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



  1. The dimbulbs at Tor don't seem to understand that they've just given Castalia House a fortune in free publicity. I mention this all the time, and the dimbulbs (all over the place in publishing and elsewhere in the leftosphere) just keep doing it.

    It's also a beautiful cover, subtle, and (if you have any sense of irony at all) hilarious. The only change I would have made is to make the byline "Harry Seldom." One doesn't see humor at this scale very often, heh.

    Well played.

    1. What's it like to be the Cassandra of sci-fi, Jeff? ;)

    2. Not a problem, really: Nobody listens to old guys anyway.

      I'm going to read this one. If it's well-received, maybe they should do Corrosion and Empire and Still More Corrosion.

    3. Wouldn't that be Second Corrosion? Corrosion's End? Ay, Corrosion!

    4. Against Corrosion the Gods Themselves...

  2. i can't tell these days the difference between parody and reality...

    1. ever since nov. 8, i've felt like i've been living in the twilight zone. it was supposed to be the trump-supporters that were going to go all immature when trump lost.
      it was supposed to be a neat nice gentle handing over in terms of the paradigms. the losers are acting like they've won and the winners just having same old fun.

    2. The losers in question have been conditioned their whole lives to expect that they would march from victory to victory forever.

      Cognitive dissonance is a bitch.

  3. To be fair, several people said Tor might try something, and Vox just laughed at them. And I imagine he's still going to be laughing all the way the bank.

    Seriously though, looks like he anticipated this, and it was literally no skin off his nose. Yet more reasons to never underestimate the Dark Lord. What I thought was hubris, was actually Vox goading Tor into doing what he wanted.

    Unfortunately we will never be able to read Finland's hottest writer. Hopefully this Harry chap can deliver.

    1. Like Jeff said on Twitter: "Publishing is chess."

      Some were concerned that Castalia House was inviting legal action with The Corroding Empire. Actually, according to one attorney I spoke with, it's Tor who are opening themselves up to a suit for tortiable interference with CH's business.

      It'll be interesting to see where this goes.

    2. Anomenat

      Who is Finland's hottest writer and why can'take we read hom/her?

      Once I get the name I'll check out if the writer'so been translated in other languages

    3. It's a humorous title for "Johan Kalsi". We can't read him because Amazon made Castalia House change the author's name to "Harry Seldon".

    4. Vox rightly laughed these concerns off because the idea of Amazon censoring a clear-cut example of parody, which any reasonable consumer can discern between, was so ridiculous.

      However, Insane Reality once again vanquished Rationality and Precedent.

      Nice to see that Castalia had a counter ready even for this unlikely scenario.

  4. Brian

    Thanks. So his Finnish name is far too close to an Italian name. ;) Got it.

    Well i'll gave to think about buying the book. Is it availabe in epub? I might head over to kobo and take a look

    1. Yeah, I guess you didn't see the initial press release.

      >Johan Kalsi is Finland's hottest science fiction author. An accomplished geneticist as well as a 6'3" ex-Finnish Marine, in THE CORRODING EMPIRE, Kalsi shows himself to be more Asimovian than Asimov himself.

      I'm not sure which country this Harry Seldon fellow is the hottest SF writer of, but I'm sure his bio for the next press release will be funny.

    2. Hi xavier, you can get the epub here. It's also the only way to get it with the original cover.


    3. @xavier: You're welcome.

      @Markku: Congratulations are in order. Thanks to Tor's blunder, I expect that Corrosion will exceed even The Corroding Empire's sales expectations.

    4. I'll expect that we'll get decent mileage out of all this. Right now Amazon is dragging their feet with adding the book back. They assure us that there is no problem and everything is fine after our changes, yet the book does not appear. We will wait a bit more. And then most likely get a second round of free publicity from THAT.

    5. Antifragility is a wonderful thing.

  5. Catalia House is playing Grand Master level chess. Across the table, Tor is playing two-year-old level checkers.

    BTW, for those Tor people checking out the comments: I wasn't going to buy Corroding until you pulled this stunt. Now I will and I still won't ever pay a penny for anything Scalzi writes.

    Castalia House no doubt thanks you for the increase in sales.

    1. Welcome aboard. Knowing that Tor will only double down makes their imminent demise all the more gratifying.

      Pick a good spot to set up your lawn chair, and stock up on popcorn!

    2. Same here. I wasn't willing to pony up $5 for a joke aimed at an author I personally despise, until Tor and Amazon conspired to kill it. And sod Scalzi with a chainsaw.

      --Wes S.

    3. That seems to be the consensus.

    4. And now that "Corroding Empire" is back up at Amazon for the moment under its original title and cover - I say "for the moment" because somebody at Amazon is still playing games with blocking it - I just purchased and downloaded it.

      You know, I think from now on I'm going to take a page from that ancient Roman Senator who concluded every speech with "Cartago delenda est." Except in my case I'll just end every blog post of mine with "Sod Scalzi with a chainsaw." Heh.

      --Wes S.

  6. If you check Vox Popoli, you will find that the saga has taken a turn towards the absurd...

    1. Whoa. You ain't kiddin'.

      Rogue SJW employees at Amazon keeping an approved book from going live?

      We're through the looking glass, people.

  7. so original covers will be collectors items?

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.