2017/10/17

Knight on a Mission

Praxis - Justin Knight

Author Justin Knight offers heartfelt thanks to readers of his new science fiction novel Praxis.
Thank you for giving an independent author like me, someone totally unknown to any of you, a chance to show you what I can do. For those interested, the paperback version of Praxis will be sorted soon and will hopefully be out by the end of the month. The audio book I also intend to arrange as well, and am taking auditions for it through ACX, I will post updates as I have them on my Twitter page. I do, however, have something else to ask those of you who purchased Praxis.
Please leave a review.
Reviews will help me to learn, such as what stories are liked and what ones are not, characters, dialogue, and so much else. They will also hopefully attract other potential readers to my work, and that is always a good thing.
Justin isn't overstating the vital importance of Amazon reviews. They help books succeed and aid authors in honing their craft. If you've read Praxis, consider leaving a review. If you haven't read it yet, consider taking the time to review another indie book you've read and enjoyed. The powers that be won't support us, so we have to support each other.

Back to Justin:
This final part, you can think of as my mission statement I guess.
I want to entertain with my stories, to give readers something they can enjoy without the unwelcome intrusion of politics, ridiculous story elements, or condemnation of the audience themselves.
Yes, Marvel, I am looking in your direction.
I will tell stories of regular folks, men or women, in extraordinary situations. I will tell them in the style of either books, comics, and movies, from the eighties and nineties, because for me, that is when story telling was at it's best. I will not be one of these authors who does not appreciate his own audience, because I would not be in such a position without you. I will not be one of these authors who bitches that he cannot write because of a current political climate etc, or an author who becomes a political activist, because quite frankly, that is just stupid. I want to be an author who entertains people, to hopefully one day to earn a reputation that has readers looking forward to my next release. The coming days, weeks, months, and years, will see how that goes.
Justin Knight, independent author, at your service.
It's ethically incumbent upon me to divulge that I edited Praxis. But this ethics disclosure isn't just an obligation. It's an unmixed pleasure.

I've spoken with Justin at length and, I believe, have gotten to know him rather well. Read his author statement again. Notice what's there: genuine humility and a devotion to serving his readers. Just as importantly, notice what's not there: any sense of entitlement or ulterior motives of turning his work into hackneyed propaganda.

That attitude of humility, honesty, and service is why I agreed to edit Justin's book. Is editing a way for me to earn some extra cash on the side? Yes. Is that all it is? Well, the industry now has a new indie author with a solid work ethic who's attracting and entertaining an audience. That's not a coincidence. Justin had the talent and drive to succeed. He just needed someone a little higher up the ladder to give him a hand. The result has been a resounding win-win.

For those who doubt the value of hiring a professional editor, let me draw your attention to some data from Justin's original post. Praxis outsold Justin's prior book tenfold within ten days of launch. It also has three reviews at an average 4.6 star rating compared to zero for its predecessor. I can't take full credit for his success. Others were certainly more instrumental than I was, first and foremost Justin himself. But I do have the numbers on the marketing assistance I gave him, and they're not insignificant.

Congratulations to Justin Knight on a successful book launch and on staying down to earth while writing of the stars. I join him in thanking every reader who's supported Praxis thus far. You folks are why writers like Justin and myself do what we do.

How do we know that indie is flourishing? A sure sign of a healthy industry is when those who've achieved a measure of success help others level up.

Already own Praxis? Pick up books 1-3 in my award-winning Soul Cycle, soon to be concluded when book 4 drops later this fall. Already read Nethereal, Souldancer, and The Secret Kings? Help readers make informed decisions by posting reviews on Amazon. Effective reviews don't have to be Pulitzer-worthy. Just two or three sentences are enough to get your impression of a book across.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

2017/10/16

Indies Anonymous

Mystery Man

A piece of common book industry wisdom frequently cited by self-publishing proponents such as myself has it that there's an anonymous cadre of indie authors quietly making millions on Amazon. This popular bit of publishing lore happens to be true.

It also presents indie authors--and the emerging New Scheme of Things--with a problem.

In the old days, when trad publisher mega-fauna roamed Manhattan, the most popular authors actually got to be something like stars. Time was, if you made it onto the A list, you'd get to do TV appearances and movie cameos. You might even get to introduce your own anthology series. Housewives in Lincoln, Nebraska knew your name.

Now the tradpub dinosaurs are dying. Like all entertainment industries locked into death spirals, they're losing the ability to make the people they exploit rich and famous. When was the last time you heard of some fresh-faced young go-getter rising from the slush pile to become a household word? Larry Correia might turn out to be the last SFF rock star.

Successful indie authors will be glad to tell you that the death of the celebrity author phenomenon is a positive development. Who has time for afternoon talk shows and spouting embarrassingly out-of-touch Twitter screeds at the President when you've got to write, edit, format, and market a new title every 30-90 days?

Let the validation-seekers and attention whores chase fame. Thanks to Amazon, it's now possible to pull down six or even seven figures annually without anyone outside a relatively narrow cohort of readers knowing who you are.

There's no question that this new model has advantages. I'd say the pros outnumber the cons. But the anonymous indie millionaire model comes with a price.

There are benefits to celebrity author status, too. Being on TV, having the mainstream media report on your public statements, and having enough clout that people put your words on par with leading politicians' gives you a level of cultural influence that money can't buy.

Tradpub will always have A listers. That's all they'll have after B&N's collapse. Indies might outearn trad authors as a group, but who will have more power to shape the culture?

Much has been made of the need to develop parallel institutions to replace the converged and corrupted ones we're currently stuck with. The truth is, a few guys silently raking in hundreds of thousands or millions on Amazon aren't an institution. They're a group of business enterprises.

Don't get me wrong. Producing new and entertaining fiction without political lectures is necessary to saving Western civilization. It's probably not sufficient, though. To really make headway, we'll need our own film and TV production outfits at least.

Add that to the long list of stuff conservative investors could be doing to conserve the culture but aren't.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier
"...great selling home run after home run..."
                                           - authorJon Mollison

2017/10/13

Work for Hire Pros and Cons

Meme Vader

Over at Walker's Study, Bradford Walker informs authors about the pros and cons of work for hire projects. Here's Bradford:
I'm talking about this because, if you are at all serious about paying bills by writing fiction, then you're going to consider taking Work For Hire contracts. That's you as a hired gun, and you're not only following the orders of the paymaster, you're also using their material to do your work. You are using your skills as a creator to produce product that the paymaster owns, and (by default) get no residuals after the fact; if you do your part, you get paid and have something to point to for future Work For Hire contracts.
Yet you are on the hook, so far as the audience cares, for anything in that book. Just as R.A. Salvatore about having a moon dropped on Chewbacca in Vector Prime. It's one thing to get flak over something that is utterly yours. It's something else to get it when all you did was follow another's orders, which is what you're doing when you're writing Darth Vader.
The other problem comes from your hired gun status also. Be it writing a novel, a script, or whatever you're not the shot-caller; you have some wigging room, but you're still just someone else's tool used to make their vision happen. Sometimes that means you get stuck facilitating something that doesn't make narrative sense because it's good for business (such as all the Vader and Fett stuff), and it becomes your job to make it work as they intend- to use your creative skills to trouble-shoot their problem.
If you get a reasonable liason representing the property owner, this can be mostly painless; by all accounts, Christie Golden's relationship with Blizzard Entertainment was fantastic (she's now on the payroll as an employee) and Timothy Zahn continues to have a good one with Lucasfilm. Likewise, poor ones can be disastrous; bail as soon as you can and never go back.
So, if you get an opportunity to get hired to write sanctioned fan-fic for a property, don't turn it down out of hand; it worked well for Jon del Arroz, Jeff Grubb, Timothy Zahn, Richard Knack, R.A. Salvatore, and many others- Walter B. Gibson being the most successful example. Take the bad experiences as the cautions that they are, and watch for the red flags. Writer Beware, but Fortune Favors The Bold.
Bradford's take is right on the money in my experience. Whether it's Superman or the Thrawn Trilogy, some of the greatest pieces of popular entertainment have been produced on a work for hire basis.

Authors who have thus far written only original content--especially indies--are well advised to understand that accepting a job as the writer of a work made for hire differs considerably from the more free-form approach they're used to.

I use the word "writer" on purpose. An author is by definition the ultimate authority over a given work. The writer of a work made for hire answers to the parties that commissioned the work. You may have more or less creative leeway depending on the original IP holder, but if creative differences arise, it's the writer who must make compromises, period.

Bradford is also correct that work for hire jobs can be lucrative. But there's always a price; in this case, reduced creative control and often reduced author brand-building value. Time spent working on a project for someone else is time not spent working on your own IPs.

If you're approached with a work for hire offer, consider the terms carefully, weigh the potential monetary benefits against the cost in time that won't be spent working on your brand, and make the best choice for your current situation.

My original, award-winning Soul Cycle series is available now for Kindle and in paperback. Read the first three exciting books in time for the final installment's release later this fall!

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

2017/10/12

Resistance Is Nonexistent

As the explosive scandal sparked by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein rocks the film industry, normal Americans are bearing witness to the morbid spectacle of the Left accomplishing what conservatives have claimed to be pursuing for decades: destroying the Left.

It should be no surprise that we had to wait for the perverts who run Hollywood to implode--while they kept abusing women and children the whole time--when conservative leaders have made it clear that they have no intention of challenging Leftist cultural dominance. The only thing conservatives want to conserve is the cultural Marxist status quo.

Some of you are still in denial or a bleary state of Netflix and football-induced hypnosis, so to drive the point home, I've prepared a little thought experiment. For your consideration, here's what it would look like if conservatives fought to preserve our culture as hard as the Left fights to destroy it.

Republicans would hit Hollywood in the wallet.
Lighting Cigar with $100 Bill

When Democrats are in control of the levers of power, they have no qualms about weaponizing the IRS against their political enemies. This is the most effective tactic on the list. As John Marshall said, the power to tax is the power to destroy.

And as Glenn Reynolds points out, Hollywood has a specific and easily exploitable weakness in this regard.
The first such proposal would be to restore the 20 percent excise tax on motion picture theater gross revenues that existed between the end of World War II and its repeal in the mid-1950s. The campaign to end the excise tax had studio executives and movie stars talking like Art Laffer, as they noted that high taxes reduced business income, hurt investment and cost jobs.
The movie excise tax was imposed in response to the high deficits after World War Two. Deficits are high again, and there's already historical precedent. Of course, to keep up with technology, the tax should now apply to DVDs, downloadable movies, pay-per-view and the like. But in these financially perilous times, why should movie stars and studio moguls, with their yachts, swimming pools and private jets, not at least shoulder the burden they carried back in Harry Truman's day -- when, to be honest, movies were better anyway.
For extra fun, they could show pictures of David Geffen's yacht and John Travolta's personal Boeing 707 on the Senate floor. You want to tax fat cats? I gotcher "fat cats" right here! Repeal the Hollywood Tax Cuts!
Repealing Hollywood's outdated 20% tax break should be a no-brainer for congressional Republicans (but I repeat myself). Why have there been no calls to restore the motion picture excise tax since evidence emerged of the industry's complicity in Weinstein's predations?

Conservative businessmen would take over the studios.
If the film industry's debauchery isn't sufficient motivation for conservatives to act, Hollywood's nosediving profits definitely should be. After all, conservatives might not care about art, but they're downright fanatical about money, right?

Not when it comes to money plays that involve risking their reputations with the lefty arts crowd. Roger L. Simon notes that conservative investors now have a once in a lifetime chance to buy out the whole film industry in one fell swoop. But they won't.
If conservative investors had any courage, this would be the time to make a hostile takeover of the movie business.  Unfortunately, they don’t.  I know this from bitter personal experience. Wealthy conservatives are delighted to support the Philharmonic, but when it comes to popular culture they turn away, as if afraid to get their hands dirty.
That this is a huge mistake should be obvious.  They have abandoned the culture -- and our children -- to the creepiest people imaginable.  What is going on in Hollywood is far from being just about Harvey. It’s approaching a pandemic. So many previously silent assaulted or raped women are coming out of the woodwork, it seems like a long-belated remake of “Cheaper by the Dozen.” No one knows who will be next or if it will stop at Harvey.
It won't stop at Harvey, and the self-styled moral conservatives who could have stopped it will incur a share of the blame.

Conservative officials would lock up the offenders.
Behind Bars

If officials at the highest levels of law enforcement were serious about protecting our children (how often have we been told to "please think of" them when our betters want to further erode our liberty?), they'd leave no stone unturned in the hunt for the perpetrators of Hollywood's systemic abuse culture. Unfortunately, law enforcement's track record in this regard features a string of Roman Polanskis and Woody Allens.

Thankfully, the prosecution of Weinstein and his accomplices might be the one aspect of this sordid affair that Republicans act on. Although in fairness, it's President Trump who reportedly lit a fire under the FBI to investigate Weinstein. And as establishment Republicans love to point out, Trump isn't a conservative.

You can tell because he's actually using the powers of his office to protect American citizens from Lefty scumbags for a change.
Although it is not yet known if Sessions gave the direct order or if Trump requested the investigation, Trump said he wasn't surprised by the sexual harassment and assault claims made against Weinstein.
Trump said shortly after news of the shock report on Thursday: 'I've known him for years. I'm not surprised.' 
Weinstein was a big donor for Hillary Clinton, who finally denounced her longtime friend in a statement on Tuesday and said on Wednesday that she would donate all his contributions to her campaign to charity.
Conservative patrons would support like-minded artists.
Michelangelo and Pope Julius II

The SJWs defacing pop culture have it made. Lacking appreciable artistic talent, they only need to check the right political and identity boxes to receive plush sinecures in Hollywood, the comic book industry, and traditional publishing.

Making a living in the arts has always been difficult. It's become diabolically so since the conservatives--or at least political neutrals--who used to run the film and publishing industries gave away the farm to cultural Marxists.

Make no mistake. The expulsion of non-Leftist content creators from these industries is the result of a concerted and deliberate effort to squeeze thought criminals out of pop culture. The Left has been allowed to carry out their purge unopposed for so long that the process is all but complete.

The most obvious answer to this problem on the part of wealthy conservatives who complain about the corruption of popular entertainment would be to fund non-Leftist art projects themselves. But again, as Roger Simon mentioned above, conservative donors will gladly support the converged arts but not projects that might upset the Leftists they strive to impress.

If conservatives were as serious about saving the culture as they claim, then wealthy conservatives would fund non-Leftist films, TV series, comic books, novels, video games, and other popular media projects--regardless of whether they turned a profit. Converged companies like Tor Books and Marvel Comics are perfectly willing to take major losses in the service of their crusade to destroy Western culture. Wealthy conservatives' "What's in it for me?" and "I got mine" mantras betray the fact that they don't really believe in the value of Western civilization.

Conclusion
To the struggling non-Leftist creators out there who just wanted to make art and be left alone: No one is coming to help you. We're on our own since, unlike the cultural Marxists working night and day to drive us from the market, our self-professed supporters in business and government are lying about having our back.

It's up to us to help each other sharpen our skills, strengthen our brands, and build audiences. The #PulpRev and the Superversive literary movements are good examples of fledgling mutual support networks of allied artists.

With or without support, continuing to create original, entertaining content is indispensable to salvaging something of Western culture.

I wouldn't ask anyone to do what I'm not willing to do myself. That's one reason why I've been creating fun, lecture-free stories for the past couple of years. If you're starving for unique, thrilling, apolitical science fiction, give my award-winning Soul Cycle novels a shot.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

2017/10/11

Amazing Stories

Amazing Stories

Apple has announced plans to revive the 1980s science fiction anthology TV series Amazing Stories for their video streaming service.
Apple is close to a deal on a reboot of Amazing Stories to air as one of their first original programming attempts. Deadline reports that the company is in talks with Amblin TV and Universal TV on the reboot of the anthology series.
The original series, which was produced by Steven Spielberg, aired from 1985 to 1987 and has become a cult classic. The reboot was originally set up at NBC (who aired the original series) with Bryan Fuller (Hannibal, American Gods) writing back in 2015.
Do TV--and now tech company--executives even bother to research the properties they acquire for cynical cash grab reboots? Here we have a reboot of a 1980s TV series created by Stephen Spielberg based on the pulp-era anthology magazine helmed by Hugo Gernsback.

Not only is Apple diving headlong into the utter lack of originality that's plaguing Hollywood, they seem hell bent on continuing the legacy publishing industry's desecration of sci-fi. Because when I think "pulp anthology", my mind immediately jumps to the guy who wrote Hannibal and American Gods.

Another emerging and baffling trend is TV and movie producers' current fondness for rebooting 80s IPs that weren't successful in the 80s either. Amazing Stories was critically acclaimed in its original run, but it underperformed in the ratings. This project looks like Blade Runner 2049 all over again.

The only question left to ask is the one Nathan Housley posed. How will Apple ruin Amazing Stories? They'll over-explain the villains' villainy with sob story backgrounds, shoehorn in Strong Female Characters™, emphasize "realism" over escapism,  replace Western, Christian morality with the void of relativism, etc.

I'd be more inclined to forgive the Morlocks ruining science fiction if they didn't always ruin stories in the same boring ways.

Enjoy the nostalgia before Apple ruins another tattered remnant of your childhood.


If you're looking for science fiction in the genre-blending tradition of the pulps that's unique and original, check out my award-winning Soul Cycle. Unlike too many SFF series these days, this one will actually be finished. Look for the The Ophian Rising, Soul Cycle Book IV later this fall.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

2017/10/10

Ophian Rising Preview

It's my pleasure to report to my loyal readers that work on The Ophian Rising, Soul Cycle Book IV is proceeding well. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this preview.


“Guide me to the ether mine, Tallon,” the smuggler said to the empty corridor in a mocking imitation of Astlin’s voice. “Ignore the priceless ore deposits and help me look for shriveled old dead guys. Who cares if your expensive saw broke? I’ll just give you dirty looks and tell you to go find a new one.”

The path went upward relative to the crypt where Astlin was busy transcribing mummy tattoos, but technically descended since it delved toward the asteroid’s core. Tallon felt like he’d been walking a level path the whole time. Gravity was weird in the ether. That went double for ethereal asteroids.

“If I take a fall or get lost,” Tallon muttered to himself, “it’s her fault!” Thanks to Astlin, the expedition was running uncomfortably long for his taste. And so far all he had to show for it was a busted piece of equipment that was his only means of salvaging the whole mess. The last thing he needed was the client getting uppity on him.

I’m starting to think those Ophian punks might have a point about the Zadokim exploiting humanity, Tallon thought as he threaded his way around crystal spikes jutting from the floor. Not that he was dumb enough to raise a hand against people who could walk through walls and catch bullets. The offer of a blanket pardon alone made this job worthwhile. With a little luck, he just might solve his legal and financial troubles in one stroke.

He just had to find a replacement for that saw. Any unworked veins would be closer to the core, and so would any tools the miners had left behind. Then it was a simple matter of—

“…would have liked to see the tyrants’ reaction when they find out Temil and Tharis are just diversions.”

The male voice drifted down the tunnel, though the tricks that solid ether played with sound hid the origin point’s distance and direction. Tallon laid his hand on his rodcaster’s grip. Nobody else should be here! Like all men in his profession, he hated it when “should” diverged from “is”.

A second unseen man laughed. “They’ll react like they always do—calling for peace while denying there’s a war.”

“Won’t work this time,” said a third. “The word’s come down from Lasker. We’re done with symbolic gestures and empty demands. Today we start taking back what’s ours.”

OK, thought Tallon. Either the original miners are still around—which is unlikely since these guys are speaking Trade instead of ancient Stranosi—or I’ve been claim jumped! 

He slid the rodcaster from its holster and switched off his flashlight. A diffuse rosy glow bled through the tunnel walls up ahead. Tallon stood still and listened. The voices had gone silent, but the sounds of footsteps and metal ringing against stone wafted down the corridor.

Tallon considered going back for Astlin, but the interlopers sounded like they meant to do some serious mischief, and soon. Who knew what they’d get up to while he went running to his client like a clingy puppy? Besides, one of those voices kind of sounded familiar…

Silencing the jumble of loose metal object in his pocket with one hand, Tallon crept forward. The wall grew rougher and the din of men at work louder as he felt his way through the rosy near-dark. His hand passed over jagged raw crystal as he came to a bend in the tunnel. The washed out glow of work lights filtered down the passage to his right.

Tallon pressed himself against the unfinished—and uncomfortable—tunnel wall and poked his head around the corner. Less than fifty feet past the turn, the tunnel gave onto the floor of a rough-hewn shaft a hundred feet on a side whose walls rose out of sight. Tallon counted four men—all wearing sturdy clothes in tans and browns with dingy helmets.

A shout from above revealed the presence of a fifth man. Tallon slipped from cover and around the bend just far enough to see what was happening higher up. Crystal spars the size of redwoods crisscrossed the shaft’s upper reaches. Rose-colored fluid flowed lazily through the crystalline ducts.

That’s liquid ether! No wonder they abandoned this tunnel.

The fifth man, his drab clothes sprinkled with glittery crystal dust, slid down a rope secured to the largest ether pipe. A jolt ran down Tallon’s spine when he saw what the workman had attached to the duct.

Option one: these guys are geologists, and that bundle of blocks, pipes, and tape is some kind of scientific instrument. Option two: they’re total nutjobs who’ve planted a bomb inside a rock made from the most combustible substance known to man.

Though he owned an underground casino, Tallon didn’t like gambling. That’s why he’d pre-loaded his rodcaster with the perfect Worked ammo for a trip to an ether mine. He let out a deep breath, raised the heavy gun, and pressed the trigger. A tight cone of freezing mist blasted from the rodcaster’s barrel, leaving the bomb and a large section of the duct it was attached to rimed with a crackling layer of frost. The spent shell chimed as it hit the ground.

All five men in the shaft rounded on Tallon. Three of them clutched mining tools that could just as easily excavate a man’s face. One of them drew a scuffed black revolver.

Tallon snapped off a wild shot and turned to run. His foot collided with a crystal spur, and he pitched forward onto the coarse tunnel floor. His gun skidded away into the dark. Sharp rubble cut his hands and dug into his chest. He flipped over to see three armed workmen advancing on the tunnel entrance. Another pawed desperately at the ice-caked jacket covering his frozen arm and shoulder.

The fifth member of the demolition team stretched out his arms to signal the others. “Wait.”

They stopped. The fifth man strode to the front and center of their line. He wore grimy clothes similar to the others’, but unlike them he lacked headgear. His hair was cut down to a light brown bristle, and three x-shaped cuts scarred his forehead.

“Captain Tallon is a man of honor,” the scarred man said in a lower-class Mithgarder accent. “More importantly, he is a man. One so instrumental to our victory should share in it.”

Tallon furrowed his brow. “Do I know you?”

The lead workman motioned to the gun-toting man on his left, who removed a visored helmet to reveal a stubbly, broken-nosed face. He handed his revolver to the leader.

“Hey!” Tallon exclaimed as he staggered to his feet. “You’re the guy who sold me that bag of guns.”

“He also extracted this mine’s location from you,” the leader said. “A handsome payment.”

Tallon pointed an accusing finger at the gun seller. “Hold on. I don’t remember telling anybody about this mine.”

“Perhaps you were too deep in your cups,” said the leader. “Happily, you seem sober enough to witness our triumph.”

The leader pointed his gun at the ether duct and fired. The frozen crystal shattered with the crash of a massive chandelier hitting a marble floor. A rose-colored flood gushed out. The etherfall boiled off before it touched the ground, filling the air with the scent of an onrushing storm.

“Are you suicidal!?” Tallon cried. “One spark will blow us all to hell!”

The leader handed the pistol back to the man on his left and took a grenade from his coat pocket. He held up the red metal canister in his right hand and pulled the pin with his left. A smile twisted his lip. “Not suicide; martyrdom. Have no fear. No hell awaits us, only oblivion in the Nexus and eventual return.”

“I don’t get it,” Tallon shouted between rapid breaths. “What are you throwing away our lives for?”

Sapphire light filled the tunnel and washed over the would-be martyrs. Their mouths gaped in awe.

Astlin’s voice echoed down the passage, undiminished by the walls’ dampening effect. “To kill me.”

Tallon knew better than to turn and look at those beautiful, awful lights. He kept his eyes on the leader, who still clutched the grenade in one trembling hand.

Astlin stepped to the mouth of the tunnel and faced her attempted killers. “Drop your weapons.” She turned to the leader “Not you.” Three mining implements and one revolver clattered to the ground.

“I don’t mean to sound ungrateful,” Tallon said to Astlin, “but what are you doing here? Don’t tell me you already finished taking dictation from those dead guys.”

“Oh, I barely scratched the surface,” said Astlin. “It doesn’t help that I can’t understand those symbols. But you’re my responsibility. I came as fast as I could when I felt your distress.”

Tallon poked Astlin’s shoulder with his finger. “Wait a minute. You were in my head this whole time!?”

“She treats you like a child,” the leader hissed through gritted teeth. “She and all her kind. They claim to liberate us but keep us in chains.”

Astlin glared at the man whose three scars mocked the lights on her brow. “I’m in your head, too,” she said. “I can feel your resentment; your blind hatred. Lasker’s filled you with lies. We only want to help!”

The leader strained to speak. “So say all despots.” He managed to spit at her.

Astlin took a step forward, her arm outstretched. “Hand me the grenade,” she said. “Slowly. Carefully.”

The leader’s face reddened. Veins stood out on his forehead and neck. Suddenly a shadow of his smile returned. “I’m not your servant,” he croaked.

He opened his hand. The safety lever sprang from the grenade.


The Ophian Rising, the final book in the award-winning Soul Cycle, will be out later this fall. If you haven't read Nethereal, Souldancer, and The Secret Kings, now is the perfect time to get caught up for the fourth book's release. Pick up the first three Soul Cycle books today:

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

2017/10/09

Cuphead

Cuphead

This week, my Geek Gab co-host Dorrinal gives his review of Cuphead, the slick shoot-em-up platformer that's giving games journalists fits.


Bonus: in-depth reviews of the new Flatliners and Blade Runner 2049! Listen and learn!



The High House vs The Secret Kings

2017/10/06

PRAXIS Delivers Blue-collar Science Fiction

Praxis, the new blue-collar science fiction novel from author Justin Knight, is now available in the Kindle Store!

Big New York publishers are in decline. Decades of trying to pick winners based on politics have left them with a stable of authors more interested in delivering lectures than fun stories.

Indie authors know that in the Wild West of Amazon, readers pick the winners.That's why new authors like Justin Knight are bringing the fun back to sci-fi with engaging novels like Praxis.

Justin has written the kind of smart, funny, and gripping space adventure you thought they didn't make anymore. I'm proud to be his editor on this book and his friend. Help support an important new talent and a good family man. Get your copy of Praxis now for only $1.35!

From the book's Amazon page:
A group of blue collar workers are selected to run the first manned space station, Praxis, at the edge of our galaxy. It will be part of mankind's bold ambition to explore beyond what we know.

But trouble is heading right for them. A gang of vicious alien pirates are fleeing justice, intent on continuing their bloody campaign, and Praxis is in their way.

The workers will have to defend themselves, unarmed, against a ruthless enemy intent on killing them. The biggest threat though, may be the station itself...

Praise for Praxis:
"Knight is a writer to watch. Fun, witty, and unafraid to tackle the big topics in SciFi." - Dragon award winner Nick Cole.

"Knight's blue collar characters are genuine and engaging. The time spent getting to know them heightens the impact when they are thrust into a gripping & savage fight for survival." - Jon Mollison, author of Sudden Rescue.

"Action packed, engaging characters, and one of the most creative premises I've encountered." Bre Faucheux, author of Violet Drake.

"Compelling characters that feel real. Its got a bit of everything from corporate intrigue to a romance you can root for. Stella work." - Jon Del Arroz, Dragon award nominated author of Rescue Run & For Steam and Country.

Praxis - Justin Knight

2017/10/05

How to Polish Your Prose

In the latest installment of Geek Gab: On the Books, I draw from my editing experience to offer writing advice to aspiring authors.

How do you avoid the most common writing mistakes made by new authors?

How can authors identify and break bad writing habits?

Why does second person POV even exist?

Tune in and find out!


And if you want proof of my writing guru bona fides, pick up my breakout space opera-horror novel Nethereal.

Nethereal - Brian Niemeier

2017/10/04

Whither Hollywood?

Hollywood Hell

Vox Popoli commenter ZhukovG ponders the future of films based on best selling novels in the post-Big Five era.
Just my uneducated opinion, but it appears that in the future, if you put in the work, it will be easier to 'make a living' as a writer but much harder to 'make it big'.
I also wonder if this will hit the movie industry hard. Funding a major motion picture is much less risky if it's based on a big bestselling novel. But if top authors in the future are people with tens of thousands of fans rather than millions, it'll be enough to give a studio exec a nervous breakdown.
How will the old publishing paradigm's collapse affect Hollywood? What you've got there are two converged institutions coasting on the fumes of their depleted cultural capital. They have an incestuous relationship, and they're both hemorrhaging revenue.

Howard Tayler once told me that a property needs six million fans to justify a film adaptation. Sure, you get movies based on less popular IPs, but studio execs' job is to come up with reasons not to make movies. If your novel series has a fan base of six million, a film adaptation of the first book is pretty much guaranteed to turn a profit, so they pretty much have to option the rights.

It is indeed reasonable to expect that in the near future, a successful author will have a readership numbering in the tens, or possibly hundreds of thousands. His earnings will rival all but the current A list authors, in part because indies earn 5.6x higher royalties. However, he's unlikely to be a household name. There are already authors who anonymously make seven figures per year on Amazon.

But if you look at the quote I took from Nick's post, you'll see he's not predicting a total collapse of trad publishing. Instead, the Big Five publishers will turn into vanity presses for the A list. If you've played poker with Castle or are a prominent politician, you'll still get the red carpet treatment in NY and LA.

At least until the Chinese buy all the studios.

As it happens, lots of readers tell me they'd love to see a movie version of my space opera-horror novel Nethereal. Full disclosure: I'm a little shy of the six million necessary fans. But you can help solve that problem!

Nethereal - Brian Niemeier

2017/10/03

The Currentest of Years

block

Dragon Award loser John Scalzi has come down with writer's block. The cause of the Tor author's affliction? President Donald Trump and the weather:
I started Head On in January with the plan to be done in the first half of the year, to leave the rest of the year open for other projects, including getting a head start on the next book in the Interdependency series. And here we are in October and I’m still not done, and generally speaking I’ve been lucky if I’ve gotten a few hundred usable words out of a writing day. I have never had as hard a time writing a novel as I have had with this one.
A daily word count measuring in the hundreds definitely falls short of Pulp Speed. You might point out that Scalzi, as a high midlist tradpub author, can take a more leisurely pace. You'd be right, but the tradpub gravy train won't go on forever, and all signs point to the ride ending soon.
I’m not trying to be mysterious about what it is about 2017 that is different. The answer is obvious: Trump is president, and he’s a peevish bigoted incompetent surrounded by the same, and he’s wreaking havoc on large stretches of the American experience, both in his own person and by the chaos he invites. But to say “well, Trump,” is not really to give an answer with regard to what’s different. We’ve had terrible presidents before — George W. Bush springs to mind — and yet my ability to create work was not notably impacted. When Dubya was in office I wrote five novels. The Dubya era was a crappy time for America (recall the wars and the Great Recession) but from the point of view of productivity, it was just fine for me.
The thing is, the Trump era is a different kind of awful. It is, bluntly, unremitting awfulness. The man has been in office for nine months at this point and there is rarely a week or month where things have not been historically crappy, a feculent stew of Trump’s shittiness as a human and as a president, his epically corrupt and immoral administration, and the rise of worse elements of America finally feeling free to say, hey, in fact, they do hate Jews and gays and brown people. Maybe other people can focus when Shitty America is large and in charge, but I’m finding it difficult to do.
Here’s one way to put it: Twelve years ago, when Hurricane Katrina hit and the US Government flubbed its response and hundreds died, I was so angry and upset that I almost vomited in sadness and anger. It’s not an exaggeration, by the way — I literally felt like throwing up for a couple days straight. I eventually had to write “Being Poor” because it was either do that or go crazy. That was a week of feeling generally awful, and it wrecked me for another week after that. It took two weeks for me to get back on track with the novel I was writing at the time.
Got it? Okay, listen: 2017 has been me feeling like I felt when Katrina hit every single fucking month of this year.
Scalzi's "the dog ate my homework" post is yet another indication that #1 selling indie author Nick Cole is about to be vindicated once more. To quote Nick:
Okay.  As I’ve talked about before this before… this is what happens next:
  • Big Pub reduces its Author List down to servicing Cadillac Clients.  Many authors who think they’re something are about to be shown the door in the form of un-returned emails, unanswered calls, and not talk of future projects.  Already happening.
  • Amazon Opens Book Stores.
  • Trad Pub Authors attempt to seamlessly bring themselves ,and their Mojo, into Amazon and fail badly because they’re not use to the volume of work.  Marketing, Formatting, Editing, Social Media, and most importantly now:  A tight release schedule of every 30-90 days.  Also Amazon picks the winners and its more interested in New Talent.
A cataclysmic paradigm shift is underway that will soon overturn the publishing landscape as we know it. Indie has been overtaking tradpub for years, and now the Big Five New York publishers' sole advantage--their paper distribution monopoly--is about to collapse.

When B&N goes, it will take the tradpub midlist with it. You'll know the old era is over when current tradpub authors start trying to go indie. But as Nick forecasts and Scalzi confirms, former tradpub darlings are woefully unprepared to handle the increased workload.

And that's just on the writing front. Factor in the additional responsibilities of being your own publisher and marketing department, and consider how a guy who can't finish a novel in ten months with the backing of sci-fi's biggest publisher will fare in the new order.

Here's the truth: Scalzi's ongoing nosedive has nothing to do with who's president or the current weather. It has everything to do with the fact that Patrick Nielsen Hayden handed him a golden ticket. Scalzi has never had to work in this business without Tor propping up his career. Now he's losing favor to N.K. Jemisin, his last book underperformed, and he's falling behind on his contract--all in the looming shadow of B&N's failure.

Will Scalzi make the cut as one of Tor Books' "Cadillac Clients"? His odds would improve if he could overcome the pressure and catch up on his contracted books, yet that same sword of Damocles is what's generating the pressure. I don't envy him. Then again, he's shown a marked talent for landing on his feet. Time will tell if Scalzi and other tradpub authors can adapt to the new market.

The paroxysms shaking tradpub make me glad I jumped off the submissions carousel and went indie. You can get my captivating Soul Cycle series--including Dragon Award winner Souldancer--for Kindle and in paperback.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

2017/10/02

#ComicsGate: Diversity is Conformity

If anyone still wonders why comic book fans are up in arms over the desecration of their hobby by malicious SJW writers, artists, and editors, this Twitter exchange perfectly sums up the controversy:

Starving Author
Got that? comics industry SJWs push for more "diversity", by which they mean ideological conformity. Fans note that Marvel's sales collapsed after making Thor a woman, Iron Man a black teenage girl, Captain America a Nazi, and Ice Man gay; and they question the wisdom of imposing such diversity. SJW writers simultaneously argue that diversity
  1. Has inherent value
  2. Is a creative decision; therefore subjective; therefore of no inherent value.
Both of which non-arguments glibly ignore the fact that Marvel is in a death spiral because they keep intentionally pissing off their readers. Note to Nick and Marvel: if your sales are tanking and your readers tell you "This fake diversity crap is why we dropped you like assault charges against a rich girl in a British court," you can lecture them on intersectionality all you want. You'll still be struggling to keep the lights on.

Then again, I can see how basic economics might escape a guy who calls himself @StarvingAuthor.

This type of tone deaf finger-wagging in response to audience demand is how you get #ComicsGate. For those who are new to the party, it's like a negative image of #GamerGate. Instead of corrupt journalists colluding against creators and consumers, you now have corrupt creators colluding against critics and fans.

For the full rundown on #ComicsGate, check out this episode of the JimFear138 podcast [NSFW language alert].

As Jim and others have pointed out, foreign comics like My Hero Academia are now roundly beating American comic book studios at the game they invented: telling fun stories about heroic heroes fighting villainous villains in a universe that takes objective morality for granted.

My Hero Academia

It's telling that guys like Nick deny objective artistic standards, aka objective beauty. It goes hand-in-hand with their denial of objective right and wrong.

Writing epic tales of flawed but good good guys squaring off against bad bad guys is an endeavor I have some experience with. If you're looking for novels with a real diversity and depth of character and zero political posturing, give my award-winning Soul Cycle a shot.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier


2017/09/29

Praxis

There's been a great deal of discussion lately among serious, intelligent people about how to save science fiction. It's an open secret that SF once dominated in print as it now does in film, on television, and in video games. But the concerted efforts of malicious gatekeepers have relegated the former world-bestriding colossus to a literary ghetto.

How do we save SF? My answer is twofold:

  1. Write and publish a high volume of entertaining stories.
  2. Help up-and-coming authors do the same.
Frequent readers already know of my efforts regarding point one. Some may not know that I've devoted significant time and energy this year to editing new authors' books. This endeavor, too, has a dual purpose, viz. a) earning me supplemental income and more importantly b) getting fledgling authors off the bench and into the science fiction-saving game.

It is in this spirit that I'm delighted to announce Praxis, the new blue collar space adventure novel from my friend and client Justin Knight. Available for preorder now!

Praxis - Justin Knight



The most satisfying part of Justin's journey for me has been seeing his writing ability grow in leaps and bounds. I'm humbled to have played a part in fostering his talent. But forget about me. Justin is here to entertain you, and you will be entertained, if this excerpt from Praxis is any indication.

Captain Gursh of the fifth division patrol slowed his fighter down as the prison station came into view. Outside his cockpit, the stars changed from a blur to their natural sight as he activated his communications and held his position.
“Identify yourself or you will be fired on,” barked a voice through his loudspeakers.
“Gursh, fifth division captain. Transmitting my clearance code to you now,” Gursh said as he punched another series of buttons in front of him.
After a delay, a much calmer response came through his loudspeakers. “Received. Welcome to His Majesty’s Prison, Captain, someone will be at the docking bay to greet you.”
“Very well,” Gursh said before shutting down the channel.
He powered his fighter forward and observed the main door of the docking bay open up and the lights turn on. Gursh flew inside and landed the fighter, waiting quietly for the door to close behind him before he opened the cockpit and climbed out. As he stepped onto the cold metal floor of the space station, a larger being than he, and what looked like his assistant, entered the docking area, saluting in front of him. Gursh returned the salute and remained where he stood.
“Captain Gursh, I am the warden of this prison. With me is my second officer, I welcome you and trust your flight here was well?” the warden said.
“It was, thank you,” Gursh replied.
The staff of the prisons, especially the wardens, did not give out their actual names and operated on a code name basis. It was a preventative measure to thwart threats to their families.
“I’ve not been briefed on your visit, so may I enquire what this is about?” the warden asked.
“I’m here to question the recently captured leader of the pirates for information on their activities. Any more than that, I cannot say as it has been deemed classified by command,” Gursh said.
“Very well. I shall take you to an interrogation room and then have him brought in,” the warden said before his second in command opened the door for them.
Gursh nodded and followed them as they walked down a long corridor with many doors, stopping at one just before the end. The warden opened the door and revealed a heavy table with metal cuffs attached to it, a chair either side and a small bulb on the ceiling that lit it all up. Gursh nodded in approval and sat down, the warden and his officer left him for a while and then returned with the pirate leader. Gursh watched him as they sat him down and handcuffed him to the table. It was more than noticeable that without his armour, the pirate looked quite frail and not as fearsome as he once had. After the door closed, Gursh leaned forward and stared into the yellow eyes of the being before him, someone responsible for a lot of deaths over the past galactic cycles.
“Hello, commander Brimak. I assume you are not stupid, so you know why I have come,” Gursh said.
“Oh let me guess, information on my former partners?” the pirate asked.
“To start with. I also want to know where your base of operations is located. This reign of terror you and your partners have conducted over this region of space needs to end,” Gursh said.
“And if I don’t talk?” the pirate asked.
“You do not want to go there. I have been authorised to use whatever means required to make you talk. It is in your best interests to cooperate,” Gursh said.
The pirate remained silent for a moment before smiling at him, Gursh could see his blackened teeth and the long tongue hiding behind them.
“You think you have it all worked out, don’t you?” the pirate teased.
“Oh?”
“I’ve met your type before, captain. I know your type all too well. Don’t think for one moment that I do not know how to work someone like you,” the pirate said.
“Oh do show me. Scum like you always think you have the edge,” Gursh said.
The pirate looked across the table at him, his breathing slow and careful as he stared at Gursh, his eyes trying to bore into his mind.
“I have a different offer to make,” he eventually said.
“You do not make the offers here,” Gursh said.
“Oh, but you will like this one. If you let me leave this prison now, I promise to let you and everyone else here live,” the pirate said.
“Really? How do you plan to-” Gursh began, but stopped. In the corridor outside the room, there was an alarm going off.
The station rumbled a couple of times, it felt like small explosions. As Gursh looked around the room, he realised the pirate was simply sitting still, smiling at him.
“What is going on?” Gursh demanded as he got up.
Another rumble could be felt, much more powerful than the last. The pirate interlocked his long, bony fingers and bared his teeth as he grinned. His long tongue snaked out through a gap in his teeth, flickering before it went back inside.
“I’m expecting company,” he said.
Gursh got up and drew his gun as he walked towards the door before opening it. He looked outside and saw red lights flashing along the wall; an intruder alarm.
“ATTENTION ALL PERSONNEL! WE HAVE BEEN BOARDED AND ARE UNDER ATTACK! DEFEND YOURSELVES ANY WAY YOU-” the louder speaker blasted before being cut off.
Suddenly a large group appeared from the docking bay and opened fire on Gursh, forcing him to retreat back into the room. He returned fire, hitting one of the group before returning to cover as a weapon beam missed his head. Gursh could hear gun blasts from the other end of the corridor, the boarding party was obviously a large one and he needed to figure out a way to call for aid. He leaned back out to fire and suddenly felt something hit him on the back of his head. He fell to the floor as another blow rocked his head, his gun scattered off somewhere, leaving him helpless. His vision was spinning as he felt the pirate leader step past him whilst rubbing his wrists. The red light seeming to bounce off his skin as his helpers walked up to him and handed him a weapon. Gursh tried to listen but he couldn’t concentrate.
“What now?”
“We get our weapons…. Get to the base.”
“Need… move now. More are coming.”
“What about him?”
“Not enough time, move!”
Gursh tried to get up but then felt a foot hit his face, and everything went blurry. He forced himself onto his knees and then drew his reserve gun from his belt. He could hear gun fire in the distance, small arms by the sound of it. He got to his feet and stumbled after the pirates, towards the shooting, gripping his head in the hopes of fixing his vision. He eventually found the door to the hanger and opened it. The sound of gun fire increasing dramatically as he saw prison guards firing at the pirates whilst they boarded a hovering ship.
“Take out the engines!” one of the guards shouted as Gursh fired and hit one of the pirates in the back of his leg.
Two of the other pirates shot at him, forcing him into cover as the wounded one was helped on board. Gursh leaned out from cover and shot one of the pirates firing at him, hitting him and knocking him back.
“No!” Gursh said as his pistol power hit empty, the last of the pirates getting inside their ship and the door closing.
As Gursh slapped in a new battery, the main guns of the pirate ship opened fire, shredding the prison guards who were not quick enough to get out of the way. Gursh fired at the cockpit but he might as well of thrown his gun at it, the beam bounced off it and blew out a light on the wall. The ship spun around and then blasted out of the station, disappearing into space. Gursh holstered his gun and walked over to the remains of the guards, picking up a communicator from one of their belts.
“This is captain Gursh. Send for help straight away, contact Bratik as well. He is going to be far from pleased if anyone else informs him of this. Copy this?” Gursh barked.
“Yes captain, right away,” came the reply.
Gursh wobbled for a moment as his vision blurred again. He composed himself, but then lost his temper and punched the metal wall of the corridor, leaving a bloody dent.
Eager to read the rest? Praxis launches on October 6. Preorder your copy now!

2017/09/28

Larry Correia vs. the Campbellian Memory Hole

The International Lord of Hate recently waded into a FaceBook thread started by author Mark Wandrey that had been darkened by a Campbellian Kool-Aid swiller who showed up to lecture the best-selling authors' fans about how hard science fiction is the only science fiction.

Glenn Damato

Glenn: "Lowbrow readers want to be told the same, schlocky stories ad infinitum instead of new tales set in original worlds."

Also Glenn: "I want the same subgenre of hard sci-fi stories set in this world with minimal speculative elements that I liked back in the day!"

Note that he also wasted no time declaring science fiction dead. Where have we heard that before?

Food for thought: which takes more originality and creativity--dreaming up and populating an expansive, if perhaps somewhat derivative--galactic empire with space marines and spaceships; or setting a story in a Silicon Valley lab full of screwdriver-toting nerds two years from now with the currently projected advancement of Moore's Law as the central plot conceit?

But enough from me. The Mountain that Writes answers the hard SF snob better than I could:

Glenn Damato Larry Correia reply

A slight correction for Larry, if I may be so bold: the ILoH is absolutely a real science fiction author. What we today call science fiction, fantasy, and horror were all recognized under the broad banner of science fiction back before John W. Campbell imposed his arbitrary reduction of sci-fi to hard sci-fi and chain bookstores adopted arbitrary shelving systems.

With the advent of Amazon, indie publishing, and the Pulp Revolution, genre fiction is returning to its natural state of anything goes fun.

Speaking of which...
Brian Niemeier has done it. He has taken the best aspects of Dune, Star Wars, and Star Trek, classic sci-fi like Flash Gordon, and The Divine Comedy and crafted what can only be called a space opera fantasy horror. Whatever the genre, Nethereal delivers.
Nethereal - Brian Niemeier

2017/09/27

Soft Narcissism

Above It All

Alex over at Amatopia continues the discussion on conservatism's cultural failures begun by myself and Rawle Nyanzi. Alex's contribution is to go a bit more in-depth about why conservatives abandoned the field to Leftists in the arts.
I contend that by abandoning the arts, conservatives created this illusion of being temperamentally unsuited.
Plenty of practical, conservative types are artistic. They are just not let into the industries that their ideological opponents control.
Luckily, with gatekeepers mattering less and less, this will eventually prove to be no obstacle at all.
Thus, I don’t agree with Rawle that the perceived leftist tendency to deal with speculation or emotion–or being supported by others!–gives them a “psychological advantage” in art. As we see, many converged, overly political movies, TV shows, and books utterly fail in the storytelling department because of their overtly political nature.
The only advantage I can see, psychological or otherwise, is the fact that the gatekeepers are also of the Left.
This goes to Brian’s point about refusal to fight. Conservatives don’t like being told what to do and don’t like telling others what to do.
But your business isn’t government. A person has every right to treat their own business or organization as a dictatorship. Conservatives believe that the purity of their ideals will inspire their enemies to see their way of thinking.
Bullshit. Verifiable, irrefutable bullshit.
All sticking to “muh principles!” does is ensure that you will be disadvantaged. Unilateral disarmament does not work. 
Most responses to Alex's correct observation about the conservative tendency to justify preemptive surrender on the basis of "principle" is to accuse the observer of asserting that no one should have principles. A closer look reveals that the conservative making the accusation is simply doubling down on his "muh princples" rhetoric.

I--and I feel safe in assuming Rawle and Alex--don't want conservatives to abandon their principles. As I said in the post that sparked this conversation, I'd like conservatives to actually let their stated principles inform their actions instead of using them to excuse inaction.

Another vital reality that often seems lost on conservatives is that not all principles are universally applicable in all places, at all times, and in all circumstances. It's healthy and smart to periodically check your principles against conditions on the ground to make sure your ideas correspond to reality.

This self-examination is especially important now that the enemy's game largely consists of coming up with new rules for themselves while holding the rest of us to the old rules. In situations like this, those who stick to the old rules aren't principled. They're saps who are forfeiting any chance of implementing their principles.

Equally important: conservatives must come to terms with the fact that a particular tactic is not necessarily evil just because it may be distasteful. Using Rommel's strategy didn't make Patton a Nazi. Every measure has to be individually evaluated based on intent, means, and circumstances.

The last word goes to Alex.
It’s Schoolyard 101: the dirtiest player dictates the rules of the game. Conservatives choose the soft narcissism of being the most rigidly principled guy in the room.
This is the real psychological disadvantage. By trying to stay above it all to assure their own egos that they’re the most principled dudes in town, they’ve entirely ceded the battlefield.
Nice job.

2017/09/26

Practical to a Fault

Practicality

Rawle Nyanzi picks up from my previous post on the continued failures of conservatism with his theory on why conservatives have totally abdicated their former dominance in the arts.
Mainstream conservatives are too practical, and this is why they ignore the arts.
The US conservative ethos can be summed up as: Pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Make money to support your family and improve your lifestyle. Handouts are shameful. In following this ethos, they select careers with a practical application that would get them earning right away. It’s not bad advice; you need money to live, and more money is better, for bills need to be paid. With this conventional mindset, conservatives relentlessly focus on “what works,” emphasizing careers like engineering, resource extraction, skilled trades, and other things of that nature. Since these are skills immediately useful to society, conservatives have a reputation of “getting it done.”
And it’s this exact temperament that makes them unsuited for the world of art — and by this, I mean all forms of artistic expression, not merely paintings or installations.
Art is not immediately useful; it neither grows your food nor supplies your energy. Except for a handful of megastars, art is low-paid. Most artists rely on either a job or on other people to support them in their endeavors; “don’t quit your day job” is a cliche for a reason, as is “starving artist.” It requires the mind to break with conventional modes of thinking and spend much time speculating on bizarre possibilities. Art requires one to focus on emotion.
This is as far from the conservative mindset as one can get.
As a result, conservatives do not view the arts as particularly important; to them, it feels like a useless indulgence. To the liberal (whether SJW or not), the arts pose no psychological obstacle since their self-concept does not derive from accumulating wealth, being the hardest worker, or having a conventional family life. They’re fine with being supported if that’s what it takes. They’re fine with making less money if that’s what it takes. They’re fine with not getting married or having children.
Thus liberals have the psychological advantage for art. Thus liberals put in the work to become successful at it. Thus liberals shape popular culture through it.
Though art appears useless, it is quite real — every bit as real as anything conservatives prefer to deal with. People love to engage with it to relax or to gain some emotional thrill, and such things are highly addictive. The small buildup of every little piece of art over time eventually shifts the culture. Though most entertainment is chosen, the mere availability of high-quality works can brighten someone’s day. People like being entertained.
And few conservatives provide this entertainment because they consider art to be beneath them.
It’s ironic, isn’t it? Conservatives avoid going into art, then they complain that all the art is liberal. If conservatives are to make any headway in the world of art, they have to let go of their doubts and do what they do best: get to work and get it done.
No one reads think tank papers for fun.
Rawle is on to something, here. To clarify, I think that contemporary conservatives' temperamental aversion to the arts isn't natural, but is a rather recent ideological development. After all, the days when most movie studios, and even major comic book companies, were controlled by what would now be considered arch-conservatives, are within the living memory of any American over 60.

But the question remains: how did conservatives let their cultural hegemony slip through their fingers? I'm convinced that certain axioms of their philosophy made this reversal of fortune inevitable.
Each of these positions is precisely backwards. Economics is downstream from culture. Speculative reason has primacy over practical reason, because practical reason can't explain which of the two is preferable. Leisure is the end purpose of work; not wasting time when you aren't working.

Modern conservatism has sidelined speculative reason and leisure, and without these there can be no culture.

2017/09/25

The Most Principled Guys on the Cinder

Nero

A common rhetorical tactic of the Left is to accuse their opponents of sounding angry--as if all the folks in flyover country whom the coastal bubble dwellers bitterly hate are a legion of hotheaded Skywalkers charged with a violation of the Jedi Code.

An even worse sin than general anger is "partisan anger", i.e. getting mad at the people who've been working nonstop to ruin your life for decades because they hate you. Canny rhetoricians will note that the "you sound angry" card is an admission of guilt on the part of the Lefty who's playing it.

The Left isn't entirely wrong, though. There is a rising tide of partisan anger in America at present. They're just wrong about where it's directed.

I was privy to a discussion in which a down-on-his-luck tech industry veteran was denied a job by a small business owner and ideological fellow traveler. Why? Because of the latter's hard and fast policy against hiring anyone who's been out o a job for more than three months.

You already know these gentlemen's political persuasion. Leftists never let trivialities like job history, relevant experience, personality, or even basic competence get in the way of packing their offices with fellow cult members. The Equifax debacle proves that.

This is why the SJW swarm and disemploy tactic remains effective. Not only are conservative employers quick to offer their workers' scalps to SJW hate mobs; they participate in the social justice blacklist by taking the manufactured charges seriously and treating disemployed targets like lepers.

Conservatives pride themselves on being entrepreneurs. If they stopped caving to the point and shriek routine, it would lose its effectiveness overnight.

Imagine if conservative business owners refused to fire employees at the SJWs' whim. Let's go a step further. What if conservatives made a point of hiring victims of SJW mobs? (Rank heresy to "best candidate for the job regardless of political persuasion" free marketeers, I know.) Going way out on a limb, think of what would happen if conservative managers proactively fired all confirmed SJWs working at their companies.

"A whole slew of wrongful termination lawsuits is what would happen!" I can hear a gaggle of conservatives whine. I'm not advocating that anyone break the law. Just look to the Left, though, and you'll see they've found creative ways to terminate wrongthinkers while keeping their noses clean. Exhibit A: former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich being pressured to resign for perfectly legal behavior that was also in line with reason and natural law--two concepts that conservatives claim to hold in high regard.

Which major conservative tech firm picked Eich up? Answer: nobody--possibly because there are no major conservative tech firms, which speaks volumes.

The grim workplace reality that anyone to the right of Chairman Mao has to deal with is that you're on your own. No one is going to stick his neck out for you when the SJWs call for your head, and no one will care. After all, they've got theirs, and they'd hate to lose it.

It's not just tech, either. Hard as it is to believe, almost every cultural and business institution in America was once what we'd now call conservative. Walt Disney once fired every communist from his studio. Science fiction stories used to take Western, Christian morals for granted. Harvard and Yale started out as seminaries.

How did we lose all of these institutions? There were concerted efforts to converge these organizations, to be sure. But these attempts wouldn't have succeeded if not for a fact that has become painfully clear: conservatives are cowards. They talk a good game about standing on principle, but the inescapable conclusion is that they don't really believe what they're saying. People who truly believe in and are informed by principles act on them.

Was your job shipped overseas or sacrificed to the SocJus death cult? Your conservative friends will tell you to hit the books and learn chemical engineering. Or move to North Dakota and work the oil fields. Or slum it as a janitor to avoid the dreaded job history gap on your resume.

Never mind that the STEM jobs are going to H1Bs, and the unskilled blue-collar jobs are going to illegal aliens. Never mind that real wages have been stagnant since the 70s. And never mind that our ruggedly independent, principled conservatives won't try any such desperate measures themselves.

After all, they've got theirs. And they forge their principles in the tradition of Cain, the original agribusiness pioneer. Screw you for playing the victim!

Yes, there's a great deal of partisan anger. And unless Hindu cow conservatives bestir themselves to support those who are suffering for their principles, they'll find themselves the most principled guys on the cinder.

2017/09/22

The Convergence of Science Fiction

YouTuber Max Kolbe recently had me on his show to explain how the SJW convergence of tradpub science fiction happened. Max is particularly interested in the sudden shift from stories that took the Christian worldview for granted to overtly atheistic, anti-religious works. We discussed how John W. Campbell ended the reign of the pulps and how the Futurians fomented a Marxist revolution in SF publishing.

The episode garnered a lot of praise. Listen in and learn how sinister forces relegated the once-dominant SFF genre to a cultural ghetto.


Max himself is an unabashed sci-fi fan from way back, and I couldn't help nodding along as he related how he drifted away from the genre about twenty years ago. He'd also been led to think of the post-1937 Campbell era as the "golden age" of SF and to regard everything that came before as trash.

The highlight of the episode for me was when Max looked over Gary Gygax's Appendix N--with which he was already familiar--and realized that most of the entries are a) not Campbellian and b) take Christianity--or at least some form of spirituality--for granted. It was an honor and a solemn duty to redpill a long-time SF fan on how the genre was purposefully hijacked by a clique of 50 New York editors.

But the tide has turned. Barnes & Noble is collapsing. The big New York publishers who rely on their paper distribution monopoly are hemorrhaging money. The ranks of indie authors who are writing fun stories that fans actually want to read are growing by the day.

I'm gladdened and humbled that SFF readers have singled out my highly unique Soul Cycle as an antidote to the failing gatekeepers' message fic. It's a pleasure to announce that I've retained world-class artist Marcelo Orsi Blanco to return and design the cover of the fourth and final SC book.

If you haven't read all three current Soul Cycle books, now's the time to get caught up for the award-winning series' mind-blowing conclusion!

The Soul Cycle