Category Archives: Book

Jagged Little Pills: A Review of Red Pill, Blue Pill by David Niewart

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

David Niewart has written on extremism before, but the internet-fueled conspiracy theories poisoning our country require him to face an evolving sickness and the need for a cure. Red Pill, Blue Pill is a history, a diagnosis, and a hope for treatment for an illness – American’s emeshment in conspiracy theories.

The book is a passionate if ragged thing – it has the feel of something sent to market a few months early, and that’s understandable. There are sections that are too long, others too short, and formatting choices that I question (Namely, they’re too simple). However, this doesn’t really take away from the book.

This is a raw subject, and the lack of polish means there are rough edges that snare your thoughts and emotions. There may be parts here and there that are tough going, but also the blood and pain of the conspiracy theory world hasn’t been watered down. I’ll take a book that has hooks that catch my thoughts than something smooth and polished.

Neiwart walks us through some introductions and history, then individual cases of extremists. The cases are illustrative, and he describes them piecemeal, showing how multiple extremist attacks were similar. This section is informative but honestly too long. A few examples would have been enough, and anyone familiar with this material may find it overlong – or hard going due to the brutality of it.

Early on it’s like a horror film, as we see many stories head to one bloody conclusion. There’s painful inevitability.

Fortunately, past this overlong point, Neiwart goes into the history of conspiratorial thinking in the United States, hitting multiple high points. This section is powerful and well-researched, and it becomes apparent how much of current conspiracism is built around a few pillars. The same people and same theories pop up over and over, and you get a sense of how our Capitol being stormed was nearl inevitable.

From Alex Jones to Fox news and other grifters and opportunists, it becomes apparent how we’ve been grinding towards this – and didn’t stop it. We should have seen it.

Finally, Neiwart looks at modern extremism, the final result of these events. Its a bizarre, violent, yet disconnected culture of self-loathing, raging hate, and posturing personalities. Newiart takes us into the world of racism and weird economic theories with no grounding in reality – and people ready to kill for them.

The path he’s charted comes to an end, and the end is in an insanity that now seems obvious. There’s a strange sadness the book.

Fortunately, Neiwart ends by discussing remedies for it by experts. It is a hopeful ending – a chapter really – but it is a reminder our current problem requies all of us to help. Its all hands on deck to fight to turn our culture back from the brink of further meltdown.

You see the possibility – but the weight of what he’s shown will sit on your shoulders.

Do I reccomend this book? Yes it’s important reading for anyone that studies conspiratorial thinking, and who hopes to help friends and family out of extremism. It’s not the end-all-be-all on the subject, but it is good to get a sense of the history and what we can do. If you’re truly concerned with helping people out of extremism, this is a book thats a start, not the end.

We’re not anywhere near the end of dealing ith our problem – internet-fueled extremism of people far gone down violent rabbit holes. We have to get to work.

Steven Savage

Steve’s Book Roundup

I write a lot and have quite a few books.  So now and then I’m going to post a roundup of them for interested parties!

The Way With Worlds Series

This is what I do a lot of – writing on worldbuilding!.  You can find all of my books at www.WayWithWorlds.com!

The core books of the series will help you get going:

  • Way With Worlds Book 1 – Discusses my philosophy of worldbuilding and world creation essentials.
  • Way With Worlds Book 2 – Looks at common subjects of worldbuilding like conflicts in your setting, skills for being a good worldbuilder, and more!

When you need to focus on specifics of worldbuilding, I have an ever-growing series of deep dive minibooks.  Each provides fifty questions with additional exercises and ideas to help you focus on one subject important to you!

The current subjects are:

Fiction

Take a typical fantasy world – and then let it evolve into the information age.  Welcome to the solar system of Avenoth, where gods use email, demons were banished to a distant planet, and science and sorcery fling people across worlds . . .

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet – Two future teachers of Techno-Magical safety find trying to earn their credentials hunting odd artifacts backfires when you’re hired to put some back . . . on a planet where gods go to die!

Creativity

I’m the kind of person that studies how creativity works, and I’ve distilled my findings and advice into some helpful books!

  • The Power Of Creative Paths – Explores my theories of the Five Types of Creativity, how you can find yours, and how to expand your creative skills to use more Types of Creativity.
  • Agile Creativity – I take the Agile Manifesto, a guide to adaptable project development, and show how it can help creatives improve their work – and stay organized without being overwhelmed.
  • The Art of The Brainstorm Book – A quick guide to using a simple notebook to improve brainstorming, reduce the stress around having new ideas, and prioritize your latest inspirations.
  • Chance’s Muse – I take everything I learned at Seventh Sanctum and my love of random tables and charts and detail how randomness can produce inspiration!

Careers

Being a “Professional Geek” is what I do – I turned my interests into a career and have been doing my best to turn that into advice.  The following books are my ways of helping out!

  • Fan To Pro – My “flagship” book on using hobbies and interests in your career – and not always in ways you’d think!
  • Skill Portability – A quick guide to how to move skills from one job to another, or even from hobbies into your job.  Try out my “DARE” system and asses your abilities!
  • Resume Plus – A guide to jazzing up a resume, sometimes to extreme measures.
  • Epic Resume Go! – Make a resume a creative act so it’s both better and more enjoyable to make!
  • Quest For Employment – Where I distill down my job search experiences and ways to take the search further.
  • Cosplay, Costuming, and Careers – An interview-driven book about ways to leverage cosplay interests to help your career!
  • Fanart, Fanartists, and Careers – My second interview-driven book about ways to leverage fanart to help your career!
  • Convention Career Connection – A system for coming up with good career panels for conventions!

Culture

  • Her Eternal Moonlight – My co-author Bonnie and I analyze the impact Sailor Moon had on women’s lives when it first came to North America.  Based on a series of interviews, there’s a lot to analyze here, and surprisingly consistent themes . . .

My Sites

Steve’s Books 12/1/2020

I write a lot and have quite a few books.  So now and then I’m going to post a roundup of them for interested parties!

My sites:

Fiction

I’ve been returning to fiction with a techno-fantasy setting of several planets orbiting a star called Avenoth.  Take a typical fantasy world of magic and gods, and let it evolve into the space age and internet age . . .

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet – Two future teachers of Techno-Magical safety find trying to earn their credentials hunting odd artifacts backfires when you’re hired to put some back . . . on a planet where gods go to die!

The Way With Worlds Series

This is what I do a lot of – writing on worldbuilding!.  You can find all of my books at www.WayWithWorlds.com

The core books of the series will help you get going:

  • Way With Worlds Book 1 – Discusses my philosophy of worldbuilding and world creation essentials.
  • Way With Worlds Book 2 – Looks at common subjects of worldbuilding like conflicts in your setting, skills for being a good worldbuilder, and more!

When you need to focus on specifics of worldbuilding, I have an ever-growing series of deep dive minibooks.  Each provides fifty questions with additional exercises and ideas to help you focus on one subject important to you!

The current subjects are:

Creativity

I’m the kind of person that studies how creativity works, and I’ve distilled my findings and advice into some helpful books!

  • The Power Of Creative Paths – Explores my theories of the Five Types of Creativity, how you can find yours, and how to expand your creative skills to use more Types of Creativity.
  • Agile Creativity – I take the Agile Manifesto, a guide to adaptable project development, and show how it can help creatives improve their work – and stay organized without being overwhelmed.
  • The Art of The Brainstorm Book – A quick guide to using a simple notebook to improve brainstorming, reduce the stress around having new ideas, and prioritize your latest inspirations.
  • Chance’s Muse – I take everything I learned at Seventh Sanctum and my love of random tables and charts and detail how randomness can produce inspiration!

Careers

Being a “Professional Geek” is what I do – I turned my interests into a career and have been doing my best to turn that into advice.  The following books are my ways of helping out!

  • Fan To Pro – My “flagship” book on using hobbies and interests in your career – and not always in ways you’d think!
  • Skill Portability – A quick guide to how to move skills from one job to another, or even from hobbies into your job.  Try out my “DARE” system and asses your abilities!
  • Resume Plus – A guide to jazzing up a resume, sometimes to extreme measures.
  • Epic Resume Go! – Make a resume a creative act so it’s both better and more enjoyable to make!
  • Quest For Employment – Where I distill down my job search experiences and ways to take the search further.
  • Cosplay, Costuming, and Careers – An interview-driven book about ways to leverage cosplay interests to help your career!
  • Fanart, Fanartists, and Careers – My second interview-driven book about ways to leverage fanart to help your career!
  • Convention Career Connection – A system for coming up with good career panels for conventions!

Culture

  • Her Eternal Moonlight – My co-author Bonnie and I analyze the impact Sailor Moon had on women’s lives when it first came to North America.  Based on a series of interviews, there’s a lot to analyze here, and surprisingly consistent themes . . .