Sunday, March 20, 2022

The Fall of the Empire of the Petal Throne

the Empire of the Petal Throne
The news came out this past week about M.A.R. Barker, the creator of Empire of the Petal Throne and Tékumel. Apparently, there is confirming evidence that Prof. Barker (formerly Philip Barker) wrote the book Serpent's Walk under the pseudonym Randolph Calverhall and published by the same neo-Nazi publisher that published The Turner Diaries.

This is fairly damning, to be honest.  The book is pretty much Nazi "fan fiction" by those familiar with it. While this might not be enough for others there is more.  It does seem that the Tekumel Foundation has known about this, and kept it quiet, for years.  Now you might ask how is a "Nazi fan fiction" any different than say Philip K. Dick's "Man in the High Castle?"  I guess the back cover of the book tells the whole story.  It was written as fulfillment fantasy of a group of S.S. officers' descendants "correcting the the wrongs" of the end of W.W. II.

Ok that is pretty bad.  Then to make matters worse, Prof. Barker sat on the board of editors for anti-Sementic, Holocaust-denial journal, "The Journal of Historical Review," as psuedo-scientific and psuedo-academic journal. It has been described as anti-Sementic by the Southern Poverty Law Center.   

The Journal is much like others of it's ilk; not peer-reviewed, pushing an agenda.  There was some uncertainty online about who this particular "Philip Barker, Ph.D." was, but honestly combined with the publication of the other book I don't feel that he gets any benefit of the doubt. 

Anti-Semantic tripe

What does that mean for me? 

Well.  Everyone has to draw their own lines somewhere. Like Lovecraft, Orson Scott Card, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and J.K. Rolwing, Barker has left a pretty dark mark on his legacy.  

For me, Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism are steps way too far. 

There is no evidence of this, as far as I can tell, within the pages of Tékumel.  But the shine on the books is gone for me. I know he is dead and won't benefit from anything I do or don't do.  I am not looking to boycott or raise a campaign about it, plenty of others will do that.  It is just sad of course that such an obviously brilliant man also has such vile and repugnant beliefs.  

Anyway, here are the relevant links. No I am not linking to the books. You can find them on your own.

14 comments:

Dick McGee said...

This would be bad enough on its own, but the fact that at least some (and possibly all) of the Tekumel Foundation board members have known about this since at least 2012 and kept mum until recently raises a lot of questions about the sincerity of their much-belated statement.

Not thrilled with the archivist who discovered the connections back then either. Ten years is a long time to keep silent on something like this, but they're getting treated as though they did nothing wrong because they finally spoke up.

Dave Morris said...

I don't think anyone who knew Prof Barker believes he really held pro-Nazi views. Quite the opposite. The novel is an alt-history with a US Nazi lead character, but Barker no more subscribed to those views himself than Philip K Dick did (Man in the High Castle). He may well have intended it as a kind of literary prank -- let neo-Nazis take it at face value, then laugh at them when they discovered the author was a convert to Islam with a non-white wife.

But... we live in an era where everybody assumes the worst and will trample others in their haste to denounce someone on the flimsiest of evidence, so no doubt plenty of people will now start referring to Barker as a Nazi sympathizer.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

@Dave Morris, He sat on the Board of Editors of a Holocaust denial journal. If he had ONLY written the book then your argument might have merit. But his association with JoHR removes the benefit of the doubt.

Dave Morris said...

He mentioned the novel to me in the late-80s, and he certainly didn't give any impression that he thought of it as anything but a work of alt-history SF. I can't prove he wasn't a Nazi sympathizer, I can only say that in correspondence covering almost two decades he gave no evidence of that. He did mention that he wouldn't show the Serpent's Walk novel to his friends the Wollheims as they would find it offensive -- which doesn't sound like the priorities of a raging anti-Semite to me.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Like I said his involvement in the Journal of Historical Review removes any of the benefits of the doubt he had. The Tekumel Foundation also felt it was damning enough to keep it quiet for years.

Jeff Dee said...

For the record, the accusation that the Foundation has known since 2012 only comes from a blog post dated 2020 by a disgruntled ex-associate of the Foundation. This doesn't prove that it it's false, but it does raise a red flag that it should be taken with a grain of salt unless it can be independently verified.

I've been digging for background on this, and I've only been able to realistically verify that the Foundation was alerted to a *rumor* of a pro-Nazi novel in late 2019. That's 2 1/2 years, not 10. Which is still bad, and damn right the Foundation needed to apologize as they did. But not acting for 2 1/2 years after hearing a *rumor* is just not the same level of badness as the unverified 2012 claim accuses them of.

Let's act responsibly, and confine our opinions to what's demonstrably true. Thanks.

Dick McGee said...

"He mentioned the novel to me in the late-80s..."

Serpent's Walk was published in 1991. Are we to believe he sat on the manuscript for several years before looking for a publisher and just happened to submit it to National Vanguard without registering that they were well known for publishing neo-Nazi work when he did? That's absurd.

Dave Morris said...

Did they actually know or suspect him to be a Nazi, then? These are folks who hung out with him every week for decades. Did they "keep it quiet", or did they (like me) simply not mention it much as they weren't interested in him having written a sub-PKD alt-history novel? I notice their statement about him throws him under the bus, but if they believed him to harbour such views why were they so loyal to his memory over the last ten years? Something doesn't add up.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

@Dave Morris. Well, you have made your opinions on the novel heard, but what about him sitting on the board of an Anti-Semitic, Holocaust denial journal?

Ignoring the novel, how do you square that?

Dick McGee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick said...

Thanks for this. Very sad and troubling to hear.

Dick McGee said...

Corrections to my deleted post: Jeff Berry/Chirine is the "disgruntled ex-associate" mentioned in Jeff Dee's post (confirmed on some Youtube comments Jeff made) and the "Chirine's Workbench" blog has been taken down in the last couple of days making further research difficult. He's on record at the rpg.net thread linked in the post here as having notified the entire Tekumel Foundation board of his findings in the estate's documents back in 2012, but there doesn't appear to be confirmation of that from other sources.

Also worth a look at the recent post at the Tekumel Collecting blog, which has been one of the best researched sites when it comes to the early history and life of Barker and his works.

https://tekumelcollecting.com/2022/03/21/saving-tekumel-from-m-a-r-barker/

Venger Satanis said...

I hope you're equally disenchanted with the progressive-left's flagrant and repeated anti-Semitism.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Anti-semitism is bad regardless on whether or not it is on the left or the right.
While it is rising on the left, it has ALWAYS been bad on the right and has never gone away.

One case in point. Chotiner, I. (2020) "How Anti-semitism Rises on the Left and Right" New Yorker, January 2, 2020..

So by the logic of "there is anti-Semitism on the Left, therefore, the Left is Anti-semitic." I claim "the OSR is a Leftist movement since there are leftists in the OSR. Ergo, Venger Satanist is a Leftist via his association with the OSR."

Sound dumb? Yeah.