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Thursday, November 23, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: MAGA 2020

This is a review by a guest reviewer, Castalia House narrator Jon Mollison:

Regular readers of this blog need no long and detailed rehashing of the decades of success globalists have achieved by injecting their message fiction into every nook and cranny of every medium of news and education and entertainment.  Regular readers of this blog have all too often put down books, walked out of theaters, or snapped off the television with an angry snarl of, “enough with the message fiction!” Nor do they need yet another reminder that technological advances have reduced the barrier to entry for books and comics and videos such that the left-wing stranglehold exists solely by dint of decades of inertia and capital accumulated by their forebears.  This being the Current Year Plus One, we can take that wonderful theory and expose it to the harsh light of scrutiny to see how well it works in practice. Before we grab our Deerstalker Cap and hold our magnifying glass up to Superversive Press’s latest collection, “MAGA 2020 & Beyond”, we need to get something out of the way.

This is not message fiction.

For decades, “message fiction” has been used to describe “ugly left wing lies wrapped up inside pretty fiction packages”.  Mainly because that was the only message fiction available.  Right wing message fiction was consigned to the dustbin of unpublishable  Now that the Pandora's box of self-and small press publishing has been opened, the peddlers of message fiction and their supporters want to change the meaning of the term to encompass all fiction with any message. But just as they no longer get to decide which messages are conveyed via fiction, they also no longer get to decide the definition of “message fiction”.  And so the meaning retains its stink of left-wing propaganda.  Hence, this collection of pro-Trump essays cannot be classified as "message fiction".

Granted, MAGA 2020 & Beyond” is filled, cover to cover, with the exact same sort of heavy handed symbolism and wishful thinking and oversimplification you would expect given the title and cover art. And yet it isn’t message fiction, because the messages conveyed by these tales are neither ugly, nor left wing, nor are they predicated on a view of the world that just ain’t so.  These works represent a direct challenge to message fiction.

So it isn’t message fiction, but is it any good?

Some of it is good.  Some of it is great.  Some of it is lousy.  I can't tell you which is which, though.  That you'll have to discover for yourself.

This collection contains thirty pieces of fiction and non-fiction, many of them by well recognized authors such as Brad Torgerson, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Declann Finn, Milo, Ivan Throne, John C. Wright, and Jon Del Arroz. It also includes works by rising stars such as Alfred Genesson, Dawn Witzke, Marina Fontaine, and the inimitable @Kaijubushi.

While the writing snaps and pops across the board, the styles of works in this eclectic collection of authors runs the gamut. The tone of the stories varies wildly, from Del Arroz’s over-the-top wahoo story of a TrumpMech piloted by young Barron fighting an irradiated Kim Jong-Unzilla (spoilers!) to the Christine Chase’s much more understated tale of a young woman serving as the audience for her grandmother’s reminisces about the days of fighting the black bloc and driving them from the streets way back in the early 2020’s. The weight of the message varies within the works as well. Sometimes the point of the story is a thin patina, as in Marina Fontaine’s story of a man coming out of the conservative closet and admitting his wrongthink to relatives. Sometimes it has all the subtlety of a Neil Blomkampf movie, as in Scott Bell’s story of police officers forced to head into the bleak hellscape of a city set aside as a reservation for socialists to live out their dreams of starvation and death camps where their idiocy can’t hurt decent Americans.

As to the non-fiction, they covering an equally wide spread of political ground. Ivan Throne offers an apologia for Trump that resonates with those who appreciate the multivariate ways in which the God-Emperor operates to destabilize the Deep State. John C. Wright’s unique erudition shines through as bright as ever in his think piece on how the cockroaches have and continue to scurry about in the wake of the 2016 election. My personal favorite of the non-fiction pieces is Monalisa Foster’s essay on the nature of language and her experience as a right-wing writer bobbing along in a sea of the left-wing subculture of writing.

That broad spectrum of approaches solidifies the book's appeal for those across the political spectrum - at least that part of it that lies to the right of NPR. Edited by Jason Rennie, an excellent judge of work and a fine editor, "MAGA 2020 & Beyond" in unafraid of a little experimentation.  Some of the experiments work, and some don't, but they are all worth reading, if only to find out where your personal line lies between "fun" and "preachy".

The skinflints among this book’s readership will feel likely cheated and argue that the works they don’t like somehow took enjoyment away from the works they do. That’s an unfortunate way to view this book, given that one of the underlying themes that consistently occurs in each work is a message of optimism and hope for the future. Like America herself – like Trump himself for that matter – this is not a perfect book. It has a few sour notes and no one will like everything they find between its covers, but on the whole, this book is fantastic. It stands for something much greater than itself, and it inspires those who embrace it to do more, to do better, and to make more of themselves.

It's also worth noting that MAGA 2020 & Beyond largely forgoes pessimistic sneering at the common culture in favor of a more sunny approach.  This book oozes with optimism and takes the path of building something worth reading rather than conducting more Monday morning quarterbacking of the dumpster fire that is American media.  It's a positive approach to replacing the dumpster fire with a roaring backwoods bonfire, complete with an invitation to men of good will to join in the laughter and fun.  In that, this book also represents another example of the shift in the cultural war from a decades long Republican rear-guard action to an aggressive attack by the right-wing newcomers who seek to capture the cultural high ground through building something up rather than trying to tear something down.  As such, this book represents a far more effective action than all of the think pieces ever written by the National Review crowd.

Of course, the real question for readers is whether or not this collection is worth the money, and the answer to that is a resounding YES. You probably won’t like all of it, but there’s a definitely something in here for everyone.

For certain definitions of the term, “everyone”.

Labels:

24 Comments:

Anonymous Man of the Atom November 23, 2017 4:27 PM  

Jon's review moved "MAGA 2020" into my wishlist. Thanks, Mr Mollison!

Anonymous Monalisa Foster November 23, 2017 5:08 PM  

Thank you, Jon. I'm glad you enjoyed the essay. I think that the preponderance of dystopias and post-apocalyptic stories has created a hunger for optimistic futures.

Blogger Jon D. November 23, 2017 5:11 PM  

Excellent :) Thanks for posting, Vox, and for reviewing, Jon M!

Anonymous Ivan Throne November 23, 2017 5:27 PM  

Terrific review.

Many thanks to Vox Day for posting, and to Mr. Mollison for writing the review.

A very Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Regards,

Ivan

Blogger Jeff aka Orville November 23, 2017 5:58 PM  

@2 Excepting some of Nick Cole's post-apocalyptic stories that start in a leftist dystopia and do have hope at the end.

Since the days of oral tradition, all stories have had a message of some sort. The prog haters of hope and freedom will always tag the stories with messages opposing them as "message fiction". Screw 'em.

Blogger Resident Moron™ November 23, 2017 6:08 PM  

OT (maybe):

Bill Kristol just doubled down on his earlier coming out of the SJW closet:

(((Stupid People)))

Anonymous PickleRick November 23, 2017 6:35 PM  

The review had me interested until this part, then I realized this wasn't for me. "This collection contains thirty pieces of fiction and non-fiction, many of them by well recognized authors such as Brad Torgerson, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Declann Finn, Milo, Ivan Throne, John C. Wright, and Jon Del Arroz." I just couldn't stop laughing. I mean I'm all for supporting your side, but this is ridiculous. Who are half these people? L. Jagi Lamplighter? The only well recognized person in that list is Milo and he needed a ghost writer for his only book. Little lies like this annoy me when they detract from an otherwise worthy project.

Blogger Lovekraft November 23, 2017 6:41 PM  

@7 Picklerick: why would your recognition of an author determine its validity? Popularity in this day and age is actually a hindrance as we are on the dawn of new movement where the recognized have to be adequately disassociated in order to gain full respect.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan November 23, 2017 6:59 PM  

I'll be buying, need some positive energy

Blogger Ingot9455 November 23, 2017 7:05 PM  

One would think this was the perfect opportunity to widen ones breadth. How can you find out who the fresh names are unless you buy one of these books designed to give them a spot?

Anonymous Luke November 23, 2017 7:26 PM  

My hope is that it would have the same gravitas and severity as William Lind's excellent "Victoria".

Its preface:

"The triumph of the Recovery was marked most clearly by the burning of the Episcopal
bishop of Maine.
She was not a particularly bad bishop. She was in fact typical of Episcopal bishops of
the first quarter of the 21st century: agnostic, compulsively political and radical, and
given to placing a small idol of Isis on the altar when she said the Communion
service. By 2055, when she was tried for heresy, convicted, and burned, she had
outlived her era. By that time only a handful of Episcopalians still recognized female
clergy, it would have been easy enough to let the old fool rant out her final years in
obscurity.
The fact that the easy road was not taken, that Episcopalians turned to their difficult
duty of trying and convicting, and the state upheld its unpleasant responsibility of
setting torch to faggots, was what marked this as an act of Recovery. I well remember
the crowd that gathered for the execution, solemn but not sad, relieved rather that at
last, after so many years of humiliation, of having to swallow every absurdity and
pretend we liked it, the majority had taken back the culture. No more apologies for
the truth. No more “Yes, buts” on upholding standards. Civilization had recovered its
nerve. The flames that soared above the lawn before the Maine State House were, as
the bishopess herself might have said, liberating.
She could have saved herself, of course, right up until the torch was applied. All she
had to do was announce she wasn’t a bishop, or a priest, since Christian tradition
forbids a woman to be either. Or she could have confessed she wasn’t a Christian, in
which case she could be bishopess, priestess, popess, whatever, in the service of her
chosen demons. That would have just gotten her tossed over the border.
But the Prince of This World whom she served gives his devotees neither an easy nor
a dignified exit. She bawled, she babbled, she shrieked in Hellish tongues, she pissed
and pooped herself. The pyre was lit at 12:01 PM on a cool, cloudless August 18th, St.
3
Helen’s day. The flames climbed fast; after all, they’d been waiting for her for a long
time.
When it was over, none of us felt good about it. But we’d long since learned feelings
were a poor guide. We’d done the right thing."

Blogger weka November 23, 2017 7:34 PM  

You need to read more. Finn, Mr and Mrs Wright, Torgerson and del Arroz have all published books. All but del Arroz have published book series.

Or are you too short for the ride?

Blogger Amos Bellomy November 23, 2017 7:35 PM  

Lol

Blogger Lazarus November 23, 2017 8:55 PM  

PickleRick wrote:Little lies like this annoy me when they detract from an otherwise worthy project.

Your sincere concern has been noted.

Blogger tuberman November 23, 2017 9:05 PM  

I'll pick up the Kindle version soon.

Blogger Brad Matthews November 23, 2017 10:15 PM  

I'm buying because it sounds fun, supports the cause, and that was a great review.

Blogger LP9 November 23, 2017 10:29 PM  

Wow, cool nice flow to what to expect/

I highly recommend reading the Castalia House, I really enjoy it.

Blogger LP9 November 23, 2017 10:29 PM  

Edit; Castalia House blog.

Blogger Laramie Hirsch November 24, 2017 4:45 AM  

Are there any other anthologies coming up that could use some submissions?

Anonymous Causal Lurker November 24, 2017 5:35 AM  

"include billygoatsgruff.h" Have at the troll, boys. It needs to get out from under the bridge more.

How about a bright and bold vision for the future, again?

I bought based on a good review, and on enjoying several of the authors' previous books. Finn popped up as recommendation based on other purchases - many of the other contributors to the anthology. The worst I can say about any of the authors noted in the review is that their books were satisfying and well written. At best, I'll use the readers' rant: "Write more and faster, please!"

Blogger wreckage November 24, 2017 7:12 AM  

"The only well-recognised person on that list" laughed the guy who clearly hasn't read sci-fi at all this century.

Blogger Lovekraft November 24, 2017 7:28 AM  

Meanwhile, the marxists are working hard to ensure free expression and true creative freedom is stifled.

I refer to the recent Wilfrid U star chamber of someone who dared to question the 'gender dysphoria as life goal' lobby.

True creativity means pushing against the norms with the goal of expanding our humanity (lots of premises here, I know, but you get the point).

Anonymous PickleRick November 24, 2017 8:06 AM  

"laughed the guy who clearly hasn't read sci-fi at all this century"

More like laughed the guy who thinks calling any of those authors well-recognized is the worst kind of brown-nosing possible. Why does it matter if the authors are well recognized or not? The stories could still be good without having to lie about the authors. Especially when none of the authors listed, with exception to Milo who isn't known as an author, are well recognized. Ask ten people who don't read this blog who any of the authors are, they won't know them.

Blogger The Overgrown Hobbit November 24, 2017 6:51 PM  

Bought a copy and saved it to read over Thanksgiving holiday.

So far it's a mixed bag as it alternates stories with theme-applicable nonfiction, since the style and focus is so broad. Which makes this very good value for the price: exposure to variety of work, much of which should prove (as I've found it) to be thoroughly enjoyable.

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