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September 25, 2004

More on the Lovecraftian far right
Posted by Teresa at 11:27 AM *

Avram Grumer has pointed out that Charlie Stross’ novelette A Colder War is available in its entirety online. It’s the Oliver North/Guns for Hostages scandal, seen from the viewpoint of a CIA bureaucrat, in a universe in which the entire Cthulhu Mythos is real.

Comments on More on the Lovecraftian far right:
#1 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2004, 12:20 PM:

Is it eligible for the Hugo? I thought it was published years ago. I read it last year in Charlie's collection Toast.

#2 ::: Andrew Gray ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2004, 12:26 PM:

I'm fairly sure it's old enough that it's not eligible; I've gone through two copies of Toast now (two different printings, now I think about it), and I'm fairly sure they're too old.

(The rule's first-published-in-the-preceding-year, isn't it?)

Hmm. Copyright date at the bottom is 2000, and the book it's currently in given as 2002.

#3 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2004, 01:08 PM:

The Hugo rules have some provision for for \novels/ first published in the award year/country, even if they were previously published elsewhere; IIRC, this is how Cosmonaut Keep got on the ballot. But I think the exception doesn't extend to short work.

#4 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2004, 05:31 PM:

I'm pretty sure it's not elligible.

(Interested readers might like to know, incidentally, that A Colder War was to some extent a dry run for my novel The Atrocity Archives, which is elligible -- published first in Spectrum SF in serial form in 2001-2002, but first US publication by Golden Gryphon in 2004. But that's another story, as they say ...)

#5 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2004, 05:40 PM:

Anyone know where I can get a copy of the David Brin story, "Thor Meets Captain America"?

#6 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2004, 06:09 PM:

Brad:

Look here.

Honestly, the Internet SF Database is endlessly useful.

#7 ::: in medias res ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2004, 06:24 PM:

Not exactly on target, but could be seen as connected to the Lovecraftian right...is there anyone out there who has made it all the way through the 92-page 2004 Republican platform and broken the actual points out of the reams of rhetoric praising Dear Leader? And if so, would you point me to the site?
I'm pretty good at surfing the net, but I'll be damned if I can find this, so I'm calling in the big guns here.
Thanks.

#8 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2004, 10:40 PM:

> (Interested readers might like to know, incidentally, that A Colder War was to some extent a dry run for my novel The Atrocity Archives, which is elligible -- published first in Spectrum SF in serial form in 2001-2002, but first US publication by Golden Gryphon in 2004. But that's another story, as they say ...)

Is the Atrocity Archive headed for any reasonably mainstream printing? I enjoyed A Colder War quite a lot, and would be interested to see another run at the same topic.

Brad mentioned _Thor Meets Captain America_ which was also very fine. I believe one of the recent Tim Powers books covers the same territory?

#9 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2004, 06:10 AM:

Steve: Watch This Space, There Will Be An Announcement Shortly. Alternatively watch my blog instead, because it feels kind of icky to be banging my own marketing drum in TNH's comments thread.

The Tim Powers book you are thinking of is Declare, which does for John LeCarre what I tried to do for Len Deighton in The Atrocity Archives, but does it with ever so much more style and grace.

#10 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2004, 01:31 PM:

Well, damn. I knew the name Charlie Stross kept ringing a bell as I looked at this copy of Singularity Sky I just bought last month, and started last night. I couldn't figure out why, since I couldn't recall buying any of his books before. And now I've managed to put two and two together. That's just freaky.

#11 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2004, 01:42 PM:

Drat, you're right. I'll take that bit out of the post.

#12 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2004, 01:45 PM:

The above comment was written about two minutes after Matt Austern's first comment. Then, having hit the "preview" button, I went off to change the post and forgot all about it ...

#13 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2004, 10:54 AM:

It's not Dubya. The Bush family has had connections to the Lovecraftian Right for a long time. See, for instance:

H.P. Lovecraft’s Correspondents

"Although Lovecraft had his share of personal friends, he also engaged in correspondence with an alarmingly large number of people.
...
Rev. David Van Bush (1882-1959)
Lovecraft’s least liked revision client."

Also, doesn't this give the proper interpretration of "Skull & Bones?"

Yale isn't that far from Innsmouth...

#14 ::: Emmet ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2004, 11:15 AM:

If we're going to point people at things in this hemidemisemigenre, let us not forget Bruce Sterling's "The Unthinkable", in the collection Globalhead.

#15 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2004, 11:16 AM:

ISFDB is useful to a point. It rarely seems to know of anything after the late 90s.

---L.

#16 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2004, 12:40 PM:

If we're going to point people at things in this hemidemisemigenre, let us not forget Bruce Sterling's "The Unthinkable."

Seconded.

(paraphrased from memory:) "What was it Oppenheimer said? 'I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.'"

He nodded. "Pity about Bob becoming Death."

#17 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2004, 12:57 PM:

David Brin’s “Thor vs. Captain America” is available on his web site, here.

#18 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2004, 02:44 PM:

I just read A Colder War. Politics aside, it's a lovely story, and all too imaginable as real.

Alex

#19 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2004, 03:29 PM:

Alex -

I read A Colder War, and had to go sit in the sun, and then read frivolous fiction. Lovely isn't quite what came to mind, but well written and affecting, certainly.

It reminds me of Requiem for a dream, but words fail me in attempting to describe the sort of creeping horror[0] that seeps into the back of your brain from both. Both excellent - neither good at late hours, or in dubious mental states.

[0] Or perhaps I'm just having a lovecraftian moment

#20 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2004, 05:44 PM:

I read A Colder War, and had to go sit in the sun, and then read frivolous fiction.

You may have a point there. Regardless, it was a very good read, possibly the best piece of Lovecraftian fiction since the Master himself. What made it so good, I think, is that the horror had a dual track, with human and monstrous horror quietly walking side-by-side into oblivion. I loved the idea of "the filter."

Alex

#21 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2004, 08:13 PM:

L.N. Hammer and Patrick,

"ISFDB is useful to a point. It rarely seems to know of anything after the late 90s."

With my continued admiration for Al von Ruff, let me say in his defense that it's HARD to keep abreast of a thriving SF cosmos, even with multiple assistants.

Working alone, I know that I'm missing a great deal. I try to mention every award-nominated book in our field, for up to a dozen awards, every genre TV show added (and announced as planned for a year in advance), and a reasonable fraction of genre films. I fall farther and farther behind in tracking other countries.

I've had some updates on my Mac for over 10 days, which I've been unable to upload to The Ultimate Science Fiction Web Guide only because EarthLink has admitted posting 2 payments from me, and holding 3 online chats with outsourced customer support (one employee admtted under cross-examination that he was in India), and that they've promised 3 times to reactivated the account for dialup which should not have been inactivated. To their good karma, they credited me for a missing half-month service, and then rolled back the reactivation fee. This 3rd time, I'm promised reactivation with "5 to 8 hours."

So internet reality gets in the way, and one's real life does do. Cut ISFDB a break. They provide a useful service, as do I, and those others in the top 10 by Google and yahoo (and now Amazon A4) for "science fiction." Frankly, we ALL bit off more than we can chew.

And hats off to the SFWA too. And Locus Online. And so on...

There's no $$$ in this for us. Unless we charge for "professional editing." heh heh.

#22 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2004, 09:11 PM:

It says something about the state of our politics (and the world) that we'd rather think of our leaders as Inhumanly Evil instead of just Monsterously Incompetant. Even if it is just joking on the square, it implies that they've planned every abominable act and have it all figured out, that they're on top of things, even if they are horrible, horrible things. The other option is that they believe their own crazy rhetoric and thet they're just flailing, trying not to get caught with their pants around their ankles.

#23 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2004, 09:38 PM:

Regrettably, Keith, I think the latter premise is the correct one.

#24 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2004, 09:40 PM:

It says something about the state of our politics (and the world) that we'd rather think of our leaders as Inhumanly Evil instead of just Monsterously Incompetant.

Actually, it makes perfect sense to me. Conservative voices attempt to forge a connection between liberals and evil, but the evil we're conflated with is Satanic, and Satan's motives and plans are something humans can understand. So, for example, when R'sh L'mbaugh accuses liberals of promoting homosexuality in the schools, it's a "liberals are Satanists" story at it's core, because of course promoting homosexuality is one of the ways Satan gets more souls to torture in hell, and these motives are essentially human, involving greed and malice.

On the other hand, it's impossible to understand the actions of the NeoConservatives. Judged against ordinary concepts of strategy and outcome, NeoConservative ideas make no sense whatsoever. The results of those ideas are essentially surreal, as is the logic used to sell the silliness to the public. So describing a NeoConservative in Lovecraftian terms is important in two ways. First, it allows us to trump the "liberals are Satanic" story - Cthulhu and his ilk are far more frightening characters than Satan, due to their non-human thought processes - and it allows us to point out the chaotic and bizarre actions of the NeoCons in language they are ill-equipped to defend themselves against.

If the Lovecraftian meme has spread itself widely enough, NeoCons as Great Old Ones could (and should) become the new narrative.

#25 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2004, 09:44 PM:

Recall the Saturday Night Live skit about the covertly brilliant Ronald Reagan, personally directing every step of Ollie North and Adm. Poindexter. Funny, at least before the Gipper went to the great blooper reel in the sky and was deified by the same Press that formerly grilled him.

Keith, people would PREFER to believe in [fill in cryptohistory here] than the chaos of contingent history [fill in Alternate History story here]. "Monsterously Incompetant" -- sure, they already run the world, hidden in every bureaucracy. They are the enemy of every thinking woman and man. But we prefer to blame eeeevil than randomness, because if there's eeeevil, then maybe someone will ride up on a white horse [fill in Shadowfax or equivalent] and slay the nexus of eeeevil.

When people demand The Man on the White Horse, market forces bring him into being. If lucky, we get a Washington, a Roosevelt, a Gandhi, a Kemil Ataturk. If unlucky, we get a Hitler, a Mao, a Stalin.

But is it evil to pretend that there's no Monsterously Incompetant" beast within the fire-breathing White House?

Then roughly half the USA is evil. And I'm too much of a patriot to want to admit that. That way lies alienation, anomie, apathy, and/or Civil War. In alphabetical order.

I'm too tired to Google it, but isn't there an upcoming conference on "Muddling Through" in Modern Management Theory?

#26 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2004, 10:42 PM:

JVP sez: Then roughly half the USA is evil. And I'm too much of a patriot to want to admit that. That way lies alienation, anomie, apathy, and/or Civil War. In alphabetical order.

Thank you for saying that. You've managed to put concise words around a series of vaguely unsettling thoughts I've been having over the past several years.

BTW - all management theory is about muddling through. It's just that some kinds of muddling through work better than others.

#27 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2004, 01:39 AM:

Larry Brennan:

You're welcome. Reading the good writers and thinkers on Making Light helps me be clear and sensible. But there are those far greater than I at this. Just after my posting, the new issue ["September 25-October 1, 2004"] of New Scientist came in the snailmail. It's a special issue on "Randomness."

Articles include: "In the Lap of the Gods" by Ian Stewart; "What are the Chances" by Robert Matthews; and "The Jumble Cruncher" by John L. Casti & Cristian Calude.

Ian Stewart concludes with this gem, on topic in our thread, by Alexander Pope, from "Essay on Man":

All nature is but art, unknown to thee;
All chance, direction which thou canst not see
All discord, harmony not understood
All partial evil, universal good.

#28 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2004, 06:19 AM:

"That is minimally correct, sir, although countervailing weapons have been developed to reduce the risk of a unilateral preemption escalating to an exchange of weakly godlike agencies.''

This story is deeply disturbing (read, wonderful), and this sentence is proof. Thank you, Mr. Stross.

#29 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2004, 08:47 AM:

On the other hand, it's impossible to understand the actions of the NeoConservatives. Judged against ordinary concepts of strategy and outcome, NeoConservative ideas make no sense whatsoever. The results of those ideas are essentially surreal, as is the logic used to sell the silliness to the public. So describing a NeoConservative in Lovecraftian terms is important in two ways. First, it allows us to trump the "liberals are Satanic" story - Cthulhu and his ilk are far more frightening characters than Satan, due to their non-human thought processes - and it allows us to point out the chaotic and bizarre actions of the NeoCons in language they are ill-equipped to defend themselves against.

I don't agree with this.
I completely understand the appeal of many of the neocon ideas. Tehre's a certain visceral satisfaction to the idea of saying "Fuck propriety-- we're going to go into the Middle East, kick some ass, and show everyone who's boss. Then everything will be better." God knows, I've felt that way many times.

For most people, though, the attraction of the idea more or less ends there, dragged down and crushed by mundane considerations like manpower and logistics and human nature. But it's all too easy to convince yourself that Technology Changes Everything, or that the common people of those countries will welcome us with flowers and open arms, rather than RPG's.

And if you leave out all the messy logistical stuff, the neocon dream makes for wonderful rhetoric, which can sway people to vote for your harebrained schemes, provided they don't think too hard about it.

There's nothing incomprehensible about it, and saying that there is is probably counterproductive. It's that whole "don't insult the people whose votes you need" thing again.

#30 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2004, 10:23 AM:

Mark, you're right. That's my favorite sentence too.

Chad, I think you're right about the visceral appeal of kicking ass. But I want to know how we let people govern us when they can't tell the difference between reality and their hypermasculine power fantasies?

On the subject of NeoCon reasoning, I found this priceless. I wouldn't entirely agree with the author - I find that narratives which insist all political decisions are economic to be a little simplistic - but it does give the first really coherent view I've seen of how NeoCon reasoning has caused us problems in Iraq. All of a sudden so many of those questions along the lines of "Why the hell did Bremer do that?" get put into some kind of context, and the NeoCons look a lot more like self-deluded humans, and less like Great Old Ones.

#31 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2004, 11:22 PM:

I wonder if this has a morphologically resonant linkage to A Colder War?
"An Exopolitical Perspective on the Preemptive War against Iraq" -- www.exopolitics.org/Study-Paper2.htm

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