity, the Paperback

The paperback of Sanity is now available. I’m with the crowd that still prefers real books–though reading on a screen has its times and places.

Turns out that preparing a book for print is far more difficult than the e-version. I fiddled with the images and the layout for days.

You’ll note there’s a different cover. Let’s not get into the technical details of that. I think it looks sort of cool and faintly menacing, though. So I’m good with it.

If Mike Hammer had a son with Dagny Taggart, he might have turned out something like Cal Adler, the hero of Sanity. Just in case you were wondering.

America 3.0, Richard Fernandez and Prophets Without Honor

Outside in pointed us to this column by Richard Fernandez (nee “Wretchard”) from the other day.

“Opportunity”:

If people go their separate ways such a divorce would be an astonishing defeat for the Left. For the first time since 1917 it would be giving up its claim to guide the entire in order to settle for parts.  As late as 2016 it was possible to imagine an America led to a “progressive” future by Hillary Clinton;  an EU guiding all of Europe to a similar destiny and the G20 taking the whole world to the same destination.  Indeed everyone told they were fated to follow an Arc of History.  Yet after Brexit, Trump and G-Zero it is no longer possible to visualize this outcome.  A blue-red division would confirm the failure to create a “progressive” world. No conceivable rollback will ever put Humpty Dumpty together again.

While this would be bad for the political ambitions of the Left, the people on the Left may actually benefit.  The alternative to the gloom doom scenario is to recognize that we may in fact be on a pathway to a new American century, a new epoch of world prosperity.  Except that it will be a different America and a different globe.

As I commented, this reminded me of the book America 3.0 by James Bennett (The Anglosphere Challenge) and Michael Lotus (aka “Lexington Green”).

I think it’s a good and informative read, but if you have no desire to get the book, the authors published an excerpt/summary at American Enterprise Institute.

America 3.0 came out over four years ago, before I was fully “NRx” but well on my way, and I think I first heard of it on Instapundit. Glenn Reynolds (who also wrote the preface) did a number of positive posts on the book. I started writing about it on a previous blog, but at the time I was puzzled at how little traction the book was getting on the “Outer Right.” I wrote, I commented, and with one or two exceptions, the reaction was, “Meh.”

I wasn’t really sure why the negative reaction, or just plain lack of it, but three guesses; 1) Too “mainstream,” doesn’t fit into Moldbug’s worldview” (I’d been reading Moldbug for a year or so by mid-2013); 2) Too optimistic, “Don’t even try to tell me that Progs aren’t going to succeed at bringing on the Gotterdammerung! What fun will the future be without some shit burning down?” and, related; 3) Too unrealistic, “DC will never, ever give up a scintilla of power over states, localities and every grain of sand, and Boomers will never, ever take a benefit cut!”

Experience of the last 100 years is, indeed, enough to make one cynical and suspicious of optimism about the evolution of government, but I think to be fair to the authors of America 3.0 we should review a few of their specifics (from the introduction and Chapter 1, much of which is available free on the Amazon “look inside”):

America 2.0 was, in many ways, great in its day. But it is over. The technological and economic changes we foresee are already happening, or about to happen. The government sector is in a state of decay reminiscent of the Brezhnev period of the Soviet Union, with apparatchiks with no new ideas repeating the same clichés and the same failed policies, seemingly unaware that their system is doomed…

We have a long way to go before we replace the twentieth century state and economy with their successors. It is too early to pick an end date for America 2.0, which will only become apparent in hindsight…

NEW MORNING

It is 2040…The Social Payments Resolution Fund is still making payments to [Boomers] , but most of them had accepted the lump-sum termination payment of 2028 during the Third Fiscal Reform…

The new manufacturing revolution has been instrumental in keeping material wants cheap…New England (minus, of course, New Hampshire) was the first to set up a multistate authority to take over their portion of the federal health care system…

As a result of the Reforms, the United States now has 71 states, none of which have more than eight million inhabitants. These have arranged themselves into a series of state compacts, and special-purpose agreements between compacts, so that the Northeast and Great Lakes areas form a network with relatively high taxes and levels of government supplied social services…

The Texases, as they are now called, since they exercised their right to divide into five states, form their own compact…

[N]umerous shareware programs are available for the standard house-printing machines…

The war on drugs is long over…

Decentralization encourages the “Big Sort” as families seek out the kind of communities they want to live in…

I think that’s enough to give you the overview without copyright violation. It is optimistic, though the authors acknowledge that pain that will happen during the transition…a transition which in 2013 they claimed had begun to stir, and which I think is farther along in some ways than they may have anticipated, just four years on.

I hope you have the time and inclination to read the book, for there is certainly a lot more to it than in my overview. It’s funny, but recently I have several times on Twitter read something that moves me to recite the words of Jesus (Mark 6:4-6):

A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.

It seems to me that Bennett and Lotus haven’t gotten the long-term honor that they merit from the various flavors of the Right: Patchwork, Tech-Cap, Traditionalist communities of the like-minded; all are explicit or implicit in America 3.0 and the authors give what I think are excellent historical, practical reasons for their vision of the future.

I think the book is prophetic. Perhaps the transitions will be messier and bloodier than the authors envision, but they deserve a lot more honor on the Right than they have gotten to date.

(I touched on these issues and this book in the early days of this blog in On Implementation and Possible NRx Territories: Alaska. I think those pieces have held up pretty well, despite being positively ancient in Internet Time.)

My Latest at The Mitrailleuse: Backward Causality and the Current Year

Backward-downward-causation-in-neuro-biological-processes-on-the-basis-of

One of the best things about getting older is that the “amusement quotient” increases, almost geometrically…

Read the rest at The Mitrailleuse

The Last Boy Scout: On Taking a Positive Turn

In some sense, this is an update to my Addicted to Distraction post at The Mitrailleuse. Let me just note what worked: On a few individual days since, I’ve got up and read the local paper for local stories of interest like the weather and school sports, gone to work and completely ignored the swirling events of the “news” for an entire day, got a lot of work done, and felt very content and satisfied heading home in the evening.

Other days, I reverted to my old habits to an extent–spent breaks and lunch hours reading blogs and web pages and posting tweets. Listened to the “news” on the radio on the way to work. Read entire articles about the war, or whatever it is, in Yemen and the one in Syria and the one, apparently in Kenya. Am I the better for this?

No.

During those evenings there has been more anxiety, less energy, and, strangely, even more tweet reading and “reacting.” It’s not really that anything is so bad about what my friends are saying and posting; in fact, given the quality of the blogs and Twitter accounts I follow, the content is well written and on point about the problems of our age, and what ought to be done about them…yet I can feel a certain negativity, even despair, being driven right into my soul by all of this. There is such a thing as pessimism porn, and though I don’t see it as the main thrust of the Reactosphere or the Dark Enlightenment, he who hath eyes to see knows it’s there. Even someone as level and grounded as Malcolm Pollock indulges in it when discussing the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton:

Mind you, I might be coming round to Hillary’s camp myself. As I mentioned in a comment last month, “there are times — and they are more frequent now — when I think that the only way to move beyond this tottering wreck, and begin to build whatever we can upon its rubble, is to help it fall, as quickly as possible.” If that’s the goal, then Hillary’s the gal.

Of course he’s not the first person to express similar sentiments about Mrs. Clinton. Over a year ago, Jack Donovan made the point that Hillary would at least wake up the remaining non-feminized men to the fact that:

President Hillary Clinton will reveal to American men that America is no longer a nation that elevates rugged cowboys and pioneers. That’s the bad, old America. The new America wants its men emasculated, weak, and completely controlled by a corporate-owned state that’s far more concerned with the wants of acquisitive career gals. Who better than Hillary Clinton to put the “nanny” in “nanny state?”

The Hillary Clinton Presidency will drive home the fact that America isn’t “our” country anymore.

We just live here.

Look, I like to do this as much as anybody. Sometimes I indulge in a bit of fantasy myself, imagining that Washington DC has been put to the torch. The cleansing fire will consume that foul nest of corruption and sodomy and finally, finally we can start over and build something clean and decent on the ashes.

But, no.

026

We may get Hillary for President, we may get more regulation of “greenhouse gases” and subsidies for bird-killing wind farms, more subsidies for sodomites in the schools, more “diversity” training and generally, more Prog bullshit thrown in our faces in the coming years, but I. WILL. NOT. DESPAIR. Nor will I “root” for massive destruction of the West in the interest of cleansing.

Beside this list, we may get cheap space travel, cheaper energy, quantum computing, genetically tailored treatments for illness. I have a 10-year-old son, who I’m training to be a Dangerous Child. I can’t change the world, really, I can only change myself, and I can prepare him for whatever may come in his life.

There are, no doubt, some great, horrible, terrible, wonderful things to come in the next years and decades. I choose to meet them with a song in my heart and on my lips. Certainly not “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” but one much older and deeper and substantial, something that will be with us as long as we’re human:

Freude, schöner Götterfunken

Tochter aus Elysium,

Wir betreten feuertrunken,

Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!

Deine Zauber binden wieder

Was die Mode streng geteilt;

Alle Menschen werden Brüder,

Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.

And if that could be created by a Man, I think I can do things more joyfully even in our own Strange Days.

Anomaly UK: Looking Ahead to 2037

From September 2012: Kingdom 2037

It goes along with this backgrounder.

Also, he has something here that I’ve been thinking about for a long time

The highest aim of an ambitious person should be to establish a dynasty which will remain important for generations. It’s not as easy to see how that works in a modern volatile economy as in an agricultural society where land ownership was reliable long-term wealth.

I have one son, which is all I’ll ever have with my wife. He’s nine years old and being raised to make a mark, and have more sons and daughters of his own. Also, I’ve been inoculating him against modernity and political correctness from Day 1. Once he’s an adult he will goeth where he will. But I’ll do my best to help him be a Dangerous Child.

As it happens, I’m working on being a Dangerous Child, too.

Shortly, I’ll have a more substantive post of my own predictions for the future of the US, technical and societal developments, etc.

Until then, think about founding a dynasty.