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Saturday, March 18, 2017

A shameless scalzification

Jake Kerr shamelessly scalzies G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday.
So, my new novel is about a future Earth where the population escapes the polluted and dying planet by logging into linked virtual reality servers. They take on roles as fantasy characters, live in former time periods, cruise the Tinder server—all in an effort to get away from the sad world where they live. A mysterious group wants to destroy the virtual reality network to force the citizens to wake up and force the corporations and governments to clean up environment. Their belief is that the planet was purposefully polluted to move people to the corporation-controlled virtual reality operating system. Our hero infiltrates the supreme council of this group and finds that her life is constantly in danger as she moves from secret meetings to administration buildings and virtual reality fantasy servers where she is a level 73 mage. Along the way, everyone betrays everyone else and nothing is what it seems.

That is the description of Thursday, and based solely on that you would never know that it is an adaptation of G. K. Chesterton’s classic The Man Who Was Thursday. And therein lies the following tale.

I first read The Man Who Was Thursday in college, and it immediately became one of my favorite novels. The humor. The plot twists. The intrigue. I was entirely enthralled. Michael Moorcock called it one of the top 100 fantasies of all time, and it’s a seminal novel in the thriller genre, with its series of chases and pursuits. It’s an amazing book with one significant problem—it’s very dated.

The humor references have little cultural meaning to many readers today. The surrealist/spiritual metaphors and allegories are highly specific and jarring for many. And the expositional and philosophical prose is far out of fashion. To make matters worse, the frightening bad guys are anarchists, a group that provides little sense of dread today.

It always struck me that this extraordinary novel deserved to be updated in some form or fashion so that a new generation of readers could enjoy Chesterton’s genius. The more I thought of it over the years, the more I considered doing it myself. Chesterton wrote the plot, the scenes, and the characters. How hard could it be? I thought. Well, I found out when I took on the project last year....

Chesterton’s background was decidedly religious and based on the secular, frightening, and chaotic anarchist forces in 1908. My background was of a modern world dying from neglect, with virtual reality the way the population escaped this dismal reality. The world is even described as “IRL” and the IRL spaces where people live are delineated as “inside” and “outside.” Making all this work required me to add some scenes and change some of the ways that the characters interacted. For example, the opening scene in my book doesn’t exist in The Man Who Was Thursday.

At its heart, The Man Who Was Thursday is steeped in Catholic symbols and Christian messages, and this is where I am most curious about how the book will be received. I’m an atheist and removed all of those pieces from the novel. Yet I’m convinced that I’ve kept the spirit of the novel enough that if you are religious or a Chesterton fan, you will still see those things there, just not as overtly as Chesterton made them. Christian speaker and author Matt Mikalatos addresses this in the book’s afterword.
Now, there is nothing wrong with retelling an old tale. The Brothers Grimm did a bang-up job of it, as did Shakespeare and Tanith Lee. I've done it myself, as QUANTUM MORTIS: A Mind Programmed is a rework of Jeff and Jean Sutton's The Programmed Man, a childhood favorite of mine that I must have re-read at least six or seven times.

The first big difference is that even the biggest fans of the Sutton work like QM:AMP even better than TPM. That is simply not true of Scalzi's various ripoffs; literally no one likes any of his books better than the original sources from which he borrowed and/or stole. Why do TPM fans like QM-AMP? Because I removed absolutely nothing that was significant or essential from the original novel. I started with the utmost respect for what was there, excised as little as I felt that I possibly could, and focused on expanding from the original. Of course, it probably doesn't hurt that I am a better writer than Sutton.

Scalzi is not better than Heinlein, Dick, Piper, or Asimov. Dan Brown is not better than Umberto Eco. Terry Brooks is not better than JRR Tolkien. I haven't read Jake Kerr, but there is virtually no chance he is a better writer, or a better observer of the human condition, than G.K. Chesterton. Their imitations, homages, or ripoffs, as you prefer, are almost guaranteed to suffer by comparison with the original.

Writer's Lesson #1: follow Shakespeare's lead, not Scalzi's. Use lesser writers as source material, not those who are markedly better than you are. It's rather like a band releasing a cover song. If you try to record and release a Beatles' song, or a Metallica song, you're most likely just going to look stupid while pissing off their fans.

The second difference is that you absolutely should not make any changes the core structure or the philosophical heart of the story. Subversion is not homage. To polish some clunky prose, add additional detail or story, or breathe life into previously cardboard characters is one thing, to rework everything to suit your personal prejudices is something altogether different. This scalzification of a classic is not only unbelievably stupid, but tone-deaf, and tends to demonstrate how it is that moral-blind atheists so reliably create ugly mediocrities, even when they begin with solid source material.

You shouldn't record and release a cover of "Sweet Home Alabama". But if you insist on doing so anyhow, you definitely shouldn't change the state of reference to Massachusetts or San Francisco.

In the meantime, WE. ARE. AMUSED. You see, this is a screenshot of the Also Viewed list for The Collapsing Empire. Tor and McRapey are desperately trying to ignore it, so it will be interesting to see how long their self-discipline lasts. If you haven't preordered THE CORRODING EMPIRE yet, you really should join in the fun. Let's face it, you'll want to be able to say that no only were you there, but you made it happen.

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96 Comments:

Blogger Bill March 18, 2017 11:09 AM  

I think Ready Player One was the apogee of this story-line. Unless Castalia publishes a retelling, I'll pass on any dystopian escape through VR stories.

Anonymous Iacobus March 18, 2017 11:19 AM  

"At its heart, The Man Who Was Thursday is steeped in Catholic symbols and Christian messages, and this is where I am most curious about how the book will be received. I’m an atheist and removed all of those pieces from the novel. Yet I’m convinced that I’ve kept the spirit of the novel enough that if you are religious or a Chesterton fan, you will still see those things there, just not as overtly as Chesterton made them. Christian speaker and author Matt Mikalatos addresses this in the book’s afterword."

Shorter take: "Gee, guys, let's remove what made Chesterton, well, Chesterton and substitute his silly faith for mine!"

The fucking hubris...do you think they're self-aware enough to realize what fucking asshats they're being?

Blogger Silly But True March 18, 2017 11:20 AM  

Which came first, the investment by the publishers to invest in magic lugenpresses which only publishes fake print, or the acquisitionof fake writers which only produce fake words?

Blogger Ezekiel March 18, 2017 11:29 AM  

Sounds a lot like that abominable LOTR fanfic, The Last Ringbearer, written by a bitter ex-Soviet Academian. Hamfistedly turns Gandalf into Hitler, the Men of the West into superstitious barbarians and the elves into luddite monarchists.

Anonymous Steve March 18, 2017 11:30 AM  

It’s an amazing book with one significant problem—it’s very dated.

Indeed. I can't help but think its Edwardian-era characters are implausibly eloquent, impossibly brave, and effortlessly civilised by today's standards.

Our great grampas were - pound for pound - better men than we are.

Blogger tz March 18, 2017 11:42 AM  

Rare is the atheist with consistent morality and a good reason for them.
Even rarer is one with good aesthetics.

Christendom understands man. Atheists can't, they can only make good (or bad) guesses.

But realize the problem is more with the scazified audiences. Symphonies for the tone-deaf, Paintings for the colorblind.

Blogger LES March 18, 2017 11:48 AM  

I found the expositional and philosophical prose in "The Man Who Was Thursday" exquisite.

Blogger tz March 18, 2017 11:48 AM  

I’m an atheist and removed all of those pieces from the novel.
And replaced them with nothing. This is like removing a background forest, meadow, or river and using a brick wall or empty parkimg lot instead.

Not only a bad aesthetic, but no symbology - no allusions, holy or profane places, just an emotionally dead world.

Blogger praetorian March 18, 2017 11:53 AM  

The humor references have little cultural meaning to many readers today. The surrealist/spiritual metaphors and allegories are highly specific and jarring for many. And the expositional and philosophical prose is far out of fashion. To make matters worse, the frightening bad guys are anarchists, a group that provides little sense of dread today.

I hate this faggot with the heat of a thousand suns.

Anonymous kfg March 18, 2017 12:01 PM  

Ahhhhh, I see. An academically trained writer. Under Ursula Le Guin.

'Splains a lot.

Blogger Nate March 18, 2017 12:03 PM  

"I haven't read Jake Kerr, but there is virtually no chance he is a better writer, or a better observer of the human condition, than G.K. Chesterton."

There is a reason country artists don't cover He Stopped Loving Her Today.

Tread lightly on Holy Ground.

Blogger S. Misanthrope March 18, 2017 12:04 PM  

"The second difference is that you absolutely should not make any changes the core structure or the philosophical heart of the story. Subversion is not homage."

This is why I think Zack Snyder's film adaptation of Watchmen was a mistake. A technically minor change completely subverted and reversed the philosophical perspective of the story. As much as I prefer Snyder's philosophy to Alan Moore's, an adaptation must preserve the core of the original work. If you don't like that core, adapt something else.

Blogger David Awhsome March 18, 2017 12:04 PM  

If I want VR fiction, I will stick with Nick Cole.

Blogger Bies Podkrakowski March 18, 2017 12:06 PM  

@ Ezekiel

The Last Ringbearer was quite good fantasy novel and equally good spy novel. I simply cannot comprehend why Eskov decided to turn his idea into Tolkien fanfic. A a result it sucked like Gollum sucking bird eggs.

Blogger Weouro March 18, 2017 12:07 PM  

"Our great grampas were - pound for pound - better men than we are."

And not only because Chesteron was merely heavyset by today's land whale standards...

Blogger FUCK GOOGLE March 18, 2017 12:11 PM  

If atheists understood why Christianity was/is important, they wouldn't be atheists.

This novel sounds like the literary equivalent of Limp Bizkit covering "Behind Blue Eyes".

Anonymous chedolf March 18, 2017 12:18 PM  

A writer who starts his essay with "So..." has no hope of "reimagining" anything in an interesting way.

Blogger Phil Mann March 18, 2017 12:28 PM  

And, of course, "our hero" is now a she. Gotta keep it all modern and stuff.

Anonymous malcolmthecynic March 18, 2017 12:39 PM  

I don't think you need to be better necessarily, but you do need to offer something different and interesting. This is true with covers as well. See: Postmodern Jukebox.

Blogger Rick Stump March 18, 2017 12:42 PM  

"Chesterton without the Catholicism".
I think his next novel should be a re-imagining of Guards! Guards! so we can see Pratchett without the wit.

Blogger Manach March 18, 2017 12:47 PM  

For excellent Chesterton references in a modern book, Castilla's own John Wright does various hat tips to that author.

Blogger Silly But True March 18, 2017 12:50 PM  

He's going to try his hand at being a filmmaker next and dapt Run!Lola Run! But without that annoying Lola. Or running.

Blogger Aeoli Pera March 18, 2017 12:52 PM  

Excellent analysis and advice.

Blogger Phil Mann March 18, 2017 12:56 PM  

"Sweet Home Massachusetts." Actually, that's one I'd like to hear.

Blogger The Other Robot March 18, 2017 1:10 PM  

So I was thinking of doing "Sweet Home San Francisco where the fudge packers are all so gay"!

Are you telling me it won't sell?

Anonymous William Barton March 18, 2017 1:14 PM  

I don't think most self proclaimed atheists are anything of the sort, just little men afraid of the dark and whistling past the graveyard. Perhaps most of all terrified of what Epicurus knew.

Blogger Ken Prescott March 18, 2017 1:18 PM  

My one published novel is a dreadful pastiche of spy and special operations tropes, and it's probably better than the subject of the original post.

I am working on a sequel that I believe (hope!) will be better than the first one. And I already have notes for a third novel in the series, and notes for bunch of other stories in genres I enjoy.

Never look back, always look forward, always seek to perfect your craft, even though you know perfection is impossible. And never feel smug about your freaking LAWN, for crying out loud!

Blogger Michael Maier March 18, 2017 1:19 PM  

@Phil Mann: Me too. Or with Indiana.... Mind my reels with possibilities.

Blogger Al Smith March 18, 2017 1:20 PM  

It's a misconception that "The Man Who Was Thursday" had some sort of Christian message. Chesterton later made a point of saying he wrote it while he was still relatively young, and before he had been drawn to Christianity.

Blogger Michael Maier March 18, 2017 1:20 PM  

Ken Prescott wrote:And never feel smug about your freaking LAWN, for crying out loud!

Unless you're playing football or baseball on it, a lawn is a waste of space. Put up some trees already!

Anonymous Tipsy March 18, 2017 1:21 PM  

It sounds like this is akin to Kenny G overdubbing Louis Armstrong. Which he did. And Pat Metheny took him to task with the most epic vitriolic rant ever.

Blogger Dave March 18, 2017 1:21 PM  

WE. ARE. AMUSED.

Greatly.

Scalzi/Tor must still be desperately trying to figure out the best approach to persuade Amazon to rid them of this pesky troll, either that, or they're still in shock from being bitch-slapped by Castalia.

Blogger Ken Prescott March 18, 2017 1:26 PM  

Sweet Home North Dakota, where the shale frackers are all MAGA...

Anonymous MongoJimmy March 18, 2017 1:32 PM  

Sweet Home Massachusetts
Where the liberals eat their cheese
Sweet Home Massachusetts
Hope those Southies won't break yer knees...
(wew lord bernie canstillwin!!!)

Blogger M. Bibliophile March 18, 2017 1:34 PM  

On the plus side, I now have both a new book to read as well as a book to avoid: I had never heard of that particular work of Chesterton's (hardly surprising as I had never heard of him until five or six years ago).

Incidentally, Sweet Home Oregon has some amusing possibilities, not least because we boast a town of the same name better known for its meth than anything particularly picturesque...

Anonymous kfg March 18, 2017 1:35 PM  

" . . . a lawn is a waste of space."

That's its function. Secondarily as a conspicuous sign that you can afford to keep and maintain that much land as a waste.

Primarily so that an enemy has to cross the waste to assault your Donjon, which is, itself, a symbol of wealth.

A man with a donjon surrounded by huuuuuuge . . . tracts of lawn must be very wealthy and powerful indeed.

Middle class peons copy the form without understanding the purpose.

Anonymous kfg March 18, 2017 1:38 PM  

Sweet Home (x) is a song called Your State's Name Here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EX9p50MIexs

Blogger lowercaseb March 18, 2017 1:53 PM  

Writer's Lesson #1: follow Shakespeare's lead, not Scalzi's. Use lesser writers as source material, not those who are markedly better than you are.

What a great piece of advice! Consider this passed along. Although the group I work with does not know Scalzi or his stories, perhaps I will recommend them as stories that could be told better.

BTW: I love these types of posts. If you ever decided that posting daily on several blogs, editing for Castalia House, parenting, and coaching your son's team just seems to leave way too much free time...I'd gladly donate to a WritersGame blog.

Blogger lowercaseb March 18, 2017 1:55 PM  

The Other Robot wrote:So I was thinking of doing "Sweet Home San Francisco where the fudge packers are all so gay"!

Are you telling me it won't sell?


That would be a chart topper here. You can say A LOT of things about the gay scene in this city, but they do have a good sense of humor about themselves.

Blogger Mr. Naron March 18, 2017 2:09 PM  

Hey Jude cover by Wilson Pickett and Duane Allman proves the point. Both are better performers than the Beatles (Although, I doubt any of the Beatles actually played on Hey Jude. They just sang.).
https://youtu.be/0y8Q2PATVyI

Blogger Mr.MantraMan March 18, 2017 2:17 PM  

Does any of this mean fake virtue doesn't sell as well as hoped for?

Blogger Cataline Sergius March 18, 2017 2:18 PM  

Use lesser writers as source material, not those who are markedly better than you are. It's rather like a band releasing a cover song. If you try to record and release a Beatles' song, or a Metallica song, you're most likely just going to look stupid while pissing off their fans.

If only Phillip Pullman had read that.

The His Dark Materials books were weird and creepy in every way that the Chronicles of Narnia weren't.

And thing about Pullman is that he is not a bad writer but in setting out to deliberately create an atheist work of fantasy for the ages he produced garbage.

Highly well received garbage to be sure but garbage none the less.

Blogger Zimri March 18, 2017 2:25 PM  

If you are going to disagree with your source material, you should go balls-out and write an explicit rebuttal of your source material.

Several works like this exist for Asimov: Donald Kingsbury's "Psychohistorical Crisis"; Silverberg's rewrite and expansion of "Nightfall". Against Heinlein of course we have "Ender's Game".

I haven't read anti-Dick or anti-Piper material. Dick got too much right. And I don't know that Piper was as political as the rest.

Blogger Zimri March 18, 2017 2:31 PM  

weird and creepy in every way that the Chronicles of Narnia weren't

Narnia has its own creeyweird, especially in the two witches, who are basically child molesters. Lewis (before he found the right woman) had had an affair with a domineering older woman, and if he forgave her he didn't forget her.

I only read the first Pullman book, where the only scenes that I recall as creepy were done by the villains, as was done in Lewis' books.

Blogger Jack Ward March 18, 2017 2:35 PM  

Is there going to be a push on Corroding release day to push it on Amazon? Thats why I've waited to buy. But, buy I will.

Anonymous nope March 18, 2017 2:36 PM  

They keep doing this. Chesterton and Lewis are surprisingly popular with progressive readers, for whatever reason, so it is no surprise that they are writing their subversions now. They have been doing that to Lovecraft for ages now, for example:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29558474-the-dream-quest-of-velitt-boe
(actually marketed as feminist response to original Dream Quest)
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26883558-the-ballad-of-black-tom?ac=1&from_search=true
(basically a BLM reimagining of Red Hook, writer even inserted Nation of islam teachings in there)

Blogger VD March 18, 2017 2:39 PM  

Is there going to be a push on Corroding release day to push it on Amazon?

Yes, certainly.

Anonymous Bz March 18, 2017 2:40 PM  

Heh, I have thought off and on about scalzifying Bujold's work, because it annoys me. But of course it won't count for more than weaponized 'fan' fiction.

Blogger Cataline Sergius March 18, 2017 2:42 PM  

@44 Zimri

I only read the first Pullman book, where the only scenes that I recall as creepy were done by the villains, as was done in Lewis' books.

It came later, trust me on this point.

Anonymous Bz March 18, 2017 2:43 PM  

Pullman wrote two pretty good books, even if there were things off about them, like a certain "hostility" ... and then a final garbage one. The mask fully slipped at last.

Anonymous kfg March 18, 2017 2:48 PM  

"The His Dark Materials books were weird and creepy in every way that the Chronicles of Narnia weren't."

I actually enjoyed the first book. The second was, "OooooooK, I hope this is leading up to a grand finale," but the third was like eating broken glass to get through.

I will give him this; he did actually write his own alternative in rebuttal. He didn't just rewrite the Narnia Chronicles with the bits he didn't like or understand taken out.

Blogger Bill March 18, 2017 2:53 PM  

The His Dark Materials books were evil. Period. Children fucking is EVIL. That series is one of the reasons I only buy Castalia books, or books by a known quantity author.

Blogger Raging Papist March 18, 2017 3:05 PM  

So he deliberately removed any overt Catholic or Christian elements. Why? For his atheistic pleasure? To make the story more palatable to unbelievers, or his own delusion that he is somehow better than Chesterson?

The answers don't really matter I guess. Its just useless.

Blogger Jose March 18, 2017 3:08 PM  

Interesting use of the verb to scalzi. Much more erudite than the one I'm familiar with; to wit:

"Bob bought cheap protein powder, then scalzied his pants in the middle of a clean and jerk. We had to steam clean the lifting platform."

Anonymous VFM #6306 March 18, 2017 3:12 PM  

Ah yes, anarchists. Those oh so irrelevant old timey throwbacks that their anachronism magically burned Berkeley to the ground to halt a speaker.

Anonymous a deplorable rubberducky March 18, 2017 3:15 PM  

I love a well reworked cover song, or a refashioned old take. But it's hard to pull off. You risk coming off derivative, or worse, you damage the work you are sourcing. This why I have a cardinal rule: I never watch a movie if I read the book. That is certain disappointment.

Blogger Happy LP9 March 18, 2017 3:22 PM  

Wow, excellent post Vox.

I float the matter that whatever technology is the public is granted is obsolete back doored apple android smartphone junk (dephoned chick, hate phones, detest predictive programming), only given to us to bleed us for money.

Our alt-tech will overpower and outdo alleged people that alleged made xyz.

OT: Lauren Southern is amazing, she and Milo did a college event a while back, she appears with Stefan from time to time about her book regarding baby boomers, she is a great woman, great youtube channel and she's an ally, genx must stick together but also try to reach out to the young uns.

Further OT:

I'm not the hero here, I turned Charlie down for FWB which I had to google, its friends with benefits, 9/2016 he wanted that and I said no, around 2/27/2017 into 3/3/2017 was still asking after he saw me at the store, its true I told him I'm not unable to meet his terms and conditions, here's mine, I told him to place a ring on my finger or blank off, he was berating me in 3/2017 and knew I was going to say no, he wanted a random fight with someone new - Escalation; he appeared at my gym and place of work berating me and trashing me, he was escorted from the premises and he embarrassed himself. I always tell people if they want to do immense emotional pain to me just try asking me for FWB, call me a feminist or an atheist.

He already said he is going after my work, my friends, family and here to extract whatever he wants - I told him to breath, chill, and he can shake the girl tree for girls, for me, I want a ring on my finger or blank off as he started swearing at me.

He called the Weirton PD to file harassment charges upon me(?)b/c I resorted to heartache talk, the police said this is absurd, do not worry Ms. _____ just ignore him. He hurt my silly feelings and I simple said blank off
3/3/2017 or the 4th. I should not have sworn but I felt afraid he is 6'3 225, I'm 5'5 110 and struggling to stay at that weight when I am losing weight alot, its a bad scene, I tried to tell him I'm sick, he said its an excuse called me a bitch and a prude and I said, "look, blank off, your a big baby," "I have vaginal and breast pain and you wont commit to me in 2017 then bug off."

If dad was able to leave the nursing home, he'd be addressing Charlie 110% not me.

Sorry to share sordid details but that is what happened, I am sorry I swore I just - he knew from day one I cannot abide by his terms conditions and priorities then and now, its just untenable.

FWB is horrid for men and women, in 2015 and 2016, I tried to point him to Stefan to Cerno to others and he hates them all for NO reason - I just dont understand why'd he reject their work, I thought Stefan and Mike would be great outlets for him to read, at first he was great person, he served our country loves Trump and dumps FWB on me twice(?) I was bereft shocked, I just said I cannot and then he goes to my office and gym...WTH.

Meanwhile, the gym members took my side which further embarrassed him. All I did was say no yet the cops are called on me.

Forgive me, I'm shaken. Just pray for me and ask God to help Charlie. He wanted to file a restraining order agasint me when I never posed a threat the judge to hear this knows my grandad Judge Mele Vukelic whom died...

It felt sickening to stand up for myself, I dont care to assert myself beyond nein and thats it. Forgive me for venting just shaken.

Anonymous Rigel Kent March 18, 2017 3:25 PM  

I haven't read The Man Who Was Thursday yet, but Kerr's description makes me think of someone writing the Narnia books without Aslan being Jesus.

IOW stupid, wrongheaded and an insult to a great classic. And I say this as an agnostic.

Anonymous Holmwood March 18, 2017 3:47 PM  

Good criticism, great advice. Must go back and reread Chesterton.

One catch: if I go in as a 'neutral' viewer (incognito mode in Chrome), Corroding does not show up in the "Also Viewed".

On the plus side, it does show up as the number two search result right after "Collapsing Empire" which is pretty good.

Blogger Resident Moron™ March 18, 2017 4:01 PM  

Since pre-ordering The Corroding Empire I'm getting recommendations from Amazon;

"Based on your recent visit, we thought you might be interested in these items:"

and a picture of The Collapsing Empire at $17.10.

Ha ha ha ha .... no.

Anonymous Hesiod March 18, 2017 4:02 PM  

Never allude to Chesterton when commenting on your own writing. It's...ah...it's going full retard, ok? Just don't do it.

Blogger Markku March 18, 2017 4:17 PM  

I once got recommended His Dark Materials by a witch (she took a liking to me) to understand the Luciferian mindset from their perspective.

Blogger bornagainpenguin March 18, 2017 4:20 PM  

Zimri wrote:Against Heinlein of course we have "Ender's Game".

Say what? Okay, what did I miss here because while I've read most of Heinlein's stuff I admit to having skipped most of his juveniles, so what work was Card attempting to reply back to with Ender's Game? I'd be thrilled to discover that I've missed a work here that I can go back to and read for comparison purposes.

Anonymous kfg March 18, 2017 5:02 PM  

@Markku:

Witches know squat all about their own mindsets, nevermind the Luciferian. Go to the source, Ragnar Redbeard's Might is Right.

Blogger ghostfromplanetspook March 18, 2017 5:55 PM  

In the end this post got me to read The Man Who Was Thursday for the fifth time again so its not a total loss lol.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash March 18, 2017 6:12 PM  

At its heart, The Man Who Was Thursday is steeped in Catholic symbols and Christian messages, and this is where I am most curious about how the book will be received. I’m an atheist and removed all of those pieces from the novel. Yet I’m convinced that I’ve kept the spirit of the novel enough that if you are religious or a Chesterton fan, you will still see those things there, just not as overtly as Chesterton made them.

Failing to get the point is a classic Atheist pastime.

Raging Papist wrote:So he deliberately removed any overt Catholic or Christian elements. Why? For his atheistic pleasure? To make the story more palatable to unbelievers, or his own delusion that he is somehow better than Chesterson?
Same reason Scalzi is driven to do what he does.

Envy.

Anonymous Stickwick March 18, 2017 6:22 PM  

If you try to record and release ... a Metallica song, you're most likely just going to look stupid while pissing off their fans.

Most likely. Unless you're a bunch of Finnish cellists, in which case you make classic songs awesome in a whole new way.

A contemporary novelist could approach reworking a classic from Chesterton in a similar way, but it would require considerable talent, imagination, and respect for the original. There's a reason the original was loved, after all, which is why Apocalyptica didn't change a single note of "Nothing Else Matters."

Blogger tublecane March 18, 2017 6:28 PM  

"anarchists, a group that provides little sense of dread today"

'Course, that's what they called commies back then. Commies are still with us today, admittedly with different ideologies. I find them dreadful. You should, too, even if you're also a commie.

Blogger Dave March 18, 2017 7:10 PM  

RIP Chuck Berry

Would Sweet Home Alabama have happened without Chuck Berry first?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1eI4EH-DRg

Blogger F.D. Stephens March 18, 2017 7:18 PM  

Writer's Lesson #1 is beautiful. Must remember...

As for Mr. Kerr. Scalzi's site is like a public therapy session for people afflicted with obscure addictions that warrant no sympathy whatsoever. Which makes it a lot of fun in small doses. Take this comment on Kerr's post. It's from MMC, an individual with, no doubt, a multitude of intersectional identities.

"I’ll pass and go with an author who has an original idea no matter how misguided, sorry Jake. I will check with my local library and check your book out if they have it in but if you are rewriting an old white dude’s book as a younger white dude, then no doubt, you’ll have a following (maybe the puppies) but not at my end on this blurb. It might just be a marketing thing but can’t see any women I know flocking for this one (We’re still trying to get KN [sic] Jemisin into our local library – not your fault obviously)."

Kerr's response to that, a few comments below, captures the self-abnegation one might find at an AA meeting when a half-emptied whisky bottle rolls out of someone's bag onto the floor.

"I understand your not wanting to read yet another white dude. I’m a white dude and fully endorse not reading me until someone’s read Octavia Butler or Nora or many others. It’s probably worth noting, however, that I made the protagonist a young Black woman, and she’s right there on the cover. So I’m pretty certain the puppies would see my adaptation as an insult in dishonoring the original. Such is what it is."

But even that's not enough. He goes on: "I also totally agree with your assessment of an original idea being the most exciting kind of writing. This book was a grind."

This is how I imagine Chesterton talked at the breakfast table with his wife. No wonder Kerr believed in himself so much.

Out of interest, here are the first couple of sentences from both books. Can you distinguish Chesterton from Kerr?

#A "The guard at the street entrance to the apartment building fumbled with the locks as Lucian double-checked his air filter. The guard was new and wore a small purple flower on his lapel, which did little to brighten the dreary foyer and his drab gray uniform."

#B "The suburb of Saffron Park lay on the sunset side of London, as red and ragged as a cloud of sunset. It was built of a bright brick throughout; its sky-line was fantastic, and even its ground plan was wild. It had been the outburst of a speculative builder, faintly tinged with art, who called its architecture sometimes Elizabethan and sometimes Queen Anne, apparently under the impression that the two sovereigns were identical."

Scalzi calls these author blurbs 'The Big Idea', but they rarely rise above brain farts.

To the death of scalzification.

Blogger tz March 18, 2017 7:20 PM  

What next, Squee Willie Winkie?
The Iron fox in the velveteen rabbit?
The Windfarm in the willows?
Rebecca of Solyndra farms?
Mary had a little lambda?
The three little halal heifers?
Little black riding hoodie?

Anonymous kfg March 18, 2017 7:24 PM  

@Stickwick:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uT3SBzmDxGk

Anonymous DaT-166 March 18, 2017 7:39 PM  

"Jake Kerr shamelessly scalzies G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday."

Envy, Envy, Envy. It would be a more interesting account if you just admitted your green, obsessive envy for Scalzi. Sheesh.

Blogger stevo March 18, 2017 7:47 PM  

The other danger of a band releasing a cover tune is that it will reveal by contrast the crappiness of their originals

Blogger Dave March 18, 2017 7:56 PM  

@67 & @72 Thankfully for rock bands the guitar was invented as nobody ever looks cool playing the cello.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash March 18, 2017 8:18 PM  

DaT-166 wrote:"Jake Kerr shamelessly scalzies G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday."

Envy, Envy, Envy. It would be a more interesting account if you just admitted your green, obsessive envy for Scalzi. Sheesh.

Envy for what? Vox has more money and a molto hotter wife. He's stronger, faster, more muscular, and he's a genius. He's more admired and doesn't have to kowtow to anybody.

Vox is a prety cool guy. He doesn't afraid of anything.

Anonymous kfg March 18, 2017 9:13 PM  

@74:

Oh, yeah, well . . . sez you.

Disclaimer of Bias: I play fiddle, and guitar, and mandolin, and piano, and flute, and penny whistle, and . . .

But I don't play cello.

Anonymous kfg March 18, 2017 9:17 PM  

Bugger, that last was directed @75, but my finger misbehaved and my mind skipped a gear tooth.

Blogger James Dixon March 18, 2017 9:22 PM  

>"Sweet Home Massachusetts." Actually, that's one I'd like to hear.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XWYefe9EzI

>Or with Indiana

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNM5g2ARGyY

> Would Sweet Home Alabama have happened without Chuck Berry first?

Probably not,but it definitely wouldn't have happened without Neil Young.

Blogger VD March 18, 2017 9:47 PM  

Envy, Envy, Envy. It would be a more interesting account if you just admitted your green, obsessive envy for Scalzi. Sheesh.

I don't envy one single thing about John Scalzi. I don't want a book contract with Tor Books. I'd much rather have written my books than his. My blog is more influential and more popular.

What is it that I supposedly envy?

Blogger Cataline Sergius March 18, 2017 9:57 PM  

What is it that I supposedly envy?

His devilish good looks?

The fact that he is ever the picture of sartorial perfection?

Really Vox, the list is endless! Simply endless!!

Blogger Jack Ward March 18, 2017 10:05 PM  

#47. VD
Do let us know the details. I seem to remember Amazon coming up with some strange new guidelines to counter our favorite tactic to drive a new book high. If wrong on that will buy about mid-day the 20th.

Anonymous Deplorable Winning March 18, 2017 10:52 PM  

Cataline Sergius wrote:Really Vox, the list is endless! Simply endless!!

Cataline, always appreciate your posts, but you are no Steve. Please provide eyebleach warnings where appropriate.

After some very good advice, the SDL wrote:

WE. ARE. AMUSED... you really should join in the fun. Let's face it, you'll want to be able to say that no only were you there, but you made it happen.

Unique and entertaining pitch, but it also might be construed as a direct order. Better safe than sorry. Pre-ordered.

Anonymous Deplorable Winning March 18, 2017 11:01 PM  

Resident Moron™ wrote:Since pre-ordering The Corroding Empire I'm getting recommendations from Amazon;

"Based on your recent visit, we thought you might be interested in these items:"

and a picture of The Collapsing Empire at $17.10.


Nice. I didn't get that from them. But now they they think I'm a huge buyer in Gender Studies...

Blogger Happy LP9 March 19, 2017 1:06 AM  

Tor to other publishers don't now they are utterly overwhelmed and replaced by glorious Castalia House! I am so thrilled for Info Galactic to Castalia House!

Anonymous VFM #6306 March 19, 2017 3:33 AM  

Kerr's novel is all wrong as he describes it.

He should be describing a novel about these diverse fantasy characters who are strangely linked, and then get involved in a crazy plot to destroy the world, while the character Thursday struggles to disrupt the cult he has found himself a part of.

Instead, he exposes all the mystery of the book that could potentially make it interesting.

It is as if he rewrote a famous mystery and then describes it this way:

"So, my novel is based on a book I loved when I was younger. I was captivated by the twists, the mystery,and intrigue. So...I wrote my novel about how the butler did it."

Anonymous Cheshirych March 19, 2017 6:58 AM  

I wonder if anyone feels like updating 'a very dated work' known as 'The Demons', or as 'The Posessed' in early translations. It is kind of similar to 'the man who was thursday' but written earlier and in a rather different place.

Anonymous Cheshirych March 19, 2017 7:13 AM  

Ideology at the core did not change. It is very simple - everyone must submit to us or we will throw bombs at people. SJWs are quickly progressing to a physical violence stage. Bombism next. So commies, yes.

Anonymous Cheshirych March 19, 2017 7:20 AM  

I wondered at that (Card against Heinlein) as well. There are two obvious people who come as negating Heinlein: Harrison with SSRat/Bill and of course Heinlein himself.But Orson Scott Card? I am not seeing it...

Anonymous Cheshirych March 19, 2017 7:34 AM  

I beg to differ. It is a great fan fic. But it is a great misunderstanding to think that it is a LOTR fan-fic. It is a parody on "The Icebreaker" first, and lotr fanfic second. Without reading icebreaker first it must be pretty hard to appreciate what eskov did in last ringbearer.

Blogger Unknown March 19, 2017 10:06 AM  

One quibble: Shakespeare stole freely from Cervantes as well.
But in that case, he expanded, rather than diminished the insight.

Anonymous Cheshirych March 19, 2017 10:43 AM  

It rhymes too much with good old Dosty's The Devils to have no Christian message. At the very least the message is that faithlessness leads to 20th century in its horrible entirety.

Blogger JP March 19, 2017 3:07 PM  

Why pay for a modern rip-off when you can get the original for free? Only idiots would say, "Ooh, I heard this story was based on Hamlet, I should buy it." when they can literally google "Hamlet .pdf" and pay nothing for a world-changing piece of literature.

Blogger Ken Prescott March 19, 2017 3:17 PM  

I echo John Wright's critique of His Dark Materials:

If your plot revolves around a knife that's supposed to be able to kill God, your climax had better revolve around the Almighty getting shanked with said knife...not getting killed by accidentally falling out of bed...

Anonymous SciVo de Plorable March 19, 2017 5:34 PM  

a deplorable rubberducky wrote:This why I have a cardinal rule: I never watch a movie if I read the book. That is certain disappointment.

Well if you trust my judgement, then make an exception for the expanded versions of the LOTR movies. They're an amazing spectacle.

Unless changes at the level of turning a couple of characters into a single pastiche to make it easier to follow on-screen would annoy you, then never mind.

(But that would be anchoring, not a quality problem.)

Blogger Francis Parker Yockey March 20, 2017 1:57 PM  

@Cataline Sergius

"in setting out to deliberately create an atheist work of fantasy for the ages he produced garbage."

I agree that he's not a bad writer, but I got the distinct impression that his goal was not so much promotion of atheism as inversion/ perversion of Christianity. Garbage in terms of literary merit, but effective propaganda nonetheless.

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