2017 Year in Review


2017 was an interesting year--often in the sense of the old Chinese curse. The past year eluded hard and fast valuations like "good" or "bad" but instead ushered in great change. It was a year that saw many a seemingly invincible cultural edifice demolished, yet demolition precedes new construction.

Since the science fiction scene saw more than its fair share of the upheavals that rocked pop culture in 2017, I thought it would be worthwhile to do a brief retrospective on the year from an indie SFF writer's point of view.

Right up front, I'll confess that 2017 defied my predictions from last year. In my defense, the explosive growth of 2016 would be a tough act to follow in the best of times. Happily, 2017 didn't turn out worse than I'd expected. It did end up being more eventful than I could have anticipated.

Here is a partial list of the biggest happenings that affected my corner of the indie publishing world in 2017.

Forbidden Thoughts launch
Forbidden Thoughts best seller

The momentum I'd gained in 2016 carried over into the new year with the launch of the Forbidden Thoughts anthology from Superversive Press. Not only did my canonical Soul Cycle short "Elegy for the Locust" get to rub shoulders with offerings from John and Jagi Wright, Larry Correia, Brad Torgersen, Vox Day, and Nick Cole--with an introduction by MILO--the stellar sales won all of us contributors Amazon best seller bragging rights.

Monsters of Pulp
Geek Gab - Monsters of Pulp

Still one of the highlights of my career thus far was having the honor of co-hosting (read: sitting quietly and listening in awe) as pulp guru Jeffro Johnson, science fiction grand master John C. Wright, and sunglasses-bedecked sage Razörfist descended on Geek Gab for an epic discussion of all things pulp!

My recollections are still a bit foggy, but the North American continent may have been utterly destroyed.

On the Books
Speaking of Geek Gab, 2017 was when alpha geek Daddy Warpig graciously gave me my own writing-themed show on the Geek Gab Podcasting Network. I'm grateful to my listeners for giving the first season of Geek Gab: On the Books such a positive reception. Another season is still a possibility, time permitting.

The Hymn of the Pearl launch
The Hymn of the Pearl - Brian Niemeier

The first big curve ball thrown my way in 2017 occurred when forces beyond my control forced a sudden adjustment to my publishing schedule. Luckily, I was able to channel a little pulp speed editing to get my first standalone novella out the door in June.

The Hymn of the Pearl debuted to rave reviews and turned a profit faster than any of my books to date. If you haven't yet read my first foray into high fantasy--which definitely ain't your daddy's high fantasy because hey, it's me--the book is currently free to new mailing list subscribers.

But June had far bigger developments in store for indie pub fans. I could only mean the launch of...

Galaxy's Edge
Galaxy's Edge - Jason Anspach & Nick Cole

Who doesn't love stories of dark horse contenders who come out of nowhere to win it all? Authors Jason Anspach and Nick Cole spent the first half of 2017 quietly laying the groundwork for a new Mil-SF series first revealed to fans under the project code name #StarWarsNotStarWars. They'd done their homework on the brave new world of publishing and had enough confidence that they'd figured out how the system really works that they built a whole series on those premises.

Some were skeptical when Nick and Jason unveiled the Galactic Outlaws web site and started offering Galaxy's Edge in serialized form on the subscription model. But unless you've been in a coma, you know how their plan worked out. Legionnaire and its five sequels became the breakout SF hit of 2017. Not only have the authors turned out quality content, they've done so on a monthly basis. That alone is an accomplishment worthy of the pulp masters of old.

Skim the comments of any blog where Galaxy's Edge readers gather, and you'll quickly learn that GE has tapped into a vast and growing underserved market of SF fans disillusioned with Star Wars' new direction under Disney. Coming along at the right place and time with the knowledge of how to beat Amazon's algorithm has started a wave that Nick and Jason are riding high on--and it shows no signs of stopping.

I've written often about the need for parallel institutions to replace the crumbling cultural icons of yesteryear. If you'd asked me a year ago, I'd have told you that Star Wars would be the last mega-franchise to be replaced--if it ever could be. Contra my expectations, Galaxy's Edge is poised to become the first indie SF series to seriously vie for a place at the table that decaying major franchises are rapidly vacating.

Somebody get the phone.
Star Wars: The last Jedi - Rotten Tomatoes

While we're on the subject of major franchises in decline, I called the Last Jedi's implosion back in July.

nailed it

The Dragons come calling again
Dragon Con

Following the trail blazed by its Dragon-winning predecessor Souldancer, my late 2016 release The Secret Kings was honored by my loyal readers with a Dragon nomination of its own. We didn't win the Best Science Fiction Novel trophy, but thanks to you neither did Waffling Scalzi. Ol' Blue Lips' loss has secured the Dragon Awards' integrity. That's a prize worth losing to a dude with his own TV show any day.

Praxis - Justin Knight

No 2017 retrospective would be complete without a nod to Praxis, the second book by my friend Justin Knight. The success of this working class SF story is extra gratifying to me, since it's the first novel-length release I've edited.

Neither snow nor rain nor heat...
Scalzi GG meme

Scalzi and I crossed paths again in October when a post at Whatever blaming his writer's block on politics and the weather came to my attention. His passive-aggressive sniping made my reply here at Kairos my all-time most viewed post and precipitated a sustained 30 percent rise in my blog traffic.

Postscript: At the time of the original article, Scalzi confessed his inability to finish the novel he was working on in ten months. I took two novels from start to finish in half that time. And I'm only getting faster.

The end of an era
As one door opens, another closes. The accelerating degradation of Hollywood, as mentioned above, led to my departure as a co-host of Geek Gab. Doing the show was a blast, and I continue to wish Daddy Warpig and Dorrinal the best as they forge ahead with the Gab.

The cycle is complete
The Ophian Rising - Brian Niemeier

I reached a major milestone and fulfilled a key promise to my readers all at once with the release of The Ophian Rising, the fourth and final book of the Soul Cycle, in December. Taking a page from Jason Anspach and Nick Cole, and with the support of readers like you, OR's launch was my biggest yet!

These days it's rare for a spec fic authors to finish his flagship series, and even rarer for a series to maintain its initial level of quality. Judging by the Amazon reviews and general reader feedback, not only has the Soul Cycle kept to the high standard set by Nethereal, the series has only improved with each book. Thanks to all the readers and authors who helped make this labor of love successful beyond my wildest hopes.

That said, it's always important to deal with reality as it is and to remember that failure is an even better teacher than success. 2017 wasn't without its disappointments. Though I lapped Scalzi, I fell short of pulp speed, having written three books and published two. Fortunately, my new editing endeavors picked up the slack. Thanks to all of my clients.

Also, while 2016 saw my rise to the J list, I didn't break through to the next level in 2017 as I'd hoped. The primary culprit: not releasing new content fast enough. Rest assured that I've already made relevant changes and set plans in motion to remedy that underperformance this year.


  1. Good job, Brian. I hope 2018 will be an even better year. It's certainly looking good to me.

    Happy New Year!

  2. Congrats on 2017, Brian! 2018 awaits!

    We're here for the ride, because it never ends!

    1. Thank you, Man of the Atom. I genuinely appreciate your readership.