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Posts tagged ‘Larry Correia’

Tuesday links and a few thoughts

When I first started posting here at MGC, it was my job to be the link-master of sorts. publishing was in the early throes of the upheavals we still see rocking its foundations. Around that time, Amazon started the pre-cursor to the KDP program. Oh the howls of outrage, howls that still sound from time to time. But times change as did my role with MGC. Today, however, I’m going back to that early role (mainly because I’m still getting over a nasty bout of a stomach virus and the brain isn’t quite back to functioning beyond “sleep” and “sick” modes. So, for those of you who might have missed some of the latest on the Sad Puppies 3 and the fall out around it, here are a few links:

From Breitbart, we have “The Hugo Awards: How Sci-Fi’s Most Prestigious Awards Became a Political Battleground“.

It may not, therefore, surprise you to learn that similar occurrences are taking place in the science-fiction and fantasy (SFF) community, too. Previously a world renowned for the breadth of its perspectives, SFF increasingly bears the familiar hallmarks of an ideological battleground.

The story begins, as ever, with a small group of social justice-minded community elites who sought to establish themselves as the arbiters of social mores. This group would decide who deserved a presence in SFF and who deserved to be ostracised.

The Breitbart article hits the proverbial nail on the head with the above observation. In a field that ought to welcome everyone and welcome what they write, there is a group that is doing its best to shout down and, according to some, ruin the careers of those who do not toe the line when it comes to who they are and how diverse they make their stories. They sneer at white males of a certain age and attack women who do not fall into step with the rest of the sisterhood. These folks have forgotten that “wrong think” has long been the foundation of science fiction and fantasy and the field has been populated with writers from every political spectrum. That, apparently, is no longer something these folks want. Well, if SP3 does anything, it shows that there is a large group of authors and readers who don’t give a flying rat’s ass about being preached to in their stories. What they want is a story that engages them, entertains them and makes them think. Story has to win out over message because what good is the message if no one reads the story?

Sad Puppies: Some responses to the fallout is from Brad Torgensen.

Others (on the leftward side of the fence) make a great big fat noise about “Speaking truth to power.” Now, the shoe is on the right foot. For a change. Again, you don’t have to like it. SAD PUPPIES peels back the foil on the stale TV dinner. SAD PUPPIES says stuff that many people mutter in confidence, but few have dared speak openly; because they know it’s going to cause an uproar. SAD PUPPIES is specific in its intention: to alter the Hugo awards process such that artists and works which would otherwise be ignored, are not ignored. It’s not a “right wing” thing. It’s a make-the-field-live-up-to-its-reputation thing, by way of the field’s self-proclaimed, “Most prestigious award.”

And here’s the mind-blower: SP3 is not a same-minded collective. We’ve actually had a tremendous amount of internal debate about how to proceed.

There is the key where SP3 is concerned. It isn’t a slate — and I hate that word because this isn’t a slate. It is Brad’s recommendations for the first round of Hugo voting. He has repeatedly stated that. They are his recommendations, just as others for years have made recommendations, yet he gets pilloried for daring to put a “slate” together. But more importantly, those included in SP3 come from more than just the conservative political spectrum. There are libertarians on it and — gasp — liberals. Their political beliefs aren’t important. What is, is the quality of their work, something those attacking SP3 completely overlook.

Then we have the Sad Puppies 3 Update by Larry Correia. You know Larry. He’s the most evil of men except for Vox. He likes guns. He’s big and scary and the delicate little flowers of SJW must have safe zones whenever he’s around because they are afraid he might turn into a berzerker around them. What they fail to understand is that they are really nothing but comedic fodder for him. Or maybe that is his real crime — he laughs at them and does so in a way that the rest of us do as well. He peels away the lies and shows that the emperor really is marching down the street naked and it’s not a pretty sight. Among the holes he punches in the SJW argument against Sad Puppies is this:

Privilege!  

Says a SJW who grew up in the suburbs, and attended some of the most expensive schools in America, to the guy who grew up milking cows, and worked his way through Utah State, unironically.

Puppies are color blind. (No… really, come to think of it they are!)

We don’t care who you are or where you came from, as long as your writing is awesome.

 Brad also responded to the detractors with Sad Puppies: the march of the straw men.

Ever since this Breitbart article appeared, a small legion of straw man arguments have been deployed against the current season of SAD PUPPIES. I was going to type up a very looooooooong rebuttal to the straw men, but Larry Correia and Sarah Hoyt already did the heavy lifting for me. Much of what I might have said, they say with superior gusto and humor. It’s a blessed thing having friends such as these. Not just under the Baen banner per se, but under the general banner of colleagues who’d like to see the field return itself to a more balanced state of being.

And that, dear readers, is the real crux of the issue. Those of us supporting Sad Puppies, even if we don’t agree with every recommendation Brad has put forth, want to see the field return to “a more balanced state of being.” I want to see books and movies that entertain. Not everything has to push an agenda. (Hollywood and NYC Publishing needs to pay attention to that.) You can still have a message in your work but you don’t have to beat your readers over the head with it. Nor do you need to act like a spoiled child on the playground pitching a fit because the other kids won’t follow your rules and that is exactly what is happening when you have authors taking to social media saying editors should stop publishing certain white male authors because they are evil white male authors or offering to help ruin careers if someone doesn’t start following the right think agenda.

Finally, we have our own Sarah’s take on the issue with When Duck Noises Fail Me. I’ll leave it to you go follow the link because it is one of her gif-tastic posts and cuts right to the chase. I’ll warn you not to have anything in your mouths when you read the post. I am not responsible for any damage done to keyboards.  😉

In case you haven’t seen the SP3 line-up, you can find it here. Full disclosure, I am on the list as are other members of MGC. However, that did not influence the writing of this post. I said basically the same thing last year and the year before. It is time for those of us who like reading entertaining stories and seeing entertaining movies to let our voices be heard. I think you will find that you are not a lone voice in the darkened woods but one of many, one of the majority who have grown more and more frustrated by what has been happening in the field over the last twenty years or so. It is, in other words, time to vote, not only for the Hugos but with our money. Indie and small press authors are out there and they are writing the sorts of books so many of us are looking for.

It’s Wednesday and Sarah is MIA

Well, not really. She is at a workshop and we got an SOS from her earlier to let us know that her travel laptop has crapped out. Now, besides being a pain because it means her writing will be impacted, it means she isn’t able to do a blog today. So here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to post a few links — some of them are very interesting reading and some show just how strange things can get on the internet — and I’m going to post a few book promos. Then I’m going to throw open the comments. I’d like to hear what you guys think about what’s going on in publishing, what you think about the links I posted and you can post ONE promo link. Sound good?

So, what better way than to start the day with a link to last week’s Book Plug Friday by our own Sarah and ChaSJWrlie Martin. For those who haven’t discovered BPF, it is a wonderful — and free — promotion tool for authors. That’s important. But even more important is how Charlie and Sarah discuss what is going on in publishing and, as they do in last week’s piece, show that the SJWs don’t even check their facts before staking to their soapboxes to complain about how women have been locked out of science fiction. In this particular case, they burst the bubble that has been put forth that women are “finally” making inroads into the awards scene in SF. Unlike the special ones, they did their homework and listed the female winners of the Nebulas. Funny, I don’t see how women were pushed out, do you?

And, while we’re talking about Sarah, let’s have an example of just how strange things can get on the internet. Back on the 6th, Laura J. Mixon posted her investigation into the blogger Requires Hate. You can find that post here. Needless to say, the interwebs blew up as the SJWs tried to process all that had happened and who RH turned out to be. And this is where things got more than a little weird. On another blog, a commenter posted that they thought our own Sarah and Requires Hate were one and the same. Yes, you read that right. I’ll leave you a few moments to consider that and to quit laughing. Sarah’s response when it was brought to her attention? Stunned silence and then hysterical laughter. Sort of like everyone else who knows her has reacted to read the comment.

The best response to the entire “report” has come, imo, from Larry Correia. Read it. Enjoy it. Consider all he says and let’s pop the popcorn and watch as this feeding frenzy becomes more and more frequent.

(BTW, apparently there has now been a call for the “whites” to step out of the conversation about RH and everything surrounding Mixon’s report. It seems the POC community needs time to consider and reflect on what has been revealed. Sorry, but if this is an issue of real import, then the voices of all should be heard. My opinion, of course.)

Now, onto something a bit more fun. I loved Larry’s reaction to his Czech book covers.

The Czechs are like “Patriarchy? What is this word? Is the succubus not sexy enough? Wait… Cis what? Do you mean we should make the werewolves on fire? We can do that. Dmitri! More fire! Now, why does this flabby man pose in his underwear like sexy pole dancer? You do not want to appeal to people who give you money? America is strange place.”

Take a look at the covers and you will see what he means and, to be honest, he’s right. I wish more American publishers would consider just how important a cover is in getting folks to pick a book up off the shelf — for those who still go to bookstores. But then, I’m not enlightened enough for the SJH/GHH set. I happen to like the covers.

Now, for a few book promos.

 

chaplainThe Chaplain’s War
by Brad Torgersen

The mantis cyborgs: insectlike, cruel, and determined to wipe humanity from the face of the galaxy.

The Fleet is humanity’s last chance: a multi-world, multi-national task force assembled to hold the line against the aliens’ overwhelming technology and firepower. Enter Harrison Barlow, who like so many young men of wars past, simply wants to serve his people and partake of the grand adventure of military life. Only, Harrison is not a hot pilot, nor a crack shot with a rifle. What good is a Chaplain’s Assistant in the interstellar battles which will decide the fate of all?

More than he thinks. Because while the mantis insectoids are determined to eliminate the human threat to mantis supremacy, they remember the errors of their past. Is there the slightest chance that humans might have value? Especially since humans seem to have the one thing the mantes explicitly do not: an innate ability to believe in what cannot be proven nor seen God. Captured and stranded behind enemy lines, Barlow must come to grips with the fact that he is not only bargaining for his own life, but the lives of everyone he knows and loves. And so he embarks upon an improbable gambit, determined to alter the course of the entire war.

***

joyJoy Cometh With The Mourning: A Reverend Joy Mystery
by Dave Freer

Reverend Joy Norton is a timid city girl, and she’s never been the primary priest in any parish. When her bishop sends her out to a remote back-country church, she doubts both her ability and her suitability. Those doubts grow when she hears of the mysterious death of her predecessor. But from the first encounter with her congregation — having her little car rescued from a muddy ditch, she finds herself deeply involved with her parishioners and touched by their qualities and eccentricities. Which makes it worse for her to think that one of the people she’s coming to care for murdered the previous priest…

***

joxsonJaxson: Military Romance (Island Warriors Book 1)
by Kris Keldaran

In book one of the Island Warriors: Kehau Makoa thought her life was on track. Fun-loving and taking everything in stride, until a combat veteran steps into her sight. The gorgeous dance teacher never imagined that on her agenda. Till now.

Jaxson “Johnny Rocket” Kuznia never saw a brawl he didn’t wade into with both fists flying. Broad, burly, and an expert with his hands, the Marine soon realizes Uncle Sam didn’t prepare him for everything that would be thrown into his path. It doesn’t take Jax long to figure out he will need every bit of skill and luck he’s got if he wants to win the heart of a woman he seems unable to live without.

From North Shore to Waikiki, and Ko ‘Olina to Kailua, the Jaëger Guardsmen put their hearts and lives on the line to learn if they’ve found a love that will last a lifetime.

***

gallileoThe Galileo Syndrome (Born Between Worlds) (Volume 1)
by Stephen J. Simmon

The world can be very frightened of change. History offers us endless examples of geniuses who were treated badly because their ideas threatened the established order … That’s because Galileo didn’t have a little sister named Peaches. Ricky Benson is a genius who was born with the ability to perceive – and travel between – parallel universes. Luckily, he was also born with a sister who is devoted to defending him, at any cost.

(The e-book will be available very soon — so keep checking back if you want digital instead of hard copy.)

***

farmhandFarmhand (Bluehills Book 1)
by Lilania Begley

Wounded veteran Dev Macquire needs some farm help until he recovers. When his father, Gray, brings home a new hand, he’s dismayed to meet Irina. How can a woman do the rough, heavy work they need? As she works her way into their life, and into his heart, he’s faced with a new dilemma. Can he persuade her to stay, and to accept a new role in his life?

Irina took the job on a whim. She just wanted to work hard enough to forget why her life was on hold and her future uncertain. Daily reminded of a brighter past, a childhood spent on horseback…but her new feelings for Dev were definitely not sisterly. At the end of the summer she’d leave, it was too dangerous to risk staying near him.

As a wildfire threatens the countryside, racing toward the Macquire place, Dev and Irina discover what true partnership can feel like, working together to find the arsonist who is responsible. When the fires die out, are there embers left smoldering in hearts?

***

dutyDuty from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 2)
by Sam Schall

Duty calls. Honor demands action.

Major Ashlyn Shaw has survived false accusations and a brutal military prison. Now free, she finds her homeworld once again at war with an enemy that will stop at nothing to destroy everything she holds dear. Duty has Ashlyn once again answering the call to serve. She has seen what the enemy is capable of and will do everything she can to prevent it from happening to the home she loves and the people she took an oath to protect.

But something has changed. It goes beyond the fact that the enemy has changed tactics they never wavered from during the previous war. It even goes beyond the fact that there is still a nagging doubt in the back of Ashlyn’s mind that those who betrayed her once before might do so again. No, there is more to the resumption of hostilities, something that seems to point at a new player in the game. But who and what are they playing at?

Will Ashlyn be able to unmask the real enemy before it is too late?

Steady As She Goes

I had an epiphany today. Yes, I still have those, even at my ancient age of 36. No, senility has yet to strike.

Wait, what are we talking about?

Seriously, I was out mowing the lawn when I was struck by a thought. What if, an insidious voice whispered in my ear as everything else was drowned out by the roar of the 17.5 horsepower Honda engine, unsavory individuals are insulting Sarah, picking fights with Larry, and ostracizing a healthy chunk of science fiction fans and writers alike in order to cover the possibility that, if judged by an unbiased crowd, said unsavory individuals would be found wanting of talent and skill?

What a terrifying prospect indeed. The very possibility that individuals are preying upon people’s innate distrust of “outsiders” in order to cover their own failings, especially in such a manner in which to instigate, ostracize and shame writers who have tried to help newcomers to the field is a horrible thought. I’d normally be the first to slap such an evil and unbidden thought from mind if it weren’t for the admitted libel, constant and baseless attacks, and the general smear campaign which has blown up in the past six months (I could theoretically suggest the last ten years, but I’m not feeling that ambitious today) across the internet and in the “hallowed halls” of the SFWA itself.

But Jason… that insidious voice continues, unabated by my own doubts, what if? You cannot ignore the signs any longer, the open declarations of hate directed towards you and your friends, nor can you dismiss the blatant attacks upon innocent individuals. One cannot ignore a war that has been declared upon thee, no matter how much one does not wish to fight an opponent who uses fear, public intimidation and subversive tactics as their only method of battle.

My insidious voice is a bastard, for the record.

Of course, this same methodology being employed can be ascribed to terrorists. And, thinking about it a little more, the similarities are quite striking. Both use social media to spread hate, both use tactics that are typically frowned upon, both complain and scream out “No fair! They hit back!” when the tide of battle turns. They both enjoy anonymity, and the cover of unwitting accomplices of “their own kind” as protection to hide behind and use as shields. This “war”, so to speak, is treacherous, and much like the sea, is both merciless and unforgiving, cold, cruel, and remorseless.

Steady as she goes. This storm, too, shall pass.

You see, even now the backlash against their unsavory tactics has begun, their lies and misdeeds being brought to light for casual observers. The tide is changing, and while the waves are still high and choppy, smoother waters can be seen. This fight, this… struggle (yes, revolutionaries and socialists, I am totally hijacking your word) for the so-called soul of science fiction is being won as one side continues to show that they are willing to do anything, including lie, cheat, misinform and distort in order to stay in control.

Vladimir Lenin once said “A lie told often enough becomes truth.” This tactic, employed by such self-inflated individuals like Damian Walters and others, is backfiring. Liberals and conservatives alike are now looking at these individuals and wondering, jointly and independently, how people (some of whom haven’t  written a book or read anything other than Wikipedia summations of novels that they mock) took the reins of the genre that we all have grown to love and cherish, and steered it onto a crash course with a deep, dark abyss of irrelevancy. They’ve taken to feasting on their supporters who dare suggest they may have gone over the line, and cast stones at those allies who they once supported due to transgressions they have half-imagined.

Steady as she goes, for this, too, shall pass (yeah, you see what I did there?). The tide changes, the pendulum swings, etc etc. Hope is not lost.

Keep reading, keep buying and supporting the authors who write what you love to read, be they left or right. Because while some might think that they can destroy this genre from without, strength comes from within.

Obligatory self-promotion time: Jason Cordova is a novelist who lives in Virginia. He writes everything from horror to science fiction, with a smattering of fantasy and space opera thrown in because, hey, it pays well. He is currently working on the second book of his “Murder World” series, Kaiju Dusk. He can be found at www.jasoncordova.com

 

We Can’t Just All Get Along

I didn’t wanna do it. Really, I didn’t. But I’ve got a teething three-month-old, which leaves about *that* much creative juice. Oh, you can’t see that? Oh, sorry. (Actually, that’s probably a good thing, for any number of reasons) Well, I’m holding my index finger and thumb apart. At least, I’m told it’s apart, but it feels like together. I’m also told physics gets a little weird when you get that small. Anyway, we have a temporary solution to Wee Dave’s concerns over his molars (yeah: definitely my child, though I send Significant Dark Looks toward his Avo, who appears to have passed on some heredity-by-adoption I could have done without), and hopefully I’ll get to the prologue for Signals (a project most of you don’t yet know about. Hush, you’ll find out in good time) today. See, there’s this guy, and he’s from the Revolutionary War and he’s dead, but he’s kinda not, and he’s in a dimension that kinda-sorta-maybe feels like a giant 1940’s noir New York-L.A.-Chicago-New Orleans. Anyway, it’s complicated, and there are demons. Except they’re not really demons. So I hope to get to that today, probably after my grandparents’ dining set arrives.

Where was I? Right: I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to write about the Hugos, as there’s been a metric crap-ton written about them already. Cousin Kate (long story, turns out we’re family. Be afraid.) wrote an excellent summary of how the voting works. That was up yesterday, if you missed it. Despite having participated for a few years, I could never wrap my head around it. I agree with her conclusions: good for politics. Which should tell you all you need to know about WorldCon and the Hugos Awards these days. I agree with her other conclusion, about how the best reward is green and folds. It’s the reason I got into this whole protituti-authorial gig in the first place. Well, that and my constitutional inability to fit neatly into corporate America (No, really: lengthy commutes make me break out in green skin and purple pants. It’s weird).

Larry Correia, Int’l Lord of Hate, Cismale Gendernormative Fascist, husband, father, and all-around great guy, put up his Aftermath to the Aftermath to the Hugos a couple of days ago, if you missed it. In it, he reiterates that the point wasn’t to win, but to expose the sham of a group of three thousand or so fans marching in lockstep (Aside: this is a rhetorical device used suggest that all of the WorldCon attendees/voters are more or less the same. It’s not true, as I know plenty of them. This, however, is an editorial piece, and I’m not pretending at objectivity, unlike those on the other side of this putative divide. See my authenticity, transparency, and honesty.) allegiance to a concept of scifi that seems to exclude the vast majority of the fanbase as a whole. For a worthy treatment of that last bit, see Brad Torgerson’s post mortem on the Sad Puppies 2 campaign. No, really: go read it. And the comments.

Which brings me to my point. This divide is killing science fiction fandom as we know it. It’s a microcosm of post-Marx politics, wherein you have no opponents, only enemies whose skulls you aren’t yet drinking from. This is a bit of problem in what is still, largely, a family affair. Seriously, we’re not all that different, despite the attempts to demonstrate that one side is composed of nothing but jackbooted theocrats, hoping in the dark hell of their spawning pits that this is the day they’ll get to crucify those people who choose to live differently, those who look different, and all those uppity women, too. Yes, even the female ones.

The cries of “Diversité! Egalité! Inclusivité!” are nigh deafening, just loud enough to cover the sound of editorial Guillotines chopping off the careers of those who speak out about the abuses of the system. If it wasn’t for indie (and Baen, who takes a remarkably American approach to selling the written word) I expect Brad, Larry, John C. Wright and the Most Hated Man in Science Fiction, the incorrigible Vox Day, himself (who, it should be noted, expressed a very gentlemanly response to coming in sixth out of five for that particular Hugo), would likely have to go back to their day jobs for all the quasi-public outcry. And character assassination, though I’ll get to that shortly.

I say quasi-, because outside of publishing and a certain subset of fandom, most people have no idea this conflict is even happening. Look, when I have to explain to avid readers how the publishing system works in order for them to understand why things are as odd as they are (and this – the Hugo controversy, the ongoing Amazon-Hachette wrangle, the combustibility of the Twitterverse, etc. – does looks strange to people who deal with madness-of-a-different-color every day), that should suggest to even the most partisan of my readers that our troubles amount to a pretty small hill of beans in this crazy world. Keep firmly in mind that readers go to a store, get a book, and read it. More these days, they’ll log onto Amazon, download a book, and read it. They certainly don’t ask pointed questions about the ethnic extraction of a given author, or what she thinks about the plight of the indigenous peoples of southeast Asia. They have little knowledge and less interest about the ins-and-outs of the publishing industry as a whole, beyond a vague, “huh, I wonder how that works?”

To paraphrase Sayre’s Law, “politics in the publishing industry is so vicious precisely because the stakes are so low.” When a minor celebrity – and outside of King, Rowling and a few others, authors are ALL minor celebrities, at best – gets accused of such things as beating his family, there might be a problem in the way you’re managing things, Science Fiction. This is arguably libel. Libel is bad. I may dislike a person personally and professionally, but it goes beyond the pale to suggest, just in passing, you understand, that I understand his wife had a couple of bruises on her arm at the grocery store the other day, and isn’t he such a big and angry man? This is the kind of rumor that can get families torn apart, under the watchful and well-armed eye of the government.

And that, right there, is the point of this whole screed. This kind of behavior is a rot. This rot is poisoning our family, and it’s poisoning scifi fandom. The outside world, when they notice us, is saying, “aren’t they the ones who can’t handle jokes? Who get all pissy when you mention Dark Vader (true story: I totally thought that was his name, when I was three) and don’t like football?” Consequently, despite all the press high-powered nerds have gotten over the past decade or so, with the continued rise of technology, and introduction of such freaking awesomeness as reactionless drives (I know, I know, still testing. I can hope, see?), handheld computing and carrying around a library on my touchscreen device (something I dreamed about as a kid), we’re still at the place of, “what’s with the funny-looking dice, nerds?” most of us experienced sometime in school.

This may sound like an appeal to unity. It’s not. If you want one, Toni Weisskopf wrote one back in March. I’m not that optimistic. I think the poison has gone too deep. I don’t expect scifi (or SF, or even SF/F: YMMV) to die, certainly. I do expect it to fragment. Given the accusations of sour grapes from one side, and collusion (not necessarily cheating, especially given Larry’s Aftermath post) from the other side, and the attending storm of angst and ill will, I expect fandom to fracture on ideological lines. Namely, those interested in art and literature, and those interested in having fun.
Which is really what this comes down to. Why are you part of this community? Is it for the sniping, the endless clever lines scoring points off of your “opponents?” Or is it a matter of enriching lives worn by the cares of the world? What are we, as a community, going to look like in a decade, two decades? Older, grayer and more tired, attending the same panels with the same panelists and the same tired, gray topics? Me, I’m in it for the money (Pipe down, you. You know who you are!), and that doesn’t happen without work, so I’m going to go do- oh, never mind: Wee Dave is complaining again.

A Fresh Look

Cedar here: I’ve been a bit overwhelmed with school and work this week, so when Sanford emailed me this I was delighted. Not just because it meant less work for me, but because we talk all the time, and this has been a topic recently. When is it time to stop? Do you leave them wanting more? I mean, personally I love series and following characters as they grow and age, even when it leads to tears as it did with the Vorkosigan series. Sanford has been reading both the Monster Hunter series by Larry Correia and Butcher’s Dresden series in parallel, recently, which led to lively discussions about series. But he has a good point about the Big Bad in the series getting too big, and the Hero becoming invincible, and the series jumps the shark… Although I want to see this scene: Franks fighting the creatures in the picture, standing knee-deep in the surf! The MHI series could literally jump sharks and it would work. 

Raptor shark laser

I wonder what the PUFF on this is?

Hi, Cedar is a bit busy with school, etc. this week, so I’m pinch hitting today. I’m Sanford and you’ve probably seen me around here on occasion. 🙂

I’m not a writer but I am a reader so I can discuss things pretty well. What I want to talk about this week is keeping a series fresh.

I’m old enough to remember the Destroyer series about Remo Williams, government hit man. There were about 3 decent novels in that series, after that it got ridiculous. I think most of the rest (around 150) were written for… well I’m not sure why anyone would read them. You have seen series jump the shark, most of you know the Xanth series which even the author admitted he was phoning in after a while.

So, how do you keep your stuff from getting that bad? OK first things first, if you can sell books that bad go ahead, cry all the way to the bank and write good stuff in your spare time. That’s exactly what Anthony did. I’d do it too. Problem is that most of us have no chance of developing such a cult following. So we need to figure out how to balance our fans requests for more against the dreck we will eventually be churning out. Better yet, let’s avoid getting to the dreck stage.

Again the question is how? Well there are several ways to do this that I’ve seen. The simplest and best in my opinion was the way Heinlein did it. He didn’t write a series so much as use a loose universe that he could write almost anything in. The major drawback to this is that it pretty much ignores doing a run of novels about the same character(s). Cedar has three Pixie For Hire novels planned starring the same characters Lom and Bella. She doesn’t plan to write any more Bela and Lom stories after the third comes out. We are looking at doing more stories set in the same world/time frame but focusing on other characters (Cedar: well, he really wants me to write Alger’s story, for instance… LOL). This is more or less the Heinlein model but, those wanting more Lom and Bella will be terribly disappointed. Note, we have discussed a series of x short stories filling in all of Lom’s background, selling them as collections as we get enough.

The next way is to do stand alone books or duologies or trilogies and introducing the stars of the next book/duology/trilogy in the book/last book. This way the reader doesn’t realize you having been doing the old bait and switch because the old favorites are still there, just faded into the background. This is somewhat unsatisfying because it is the old bait and switch. It can be very successful though, I would love to see John Ringo do a series based around Portena the armorer from his March series.

I saved the hard one for last because it is hard. Jim Butcher is writing the Dresden Files series. There are 20-25 books planned in the series and he has outlined the entire series from the beginning. This way he can pace the characters and not have his mage become all powerful too soon. Larry Correia has apparently done something similar with the Monster Hunter series, which is why he can foreshadow 4 books in advance. Most of us are going to have trouble looking that far forward. I admire them but would hesitate to attempt emulating them.

Those are the ways I see to do it. Any of you have any decent ideas how to keep series fresh? One of the neatest things about this blog is that the bloggers can learn as much from the commenters as the readers get from the blogs.

TANSTAAFL

I first came across TANSTAAFL years ago after finding copies of Worlds of If buried in one of my grandmother’s closets. This closet was devoted to storing books, magazines, records and a myriad of other things my uncles and father had left at the house over the years. To the best of my knowledge, these particular magazines had been left by my Uncle John when he’d been home on leave from the Navy. The rest of the brothers and sisters had long since moved out of the house and had their own families.

For those of you who might not be familiar wit TANSTAAFL, it comes from Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. It is the “title” of the third part of the book and stands for “There ain’t so such thing as a free lunch.” Think about that for awhile.

I guess what made this come to mind for me is recent events in the publishing world. There’s the Amazon-Hatchette conflict. Amazon has been pretty quiet about what is involved in their ongoing negotiations with Hatchette. Hatchette has been more quiet, officially at least, that I expected. However, there are “unnamed sources” that are supposedly from those in the know at Hatchette that have talked with the New York Times. And, of course, the Times is reporting what was said as fact. I’ll let you read the post but basically, if the source is to be believed, Amazon wants concessions for putting up a pre-order button, for having a person dedicated to dealing with Hatchette, pricing and discounting of e-books, etc.

Now, as the Times noted, much of what Amazon supposedly wants is exactly what is already in place with retailers such as Barnes & Noble. Of course, that little tidbit is buried deep in the article. It is also something we aren’t hearing about from those Amazon detractors who claim that all the retailer is doing is hurting authors and readers.

Well, folks, TANSTAAFL. As an author, when you sign a contract with a publisher, you are signing over all rights to determine where your book will be sold to that publisher. If they don’t contract with a retailer, too bad. If they get into a contract dispute with a retailer too bad. You may not like it but you gave up that control. What’s more, you gave it up for a very small cut of the money pie, trusting that publisher to protect your rights, market your book and give you a fair accounting of your sales.

I’m not going to condemn anyone for going the traditional route. I freely admit there is one traditional publisher — Baen — I would love to work with some day. However, when you sign a contract with a publisher, you do give up your right to determine where your books are sold and at what price point. You can and, more than likely will, find yourself held hostage during contract negotiations between the publisher and its distributor or retail outlets. That is just one of the costs of doing business the traditional way.

But TANSTAAFL applies to what is going on in publishing in other ways as well. For a very long time, the darlings of traditional publishing have benefited from a push from their publishers than many others never received. They were allowed to believe that they are relevant and cutting edge. They fell into lockstep with the cause du jour as decided by the publishers and took great joy in lording it over the lesser beings in publishing, especially in science fiction/fantasy. We’ve seen them flex their muscles — or try to, at least — in how they’ve pushed political correctness as they describe it. Don’t you dare have a scantily clad female on a cover but no sweat having a mostly naked man. To be relevant, you have to have every color, creed and sexual preference represented in your work. Story has taken a backseat to message.

Except there has been a push back and they don’t know how to react. The sacred cows are being sacrificed right and left. We’ve been told people don’t read science fiction and fantasy and yet there are folks out there indie publishing who have been able to quit their day jobs to write full time. Others have managed to make enough in royalties in just a month or two of sales to be the equivalent of an advance from a traditional publisher. What’s worse that these renegade indie authors actually being successful is that they are doing it by writing stories readers want to read. Stories, not messages. How dare they!

The other side has made an art of attacking those they don’t approve of. They have no problems publicly condemning, possibly even slandering, those who might have unpopular beliefs. If you don’t fit into the right-think slot, you are not worthy of being allowed to write. They’ve done their best to ruin Vox Day who, in my opinion, loves to stir the pot of controversy. When Ender’s Game (the movie) came out, they tried to coordinate a boycott of the movie and even called for people to quit buying anything by Orson Scott Card. Why? Because he doesn’t believe the way they do and has said so publicly. Do I agree with him? No, but I also don’t think that is reason to take away his livelihood. Want more examples? There has been a call for Toni Weisskopf to drop Larry Correia because he is a big, mean, scary, gun-loving, heterosexual man and proud of it. Worse, he won’t learn his place and be quiet about his opinions and apologize to those who attack him.

There are any number of other examples out there. The point is this, those folks who are often identified as social justice warriors or GHHers have been allowed to do as they want and say as they want for so long, they thought they basically had a free lunch to continue to do so. They are now learning that they don’t. When they attack one of our own, we tend to fight back now. Why? Mainly because we’re tired of it. But the underlying reason is because we know, as authors, we have alternatives to legacy publishing now. We don’t have to be afraid of our editors dropping us because we aren’t bowing down to their cause du jour. Then there is the fact that we are starting to realize there are so many readers out there who want the kind of stories we write.

The dance that is happening right now revolves around how the other side is dealing with the revelation that one of their shining beacons they hold up as an example for all has been named as an abuser by her own daughter. They’d managed to “forget”, if not turn a blind eye, to the fact that this beacon (Marion Zimmer Bradley) had been married to a child abuser and had, iirc, tried to defend his actions. But now they are scrambling around trying to figure out how to respond to the allegations against MZB. I’ve seen everything from condemning the actions, if true, but casting doubt on the daughter’s story to saying basically, “okay, she was bad but that doesn’t make her books, or the message in them, bad.” Then there was the comment I saw on social media this morning which was basically trying to find out if it was one of those well-known “secrets”. The subtext being, if it wasn’t, then the person posting could just ignore what happened and say that we can’t condemn the writing because of actions of the author that weren’t known.

My issue with all that is the double-standard involved. If this sort of revelation had been made against a “conservative” writer, the SJWs would be demanding that their books be pulled from the shelves and the author would be condemned. There would be little to no doubting the allegations against her. There would be no separating the actions of the author from her work. Remember, they want to kill the careers of men like Card and Correia simply because they aren’t “politically correct”.

Well, for those who think it is all right to apply that double standard, TANSTAAFL. There will come a time when people are tired of being told what to do, what to think, what to read. And guess what, that time is here. There is more behind the trouble the publishing industry is in than Amazon and much of it lies at the feet of the publishers and those they have anointed as their dahlings. You attack us, we will defend ourselves. More than that, we will continue to write stories readers want to buy. We will continue to explore alternative ways to get our work into the hands of readers, and at prices they can afford and that will pay us royalties much greater than what your legacy publishers are giving you.

And, along that line, here are some of those books:


adjustment2Vengeance from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 1)

First, they took away her command. Then they took away her freedom. But they couldn’t take away her duty and honor. Now they want her back.

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has survived two years in a brutal military prison. Now those who betrayed her are offering the chance for freedom. All she has to do is trust them not to betray her and her people again. If she can do that, and if she can survive the war that looms on the horizon, she can reclaim her life and get the vengeance she’s dreamed of for so long.

But only if she can forget the betrayal and do her duty.


stardogsStardogs

Revolution rises!

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.

witchfindercoverfinalWitchfinder (Magical Empires)

In Avalon, where the world runs on magic, the king of Britannia appoints a witchfinder to rescue unfortunates with magical power from lands where magic is a capital crime. Or he did. But after the royal princess was kidnapped from her cradle twenty years ago, all travel to other universes has been forbidden, and the position of witchfinder abolished. Seraphim Ainsling, Duke of Darkwater, son of the last witchfinder, breaks the edict. He can’t simply let people die for lack of rescue. His stubborn compassion will bring him trouble and disgrace, turmoil and danger — and maybe, just maybe, the greatest reward of all.

 

Trickster ebook cover

Trickster Noir (Pixie for Hire)

After the battle of Tower Baelfire ended, Lom lay dying. Bella was tasked with not only the job she never wanted, but the one she did. Could she keep Lom alive long enough for him to come to the rescue when their kingdom needed them? And what did Raven, mysterious trickster spirit and honorary uncle to Bella, want with them? If the threat was big enough to have the trickster worried, Bella knew she needed to have Lom at her side. Underhill might look like a soap-bubble kingdom, but Bella and Lom knew there was a gritty underside. Why else would fairyland need a dark man willing to carry a big gun and be the Pixie for Hire?

 

 

convent

ConVent (The Vampire Con Series)

A vampire, a werewolf, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. Whoever picked this team to save the world wasn’t thinking of sending the very best. But then, since this particular threat to the universe and everything good is being staged in science fiction conventions, amid people in costume, misfits and creative geniuses, any convetional hero would have stood out. Now Jim, the vampire, and his unlikely sidekicks have to beat the clock to find out who’s sacrificing con goers before all hell breaks loose — literally.

ConVent is proof that Kate Paulk’s brain works in wonderfully mysterious ways. A sarcastic vampire, his werewolf best buddy, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. The “Save the world” department really messed it up this time.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00006]War To The Knife (Laredo War Trilogy Book 1)

Laredo’s defenders were ground down and its people ruthlessly slaughtered when the Bactrians invaded the planet. Overwhelmed, its Army switched to guerrilla warfare and went underground. For three years they’ve fought like demons to resist the occupiers. They’ve bled the enemy, but at fearful cost. The survivors are running out of weapons, supplies, and places to hide.

Then a young officer, Dave Carson, uncovers news that may change everything. An opportunity is coming to smash the foe harder than they’ve ever done before, both on and off the planet. Success may bring the interplanetary community to their aid – but it’ll take everything they’ve got. Win or lose, many of them will die. Failure will mean that Bactria will at last rule unopposed.

That risk won’t stop them. When you’re fighting a war to the knife, in the end you bet on the blade.

murder world kaijuMurder World: Kaiju Dawn

Captain Vincente Huerta and the crew of the Fancy have been hired to retrieve a valuable item from a downed research vessel at the edge of the enemy’s space.
It was going to be an easy payday.
But what Captain Huerta and the men, women and alien under his command didn’t know was that they were being sent to the most dangerous planet in the galaxy.
Something large, ancient and most assuredly evil resides on the planet of Gorgon IV. Something so terrifying that man could barely fathom it with his puny mind. Captain Huerta must use every trick in the book, and possibly write an entirely new one, if he wants to escape Murder World.

baptism by fireBaptism By Fire (Edge of Faith)

When a madman and a giant flaming thing attack James Lawrie’s Marine outpost, the medic and an explosively talented sergeant aren’t supposed to save the day. Life becomes no simpler when Petty Officer Lawrie returns home on leave to find federal agents investigating the disappearance of a young woman from his past. A young woman whose body turns up marked with eerily familiar symbols.

 

fancy freeFancy Free

In the last parts of the Twenty-first century, AI, Artificial Intelligence is commonplace. Highly able computers, and nothing more . . . until some rare and as yet unidentified trigger creates an actual personality.

Artificial Personalities, APs or hals, are illegal. Destroyed upon discovery. Even Beowulf, the AP the government controls, and uses to hunt down emerging hals, isn’t legally recognized, has no right to existence.
So you’d think that when the Special Grid Security Unit started paying extra attention to the area where a certain cooking show operates, Fancy Farmer—the AP who runs the show—would be concerned.

But Fancy has a bigger problem.

She’s been stolen.

World turned upside down

There are times when I wonder if the world turned upside down while I was asleep. You know the times I’m talking about. You go to bed one night and when you wake up, it seems like common sense has flown out the window. But it’s more than that. It also seems as if all too many of our fellow humans have lost the ability to look at all sides of an issue and make up their own minds.  That’s what I’ve felt about the publishing industry for the last few weeks. Well, to be honest, it seems as though there are more and more days and weeks when that happens over the last few years. But since the Hugo slate came out, those days are beginning to far outweigh the days when “normal” ruled.

No, I’m not going to rehash the Hugo debate. Others have done it better than I could. Nor am I going to into the Amazon-Hatchette contract negotiations. Dave did a great job of covering it yesterday.

I guess I’m in a place right now where I’m somewhere between absolutely furious about what is happening to this industry — and especially a genre — I love and heartsick. This past year has seen something new in publishing — the conservatives and libertarians are starting to push back against the liberals. Part of this stems from the increasing importance of indie publishing and small press publishing as the Big Five loose more and more of their control over the industry. Authors are starting to realize that they no longer have to fall into lockstep with whatever the cause du jour is for the editors in their ivory tower New York offices.

If you don’t think this is true, just go to Amazon or iTunes or BN.com and see how many more science fiction books are now available for download. Then see how well those books are selling. Talk to authors who are making a good living from writing and self-publishing their science fiction, authors who hadn’t been able to break into publishing under the legacy model. I’m confident you will find most of them write stories that don’t denigrate mankind, don’t make humanity the enemy that needs to be wiped out to save Mother Earth. Instead, they write stories with a plot and with characters we can identify with. Stories we want to read.

But this renewal of the genre is being denied — long and loud — by some in our industry. What makes this sad is that they are the ones who ought to be thrilled to know there is a broadening market for science fiction and fantasy. But they aren’t. They are terrified of it because indie authors aren’t being constrained by the cause du jour. So they go on the attack. But they don’t attack the indie authors — mainly because, as much as we scare them we are also still beneath their notice. Instead they attack authors like Larry Corriea who is traditionally published — now.  Larry is also a champion of other authors and of gamers and of guns. Oh, and he’s male and proudly married and the father of his own clan.

In other words, he’s a scary man who must be evil. So they must silence him.

Sigh. Authors wanting to silence other authors.

The latest attack on Larry came from Damien Walter of the Guardian. This isn’t the first time he’s tried to shame and humiliate Larry for being wrong-think. It is clear dear Damien isn’t really bright. Either that or he likes being publicly flogged, not only by Larry, who does wonderful fisks of the Guardian articles, but also by Larry’s friends and fans. Because I don’t want to give Damien any more page hits than he already has — and because Larry quotes the entirety of the latest article — here are links to the two part fisking Larry has done:

Fisking the Guardian’s Village Idiot: Part 1

Fisking the Guardian’s Village Idiot: Part 2

Then there is this excellent — and most entertaining — piece by John C. Wright, The Evil League of Evil is Given Pious Advice.

I thank Larry and John for what they’ve said in their blogs and on Facebook. I may not always agree with what they say, but that isn’t the point. The point is no voice should be silenced and most certainly not by artificial social rules determined by a few vocal social justice warriors. There is a place for everyone in the industry. Don’t like what someone writes? Don’t buy it. That’s what readers have been doing for years. But, just as publishers didn’t trust readers to determine what they wanted to read, the SJWs don’t either. Whether it is a need to be relevant or the need to control, I don’t know and I don’t care.

What I would really like is for the SJWs to sit back and actually take a few moments to read what they’ve been saying in social media. Read it and think about it and then tell me how what they are calling for isn’t basically censorship — and don’t give me a lecture here that only governments can censor. When you have people actively calling for publishers to drop authors because those authors aren’t following right-think, when those same people force others out of their jobs because they didn’t follow-right think, that’s pretty darned close to censorship. Frankly, if I say much more, I’ll go into a political rant.

I’m tired of being told how to think by the SJWs. Funny, no one else in the industry is telling me what sort of plots or characters I should be writing. No one else is condemning me — or any other author — if there aren’t enough main characters of whatever ilk in my work. Maybe instead of trying to convince the rest of us about how wrong we are, they ought to be focusing on their craft and not on their political agenda.

Oops, there I go, slipping into another rant.

Or maybe I’m just tired.

(I’ll be back later today to answer any comments but it will be later this afternoon or evening, after the final round of oral surgery. Whee – not.)

In the meantime, here’s a bit of self-promotion:

Vengeance From Ashes (new)Vengeance from Ashes (Honor and Duty) (written under the pen name Sam Schall) is the first in the Honor and Duty series.

Here’s the blurb:

First, they took away her command. Then they took away her freedom. But they couldn’t take away her duty and honor. Now they want her back.

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has survived two years in a brutal military prison. Now those who betrayed her are offering the chance for freedom. All she has to do is trust them not to betray her and her people again. If she can do that, and if she can survive the war that looms on the horizon, she can reclaim her life and get the vengeance she’s dreamed of for so long.

But only if she can forget the betrayal and do her duty.