Elf Sternberg has often posted commentary and background information about the Journal Entries, but all too often it gets lost in the back corner of a Usenet archive somewhere. He recently (11/15/2001) posted a collection of information about the inspiration for many elements of the Journal Entries to the front page of his website. This will drop off the front page in a couple months however, so I am archiving it here. The following is copy and pasted direct from his front page (http://www.drizzle.com/~elf/). Obviously, I added the hard links.
Anyone who's read The Journal Entries is hopefully aware that they're informed and inspired by a childhood laced with almost constant doses of Chris Claremont's X-Men (and lots of other stuff, like the fact that personal powered armor is referred to as 'starksuit'), Larry Niven's Ringworld, 48-hour Traveller games (I still consult 'Starships,' 'High Guard,' 'Robots', 'Animal Encounters,' 'Exotic Atmospheres,' and 'Scouts' when trying to quantify a new world or situation in the Journals; I use TL designations in my notes for various circumstances), tons of anime (vehicular powered armor is called 'Shirow,' if it's man-shaped, Nue (the studio that gave us Orguss) if it isn't (and where *did* you think those tentacles on the Ritans came from?)), Heavy Metal (the entire species of Tindals was inspired by one drawing from a 1978 edition), not to mention a whole raft of other comic book and s/f cultural artifacts from Atari Force (Jofuran's species) and Elaine Lee's StarStruck! (Alias Graveyard) to Tron (P'Rose's motorcyle) and the Extended Three Laws of Robotics. Toss in a little Myst (Monastery Island) and some obscure Greek History (Oenone), a little Britscifi ('Ambassadors' is entirely set on a cross betweens Space:1999's Moonbase Alpha and 2001's Tycho Base), a little Jack Chalker and Roger Zelazny (The Great Hall), some Stableford and Langford (Kathy's Tattoo, many other things) and you've got a framework that would make Stan Lee proud.
Almost half of the mail I get on the Journals says something to the effect of "Forget the erotica; your story is great by itself." Part of this is precisely because the story is so recognizable; if you come from any part of the science fiction community, you'll recognize something here-- starships, ray guns, man/machine conflicts, exposition on how ringworld work and why the bullet is still more effective than the laser. Sometimes the environment is the story and the worldbuilding is presented as something to marvel at; sometimes it's just there, a necessary ground on which to write-- a style I admired in The Empire Strikes Back (the best of the three original Star Wars movies) and the Patlabor series.
More than that, though, is that the Journal Entries have thoroughly co-opted the techniques of commercialism; you can read them feeling simultaneously naughty (after all, they're smut) and moral (because they depict a morally consistent universe with a utilitarian moralism as a central theme); rebellious (hey, they're smut) and conformist (they depict a law'n'order universe as familiar in some ways as "Star Trek"); dangerously extreme (hey, they're sometimes extreme smut) and yet reassured (because everything works out in the end); techno-hip (full of robots, nanotech, and teleportation) and yet supremely mundane (at the heart of the series are families who owe their dialogue more to "Home Improvement" than "Babylon 5").
The Journal Entries are nothing more than a collection of informed sensibilities that pander to what I like to read and yet couldn't find on the shelves. That's the main reason that I've actually never thought them worth the attention some people pay to them; they're not that complicated after all.
- Elf Sternberg
Just shortly after I created this node I discovered a much earlier incarnation of this same message, posted to usenet on 04/26/00. Google has it here: