2016/02/27

Earth vs. Twitter: This Time It's Personal

Twitter jail

Twitter's suppression of conservative and libertarian users has incited an exodus of high profile figures from the embattled social network. It's been rightly said that Twitter, as a private sector corporation, is free to ostracize any user demographic it wants. Targeted users are just as free to leave the platform.

While I understand and support the recent defections from Twitter, there's a side to this controversy that's been lost in the shuffle.


When elephants fight, the grass suffers
The big names whose exit has garnered the most attention have big web sites, major publishers, and hit TV shows for which Twitter is just one marketing channel. Yet their thousands of followers don't.

One defining feature of any social network is the ability to connect like-minded people. As in the real world, building relationships online with leaders in your field is vital to success. Particularly in the arts, where visibility makes the difference between life and death, signal boosts from people higher up the ladder are indispensable.

Twitter knows this. You can also be sure they know how the old media stacks the deck against dissenters from the narrative.

Author Nick Cole recently spoke to Geek Gab about his banishment from Harper Collins. He already knew that big publishing was biased against anyone who doesn't share the NY elite worldview. Still, he worked with them based on the assumption that they were whores. To his (short term) cost, he found out that they're actually fanatics.


Twitter is actively de-platforming dissenters
Almost every institution in the Western world has been seized by fanatics who only care about one thing: subverting those institutions into propaganda organs. They can't win an open debate on an even playing field, so they focus their efforts on kicking their opposition off of the platform.

If you're inclined to question how well this de-platforming works, take a look at Washington, D.C., the EU, corporate America, academia, Hollywood, and traditional SF publishing. Social networks are just following their lead, with equally grievous offenders Facebook and Goodreads joining Twitter.

It's a familiar story: Twitter makes its user experience miserable for conservatives and social libertarians. Being individualists, many of the targeted users leave. Exiting users with large followings create a vacuum of leadership and support.

Which is exactly what Twitter wants.

Think about it. Group action is collectivists' single greatest advantage. They thrive on isolating dissenters from support; making them feel alone, and swarming them into submission.

And we're all too eager to oblige. Individualism's biggest drawback is its adherents' tendency toward atomization, which leaves them vulnerable to divide and conquer tactics. Smart, inspired individuals can achieve great things, but this enemy's position is hardened against the Lone Ranger approach.

Lone Ranger

Hitting me where I live
This isn't just abstract theory. The last two months have given me direct, personal experience of how Twitter's thought policing is fucking things up for the little guy. Here's a recap.
Just to give you an insight on how Twitter's rampant douchebaggery can seriously put the squeeze on small-time operators like myself, each of the incidents above had a direct negative impact on my business.

Twitter chose to devarify Milo five minutes before he was scheduled to join us on the Superversive livestream.

We were luckier with Adam Baldwin, who did appear on Geek Gab before he got fed up with Twitter for good. I was ecstatic when Mr. Baldwin started sharing some of my tweets with his considerable following. That's a massive audience that Twitter's politicking has now effectively cut me off from.

Ditto with the International Lord of Hate, who'd actually followed me just prior to jumping on the same chopper that airlifted Adam Baldwin to freedom from the Twitter swamps.

Disclaimer: Nobody owes me anything. I remain unspeakably grateful to Milo, Adam, Larry, and all of the big fish who've deigned to give me the time of day.

Likewise, I'm not the Twitter police, and it would be a monumental delusion to think that anyone's social media preferences are subject to my approval. For what it's worth anyone with eyes and a working sense of integrity knows that the gross mismanagement on display amply justifies walking out on Twitter's passive-aggressive bullshit.

Meanwhile, me and many others who are left behind will keep sending out proverbial tweets in bottles while hoping that our blogs eventually get big enough to replace Twitter as a means of reaching readers.

Or some of those ruggedly independent entrepreneurs among the Twitter exodus could get together and create the truly open alternative social network that the thought police have unwittingly created a massive demand for.

Your once and future followers would really dig it.

2016/02/20

Amazon Reviews and eBook Pricing

Authors and bibliophiles alike should read this post by Larry Correia in response to an Amazon review for Son of the Black Sword.

Son of the Black Sword

Your time is valuable, so if you're disinclined to following the link, the short version is that a reviewer gave Larry's book one star for the sole reason that he thought the price was too high.

Setting aside the fact that the reviewer is wrong about the eBook costing more than the paperback, and that complaints which have nothing to do with the product but are instead directed at the seller violate Amazon's review guidelines, his stated aim of "trying to convince the author to choose to self publish in the future." is misguided and ultimately counterproductive.


Let's talk price
I've written before about how to price a self-published book.

To give Larry's disgruntled customer the justice he didn't do to authors, I agree with him on a few points.

Publishers spend far less in production costs and overhead for eBooks than print books.
Granted, the cost of physically printing a book are lower than most people think. Not having to pay for storage, shipping, and insurance on physical inventory is where publishers really save on eBooks.

An eBook should be priced lower than a paperback--or any print version--of the same book.
As a result of point one above, eBooks have far bigger profit margins than print books. I know, because I make and sell both print books and eBooks.

Publishers only earn about 6% on the sale of each print book (the same as authors). But with Kindle books, publishers get 70% of the selling price after Amazon's cut. According to almost every book contract, authors get 25% of the publishers' 70%. (This is a simplified version of an eBook's profit breakdown, and it doesn't take the return of agency pricing into account, but the general idea's the same.)

Charging more for a product that earns you nearly 10 times greater profits is just a brazen cash grab. Growing numbers of readers and authors know it.

Publishers who sell eBooks at excessively high prices do a disservice to readers and authors.
Even being generous with their relatively negligible costs, the publishers' take of every eBook sale is easily half or more. And although most authors get 25% eBook royalties, that's 25% of net; not gross, so the author's real cut is more like 12.5% of the selling price.

Which is why I make more from the sale of a $2.99 eBook than a tradpub author does at $10.99.

Meanwhile, it's plain greedy to artificially jack up prices on a commodity that a) there is an infinite supply of, and b) isn't actually being sold to the reader at all. You own every print book that you pay for. With eBooks, you are purchasing a license that can be--and has previously been--revoked.

I'm no economist, but it seems unjust to set what's essentially a licensing fee higher than the price for ownership.

The common practice among most big publishers (note: I didn't say all) of selling eBooks at dramatically inflated prices will continue driving readers and authors toward indie.
The Big Five's eBook sales are declining while Amazon reports that Kindle Store sales are growing overall. No doubt there are many reasons why readers are leaving the big boys for smaller publishers, indie authors, and Amazon's own imprints, but you can bet that price is a major factor.

Now that the devil's had his due, let's discuss some areas where the reviewer and I part ways, or...


Why punishing authors for publishers' pricing decisions is evil
When an author signs with a publishing house, he forfeits control over his books. Publishing contracts establish the legal fiction that the publisher created the work. From the moment an author signs away his rights, the publisher is the author as far as the law is concerned.

As a consequence, traditionally published authors have no control over the marketing, exterior and interior art, or pricing of their books. Unless you're a best selling author, you may not even be consulted on any of these decisions.

I'm not bashing publishers, here. Not every writer has the skills or disposition to handle editing, marketing, and art design. Giving up control is part of the trade off for being relieved of these burdens.

But at the same time, reviewers should understand that penalizing an author for something outside of his responsibility and control is a coercive, 100% dick move.

I'm willing to accept responsibility for every area of my publishing business, from writing the books to commissioning and approving the covers, to setting the prices. I know how tough this racket is. That's why I would never coerce anyone into shouldering the burdens of a publisher.

Self-publishing ain't an ideology and it ain't for everyone. Are many trad publishers behaving in objectively and obviously unethical ways? Yep. But labeling all of them as villains is indulging in guilt by association. By way of counterexample...


Baen is one of the good guys
Even when I'm taking trad publishers to task for screwing authors or alienating readers, I'm always careful to make an exception for Baen Books. Why? Simple. They fight for the readers.

This mini-controversy over SotBS is a perfect example. First, contrary to the reviewer's premature complaint, the Kindle version costs a dollar less than the paperback. Second, and more to the point, the eBook is priced correctly.

Without going too deep into the nuts and bolts of book pricing (which I covered in greater detail elsewhere), Amazon strongly recommends that eBooks be priced between $2.99 and $9.99. They heavily incentivize pricing eBooks in this range, going so far as to double the royalty rate.

Though the optimal price varies per book, my extensive research shows that the sweet spot for most eBooks is somewhere in the $2.99 to $5.99 range.

Granted, SotBS is currently listed at $7.99 for Kindle, but let's not forget the vital factor of author brand. Marketing gurus often remind us that an author's job isn't so much selling books as selling himself. The fact that readers will reliably pay a 60% premium on works by their favorite authors bears this wisdom out.

And unless you've been stranded on Mars since 2008, you know that Larry Correia has one damn strong brand.

Starting at $5.00--well within the eBook sweet spot--and adding 60% gets you eight bucks, which happens to be what Baen is charging for Son of the Black Sword.

Consider the above and ask yourselves, indie pub ideologues, if SotBS is really the hill you want to die on. You might have a case if you were militating against one of the $15 eBooks peddled by the Big Five. But even then, directing your ire against the innocent writer instead of the guilty party--the publisher--is just asinine.


Next steps
Frequent readers of this blog know where my sympathies lie (for now) in the tradpub vs. indie debate. That said, what should a self-pub evangelist--if you insist on being one--do to ensure the victory of readers and authors over the establishment?

As I said in my now infamous post about technology-driven changes in sci-fi fandom, the answer is nothing. The Big Five that have exerted a stranglehold over the book industry for better than a century are now locked into the death spiral of growing shares in a shrinking market. If they were willing and/or able to take the necessary steps to pull out of that nosedive, they already would have.

I don't want a market composed entirely of self-published authors. Like I said before, not everyone is cut out for indie. We'll always need publishers in some form, and frankly a traditional publishing industry with Baen in charge would be my version of returning home to 1985 to find my family successful and functional while Biff Tannen waxes the Bimmer.

Biff BMW
My ideal vision of the future, if you replace the McFlys' car with Toni Weisskopf's and Biff with PNH.
If you're really sore about an overpriced eBook, how about communicating your displeasure to the publisher after not buying it? They probably won't listen, but since listening is the only way to save themselves, you win anyway.

In the meantime, consider spending your hard-earned eBook budget on reasonably priced and well-received indie titles such as these.

2016/02/13

Sad Puppies: Cognitive Dissonance Makes Our Enemies Oblivious

oblivious

Predictably, my recent post about how advances in media technology are driving the Sad Puppies phenomenon--and the hostile reactions of its detractors--drew hostile reactions from SP's detractors.

I argued that new tribes of science fiction fans are forming around movies, video games, and eBooks; leaving the New York publishing establishment ever more obsolete.

That's not to say that the folks in charge of NY publishing are politically neutral. To the contrary, the clear pattern of behavior on display at the Big Five leaves little doubt of their left wing bias. But that's tangential to the real casus belli.

The main reason why the NY establishment's knickers are in a twist is that the medium they control--books printed on paper--is losing cultural prominence.

The gatekeepers' identities are invested in their control over mainstream publishing. Any serious threat to their control causes cognitive dissonance: a physiological; not a rational, response. As independents who threaten the gatekeepers' identity, the Sad and Rabid Puppies are convenient scapegoats for their irrational frustration.


Case in point
After hearing about my post, self-identified SP opponent Matthew M. Foster posted his reaction on Facebook. Once again the form, if not the content, of his comment is highly instructive.

Before proceeding to my analysis of Foster's response, read this post on cognitive dissonance "tells" by master persuader Scott Adams. He explains that cognitive dissonance is caused when someone faces an argument against a belief that is foundational to his identity. and to which he has no rational response.

How can you tell when your argument has been convincing enough to cause cognitive dissonance in your opponent? Here's a selection of quotes from my original post, Matt Foster's response to it, and a few of the relevant tells that Scott Adams has identified. Keeping in mind that my goal is to engage in reasoned argument about the causes of SP, ask yourself if Matt's responses are rational or not.
Brian Niemeier: Hugo-nominated author Mike Flynn has written about how people will fall into one of three broad categories when faced with change.
Innovators will champion a new idea just for the sake of novelty. They drive change, but their motives aren't always selfless. They could be narcissists, or on the make for a fast buck.
Conservatives will consent to change, but not until they have reasonable proof of success. Some are true skeptics. Some are hardliners. Some just have cold feet.
Inhibitors will not agree to make changes under any circumstances. However convincing the innovators' logic, and however sound the conservatives' data, the inhibitor's mantra is "No!"
Nonetheless, there are still those who are beholden to the big NYC publishers and their obsolete business model. Interestingly, these folks' behavior perfectly fits the classic inhibitor profiles.
Matthew M. Foster: So, cute to switch what the Pups stand for, and what those who are not sometimes do by switching the definitions of words--but probably best to stick to what most Pups cling to: That the Pups are true and loyal conservatives fighting against the evil forces of Progressive change. It is a silly outlook, but at least closer to true. Of course I don't call the Pups progressives conservatives (the movement is neoreactionary). 
Lone Penguin: The Lone Penguin is the person you see on the Internet imploring others to stop listening to person X. The usual phrasing looks like “Why is anyone listening to that terrible person X?”
The tell is that the Lone Penguin will offer no data or reasoning to back up the emotion. At most, the Lone Penguin will offer a link to a story in which a journalist got something wrong or out of context.
Interpretation: The Lone Penguin hates person X because the argument made by person X is persuasive, and that violates the Lone Penguin’s identity as a person who always disagrees with person X and similar lines of thinking.

BN: Last time, we talked about the drastic changes currently underway in sci-fi fandom, and the media that are driving those changes.
I took a conservative approach to eBook technology and self-publishing in general. I was traditionally published first and only went indie when hard evidence indicated that it was the smarter move.
All of the controversy, tantrums, and libel over Sad Puppies can be chalked up to big fish in the shrinking legacy publishing pond who are standing athwart inevitable industry changes, desperately flailing their arms, and yelling "STOP!"
Given that the CHORF phenomenon is an atavistic reaction to inevitable changes in fandom driven by inexorable advances in technology, we needn't take any specific action to defeat them. Just as new theories ultimately triumph when the prior generation of scientists die off, SF will continue to thrive and grow long after the last CHORF's demise.
MMF: I do agree with him that time will settle things. New generations will grow up in a world that the Golden Age never saw, and the broader range of stories, diverse stories if you will, will be the norm. The Pups will be a glitch, hanging on to a past, even when, as in this article, trying to pretend that their past is actually a new future.
Personal Attack: A personal attack without reason is among the strongest tells. That means the person being attacked has been so persuasive that it is shaking someone else’s self-image.
Example:
Politician: My policies will stimulate the economy. Here is the data proving that this plan worked in every country where it became law.
Citizen: That guy is a reactionary asshole
Interpretation: The politician’s argument is so strong that it violates the citizen’s identity as someone that is always on the other side of that particular argument. How can the citizen maintain his old self-image and still feel rational? Cognitive dissonance is triggered and anger comes out.

BN: Storytelling to make a political point to the detriment of fun is what the Puppies have always been steadfastly against. An author's publisher is not his boss. His readers are.
MMF: An amusing twist.
Jokeless laugh: When I [Scott Adams] was training to be a hypnotist, our instructor taught us that a subject will often laugh at something you say, or a background sound, that would normally have no humor trigger. The real trigger is that the subject is feeling the hypnotist’s words translate into bodily reactions and it causes an involuntary giggle.

BN: As the story thus far shows, not only are claims of Puppies injecting politics into the awards the diametric opposite of the truth, politics is just a red herring in this whole controversy--a fig leaf used to conceal the CHORFs' fear of change and to justify their attacks on the agents of change.
MMF: So he paints the Pups as progressives (without using the word of course--he does realise that ushering in change in order to help people is the definition of progressive?) while painting those who oppose the Pups, who've been called progressives over and over again by the Pups, as extreme conservatives (for which he swiped an unnecessary word).
Nonsense Rebuttal: When you hear an irrational response to your rational argument, it probably means the argument was sound but it violated someone’s sense of identity. Here I am talking about the truly illogical responses you see on the Internet all the time, not routine disagreements over data and priorities.

Analysis
There are two possible explanations for why Matthew responded to my evidence-based arguments with nothing but ad hominem attacks.

  1. False positives: all of his "tells" are in fact rational responses to unknown stimuli.
  2. Cognitive dissonance: lacking contrary evidence against arguments that shook his worldview, Matthew responded with a slew of irrational accusations.
I admit that option 1 could be the right answer. But if it's not, then Matthew has unintentionally provided me with an abundance of useful information about his own self-concept, the beliefs upon which that self-concept is based, and arguments that effectively undermine those beliefs.

Happily, both hypotheses are testable.

All I need to do is present data that refute Matthew's beliefs in ways that challenge his identity. If my analysis is correct, cognitive dissonance will prompt him to respond with irrational rhetoric that simply ignores my hard evidence.

Evidence such as his only book's Amazon rank of #509,455 Paid in Kindle Store:


Compared with my lowest selling book:

Again, I could be wrong. Perhaps Matthew has correctly predicted the future of SF publishing. History isn't linear, and current trends aren't always reliable indicators of future performance.

But if you hope to become a successful author, it stands to reason that objectively considering books that are currently pleasing readers might help you build your own audience.

I can honestly say that I learned a lot from reading books by John Scalzi, Mary Robinette Kowal, and George R. R. Martin (and I had a good time in the process). Besides adding more tools to your writer toolbox, reading works by people with whom you disagree deepens your understanding of your own position.


Update from Hugo winner Mike Glyer at Rabid Puppies 2 nominee for Best Fanzine File 770:
(12) SETTING AN EXAMPLE. Here is Brian Niemeier’s tweet, inviting people to read his post criticizing Matthew Foster for using ad hominem attacks.

My comment: See "Personal Attack" in the list of cognitive dissonance tells above. The response isn't surprising, but the point of origin is. Since I expected Matthew Foster to prove my hypothesis first, I may need to work on my aim.

Follow me on Twitter: @BrianNiemeier

2016/02/10

Souldancer is Live on Amazon

It's my sincere pleasure to announce that Souldancer, the sequel to Nethereal, is now live on Amazon's Kindle Store.


The release of this book marks the culmination of a work that's been years in the making. Though Souldancer is sequentially the second book of the Soul Cycle, I actually started writing it before I wrote Nethereal.

That's how eager I was to tell this story. In fact, I was a little too eager, because in the process I generated enough background material to merit its own novel, which became the series' first book.

Readers have pointed out that Nethereal sets up a universal moral quandary. Souldancer tackles that dilemma head on. So in a way, SD is the true beginning of the cosmic epic to which Nethereal is merely a prologue (and we've still got two books to go).

If you liked the rich, multifaceted characters of the first book, you're in for a treat with the second. The main and supporting cast of Souldancer are some of my favorite--and my beta readers' favorite--imaginary friends. You may even recognize a face or two from the last outing; or suspect that you do.

The main conflict in Nethereal deals primarily with the main characters' survival, with growing implications of something much bigger than they are. The struggle to survive is still present in Souldancer, with the existential crises moved to the forefront.

Don't worry that I'm going all literary on you. In my experience, there's no better way to generate existential fear than to ramp up the horror. And there's even more action in Souldancer than in its swashbuckling predecessor.

There is also a love story. A horrifying, action-packed love story.

The stage is set. The cast have taken their places. I can't wait for you to meet them.

Now let's put the first book's launch to shame!

Get Souldancer, Soul Cycle Book 2 for Kindle.

It's also a good idea to read Nethereal first.


Update: Souldancer Amazon Ranks
Debuted on 2/10/2016 at ~#70,000 Paid in Kindle Store.

2/10/2016 at 9PM: <#35,000 Paid in Kindle Store.

2/11/2016 at 9AM: #17,343 Paid in Kindle Store.

2/11/2016 at 4 PM: #14,869 Paid in Kindle Store.

Dear readers: you're on the right track for Soul Cycle Book III.

2016/02/02

Souldancer Update: Finished Cover Art

Earlier today, my extraordinary cover artist Marcelo Orsi Blanco sent me the detailed, colorized version of the front cover for Souldancer.

Souldancer

As you might expect, I was overjoyed.

But it was only a foretaste of the surprise he had in store for me a few hours later, when he sent the finished front and back covers and spine art.

Souldancer front & back

Within minutes, my followers on social media came forth to cover the cover in glory. Thanks to them, and congratulations to Marcelo!

As an indie author, I'm not just a writer. I also shoulder all the responsibilities of a publisher.

My market research on Nethereal proved that the cover alone sells books. The universally positive response so far gives me every reason to expect that the same will hold true for Souldancer.

Not that I'm cutting corners on the writing and letting the pretty pictures do all the heavy lifting (though they are pretty).

Readers liked the story of Nethereal enough to suggest it for a Hugo and me for a Campbell. Still, I can't find the words to express how grateful I am for their vote of confidence.

When the fans of an obscure, self-published author can go toe-to-toe with fans of best selling authors backed by big NY publishers, the dawn of a new world is upon us.

Anyway, considering how much people enjoy Nethereal, imagining their reactions to Souldancer makes me giddy with anticipation.

Only the creative team of my editor, artist, beta readers, and a few collaborators have any idea what Souldancer has in store. Many Nethereal fans have speculated about the sequel, and I can say confidently that none of them have come close.

Here's a hint: a sequel should expand on the themes of the original. So take Nethereal and think BIGGER. But at the same time, more personal and intimate. You'll see.

I can't wait for you to see.

Meanwhile, keep in mind that the gateway to this phenomenon is still very much accessible. It is also eligible for Best Novel Hugo suggestions until the end of this month.

Till next time, I remain the devoted servant of my readers.

2016/02/01

Sad Puppies: Lords Temporal and Spiritual


Last time, we talked about the drastic changes currently underway in sci-fi fandom, and the media that are driving those changes.

People with their fingers on the pulse of fandom have observed that SF is becoming more tribalistic. They're right.

Due to the dominance of movies, TV shows, video games, and even eBooks, today's geeks are having a much more homogeneous SF experience than fans did back when print was king.

As a result, sci-fi has swept the world in a bloodless revolution. Today fans can gather by the hundreds of thousands at mega-conventions like Gen Con, Dragon Con, and the San Diego Comic Con with not a scintilla of conflict. We are one friggin' huge happy tribe.

If sci-fi has broken into the mainstream and allowed millions of nerds to party together in relative peace and harmony, then where's the much-hyped friction coming from?


Enter the Inhibitors
Hugo-nominated author Mike Flynn has written about how people will fall into one of three broad categories when faced with change.

Resistance to Change
Innovators will champion a new idea just for the sake of novelty. They drive change, but their motives aren't always selfless. They could be narcissists, or on the make for a fast buck.

Conservatives will consent to change, but not until they have reasonable proof of success. Some are true skeptics. Some are hardliners. Some just have cold feet.

Inhibitors will not agree to make changes under any circumstances. However convincing the innovators' logic, and however sound the conservatives' data, the inhibitor's mantra is "No!"

It's worth considering the three demographics that Flynn says make up the inhibitors' ranks:

  • Monopolists who resent any challenge to their perceived rights and status.
  • Die-hards who have said the opposite for so long that they can no longer back down without losing face.
  • Traditionalists who like the old ways just because they are the old ways. 

Caveat: it's vital to note the context of this post, which is technological advancements in entertainment media. It's also worth pointing out that different people can be different types at varying times and in response to various kinds of change.

For example, when it comes to morality I'm definitely a traditionalist inhibitor. That's because if history has proven anything, it's that change has killed, and will kill, everyone.

Yet as our good friend Dr. McLuhan informs us, technology is morally neutral in and of itself. Applications of technology can be morally good or bad, but a light bulb has no content.

I took a conservative approach to eBook technology and self-publishing in general. I was traditionally published first and only went indie when hard evidence indicated that it was the smarter move.

Nonetheless, there are still those who are beholden to the big NYC publishers and their obsolete business model. Interestingly, these folks' behavior perfectly fits the classic inhibitor profiles.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Monopolists who resent any challenge to their perceived rights and status.

John Scalzi
Die-hards who have said the opposite for so long that they can no longer back down without losing face.

David Gerrold
Traditionalists who like the old ways just because they are the old ways. 

All of the controversy, tantrums, and libel over Sad Puppies can be chalked up to big fish in the shrinking legacy publishing pond who are standing athwart inevitable industry changes, desperately flailing their arms, and yelling "STOP!"


What can Puppies do against such reckless hate?
The lies told about the leaders and allies of Sad Puppies have been so numerous and so absurd that picking the most ridiculous lie in the bunch is like spotting the fattest maggot wriggling on a dead horse.

But a close second to Arthur Chu's risible attempt to disqualify Brad Torgersen as a racist is the accusation, repeated in the mainstream media with Goebbels-like bombast and frequency, that SP's goal was the politicization of the Hugo Awards.

As the story thus far shows, not only are claims of Puppies injecting politics into the awards the diametric opposite of the truth, politics is just a red herring in this whole controversy--a fig leaf used to conceal the CHORFs' fear of change and to justify their attacks on the agents of change.

What must Sad Puppies do to overcome their unprincipled opposition and make fandom safe for what the CHORFs denounce as "Wrongfans" having "Wrongfun"?

The answer is: nothing.

Given that the CHORF phenomenon is an atavistic reaction to inevitable changes in fandom driven by inexorable advances in technology, we needn't take any specific action to defeat them. Just as new theories ultimately triumph when the prior generation of scientists die off, SF will continue to thrive and grow long after the last CHORF's demise.

There is, however, a far more pressing reason to keep engaging with the SF mainstream; to keep telling our stories.


SF authors work for the fans.
Tolkien rightly said that the only reason to tell a story is to tell a story, i.e. the purpose of storytelling is entertainment. This is the true credo of Sad Puppies.

Storytelling to make a political point to the detriment of fun is what the Puppies have always been steadfastly against. An author's publisher is not his boss. His readers are.

Luckily, the growing sense of community spreading throughout fandom is bringing together a number of sub-tribes who are vocally dedicated to the principle of Fun First.

"Author" and "authority" come from the same Latin root for the admiration and obedience due to great personages by virtue of their mighty deeds. The European nobility descended from those who helped to hold society together in the chaos after Rome's fall.

Prominent figures have arisen to lead their tribes through the upheavals currently transforming fandom. Some of them have been lauded with titles befitting their work on the fans' behalf.


The Evil Legion of Evil
In sum, the three ideas of the so-called reactionary Evil League of Evil are that that Science Fiction stories should be workmanlike, honest, and fun. Stories should serve the reader rather than lecture, sucker-punch, subvert, or hector him. Stories should give the reader what he paid for.
--John C. Wright, Grand Inquisitor of the Evil Legion of Evil

Supreme Dark Lord
Vox Day, Supreme Dark Lord
A modern-day Renaissance man as accomplished as he is controversial. Vox's publications include works of science fiction and fantasy, as well as economics, political philosophy, Christian apologetics, and more. His incendiary online persona--purportedly adopted in response to unprovoked attacks by Tor SF Manager Patrick Nielsen Hayden--facilitates Vox's preferred rhetorical style of "counter-punching".

Vox has also edited numerous Hugo-nominated works and has been nominated for Hugo awards as both an author and an editor. The SDL has found success in several fields besides publishing, including the music and video game industries.

Though the title of Supreme Dark Lord was bestowed by John C. Wright as a rather playful gesture, the degree of loyalty that Vox inspires in his readers gives one pause to consider its implications. Hundreds of Vile Faceless Minions currently serve at his command. Their efforts proved effective enough to ensure an SP/RP sweep of last year's Hugo nominations and secure a Best Novel win for The Three Body Problem. Much speculation surrounds what Vox will do next.


Larry Correia International Lord of Hate
Larry Correia, International Lord of Hate
Outstanding accomplishment in multiple fields seems to be a condition of ELoE membership.

Not only is Larry Correia a best selling author, Hugo nominee, and Audie Award winner, he has pursued successful careers in accounting and machine gun sales. In addition to the ELoE, he is also a member of G.I. Joe.

Larry started Sad Puppies to prove the bias exercised by an influential Hugo voting clique against out-group authors. He took up the mantle of the International Lord of Hate in mockery of detractors who hurled baseless accusations of bigotry against him.

Having been vindicated for three consecutive years, the ILoH has retired from Sad Puppies to focus on writing kick-ass urban and epic fantasy for Baen Books.


Sarah Hoyt
Sarah Hoyt, Beautiful but Evil Space Princess
The purpose of this is to create a new 'idea' in science fiction, a new way to look at the genre.  Properly observed (and I’ve observed it) I think the genre should be a way to play with possible futures, with possible outcomes, with possible ideas.  The wonder of science fiction lays in the open possibility.
--Sarah Hoyt
An American author originally from Portugal, Sarah Hoyt writes both traditionally and independently published science fiction. Among her many accomplishments, she is a card-carrying Mensa member and a Prometheus Award winner. She is a co-organizer of Sad Puppies 4.

Sarah has founded a literary movement known as Human Wave which aims to maximize authorial freedom and cultivate SF's sense of wonder.


John C. Wright, Grand Inquisitor
By all accounts, one of the best living authors of science fiction. Mr. Wright was formerly published by Tor Books, but his works now appear, by his choice, predominantly through Castalia House. He is a Nebula Award nominee and has a record six Hugo nominations.

Like his fellow ELoE members, SF writing isn't Mr. Wright's first career. Unlike them, he failed at his first two careers. It's chilling to imagine what the world would have lost had he succeeded.

A lifelong philosopher and relatively recent convert to Christianity, Mr. Wright's thoughts on science fiction are too copious to list here, but his Hugo-nominated collection of essays is a good place to start.


The Superversive SF Movement
What, then, can we do, those of us who are not Progressives? We cannot fight subversion by its own methods; that only makes the hole deeper. But if subversion means ‘turning from below’, there can be such a thing as turning from above. We have nothing to gain by digging a bigger hole, but we can build right over it. It seems natural enough to me to invent a new word for this by changing part of the old one; so I call it superversion.
--Tom Simon
Tom Simon
Though the Evil Legion of Evil boasts one of the greatest working science fiction authors among its members, the Superversives have perhaps the greatest essayist currently writing in the English language: Tom Simon.

Mr. Simon, a Canadian independent author, coined the term "superversive" and defined it in a landmark essay. Superversive SF turns the tables on subversive celebrations of lies, evil, and ugliness by overturning them from above with truth, goodness, and beauty.

"...[C]ourage is the essential quality of a superversive story: not the dumb, dull fortitude that passively endures in the face of suffering, but the courage that allows the character to take action – to risk becoming a hero."

Superversive science fiction has much in common with, and is a natural ally to, Human Wave SF.


Jason Rennie
A Hugo-nominated podcaster and the editor of Sci Phi Journal, Jason has risen to leadership in the Superversive movement. He carries out his editing duties and moderates the Superversive Livestreams from his home in Australia.


L. Jagi Lamplighter-Wright
A superb author of SFF short stories and novels (and the editor of my book), Jagi is a leading public voice and a tireless behind-the-scenes organizer of the Superversive SF movement.

In the venerable tradition of chivalric diplomacy, Mrs. Wright's marriage to Mr. Wright cements the Superversive-ELoE alliance.


These are just a few of the authors who are working hard to ensure that SF remains open to truth, beauty, endless possibility, and most of all, fun.

The future of the fictional future is looking bright.