Extravagant Fiction

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

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

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

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



Christian Artists

Author Jon Del Arroz graciously includes me in his helpful list of Christian Artists Who Don't Suck.
Whenever I talk about artist blackballing in the entertainment industry, almost invariably the first argument I come across is “well there aren’t any…” or “there are a low percentage of…” leading to believe that it’s just too hard to find good artists who aren’t insane and/or profess to be Christian. That is a lie that the mainstream big-entertainment corrupt corporate media propagates at every turn.
Of course, there aren’t any who work for those big companies that do the blackballing. Those companies may not have an outright policy against shunning Christians, but they do it, as they want to tell stories that are allegorically about how great secular society and hedonism is. I rail on Disney quite a bit for this, but the facts are the facts, and they — especially their comics division — are very much guilty of this. 
But we have an opportunity like generations in the past didn’t have. We have social media. We have the internet. We have the ability to connect and organize just as other groups have done for the past for their causes. Our cause is a righteous one, an eternal one, and if we all band together we will affect much greater change than our enemies could ever keep up with.
I’m not calling for a “boycott!” of any artist or anything like that. I know exactly how hard artists work, and, even if they’re not doing their work for a righteous cause, it’s still hard work and the goal is not to detract from their efforts. That boycott mentality is the kind of garbage that we are fighting against.
However, I am calling to take a look at Christian artists, artists who share our values. It’s important that we give a voice to those who are professing real truth and justice, and are willing to speak out on it. After all, if we don’t as artists, the culture won’t, and isn’t. At some point, even the rocks will cry out. It’d be much better if we could stave that off and start a revival in culture as those created in God’s image.
Read Jon's list here.

Jon is absolutely right that the entertainment industry gatekeepers practice discrimination against Christian artists--usually not consciously, but as a simple matter of course. Tolerating those intolerant hicks from flyover country and those knuckle-dragging pro-lifers; it just isn't done, you know? Just ask Nick Cole.

But as Nick and Jon himself have learned, the gatekeepers have significantly less ability to destroy an author's career than they did until quite recently.

Which brings me to the one point on which Jon and I part ways. I, along with a great many others, aren't so quick to disarm ourselves of a perfectly ethical means of resisting the aforementioned discrimination. Moreover, I fail to see why the fact that someone may have worked hard at propagandizing against Christ and His Church should a priori absolve him of the bad fruits of his labors. The Bolsheviks worked hard, after all.

Which reminds me: #OpTorDrop

I know that the big New York publishing house's gatekeepers would wreck my career if they could, because they hate me.

What they don't realize yet is that I'm doing what I can to destroy their corrupt monopoly, because I love them as brothers created in the image and likeness of God. And that's far more terrifying.

I'll let Jon wrap things up.
Brian Niemeier is an independent author of the Dragon Award Winning Soul Cycle. He blends genres with space opera and horror in that series, with a wild, fast paced ride that everyone cheers for. Brian’s a great guy, and outspoken Christian as well. He’s on the forefront of indie publishing and does a lot for the culture war.


Mary Sues Linked to Suicide

Ubiquitous and unfailingly dull Strong Female Characters™ aren't just deadly to the waves of expendable male villains they routinely slaughter in today's Narrative-driven books, movies, and video games. Author Dawn Witzke speculates that SFCs may pose a threat to their readers' life expectancy.
Whether we realize it or not, fictional characters shape our views and actions. If these superwomen, who can do no wrong or ever fail, are the standard bearers for the sex, what is it doing to readers who can never relate? My guess, the same psychological damage caused by the standards set by photo-shopped anorexic models. Is it any wonder that suicide rates have risen over 200% in pre-teen and teen girls, not to mention the 60% overall rise in the past 15 years, according to the CDC.
This is of course speculation. However, psychological studies have found that one of the leading factors of the rise in suicide is being attributed to unrealistic life expectations. And that romance novels can give women unrealistic views of relationships. So, it’s reasonable to think that the unrealistic examples of SFCs in entertainment is contributing to this dissatisfaction with the ordinary.
Science agrees with Dawn's theory.
How can one be satisfied with the ordinary, when the examples in literature and movies aren’t satisfied with the ordinary? And when you do get a female character with weaknesses, they are just as awful the other direction. Bella Swan in the Twilight series was an emotional wreck who is just shy of being a suicide victim. The two dimensional character of Anastasia Steele in 50 Shades of Gray was little more than a sex doll for Gray. And, while some claim her as an SFC, Katniss Everdeen was little more than a puppet of circumstances and the people around her. She was used and abused, first by President Snow and then by President Alma Coin.
What I want to see more of are female characters who are complicated. Give me characters who accept that they have weaknesses, that they need help from, not only other female characters, but from males as well. Give me characters who are okay with being rescued, failing, and not being the smartest person in the room, but still have a will of their own. Give me characters who are flawed, who make mistakes, who aren’t perfect. 
Give me characters that I can relate to.
Read the whole thing here.

Observation: consider how SF SJWs insist that readers can only identify with characters who are exactly like them; yet flood the market with inhuman Mary Sues that no one can relate to.

For the platonic ideal of this phenomenon, witness Stefan Molyneux's dissection of Beauty and the Beast by Disney, the studio that's dedicated to finding new and special ways to hate you.

As a counterexample, I've written two books with female protagonists. One is an immortal magic spaceship pilot. The other can bench press a Volkswagen, commands the elemental forces of fire, and controls an entire city with her mind. Yet they're both deeply flawed (thieving wino and emotionally unstable psychotic, respectively), and I've gotten a stream of compliments talking about how much readers love and sympathize with both of them.

Strong female characters can be written well. The key lies in a) understanding the differences between masculine and feminine strength and b) actually giving them vulnerabilities so retain some semblance of dramatic tension.



Regency Romance Authors Must Disavow Jane Austen

First it was cartoon frogs, then milk. Now the New York Times informs us that celebrated British author Jane Austen has become an insidious symbol for the dastardly alt-right.

Jane Austen MAGA hat

From the article:
Nicole M. Wright, an assistant professor of English at the University of Colorado, describes finding a surprising Austen fan base.
It started, she writes, when she noticed the provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos riffing on the famous first line of “Pride and Prejudice,” turning it into a dig at “ugly” feminists. (He also mistakenly called Austen, who died during the reign of George III, a “Victorian” novelist, but whatever.)
Looking around, Ms. Wright also found more straight-faced references to Austen in alt-right paeans to racial purity and subservient wives, including a shout-out from a blogger promoting the infamous meme of Taylor Swift as an “Aryan goddess.”
Some alt-right admirers hail Austen’s novels as blueprints for a white nationalist “ethno-state.” Others cite her as a rare example of female greatness. But the bigger point, Ms. Wright argues, is the same.
“By comparing their movement not to the nightmare Germany of Hitler and Goebbels, but instead to the cozy England of Austen,” she writes, alt-right Austen fans “nudge readers” into thinking that “perhaps white supremacists aren’t so different from mainstream folks.”
You can read the rest of the Times' dire warning here.

It's time for all tolerant, free-thinking people to acknowledge the only acceptable conclusion. Though the truth is disturbing, the Times and its readers have never been known to shrink from facts that challenge their deeply ingrained worldview.

Jane Austen's works--and the author herself--are being used as propaganda tools to advance the backward, monarchist, Nixonian, bimetalist views of the extreme right end of the political horseshoe.

You could argue that it's not Austen's fault that her Regency-era romance books have been co-opted by the far right. However, making that argument is equivalent to saying that there's nothing inherently racist about Pepe the Frog or whole milk. After all, the alt-right wouldn't have such an easy time using Austen's novels to spread their Anarcho-Tyranist poison if there were nothing problematic about them to begin with.

The Times itself points to red flags in Austen's work--which, we must always remember, was written at the height of British imperialism.
But Ms. Wells said scholars teaching Austen at schools with “substantially multicultural students” still wrestled with a truth that must, perhaps, be uncomfortably acknowledged.
“Her characters are white, and her world is white,” she said. “What do you do with that?”
What, indeed?

I won't presume to speak for anyone else, but as a science fiction and fantasy author, I think that it's incumbent upon authors of Regency romance to publicly and unequivocally disavow Jane Austen for giving the bigoted Fabian nihilists of the alt-right a vehicle to preach their theocratic nonsense. Even if those authors have previously won Hugo awards.

The Soul Cycle novels are deservedly on my “I want to read that again” list; I heartily recommend you add them to your list too.



Powers of the Earth

Morlock Publishing is proud to announce that the Kickstarter campaign for their upcoming novel Powers of the Earth is now fully funded.
The Aristillus Series is a pair of science fiction novels about anarchocapitalism, economics, open source software, corporate finance, social media, antigravity, lunar colonization, genetically modified dogs, strong AI…and really, really big guns.
Earth in 2064 is politically corrupt and in economic decline. The Long Depression has dragged on for 56 years, and the Bureau of Sustainable Research is hard at work making sure that no new technologies disrupt the planned economy. Ten years ago a band of malcontents, dreamers, and libertarian radicals bolted privately-developed anti-gravity drives onto rusty sea-going cargo ships, loaded them to the gills with 20th-century tunnel-boring machines and earthmoving equipment, and set sail - for the Moon.
There, they built their retreat. A lunar underground border-town, fit to rival Ayn Rand's 'Galt's Gulch', with American capitalists, Mexican hydroponic farmers, and Vietnamese space-suit mechanics - this is the city of Aristillus.
There’s a problem, though: the economic decline of Earth under a command-and-control economy is causing trouble for the political powers-that-be in Washington DC and elsewhere. To shore up their positions they need slap down the lunar expats and seize the gold they've been mining. The conflicts start small, but rapidly escalate.
There are zero-gravity gun fights in rusted ocean going ships flying through space, containers full of bulldozers hurtling through the vacuum, nuclear explosions, armies of tele-operated combat UAVs, guerrilla fighting in urban environments, and an astoundingly visual climax where -in the midst of all out warfare…well, you’ll have to read the novels.
Congratulations to Morlock Publishing. The science fiction market definitely needs more talents like the author of Powers of the Earth.

If you enjoy Red SF that explores anarchocapitalism, you can still get a print copy by contributing to the Kickstarter.

And if you're looking for Red SF plus strong doses of fantasy and horror, minus any political philosophy to speak of, check out my highly praised Soul Cycle series.



Let's Try This Again

It is truly a delight to announce that at long last, Corrosion, The Corroding Empire Book 1 is available in the Kindle Store!

Corrosion, The Corroding Empire Book 1

Followers of this blog will know that Johan Kalsi's debut novel had a long and difficult road to publication. Saboteurs within KDP quality control didn't want you to read this book. What more reason do you need to buy it?

I've got one. How about the fact that Corrosion is already more reviewed and better received than its direct rival?

Collapsing vs Corroding

Despite having an unfair two day head start thanks to the Amazon SJW's interference, The Collapsing Empire is already losing ground to Corrosion. Their respective ranks are currently:
  • Collapsing 174
  • Corroding 918
That's a difference of only a few hundred books. Considering that Corrosion only costs five bucks, it shouldn't be hard to overtake its ridiculously overpriced competitor. But Serving the CHORFs at Amazon and Tor a big helping of crow isn't the only reason to support Johan Kalsi's launch. Judging by the reviews, Corrosion is solid science fiction and the superior novel of the two.

If you want to send a message to legacy publishers that gouge their readers, insult their own authors, and condone censorious behavior--or if you couldn't care less about all that but just want something fun to read for a change, pick up Corrosion, The Corroding Empire Book 1.

And if you've already got Corrosion, and are looking for more fun SFF to read, my award-winning Soul Cycle series comes highly recommended.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

UPDATE: You guys are causing some drastic changes in the Amazon rankings. This morning, The Collapsing Empire was at 174, and Corrosion was at 918. Here are your current numbers.

  • The Collapsing Empire 227
  • Corrosion 693

That's a difference of roughly 50 sales! Thanks to lovers of fun, non-SJW converged science fiction, and SJWs themselves, whose spate of fake reviews have put Streisand in full effect.

You have the power to boost a superior sci-fi novel above the overpriced mediocrity it's parodying. Every sale counts. Buy Corrosion The Corroding Empire Book 1 now!

Thought: unemployed SJWs have been busy posting fake reviews all day while their favored horse has been lagging. It'll be interesting to see what happens when normal folks get home from work and log in to Amazon.



Amazon's Civil War

The controversy over The Corroding Empire just gets stranger and stranger.

The Corroding Empire

Amazon KDP has given Castalia House's new science fiction parody more green and red lights than a drag racing track.

First it was thought that the book had been pulled at the behest of Tor Books, publisher of The Collapsing Empire.

Suspicion also fell on Collapsing Empire author John Scalzi, who tweeted this message the same day:

However, details emerged last night that neither Tor, Scalzi, nor Amazon per se were to blame for The Corroding Empire's publication delays. Castalia House Lead Editor Vox Day explained:
UPDATE: Since some people seem to want to go on the warpath, let me be perfectly clear here: Amazon is not to blame. I even suspect that it is entirely possible that Tor Books is not to blame either, based on a) when the book was pulled and b) the fact that the book has shown as Live for nearly 24 hours but still does not have a page on any Amazon site. The most likely scenario, in my opinion, is a rogue low-level SJW employee, possibly two, in a specific department.
I have already spoken to the manager of one department and they have begun to investigate why Corrosion is Live but not available. They've done everything we asked and we have no problem with the way we have been treated.
Today, Vox announced that Corrosion (The Corroding Empire Book 1) was finally live on KDP.
As we suspected, there appear to have been internal shenanigans taking place at Amazon, as one or more SJWs appear to have abused their positions to interfere with our ability to sell THE CORRODING EMPIRE.
We're still working with Amazon to sort out exactly who was responsible for precisely what, and to establish what, if anything, legitimately needed to be changed according to their guidelines. This should all be nailed down by the end of the day, but in the meantime, you can now order the book and post reviews again.
The Corroding Empire isn't out of the woods yet, because following that conversation, it was blocked again, reinstated again and blocked a third time in short order.

Corrosion (The Corroding Empire Book 1)

Here is where the matter stands as of this writing:
UPDATE: Finally got to speak to a supervisor. She's not only escalated the matter to legal, but has assured me that the book will be unblocked, stay unblocked, and that the matter will be fully investigated. It's not just the three blocks, the culprit(s) also put the book on the Excluded list for Amazon Associates, which prevents others from being paid when someone buys the book.
The publisher insists that the issue is with rogue elements within KDP quality control and not with Amazon itself. If so, we could be witnessing a civil war within the world's largest book distributor. However the situation gets sorted out, the resolution should be informative for publishers, authors, and readers alike.


UPDATE: So much winning!

Collapsing Corroding



Author, editor, publisher, and all-around Renaissance man Russell Newquist proudly announces the launch of Lyonesse.

What is Lyonesse, you ask? Ever since elitist New York editors destroyed the sci-fi short story market by foisting their lit-fic tastes on readers, enterprising publishers have sought a way to revive the once-dominant short fiction format. With Lyonesse, Mr. Newquist and the fine folks at Silver Empire may have found SFF publishing's holy grail.

While venerable SF magazines struggle to keep the lights on, Lyonesse takes an updated approach to bringing readers the best science fiction and fantasy stories. For a yearly subscription fee that starts in the same price range as a single Baen eBook, you can have a fun, high-quality SFF short story delivered straight to your inbox each week.

And for all you aspiring SFF authors despairing of the short story market's sorry state, 60% of all Lyonesse subscription fees go to their writers. In an industry that all too often treats writers like cattle, Lyonesse wants to make sure that you GET PAID!

I've heard from several quarters that subscription services might just be the future of publishing. Lyonesse may have cracked the problem of finding a viable short fiction publication model. They're well worth keeping an eye on for that reason alone.

Lyonesse: come for the quality SFF shorts. Stay for the paradigm shift.

This series just gets better



Tor Gets Desperate

Today I'd intended to do a post signal-boosting the launch of The Corroding Empire from Castalia House. But when I clicked on the link in CH's newsletter, a dog informed me that the book is not to be found on Amazon.

I did some digging and found out that failing publisher Tor Books went crying to Amazon to censor the competition.

The alleged reason? That the title, author, and cover of The Corroding Empire might allegedly mislead customers seeking to buy The Collapsing Empire from Tor.

Here are both books' covers side-by-side.

The Corroding Empire - Johan Kalsi The Collapsing Empire

This is what used to be called "parody" before the Left turned into control freaks with zero sense of humor. The only way you'd mistake one of those books for the other is if you couldn't read. In which case, you're probably not buying books in the first place.

The "misleading cover" complaint is a fig leaf meant to cover Tor's attempted sabotage of their competition. Compare the books' preorder rankings for proof.

Corroding vs. Collapsing

Tor Books knows that The Corroding Empire isn't a counterfeit meant to ride on the coattails of their success. It's a parody in the venerable literary tradition of calling out emperors with no clothes. It also stands as a solid sci-fi novel in its own right, and even surpasses the subject of its lampooning, as these excerpts show.

The fact is that The Corroding Empire has been outselling Tor's offering since the former became available for preorder. Since they can't compete in the open market, Tor Books has appealed to Amazon to hobble the competition.

This isn't the first time that Amazon has censored a parody book at Tor's behest.

Here's what really has Tor's panties in a bunch:

Author Earnings 3 Year Gross Sales

Big New York publishers are being eaten alive by small publishers like Castalia House. Censoring a superior book that pokes fun at Tor's declining quality will not save them from this death spiral. Having Amazon pull The Corroding Empire is the desperate, spiteful lashing out of a mortally wounded predator that preyed on readers and authors alike. Now the reckoning is here.

Legacy publishers still try to blacklist authors and dictate readers' tastes. Their power to play gatekeeper and taste-maker is gone, Sadly, they don't know how to do anything else. Stooping to heavy-handed censorship only makes them look weak and petty and hastens their demise.

Full disclosure: I recently sold the audio rights to my award-winning Soul Cycle series to Castalia House. They will also be publishing my next novel, which will be the first in a new space opera series.

That doesn't mean I won't take Castalia House to task if they ever turn censorious like Tor has. Amazon has been my business partner far longer than CH, but I'm calling out Amazon's caving to censors right now, and I've never hesitated to do so before.

That said, Castalia House's track record for supporting free expression trounces the Big Five publishers'. For that reason, among many others, CH will overtake Tor as the #1 publisher of science fiction and fantasy. I have no doubt that the David in this David vs. Goliath battle will land on his feet.

UPDATE: While I was writing this post, Vox Day unveiled the new cover for CH's censored book.

Corrosion - Harry Seldon

Let that sink in: they got a new cover done in less than a day. The updated book should be back in the Kindle store tonight.

This is why the small, fast mammals are taking down the dinosaurs.

While you're waiting for Corrosion to go live, you can pick up the Campbell-nominated and Dragon Award-winning Soul Cycle right now.

UPDATE: new information has come to light as the situation has developed lessening the likelihood that Tor Books, John Scalzi, or Amazon are directly responsible for Corrosion's delay and identifying the main culprit as a rogue employee at KDP quality control.

Quoth Vox:
There is ZERO question about the "rogue employee" at this point; the fourth time he took the book down, even the skeptics inside Amazon knew there was no possible justification for it.
Corrosion, The Corroding Empire Book 1 is available now in the Kindle Store.

Corrosion, The Corroding Empire Book 1



Major Updates

There's a lot going on today, so I'll make this quick.

Audio is for closers
First, a big update to my audiobook post. That one may have been my most controversial non-Puppy-related post. Lots of folks are passionate about getting the Soul Cycle in audio, and they've suggested ways that I could make it happen on my budget.

Like I've said on many occasions, you guys are my bosses. I do whatever I can to meet your needs to the best of my ability. Rest assured that I have been working behind the scenes for a while to bring you Soul Cycle audiobooks.

There was one avenue in particular that I was exploring, but I didn't want to say anything until I closed the deal. Well, those of you who watched last night's Darkstream will know by now that Vox Day let the cat out of the bag, so I doubt he'll object if I share his announcement here.

That's right. I've sold the audio rights for the Soul Cycle to Castalia House!

To anticipate the most likely questions:
  • No, I'm not selling the print or eBook rights to CH. My earnings thus far have already beaten the industry standard new author contract, and changing publishers would reset the Soul Cycle's Amazon rankings and reviews to zero. Vox agrees that's a bad idea.
  • I don't know when the SC audiobooks will be out. That's now entirely up to Castalia House. I'll be sure to update you as new information becomes available.

This is a super exciting deal. I wouldn't have been able to produce SC audiobooks for years working on my own. Castalia House reduces my up-front costs to zero and pays better royalties than ACX. I win, CH wins, and most importantly, you guys win.

Your next Puppy of the Month
If the news that Soul Cycle audiobooks are finally on the way weren't reason enough to celebrate, the fine gentlemen at the Puppy of the Month Book Club have a special surprise for you.

Brian Niemeier - Souldancer

My Dragon Award-winning SFF/horror novel Souldancer is April's Puppy of the Month!

Thanks to Jon, Nathan, and the Frisky Pagan for selecting SD for your next insightful read-through.

If any of you out there reading this haven't experienced a Puppy of the Month read-along yet, you're in for a treat. Jon, Nate, and the FP know their stuff. In fact, their in-depth review of Nethereal pointed out obscure references and subtle plot points that nobody else found.

With its more prominent romance element--Red SF style; not Pink SF--and even greater emphasis on action, I think SD will resonate with the PotMBK's readers even more than its predecessor did. Read along next month to find out!


A Metaphysic of Beauty

A recent debate on Twitter about whether "good" science fiction is a matter of subjective taste or objective value reminded me of this essay I wrote a few years back. It's remained unpublished until now.

Is there such a thing as an objective standard of beauty?
Some people insist that there isn’t. They usually cite the wide differences in individual tastes as proof that beauty is strictly subjective. According to this view, what’s beautiful to you may not be beautiful to me.

But if beauty is purely subjective, what does it mean when someone calls a painting or a baby or a sunrise beautiful? Saying “It’s beautiful to me,” is a non-answer that just rephrases the question as a statement. What we’re after is the meaning of this “beauty” concept for which the person in question is said to have a subjective standard.

You could define beauty as “a quality that causes a pleasant emotional response”, but someone who says, “That painting is beautiful,” is talking about a particular kind of emotional response, as opposed to the satiation of hunger, sexual gratification, the thrill of victory, etc. What’s more, it’s assumed that others have a similar response in the presence of a quality called “beauty”.

Unless a statement that something is beautiful is made in reference to a standard that exists independently of the observer, the statement has no meaning, even to the one making it (because it doesn’t define what this “beauty” concept is). So calling an object beautiful on a purely subjective basis is unintelligible noise which effectively denies that beauty exists.

Sometimes when people call objects beautiful, they’re making preference statements like, “I’m fond of pizza.” Statements of preference really are subjective. There’s no way for others to test the truth or falsehood of such claims.

But a lot of the time, aesthetic statements are value judgments. When someone who’s in love says that his beloved is beautiful, he doesn’t add the qualification “to me”. He’s making a value claim about his beloved’s attractiveness that he wants others to agree with.

Sure, there’s some variance in aesthetics between individuals, and even whole cultures. But concluding to aesthetic subjectivism from that fact leaves out a step—the unstated premise that “the lack of unanimous agreement among all people in all times and places rules out the existence of objective standards of beauty.” The reason it’s never stated is because it’s pretty easy to disprove.

Most geologists didn’t agree with the theory of plate tectonics until the mid-twentieth century. Was the theory false until a majority of scientists accepted it? Virtually all past civilizations thought that slavery was perfectly moral. Were they right?

I know that these are examples from empirical science and ethics, but the same principle applies to aesthetics. Just because everyone doesn’t clearly and immediately recognize a norm, that doesn’t mean it’s not objective. The existence of an objective standard doesn’t mean that everyone is automatically infused with perfect knowledge of that standard.

At this point, the following questions often arise: “What are the objective standards of beauty, and how can we tell if a work adheres to them?” Many postmoderns assume that those questions are unanswerable. That’s because the institutions that once taught the answers—places that used to be called “universities”—focus almost exclusively on practical knowledge to the detriment of speculative reasoning. Thank you, Immanuel Kant (throw fruit now).

Luckily, Plato, Aristotle, and Saints Augustine and Thomas Aquinas have us covered.

Firstly, all of these guys agreed that beauty is a quality possessed by objects independent of the observer. How did they reach that conclusion? Well, it’s pretty much self-evident if you accept the model of knowledge that prevailed in the west for thousands of years, viz. that the human mind forms impressions of real, external things (much like how Silly Putty works).

In contrast, postmodernism arbitrarily declared that the world is formless or non-existent and our minds project form onto it (and yes, you can believe that, but you can’t trust empirical science while you do).

Medieval philosophers held that beauty is fundamentally connected with knowledge. As was said here previously, every creation reveals something about its creator. Since God made the world, the world reveals truths about God.

Because God is existence itself, everything else only exists by virtue of participation in His existence, including beauty. Because God is infinitely simple (not composed of separate parts), He is beauty itself. Therefore, beauty is being, i.e. an object is beautiful to the extent that it fulfills the category of its being (i.e. is all that it can be).

St. Thomas notes that beauty gives pleasure when contemplated, but he maintains that beauty is located in the object. In other words, beauty is not a concept in the mind of the beholder imposed onto a given object; it’s caused when the form of an object is impressed on the mind. Beauty is pleasurable because it satisfies one or more of the following criteria to a greater or lesser degree.

  • Being: everything has its ultimate source in being; therefore, being is the basis of beauty. (Without existence, there’s nothing. Therefore, an object owes everything, including its beauty, to its being.)
  • Proportion: symmetry, harmony, and balance.
  • Radiance: according to Etienne Gilson, radiance is that elusive aspect of beauty that “hooks” us and keeps us coming back for more.
  • Wholeness: completeness/integrity; how close the object comes to being a perfect specimen of its type.

Anyone who’s still reading may wonder what good objective beauty is in the first place. Considering where you’re reading this post, it’s a safe bet that you’re interested in art, especially writing; and especially fiction.

Hugo-nominated sci-fi author Mike Flynn notes that, “Until the early 20th century, artists saw their job as portraying beauty according to a standard of craftsmanship.”

What’s the point of portraying that beauty? The mellifluent John C. Wright describes authors as custodians of a great secret in his indispensable essay anthology, Transhuman and Subhuman.
The secret is that we are exiles here on Earth. This is not our home. We do not belong here.
If the readers and authors did not feel that way, if we did belong on Earth, and if we loved mortal life and mortal suffering, and if we desired nothing more, we would read newspapers for the news and engineering reports for discoveries of useful tools, and gossip about real people and histories of real events, and we would never, ever, ever desire something more.
In a nutshell, an SFF writer’s job is to tell people the truth about themselves by making stuff up. But if it’s not objectively beautiful stuff, the writer’s just lying.



River City. Kong. Logan.

Catch our most recent Geek Gab discussion of pop culture ephemera. Under the microscope this time: River City Ransom, Kong: Skull Island, and Logan.

Have a listen!

In Niemeierian fiction news, I have passed the halfway mark in the first draft of my upcoming book for Castalia House. Really excited about this one. Expect an announcement in or before May.

As always, my Soul Cycle novels are available right now. You can still get any of the print versions for less than what you'd pay to preorder Scalzi's upcoming Asimov rehash.

Pink vs Red



Editing Services

I am now accepting requests to edit authors' novel and short story manuscripts.

Services provided include editing for spelling, grammar, and content. I am also happy to provide customers with a free one-time consultation on book marketing and self-publishing strategies.

Rates depend on various factors such as length, deadline, etc. However, I understand the challenges of the market, and I always strive to offer competitive rates that take each writer's circumstances into consideration.

If you would like your work edited by a Campbell Award finalist and Dragon Award winner who edits at a professional level, contact me here.


The Audiobook Talk


If you're a regular reader here, you know how highly I value my readers. The Big Five publishers treat readers as a captive audience whose tastes they can manipulate. I cherish my readers as the people who enable me to write for a living. When my readers have requests or suggestions pertaining to my writing, I listen as carefully as you would to your boss.

I depend on my readers to make my living. When you guys talk, I listen.

Don't believe me? Just ask any of my readers here, on Facebook, Gab, or Twitter about how I offered Nethereal second edition for free to people who'd bought the first version, or how I sent them free epubs when delivery of their print copies was delayed.

Times are tough. Folks need to look out for each other. If you paid your hard-earned money for my books, I look out for you.

Let's talk audiobooks
Ever since I published my first book, people have asked me when the audio version will be out. This told me that there is definitely a demand for audiobooks, so I researched audiobook costs, royalties, and sales trends. The results weren't encouraging--at least not immediately.

Audiobook popularity
Finding out exactly how big the demand for audiobooks is proved to be a daunting task. There is no shortage of sensationalistic articles from mainstream media outlets proclaiming that audiobooks are the future of reading, poised to overtake even eBooks.

But under closer scrutiny, all of these reports start from the false premise that eBook sales are declining. This zombie meme was hatched by the Big Five publishers and dutifully spread by their legacy media buddies to distract the public from the Big Five's collapsing paper distribution monopoly.

I dismantled this fake news here, pointing out that it is only the Big Five whose eBook sales are slipping. It doesn't take a genius to figure out why, since they charge print prices for a bunch of ones and zeroes. Indie now dominates the publishing industry, thanks almost entirely to eBooks.

Unfortunately, all of these stories likewise only cite audiobook sales figures from legacy publishers. When you're charging paperback prices for eBooks, it shouldn't be a surprise when people opt for other formats. The Big Five report that their audiobook sales doubled in 2016, but that doesn't tell me what level of sales to expect as an indie publisher.

In this case, I'm forced to fall back on anecdotal evidence, albeit from reliable sources. Other self-published authors I trust say that audio accounts for 5-10% of their sales. The higher figure is consistent with my print sales, with 90% of my royalties coming from sales of eBooks, so I think it's reasonable to expect that audiobook sales would also amount to 10% of my eBook sales.

Audiobooks aren't books
Another elephant in the room besides audiobooks' unreliably reported popularity is the fact that the term "audiobook" is a misnomer. An audio recording of a book is no more a "book" than the film version is.

Instead, audiobooks are actually extended one-man radio plays. That's not a put-down. Many people, including myself, have listened to and greatly enjoyed radio dramas.

It's important to keep in mind from a business perspective that audiobooks shouldn't be thought of in the same terms as print or even eBooks. People interact with audio in a vastly different way than they relate to print, and while there is some overlap, the book and audiobook markets aren't entirely populated with the same customers.

The takeaway is that audiobooks require a different marketing approach than books do. Producing and selling audiobooks actually means getting into a different business than I'm in now. The production methods and costs associated with audiobooks also couldn't differ more from those of actual books, as we'll see next.

The audio bubble
When I create print and eBooks, the production process is the same. I compose a digital document that can be downloaded as an eBook or printed on demand as a paperback.

By the way, each Soul Cycle trade paperback is now on sale for $14.99.

The primary form of each of my books is the eBook. Producing the print version incurs zero additional costs.

The same cannot be said for audio versions of my books, which are not just more expensive, but prohibitively so.

There are currently two methods of audiobook production available to indie authors.
  1. Hire a narrator at an up-front, one-time fee and distribute via Audible.
  2. Split the royalties with a narrator via ACX's profit sharing scheme and distribute via Audible.
Let's rip off this Band-Aid right up front. Audiobook narrators overcharge. By a lot. Here's proof.

Each of my books so far cost less than $1000 to make. That includes cover design, editing, and formatting.

The most reasonable narrator fee I've been quoted is twice that.

Why should I pay double to produce a product that almost certainly won't double my profits and is far more likely to account for only 10% of my sales?

This isn't a slight against audiobook narrators. They are being good capitalists by taking advantage of the fact that most authors are status-minded rather than business-minded.

When the going price for a product or service far exceeds that commodity's intrinsic value, what you have is an economic bubble. Authors with more disposable cash than sense caused it and continue to feed it by failing to think like publishers.

I write for a living. While my readers' needs are paramount, if I make too many bad financial decisions I won't be in business to supply my customers' needs.

If you write for yourself, validation, or recognition, that's great. People have been pursuing that route forever, and have had a lot of fun along the way. Those people are accurately called amateurs.

Paying audiobook narrators' currently inflated costs makes no sense for professional writers. Don't think like an amateur. Think like a publisher, and make it feasible for professional authors to give readers what they want.

"But what about ACX's proft-sharing option?" Readers and other authors bring this up to me all the time, and I always say the same thing. As bad as paying thousands of dollars up-front is, profit-sharing is much worse.

ACX Royalty Share is a colossal ripoff
Let's break this down. ACX pays 40% royalties on audiobooks. If you don't want to hire a narrator at an one-time fee, ACX will help match you with a narrator. You and the narrator then split that 40% royalty 50/50. Forever.

If that doesn't make you run screaming from ACX Royalty Share, you're either innumerate or have no concept of time.

Here's a concrete example. An audio version of my first book Nethereal would have a total running time of 30 hours. According to ACX's suggested pricing schedule, I could reasonably charge $25.00 for a Nethereal audiobook.

H/t to my friend JimFear138, a pro audiobook narrator who's wisely getting in on the audio bubble while the gettin's good. More power to him!

I earn roughly $5.00 an hour from writing (no 5 day, 40 hour work weeks for me!), which in this market is actually pretty good.

Hiring a narrator at the lowest price I've found to record a 30 hour audiobook means paying over $60.00 an hour. Let's factor in editing, mixing, outtakes, etc. and double the number of man-hours going into the finished audiobook to 60. That's still more than $30.00 an hour.

I'm not paying anyone more than six times my own wage for one-time work. I'm certainly not giving him half of my royalties forever.

That is because royalty sharing gets even more expensive than up front costs really fast.

ACX royalties on a $25.00 audiobook are $10.00. Not terrible.

The author's share after ACX and the narrator take their cut is $5.00. We are now firmly within the eBook royalty range. Ebooks that can be produced for less than half of audiobook costs.

Instead of getting paid a couple grand once, the narrator now gets $5.00 of every audiobook sold forever.

You only have to sell 400 audiobooks to equal that $2000 up-front fee. And you are effectively losing money on every audiobook you sell after that.

"But what if your audiobook is a huge, Larry Correia-sized hit!?" That makes it even worse.

If you sell 10,000 audiobooks, the narrator gets $50,000, and you have now paid $48,000 more for the audiobook than you had to. Congratulations. You are a sap.

"But you got 50 grand, too! That's better than nothing."

I could pay 50 grand to make 50 grand. Or I could save up my eBook and print royalties; then pay 2 grand to make $100,000.

That's thinking like a publisher.

Soul Cycle evangelization
Nobody wanted to hear the uncomfortable truths presented in this article. Frankly, the situation sucks. My fans want audio versions of my books. Believe me, you know I want to supply them.

Audiobook narrators' grossly inflated fees are simply out of my price range. For now.

I refuse to take ACX's royatly sharing option, because it's retarded.

If you're among the fans who desperately want the Soul Cycle in audio, what can you do?

Hint: bugging me about it on social media isn't going to work. It won't put the extra money I need to fund an audiobook in my pocket. My royalties pay my bills. It's poor form asking a guy to not pay rent or buy food for something that probably won't earn its costs back for years. It's no better to suggest that he give up half of his royalties forever.

Is there a win-win solution for everyone? As it happens, yes there is.

Get three friends and/or family members to buy all three of my books.

My critically acclaimed and award-winning Soul Cycle is available right now from Amazon.

As I said above, the print versions are currently all on sale. You can get all three eBook versions for about the same price as a single trade paperback.

Brian Niemeier - The Soul Cycle

There ain't no free lunch, and audiobook don't grow on trees--especially not in this audio bubble economy. If you want something in this world, you have to pay for it. That's a bummer, but we have to deal with reality as it is.

I'm not asking for a handout. My books have proven their value time and again. Jeffro Johnson and Jasyn Jones have pointed out that I am among the new breed of adventure and heroism-oriented authors fighting to take back science fiction from the legacy publishers who all but killed the genre with dull, debauched message fic.

If you want to help spread the Red SF revolution--or if you'd just like Soul Cycle audiobooks, then become a Soul Cycle evangelist.

You have three family members, friends, or coworkers who used to love science fiction, or are desperately clinging to the genre in the hope of something fun and exciting coming along. This is your chance to help them. Introduce them to the Soul Cycle. I know that many of you are passionate about this series, because you tell me. Now is the time to tell them.

If even half of my readers could get three other people to buy all three of my books, we'd have the funds to make a Nethereal audiobook in no time.

I'm doing my part to entertain you and, possibly, save our genre. Whether we meet our goal or not, know that I'm grateful for each of you.

We can do this. Get out there and spread the word!



Paging Dr. Warpig

Daddy Warpig continues his critical tour de force over at the Castalia House blog. This time he returns to warn us that print science fiction has one foot in the grave and another foot on a banana peel.
There’s a sickness in SF, it’s very nearly terminal, and Doctor Warpig is in the house to diagnose the disease and prescribe a cure.
Some of you may be in denial: “Science Fiction is NOT a ghetto! It’s not struggling. It’s just as popular as anything else!”
Let’s put it to a test. Take these three books:
The Three Musketeers. Alice in Wonderland. Treasure Island.
You’ve probably heard of them. And movies and TV shows based on them. And allusions to them. EVERYBODY has.
Now name some post-Pulp prose SF works of equal or greater stature in popular culture. Spoiler alert: You can’t.
From the Silver Age? Nothing. In the Bronze Age? Nothing. And the Iron Age? Nothing. Then the Clay Age? Nothing. (The Golden Age? Tarzan, Batman, and Conan, for starters.)
Since 1940, the only landmark works Science Fiction has given birth to came out of television and cinema: Star Trek and Star Wars. What’s the closest to massive crossover success written SF has had in that same time period? Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games”. AFTER the movies came out.
Written Science Fiction is a ghetto.
In fact, during this time period movies and TV have always had a bigger impact on written SF than the other way around. (Star Wars Expanded Universe, anyone?) It’s been almost 80 years since prose Science Fiction had an impact.
If you don’t impact the popular culture, you’re in a freaking ghetto. Right now, SCOOBY DOO is bigger than Science Fiction.
The whole article is eminently worth reading.

My comment: He's right, you know.

Let's look at one of my favorite graphs, which DW himself cited.

Amazon genre sales

Literary fiction--books about shallow narcissists coming to terms with dying polar bears via hate-sex--is outselling science fiction.

DW is waiting to reveal the cause of this pathology until next time, but the answer is staring us right in the face.

Look at the sci-fi sales numbers for the Big Five New York publishers (purple).

Now look at self-published authors' sci-fi sales (darker blue).

Finally, compare indie sales across genres. Self-pubbed sci-fi sells on a par with mystery and nonfiction, while sci-fi is the Big Five's worst-selling category.

If you haven't put two and two together yet, I'll let Daddy Warpig fill in the blanks for you with his next Castalia House blog post.

And if you're interested in helping to save science fiction, my highly acclaimed Soul Cycle, including Souldancer, the first indie novel to win a Dragon Award, is currently on sale in print.



Amazon Draws Genre Lines

Amazon has warned romance authors not to list their books in the science fiction, fantasy, or children's categories.

Amazon romance warning

I think this is a smart move on Amazon's part, even though I'm notorious for bending genres in my own books.

Proponents of the Pulp Revolution who argue that contemporary genre delineations are arbitrary and artificial have the right of it. Prior to World War II, what was then called science fiction freely blended elements of what critics and retailers now label fantasy, romance, and horror. Sci-fi in magazines and books was a major cultural force back then. Now it's a literary ghetto compared to genre-blending movies and TV shows.

And none of that matters in the slightest where Amazon categories are concerned.

Best selling author Larry Correia, whose work is the closest thing mainstream SFF has to the original pulps, reconciles the Amazon and PulpRev positions when he encourages authors to write what they want and let retailers decide which genre box a book goes in.

The Pulp Revolution is about artistic freedom and literary criticism. Amazon is about selling products to customers--including books.

I fully support authors' freedom to write the books they want to write.

I also strongly believe that readers should read what they want to read.

Amazon's decision to keep romance books out of other genre categories is a benefit to the second proposition. Don't believe me? Ask yourself: how can Amazon customers read what they want if the books they want to read are impossible to find?

Search Amazon for "vampire" books in the horror category. This is the second result:

Amazon vampire search

It's a safe bet that readers looking for stories in the vein of Bram Stoker, Richard Matheson, or Stephen King don't have headless sets of pecs in mind when they search Amazon for vampire horror stories. Even Anne Rice would be a more reasonable search result.

If your muse compels you to write vampire paranormal romance or selkie porn, it's not my place to dissuade you. If you have an audience who will pay you for it, so much the better.

Are current genre definitions arbitrary and restrictive? Yep. But now we're on the business end, and like it or not, the publishing industry succeeded in imposing their definitions on the reading public. We have to work with these marketing confines, whether we like it or not.

The fact is, romance authors have been abusing Amazon's category system for years. Categorizing romance books in other genres makes it difficult for fans of those genres to find books they want. It's in everyone's best interests to place as few obstacles as possible between readers and the books they want to read.

I know that romance authors are complaining about Amazon's new category restrictions. They say it's unfair and will make it harder for romance fans to find their books.

In reality, romance authors who make this argument are being greedy--and needlessly so. Take a look at this Author Earnings chart.

Author Earnings genre sales

Romance already dominates every other genre in terms of sales. Clearly, people are having no trouble at all finding romance books to read.

You could argue that part of this success is due to listing romance books in other categories, but that makes no sense. When people specifically search for sci-fi, fantasy, and horror books, werewolf erotica probably isn't at the forefront of their minds. Likewise, Amazon already has a romance category. People who want romance books can just type "romance" into the search field--unless they're illiterate, in which case, they won't be reading those books, anyway.

I get how tough this business is. Books are among the hardest products to sell. But putting yours in the wrong category just makes it needlessly harder on everybody.

Writing books that defy genre conventions and aren't really like anything else poses a definite marketing challenge. My Dragon Award-winning novel Souldancer has a major subplot that meets all of the romance genre criteria, but I don't list it in the romance category. That's because on the whole it's more like the Pulp-era adventure novels that had classic romance as a major theme than the type of book that's presently called a "romance novel". SD isn't what readers who are primarily interested in contemporary romance are jonesing for, so I don't shoehorn it into that genre box.

Current genre labels suck, but we're stuck with them for now. Luckily, getting around this problem is pretty simple. Write what you want to write. Make it easy for readers to read what they want to read.



Rabid Puppies 3

Rabid Puppies 2017

With the Hugo voting rules changed and Sad Puppies MIA, The Supreme Dark Lord of the Evil Legion of Evil and his Vile Faceless Minions have taken a step back to assess the fruits of past Hugo campaigns and adjust tactics accordingly. The result is Rabid Puppies 2017!

From the mouth of Vox:
The rules are different this year, and so tactics have to change accordingly. One year sooner than anticipated, the Hugos are no longer about single-party domination or single-author award-pimpage, they are now divided between three to five major factions, of whom Tor and Rabid Puppies are merely the most obvious. In order to ensure a seat at the table as a faction, it's now important to limit nominations to one per category in the bigger categories, and an absolute maximum of three in the smaller ones. Two will likely prove to be the optimal number in any category outside the five fiction categories, which this year includes the new Best Series category in addition to the usual four.
Remember, under E Pluribus Hugo, an additional nomination isn't merely wasted, but halves the effectiveness of the primary nomination.
Here's the TL;DR version of the Hugo rules changes.
Under E Pluribus Hugo votes are tallied like this:
  1. First, the total number of nominations from all ballots is tallied for each nominee.
  2. Next, a single point is assigned to each individual voter’s nomination ballot. That point is divided equally among all nominees on that ballot. (After the first round of calculation, it is divided equally between remaining nominees.)
  3. Next, all points from all nomination ballots are totaled for each nominee in that category.
  4. Next, the two nominees with the lowest point totals are compared.
  5. Whichever of those two has the fewest number of nominations is eliminated and removed from all subsequent calculations.
  6. Back to step 1 with the remaining nominees after the elimination.
The above steps are repeated until there are only six nominees left. Those six become the finalists.
In a nutshell, your vote in each category is split between everything you nominate in the whole category.

Furthermore, the SDL offers this important caveat:
If you're not already registered, you can't nominate, so don't sign up now. Especially when you can get four Castalia ebooks and the Rabid Puppies 2017 t-shirt for the same price.
I'll also point out that you can get all three volumes of my Campbell-nominated and Dragon-winning Soul Cycle in print for less than you'd have paid for 2017 Hugo nominating rights. Each of my books also costs less to buy now than the preorder price for Scalzi's latest.

End of sales pitch. On to the official Rabid Puppies 3 list!

An Equation of Almost Infinite Complexity by J. Mulrooney

“This Census-taker” by China Miéville

“Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex” by Stix Hiscock

“An Unimaginable Light” by John C. Wright (God, Robot)

Arts of Dark and Light by Vox Day

Star Wars Art: Ralph McQuarrie by Ralph McQuarrie (Abrams)
The View From the Cheap Seats, Neil Gaiman (Morrow; Headline)


P. Alexander, Cirsova

Vox Day, Castalia House


"The Winds of Winter", Game of Thrones, Miguel Sapochnik, David Benioff & D. B. Weiss

Tomek Radziewicz
JiHun Lee


Castalia House blog

The Rageaholic by Razörfist
Superversive SF

Jeffro Johnson
Morgan (Castalia House)

Alex Garner
Mansik Yang

BEST NEW WRITER (Campbell Award) 
J. Mulrooney

My comment: since I was nominated for the 2016 Campbell Award in my first year of eligibility, a lot of people have expressed interest in nominating me again this year. I deeply appreciate the sentiment, but as Vox made clear, the game has changed.

SP and RP have proved that the Hugos lack all legitimacy as a mark of literary merit. Appearing on the 2016 Sad and Rabid Puppies lists was a higher honor than winning the Campbell would have been, because I know that honest SFF fans who care about quality and entertainment value put me there. Thanks again!

When the Worldcon CHORFs bloc-voted to No Award me, it was a clear statement that they hate the readers I love. If Worldcon wants to alienate the future of the genre, it's their funeral. I took their petty antics and turned them into sales and better awards.

Again, I'm grateful that so many fans want to give me a second shot at the Campbell. You guys are my bosses, and your will is paramount, so listen to your heart on this one. However, I strongly urge everyone who already has 2017 Hugo nominating rights to adhere to the Rabid Puppies list as published. Please support J. Mulrooney, as I hear he wrote a truly extraordinary book.

And remember: this isn't about any one author. This is one move in a grand strategy with bigger objectives than winning discredited awards.

Meanwhile, don't worry about me. I've got multiple new projects in the works, at least one of which is shaping up to be a serious game changer.

Hugo delenda est.

Brian Niemeier - The Soul Cycle



Soul Cycle TPB Sale

Scalzi - Collapsing Empire price

Tor Books has slashed the hardcover pre-order price of John Scalzi's The Collapsing Empire to $15.41 two weeks prior to its release. As a demonstration of how nontraditional publishers can react to market forces with greater agility and flexibility than the Big Five New York publishers, I'm pleased to announce that the print versions of all three volumes of my award-winning Soul Cycle are now on sale for $14.99 each.

That's right. Campbell Award-worthy Nethereal, Dragon Award-winner and CLFA Book of the Year finalist Souldancer, and fan favorite The Secret Kings are all just $14.99 in trade paperback.

Note on the links above: people often ask me whether I prefer that they buy the print versions of my books through Amazon or CreateSpace. While I do earn significantly higher royalties from CreateSpace, I understand that customers are loyal to their preferred sales channels. That's why I've provided both Amazon and CreateSpace links in this post (and in the right sidebar).

If you're unfamiliar with my work, here's what reviewers are saying about the books of the Soul Cycle.

Brian Niemeier - Nethereal
I've read first two books of The Soul Cycle (third is waiting in queue) and I'm not a man of many words but I absolutely agree with the another reviewer: It is the most unique sci-fi story I have experienced in many many years. It is not only sci-fi but great epic adventure with sublime romance and lovecraftian atmosphere in beautiful universe full of awe, terror and danger. If I'm not mistaken it's his first book but nobody could guess it because it's so well crafted. It is a hidden gem for many sci-fi readers/fans.

Brian Niemeier - Souldancer
This book is unlike any other. Even the first book doesn't prepare you for the weirdness of this one. What's even more strange is that a significant part of this is a love story; the most twisted, deranged, metaphysical love story you can imagine.
I finished it last night and I'm still trying to wrap my head around the ending. It's one of those thinking pieces. And it obviously sets up more to come. But it was satisfying. And I've got the third book sitting right here next to me.

Brian Niemeier - The Secret Kings
This series never ceases to amaze me.
As great as the first two novels were, I was not certain how the narrative threads from each novel would be woven together. However, Brian Niemeier is apparently a literary seamstress extraordinaire. All the plot points from the first novel and the second novel are woven together expertly in this novel.
I guarantee you will struggle to put this down. Once the final few chapters are ready to begin, forget about sleep, forget about work, you will just READ.

Something big is happening in the SFF field. More and more people whose love of reading was nearly killed by pretentious high school lit teachers and elitist New York editors who pushed their snobbish tastes on the rest of us are saying that my books helped reignite their passion for science fiction and fantasy.

It's not just me, either. The fine folks at the Castalia House blog are reporting more traffic than Scalzi's former "biggest blog in science fiction". Cirsova Magazine is innovating a new, successful short fiction market while turning heads. The Puppy of the Month Book Club is bringing in-depth reviews of forgotten pulp classics to a generation that was robbed of its past.

This is just the beginning. What we've got here are front row seats to a literary preference cascade.




Did you miss the latest episode of Geek Gab when it aired live? That's OK. Catch the replay of our exciting conversation with audiobook narrator JimFear138 on YouTube below or listen to the audio only version on SoundCloud.

Thanks to Jim for sharing some of the secrets of professional audiobook recording! He also left a rave review of my first novel Nethereal, which I encourage you to check out.

On a related note, thanks to everyone who participated in Jon Mollison's Three for Three Amazon Review Day. Thank to you, Souldancer has passed the halfway mark to the magic number of 50 reviews, Nethereal is on shy of 60, and even newcomer The Secret Kings is up to 14. If you've read any or all of these crowd-pleasing SFF adventures but haven't gotten around to leaving Amazon reviews, there's no time like the present.