Thursday, December 23, 2010

How Reading Fantasy Makes My Humanist Brain Go Haywire

I am a humanist and I can never, ever get away from that fact. Those of you who've read David Brin's essay on how maybe the Dark Lord Sauron wasn't so bad, since Lord of the Rings being written by his victorious enemies gives us reason to doubt any of it is true, might understand. The whole notion of "oh how majestic are kings" that David Brin fights against in his essays ... repulses me. It hasn't got the slightest little bit of fucking appeal to me and never has.

The most "positive" reaction to monarchy I can recall ever having in my life is absolute indifference. Mind you, that's not the same thing as totalitarian dictatorship, I do admit that the idea of ruling you all LIKE a king is appealing. And I'd be a good one too. Once I was in power I wouldn't need to kill more than maybe ten thousand Americans tops to get the USA working again. Though if I got double that quota I could also get rid of US religiosity in a 2 for 1 deal. But the notion of inheriting a position of absolute and total power leaves me cold and indifferent, at best.

But that's not the only facet of humanism. Humanism is about rejecting specialness, rejecting heroes and heroic action. It's about embracing all of humanity, all 6 billion of it, and improving it. Humanism isn't about Adventures. Fuck adventures! Humanism is about industrialization. Wonderful, wonderful industrialization that improves the lives of all it touches. And if you complain about the pollution or waste or whatnot, that's because you're a know-nothing idiot who hasn't got the slightest idea of the appalling misery of feudal conditions. Go to Pakistan some day and THEN tell me how horrible industrialization is.

So when I read fantasy fiction crossed over with the real world (or a reasonable facsimile of the real world).... my brain just goes haywire. It always has. Firstly because of all possible genres, this is the one I love best. And second, because most fantasy writers suck at it.

I give a hint of this in an earlier post about commercializing the stargate. Because if it was me, I would so fucking sack O'Neil, Hammond and their stupid gun-toting pals and use the Stargate to better the world as much as possible. And I would do it too. Within 10 years of its falling into my hands, Earth would have had a dozen colonies bringing in enormous wealth and the whole planet would be changed.

I give another broad hint in another earlier post fantasy for atheists, which lists some great fiction re-written along humanist lines.

Then today I figured out how to industrialize the harvesting of healing potions.

But you know what? I only now realize how old this is for me. I've been obsessing about the economic benefits of trade with a world that has healing magic every single time I read any kind of crossover with a stable portal between the real world and a fantasy world. That makes it what, the third time now that I've run this analysis?

I really don't get people who go "woohoo... elves!" or "woohoo... magic!" when all I can do is scream this is an incredibly valuable trade good that can be used to industrialize this backwards fucking retarded country! Seriously, I don't get it. These books sell, the stories get read, and people never want to see these fantasy worlds industrialized? Oh yeah, there's Shadowrun. But then again, Shadowrun is a megacorp dystopia. What the fuck is wrong with you people? Oh wait I know, you LIKE poverty and starvation and disease. No wonder I despise you.

Hmmm, I wonder what kind of parallels there are between the Global Warming story and the typical Fantasy story. Both are lauded by people I despise. Both are anti-human. And both are completely disjoint from reality. Both prescribe actions that will never be taken by real human beings. Because those actions are utterly stupid and despicable.

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