Come children, let me tell you a tale…
There was once an age, a Golden Age, an age of wonder and delight, of adventure and heroics, of creativity and imagination unbound… an age undreamt of by modern man, an age forgotten and buried, like hidden treasures beneath the sands of Ægypt.
And into this Golden Age came enemies, like ninjas in the night. (But not the awesome kind of ninjas, who totally kick ass, but the other kind. The bad kind. Ninjas who foreswear honor and kill for money. BOOO!) And these bad guy ninjas assassinated all the heroes and leaders of the Golden Age, and took their places, and had all their names and images erased. This they did, so that people would forget the awesomeosity of the Golden Age, would forget the great deeds done by the Golden Agers, and would be content with the sometimes-pretty-good-but-just-not-as-awesome deeds of the Silver Agers.
And we call these villains… THE FUTURIANS. And their reign was grim, indeed.
Now of the Futurians, there were three kinds: the sperglords, the scumbags, and the Socialists. (There were also some mostly-non-asshole Futurians, who don’t enter into this tale.) And each of these had reason to hate the awesomeness of the Pulps.
The sperglords sperged out because THE SCIENCE OF THE PULPS WAS WRONG AND THAT WAS NOT COOL HOLY CRAP MAN ITS CALLED SCIENCE FICTION IT’S RIGHT THERE IN THE NAME AND YOUR SCIENCE HAS TO BE CORRECT. IT’S THE MOST. IMPORTANT. THING. EVER. ALSO FANTASY IS FOR CHILDREN, I MEAN REALLY YOU GUYS WHO EVEN LET THEM IN THE BUILDING?!
The scumbags were really icky people, and did REALLY icky things, and hated the virtue, honor, and decency of the Pulps, and the Christianity intrinsic to Fantasy. They wanted a space where they could engage in their icky stuff at will, so normies and decent folk had to be driven off.
The Socialists, likewise, wanted Christianity banished because Religion Is The Opiate of The Masses, but they also hated Manly Heroes, because Manly Men have no need of an all-encompassing government to coddle them. Also it was all about the Collective Effort of The People, and singular and great heroes were just not on.
So the sperglords, scumbags, and Socialists (who were very often the exact same people, all in one) ganged up together to subvert and undermine the awesome genre of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and to overthrow the Reign of the Masters of Pulp, and to denigrate and disparage the stories of the Golden Age, and to hide them from view. They declared themselves to be the TRUE Golden Age, and for FOUR GENERATIONS continued the lies, until the glorious past of F&SF was forgotten.
(Except for a few graybeards, and who really listened to them because Science Fiction was about THE FUTURE, and the past was like, totally irrelevant, amirite or amirite?)
For four generations, the Futurians and their inheritors ruled. And each generation was more degenerate than the last.
The Silver Age threw away heroics and heroism, the Bronze Age threw away decency and morality, the Iron Age forged tiny cages for people’s imaginations, and the Clay Age finger painted with their own poo, for there was nothing else to throw away.
Unfortunately for the Futurians, people never change. And even among the most debased populace, there are those who yearn for heroism, who hunger for adventure, who long to read tales of Great Men Doing Great Deeds, who want to see the Manly Spaceman swing into the Evil Overlord’s lair on a rope and rescue the Beautiful Maiden from the clutches of the (insanely jealous) Beautiful But Evil Space Princess, and on a clear and gorgeous night with the stars burning in the sky above them, as they flee to their starship to escape the Evil Empire and the Evil Lair burns behind them, the Manly Spaceman kisses the Beautiful Maiden chastely, and they get married, and she shows him just how wicked a Beautiful but Chaste Maiden can be, for her husband.
All these things, and those like unto them, sneered at by the Futurians and their descendants, and derided, and buried, are what people yearn for. What they love. What inspires them. And even in Ages where they were buried and forgotten, and people knew not of them, they clutched desperately to the closest imitation of them they could find. In the middle of the vast and dreary wilderness of the poo-painters, they desperately searched for the tiniest scraps of heroism, and virtue, and wonder.
Here’s where hope enters the tale, and it’s because the Futurians were wrong. It isn’t called Science Fiction. It’s called Science Fiction, and the storytelling is the most important part. And there remained a small remnant who knew that.
And when real-world science somehow caught up and surpassed the Futurians’ dreary fictions, these people were freed. They were freed of the Rule of the Futurians, free to write their own tales and free to sell them to the whole world. And people were free to buy them, and share them, and even write short reviews on Amazon and rate them, so everybody else would know how awesome the author was. (hint, hint)
And then a lone space game blogger, in his very own space game blogger way, went digging in the sand, following a treasure map left behind by one of the greatest of the graybeards, and discovered the hidden secrets of the Golden Age and SHARED them and started a Revolution.
And the rest is history.
(Or will be. When the Revolutionaries grow in strength and numbers, and inspire the masses with Pulp, and lay siege to the Temples of the Poo-Painters and overthrow them. It will be historic.)
Jasyn Jones, better known as Daddy Warpig, is a host on the Geek Gab podcast, a regular on the Superversive SF livestreams, and blogs at Daddy Warpig’s House of Geekery. Check him out on Twitter.
Such useful idiots, the Futurians were. Their heirs are still carrying out the plan of a dead Evil Empire and most don’t even know it.
A M’Lady fedora-tipper, a pedo-faggot, and a proto-cuckservative.
Those are your “big three”; Not one of which capable of crafting an engaging plot or interesting character to any significant extent.
Reading those preachy nitwit’s works put me off of science-fiction for years!
Grow. Spread. Inspire!
The Left and their stooges have had their way for too long. And if we can’t throw down the Temples of the Poo Painters, we can at least give them a good steam cleaning and a decent paint job.
I grew up liking these authors and believing their mythology. I now notice a whole lot of truth to a whole lot of this.
As a very very casual reader of science fiction (extreme emphasis on casual), I have an alternative theory. Is it possible that there was a general shift in the sf reading that wanted more hard science in their stories, so the editors and writers shifted accordingly. After a while, the Futurians used their influence to say that science fiction was the only real science fiction, which leads us to where we are today.
Does this seem to line up with the evidence?
As a long time, frequent reader of Science Fiction, I’d say not a chance. There were quite a few non-Furturians that had more hard science in their work. You need to read more of Vox Day’s commentary regarding the destruction of SF/Fantasy. The editors dragged the socialists, scum and futurians to the top while pushing the others out. I remember reading the stuff that was being touted by the big names – Marion Zimmer Bradley, Samuel Delaney, etc. I’d read one book and walk away never to read another work by them. Hard science? Not a chance. All the evil and creepiness of the left, but little science. Yet at the same time you had Niven and Pournelle, writing closer to the old style and actually using science in their work (Lucifer’s Hammer, Ring World, High Justice. Read those and you’ll see actual science worked into a story).
Not really. With Campbell’s ascendancy in 1937 came a small clique of fans-turned-writers , including the Futurians. From that point, “the field was based on personal access and very few writers and stories were getting into the magazines without personal acquaintance with other writers and with the editors.” (Malzberg, Barry N.. Breakfast in the Ruins), The Futurians tended to gravitate towards the editor slots in the 1940s, ushering in a literature of despair (as Malzberg described the Campbelline Age). Essentially, science fiction in the 1940s turned into what the editors wanted, and not the audience. Planet Stories and Weird Tales were still being published during this time.
Malzberg was a Merritt fan, by the way.
@Nathan: “Essentially, science fiction in the 1940s turned into what the editors wanted, and not the audience. Planet Stories and Weird Tales were still being published during this time.”
In regard to what Goldeneye said, I do think there is perhaps something to it. You always have the zeitgeist of a particular period to deal with. What has become obvious (to me) over time is that there were several factors at work in the post-war period. Their influence can be seen across the humanities and on into the softer “sciences” like anthropology.
The way it looks from here, one major factor was the subversion/infiltration of the arts and academia by Soviet/Comintern influences (see the video above). All of this filtered down and affected things on a wide spectrum. Rather than being portrayed as just one brand of socialism, “fascism” was made to somehow be the polar opposite of Soviet Communism. The Nazi fascination with unorthodox science and mysticism was played up. Anything associated with Nazis — no matter if it was solid science BEFORE the war — was either demonized, or, in the case of rockets etc, appropriated and memory-holed. Reading fantasy/horror was vaguely “Nazi”. The linkage of Robert E. Howard and HPL with Nazism started in that period.
Meanwhile, you had this real feeling among Americans that science could solve everything and make everybody happy. If your science wasn’t “hard” enough, then you were part of the problem, not the solution. Questioning the “newest facts”, let alone looking to anything spiritual, was a kind of thoughtcrime and warranted mockery. De Camp was an exemplar of this arrogant, myopic attitude. Always just a bit more pragmatic than thou and superior to everyone else. Those Men with Screwdrivers knew what we needed, by the Holy Trinity of Aristotle, Newton and Locke!
I also think that Burroughs being — needlessly — out of print for a decade didn’t help.
There were some other things involved, IMO, but this is getting longish. Suffice to say I believe that, in an alternate universe, a “Big Three” composed of van Vogt (the “Heinlein”) along with Poul Anderson and Jack Vance could’ve held things to a more superversive course. Frank Herbert, a close friend of Poul and Jack, could’ve been brought in later to make the “Big Four”.
IMO, the Overton Window could’ve been moved somewhat, but there was no way to totally reverse the prevailing “hard science” trend. When that began to flag a bit in the ’60s with the ERB, JRRT and REH booms, there were new subverters in place, like Moorcock and Ellison, to keep the Misery Train on the tracks. Then the finished products of Cultural Marxism like Le Guin, Russ and Bradley were ready to lead us to the Rainbow Utopia.
There are always multiple threads. One way to see it is the Campbell represents the interjection of politics into sf. Another is the cliquish nature of the Futurians trying to wag the dog of fandom to a more socialist worldview. Still another is that science fiction got taken over by hardcore fans who drove away the casuals. (See recent anime discussions here, or any online gaming forum for what happens. It’s not pretty). Regardless, what Campbell represents is a break with the traditions of science fiction, a break most of the rest of the world was unimpressed with.
I see nothing to disagree with in what you just stated. No social phenomenon, which is what we’re looking at, can ever be narrowed down to one thing. However, the Futurians serve as a good exemplar of — and a form of shorthand for — what happened and how it happened.
Commies. In the end, it always goes back to Commies.
It sounds like you’re trying to pigeonhole authors according to contemporary politics, which is exactly the original sin of the “social justice warriors” you’ve identified as the enemy.
What were Heinlein’s politics? They changed over time. He supported a Socialist for governor of California, he basically founded the Libertarian movement, and he’s routinely called a “fascist” for writing Starship Troopers.
If you’re not judging works by how good the works are, then you’re no different from the intersectional SJW whatevers, just wearing a different armband.
@Cambias: If you’re addressing my post… I’m not tracking politics per se. More like cultural attitudes and the resulting fiction. I loved STARSHIP TROOPERS and generally like Heinlein before SiaSL. I find Asimov usually boring and had no idea regarding his politics when I formed that opinion. Clarke I can take or leave. He certainly doesn’t rate his official divine status.
I know Poul Anderson briefly flirted with One World Government etc. I still enjoy his stories from that era. Poul was a STORYTELLER who didn’t look on the “old days” as all bad. I have no idea which way van Vogt skewed. The same with Vance. I know Herbert was conservative, but I loved DUNE long before I knew that. All of those guys were ERB or Merritt fans.
Out of the “Big Three”, only Heinlein is known to have been a fan of either ERB or Merritt. In my opinion, that says a lot. Where the other two were coming from was someplace I didn’t particularly want to go.
I’ve never worn an “armband”, BTW. I’m a lifelong, registered Independent. Or does being against communism/socialism/fascism put me in some sort of category? Is “Cambias” code for “concern troll”? 😀
Beautiful and inspiring. I find this article splendid.