REVIEW: The Prolapsing Empire by E. Reagan Wright

Thursday , 6, April 2017 5 Comments

This is the one case in short science fiction and fantasy fiction where the author has already delivered that last word on the critical assessment of his own material.

Considering this:

“The Prolapsing Empire is a Hugo Award worthy short story – about 6,500 words – featuring blunt force political message draped with a thin veneer of sci-fi trappings. It’s a genuine tale about the fall of an Empire and how sometimes it just takes one incompetent dolt to expose a corrupt system to enough people to inspire the dominoes to start to fall.”

And this:

“A roller-coaster ride of an emotional journey that resonates with readers everywhere, and which echoes my own journey that I took as I wrote it. I remember when I was watching the frozen burrito slowly spin in the microwave down to the local 7-11 thinking to myself, ‘Man, you really think anyone will notice your story? You think you’ll be able to reach out and touch them with your writing? You think this burrito is done yet? I mean, how many watts is this stupid thing, like twelve – I’m hungry here, damnit.'”

Honestly… there is nothing really else that needs to be said about this story. E. Reagan Wright is simultaneously a grandmaster of science fiction knockoffs and an unsurpassed literary critic. I am in awe.

All kidding aside, there is something more to this work beyond being an extended parody of a major figure in contemporary science fiction. It has to do with E. Reagan Wright’s entry into the game blogging scene. And by that I mean the blogs about tabletop role-playing games, not that other stuff.

I was part of that for a decade and it’s hard to describe what it was like back in the day. Several creators in the scene would freely digress into hot button topics like abortion or gun control, invariably from a far left perspective. Meanwhile, with the exception of a handful of openly Catholic bloggers… the other side just kept their opinions to themselves. On the occasions where people slipped up and revealed an opinion that push the boundaries of “acceptable” discourse, there was always someone on hand to put us on notice. Generally something to the effect of, I really like you and admire you and I am the most loyal reader you’ll ever have and by the way you are fun and talented and winsome and I totally like hanging out with you vicariously, but… DO THAT AGAIN AND YOU WILL BE TOTALLY DEAD TO ME AND I MEAN IT!!!

It’s embarrassing how effective that sort of thing is. The number of people that it shut up over the years… it’s staggering. The effect that it’s had on what’s been published over the past eighty years is astonishing. The impact on what it’s had on what people can even imagine…! It’s mind-blowing.

What do I mean? Can I give you any examples…? Yes I can. Several, even.

  • Most people assume that the field of science fiction is inherently staid, subversive, owned by “serious” looking Carl Sagan types. There are no shortage of Christian or right-wing science fiction fans, but if they’re going to read it, they’re just going to have to hold their nose and read around the dumb parts.
  • Most people are unaware that fantasy as we tend to conceive it is rooted in a deeply Christian view of reality and that whole swaths of its tropes cannot be fully understood apart from concepts of salvation and damnation. They can’t imagine that top tier authors that utilized openly Christian elements defined the genre for the better part of the twentieth century.
  • And then there’s the topic of humor itself. Who decided that only people from the Left were funny…? When did that go down exactly…? Is Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and Harry Harrison really all we’ve got to choose from here…?!

The more you dig into this, the more clear it becomes that it’s not just tabletop game bloggers that were singled out for a bit of low grade coercion and ostracization. An entire generation of authors and creators were subjected to this… and they went from being synonymous with the fantasy and science fiction canon to being unaccountably obscure in my lifetime.

People reading the old stuff, especially the younger ones… it’s telling just how angry they get. They feel like they’ve been lied to, they really do. All this good stuff that is better than anyone told them…? It’s been there all along and no one told them about it even in passing! In fact… they’ve been told over and over how bad it was. But they read it and everything they’d heard… it turns out to not be true.

Just how the scam was put over on us is key. And that’s the first thing anyone will want to tell you, too. It… just happened. There was no active attempt at censorship. Times change. The field… advances. It evolves. And by the way, no one will take you seriously if you indulge in this sort of conspiracy theory stuff. And that is it. That is exactly it. There was a scam. It was political and religious in nature. And it was pulled off precisely because so many people so desperately wanted to be “taken seriously.”

All these people that act like they have to walk on eggshells…? That’s the problem as much as anything. Which is why as goofy and irreverent and sophmoric as someone like E. Reagan Wright is, it’s actually kind of significant when someone like that shows up.

Oh sure, not everyone’s into it. There’s people like the guy that gave the one star review for Prolasping Empire that for a long time was the only Amazon review for the story:

Some people need to get a life…

Yes they do. Indeed… they really do.

And that’s why this is all so funny.

  • That’s the dirty little secret for people afraid they are the only ones out there hiding in plain sight lest the swarm call them out and push them out:

    There are more of us than there are of them.

    The day you throw caution to the wind and start mocking the snowflakes, yes, they will push you out. BUT! If you stick to your guns, you will be amazed at how many people first sidle up and say, “Right on, man,” but how many stand up and say, “Hell, yeah!”

    We are legion. And they know that. That’s why they work so hard to hammer the few who stand up. They are like the grasshoppers in A Bugs Life (complete with forcing Mexicans into low-wage menial servitude). Their whole con depends on nobody noticing how few and fragile they really are. You should have seen how desperately they reacted to one little post on File770. They rushed about patting each other on the shoulder, reminding each other that, “There, there, the big bad Alt-Right DM is an anomaly, safely ignored.” Well, they said that about Jeffor, too, and look at him now! Hip deep in coke and wrist deep in whores from all that lucrative Appendix N money – and he’s all up in their Hugo grill forcing them to expend what little energy they have huffing and puffing about how he doesn’t really threaten them and oh god make him go away already.

    Learn from Jeffor to the John to the son, people. You are not alone! You have sweet, lovable old, E. Reagan Wright, major award winner to snuggle up to under the overpass on cold winter nights!

  • Oh, and all you, “muh controversy” homos? 80 comments on hard sci-fi? Two on the modern short reviews? Yeah, Jeffor knows what the people want, stop your mewling about mean conversations and step up in the comments on short reviews like this one or kwitcherbellyakin on the long threads that generate those clicks and rants.

    Jeffor knows what the ignant masses wants, y’alls gots to trust him more. Kay?

    • Jesse Lucas says:

      Patience, patience. I still get residual clicks on honest articles that I don’t get from controversy. Even when my comment is just hmm, yes, I agree, and I don’t type anything, that’s a comment, even if the search bots can’t see it.

  • ZuluNRomeo says:

    And now I’m going to spend more of my hard-earned and limited bookfunds on words I’ve no (justifiable) time to read, but somehow you keep convincing me. Sorcery? also… Hell, yeah!

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