Locus Reviews my latest book! Yeah for me!

An already swollen ego should bloat more, when the reviewer, Mr. Nick Gevers, sent me an advance copy of his quite favorable and quite generous review of my latest work THE GODLEN TRANSENDENCE, to appear in next month’s Locus.

He says, in part:

“With The Golden Transcendence, John C. Wright completes one of the finest long novels in recent SF history…It truly seems as if baroque romantic SF has acquired a new master practitioner, and, in his first novel (or trilogy), a new touchstone text.”

“These events and phenomena sound almost indescribable, but Wright’s powers of description are formidable; he orchestrates his material splendidly, carrying off one of the grandest narrative climaxes in the SF canon; like the expert lawyer and logician he is, he makes a commanding case.”

[Expert lawyer? I doubt the firm that fired me would agree with Mr. Gever’s generous assessment of my legal skills.]

His only hint of criticism, and this a very mild hint indeed, is that the writing is controversal. Mr. Gevers says:

“That case ultimately concerns the proper organization of human society, about which Wright has strong classic-liberal opinions many of his readers may not share.”

“Even as he echoes Olaf Stapledon’s Last and First Men in aspects of content and style, Wright is arguing vigorously with his model, rejecting woolly telepathic collectivism in favor of a pragmatically laissez-faire scheme of government. It could be asserted that the philosophy of the Silent Ones is too blithely dismissed, that Phaeton’s arrogance converts his opinions into dogma; but if Wright’s thesis partakes of dogma, it is so arrestingly couched, so stylishly literary, that indulgence is clearly warranted. Wright is very much like his fellow baroque SF romanticists in this: Harness, Aldiss, and Vance may not finally persuade, but their artistry of persuasion is a miracle of craft.”

My thoughts on this:

This last surprises me. It is interesting to see one’s own work, as it were, through someone else’s spectacles.

An author cannot critique his own work for the same reason a judge cannot judge his own case: he is too close to it, and often will confuse what he meant to do with what he accomplished. In such a case, if he mentions what he meant to do, and it falls short of what he accomplished, he is open to embarrassment.

Therefore, without saying what I meant to do, and pretending, for the moment, that I am merely a reader of the work, I would not conclude that the Nothing Sophotect is meant to represent wolly-headed collectivism. The Eleemosynary Composition are the collectivists in the tale, surely? The description of the Silent Oecumene in the text is of a individualistic anarchy that degenerates into a police state when the people of Cygnus (pursuing, ironically, a goal very alike to that of the Silver-Grey manor, namely, attempting to preserve their unique human heritage) turn over all civil authority to a machine designed to be irrational. The philosophy being criticized is nihilism, not socialism.

However (once again, speaking only as a reader) it is pretty clear the author is a foam-at-the-mouth dyed-in-the-wool libertarian, and he might have been wiser to hide his political opinions more carefully, if his purpose is to entertain, and not to lecture, and not to alienate, his generous readers and patrons.

One of the beauties of the capitalist system, is that the seller of a work is required to be on his best behavior with any buyer of his work, even buyers who, ironically, despite that they are buyers, do not believe in the beauties of the capitalist system.

I wonder about this line. “That case ultimately concerns the proper organization of human society, about which Wright has strong classic-liberal opinions many of his readers may not share.”

The strong opinions he mentions are standard, flag-waving, pro-American-type individualism. To me, at least, my opinions seem only about as controversal as being in favor of Apple Pie and Motherhood. If individual liberty (or for that matter, motherhood) are matters that find serious controversy in America these days, our nation is in sad, sad shape.