Did fandom cause the collapse of civilisation or vice versa? Let’s Assume Neither :)

It’s been a long time since I linked to a post by the improbable 2016 Campbell Award Finalist and Inaugural Dragon Award Winner for Best Horror Novel That Was Actually A Space Opera, Brian Niemeier but a posy at his blog caught my eye [direct link, archive link].

Brian’s politics mixes standard alt-right nationalism and misogyny with a particularly reactionary form of Catholicism. People may recall Brian’s concern that literal demons are controlling the left (https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2017/03/05/demons-and-witches-and-the-left/ ), so not exactly a Pope Francis or Vatican II fan.

Anyway, Brian has a hypothesis about religion and fandom:

“Kicking Christianity out of public life didn’t usher in a bright, sexy chrome utopia. Instead of directing their pious energies into scientific pursuits, America did what everyone does absent Christianity: They turned pagan.”

‘X-thing is a religion’ is a bit of a cliche but I don’t think that analysis is wholly wrong. Rather, I don’t think religion is really a single social phenomenon at all but a whole bunch of things — which is why cultures don’t follow one of Christianity/Islam/Judaism have quite different boundaries as to what is and isn’t religious and how religion plays a role in wider society*. So, sure, I can believe there’s some commonality between fandoms and religion.

Indeed, I’d go further and say that I think how we engage with fiction and products of the imagination has a close connection with spirituality and how religion has become a part of human culture. Brian is making a different argument though:

“Human beings are wired for worship. If social pressure discourages worshiping God, those with less fortitude will worship trees, rocks, or even plastic figurines.

Religious identity was the engine that built the West, and it’s still a major motivating force elsewhere in the world. What has happened in the American Empire is that Christian identity has shattered, and the pieces have been scattered throughout various hobbies.

Which was precisely what the main players in the Enlightenment wanted–to reduce religion to a hobby indulged in the home with no effect on public life.”

Fandom therefore being the eventual warped expression of people’s instinct towards religion suppressed by the machinations of Enlightenment philosophers. I think we can safely assume that this is not the case. However, the next paragraph is what really caught my eye:

“To see how people’s identities have gotten mixed up in their hobbies, take a quick glance at the ‘gate controversies popping up among various fandoms on a more or less daily basis. #GamerGate was the big one, but it failed due to infiltration by controlled opposition and exploitation by online grifters. It’s telling that every subsequent fandom revolt has enjoyed a brief honeymoon period before skipping straight to the “milked by grifters” stage. “If a man loses faith in God, he doesn’t believe nothing, he’ll believe anything,” is illustrative here.”

It can be hard to tell with the alt-right what is a bad-faith nonsense and what is sincere nonsense. Occasional you get paragraphs like this that are so lacking in self-awareness that they can only be a sincere expression of some very confused beliefs.

As a reminder: Brian was not a major figure in the high points of the Sad Puppy campaigns (a relevant example of one of the right wing uprisings in fandom) but leveraged those campaigns to get his books promoted by the Rabid Puppy slates into a Campbell nomination and a Dragon Award. Brian was also the charmer who tried to stir up a second Dragon Award nomination into another culture war battlefront in a bid to get more votes for his book. (https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2017/08/08/niemeier-wants-the-dragon-awards-to-be-a-culture-war-but-the-culture-doesnt-want-to-play/ ) There may be better example of the ‘milked by grifters’ stage of the Sad Puppy Campaigns but only because it was never not a grift but Brian is a good example of late stage band wagon jumping.

“Few now can imagine–by design–a time when popular culture wasn’t partitioned into myriad fractured fandoms. Sure, people had different tastes, but there were cultural touchstones everybody shared, and more of them. Everybody tuned in to The Shadow. Everybody read Edgar Rice Burroughs. Everybody saw Gone with the Wind. But a people with a shared culture and a strong identity is hard to conquer, so universal popular culture had to go. Fandom was the murder weapon used to kill Western culture.”

Again a reminder: Brian writes anime-inspired right wing science fiction about people fighting in space-robot suits. He’s not exactly aiming for the mainstream. It’s that lack of awareness of his own micro-niche writing that makes me think he genuinely believes that’s what happened — that rather than technology and population growth making it economically easier for people to find stories that appealed to more finely delineated niches, that this was an actual plot to divide society.

Does he really think he would be happier if the only books or films available where the most mainstream ones? Also, if he believed that then shouldn’t he be doing his utmost to just consume the most modally consumed media? But it is like the person who wants religion to be mandatory who doesn’t get that it wouldn’t necessarily be their religion that would be enforced

He finishes his essay thus:

“Fortunately, there are creators laboring to forge new culture in the tradition of our ancestors. For a refreshing take on the mecha genre that clears away all the stale cliche cobwebs, check out my new martial thriller Combat Frame XSeed.”

Irony is dead, a knock-off Kindle Unlimited far right combat mecha killed it.

*[Not that Christianity, Islam or Judaism follow the same template either, but the similarities are what tend to shape what Western culture regards as the things a religion has: a god, a priest, a temple, a holy book, quasi-laws, exclusivity]


102 thoughts on “Did fandom cause the collapse of civilisation or vice versa? Let’s Assume Neither :)

  1. Wait, he actually believes that there was a point in time when everybody read Edgar Rice Burroughs?

    And he thinks that the U.S. is less religious than most of the rest of the world?

    I guess this answers the question “How detached from reality can someone be and still find the internet.”

    Liked by 5 people

    • @Aaron

      I always thought the question was, “How detached from reality can someone be and still find their ass with both hands?” 🙂

      Re Niemeier’s blog post: Well, that was a jumbled, incomprehensible mess. Fandom killed Christianity? I wish.

      Liked by 2 people

    • That’s another point. Compared to other western countries, the US is extremely religious and religious in ways that are viewed as weird elsewhere. Religiousness is apparently declining in the US, which actually brings it closer to the rest of the west. It’s a sign of normalisation, not decline.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. These “X is a religion substitute” comparisons have always annoyed me, because they’re simply wrong. People like science fiction, sports, Star Wars, Marvel movies, etc…, because they enjoy those things, not as a substitute for religion.

    I suspect the reason those comparisons come up is because to some people religion is so important that they cannot imagine that there are other people to whom it simply doesn’t matter at all. So if those non-religious people invest a whole lot of time and energy in something, the religious person assumes that they only invest all that time and energy, because this thing is a religion substitute. On the other hand, certain atheists also have problems understanding that religion is extremely important to many people and that they’re not all oppressed or just going to the motions to impress the neighbours or something.

    And while almost everybody may have read or watched Gone with the Wind at one point (and it’s fascinating how Gone with the Wind went from all-time classic and culture touchstone to something that was once popular, but is now dated and racist and really no longer relevant within my lifetime), not everybody listened to (or read) The Shadow and not everybody read Edgar Rice Burroughs, even in the 1920s and 1930s. Yes, The Shadow was popular, but there were radio shows, not to mention pulp magazines that were a lot more popular (I think the most popular pulp magazine for years, if not decades was Ranch Romances). But Niemeyer doesn’t mention those, because he doesn’t know them. As for Edgar Rice Burroughs, nearly everybody knew who Tarzan was and a lot of people probably knew who John Carter of Mars was, too, but most people knew Tarzan from the movies and comics and wouldn’t have been able to name the author. The three examples of supposedly universal cultural touchstones that Niemeyer names are influenced by his own bias.

    For my sins, I also clicked through the post or rather series of posts by one J.D. Cowan that he linked to and got a dissection of a 1970s book in science fiction, which tells us little about the book and a whole lot about J.D. Cowan.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yup. Sure there’s people who if they weren’t helping run some club would be helping run a church community but then there’s people who do both and people who do neither. There’s lots of commanilities because they are things people do.

      Liked by 3 people

    • I was under the impression that by the time of his death in 1950, Burroughs’s work had largely vanished from cultural currency and didn’t really come back until (what I’m guessing is the most horrifying of all decades to someone like Niemeyer) the 1960s.

      Of course at the height of his popularity, ERB was hardly universally loved: the same kinds of people who complain about kids (or worse, adults) being into comic books and videogames and anime now were complaining about the plague of trashy pulp novels then.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Yes, Burroughs was rediscovered in the wake of the sword and sorcery and pulp revival of the 1960s, when Conan, Doc Savage, The Shadow and a whole lot of other vintage pulp heroes got back into print, rediscovered by the sort of people Niemeyer believes caused the downfall of western civilisation.

        Liked by 3 people

    • Not to defend Niemeier’s assertion, but I think it’s worth noting that those early Tarzan movies and comic books weren’t just licensed by Burroughs to someone else — he formed his own production company with the profits from the books and produced the other media of his most popular character. Those may not have been award winning literature, but his work was lucrative.

      Liked by 1 person

      • When I said “Not to defend the assertion” I meant that I am not defending any assertion by Niemeier. I’m sorry if this comment, despite the very plain language disclaimer with which I began, gave that impression. I am well aware that Burroughs was hardly read by every fan of the sci fi leaning pulps, let alone everyone. I merely find it neat that unlike most intellectual properties that experienced wild success outside its original medium this one did so under the control of the original creator. I was merely trying to share what I thought was a bit of cool trivia, and not at all trying to defend any of the crazy coming from Niemeier.


      • Oh, Edgar Rice Burroughs was definitely a shrewd businessman and entertaining writer, which is probably why his work is still around, while many of his contemporaries have been forgotten.

        I enjoyed many of Burroughs’ stories as a teen, though when I found a Burroughs I’d never read at the used book store a few years ago, took it home and started to read it, I found that the magic had fled and the suck fairy had paid him a visit.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, he’s pretty upfront about that belief. As in this rant, spurred on by Bill Maher hurting his feelings:


      “The Leftist death cult that is the ultimate logical conclusion of Liberalism tries to replace absolute truth by attempting to absolutize freedom. Thus, it’s at odds with reality. God is undefeated. Clown world is destined for a fall.

      That means what comes next, by necessity, will bear little resemblance to the neoliberal order we’ve known our whole lives. Clinging to Liberal concepts like freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and blank slate equality only holds the door to Clown World open.”

      Liked by 2 people

    • I got stuck up near the top where he claims that Christianity has been kicked out of US public life. Looking in from the outside, it really does not seem that way a lot of the time.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Quite the contrary in fact. The Christaliban is doing their hardest to force their prejudices into every aspect of secular life.

        Liked by 3 people

      • But of course “Christianity has been kicked out of public life” like “kids can’t pray in schools” is one of those lies conservative Christianity accepts as axiom.
        The extreme case being the claims Trump is actually Cyrus the Great, restoring them from exile. Because pre-Trump they were just like the Jews enslaved in Babylon.

        Liked by 2 people

      • The cognitive dissonance they require to be simultaneously persecuted victims and also working to gain complete political control in order to bring about christ’s dominion must be massive.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well if you start from the assumption you’re meant to control everything then having gays, women and Muslims getting equal rights obviously oppresses your god-given right to run the country

        Liked by 2 people

      • Speaking as a former Southern Baptist, believing themselves to be persecuted is an essential part of evangelical identity—which seems to have been adopted by a lot of other conservative/alt-right-leaning Christianists, not just the evangelicals.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well, the American right actively supports the right of government to lock up people without trial, search and seize without warrant or probable cause (at least as long as it’s Inherently Suspicious Non Christians) and use torture. So basically they’re the royalists in 1776.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I’ve seen people blaming it all on William of Ockham. It goes something like William of Ockham —> nominalism —> protestants —> Enlightenment —> gay marriage. The people who include the protestant reformation as part of the decay are usually Catholics, but it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that Dominionists follow similar reasoning.


      • Yes, fideism is seen as the core error and the Middle Ages theology as William of Ockham being the bad guy & Thomas Aquinas as the good guy as the heir of Aristotle. Vox Day sort of aligns with this view even though he’s not a Catholic and closer to Dominionist thinking otherwise.

        (Obviously this blog is big William of Ockham fan)

        Liked by 2 people

      • I’ve noted elsewhere that these Beale most resembles Gabriele D’Annunzio on the church–well, D’Annunzio minus the talent–he loves the ritual and the authoritarianism, while disliking the theology and the church as a whole.

        Liked by 1 person

      • There are quite a few folks, both inside and outside SFF, who really love the ritual and the authoritarianism of the Catholic church, but don’t like the theology, at least more modern interpretations thereof. Now I’ve never been Catholic and haven’t been a member of any church in a long time now, but I was exactly the opposite of this. I liked and supported the many good things the Christian churches did, but I never much liked the rituals (and Lutherans have tuned it down compared to Catholics or even Anglicans) and hated the authoritarian aspects that occasionally reared their ugly head even in liberal denominations.

        Usually a huge red flag that you’re dealing with that kind of Catholic is that they lament the loss of the Latin mass. I have no idea why the Latin mass is such a big indicator you’re dealing with a problematic Catholic, but it is. Bonus points if the person in question wants the Latin mass back, but doesn’t even know any Latin.


      • I remember a book interviewing non-churchgoing Christians who said the thing they missed most bringing up their kids outside the church was the ritual, the special days and such. I can understand that even though I’ve always been unchurched.
        I wonder if the Latin mass is because that ties into Vatican II which rejected classic Catholic anti-semitism and exclusivity (declaring Protestants could also find salvation). Mel Gibson’s Catholic faction considers that the point at which the official Catholic Church became an anti-church run by an anti-pope, for instance.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Cora Buhlert: These “X is a religion substitute” comparisons have always annoyed me, because they’re simply wrong. People like science fiction, sports, Star Wars, Marvel movies, etc…, because they enjoy those things, not as a substitute for religion. I suspect the reason those comparisons come up is because to some people religion is so important that they cannot imagine that there are other people to whom it simply doesn’t matter at all. So if those non-religious people invest a whole lot of time and energy in something, the religious person assumes that they only invest all that time and energy, because this thing is a religion substitute.

    I’ve frequently gotten the same malarkey regarding children and pets. “Your pets are just a substitute for the children you didn’t have!” “You’re just in denial about your desire to have children!” No, I’d have had pets regardless of whether I had children, and my pets don’t serve the same purpose for me that children would have, if I had chosen to have them. But of course this sort of malarkey always comes from people who simply can’t imagine or believe that there are people who genuinely have no desire to produce children, and don’t have any need for “children substitutes”. 🙄

    Liked by 6 people

    • Unfortunately for you, JJ, you are being undermined by all the pet owners who call their pets “fur babies” or “fur kids”. Not to mention all of the self-identified cat mothers, dog mothers, pet parents, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

    • As a woman who doesn’t have and never wanted kids, I get variations of this a lot, because a whole lot of people cannot imagine that there are people who don’t want children. And no, pets are not substitutes for children, partners (the remarks about single women who own dogs are truly horrifiic at times) or anything else – they’re pets. Never mind that many people have both children and pets (and partners), while others have neither.

      Liked by 3 people

    • There do seem to be people – mostly but not exclusively dog people, because of the more explicit training and guidance and the style of interaction a good dog needs – who DO use their pets as substitute children. Others don’t. I didn’t; I have had cats and kids and they aren’t even close to the same thing, and I never thought so. They are dependants of a sort, but there the resemblance ends.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Same in Germany. I have known professors of Catholic theology (when I worked at university, the English department shared an aisle with the Catholic theology department) who didn’t talk nearly as much about their religion as Niemeyer and folks like him.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. For more of the same, check out this post (and read it in a Smokey Bear voice for best effect)


    ‘Only we can defeat the death cult and its pop cult thralls.

    Here’s some advice I’ve learned the hard way. You have to be patient with pop cultist family and friends. Since they’ve transferred the piety properly reserved for God to idols of electrons, wood pulp, and celluloid, those questioning their devotion are in for some serious backlash.

    For example, I wouldn’t quote this post verbatim to that friend who’s still dead set on attending the midnight show of Episode IX. Sci-fidolaters respond to disconfirming facts even wore than UFO cultists when the mother ship fails to arrive. Subtle rhetoric is the order of the day.

    Mouse Wars paypig: “I’m camping out tonight for Salacious Crumb: A Star Wars Story! Care to pitch a tent next to mine?”
    Force of Evil Chad: “A bunch of us are having a classic film noir marathon at my place tonight. You can really see what Lucas was trying to imitate when you watch those master directors. Drop by if the fanboy funk gets too thick for you.”

    It’s the bandwagoning plus subtly casting aspersions on the sci-fidolater’s taste and social status that does the heavy lifting here.

    Netflix and ill: “Have you seen that streaming exclusive Star Fox anime? Sure, the main villain turns out to be a lemur version of Christ, but it’s so addicting I binge-watched all of season 1 last night!”
    Deus Vultron: “What you do in the privacy of your yiffing dungeon is none of my business.” *Goes back to watching the original MS Gundam*

    You get the idea. Try to attack a sci-fidolater’s addiction head-on, and he’ll lash out like a junkie. But man is a social animal as well as a spiritual being, and peer pressure can work wonders.’

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t help but notice that his examples involve pulling the person from one fandom to another, rather than back to faith at all. From Star Fox to old school anime. From the newest franchise movie to classic black and white films. Both old school anime and classic films are genres with their own deep devoted fandoms, and people who, decades ago, had to work a lot harder than most modern fans to even see their favourites (My husband, though never fully fluent in Japanese, was able to help in the technical side of the work of translating old school anime and making fansubs. And the “film festival” things we still occasionally hear about as quirky-people date nights used to be the *only* way to see old movies.). Neither of them is religion, though. if you really want to bring them back to Christ, does switching them from a new Netflix show to an old fansub really change anything?

      Of course, his closing blurb seems to be all self-promotion in this as well as in the post Camestros was originally talking about. So yes, moving people from one fandom to another, and not back to another, IS his real motive…

      Liked by 1 person

      • The critic leonard Maltin commented back when videotaped films became a thing that being able to walk into a store and pick an old movie of your choice to see was like science fiction to him.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Also, there is plenty of overlap between fandoms. People can be vintage movie fans and still line up for the latest Marvel or Star Wars movie. And some of those people probably also play sports or are active in their religion, etc… It’s not a zero sum game.

        Liked by 2 people

      • It’s pretty ironic that the Alt-right has adopted as their favourite phrase something from a film which was made by a couple of trans women.

        Liked by 4 people

  5. For a bit more irony, Gundam is one of the earliest examples of anime that cultivated a fannish rather than a general audience. (Space Battleship Yamato/Star Blazers being about its only forerunner in this respect.)

    Liked by 2 people

  6. One of my most devoutly Christians friends is also a big Star Wars/Star Trek fan. She’s not unique.
    I wonder if this guy’s views reflects the “evangelical bubble” approach to popular culture: keep people in the tent of your faith, even in their entertainment, and they won’t discover how out of touch with reality the faith is.
    And as several people have noted above, even in the days of a limited number of entertainment sources, we weren’t all watching the same thing. Nor would it be a good thing — unless you think keeping everyone on the same page is somehow better than having a wide variety of choices.
    “But it is like the person who wants religion to be mandatory who doesn’t get that it wouldn’t necessarily be their religion that would be enforced” I think some people get that, they’re just ruthless enough to think they can make it happen. And for others they’re willing to take a chance. Sure, it would be awful if the Cossacks dragged them off, and definitely against God’s glorious plan, but if they get to see the Muslims and the Jews and the Catholics and the liberal Christians dragged off first, it’s worth the gamble.

    Liked by 4 people

      • Catholics also have their own form of science denial – geocentrism. (The church can’t have been wrong, so Galileo must have been.)


      • I had encountered the parallax argument for geocentrism before, but not the stellar size one. I now wonder whether this was answerable at the time (in the absence of Newtonian and later optics). Stars twinkle due to atmospheric turbulence and planets don’t, which is a consequence of the extremely small discs of stars, but whether any conclusion could be drawn from that at the time is not clear. The other possible line of investigation I see is whether the apparent disc size is independent of magnification and other features of the apparatus – for planets it should be, but for stars if the apparent disc size is a function of the limitations of the apparatus then that would be a hint that the diameters were instrumental artefacts.

        (Whether or not Galileo had made geocentrism an untenable position is rather irrelevant – the real issue is that the Church didn’t treat the question as an empirical one, but a theological one, and used its temporal power to support one side. The alternative explanations given by apologists for the Church’s actions tend not to make the Church look any better.)


      • At the time there was no independent reason to think a star had any particular limit on its actual size, so “too big” was a less strong argument than it might appear now.


      • Following links through to the reviews of “The Science is Never Settled”, in philosophy of science there are (at least) two positions – that science describes the world (realism) and that science models the world (anti-realism); Roberts seems to have adopted the second. Anti-realism is if I understand correctly a respectable position.
        I tend to adopt a intermediate position – at least some entities of scientific theories are real, but perhaps not all are. It’s theories of gravity that give me most pause – in General Relativity gravity represents the curvature of space, while in quantum gravity gravity represent the exchange of virtual spin-2 boson (gravitons); these look to be very different in concept, even if not in prediction.


    • One of my good friends from second grade through high school (with whom I once recited an entire Firesign Theatre side as we walked from school to his house) was afflicted by Teratus Jeezius, or second birth, along about Senior year. I will call him Dave (for that is his name). Dave had been collecting comics, especially Marvels, from about sixth grade, as had we all. I don’t recall the exact year it happened, but the sight of Spider-Man swinging past a building with 666 prominently showing (the alert reader already knows this was Marvel’s corporate HQ on Fifth Avenue, and has recently figured in some of the antics of the Trump crime family) triggered him so that he felt obliged to get rid of his entire collection.

      Later on, he got to hankering for all those good comics, and set about reacquiring most, or all, of them.

      I heard he later got rid of those as well. Whether he repeated the cycle some more times, I couldn’t tell you. I left town in 1980 and though I was able to get together with him another time, I didn’t bring it up. He was writing some comics with a mutual friend, though, of a science fictional nature, so I’m guessing he found a way to reconcile it.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Coping emotionally with your own interests (particularly if they border on obsessive) can be a struggle and seeing your own inner choices as something seperate from yourself (and hence demonic) can be a thing


      • I had a friend from about age 5 or so, who as long as I knew him (we drifted apart in high school), would collect tapes by bands like Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath, AC/DC etc., and then throw them all away or destroy them when he’d suddenly get the evangelical bug. I recall his parents sometimes watching Benny Hinn on TV. His dad was a musician – played bass and sang in a band that kinda sounded like the Rolling Stones with vocalist heavily influenced by Elvis, from what I remember. I think they’d both suddenly go off the religious deep end, trying to get their lives together. My friend was one of my first (maybe my first) source for all those lurid rumors about rock musicians (Ozzy biting off the head of a bat, Alice Cooper killing audience members on-stage, KISS standing for Knights in Satan’s Service, and many other exciting tidbits).

        Liked by 2 people

  7. By coincidence I was recently looking at this list of top 10 US bestsellers per year for the 1900s.


    Burroughs may have been popular but he wasn’t *Zane Grey* popular for goodness sake – or Raphael Sabatini popular or Edith Wharton popular. This guy’s not only in that religious bubble, he’s in that SFF bubble where spec fic isn’t modern literature’s weird cousin, it is modern literature.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Plus, if you want to argue that fandom has replaced religion, then surely sports, pop music and reality TV would be better examples than sci-fi. Vast swathes of the population will see the next Star Wars or Marvel film, yes, but for the most part only as an afternoon’s ephemeral entertainment. A good chunk of those filmgoers will have a greater long-term emotional investment in the exploits of (say) the Kardashians or Manchester United than those of the Avengers.

      There’s a rather telling comment he makes elsewhere on his blog:

      “You can have civil arguments over theology all day, but tell your buddy that his waifu is shit, and now you have a problem.”

      He could have said “his favourite sports team is shit” and his point would still stand. He could have gone with reality TV star, or singer. But no, he went with “waifu”. Which speaks volumes about the crowd he runs with, and the crowd he apparently thinks constitutes mainstream society.

      Liked by 2 people

      • One of the banes of my life is taxi drivers in many nations. First question: Are you American?
        No, British.
        Ohhh, where are you from in England?

        This question has NO safe answer. Certainly not the most useful answer for somebody unfamiliar with British geography, which would be “Between Liverpool and Manchester”. The “L” word being nearly as bad as the “M” word. I often lie and say “London” instead as then it takes more steps before the conversation turns to a relentless quiz on my opinions on recent events in the Premier League.

        Liked by 3 people

      • For the last couple of decades, I’ve imagined a Chick pamphlet on the evil of SF Fandom. This guy inspires me. Its title should be “The Big Con,” and show the smiling demon ushering the usual silly pinks into a sinister ballroom.

        Liked by 2 people

      • @frasersherman: That’s definitely true. I think many of us had bad experiences with sports and the outdoors when we were young. Despite my own history I did eventually find my way to a number of athletic and outdoors pursuits I enjoy, as well as the joys of following several teams that can’t get their act together. But I’m probably in the minority.

        @Cam: The Irish pub around the corner from where I used to live has been putting up a big banner advertising itself as the place to go to see Manchester United games. Which is only natural, right?

        Liked by 2 people

      • I don’t know if he left sport out because he’s a nerd or because it ruins his argument. In a sport, everyone’s on the same page and doing the same thing like he seems to want. Yet also, the participants and spectators are often completely at odds and engaged in a highly emotive conflict which can never be finally resolved. His central premise — that either everyone is doing the same thing and are unified or they are fragmented and collapsing — falls apart in the face of that.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Life is short and other musings about writing, reading, and variety in sf/f | Font Folly

  9. You know, that whole post captures one of the defining aspects of the Pups–for a bunch of people who claim to be all about restoring the fun in fiction, they sure are a bunch of ill-tempered, pretentious killjoys.

    Liked by 6 people

  10. I notice he’s still at it in one of his more recent posts:


    “Once upon a time, everybody read Edgar Rice Burroughs and Walter B. Gibson.”

    The post as a whole is quite, er, remarkable. He’s talking about Alec Nevala-Lee’s book Astounding, and he’s given himself the unenviable task of making the book out to be both too favourable and too critical towards Campbell – without having actually read the thing.

    Also, this howler:

    “Nevala-Lee is an intersectionalist true believer straight from central casting. A quick glance at his bio reveals he is a Hugo Finalist who mostly writes nonfiction books about how problematic science fiction is.”

    I’m pretty sure that Astounding is Lee’s only non-fiction book, and his other books are all parts of a fantasy series. So, looks like Brian Niemeier’s resorted to flat-out lying at this point.

    Amusingly, his very next line mentions “SJWs’ compulsive dishonesty”. Shiny mirror, Brian. Shiny, shiny mirror.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well, if Niemeyer had read Astounding, he’d know that Alec Nevala-Lee is actually quite critical of Campbell and his other subjects, though also sympathetic towards them. And the sex lives of his subjects, including some of the more out there bits, get plenty of mention.

      I’m not sure if Nevala-Lee mentions ERB (though he does briefly mention The Shadow as a fellow Street and Smith mag), but then Burroughs did not publish in Astounding.

      But then Niemeyer isn’t arguing with Nevala-Lee or Astounding, he’s arguing with a strawman version of what he thinks the book is like. As for Niemeyer complaining that Alec Nevala-Lee hasn’t kept up to date with how the various puppy offshoots feel about Campbell these days, well, who has the time and energy to sift through puppy blogs to see what the line is on Campbell these days and at what point they currently believe everything went downhill, considering how often those goalposts shift.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I prefer the pulps as well, but most people associated the Shadow with the radio show. And the most popular pulp magazines were titles like Ranch Romances, Western Story Magazine, Detective Story Magazine, etc…, all of which Niemeyer doesn’t know about. Except for the wildly popular Argosy and All-Story, since they published Burroughs. But Argosy and All-Story were general fiction mags. None of the SFF and hero pulp mags even came close in popularity and Weird Tales, now held up as an all-time classic, repeatedly came close to bankruptcy..

      Liked by 2 people

      • We literally only have Robert E. Howard’s Conan and some Lovecraft’s best later work because Seabury Quinn’s Jules de Grandin novel “The Devil’s Bride” saved it from going under.

        And newsflash–“The Devil’s Bride” is not Quinn’s best work. It’s not even his best Jules de Grandin story.

        Liked by 3 people

      • The pulp revolution/everything was better in the 1930s crowd are strangely quiet on Seabury Quinn, even though he was the most popular Weird Tales author.


      • Yes, Seabury Quinn wrote exactly the sort of thing the Pulp Revolution folks should like, yet they hardly ever mention him. After all, they love Abraham Merritt, so why not Seabury Quinn?

        Ditto for Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar stories, which again are something they should love, but barely talk about for some reason. But then, maybe Leiber pokes too much fun at religion and is a bit too liberal with regard to sex for their tastes.

        Or maybe, Gary Gygax just failed to mention either author in Appendix N.


      • I believe he did list Leiber as an influence, though it’s been a while since I read the appendix.
        Perhaps it’s that Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser are just a little too down to Earth rather than being total badasses. They get drunk (on screen, so to speak — I don’t recall Conan getting tanked where we could actually watch him), mourn their dead loves, run out of money and have to scrape to get by. In a way they undercut the pulp style (or what we imagine the pulp style is) as much as the Puppies keep complaining SJW-written specfic does.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You might be right that Fafhrd and Gray Mouser are maybe a little too human and perfectly heroic enough for the pulp revolution crowd, even though the fact that they are more human is why I’ve always preferred them to Conan.


  11. “But a people with a shared culture and a strong identity is hard to conquer,”
    I’m so tempted to go Godwin’s Law with this …
    And yes, the idea his anime thingy novel is going to forge a new consensus culture is somewhat lacking in self-awareness given the subject of the post.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. And he has the same I’m Writing Deep Thoughts tone a lot of John Wright’s nonfiction does, though more head shakey (“Ah, I see the true days of glory are gone.”) than Wright’s primal spasms of rage.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: The Demonologist and the Thief – Attack of the Six-Foot Tranny

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