On Philosophical Fiction: Jello Wrestling With Ayn Rand

I have a lot of respect for Ayn Rand. I haven’t read a one of her novels in quite some time but conceptually she is inspiring. I’ve yet to form an opinion on objectivism itself though most of the objectivists I’ve met have been pretty cute.

Ayn Rand wrote a number of novels wherein she espoused her life philosophy. While many traditional philosophy academics took exception to this, however she succeeded in spreading her views and ideas to a wider public.

It is my belief that Kurt Vonnegut’s work often functions in a similar manner though the closest he usually gets to saying “I’m a philosopher” are the references to Bokononism in Cat’s Cradle.

Many of the tales in the Storyteller Chronicles, especially the story of the battle against the Horde, are my attempt to do the same. I’ve taken inspiration from these two writers in trying to weave a number of characters and situations that reflect or push these themes.

In thinking of Ayn Rand, I remember one discussion of the character of John Gault- the ideal man in the eyes of Objectivism.

He is heroic, faultless, a Thesian model for the reader to aspire to become, to compare himself to, made into something akin to a heroic Greek god by his choices and self awakening. He is this way from the beginning.

In the Horde, my heroes are not. Rather than telling the epic story of the master of my life philosophy, I have created a tale wherein the characters react to events and start out with no knowledge of it.

Terry indulges in denial, nearly everything he does or says is a denial of the reality of the situation, even his own feelings.

Bridan acts from denial as well and fear. He is on a mission to do the impossible- to undo the creation of a terrible monster and erase the past.

The rest of the core cast of the Horde are similarly flawed in various human ways. Nowhere in the Horde do I have a John Gault, a character who perfectly espouses the philosophical ideal.

I don’t consider this a flaw of Rand’s work however I wanted to take a different approach. These characters are evolving slowly and will change constantly as events shape them and are shaped by them.

Some will be destroyed. Some will adapt and evolve. I hope that, in the process, I will have said what I have wanted to say about life. I also hope in the process to give you a rollicking good action adventure story with plenty of Philip K. Dick style insanity.

At the end, maybe I’ll have convinced you and maybe I won’t. Maybe by the end of the story I’ll have exposed the flaws in my own life philosophy and will have to start anew. If so, then that is the inherent point of the Storyteller Chronicles.

Either way, as I revise the end of the Horde, I can see how far Terry and the others have changed and look forward to sharing it with you.

As I writer, I am less interested in the definition of the perfect man (as shown by Atlas Shrugged) and more interested in the evolution of the average man into something better.


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