Space Princess Archive

Who is a Space Princess?

Posted July 7, 2019 By John C Wright

A reprint of a previous column, answering questions, once again pertinent, about the nature and extent of the literary movement involved:

I am happy to announce that the New Space Princess literary movement now consists of two members: me and Edward Willet, a Canadian writer who would be profoundly embarrassed to be associated with me if he knew what a disreputable person I am. But no matter! Recently the SWFA Mansion in New Jersey was rocked and shattered with tumult as Mr. Willet and I disagreed over the definition of who is a “Space Princess” — for example, is Princess Padme of Naboo a Space Princess, or only a Space Senator? Do elected Princesses count? What about a girl whose father is the Tyrant of Pluto — if Pluto is no longer a planet, does that mean she is no longer a Space Princess?

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A New Literary Movement in Speculative Fiction

Posted July 7, 2019 By John C Wright

Here below is the text of the original 2007 announcement and manifesto of the New Space Princess movement, which after a dozen years of failing to take the literary world by storm, has yet to take the literary world by storm. This is the type of progress one can only call unbelievable! 

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Manifesto for a New Literary Movement in Speculative Fiction

I would like to announce my own literary movement and literary manifesto: THE NEW SPACE PRINCESS MOVEMENT.

The literary movement will follow two basic principles: first, science fiction stories should have space-princesses in them who are absurdly good looking. Second, The space princesses must be half-clad (if you are a pessimist. The optimist sees the space princess as half-naked). Third, dinosaurs are also way cool, as are ninjas. Dinosaur ninjas are best of all.

Looks like that’s three principles, no?

Well, I know what you are thinking.

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Space Princess Art, Part 6: The Golden Years

Posted March 17, 2017 By John C Wright

This installment gives us the opportunity to look at the best magazine covers of all time, by which I mean the Astounding Stories covers from the Campbellian Golden Age. There should be a fair number of short stories a well read SF reader will recognize from this collection of classics.

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Space Princess Art, Part 5: Startling Stories

Posted March 14, 2017 By John C Wright

Enjoy today’s installment of Space Princess Art, including selections from Startling Stories.

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Space Princess Art, Part 4: Planet Stories

Posted March 9, 2017 By John C Wright

Today’s installment concentrates on Planet Stories, which, in my humble opinion, had the most well drawn covers (but not necessarily the best — that honor goes to Astounding Stories).

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Space Princess Art, Part 3: The Dames Strike Back!

Posted March 8, 2017 By John C Wright

This is installment three, which features a lot of dames with guns, or with knives, axes, whips, cutlasses, bagpipes, magic bolts, and, in one case, I think she is shooting the monster with her face.

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Space Princess Art, Part 2: Thugs Grabbing Dames!

Posted March 7, 2017 By John C Wright

This is installment two, which features a lot of thugs, toughs, and ne’er-do-wells grabbing dames. Perhaps we will see dames with guns in a later installment valiantly defending themselves.
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Space Princess Art, Part 1

Posted March 6, 2017 By John C Wright

As part of the ongoing Pulp Revolution and Space Princess Literary Movement, it behooves us to take a moment and pause to admire the art of some of these pulp covers. Their like is not seen today.

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The Space Princess Equation!

Posted June 14, 2012 By John C Wright

Related to our previous post, and to clear up certain technical matters, here is  a re-reprint of a post from 2011 and from earlier this year, explaining the now-famous Space Princess equation.


A reader whom I will, for the sake of anonymity, refer to merely as ‘Curmudgeon’ (albeit his real name is Homer Snodgrass of 12 Manitowish Avenue, Mammoth Falls, Wisconsin, 54545, and his social security number is 1205-119-8577, and the PIN number of his bank card is 4560) holds the opinion that too many modern persons of the youthful persuasion (he refers to them as “kids!” or “punks!”) are devoted to science fictional ideas as a thinly disguised substitute for spiritual longings.

‘Curmudgeon’ reads and promotes what he calls the ‘It Ain’t Gunna Happen’ School of science fiction. This school is remarkably similar to the Mundane Movement of Really Boring Self-Righteous Left-Leaning Science Fiction, being mostly a list of things that ain’t gunna happen.

Here is a summary of his manifesto:

(1) There will be no colonization of space, either O’Neil or otherwise, for the same reason no one lives in a submarine at the bottom of a trench in the Arctic sea;
(2) we are never meeting any intelligent extraterrestrial life;
(3) or if we do, they will be incomprehensible, so much so that even the question of whether they are truly ‘intelligent’ or not will be debatable;
(4) there will be no faster than light travel – It is not just a good idea, it’s the Law;
(5) medicine may shift where the top of the bell curve falls, but human beings are not going to live much past 80 or 90;
(6) psionics is just magic wearing a lab coat;
(7) time travel is less possible and less realistic than fairy unicorn sparkly magic;
(8) The Soviets and the Red Chinese and Cubans all promised and vowed to bring about modern, scientifically-run secular humanist utopias very much along the lines of Gene Roddenberry’s ideas. (So… how is that workin’ out for ya’? What is the murder count now for the Utopians? Upwards of 110,000,000? Let’s give the idea one more try!)

Now, for some reason, my friend Curmudgeon thinks I am of his school of science fiction. I am not.

In fact, I am a founding member of the Space Princess school of science fiction writing, which, to date, includes me and a writer named Edward Willet: Albeit we two have retroactively included every big name Willet and I can think of into our movement against their will and over their strong objections, if they ever had any female royalty from outerspace in any story.

Inductees include Edgar Rice Burroughs, who invented Dejah Thoris, and Robert Heinlein, who invented Her Wisdom CCIV aka Star the Sexy-Space Empress, and Michael Moorcock, whose hero, Kane of Old Mars, traveled back into a previous eon of Martian existence to meet his space princess Shizala. In other media, STAR WARS and BUCK ROGERS and FLASH GORDON and TEEN TITANS all include space princesses of one sort or another, including Princess Leia, Princess Ardala, Princess Aura, and Koriand’r of Vega (Starfire to you non-T-heads).

My school of writing contradicts Curmudgeon’s ‘It Ain’t Gunna Happen’ school at nearly every point.

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Who is Space Princess?

Posted April 14, 2012 By John C Wright

Because there has been some debate on whether Space Ponies who are princesses officially qualify as ‘Space Princesses’ I here re-print an article from 2010 which defines the Movement’s official stance on the matter.


I am happy to announce that the New Space Princess literary movement now consists of two members: me and Edward Willet, a Canadian writer who would be profoundly embarrassed to be associated with me if he knew what a disreputable person I am. But no matter! Recently the SWFA Mansion in New Jersey was rocked and shattered with tumult as Mr. Willet and I disagreed over the definition of who is a “Space Princess” — for example, is Princess Padme of Naboo a Space Princess, or only a Space Senator? Do elected Princesses count? What about a girl whose father is the Tyrant of Pluto — if Pluto is no longer a planet, does that mean she is no longer a Space Princess?

I wonder if the guys over at the New Weird Movement or the Mundane SF Movement or the People’s Front of Judea have to make such nuanced and elaborate definitional arguments just to see what is inside or outside their literary cannon?

We lack as yet a ready definition to cover all forms of Space Princessship. Several possible criteria suggest themselves: (1) Does she wear a crown?  (2) Does she have a bare midriff? (3) Does she have a raygun? (4) Is she from Outer Space? (5) Is she a non-reigning member of the Royal Family? (Non-reigning, because, of course, we are not the Space QUEEN movement — they are our rivals!)

In the interests, therefore, of obfuscating the matter, and making it look as if our literary movement is larger than it really is (three people instead of one and a half) I suggest a survey of all the great classics and popular blockbusters of science fiction, to see which of them can be shoehorned into membership in our mighty literary juggernaut of a movement, perhaps by some sleight of hand or by switching the definitions while you are not looking. Ready? Let’s begin!

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Space Princess Movement Motto and Dress Code

Posted April 11, 2012 By John C Wright

Since our literary movement is rapidly being crushed by the ongoing juggernaut of the New Human Wave movement, another post trumpeting the New Space Princess movement is long overdue!

Without any more ado, let us do the overdue post.

First, let us see how many Space Princess questions have come flooding in the mail bag! And by flood, I mean there is exactly one letter. And it is from the other member of the movement, Mr Willet.

Edward Willet writes:

Hey, isn’t it about time, o classical scholar, that you coined a Latin motto for our movement?

Aha! The answer is no. According to my records, the New Space Princess movement already has a motto, and it was written by a man named Edward Willet, aka YOU.  It reads:

Nobody Likes to Read About the Beautiful Daughters of Elected Officials!

Now, how to translate that into Latin is beyond the reach of my scholarship. I should dearly like to have a catchy Latin motto, but I do not know how to say ‘Absolute Sovereign Power and Bare Midriff’ in Latin.

We should be careful to note that our unstoppable literary movement only deals with young and attractive and alluring princesses, like Dejah Thoris of Barsoom or Aura of Mongo, or Leia of Alderaan, not with plainjane married middleaged space princesses name Lady Dumpy.

I don’t even know if there is a word ‘princess’ in Latin. ‘Regis Filia’? ‘Regina’?

Another possible choice for our motto is this:

If Outer Space is filled with nubile, fertile and comely yet lonely royalty, able to reproduce comfortably with Earthboys, and eager to be rescued, then even a loser can get a date!

In this regard, Mary writes:

Are bare midriffs absolutely necessary? A steampunk space princess might revolt at such un-Victorian attire.

Are they indeed necessary? The topic is a delicate one, requiring a scientifically and scrupulously accurate statistical study of Space Princesses, to see how often the official court costume of the young female royalty exposes the midriff to the hard vacuum and radiation of space.

Instead of performing such a survey, which would be tedious and time-intensive, I propose instead to post a bunch of pictures of half-clad Space Princesses and merely call it a survey.

On with the survey!

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Space Princesses and Unrealistic Elements in Sci Fi

Posted June 16, 2010 By John C Wright

This is a message to Edward Willet, who, as the only voting member (the only member of any kind, actually) of that juggernaut of a new literary revival known as the Space Princess Movement, must be consulted on a matter of crucial import!

Edward Willet entered the Space Princess movement with his novel MARSEGURO, on the grounds that (1) the protagonist Emily Wood, selkie, is the daughter of one of the unelected governing families of the planet Marseguro, ergo, a princess from outer space; (2) she looks mighty luscious on the cover in a form-fiting wetsuit. Mr. Willet is also the Winner of the 2009 Prix Aurora Award for having the most prixed aurora. (Just kidding. The award was for Best English Long Form Work.)

Here is the question confronting us: namely, should Ken Macleod (who, as an upstanding fellow, would be acutely and rightfully embarrassed to have his name linked with mine in any capacity) be impressed and drafted against his will to the status of honorary member of the Space Princess movement??!

A related question is how many question marks and exclamation points can a fanboy place after a question before grammarians are offended????! What if the question concerns whether or not Kyle Rainer (?!) is the real Green Lantern???????????!

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Mundane SF and the New Space Princess Movement

Posted January 24, 2008 By John C Wright

My Jesuit confessor, Father de Casuistry, has just been released by the Time Cops from his unjust imprisonment in the Ice Age, fought his way with ray-pistol and rosary-beads up from the vampire-infested hollow core of the planet, emerged from a volcano crater in Iceland, swam the raging North Atlantic in the frozen dead of midwinter through maelstrom and hurricane, arrive here, heard my confession, and as penance threw me through a plate glass window down four stories into the tarmac, where I was run over by a streetcar. Then he gave me KP, PT and pushups in full kit. Boy. I thought I would get a few ‘Hail Mary’s’ or something. Don’t let priests watch Ahnold Swartzkopf movies, or it gives ’em ideas.

Anyway, what I have been doing wrong is writing on my blog instead of on my latest novel. The novel is going to be a thoughtful in-depth character study and reflection on the existential melancholy of the human condition set in a well-researched science fictional background based on the latest cutting-edge discoveries of modern physics: the working title is LESBIAN LOVE SLAVES OF THE BONDAGE BITCH OF MARS.

No, no, just kidding. The novel is actually going to be a heartwarming Christmastime-tale of family love, rivalry, and reconciliation, the births and losses, the humor and heartbreak of life in the near-future. The working title is DEATHCOUNT! THE REVENGE OF AGENT BLOODSLAUGHTER!

In any case, no more posting until Fridays for me. This time, I promise. For sure. Really. Hard at work. Novel writing.

But of course (of course!) there is nothing wrong with just posting a link!

Here is an essay on the Mundane SF movement. And here is the ruminations of esteemed SF writer Ian McDonald on the topic.

Now, I have to admit to an all-consuming jealousy, the kind of thing that makes the main character in Edgar Allen Poe’s A TELLTALE HEART commit murders and go stark gibbering mad. It seems as if the Mundane SF movement is garnering more attention and more support than the New Space Princess movement that I started as a joke! That hardly seems fair! Here are people who have something interesting to say about the future of SF, and it is getting treated with more respect than my completely shallow crackpot idea!! Where is the justice in that?

You see, if I had been serious, this could have turned into a serious and interesting debate, because the Space Princess movement  could act as a vanguard and spokesman for all writers and readers who want to see the fantasy aspects of science fiction, the sense of wonder, the romance, the time travel, the thinking machines larger than earth, the psionic mind-readers, the ninjas, the space-dinosaurs, the ninja-space-dinosaurs, the space-pirates, the amoeba-men, the ninja-space-dinosaurs of Mars fighting the psionic mind-reading space pirate amoeba-men of Boskone, and everything else that makes pulp-rooted science fiction the great genre it is. We could have taken the first step to undo the work John W. Campbell Junior did in introducing realistic science into science fiction during the Golden Age!

Butnow it is too late, and all we can do is post internet pictures of space princesses showing bare midriffs. Alack and wailaway.

You might not recognize her, but this above is Yin-Ylan, Flower of Cath, from a cartoon adaptation of Jack Vance’s TSCHAI books. She is a real honest-to-space Space Princess, but her fate is particularly Vancean. Vance characters never get the girl.


Evil Space Princess Aura, of course, standing between a evil barbarian space-viking and an evil space-mandarin!
She is the living symbol of our movement! Of course, she never gets the guy, does she? Flash Gordon escapes her evil, lust-filled painted-fingernailed clutches, doesn’t he, and she has to settle for that Robin Hood second-rate wannabe, the Green Arrow of Outer Space, Prince Barin of Arboria. Jeesh! I simply hate that Dale Arden! The Earthwoman is always spoiling Aura’s plans!


Irulan. So if princess Irulan fought princess Aura, who would win? Irulan could have her dad send his Saudakar Terror-Troops against her rival, or maybe even her messianic superhuman husband, Paul, but on the other hand, Aura could send her dad’s various Shark-men, Lava-men, Beast-men, robots and mutants. One the one hand, Ming the Merciless is immortal, but on the other hand, the Padishah Emperor has a greatly extended lifespan due to his addiction to the geriatric spice. The spice extends life! The spice expands consciousness! The spice is more addictive than thionite, and it is only a matter of time before the Galactic Patrol finds the apex of these drug-runners and smashes their whole evil zwilnick drug-ring! We all know the Padishah Emperor is merely another name for the Tyrant of Thrale, don’t we?

You see, while the Mundane SF movement is discussing the nature of human destiny and the role of realism in futuristic literature, we here at the Space Princess movement are discussing what Carrie Fisher looks like in a metal bikini.


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The New Space Princess Movement recruits One New Princess

Posted October 3, 2007 By John C Wright

A reader asks: “Can’t we have a least *one* more update on the Space Princess Literary Movement? It’s a long time until December…”

Why, yes! Your wish is my wish! Let’s see….

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I was surprised to find out that I have been writing ‘Singularity’ SF when I wrote THE GOLDEN AGE. I had never heard the term before, and I certainly did not know that there were serious fans of ‘The Rapture of the Nerds’ (another term I had never heard) who are hoping within their lifetimes to reach the augmentations of post-humanity. I was just doing extrapolation.

Well, now I am similarly surprised to find out that there is a name for the kind of SF I write. It is called ‘Mundane SF‘ –at least by one editor.

Today there is no —

  • Faster than light travel
  • Psi power
  • Nanobot technology
  • Extraterrestrial life
  • Computer consciousness
  • Materially profitable space travel
  • Human immortality
  • Brain downloading
  • Teleportation
  • Time travel

— And maybe there never will be!

Again, I would have thought this is called ‘Hard SF’. Good old Mark Shea over at Catholic and Enjoying It calls this ‘It Ain’t Going to Happen SF’

Do I have any quibbles with this list? Well, I would not be an intellectual if I did not quibble.

Myself, I think that ‘materially profitable space travel’ is a question of economics, not just of physics. In my short story ‘Farthest Man from Earth’ I posited the only thing I could think of that would make travel to another star profitable: the secret of eternal life. You don’t think anyone who could do, would send an expedition to pick up Stroon from Norstrilla or the geriatric spice from Dune? The time in which to pay back the return on investment of the initial cost is expanded for the immortals. But notice I have to postulate one impossible (immortality) to explain another impossible (economic star travel).

Far more likely the only people ever to go to other stars are Jesuits. Life in a steel can for decades ship-time (or, more likely, in an inflatable mylar balloon) might be done to carry the Gospel to the E.T.’s — because even a worldly Pope might think the Popes two thousand years from now will remember him for organizing the expedition. But for conquest or trade? Not likely. Emperors and merchants do not think in those timespans.

Extraterrestrial life seems to me to be a very conservative speculation. There is water on Mars and on Io; the number of extrasolar planets known to us has gone in the last ten years from 1 to 21. That is of nearby stars, very nearby. Indeed, a science fiction writer who posits that we are all alone in this huge bejeweled cosmos has to postulate (and make seem likely to the reader) some sharp deviation from the conventional understanding of the origins of planets and the origins of life. I am sure we will find evidence of non-earth microbes or even seaweed within my lifetime.

So, I would not put alien life on this list, which otherwise is a fair summary of speculations that only could take place if our fundamental understanding of the universe is totally wrong (time travel, FTL) or could not take place until our fundamental understanding of the universe is expanded to include a complete and technical understanding of things we currently know not even fact one about (brain downloading? computer consciousness? — come on. We do not even have a definition of what consciousness is, much less what its physical, reproduce-able properties are.)

One last word on the nature of consciousness. I was surprised again to find out that the serious academic (or perhaps not so serious — I have not read the book) uses the same speculation for the origin of consciousness as I use in my THE GOLDEN AGE, namely, that any sufficiently self-referential information system must perforce become self-modifying and hence self-aware (which is my basis for arguing against the Asimovian idea that intelligent robots could be programmed. Brainwashed, maybe; persuaded, more likely; programmed, no. You cannot program a self-programmable entity without its consent, my dear materialists. The ‘positrons’ will not stay in the patterns you put them in once the positronic brain starts thinking.) Anyway, consciousness as a  side-effect of self-reference (he calls it a ‘Strange Loop’) appears in this book:  I Am a Strange Loop By Douglas R. Hofstadter

Interesting new idea. Except that, as usually happens with new ideas: science fiction was here first. I also speculate how an organism gets to be self-aware: by philosophy, or, in other words, by the increasing complexity of its self-referential sense impressions and categories of perception. A bug might not need categories of ‘me’ and ‘mine’ to operate, but something like a bitch protecting her puppies likely does.

(Science fiction is often here first. Does anyone but me get the impression that the debate about the morality of cloning humans was something we fanboys were talking about 40 years ago?)

But back to the original topic: I rather admire the idea of ‘Mundane SF’ because it follows that hard-nosed extrapolation school of Jules Verne rather than the social extrapolation of HG Wells. Barbacane’s cannon shell to the moon is perfectly feasible by Newtonian mechanics, albeit unmanned. Cavor’s gravity-ignoring sphere is as realistic as Lessingham’s chariot pulled by Hippogriffs flying to Mercury, or Cyrano’s gunpowder-propelled grasshopper. Compare the realism of Wells’ MEN LIKE GODS to the realism of the submarine of Captain Nemo or the aircraft of Robur the Conqueror. The submarine, the rotary engine, and the Clipper of the Clouds are here, or just like. Where is our nudist socialist utopia?

Nonetheless, as the founding member of the Space Princess movement, I have to issue my own list of the requirements for our very serious and somber literary school:

Today there is no —

  • Extraterrestrial Life
  • Evolved to human intelligence
  • Occupying the roughly same technological stratum as Earth
  • Except that they they fight with swords and rayguns and fly ornithopters or something
  • On a world with an oxy-nitrogen atmosphere & earthlike shirt sleeve environment
  • Not to mention dinosaurs, cavemen, robots, man-eating plants, undersea cities
  • But are ruled by evil imperial Monarch
  • Who just so happens to look like Max Von Sydow
  • whose daughter is a nubile, voluptuous babe of Total Hotness
  • In a skimpy, clinging costume
  • that exposes her midriff
  • who lusts after a clean-limbed fighting-man from Virginia

— And surely there never will be! But we can dream —

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