Steampunk or Space Opera or…

Periodically, I get advised that I should stick to one “genre”, and that to really do well consistently and long term that that’s the way to go as an author. That can be true to some extent. I have a friend who sold incredibly well with a non-fiction memoir book, and then when he wrote some Hunter S. Thompson drug adventure story, it didn’t perform at nearly the same level. The writing didn’t get any worse, in fact, as he wrote more his craft improved at least to my eyes. But his audience from the first didn’t translate over to the second.

In an ideal world, I would have Star Realms 2 or another space opera adventure ready to go for you, my dear readers. While I have some of that written to various stages, I do have a Steampunk which is 90% through a third draft, well done, a really gripping adventure story and I think my best work to date.  It is a different genre though, or is it?

I think when you get into Space Opera, you’re already far enough away from “hard science fiction” that your audience pretty much overlaps with any form of fantasy already. So many books bend genre conventions as it is (like Brian Nemeier’s trilogy, which has a lot of horror elements and space opera in it), that they came up with another title “speculative fiction” to encompass everything that’s created in it. I feel at home and a kindred spirit with writers of Sci-Fi, Fantasy or Horror, and a lot of writers I know are active in all three.

As a consequence, For Steam And Country should translate very well for the vast majority of my readership from Star Realms: Rescue Run.

However, I did have a fun conversation with Robert Kroese, author of the hot new novel, Aye Robot, the other day about this very topic. I got to talking with him, and said, “you know, Space Opera and Steampunk aren’t all that different. Structurally, the plots go the same. A hero takes off for adventure, epic battles ensue. And if you look at things, they aren’t all that different in anything except naming conventions.”

I elaborate for you, dear readers:

Starship = Airship

Stardrive = Steam Engine

Advanced Medical Unit = aether potion

Phase Pistol = pistol

Laser Sword = Sword

Military Uniform = Military Uniform.

Ocular Implants = Goggles or Monocle

The list can go on fairly easily. But in any action/adventure story you’ll have pretty similar even if the terms change.

To which, Mr. Kroese said, “Why don’t you release the novel in 3 forms and just change the words?”

I laughed pretty hard at this, but in all honestly it’s not a bad idea. It’s pretty easy to convert something to space, or the third option he proposed, convert to fantasy. I don’t feel like doing that for my steampunk release, but “choose your own setting” could actually be pretty fun for readers. Not that all of my details are completely interchangeable. There are some items that would be pretty hard to shift in this particular book, but the basic conventions above aren’t all that different. You wouldn’t see a lot of my Steampunk universe that could compare to Star Realms for example, but at that point you’re getting into deeper setting and things that matter much more than the surface coat of “what sub-genre is this?”

Though now that I think about it, maybe if White Wizard Games gets enough interest, they might put out a Steam Realms… hmm…

To my friend above, I think the transition between non-fiction and fiction by be a bit larger of a gap to cross. It’s quite different than exploring different facets of speculative fiction, however. The moral of the story is, whether space or fantasy, airships or sailing ships, if your characters are good, and your storytelling quality is there, there’s no reason to be afraid of trying different things.

 

 

Comic Review: XO Manowar #1

XO Manowar #1 came out yesterday, a relaunch by Valiant comics who already relaunched the 90s property in 2012, which from my cursory look on the internet met with great reviews. I’ve actually never read either prior incarnation of XO Manowar, and am coming at this as a new reader, which probably is most helpful in a review for potential new readers.  My cousin had the #1 variant back in the 90s, shiny cover as I recall (I could be wrong, it was the 90s) but I never picked it up, already having my budget in comics extended far more than it should have been. I’m not sure why I missed the original relaunch, but I did, and it looks like it had a pretty successful run.

This new incarnation is written by Matt Kindt and drawn by Tomas Giorello, neither of whom I knew much about before yesterday and doing a cursory google search. Frankly, I think the time is ripe for Valiant to be doing a relaunch of something anyone might have remotely heard of from the 90s. Going into comic shops lately has left me scratching my head. I’ve been STARVED for something new to read that catches my eye. I saw the work via Twitter that Valiant was doing by supporting local comic shops and really getting out there for retailers, and, as the former owner of a comic shop myself, that impressed me as well. The team looks like good, intelligent people. The kind I like to support. The question is, how is the actual comic itself?

What drew me in was the cover. The bright yellow with the huge logo and a Star Wars/ Princess of Mars style art on the cover that screams classic adventure sci-fi to me. It’s gorgeous, bright, fills me with anticipation to open up the book.

Inside, it starts with a scene of a guy who’s kinda “retired” from adventuring, farming, just doing his thing. It reminds me a bit of Rogue One’s opening where the bad guys flood in and force the guy back to work. This had the guy forced into military service. We see within the first few pages the guy is strong, cautious, wise, has a history of adventuring with some weird gadget thing, is alpha and good at getting the girl (even ones with tails…) and someone you generally want to root for as a reader. The army looks like a cool sci-fi group, further reminding me of Princess of Mars or classic adventure fiction.  I like how the aliens refer to him as “Aric of Urth” which if you say it out loud makes sense how it would be twisted like that by a foreign culture.

Adventure ensues, as our hero goes into a hopeless suicide mission of a military situation, people dying all around him, he runs a gauntlet of death and cool sci-fi devices against aliens, with a hopelessly undermatched group. He uses both his wit and strength to guide him through the situation, totally as a solo individual and without some powers, which I assume are going to come later through the mysterious orb that was introduced in the book. It’s somewhat decompressed like modern comics, building to a trade sized story for sure, but at the same time I feel like I did get a full helping of story, unlike a lot of comics these days. It helps that they did a 40-page issue—and my first thought was how are they going to make money at $3.99 with this any pages?  Perhaps it’s meant to be a loss leader, but I was happy with how much I got on the story front. Kindt did a fantastic job of providing real adventure, bringing me back to the golden age of sci-fi storytelling that makes me yearn for more.

The art is great as well. I would say this is completely top notch, far better than I would have expected from a small publisher. It outdoes most Marvel/DC books I saw on the shelves. Good expressions, great detail work, wonderful shading and lighting effects. The artist drew some super creative gadgets and aliens too which look fantastic, unique and memorable. I really couldn’t have asked for better on this book.

Overall, it’s just a teaser of a story. We have our hero operating without his powers, running the gauntlet, being called back into action, and we’re still waiting for more. It’s a little tough to judge until the full arc comes about, but if Kindt continues with the brilliant adventure fiction as this book gave us a glimpse of, with homages and respect for the past pulp era, I think we may have 2017’s best comic book on our hands. As a new reader who’s never looked at Valiant or XO Manowar before, I was given enough info for this to be a perfect starting point, and the story gripped me from there.

Appendix N and #PulpRevolution people – this is the horse we should bet on. I think XO Manowar may be right up our alley, and highly suggest you take a look for yourself. Even though I said in past blogs I’m done with pamphlet comics with the way trades have taken over, I can’t wait for #2.

How To Spot FAKE NEWS

First of all, I would like to congratulate Castalia House for trolling so hard, so funnily, that Amazon itself seems to be thrown into turmoil as separate employees keep putting their most recent book up and bringing it back down, as if no one can decide whether they should “punish” the publisher. They’re also due a congratulations for being so effective, that they’re making the typical shill news:

https://io9.gizmodo.com/amazon-pulls-castalia-house-book-for-ripping-off-john-s-1793533638

“Amazon Pulls Castalia House Book For Ripping Off John Scalzi.”

Well, that’s one way to put it. The reality is, when you’ve followed this situation since day one, that Castalia House put up a parody, mocking Scalzi’s late book to Tor, with a similar concept below the surface, which they, as an indie publisher were able to produce faster, better and get it released actually prior to Scalzi’s book. Tor threw a fit because their top author was getting made fun of, and pressured Amazon into taking it down.

Then they got it back up, because they were ready for that.

Then Amazon took it back down again.

Over a joke. Only an idiot would have mistaken Johan Kalzi and the “More Asimov than Asimov” labeled as “An Interstellar Science Fiction Epic In Space” as the actual work. That’s the point. Of course, Tor and Amazon want to presume their clients, their readers are all actually idiots. This is a hallmark of typical condescension from the establishment bloated companies that try to take down nimble, independent, competent members of the new media.

Old and busted. New hotness. In a nutshell.

And all they can do is run to their friends in the media to complain about it, as their sales decrease because people are sick of their blackballing and shunning their values, and second their shameful tactics of taking to the media like this and lying outright.

This is the same problem we see across the spectrum. It’s an example, a parable, a metaphor for every other piece of FAKE NEWS you see. It takes time to learn to spot this kind of thing, but once you do, you can see it everywhere. And it is everywhere. You saw this happen to me exactly just a couple days ago when I, your humble nimble and competent independent writer, blew the whistle on GIANT MEGACORPORATE DISNEY SUPERHERO DIVISION, and how their media friends responded.

I promised to teach you how to spot it.

If it’s about Donald Trump or Vox Day or Me, and it isn’t linked or sanctioned by us or one of our friends, it’s FAKE NEWS. They are lying about what we said for some agenda. They may even use actual words out of context to do so, but there is a context to it, and you shouldn’t believe it.

Comic Review: The Invisible Republic Vol. 1

UPDATE: After I leave a positive review of their book, both @GabrielHardman and @CorinnaBechko blocked me on Twitter. Very weird. Do they not want positive reviews of their book, or people reading them? Do they just block reviewers? Is there a worse intention of that blocking there because of my whistleblowing of the comics industry’s bigotry? If someone would like to message them and ask, I’d like to clear that up before leaving endorsements of them up! 

A fun fact is I used to do a series of comic reviews on the website True Believer Reviews, and had interviewed a lot of great comic writers from 2009-2013 or so. My own writing took precedence at the time, but now I’ve learned to knock out reviews pretty quickly, and with a comic-based audience, I figured I’d pick that back up again, true believers, so we can discover fun and interesting reads together. I’ll be doing trade paperbacks only for the most part, as I find pamphlets to be mostly pointless in comics these days.

But you’re here to hear about Image Comics’ invisible republic by Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Sarah Bechko, which I picked up after seeing a positive review on my favorite reviewer, The Injustice Gamer’s, blog. Continue reading

An Update On Marvel Writers And Political Blackballing

Rich Johnston of Bleeding Cool did bring to my attention that there were more books than the ones I listed, and so I went for another week of “upcoming release” for Marvel to go through an additional crop of writers. Wow they have a lot of writers. Still, not one who has anything nice to say about the President or the USA which gives them their opportunities to create their content.

John Barber – Limited Political posting save for saying he’s not a trump supporter.

Max Bemis – many anti-trump tweets.

Ed Brisson – Anti Trump, Anti Christian Posts

Ta-Nehisi Coats – brand new to twitter, most of his posts anti-trump. Writes fake news articles for the Atlantic on “micro-aggressions”. 

Gerry Conway – Self described “passionate libtard” in profile. Constant anti-trump political posts.

Jason Latour – anti-trump tweets regularly, regularly makes fun of Christian culture

Jeff Lemire – Anti-Trump posts regularly. 

Brandon Montclare – has comic making fun of Trump, retweets social justice causes.

Matt Owens – Couldn’t find a twitter.

Nicole Perlman- Constant anti-trump tweets.

Matthew Rosenberg – Anti-Trump Posting, mocking Jesus & Christians posts.

Sean Ryan – Anti-American tweets, Women’s March tweets, ran podcast “horrifically misinformed” which championed left-wing causes.

Mariko Tamaki – not many posts, but encouraging fans who speak of him as “homophobic, misogynistic and racist”, social justice posts, anti fox-news posts.

18 of 18 before and now we have another 12 (with one I couldn’t find information on who has a very common name. If anyone has contact for Matt Owens, would be interested to do some research). So now we’re at 30/30. The odds of this being coincidental are drastically dropping. Many such cases for evidence of blackballing from the industry.

I’m also doing a follow up where I’m looking into Christianity and whether Christians are blackballed similarly. Will have more details on that for you all as soon as I can.

Retro Review: The Ginger Star by Leigh Brackett

I discovered Leigh Brackett, like many of the books I am reading recently, through Jeffro Johnson’s analysis of D&D’s Appendix N. While this book was not the one listed as an influence for the game, it was the only one my local used bookstore had. While figuring out what to read next, I picked this up, because of its short 186 pages, a bit longer than a novella by today’s standards.

However, it had the plot and action of a 500-600 page epic fantasy. Complete with a map in the front, a travel up a trail through barren wastelands and into frozen tundra, we get the full gambit of classic adventure here. The cool twist is that while this has a fantasy world, it’s one that’s dying where the powers that be are quite afraid of the pending revolution that will come due to an influx of new beings from the stars.

Hmm, sounds like a perfect metaphor for the #PulpRevolution.

At every turn, those powers, called “The Wandsmen” chase after our starfarer Eric John Stark, to try to stop him, as it is prophesied that he will bring down their world. Lots of action along the way, and also a nice little romance thrown in as well. Leigh Brackett’s writing is gripping and interesting and I can’t wait to read more, as there are two more installments of this world. I also learned that the character was from a past series as well, which I’ll happily visit in the future.

The only complaint I have is that there are some things glossed over in the name of expediency that I would have liked fleshed out a little bit more. The movements are pretty sudden,giving little sense of time or break between the dangers that the protagonist faces. For this, I have to say it’s a somewhat imperfect work, but still a really fun one and for the price and length, certainly worth reading. 4/5

Bleeding Cool’s Attack Backfires Among Own Readers

It’s pretty easy to defend the truth, as I found when having to deal with a smaller news site attacking me a couple months ago. Look at all these positive comments:

Guy hit the nail right on the head… he spoke about them accurately and how everything is going with them

My love of diversity in storytelling says, yes, Marvel (and DC) should hire conservative creators as much as they hire democratic ones.

He’s not wrong and he can’t be any worse than the person writing America. Marvel does seriously need to clean house of the Slotts and Waids.

I say that Bleeding Cool should hire John Del Arroz

Tough love is always most appreciated in hindsight. Arroz said EVERYTHING Marvel absolutely needs to be hearing right now! God bless Arroz

Amen. Enough of the Social Justice League at Marvel.

He’s 100% correct about Marvel and it’s writers and why it’s in the shit can with sales.

I’d love to see John Del Arroz hired just because so many “great” comic book writers at Marvel are just overrated hacks.

#PulpRevolution. What is that? That sounds totally up my alley

would fit right in with some of Marvel’s talents.

Holy smokes.. I would buy 2 copies of every John Del Arroz comic if he were hired. After reading that rant he made, I felt compelled to stand up and salute! Marvel needs a guy like this

Man, how can ANYONE read this, and not want the guy to write to marvel?

And for the record, since they were quite concerned about how my post somehow in not mentioning the great comics writer, Chuck Dixon, was somehow a slight on him: I would totally approve of more books by Mr. Dixon. All the books by Mr. Dixon wouldn’t be a bad choice. I’ve also messaged him personally to let him know I offer up as penance my complete collection of his Nightwing run, in that I obviously was not a true fan enough. I hope he accepts!

How Fake News Operates

Got a nice message this morning to find out I was on Bleeding Cool news, a comic book news website for those who don’t follow such things. Last week, I forwarded them my 2nd blog on the troubles that Marvel is having, after my research going into every single one of their writers’ twitters and finding that they all hail from one side of the political spectrum, to an extreme bent, and how it looks like Editor in Chief Axel Alonso has a litmus test or a soft blackball of anyone who disagrees with that position from being on the staff.

My point was copied and pasted to the site, but with a headline and a takeaway that didn’t follow my whole point: that this blackballing is occurring in the entertainment industry across different media, which has now even been confirmed by Hollywood Reporter, no right wing blog there! That was the point, that was the message, anyone who could read my blog could see that… but instead, Rich of Bleeding Cool decided to focus on my little humor element at the end that called for Marvel Comics to hire me to fix their problems, in which I posted my pretty hefty resume of awesomeness.

Of course, the problem is, my blog wasn’t about that, and that was a joke.

The whole point is that Marvel DOESN’T hire anyone who disagrees with the lockstep groupthink, and it’s been that way for a while. Axel Alonso would never talk to me in the first place whether I wrote that blog or not. It’s true in Hollywood, it’s true in big publishing houses like Tor Books, it’s true in the music industry (‘cept country).  Anyone without a horse in the race would obviously read my call to action and smirk about it. Silly, and I’m certainly laughing about it now.

This is how, as my title says, fake news operates. The media takes something that’s “technically true” about what was said, ignores the context of it, and runs a headline that will get people to click/laugh/repost and shake fists, whatever. It happens every time, and in similar fashion to the way Marvel hires their writers, with anyone who doesn’t toe the line for the left wing political perspective.  Look at pretty much any freak-out headline this morning that will be like “But Trump said…”, completely missing the point of whatever he actually communicated.

Fortunately, normal folk don’t buy into that, and the reason the media is so freaked these days, is that with the internet it’s very easy to research exactly what a person said for themselves and come to our own decision. That’s why Brexit didn’t go the way the propagandists wanted, that’s why the US Election didn’t go the way the propagandists wanted, and that’s why the Hugo Awards had to change their rules because they couldn’t even deal with how many people were agreeing what was good science fiction, that went contrary to the establishment’s attempts to virtue signal. They want to keep their small power structures alive rather than grow with the times.

Now overall, I bear Bleeding Cool and Rich Johnston no ill will (though really I should do a separate blog questioning how he came to the conclusion that I’m slighting Chuck Dixon, who is one of my favorite comic book authors and was before I even knew what his politics were. Nightwing was the best!). I get almost all of my comic book news from them, have for years. We’ve had a cordial conversation privately despite this strange article written, which he hasn’t so far denied was an intentional hit piece. Not sure what the intention was of the article if he doesn’t seem to hold that view privately, maybe he could clarify.  It’s funny that a lot of the comments do seem to agree with my real premise of the blackballing problem, and some even think it wouldn’t be a half bad idea for Marvel to actually hire me, furthering my point that most folk will decide for themselves, despite the bad attempts at narrative.

Folk from Bleeding Cool and Rich, this time I call on you just to read my work. It’s pretty highly regarded, and is fun without any sort of underlying political message. You just might like it, as it captures the feel that Marvel & Co. used to have. Excelsior!

Retro Review: Tarzan Of The Apes

I’ve been promising a review of this book on social media since before the weekend. This is the original Tarzan Of The Apes, Edgar Rice Burrough’s classic 1912 novel that spawned more than twenty sequels, endless comic books, a ton of film adaptations over the years, and for the crime of being a true man’s adventure novel, erased from modern literary discussions. Like most of the old pulp adventures, instead of celebrating what they did for the culture, they’re treated like theyr’e worthless. Tarzan was, in the 1910s-1940s, bigger than Superman, bigger than Batman. Those future writers were influenced by ERB’s works.

It drives home the point that the #PulpRevolution and #AppendixN crowd has been beating on their incessant drum for months: having action adventure in a man’s world has been held down purposefully for decades.

I picked up the “Barnes and Noble Classics” edition of this at a used bookstore going out of business for a low low price (as well as about 10 other Tarzan books).  In this, it’s almost like they didn’t want to admit it was a classic or something worth reading. First of all, look at the cover:

If you’re familiar with my blog, you might have seen me post this as a “worst cover ever” consideration when I bought it. It says nothing of the book. It evokes images of someone sitting around drinking mint tea and farting about how literary they are. This is not Tarzan.

Then there’s the introduction in here, by a woman who is a sociology professor or something of the sort. The whole intro is devoted to slandering and talking down regarding Edgar Rice Burroughs — she even does the ridiculous internet argument tactic of tying him to Nazis. Ironic, as he spent most of the war as a correspondent writing about American patriotism, after he survived the Pearl Harbor bombing. It also talks down about pulp fiction and how it “differs from” literary fiction, of which she gives a long list of negatives that are anything but. The introduction is a disaster and a disgrace. Between that and the emotionless cover, it screams to readers “DON’T READ THIS BOOK WE ONLY PUBLISHED IT CUZ HISTORY!”

Dear Readers, read this book. There’s a reason it was history. This was some of the most fun reading I’ve ever done. It grips you from the start. Tarzan’s parents have a great backstory that begins. As he battles for his life and place with the apes, it’s fantastic. As he deals with savage cannibalistic tribes it’s sensational. As he meets stranded Englishen and the classic, iconic Jane Porter, it gets even better. the lengths that Tarzan will go for his love is romance in the truest sense, in the most passionate. And oh, the ending doesn’t wrap up neatly at all. It demands a sequel immediately.

The characters are great and distinct. You can’t put it down once you start going. It’s unbelievable that this came from 1912, and goes to show that there certainly was no such thing as some enlightenment in the 60s-70s to produce better fiction. The people of this time were not dumber, no less of worthy writers than now. In fact, ERB’s vocabulary seems leaps and bounds above the treetops of most modern works of fiction.

I have been reading Princess of Mars to my son, and compared. While Princess of Mars has a lot of cool world building elements that really show the depths of ERB’s imagination, I think Tarzan as a character and tale actually exceed the work. It’s tighter, it’s more gripping, it’s more ageless.Were it not for the historical revisionists of the poo-poo literary establishment getting rid of all pulps out of sight out of mind, propping up degeneracy like Lolita or utterly dry boring realism that Steinbeck, I think this may actually be the seminal, Great American Novel, or I should say, I think this certainly is the seminal, Great American novel.

I’m not going to detail it through, as though you are vaguely aware of many points of the stories, I believe that the details should be discovered for yourself. It’s short, and it’s worth reading immediately. It’s certainly bumped some off the list of my Top 10 favorite books of all time.

When The Blackballing Gets So Bad Even The MSM Reports

Hollywood Reporter actually posted an article A New McCarthyism today, following the theme of a lot of what I’ve posted about over the last few months, from my own local convention shunning me over politics, to Marvel Comics’ apparent litmus test of only hiring writers of the extreme left persuasion. This isn’t in Hollywood alone, but it’s something that’s across the entertainment industry from music, to writing, to comics, to games, and then to Hollywood itself. It’s actually far worse in some of the other forms of entertainment. I’ve posted up some of the direct name calling and shunning in public that’s been done to me by people like J. Michael Straczynski, hollywood writer, and Sharon Lee from science fiction publishing. As well as the doxxing that one of my former favorite bands The Early November did after they went off on a bizarre swearing tirade about the President on their twitter. The message is clear:

If you do not follow the groupthink exactly, you are not welcome here, and we will disavow you.  Continue reading