To See or Not to See

An anonymous reader poses a timely and vitally important question for anyone who is torn between not giving money to people who hate him and supporting innocent creatives who might be harmed by a boycott.
Diversity and Comics and others have argued that we should support the few unconverged titles to encourage a shift to Marvel/Disney making more of those and less of the poisonous ones. He roasts bad comics, but recommends the ones he finds to be good.
I'll stand by the Infinity War movie's quality, but I've had a debate about whether it's better to pirate the movie or reward it with money as a sign to do more of the same.
Your take?
Author JD Cowan beats me to the punch:
I'm not Brian, but I will say that when it comes to the MCU that it doesn't really matter at this point. Avengers 4 is basically the grand finale of this whole thing (even if Marvel will fight tooth and nail against it) and there is little anyone can do to deter one from watching it after a decade's investment. After that? I expect many will be walking away, especially with the rumor of them heading to SJW territory. That's when they should be hit hardest by withholding wallets.
That is sort of the same thing with DC and Marvel. There are a few titles that aren't in the toilet, and some hold out hope that DC isn't converged (at least they do not allow their writers and artists to insult customers, so there's that) but it would probably do better to find other companies or creators that are more willing to cater to their audiences. I have no problem supporting a book if the writer and artist do not hate me despite never meeting me.
Also, D&C is a good guy, but he also recommended the new Dr. Strange comic as it was good. But it was still written by Mark Waid, and he knows known of his viewers will buy it.
I second what JD said. Since he covered the practicalities from the consumer angle, I'll give you my take from the POV of the talent.

It's certainly important to consider the effects of a boycott on innocent parties whose wallets may take a hit in the crossfire.

But consider this, too: Ethan Van Sciver recently gave his fans a glimpse into working conditions at DC, by many accounts the less converged of the Big Two, and he described stealth Republican talent hiding under desks.

EVS also shed light on the dire state of creator compensation. The legacy comics industry is already a business where only a handful of rock stars are making decent money while most of the guys in the bullpen have trouble making ends meet. And that's without us boycotting.

My question to you is, why would you want the comic writers and artists you care about to keep working for publishers where they don't earn a living and must endure abuse from their SJW coworkers?

Richard and Ethan have shown that going back to a modified patronage model is a viable way to thrive in comics. Going indie is the best option for comic artists and writers. The Big Twos' demise would give them excellent encouragement.

A lot of folks have asked me for practical advice on how to navigate the minefield that is clown world culture without going full Uncle Ted or stepping on honest, hardworking artists. I'm not the grand inquisitor of consumer media. Don't give money to people who hate you is an exhortation, and everyone decides his own level of involvement.

Here's my advice: Sit down and draw up a written monthly budget. It's a good idea for everybody to have a budget, anyway. Once you know where each and every one of your dollars is going, it's time to do some research. Look up the corporations that produce the entertainment you consume to find out if they're SJW-converged. If so, how deep does the rot go? This information is easy to find in the internet age. Just browse authors', artists', and directors' Twitter feeds.

Once you've determined how much the media companies you patronize hate you, it's your call on how to proceed. Some readers tell me they take a gradual approach like easing into a hot tub. They do their budgets each month and pick one pozzed outlet to cut from their lives. Others have cannonballed into the chilly lake and gone cold turkey.

Whichever approach works best for you, don't forget to keep supporting independent creators who want to tell you entertaining stories instead of lecturing you. My reader-acclaimed Soul Cycle series is on sale in eBook and paperback for just one more day. Buy it now!

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier


Death by Copyright

Protest Mickey

Yesterday I covered Disney's criminal underpayment of animators and called for the government to launch an anti-trust suit against them. Reader Man of the Atom reminded me of more unsavory Disney shenanigans that present another way to take them down.

From Priceonomics:
For Disney, Mickey Mouse is not just a huge money maker, but the company’s most coveted piece of intellectual property. Mickey is Disney, and Disney is Mickey: the two are simply one and the same, and nothing is more important to Disney than his well-being. (“I love Mickey Mouse more than any woman I have ever known,” Walt Disney once famously said).
For this reason, Disney has done everything in its power to make sure it retains the copyright on Mickey -- even if that means changing federal statutes. Every time Mickey’s copyright is about to expire, Disney spends millions lobbying Congress for extensions, and trading campaign contributions for legislative support. With crushing legal force, they’ve squelched anyone who attempts to disagree with them.
Let Disney's undue influence over US lawmaking serve as a sobering rebuke to free market worshipers. An animation company now wields so much power over Congress that we can rightly be said to have a Mickey Mouse government.
By the mid-1990s, Disney again began to feel the impending doom. In addition to the 2003 expiration of Mickey’s copyright, Pluto was set to expire in 2005, Goofy in 2007, and Donald Duck in 2009. The gang, collectively worth billions, had to be retained, so Disney began lobbying again.
In 1997, Congress introduced the Copyright Term Extension Act, which proposed to extend corporate copyrights again -- this time, from 75 to 95 years. To ensure the bill passed, Disney cozied up to legislators.
Watchdog records show that the Disney Political Action Committee (PAC) paid out a total of $149,612 in direct campaign contributions to those considering the bill. Of the bill’s 25 sponsors (12 in the Senate, and 13 in the House), 19 received money from Disney’s CEO, Michael Eisner. In one instance, Eisner paid Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) $1,000 on the very same day that he signed on as a co-sponsor.
Here's a handy chart showing Disney's lobbying efforts over time:

Mickey Mouse copyright chart

On October 27, 1998, Mickey Mouse’s copyright was extended another 20 years, to 2023.
That means Disney's undead copyright on Mickey Mouse is set to expire halfway through Trump's second term. Not only will he have replaced Kennedy by then, but probably also Breyer and Ginsburg--the latter of whom wrote this decision:
In the opinion of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the language set forth in the Constitution -- that the role of the copyright was to “promote the progress of science and useful arts" -- did not limit the power of Congress to change the law.
An anti-trust suit would be like shining sun on a plague-spreading vampire. But now we've got another weapon: death by copyright. Disney's deep pockets will probably be able to buy Congress the next time Mickey nears his expiration date, but we finally have a President who just might veto it. Meanwhile, somebody should challenge Congress' power to infinitely extend copyright in court again. It would be interesting to see how they'd fare with Ginsberg gone, though even a SCOTUS stacked 7-2 in our favor wouldn't be a sure bet.

Luckily, there's no reason we can't do both. Hit Disney with an anti-trust case, and KO them with a copyright extension denial. That's what playing to win the culture war looks like.

And I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is on this one. I'm an independent author. Copyright gives my work important legal protections. I support copyright reform, though, since there's data indicating that copyright law had a chilling effect on my business in the mid-twentieth century.

Copyright New Books

In the meantime, I remain in complete control of my work--which is why I can offer you my thrilling Soul Cycle series on sale in print and eBook. This deal only lasts for two more days. Get the whole mind-bending series now!

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier


Bust the Mouse Trust

animation studio lawsuit

Disney's recent financial woes just deepened to the tune of $150 million.
After more than a year of waiting, animation workers will soon receive the first payment from the $170 million settlement they won from various animation studios. The class action lawsuit against the studios alleged long-term wage theft and antritrust violations.
All but $20 million of that settlement is coming from Disney. Toss it into the (conservatively) $80 million sinkhole that is Soylo.
The lawsuit was sparked after it became clear that animation studios had colluded for years to set salary limits and avoid hiring artists from other studios, thereby circumventing the free market for the skills and talents of their employees.
Nathan Housley draws an intriguing connection to other breaking Disney news over on Google+.
There's been rumors of a secret meeting between the CEO of Disney and Lucasfilm, Marvel, and Pixar. Star Wars fans are reporting that he put Lucasfilm on blast. Marvel Comics' problems are familiar to ComicsGate. I wondered why Pixar might be there. Now I know:
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit presented substantial evidence that implicated Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios president Ed Catmull as a ringleader of the illegal wage-fixing scheme. The Walt Disney Company has done nothing to reprimand or punish Catmull for his questionable actions, and he continues to serve as the leader for both Disney and Pixar animation studios.
Frankly, it isn't Kathleen Kennedy that has to go, but Bob Iger. Pixar, Lucasfilm, ESPN, Marvel, Disney Channel starlet scandals--these all happened under his watch. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised to hear that the Disney porn studio from the 1980s revved up again. 
At this point, there are no depths of depravity to which Disney might sink that would surprise me. It would be amusing to see their no doubt intersectionally inclusive, body positive, genderfluid porn bomb. The SJW freakout would be even more spectacular than the tantrum they're throwing over Star Wars.

What's abundantly clear is that for the arts to thrive again, it behooves the President to go full Trust Buster on the Mouse. Especially now that the Supreme Court will henceforth be, shall we say, more amenable to his agenda.

Reminder: You have just three days left to get the thrilling, politics and intersectional porn-free Soul Cycle on sale in print and digital!

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier


False Moral Equivalence

A blogger finds fault with my moral calculus equating paypigs who sell out their culture for a pot of message fic to Americans who aided and abetted communists.
“Stop giving money to people who hate you.”
Brian Niemeier has taken this to an extreme:
From now on, I will regard anyone buying a Marvel or DC comic or a ticket to a Disney movie as morally equivalent to an American who gave aid and comfort to known Communist spies during the Cold War. SJWs want me banished from society and killed. If you buy their products, you advance their goal.
Is Brian going to treat the people who buy his books on Amazon like Communist sympathizers too?  Because this is what I saw on Amazon last night:
Trans Amazon

Just because Amazon isn’t as converged as Disney doesn’t mean that they’re not going to go down a similar path in the near future and screw over all of us.  Clearly they’re already working on their part to destroy western civilization.  But I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for all the right-leaning indie authors to pull their books off Amazon.  That’s where the money is.
How do you stop giving money to people who hate you when everybody hates you?
It's a sadly common scene in America these days: The addict lashes out at friends trying to cure him of the vice that's destroying him. This clumsy effort to paint me as a hypocrite by drawing a false moral equivalence between proximate cooperation with Disney and remote cooperation with Amazon sounds more like the squealing of Disney paypigs wallowing in the muck, shivering for their next fix of poz slop.

That's the problem with trying to deflect attention from the beam in your eye by pointing out the motes in others'.

But the accusations have been leveled, so I'll dispense with the charges in turn.

1. Brian Niemeier has taken this to an extreme...

The accusation of extremism, a shopworn rhetorical jab of the Left. I could stop right here since my accuser is clearly proceeding in bad faith, but he's given us an excellent teachable moment.

Communist infiltrators of yesteryear sought to converge American cultural institutions to destroy Western civilization. Anyone who financially supported them--say, a Hollywood studio chief who employed commie screenwriters--rendered proximate material cooperation to their diabolical project.

Disney--not just the writers; the whole studio--has been fully converged by cultural Marxists hellbent on destroying Western civilization. Paying them for their movies renders proximate material cooperation to their diabolical project.

These statements take nothing "to an extreme". They point out a real moral equivalence. It's not on me if being confronted with the true moral character of your entertainment choices triggers your amygdalae.

2. Is Brian going to treat the people who buy his books on Amazon like Communist sympathizers too?


Again, I could stop right there. Anyone who's paid any amount of attention to this blog knows my position on an author's relationship to his readers.

But because this false moral equivalence is even stupider than dismissing a readily observable fact as "extreme", I'll lay this out for anyone who might be tempted to take this guy's pearl-clutching seriously.

First, implying I'm any kind of Amazon sycophant is just dumb. I've never hesitated to call them out when they've messed up before, and I won't hesitate to call them out in the future if they mess up again.

Speaking of which, the Amazon Stories ad above definitely qualifies. Bad Amazon! For shame.

With that shit test out of the way, the OP himself admits that a) Amazon is not fully converged and b) Amazon is where the money is. The point of getting into any business, publishing included, is to make a profit. There are always edge cases, but for 99.999% of authors Amazon is the only game in town.

But since they're not fully converged--Nick Cole and Vox Day agree it's mainly just some mid-level SJWs who're easily bypassed--dealing with Amazon is at worst remote material cooperation with evil; not proximate cooperation like paying to see Soylo.

The OP does make a valid point. The situation has deteriorated to the stage where it's impossible to conduct our daily lives without cooperating with evil in some small way. The Bible forewarned us this would happen.

How did it come to this? I've written about that, too. The founders of our institutions, largely conservatives by today's standards, gave away the farm to the Left. I'd love to avoid dealing with Lefties altogether, but thanks to the Right's incorrigible tendency to sell out, that's not an option.

Western civilizationalist authors like Nick Cole, John C. Wright, and myself have to play the cards we're dealt at the only available table, and right now Amazon runs that table. Luckily they run it pretty fair, so guys like us at least have a chance to win. Which we are. Bigly. We can keep winning at Amazon's game, or we can cave to false moral equivalencies, fold, and go home. Which would you prefer, dear readers?

3. Just because Amazon isn’t as converged as Disney doesn’t mean that they’re not going to go down a similar path in the near future and screw over all of us.

This shit again. It's just a political twist on the old zombie meme deployed by Stockholm syndrome-riddled legacy pub authors. "Amazon pays great royalties now, but they might not later, so you'd better stick with the Big Five publishers who pay eight percent!"

To crib from Stefan Molyneux, the atheist who somehow manages to be holy to his fingertips, that's not an argument. Next!

4. But I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for all the right-leaning indie authors to pull their books off Amazon.  That’s where the money is.

The OP is telling right-leaning authors to pull their books from Amazon, even though he admits in the same paragraph that they're not as converged as Disney and they're the only way for us to make money. Dealing with Amazon is a requirement of my job--much as it is for millions of others. Shelling out ten bucks to be insulted by Disney isn't (yet) mandatory.

If he's got that much free time he doesn't know what to do with, might I suggest he check out the cornucopia of public domain movies available for free online. The classic noir film The Big Combo comes highly recommended.

Much as I'd love to jump through more rhetorical hoops, I'd rather keep making a living while doing my small part to rebuild the canon of science fiction.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

UPDATE: Post redacted to remove the original poster's identifying information.


Overcome or Succumb

Tom Sawyer Painting Fence
Background: Artist.
Foreground: "Artiste".
Forget everything you've been force-fed by the literati about artists being special snowflakes exempted from the laws of supply and demand because they serve only the whims of the muse. To succeed, novelists must be no less market-facing than plumbers or lawyers.

Friend of the blog Bradford Walker helpfully collates one of my recent Twitter threads and offers his incisive commentary on the subject of art vs. business (hint: it's a false dichotomy).

A reality check for writers who may have been taken in by Chuck, The-Evil-That-Devours:
  1. The correct definition of "art", universally known before Modernism muddied the waters, is "a work performed to a standard".
  2. Painting a fence is no less an art than painting a still life.
  3. To qualify as art, a work must conform to an objective standard. Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. The difference between good and bad art is real and independent of the observer.
  4. Consumers of art have a right to hold artisans to the professional standards of their field. A reader is no less justified in complaining about a badly written novel than a homeowner is in complaining to a contractor about a shoddily build garage.
  5. A product is indeed judged by how well it serves its purpose.
The purpose of a novel is to entertain.

You, the author, are indeed a monkey dancing and capering for the reader's amusement. You are the servant, not the master. You are a clown.

When a reader spends hard-earned money that could have paid for movies, video games, or beer on your clowning, you are to be grateful.

Every author secretly fears he is a fraud. He is right. Heed this advice, or be exposed for the big-shoed, red-nosed joke you are.

Clown Scalzi

Here's Bradford:
The SJWs in our entertainment media, the ones whining about Muh Toxic Fandom, know that they can't compete. What they want to do is take over stuff they think is Too Big To Fail, and find their sustenance by taxpayer subsidies and art grants and so on- just like they're used to from academia.
What this does is shift the criteria for success from merit in competition to satisfy a customer (and yes, you ARE a customer of Star Wars, et. al., contrary to the bullshit spawned by minor Mouse Wars functionaries) to social status signalling and random selection. This shifts the grounds for contention from making something of substance to attention-whoring and ingroup/outgroup politics to game the odds of receiving unearned windfalls from a (seemingly) limitless cornucopia of currency.
The nigh-universal conquest of our institutions by the Left has not only artificially insulated SJWs from the fiscal consequences of their cultural vandalism, it has engendered the strange phenomenon of SJWs "failing up" within a converged industry. A token editor who runs a venerable publication into the ground, but who checks the right Diversity™ boxes won't be fired or even disciplined. Xe will get a lateral promotion to another converged but not yet terminal organization.

To save the West, we must cut the strings on SJWs' golden parachutes. Bradford tells us how.
The way to defeat them is to deny them the escape they seek. Put them on Death Ground. Either they overcome, or they succumb, and if they overcome the way is open to regenerate their morality and make them into one of us- a real Saul-on-the-Road moment.
The way to deny them is to show them up, loudly and proudly, by demonstrating how you better serve the customer than they do- by making and selling superior alternatives to something that they've hollowed out into a husk wearing a skinsuit that is a formerly good brand. They show up and expect that peacocking will suffice. You show up, lap them several times while drifting and doing donuts around them, and now their customers are yours and they wonder who's going to buy their milkshakes and pay off their student loans.
There's the play. Now go forth and do likewise. If you need help--and who doesn't?--I offer professional editing services to help driven, talented, and most of all, normal people get behind the wheel and in the race.

Bonus round: My tweet thread wasn't only intended for new authors' instruction. I also designed it as an inkblot test to gauge aspirants' attitudes toward art. A helpful contestant volunteered to serve as a warning to others.


The moral of the story? Don't be a chump. Be market-facing.

This reader gets it:

Gives a shit

As always, you are invited to judge for yourself. My reader-praised Soul Cycle is still on sale in print and digital for just five more days. Get it now!

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier


Engels over Ingalls

Laura Ingalls Wilder - Little House on the Prairie

The American Library Association has removed the name of beloved American author Laura Ingalls Wilder from their children's literary award.
Laura Ingalls Wilder's name is set to be removed from a major children's book award after concerns were raised about the "Little House on the Prairie" author's depiction of certain races in the early-to-mid 20th century.
The Association of Library Service to Children's (ALSC) board voted unanimously on Saturday to rename the "Laura Ingalls Wilder Award" as the "Children’s Literature Legacy Award."
A close relative belonged to the ALA for years out of work-related necessity, so I've known for some time that they're a contemptible hive of Leftist groupthink. Their latest round of virtue signaling is hardly a surprise.

Neither is this critical detail:
The association, which took the vote at its board meeting in New Orleans, said the vote "was greeted by a standing ovation by the audience in attendance."
I'm going keep beating this drum until every oblivious normie is roused from his oblivious slumber. The Left hates you. They actively want to usurp and destroy your heritage, and they take vicious delight in cultural vandalism.

You could end the freak carnival tomorrow, America. When will you find the will to do it?

Perhaps you'll find the inspiration by reading another series of award-winning novels.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier


The Bowtie Strikes Back


A major contributing factor to the rise of the new right is the total regulatory capture of purported conservative watchdogs by the Leftist media. The great sellout started with William F. Buckley, whose main job at National Review was making sure actual conservatives were replaced with quisling pod people like George Will.

Contemptible as white paper and bow tie right's betrayal was, their motives were at least understandable. Instead of settling for a  lousy 30 pieces of silver, they got cushy low work/high pay jobs at globalist billionaire-funded magazines and think tanks. They could pretend to fight the good fight while actually policing their own side to make sure the Overton window kept drifting leftward.

The brass ring for podservatives has always been the coveted position of token house conservative at a big Lefy rag like The New York Times. Will is the epitome of the breed. He recently shed his skinsuit in his regular Washington Post column by urging Conservatives to flip both houses of Congress over to the Democrats this November.

I'll spare you the tedious particulars. As you'd imagine, Will's "I'll take my ball and go home!" pouting fit could've been written by a bot that's been fed a steady diet of Commentary Magazine articles, Cato Institute papers, and Glenn Beck monologues.

Will even couches his call to surrender in cynical rhetoric invoking the manufactured "family separation crisis" that's a transparent as Reynolds wrap. It's all there: inside baseball Constitution references, paeans to losing with honor, and appeals to nebulous "principles" that boil down to letting increasingly feral Dems retake the reins of power and enact their most paranoid revenge fantasies.

Here's a safety tip: If anyone seriously suggests that the Left can ever again be allowed near the levers of power after the mainstream media has spent almost two years whipping them into a frothing psychotic rage with fake news claiming the election was illegitimate, he hates you and should be mocked into oblivion.

Especially effete, spergy atheists all too eager to sell future generations of Americans down the river to protect their ivory tower sinecures.

Attention, George Will: You are not one of us. You are a fake American. You have to go back.

Happily, the whole reason Will had to drop the mask is because more and more of his audience are getting wise to the podservative con. Trump proved it's possible to win, and he's showing us how. The NRO set, whose salaries and country club memberships depend on normal Americans staying lulled into accepting the long defeat narrative are exposing themselves as Democrat shills with their feeble opposition to the President.

November is gonna be fun.

Reminder: There's just one week left to get my award-winning Soul Cycle series on sale in digital and paperback!

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier


Tradpub Death Spasm

Lionel Shriver

Tradpub is dying, but a mortally wounded beast's death throes can be dangerous, as best selling author Lionel Shriver (pictured) discovered to her sorrow.

James Delingpole reports:
Publishing giant Penguin Random House has announced that its authors are no longer to be chosen on literary merit but according to a politically correct quota system “taking into account ethnicity, gender, sexuality, social mobility and disability”.
This is mad, stupid, and insulting. But not nearly as mad, stupid, and insulting as the decision by the Mslexia Short Story Prize, a literary competition for women authors, to sack one of its judges Lionel Shriver as a punishment for daring to criticise the new policy.
What did Shriver say to get the award admins' panties in a bunch (which, judging by the name Mslexia Prize, is probably no more difficult than coaxing a blue-haired land whale into having a third serving of ice cream-topped skillet cookie)?

Fish Cake
I’d been suffering under the misguided illusion that the purpose of mainstream publishers like Penguin Random House was to sell and promote fine writing. A colleague’s forwarded email has set me straight. Sent to a literary agent, presumably this letter was also fired off to the agents of the entire Penguin Random House stable. The email cites the publisher’s ‘new company-wide goal’: for ‘both our new hires and the authors we acquire to reflect UK society by 2025.’ (Gotta love that shouty boldface.) ‘This means we want our authors and new colleagues to reflect the UK population taking into account ethnicity, gender, sexuality, social mobility and disability.’ The email proudly proclaims that the company has removed ‘the need for a university degree from nearly all our jobs’ — which, if my manuscript were being copy-edited and proof-read by folks whose university-educated predecessors already exhibited horrifyingly weak grammar and punctuation, I would find alarming.
 Preach it, sister!
Drunk on virtue, Penguin Random House no longer regards the company’s raison d’ĂȘtre as the acquisition and dissemination of good books. Rather, the organisation aims to mirror the percentages of minorities in the UK population with statistical precision. Thus from now until 2025, literary excellence will be secondary to ticking all those ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual preference and crap-education boxes. We can safely infer from that email that if an agent submits a manuscript written by a gay transgender Caribbean who dropped out of school at seven and powers around town on a mobility scooter, it will be published, whether or not said manuscript is an incoherent, tedious, meandering and insensible pile of mixed-paper recycling. Good luck with that business model. Publishers may eschew standards, but readers will still have some.
Attention, Penguin House:


The Independent dredged up a queer #fakebrit to rebut Shriver's scathing affirmation of reality.
How we are taught to judge “good work” is inextricably rooted in the structures of social and racial privilege. Unconscious biases sit at the heart of invisible prejudices, and when we have been fed on a culture defined by the privileged, it leads to a cultural taste of works from the privileged – and so the vicious cycle perpetuates.
Shriver seems to believe that there is some sort of abstract ideal of good-quality writing, but this is a complete and utter fallacy dripping with privilege. This “ideal” no doubt upholds writing that has benefited from a high-quality education, and with this comes the perils of class and racial privilege.
Frankly, I'm not sure there can be any reasoned objection to that internally consistent and eminently convincing argument. Nonetheless, I shall endeavor to present a logically sound and valid syllogism in an attempt to refute the esteemed Cambridge graduate's claims.

Nah. Think I'll just post his picture.


Behold the new face of legacy publishing! Look on Random Penguins' works, ye mighty, but stock up on eye bleach.

Right now, many of you are no doubt saying, "Traditional publishers are delusional if they think signing authors based on intersectionalist check boxes is a sound business plan. They'll lose their (rainbow-striped) shirts within a month!"

To you I say, yes. Tradpub is already losing billions as newpub and Amazon eat into their reader base. Now the Big Five publishers are doing the same song and dance as the SJWs in gaming and Hollywood. Penguin's new author selection criteria are their way of signaling that normal people are no longer welcome as employees, authors, or readers.

SJWs converge organizations after the smart players have already moved on. They wear the once-respected institution's flayed hide as a skinsuit to peddle spiritual poison to the public. Don't boycott converged businesses in the false hope that they'll change their ways. Satan will gladly lose a billion dollars to damn one soul. Instead, stop giving money to people who hate you so you won't be complicit in their diabolical schemes.

Luckily, indie lets dissenters from the SJW death cult easily bring objectively good stories to tradpub's alienated audience of normal people. Get my award-winning Soul Cycle adventure series on sale now!

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier


ComicsGate in Pictures

Chris Braly of Bleeding Fool provides proof of the SJW convergence at Marvel and DC that led to #ComicsGate, complete with visual aids.

The following tweets were all posted by former and current creators with Marvel and DC Comics.

Rivera - Triggered AF


Spencer blind hate

It is utterly baffling to me how some normal people can remain oblivious to the glaring fact, howled by SJWs from their New York and LA rooftops, that they hate you just for being normal.

The authors of these tweets may sound like unhinged street corner cranks. They are not. These are the people who write and draw major comics titles at the Big Two comic book publishers. They are members of a satanic death cult that demands rigid conformity of thought among its adherents, so you can be certain that their fellow travelers in the music, television, and film industries have the same spiritual disease.

I'll say it again, and I'll keep saying it until reality finally penetrates the thick skulls of people who still pay for comics by Marvel and DC, movies by Disney, and NFL games.


I'm going to level with you. Look at these tweets. Really look at them. Read them carefully. You may feel the urge to assume that the SJWs who wish you dead are kidding. They are not kidding, as the countless normal people whose livelihoods have been stripped away and the GOP politicians and voters who've been physically assaulted--sometimes with lethal force--can attest.

From now on, I will regard anyone buying a Marvel or DC comic or a ticket to a Disney movie as morally equivalent to an American who gave aid and comfort to known Communist spies during the Cold War. SJWs want me banished from society and killed. If you buy their products, you advance their goal.

Save the excuses. No one needs yet another YouTube review performing a colonoscopy on the latest Disney agitprop. There's already superabundant proof they're converged. At this point, you're just chasing clicks. As for your wife and/or kids begging to go see Incredibles 2, why the hell would you subject them to a thinly veiled 90 minutes hate?

If you're still rationalizing your continued consumption of SJW converged media, take a long, hard look in the mirror, because you're looking at an addict. Don't be surprised. The Ministry of Truth has been refining their techniques to make this filth addictive for a long time.

Might you have to stop seeing new movies and TV shows altogether? Yeah. So what? You've got better things to do. There's a civilization to rebuild. At the very least, go the fuck outside. Plant a tree. Build a series of dioramas on how windshields are made. Just stop feeding the beast.

Back to Chris Braly, who recounts his own run-in with the monster created by decades of complacency:
I’ve personally experienced this first hand. A former host of the Comic Geek Speak podcast didn’t like my opinions on the forums, so he blocked my Twitter account from being able to view the podcast’s tweets. After blocking me (even though I had never engaged the account), this SJW began to repeatedly subtweet screen caps of mine to insult me for my libertarian politics and constantly insinuated that I was racist, bigoted, and so on, attacking me safely behind his Twitter block. He was never willing to respond to any direct messages from me asking for peace, but always protected by a tiny handful of sycophants that would faithfully rush in to applaud his childish ad hominem attacks on his critics. The lad was curiously unable to respond to substantive criticism other than to name-call and insult from within his Twitter-block safe-space.
It's a now-familiar story. Speaking of libertarian politics...
Classic Liberalism, among other things, advocates that we should give a floor to all ideas, no matter what we personally believe about them. The best ideas, it is said, rise to the top. They have thrown away key concepts that are fundamental to Liberalism, which they claim to support, such as free speech and allowing all diverse voices a chance to air their grievances, communicate their solutions, and share their views, research, and experiences. We’re not seeing that from comic creators cited above, and several others.
As Chris painstakingly documented, the best ideas do not rise to the top. The vast majority of people are not swayed by logical arguments. They are moved by emotion. The last 70 years of cultural Marxists running amok in America prove conclusively that the most well-reasoned arguments don't win. The best propagandists and emotional manipulators win.

Note that Chris resorts to the "SJWs aren't real Liberals" canard, which is no more convincing than the "Democrats are the real racists!" shtick. In point of fact, SJWs are the real Liberals--or at least the Liberals who will follow Liberal ideology to its ultimate conclusions. "Classical Liberals" and Libertarians are simply intellectually inconsistent.

In short, Liberalism has triumphed, and we're living in its conception of paradise. Enjoy!

Let's close with a few words from comics SJW Kurt Busiek.

Busiek 1

Busiek 2

As it happens, there are those of us who do have the creative juice to revolutionize the corrupt arts and media. And we are indeed having a blast.

Isn't it about time you had a blast while reading again? Get my award-winning, mind-blowing, and lecture-free Soul Cycle series on sale now!

The Ophian Rising - Brian Niemeier


How to Argue with SJWs

Experience shows that the best advice on how to argue with SJWs is that you shouldn't. You should mock them relentlessly instead.

A relatively recent demonstration from Twitter:

dicey 1

Lesson 1: Do not answer SJWs' questions. Make them answer yours.

dicey 2

As you can see, I set a trap designed to be difficult for the SJW to avoid. I must admit though, that I didn't expect him to immediately run headlong into it.

Note: the "Yawn" response, which came more than 20 minutes later, is a sign that the SJW was shaken by my successful turning of the tables and could think of no other reply than feigned indifference. If he really didn't care, he wouldn't have replied at all. Instead he was forced into a clumsy attempt to save face.

dicey 3

It's generally more productive to talk about SJWs than it is to talk to them. When you've bludgeoned one with the rhetoric hammer, always take a screencap for your records and your followers' amusement.

dicey 4
The coup de grace: Though I'd already won the exchange, as evidenced by the SJW experiencing such profound cognitive dissonance that he replied to me while maintaining he wasn't replying to me, I judged that this customer deserved a special send-off.

The SJW mentality is a cult mentality. These broken souls feel such a desperate need to belong that they'll zealously embrace the mad dogmas of an inhuman anti-faith. By the same token, SJWs harbor an equally strong fear of being ostracized.

You now have all the tools you need to make every SJW's amygdalae dance like puppets on your strings. Strategically choose your words to personalize your rhetoric and peel the SJW off from the hive. Remember: these fanatics are all offense and no defense. Hammer them with rhetorical attacks that strike at the core of their shared identity, viz. their devotion to SocJus. For optimal effect, couch these id-withering jabs in exclusionary terms like "You're not one of us", "Gross", "You don't belong here", etc.

It bears repeating: Do not attempt to answer SJWs' loaded questions or engage with them rationally. They do not want information and are only giving you enough rope to rhetorically hang yourself. Go on the offensive, and punch back twice as hard!

If you want an picture of what a healthy publishing industry free of SJW infestation would look like, pick up my fun, never preachy Soul Cycle--now on sale in digital and paperback for old school readers!

The Ophian Rising - Brian Niemeier


The Gundam that Wasn't

Syd Mead - Gundam Movie 1983

I've made no secret of my desire to make #AGundamForUS, but longtime reader Lee recently called my attention to a little-known failed Hollywood production that almost brought us a live-action Gundam movie in 1983.
But the most ambitious and obscure of these false starts came relatively early in the franchise's history in 1983, before any proper sequels had been produced: a 1983 Hollywood-produced live-action Gundam film that would bring together the designs of visual futurist Syd Mead and CGI effects from the pioneering team behind The Last Starfighter.
The origin of that project can be traced further back to 1980, an eventful year for model kit manufacturer and Gundam series sponsor Bandai. That year saw 35-year-old Makoto Yamashina, eldest son of Bandai founder Naoto Yamashina, take over as company president. The younger and more aggressive Yamashina sought to operate Bandai in a way patterned more after an American company, going so far as to fire many of his father's senior executives and replace them with younger people closer to his age.
It was also the year Bandai began releasing affordable ¥300 model kits based on the Mobile Suit Gundam series, and soon found they had a hit despite the show's premature end. Nicknamed “Gunpla,” a portmanteau of “Gundam” and “plastic model,” their success kicked off the “Gunpla Boom” that would go on until the middle of the decade. Together with Gundam's newfound popularity via subsequent re-airings, Gundam was able to rise from cancellation and make early strides toward the media and merchandising juggernaut it's become. With the proven success of Gundam at home, Yamashina had his sights set on bringing the franchise to the American market with a feature film. In 1983, Bandai went to Hollywood.
Company representatives brought the property to Lion's Gate Film, an independent film company founded by director Robert Altman (not to be confused with the contemporary Lionsgate Films, founded in 1998). Lion's Gate hired screenwriter Chip Proser to write the screenplay, who agreed with the condition that he could he could make his directorial debut on the film. Readers may be more familiar with projects Proser was involved with in the latter half of the ‘80s; he handled the major page one rewrite of Top Gun (1986) and wrote the initial screenplay for the Martin Short sci-fi comedy Innerspace (1987). At the time, he was largely known as a script doctor specializing in science fiction and military scripts. Proser was flown out to Japan to meet with executives and see the source material (likely the compilation films). After about a week or so in Japan, he returned to the US and got to work putting together pre-production material.
Being a fan of artist Syd Mead, Proser was pleased to find out that he actually lived very close by and approached him to paint renderings of two scenes: one from the opening scene of the film where enemy mobile suits attack a space colony, and one of the climactic battle where the Gundam and its allies attack an enemy base. While Mead is now familiar to Gundam fans as the most prominent mechanical designer for the 1999 anime series Turn A Gundam, his involvement with the Lion's Gate Project marks his first time working on the franchise in any capacity. In addition to his scene renderings, Mead also drafted mobile suit designs: a design of the Zaku II (referred to on the project as a “Zak”) created for the sake of CG modeling, and an unfinished piece depicting the Gundam's head and torso.
Syd Mead Gundam

Perhaps the projects most ambitious distinction was the idea to use CGI for the majority of its effects at a time when it was almost entirely unheard of to do so. What would a big-budget attempt at a CGI-animated mobile suit have looked like in the mid-’80s? The company consulted with this in mind was the only one that had accomplished anything like that: Digital Productions, the effects company then finishing up work on The Last Starfighter (1984), which boasted entirely CGI starfighter battles instead of traditional miniature work.
Syd Mead - Zaks

A Gundam movie written by the co-writer of Top Gun with effects by the team behind The Last Starfighter? Sign 1983 me up!

Sadly, it was not to be. No one's sure exactly who's to blame for the original Gundam movie deal falling through. It was likely a result of Bandai not having locked down all the rights yet. In any case, we can't have nice things.

Then again, perhaps our luck is about to change.

Reminder: You can now get the mind-blowing conclusion to my acclaimed Soul Cycle in digital and paperback for less than the regular price print version. Same goes for the whole awesome series!

The Ophian Rising - Brian Niemeier


21st Century Publishing

Red Pill Religion

Red Pill Religion put on quite a show last night. It was my honor to join new pub all-stars Nick Cole, John C. Wright, and Russell Newquist for a rousing and informative discussion of 21st century publishing strategies.

It comes as a surprise to me that some aspiring authors haven't yet heard the good news that the gatekeepers are gone, and we the writers are in full control of our careers. If you're still querying editors at New York publishing houses (or worse yet, literary agents), you need to hear this episode.

If your marketing plan involves book signings, convention panels, and social media ads, crank up the volume and listen hard. Because Nick, Russell, John, and I are going to tell you how to avoid the mistakes that almost every new author makes. Follow our advice, and save your book.

And don't forget: This month only, my thrilling Soul Cycle is on sale in eBook and Paperback versions. In fact, with Kindle Matchbook you can bundle the print and digital editions for less than the regular price of the paperbacks alone!

The stunning series conclusion The Ophian Rising is now just $9.99 in print. Get it now!

The Ophian Rising - Brian Niemeier


A War to Be Normal

Ethan Van Sciver - Cyberfrog

Yesterday I mentioned comic artist Ethan Van Sciver's account of his amicable separation from DC Comics. Ethan's a decent guy--the kind of normie entrepreneur, husband, and father one could once be in America before peak SJW convergence. It's good to know he isn't fretting over where his next meal is coming from since his independent Cyberfrog comic just raised over $200,000.

I take comfort in knowing that creators like EVS are out there, humbly making new culture to replace what the Morlocks befouled. I experience an altogether different emotion when I hear of the diabolical persecution SJWs subject honest family men like Ethan to.

In a recent video, EVS revealed more details about his parting of the ways with DC. In short, a rabid SJW named Tim Doyle stirred up such a social media shitstorm by doxxing Ethan's finances that Ethan faced the choice of shutting down the YouTube and Twitter accounts he'd labored to build or departing from DC. Adding insult to injury, Doyle's doxx pertained to a time of extreme crisis in Ethan's family life.

From the transcript:
...Tim Doyle went into my records he looked me up and he found out that the house that I shared with my first wife who had divorced me was underwater. It was severely underwater. We'd only owned it for a little while. ...it was very underwater I didn't want to live there anymore. I didn't want to live there anymore by myself; certainly not, and I was in love with my wife Andrea. I was in love and we needed to find a way to be together.
Andrea lived in New Jersey and I lived in North Carolina, and I needed to come home, and on top of that Andrea was pregnant, and she lost the baby. We lost the baby. There was an urgency to me being up in New Jersey, and Andrea couldn't come here.
I take no pleasure in sharing the intimate personal details that Tim Doyle maliciously leaked and Ethan Van Sciver has since fully volunteered. It seems there's simply no other way to drive home to normies still living in a fool's paradise that there are no depths to which SJWs will not stoop to destroy us for pure hate's sake. None.
I don't regret it at all. It was the right thing to do. It's the right thing to do, but we did lose the baby and we had to try again. I'm glad that we did, because now we have Ava, so I don't regret that, but that's nobody's business, and to be treated like this publicly because I voted for Donald Trump; to try to have my life ruined, he's gone too far.
Lest you chalk up Ethan's revelation of Doyle's motives to grief and rage-fueled hyperbole, here's what the oxygen thief in question has to say for himself:

Tim Doyle - Exhibit A through Z

Is the totality of our enemies' depravity sinking in, dearest normie? Do you, at long last, understand? Ethan Van Sciver does, and all it took was for a fiend in a sknsuit to broadcast his private financial information from the death of his unborn child--a monstrous act which the SJW smugly justifies with the simple observation that the victim voted for the popular and hugely successful duly elected President.

The SJW swarm behaves like a pack of maladjusted hyenas because experience has taught them they need fear no reprisal. They smear and destroy with impunity because no one, thus far, could be bothered to punish them.

Watching Ethan's video, you can hear him wrestling with these grim truths.
...make no mistake, this is war. We're in a war. We're in a war to be normal people. We're in a war to be normies.
"Culture War" is not a metaphor. The West is embroiled in a cold civil war between the forces of Christendom and the sons of Satan. The truth is dawning on EVS, but sadly, his Conservative conditioning will not allow him to draw the correct and inevitable conclusion from the facts.
I'm not gonna sue him. I'm not gonna sue him. I'm not gonna threaten. That's not what we do, okay? We bear up under this, and we succeed.
When Ted Bundy is gnawing on your thigh, just ignore him and he'll go away.

Ethan Van Sciver has done nothing to deserve such execrable treatment. The only one to blame for Tim Doyle's calumnies is Tim Doyle. At the same time, we get the treatment we tolerate. A bully and a psychopath abuses innocent people because he's a bully and a psychopath. But the victim's response affects whether he continues to abuse that particular victim.
We can't we can't descend to these tactics. We can't descend to this. What am I gonna do? Am I gonna investigate this guy? Am I gonna go find stuff out about him? That's not what I'm gonna do. That's not what we're gonna do. That's not who we are.
Ethan, my dear friend, that's William F. Buckley's ghost whispering from the grave--the same grave where our freedom of religion, freedom of association, and freedom of expression are buried.

Who are we? We are adopted sons of God. That's really why reprobates like Tim Doyle hate us. Those who work in darkness hate the light, Ethan, because they fear their works being exposed. We are the heirs of the prophets, the apostles, the martyrs, the missionaries, and yes, the inquisitors and the crusaders. If you balk at association with the last two, it probably means you went to state-run public school.

Your friend Richard Meyer is having SJW Mark Waid prosecuted under the Sherman Antitrust Act. How did the SJWs smearing Richard respond? Waid deleted all his social media accounts, and his sniveling followers came crawling to Richard asking to "open a dialogue".

That's how we win: by fighting back with all the legal weapons the enemy gleefully uses against us. You don't win by sticking your head in the sand and hoping the storm will blow over. It'll blow over after it knocks your house down.

It is not unjust to respond in kind when someone attacks you, and certainly not when he attacks your family. Quite the opposite. Refusing to fight an enemy who wants you and your family disgraced, disemployed, and dead is an abdication of solemn moral responsibility.

God has abundantly blessed you, Ethan, with talent, wealth, love, good humor, an admirable work ethic, intelligence, and humility. As Cobra Kai taught us by way of Iron Eagle, God doesn't give people what he doesn't want them to use. From those who are given much, much is expected.

You, and other normal men who've been similarly blessed, have a moral duty to defeat these monsters, Ethan. At the end of your hopefully long, joyful time on this earth, Jesus is gonna ask for the return on his investment. Will you and other Conservatives who've received a generous patrimony say, "Here! Take the resources, courage, charity, and reason you gave me. It's all there. I buried it to keep it safe"?

You're right that we're fighting an existential conflict for the right to be normal. You're right that our enemies are monsters in human form. You know who digs for a man's greatest pain and rubs it in his face? Ask any exorcist, and ask him why everyone present for an exorcism must go to confession before confronting the Adversary who delights in accusing us of the errors born from our human weakness. There's a flashing red warning sign as to what we're dealing with.

Some may accuse me of talking out of turn. What I've written, I've written out of fraternal love for Ethan Van Sciver and all victims of SJW persecution. I speak from experience. The enemy is motivated by unreasoning hate. They can't be negotiated with, they can't be ignored, and they can't be appeased. They will never leave us alone.

Hear Ethan's story in his own words, and try to contain the righteous anger welling up in your heart.

Hatred of evil is no sin.

Ethan Van Sciver has found success in independent comics. Support other indie creators working to bring you fun, exciting entertainment free of political lectures. My award-winning Soul Cycle adventure-horror series is now on sale in digital and trade paperback editions.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier


The Preponderance of Evidence


Evidence continues to mount in support of my theory that something catastrophic befell Western pop culture circa 1997.

Exhibit A: Over the past year, comic book artist Ethan Van Sciver has launched a successful second career as a YouTuber. He does aspiring artist portfolio reviews and a how-to-draw instructional series, but he hit it big thanks to his laconic commentary on comics and movies--particularly Disney's butchering of Star Wars. I check in on his channel once a day to keep abreast of what normies who are just getting woke to the wholesale pillaging of their culture are up to.

In a recent video, Van Sciver goes into rather candid detail about his reasons for leaving DC Comics. He describes the typical SJW-enforced hostile work environment, even adding the usual report of cowed Conservatives holing up under their desks.

But that's neither here nor there. This video's relevance for our purposes today is that EVS makes the observation that current woes besetting the comic book industry started in the late 90s. He traces the start of the troubles to 1998, but it's close enough for punk rock.

Exhibit B: Multiple friends pointed me toward this video by session musician Rick Beato after my original post on pop culture's terminal 1997 decline. Here, Rick and a couple of his fellow musicians explain the death of rock and roll. Of note, they call the time of death at 1996.

Rock died in 1996. Comics followed in 1998. Everything else died in 1997. Piecing together the evidence, a startling picture emerges. Western pop culture, which had been a world-bestriding colossus for almost a century, suffered total collapse over a roughly eighteen month period ca. late 96-early 98. That's not an asteroid impact so much as a killer plague that swept the West like wildfire.

Identifying the exact pathogen exceeds the scope of this post and will probably take the combined efforts of guys like EVS, the larger crowd of dissident bloggers, and myself over an extended period of time. We do know there were a few survivors who evolved immunity to the cultural virus that wiped out most artists and turned others into zombie parasites shambling through the halls of our ruined institutions. It's a case of life imitating art modeled after I Am Legend.

What we do know is that the surviving remnant of Western artists have a big job on our hands rebuilding pop culture. I urge you to pick up a pen, a brush, or a camera and do your part. I'm doing mine.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier


Second XSeed Preview

Grenzmark C - detail

By reader demand, I proudly present a tantalizing follow up to the previous sneak preview of my upcoming mecha/Mil-SF series Combat Frame XSeed.

“The institute is entrusted with caring for the most extreme cases—those who exhibit disorders not seen in the colonies since before the Collapse.”

The doctor’s pedantic voice filtering into his cell roused Zane from his brooding. He eased himself off his bed’s foam mattress, crept across the spongy floor, and crouched beside the narrow slit in the padded steel door.

“I see.” The stern male voice kindled dim recollection in Zane’s mind. “Tell me, Doctor. How do you deal with these prisoners?”

The voices were getting closer, along with the click of footsteps on the hallway tile. There’s three of them. Two are about the same weight, wearing men’s dress shoes. One’s a lot lighter, in boots with raised heels.

“We refer to them as patients,” Zane’s doctor said. “Sadly, the cases in this ward pose a danger to themselves and others. The best we can do is keep them confined to their rooms.”

“You mean incarcerated in their cells,” said a girl whose soft voice took the harsh tone of a taskmistress. Just hearing her felt like ice water flowing down Zane’s back.

“I was speaking to your father, young lady,” the doctor said. “I’ll thank you not to interrupt.”

“My responsibilities to the Coalition afford me no time for children, Doctor,” said the second man, annoyance creeping into his stony voice.

“I apologize, Director Sanzen. I’d assumed this young woman was your daughter.”

Sanzen Kaimora? The head of the Coalition Security Corps? Zane wondered if he really was psychotic and the conversation in the hall was just a hallucination. He risked a peek through the slot in his door.

Zane already knew the graying, lab coated figure of Cody, the facility’s head of psychiatry. A tall lean man who, unlike most in the Coalition, looked used to manual labor, faced the doctor in the middle of the hall. The only hair on his head was a severe black goatee. The lapel of his charcoal gray suit bore a gold O’Neill cylinder pin—the emblem of the SOC. Definitely Sanzen. But who’s that with him?

A petite young woman stood behind Sanzen in a matching skirted suit. Black hair with a deep blue sheen fell past her shoulders to the small of her back. Dark eyes set in a pale narrow face scanned her surroundings with the calculation of an artic she-wolf. Her gaze met Zane’s, and he recoiled from the door.

“This is my adjutant Sekaino Megami,” said Sanzen. “She is here to advise me on my decision.”

“Yes, of course,” the doctor stammered. “As per your request, I’ve assembled a list of all patients who were originally part of Block 101. The first of them is right down this hall. His name is Zane Dellister. He’s been with us for several months.

“What’s wrong with him?” asked Sanzen.

“Zane developed a strange form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Oddly, symptoms manifested after he arrived here in Chicago but before his unit saw combat. He was arrested in an abandoned warehouse following a rash of thefts from Seed Corporation. Evidently he’d been building his own combat frame out of parts stolen from Seed’s factory, the CSC’s own inventory, and even destroyed enemy units.”

“He sounds resourceful,” said Sanzen. “But why wasn’t he confined to the stockade?”

“Zane harbors an unhealthy attachment to this Frankenstein combat frame. He put three security personnel in the infirmary during his removal from the warehouse. Since then, he’s displayed behavior verging on dissociative identity disorder.”

“Fascinating,” Sanzen said dryly. “Put him down as a candidate for transfer to Metis, and let’s move on.”

“Who’s next on the list?” asked Megami.

The doctor’s stylus tapped on his tablet’s screen. “That would be Eiyu Masz, our most violent case. I’d advise caution in…”

Zane’s manic words drowned out the conversation outside as the doctor led his esteemed guests farther down the hall. “Did you hear that, Dead Drop?” he asked his absent combat frame. “Metis—that’s the asteroid they towed to L5. Turned it into a CSC base when they’d mined it out. They want to send me back into space. But I’m not going without you!”

A high time preference was among the personality traits that Cody said aggravated Zane’s dysfunction. That didn’t mean Zane was incapable of long-term planning. He could be patient when necessary. He just didn’t like it.

Zane had waited almost a whole hour after Cody, Sanzen, and Megami had passed back down the hallway and out of the ward to enact the escape he’d been planning for months. He stood before the mirror embedded in the wall behind a thick polymer sheet and pulled his light blue pajama shirt up over his head of buzzed, platinum blond hair. Then he stuffed the shirt down the drain of the small sink built into a wall recess and opened the taps.

His slippers came off next. These he wrapped in plastic hoarded from weeks’ worth of prepackaged meals and jammed down the tankless ceramic toilet. The water flow valve was hidden in the white padded wall, so Zane kept flushing as cold water sloshed onto the floor. He knew security was watching him over the pinhole cameras installed in his room, and he knew they’d send orderlies to deal with his misbehavior. In fact, he was counting on it.

It didn’t take long for the overflowing fixtures to flood the small room five centimeters deep. Zane lay face down in the rising water and held his breath. He was floating, and his lungs starting to burn, before the heavy door hissed open.

“He was like that for five minutes before the second shift guy came on and saw the monitor,” said a male orderly who burst into the room, fighting the outflow of water.

“Get him up,” said another man behind him. “If he drowns, it’s our asses on the line!”

Zane pushed up from the flooded floor and drove both feet into the first orderly’s stomach. The air escaped the man’s lungs in a pained gasp, and the torrent swirling around his shins assisted in knocking him backwards into his coworker.

Drawing a deep sweet breath, Zane sprang to his feet and rounded on the orderlies who lay in a sodden tangled heap outside. The man on top struggled to rise, but Zane leapt from the doorway to stomp on his chest, driving both orderlies back down. He knelt, bounced both men’s heads off the tile floor, and ripped the security badge from the top man’s white scrubs.

The exit from the ward lay down the hall to Zane’s left and around the corner to the right. But the keycard alone wouldn’t get him out. The exit used an airlock system with two doors and a small booth in-between. Only one door could be opened at a time, and the whole booth could be remotely locked down to hold an escapee till security showed up.

Which Zane was also counting on. He hauled the first orderly—a pudgy man with short brown hair—off his unconscious counterpart, bound his hands with his shirt, and stood him up. Zane positioned himself behind the semiconscious orderly and encircled the man’s neck with the chain from his extendable badge clip. He held the makeshift garrote closed with one hand while pushing him forward with the other. The fat man sputtered as they slogged down the hall.

When they reached the security door giving on the airlock, Zane opened it with the orderly’s keycard. A beige steel box waited beyond with an identical door on the far side—a door that couldn’t open until Zane shut the one behind him.

Security was certainly watching Zane’s every move. They knew he was in the airlock and that he had a hostage. The smart move would be to lock down the room when Zane closed the door and wait him out, regardless of the risk to the hostage. But Zane’s time on earth had acquainted him with a fundamental difference between himself and other colonists. Socs couldn’t stomach making hard decisions. Instead, they jumped straight to excessive force.

Zane shut the door behind him. He tightened his feebly struggling hostage’s chain and waited. Sure enough, the facing door slid open to reveal four guards in dark blue CSC uniforms. They all carried carbon polymer batons, but they hadn’t taken the time to don riot gear.

Big mistake.

“Release the hostage and get on the floor with your hands behind your head, now!” barked a security officer with tan skin and a short crewcut.

“I’m crazy-ass spaceman,” cried Zane. “I’ll do what I want!” He released the chain and kicked the orderly through the door. The security officers jumped aside, and Zane charged right between them into the outer hallway, stepping on his former hostage.

The two rearmost guards lunged at him. Zane grabbed the guard to his right by the wrist, kicked his leg out, and levered him toward his oncoming friend while prying the baton from his hand. As the second guard struggled to prop up the first’s dead weight, Zane spun to intercept the two guards who’d stood near the door but were now charging him. He ducked under a vicious swing from the guard on his right and drove the butt of his own baton into the man’s stomach.

With the man to his right down on all fours struggling to breathe, Zane launched himself at the guard on his left. His new opponent’s brown eyes widened, and he froze as Zane’s baton crashed into his temple. He folded to the ground.

The first two guards were back up. The one who still had a baton brought it down in a whirring arc at Zane’s head. Zane angled his body to one side, letting the stick blur past and punching his attacker in the throat. That made three guards writhing on the floor.

Zane let the last guard run down the hallway, yelling for help and took a detour to the right. A short sprint brought him to the commissary for low-security patients. He rushed through the pajama-clad dinner crowd, past a wall cluttered with disturbing finger paintings, and into the steamy, savory-smelling kitchen. The mostly female staff shrieked, and dropped trays crashed as Zane bolted for the back of the room and plunged down the trash chute.

The dumpster where Zane landed smelled decidedly worse than the kitchen above, but this air was free. Almost. I just need to cross the yard and get through the fence. Then I’m out, and no one will keep me from you, Dead Drop!

Zane didn’t bother looking for the baton he’d dropped upon landing on squishy trash bags and broken down cardboard boxes. He vaulted out of the reeking metal bin and took off running across the cracked asphalt of a loading dock. Broken glass stabbed his feet, but he ignored the sting and fixated on reuniting with this black combat frame.

A wide green lawn sloped down from the low gray building that housed the institute. The cool grass soothed Zane’s tortured feet as he ran for the razor wire-topped fence encircling the campus. A pair of wheeled gates flanked an enclosed guard box thirty meters away. Zane sped up, dashed across the road leading to the gate, and dove at the box.

The panicked guard inside shot at the window, sending the reinforced glass sliding away in a spiderwebbed sheet. Red hot pain engulfed Zane’s mind as a bullet slammed into his right leg. His momentum carried him through the broken window and into the screaming guard, who didn’t get off a second shot before the back of his head collided with the opposite window. He slumped back into his chair.

Breathing like a furnace, Zane hammered the gate button. More gunshots cracked behind him, and bullets ricocheted off the guard box and the fence. He ducked out of the box and rushed through the gate. But his wounded leg betrayed him. Zane stumbled and went rolling the rest of the way downhill. He splashed down in a drainage ditch at the base of the slope. A concrete pipe yawned to his left. Without thinking, Zane scrambled into the filthy darkness.

Read the final Combat Frame XSeed preview here.

In the meantime, check out my already completed space adventure-horror series, the Dragon Award-winning Soul Cycle.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier