“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.

Sanity – a Novel is Published

It took longer than gestating a real baby, but I published the novel yesterday, for Kindle only so far. The print version requires a lot more work to get right, but there will be one within the week–I personally like to read books.

The eminent Nick B. Steves was an early reader and I trust he won’t mind me quoting a bit of his response:

I had the chance to read in on a flight to Phoenix. It was dynamite. Couldn’t put it down…

SANITY is soaked in an anti-modernist critique that long-time lurkers will find as comfortable as an old shoe. It doesn’t preach, but rather assumes the sale. For those who’ve drunk deeply at the NRx water-cooler, there will be many cleverly hidden Easter Eggs.

I previously posted about the process of writing and the part fiction could play in making our culture and society less worser. I hope you will buy and read the book and if so inclined, review it.

I’ll have more to say about the details soon. One more time:

Sanity – a Novel

 

An Excerpt from My Novel “Sanity”

Awhile back someone on Twitter asked who was going to be the Tom Wolfe of the Dark Enlightenment/Red Pill (I’ll find it and give credit in due time). I decided it might as well be me, and I’ve been working on it for some weeks now. It will probably be mid-summer before it’s published, but while we wait for the fruits here’s a sample (yeah, my fictional style is different, and yeah, it’s present tense and no, it’s not the final edit):

Continue reading

Civil War 2.0 Will Be Livestreamed

My latest for The Mitrailleuse:

The events of this summer are a taste of what’s to come in the fall, and even more so, November 9, 2016.

Someone is going to win the Presidential election, and regardless of whether it’s Trump or Clinton, the loser’s supporters are going to feel existential angst about America, and their place in it, far beyond the usual.

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Thousand-Year War

Nine hundred might be more accurate, but who’s counting?

Outside in points us toward PopeHat‘s GamerGate epic, but my eye was quickly caught by Clark’s immediately preceding Strange Seeds on Distant Shores. For those who have read important parts of the Moldbuggian Canon, there’s nothing startling here, but the last few paragraphs did cause my thoughts to take a slight detour:

Having an accurate view of the world is rewarding in its own right, but it’s especially nice when the alternative is being blindfolded and punched in the face.

If you think that the today’s headlines are primarily, or even largely, about today, you’re mistaken: they’re just reports from the latest skirmishes in a war started a thousand years ago because of climate change and technological progress.

If you think that because you’re on the winning side of the culture wars the footnotes are boring or irrelevant, I suggest that you’re wrong. I think that over the next decade or two the Roundheads (read Harvard Yankees) are going to take a major fall. Like dwarves delving too deep or Hitler pushing too far into the East, the irrational exuberance (not to say hubris) of roaming the culture war battlefield and humiliating your downed opponents before brutally executing them can have detrimental effects.

Now this may just be wishful thinking; I’m not sure what this “major fall” would look like in “real life.” Will reactionaries be able to spout their views in New York Times editorials and keep their positions as CEOs of major corporations? Will trannies go back in the closet? Will immigration laws be enforced? Will Nigel Farage become PM (damn, wouldn’t THAT be fun to watch?)?

I’ll say it straight out, I’m on the “Red Team” for partly aesthetic reasons. Any man or woman worth their weight in salt would recoil in disgust at the average “SJW” getting in their face. Of course, the average SJW doesn’t get in anybody’s face; SHe posts fake death threats against herself on web forums, then arranges for the evidence to be forwarded to a prog site with connection to the MSM. I’ve been saying for quite a few years that people will only take so much, that when they are really, truly up against the wall they’ll fight (and more cynical members of the reactosphere have called me hopelessly optimistic). One of the few examples where the progs have been stymied is their program of “gun control” in the US. Now, except for the government, Red Team has most of the guns. I always figured that as the last final argument that would prevent the Jacobin Terror, USA.

Maybe #GamerGate will be a spark. Maybe trannies are a bridge too far. Or maybe, and more likely to my mind, Hitler has only just crossed into the Soviet Union, and there will be a whole lot more shit, and casualties, to come, before the pendulum swings back to any significant degree.

Maybe We Don’t Need to Win, Just Have Our Own Vine and Fig Tree

A few days ago I made some future references, quick comments and excerpts on others’ posts and ideas that needed fleshing out. The problem is that in the meantime more ideas and posts come down the pike from the many fine bloggers and commenters around the NRx. It’s like drinking from a fire hose, eating an elephant, among other tired cliches.

Then one swallow/bite at a time. Free Northerner gave us a Winning Conservative Strategy and as a former “political professional” I very much enjoyed his ideas, and especially visualizing what they would look like in practice. The picture of a bunch of sign-waving agitators in front of some Prog CEO’s home, yelling at him every time he takes out the garbage, is rather delicious, indeed. A certain portion of the ideas in Free Northerner’s piece were put into practice by the late St. Breitbart, though sadly none of his heirs seem to have stirred up near the trouble for the Left that he did, personally.

The incisive Henry Dampier then did his own spin on what he calls FN’s “laudable goals.” Bottom line: It would probably cost a lot more than a mere $142 million to merely make the effort as outlined, and:

  • Facing an enemy with far greater material resources, it is necessary instead to use unorthodox methods rather than direct confrontation to disrupt and destroy the systempunkts within their economic machinery.
  • Direct confrontation can be easily contained by the left: it is like a frontal assault on a fixed position with a predictable result.
  • The left can trivially contain any direct attack, because it is politically well-fortified against such attacks. It is like trying to attack Rommel’s tank divisions with a bunch of drunk amateurs driving golf carts. They will break at the first sight of the Panzers, and it is not responsible to tell them that they have a chance to win against him.

Agreed. To restate it in a slightly different direction, I don’t believe it’s possible to change society (including the whole of “The West” within that) through some kind of educational, political or propaganda action, given current conditions. As long as Real Housewives, NFL football and internet porn are available for the masses, as long as the grocery stores have some reasonable levels of foodstuffs, as long as the stations have gasoline, and, especially, as long as the welfare, food stamp and unemployment EBT cards still work, there will not be the levels of general desperation in the big democracies for the kind of mass scale upheaval that would result in regime change and a reorganization on nationwide levels to some kind of fiscally conservative, soundly moral society.

Having gotten this aired, it’s actually the earlier part of Free Northerner’s post that I’d like to talk about here:

Escalation dominance essentially means the actor controlling the highest level of violence (in the book’s case, nuclear weapons) can control all lower levels of violence by threatening to escalate the conflict to a higher level of violence. By controlling the tempo and threat of escalation, this actor can steer a conflict in such ways as to win lower level conflicts even in areas where he may be weaker.

(…)

Controlling the highest level of violence in American politics means that Conservative can control the tempo of lower-violence political conflicts (voting, law-making, regulation enforcement, etc.) and control the escalation of political violence (ie: voting to voter fraud; debate to ideological firings) through the implied threat of further escalation (you witch hunt me and take my job, I witch hunt you and take your job and reputation; you escalate to assault, I escalate to shooting).

I repeat: I am not advocating shooting liberals or doing anything illegal. My strategy does not include physical violence or criminality. I am simply explaining a concept that will under-gird the strategy.

While I haven’t read the book To Win a Nuclear War that he references, Game Theory is something that I do understand, and either the authors or FN have gone wrong, somewhere. Deterrence of this type works on the principle that the stronger side is actually prepared to use its weapons, even were it to result in the destruction of both sides. So all of Free Northerner’s caveats at the end of the quote essentially invalidate the beginning. The strategy only works if you are actually ready to shoot someone, as many someones as it takes to get your point across and cow the opposition into submission. Thus, his conservative’s campaign to cow the left is built on quicksand.

I don’t want to shoot anybody either. I mean I really, really don’t want it to come to that. Exit, partition, groups of like-minded people going their own way; that’s what I’m hoping for and expecting in the coming years, rather than some actual civil war. However, the basics of deterrence and of “escalation dominance” are already in place, at least in the U.S. and to a lesser extent, Canada.

Isn’t it intriguing that gun laws are practically the only thing that hasn’t been subject to the leftward “ratchet” over the 20 years? Outside of the sinkholes of New York, California and a few other crowded East Coast states, legal concealed carry has come to most of the U.S. On the federal level, after reaching its high water mark in 1993 with the ban on scary “assault weapon” pistol grips and large-capacity mags, so-called gun control is essentially a dead issue. Obama and his minions had their chances, and they didn’t even make a real effort outside of speechifying.

Why not? Escalation dominance.

The United States is in a unique position in world history in that it has a massively armed general population (yeah, Switzerland, big deal). The reason that there has never been a real confiscation effort, no matter how much Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer and Barack Obama want one, is that there is near-certainty that too many people would shoot back. In addition, no one knows how many police would actually carry out the orders. In Connecticut this year, tens of thousands of firearms owners apparently refused to comply with new laws, and the State Police were forced to reassure everyone that there would be no door-to-door gun confiscations.

The Left is pretty confident that they can drain the productive economy, reward their allies in business, finance and entertainment, heap scorn on Christians and decency, and get away with it. But they piss their pants at actually going out and prying real firearms out of real people’s hands.

I believe this is why there really will be a fairly amicable parting of the ways between the Left and the Reaction. American leftoids mostly don’t have the balls to shoot and/or imprison enough people who want to separate and live in a different way. They can keep their pesthole big cities and most of the tax-consuming population. Hell, they can keep everything but a few productive, healthy city-states.

Because mostly, from the President on down, they’re keyboard warriors who can’t hit what they’re aiming at.