Reviewing fringe right cultural content, I understand the limitations of what will come out of the self-publishing or super niche, indie publishing space. It will be weird or outside the mainstream and the best stuff will capture a mood or a vibe that is undeniable, enjoyable and takes the reader away. A slight problem people seem to be running into is the issue of short tales, short takes and almost popcorn style content. A new offering that is a collection of, you guessed it, short stories is the Longhouse (also available here). I do recommend buying this for an enjoyable read, but we do need to see something more from the ecosystem.
The Longhouse is a product of the parameters of the Passage Prize contest, where we see those passed over for the monetary awards, and frankly with the steep price of the Passage Prize’s printed collection, I’ll happily read these other submissions. Because that contest had set word limits for entries, nothing is going to be deep or show character development. The stories have to grab you, take you along for the ride and then deliver a pay-off. Multiple stories do this in this collection, and hint at greater potential from the authors if they were to tease them out or create new works. Because the setting or genre changes story to story, there is no unifying whole, and this is a display of the writers’ talents.
From a parody perspective, “So Much For The Tolerant Left” is a perfect mockery of YA literature. It pains me to call it literature, so it is YA content. The author nails the ridiculous framing of every heroine in the YA genre (always heroines) and cartoonish black and white moral juxtapositions. The great touch is the heroine not realizing they are an awful human being trapped by their progressive norms. There are lines at the beginning and end that state a full treatment is coming, so I do hope it happens. Will it? Who knows?
“Out of Eumeswil” and “In the Palm of Metal” are two good entries that are of the type of work they call speculative fiction rather than science fiction, and because of the future setting, they work. They veer in different directions as to how tech and humanity would navigate the future, near or far, and I found these entertaining. “In the Palm of Metal” felt a little too realistic and plausible with the emergence of VR technology and whatever garbage messaging the public influencer WEF lackeys push out this month. That story stuck with me.
A great bit to this online crowd is the touch of humor that pervades most content. These stories do not fail to deliver. “The Dog Philosophers” and “The Not McDonald’s” both made me laugh and for completely different reasons. One is absurd and the other is a bit more realistic and uses the setting and characters with a fringe right perspective to stress the idiocy of the situation. Once again, there is no character development, so the moment and elevator pitch of an introduction has to pull you in quickly.
The piece I found most engaging and something I would love to see expanded upon was “Tessa vs. Big Tobacco”. The framing and character sketches are there to appeal to /ourguy sensibilities. There are absurd set ups and the villain, Big Tobacco, is comical as it is so passe now. That was the big lawsuit shakedown of a generation ago, but holding onto, grudges and trying to wring a few more dollars fit the times for journalist and left wing activism. Our good, progressive Tessa is written well as she is blind to what truly matters in life and what is barreling down her path despite the hints and warnings. It is about getting the story and sticking it to Big Tobacco.
I would enjoy a full treatment of that type of story. Even if the lead is a disgusting activist journalist, pull the reader in and show why it is a wretched life of misallocated time and energy. I enjoy these works, but I see a trend. Moldbugman’s book, Billy Pratt’s book, and this are all collections of short stories. Billy’s has an overarching theme. The other two, not so much. Mike Ma and ZeroHP have put together full books. Can someone string together just 25,000 words from an /ourguy perspective? Can someone give us a gripping tale of the current dystopia without the progressive lies on top of it? We often hear we need alternatives to the current political system, but alternatives to the progressive interpretation of our times is sorely needed as well. This is not a challenge. It is a call to create.