Superversive. This Is The Way.

Yesterday I shared with you what I no longer gave a damn about. So I thought it would only be fair to share what I do give a damn about. Good storytelling that you want to read.

Much like the anarchists we see on the news today, burning, looting and tearing down statues, the world of science fiction and fantasy is under similar attack. They have been attacking long-established legends in SF/F, erasing their names from awards, demanding their books be removed from shelves, etc. And they are insisting that the only acceptable works are ones that preach the social justice themes we’ve all become tired of hearing.  They are subversive. They are also part of the reason why people are turning away from reading and SF/F in general.

I reject the subversive. I prefer the superversive. But what does superversive mean in regards to writing fiction of any kind?

The definition of superversive is: “Nurturing; supportive, building up — opposite of subversive.” Where subversive – and those who practice it – can only tear down and destroy what was created by others, superversives build up. Or, as John C. Wright said during a conversation with his wife, L. Jagi Lamplighter, ““You know how subversive means to change something by undermining from below? Superversive is change by inspiration from above.”

Russell Newquist, who runs Silver Empire, touched on this subject four years ago on his blog. Here are some highlights from his post:

  • Heroes who are actually heroic. They don’t have to be heroic all of the time, or even most of the time. But when the time comes, they must actually be heroic.
  • People are basically good. Not all the time, not in every case – and certainly not every person. But basically.
  • Good Wins. Not every time – a good story always has setbacks in it. But evil winning is most definitely not superversive.
  • True love is real. Again, maybe not for everybody. But it’s real.
  • Beauty is real. It’s ok to show the warts. But show the beauty, too.
  • The transcendent is awesome. There’s no obligation to show any particular religion, or even really religion at all. But superversive literature should show the glory and splendor of the wider universe around us, and it should leave us in awe of it.
  • Family is good and important. Not every family, sure. But those are the exceptions, not the rule.
  • Civilization is better than barbarism. This doesn’t mean barbarians are evil, or that they aren’t fun. But in the end, they’re… well, barbaric.
  • Strength, courage, honor, beauty, truth, sacrifice, spirituality, and humility are virtues. This can be demonstrated by showing people breaking the virtues. But they must be recognized as virtues.
  • There is hope. Superversive stories should never leave the reader feeling despair.

When I was first introduced to the Superversive philosophy in fiction I was hooked. These were the stories I grew up reading, these were the stories I wanted to read more of and these were the stories I wanted to write.

Even with a dystopian story like Maelstrom, or my short story Polar Shift in Planetary Anthology Series: Luna, bad things happen and evil looks to be on the verge of victory but the endings to those stories will not leave you “feeling despair”.

As for transcendence, Escaping Infinity has that in spades. It isn’t preaching a specific religion at all but I think it does show off the splendor and glory of the universe around us. And so far readers of every religion have tried to claim me as one of their own after reading it.

The characters I write don’t set out to become heroes. But when the moment arrives they are there to answer the call to be heroic. There is true love, sacrifice, honor, tragedy, grief, loss and ultimately victory.

Sometimes the hero wins at great cost, sometimes the hero is tested to the greatest depths of their soul. But in the end, the good wins through. I believe this is true in my fiction and, despite all evidence to the contrary, I believe this is true in life.

During a Twitter conversation with a few other writers, I came up with this tag line to explain our approach to writing:

“I wrote this to entertain you, not to preach to you.”

So yes, the Superversive path is the one I choose to walk in my writing journey, and in my life as well, and I will continue to do so for as long as I keep writing, and breathing.

This is the way.




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