Storyhack #1 Out Today – Featuring A New Short Story By Me

This has been in the works for a long time, and I’m quite excited to see Bryce Beattie’s Storyhack come to fruition. In the storied tradition of great magazines like Cirsova and Astounding Frontiers, Storyhack promotes making science fiction fun again, focusing on both genres: Action and Adventure.

Their first issue features the first Weird West story I’ve written since working for the Doomtown: Reloaded card game in the Deadlands universe. “Taking Control” is about a thief who’s getting a bit too old for the gun-and-run game, and is looking for a better way to make a living. I know my readers will find some magic in the solution to her problems:

https://www.amazon.com/StoryHack-Action-Adventure-Issue-1-ebook/dp/B075TVYBH2/

It also features stories by some fantastic writers who are up and coming in the field. Jay Barnson, Julie Frost and John M. Olsen among them. A phenomenal line up.

If you’re into identity politics and all that: this is a story about an aging female protagonist by a Hispanic author. Wow! Talk about exciting identity. So diverse!

Yes, there’s every reason to buy this magazine no matter who you are :). Check it out!

Warriors Superstar Steph Curry To Right: Don’t Watch The NBA

Yesterday, in a team meeting, Steph Curry made a flippant comment about the White House visit for the NBA Champions, stating that if it were up to him, the discussion would be short, implying he would never go to the White House. The comment is yet another in a long line of powerful entertainment virtue signalers making politics out of everything, destroying every nice moment and tradition in our culture from fiction awards ceremonies, to this.

As such a prominent figure in entertainment, Steph Curry has a bigger responsibility however than most. When people like John Scalzi spout off, they look foolish, but they’re talking to a small group of adult followers. Curry, when he speaks, speaks to millions of kids everywhere.

What he just did to these kids is give an example that someone can and should stick a middle finger to the White House or to anyone they disagree with, even when it’s not a political situation. What it says to kids is it’s personal, and we should all act like bullies when we can.

While it encourages more nonsense and people’s behavior to get even more divisive and toxic, what he doesn’t realize is the trickledown effect. At the point he does this, the kids see other people they disagree with — people not in a position of power or authority like Mr. Trump — but say a random blogger like me. They then take that as license to stalk my family and try to ruin my life, even though I’m just some guy. The psychological effect on kids is what then creates the riots in the streets of people burning down universities like Berkeley because they dared let someone speak for an hour.

And that’s frightening. That’s what it does to the next generation. What am I going to do for my kids who are huge warriors fans at this point? Never turn that on again. They don’t need to see that, they don’t need to be influenced by that behavior. Curry hates anyone on the right to the point he won’t even go to an honor and shake someone’s hand. By proxy, he hates me too.

I wish just once, one of these entertainers would do the right thing. To step up and stop the nonsense, to say they want everyone to be able to watch them perform. I do that regularly. I love all of my readers left and right, even the ones who get a bit nasty to me sometimes. I’m happy you’re here reading and i appreciate it.  It’s past time to end the hate. People are trying to injure folk. People are trying to hurt people’s families. No good is coming of doing what Steph Curry does. Stop it.

The Limit To My Patience

I had a commenter just now look up information about my 8 year old son and start ranting about me. It’s the only comment I’ve deleted in recent memory. There is a line, you harassing my children is it. If you post stuff like that I will get your IP and I will send it to the police. I am not okay with your pedophilia creepiness on my blog or anywhere else. Last warning.

 

My Policy On Reaching Out

I’ve come under so many attacks as of late it feels like it never ends. This is what happens when you expose problems in industries via journalism. I may have bitten a bit more off than I can chew by pointing out the terrible problems in Science Fiction AND in comics, but they both are so similar in both their content, and the way the industries have shaped themselves that it is one battle.

Here’s the deal though. Unlike the SJWs and their bigotry, I don’t hate anyone over politics. I think that’s what gets them so mad to begin with because they WANT me to be the literally Hitler they have in the movie of their minds. Here’s how I always ALWAYS will do things:

  1. I will do my journalism. I will ask questions. This is part of my career. There are no harm in questions. When people treat me respectfully, I do the same, and I support them just for that small act at this point. Look at my interview with Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld. He has every reason to act like many in the field have toward me, but he was a stand up guy. I now subscribe and give his magazine money monthly, and I’ve implored my readers to do the same.
  2. If I get attacked, I will respond.I get attacked regularly either because I asked journalistic questions somewhere, and then these people find me and torch me on the internet, or I ask directly because I’m trying to obtain a direct source’s information for an article. What invariably happens is when a person responds uncivilly and tries to dehumanize me for my journalism, is that I hit back. Then that person runs off and acts like I attacked them. That’s disingenuous. I recommend you don’t do that. It’d be better not to signal the attack to me in the first place, but honestly,
  3. I will try to reach out and seek to forgive. This is where I differ from a lot of people in my position who have, to be honest, become pretty jaded from this kind of treatment they receive. I believe this is the right, Christian thing to do. This is the spot where no one who’s attacked me has once showed me an ounce of human decency. This is where I’m the most disappointed. In my most recent incident, I was threatened with a lawsuit for doing this.
  4. Barring that, I will expose the corruption in the industry. I’m not talking about no name indie authors here, or readers, or even random drive-by commenters who just torch me regularly on here. You see them. I laugh those off. When I’m in these positions I’m dealing with someone in a position of power in the industry, someone who holds a lot of cred and sway, someone who can influence careers. When these people attack independent authors, it needs to be known, it needs to be vocal. You’d be best not to let it get to this point because let’s be honest — when it does, it builds my platform and credibility with readers, and it harms yours. That’s the only result. I don’t want it to get to here. I want step 3 to happen and all of us to be friends. That is my goal in life. Not one person has ever attempted to reach across the aisle and make this happen since I’ve come on the scene. Every time another person can’t treat me like a human, it makes it harder for me to do step 3.You are signalling that you want war when you do something horrific to me, and I’m not afraid to give that.

Step 3 is always available if you’ll stop attacking me and my friends. Again, I don’t hate you. I don’t hate your politics. You hate me, and my friends, to such a level that it’s very crazy bigotry, it’s terribly hurtful, and it’s wrong — with recent ones it’s bordering on illegal. There’s blackballing and defamation going on in levels never seen in entertainment, across all media. I want to work it out. I want to heal this. But you need to take that step to take my hand.

Star Trek: Discovery Trying Too Hard To Virtue Signal

This is going to be a disaster. Everyone sees this from everything they release. Even with their marketing efforts they are so far off the mark and insulting to fans by their attempts to make this show a pure identity politics showcase that they flat lie to journalists:

How Sonequa Martin-Green became the first black lead of Star Trek: ‘My casting says that the sky is the limit for all of us

I am afraid to read the rest of this article. Maybe they think that non-star trek fans won’t know the difference? Or maybe ST:D’s producers and marketing team thinks “they all look alike.”

Update: If you think it’s just a headline typo, the direct quote from the actress herself who clearly has never bothered to watch star trek even in her research for the role: “So having me as the first black lead of a Star Trek, just blasts that into a million pieces.”

SFWA President Appears To Break Org Rules In Escalating Feud With Hispanic Author

It was an interesting day to say the least yesterday, as I couldn’t have anticipated SFWA President Cat Rambo threatening a lawsuit over my ask for her to appear as a guest on my youtube show. As I discussed on my periscope, my thought was to talk RPGs and writing — since we both are vocal RPG lovers and could drill down the benefits and drawbacks of using that in our fiction. I clearly said no politics, but Ms. Rambo decided to double down on the political.

Which she’s been doing ever since I came out with my deep journalism on the recent science fiction industry, detailing the very real discrimination against stories written by men. The Pink Mafia or Mean Girls crowd as it’s called has several magazines and anthologies every month that openly advertise their preference of female-written stories, often citing “intersectional feminism” in their submissions requirements. It should be obvious with those in place, what the results would be upon a look into the industry. However, the mere mention of affirmative action on behalf of female writers is enough to send some off the deep end. A discussion on the topic can’t even be had.

When my article came out, I sent it to Ms. Rambo, as she’s in a position of power in the industry as the President of the Science Fiction Writers Of America, and the numbers of published stories by females being so much higher than ones published by males (when the magazines all say there are FAR greater submissions by males) is troubling, as it appears very difficult to get published as a male in the industry — let alone a white one. Instead of having an honest dialogue, Ms. Rambo returned a comment trolling me by calling my extremely hard work “alt-numbers” via an email back. She wrote a second email a few minutes later saying she went through my twitter and is now dismissing ME as a troll — right after she trolled me. As if that very frightening gaslighting wasn’t enough, she then took to twitter to try to discredit my article.

She made a tweet that seems innocuous, and would be were it not for her position of power relative to a humble new indie author, and then what she did with it. Unfortunately, what she did merits removal from the SFWA organization under their rules.

Above is her tweet, which lists a number of markets for short stories. the intention to say that I didn’t put together an accurate sample size of the markets in order to discredit me. Instead of talking to me, saying “add in these markets” (I put in all of the monthly magazines that take open submissions that I could think of), she took her one-sided feud with me to twitter to try to lambast me. This was not the discussion I had in mind certainly, and i would have been happy to add more markets to the analysis.

But the real problem is she then took to the SFWA account — the official Science Fiction Writers of America Twitter, which saves its posts for very real science fiction topics and assistance for authors, to use it to retweet her post to discredit me. She took her personal feud, of which the context matters, and used their main account to try to harm an independent author’s career.

This is a disaster for SFWA’s public relations. What it does is signals that independent free thinking authors are going to be shut down by an organization that labels itself for all Science Fiction writers if they dare step outside the political narratives that a few loud voices have. It says independent authors are not welcome, but more importantly men, whites, and conservatives are not welcome either.

This is where it gets even more political, unless SFWA acts and is consistent with their own rules. Author Vox Day was kicked out of the organization several years ago over this very thing. SFWA actually publicly removed him for using their twitter account for a feud with another author. When asked about it, Vox said, “Actually, it’s worse than that. I didn’t use or have access to @sfwa. I merely used @SFWAauthors.”

If Vox can be removed for using @SFWAAuthors in such a matter, surely using the main account to try to belittle and hurt the career an independent author is worse. I’ve reached out to SFWA’s vice president, Erin M. Hartsorn for comment, but she has yet to reply on this topic.

I’m certain SFWA’s rules that apply to one of their authors will certainly apply to their president. After all, they’re for all Science Fiction writers. It’s not just a political organization, right?  If they fail to take action, the thin veil of the extreme politics controlling science fiction may fall off completely.

Can Anything Be Done About Comics?

It’s been a crazy, drama filled weekend in the wide world of comics. Marvel writers have doubled down on attacking reviewers/commentators, some like Nick Spencer going off on how vitriolic rhetoric is — forgetting about the incredibly charged and hateful political rhetoric not just most, but all of the Marvel writers have engaged in that started all this. We’re just a couple of months from art appearing in an X-Men comic with anti-semetic and anti-Christian messaging in the background, and just months from people like Mr. Spencer calling everyone who thinks differently than him nazis, and let’s not forget in his work, he’s the fellow who made Captain America a nazi-esque symbol as a hyper-charged political commentary. Talk about offensive rhetoric.

It’s prompted many long time comic readers to ask: “is there anything that can be done to save the comic industry?” A great question.

The comic industry is very different than sci-fi books, which have been saved from the likes of the big corporate writers by independent publishing, going around the gatekeepers who want only poorly done message fiction that represents extreme SJW politics. Unlike the corporate publishing, comics have had two houses Marvel/DC completely dominate the industry for decades, publishing only popular characters of creations from the 1930s-1960s on repeat. They’ve taken other’s works and the entire industry had been honed into monthly fan fiction.

It’s been a problem with comics for decades, because everyone has gotten in the habit of going and getting their Spider-Man comic, regardless of who writes, regardless of who draws. It’d be as if Tor, several years ago, decided to only monthly publish Wheel Of Time by several of their authors, and only have Wheel of Time books produced instead of new content.

As a result, people don’t follow writers as much — comic writers rarely are able to transition out of these careers into books or vice versa, creators who have their own indie works sell in very low amounts even if they come from this world. The best indie sellers get put into the Marvel/DC machine over time because they get bought up into contracts that have them exclusive, and they produce lackluster, uninspired content to churn out from that point forward.

There are smaller companies and indies, but your sales are going to be extremely low there. Even the hits don’t come close to even getting seen by the dude in the shop buying Batman month after month after month. It’s absurd, and it’s been designed that way ever since comics went to the specialty shop decades ago, and since Marvel/DC decided to make a monopoly out of one distributor — Diamond, in order to better cut out other companies. Between that and their not taking risks on new properties (never committing beyond a couple years), the comic industry has been devoid of much creativity outside of the indies which few see, for decades. It’s really sad.

But it’s not undoable. It’s going to take a lot of time. Manga and webcomics have already shifted the paradigm some. The market for the traditional American comic has gotten really small, and it’s sad to watch. But for a true shift, it’s going to take readers giving up the habit that they formed because marketing has told them to their entire lives. They can’t just keep the adventures of these characters — who are poor imitations and mockeries of Stan Lee’s originals, for their month after month.

It’s starting. These reviewers who are pointing out the very real flaws in the industry are causing a ripple, making people not read. That’s why all these writers in unison are coming out condemning them, blocking them. It’s fear on their side, and it’s being coordinated from above. This group that has been pushing politics through the medium won’t last forever. Even though the companies have been extremely insular about it so far, eventually their failures will be noted.

Likewise these properties are on a decline. There’s no way to maintain real continuity at this point. There’s no way to develop characters for real. It’s almost impossible for someone to read these comics looking at it as a real story because the reset button is just around the corner for any development. How can you stand reading that?

It’ll take a lot of years for an overhaul of comics to happen. Perhaps the digital revolution will do something there, but it’s not going to be as easy or as clean/bloodless as the indie sci-fi revolution. There’s no way with the fanfiction habits of the readers right now.

The readers have to break the habit first. Go out and try new stuff. These big reviewers need to present alternatives, or there will never be any viable ones. It won’t get you as many clicks as your Marvel videos, but it needs to be done for the industry. I personally recommend Valiant Comics and Alterna Comics for good, fun entertainment.

Clarkesworld On Story Submissions and Acceptances

I reached out to several editors regarding my statistics I found in analyzing monthly short fiction outlets that take submissions last week. I did the research into that very large cross-section of the industry primarily because of the way one magazine treated me in asking the question to begin with – encouraging their followers to attack me, and actually going so far as to make a “your mom” joke about me from their professional magazine account. If you watched my recent periscope on 4th Generation Warfare Tactics, you would know this was a mistake, as certainly responding with such vitriol is not going to get me to de-escalate the situation – it in fact drove me to spend the energy researching into the industry and prove conclusively that among pro-paying markets, there is a preference toward female authored stories.

My interest, however, is in the facts of the situation and what can be done about it to create a healthy and good environment for authors and artists. This is why I reached out to several editors to begin with. The only editor of one of these professional markets to respond thus far, is Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld. He took the time to answer some of my questions after my statistical analysis, which is a testament to his professionalism and genuine care for science fiction.

When I first did my analysis on Clarkesworld I couldn’t find the author’s bios easily – but they are posted on the side bar below several of the advertisements. This allowed me to go back through and find the sexes of the stories I couldn’t determine from the names. The stats on the year total at 34 male written stories and 38 female written stories in the last year of issues, which does not change the percentages in my total analysis to any significant degree.

There is, like most magazines, a slight female preference in his magazine over the last year, and so my first question to Mr. Clarke was what does the submission data look like?

It’s been a while since the last time I ran those stats and I don’t have all the data I need to do it right now, but I did monitor this for several years and during that time, 65-70% of all submissions came from men. The percentage fluctuated, but always stayed inside that range. The data included all SF/F/H submissions. Expect more fluctuation when you look at specific genres. If I recall correctly, men were also slightly more likely to submit multiple stories per month.

While the differential isn’t large as the Submissions Grinder appears to be for most paying markets, there is still a heavy weight of male submissions he receives. While with other magazines, the reasoning for the ratio published is either obvious from the political things they post, or actually stated in their submissions that they prefer certain groups, I was interested in how this goes across the industry. Mr. Clarke also pointed out that all submissions are not equal, there are qualitative differences, which I do know to be the case as I’ve read slush for a major science fiction magazine. Slush readers deserve cookies. They are poor, poor souls and you have no idea how bad some of the stuff is they have to read unless you’ve done it yourself. While within a particular magazine, this can account for some differentials between the sexes, when it comes to a sample size of about a thousand stories published, of which there are probably a hundred times that in submissions, the qualitative differences is, in my opinion, no likely the cause.

The qualitative element is still an interesting discussion point. I followed up by asking to drill down on that: is it a stylistic judgment where men prefer writing direct action/adventure or is more an objective qualitative measure of bad prose?

Honestly, I don’t spend much time concerning myself about why stories don’t get in, so I can’t really say what it is that most of them do wrong by gender. There’s bad prose, way too many zombies, predictable plots, and a lot of same old stuff. 

On the flip side, I find that authors who read more broadly tend to have something different in their stories and that appeals to me. Broadly can be stretched to include reading or being influenced by authors I haven’t. (This partially explains my interest in works from other parts of the world.) I’ve been reading SF for forty years. Loved Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, etc., but I feel like SF is supposed to move forward and build upon what came before. Some people are very nostalgic for that era/style and I get the appeal, but it’s generally not what I’m looking for at Clarkesworld. There are other publications that fall more in line with those stories and that’s one of the nice things about the short fiction market at the moment… a lot of variety if you know where to look.

What I take from this, despite his not analyzing the breakdown of why stories fail through submissions by gender, is that men are more prone to submit stories which don’t fit with Clarkesworld’s style of science fiction, and submit them anyway just hoping they make it in a crap shoot. It would be very interesting to see what the percentages are of the make ups here and how that works, but it’s a lot of data points to drill into this at that level, and it would probably take more resources than this magazine has at its disposal.  Mr. Clarke also mentioned that he gets about 1,200 submissions per month – a crazy amount to go through considering they publish 6 to 8 stories per month, which means they do have to spend their time trying to get through as many submissions as fast as possible. Clarkesworld as a magazine has a reputation for having one of the quickest turnarounds in the industry too, so authors don’t waste as much time with their stories in the pile as they do in other outlets.

This provides great insight into this specific magazine, and my only conclusion is that Clarkesworld treats authors fairly, and is therefore a good outlet in the field. I’m extremely impressed with the information Mr. Clarke was willing to share to give a good insight into how his editorial team tackles stories. I’ve very much appreciated my discussion with him.

While I believe that Clarkesworld may have a slightly different interest in style than many of my military science-fiction and pulp-enthusiast readers, as a writer, it is good to get a breadth of reading so you don’t have a completely insular mindset as to what good fiction is. There is certainly room for SF more influenced by the Heinlein, Clarke and Asimov influenced crowd as there is for those of us more into Poul Anderson, Michael Moorcock and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Your mind draws upon what you read, and the more your read, the more tools you’ll have to be able to create.

With this data provided, and the honest answers I received to a very difficult question in such a politically charged climate, I made the decision to support Clarkesworld in their efforts and subscribe to the magazine. It’s rare to find anyone willing to dialogue these days to discuss fiction on a meta-level, and mosti importantly to treat me fairly in doing so, and I believe that’s something that should be encouraged so we can all enjoy science fiction together.

If you want to join me in this, which I am recommending for my readers, you can subscribe to Clarkesworld here:

http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/subscribe/
or support them on their Patreon which is here:

https://www.patreon.com/clarkesworld