Now there’s lies, damned lies, and statistics… and as far as most of us are concerned, beyond that, advertizing. Especially if it comes with ‘But wait, there’s more…”
Of course there always IS more. Usually the parts you find out later, when it is too late and you’ve parted with your money for handy-dandy gutter-swizzle, sexbot and cocktail shaker.*
It doesn’t leave you pleased – but they have your money and they weren’t planning to sell to you again. Their customers don’t communicate with each other and anyway, there’s one born every minute…
Of course there are some trivial differences between the writing world and selling junk on TV. The pay-rates for a start.
The other relevant aspect is you shouldn’t be just selling once. The key to success as an author is building a customer base, building a name. Now over on Tor.com they were busy displaying how not to understand this. You see –according to the genius on Tor.com (I hope he runs marketing for the company) – Paul Verhoeven’s STARSHIP TROOPERS was a work of genius satirically parodying that nasty evil Robert A Heinlein that the modern literati of sf love to hate.
(shrug) I don’t care if you agree, or disagree, adore the movie or hate it… the problem is one the writer of the article seems blind to, and yet, when you think about it, is behind almost all the adverse reaction the movie received.
If you’re hungry, looking for somewhere to eat, and are really in the mood for a huge steak and fries… and you see a diner offering a special on a 16 ounce rib-eye with fries, well, your stomach and mind start eating that, and full of anticipation you’re in the door. Oddly they ask you for payment up front, but it’s a good price for steak and fries, so you pay up and sit down.
And the waiter brings you a four ounce piece of tofu, vaguely steak shaped with some mung bean sprouts.
It could be the best tofu in town, it could be a far healthier choice than steak and fries – you came in and paid your money because you WANTED steak and fries.
If the diner-owner had put ‘4oz Tofu and mung bean sprouts’ on the specials board, you would have walked past. No hard feelings. If it had been the only place in town open, you’d have eaten it and been glad to have it. If you were looking for tofu and mung bean sprouts you would have loved the meal.
But when you’d been told it was steak and you could and would have gone elsewhere – I hope they have big waiters. You won’t be back. And you won’t be kind either, when talking about it.
If Paul Verhoeven had called the movie I HATE HEINLEIN, or HUMAN FASCISTS KILL INNOCENT BUGS the same people now calling it ‘brilliant satire’ would still have loved it (possibly less, because they enjoyed watching the Heinlein fans get furious), but it would have engendered almost no disparagement. It would also have lost a huge volume of sales to the suckers who believed the advertised name.
The issue for writers – or at least writers who want a career, is you are heavily dependent on return customers. And to make the situation worse, word of mouth by readers, personal recommendation (or condemnation) of a book are for many of us as near as we come to promotion. Yes, I know, the John Scalzis of traditional publishing get marketed. To be fair he promotes himself a lot. But that’s not a starter for most of us: we rely on having written a book readers could enjoy and tell their friends. Which is why truth in advertising is so vital to us: We want the reader to bond to the book – the trivial amount one earns from a purchaser who hates the book (because it was tofu when he wanted steak) especially the share that comes to an author, is not worth the damage they do.
If you’re relying on a publisher for covers, titles and whatever advertising and promotion you may get, there is fairly little you can do, besides add caveats to your own social media promotions “Love the cover of Space Mercenary from my editor at Bor Books – great cover but it doesn’t really reflect that it’s Arthurian fantasy romance. I originally called Kissing Excalibur. If you’re a fan of Arthurian Romance you’ll love it.” You can at least protect your ‘name’ as much as possible.
It’s whole different ball-game if you’re indy and the key here is honesty. Honesty from cover to content. Don’t package a lecture on cis-hetero-masculine privilege as Arthurian Romance, and vice versa: there are people who want either or both, but they don’t want to buy steak when they wanted tofu. If you’re going to steak flavor your tofu, make it convincing. Your chances that they bought something labeled ‘steak’ when they wanted tofu are not good. Trust me on this one!
On a somewhat different track I see discrimination continues to be alive and well, and still is joyously practiced by some supporters of the party that gave us the KKK. David Gerrold told them how to kick puppies (in case anyone didn’t think of excluding and damaging careers of those that dared not sing along with the party line) and now I see it being well applied, by the usual suspects. Voting for different candidates is, oddly, a celebration of democracy, a right pertaining to it, and only totalitarians wish to suppress and punish that. You can read all about Baycon and their shenanigans here. You might want to consider buying Jon Del Arroz’s book to show them how well that worked.
Sooner or later, the sf establishment needs to come to terms with the concept of diversity being more than skin deep, and need to reflect opinion, and the demographics of the potential readership.
Or find out what tit-for-tat means. When the demographics are dead against you, it’s a stupid thing to invite.
*I know. Things could be worse. You could have been one of the first 99 customers and got two.
Looks interesting, so I got the book.
Good on you 🙂
I had a little pocket change so I got a couple of other interesting books; Wraithkin by Jason Cordova, and Women of Futures Past – an anthology of women authors, which I am told, doesn’t skimp on the ‘author’ part or ‘story’ parts.
I’m happy to discover that Sparrowind (paperback) is up on Amazon now too. Found out when I was checking the re-uploaded ebook.
A few years back I wrote down my thoughts on this subject.
It is a known fact that restaurants in tourist traps can get away with lower quality and higher prices than restaurants in places where a large proportion of the clientele are likely to be regulars. These days of course Yelp, TripAdvisor and co make it harder for them to do so.
Likewise with books, movies and so on. Marketing push cannot compensate for lack of substance indefinitely. Paul V got lots of bums on seats for his so-called “Starship Troopers” but at a cost of many of us deciding we would never ever watch anything he ever had a hand in in the future. In fact I’m not sure what he has done subsequently but the fact that I haven’t heard of it suggests he produced a couple of duds and was then fired by the Hollywood money men.
Likewise our friend John S. For many of us early readers of him, Redshirts – despite its critical acclaim – was the last straw if we hadn’t already decided to drop him a novel or two earlier.
To go back to restaurants. If you offer me “cheap wholesome food” and it really is cheap then you get a pass on it being more tofu than steak assuming the food was indeed cheap and as wholesome as it can be for tofu. On the other hand if you offer steak then the fact that tofu was written in small letters so you didn’t notice it means people feel cheated. These days that means negative reviews on yelp and you get into trouble whereas previously you could hope to get away with it. The Internet has made it harder to scam people and that’s a good thing, whether it’s books movies or food
I think that there’s also a branding issue here. Most McDonald’s customers, for example, know that if McDonald’s offers a “Chicken Cordon Bleu” sandwich on their menu it is not going to be the same as ordering Chicken Cordon Bleu at Le Petite Snobe at thirty bucks an entree.
When “Starship Troopers” came out I was already familiar with Verhoeven’s work from “The 4th Man” and I appreciated “Robocop” as an over-the-top parody, and so I expected “Starship Troopers” to be–at best–an unsympathetic handling of the source material.
I think that’s why Lefist film geeks were (and continue to be) surprised at the popular reaction–of course Verhoeven would film a military Sci Fi novel as an anti-war screed and “deconstruct” the source material to reveal the hidden racism and sexism that had to be there. What did you expect?
Ordinary filmgoers, however, weren’t expecting any such thing. They expected a straight adaption of one of the most beloved and influential Sci Fi novels of all time. They thought, in essence, that McDonald’s would deliver a decent Chicken Cordon Bleu, complete with silverware and tablecloth.
Had Starship Troopers been made with the same level of polish as Robocop I doubt people would be that annoyed. As it was however, we got a crappily written and lazily directed pile of dren attempting to masquerade as brilliant satire.
I think the problem is that it was neither one thing or the other. I expect that there was conflict within the creative team between those who wanted a parody and those who tried to be true to the novel. And then the marketing department tried to sell it as straight SF and an honest adaptation of the novel.
There were some elements involving Rico’s journey that came off as pretty sincere. I was just waiting for him to finish taking out the bugs, then blow the psychic SS guy’s head off, or have him ‘accidentally’ fall into a bug cage.
“Had Starship Troopers been made with the same level of polish as Robocop I doubt people would be that annoyed.”
Dude. I walked in there expecting Johnny Rico rocket-jumping through an alien city in a Mobile Infantry Combat Suit, shooting alien bad guys and launching mini-nukes out of his Y-rack launcher.
What do I get? Doogie Howser in a fricking SS uniform.
Twenty years later, I am still angry I paid to see it at the theater. Very, very angry. It informs my entertainment purchases, to say the least.
A lot of my problems with the movie are due more to the way that that military *would not have worked* and would have collapsed under its own weight were it to be setup as depicted. For instance, there’s a point when Hotshot Pilot does a stupid undocking maneuver and gets away with it, when in reality there would have been a massive crackdown (possibly including a court-martial) because what one Hotshot Pilot gets away with, other Hotshots will copy—and fail to do it right.
I mean, *I* am not military and I caught that.
And that’s leaving aside the whiter-than-white folk pronouncing it “Bwen-ohhs AIR-ace.” Nails on chalkboard…
“Hotshot Pilot does a stupid undocking maneuver and gets away with it,”
Every single Hollywood military movie ever. And Star Trek, Star Wars, blah blah blah. Top Gun the most shining example. Tom Cruise would never make it to court marshal, the other pilots would quietly do him in.
Starship Troopers of course is egregious in that regard. You don’t have to go any farther than gun handling in the basic training segment, or firing at bugs while forming a circle around them, or etc.
The whole thing is a grab bag full of fail, because Paul Verhoven doesn’t know which part of the ammunition flies through the air. He probably thinks the whole thing does, brass case and all.
But mostly it has zero to do with Heinlein’s book beyond character names and title. It’s a slap in the face, is what it is.
Is it just me, or do others wince when a spaceship is holed by a bug crap-missle, it lowly sinks like a ship on the ocean.
You know, that was one thing that really worked nicely in Rogue One. A Star Destroyer has its engines (basically) taken out, and it just maintains its momentum, with perhaps a bit of explosion-based wobble, until it’s deliberately pushed by another ship.
A prime example of “Hollywood Tactics”, that movie.
I was rather irritated that they kept a watered down version of the book’s “training from hell”, but had the MI using tactics that the Korean War era PLA would find stupid and suicidal.
Even the PLA had heavy weapons.
thephantom182 – the 20 year knock-on is part so few people seem to see.I paraphrase Josephine Tey – ‘the problem with so many criminals is they fail to see from a to c.’ and it isn’t just criminals. The long-term effects are obvious if you think ahead, think of something other than your persona immediate satisfaction and point of view.
Satire takes skill. You also have to do it well enough that the audience understands it is satire while they are watching it. Starship Troopers was not done with skill, and it didn’t let the viewer know it was satire. It was simply a poorly done movie. Hanging a satire label on it after the fact doesn’t change that, except for the RH hating crowd who always claim to see the Emperor’s new clothes.
There is real satire. And there is… another word which also starts with ‘s’ but is a bit shorter.
Does it have “bull” in it? ~:D
Starts with ‘s’…
Aww, I wanted the bovine version. Sounds so much better when you say it “BULLsh..” and so forth.
Orvan didn’t want to call it that because he doesn’t want it associated with him
I have standards. They might be low, but I do have them.
“Sean of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” are examples of satire done right.
In the case of “Not Really Starship Troopers”, calling satire is an after the fact justification for why the movie sucked.
Pretty much. Satire require some level of comprehension and even *affection* in regards to the original. That POS movie had neither; it was a satire of an unfair review from someone with a political ax to grind.
There were some after the fact stories how the director had tried to read the novel, but didn’t finish. From the movie it seems he stopped after about one page. What he directed was not satire of the novel, it was attempted satire of what he assumed the novel to be. Or perhaps preferred to think the novel was.
I still think the movie wasn’t a total disaster as a movie, but yes, the advertising was atrocious and got me in with false expectations. Now if it had been called something like How Not To Fight Alien Menace or Guide How To Do Interstellar War Wrong I would probably have liked it. As it is I do have some level of liking for it anyway, it does have the same entertainment value as those youtube compilations of car wrecks filmed by people’s dash cams.
From stories circulating about the movie it seems audiences weren’t the only ones fooled, at least some of the actors had signed thinking they’d be acting in a real adaptation.
Seems that the director is a dick. Would serve him right if he had no career now. Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be quite right, he is still valued at least in his home country, and by European left and the film industry they run here. But that film definitely seems to at least have kicked him out of the blockbuster director category and us normal movie goers are mostly spared from his movies now.
And yes, if it had not used the names and the title lifted from the novel, which pretty much were the only things it does have in common with the novel… I would actually like to see a reboot, but as a Retief style version. Give the main character a sarcastic friend who sees all the absurdity, and manages to steer things in the right direction by being a brilliant manipulator. Make a satire, real satire, of the FILM.
In order to do satire, you must appreciate what you are satirizing enough to do justice to its virtues. Otherwise you are merely basking with your bubble about the vices of their imaginary concept of what you satirize.
I should have stopped reading Pride & Prejudice & Zombies after reading the forward where the hack said he’d made it interesting. He obviously didn’t appreciate the source material. (AND he screwed up both the mechanics of the situation and the supposed Japanese fad.)
There was a Japanese/Chinese/Persian/Indian fad in the era. It was, after all, about the time that regular trade was first established.
Equally to the point, though:
When McDonald’s offers a Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich, they do not claim exclusive rights to the name and the dish. You can still find a place to get the real thing. Verhoeven’s piece of, um, compost, not only wasn’t what the title promised, it precluded anyone giving us the real story. THAT was the unforgivable part.
See also I, Robot, The Bicentennial Man, The Wild Wild West, Charlie’s Angels, etc.
Come to think of it, McDonald’s is generally more honest, too. They would have called it “Cordon McBlue” or something…
That has become the rule now with reboots from old well liked or loved series. Doesn’t matter what it is, if they make a movie you will have to assume they are going to make fun of the original. Would almost be shocking to see something which actually takes the original version and just makes a faithful updated version of it instead of treating it as a joke.
Well, darn it. Now I’ve bought another book.
Without checking, I’ll hazard a guess that Jon Del Arroz’s sales have jumped considerably in the last week.
Call it the Milo Effect.
#176 in Space Opera right now, not bad at all, at all.
Odd, it never showed up that I remember in my “customers also bought” list, or “based on your purchase” lists.
(Of course, the “also bought” list features at least three of the Evil Lords in it – Vox Day, John C. Wright, and Milo… VWY Effect is maybe more accurate.)
For those low on cash at the moment, and with KU, it is also there. Which is good, as I’m in that category – and a fin is a bit steep for someone I had never heard of before.
Yes, there was a huge jump when the story made the rounds in assorted blogs. Reminds me of Nick Cole’s Ctrl-Alt-Revolt. Or, even more recently, Joy Villa, the singer that wore a Trump-styled dress at the Grammy Awards and sales of her songs skyrocket the next day. It’s almost as if there was a huge underserved market out there who doesn’t want the usual pap the gatekeepers want to serve.
C.J. – “It’s almost as if there was a huge underserved market out there who doesn’t want the usual pap the gatekeepers want to serve.” indeed. Their captive audience runs around 1/4 of the US. Only serving that is just stupidity. But that’s what they want to do, ergo, the exclusion.
Wright is an evil Lord? Wow, color me clueless. I just think he is one of the best writers out there right now.
It goes back to Sad Puppies. He became the Evil Lord of Evil when Sarah Hoyt was named Beautiful but Evil Space Princess, and John C. Wright and Larry Correia got equally nifty titles.
He is, I believe, the ‘brilliant brain in a jar’ of the Evil League of Evil. (Of which various posters, as differentiated from commenters, are a member.)
Like this: https://tempestinateardrop.com/2016/11/25/good-help-is-so-hard-to-bio-engineer/
Incidentally, be aware that TOR.Com has started grooming the comments. They’re deleting things, and my disapproving comment was not posted.
“started”? I am pretty sure that’s policy over there.
They are a deletion-happy bunch over there. Barely any post with more than a dozen comments goes without someone’s comment getting memory-holed. Hell, they once deleted someone for linking to Larry’s blog.
tor.com is a habit I broke myself of after the third iteration of Sad Puppies. If they want to have a SF community that spits on me and everything I believe, that’s their right, but I don’t think there’s any reason I should be giving them traffic.
I used to go because they were a good blog. Now I visit it to see how ridiculous it’s become. I watched in real-time as it went from a good SF/F site to being dominated by an SJW cadre.
And I’m glad that there is someone keeping an eye on them so that we can point and laugh at the right moments.
Chris Chupik – I think we should have a whip-around for donations to buy waders if not a bio-hazard suit.
Your comment has appeared.
No fair being faster than me. 😡
Correction, they finally posted my comment. Huzzah! I am super famous now! I am accepted! Whee! So much excitement!
you had to wait to be approved by the committee for site security.
Started? They lost me over six years ago when their “D&D has to be inclusive to all races” article deleted any disagreeing comments – including a ton by blacks and other minorities who criticized the Gospel According to Tor.
I am reminded of a different defense of the ST film, namely that it had been largely produced before the folks doing the work had heard of Heinlein. They then learned that there was a Big name Author with a milSF novel with bugs in it, just like the film, bought the rights, and did very modest editing to make the character names correct. That was certainly a different defense of teh film’s producers, though I suspect the chronology is wrong. The other remark I was given was that the film’s ST human ground military would have been exceedingly ill advised, though not for very long, to go up against a late-World-War 1 military unit of similar size. Something arises related to indirect fire weapons.
I have seen the commentary track*. When Verhoeven said that he didn’t read the book because he “didn’t want to pollute his vision,” it was both annoying and obviously true.
*My husband likes the movie as a Big Dumb Movie. I don’t.
The correct term for what you say they did is “fraud.”
‘We want the reader to bond to the book’ – oh, yes. And be waiting desperately for the sequel if one is planned.
And panting for anything else the author writes – or at least to feel positive on seeing their name.
If my body will just cooperate – I can’t wait to be able to write. I’M panting to see how the details will work out.
Bugs. Farting rocks. At speeds significantly faster than light, covering half the galaxy in hours.
AND YET YOU CAN STILL SEE THE DAMNED ROCKS TRAVEL THROUGH SPACE WITH THE NAKED EYE!!!!!
Paul Verhoeven gives scientific illiteracy a bad name.
Note: I have had some try to defend this bit by saying it wasn’t REALLY half the galaxy, that was Federation propaganda. The bugs were really much closer, on a planet around a nearby star.
These are people who want to vie with Verhoeven for the scientific illiteracy trophy.
Worse: In the book the Bugs had their own navy. Their warriors had their own ranged weapons instead of the melee-only creatures in the film.
I’ll check out the sample download.
There was a wonderful review of the movie done a long time ago, but it’s still online at http://www.sff.net/people/doylemacdonald/r_startro.htm
Not for long. Word is that sff.net is slowly closing up shop.
True. I don’t know where the reviews will move to (there are lots of them that “Red Mike” did, and which are generally amusing to read).
The point where I lost it was when I saw a STARSHIP going down by the stern.
If an identical movie called “Bug Hunt” with no pretension of being related to “Starship Troopers” had been released the idea advanced on Tor dot com that it was a parody would have been easy to sell (though “brilliant” is going too far.) It would be easy to enjoy it as a guilty pleasure, sort of like “They Live.” It’s the pretense that this is “Starship Troopers” that grates.
There is a STF Mission (special task force) in Star Trek Online called Bug Hunt. In fairness, it involves the mind-controlling parasites that exist in the Star Trek universe. (The most recent example of them I can remember is from the first reboot movies, they’re used on the first captain of the Enterprise by Nero.)
Players recognize it as the affectionate homage and parody of Starship Troopers. The voiced NPC you have to escort and ensure doesn’t die (unlike most versions, he shoots back) has a name that starts with vanD—- but I never remember it now because we always call him vanDerp.
I live in fear that someday, some well-meaning relative will give me a copy of this film as a gift, and then I will have to express gratitude for it. My tongue may lock up.
I once mentioned my fondness of the BBC “I, Claudius” series to my beloved. Next holiday she proudly presented me with a DVD. Seems in tracking it down with a videophile friend’s help this had translated over as “Roman Emperor beginning with C.” So she’d gifted me “Caligula.” The unrated version.
could be worse they could give you one of the sequels.
You just had to bring that piece of drek up didn’t ya… Sigh… STILL pissed I wasted money on it. Re the Del Arroz mess, it’s about what I’ve come to expect of the left. It was also interesting to note that the publisher raised the price by $2 on the e-book when this all started coming out. I got it, and so far it’s an interesting read!
Yup, McCarthyism 2.0 is alive and well in the industry. I don’t go out of my way to advertise my political beliefs, but that’s not enough to stop the grievance contingent from finding something to be offended about. And when someone is as outspoken as Jon Del Arroz, the reaction reaches the kind of insanity of the Chinese Cultural Revolution (and that’s barely an exaggeration – physical violence is already on the table, and I worry that sooner or later fatalities will ensue). That’s another reason to do an end-run around the gatekeepers by going indie. The red guards are limited to leaving bad reviews on your books (in my case, some 1-star reviews have gotten me more sales 🙂 ).
Yeah, this does remind of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, doesn’t it? The desperate virtue-signaling, the denunciation parties… the attempts to control how much ‘business’ (in the original, how well you were fed and treated) you get via public screeching…
Except that this isn’t Mao’s China, the places these mad rabid mop dogs live in are capitalist Western cities, and seriously, they should go to China – or North Korea!- if they want that kind of life so badly. The rest of us like it here, and our way of life.
Yes, particularly in the way they turn on each other at the drop of a dime. Even liberal luminaries like Lena Dunham or Will Wheaton aren’t safe of accusations of WrongThink. But year, I wish they would resettle in Cuba or somewhere else and leave the rest of us alone.
I’ve come to the conclusion, personally, that the reason why they cannot abide that there are other ways of life of which they do not approve is this: Having another option gives them doubt that Their Way is ‘wrong.’ That the they might be mistaken about what they think, believe, etc.
It doesn’t matter that a lot of the things they like/enjoy/believe/etc are a matter of taste or choice or lifestyle, and we’re not all interchangeable widgets and such, they can’t abide that ‘maybe.’ Because the existence of that ‘maybe’ has the power to unravel all the things they’ve told themselves Is Just So, and How Things Should Be.
So they scream it down. Howl that anyone who even makes the most remote reasonable argument ‘why this doesn’t work’ is a heretic, a racist, a bigot, and so on and so forth, thus should not be listened to, is disgusting, kill the witch!
Very true. It’s as if they’re afraid that hearing a contradictory point of view will totally undermine their deeply-held beliefs. Conservatives are used to hearing contrary points of view all the time, and still hold on to their beliefs. The difference between the two positions is telling. It’s as if they know they’re living in a fragile illusion 🙂
Lately it all looks like a Blue on Blue circular firing squad to me.
Tell you what, if my robot girlfriends finally make it into print, and these SJWs -don’t- denounce me at least once, I’ll be quite put out.
If you do get the book up on Amazon (or wherever), do be sure to let us know. You’ve piqued my attention with the bits you’ve mentioned so far.
at this rate the robot girlfriends story is going to come *true*
I’m waiting for my 1-star review, because I had a Sainted Victim Class Unit act like… well, a real human being, not a Sainted Victim. It’s only been out 3 days; they probably just haven’t found it yet.
They do seem to have trouble understanding that being a member of a “Victim Class,” or even being an actual Victim, in no way makes a person better, innocent, perfect, or immune from criticism.
I haven’t gotten a 1 star review (And no, I don’t want one).
We got a singe 1-star review for the Chronicles of Luna City … which absolutely floored my daughter, but that I was actually rather charmed to get – because it meant that we had some not-so-favorable reviews! https://www.amazon.com/Chronicles-Luna-City-Celia-Hayes-ebook/product-reviews/B017L2MT30/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_hist_1?ie=UTF8&filterByStar=one_star&reviewerType=avp_only_reviews
Firewall 4 and 5 star reviews are good – but really – the book will not appeal to absolutely everyone. I thought it nice to have a counter-balance, of sorts.
Oh, I’ve got a 2 and a 3. But I don’t want to complete the whole set.
Will there be a Luna City 4? I’ve enjoyed 1-3 immensely!
Sometimes I think publishers deliberately lie to readers, and not just in the normal salesman-type way (this is the greatest book ever; it cures warts!) but in order to ‘change’ the reader into what the publisher wants the reader to be.
An example (not going to mention the specific book, the specific book isn’t important, it’s just the most egregious example I can think of and I’m using it to illustrate my point); I read a book that was marketed to me (male, mid thirties, action oriented reader, historical attention to detail), with a cover that promised it was for me (weapons! and blood! and spiky things!) with a title that promised things like weapons and blood and spiky things. The back cover copy was indicative of that kind of book as well. That was what I was in the mood for so I took a chance on a new writer.
And it had blood, and grit, and attention to historical type detail (not that it was set in a historical epoch, but that the details of the technology level and what that meant for the populace were done well and made sense). Also, the main character was gay. And bitter that nobody accepted that. And would be offended every time it was noticed. A few off hand comments about religion (Bad! Grrr!), but I just shrugged and kept going. The writer was talented and enough of it was my kind of thing to keep me reading. Then there was the thirty or forty page sex scene where the protagonist was first raped by the antagonist and then switched from bottom to top and took control of the antagonist and won.
On first read I just skipped past the sex scene (if you want to read graphic descriptions of gay sex, great, have fun. No skin off my nose. But I don’t, thanks muchly. Heck, I usually skip over the straight sex too, not my kind of thing in written form) but then I couldn’t figure out how the protagonist had gone from getting raped to being in command of the antagonist so had to go back and read to figure out what had happened. Was not what I wanted. At all. Nor was it what I was promised as the kind of book it was marketed as does not normally contain a graphic thirty or forty page sequence of gay sex. Also, if that was what you were looking for, how would you find it in a cover, back cover copy, and title that indicates it’s not that kind of story?
A friend of mine then pointed out something when I expressed my befuddlement; the publisher probably wanted to ‘challenge’ my (and the other readers like me who liked the kind of novel they were selling it as) world view. Not just a lecture, not just a lecture I paid good money for, but a lecture that was sold on a deliberate misrepresentation in order to give me (and readers like me) the finger. Make me ‘Woke’. Or piss me off. Either way seemed fine by them.
Strangely, I haven’t read more by that author, and when I see covers, and titles, and back cover copy that looks like it’s my kind of thing I read a lot more carefully to make sure it is what it says it is.
But I’m a heavy reader, imagine if you will a guy like me but who only reads two or three books a year. He can take it or leave it. If one of his few choices one year had deliberately given him the finger do you think he’d still read those kinds of books? Or just move on to Histories? Or stop reading novels?
The publishers are hurting themselves and their business by doing things like that. Yet they seem to think it’s a good thing and pat themselves on the back for it. If you’d marketed that book to the people likely to like that book, and marketed a book that I’d be likely to like to me, it seems like everybody would get what they want and the publisher’s business would be more successful. I’d say it’s odd but after observing the behaviour of Publishers for years it seems like Standard Operating Procedure.
Which is odd.
I read a book just like that (perhaps the same book). Besides the points you mention, this novel also grated on me because almost every character, from warrior nomads to royal personages, swore like so many stevedores, which made every voice sound the same. That was the final straw for me. The book wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good enough to convince me to follow the rest of the series.
I read escapist literature for entertainment, not to be challenged or ‘woke.’ That’s what nonfiction is for, IMHO. So I’ll write and read to entertain and they can do it their way. I figure the market is big enough for both of us, especially now that they can’t block the books they don’t approve of.
Should anyone ever ask/demand about my being ‘woke’ I plan to tell them I ‘woke’ in the early 1980’s when Reagonomics worked, which is why I now I live in a house rather than a shack. I expect that to be dismissed as “anecdote” but since I lived the anecdote, it beats the s*** out of any ‘data’ they might have.
Spot on. But it’s not about business. I wish it were.
The Yasiv on the book puts him in some interesting company.
Oh, shiny! Thanks for the new toy. It’ll help me find new books to review.
And of course Vile linked to this, because Glyer can’t resist Dave’s posts.
Shrug. If only that particular blog practiced honesty in advertizing – or anything. Still I do see their need for not doing so: ‘Rampant bias and selective quotes to provide distraction for our chums and political fellow travelers in the traditional publishing industry with nosediving sales’ might even penetrate the bubble of the smug comments… on second thoughts, no. To most of them their Comical Ali would represent honest reportage, no matter if a tank was driving over their foot.
Glyer missed linking to “Who goes there?” Guess he really couldn’t figure out a snarky comment for it. Not that it matters, since his commentariat’s SOP is to snark without reading.
Well done piece! Comments spot on too.
Thank you. Your opinion actually is one of the few I value.
Thank you David and everyone here at the MGC. This blog is a staple for me reading wise and you have been the best support anyone could ever hope for.
It’s a matter of my personal policy to support writers – even those I disagree with 🙂 MGC was founded on those principles and I think we’ve helped and supported a lot of people.
Dave (my family is very unoriginal. There Big David, Middle David, Little David and then a slew of littler Davids. So somewhere down the line I became Dave. But to avoid confusion just call everyone David.)