2017/04/28

Compared to David Lynch

Over at the Puppy of the Month Book Club, Jon Mollison concludes his multi-part review of Souldancer with what is, in my opinion, a rather flattering comparison.
Finishing Brian Niemeier’s works always leave me feeling like I’ve just finished watching a David Lynch film. A little tired, a little confused, but ultimately satisfied.
Thank you, Jon. That satisfaction you get from reading SFF that entertains while respecting your intelligence enough not to hold your hand the whole way is exactly the feeling I try to instill in my readers.

And seeing as how David Lynch is one of my favorite directors, I'd take any comparison to his work, even an unfavorable one, as high praise.
Again, that's not a complaint.  These books will be going in my re-read pile, because seeing the destination has already opened my eyes to a lot of things that went on along the path to get there.
You can read the whole thing here. Wait until he gets to The Secret Kings!

Speaking of which, anyone who doesn't already own all three books in the fan-pleasing, award-winning Soul Cycle has just three days left to get Nethereal, Souldancer, and The Secret Kings (or each book individually) on sale. Come May, they'll be back to their regular price.

Brian Niemeier - The Soul Cycle

In other news, I took part in the first-ever Geek Gab special last night. The topic was pen and paper RPGs, with a special focus on Dungeons & Dragons' OSR rules. Dorrinal took over hosting duties for this very special episode, and we welcomed Appendix N author Jeffro Johnson as our expert guest.

It's safe to say that all involved were entertained and enriched. Luckily for you, the video is up on our channel so you can experience the nerdy fun.


And don't forget: the countdown has already begun to Geek Gab's second pulpstravaganza as we once again welcome Jeffro, author John C. Wright, and two-time Hugo finalist firebrand Razörfist!

The pulpocalypse commences this Saturday at 4:00 PM Eastern. Obliterate anything that obstructs you from being there!


@BrianNiemeier

2017/04/27

Yay, Space Opera!

Author Yakov Merkin reviews Nethereal.
Before we begin, I should disclose that I have had numerous positive interactions with Brian Niemeier, ranging from Twitter conversations, to getting very helpful advice relating to self-publishing, and I was a guest on the Geek Gab podcast, on which he is a co-host.
And quite a time we had, too.
That rambling aside, on to the review itself! I regret being fairly new to the Pulp Revolution scene, and that I never happened to read the works that inspired it, as I feel like if I had, I’d have a greater appreciation for what Niemeier drew from them. That said, this did not at all diminish my ability to enjoy the book, and I will endeavor to read the other two books in the Soul Cycle currently available (and which I own), Souldancer and Secret Kings, in a much more timely manner.
Full disclosure: I didn't really draw much inspiration from the pulps when I wrote Nethereal. Sure, I'd read a few pulp titles, mainly Lovecraft, but I started writing Nethereal seven years ago--long before I'd heard of the Pulp Revolution.

As Jeffro Johnson, one of the Pulp Revolution's guiding lights said in his review, Nethereal isn't pulp. It's in a category of its own, which Jeffro helpfully named Niemeierian fiction.

Which isn't to say that pulp fans won't find anything to appreciate in Nethereal. Most of the Pulp Revolution guys I talk to love it. The Golden Age authors and I definitely have a lot in common, like a love of genre bending, a penchant for weirdness, and a dedication to entertaining the reader first. We just took different paths to the same place.
When boiled down as far as you can go, Nethereal is a story of space pirates that go to hell. Of course, there’s definitely much more to it than that, and we follow said pirates–as well as some other folks–as they deal with literally going to hell and then trying to claw their way back out.
Each of our main characters is well characterized an interesting. The two primary ones are Jaren Peregrine, the captain of the pirate crew, who, for both good and ill, is laser-focused on whatever he sets his mind to. Next, we have Nakvin, a woman with many secrets, some of which even she is not fully aware of, who is effectively Jaren’s deputy and the ship’s primary steersman. Rounding out the main cast are Teg Cross, a smart-mouthed mercenary who is very handy when they inevitably get into trouble, and Deim, the youngest of the group, and apprentice steersman to Nakvin. There are, of course, plenty more characters along the journey, but I want to keep this review short and spoiler free; with Nethereal, more than most books I’ve read recently, even small thing I may mention could spoil something. Everyone has their own agenda, everyone has secrets, and even the reader at many points is left in the dark regarding who is playing it straight and who isn’t. It really is a book that demands you pay attention, which is more reason why I should’ve read it in a shorter time span.
There's an annoying trend in the entertainment industry to show blatant contempt for their audiences, particularly by assuming that the people who watch their movies, read their comics, and listen to their music are stupid.

I think that treating your customers like idiots is bullshit. I'd rather give you guys the benefit of the doubt and trust that you don't need your hands held when presented with sophisticated plots and complex characters. I might lose some of the slow kids, but that's fine. They can go read Chuck Wendig.
The most stand-out aspects of Nethereal, however, are both the tone Niemeier set and the way he blended aspects of several different genres. Without going into spoilery details, the space hell he creates really feels ominous and creepy, from the landscapes to the people and things they encounter in it, and the normal laws of nature are twisted there is just the right ways. I’m no expert on horror, but the horror elements included in this story set the tone very well. Of course, at its core Nethereal is primarily a space opera (yay for that genre getting new, good content!), with much of what you might expect, though due to the unique genre blend it is also different from what one might expect, with more of an emphasis on magic and strange places than on space battles (though I hear there is more of the latter later in the series.)
Not sure there’s much more I can say (again, in part due to my not getting to this promptly), but the other two books is the series so far are near the top of my to-read list.
Nethereal stands out in the current SF/F literary world as something that remembers that cool stuff, entertainment is the key, and loudly proclaims itself as a work of genre fiction. It is very clear that this was written by someone who loves the sci-fi, fantasy, and horror genres and wanted to write something interesting and fun rather than to check off boxes to try and appeal to a very narrow group of people who don’t buy many books anyway.
Thanks, Yakov, for taking the time to write this great review. You guys can read the whole thing here.

And you can get Nethereal, along with the other books in the award-winning Soul Cycle, on sale for the next four days.
Brian Niemeier - Nethereal

@BrianNiemeier

2017/04/26

Superversive RPG Roundtable

Join the superversive crew, including Sci Phi Journal editor Jason Rennie, Appendix N author Jeffro Johnson, Geek Gab host Daddy Warpig, record-setting Hugo-nominated author John C. Wright, author and editor Jagi Wright, and more as they delve deep into the topic of role-playing games.


Of special note is the Wrights' account of the homebrewed RPG they've been playing for years that's said to be like living out one of John's books. Count me in!

On an unrelated topic that may nevertheless interest superversive fans, especially since Jagi is my editor, my award-winning Soul Cycle series of SFF novels is only on sale for five more days. Get all three books now for less than the cost of a single eBook by a certain Tor author.

Brian Niemeier - The Soul Cycle

2017/04/25

They Hate Us a Lot

The Zman takes his recent viewing of Casablanca as an occasion to meditate on a subject that I have often opined about myself.

Casablanca

Here's the Zman:
My generation was probably the last to grow up seeing these old films on television. They would turn up on the UHF channels at night or on weekends. In the 70’s, black and white movies looked almost as good as the color television shows, so the old films seemed to hold up OK, at least to a ten year old.
I decided to fire up the Kodi and watch Casablanca, while I was catching up on some office work. I was a bit surprised at how well it holds up today. Being in black and white probably makes it work by tricking my brain into viewing it through the eyes of my youth, rather than as a jaded old man. The acting is the part that does not work as well today, as the old films were acted like stage plays, which required the audience to use their imaginations. Modern technology lets the audience drop into a coma while watching a film.
Anyway, Casablanca is a classic film for a reason. The story is well done and even 70 years on, the stars are still stars. Maybe it was how they made the movies back then, but Bogart fills the screen in his scenes. Of course, Ingrid Bergman was a stunningly gorgeous women, but even the lesser stars seemed to have a presence. Peter Lorre has a small role early in the film, but you remember it. It’s probably due to how they made movies back then, but the stars don’t have the same screen presence today.
I suspect that part of the reason why Casablanca still leaves such an impression on audiences even after 70 years is that it is the film which is most often cited as having originated the Hollywood Formula. As for why contemporary movies fail to achieve the same lasting appeal, my strong suspicion is that film makers have forgotten why the formula worked in the first place.
Of course, Hollywood in that age made movies that celebrated the higher values of their intended audience. There were some commie writers trying to work their message into films, but by and large the industry liked its customers and sought to appeal to their better natures by celebrating America and American values. The point of movie making in those days was to get people to the theater. That meant making movies that appealed to the majority population, which meant the native stock. No one bothered with virtue signaling.
There was also a degree of respect for the audience. It was assumed that the people in the theater could use their imagination. They did not need a 20-minute sex scene to know that Bogart and Bergman were having a physical relationship. The audience was treated like adults, rather than teenagers. Hollywood often relied on high-brow culture in their films, even though their audience was mostly working class. People read more and they were expected to know about classic stories and characters from Western culture.
It's more than a little ironic that the cultural Marxists in academia have rendered their students too stupid to understand movies written by Marxists in Hollywood.
Today, the people making movies largely despise the native stock of the country and they really hate the white men. A remake of Casablanca would most likely have the story set at Ellen’s Place, rather than Rick’s Café Américain. The proprietor would have to be a gender fluid lesbian of color, hounded by white males trying to oppress her. The whole thing would be a carnival of degeneracy intended to rub the nose of viewers in a steaming pile of cultural Marxism, as a reminder of who is in charge now.
It could be worse. It could be the comic book industry.
The world view of the people in charge of movie making is different too. When they made Casablanca, they knew those honkies taking their dates to see Bogie were going to be relied upon to save Western civilization from itself. The people running Hollywood today are convinced they would be better off if the honkies would hurry up and die off. It’s not just that foreign audiences are so important either. There’s a real visceral hatred that screams through the product pumped out by Hollywood today. They hate us a lot.
No comment necessary.

@BrianNiemeier

2017/04/24

Is Sharknado Pulp?

Sharknado

Does Sharknado meet the requirements to be classified as a pulp story? What is the optimal viewing order for the Fast and the Furious series?

Join Daddy Warpig, Dorrinal, and me as we tackle these and many more pop culture questions on this week's fintastic episode of Geek Gab!


And mark your calendars, because this Saturday, April 29, will see the triumphant return to Geek Gab of the three horsemen of the pulpocalypse: multiple Hugo nominees John C. Wright, Jeffro Johnson, and Razörfist!

@BrianNiemeier

2017/04/21

Pulp Speed

Pulp Speed

Greetings, writers, critics, and fans of the Pulp Revolution! Today I bring you a two-in-one history and writing lesson from one of the smartest and most prolific indie authors working today: Mr. Dean Wesley Smith.

Lest you're tempted to think that's just flattery, Mr. Smith displays knowledge of the real history and value of the pulps more than two years before the publication of Jeffro Johnson's monumental Appendix N.

There were still those who remembered and cherished the pulps, even in the Dark Times. Mr. Smith is one such keeper of the flame, and he is here to teach you how to write at Pulp Speed.
Many, many of the great writers of the past that we still read and enjoy were pulp writers. And there are many pulp writers working today. More than you might imagine, even through the rough times of the last twenty years in traditional publishing.
Now, right here, before I get started, I’m going to repeat what I always say. No writer is the same as any other writer.
And most writers could never do what I am about to talk about.
Pulp Speed writing is a mind-set for writers who have cleared out damn never every myth and belief taught to them about writing by English teachers. A Pulp Speed writer loves to just tell stories, one right after another. So remember, no writer is the same as another writer. And if this hits you wrong, it might not be for you to even think about in any fashion.
But for others, this might just be the ticket to a bright new future, just to learn this is possible and happening.
Can I get an amen?

Dean lays some forbidden history on us:
Dickens was one of the early great Pulp Writers. And there were many along the way before the turn of 1900. It was then that the “literary” group split from the “writing for the masses” group of writers.
To the literary group, their writing had to be important, something to struggle to read, and only be published in leather hardbound books.
The masses group of writers just wanted to tell stories that would entertain readers.
Writing to entertain readers. Imagine that.
Around this split period of 1900, the pulp magazines were coming in, and with the pulp magazine expansion, stories were needed to fill the pages of the exploding pulp magazine field. And the writers who could write sellable stories quickly discovered they could become very rich writing for one cent per word.
Let that sink in. They got rich writing at a rate of a penny a word. Even adjusting for inflation, you would have to write a lot just to reach the US median income at that rate. We're not talking about releasing two or even three novels per year, never mind the Big Five's commonly mandated one yearly novel. We're talking double digits.
Novels that were in the pulps almost never made it out of the pulps. They lasted on the stands for one week or maybe two weeks or a month and were gone. A few pulp writers started their own publishing companies. One example is Burroughs. His son got his novels into books. But most novels just stayed in the pulps until the late 1940s when the paperback form started to take off and novels were needed for that form.
Doc Savage was a pulp character created mostly by Lester Dent and his publisher under a magazine house name. He wrote 159 of the Doc Savage novels for the Doc Savage pulp magazine, among many other books under other names, including his own name. There was a novel from Dent in most issues of Doc Savage Magazine for a decade or more. You can still buy Doc Savage novels by Dent today.
Some pulp writers got so famous, they were some of the richest people in the country. One year in the 1940s, the pen name Max Brand had thirteen movies in production from his books. Some of you may even remember Max Brand’s Dr. Kildare from television. Either the first television series or the second.
This is a theme that Jeffro, John C. Wright, and Razörfist bring up again and again. The pulps weren't just big in print. They were the king of all media with a cultural dominance we can only begin to imagine today.
I admire true storytellers such as Max Brand and Lester Dent who are still being read and enjoyed by millions well over a hundred years past when they started publishing.
When the pulps finally died in the late 1950s, Pulp Speed writers turned to paperbacks through the 1960s and 1970s and wrote everything a publisher wanted. There were lots and lots of Pulp Speed writers producing upwards of 30 novels a year if not more. And most books were under many pen names and across many genres. Novels in this time period were still in the 40,000 word range.
In the 1980s publishers started to artificially inflate the size of novels because of the publisher’s need to charge more for a paperback. Pulp Speed writers kept on.  Numbers worked the category romance field, many worked westerns which had kept their smaller size.
There's that pesky date again. It looks like 1980 really is the hard expiration date for a publishing industry that was mainly interested in entertaining readers.
But by the 1990s and early this century, most of the Pulp Speed writers had retired and very few new writers understood that Pulp Speed world was out there. It was almost impossible to understand when publishers limited a writer to one book per year. But some Pulp Speed writers still existed and worked through the period.
But now, with the advent of the indie world, Pulp Speed writers are coming back. It is possible again. And fun.
The golden age of fiction for readers has returned.
The crap rules the traditional publishers forced on writers are gone for writers smart enough to escape them. Just as with the pulp era, writers are free to write stories again at whatever pace they want to write. And readers are free to read what they want without some snobby person telling them it is good or bad.
The second pulp era is upon us.
Tell it on the mountain!

Now that we know that writing like a pulp author is possible once again, how can we learn to write at pulp speed? Dean answers:
Well, since we all type about the same speed when writing, the way to pick up speed is to spend more time in the writing chair. However, to do that in this modern world takes a vast amount of getting rid of all the crap we were taught by non-writers.
And it takes a real love of telling stories and an ability to write one draft fiction. Rewriting kills Pulp Speed completely. None of the great Pulp Writers you read today and many of the great literary writers never rewrote anything. They told people they did starting in the 1970s and afterward when the rewriting craze started to hit, but they never did in reality.
Remember, to them words were money. One cent per word made them rich. The more words in sellable fiction, the richer they got.
The secret, as Dean tells it, is twofold:
  1. Unlearn what you have learned in creative writing classes and writers' workshops.
  2. Write, as Larry Correia would say, to GET PAID!
I've heard Jeffro describe Larry as one of the old pulp masters come again. Based on Dean's description of how writers operated in the pulps' heyday, I must concur.

So you've implemented Dean's advice. How do you know if you're writing fast enough? You're in luck, because Dean has come up with handy definitions of each Pulp Speed Factor.
PULP SPEED ONE
About 1,000,000 (1 million) original words per year. This averages to about 2,750 words a day for 365 days. (numbers rounded)
Or about 83,300 words per month.  So if you do 3,000 words a day and over 84,000 words per month ON AVERAGE for a year, you are writing at PULP SPEED ONE. (if you take days off, then your daily word count has to go up on your writing days. Do your own math for your schedule.)
PULP SPEED TWO
1,200,000 words in a year. 100,000 words per month. Last month I hit PULP SPEED TWO, for the month, but the key is holding it for the year. The yearly total is the key. Average is the key.
And remember, that is about 3,400 words per day. If you can write 1,000 words average an hour, that’s 3.5 hours per day.
PULP SPEED THREE
1,400,000 words in a year.  To hit this, you need to be about 120,000 words per month (rounded up) or about 4,000 words per day average. Again, at this level, the difficulty factor starts increasing. Maintaining gets more difficult on the engines to keep at this speed for an entire year. (Max Brand wrote at this pace for decades, not missing.)
PULP SPEED FOUR
1,600,000 words per year. That’s about 135,000 words per month or about 4,500 words per day without a day off.
PULP SPEED FIVE
1,800,000 words per year.  About 150,000 words per month. 5,000 words per day without missing a day.
PULP SPEED SIX
2 million words and more per year. 170,000 words or so per month. About 5,500 words per day average.
The engines are shaking and Scotty is looking panicked.
But I know a few writers who did this through the traditional publishing crunch on writers in the early part of this century. It can be done.
But if you think it can’t be done, ask yourself why? Why is your belief system telling you that?
Say you wanted to write for 8 hours per day for five days a week. (40 hours of writing. You know, like a work ethic.) This allows you to take the weekends off with your family. You write 1,000 words per hour. 8 hours is 8,000 words per writing day. 40,000 words per week.
So you do that, take two weeks off for a vacation. 50 weeks x 40,000 words per week = 2 million words.
Writers who write in these top speeds have a real work ethic with their writing and love to tell stories, one right after another.
As I said earlier, you need to have everything cleaned out of the myth side of the brain.
Pulp Speed Six is what full-time writers manage. Writers who work eight hours a day, five days per week, 50 weeks per year.
This is not for everyone. And you can’t just jump to these speeds, it takes time to work up to them. But it is possible once again for more than just a few in this new indie publishing reality.
There's even more at Dean's blog.

Dean Wesley Smith has been a major influence on my own writing career. I highly recommend his advice on indie publishing, especially his Think Like a Publisher series.

You can judge for yourself how well I've followed Dean's advice by checking out my fan-pleasing Soul Cycle series, on sale this month.


@BrianNiemeier

2017/04/20

Cassandra Syndrome

Reader Nate Winchester graciously concedes the point I made last year when I predicted the Star Wars franchise's decline.

Nate comments:
Brian, I'm returning a year later to say... Rogue 1 let us down. :( 
More on my blog if you want to rap about it: https://natewinchester.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/sw-rogue-one-round-2/
Looks like I owe you a drink.
Though I'd rather have been wrong, a sweet, sweet Coke Zero will help ease the pain of a beloved childhood franchise's demise.

Why did Rogue One fail? From Nate's autopsy:
Getting to rewatch the movie I was struck by the “bloat” within.  I understand that Forest Whittaker’s character has a role in the SW: Rebels cartoon, but let’s face it the movie would have actually been improved by removing his segments.  The Pilot too.  The actor did a good job making him lovable and all but really his arc could have been combined into Jyn’s.
Indeed by the time the movie is over even Jyn’s arc seems superfluous, and isn’t she supposed to be the main character?  She at least served more of a purpose by figuring out by being the codebreaker to locate the hidden file they needed but that could have been done over a cell phone.
Sci-fi screenwriters take heed. If the role of a prominent character in your script could be obviated with a phone call, text message, or email, what you wrote probably wasn't an actual character to begin with. If the preceding describes the main protagonist, flagellate yourself thoroughly.

Nate goes on to point out how the half-assed characterization is aggravated by quarter-assed plotting.
And why was there an ongoing order to kill Galen?  Cassian just saw the Death Star, WORK.  There is no reason now to bother trying to kill him or send valuable personnel and equipment on a bombing run.  I know the rebellion is supposed to be small and rough but that’s literally what spies are for!
“Cassian, your orders stand.”
“Base, I watched the Death Star blow up Jedah.  The weapon is online and operational.  Killing Galen will accomplish nothing.  We’d be better off interrogating him.”
“Uh… maybe, but we don’t like what he did to James Bond!”
That last line made Coke Zero come out of my nose.

Nate's verdict:
This was definitely a film made by committee and it would have helped having a single vision.  I think it also would have helped had the makers waited one more year.  It makes me leery of Disney’s plan to release Star Wars every year at Christmas – every other year would have been much better and given them the time they needed to bring these movies from adequate, to greatness.
He's right. Fan amnesia might have inoculated audiences against the sloppy writing and PC propaganda of Disney's Star Wars films if they'd had the discipline to release one movie every three or even two years. Remember, it worked for the prequels.

Having an SJW-converged Star Wars film shoved into our faces like whipped cream-topped mud pies every year will squander the public's good will like MC Hammer blowing through a royalty check.

If early reactions to my recent post in response to The Last Jedi trailer are any indication, the decline is already underway.

Star Wars obituary

Star Wars obituary 2

People have already begun clamoring--and rightly so--for enterprising SFF authors living outside the corporate culture bubble to fork Star Wars. I fully endorse this call to action. In fact, I've already written a space opera series that's more fun than the last two Star Wars installments. But you don't have to take my word for it.
Action packed, complex, and gargantuan. It's a space opera that doesn't care about genre limitations mixing in a healthy dose of horror and fantasy for a good measure. This book alone gave me hope for some pirates in space. Enjoy the ride, well worth of the admission fee.
Stop settling. Start having fun.

Brian Niemeier - The Soul Cycle

@BrianNiemeier

2017/04/19

Wrongthink Sci-Fi Giveaway

Wrongthink Sci-Fi Giveaway

Robert Kroese and a few of my other wrong-thinking author friends have put together a massive giveaway of the most celebrated SFF novels to deviate from the big New York publishing Narrative.
The Wrongthink Sci-Fi Giveaway is about showcasing authors who have been marginalized by the gatekeepers of the sci-fi publishing industry for the sin of not complying with progressive social justice dogma. From Sarah Hoyt, who was accused of racism and ”internalized misogyny” for her association with the Sad Puppies campaign to reform the Hugo Awards, to Nick Cole, who lost a publishing contract for daring to write a story about an artificially intelligent computer who is troubled by abortion, these authors have faced smear campaigns, boycotts and blacklisting for failing to toe the progressive line.
Far from being discouraged by the social justice crybullies, however, these authors have thrived by continuing to focus on writing great stories that connect with readers. And now they are teaming up to help spread the word about each other’s books.
The real winner in all this is you, the avid sci-fi reader. We’re holding a huge giveaway and giving away seven kickass sci-fi titles just for entering. In addition, three winners will each receive seven MORE books.
Just for entering, you’ll get:
  • Brother, Frank by Michael Bunker
  • The Red King by Nick Cole
  • Darkship Thieves by Sarah A. Hoyt
  • The Yanthus Prime Job by Robert Kroese
  • The Darkness by W.J. Lundy
  • Nethereal by Brian Niemeier
  • Freehold by Michael Z. Williamson
Three lucky winners will also receive:
  • Wick by Michael Bunker
  • Ctrl+Alt+Revolt by Nick Cole
  • Darkship Revenge by Sarah A. Hoyt
  • Starship Grifters by Robert Kroese
  • The Shadows by W.J. Lundy
  • Souldancer by Brian Niemeier
  • Better to Beg Forgiveness by Michael Z. Williamson
Books will be provided as downloadable files, in both ebook and mobi (Kindle) formats.
This giveaway was organized by the authors listed above. By entering this giveaway, you are agreeing to share your email address with the organizing authors. We will not spam you or share your email address with anyone else. You can unsubscribe from these emails at any time.
Books were graciously provided by Baen and other publishers. Baen is not affiliated with the Wrongthink Giveaway.
If you’re tired of social justice warriors taking all the fun out of sci-fi–or if you just want to read some great stories–you owe it to yourself to enter the Wrongthink Sci-Fi Giveaway!
The big publishing Powers the Be won't promote us, so we're promoting each other! Do your part to support authors whose driving purpose is to entertain YOU. And get some excellent free books--including my Campbell-nominated and Dragon-winning books--in the process. Enter the Wrongthink Sci-Fi Giveaway today!

A Conversation with Jon Mollison

Sudden Rescue - Jon Mollison

This week's episode of Geek Gab has already caused something of a sensation in the Pulp Revolution and affiliated communities. The cause of all this excitement is Jon Mollison, author and blogger at Seagull Rising and the Puppy of the Month Book Club.

On the show this week, Daddy Warpig, Dorrinal, and I talked with Jon about a variety of topics from the viability of novellas as foundations for an indie pub career to this year's Hugo packet and other subjects literary,


Experience the enmollisoning!

In other news, I'm turning in the first part of a story that will be serialized in three parts in an upcoming anthology edited by Superversive SF mastermind Jason Rennie. More on that as the situation develops.

And don't forget: my entire award-winning Soul Cycle is now on sale. Buy now and get three highly acclaimed, fan favorite novels for less than the cost of a single Tor eBook,

2017/04/18

Is Star Wars Dead?

Star Wars Funeral

Has Disney already bastardized its newly acquired Star Wars franchise beyond saving? Prolific blogger Bradford C. Walker presents a well-sourced case for concern.
One more big red flag keeps coming up in the new stuff for Star Wars: Moral Relativism.
This keeps appearing. It started with all that "Grey Jedi" bullshit during the Expanded Universe, and now in the new canon you see it in the comics and novels first before it comes to television and the films. Rogue One was the first big show of it in action, as usual done with plausible dependability, but now with the Bendu in Rebels and all the fan-blather that the new trailer prompted we're getting more of that Fan-Dumb that I find bothersome and stupid.
Again, for those that missed it the last time I posted it, this is George laying out what the Force is about. Note the date; this was a writers' meeting for Season 3 of The Clone Wars, which is in the new canon unchanged so this IS the official position (i.e. "Yes, the Jedi are correct.")
The video that Bradford refers to is only five minutes long and is required viewing for anyone who still labors under the illusion that Disney is competent to helm this franchise.


I've always maintained that Lucas is the best idea man in the business. Say what you will about the artistic failure of the prequel trilogy, Lucas has a rare talent for perfectly managing his vast stable of influences and synthesizing them into something greater than the sum of their parts. His main deficiency is as a director. The concepts that he lays out in plain language above are far more elegant and internally consistent than they're made to appear on film. It's a problem of telling vs. showing.

Ascended Fans who've been led into error by Lucas' difficulties with showing what he wanted say are compounding the signal to noise problem while adding more problems of their own. Bradford explains:
Go on, try to lie to me and say that you can mix Good and Evil like that. That "balance", that "grey", is just an excuse for moral degeneracy. It's not like we don't see, in graphic detail, MULTIPLE TIMES where this goes and how this ends- both in multiple stories and in real life. He said nothing that wiser, smarter, and far more holy men haven't said many times before (and got martyred for it); he just put on new trappings and sold it well. Star Wars is Superversive.
Which is why I find the official stuff out of the official love-in throwing up so many red flags for this--again, remember who's running the show now: Ascended Fans, no less prone to Fan-Dumb than the rest--that I cannot ignore it. Nothing would destroy the value of the franchise faster than diving into that known fraud of Moral Relativism.
As wiser men than I have pointed out, the devil's lie isn't that black is white. It's that everything is gray. Only moral idiots and psychopaths would fall for the line that murder, theft, and lies are intrinsically good. The con that opens with, "There is no black or white, and only you can determine the difference between good and evil for yourself," is a far more seductive--and effective--assault on objective morality.
Nothing will get me committed to making a fork faster than proof positive that this form of pozzing is now policy- and yes, even something so beloved as that can be forked, successfully, and made to surpass it far sooner than you'd think.
Disney has given ample warning that they always intended to murder Star Wars and dress up their cynical corporate agenda in its flayed skin. Star Wars is dead. It's just not broke...yet.

The comments on Bradford's original post are a goldmine of theologically informed criticism.

Durandel Almiras:
Vox Day has said similar, that if they mess up Star Wars, and it looks like they will, then it needs to be forked and said forking will do far better. He thinks it needs doing regardless of the next two films simply because of the theology of the force, if you will, is messed up (and mideclorians). Why would killing the bad guy who is killing your friends make you suddenly evil and have a penchant for ruling a galaxy wide tyranny? The Light/Good vs. Dark/Evil needs to be preserved and moral relativism rejected, but the functionality of the force needs to make more sense in regarding the human condition. The Dark side needs to act more like sin that is always tempting the user and encourages the person once they start down that road...think of how St. Ignatius explains encouragement in Discernment of Spirits.
I think many of us SW fans would like a fork of the series that made sense to the human condition and stayed closer to the pulp that inspired it while also adopting superversive standards.
Jon Mollison:
You ain't kidding about that last bit. Hell, in a lot of ways Star Wars was just a forked Buck Rogers.
Archaeopteryx:
A lot of it seems like Lucas, and/or EU creators keep trying to have the Force simultaneously represent Good/Evil and Yin/Yang (or they have somehow confused to two concepts). This confusion is why crazy shit like righteous anger at injustice can turn people 'dark'. It also would contribute to people trying to come up with various Grey Jedi philosophies in attempts to solve this discrepancy, even if they don't consciously realize there is such.
And as the man of the hour, Bradford gets the last word:
Part of it is that fans often take what a character says as being wholly correct, and don't pay attention to the actions and their consequences. The result is that they miss when characters are wrong in word, deed, or both and thus subtlety is lost. That inability to deal in such things is a big reason for a lot of Fan Dumb (which feeds back into the miseducation of recent generations, but that's another post).
But now? Post-buyout we're seeing this come from the top, and (as with the previous post) I think this is Kathleen Kennedy pushing a policy. I can't prove it yet (unlike the feminism fraud), but I suspect it.
That's the big difference. It's one thing to have an incompetent, and therefore inconsistent, editorial oversight. It's another to impose relativism by policy from the head office.
A major reason that movie studios, comic book companies, and big publishing houses can continue to push corporate propaganda against their customers' wishes is the international conglomerate sugar daddies whose deep pockets insulate their subsidiaries from the natural consequences of their bad decisions. You won't see a course correction until the parent company starts getting hit where it hurts: in the pocketbook.

As Bradford and his astute commenters have said, forking such co-opted IPs can help to hasten the onset of this salutary pain.

Star Wars came about as a reinvention of classic stories from the pulp era. There comes a time when all works of human hands are in need of renewal. For Star Wars, that moment is long overdue.

May the fork be with you.

Brian is willing to alter the design to better fit his story...Soul Cycle is influenced by many sources, but synthesizes the influences into something new instead of rehashing and repeating them like many writers are wont to.
--Nathan Housley

2017/04/17

JimFear138 Podcast

I recently joined my good friend and audiobook narrator JimFear138 on his outstanding podcast.

JimFear138 Podcast

Jim has been killing it lately with a series of phenomenal guests on his show. I'm honored that he let me come on, and we both had a blast.

I've done interviews before, but this one is special because instead of being given the questions in advance like the majority of written interviews I've done, Jim gave me free rein to talk about whatever I wanted. Soul Cycle fans are in for a treat, as I dish out never-before-discussed dirt on the origins of my fictional universe. We also get into theology, which is to me what accounting is to Larry Correia or lawyering is to John C. Wright.

You've never heard me give an interview quite like this one, Only my Catholic Geeks appearances come close, but on Jim's show I didn't have any time restraints. Go ahead. Click on the link and enjoy!

Speaking of the Soul Cycle, Amazon reviewer Brenden says of the first book Nethereal:
Brian is my favorite new writer that I've discovered. He writes better characters and understands plot development better than guys who've been writing books for years. You won't be disappointed with this one.
Thanks, Brenden. I'm delighted that my stories are reaching and entertaining new readers like you and Jim.

By the way, new and veteran fans alike should be pleased to know that I just finished the first draft of my new book yesterday. It just needs one more pass to polish it up before I send it off to Castalia House. I seriously can't wait to unveil this project to you guys. Keep an eye on this blog for further details. They should start coming fast!

In the meantime Nethereal, along with its sequels the Dragon Award-winning Souldancer and The Secret Kings, is on sale right now. Get the whole series for less than the price of a single Tor eBook.

2017/04/14

Picking Comics' Carcass

Comic book crash

The Zman offers an alternate explanation for the SJW infestation of the comic book industry as described by Jon Del Arroz.
That came to mind reading this Vox Day post on the comic book industry. According to people who read comics and follow the business, it has been overrun by howling at the moon social justice warriors. Comics are no longer about Superman vanquishing the bad guys for “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.” Today it is a “half-black, half-Hispanic Spider-Man” lecturing the honkies about their backpack of invisible privilege. Maybe it is more subtle that that, but that seems to be the general direction of the business.
The article VD links to assumes the nose dive in sales is due to the lurch into progressive lunacy by the comic book business. There’s no question that there is little to no market for the social justice warrior stuff. It’s why it always has to be imposed. Still, comic books have been in decline for decades. It is not a dying business, but a dead one. In fact, this SJW phase is what happens to the carcass of an industry or business that has already been pillaged by the money men and grifters of the credit age.
Grifter
What’s happening in the comic book business is emblematic of the credit money age. Into the 1970’s a comic book was cheap entertainment for boys. It encouraged reading and imagination. At the peak, there was something like 15 million comics printed a month. That meant it was an industry of maybe $10 million in annual sales, including revenues related to publishing. By the 70’s they probably made more from licensing than the comics. More kids experienced Superman on TV than through comic books.
By the 70’s it was a mature business with little in the way of growth. Then, clever money men of the credit era decided it was time to bust out the industry and strip away the remaining value. That’s how we got the great comic book bubble. The guy who chronicled this period, the source for the The Weekly Standard article, still has his blog up here. Even if you have no interest in comics, it is an interesting read because it helps explain the phenomenon of social justice warriors in the credit age.
What’s happening in the comic book business is a systematic strip mining of the value created in the golden age of comics. The first stage was to use credit money to blow a massive bubble, drawing in stupid money that the smart money players then ran off with before the bubble burst. That’s the essence of a credit bubble. Credit fuels artificial growth, which attracts real money looking for a quick return. Instead, the sharps take out the real money leaving the credit money behind, which is back by the worthless assets.
There’s another stage though. After the crash, another class of parasites comes in to feed off the carcass. In the case of comic books, there was the old characters developed in the zenith of American culture. In this case, it is the propaganda value of the comic book heroes. Instead of selling cheap fantasy entertainment to boys, they use the super heroes to promote the New Religion. Those social justice warriors now writing for Marvel did not infiltrate the industry. They were recruited.
Read the rest here.

I'm inclined to agree with the Zman's assessment--in large part because we've seen the same pattern play out many times before in other industries. Tor Books isn't primarily in financial decline because SJWs snuck in and drove their customers away. Tor is failing because Amazon disrupted the paper distribution monopoly that is the lifeblood of the big New York publishers.

But the big publishers were all bought out by international conglomerates long ago, so they're shielded from the pressure of having to turn a profit. Since the Big Five publishers' corporate sugar daddies let them pretty much do as they please without consequences, they turn to pumping out propaganda in line with the editors' East Coast bubble sensibilities.

The same cycle is underway in comics, only it's even more conspicuous and further advanced. DC and Marvel are now reduced to publishing comic books only to maintain Time Warner and Disney's film rights to lucrative Golden Age characters. Since the media conglomerates' comic subsidiaries can operate at a loss almost indefinitely, their editors are allowed to get away with murder.

That's one reason why I'm not holding my breath for Marvel to replace their SJW writers with rock-ribbed conservatives who will return Tony Stark to his commie-busting roots. Marvel's editors only need to feign contrition long enough to defuse a potential backlash against Disney. Then it's right back to Trump-bashing and virtue signaling as soon as the public loses interest.

The only way that the comics industry will be rehabilitated from a leftist propaganda organ to a source of fun, pulpy entertainment is if Time Warner and Disney start sufficiently hurting. And even then, Disney in particular seems converged enough to take a financial hit in the service of a pet cause.

Reminder: don't give money to people who hate you.


If you're looking for fun, pulpy entertainment that isn't purpose-built to insult you, my award-winning Soul Cycle series is on sale this month.

@BrianNiemeier

2017/04/13

Keen Observations

Following Jon Mollison's review of the early-middle chapters, Nathan Housley provides an alternate take on chapters 1-4 of Souldancer.
At this moment, Souldancer has echoes of the typical shounen adventure. Represented by Naruto or My Hero Academia, these boy's adventures take a gifted young misfit, usually bullied by a rival, and through circumstance and adventure, force the little brat to grow up and find his place in a society that he will eventually save. If Nethereal is a guide, this process will mix supernatural horror, body horror, and other nightmares into Xander's bitter poison of maturity.
During the discussions of Nethereal, Brian Niemeier revealed the influence of the classic video game Final Fantasy VI on the story. At the time, I chose not to investigate too closely, as not only did the climax of Nethereal bear many similarities to what would at first glance appear to be the finale to that video game's story, but Nethereal and Souldancer mimic a key feature of the game. A confrontation in the a land that is the source of magic for Final Fantasy VI creates a cataclysm that not only scatters the party, but ruins the world. This cataclysm divides the game into two stages, a World of Balance and a World of Ruin. And, after a time-skip of months and years, the story resumes, but with different perspective characters. Thera's rebirth at the end of Nethereal scatters the crew of the Shibboleth and ruins the worlds of the Soul Cycle. Now, twenty-five years later, the story starts again, this time with a Nesshin exile with hidden powers. And, like Celes in Final Fantasy VI, Xander is already gathering some familiar faces from the previous tale.
Nathan's whole review is well worth your time, provided that you either a) have read Souldancer or b) don't mind spoilers. As I pointed out in the comments over at Puppy of the Month, Nathan made a connection that even Jagi, my wonderful editor, missed at the same point in the novel on her first read-through.

It's particularly encouraging to see Nathan catching on to the influence of Final Fantasy VI on Souldancer--an influence about which he was initially somewhat skeptical.

There is, of course, another major connection between SD and FFVI.

Final Fantasy VI - Souldancer

This book is unlike any other. Even the first book doesn't prepare you for the weirdness of this one. What's even more strange is that a significant part of this is a love story; the most twisted, deranged, metaphysical love story you can imagine.

2017/04/12

Souldancer: The Teens

Jon Mollison picks up from Nathan Housely to give his impression of Souldancer chapters 13-19.

A warning to anyone who hasn't read the book, Jon's review CONTAINS SPOILERS.
During the teen portions of Souldancer our Guildsman betrays the trio to a creepy pranadrinker, but meets his comeuppance when they survive thanks to Xander's mysterious powers.  They escape from the Isnashi hunters by using a magictech portal that drops Nahel and Damus off in a vast Guild space, but drops Xander off in the clutches of a terrifying nightmare...of sorts.
Just popping in to say how much I love the fitting ambiguity of the phrase "a terrifying nightmare...of sorts".

I also find the inaccurate interpretations in Jon's reviews just as interesting and enlightening as his accurate ones. Keep in mind that the plots of my books make perfect sense to me because I'm the author, and I know what everything means and where it's going. Seeing how people misread clues, foreshadowings, and outright expositional statements gives me valuable insight into how readers process my prose.
Which is all a convoluted way of saying that Brain Neimeier [sic] might be crafting more detailed and intricate plots that any author working today.  His books are woven through with so many threads, it can be hard to keep track, and you often find yourself wondering about the significance of what you're reading.  There are moments where I have to remind myself to be patient - all will be revealed in due course.
I'm flattered by Jon's remarks, but honestly I don't think my plots are that complicated. It is true that I prefer not to indulge in lengthy exposition, and I have an aversion to redundancy. You can still enjoy reading the Soul Cycle on the bus ride to work or before bed, but those who give the story their undivided attention will find even richer rewards.
That sort of reveal takes time to set up, and Neimeier [sic] shows tremendous patience in laying all of the groundwork in order to maximize the power of the reveal.
Delayed gratification is the best gratification. Again, I'm flattered, but if I didn't have patience, I'd need to find another line of work.

If you'd like to experience one of the most original, lovingly crafted sci-fi/fantasy worlds in years, the Soul Cycle is now on sale for less than the price of a single Tor eBook.

Brian Niemeier - The Soul Cycle

@BrianNiemeier

2017/04/11

Souldancer Prologue

The Puppy of the Month Book Club continues its in-depth review of my Dragon Award-winning novel Souldancer. Picking up from the previous installments, Nathan Housely turns his keen analytical powers on SD's prologue.
In the eternal realm of Kairos, Gen hero Almeth Elocine has been spurred to action, to intervene in history to mend its wrong course. He is confronted by an old friend, Cleolin, who stabs him when Almeth will not relent from his course. For his treachery, Kairos removes Cleolin, while Almeth falls down and waits...
Almeth Elocine is mentioned twice in Nethereal. The first time, Jaren namedrops him when mentioning how strange it was to talk to Sulaiman, a priest of Midras and an adherent of a religion purged by the Guild. Since Almeth is Gen and the Gen were also purged, perhaps Midras-worship is a Gennish religion. The second time is during the gossip accompanying the Exodus's return from Hell, where rumors of Almeth Elocine's return spread. I suspect that a "king under the mountain" myth might surround Almeth, similar to how the twin stories of King Arthur and Francis Drake will return in England's time of direst need. But the Gen genocide and Cleolin stabbing him are arguments against that particular myth. What is certain is that Almeth Elocine will return to the Soul Cycle again.
Kairos as a name for an eternal realm is also a poignant choice. One of the two words ancient Greeks used for time, it is used for a multitude of meanings depending on context. These include "a period or season, a moment of indeterminate time in which an event of significance happens," and "a propitious moment for decision or action." In this latter sense, kairos has many of the same connotations as the idea of schwerpunkt. However, the term also has history in science fiction and fantasy as the name for the series of books by Madelene L'Engle that include A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet.
Read the rest here.

It's intriguing that Nathan finds similarities between the Souldancer prologue and the legends of King Arthur and Francis Drake; especially in light of the fact that Almeth's treacherous friend is nicknamed "Redbeard".

I admit to never having read L'Engle's Kairos series, but it's clear from Nathan's description that she employed the term for purposes that are quite similar to mine.

All in all, a fascinating review. If Nathan can mine such riches from the prologue, I can't wait to read his thoughts on the meat of the novel.

Reminder: in honor of its selection as Puppy of the Month, Souldancer is currently on sale in the Kindle Store.

Brian Niemeier - Souldancer

@BrianNiemeier

2017/04/10

Iron Man 2 Round 2

This week on Geek Gab, Daddy Warpig and I bring you round two of our debate on the Iron Man movie franchise. DW took copious notes last time, and he's come up with his very own new and improved script for Iron Man 2.

Does the Warpig's fan version of IM2 surpass the original? Listen in and find out!


In other news, I'm pleased to report significant progress on my upcoming novel for Castalia House. I only have one more full chapter and a short conclusion to go before the first draft is finished. Thanks to all of the readers who've voiced their support and excitement over this project. I'm working hard to exceed your expectations.

While you're waiting for my next book to come out, don't forget that my award-winning Soul Cycle series is currently on sale. For a limited time, you can get all three books for less than the cost of Tor's eBook edition of The Collapsing Empire.

Brian Niemeier - The Soul Cycle

@BrianNiemeier

2017/04/07

A Winner's Mindset

Author Jon Mollison explains why he's optimistic about the future of the Pulp Revolution.
Everybody I interact with in the Pulp Revolution has a winner's mindset.  They are relentlessly positive individuals who channel their energy into their work and into each other.   They don't just work alone, tossing stories into the cold, harsh marketplace.  They have the brains to look back at what worked with the pulps, to take them apart, and put them back together again.  They have the desire to dig down into the roots of sci-fi, even the obscure little off shoots, to learn more about them.  They have the energy - writing their own works, reading, discussing, analyzing, experimenting, all of it in addition to handling the daily stress of their normal lives.  They have the sort of open-mindedness, the willingness to reconsider their beliefs in light of new information, the willingness to listen to enthusiasts of the Campbellian and New Wave revolutions - provided they bring their A-game and present cogent arguments, they have been embraced by the Pulp Revolution.  
The Pulp Revolution has gone from a handful of people to a mob in less than a year.  Just imagine how much further it's going to go in the next year, or two, or ten.  And keep imagining it, because that's how winner's think about the future.
Read the rest here.

Anyone who's tempted to despair over the future of print science fiction would do well to heed Jon's words. Habitually spewing pessimism just so you can have the satisfaction of being right anytime Murphy's Law takes effect is for losers. Winners stay focused on the prize, because success requires persistence, and morale is absolutely essential to putting in your best effort day in and day out.

Yes, sci-fi is the worst selling genre. Yes, the Hugos are an orgy of intersectional logrolling. After the New York literati and their sycophants have burned the genre down, the indie and small press authors who are currently toiling to cultivate careers will find the field rich for sowing.

Now let's go out there and entertain some readers!


Speaking of which, you can get all three books in my award-winning Soul Cycle for less than the cost of one eBook from Tor.

Brian Niemeier - The Soul Cycle

@BrianNiemeier

2017/04/06

Catholic Geeks with Nick Cole

Catholic Geeks

Somehow I missed this phenomenal episode of The Catholic Geeks with Dragon Award winner Nick Cole from last month. I'm glad I finally listened to it, because this episode is the equivalent of a master storyteller who's been everywhere and done everything in the industry taking you aside to dispense a wealth of invaluable advice.

Here, Nick lays all his cards on the table regarding the Big Five publishers (they don't know how to sell books), how to get good at Amazon (hint: let them pick your ad keywords), what it's like to publish with Castalia House (they are the Rebel Alliance, and they just blew up the Death Star), and much more!

If you're an aspiring--or even an established--writer, or even if you're just curious about how the legacy publishing sausage is made, you'll be doing yourself a grave disservice by not listening to this episode.

Check it out here.


And check out my Dragon Award-winning novel Souldancer, which is now on sale.

@BrianNiemeier

2017/04/05

April Puppy of the Month: Souldancer

It's my unalloyed pleasure to report that Jon Mollison, Nathan Housley, and the Frisky Pagan have chosen Dragon Award winner and CLFA Book of the Year Finalist Souldancer as April's Puppy of the Month book.

Brian Niemeier - Souldancer

Jon kicks off the festivities with a preamble drawn from his experience of reading my work.
We here at the Puppy of the Month Book Club have a knack for picking the first book of a series.  We've done it with The Swan Knight's Son, The Chronicles of Amber, catskinner's book, and Nethereal.  It's high time we revisited at least one of those universes, and none of them are as deserving as Brian [Niemeier's0  It was the very first Puppy of the Month, and it only took ten months to get to the sequel.
That's really too long.
Not just because it's too good of a series to languish that long, but because this is a challenging series to read.  Frankly, Nethereal kicked my butt.  Brian's writing is deceptively dense and is thoroughly riddled with multiple references and layers of meaning that completely escaped my typically shallow reading.  It wasn't until Frisky and Nate [joined] in the conversation and started pulling on threads that I realized how knotted were the stitches that made up the Nethereal sweater.  They introduced me to whole new dimensions in reading, and pushed me to approach the Book Club - and my other writing - with considerably more intellectual rigor, and to devote more time and thought to my own posts both here, at my blog, and over at Castalia House.
Jon and his colleagues really do deserve a round of applause. I'm honored that they find my writing worthy of their considerable analytical skills. Based on their previous Puppy of the Month book reviews, it's safe to say we're in for a treat.

Frankly, I'm always a bit taken aback when readers say that the Soul Cycle is unusually dense in content and complex in terms of plot. It's all perfectly straightforward to me.

Then again, I'm the author, and I read everything in the exacting, contemplative way that Jon found most effective for reading Nethereal. I suspect that it stems from a mild, undiagnosed learning disorder that explains why I a) have an extremely slow reading speed and b) practically memorize almost everything I read.

Anyway, I think that Jon will find the going easier with Souldancer. The first book got most of the setup out of the way, letting SD's story hit the ground running. It will certainly be interesting to find out what the Puppy of the Month reviewers think.

Jon continues with a brief review and some speculation on Souldancer's prologue. I won't confirm or deny his conjectures, except to say that Almeth's pilgrimage to Kairos has more pertinent and far-reaching effects for SD and the entire Soul Cycle than he expects.

For those who missed the Puppy of the Month Book Club's epic, multi-part review of Nethereal, you can catch up here. Note that PotM reviews are intended as read-along exercises, so if you haven't read Nethereal or Souldancer, it is highly recommended that you remedy the situation before diving in.

Brian Niemeier - The Soul Cycle

@BrianNiemeier

2017/04/04

2017 Hugo Finalists

Finalists for the 2017 Hugo Awards have been announced.

Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex

Here are some highlights.

Best Novel (2078 ballots)
  • All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (Tor Books / Titan Books)
  • A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager US)
  • Death’s End by Cixin Liu (Tor Books / Head of Zeus)
  • Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris Books)
  • The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin (Orbit Books)
  • Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer (Tor Books)

Best Novella (1410 ballots)
  • The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson (Tor.com Publishing)
  • Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
  • Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold (Spectrum Literary Agency)
  • A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com Publishing)
  • This Census-Taker by China Miéville (Del Rey / Picador)

Best Novelette (1097 ballots)
  • Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex by Stix Hiscock (self-published)
  • “The Art of Space Travel” by Nina Allan (Tor.com, July 2016)
  • “The Jewel and Her Lapidary” by Fran Wilde (Tor.com Publishing, May 2016)
  • “The Tomato Thief” by Ursula Vernon (Apex Magazine, January 2016)
  • “Touring with the Alien” by Carolyn Ives Gilman (Clarkesworld Magazine, April 2016)
  • “You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay” by Alyssa Wong (Uncanny Magazine, May 2016)

Best Short Story (1275 ballots)
  • “The City Born Great” by N. K. Jemisin (Tor.com, September 2016)
  • “A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers” by Alyssa Wong (Tor.com, March 2016)
  • “Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies” by Brooke Bolander (Uncanny Magazine, November 2016)
  • “Seasons of Glass and Iron” by Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales, Saga Press)
  • “That Game We Played During the War” by Carrie Vaughn (Tor.com, March 2016)
  • “An Unimaginable Light” by John C. Wright (God, Robot, Castalia House)

Best Editor – Long Form (752 ballots)
  • Vox Day
  • Sheila E. Gilbert
  • Liz Gorinsky
  • Devi Pillai
  • Miriam Weinberg
  • Navah Wolfe

Best Semiprozine (857 ballots)
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies, editor-in-chief and publisher Scott H. Andrews
  • Cirsova Heroic Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, edited by P. Alexander
  • GigaNotoSaurus, edited by Rashida J. Smith
  • Strange Horizons, edited by Niall Harrison, Catherine Krahe, Vajra Chandrasekera, Vanessa Rose Phin, Li Chua, Aishwarya Subramanian, Tim Moore, Anaea Lay, and the Strange Horizons staff
  • Uncanny Magazine, edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, Julia Rios, and podcast produced by Erika Ensign & Steven Schapansky
  • The Book Smugglers, edited by Ana Grilo and Thea James

Best Fanzine (610 ballots)
  • “Castalia House Blog”, edited by Jeffro Johnson
  • “Journey Planet”, edited by James Bacon, Chris Garcia, Esther MacCallum-Stewart, Helena Nash, Errick Nunnally, Pádraig Ó Méalóid, Chuck Serface, and Erin Underwood
  • “Lady Business”, edited by Clare, Ira, Jodie, KJ, Renay, and Susan
  • “nerds of a feather, flock together”, edited by The G, Vance Kotrla, and Joe Sherry
  • “Rocket Stack Rank”, edited by Greg Hullender and Eric Wong
  • “SF Bluestocking”, edited by Bridget McKinney

Best Fan Writer (802 ballots)
  • Mike Glyer
  • Jeffro Johnson
  • Natalie Luhrs
  • Foz Meadows
  • Abigail Nussbaum
  • Chuck Tingle

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (937 ballots)
  • Sarah Gailey (1st year of eligibility)
  • J. Mulrooney (1st year of eligibility)
  • Malka Older (2nd year of eligibility)
  • Ada Palmer (1st year of eligibility)
  • Laurie Penny (2nd year of eligibility)
  • Kelly Robson (2nd year of eligibility)

Congratulations to all of this year's finalists, especially:
  • P. Alexander
  • Vox Day
  • Carrie Fisher
  • Stix Hiscock
  • Jeffro Johnson
  • J. Mulrooney
  • Razörfist
  • Dr. Chuck Tingle
  • John C. Wright
FYI: In case you're wondering how this year's Rabid Puppies list stacks up against the final Hugo ballot, 13 of the 22 proposed RP nominees made the final cut--a success rate of 60%. Condolences to those who hoped that this year's new e pluribus Hugo nominating rules would make the Hugos safe from Puppies. As you can see, no one is safe; least of all alien strippers.

After reading this, I can't understand why other authors limit themselves.

2017/04/03

Life, Death, and D&D

Join Daddy Warpig, Dorrinal, and I for the latest episode of Geek Gab!

This time we discuss recent film releases Life and the live action Ghost in the Shell. We also overcome last week's technical difficulties to bring you special guest D&D maestro Rick Stump!

Have a listen.


Action packed, complex, and gargantuan. It's a space opera that doesn't care about genre limitations mixing in a healthy dose of horror and fantasy for a good measure.

2017/03/31

Extravagant Fiction

Over at the Castalia House blog, Kevyn Winkless makes a strong case that genres should be thought of as tags; not boxes.
None of the common terms for genre are particularly common until science fiction starts to take off in the early 1940s – it sees healthy growth right up until 1960, and then – WHAM – it explodes! Is it a coincidence that this explosion of awareness of “science fiction” as a category coincides with the era in which publishing was consolidating, bookstore franchises were growing, and the value of systematizing the way books were marketed was understood, the approach applied? It’s certainly not a coincidence that it coincides with Donald Wollheim’s masterful application of new printing options to both revitalize old, beloved classics and discover a bevy of amazing new authors while editor for Avon and Ace, and later with his own imprint at DAW.
It’s notable as well that this era saw a huge growth in the big publishers, and the consolidation of the industry into just a few big houses: the industrialization of the industry is what drove the classification, and at the same time it set up standards and definitions that – while they shifted over time – nevertheless restricted what could qualify as “science fiction”, and since the commercial big-business publishing model implicitly involves gatekeepers the result was that now instead of the readers inventing terms to describe and sort what they were reading, the publishers – and the book-stores – were sorting things for them and telling them what was science fiction and what was not.
This is why I am coming to think there is no such thing as science fiction – not really. Oh, there are stories that draw on science – some lightly, just hinting at technologies like a magician hints at mystic powers, some relying heavily on hard-core science and engineering to make the plot even make sense. There is a science fiction out there in the pages, but the term science fiction as we’ve come to understand it is a marketing category, not a literary genre. That’s why when you ask 10 people to define science fiction you get at least 11 answers. That’s why when you come upon old stories from the pulp era and beyond that are clearly scientific your mind sometimes stumbles on the term.
I believe in what Gernsback quaintly termed “extravagant fiction”, I believe in “scientific romances”, and in “the fairy tales of science” – but science fiction?
It exists well enough, but it’s been taken over by box store librarians and the sorting algorithms of a certain online retailer. To be “science fiction” is to meet rules laid down by Campbell’s era regarding technology and rockets and hard, cold facts. But it bears remembering that – unlike other genres – “science fiction” as it is understood today is really defined in negative terms: ie a story is not science fiction if it contains X. There are obviously positive criteria as well, but many of them are common to other genres – the real dividing line is The Guardians of Not. Their demands have possessed the gatekeepers in the publishing industry so that only things that meet these specifications have much chance of getting through as “science fiction” these days.
But maybe the new era has just the right capabilities to reverse the ghettoization trend – if we have the will to apply them. You see, the big mistake is in thinking of genre as a set of boxes in which to file books. This thinking comes from the limited shelf-space of a brick and mortar store and the demands of marketing.
The truth is that we were right the first time around: genres aren’t boxes – they’re tags.
There’s nothing stopping a story from being science fiction, and fantasy, and a gumshoe detective story, and an action adventure story at the same time.
Whether you're a sci-fi history buff or just a casual reader, the rest of the article is well worth your time.

There are several important points to mull over here, but one that stands out for me is something that guys like Larry Correia have been saying for years: genres are largely arbitrary categories used to help retailers market books. They're not nearly as good at helping particular books find their audience and vice versa.

My genre-bending SFF novels would definitely benefit from a system that let me apply genre tags to each book, along with the percentages of each genre that a given book contains. Readers would also have an easier time finding books that they want to read under such a system.

Amazon is smart enough that I wouldn't be surprised to see them testing something along these lines someday.

@BrianNiemeier