Van Diemen’s land is a hell for a man
To end out his whole life in slavery
Where the climate is raw and the gun makes the law
Neither wind nor rain care for bravery
Twenty years have gone by, I’ve ended my bond
My comrades’ ghosts walk behind me
A rebel I came – I’m still the same…
Christy Moore, Back home in Derry
I’ve never been much except a rebel (and yes, I live in Van Diemen’s land. I love it. I’m no man’s slave.). Proclaimed authority sits as effectively on me as rice bubbles in a ninety mile an hour wind stick to a seventy degree Teflon coated slope. Yes, it is quite a precise definition, now that you mention it. I do take orders… from someone I have established that I respect, but it ain’t easy.
Some of my favorite characters, both to write and to read, are (not surprising, really) the tricksters. Bes, Loki, Hanuman to name a few. All of them have scanty respect for the establishment gods and curiously are known to be friends of man (yes, even Loki. Read Pyramid Power.). The establishment gods are entirely serious fellows who support the ruling establishment with the smack (and lash and torture chamber) of firm government. They believe that anyone who questions the status quo should give their heart to the local boss-god… shortly after having it ripped from their chest. “Look at the peace on Joe’s face, now he no longer follows Loki and has given his heart Odin!”
The establishment, of course is always trying to re-write the narrative, which is why Loki ends up being the bad guy. Yeah I know. He’d put custard in your Lord High Muck-a-muck’s shorts. But that might be public service, as well as a good laugh even if the High Muck-a-muck doesn’t see the joke and wants Loki’s heart too.
Which kind of brings me around to labor, and Labor Day. The word ‘Union’ has a very mixed history and has done both harm and good. As a writer I’ve always seen myself as an old-fashioned kind of unionist – From back before it became a dirty word with a lot of folk. The original idea was for little guys to use collective muscle to get a better share of the profits from the big guys (who were as often as not de facto in control of the state too) taking most of it, and to look after others in the same profession. These days it’s often a closed shop which only looks after the guys on the inside, and any better share comes out of making it more expensive for the consumer, rather than the guys taking most of the profit and it tends to be in bed with the state too – none of which sits well with me, especially about writing. That’s the sort of ‘union’ SFWA has become. A sweet-heart to the publishers and agents – who are members and inside the deliberations. SFWA has done sweet FA in the last while to combat the Traditional publishers who’ve got a lot more predatory in their contracts. They’ve acted as foot-soldiers for the publishers against Amazon. I’m no Amazon worshipper, but as far as favoring authors and readers at the expense of publishers goes, they’ve done a lot for us. They’ve shown us. SFWA talked about ‘safe spaces’ at conventions for their chosen minorities. Apartheid by any other name. The traditional publishers… did their best to divide us, keep contracts secret (Amazon at least you know what everyone else gets as a deal) and talked a lot about diversity. And about important messages… and paid less, and charged more.
One of things I’ve been saying, increasingly, as the Hugo debacle has gone on — and the puppy kickers got more self-righteous and vicious – has been “Show me”. They talk ‘diversity’ but their leadership are old white men, Gerrold, Martin, Scalzi – all with deep investment in the system – and with as much diversity of thought or ideology as I have New York apartments. They whinge about how we’re hurting sf… but they and the establishment they support hasn’t managed to do the most essential task to keep sf strong… which is to sell more books to more readers. Every year their numbers are down.
Here at Mad Genius Club we’re really accidentally drawn into this whole mess – because what we do as a group is to support writers. Not just the in-clique darlings, but anyone who shows up here, who wants to be part of it. And our focus in doing that is always by giving the reader what they want. Story… and price. We’ve advocated for keeping e-books cheap, and getting more readers, they’ve been pushing to have them more expensive – not that the author will see much (if any) of that. We’re the guys actually making the product, doing our best for people who use it. We’re not playing along with the socio-political agenda of the New York publisher. Not seeing they have enough spare cash – taken from the authors and consumers – to go on living in their NY bubble, a bubble that does few writers and even fewer readers the least bit of good.
So: We’ve always been behind keeping e-books cheap and having most of the money go to the author. You might almost say it’s a Sad Puppy/Mad Genius trademark. With that in mind see this: Our second annual Indie Author Labor Day sale
And seeing as I’m a dozy bastard who forgot to send Cedar his – here are mine. I’ve put my money where my mouth is. I’ve dropped three books to $2.99 and a short to 99 cents. The pictures are links. I get a few pennies if you use them.
MORNINGSTAR (This was originally released by Baen, but the rights have reverted, and I put my original ending in there)
Across the one human colony world, a place technologically regressed to near medieval, possibly the last place humans still survive, a desperate search continues. Scattered across the deserts, tangled jungles, and alien fortresses, lie the core sections of the matter transmitter.
These sections hold the key to vast wealth, power, or… the fulfilment of the colony’s purpose: to help humankind survive the rabidly xenophobic alien Morkth who will tolerate no other intelligent species. The Morkth managed to follow the colony ship, and, despite their mothership being shot down and their queen being killed, they continue their relentless struggle to destroy humankind… and to reconstruct that incredibly valuable matter transmitter. If they succeed, they’ll be able to return to the hive with the location of the colony of vile humans, and have a new world to occupy. If they fail, they’ll destroy the planet.
The search has gone on for centuries, and it is all reaching an end point. The future hangs in the balance.
The Morkth have lasers, aircraft, nukes. Those who want the core sections for their own ends… have vast armies. Against them are three unlikely reluctant heroes: A street child thief, a dispossessed spoiled brat of a princess, and a confused, amoral Morkth-raised human, armed only with 14th century weapons and their own wits.
It’s a lost cause, a forlorn hope.
A MANKIND WITCH
To the North of the Holy Roman Empire are the pagan Norse-lands. It is here that Prince Manfred of Brittany, and Erik, his Icelandic bodyguard, must venture in the dead of winter to a mountainous land of trolls and ice to find a stolen pagan relic, the arm-ring of Odin, something so magical that it should not be possible to move it beyond its wards, let alone take it away. It is gone, and unless it is recovered before Yuletide and the re-affirmation of truce-oaths, a new Viking age will be born. King Vorenbras will lead his berserkers in an orgy of killing, rapine, looting and destruction, across the Empire’s unguarded North-Western flank.
Princess Signy is the King’s older stepsister, and everyone believes her to be the thief, a witch and a murderess. Everyone, that is, but Cair, her stable-thrall, a man plucked from the ocean, with a hidden past. Cair doesn’t believe in witches or magic, let alone that Signy could steal and murder. If he has to drag the foremost knight of the age, and his deadly bodyguard kicking and screaming though the entire Norse nine worlds to prove it and free her, he’d do it. No Kobold, dwarf, or troll is going to stop him, or his scepticism. Not the wild hunt. Not even a Grendel. He doesn’t believe in this superstitious rubbish. He’s a man of science and learning, and he’s used that to fake his way into being feared as a magic worker. But for Signy, he’ll be all of mankind’s witches.
He’ll have to be, because that’s what it’ll take to defeat the dark magical forces which are marshalled against them.
The Interstellar Empire of Man was built on the enslavement of the gentle Stardogs, companions and Theta-space transporters of the vanished Denaari Dominion. But the Stardogs that humans found can’t go home to breed, and are slowly dying out.
As the ruthless Empire collapses from its rotten core outward, an Imperial barge is trapped on top of a dying Stardog when an attempted hijacking and assassination go horribly wrong. Trying to save its human cargo, the Stardog flees to the last place anyone expected – the long-lost Denaari motherworld.
Crawling from the crash are the Leaguesmen who control the Stardogs’ pilots by fear and force, and plan to assassinate Princess Shari, the criminal Yak gang, who want to kill everyone and take control of a rare Stardog for their own, and an entourage riddled with plots, poisons, and treason. But Shari and her assassin-bodyguard have plans of their own…
Stranded on the Denaari Motherworld, the castaway survivors will have to cooperate to survive. Some will have to die.
And some, if they make it to the Stardogs breeding ground, will have to learn what it means to love.
And a cheap short if a novel is too much…
Soot the almost black cat along with his witch Cassandra and her magic, guard the portal between here and otherwhere, where the faeries and their creatures dwell, waiting . They must defend it against faerie and worst, the humans of suburbia. Their allies are a questionable lot, Oog, the Neanderthal troll, and the young werewolf, who the cat knows is in love with a faerie girl.
And this link will take you to my author page. Yeah, I have written a lot.
I guess that’s showing what I mean. E-books can be cheap.
So who are you going to believe? What the PK establishment tells you, or what the old rebel shows you.
Over to you. Who do you believe: Them or your lying eyes?