2017/11/20

Necrosis

Necrosis - H.C. Damrosch

Necrosis, the debut paranormal epic by H.C. Damrosch, is available now!
A tyrant has conquered the land she holds dear; friends and family slain to build a kingdom of despair. Her own faith has fallen into doubt…
She must escape, no matter the cost. 
Visions of light and shadow beckon from beyond the world’s edge; haunting dreams, waking nightmares, rivers of energy beneath the earth…
There is a warrior who would oppose death itself to uncover the secrets of his birth. 
Subhuman and superhuman creatures arise to test them; powers of earth and spirit whose revelations shake the very foundations of reality. Is it wisdom to believe, or madness…? 
Only by coming to terms with their own humanity can they defeat the Lord of the Necrow.

Excerpt:

The doctor balked in fear as Akar gripped his mind. What is this? What are you doing to me?! His consciousness writhed like a hooked fish, incapable of understanding. Akar only grasped him tighter as he peered into his memories. What he saw there sickened him. The things this man and his colleagues had done in the name of their sciences were as horrific as any of the things the Necrow had done to the helpless people of Herayon. 

The woman stepped forward and shook the man roughly by the shoulder. “Doctor! What’s wrong?”

Akar compelled the man to speak: “Everything. Everything is wrong. How has humanity come to this? I came to you willingly because I believed the authorities of Xiramin had wisdom. Now I see they have not wisdom at all. Your technology is lifeless. You rule over the common people as you would over beasts. There is nothing I can learn from you.”

With that, Akar compelled the doctor to reach for the table, inserting the key that would release his bonds. The man complied before his comrades could stop him.

The bonds opened with a snap.

Akar swung his legs over and rose to his feet. Naked, he faced a roomful of enemies. There were gasps of astonishment from the onlookers as the flesh of his arm sealed itself.

Akar looked upon them, and for the first time in his existence felt something like rage. This is what you do. You seize people without justice and subject them to experiments and ‘cures’ for the common good. You believe wrongdoing is an illusion, and the clever can use the gullible as they please!  How have you come to this?

The enforcers along the walls seized implements from their belts and aimed at him, yelling for the scientists to evacuate the room. Some of them complied; most did not. Akar could feel their fascination from where they stood, watching him. Many were thinking of this as “a great learning experience.”

The woman spoke up from where she stood a few paces away. “How can we be just if there is no such thing as justice? How can we be immoral if morality is simply what we have been conditioned to believe? Why can’t the clever determine the fate of the weak, if we are more fit and thus more worthy than them to survive? You cannot deny we have reached the pinnacle of peace, of security, of happiness, by dedicating ourselves to these principles you despise! Who are you to judge us?!”

Akar turned his impenetrable gaze upon her, and she quailed. Soulless she may be, yet she saw the same thing those in Herayon did: the ineffable itself, cloaked in the terror of death. Akar reached out his hand to her –

The enforcers immediately opened fire. The sleek weapons they held flung shards of metal that tore through Akar’s flesh like cobwebs, ripping him apart from the inside. He screamed in agony and collapsed against the restraining table, smoke rising from the hideous rents in his body.

The scientists had fallen back, shrieking. As the deafening racket of the weapons subsided the woman could be heard yelling: “Don’t destroy it! It must be preserved for study!”

Akar tried to draw breath, but could not. His lungs had been punctured in too many places. He was no longer aware of the rest of his body, so intense was the pain…

“Hold your fire, Lieutenant! You have ruined valuable evidence! We no longer have a living specimen –”

Akar panted and twitched where he lay, and his voice echoed in the minds of all those who had dared remain in the room. Fools… He seized them with his inner sight, their bodies burning like torches in his mind. Weapons clattered to the floor from paralyzed fingers. Two dozen faces froze in astonishment and disbelief.

Without another word, Akar ripped their lives away. Two dozen bodies fell heavily to the floor. Untouched, unmarked, their eyes stared in amazement as death’s film clouded over them.

Akar rose from the table, his body whole again, with not even scars to remember the wounds. I gave you a merciful death, unlike the deaths you dealt to others. You can be grateful for that, at least, if Samael has not yet devoured you.

He re-donned his armor, sheathed his sword, and strode from the room.
Attachments area


What we understand, and what establishment Conservatives fail to grasp, is that supporting aritsts who uphold the traditions of the West is essential to healing the culture of its dire--possibly mortal--wounds. I can vouch for the author of this book. Get your copy today!

2017/11/17

Lost Generations

Bible genealogy

Identity politics has increasingly become a hot-button issue. The debate typically centers around matters of ethnicity or religion, but an often overlooked yet just as important factor in setting a person's self-concept is generational identification.

Inter-generational conflict has become so ingrained in contemporary culture that it's hard to imagine a time when people didn't wear their generation as a badge in the political struggles and culture wars that are coming to a head today. But for members of one generation to bring their cohort-specific grievances into the sociopolitical arena as a plank against other entire generations is a relatively recent development that really only goes back to the 1960s.

You had disputes between elders and their offspring before, to be sure, but there had never been anything like the wholesale rebellion of the then-young against all the received wisdom, culture, and traditions of their parents that the West saw in the late 60s.

The generation that won the culture war and is now firmly entrenched in the halls of power, the Baby Boomers, have a general tendency to project their own peculiar attitudes and perceptions onto other generations en masse. They also run Hollywood, academia, and the media, so you get constant color commentary about nihilistic Gen Xers, Millennial snowflakes, and the stodgy, repressive Greatest Generation--who've become noble and heroic now that they've given the Boomers all their stuff.

Another curious phenomenon arising from the current obsession with age-based demographics is the cycle wherein a generational label will be defined and bandied about in the public discourse for a few years before the term is retired and the people it once described are lumped in with another generation--usually alternating between the preceding and succeeding cohorts, depending on the commentator.

Do you remember--or belong to--any of these lost generations?
  • The Silent Generation: too young to fight in WWII, they served in Korea and made most of the contributions to art, politics, and culture that the Baby Boomers identify with. For example, all of the Beatles were actually Silents.
  • Generation Jones: the younger siblings of the Boomers and the older siblings of Generation X. Jonesers' defining life experience is the nagging sense of having shown up just a little too late for the banquet that the Greats set for the Boomers. The members of U2 belong to the Jones generation.
  • Generation Y: younger siblings of the Xers and older siblings of Millennials. The last generation to have personal memories of the Cold War and the pre-internet age. Taylor Swift is at the tail end of Gen-Y.
The current tendency is to throw the Silents in with the Greats or the Boomers, meld the Jonesers with the Boomers or the Xers, and blur the lines between Gen-Y and the Xers and Millennials. But in terms of formative experiences, typical self-identification, and existing generational terminology, this muddying of the waters makes no sense.

Prime example: describing the current crop of youngsters as Generation Z makes no sense without a Generation Y.

To resolve this issue, I did a bit of demographic research. It occurred to me that the old standard definition of a generation lasting twenty years is less relevant considering the rapidly accelerating pace of cultural change. The last generation that this time scale works for is the Greats. After them, I found that categorizing the population by generational cohorts spanning ten years instead of twenty better described the average member of each category.

I based the following generational categories and timetables based on likely formative experience, common cultural touchstones, likely parentage, and the general state of the culture when each cohort came of age.
  • The Greatest Generation: 1914-1934
  • The Silent Generation: 1935-1945
  • The Baby Boomers: 1946-1956
  • Generation Jones: 1957-1967
  • Generation X: 1968-1978
  • Generation Y: 1979-1989
  • The Millennials: 1990-2000
  • Generation Z: 2001-2011
By this reckoning, the Boomers are the children of the Greats. The Jonesers are, by and large, the Silents' offspring, Xers are the children of the Boomers, Generation Jones begat Gen-Y, Gen-X spawned the Millennials, and Gen-Y birthed Gen-Z.

Food for thought.

2017/11/16

Ophian Rising Excerpt

The Ophian Rising - Brian Niemeier

In anticipation of its imminent release, I'm pleased to present my loyal readers with another excerpt from the concluding volume of my award-winning Soul Cycle, The Ophian Rising.


        “Which ether-runner should we go to for help?” Will asked.
        “Not an ether-runner,” Astlin said the moment she set eyes on the angular black hull of Night Gen nexus-runner parked at the two o’clock position of the circular landing strip below.
  They made their way down to the field and crossed to the obsidian ship. True to her word, Astlin let Will take her place propping up the stabilized but still weak Brell. The Night Gen ship’s general design reminded Astlin of her lost Kerioth, but it was of much newer construction with five knife-edged tines fanning out from the central hull instead of three.
Xander and I had that ship for over two hundred years, she thought bitterly. Another debt the Ophians owe me.
When she and her companions had approached to stand before the nexus-runners slender spike of a nose, Astlin projected her thoughts to the ship’s telepathic comm system. We’re survivors of the recent Ophian attack. One of your people is with us. He needs a medic.
“Did you signal them?” Tallon asked when a minute passed with no sign of activity from the ship.
  “Yes, I did,” said Astlin.
“Are you sure they heard you?”
Astlin didn’t respond, but Brell answered Tallon for her. “My people have reason to be cautious, especially after tonight. They are most likely attempting to determine if we pose a danger to their ship.”
“The only one they’re endangering is you,” said Will.
A floodlight cast a blinding white beam on the five supplicants. The familiar whirring of a descending nexus-runner boarding ramp sounded from the darkness behind the light. A wary female voice spoke in the Night Gen dialect. Brell answered. The conversation went back and forth until Brell spoke to his friends in Trade.
“Her name is Niz,” said Brell. “She is the navigator and medic of the Emat. We have permission to board, but you may not bring your weapons.”
Will gripped the hilt of his sword. “As the queen’s protector, I cannot go unarmed in her presence.”
“It’s alright, Will,” Astlin said. “These people won’t hurt us—not here; not tonight.”
“Give your pieces to me,” said Tallon. “I’ll wait here and stand guard.”
Will reluctantly unfastened his sword belt and handed it and the attached sheathed blade to Tallon. Serra showed no less hesitation. “This sword is an ancient imperial heirloom,” the Temilian warned Tallon. “You already owe me my wage. Don’t add a priceless artifact to your debt.”
“Just give me that already,” Tallon said as he snatched the curved sword from Serra’s extended hand. “Every second we stand here yapping gives Lasker more of a head start.”
“You’re helping us make war on the queen’s enemies?” Will asked hopefully.
Tallon rolled his eyes. “No. I’m getting even with the guy who tried to kill me. Now get on that ship and get Brell patched up so we can get Lasker.” He turned Serra’s sword over in his hand. “You probably got this from a catalog.”
“You’ve all done more than I have any right to ask,” said Astlin. “I can handle Lasker.”
Will’s cheerful expression turned serious. “If you didn’t want my help, Your Majesty, you shouldn’t have accepted my Ostiary oath.”
“I may not be sworn to your service,” said Serra, “and I may be a criminal, but I am loyal to High Magist Dran and to you. And as Tallon said, the attempt on our lives must be answered.”
Reduced to silence by her friends’ show of loyalty, Astlin led the way up the boarding ramp. The scents of lightning and old wine casks flowed down from the ship. A woman stood atop the ramp, backlit in the soft glow of dim green lights.
“I am Niz,” she said in heavily accented Trade. Up close, she was revealed to have a willowy frame clad in a grey jumpsuit. Her typical jet black hair was tied up in a loose bun secured with slim sticks of purple crystal. She had pale eyes, but their exact shade was impossible to make out in the emerald light. “Identify yourselves.”
“You’ll understand if we don’t want to give names,” said Astlin. “Our friend was shot in the attack, but his wound isn’t serious. If you’d be kind enough to treat him, we’ll be on our way as soon as he’s mobile again.”
Niz’s colorless eyes darted to Brell, who nodded. “Bring him,” she said before turning and striding briskly back into the ship.
Astlin and her friends followed Niz through close, gloomy corridors to a station about the size of Astlin’s dining room back on Keth. Sterile white lighting activated at Niz’s verbal command, revealing racks and drawers of medical equipment surrounding an examination table. The female Night Gen’s eyes were also shown to be amber yellow.
Will and Serra helped Brell up onto the table. Astlin stood outside so as not to overcrowd the small room. Niz retrieved a box of surgical tools from a drawer, including a pair of shears with which she cut away Brell’s pant leg above the knee. She removed the improvised tourniquet, uncovering the entry wound in his calf.
The medic spoke to Brell in their native tongue as she worked. Since Astlin didn’t wish to telepathically violate the woman’s privacy, all she could glean from the conversation was the weariness and hints of sadness conveyed by Niz’s tone.
After cleaning the wound, Niz took a red crystal rod from the box and waved it back and forth over Brell’s calf. The ragged puncture closed a bit more with each pass. She kept talking to him but suddenly lowered her voice, and he raised his in audible anger and shock.
“Does it hurt?” asked Serra.
“It does,” said Brell, “but that is beside the point. Niz was making small talk to distract me from the pain. The conversation turned to her and the captain’s business, and she told me this ship’s destination.”
A chill ran down Astlin’s spine, though she couldn’t have said why. “Where are they going?”
“To Palannar,” said Niz.
It took Astlin a moment to place the name, but when she did, her apprehension deepened. “That’s the planet where the Guild finally crushed Almeth Elocine’s Resistance.”
Niz didn’t look up from her work. “Yes. It is where my people’s long exile began.”
“Why would you want to go there?” asked Will.
“To answer the Ship Master’s call,” said Niz.
Serra’s brow furrowed. “The Ship Master? I’ve never heard of him.”
“Your people fought long and hard to return from the outer darkness,” said Astlin. “Will asked a good question. Why go back to a sphere that holds such bad memories?”
“Because the reward for our long hard struggle turned out to be hollow,” said a guttural male voice to Astlin’s left. A burly male Night Gen dressed similarly to Niz approached the infirmary from down the hall. His hair was trimmed down to a dark bristle that caught the green light like an emerald halo.
“This is Vantse,” said Niz, “the captain of the Emat,”
“For now,” said Vantse. “Soon I will be the master of my own world, as Aesham Daeva has promised.”
The name drove a cold spike of fear into Astlin’s heart. “Aesham Daeva?”
“He is the Ship Master who waits at Palannar,” said Vantse. “The Night Tribe spent millennia plotting to reconquer our rightful home from the Steersmen’s Guild. When we finally returned, there was no longer a Guild to fight. Instead we made common cause with necromancers and fiends.
        “We bargained with the clay tribe for Mithgar, but without new enemies; new conquests, my people lost all ambition. Our birth rates have collapsed. More of us have succumbed to suicide than to war in the past two centuries. Mithgar is a tarnished prize, but the Ship Master offers all who would join him worlds of their own.”
        An expectant look passed between Brell and Niz. Vantse lowered his eyes.
        Every fiber of Astlin’s being urged her to steer the Night Gen away from their chosen course. “Whoever he is, this Aesham Daeva can’t give you new worlds. Zadok wouldn’t allow it.”
        “The Ship Master serves an old god more ancient and powerful than Zadok,” said Niz. “He assures us the All-Father will not interfere.”
        “Even if that’s true,” argued Astlin, “you’ll eventually get just as tired of your new worlds as you are of Mithgar. But there’s another world—another creation in the light beyond the Nexus. If you can reach it, you’ll be given your own souls apart from Zadok’s. You’ll be truly free.”
        Niz packed up her medical kit and turned away. Vantse kept staring at the deck plates. Only Brell met her eye.
        “Please,” said Astlin. “Don’t go to Palannar. Aren’t souls worth more than worlds?”
        Silence fell. At length, Vantse broke it. “We have taken on supplies, and we had planned to leave for Palannar at dawn. Instead we will leave tonight.” He looked to Brell. “You are welcome to join us, brother.”
        The captain’s words struck Astlin like a blow to the stomach. “I’ll go check on Tallon,” was the only excuse she could give for her sudden need to flee the ship. Will came after her. A moment later, so did Serra. The three of them descended the boarding ramp and found Tallon smoking a cigar in the brisk night air.
        “What happened to Brell?” Tallon asked. “Don’t tell me he didn’t make it.”
        Astlin struggled for words against the strange turmoil in her soul. As it turned out, she didn’t have to.
        “Here,” Brell called from the top of the ramp. He strode down to join the others with only a slight limp in his step.
        Astlin’s spirits rose. She nodded toward the Emat. “Aren’t you going with them?”
        Brell’s blue eyes stared into hers as if he saw a compelling riddle reflected there. “I know the desolation of which Vantse spoke, and I have never believed in anything—until now. You know the Kings’ Road. Guide me. Save my soul.”
        Astlin took the Night Gen’s hands in hers. “I promise,” she said.
        The boarding ramp retracted. With a deep hum, the Emat rose up and vanished into the night sky.

There are still some slots open for advance reviewers. If you'd like a free eARC of The Ophian Rising and are willing to leave an Amazon review on launch day, send me an email by clicking the button at the top of the left sidebar.

If you haven't read Nethereal, Souldancer, and The Secret Kings yet, now is the perfect time to get caught up on this exciting, action-packed, and often chilling series.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

2017/11/15

China Syndrome

Fake science fiction blog File 七百七十 tries to amuse its Chinese bot audience by training its patented brand of menopausal trolling on Richard Paolinelli, author of the Nebula Award-nominated book Escaping Infinity.

But Richard ain't having it.
ChinaMike – called that because the great Larry Correia exposed ChinaMike’s website as being propped up by traffic from Chinese Web Bots that made up 92% of his website’s visitors – decided I needed to be destroyed because I had the nerve to send a free book to a ComicCon in Wisconsin as part of a free giveaway for attendees after the Con’s Guests of Honor bailed out at the last minute.
I even tried to bury the hatchet with him – sent him a free copy of my book too – and he quickly called me a liar. Apparently, he recently added a “little weasel” (e-mailed to my friend Oscar who pointed out the flaw in ChinaMike’s attack) to the list of insults he wants to hurl my way.
For the most part, I’ve moved on. But not ChinaMike. Give a look at a screenshot from his website (no links to that haven of vile scumbaggery):
Richard Paolinelli - Escaping Infinity screenshot

Here we see a rare spectacle: the proprietor of File 七百七十 has wedged his head so far up his own digestive tract that he's collapsed into a black hole of white beard hair and Ensure:
He [Richard] often tweets about his Dragon Awards finalist Escaping Infinity, but yesterday's tweet also identified it as a Nebula nominee.
So what's that supposed to mean? Everyone knows his book wasn't a Nebula finalist.
It means exactly what you're cattily insinuating: that Escaping Infinity received at least one nomination for a Nebula Award but didn't make the final ballot. Any SFWA member with Nebula voting eligibility can nominate a book. If a book gets at least one nomination, it's a Nebula nominee. If it's one of the six most-nominated books in its category, it goes on the final ballot and becomes a Nebula finalist.

A blogger with such long experience in SFF fandom should know how the Nebulas work, as should his blog's human readers. The Chinese bots are excused.

But let's give the botmaster the benefit of the doubt. Did Escaping Infinity get any Nebula noms?
FACT: Escaping Infinity received multiple nominations from SFWA members for Best Sci-Fi Novel. Thus making it a nominee.
FACT:  It did NOT receive enough nominations to make it to the Finalist stage – it did so for the 2017 Dragon Awards I might add – and I have so noted on the page and in the ad I recently re-ran that it was a nominee (non-finalist).
FACT: Escaping Infinity is a 2017 Nebula Nominee (non-finalist).
For those keeping score. China Mike posted the equivalent of:
Nancy Kerrigan often talks about her 1994 Olympic silver medal, but yesterday she called herself a 1992 Olympic medalist.
So what's that supposed to mean? Everyone knows she didn't win the silver medal in 1992.
Yes, File 七百七十's trolling of Richard actually is that retarded. And the flimsy attempt at plausible deniability where China Mike rhetorically asks "what's that supposed to mean?" becomes retroactive projection.

What it really means is that Dr. Robotnik was particularly unimaginative and lazy that day.

Being an astute fellow not given to suffering hamfisted bullshit, gives the proper response:
I have not misled anyone.
But you, shitposter, have and I am fed up with you.
Do not ever again link to my website, screen capture my website or attempt to archive my website. Do not ever print my name, or refer to anything I have ever written or will write in the future, ever again. You are not a journalist. You have no 1st Amendment protections here. If you ever slander me again I will sue you straight into bankruptcy court by the end of the week. 
China Mike: passive-aggressive guardian of a gate whose surrounding wall has long since crumbled.

Brian's characters are as interesting as Nick Cole's.

2017/11/14

Case in Point

Pursuant to yesterday's post on the internal contradictions that have left Conservatives powerless to fight the culture war, I present the following tweets:

Jon Del Arroz - MAGA 2020

That's author Jon Del Arroz tweeting about National Review Online writer Kevin D. Williamson's response to MAGA 2020 and Beyond from Superversive Press.

Kevin D. Williamson

If Williamson's name rings a bell, it's probably because of the notorious NRO piece he wrote last year wherein he asserted that working-class white people "deserve to die".
The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. Forget all your cheap theatrical Bruce Springsteen crap. Forget your sanctimony about struggling Rust Belt factory towns and your conspiracy theories about the wily Orientals stealing our jobs. Forget your goddamned gypsum, and, if he has a problem with that, forget Ed Burke, too. The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin. What they need isn’t analgesics, literal or political. They need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul.
I used to think that establishment Conservatives were simply conditioned to dismiss pop culture and the arts by an excessively pragmatic, utilitarian ideology. But the more diabolical enmity they show toward they people they claim to serve every election year, the more convinced I am that their retreat from the culture war is deliberate.

Consider Williamson. He made it big in Conservative, Inc. But he's still ashamed of his blue collar Texas roots. He knows, as does anyone who hasn't been in a coma for the past 50 years, that the arts and the media are the levers that steer the culture. He didn't pass on the chance to promote a work of non-Leftist fiction because he thinks fiction is useless. He and the rest of the Conservative establishment know that novels, movies, and TV shows are incalculably more influential than any think tank white paper.

Establishment Conservatives don't want real change. They want the game of musical chairs in Washington that passes for our system of representative government to continue as is indefinitely. They want to pretend to oppose the ever-advancing Leftward slide while doing nothing of substance and getting invited to all the right cocktail parties.

In short, they want to lose.

We want to win, and make no mistake--we are winning. And that scares the hell out of people like Kevin D. Williamson.

If the barbarians on the Left win, they'll write the history books. More likely, there will be no histories because written language, along with all other marks of civilization, will vanish from the earth forever, as if they had never been. That is Williamson's hope. He wants his name to be forgotten.

But if we win, he and his fellow establishment quislings will go down in history as the wretched betrayers of Western Civilization they are.

Let's make them famous. Forever.

2017/11/13

They're Daft

daft

It's encouraging to see that more and more people are catching on to a fact I've done my best to publish far and wide, viz. that so-called Conservatives have no intention of conserving Western culture.

Superversive SF blogger Dawn Witzke calls out Conservative media figures who complain ad nauseam about the degenerate state of contemporary arts yet will not lift even their smallest finger to improve the situation.
They claim that they want the culture to change. There are a ton of nonfiction books scolding the society for the state it’s in and ranting about how it needs to change. There are commentators on the radio and television going on and on about how horrible things are today in society. Well, what do they expect?
The Right cannot ignore art and literature and then expect the culture to change. Politics alone will not do that. You can’t legislate morality. You have to change society through many different avenues, politics being only one of those.
Or to quote Andrew Breitbart, "Politics is downstream from culture."

A small correction: Conservatives are not, and never have been, of the political Right. Their movement originates from the same Enlightenment Liberalism that spawned the Left. When a Conservative tells you he's a Classical Liberal, he's correct. The problem is that X + ism means "treating X as an absolute".

Liberalism is the absolutization of freedom. If we start from the premise that freedom is absolute, we can't abide any external limitations on the pursuit of individuals' personal preferences while staying internally consistent. That's why Liberalism--yes, especially Classical Liberalism--is inherently progressive.

Conservatives are just Liberals who've found a particular license they don't feel comfortable extending culture-wide. Be it pot legalization, judicially mandated fake marriage, or state-sanctioned infanticide, every self-styled Conservative has found one or more issues that disincline him to treat freedom as absolute--at least in regard to said issue.

But Conservatives still use Liberal language, framing their positions in terms of civil rights, fundamental liberties, and personal choice. This arbitrary picking and choosing makes Conservatism intrinsically incoherent. It's why yesterday's liberal is today's Conservative, and it's why Conservatives always lose.

Back to Dawn:
When you neglect society, eventually, society changed the laws. Which is exactly what has been happening over the past 50 years. We went from a society with cohesive traditional values and work ethic to a hedonistic society where “if it feels good do it” and individuals aren’t responsible for themselves.
So why conservatives think that ignoring culture, art and literature in favor of ranting about politics is going to somehow miraculously change society? They’re daft.
"If it feels good, do it" is the credo of Liberalism. The reason that Conservatives have failed to prevent society's degradation over the past 50 years is the same reason that Lina Inverse failed to defeat the god who created Dragon Slave using that same spell. To paraphrase the spell's creator, "I won't honor your request to help you kill me."
If we want to return to a society of traditional values and morals, we need to focus on art and literature. We need to bring back the class and the morals that used to be intrical [sic] in our society. We need to feed the minds with good solid stories, art, television and movies.
Again, politics is downstream from culture. Later in the same article, Dawn specifies that she's not talking about pushing Conservative message fic, and that's a vital caveat. However, she mentions promoting books that contain conservative values. As we've seen, there are no such things as conservative values. The closest Conservatives get are attitudes, disgust reactions, and postures.

What's truly needed is a culture-wide realization of the fact that Liberalism has been a disastrous mistake, that freedom is not and cannot be an absolute, and that Western Civilization must return to seeking the common good if we hope to survive.

But in the meantime, promoting fun, non-message fic stories couldn't hurt.

My own thrilling SFF/horror series the Soul Cycle is 100% politics-free and available now!

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

2017/11/10

Ophian Rising News

Now that my newsletter subscribers have duly received their early look, I'm delighted to share the cover of The Ophian Rising, Soul Cycle Book IV with the reading public. As with the previous three books' stellar cover designs, this cover comes to us from the hand of visionary artist Marcelo Orsi Blanco.

The Ophian Rising - Brian Niemeier

About The Ophian Rising

Dragon Award winner Brian Niemeier’s groundbreaking Soul Cycle reaches its startling conclusion in The Ophian Rising, the highly anticipated sequel to The Secret Kings.

The Zadokim healed the cosmos from the ravages of the Cataclysm, and the survivors made them kings. Now the Ophians, a ruthless insurgent movement, wage a vicious uprising against their immortal rulers’ two hundred year reign.

Xander and Astlin have transformed the desert world of Tharis into the hub of a flourishing trade empire. Their Nesshin subjects spread a new faith promising true freedom in another universe. But when Astlin seeks forbidden knowledge to resurrect her long-dead family, sinister forces exact a terrible price from those she loves.

With the Ophian threat engulfing the spheres and a primeval terror rising from its prison, Astlin must turn to a shiftless gambler, the outlaw squire of a fallen knight, and a mismatched pair of smugglers to escape the ghosts of her past and save all souls from eternal death. But can mortals succeed where even gods have failed?


I'm also pleased to announce that I'll be giving away advance review copies in preparation for the new book's release. All you need to do to reserve your very own Ophian Rising eARC is send me an email agreeing to leave a review on Amazon on OR's launch day. Just click the "Send Me an Email" button at the top of the left sidebar or copy and paste the following address: soulcyclebooks@gmail.com

Those who request an eARC and promise to leave an Amazon review on launch day will receive an advance review copy in mobi and/or epub format as soon as the files are available. The Ophian Rising is scheduled to launch in December, but don't worry. The eARCs will be sent out in plenty of time for everyone to finish reading the book by launch day.

Thanks to all of the advance readers who've graciously agreed to write reviews thus far. If you'd like to get the free advance copy of OR but you haven't read Nethereal, SD ,or SK yet, there's still time to finish reading the series before the final volume's release.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

2017/11/09

The Injustice Gamer Reviews Praxis

Praxis - Justin Knight

The Injustice Gamer reviews Praxis, the blue collar workers in SPACE! novel by my friend and editing client Justin Knight.
First, our warehouse workers are fairly realistic. Not all are smart, but they aren't a homogeneous group by any means. There are characters with family, devoted couples, and people just dealing with the daily struggle. The equipment junkie attitude of them being "toys" is pretty accurate from my experience.
Second, we have a redemption arc within the story. I won't go into details, per my general spoiler policy. But the fact that someone can be stuck for a long time, and come to a point where they wish to repent and change and actively do, especially after paying a price. Whereas the SocJus crowd is far more likely to simply excuse behavior and deny evil, unless of course it's in recognizing truth.
Third, there's a story of alien cops and pirates. While this may not be a SocJus trigger, the fact that the lawmen are good guys is.
Fourth, Mr. Knight gives us glimpses of family life and devotion. Not only is it respected, but aspired to by other characters.
As a former warehouse worker himself, Alfred passes along some fair inside baseball-style criticism:
A little bit of real criticism here: I kind of wanted to see more on adjustments to equipment required for zero and low gravity. It would be a real concern, and is almost always ignored by authors. Now, there is some mention of future equipment, as well as a little extrapolation from existing safety/security measures.
Damaged product also gets mentioned, but I saw nothing on inventory integrity. Both of these issues would be HUGE in space. Is it glamourous? Nope. Necessity rarely is. I also know that too much would get boring quick for almost all readers. How many times do you have to count to a thousand?
In the final analysis, the Injustice Gamer awards Praxis by Justin Knight 8 out of 10 fell deeds. Congratulations, Justin; and thanks to Alfred Genesson for his review.


In Ophian Rising news, the finish line is in sight! Newsletter subscribers should be receiving a special message within minutes of this posting. This one's gonna be big!

The Ophian Rising, Soul Cycle Book IV is set to launch next month. If you're not up to speed on the previous three books, there's still time to get up to speed for the final volume's release.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

2017/11/08

PulpRev Valediction

Over at PulpRev.com, blogger and writer Bradford Walker bids Godspeed to legendary Castalia House blog editor Jeffro Johnson and yours truly.

Here's Bradford:
We've gotten word that Jeffro Johnson has stepped down as the editor of the Castalia House blog, and that Brian Niemeier has taken leave of Geek Gab, both events coming due to an increase of professional demands upon their time (in addition to other factors).
On behalf of the rest of us here at PulpRev, I congratulate you both on your successes as editor and podcast host (respectively), and wish that both of you enjoy even greater professional success in your new and ongoing endeavors going forward. We here at PulpRev look forward to both of you publishing new and exciting works that build upon your previous literary accomplishments. The return of a culture of fun built on what is true could not happen without both of you doing what you've done (or doing what you're doing), and as such we are all grateful.
Good luck, good hunting, and may God smile on you and yours hereafter in all your doings. Godspeed!
Thanks to Bradford, everyone at PulpRev.com, and all the readers who've voiced their support. I join my voice to theirs in thanking Jeffro for his groundbreaking work. In a few short years, he has earned a place in the storied history of science fiction.

Since Bradford mentioned my future endeavors, I think the time is right to give my loyal readers a small taste of what's next.

Brian Niemeier - The Ophian Rising

P.S. Newsletter subscribers are advised to keep an eye on their inboxes tomorrow for a special announcement and additional exclusive goodies.

And as I've been saying recently, if you've been holding out for the series' completion before jumping on the Soul Cycle, now is the ideal time to get on board. Dedicated readers will be able to finish the first four award-worthy books before the final volume's release.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

2017/11/07

The More Disney Tighten Their Grip

Piss Vader

Movie theater owners are up in arms over the terms of a top secret exhibition agreement that Disney is trying to force on theaters showing The Last Jedi.
"This deal is getting worse all the time."
Lando Calrissian's statement about his arrangement with Darth Vader could well be on the minds of theater owners, given that they reportedly have to hand over a record 65 percent of the ticket take from The Last Jedi to Disney. 
The contract to run the latest Star Wars film, which lands everywhere in just six weeks, also ups Disney's take to 70 percent if the theater puts a foot wrong on a number of counts, according to a Wall Street Journal report. 
U.S. theater owners are required to run the movie for four weeks without skipping a single screening if they want to avoid that penalty. They also have to run specific marketing promotions for the film exactly when Disney wants, and not a day early.
Having once managed a movie theater myself, I can understand why Disney's draconian exhibition agreement is making theater owners livid. The normal theater/distributor box office split is 60/40. Disney is not only flipping the ratio, they're threatening to reduce a theaters' take to just 30% if any of their fussy demands aren't followed to the letter.

FYI, movie theater profit margins are razor thin. That's why concessions are so expensive. The extra 5-10% of box office that Disney is gouging them for could put some theaters in the red.

Even worse is the requirement for each exhibitor to show The Last Jedi on their largest screens for a solid month. Theater operators have a formula that estimates their profits from exhibiting a particular movie based on screen square footage--to spare you a bunch of dry math, bigger auditoriums cost more to operate.

That's why a major new release will start its run on a house's biggest screens. If the theater is a modern multiplex, they'll debut a lesser hit on two screens. Major tent pole blockbusters open on three or four. After two weeks, most films get demoted to smaller, and a smaller number of, screens--usually half the number they opened on.

Theaters get new movies in each week. They need a steady turnover rate to free up their premiere screens for newer movies, which almost always translates to "more profitable". On average, showing the new Maze Runner sequel will be a more profitable use of theaters' biggest screens than continuing to exhibit a month-old Star Wars movie in the same auditoriums.

Because Disney's shakedown creates a perfect storm of a) historically low box office cuts for theaters, b) locking those historically low percentages onto their biggest screens for double the normal duration, c) keeping more profitable new releases from showing on the best screens, and d) increasing costs, it's no wonder that some theaters are refusing to exhibit The Last Jedi.

Well, the joke's on Disney, at least at my old theater where the biggest auditorium is haunted.

But wait, exhibitors aren't the only people Disney's managed to piss off. Thanks to the Mouse's tin-eared snubbing of the L.A. Times, several prominent movie review outfits are boycotting The Last Jedi.

Note to Disney: you're not invincible. When you've lost natural allies like The L.A. Times, The Washington Post, The A.V. Club, and Flavorwire, the cracks in your armor are showing.

I've been predicting that the upcoming Han Solo debacle movie will begin the Star Wars franchise's collapse. I may have to revise my timetable. In light of the fact that Disney is being hamfisted enough to shake down exhibitors and alienate the entertainment press, The Last Jedi may mark the beginning of the end for Star Wars.
"Does what Star Wars should be doing, but isn't"

2017/11/06

Thor Ragnarok

Goldblum Ragnarok

On the latest episode of Geek Gab, we discuss three new movies, including the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor: Ragnarok.

Have a listen!


I also have an announcement for Geek Gab listeners. My "watch it burn and bring marshmallows" position on the collapse of Hollywood is no secret to frequent readers of this blog. This well-deserved contempt for Hollywood has led me to severely reduce my consumption of new releases, and with the industry doubling down, I may end up not seeing any new movies at all for the indefinite future.

The format of Geek Gab Prime has found its groove as a new Hollywood release review show. I'm not questioning this development. The other hosts and the audience enjoy it. However, as the one guy on a movie review podcast who doesn't watch new movies, the insights and entertainment value I can bring to the table are limited.

More to the point, my evolving understanding of the indie publishing industry has led me to realize that my writing output must increase if I am to succeed in the new publishing landscape. I've been making strides toward that end, but my increased writing and editing workload now leave me little time for anything else, including, sadly, regular podcasting.

It is with a heavy and grateful heart that I announce my retirement as a host of Geek Gab, effective immediately. Daddy Warpig and Dorrinal have been informed and have accepted my resignation with class and professionalism. I'm sure they'll rise to new heights, and I'll be there cheering them on from the audience.

Thank you, Daddy Warpig and Dorrinal, for a fun and horizon-expanding journey! We traveled this road together for almost three years, and I'm eternally grateful you invited me along.

To everyone reading out there, be sure to keep catching Geek Gab Prime every week and Dorrinal's Geek Gab Game Night specials.

On the bright side, this means you'll also be getting more stories from me. On that front, The Ophian Rising, Soul Cycle Book IV is rapidly nearing completion. Subscribers to my newsletter can expect some special surprises in the coming days.

If you haven't read the first three Soul Cycle books, there's still time to catch up on my award-winning SFF series before the final book comes out.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

2017/11/03

It's Himmmmm

Him

Yesterday I had one of those eureka moments that was once sole the province of dedicated conspiracy theorists with walls covered in red twine, but which the internet now makes available to all and sundry.

In the course of my daily web rounds, I stumbled upon a new blog--new to me, anyway--that's part entertainment industry gossip rag and part Hollywood corruption whistle blower site. The blog, Crazy Days and Nights, has been running since 2006, and the writers are prolific.

Between celebrity photos and tabloid micro-posts, you find gut-wrenching exposes like this one. The bloggers never name names, but they give you enough clues that a quick IMDb search is usually enough to ID the accused.

It's natural to be skeptical about an anonymous web site that claims to have the deepest, darkest, filthiest dirt on A list celebrities. I'd affirm that such skepticism is healthy. But in this case there's a twist that may lend Crazy Days and Nights an extra measure of credibility.

Almost all of the content on the site is posted under two main accounts. The main account holder, who is also the blog's proprietor, claims to be an entertainment lawyer. This account is responsible for 90% of the posts. The other 10% are credited to an account known only as Himmmm.

The Himmmm posts are the diamonds buried in the Hollywood dirt unearthed at Crazy Days and Nights. They're alleged to be written by a major player within the film industry who often provides firsthand exposes of the scummiest enormities imaginable, including the sexual abuse of minors by name celebrities.

"So what?" You might ask. "Any dog at a keyboard could claim to be a Hollywood insider blowing the whistle on assault, financial scams, and pedo rings. Why give any more credence to Himmmm?"

Fair question. And there's no definite answer. However, enticing hints have surfaced from certain quarters that have, shall we say, a reputation for infallibility.

Himmmm1

In case the above image is too hard to see, here's a Reddit thread linked from the /pol/ discussion.

Himmmm2

Again, these forum threads could rightly be seen as kicking the can a little farther down the road. By themselves, they're hearsay at best.

Now let's take a look at a Himmmm post, hear what he has to say for himself, and see if we can connect some dots with more solid lines.
Let's rewind the clock to the early aughts in this century when my own personal and professional lives intersected on a single project with friends.  A foreign-born director (who has done about three projects in the past decade after working on one blockbuster after another as a cinematographer) was fairly new to the job with only a couple of films he directed and he really wanted to make a good impression.  He'd been the Director of Photography for major action movies and dramas for many years, and worked with the biggest s**itheels and pricks in the biz.  He was probably the best cinematographer in the biz and he was a total pro, and a real gentleman, and loved by everyone including this demanding prima donna (Permanent A list singer/actress who is an Academy Award winner/nominee in more than one category) who said he was the only one who could light and shoot her correctly.  He didn't care, he just wanted to be a successful director.  Most of all? He wanted to be a nice guy – and he always was.
I had met the director on another project for the same studio in 1998 (A sequel to a huge hit which had been based on a television show) and more than working together, we enjoyed being friends.  As it happened, the director's manager was also my manager at the time (you will have better luck guessing him as the producer of a movie which stars an original friend of the site, a permanent A list singer who would kill to be a movie star and that foreign born actor everyone loves) and I got to know the director pretty well.  The director and I shared a love for the same old movies, cars, and yummy wine. Boxes, bags, or bottles didn't matter. We weren't snobs.  The manager was helping steer the director into his full time directing career and out of being a D.P.  So the manager was also Fourth-Executive-Uncredited-Associate Producer on their newest upcoming movie project (action movie with a pretty good cast and a multiple mug shot taker). In other words the manager was there doing nothing but hanging out with the director.  This movie was one of several directed under the Warner Bros. Studios deal of a major big Producer (permanent A+ list producer who has not had his name in the trades regarding any sexual harassment) who basically gave them the keys and let them run with the project (as long as it was profitable).  It would also turn out to be the first film where I'd make several important life-long relationships, including one lady who was cutting her teeth as a Third-Associate-Executive Producer on this project for the big producer (The wife of someone we all initialize and adore on the site). 
Following the trail of breadcrumbs, there were only two movies from 1998 that were sequels to TV show properties. One was the sequel to The Odd Couple, which could never be called "a huge hit".

The other was U.S. Marshals, the follow up to 1993's smash hit The Fugitive.

U.S. Marshals co-starred Robert Downey Jr.

It gets better. The cinematographer on U.S. Marshals was Andrzej Bartkowiak. He originally hails from Poland, has been an accomplished DP on acclaimed action films and dramas since the 70s, made the move to director in the early 2000s, and was divorced at the time, just as Himmmm said.

Bartkowiak perfectly fits every detail of the squeamish director in Himmmm's story.

The theory hits a snag when you notice that IMDb doesn't list RDJ as having worked on any of Bartkowiak's early 2000's films. But that's not a deal-breaker since Himmmm mentions going uncredited in the story.

Iron Man
Is Robert Downey Jr. the anonymous blogger--or one of the anonymous bloggers--known as Himmm?

Who knows? But with the way the wind is blowing in Hollywood of late, it wouldn't be too much of a surprise to see RDJ testifying before a grand jury or two against the scumbags who've made Tinseltown their debauched playground for far too long.

2017/11/02

A Deal They Can't Refuse


Bradford Walker offers some sound advice to media conglomerates who are overzealous about guarding their IPs.
Yesterday I posted Razorfist's recreation of a lost episode of The Shadow radio show. In the video, he mentions that he's gotten nastygrams from the IP owner, Conde Nast. The now-infamous Axanar incident shows another IP-related fiasco that, while legal, was neither good optics nor good Public Relations. This isn't new; it's common enough that several such stories a year come up in fan communities online.
The problem is clear: the actions taken, while legal, have long-term consequences that damage the brand. Why? Because the actions attack the core audience of the brand, those who are often most enthusiastic and often (for brand with multi-generational appeal) are the cohort recruited to professional ranks to replace retiring original professionals and keep the brand a relevant concern.
My loyal readers will recall that I recently wrote a post urging authors to control their IPs. You might think that stance puts me at odds with Bradford, but our positions are in fact complimentary. To put it another way, they're two sides of the same coin.

Both Bradford and I are talking about brand management. My post dealt with knowing that you, the author, are the brand, knowing the value of your brand's IPs, and not giving away the farm when a third party seeks to license or buy those IPs.

Bradford is warning IP holders against going to the other extreme: exerting such tightfisted control over your intellectual property that you do serious damage to your brand via the Streisand Effect.

How to find a happy medium? Bradford has a plan.
The smart thing to do when high-quality fan productions arise is not to shut them down. It's to give them an honorable offer that they can't refuse: authentication. In the case of Axanar, the smart move would've been to give the fan production access to Paramount's distribution network in return for a strict non-profit policy and non-canonical status. In short, an "Elseworlds" status; IP owners are wise to do something like this going forward. Curate the high-production fan works, see which ones will play ball, and sanction them by distributing them. Take away the financial risk to the fans, and keep the proceeds for distributing their work in return for giving them a pass- and an option to buy the work outright under Work For Hire terms.
Imitation is the highest form of flattery. If a fan production turns out a high quality, well-received short film or radio drama set in a Hollywood-owned secondary universe, the IP holders should consider giving them a seat at the table instead of slapping them with C&Ds and DMCA notices.

Judging by the declining quality and performance of the big SFF movie franchises these days, Hollywood could use some fresh indie blood to refresh their talent pool.
Yes, IP owners are right to protect their property. That's not disputed. What is disputed is the methods, as they are deleterious to the health of their property in the long-term. Star Wars, Star Trek, and many other popular properties suffer from incompetent or malevolent management. Others, such as The Shadow, suffers from such management as well as neglect- and yet have the same stupid-level of punitive enforcement done in the name of protection. For dormant properties, going after high-end fan productions is doubly stupid because they're marketing your property for you FOR FREE!
You fight piracy with pricing and convenience. When it comes to fan homages, "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer" might be a smarter approach for failing Hollywood.

We're still waiting on the first fanfic set in my award-winning and soon-to-be-completed Soul Cycle. In the meantime, the original books are already better than anything the big New York publishers and dying Hollywood studios are peddling these days. Check them out!

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

2017/11/01

Shadow of the Past

Rabble-rousing raconteur, shades-bedecked sage, and pulp aficionado Razörfist presents for our listening pleasure a lovingly staged recreation of a lost episode of The Shadow radio program. This classic installment features Orson Welles' third-ever turn as the titular hero.

This production also marks the final performance of Razör's friend and cast mate Emer Prevost. Eternal memory!


And because episodes of The Shadow are the potato chips of classic radio drama, here's another Razörfist production, this time of a formerly lost episode that originally aired back in 1944.