Larry Correia vs. the Campbellian Memory Hole

The International Lord of Hate recently waded into a FaceBook thread started by author Mark Wandrey that had been darkened by a Campbellian Kool-Aid swiller who showed up to lecture the best-selling authors' fans about how hard science fiction is the only science fiction.

Glenn Damato

Glenn: "Lowbrow readers want to be told the same, schlocky stories ad infinitum instead of new tales set in original worlds."

Also Glenn: "I want the same subgenre of hard sci-fi stories set in this world with minimal speculative elements that I liked back in the day!"

Note that he also wasted no time declaring science fiction dead. Where have we heard that before?

Food for thought: which takes more originality and creativity--dreaming up and populating an expansive, if perhaps somewhat derivative--galactic empire with space marines and spaceships; or setting a story in a Silicon Valley lab full of screwdriver-toting nerds two years from now with the currently projected advancement of Moore's Law as the central plot conceit?

But enough from me. The Mountain that Writes answers the hard SF snob better than I could:

Glenn Damato Larry Correia reply

A slight correction for Larry, if I may be so bold: the ILoH is absolutely a real science fiction author. What we today call science fiction, fantasy, and horror were all recognized under the broad banner of science fiction back before John W. Campbell imposed his arbitrary reduction of sci-fi to hard sci-fi and chain bookstores adopted arbitrary shelving systems.

With the advent of Amazon, indie publishing, and the Pulp Revolution, genre fiction is returning to its natural state of anything goes fun.

Speaking of which...
Brian Niemeier has done it. He has taken the best aspects of Dune, Star Wars, and Star Trek, classic sci-fi like Flash Gordon, and The Divine Comedy and crafted what can only be called a space opera fantasy horror. Whatever the genre, Nethereal delivers.
Nethereal - Brian Niemeier


  1. Militant Hard SF fans are what chased everyone from the genre in the first place.

    This is a tangent, but I've never understood this hatred of Fantasy from these types of fans.

    They do realize Science Fiction is Fantasy, right? It's fantastical, imaginative, and supposed to be limitless. It's supposed to stir readers. How can you do that by limiting what you can do with your story?

    I have nothing against Hard SF, because anyone can write whatever they want and some stories suit the approach. But it is not the be-all end-all of SF or even the most popular one by readers.

    It's silly childish elitism.

    1. "I've never understood this hatred of Fantasy from these types of fans."

      It all goes back to the cultural Marxists. Look at Damon Knight's criticisms of Robert E. Howard. Knight mocked REH for giving the impression that there MIGHT be something that transcends the material world.

      That's what hard SF snobs hate about fantasy. Their atheist materialist progenitors couldn't abide any hint of the transcendent because their ideology requires a reductionist materialist cosmology.

      Genre fiction is intrinsically escapist, and it can make you yearn for escape in two directions: forward into the future and upward into the transcendent. Marxism must convince its adherents to despair of the latter, so a glorious utopian future populated by the New Soviet Man is all there is to hope for. Hope in the eternal is a direct threat to their materialist eschatology and must therefore be quashed.

      To be clear, Campbellian hard SF snobs like Glenn are almost all ignorant of the fact that decades of propaganda have turned them into useful idiots in the service of long-dead Commies. But you can see the effects of the conditioning in their fanatical, incoherent polemics against anything more fantastic than installing a sundial in the backyard.

    2. I'm trying to remember something I heard once.

      A Science Fiction story that has a ghost is not proper Science Fiction unless the ghost is explained scientifically as something distinctly non-supernatural.

      Any time I remember reading or seeing a story like that as a kid I walked away disappointed.

      Why CAN'T it be a ghost? It's fiction. It can be anything you want it to be.

      A lot like those who claim Scooby Doo is the most atheist friendly cartoon. These people conveniently forget that the franchise was dead by the mid-90s and was revived by a movie series where the monsters were actually REAL. That's what saved it from death.

      To mangle a catchphrase, this is why we need PulpRev.

    3. L.E. Modesitt wrote such a quasi SF "ghost" story.

    4. Poul Anderson actually wrote just such a story that was quite good. But largely because it revolved around the ghosts of an alien race being a real and measurable phenomenon. Humans get hint of this but the aliens refuse to discuss it. So humans with too much power and too little oversight initiate an attack on an isolated alien base to force them to divulge what they know. The attack goes horribly wrong because the aliens are able to summon help over distances that should have been a barrier to immediate communication, because the alien ghosts aren't subject to the speed of light limit. In the final scene the human commander demands to know why they would hide the existence of life after death.

      "Because we do. You don't."

    5. If I read you correctly, that Anderson story sounds exactly like the kind of yarn that JD meant.

      Let's go over the subversive fiction checklist:

      -"Humans are the real monsters"
      -Equating "real" with "measurable"
      -Human hope in the transcendent quashed.

      I'll pass.

    6. And I'll bet it was written in the 60s or 70s, too.

      Every fantastical element must be adequately scrubbed like a dirty dish until only pure science(tm) remains, forever and ever amen.

      It's bad enough when Horror stories revel in nihilistic endings that negate the whole story and Fantasy deals with ageless beings and magic systems that ALSO have to scrub away any sense of supernatural to be palatable.

      I like stories where anything can happen; not where everything has to be explained away.

    7. Hear, hear. I have a longstanding rule concerning horror movies: if the ending is indistinguishable from the main character blowing his own brains out, it's not worth my time.

    8. Damon Knight was the nastiest glass of poison that F/SF ever swallowed.

      In a just world, Knight would have been a featured emesis aperitif in an alien's cookbook.

    9. Not at all a fan of the "nothing spiritual allowed" definition of science fiction. If you have a story where the main character is a scientist doing science, and unambiguously real ghosts appear, does it stop being science fiction?

      I just recently read "The Moon Pool" by Abraham Merritt. The narrator is a botanist with a skeptical bent (seems more deist than atheist though) who thinks the wonders he witnesses have natural explanations, but towards the end he shows signs that his skepticism is softening. The climax of the story involves ghosts and some things are explained in terms of Eastern-ish metaphysics. Does that make it not science fiction?

    10. That's why Merritt's name was scrubbed away like it was.

      If you read his second to last novel, "Burn, Witch, Burn" it deals with a skeptical doctor, a believing mob boss, witches, and living dolls that kill which only the doctor can figure out, with an entire story focused on the supernatural breaking into the natural world. It is SF, Fantasy, and Horror, all at once.

      But all that was scrubbed out because he "looked like a smoo" and had the gall to love fantastical elements and put them in his stories.

      So many people missed out on these great stories because of these puritans, and it still pisses me off thinking about it.

      All for their utopian science worship fiction. Thanks for ruining it for the rest of us, jerks!

    11. I never read that one (by Anderson), but I've seen a few others in the same vein. The difference with Anderson is that he treated such revelations as the horrors they were.

      Many Anderson stories followed that general theme--almost a subversion of the subversion. The star-spanning, super-scientific humans know their place in the universe--and this is a terrible thing. The happiest people in these stories ignore the truth. The heroes tend to a quasi-Viking form of existentialism (we'll *fake* a meaning if we have to!), but they and the reader know it's all for nothing.

      I sometimes wonder if he was deliberately undermining the Campbell paradigm, or just writing a cracking good story that slithered around the expected beats…


      Never read it, would very much like to.

    13. One science fiction story I really enjoyed growing up was the Conquerors Trilogy by Timothy Zahn.

      A central plot element was that the alien race humans bump into all turn into ghosts tethered to a piece of their brain when they die. They can swap between pieces instantly across interstellar distances, allowing the aliens to have ftl comms. But radio waves "jam" the ghosts with intense pain, so when humanity tries to talk to the aliens it's considered an act of war. I need to read that again.

    14. Zahn is the most bafflingly underrated author in contemporary science fiction. Dude should be in Neal Stephenson's league by now.

    15. I was very disappointed in his latest novel Pawn. It did not rise to the level of his previous work.

    16. And the aliens had already destroyed several other civilizations for the same reason.

      Why? WHY do all these monstrous aliens act like this? We meet them in peace, and the FIRST THING THEY DO is attack us with ELDERDEATH WEAPONS!!!!


  2. Replies
    1. Some artists work in oil on canvas.

      Larry's medium is verbal bludgeonings on FaceBook.

    2. And that rant and Party's smackdown ties back to Brian's post as to why conservatives have vacated art to the left.
      I think Jeffero's has a point that the non leftveas purged and driven out. The relentless materialist nihilism was very effective.it turned off so many that the left took over by default. Any pockets of resistances were ruthless discredited.
      With the rise of micropublishers, people can ignore the New York-London-Hollywood axis and read what they like


  3. Here. Post from the digital reader about how publishers will always exist in the book
    Which is a propos for the current discussions

  4. Replies
    1. A commonsensical writer who makes me laugh out loud. I need to integratecthatvtime of humour in my writing exercises

  5. Peter Watts writes hard sci-fi, just to add to the list of authors this guy thought didn't exist.