MM: You have a PhD in molecular biology. You’re a scientist, you publish in your field as well as in philosophy. What prompted you to become a fiction writer? RC: In addition to my interest in science I have always had a creative streak expressed in painting and music, but had never considered fiction writing. I had started writing a philosophy column for Australian Mensa when they put out a short story competition. I had just read an essay on “The Toxicity of Environmentalism” by George Reisman, and it gave me an idea whose result was “Requiem,” my first published short story. A few other short stories followed at long intervals. Short stories basically encapsulate a single idea, but eventually I came up with an idea that had more complexity and its result was my first novella, Frankensteel. Having made that jump into more complex worlds with multiple character threads and subplots, I became interested in the wider creative options provided by full-length novels. MM: Do science and philosophy play a role in your fiction writing? RC: Definitely. Most of my novels are science fiction, not the far future kind where anything goes but near future, based on current science and reasonable speculations built on it. For example, Frankensteel deals with conscious artificial intelligence, The Geneh War with human genetic engineering, and Time Enough for Killing with cyborg (machine-organic fusion)...
Editor’s Note: Hannibal’s Witch, by Robin Craig, blends science fiction, alternative history, and a hint of fantasy into a thought-provoking epic. Angela Milton is an ordinary young woman studying history and languages. At a lavish party for Bitcoin millionaires, she encounters a heady atmosphere of tequila and dreams of New Phoenicia, a world of wealth and trade beyond borders and controls. Then she awakens in ancient Carthage, millennia before her time. As she travels with the great Phoenician general Hannibal on his epic journey across the Alps to attack the heart of Rome itself, Angela wrestles with the questions that might define or end her life. Is any of this real? Is it all just a dream, or worse, a madness she cannot escape? If it is real, can she change history, or will the attempt destroy her? And if she can change history: should she? Chapter 17 of the novel is excerpted here as part of The Writers Series – our highly popular monthly series that features the work of contemporary novelists influenced by Ayn Rand. Critonius How many of my men still live? Somehow the Carthaginian dogs have defeated our army. It is not my place to blame my commander, though his rashness was surely part of our downfall. My own maniple was cut off and decimated; after fierce fighting I and a handful of my men broke free. We...
As a soldier in the U.S. Army, it is clear to me that the guiding philosophy for a soldier should mirror that of Objectivism outlined by Ayn Rand. Knowing what I am – a soldier – and knowing where I am and what my mission is, allows for me to determine the truth of any situation and act accordingly and with integrity. In the essay “Philosophy and Sense of Life,” which Rand anthologized in The Romantic Manifesto, she put it this way,   In order to live, man must act; in order to act, he must make choices; in order to make choices, he must define a code of values; in order to define a code of values, he must know what he is and where he is – i.e., he must know his own nature (including his means of knowledge) and the nature of the universe in which he acts – i.e., he needs metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, which means: philosophy. Lack of a Guiding Philosophy In my opinion, we lack a guiding philosophy in the military. It is true that we ostensibly have a values-based system, but we do not understand the values; moreover, many prescribed values contradict one another. For example, consider the Army Values acronym: LDRSHIP. We preach Duty: Fulfill your obligations Selfless Service: Put the welfare of the Nation, the Army and your subordinates before your own (since Selfless Service is larger than just one...
As part of my Neither right nor left mantra, another datum. Most people use “right” and “left” journalistically: to designate shifting bundles of social-political beliefs and attitudes. The bundles are usually not internally coherent. So more analytic thinkers try to bring order out of mush by identifying multiple dimensions of contrast: individual versus collective, liberty versus authority, majority- versus minority-rule, etc. They abandon the simple one-dimensional left-right spectrum and use Venn Diagrams and other arrays better to capture the realities. And/or they add adjectives to clarify the genus-species relations. For example, conservatives on the right become traditional conservatives, neo-conservatives, religious conservatives, and so on. And now we have Trump conservatives. Here’s an important quotation from this helpful article by Matthew Continetti on what the “Trump right” is: Beginning in 2016, intellectuals who favored Trump have been searching for a new touchstone for conservative thought and politics. These writers are often...
Google is once again in the US government’s antitrust cross hairs. In 2012, it was investigated by the Federal Trade Commission; now, a Department of Justice inquiry is expected, and a House investigation has been announced. The company has attracted hostility from the left (progressive presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren wants to break it up) and the right (President Donald Trump has accused it of bias). Yet users who choose Google every day should ask: Which would they be better off without—Google or antitrust? Other companies that shape our online world are being targeted too, and the precise contours of...

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