2018/08/15

Sky King

Sky King

By now many of you will have heard the strange and tragic tale of Rich Russell, the Horizon Air baggage handler who perished after taking a stolen Bombardier Q400 for a joyride on Friday. He's gone now, leaving behind a bewildered wife and family, but the internet has dubbed him the Sky King.

In this post-9/11 world, Rich's story is noteworthy in large part because the only life lost on his misadventure was his own. But Sky King's last flight has lodged itself in the public consciousness due to the manifold mysteries surrounding the case. They still haven't figured out how Rich, a ground services worker making minimum wage, managed to steal a 76-seat passenger aircraft by himself. Never mind the matter of how a man with no known pilot training pulled off a barrel roll in a commercial prop plane.


Rich credited his piloting skills to video games. Airlines could probably save on training by picking up that simulator.

Listen to the audio of Rich's conversation with air traffic control, and you get the impression of an affable, goofy guy with poor impulse control. We've seen enough hijackings to know this was not a guy with an axe to grind out to make a statement. Ideologues with martyr complexes always make sure the world knows the motive for their deadly theatrics. Rich didn't leave a manifesto. No sinister agenda has surfaced in his wake. Friends and family all agree he was the original guy next door.

Rich Russell

That's not to say there was no reason for Rich's theft and crashing of his employers' plane. We live in a universe of cause and effect, and "randomness" is just statistical shorthand for "We don't know why," not "There is no why."

This clip of Rich's chat with the control tower contains a chilling hint at, if not his motive, at least one of the forces that influenced his suicide by joyride. Listen for yourself. What stands out?


One of Rich's comments that sent up red flags with many listeners, and which is extra conspicuous due to the mainstream media's deafening silence on it, occurred during this exchange at 2:47:

Nah, I'm a white guy

Most reports are calling Rich a Millennial. However, all list his age as 29 years old, which actually places him at the tail end of Generation Y.

Rich was born at the close of the 80s. He was old enough to have had memories of the real America's last days. He would have been 12 when 9/11 happened.

It's come to light that Rich and his wife owned a bakery for three years. Someone else has since taken over the company. It's unknown why the Russells stopped running their business. All we know is that Rich had been reduced to a minimum-wage employee of a large corporation before he died.

Mourn for Rich Russell. We'll never know exactly what got into his head that fateful evening. We do know he was born in America and died in a strange country--the country the rest of us a now living in.

Some call Sky King a hero. They're wrong. Rich displayed no heroic virtues. In the end, he succumbed to rashness or despair. His final act is not to be praised or imitated.

Sky King does have wisdom to teach us. He may have felt the truth at his fingertips but was unable to grasp it. If an otherwise normal twentysomething American, aware that modern society has failed in its duty to provide the setting wherein he might flourish, can go full GTA on a commercial plane, imagine what the rest of us could do if moved by charity and a thirst for justice instead of despair.

2018/08/14

#GamerGate Hoax?

Conspiracy Theory

A major bombshell was recently dropped on The Ralph Retort's Killstream, where YouTuber Mundane Matt was caught red-handed falsely flagging the channels of other YouTubers who'd criticized him. 

The sordid affair was duly chronicled by internet auriga Mister Metokur. His video serves as a dire warning against eCelebrity hubris.


Executive summary: A number of YouTubers complained of receiving strikes and even having their streaming privileges suspended after publishing videos critical of Matt. The affected accounts ranged from relatively obscure producers to #ComicsGate luminary Ethan Van Sciver.

Matt strongly denied accusations that he'd falsely flagged the videos for hate speech, adult content, and other offenses. He agreed to appear on the Killstream, ostensibly to prove his innocence. The stream took a strange and startling turn when co-host Zidan sent Matt a link whereby he could look up his YouTube flagging history. Matt stalled for fifteen minutes as others on the show and in the chat quickly disclosed their own flagging histories.

Special guest Keemstar, who has accused Matt of falsely blaming him for a 2016 swatting incident, finally ordered Matt to share his YouTube flagging history live on stream. The results proved that Matt had indeed flagged videos he'd denied reporting that same night, including uploads by user Dame Pesos.

#GamerGate Implications

Mundane Matt's fall is tragic enough, but as Mister Metokur has hinted, Matt's two-faced antics may merit a major revision of #GamerGate history.

For those who weren't involved in the infamous consumer revolt, the origins of #GamerGate go back almost exactly four years to a series posts by Eron Gjoni accusing his girlfriend Zoe Quinn of sleeping with five video game developers/journalists. A number of YouTubers produced videos on the scandal, which were pulled due to false DMCA claims.

Actor Adam Baldwin coined the hashtag #GamerGate after viewing a series of videos about the developing controversy by the Internet Aristocrat, AKA Mister Metokur. I.A.'s first Five Guys video opened with Mundane Matt's report that one of his videos had been falsely taken down due to having been falsely flagged by Zoe Quinn.

That incident rapidly precipitated the growth of Matt's channel, his rise to prominence in the new consumer revolt, and his friendship with Adam Baldwin. The following is speculative, yet bears consideration. Given that Matt has now been proven guilty of the same false flagging he accused Zoe Quinn of, and in light of hints arising from the Keemstar affair that Matt may have swatted himself, could the DMCA takedown incident that led I.A.'s video, which in turn inspired Adam Baldwin to create the #GamerGate hashtag, have been a hoax?

Only Mundane Matt and Zoe Quinn know the truth. But one truth that everyone in #GamerGate knows is that the ride never ends.

2018/08/13

Secrets of #AGundam4Us

Combat Frame XSeed Logo

Voice actor and author JimFear138 recently had authors Bradford Walker, Rawle Nyanzi, and myself on his show to talk about #AGundam4Us. If you're curious as to what the hashtag is all about, you get a detailed summary in this episode. In addition, all three of us lay out our plans for our own mecha novel series.

Bonus: I give an exclusive look into the world and technology of Combat Frame XSeed. I think my spiel on the potential military applications of carbyne blew Jim's mind. Get the inside scoop on my upcoming Mecha/Mil-SF series at the link!

And if you haven't backed Bradford Walker's exciting Star Knight Saga yet, the successful Indiegogo campaign has now entered the lightning round. Get on board to get in on the awesome stretch goals!

2018/08/11

Combat Frame Data: CFM-07

CFM-07 Mablung

CFM-07

Technical Data

Model number: CFM-07
Code name: Mablung
Nickname: Mab
Classification: mass production aquatic combat frame
Manufacturer: Seed Corporation
Operator: Systems Overterrestrial Coalition
First deployment: CY 1
Crew: 1 pilot in cockpit in chest
Height: 17.5 meters, 18 meters with fin
Weight: dry weight 48.1 metric tons, full weight 56.0 metric tons
Armor type: carbon nanotube-infused ceramic/titanium composite
Powerplant: cold fusion reactor, max output 922 KW
Propulsion: x4 hydrojets: top speed 40 knots, 180° turn time 1.85 seconds; legs: top ground speed 190 kph
Sensors: Seed Corporation Halo radar/optical target acquisition and identification system mounted under grilled radome "head", supplemental sonar package
Hand armaments: 3 kg railgun, fires saboted steel darts, 20 darts per magazine; heat sword, battery-powered, stored on skirt armor rack

General Notes

Fighting effectively in earth's varying environments posed a challenge to Coalition Security Corps pilots used to the man-made, climate-controlled space colonies. Perhaps the most daunting battlefields to master were the seas that covered seventy percent of the planet's surface.

To help Coalition personnel meet the challenge of conducting maritime warfare, Seed Corporation developed a marine combat frame based on the popular Grenzmark platform. Their ultimate result, the CFM-07 Mablung, was in actuality an aquatic variant of the highly adaptable Grenzmark II, distinguished by its blue paint scheme and fin-shaped crest.

Much more than a cosmetic modification, the Mab traded the Grento's rocket thrusters for hydrojets and expanded its sensor suite with a state-of-the-art sonar system. The Mab's structural integrity was enhanced to endure deep water operation, but its added durability gave the marine CF a marked combat advantage.

In terms of offensive capability, the Mablung was equipped with an entirely new weapons loadout. An advanced railgun capable of firing 3 kg steel darts at hypersonic speeds replaced the Grento machine gun and made up for the missile launcher hardpoints sacrificed for leg-mounted hydrojets. A heat sword representing the final refinement of heat weapon technology rounded out the Mab's standard hand armaments.

Mablungs were deployed in limited numbers in the Great Lakes, off the Pacifica and USNA coasts, and in the Mediterranean and Red seas. Some were even deployed on land to reinforce Grenzmark teams, and the Mabs soon gained a reputation for superior combat performance. Most Mablung pilots were drawn from the ranks of elite Grento squads.

In early tests and at least one documented battle, Mablungs proved capable of holding their own against the Coalition's next generation Ein Dolph combat frames. But the march of progress would not be forestalled, and CSC Director Sanzen officially cancelled Mablung production in the summer of CY 1.


Can't wait for Combat Frame XSeedCheck out my award-winning Soul Cycle!

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

2018/08/10

Gab Is Next

We knew that Infowars wouldn't be the last dissident operation to run afoul of the big tech censors. Mere days after Facebook, Apple, Google, and Soundcloud banned Alex Jones, Microsoft has threatened to shut down free speech absolutist network Gab.

Here's the announcement from Gab co-founder Andrew Torba.

Torba Breaking

Building our own platforms is a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition to bypass the SJW gatekeepers in big tech and the mainstream media. As Gab and a litany of other independent dissenting platforms show, if the tech cartel wants you gone, they'll just exile you from the internet.

The President is well advised to break up the big tech monopolies, or he can wave goodbye to the alternative media that let him make an end run around the Fake News in 2016. It couldn't hurt to contact the White House and your Congressional representatives about busting the trusts.

Meanwhile, at least Gab is making the most of the situation.

Get bent.


Thankfully, Amazon remains the lone island of market-facing sanity in the big tech Sargasso. Support independent creators while you still can. Pick up my Dragon Award-recognized Soul Cycle books.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

2018/08/09

A Detailed Road Map

Road Map

A reader writes:
Say Mr. Niemeier, when you write a multi-book saga like say the Soul Cycle, do you just write it out book by book or do you have a detailed kind of road-map before you put pen to paper?
I answer:

I outline extensively. For the Soul Cycle and XSeed series I filled four spiral notebooks each and gamed out the rough outlines with friends. I do not recommend you do this.

Soul Cycle Outlines

What you want to do is write to market. Think of the book you'd read as a guilty pleasure on a Saturday night alone with a bottle of Scotch and a cigar. What genre is that book in? What similar books which you enjoy are also in that genre?

Head to Amazon. Look up the top 100 selling Kindle books in that genre. Those are the books gobbled up by genre binge readers. Read as many of them as you can. You're reading to find out what your target market likes.

Come up with a story of your own that you'd be excited to tell using the tropes and archetypes which appeal to fans of that genre. If you're an outliner, put together an outline. If you're a discovery writer, hammer out a first draft; then go back and outline to impose order on the chaos. Rewrite. Get beta reader feedback. Rewrite again. Hire an editor. Write the final draft based on his suggestions.

Authors have been trying to take advantage of market trends forever. The glacial pace of legacy publishing made joining the party before the cooler was empty impossible. If you started writing a vampire romance series at the height of Twilight's popularity, readers would have moved on to steampunk before your publisher got it to market. By the time your Victorian air pirate saga debuted, Lit-RPG was the new hotness.

With indie pub, authors' release schedules are limited only by the speed of their own writing, their cover artists' drawing, and their editors' editing. Not only is it possible to take a book from concept to publication in two months, these days it's essential.

Now, the above example is mostly for argument's sake. Though it's possible to chase trends, the better bet is finding large tribes of dedicated binge readers in a genre you love and writing to their tastes.

This is the feat I'll be attempting with Combat Frame XSeed, my upcoming mecha/Mil-SF action series. Indie pub isn't without its trade offs, and two big challenges indie authors face are covering production costs and making do without advances.

That's why indies rely on fostering the reader-author relationship more than ever. Awesome readers like you have shown you're willing to step up and put your hard-earned on the line to back the kinds of stories tradpub refuses to print. Reader-pleasing indie creators have already run successful crowdfunding campaigns to make their visions reality. Soon I'll be calling on my cherished readers to help me bring you books you'll love and can't get anywhere else.

The nihilistic, pessimistic future that tradpub and post-90s anime pushed on us is over. Soon we forge our own vision. #AGundam4Us.

2018/08/08

A Poor Job of Being So

Wherein John Scalzi, the Pauly Shore of Tor Books, demonstrates his practiced innumeracy regarding the Tor Awards Hugo Awards.

h/t to @FuturistDog

A Poor Job of Being So

Gee, I wonder whose book the Tor finalist happens to be.

Best Novel 2018

Oh.

Scalzi is correct in one regard. Tor's fortunes have objectively declined since their pre-Puppies heyday. Between 1986 and 2016, Tor won more than twice as many Best Novel Hugos as the next most-awarded publisher. That's leaving aside the Best Editor - Long Form Award they had created just for Patrick Nielsen Hayden.

The Best Novel Hugo was the Tor Award. Now Scalzi's underperforming Asimov ripoff is offered up as the sacrificial lamb designated to lose to Jemisin.

"But wait," I hear you asking. "Are the CHORFs really so unimaginative as to give a purse puppy slinging writers' workshop prose a Best Novel threepeat?"

If the Oppression Olympics now underway before World Con even convenes are any indication, yes. Yes, they are.

In the meantime, don't forget to vote in the Dragon Awards, the readers' choice award that recognizes normal fandom's favorite works of science fiction and fantasy.

Also, don't forget to check out my Dragon Award-nominated and winning Soul Cycle books.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

Finally, if you'd like to avoid clunky constructions like "...it's doing a poor job of being so," in your books, I now have a limited window of availability to consider new editing projects.

2018/08/07

Requiem for Infowars

Alex Jones - Infowars

The hit against independent broadcaster Alex Jones' Infowars operation orchestrated by Google, Apple, Facebook, Stitcher, and Spotify is rattling quite a few cages on the dissident Right. The whole episode is giving me a mild case of the Mandela Effect, since I thought Jones had been banned since last year.

That goes to show how much attention I paid to Infowars, but that's not the point. I'm all ears now, and so are many people who never gave Jones the time of day before. That's one point among several brought to the fore by big tech's coordinated purge of a citizen journalist. Big tech's ability to purge citizen journalists is another point.

Jones' deplatforming is a big deal, and not just because his show reached millions of people. His politics are rather mild when you peel back the conspiracy fodder. The combination of civic nationalism and free market economics I've heard him promote is pretty standard BoomerCon fare.If you want to explain Infowars' ban to your parents, ask them to imagine if the big three broadcast networks had teamed up to get Rush Limbaugh kicked off the air in August of '92. The cultural and political implications are similar but with the stakes turned up to eleven.

As with most turns of the culture war, reactions to Jones' unpersoning often say more about the commenter than they say about the event. Fake News hucksters from CNN programming directors to J-school grads at Slate getting paid in exposure are tasting blood in the water and circling the wreckage. Alt-Right types are busy saying "I told you so." The Alt-Lite has declared big tech's purge of Jones an attack on free speech.

The free speech rhetoric in particular is mostly abstract sloganeering. Google, Apple, and Facebook didn't set out to destroy free speech. Not directly. Besides, you can't destroy what doesn't exist in the first place. Big tech had a concrete purpose in mind when it brought the hammer down on Infowars. Precisely what their purpose was remains the subject of speculation, but some intriguing theories are floating around.

First, and in keeping with the anti-speech angle, is the observation that silencing Alex Jones sends a clear message to those big tech considers potential threats. The citizen journalists, freelance gadflies, and dissident pranksters that haunt YouTube and Facebook are now on notice. If they can take down Infowars, they can take down anybody.

Ratcheting up the political intrigue, some are accusing the tech giants of trying to rig the upcoming midterms. Alternative media is widely credited for delivering the 2016 election to Trump, so this theory holds some water.

Deeper down the rabbit hole, we find folks who are convinced the Left are taking out some kind of ex post facto revenge against Jones for the 2016 election. This theory has merit when you consider that the Left is a death cult totally invested in immanentizing the eschaton. Big tech and the Fake News promised the Left that Obama was their messiah and a shiny utopia was just over the horizon. Hillary was supposed to have cemented the strides made during the Obama years. Her loss had a similar effect on the American Left as getting nuked and hearing the emperor renounce his divinity had on the Japanese, minus the high IQs and strong sense of national confidence. Trump appeared on Infowars during the campaign, so what we're seeing might be the Left's equivalent of burning a witch at the stake.

I don't discount that the first three explanations probably influenced big tech's decision to take out Jones. I happened upon another possible factor the other day. The news cycle moves fast, so people are already forgetting about Trump's tweet calling Twitter out for shadowbanning conservatives. In a video from July 26, the same day Trump sent his tweet, Jones claimed that he and his staff prepared a comprehensive report on social media censorship against conservatives. The report was allegedly given to Congressman Matt Gaetz, who Jones accused of misrepresented its findings. However, he also claimed the report made its way to the President himself.


Google and Facebook have already gotten themselves in hot water over their shady business practices. The President promising an investigation into another social media giant is the last thing they need.

Consider the fact that Twitter is playing the role of the dog that didn't bark. Twitter and Amazon are the only two big tech players that haven't banned Jones. Occam's Razor explains Amazon's avoidance of the whole mess. They're still primarily interested in turning a profit, so banning Jones' books wouldn't benefit them. As for Twitter, the matter of why the ban-happiest social network on earth, which employs a cadre of purple-haired cat ladies to select conservatives for random suspensions, didn't jump on the bandwagon is a curious question, indeed.

Could Twitter's conspicuous absence from the Infowars dogpile be tacit confirmation that Jones' report is at least partly responsible for Trump turning up the heat on Twitter? Even Jack Dorsey has to realize that banning Jones under those circumstances would throw his company from the frying pan and into the fire. What if Jack decided to get even by proxy and called in some favors with the other tech outfits?

However we got here, where we're currently at is a place where rootless megacorps run by autistic sociopaths can band together on a whim to ruin law-abiding private citizens. The ball is now in Trump's court, and that means antitrust and RICO charges.

It had better, because the Left's endgame is making all news the sole domain of the legacy media once again. If big tech have their way, we'll all be getting our news exclusively from network anchors and a handful of newspapers propped up by said tech oligarchs and Mexican billionaires. In short, big tech wants to turn us all into Boomers when it comes to the news, but in the Millennials' case, without the condos and 401(k)s.

2018/08/06

Combat Frame Data: CCF-09V

CCF-09V Veillantif

CCF-90V Veillantif

Technical Data

Model number: CCF-09V
Code name: N/A
Nickname: Veillantif
Classification: custom close combat high mobility combat frame
Manufacturer: Zeklov Corporation
Operator: Nouvelle France
First deployment: CY -2
Crew: 1 pilot in cockpit in chest
Height: Head height 18 meters, height with wings: 19 meters
Weight: 60 metric tons
Armor type: palladium glass microalloy/carbon ceramic composite
Powerplant: cold fusion reactor, max output 1842 KW
Propulsion: rocket thrusters: 2x 73,543 kg, 4x 18,391 kg thrust each, top speed 2700 kph; maneuvering thrusters: 17, 180° turn time 0.85 seconds; legs: top ground speed 205 kph
Sensors: radar, thermal, sonar, optical array; main binocular cameras mounted in head
Fixed Armaments: x2 heat wing, mounted on back
Hand armaments: heat rapier, battery-powered, hand-carried in use; shield, attaches to left forearm, mounts retractable heat whip, powered by main generator

General Notes

The people of earth fought a series of long and bloody conflicts to restore their ancestral nation-states after the Collapse. Their hard-won gains were soon threatened by returning space colonists who brought powerful combat frames to earth.

To oppose the bid for global hegemony launched by the Systems Overterrestrial Coalition, some among the leaders of earth's new nations sought to acquire their own combat frames. The largest combat frame provider to earth's native rulers was Zeklov Corporation, an arms manufacturing company based somewhere in the wilds of Holy Russia.

Zeklov quickly gained a reputation for producing high-end customized combat frames to their discerning clients' specifications. Additional services included luxury aircraft, armored cars, and even personal arms for VIPs' bodyguards. Unlike the rival Seed Corporation, Zeklov strove to add a touch of style to each and every one of their products.

This high quality craftsmanship and attention to detail attracted the royal family of Nouvelle France, House du Lione. The dueling combat frame Veillantif was commissioned for crown prince Jean Claude Baptiste when the Dauphin attained majority at age sixteen. Branded by the Coalition as warlords illegally presiding over a rogue state, Jean-Claude's parents were killed resisting SOC occupation before they could present their final gift. Zeklov delivered Veillantif to the exiled prince with his sincere sympathies. Jean-Claude bided his time, awaiting the day when he would return astride Veillantif to reclaim his people's homeland.

Veillantif was designed for dueling instead of conventional warfare. As per Jean-Claude's personal preferences, it carried no ranged weapons, relying instead on a heat rapier and a small shield mounting a retractable heat whip. The whip was composed of numerous metal segments topped with razor sharp hooked barbs ideal for trapping and disarming foes. Its entire length could be superheated with energy from Veillantif's reactor, enabling it to slice through heavy armor.

Perhaps Veillantif's most noteworthy feature was the pair of serrated wings mounted on its back. Those who mistook the wings for mere ornaments did so to their peril. Not only did the wings help stabilize Veillantif in flight, their outer edges were lined with saw-toothed chains made of the same barbed segments as the combat frame's heat whip. Likewise superheated by the CF's reactor, the wings' cutting edges circulated at extremely high speeds, further enhancing their cutting power.

Though it lacked ranged weapons, Veillantif made up for this design choice with a powerful array of drive and maneuvering thrusters fed by one of the most powerful CF generators yet produced on earth. This combination made Veillantif one of the fastest and most agile combat frames fielded during the conflict of CY 1. It remained the second fastest CF in service, surpassed only by Zane Dellister's Dead Drop, until the advent of the XSeed.


Combat Frame XSeed is coming soon! In the meantime, pick up the Dragon Award-worthy Soul Cycle!

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

2018/08/04

No Quartering Given

The Quartering attacked

Jeremy Hambly, the popular host of YouTube nerd culture channel The Quartering, was assaulted in the wee hours of Thursday morning at an Indianapolis bar while in town attending Gen Con. According to Hambly, a man in a sleeveless rainbow tee shirt approached him, asked his name, and proceeded to repeatedly punch him in the face when given confirmation.

Amateur investigators have identified Matt Loter, a game store owner and fan of Gen Con guest/con artist Anita Sarkeesian, as Hambly's attacker. Archived tweets from Loter's now locked Twitter account appear to confirm that he was spoiling for a fight.

Prettiest Matt
Not so easy to find now that he's wanted for assault.
In a move that should have surprised no one, Gen Con responded to calls that Loter be removed under a policy that lists committing crimes as a bannable offense by censoring users on its Twitch stream. Con staff have ignored attendee requests to turn Loter over to police or at least ejected from the premises. As of this writing, he's still on the loose.

Indie comics luminary and fellow YouTuber Ethan Van Sciver started a crowdfunding campaign to pay for a civil suit against Loter on Hambly's behalf. The legal fund met its goal on the first day.

Loter's pummeling of Hambly is the kind of incident that shocks normies but that folks on the dissident Right have been warning about for a couple of years now. Centrists who still embrace the label exhibit a strange form of amnesia regarding political violence. Show them the latest public assault on someone to the right of Mao perpetrated by a deranged Lefty, explain why such incidents will occur again with greater frequency, and they gravely nod, only to be completely blindsided by the next attack. It's looking more and more like being a centrist is caused by some kind of learning disability.

There's an irony to centrist amnesia that bears directly on the topic at hand. Mere days before his encounter with a frenzied SJW's fist, The Quartering posted a video opposing the firing of child rape joke aficionado and ex-Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn.


For those who are just tuning in, Hambly gained notoriety for sounding the alarm on Wizards of the Coast's failure to screen out registered sex offenders from the volunteer rolls at their Magic: The Gathering tournaments. Wizards responded by punting Hambly to the curb.

Hambly intimated in his James Gunn video that he wants to go back to a world where web trawlers don't dig through their ideological enemies' social media histories in search of compromising dirt. A valid counterpoint is that the damned want ice water. I'd like to live in a world where guys like Hambly can discuss their differences with guys like Loter without getting socked in the jaw. Sadly, the Left brought violence into play and thereby changed the game.

It doesn't take a strategic genius to understand what happens to guys who cling to the old rule book while people who want them disemployed or dead play by new rules. If Hambly's unfortunate beating teaches us anything, it's that playing fair with the other side gets you precisely nowhere. Making excuses for James Gunn earned The Quartering no sympathy from the Lefties who've rushed to Gunn's defense.

There is one way back to a world where your politics and decade-old tweets won't get you fired or punched. Getting there requires beating the Left at their own game. Punching back twice as hard, Chicago rules, whatever it takes to make them a ridiculed minority with no remaining trace of social influence or political power.

Update from the comments:
Wizards banned Hambly over his trolling of an MtG cosplayer. Which they should not have done -- it was a standard SJW "how dare you say something mean about a poor defenseless woman, you horrible patriarchal white guy!" -- but that was the reason.
He dug up the info on sex-offenders afterward.

Perhaps Hambly does understand the necessity of reprisals after all.

2018/08/03

Star Knight on the Killstream

OG #GamerGater Ethan Ralph was gracious enough to have Star Knight author Bradford Walker on his Killstream show last night. Bradford explained his lofty and worthy goals for his upcoming space opera-mecha series, and he even gave a shout out to yours truly.

Bradford's segment begins at 02:34:05 and runs till roughly 02:42:00. As always when listening to shitlords like Ralph and his panelists, beware of NSFW language.


The Star Knight Saga sounds like just what we need to rehabilitate the flagging space opera genre. Thanks to your generous support, the first book, Reavers of the Void is already 80% funded. Haven't supported Star Knight yet? Become a backer so Mr. Walker can unlock those secret stretch goals he's been tantalizing us with!

2018/08/02

Sunsoft, Famicom, and the NES

Sunsoft Batman

@Thundersteel81 passes along this AMA by a former VP of Product Development at legendary third party NES game developer Sunsoft.
My name is David Siller and I was for four years VP of Product Development for Sun Denshi in the US also known as SUNSOFT. 
I will try to answer any questions as well as tell accounts of what Sunsoft was doing back in the Famicom/NES era. I will tell as accurate an account as I can, keeping in mind that I am still under "non-disclosure" and still in communication with them. I will must also say that of all the video game companies that I worked for, Sunsoft was the best. I enjoyed my time there and was sad to see a new President channel away their resources into a golf course that never happened! There may be some interviews on the Internet with other people that do not necessarily tell a true account of what was going on there at that time.
With the introductions out of the way, we dig into the real dirt.
The reason that Gimmick and Ufouria, among others were not released is a problem that is as old as the Game Industry. 
I believed in both of these games, especially Gimmick, but management often does NOT listen to those who know what the true market wants. Rather, management listen to their "sales" staff who in turn are influenced by the "reps" who talk directly to the store "buyers". The store buyers are often people who know very little (or nothing) about the product and they study the sales reports that tell them what is selling (last week) and they then arrogantly tell the reps what they want, which is often the "new" stuff. They seem to forget that an installed base of millions is better to support when new hardware comes out, but they still want the early hardware adopters dollars, believing that to be a safe bet. Later, or late in the Christmas selling season they suddenly want the "old" stuff because that what the shoppers are buying and they don't have enough stock! They forget that as of that point, there are zero consoles of the new one yet in the hands of consumers and leave for dead the millions that are supporting the older console yet. It is a vicious cycle that is repeated every time a new hardware comes to the market. The blind leading the blind. The end result is that newer projects on the old console are cancelled and they now want shovelware to sell to the unsuspecting consumers. Usually the new console software is not that effectively made.
The irony is that by that point, we developers have found new and more clever ways of extracting great software from the older console but those games will never be made...! In the case of NES/famicom, developers have invented newer chips to add to the original specifications and therefore produce better games (that will never be seen or played).
It's not a Sunsoft game, but Metal Storm is the perfect example of the impressive performance smart programmers could squeeze out of the NES at the end of its life cycle.

"Blaster Master" was a HIT in the US more so than in Japan because at that time US players wanted a newer or better action game experience. Japanese players were still into the "me too" syndrome or games that were similar to popular games but a little different. Also RPG's started to dominate in Japan as early action games were too tough for the mass appeal audience. Regarding "Blaster Master" it wasn't the marketing in the US that succeed, as that only helps make customers aware of what is out there. The proof was in playing a game with some depth and unique features that other games didn't have. 
In Japan, the earlier Sunsoft games were popular because the themes were more to the liking of that culture, farmers - fantasy heroes, etc... They were simpler to play and understand for children playing in a dark bedroom while kneeing in front of their small TV's. Most companies outside of Namco and Konami would always "short" the market to insure sell through. Japan companies do not like to have any left stock, not even one!
It is always that games are not treasured when they come out, only years later when they are better understood. Then, because there is only a short stock they become rare and more valuable. The Industry retail market in Japan was also a tough sell and they didn't automatically accept or distribute every new game product. That was due to so many games being released and they could not afford big stocks of all of them until they were somewhat proven. Even then, it was time to move on to the next one and although some games were popular and out of stock, it would take months before more were available. This was due to the large lead times of mask ROM's.
Sunsoft of America US management did not even support "Hebereke/Ufouria" or "Gimmick" although I believed that both could find an audience. The characters were deemed too strange or quirky compared to the Disney/Warner Bros. world of cartoons. I believed that they would fly because consumers really don't know what they want until you present it to them. That is the mother of invention!
Lastly, in later eras staff would depart for more money somewhere else and more rookie development teams would take over. That is why quality could not be maintained as the Industry evolved.
Quick aside: The Japanese proclivity for risk-aversion leading to endless slight variations on familiar themes is exactly the kind of artistic stagnation #AGundam4Us was founded to counteract.
Every company decides what to do and where to sell their "licensed" stuff and some would sell anywhere they could so they could recoup the development costs to cover the license fees. Not all were successful even when offered in Japan.
I can't say why Sunsoft bought the "Addams Family" license as that happened at least two years before my time there, but a Director at Sunsoft, Rita Zimmerer, was hell bent to license everything she could and spent the money to do it. That is why she was fired when they could no longer tolerate that agenda.
That story could have been ripped from today's headlines, but it's from the early 90s. The more things change...
Rita Zimmerer got fired because she was over zealous about spending or committing Sunsoft dollars for worthless licenses! 
She fancied herself as one of the most powerful women in the Industry and she was out-of-control, so the enviable happened. She thought that everything good that happened at Sunsoft was because of her. After Sunsoft she claimed that she was the "development" guru that created "Aero the Acrobat" and everything else. She got several jobs in development but soon lost them because she could not do what she said she had done. Caused me a lot of grief. In the beginning she was tolerable, but it all went to her head and she did a lot of things that pissed everyone at Sunsoft off. 
Some lessons have a steeper learning curve than others.



Nethereal - Brian Niemeier

2018/08/01

Building Institutions

The following is my response to a reader who raised a number of thought-provoking questions prompted by yesterday's post. I thought it merited a post of its own.


Building institutions is what the Right does. The Left is incapable of building anything. That's why they only ever parasitize existing institutions. Most of the individualists and free market fanatics espousing the "Every man for himself" attitude are in fact Conservatives, whose ideological roots can be traced directly back to the Left.

What's gone unsaid in the current discussion is that an institution isn't necessarily a big building downtown with the company name in shiny letters over the door. The family is an institution. Christmas is an institution. Your D&D game that's been running weekly for ten years is an institution.

Institutions exist to serve people. If enough people believe a particular institution is of benefit to them, they'll give their time, treasure, and talent for it. Marvel, DC, and tradpub failed as institutions because they stopped providing value and thereby stopped justifying their existence.

Now, I just gave people with blind faith in the free market a hard time. But there's a difference between worshiping the market like an Aztec god and recognizing market forces as phenomena that emerge from the daily operations of human nature. Pursuing individual success in comics or SFF publishing and building something lasting aren't mutually exclusive. Marvel and DC were founded by entrepreneurs whose products attracted enough customers to make an enduring cultural impact.

Creating a lasting institution is a black swan event. Only God knows how to do it on purpose, and anyone else who tries finds himself in a situation akin to meticulously planning a party to recreate the fun and camaraderie of a bash that happened spontaneously the week before. You can't catch lightning in a bottle. You can only try to create favorable conditions and hope for the best.

That said, a quick look around the cultural landscape shows that new institutions are, in fact, emerging. #GamerGate looks to have the necessary staying power as it keeps dying and rising again. The Dragon Awards have already overtaken the Hugos. Galaxy's Edge is bringing on new writers to continue the story. The guys in #ComicsGate are seriously discussing forming their own publisher. God's mill grinds slow but fine.

As for people still believing the Left's propaganda, that problem is busily sorting itself out. Tradpub isn't in the storytelling business. They're in the lumber business. Their business model relies on their paper distribution monopoly, of which Barnes & Noble is the last vestige. B&N has had one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel since they fired most of their receiving managers. When B&N dies, it will take most of tradpub with it, and no one's beliefs to the contrary will matter.


Take part in helping to build and sustain the new publishing industry. Support The Star Knight Saga: Reavers of the Void by author Bradford Walker today!

2018/07/31

We Are the Industry

Cyberfrog 500k

The gatekeepers of legacy print and comic book publishing have a habit of referring to themselves as "the Industry". Claiming that exclusive label may have been justified when the only alternatives were underground comics Xeroxed at the library or vanity presses. That claim started to sound disingenuous with the explosion of web comics and the launch of the Kindle. Even if indies only had a small share of the market, it was by definition more than nothing, which made them part of the industry.

Now that indie authors outnumber their tradpub counterparts, sell most of the eBooks, and earn most of the royalties, Tradpub calling itself "the Industry" to the exclusion of indie sounds about as sane as claiming to be Abraham Lincoln. Corresponding to reality isn't the point, though. The Marie Antoinette  act is about reassuring their fellow travelers that the Big Two and the Big Five are still in control.

To the SJW artists and editors in New York, everything is a power play. They can look down their noses at indies who out-earn them because from the gatekeepers' point of view, money is just one metric of social capital. They care more about wielding the power to influence what your kids think. Because they're cargo cultists, folks like Mark Waid and Teresa Nielsen Hayden believe that telling each other they're prestigious really gives them prestige.

What blue bloods generations removed from the grunt work of making a profit forget is the old truism that money talks. If your business is selling to readers, declining sales mean fewer people are listening to you. In a relatively free market, money corresponds directly to mindshare.

Consider the recently concluded crowd funding campaign former DC Comics artist Ethan Van Sciver held for his indie comic Cyberfrog. EVS is a Trump supporter who was harangued into leaving DC by SJW fanatics who crowed that he'd never work in the Industry again. He went out and raised over $500,000 from folks the Big Two had cast out as unclean. Thanks to those disaffected readers, a formerly obscure title from the 90s is playing at the same level as flagship books like Batman and X-Men.

What a coup like this should tell the smarter DC and Marvel aristocrats is that they rule over a shrinking gated fiefdom that's daily surrounded by more and more ex-customers who are seeking entertainment elsewhere. The comics SJWs aren't having conniptions over lost revenues. They're beside themselves with fear over lost influence.

Take the recent cannibal feeding frenzy among the SF SJWs at World Con. People with confidence in their control over an industry don't fall apart at the seams when someone publishers an author bio using correct English pronouns. The hard data show that guys like Jason Anspach and Nick Cole are gaining market and mind share at John Scalzi's expense. Nobody's heard of this year's Hugo nominees. Meanwhile, indie authors are winning Dragon Awards voted on by twice as many readers.

The comics and SFF publishing gatekeepers have been disintermediated, and the industries democratized. Amazon and Indiegogo are doing what the old guard haven't been able to do in a dog's age: take a new talent from the proverbial slush pile to the A list. The cultural implications are staggering. SJWs converged comics and SFF publishing. Now, for the first time, we've taken their ill-gotten spoils back from them.

Comics and science fiction are back where they belong: in the customers' hands.

Help up-and-coming creators put more fun stories in your hands. Support The Star Knight Saga: Reavers of the Void by author Bradford Walker today!

2018/07/30

Combat Frame Data: XCF-08D-1


XCF-08D-1 Dead Drop
  
XCF-08D-1 Dead Drop

Technical Data

Model number: XCF-08D-1
Code name: N/A
Nickname: Dead Drop
Classification: custom energy weapon optimized high mobility combat frame
Manufacturer: Zane Dellister
Operator: Zane Dellister
First deployment: CY 1
Crew: 1 pilot in cockpit in chest
Height: 18 meters
Weight: 50 metric tons
Armor type: palladium glass microalloy/aeorgraphene/ceramic composite
Powerplant: cold fusion reactor, max output 2150 KW
Propulsion: rocket thrusters: 4x 41,665 kg, 4x 20,835 kg; top speed 3672 kph; maneuvering thrusters: 16, 180° turn time 0.80 seconds; legs: top ground speed 200 kph
Sensors: radar, thermal, optical array; main binocular cameras mounted behind visor in head
Fixed armaments: 1.5 MW plasma cannon in retractable mount on left forearm, barrel detaches to form plasma sword, hand-carried in use

General Notes

The combat frame is said to have been invented when Tesla Browning bolted a Vulcan cannon to a bipedal work frame. The same basic combination of conventional technologies continued down the course of CF evolution to the military-grade units fielded by the Coalition Security Corps. Browning realized that his initial combat frame concept had evolved to a dead end with the versatile but staid CF-06 Grenzmark II, and he began a restless search for a breakthrough.

Inspiration struck out of the blue sky in early CY 1 when Coalition pilot Zane Dellister was apprehended in a Chicago warehouse after having been AWOL for months. Along with Dellister, CSC personnel found a black combat frame of unknown design. The prisoner was remanded to the Lakeshore Neurological Wellness Institute for treatment of numerous personality and neurotic disorders. Meanwhile, the confiscated combat frame was transferred to Browning’s lab at the nearby Seed Corporation factory.

Browning’s study of the strange black combat frame yielded shocking results. Based on structural analysis and Dellister’s own claims, it was determined that the patient had constructed the custom CF, which he referred to as Dead Drop, by himself using parts scavenged from Seed Corp’s factory, CSC equipment depots, and even destroyed enemy units. One of the latter appeared to have been another custom CF built for an officer of the Federated Mid-American States militia by the rival Zeklov Corporation.

The XCF-08D-1, as Browning designated Dead Drop, possessed startlingly advanced capabilities. Its main weaponry consisted of a miniaturized version of the plasma cannons theretofore restricted to capital ships, space stations, and colonies. No existing armor was capable of withstanding a direct hit with a plasma bolt, though Dead Drop’s black composite armor was insulated against the heat and electrical blowback associated with directed energy weapons. Due to its lightweight construction, high-output reactor, and large array of powerful thrusters, Dead Drop rivaled state-of-the-art fighter jets for speed and acceleration.

When CSC Director Sanzen Kaimora learned of Browning’s research into the unprecedented custom combat frame, he ordered Seed Corp to produce a next-generation CF based on advances gleaned from Dead Drop. The result was the CF-014 Ein Dolph, the first mass production energy weapon optimized combat frame. Zane’s escape, and his subsequent discovery of the Dolphs, whose existence he took as a personal insult, would have far-ranging repercussions for all concerned.


For more mecha action, support The Star Knight Saga: Reavers of the Void by author Bradford Walker!

2018/07/27

Generational Astrology

astrology

If you frequent social media and dissident blogs, it's hard to escape the phenomenon of people getting woke to generational differences. Much is made of Strauss-Howe generational theory. Some claim they can predict where the country's heading based on the age of the people in charge cross-referenced with the general cultural mood when those leaders came of age.

Some folks take Strauss-Howe to an extreme, as if it were some kind of generational astrology. For my money, the most significant fruit of generational wokeness has been an increased awareness not of where we're going, but of how we got to the point we're at now.

What was the culture like when your dad was coming of age? How much was college tuition when he went for his BA? What was the state of the economy when he applied for his first real job? The rising tendency of people to ask these questions is important because the memory hole is a central feature of the Left's ideology. When your worldview is based on the airy fantasy of progress, it pays to discourage people from thinking about the past, lest unflattering comparisons be made.

Another key windfall of our enhanced generational awareness has been the rediscovery of previously forgotten generations. For some reason nobody talks about, the mass media have a decades-long habit of tagging certain cohorts with ready-made labels, popularizing the term, and suddenly shoving it down the memory hole. Remember the MTV Generation? Sometimes previously unknown generational divisions are identified, as in the case of Generation Jones.

One such discarded generational label is Generation Y. Bear with me as I go into some depth on the subject, because it's the cohort I belong to, so it's the only one I can speak on authoritatively in detail.

"Generation Y" was to go-to label for the children of younger Baby Boomers and the younger siblings of older Gen Xers. I remember hearing the term frequently until the latter half of the 90s, when some Madison Avenue type came up with the buzzword "Millennial". Both tags existed side-by-side for a while, with Millennials understood as the children of older Xers and the younger siblings of Ys.

Then one day, the term "Generation Y" was stricken from the public record. The decision to sunset that label is especially odd considering that everybody calls the generation following the Millennials Gen Z. Then again, we live in a post-literate culture.

The label is gone, but the people it used to describe are still around. Media types don't know what to do with members of the former Gen Y, so they get lumped in with either Gen X or the Millennials depending on that day's coin toss results. The incoherence of this makeshift solution is obvious when you apply a modicum of scrutiny. There are millions of people born between 1979 and 1989 who are nothing like Xers or Millennials.

These differences come to the fore when you consider each generation's besetting vices. Everyone who takes an interest in generational trends knows the stereotypes. The Greats are diligent but emotionally distant. Boomers are inveterate narcissists. Xers are cynical to the point of paralysis. Millennials are developmentally stunted snowflakes.

For those members of Gen Y who are enjoying a chuckle right now, you're not getting off the hook. If my generation can be said to have a general vice, it has to be that we're collectively naive, approaching the point of obliviousness.

There's an explanation for everything. In Gen Y's case, we grew up largely unaware of what was going on because our elders subjected us to a ubiquitous and extended gaslighting campaign. Our childhoods mostly happened in the 80s, which were the eye of a cultural storm that started in the 60s and is now rending Western civilization stone from stone.

Generation Y came up in an era that still had something like a functioning economy. In terms of race relations, America was as close to colorblind as we've ever gotten and are ever likely to get. If you were in second grade ca. 1988, you didn't think anything of hanging out with the black kid in your group. He wasn't a POC or even necessarily an African-American. He was just Mike.

Millennials never had that experience of minorities. They were indoctrinated with intersectional race theory, which didn't really come in until Gen Y had left grade school. On the flip side of the coin, older Gen Xers remember the urban crime waves and riots of the 70s, even if they're politically on the Left.

While not as spoiled as Millennials, Ys were members of the first generation born after wages froze and mothers were universally ripped from their children to join the workforce. As a result, GenY's parents embraced the practice of bribing their kids to make up for not spending time with them. These payoffs usually came in the form of toys, and it's hard to complain because the best toys ever made were produced in the 80s.

That's not bragging. The mind-blowing quality and variety of playthings that Ys were constantly plied with goes a long way toward explaining why we've been wandering down the primrose path ever since. Getting a new NES cart or going to Chuck E. Cheese for no apparent reason really did make every day feel like Christmas. Gen Y got started on the hedonic treadmill early.

Last but not least, the internet had none of the accessibility or utility for countering the official narrative that it has today. You had your parents' and teachers' word, textbooks, and TV, and that was it. Everything was fine and would continue to be fine.

Surrounding a generation of kids with a false picture of the world produced a whole cohort of sheltered adolescents. We honestly thought things were OK and would keep being OK in perpetuity. The warning signs were hidden from us, ostensibly for our own good.

It's no wonder why Gen X turned out so cynical. They had the personal context to see that the relative peace and prosperity was fleeting, and that the 80s were a small island in an angry sea. They had the advantage of setting out into the real world while Gen Y was still in school, and they got intimately acquainted with reality.

In contrast, I liken the typical Gen Y experience of growing up in America to the harrowing experience of Michael Douglas' character in 1997's The Game. To Gen Y, America's decline felt as sudden as going to bed in a mansion in a gated community patrolled by armed guards and waking up in the trash-filled gutter of a third world shit hole. The transition has been disorienting to say the least, but like Gen X icon Tyler Durden before us, we're slowly realizing what's happened. And we're getting really pissed.


One hard lesson we've had to internalize is that politics is downstream from culture. Normal people are starting to wrest our cultural institutions back from the scum who've taken over the film, comics, and print fiction industries. Independent creators need your support to rebuild what the enemies of civilization have destroyed. Be sure to back indie author Bradford Walker's Star Knight Saga: Reavers of the Void today!

Star Knight Saga - Lord Roland

2018/07/26

Star Knight Saga

Lord Roland

Visionary, scholar, and Man of the West Bradford Walker announces his campaign for The Star Knight Saga, Book One: Reavers of the Void!
No one's ever attempted a Space Opera like this. Real Robots, Super Robots, Knights with Laser Swords, Space Battleships fighting fleet actions by the thousands, heroes you can believe in, heroines that inspire you, villains most vile, a galactic civilization that isn't an empire or a republic- but instead a galaxy of kingdoms guided by a single Church, and the monsters that would undo it just to spite their creator. You have to play Super Robot Wars to get anything close to it.
Science fiction fans are hungry for real space opera packed with heroic adventure. The numbers prove it. The big New York publishers have spent decades driving off the core sci-fi readership with pink slime and dreary message fic. Thankfully, indie publishing has burst onto the scene to fill the void on avid SF readers' Kindles and bookshelves, and Star Knight is exactly the kind of story the fans crave but legacy pub would never dare give them.

Ireton Cruiser
House Ireton Heavy Cruiser - Just one of the Way Cool spaceships you'll encounter in the Star Knight Saga

I keep urging new authors dedicated to truth, beauty, and heroism to get off the bench and in the game. Even with the demise of the old gatekeepers, publishing a book still presents authors with significant challenges that only you, the fans, can help us overcome. This arrangement works out brilliantly, because you now have a direct channel to us, ensuring we'll give you the books you want.

Bradford Walker is taking the field because you guys have made yourselves heard. You're disgusted by Disney's mangling of Star Wars. You're yawning at yet another pastel Eva clone out of Japan. You're sick to death of being fed a shovelful of Postmodern nihilism with your entertainment.

Here's a new author determined to bring you the fun and adventure that the failing media conglomerates have starved you of. But since he won't get Tor, Marvel, WotC, or Disney's help, he needs yours.

Hungering for fun, uplifting space opera like they used to make before the SJWs took over? Back The Star Knight Saga, Book One: Reavers of the Void now!

2018/07/25

SFF Death Report Greatly Exaggerated

Longtime readers may remember when I posted this graph:

2016 Genre Fiction Sales

That image made the rounds and caused a bit of a stir in certain indie quarters a couple years back. Most of us sensed that the market for science fiction books had drastically shrunk since the good old days. A lot of us, including me, were shocked at just how much our genre had withered.

The prevailing wisdom was that post-1980 realism, romance packaged as SF, and SJW convergence had driven most of the traditionally male readership from the genre. This sobering realization filled many of us indie authors with grim resolution. We were determined to make SFF flourish again, but it wouldn't be quick or easy. We had a long row to hoe.

Then Author Earnings gave a slideshow to the pink-haired mutants of SFWA at May's Nebula Awards Conference. If you're new here, Author Earnings is a data research operation run by a techie friend of author Hugh Howey. AE was the first outfit to cut through the anecdotal evidence and survivorship bias being flung around early in the tradpub v indie debate and look at the actual numbers from Amazon.

Sure, Howey's politically deranged, but he had the chops to strike it rich back in Amazon's Wild West days. His Data Guy knows his stuff, too. One way you can tell AE is reliable is their habit of unflinchingly confronting the data. They've got an open indie bias, but they don't fudge the numbers or gloss over inconvenient facts if the data's not in their favor. If one of their predictions fails, they stop, take a look at the data, and do their best to figure out why.

Another feather in AE's cap is that they're always digging for more and better information. They put a lot of effort into coming up with new ways to plumb the murky depths of KDP and shed light on the digital dark matter.

That brings us to Author Earnings' report to the Nebula Conference. I won't reproduce the whole spiel; just the slides that are of greatest interest to my readers, who tend to favor science fiction.

First up, a couple of charts that seem to confirm the old graph above:

SFF print sales

SFF online print sales

I'm no data scientist, but my gut hunch on the cause of print SFF's post-2009 nosedive has to do with the Kindle taking off. Yes, that sounds counterintuitive since we're talking about print sales, but keep in mind that Amazon's marketing relies on product recommendations targeted by users' purchase histories. Consider also that Amazon is now the English-speaking world's biggest print book retailer, as well.

Anyway, that's the story on print SFF. Now take a look at what happened when AE factored in eBook sales.

SFF trad ebook sales

Then they threw in audio as the cherry on top. Audio sales appear in yellow.

SFF trad ebook & audio sales

To my untrained eye, it looks like the big drop in tradpub's print SFF sales coincided with the height of KDP's Wild West period. The Kindle's novelty was still a strong selling point, and indie authors with a little business know-how could pull down six figures without understanding Amazon's algorithm. The eBook boom dominated the market and grew it. Then audio cut into eBook sales but also grew the genre around 2016, which is when the first chart in this post was compiled. That could be our explanation.

AE went on to break down trad SFF sales by publisher. Ready for a laugh?

SFF sales The Handmaid's Tale

Remember what I said about post-80s "realism" and romance disguised as science fiction? Turns out Houghton Mifflin has surpassed Tor as the biggest kid on the trad SFF block, and most of their unprecedented sales are due to The Handmaid's Tale. That's a pattern we'll be seeing again.

AE's presentation may have been comforting to the denizens of SFWA thus far, but it turns out that rosy picture of tradpub's fortunes was just Lucy promising to hold the football so Charlie Wendig could kick it.

Chuck Wendig



Legacy pub SFF is only surviving because of eBooks supplemented with audio, yet newpub represents a clear majority of SFF eBook sales.

SFF sales by price

It's not hard to see why. Newpub authors are selling eBooks at reasonable prices while tradpub persists in gouging readers. Recall that the Big Five NY publishers' rationale for charging outrageous eBook prices was to prop up their failing print sales while quashing the rise of eBooks. Now it looks like they partially succeeded at the former while utterly failing at the latter.

After that, AE decided to throw SFWA a bone. The following chart shows that while indies outnumber their tradpub counterparts two to one, Amazon top 100 selling trad authors outnumber indies in the top 100 by the same ratio.

SFF top selling authors

Those figures would appear to reinforce the old canard casting indie pub as a crab basket where thousands of authors struggle in obscurity while tradpub gives its authors the visibility to break out from the pack. Once again, the data present a couple of inconvenient wrinkles.

SFF sales backlist vs frontlist

First, tradpub is mainly selling backlisted SFF titles like The Handmaid's Tale. Meanwhile, indies are mostly selling their newer releases. Those facts paint an ugly picture for new authors striving to break into tradpub.

Long story short, tradpub is good at exploiting the visibility of Boomer authors who built their brand recognition while the building was good. They're not so hot at raising new authors' profiles, as the total obscurity of this year's Hugo nominees attests.

That was just the appetizer. Here's the main course. Hint: it's crow.

SFF tradpub vs indie royalties

Gate Crashers vs. Galaxy's Edge

Patrick R. Tomlinson be like:

Patrick R. Tomlinson

Jason Anspach, Nick Cole, and Chris Fox are always right. Find your market. Give them what they want at a reasonable price, and give it to them fast. Then the publishing world will be your oyster.

If you want mind-bending space adventure that won't break your bank, check out my award-winning Soul Cycle today!

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier