Mavors v Atkins and Other Official Fanboy Questions

An unwary reader writes in and asks:

Here’s a couple of John C. Wright Official Fanboy Questions that I’ve been wondering about, and since this is a post regarding your actual work (as opposed to other topics, like eschatology, morality or Catwoman), I felt here might be an apt place to ask them, should you feel like answering:

1) Who would win in a fight: Lord Mavors (assuming he didn’t automatically decree the outcome of the battle to be in his favor) or Marshall Atkins (assuming he restricted his number of lives to 1)?


There is little surprise if the question were answered WITHOUT the restrictions specified, because the answer would be too obvious: Mavors would win the fight because he would decree the outcome.

Atkins has as many powers as a Telchine, but he is a natural creature bound by the laws of nature, whereas Mavors is a supernatural creature who gets to write or tweaks the laws of nature: Which, for him, are more like suggestions or guidelines, really.

Generally speaking, fantasy characters usually have the advantage over science fiction characters, because fantasy characters occupy worlds which are basically alive, that is, the rules of fantasy worlds usually have a fate, or a spirit, or a pantheon which determine the outcome based on some idea (right or wrong) of proper conduct, merit or justice.

Fantasy stories are based on magical thinking, where things work because they should work, not because they do. In a fantasy, true love’s first kiss will break the spell because the good fairies are living spirits devoted to seeing that true love triumphs. In a science fiction story, the correct application of pharmaceuticals will waken the Sleeping Beauty in a coma whether Doctor McCoy flirts with Nurse Chapel or not, because the colder laws of science fiction only care about whether you do your job correctly, not about your personal life or the state of your soul.

As a theological point, the Holy Church has held since the days of the schism of the Donatists, that any immorality on behalf of the priest does not invalidate his sacraments. If a thieving or evil or even heretical priest blesses your marriage vows, your marriage to your wife is still valid. The laws of nature of a science fiction world abide by the same principle. Church thinking, despite what you may have heard, is the mere opposite of magical thinking.

Which is why the Church is not fond of witchcraft or psychics, but allegedly enlightened progressives often are.

Look at how many mind-readers, fortune-tellers and empathic healers end up in (ahem!) science fiction stories versus how many Jesuit or Monastic scientists, and then compare the number of Jesuits or Monks in real life who made lasting contributions to science versus the number of witches, or scientologists or true believers in psychic powers. Then ask yourself why the stories do not reflect the reality.

But now we have wondered far afield, and not addressed the question actually asked. What is the outcome of the duel if it be fought WITH the restrictions specified? Ah, but this is a difficult question. Let me answer it last.

2) How intelligent is Exarchel compared to, say, the Sophotechs in your “Golden Age” trilogy? Would he be equivalent to a Rhadamanthus-level Sophotech (million cycle capacity, I think it was?), or is Exarchel’s intelligence even greater than that?

ANSWER: During his first appearance in COUNT TO A TRILLION, the xypotech Exarchel is far less intelligent than the household Sophotechs of the manorials of the Golden Oecumene. By the time of his final appearance in CONCUBINE VECTOR (not yet published), Exarchel occupies a system of three-dimensional rod logic crystals filling the entire diamond core of the gas giant Jupiter, and this permits a computational volume far in excess of even the largest Earthmind mainframe of the Golden Oecumene.

3) If you could live in any of your own fictional universes – assuming that none of the “bad stuff” of those universes (e.g. Morningstar, interstellar war, cruel wind-god headmasters, etc) were present – which of your own fictional universes would you choose to live in with your family?

ANSWER: That is an easy question to answer. I would rather live in the Star Trek universe. There is no war nor race-hatred in that future, nor poverty, nor misery. Most important of all, the swinging gals with 60’s hairdos wear cute miniskirts in space. The delicious alien eyecandy babes (including a green Yvonne Craig and a pregnant Julie Newmar) are inter-fertile with humans, and no laws of miscegenation, or customs against fornication, stand in the way of the full indulgence as if of the houri of the paradise of the Mohammedans.

Hold it. Did you say live there with my family? Never mind! I am not bringing my pretty eighteen year old daughter into any universe with shirtless Captain Kirk in it.

A more serious answer might be to say that the Golden Oecumene in THE GOLDEN AGE would be the best place to raise a family, especially since the medical science of the age could cure everything, even death. But it is a libertarian utopia, where all vices whatsoever are permitted, ergo a utopia that only creatures possessed of utopian levels of moral prudence and perfection could live in without destroying mind or soul or marriage. What indeed would my wife say when, during my first hour in the libertarian utopia, I brought home my first pair of fully-functional Catwoman and Batgirl sexual fetish robots? What would my father confessor say?

Aside from that, I cannot answer the question. The ‘bad stuff’ is an integral part of each story I invented. It is as if you were asking whether I would prefer to live in the world of Tim Powers ON STRANGER TIDES or Gene Wolfe’s PIRATE FREEDOM, but without any piracy.

4) Why have there not been any flying cars in any of your novels?

ANSWER: There are no flying cars in my stories because my stories are satires. For satirical purposes of gross exaggeration, I assume that in the future a technology will be invented to allow for the safe and efficient mining of natural gas.

Under the unrealistic, nay, comical assumptions of my make-believe future I assume that the number of drill rigs will drop by 75%, and that the ‘Greenhouse Gas’ emissions, compared to those produced by petroleum, will drop precipitously.

What makes the assumption satirical is that I also assume that well-meaning and civic minded conservationists will be buffaloed by the hysterics of a few shrill shills, and that this technology will be hindered or stillborn, creating the ironic situation where the Western Nations will be sitting atop a bottomless treasure house of an environmentally-friendly source of fuel, and will be so frightened and bewildered by the claims of overpopulation guru Paul Erlich and malarial genocide perpetrator Rachel Carson, that the foolish future generations would prefer to starve in the midst of abundance.

And ergo there would be no flying cars because everyone, for no good reason, but only due to political hysteria, is out of fuel.

Now this satire is so outrageous, more absurd than the flights of fancy of Ron Goulart or Jonathon Swift, that I can convince no editor to buy it. No one would believe rational human beings could do such a thing.

4) (continued) I also notice a distinct lack of gorillas and planets being destroyed, which are two of the criteria you mentioned are vital to a good sci-fi story.

ANSWER: Several planets, indeed, the entire solar system of Eta Carina are destroyed in a spectacular (yet, ironically, astronomically accurate) double hyper-supernova explosion in my short story ‘Far End of History’ which is a sequel to THE GOLDEN AGE appearing in the NEW SPACE OPERA 2 anthology.

Several planets, arms of the galaxy, timelines, and at one point the entire multiverse is destroyed in NULL-A CONTINUUM, my tribute and sequel to A.E. van Vogt’s WORLD OF NULL-A and PLAYERS OF NULL-A, and one galaxy is teleported into the midst of another galaxy at right angles.

I do not, however, have any stories where a gorilla is destroyed along with a planet. That is what you meant by ‘gorillas and planets being destroyed’ right?

(1) (Again!) WHAT ABOUT THE ANSWER TO THE MAVORS Vs ATKINS DUEL? Who would win in a fight: Lord Mavors (assuming he didn’t automatically decree the outcome of the battle to be in his favor) or Marshall Atkins (assuming he restricted his number of lives to 1)?


This is similar to the question of whether the Invincible Iron Man could beat the mighty Thor if Tony Stark were not wearing his armor assuming Thor in his flying chariot pulled by goats, magic hammer in hand, came upon Tony by surprise while Tony was drunk and naked tightly wrapped in an eatable -chocolate sleeping bag with two hot stewardesses in a small aircraft during a thunderstorm. The answer is that Pepper Potts would kill him before Thor had the chance. Get away from those stewardesses, Tony!

In other words, you are asking how well Mavors could perform in a fight if his means of fighting, his main magical power, were taken away from him.

The duel would go something like this: the hooded Graeae sisters warn Mavors he is fated to die. Bravely he takes up his shield of linden wood embossed with brass, and his iron-headed pilum or javelin, stands atop Mount Aetna, and looks rights and left to the cloudy horizons, as far as his immortal eyes can see.


Atkins, perhaps sitting in a Morris chair on the dark side of the moon, gets the coordinates from the Earthmind, raises one finger, and commands his obedient handweapon to fire a nanotechnological package of neutrinos at ninety percent of the speed of light through the core of the moon, from earth to moon, through the core of the Earth, upward through Mount Aetna, and he hits Mavors in the heel, the one spot his mother failed to dip him into the river Styx to make him invulnerable. Tommy_Atkins

All the electrons in Mavors’ physical body are turned into positrons, and a total conversion reaction takes place when they interact with the electrons in the environment, not to mention the eruption of Aetna is triggered with the bolt from Atkins’ hand-weapon travels through it.

Mavors, now in Hell, asks his uncle Hades, the Rich One, to let him out. (Your question only limited Atkins to one life, not Mavors).


Lord Hades, blind, stands leaning on his white cane, with a three-headed canine monstrosity as his seeing-eye dog, smiling coldly but not answering.


Lady Proserpine, the Maiden, the underage yet nubile Queen of Hell, mocks Mavors for letting himself get killed by a mortal man. Mavors complains that Atkins is not a mortal, but a Talos, a made thing, an object which only thinks it is a man. He tells Proserpine that her husband’s realm will never receive the soul of Atkins, who is as undying as Endymion, and he returns her mockery for mockery.

Rossetti, Dante Gabriel 1828-1882 Proserpina 1877

Proserpine flies into a teenaged snit, and complains to her mother, the Lady Abundance, of old called Demeter, who then alters fate and destiny, and arranges the future so that Atkins willingly turns himself into a small planet covered with greenery in the Eta Carina system, which explodes in an outrageous yet astronomically accurate double hyper-supernova, which takes him out of the fight. (You did not specify that no Olympian could use his fate-commanding power to decree the outcome, only Mavors).


The glancing-eyed Lady Cyprian, called Aphrodite, out of playfulness arranges to have the reincarnated version of Atkins fall in love with his dread and dreaded enemy, Dark Lady of the Silence Oecumene, no doubt one who looks like the Catwoman. Technically, this puts Atkins in violation of the terms of the duel, because he was limited to one incarnation.


Atkins loses the duel but wins at love, so he is not complaining. Not that he would complain anyway.


Meanwhile, Mavors cuts some sort of political deal with Hades and Prosperine, who is supporting the claim of Proserpine to the throne of heaven (if you recall, Lord Terminus, Zeus, was Dead, slain by Demigorgon) and manages to crawl back to the world of sunlight through the Orphic gate near lake Avernus.

Seeking R&R, he jauntily marches off to have his adulterous tryst with the love-hungry Lady Cyprian, when lo and behold, just as they are both unclothed and getting frisky, a golden net woven by the cunning of Lord Mulciber and of three annoying dwarfs from Norse mythology, drops on them both, interrupting their consummation, and trapping them in an embarrassing and perhaps non-missionary position.


The paparazzi, led by Trismegistus Lord Hermes (also back from the dead) snap photographs. Mavors is mortified, knowing his junior officers, non-coms and enlisted men will tape copies of the luscious front page photos to their footlookers, while Cyprian bound in the meshes and naked as a jay-bird, giggles and makes flirty eyes at Hermes, flattered by his wisecracks. The birth of Hermaphrodite, child of Hermes and Aphrodite, is inevitable.

So Mavors wins the duel and loses his pants and his dignity, and life just sucks for him. But does not complain either. Some men just don’t whine. There are not many like that these days, and they are getting rarer.

SCORE: 1/0 or 0/1 depending on how you count it. So Hades wins! Hades always wins.

Lord Hades did not even lose that famed lottery to divide the world with his brethren. Of three kingdoms of sky and sea and underworld, his is the only kingdom which ever increases and never decreases — until the day the White Christ comes to harrow the virtuous pagans from the miserable gloom.