I have started to use AI art generators for characters and covers. I’m going to talk about my take on the legal, ethical, and use of the generators.
Like, narratively weird. As a sci-fi writer, the thing that gets into my head is… where does the energy come from? A fair number of sci-fi stories – and this has been brought on by me (trying) to read William Gibson’s Agency – a future alternate timeline has a bit of a cottage industry of going back in time and messing stuff up to “see what happens.” It is established that these alternate timelines are physically real and distinct.
So, every time some hobbyist gets an inch, they can go and create – materially, physically create – an alternate timeline?
WHERE DOES THE ENERGY COME FROM?! How is all the free energy not the biggest point of all of this?!
Ahem. That is all.
I’m going to try to get back into blogging because… why not? I know I suck at it – not in the sense of what I write is poorly written but in the sense that a blog full of a dude’s angry ranting isn’t something people want to read. Yet, a writer must write, and writing is best served writing what you know.
I know angry rants. So, write on!
Like it says on the tin: chapter one of Witches vs. Nazis, which is my current project. It’s awesome. I’m awesome. The witches are the good guys. And, yeah, I’m saying that the Patriarchy is demonic. I’m comfortable with that!
Witches vs. Nazis
by Kit Bradley
All rights reserved 2018
Christmas Eve in the National Socialist Empire of America: a great festival where the twisted cross rose above the altar of the Kristr. In Yton, one of the greatest cities of the NSEA, the Orville Wright Stadium was full of blond, blue-eyed, pale faces in the stands, while the Untermenschen fought for their amusement. There were thirty thousand packed into the stands with the white and red decorations of Christmastime everywhere. The lights were bright on the dome overhead, buried deep in the arco. Typically, most of the seats would be regular people – middle class, save for a few seats high up – but today it was all high-ranking Nazis with their families.
I did a fair bit of research into Allen Dulles for Dracula vs. Cthulhu (which is also spy fiction – it’s got a lot going on!). I did the study thinking that he would make a good villain. I even angst over whether I should use Dulles, personally, or just base a character on the man – deciding that I should use Dulles personally. His multifaceted incompetence and the extent to which he shaped foreign policy in the US demanded that, if I use the dude, I open a conversation into his legacy. Even in my sci-fi horror novel, such things are important to me.
As I’m writing background stories for DvC, though, it became clear why that wasn’t going to work: I don’t respect him enough to believe that he could be successful with the other villains and heroes in the story. Because he was so incompetent – indeed, one of the chief problems with the CIA then and now is that people are often promoted up from abject failure; it took a fuck-up as big as the Bay of Pigs and to get Dulles fired (and, frankly, since the lead up and cover-up to the Bay of Pigs had treasonous elements, Dulles got off light) – he makes a poor hero or villain for my style of writing. Chumps, broadly speaking, need not apply, or are, at best, minor villains and henchmen.
So, we’re back to the main villain being an ex-Nazi, ex-Communist sonofabitch based on two of the most evil men of the 20th century. Evil, but competent.
It’s not a good book. For me, as a writer, researching science-fiction horror, it was fairly useful but it is not good.
I’ll jump right to the biggest problem with The Reich of the Black Sun – it’s unintentionally pro-Nazi. The thesis of the book is that Nazi scientists when they discarded as “Jewish science” relativity were able to make incredible scientific and technological advances – including anti-gravity and perpetual motion machines that could power long-ranged submarines – even though the Nazis lacked the wealth and freedom of the West (and, particularly, the unbombed United States that benefited from the immigration the largest portion of Jewish scientists fleeing the Nazis). That’s not an obviously racist thing to think, but it as I read the book, it became increasingly anti-Semitic: the only thing holding back science from technologies like anti-gravity and free energy was the pernicious influence of “Jewish science.”
I don’t think this is intentional on Farrell’s part, just the ignorant blindness of most conspiratologists. Like most conspiracy theorists, Farrell is driven by his passions past the point of all reason. There is no evidence of sympathy for Nazi goals in the book, merely an ecstatic gushing about his line of reasoning that puts Nazi scientists on divergent lines of technological development that lead to amazing places. His prior work is a bizarre theory that the Giza pyramid is an alchemical “death star,” and that it was used to destroy a planet that threatened the earth. This guy doesn’t seem to be ideological, just passionate about his untrue beliefs.
I’m reading one of the ur-texts in esoteric neo-Nazi mysticism for Dracula vs. Cthulhu, The Dawn of the Magicians. It’s pure conspiratology, and contains the same fundamental sin as The Devil’s Chessboard: Conspiratology is fascinated by “what if.” Into a broken or incomplete narrative, rather than acknowledging it is broken or incomplete, and perhaps unable to be solved due to the distance of time, place, and circumstance, conspiratologists create a narrative by asking “what if this were the case” and then deciding that their newly invented fiction is a fact.
Conspiracy is a fiction that conspiracy theorists have decided is fact – and, indeed, at several points in the 160 or so pages of The Dawn of the Magicians I have read, the authors use quotations from novels as “proof” of their thesis. They liberally quote Arthur Machen and Bulwer Lytton, saying that novelists are essentially prophets and that both men belonged to the Order of the Golden Dawn and were thus enlightened alchemists. It’s boggling, but it is part of argument built by The Dawn of the Magicians.
In this sense, it appears to me that conspiratology resembles religion. Almost all religions and religious people assert a fallacy known as “the God of the gaps.” Supernaturalist religion occurs in those parts of the universe about which humans cannot see, or do not have an adequate theory to explain. Which is why God will cure cancer now and then (a disease that sometimes goes into remission for no apparent reason, often attributed to a miracle) but adamantly refuses to regrow the limbs of amputees. Cancer going into remission is a poorly understood process that happens on the cellular level – the God of the gaps acts invisibly. On the other hand, regrowing amputated limbs is big enough to be seen, thus does not happen.
Conspiratology is “pseudohistory of the gaps.” Take for instance the assassination of President John Kennedy. The Warren Commission was deeply flawed, yes. But to leap from “the Warren Commission was flawed because we know that the CIA and FBI engaged in a coverup” to “the CIA killed JFK” puts a fictional narrative into the gaps of history. Even though there is a strong but an unprovable narrative, that the CIA and FBI wanted to deflect heat for their incompetence in keeping track of Lee Harvey Oswald (as they would later deflect the heat away from their incompetence about 9/11), conspiracy sees a gap and fills it with whatever they desire. Thus, while it is almost 100% sure that the CIA and FBI played a hard round of “cover your ass” with the Warren Commission because there’s no record, conspiratologists can leap to the conclusion that the CIA killed Kennedy.
Moving on, the authors of The Dawn of the Magicians say that we should study the 100,000 works of alchemists to discover what they discovered. The Dawn of the Magicians never goes into what a massive undertaking it would be – since the works are coded, cyphered, incomplete – and how difficult it would then be to decide which parts are useful and which parts aren’t. It’s almost certainly easier for us to rediscover whatever medieval alchemists found (assuming there’s anything left to find, given the advanced state of chemistry, metallurgy, and materials science). But they love their narrative that there MIGHT be something truly, utterly amazing hidden away in these texts, and they wildly speculate about what it might be, such as unguents that can regrow the tissues of burn victims in such a way as to leave no scars. Because, y’know, they read that some medieval doctors had such things. (They didn’t, duh.) The gap – that we haven’t sufficiently studied old alchemical journals and books – can be filled by whatever fantasy a person desires!
The idea that creative narratives are actually, for-real true is a seductive lure. Most people want to believe that the universe makes a personal sense – that we, individually, understand the driving forces behind history or the universe. Of course, we tend to imagine that the meaning of the universe or the meaning of history supports our point of view. That is the heights of egocentrism! That the universe is ordered to give tacit approval to me? That God thinks that the life I live is the best kind of life, or that my ideals are divinely granted and inspired? Heavens. Equally absurd is the idea that history ought to do the same – given weight to my fancies and prop up my worldview. That the murder of JFK becomes a prop for my fantasies is intellectually shameful and morally vacant!
Yet, that’s the core message of conspiratology – that whatever narrative that you CHOSE to believe lurks in the dark corners and past the horizons of history. There is no need to get proof! Belief, alone, is enough because history is murky. Therefore all ideas have equal merit! Which is egocentric nonsense, and contrary to any epistemology that seeks truth rather than glorifies the self at the expense of the truth.
I almost quit writing this past week. Art is a very rough road, and there are no clear signs to “success.” Effort and ability are not enough. I’ve got a bookshelf and tablet full of indie writers who have gone through the considerable effort of writing and publishing their works – but the truth is that few people are likely to read what they write. It is as I said: hard work and ability aren’t enough.
The flat truth: the number of writers in any given market are increasing at a much faster pace than the number of readers. The limited amount of time and money the audience has is being more finely distributed over an ever-increasing number of authors. So bad is it that it is considered de rigeur for indie writers to pay promotional sites to give away their books. It is a reader’s market, and for the readers it’s great! They get to read to their heart’s content and not pay a dime, to have a plethora of high-quality work for free, indeed, the expense is borne by the writer, not the consumer.
When discussing Dracula vs. Cthulhu, people seem surprised when I say it’s science-fiction and then talk about spaceships and time travel. So I’ll say it, again! Dracula vs. Cthulhu is science-fiction horror! So, yeah, don’t be too surprised if it has spaceships and time travel.
This is part of the reason to do such a story, right? If I was going to write a story where Dracula was just another Gothic monster, who would care? But the je ne sais quoi is the “vs. Cthulhu.” And Cthulhu? He’s on the sci-fi end of Lovecraft’s works. Further, I process both Cthulhu and Dracula through the lens of my interpretations and preferences. I think Lovecraft was at his best when he was at his most science-fiction-y.