2017/06/30

Pseudo-Language

The Z Man shines some much-needed light on the ruling class' attempts to stifle debate through the deliberate corruption of language.
Maybe it has always been true, but it seems like we live in an age of esoteric language or pseudo-language. Everyone is familiar with the gag of using “undocumented worker” in place of “illegal alien.”  Janitors became sanitation engineers and teachers are now educators. It’s a part of how the American Left makes war on our civilization. By destroying the language they destroy the truth. If words no longer have common and concise meanings, then there is no truth, only force.
Quick aside: doing away with reason so that everything is reduced to the blatant will to power is a hallmark of postmodernism.
There’s another aspect to this. The Progs create pleasant sounding phrases and neologisms that are packed with danger. It’s a natural outgrowth of the passive-aggressive tactics popular with the Progs. The new word or phrase is not intended to clarify or explain idea, but to warn people that the official truth has been decided and any further debate will be seen as a challenge. As everyone knows, the Left responds to a challenge with violence so the new phrase means “shut up or else.”
A partial list of pleasant-sounding yet perilous pseudo-language terms follows. Here are some of the highlights:
Have a conversation: Whenever you hear someone say they want to have a conversation about something, what they mean is they want to shut down all debate and impose their will with regards to the subject. Having a conversation about marriage led to the end of the homosexual marriage debate in favor of the sodomites. Having a conversation about race means Progs screaming at white people about racism and white privilege. Having a conversation always means sitting through a lecture.
Here’s What You Need To Know: This is a favorite of female millennial writers, who imagine themselves as brilliant because they got a gold star from their lefty teachers in school. It’s a phrase that sets themselves up as the arbiter of what is and what is not worth knowing about a topic. Unsurprisingly, what never needs to be known is anything that contradicts the one true faith. As soon as you see this in a post, it means that what you need to know is they are right and shut up.
Conservative Principles: Alternatively, “first principles” or “principled conservative.” The Conservative Industrial Complex loves throwing this around to benefit themselves and damage anyone questioning their project. As soon as you hear Official Conservatives™ talking about their principles, it means they are either about to throw in with the Left against you or they are preparing to surrender on some cultural issue.
Inclusive: This means normal people need not apply. Something that is inclusive is something that excludes the things normal people consider to be normal. A club that is inclusive, for example, will be full of homosexual males, blue haired lesbians and people with fashionable mental disorders. Inclusive is code for fringe weirdos only.
Divisive: Since uniformity and conformity are the highest virtues of Progressivism, anything that contradicts the tenets of the faith are labeled “divisive.” This lets coreligionists know that the person or argument is a major hate crime. This is also a mortal sin. There’s not much worse than being divisive.
Polarizing: Like divisive, this word is used for people or ideas that contradict the faith, but have not yet become mortal sins. The person or idea is causing conflict in the cult, but not so much that it is a threat. This is a venial sin.
It’s Complicated: This means it is not complicated, but we’re going to pretend it is so we can get a bunch of our friends jobs in the bureaucracy. Health care is complicated, for example, so it means thousands of jobs for liberal arts majors out of swank private colleges.
There’s a lot more work to be done: Politicians love saying this, usually after they rattle off a long list of their alleged accomplishments. Professional barnacles also love using this phrase when promoting whatever cause it is they represent, a cause that is fully funded by tax payers. In both cases, it means nothing will ever be solved and the racket will go on forever or until the treasury is empty.
The whole lexicon of lies is well worth reading.

Z Man does a vital public service by pointing out this non-language, which is what we're dealing with here since the purpose of real language is to communicate ideas, and this cynical claptrap is meant to shut dissenting ideas down.

Being a professional languager myself, no head of the postmodern hydra vexes me more than political correctness and weasel talk. Fighting it is everyone's responsibility.

Since the Z Man asked, here's another entry in the postmodern Devil's Dictionary.

Marginalized Voices: A nebulous abstraction invoked by someone who is about to speak on behalf of some catch-all victim group as if he were the Pythia receiving an oracle. The subtext, as always, is that straight, white, Christian men should shut up while the shaman delivers a lecture.

@BrianNiemeier

2017/06/29

Dragon Big. You Small.

Big Dragon

When Sad Puppies V leader Sarah Hoyt explained why SP didn't release a list of recommendations in time for this year's awards season, several folks in the Puppy scene voiced dissatisfaction with her rationale.

Me? I read both sides' arguments, tried to see the issue from the major players' perspectives, and was satisfied that I'd gotten a decent handle on the group dynamics at work. Even if I disagreed with a particular call, it was easy to understand where the party who made it was coming from.

Health and work not cooperating with the original plan? Chalk another one up to Murphy's Law. Well-meant efforts to help result in toes getting stepped on? Insert saying about good intentions as paving stones. People throwing shade at your boy? You gotta do what you gotta do in the name of loyalty.

The way I see it, Sarah is the duly appointed head of Sad Puppies V. She made some judgment calls. I don't agree with all of them. But she didn't ask for my opinion, and she doesn't need my approval.

There's a flip side to the rights of leadership, though. If you claim to respect someone's authority, you don't get to selectively champion or downplay her agency depending on how you feel about the consequences. The rank and file are equally obligated to praise good decision-making and call out errors in judgment.

Since SP 2, I've been a loyal Sad Puppies supporter. I wouldn't have gotten my Campbell nomination without them. As mentioned above, Sarah is someone I deeply respect as an author. So you know where I'm coming from when I call her out for the following unforced error:
I did not feel guilty about a) not turning over Sad Puppies to someone else. Sad Puppies was Larry’s, then Brad’s, then Kate’s, and is now mine and next year will be mostly Amanda’s. We were in it from the beginning, and we have decided long ago that it would stay within the cabal, because none of us — all of us public figures to a degree or another — can afford to have something associated with our name taken down a crazy road without us having control over it. b) Not putting up a list for the Hugos — I was never going to put up a list. And I feel queasy about encouraging people to vote for an award that has been so thoroughly tainted. c) Not putting up a list for the Dragon. The Dragon is bigger than any of us. Some small names got in last year, but they were just because it was the first time.* Right now I’m not big enough for the dragons, and I doubt any who covet it are either.
*Emphasis mine.

Sarah's claim to the SP throne? No contest. Open and shut case in he favor. Her decision not to do a Hugo list? Understandable.

Glibly dismissing "some" of the incumbent Dragon Award winners as small-timers who got in due to a fluke?

It's probably a good idea at this point to take a step back and look at Sarah's statement from another angle. She mentions "some small names". Who could she be talking about?

Let's take a look at the list of 2016 Dragon Award winners.
  • John C. Wright: Nebula nominee. Tied the record for most Hugo nominations in one year (would've broken it but for Worldcon's selective application of the rules). Castalia House's flagship fiction author. It would be really weird for SP's leader to describe the Puppies' most nominated author as a "small name".
  • Larry Correia: The biggest Puppy author, at least in terms of physical size. We can a priori rule out The Mountain That Writes.
  • Sir Terry Pratchett: Big enough to have been knighted. Next.
  • David Weber: NYT best seller. Godfather of a whole genre. Next.
  • Naomi Novik: Strong seller. One of the few authors appreciated by Puppies and CHORFs alike. Calling her a "small name" would be a big stretch.
  • Nick Cole: Please. Nick could buy and sell us all 17 times over and have enough left for a steak dinner with a side of avocado-topped hash browns.
  • Neil Gaiman: The last SFF rock star. Nick is huge, and Neil could make him his cabana boy.
  • Andy Weir: Has a movie directed by Ridley Scott.
  • George R. R. Martin: Has an HBO series starring Peter Dinklage.
  • Brian Niemeier: Admittedly the smallest name on the list. I got nothin'. Unless you count:
Campbell finalist, Amazon top 30 horror author, Space Opera top 5 best seller (thanks, Larry!), Science Fiction #1 best seller.

Awards and honors are nice, and I'm thankful for all of them. But what I appreciate most about them by far is that they're quantifiable evidence that I'm reaching and pleasing readers.

You guys out there reading this are the reason I can add all of the items above to my resume, and most importantly, you're the reason I write in the first place.

Sarah has a point. I'm not a household name like Gaiman or Martin. I'll never approach John's technical and stylistic mastery. I don't sell nearly as well as Larry or Nick.

That's fine. Sarah and the CHORFs can say what they want about me. Just like she doesn't need my approval, I don't seek approval from anyone except for my readers.

I respect Sarah, and that means not turning a blind eye when she makes a bad call. The "small name" label she used smacks of analog thinking. Again, that's understandable for someone who started out in tradpub. But the game has changed. Now indie authors you've never heard of are quietly making six figures and more--and there are more of them than you'd think--all without book tours, B&N co-op, TV ads, or convention appearances.

But let's take a step back. Who does Sarah think is big enough to win a Dragon? How does she define a "big name" author?
Because awards are a game of the left. And a game of authors with a great big following. My books sell okay, but I’m not yet where I could win a Dragon, or where it would do any good for my career, because you know what? Amazon rankings don’t lie. Someday, maybe.
Before we proceed, let it be known that Sarah's chosen metric for which authors are worthy of a Dragon Award is Amazon sales rank.

Full disclosure: I firmly believe that for any author, comparing yourself to another author is a sure path to insanity. I'm a live and let live kind of guy. You can take shots at me all day, and I'll take it in stride.

But if this blog has established nothing else, it's that no one gets to mess with my readers.

Remember: Sarah tried to DISQUALIFY! my readers who made Souldancer the first ever Dragon Award winner for Best Horror Novel. She implied that their choice was just a fluke--an early bug in the system that will surely be worked out in time.

Sarah thinks that you, dear reader, made a mistake. You gave a Dragon Award to an unworthy "small name" author. And don't forget, she based her assessment on Amazon sales rankings.

Exhibits A-F:




To save you the trouble of expanding the screencaps above, those are the Amazon KDP rankings for Sarah's three best selling books, taken two days ago when I first read her post. They're all in the top 170k-140k range. That means they're all selling a little less than one copy per day. Not bad. She's getting close to the top 1% of all authors on Amazon.

But as Sarah herself said, she's not as big as the current crop of Dragon winners.

Now let's take a look at some more numbers--this time form oh, let's say the smallest name on the Dragon Award winner list.




Looks like all three of my books were in the top 50,000 that day. The way Amazon's rankings work, a book ranked at 50k isn't selling three times better than a book at 150k. My sales were actually closer to five times better than Sarah's.

And to add a little context, this has been a slow month for me.

Now, I'm not bragging. If I wanted to brag about my sales, I'd have posted my Amazon rankings when they were much better. Compared to the other Dragon winners, the top 50k isn't anything to crow about, anyhow.

The point is a) making catty attacks against your peers without doing your homework first is a bad idea, b) using said attacks as a smokescreen to cover the absence of SP Dragon Award recommendations when a simple "The Dragons aren't within the scope of SP" would've done the job raises questions about your motives, and c) nobody messes with my readers.

Here's an idea: how about we stop making it about sales or author prestige and get back to supporting books on merit?

The Secret Kings, Soul Cycle Book III is eligible for the 2017 Dragon Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. Voting is free and requires no convention or association memberships.

NB: since the Dragon Awards do not have a Best Editor category, I publicly shared Souldancer's 2016 Dragon win with my lovely and talented editor L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright. I can honestly say that she made Nethereal and Souldancer award-worthy. Based on what you, the readers, have said, The Secret Kings is our best collaboration yet.

I invite all of my beloved readers to nominate The Secret Kings for Best Science Fiction Novel and in so doing, unofficially nominate L. Jagi Lamplighter for best editor. I acknowledged SD's win as a joint victory for my readers, Jagi, and myself. I pledge to share due credit in like manner if you see fit to nominate SK this year.

Join #TeamJagi.

P.S. The Secret Kings is now just $0.99 for Kindle.

The Secret Kings - Brian Niemeier

@BrianNiemeier

2017/06/28

John C. Wright On the Books

It's an honor and my sincere pleasure to announce that Dragon Award-winner, multiple Hugo finalist, and Nebula nominee John C. Wright will be joining me to discuss all things science fiction on what is sure to be a landmark episode of Geek Gab: On the Books.

The show begins tonight at 5:00 PM Eastern. As anyone who's listened to our previous Geek Gab episodes featuring this acclaimed SF grand master and his keen artistic and philosophical insights knows, you won't want to miss it!


And you certainly don't want to miss out on Mr. Wright's latest hit novel, Moth & Cobweb 5: City of Corpses. Available now!

John C. Wright - City of Corpses

@BrianNiemeier

2017/06/27

The Locus Awards

Locus Online has released the list of 2017 Locus Award winners.

See if you can spot a pattern.


SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL
  • Death’s End, Cixin Liu (Tor; Head of Zeus)
  • Company Town, Madeline Ashby (Tor)
  • The Medusa Chronicles, Stephen Baxter & Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz; Saga)
  • Take Back the Sky, Greg Bear (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • Visitor, C.J. Cherryh (DAW)
  • Babylon’s Ashes, James S.A. Corey (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • After Atlas, Emma Newman (Roc)
  • Central Station, Lavie Tidhar (Tachyon)
  • The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead (Doubleday; Fleet)
  • Last Year, Robert Charles Wilson (Tor)

FANTASY NOVEL
  • All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders (Tor; Titan)
  • Summerlong, Peter S. Beagle (Tachyon)
  • City of Blades, Robert Jackson Bennett (Broadway)
  • The Obelisk Gate, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • Children of Earth and Sky, Guy Gavriel Kay (NAL; Viking Canada; Hodder & Stoughton)
  • The Wall of Storms, Ken Liu (Saga; Head of Zeus)
  • The Last Days of New Paris, China Miéville (Del Rey; Picador)
  • The Winged Histories, Sofia Samatar (Small Beer)
  • The Nightmare Stacks, Charles Stross (Ace; Orbit UK)
  • Necessity, Jo Walton (Tor)

HORROR NOVEL
  • The Fireman, Joe Hill (Morrow)
  • The Brotherhood of the Wheel, R.S. Belcher (Tor)
  • Fellside, M.R. Carey (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • Mongrels, Stephen Graham Jones (Morrow)
  • The Fisherman, John Langan (Word Horde)
  • Certain Dark Things, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Dunne)
  • HEX, Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Tor; Hodder & Stoughton)
  • The Family Plot, Cherie Priest (Tor)
  • Lovecraft Country, Matt Ruff (Harper)
  • Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, Paul Tremblay (Morrow)

YOUNG ADULT BOOK
  • Revenger, Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz; Orbit US ’17)
  • Crooked Kingdom, Leigh Bardugo (Holt)
  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Kelly Barnhill (Algonquin)
  • Lois Lane: Double Down, Gwenda Bond (Switch)
  • Truthwitch, Susan Dennard (Tor Teen; Tor UK)
  • Poisoned Blade, Kate Elliott (Little, Brown)
  • Burning Midnight, Will McIntosh (Delacorte; Macmillan)
  • Goldenhand, Garth Nix (Harper; Allen & Unwin; Hot Key)
  • This Savage Song, Victoria Schwab (Titan; Greenwillow)
  • The Evil Wizard Smallbone, Delia Sherman (Candlewick)

FIRST NOVEL
  • Ninefox Gambit, Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris US; Solaris UK)
  • The Reader, Traci Chee (Putnam)
  • Waypoint Kangaroo, Curtis Chen (Dunne)
  • The Star-Touched Queen, Roshani Chokshi (St. Martin’s)
  • The Girl from Everywhere, Heidi Heilig (Greenwillow; Hot Key)
  • Roses and Rot, Kat Howard (Saga)
  • Arabella of Mars, David D. Levine (Tor)
  • Infomocracy, Malka Older (Tor.com Publishing)
  • Everfair, Nisi Shawl (Tor)
  • Vigil, Angela Slatter (Jo Fletcher)

NOVELLA
  • Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Lost Child of Lychford, Paul Cornell (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, Kij Johnson (Tor.com Publishing)
  • Hammers on Bone, Cassandra Khaw (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle (Tor.com Publishing)
  • This Census-taker, China Miéville (Del Rey; Picador)
  • The Iron Tactician, Alastair Reynolds (NewCon)
  • The Dispatcher, John Scalzi (Audible; Subterranean 2017)
  • Pirate Utopia, Bruce Sterling (Tachyon)
  • A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com Publishing)

NOVELETTE
  • “You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay”, Alyssa Wong (Uncanny 5-6/16)
  • ‘‘The Art of Space Travel”, Nina Allan (Tor.com 7/27/16)
  • “Pearl”, Aliette de Bodard (The Starlit Wood)
  • “Red as Blood and White as Bone”, Theodora Goss (Tor.com 5/4/16)
  • “Foxfire, Foxfire”, Yoon Ha Lee (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 3/03/16)
  • “The Visitor from Taured”, Ian R. MacLeod (Asimov’s 9/16)
  • “Spinning Silver”, Naomi Novik (The Starlit Wood)
  • “Those Shadows Laugh”, Geoff Ryman (F&SF 9-10/16)
  • “The Future is Blue”, Catherynne M. Valente (Drowned Worlds)
  • The Jewel and Her Lapidary, Fran Wilde (Tor.com Publishing)

SHORT STORY
  • “Seasons of Glass and Iron”, Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood)
  • “The Story of Kao Yu”, Peter S. Beagle (Tor.com 12/7/16)
  • “Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies”, Brooke Bolander (Uncanny 11-12/16)
  • “A Salvaging of Ghosts”, Aliette de Bodard (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 3/17/16)
  • “The City Born Great”, N.K. Jemisin (Tor.com 9/28/16)
  • “Seven Birthdays”, Ken Liu (Bridging Infinity)
  • “Afrofuturist 419”, Nnedi Okorafor (Clarkesworld 11/16)
  • “Sixteen Questions for Kamala Chatterjee”, Alastair Reynolds (Bridging Infinity)
  • “That Game We Played During the War”, Carrie Vaughn (Tor.com 3/16/16)
  • “A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers”, Alyssa Wong (Tor.com 3/02/16)

ANTHOLOGY
  • The Big Book of Science Fiction, Ann & Jeff VanderMeer, eds. (Vintage)
  • Children of Lovecraft, Ellen Datlow, ed. (Dark Horse)
  • The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Third Annual Collection, Gardner Dozois, ed. (St. Martin’s Griffin; Robinson as The Mammoth Book of Best New SF 29)
  • Hidden Youth: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, Mikki Kendall & Chesya Burke, eds. (Crossed Genres)
  • Tremontaine, Ellen Kushner, ed. (Serial Box; Saga ’17)
  • Invisible Planets, Ken Liu, ed. (Tor; Head of Zeus)
  • The Starlit Wood, Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe, eds. (Saga)
  • The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year: Volume Ten, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Solaris US; Solaris UK)
  • Bridging Infinity, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Solaris US; Solaris UK)
  • Drowned Worlds, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Solaris US; Solaris UK)

COLLECTION
  • The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, Ken Liu (Saga; Head of Zeus)
  • Sharp Ends, Joe Abercrombie (Orbit US; Gollancz)
  • Hwarhath Stories: Twelve Transgressive Tales by Aliens, Eleanor Arnason (Aqueduct)
  • A Natural History of Hell, Jeffrey Ford (Small Beer)
  • The Complete Orsinia, Ursula K. Le Guin (Library of America)
  • The Found and the Lost, Ursula K. Le Guin (Saga)
  • The Best of Ian McDonald, Ian McDonald (PS)
  • Dreams of Distant Shores, Patricia A. McKillip (Tachyon)
  • Beyond the Aquila Rift: The Best of Alastair Reynolds, Alastair Reynolds (Subterranean; Gollancz)
  • Not So Much, Said the Cat, Michael Swanwick (Tachyon)

MAGAZINE
  • Tor.com
  • Analog
  • Asimov’s
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  • Clarkesworld
  • F&SF
  • File 770
  • Lightspeed
  • Strange Horizons
  • Uncanny

PUBLISHER
  • Tor
  • Angry Robot
  • Baen
  • DAW
  • Gollancz
  • Orbit
  • Saga
  • Small Beer
  • Subterranean
  • Tachyon

EDITOR
  • Ellen Datlow
  • John Joseph Adams
  • Neil Clarke
  • Gardner Dozois
  • C.C. Finlay
  • Jonathan Strahan
  • Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas
  • Ann & Jeff VanderMeer
  • Sheila Williams
  • Navah Wolfe

ARTIST
  • Julie Dillon
  • Kinuko Y. Craft
  • Galen Dara
  • Bob Eggleton
  • Donato Giancola
  • Victo Ngai
  • John Picacio
  • Shaun Tan
  • Charles Vess
  • Michael Whelan

NON-FICTION
  • The Geek Feminist Revolution, Kameron Hurley (Tor)
  • Science Fiction Rebels: The Story of the Science-Fiction Magazines from 1981-1990, Mike Ashley (Liverpool University)
  • Octavia E. Butler, Gerry Canavan (University of Illinois Press)
  • Speculative Blackness: The Future of Race in Science Fiction, André M. Carrington (University of Minnesota Press)
  • Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life, Ruth Franklin (Liveright)
  • The View From the Cheap Seats, Neil Gaiman (Morrow; Headline)
  • Time Travel: A History, James Gleick (Pantheon)
  • Words Are My Matter: Writings about Life and Books 2000-2016, Ursula K. Le Guin (Small Beer)
  • The History of Science Fiction: Second Edition, Adam Roberts (Palgrave Macmillan)
  • Traveler of Worlds: Conversations with Robert Silverberg, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro (Fairwood)

ART BOOK
  • Charles Vess, Walking Through the Landscape of Faerie (Faerie Magazine)
  • Yoshitaka Amano: Illustrations, Yoshitaka Amano (VIZ Media)
  • Kinuko Y. Craft, Beauty and the Beast, Mahlon F. Craft (Harper)
  • Kinuko Y. Craft, Myth & Magic: An Enchanted Fantasy Coloring Book (Amber Lotus)
  • Spectrum 23: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, John Fleskes, ed. (Flesk)
  • Stephanie Law, Descants & Cadences: The Art of Stephanie Law (Shadowscapes)
  • Ralph McQuarrie, Star Wars Art: Ralph McQuarrie (Abrams)
  • Spaceships: An Illustrated History of the Real and the Imagined, Ron Miller (Smithsonian/Elephant Book Company)
  • The Art of the Film: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Dermot Power, ed. (Harper Design; HarperCollins UK)
  • Shaun Tan, The Singing Bones: Inspired by Grimms’ Fairy Tales (Allen & Unwin 2015; Arthur A. Levine; Walker UK)

If you said, "An overwhelming plurality of the winners either are, or are associated with, Tor Books," good eyes. Give yourself a pat on the back.

Tor Books has taken home the Locus Award for Best Publisher 25 years in a row. This year, they captured 7 out of 16 total categories.

You might say a winning streak like that is a mark of excellence. If you did, it means you have no sense of proportion. No, Tor's perennial domination of trad Sci-fi's trade magazine awards is a mark of an industry that's more inbred than Arabian royalty. Their talent pool is shallower than an Atacama birdbath.

Before anyone gets up in arms about me lobbing insults at colleagues, I'm here to tell you that these people definitely are not my colleagues. Long gone are the days when venerable masters of the craft wove tales that kept junior high kids up reading past lights out. The current crop of Grievance Studies majors being feted by the gatekeepers in Manhattan are more interested in working out the intersectionalities of marginalized demographics (in the future!) than they are in telling fun stories.

These are the folks hawking SF for people who hate SF.

In other news, Penguin Random House is closing one, possibly two, of its imprints.

Reminder: The market always wins.



The award-winning, reader-pleasing Soul Cycle is on sale for less than $9.00 for four more days.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

@BrianNiemeier

2017/06/26

The Last Knight

Daddy Warpig saw Transformers; The Last Knight and Disney's live action remake of Beauty and the Beast for some reason.

He reviews both of them on the latest episode of Geek Gab.


In Geek Gab-related news, I'm pleased to announce that Nebula Award nominee, record Hugo Award finalist, and reigning Dragon of Science Fiction John C. Wright will be joining me live on Geek Gab: On the Books this Wednesday, June 28th at 6:00 PM Eastern!

Mr. Wright's latest book, City of Corpses, is available now.

John C. Wright - City of Corpses

My own latest book The Hymn of the Pearl, a standalone novella set in a fantasy version of late Greek Antiquity, should be available later this week. Keep an eye on this blog and my social media accounts for further announcements.

The Hymn of the Pearl - Brian Niemeier

Bonus: The Hymn of the Pearl will contain a new, previously unpublished preview of Faraway Wars: Embers of Empire; coming soon from Castalia House.

Reminder: my entire award-winning space opera series is on sale for less than $9.00 until Friday.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

@BrianNiemeier

2017/06/23

Hymn of the Pearl Preview

I'm pleased to present you with an excerpt from my upcoming fantasy novella, The Hymn of the Pearl.
Pompeii Villa Mysteries

            Cteira would have kept her composure under threat of death. Advocate lore spoke of far worse fates. Grapt knew more than most about such exotic torments, and the livid mask of his face hinted that he intended one of them for her.
            “Husband,” Cteira said, struggling against her bonds.
            Grapt tightened the last cord binding Cteira’s left wrist to the chair. His motions stuttered in the guttering flame of a small brazier made sweet with incense. He moved toward the altar carved from one solid rock wall of the cramped room. The scraping of metal instruments on stone twisted Cteira’s stomach into an icy knotted ball.
Grapt turned back to her holding a pair of iron pincers.
“Look past the wrath that blinds you,” Cteira said. “I am still your wife.”
            Grapt paused. His dark eyes studied her as an augur might study an eviscerated dove. “I do not know you,” he said without emotion. “My bride was pure.” He grasped the pincers in his left hand.
Cteira failed to keep herself from flinching. She vowed to herself that she would not scream; then broke that promise when Grapt calmly tore the fingernails from his right hand. Small graven images of the gods stood upon the altar. He let a drop of blood from each finger fall on one of the statues. One by one, his fortune threads detached.
            Grapt took hold of Cteira’s fate threads and intoned forbidden cheiromantic formulas. Though uttered in a calm monotone, his invocations overpowered her cries. She recognized some of the names: titles of gods and spirits who traded human fate like haggling merchants.
            “The threads of blessing and woe are five,” Grapt said. “Health, Prosperity, Honor, Love, and Life. Fate’s hands hold all like a puppeteer grasping a marionette’s strings.”
            Every apprentice Advocate knows as much, thought Cteira. But it seemed that Grapt recited the familiar lecture not to her, but to himself.
            “Greater beings can intervene in the destinies of their inferiors,” Grapt went on. “Altering the fate of an equal incurs nemein. Advocates lay this divine guilt before the gods and are forgiven the price of their cheiromancy.”
            “No god will absolve you of this sacrilege!” Cteira spat.
            “Gheanon would,” said Grapt.
            Cteira flinched at the accursed name. “The god of chaos lies buried beneath a mountain of nemein. He cannot blot out your crime.”
            “It’s just as well,” Grapt said as the final knot joining their fate threads neared completion. “Absolution will soon be of no use to us.”
            Cteira desperately sought a lie to stay her husband’s hand. She found none he would believe. She almost told him the truth but knew he would believe that even less.
            Grapt laid his maimed right hand on Cteira’s left. She flinched at his touch as if his ragged fingers were writhing worms. His grim litany droned on, and Cteira realized that her husband was sacrificing the sum of their destinies; fortune and misfortune alike.
“Be loosed from your bonds.” Something reckless and feverish burned behind Grapt’s glassy eyes as he cut the cords of braided sinew that bound Cteira to the stone chair. “You severed the threads of love that joined us. See? I have done likewise to the rest, save only the life threads now twined in an endless loop. We are cut off from fate; set adrift like two pieces of flotsam lashed together.
Cteira stood and rubbed her sore wrists. She stared at the stern face that once kindled her love but now evoked pity, shame, and revulsion. She fled the underground chamber with oddly weightless steps, feeling her way upward in the dark.

            Cteira stumbled into blinding daylight like a ghost quitting her lonely crypt. That she did indeed emerge from a tomb—one of several caverns that riddled the necropolis hill—lent weight to her growing sense of displacement. What had her husband done?
            Enough. She was wasting time fearing for herself. Grapt had vented his misplaced rage upon her, but she still breathed and moved. Who knew what twisted vengeance he meant to exact from Oleth? Gathering her resolve, Cteira raced down from the necropolis toward the city of the living.
            Mura stood on the shore of the Middle Sea. Its towers and temples, markets and homes were circumscribed by a high brick wall. The guard at the north gate didn’t challenge Cteira as she cut past the line of travelers waiting to enter. She wove through the late morning crowds that filled the streets and soon reached the market. A riot of sights, scents, and sounds assaulted her still foggy mind. She didn’t see the heavy-laden oxcart until it was too late.
            Cteira watched the massive vehicle bearing down on her, resigned but cursing her failure to warn Oleth about Grapt. Her curses died on her tongue as the ox team veered right. The wagon rumbled past. An inch closer, and it would have torn off her nose.
Cteira stood marveling over her narrow escape until a feeling like a cold wind at the nape of her neck made her turn around. Grapt stood beneath the colonnaded market entrance, watching her impassively. Goaded by the hateful sight, Cteira dashed across the bustling square toward Oleth’s shop.
            Cteira hoped the physician hadn’t left his assistants to run the open-air counter fronting his practice. Coming within sight of the building’s white stone façade, she heaved a sigh of relief to see Oleth lauding the virtues of various meats and potions to a bent-backed crone. Chiseled features graced his noble head, which a vestige of light hair encircled like a victor’s crown. The sight warmed Cteira’s soul to the same degree that Grapt chilled it.
            “Oleth!” Cteira said, running up and slamming her hands down on the stone counter. “Take whatever’s to hand and flee the city. Grapt is coming. I escaped with my life, but he blames you for—”
            “Yes, madam,” Oleth said to the crone. “This poultice will banish the gout.” Cteira leaned against the counter, panting. He wasn’t even looking at her.
            “Grapt was at the south gate when I saw him last,” Cteira said, struggling to keep her words from running together. “His cheirology is beyond your medicine. Even the temple Advocates fear him. You must run. Now!”
            Oleth smiled. “That’s kind of you to say, but please take care lest you make my lover jealous.” Cteira’s mouth dropped open. Then she realized that Oleth was diverting the crone’s flirtations with no regard for his actual lover’s presence.
            Cteira swept her arm across the counter, sending stone jars and glass vials crashing to the pavement. Oleth’s head turned toward her, his brow knotted, before he continued plying the crone as though nothing had happened.
            Cteira stared at the comely physician. Her heart roiled with frustration and sorrow. A hand took gentle hold of her arm, and she spun to find Grapt standing behind her as emotionless as ever.
“Despair,” he said. “We are as phantoms to all but each other.” She jerked her arm free, smearing her sleeve with his blood, and plunged back into the teeming square.
Stifling simultaneous urges to scream, laugh, and cry, Cteira straightened her posture and strode toward the south gate. The chill pricking her neck told her that Grapt followed. He always will, an inner voice told her with the surety of death. Escape was impossible.

But that was no reason not to try.

The Hymn of the Pearl will be available soon. The award-winning Soul Cycle is available now for less than $9.00.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

@BrianNiemeier

2017/06/22

City of Corpses

John C. Wright - City of Corpses

City of Corpses, the latest fantasy title from multiple Hugo nominee and Dragon Award winner John C. Wright, is now available.
Yumiko Moth has discovered her name, but she still does not know who, or what, she is. What she has learned is that her mother is dead, her master has disowned her, and her beloved has vanished. And she also knows that the Day world is a very dangerous place for a Twilight girl, especially when the dark forces of Night are hunting her.
To discover the truth she seeks, she must infiltrate the enemy's citadel. In New York City, that is The Cobbler's Club, home to the world-famous Peach Cobbler Girls. But how can a girl who stalks the shadows hide herself in the bright lights of the stage? CITY OF CORPSES is the fifth book of MOTH & COBWEB, an astonishingly inventive fantasy series about the magical worlds of Day, Night, and Twilight by John C. Wright, the Dragon Award-winning author of SOMEWHITHER.
You know you want this. What are you waiting for? Go get it!

2017/06/21

How to Find a Cover Artist

Your book's cover is its front line marketing tool. A cover that conveys your book's genre, tone, and general story from a glance at the thumbnail will drive sales. None of this is possible without a skilled cover artist.

How do you find the right artist for your book's cover? Yakov Merkin, author of A Greater Duty, joined me for the latest episode of Geek Gab: On the Books to give writers some helpful tips for finding a cover artist.


John Zeleznik: Yakov's cover artist
A Greater Duty - Yakov Merkin


Marcelo Orsi Blanco: my cover artist
Nethereal cover - Marcelo Orsi Blanco


Reminder: this month only, you can get the whole award-winning Soul Cycle for less than $9.00.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

@BrianNiemeier

2017/06/20

Analog Mindset

abacus
Reader JD Cowan passed along a blog post by an author who attempts to give reasons for his decision to never self-publish. I say attempts because there are no reasons involved; only pre-rational biases.

Normally I'd shrug and get back to earning a living in the publishing industry, but Steve is spreading some truly heinous misinformation that could prove detrimental to aspiring authors' careers. As a public service to writers and the readers who might one day enjoy their work, I'm going to correct Steve's erroneous assumptions so authors of the digital age don't get stuck in his analog mindset.

Excerpts from the original post will appear in italics. My comments will appear in bold.
I don’t intend for this post to be a, “bash self-publishing party,” or to put down the many, fantastic indie authors that I know. Instead, I simply want to respond to a damned annoying statement that gets brought up in almost every conversation I have with self-published authors. Usually it goes something like, “You shouldn’t waste your time trying to get an agent, because indie publishing is so much better,” and it makes me want to kick someone in the teeth. (Not that I could, a punching bag has literally given me a black eye before.)
Translation: "I am a frustrated author who's spent years playing by the old rules only to see indie authors earn money from their work and reach readers while I perpetually ride the rejection carousel. I yearn to bash more successful indie authors, but I'm afraid of the potential repercussions, so I'll couch my naked envy in passive-aggressive terms and hope nobody notices."

[NB: everyone notices.]
I completely understand that many indie authors hear the exact opposite of what I am experiencing, and I think it would be interesting to read how an indie author deals with the, “Traditional publishing is the only real publishing,” mindset.
I look at this chart.

Author Earnings Market Share 2017

Then I laugh.
For this post, I am only going to focus on my experiences, though I really would like to hear if you’ve had to deal with the opposite.
I have, though it comes up less and less as traditional publishers lose revenue, cut authors, and switch to cheaper paper stock.
First, the main reason why I have no desire to ever self-publish is because part of my dream is being traditionally published and part of that process is getting an agent.
Setting aside the tautology, Steve brushes up against a good point. Before you set out to become an author, you need to sit down and think hard about why.

Live I've said before, self-publishing isn't ideological for me. It's purely pragmatic. That's why I have always been, and continue to be, traditionally published in addition to my indie publishing enterprise.

I want to please readers and make money in the process. Steve wants to earn validation from a bunch of MFA candidate editorial interns in Manhattan. If you share Steve's dream, trad publishing is definitely the path to your goal.
I know it sounds stupid, and it’s not fair, but I place higher prestige on traditionally published books versus self-published ones.
Most people base their decisions on emotion. A rare few individuals subject their worldviews to the reality test. I'll let you decide which approach was used above. 
I know that there are bad books on both sides, but since I am a nobody, the only way any of my manuscripts will get accepted is if they are actually good. And one of the best people to spot a quality manuscript is an agent.
1) Being a nobody is entirely up to you.
2) Anyone with a phone, an internet connection, and a P.O. box can call himself a literary agent. Assuming that agents in general are qualified to judge the merits of an author's work betrays a staggering degree of gullibility.
Off subject, but while there are countless, courteous self-published authors, I always see some SOB in on social media who truly thinks that their work is the best thing ever written. Even through the Internet, their ego has a god damn gravitational pull.
Remember: Steve doesn't want to bash indie authors. Except those SOBs whose egos have their own gravitational pull.
I hate the culture of shameless self-promotion. I hate that writers would rather give four and five-star reviews to crap books, simply because they don’t want to hurt another writer’s feelings.
Important ethical principle, kids: don't give crap books four and five-star reviews. It's unclear how Steve knows which books are crap, though, since he's not a literary agent.
I don’t want a participation trophy, and I don’t want to be associated with those kinds of people. I want to earn it.
Again, Steve isn't bashing self-published authors, even though he strongly implies that indie authors give each other unearned four and five-star reviews as a matter of course.
I understand that many self-pub authors have to market themselves if they hope to have any possible financial success, so it isn’t fair to hate on self-promotion. It takes a lot of work outside of writing to make a book successful, but this is another reason why I don’t want to self-publish. Agents, editors, and publishers exist to fulfill this part of the industry.
No, Steve clearly doesn't understand. It's not just indie authors who have to market themselves, a.k.a. their brands. All authors MUST engage in self-promotion.

My editor was traditionally published by Tor Books before she got her rights back and went indie. When she was signed, Tor told her to spend hours each day blogging and self-promoting on social media. Later on, Steve mentions looking up to guys like Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, and George R. R. Martin. All of those guys blog extensively and maintain active presences on social media. All of them attend conventions and promote their brands.

The notion that you can "just write" while your publisher handles all of the marketing hasn't been true for years, if it ever was. In the words of Hyman Roth, this is the business that we've chosen. Market or die. No exceptions.
I love writing and not just narratives. I enjoy writing for my blog, connecting with like-minded people, and pretty much writing whatever I want.
Then you're an amateur. That's fine. Far be it from me to tell you what to write. But pros write to please their readers. They write marketable fiction, and they start treating it like a job long before they can do it for a living.
I do not like the idea of being forced to make post after post about my own work with the hope that I get a few e-book sales. It makes my success as an author contingent on my ability to market and not my ability to be a fucking writer.

That crude distortion is one of the poisonous items of misinformation that prompted me to fisk Steve's post. If he thinks that the way to generate indie book sales is to only post about one's own work, he doesn't know jack shit about marketing.

Protip: the way to generate book sales is to write posts that inform and entertain people. If you consistently give your audience free entertainment, they'll be willing to pay you for more.

And in case it wasn't clear before, EVERY author's success is contingent on his ability to market his writing.
The biggest upside that self-pub authors use to try to convince me is that the royalties are much higher in indie publishing. This is completely true. Amazon offers like 70% royalties while most big houses offer around 10%. The problem with their argument is that most major publishers will offer an advance which will compensate the author for the work that they have all ready put in. An indie book does not see a dime until their book starts selling, and if an indie book flops it doesn’t matter that the author had 70% royalties. Their poorly performing counterpart will still have earned their author a few thousand dollars in an advance.
Derp concentrations critical.

OK, Steve gets a couple things right. Amazon KDP does indeed offer 70% royalties on eBooks priced between $2.99 and $9.99. The Big Five publishers offer anywhere from eight to fifteen percent royalties depending on several factors, such as the author's track record, whether it's a hardcover or paperback edition, and how much they like you. Tradpub authors get a flat 25% of net on eBooks, which works out to 12.5% in the end.

As for advances, Steve has no fucking clue what he's talking about.

Where to begin unraveling the tangled ball of tardation that is the modern book advance? First, contra what Steve implies, an advance is not compensation for the hard work the author has put in writing a book. It's a no-interest loan against future earnings originally intended to financially support the author while he writes the next book.

Publisher advances to new authors have continually shrunk over the years to the point that a standard first-time advance these days is $2500-$3000. Try living on that for six months. As you can see, book advances no longer serve their original intended purpose.

Second, advances have to be paid back out of the author's royalties. So actually, a tradpub author doesn't start earning anything until his share of the royalties from the book's sales exceed the advance amount. Until then, all he's got is borrowed money.

What if you don't earn out your advance? The answer is that you're done. The publisher knows there are thousands of starry-eyed aspiring authors where you came from, and they have no qualms about cutting you loose and tossing the dice again with someone else. A new author's odds of earning out stand at about 50/50, so flip a coin when you sign that contract.

Selling one eBook on KDP for $4.99 gets you about $3.43 in royalties. An indie author who sells one copy of his book can honestly boast more earnings than a tradpub author who fails to earn out a $3000 advance.

Oh, and due to Amazon's higher royalty rate, the indie author only has to sell 1/5 as many copies as the tradpub author to make the same amount of money.
There is one last item that makes me never want to self-publish. 9 out of 10 self-published books that I have read are terrible, but 10 out of 10 self-published authors believe that their book is the exception. If I self-published, I could never be sure that my stuff wasn’t crap just like the rest of them. I should add that I am okay with writing crap, hell that’s pretty much all I write right now, but I’m not okay with that being the culmination of my life’s work.
Hey, Steve. Your elitism's showing.

Again, by your own standards, not being a literary agent means you're not qualified to judge the quality of those books.

But let's toss out that snobbish BS and talk about how, without the expert services of an agent or a Big Five editor, you can know whether or not the culmination of your life's work is crap.

YOUR READERS WILL TELL YOU.

Pro authors don't write for agents, editors, or publishers. They write for their readers. You know, the people whose hard-earned money pays your advance and any royalties you might earn? It's not just gladhanding indie authors who leave Amazon reviews. Readers review books, too. Read them. Engage with your audience on social media. Trust me, they'll make their preferences known.

Once you know what they want, give it to them. Because they need a damn good reason to spend their money on your books instead of video games, movies, and beer.
If I ever publish a novel it will be with a traditional publisher. Like I said at the beginning, this has not been a knock against indie publishing, but rather a response to all of the people who try to belittle my choice of pursuing my dream. I still would love to hear about indie authors dealing with snobby people from traditional publishing, so if you have a story please don’t hold back. I hope that everyone is having a wonderful day and that at least someone found this helpful.
I hope that Steve has a wonderful day, too. Furthermore, I hope he breaks out of the analog mindset that's keeping him from reaching readers and GETTING PAID.

Steve shouldn't be so hard on the people who are belittling his choice to exclusively pursue tradpub. If they get him to question whether his choice is good or not, they'll have done him a valuable service.


And because I eat my own cooking, the award-winning Soul Cycle is on sale this month for less than nine bucks.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

@BrianNiemeier

2017/06/19

Bushi Boys

This past Saturday, Daddy Warpig and Dorrinal sat down for a wide-ranging discussion with the Bushi Boys. I wasn't able to make it for this episode of Geek Gab, but I'm sure you'll enjoy this geektastic conversation between our two remaining hosts and their special guests.

Give it a listen!



OT: The Secret Kings, Soul Cycle Book III is on sale for $0.99 this month. And the whole series is less than 9 bucks.
Every action scene was entertainingly complicated and intricate, with environmental factors and an ebb and flow, so don't expect one bland gunfight after the next.
-Adam Smith

2017/06/16

Thoughts on Crime Pulp

Crime Suspenstories

Inspired by his recent appearance on Geek Gab: On the Books, the Injustice Gamer offers some additional thoughts on the crime genre in the pulps:
Let's start with a definition of the Crime genre(yes, I know genres are mostly marketing tools). It's not inherently a mystery story, though it might be.  A great proportion of these feature "protagonists" on the other side of the law. There's a lot of deceit in the several characters, possibly including the narrator. Commonly, there's a lot of violence, and sex and language content is generally within the norm.
I wrote an overview post on the genre of crime comics. While this is a good start, it's also very much an incomplete view. There were a slew of crime comics before the comics code came into being, notably from EC, the biggest victim of the code. On the recent side, Hard Case Crime has been partnering with Titan Comics to bring some interesting stories to graphic format, and if they do quality work long enough, will unseat Vertigo as the crime comics king. 
Read the whole post.

As a kid I stumbled upon the Gladstone-Cochran reprints of EC comics at the local supermarket. The intense art and effective, if formulaic, writing hooked me immediately, and I convinced my dad to buy me an issue each week. Those old issues are still around here somewhere. I'll have to dig them out.

Another treasure of my youth was a paperback biography of EC publisher William M. Gaines, better known as the founder of Mad magazine. The episode of Gaines' cold medicine-impeded testimony before the senate hearings on juvenile delinquency stuck with me. Along with Werthan, those hearings brought an end to the golden age of EC crime and horror comics.

What a strange turn of events that now it's publishers who are engaging in censorship to keep ideas they deem dangerous from corrupting readers.

Happily, publishers don't have the power to muzzle writers anymore.

Want to read something really scary?


The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

@BrianNiemeier

2017/06/15

Crime/Suspense Stories

Are crime and suspense stories pulp? How about true crime? Westerns? Stage magic and train stories?

Alfred Genesson and Nathan Housley answer these and other pressing Pulp Revolution questions on the latest very special episode of Geek Gab: On the Books.

Check it out!


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.

2017/06/14

Elementary Storytelling

Sherlock

Over on the Castalia House blog, Appendix N author Jeffro Johnson lays out a few vital criteria for masterful writing:
The truth is that effective writing is striking. It stands out. It’s so obvious that children can identify it with confidence. In fact, the classics I list above are ones that my children particularly enjoyed along with me. This is not an accident. Fake masterworks always require the validation of some sort of brilliant commentator who may or may not exist yet. Real master pieces can be enjoyed by practically anyone.
On the subject of misdirection and writing, this tends to come up in the context of crime and suspense stories. I think this is an error, but then… I don’t read crime and suspense stories so much. I would argue that misdirection is a central facet of great writing regardless of genre.
Now, at one end… you can see story construction as being similar to a joke or a magic trick. You are swept along a series of connected events and everything hangs together. You get to the end and you not only get a resolution, but you get some sort consciousness expanding “aha” effect. Sometimes it’s funny. Sometimes it’s chilling. Either way, you have to feed the reader a sense of what the baseline is while mixing in just enough cognitive dissonance to set up the punch line. The reader will think he knows where you are going with things… but then at the end, there is this jerk as he pops from one frame to the other.
The quality that Jeffro describes here is often called "surprising but inevitable". Striking that delicate balance is how a writer can pull the wool over readers' eyes and leave them feeling delighted; not cheated, for the deception.

Remember: a set of events can admit of multiple explanations. Your job as a writer is to present one plausible but false explanation while working from another explanation which alone fits all the facts. If you do it right, the second, true explanation will leave subtle traces throughout the narrative. This is how you avoid insufficiently foreshadowed deus ex machina solutions without tipping your hand.

If done correctly, the reader will finish the book with the satisfaction that only comes from being pleasantly surprised yet at the same time being certain that events could not have gone any other way.

Jeffro concludes:
I get that same feeling frequently when I watch movies. It’s like Bill Cosby’s classic set up for (I think) his Fat Albert story: “Now… I told you that one so I could tell you this one.” That got a laugh in his stand-up routine. If people notice you doing that when you’re telling a story, then you are failing to successfully misdirect your audience. You’re like a magician doing a trick and instead of wowing the twelve-year-old on the front row, you instead draw attention to the dime store gimmick that makes what you’re doing possible.
It’s bad form.
The ultimate contempt that can be shown to the reader is to intentionally not even try. Three examples here: Philip K. Dick’s The Man in High Castle, the “Lost” television show, and the BBC series “Sherlock”. Now, I know the Dick novel has some compelling world building, interesting situations, and so forth. But it reads as if the subject of each chapter was determined by casting the I-Ching. It doesn’t go anywhere; it doesn’t hang together any better than the plots of television shows that are put together by committees of people that simply do not care.
Storytellers can create powerful illusions. And it’s true, they often boil down to little more than the imaginary equivalent of props and sets and stages. But there is a great difference between pulling off a trick and making the audience the butt of a joke. That is the difference between the master and the hack whether you are talking about stories published a hundred years ago or stories published today.

This book outflanked me. Usually when I read a book, I try to guess where the author is going with a particular thing, or try to fathom where a scene will end up. Of course I tried to do that with Nethereal, and I was defeated at every. Single. Turn. There is not a single point in this book that I felt was tropey, or predictable, or even safe...well worth the price of admission, multiple times over. Go buy it.

Nethereal - Brian Niemeier
Surprise! It's now 20% off.

P.S. For more on pulp crime/suspense stories, don't miss my next episode of Geek Gab: On the Books with special guests Nathan Housley and The Injustice Gamer: tonight at 7:00 PM Eastern!

2017/06/13

This Is Not Fine

This Is Not Fine

Author JD Cowan delivers a stinging rebuke to proselytes for the Cult of the New:
It is a fascinating mentality to have. Imagine being so dismissive and scared of the past that one can't admit there were aspects of it better than where we live in the present. Now there is something to be said about being obsessed with a time period in one's life, but it is much different today. This type of "forward" thinking is now one step away from being cultism.
A long time ago, there was a saying. It was a line used to excuse degrading standards and subversion of classic properties in a way to dodge all legitimate criticism. It is not used so much today though the spirit is very much alive.
The motto went like this:
Question: What is the Golden Age of *insert subject here*?
Answer: Age 8 to 10.
This was the original nostalgia argument used to shut down any criticism of a newer product from the time of the 1970s and '80s, and earlier. This argument can be found looking in old letter columns from the era. However, nobody uses it anymore. It is easy to puzzle out why it has. Because this claim falls apart on closer inspection and has been proven wrong with, ironically, the passage of time.
Time has passed, and many fans of different entertainment mediums have not had the benefit of being 8 or 10 years old when Superman's first comic was released or when The Moon Pool was first run. So then, how can there be people alive today who prefer that older age in comparison to what is currently being put out? It is unclear, according to these types. How can one prefer action movies of the 1980s when they were born in 1994? That should not happen. And yet another individual who grew up with those very same movies is apparently only able to enjoy them due to a nebulous concept called nostalgia. That simply cannot be the case, at least not in every example.
JD's observations are correct. Because unlike adherents of the novelty cult, he actually takes the time to observe the current debased cultural landscape instead of defaulting to hand waving and chronological snobbery.

Just one example: look at the continued popularity of 70s and 80s properties like Star Wars, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers, and the original Ghostbusters with children today. Contrast that kind of staying power with IPs from later decades. Finding an IP with lasting appeal from the 1990s requires looking to anime.

JD continues dismantling the argument from nostalgia:
This accusation requires a heavy duty dose of projection from the accuser, as it otherwise has no real bearing on a discussion centered on taste. And what it tends to lead to is the revelation that the accuser is really a member of The Cult of the New.
"How can you possibly like this old thing better than this new thing! This was made more recently, therefore it must be better. All the progress we've made in history dictates this! Clearly, you must only like this inferior relic is because you are pining for a long lost youth and are simply out of touch with what the standard is now."
The trick in this accusation is that it can't be argued against. Reasons for taste and preference cannot be proven. Therefore The Mists of Avalon is an objectively better book than Le Morte D'Arthur because of the centuries of progress since the latter. Stories of knights are simply better because they must be. How can one argue against it? Progress dictates it must be so. Taste is absolutely no factor here.
However, it is.
It always is.
Like all postmoderns, novelty cultists vocally deny objective standards of beauty and craftsmanship while at the same time conflating their subjective preference for novelty with objective quality.

Exploding their argument is as simple as refusing to let them frame the debate. The key isn't to defend your preference for the classics. It's to point out that older works are objectively superior to the creatively exhausted tripe that film, game, and comic book studios churn out these days.

For an orgy of evidence, see Jeffro Johnson's landmark Appendix N.

Appendix N - Jeffro Johnson

More from JD:
But if this situation were to flip, one could find the same issue with The Cult of the New. Every new release is showered with aplomb and gusto before being forgotten within months. We live in a throwaway culture.
Take the Avatar film by James Cameron. It was showered with praise upon release, made more money than most filmmakers can dream of, and critics were hounded, insulted, and spat upon for daring to point out any flaws it might have had. Now you will struggle to find anyone who cares one whit for it, or is looking forward to its sequels. Video games also have this problem. BioShock Infinite was hailed as an unparalleled masterpiece, as was Uncharted 2, and any game Guerrilla Games has ever made. These products are bathed in a tsunami of attention at release, and then forgotten in a year. As a prediction: by November there will hardly be anyone still talking about Prey instead of the newest holiday releases.
Which group has the shallow attachment to the product?
Avatar is an excellent example of the novelty cult's shallowness. I've written before about the reasons for its failure to gain cultural traction. The short version is that a storyteller's job is to continually explain a culture to itself. The movie producers, New York editors, and television executives who currently occupy the thrones vacated by the rightful high priests of Western culture are in fact apostates pushing a corrosive anti-culture on their increasingly atomized congregations.

But there are those who are fighting back against the usurpers and the wolves in sheep's clothing who run popular media. Content creators and curators like the fine authors at Castalia House, Cirsova Magazine, and the Pulp Revolution as a whole are working hard to remind the men of the West of their unmatched cultural tradition.

I support them and lend my pen to their noble cause. And because my primary obligation is to my readers, my award-winning Soul Cycle series is currently on sale for less than $9.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

@BrianNiemeier