Conservatives have for a generation spent too much time complaining about the liberal dominance of popular culture, and too little making their own.
But — as I argue in National Review this month — there is a growing countercultural revolt against the ingrained (and often unconscious) liberalism of mainstream popular culture, a revolt that has so far escaped widespread notice, though you can find some of it on Liberty Island, a website I founded that is devoted to the best in conservative fiction.
After reading my introduction to this literary revolt, the editors of BuzzFeed asked me to suggest a list of conservative novels that deserve a wider audience. What follows is not the usual exercise of pointing out a handful of successful conservative authors like Tom Clancy, Tom Wolfe, or Brad Thor. Nor is it in any way exhaustive, but a brief, unsystematic survey of an as-yet uncharted territory. As such, it represents the barest hint of what is actually out there.
This an introduction to 21 writers you probably have never heard of — and won’t, if the powers that rule the lit-crit, fanfic, and commercial publishing worlds have anything to say about it.
So consider this a news dispatch from way, way, way outside the Beltway. Out in the lush, teeming jungle beyond the walls of the literary-industrial complex. The conservative countercultural revolt is on its way. Indeed it is already here. I didn’t say you had to like it. But give it a try — you just might! And if you have more ideas, add them in the comments section below.
2. John J. Miller
The First Assassin is a fast-paced and impeccably researched debut thriller set in Washington, D.C., by National Review contributor John J. Miller. In 1861, as the nation teeters on the brink of civil war, Col. Charles P. Rook duels with a cunning assassin out to kill the new president before he can save the nation.
4. Harry Stein
Spare him your pained expressions of empathy and politically correct euphemisms: Dwarf attorney Will Tripp, Pissed Off Attorney at Law, will use them only to defeat you in court — and laugh all the way to the bank. Picture Peter Dinklage in a three-piece suit.
5. Michael Walsh
And All the Saints, the fictionalized “autobiography” of Tammany boss Owney Madden, evokes a time (the Roaring ’20s) when the soul of modern America was forged: a time when ethnic slurs and sexist comments flew like bullets, judges were for sale, and you voted the way the Democrats told you — or else.
8. Kia Heavey
Written for the YA market but appealing for all ages, Underlake is the story of a pampered cell phone–addicted urban teenager forced to spend the summer in a small town where she ultimately comes to question her assumptions and prejudices. Also check out Night Machines, a spooky psychological thriller about the danger of indulging in fantasies that threaten the things we value most.
9. Andrew Klavan
Andrew Klavan’s Empire of Lies attacks liberal media culture and The Identity Man owes an acknowledged debt to Shelby Steele. His four-book YA series The Homelanders is like 24 set in a high school. Another YA book, If We Survive, is set in a Central American country during a Sandinista- (or Chavista-) style revolution. Check out his latest, Mindwar, set to publish this week.
10. Jim Geragthy
The Weed Agency by National Review’s Jim Geraghty deftly skewers the out-of-control world of the federal government “in which federal budgets balloon every year, where a career can be built upon the skill of rationalizing astronomical expenses, and where the word ‘accountability’ sends roars of laughter through D.C. office buildings.”
12. Karina Fabian
Karina Fabian is the creator of Vern the Dragon Detective, whose mordant wit laces her novels with sharp, politically incorrect social commentary. Check out Magic, Mensa and Mayhem, and Live and Let Fly. You also won’t want to miss her laugh-out-loud zombie novels, Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, and I Left My Brains in San Francisco.
13. Larry Correia
Larry Correia, who lists his occupations as “gun dealer, firearms instructor, accountant and writer,” is the author of the popular Monster Hunter books. Monster Hunter Nemesis, his latest installment, is out this month. Correia has recently been the target of an Emanuel Goldstein-style hate campaign by intolerant leftists in the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. Conservatives (and those liberals still concerned about protecting speech they disagree with) should buy his books to show their support.
14. Kate Paulk
Kate Paulk’s Knights in Tarnished Armor is a tale of manly knights and lovely ladies struggling (and sometimes failing) to remain true to their vows of chastity. Also check out her entertaining VampireCon series from Naked Reader Press: “There are vampires in the lobby, succubi in the beds, and bodies in the bathroom. It’s ConSensual, where the editors are demons, the writers are crazy and the vampires and werewolves might be the most stable people in the room.” Sounds like a normal day in publishing to me.
16. John Ringo
The work of the prolific John Ringo is best described in his own words: “I’m a professional author of… Well, I used to say ‘science fiction.’ Then came There Will Be Dragons, which is sci-fi with a distinct fantasy twist. Then came Ghost which is techno-thriller crossed with porn. Then came Princess of Wands, a Christian soccer mom battling demons through the power of God. Who knows what’s next?” Indeed!
18. Peter Grant
More military sci-fi is available from South African transplant Peter Grant, who has been a soldier and prison chaplain and is now a writer and Second Amendment blogger. His first science fiction series, War to the Knife, has drawn considerable critical praise.
19. Sarah Hoyt
Literary den mother Sarah Hoyt is a force of nature — writer, critic, blogger, cat fancier, wife and mother, and relentless promoter of other people’s work. A prolific author who has published 23 novels in multiple genres under a variety of pseudonyms, Sarah definitely deserves a bigger audience.
20. Mike Baron
Let’s also give a shout-out to Mike Baron, the creator of Badger, two of the longest-lasting independent superhero comics. He also writes horror novels.
That ought to hold you until Labor Day. And remember, with e-books, there’s no need for a brown paper wrapper to hide what you’re reading. Feel free to suggest your own favorites in the comments thread!
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