The lament on the right is that we do not control institutions and do not create cultural products. Where are the right wing artists? People complain about it. Few do anything about it. The Passage Prize crew had a competition and released their collection for $400. We’re talking about cultural products that are accessible and in the best form, apolitical but with a touch of right wing framing. A far more affordable option is the new collection of stories from twitter user Moldbugman called Unsqualified Preservations. The labeling on this at Amazon is incorrect. This is a collection of horror stories that feel all too real and plausible, even the more futuristic, fantastic entries. This is a fun, entertaining read.
Moldbugman collects his finest entries and provides new material for a 300 page ride through our contemporary world and possible futures. There is satire here. You will laugh at some stories. While a right winger’s creation, these are not explicitly right wing stories. Someone of our crowd would recognize the framing clearly, but those not in on the joke or reading without the techno-right assumptions will not see it as overt. It’s apolitical and readable for the great swath of casually engaged with politics types.
Moldbugman opens the book with an explanation of his persona, his book, etc. It is a gentle introduction. The real guts of the horror stories start with “More Than Just a Housemate” and ends with “Human Capital”. That sequence of seven stories is the best in the collection. Moldbugman takes normal, everyday life in our current bazaar of a society and manages to weave stories that start off not terrifying but the sense of foreboding and danger grows. Things do not feel right. It may be outside the control of the protagonist, the doom may be embedded in their fatal flaws (both innate or imprinted by progressive conditioning) or may be their choice. Multiple times, the grim reality is not revealed until the final paragraph or even line as in “Leftover Women”.
That’s a strong story, and not wanting to spoil the ending, I can discuss specifics of the set up, and how it is apolitical but if you know, you know. Our protagonist is a smart, savvy Chinese woman with a PhD and prestigious university gig. As the title notes, she is single and over 30, so she is what the Chinese call Leftover Women or yellowed pearls. Moldbugman writes a story where her confidence is founded in her achievements just as one would expect in the real world, and she has no doubt in the correctness of her choices and the low status of others’ expectations. She gets a rude awakening by going home and experiencing parents who have made arrangements to drop her. It’s a funny image to draw in one’s mind of the financial advisor’s plans and how everything is framed. I will not spoil the ending, but I did not expect it as the life raft out of her predicament seemed just as good a set up in the final few paragraphs.
One thing I found surprising was the number of female narrators that Moldbugman used. Many lament the way we have set up the modern world to provide for their non-stop comfort and as BAP has said, even designed our cities to be the playground for 20-something, single wahmen. It would only be fitting that female narrators would fill a book of just beyond tomorrow horror. It’s not some type of achievement, but it was curious considering the expectations one has when reading something from our sphere. The decisions and behaviors Moldbugman writes for them are far more honest than a female author would ever provide in the current year.
I am a lurker on Twitter, but do recall Moldbugman threads. The long threads covering funko pops, Sweden, and other peculiarities of the world were entertaining. Moldbugman is gone from twitter, but this book is now available like a letter from an old friend. He has a knack for revealing the silly and sad and doing it all in an entertaining manner. This book is a next step in that ability to capture the absurdity of our society and the small horrors that lie not beneath the surface but out in the open. His Twitter threads were real and horrible, and that same touch is here making the world of fiction so believable and at the same time so horrifying.