Mediums, Psychics and other Fantasy Creatures

Recently I’ve been buying and reading some of the books in Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental Masters series, and have read ‘A Study in Sable,’ which features Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson (& Mrs. Watson) as characters. But what the book also features is Sarah Lyon-White, a medium, and Nan Killian, a psychic.

The disturbing part is that in the real world when we encounter someone who is labelled a medium or a psychic, we are encountering a con artist. Some of the ‘information’ provided by these con artists is the result of secret research— they know Mrs. Smith’s only son recently died, or that Mr. Terry has certain financial woes. Other information comes from the process of ‘cold reading.’ The psychic/medium guesses, ‘I see an older male spirit who wishes to speak to you,’ and they can tell by the subject’s reaction whether that’s what they are looking for. If the cold reader guesses wrong, he’ll say ‘No, not a older male, it’s a female.’ The subjects tend to forget the wrong initial guesses and say ‘that psychic was so great, she knew is was my great-aunt Felicity I wanted to contact and that she was an embalmer and had four children and a pet orangutan.’ Even though the cold reader guessed wrong two dozen times to come up with that info.

The medium character is used to place tired old Spiritualist ideas into the story, like the idea that ghosts surround us and can communicate, using the proper medium, that some of the dead stay because they don’t know they are dead or that they fear the ‘false’ idea of hellfire, and that other disembodied spirits have unfinished business like hidden finances they want to tell their widow about or solving their own murders.

These Spiritualist ideas are not backed by any scientific research. They also go against what Judaism and Christianity have taught about what comes after death. The problem with embedding these ideas in fantasy fiction is that some readers think that the author is endorsing the real-world Spiritualist viewpoint as true.

The medium and psychic characters are also referred to as having ‘gifts’— clairvoyance and telepathy, respectively. There is nothing in Judeo-Christian teaching which says having clairvoyance and telepathy are sins, but there is nothing in the Bible or in the Church Fathers to indicate that clairvoyance or telepathy were even known to the Biblical authors or the Fathers. And science has examined the ideas of telepathy and clairvoyance and not had any great success in finding people with these gifts.

‘A Study in Sable’ and books like it bring with it a moral problem. If some readers might be led astray into accepting mediums and psychics as real, we can’t honestly recommend the books to others. We probably shouldn’t be reading books like this too often even if we DO know better. Both from a scientific and a Judeo-Christian perspective, this book and those like it present a problem.

Now, I have been reading Mercedes Lackey books obsessively for years and I just presumed that Lackey was a neopagan or Wiccan  of some flavor, and had a low opinion of Christians that might be termed ‘hate’ if Christian-hate were considered bad like antisemitism and Muslim-hate are. But I have heard from a Christian writer that she met Mrs Lackey at a writing conference and that she says she is a Christian. Given the viewpoints in her books, however, one can’t term them ‘Christian fiction’ in any sense, and I don’t know if Mrs Lackey goes to a church that teaches historic Christianity or a ‘post-Christian’ church like the Presbyterian denomination I grew up in, the PC-USA (which is ‘post-Christian’ because it no longer requires members or clergy to believe/teach anything specific about Jesus Christ, like He is part of the Holy Trinity and the Son of God.)

I still enjoy reading Mercedes Lackey books in spite of content concerns, but I do not recommend them to teenagers, people in their twenties, or Christians who have not learned their catechism yet. You need a bunch of knowledge and discernment under your belt first, if you don’t want to be led astray.

 

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The Death Eaters were Right about Purebloods

In J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, the bad guys prefer ‘pureblood’ wizarding families to half-blood or Muggle born wizards. And that makes them bad and prejudiced, according to the book’s author. But the plain fact is, the Death Eaters were right. Pureblood wizarding families ARE better.

Wizarding ability is inherited through the genes, and there is no clue in the series that the essential wizarding genes behave differently from other genes. When a wizard marries a ‘witch,’ the offspring can inherit magic from both sides. When he marries a Muggle (non-magical person), the children can only get magic from the one parent.

It is possible for a wizard to be born from Muggle parents, but that is very rare. One may assume, though, that in half-blood marriages between wizard and Muggle, there are a lot of non-Magical children born.

Wizards don’t want to die out. It’s clear that if most or all wizards reject the ‘pureblood’ prejudice and marry Muggles freely, the number of wizard-gifted children born grows smaller and smaller, and the Wizarding world might well shrink.

The prejudice against Muggle-born wizards may have its basis in facts. Do Muggle-born wizards have as many wizarding genes as the average pureblood wizard? Probably not! They are lucky to have any wizarding gift at all! They are a needful addition to the possibly-shrinking wizarding world, but they are more likely to have squib children.

Of course, these days wizards can figure out which genes are connected to wizarding, and figure out who has which genes. A marriage to a Muggle who has some wizarding genes isn’t as bad as one to a Muggle with no wizarding genes. And a pair of pureblood wizards might have very different wizarding genes and not be able to pass on the traits well, while a different pair might be destined to produce strongly gifted children.

A Writer’s Reading Life

Writers— at least writers with the potential of writing readable books and having writing careers— are readers. If there are no books handy, a writer will read the back of a cereal box while having breakfast. A male writer who prefers adventure fiction will read an Amish romance if he’s stuck somewhere with only that reading material available.

Writers must read books because writers must know books the way plumbers know pipes. Watching TV shows and movies does not cut it. Books and movies are different art forms and there are different tricks of the trade. Movies and television shows are created out of a groupthink process which involves input from dozens of people besides the head writer. Books nearly always come out of one person’s head.

When we are children, we can read whatever appeals to us. We may decide later in life that the books we used to like were substandard or filled with propaganda for an author’s viewpoint, but our childhood books were good enough for us at the time.

Once we identify as writers, we need to widen our reading. It’s not enough to just read what we like, or snap up the latest book from the handful of authors we have come to trust. As writers, books and the ideas we get from books are our tools. And we need enough tools to make stories of our own.

First, we need to read in the genre that we are writing in. Not just older books in that genre. You need to know what people are writing in the genre right now. You may come across some dreadful things. Feel free to give that author a pass next time. But you need to know your genre. There is nothing sadder than a science fiction author who only reads science fiction stories from the 1950s, and tries to copy that in his fiction.

Second, we need to read good literature. When I was in college, it seemed that ‘good literature’ meant Ernest Hemingway and I couldn’t stand Ernest Hemingway. But I found other good authors to love. I even took a class on the works of C. S. Lewis once. And I had read Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare on my own before I even got old enough for college. Now, the disadvantage on good literature is that when we want to read more recent good literature, it’s hard to find. Instead, we get fiction that’s loved by the progressive-university crowd that has a lot of political correctness but is not readable by ordinary people the way Charles Dickens’ books were.

Third, we need to read non-fiction of interest by qualified authors. With the advent of self-publishing, there is a lot of dreck out there being published by people who know little to nothing of their own topic, but who have read an ebook on how you can make money writing non-fiction. We don’t want to read that. We want to read books by people who know things. A book on ancient Egypt by an archeologist who can read ancient Egyptian and knows the names of the Pharoahs by heart. A book about a prison camp in WW2 written by one of the prisoners who survived. A memoir about growing up in Venezuela or Nepal, by someone who had that experience. Reading that kind of book gives you more writing ideas. It also makes you a better informed person.

Do we need to read every book that is ‘hot’ right now? I don’t think so. The Western writer Louis L’Amour, whose novels can still be bought in Walmarts today, once wrote a poem about how he hadn’t read the novel ‘Gone With The Wind’ when that was the novel everyone was reading. We can skip popular fiction that doesn’t appeal to us, because there is always always more coming along. Now, if there is something ‘hot’ and exciting that is in your genre and is something your readers probably will read, if you choose not to read it you should at least learn a little bit about it.

Where will you find time for all that reading? The same way you find time for writing your novel and for doing writing-related social media— you make the time. You look at your schedule and find bits of time you can re-purpose. Some of us read when we are doing other things— I often have a book handy when I’m watching TV, so I can read during the commercials. Some folks listen to audio books when commuting or doing housework. Whatever it takes. Your reading time is part of creating your identity as a professional writer, who is someone who has to read because it’s part of the job.

Conservative Hispanic Writer Jon Del Arroz banned from Worldcon Sci-Fi convention

I just found out one of my favorite authors, Jon Del Arroz, has been discriminated against by ‘Worldcon’, an alleged science fiction convention. I have interacted with Jon online and he’s a decent human being and kind to weird people like me. But someone doesn’t like the fact that he’s conservative. Or Hispanic. Or Christian. Or that he wears a USA ball cap sometimes. Or that his name means ‘Jon with rice’ in Spanish.

According to Megan Fox of PJ Media, Jon Del Arroz has been banned from Worldcon 76 even though he is the leading Hispanic voice in science fiction, and that he bought a ticket. They are not even refunding his money.

Their reason is that they are mind-readers and somehow know that he is planning to ‘engender a hostile environment.’ Actually, they are engendering hostility when they ban probably the only Hispanic conservative sci-fi author that had paid to attend.

Read more here: https://pjmedia.com/trending/sjws-bar-conservative-hispanic-writer-worldcon-claiming-racist-bully/

I have recently read Jon Del Arroz’s book, For Steam and Country. It is a steampunk novel with a female main character and other characters who are females in powerful positions. I could well imagine a good liberal teacher reading the book, noting the Hispanic author and strong female characters, recommending the book to students. The book can be enjoyed by various political points of view. Here is the link to the book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071JNR9HB

I’m asking all the readers of this: if you like science fiction, or even if you just like not discriminating against the leading Hispanic voice in science fiction just because he is conservative, or Christian, or allegedly planning a thoughtcrime, PLEASE do something to help. Spread this blog post at Megan Fox’s article over all your social media.

You can also get in contact with Jon Del Arroz.

Web Page/Blog: http://delarroz.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jondelarroz

GAB (a free-speech alternative to Twitter): https://gab.ai/otomo

NOTE: Jon Del Arroz is a nice guy who is nice to me even though I have Asperger Syndrome. So if you go online to bully him, I’m getting out the big guns: I’m calling out the SAINTS on you. So if you bully, expect to become a Catholic.

Interview with Moira Greyland, daughter of Marion Zimmer Bradley

I am excited and pleased to have an interview with Moira Greyland, daughter of Marion Zimmer Bradley and author of the new book The Last Closet: The Dark Side of Avalon, which tells the story of Marion Zimmer Bradley and her husband, Walter Breen. I am a very former Marion Zimmer Bradley fan, since learning about MZB’s misdeeds made me aware of all the questionable content in her books. In case you are unaware of Marion Zimmer Bradley, she was the author of the Darkover series, which I liked, and the Mists of Avalon, an Arthurian legend I didn’t much care for. And now, here is the interview. My questions are in bold.
Please tell a little of what your new book is about.

My book is a biography of my famous gay parents, Marion Zimmer Bradley, author of The Mists of Avalon, and Walter Breen, coin expert and convicted pedophile.  It is about how being raised by gay people who have a sex-positive philosophy affected my life, and that of the other children in their orbit.

It seems like other people knew about your father’s sexual attraction to kids but figured that it wasn’t proven to have really harmed the kids. Do you feel they are guilty/responsible for protecting your father?
Anyone who did not stop my father when they had direct knowledge of his crimes will have to answer to a higher court than any of us here.  I do understand how hard it is to swim against the tide.  The usual social consequence is ostracism, and worse, not being believed.

 

Do you feel legalized gay marriage is harmful or helpful to the children of such marriages?

Gay marriage puts children into a situation where normalizing non-mainstream forms of sex is the basis for the relationship.  It denies children a normal model of male-female relationships, and puts undue pressure on them to imitate their parents.  Even if the pressure is tacit, it can be nearly impossible to avoid.  The children of gays I have spoken with have almost invariably been molested, and have tried to become either gay or trans themselves.  Even in the best case, where a child is not molested or openly pressured, children imitate their parents, since our parents are our models for humanity.  Also, since our parents will have openly rejected either a male or a female, we can struggle with the rejection either of our sex or the other sex.

Do you feel that the ‘Free Amazon’ storylines in your mother’s books were intended to wean women away from traditional ideas about marriage?

Yes, of course they were.  Between that and a host of other feminist books, women were meant to abandon husband and family in favor of “meaningful work” and “self-actualization.”  This has led to a lot of unhappy women living alone, and unable to find a husband.  Many will struggle, as I did, between wanting the husband and kids and wanting the career.  We are supposed to be able to have both, but it is exhausting.  Women should not be shamed for wanting a family.

I have heard that you have PTSD. Did that make it harder to write this book?

Yes.  My Complex PTSD symptoms made writing this book nearly impossible at times.  Between flashbacks, panic attacks, and periods of incapacitating depression, it is certain that the book would have been finished much sooner if I had had no symptoms.

In your book you tell you became a Christian. Has your faith made it easier to come to terms with your past?
Yes, I am a Christian.  I am not certain what coming to terms with my past means though.  I am focused on the present and on the future.  The past mostly intrudes in my life through symptoms, and I try not to dwell on it, the book notwithstanding.  My faith in God is the core of strength in my life, and His love for me reminds me that I have things to do, places to be, and most importantly, people to love.

 

Do you have a favorite poet, author, composer, book? Please share.

Too many to name.  Poets?  My taste runs to song lyrics for the songs of Debussy and Richard Strauss.  Ordinary poets I love include Edna St. Vincent Millay, Edward Gorey, and Ogden Nash, to name a very few.  Authors I love include C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engel, Charles Dickens, Tolstoy, Georgette Heyer, Tom Clancy, and Brad Thor. Composers I love include Puccini, Verdi, Brahms, Mozart, Mahler, Beethoven and Howard Shore.  My favorite book is the Bible.  Other books on that list would make it too long of a list.

Moira Greyland

End of Interview.

I might mention that I have read Moira Greyland’s book. It deals with a very adult subject, the sexual abuse of children. But I feel Moira Greyland did a good job of tackling this subject without dwelling too much on sexual details that many readers might not like being exposed to. I think it is a good book that can make the reader more aware of sexual child abuse and the problems in some Gay households. And it also tells us a bit of the history of science fiction and fandom in the era when her mother was active it it. I hope many who read this blog post will buy a copy. Just don’t let your nine-year-old read it.

How to write like uber-popular author Louis L’Amour

Louis L’Amour was born in 1908 and died in 1988. The heyday of his writing career was in the 1950s and 1960s. But— a few weeks ago I went into WalMart in the book section to find a Louis L’Amour book still available.

What is the secret of Louis L’Amour’s fiction-writing power? Why is he, a writer known for writing Westerns, not the most popular genre today, still on the WalMart buyer’s mind as someone to keep in stock? It may be in the nature of the very first book Louis L’Amour published.  A book of his poetry called Smoke from this Altar.

You see, here is the difference between writing a novel and writing poetry. In a novel there are thousands of words, and a writer who worries overmuch about whether word 27322 is exactly the most powerful and best word for that position doesn’t finish many novels. Words and sentences in a novel can be bland or dull, so long as the action in the novel keeps coming and you find ways to make readers identify with the characters.

In a poem, every word counts. A novel can have unnecessary words, sentences and even paragraphs so long as they don’t interfere with the flow of the story. A poem must not have a single word that does not serve the poetic purpose. The words in a poem must be powerful and evocative. Even the sounds and rhythms of words must be considered in a poem.

So what happens when a poet, or someone who loves and reads poetry, writes a novel? The language gifts of the poet may find their way into the prose, making it more powerful. Here is an example taken from L’Amour’s ‘The Sackett Brand.’

“The trouble was, when I walked out on that point my mind went a-rambling like wild geese down a western sky.

What I looked upon was a sight of lovely country. Right at my feet was the river, a-churning and a-thrashing at least six hundred feet below me, with here and there a deep blue pool. Across the river, and clean to the horizon to the north and east of me, was the finest stand of pine timber this side of the Smokies.

Knobs of craggy rock thrust up, with occasional ridges showing bare spines to the westward where the timber thinned out and the country finally became desert. In front of me, but miles away, a gigantic wall reared up. That wall was at least a thousand feet higher than where I now stood, though this was high ground.”

Lest you think the above example was too descriptive, rest assured that someone gets shot by the end of the page. It still is an action-packed western. It’s just that L’Amour knew how to use language very well, as a result of his work as a poet. So he could through in a good bit of description that could bring the West to life.

If you are curious about the poems of L’Mour, his book ‘Smoke on the Water’ is available and so you can see for yourself. But until you get so far, here is an example poem that tells a Western story.

I have three friends, three faithful friends,
more faithful could not be-
and every night, by the dim firelight,
they come to sit with me.

the first of these is tall and thin
with hollow cheeks, and a toothless grin,
a ghastly tare, and scraggly hair,
and an ugly lump for a chin.

the second of these is short and fat
with beady eyes, like a starving rat-
he was soaked in sin to his oily skin,
and verminous, at that

the crouching one is of ape-like plan,
formed like a beast that resembled man:
a freakish thing, with arms a-swing,
and he was the third of that gruesome clan.

the first I stabbed with a Chinese knife,
and left on the white beach sand,
with his ghastly stare, and blood-soaked hair,
and an out-flung, claw-like hand;

the fat one stole a crumbling crust,
that he wolfed in his swinish way-
so i left him there, with eyes a-glare,
and his head cut of half-way.

we fought to kill, the brute and i,
that the one that lived might eat,
so i killed him too, and made a stew,
and dined on human meat.

and so these three come to visit me,
when without the night winds howl-
the one with the leer, the one with a sneer,
and and one with a brutish scowl;

their lips are dumb, but the three dead come
and cough by the hollow great-
the man that i stabbed, the man that i cut,
and the gruesome thing that i ate.

their lips are sealed, with blood congealed,
but they will not let me be,
and so they haunt, grim, ghastly, and gaunt,
till death shall set me free.

i have three friends, three faithful friends,
more faithful could not be-
and every night, by the dim firelight,
they come to sit with me.

Superversive Press: What’s a Superversive Anyway?

It’s like popcorn. I got one book from Superversive Press, I looked at the ads for other Superversive Press books in the back, and I just had to buy another one….. I’m still jonesing for 2 more Superversive books but can’t probably buy them this month as I’ve had unexpected expenses.
What does ‘superversive’ mean anyway? It’s obviously related to the word ’subversive’ somehow. I looked at the Superversive web page and found several essays on the ’superversive’ movement. But it wasn’t until I asked around for a short definition that L. Jagi Lampwright Wright told me: “Subversive is change by undermining from below. Superversive is change though inspiration from above.”
One of the projects of Superversive Press is Astounding Frontiers, a science fiction periodical. I have issue #1 which was published in July. My author friend Declan Finn has a story in the issue, and I thought it was epic. There were also stories by Patrick S. Baker, Lou Antonelli, Erin Lale, Sarah Salviander, John C. Wright, Ben Wheeler, Nick Cole and Jason Anspach.
I also have the anthology Forbidden Thoughts, which has this on the back cover: “You are not allowed to read this book. Don’t even think about reading this book. In fact, just forget about thinking all together.” So of course I had to read it.
And then there is “For Steam and Country” by Jon del Arroz, which is a steampunk novel about a girl who inherits her dad’s military airship in a time of war…. I haven’t finished it as I keep getting distracted, but I really liked the first third of the book.
It seems that most of my friends in the Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance are involved in Superversive Press. I hope the effort succeeds because so far I love Superversive Press’s books. I hope readers will give some of these books a chance.

Superversive Links:
Superversive SF: Science Fiction for a more civilized age
What is Superversive Press?

MAGA 2020 & Beyond

Superversive SF Facebook Page


Would you please do me a big favor? My Facebook author page is Nissa Annakindt, poet, Aspie & cat person . I’m frustrated because I haven’t had new ‘likes’ in a while and my posts don’t have much ‘reach.’ So if you and a couple other people could ‘like’ my page and ‘like’ three posts on the page— at least I can see if that will help. Thank you so much!