LibertyCon Schedule – June 30th, Chattanooga TN!

I’ll be going to libertycon this weekend, and I’ll be in Nashville a couple of days before that to go see the Charlie Daniels Band and watch the Nashville Sounds play baseball. I actually have a pretty packed schedule but I’ll do my best to make time for everyone.

At libertycon:

 

Day Time Name of Event
Fri 03:00PM Author’s Alley (Arroz, Bragg/Daniel Butler, Gibbons, Grant, Mays)
Fri 05:00PM Opening Ceremonies
Fri 07:00PM Star Realms Tournament
Sat 10:00AM Autograph Session (Arroz. Mandragora, Ringo)
Sat 12:00PM What’s New in the World of Steampunk
Sat 04:00PM Retro-Futurist Alternate History Reprise
Sat 08:00PM Reading: Jonathan Del Arroz & Mark Fults
Sat 09:00PM AESC & Thorn Publishing Party / “For a Fistful of Credits” Book Launch Party and Mass Autograph Session
Sat 10:00PM Author’s Alley (K. Bogen, Del Arroz, Gilliam, McKeown, Wacks)
Sun 10:00AM Kaffeeklatsch  

 

As I mentioned, a pretty packed schedule. What a great way to cap off #SteampunkMonth with a “What’s New In the World of Steampunk” and “Retro-Futurist” panel! Should be a lot of fun and I’m very excited to talk with great authors like Gail Martin and Lou Antonelli on the topic.

The big deal is actually going to be the Saturday night party for the For A Fistful Of Credits book launch. I have a 10,000 word story in this anthology — and it’s some of the best work I’ve written. Highly recommend heading to this as it’s going to be most of the authors in this anthology getting together for the first and perhaps only time. I’ll have amazon details on the book when it’s available.

LibertyCon is sold out, so if you were on the fence… I’m sorry! There may be a handful of people who can’t go so contact the organizers. Hope to see you all there!

Speaking Out Against The Disavow and Disassociate Game

I’ve dealt with this game for a long time on a personal level, and see it going on elsewhere on a regular basis. Back in 2015, I wasn’t all that well known in the science fiction community. I had my group of friends locally, and was on the periphary of Anne McCaffrey’s sorta crew (who are the most wonderful people in the whole world I might add), but not to where I had much of a name for myself, despite having a couple of decent entertainment industry successes with my Flying Sparks comic, working for the Doomtown: Reloaded card game, and of course my big claim to fame, having sold a song I wrote/recorded to MTV’s Real World: New Orleans.

None of that mattered. I was still on the fan side of fandom at the time. And from a different perspective. I was warned over and over that I wouldn’t want to associate with Brad Torgersen, that he is single-handedly ruining fandom, that he was an awful person, that he makes people cry. It was was scary at the time. I was an aspiring novelist, trying to get published, i certainly didn’t want to be seen as someone who’s torching the science fiction community, did I?

I’ve never liked the gossip game. I didn’t then, and I don’t now. When someone talks that bad about someone, I try to see what the other side of the story is, I don’t take that as word. The only difference to me is when someone very personally hurts a friend of mine, loyalty exists there. But from what I saw, Mr. Torgersen never personally hurt anyone. So I went and talked to him.

And this is what I recommend doing: when you see this sorta thing going on, look at what the person who’s getting the “disavow and disassociate” treatment’s saying, be open, talk to the person. There is a human there, and it’s easy to see what they’re about. In multiple conversations with Mr. Torgersen, reading his writing, etc. I found that he is a stand up guy, cares passionately about what he believes in, and isn’t out to hurt a fly. It was the direct opposite of the narrative. He’s a wonderful individual and I’m quite happy to have picked up his books to support him. Since then, he’s become probably one of my top 3 if not favortie short fiction writer. Great writing skills and ideas on top of being a great person. He’s got my support for life.

That’s the kind of thing you’ll find if you take a step back from the rumor and pay attention to reality. The rumor mill, the passive aggressive attacks, the whispers behind peoples backs are not good for anyone. And it’s quite easy to put a stop to that.

What I’m getting at is the whole disavow game is ugly. There’s no point to it. It’s gossip. it’s Mean Giirls extrapolated into adulthood — where it shouldn’t exist at all. When I see it, I’m not going to play it, and you shouldn’t either. It keeps going, and now on this side of the fence where I’ve got a readership and a fanbase, I get even more people “concerned”about who I choose to associate with, as if it matters who my friends are.

It doesn’t. I’m sorry to say to the concerned people out there that “associating” hasn’t hurt me a single iota. My friends are my friends because I support them, and they support me. I am loyal to them, and someone spreading gossip and rumor to me is not going to change that. I’m not going to engage in that, and I’m never going to attack my friends.

I call on everyone to step up to this sort of thing. Especially those of us on the periphary of publishing, in independent entertainment. It’s hard enough with the entire establishment barking at us to tear us down without us eating our own. There’s no reason to do that, there’s no leadership or power strucutres that need to be maintained here. It’s the wild west of entertainment, and we either have each other’s backs or we don’t. I’d much prefer a gorup that has my back, even if it’s a smaller one, and you should too. That’s what will make us all stronger in the end.

Behavioral Observations In Science Fiction

Now, I’ve been active in this scene for a long time. Been hanging around big name authors since about 2010, been reading since the 90s, so I think I have a good sample size of the general landscape, and how people react. Here’s the truth:

There’s two groups, the old guard burnout mentality, and the new indie pulp revolution. There’s a bit of a line up along political lines, but not as much as you’d expect, and in fact, that’s used as an excuse a lot of the time to poo poo the new. This is the state of science fiction today. I’ve talked about it briefly before, but here’s a broader look at the experiences I’ve had after engaging with both.

Old Guard

You walk into social media, or a group, or a convention of what I called the “old guard”, they’e hesitant. They’re the type to complain that they’re introverts, having to recharge after social interactions (which is fine to be, but knowing that… why complain so often?). A new person is immediately greeted with a stand-offish attitude, like they have to vet you to make sure you’re “really one of them” or that you have to pay your dues to prove yourself somehow. They’re hyper-political. If you look at their social media posts, 70-90% of them are endless shrieking about politics they don’t like. They keep talking about how they’re too busy for anyone or anything — including the next generation of fans and writers. And this is all before they know that you’re on the “wrongthink” side of politics.

It took me a couple years to get settled in with those types, and in that mentality, you’re expected to go into slush with your stories (a nice metaphor for what you’re going through as they vet you personally) — have them vetted by gatekeepers that are flooded with thousands per week, hoping that they’ll see you as special for whatever reason. You’re expected to be at some bottom rung, and wait to be acknowledged by the “greats” giving you the nod.  At that point, you’re supposed to slog it out for years, getting a story in Analog or whatnot here or there, making convention speeches to rooms of 5-10 people, and posting negative politics all the time yourself. Even when familiar, they’re still standoffish. They’ll smile at you a little more, but very few will lift a finger to help. They’re too bogged down in their own negativity.

It’s a burnout mentality. The old guard has watched generations go through this process, and even if they are younger, they grew up in a grievance mindset subculture that’s become science fiction. The stories are boring. They’ve been struggling with the same grind for decades to be considered by academics to be “real literature” and have adjusted their writing styles accordingly — copying the boring, mundane aspects of literature style, while removing anything that makes science fiction special. As a consequence, there’s been a drop off from people buying millions of books, to thousands. We’ve seen this story before. It gets blamed on external factors like ebooks — but those are tools to help you grow your audience, not something to shrink. Of course, they don’t use these tools right, including on pricing, which further shrinks the audience.

When I was in slush reading, as one of the gatekeepers at a smaller outfit trying to work my way up, I found myself getting into this mentality as well. I’d reject anything, I’d be LOOKING FOR reasons to reject. It wouldn’t be reading stories for excitement, it was quiet the opposite. And that then translates into a mentality in which you read other fiction, even for fun. You go to panels and join groups, everyone’s talking about how hard it is to write, how they have a block, how the muse just isn’t inspiring them, how they’re scatterbrained and can’t focus. Or it’s about this group or that isn’t getting represented well enough and gosh darnit it’s because of those bigots (who… are the very same people making the complaints).  It’s oppressive. It’s torture.

You can only buy fiction at 6 cents a word. You can only sell fiction at 6 cents a word. You must wait for an agent to give you the nod and take 15-25% of whatever they can sell it for–if it can sell at all. Scoff at anything else. Scoff at everything else. If the gatekeepers don’t buy it, revise revise revise and resubmit! Keep going in the slog, keep not making money, keep getting outraged. Repeat.

Most people do burn out. I see folk going through this all the time. Even the small victories seem just that after awhile — because getting a few shorts in a few magazines really doesn’t move the needle. They don’t see their fanbases growing in proportion to the work they put in. And so they get angry themselves. And they often quit. They don’t want to market themselves because they’re told on repeat if they self-promote, if they drum up support for awards — it’s not real.  You’re faking it then. If you’re really, they’ll certainly find you naturally. And with very rare exceptions, which has nothing to do with quality of work, no one ever finds them naturally.

Release a book, none of these folk will help. There’s zero loyalty involved here. Everyone here won’t self promote, so why would they promote others? Promoting friends is just as icky as self-promoting. They don’t want to sully themselves. A publicist for your publishing house is supposed to do that for you. Right? Invariably, they don’t sell like they should. I even saw a prominent writer today who’s very highly regarded by this group complain about the income made after having contracts for almost 10 books in traditional publishing. Yikes!

Bring politics into the mix, if you’re in the “wrong”… you’re going to get shrieked at, shouted down, shunned, personally attacked, personally destroyed, mocked, and hated at every turn. It’s so disgusting that they’ll go full on racist, everything they claim to be against, just to put you down. It happened to me last week even. If they don’t do that, they’ll completely ignore you in hopes that you’ll just go away. They don’t want to share their science fiction space with anyone, and don’t even want to talk about it because they’re so burnt out with the above.

This model is failing. Sales are declining. Attendance is going down. It’s an unmitigated disaster, but they keep repeating the same mistakes.

Enter the New Indie Pulp Revolution.

Remember, I was hobnobbing with the group above from 2010- November 2016, flailing from November – February in a vacuum of pretty much just myself, before I finally got fed up with the political shunning and decided to tell the story of how I’ve been treated by the old guard. As soon as I did that, some of my “friends” finally took the plunge in disavowing me like they’d really wanted to all along, but something special happened as well. I met this whole group that i didn’t know existed.

They’re all over the internet. Independent authors. They’re hungry, they want to sell, they want to consume, they want to see the next hot trend. They haven’t been reading thousands of slush pages trying to reject anything and everything, haven’t been speaking at droning conventions about the woes of the industry, haven’t been on writers groups complaining about everything. They just write. They release. They hope readers love it. They engage with readers and other authors. They repeat, and because they love it.

Just watching the mentality of blog reviews from this crowd vs. reviews from the old guard system — you can tell they’re here to have fun with science fiction and fantasy. And that’s what these genres are about: FUN. In all caps. Without fun and imagination, you might as well read a literature type novel, about real life, about the mundane. You might as well read the news and get depressed. The whole point is the sense of wonder. Why lose that? Why not be excited with your fellow author and fellow readers about everything? Learn and grow from each other. We’re all on the same team. Even members of the old guard reading this — and I know you do read — we’re on the same team as well. There’s no reason to be frightened. We’re all friendly.

I showed up in February, it’s June now. Just saying hi and talking with everyone on a regular basis has been a joy. I’ve been invited to writers groups. People invite me to their magazines and anthologies. People invite me to publish with them. We spread reviews and interviews and love around regularly, all hoping to find the next, great thing, so that it edifies our fellow authors and helps ourselves grow at the same time. We’re constantly seeking, constantly smiling, and constantly enjoying.

I’m friends now in this indie group with authors who outsell a lot of people who wouldn’t give me the time of day because they’re “so busy” in the old guard camp. They make time for me, because they’re in the thick of it and understand what it’s like. They haven’t forgotten. They bucked the grind I listed above, and carved their own niche with their own hard marketing work. And they’re happier and freer for it. They understand all their work is on them and them alone, don’t expect anything, but give everything in return. And the old adage is very much true: you get what you give.

Think about it. Six years of working hard still can’t get a person accepted and embraced without a miracle, four months of chatting with some folk online create unbreakable friendships. I’m the same person in both situations, so are you. There’s nothing different there other than the people and the mindset. And that’s why more fans keep coming to me and to other authors involved in this very real revolution in science fiction.

It’s obvious where the business is headed, and where things are going. Old Guard ,or people trying to break into it — embrace these new trends, these fresh faces. They’ll do a lot more for you than the hierarchy that you’re seeking approval from. The gatekeepers are just a social construct from ages past. There’s a new one for the future age. And what are we about in Sci-Fi if we’re not about the future?

It Gets Even Crazier: Baycon and File 770’s Recent Tantrums

Last weekend, while I was having the time of my life, having a politics-free time with some cool folk who enjoy books and genres that I do, fake science fiction news site File 770 had one of their contributors write a weird fan fiction poem about me. Apparently, this person took quite the exception to the fact that I market and promote myself in the wake of some people I don’t know on the internet doing everything in their power to tear me down and delegitimize me. Naturally, not knowing me and never having interacted with me, the person got many of the specifics about events wrong, but his overall message was one that was true enough: these folk can’t get me out of their heads to stop talking about me.

A poem from a random stranger on the internet is a bit creepy, and naturally as it’s meant to target me negatively, I had a bit of a harsh reaction to it at first, but upon reflection I applaud this person’s creativity. If they want to spend their time writing poems about me and hopefully reading my book to come to a good conclusion that I’m not a “real” author or whatnot, that’s great. More power to them.

But what struck me more was the comments that brought me back full circle on this intense journey of blogging and gaining readers regularly since Baycon’s leadership took last year’s election quite personally, opting to disinvite me from their science fiction convention in order to try to send some message that to them, politics is more important than science fiction book releases or even personal friendships.

For those new readers: Baycon took to File 770 to launch a smear campaign of me after that, lying and gaslighting about the topic, which I’ve already shown their true motives on this blog in the past. My public blog was a call to them was to drop the politics, posted after having it made very clear by someone in the know that they would refuse to even open my emails on the topic. My points on the matter were impersonal, and topical, yet was met with some of the most angry, vitriolic personal attacks I’ve ever received. That’s the level of hatred that was involved, and the level I went to try to make sure they cleared up this event so everyone could have a good time in science fiction like in the past.

Baycon, as we found out, not only ignored my warning, but doubled-down with a program slate riddled with angry, one-sided politics. There were other long-time guests who messaged me privately to let me know that they declined their standing invites because the politics had become too thick with this group, and praised me for speaking out on the matter– and yes, despite what they said on the topic, almost every author who puts out even the most unread, semi-relevant work in the last few years has standing invites and gets invited year-after-year. You’re now up to date on the topic if you’re a new reader.

Then it got crazier. One of the File 770 fanfic poem commenters wrote a 400-word rant about Baycon and their interactions with me, specifically on how great of a time that they were all having without me. This person immediately opened with some mild racism directed at your humble Hispanic author and journalist, stating that I don’t “pronounce my name in a Spanish way”. A white woman on the internet demanded that I’m supposed to roll the r’s in Del Arroz harder to make myself some Speedy Gonzalez caricature for her benefit. Someone followed up on mocking my name and heritage on the site, making for a really bizarre display of racism against Hispanics on File 770 that illuminates a lot about the SJW mentality. I incidentally get a lot of racism directed at me from SJWs who can’t handle that I fly in the face of their narrative, and never have once received such treatment from the boogeymen they claim are “problematic.” I reached out to Mike Glyer, the purveyor of the site, for comment, who stated, “Name humor is fundamentally not funny. Ethnic name humor is offensive.”  I agree wholeheartedly, and much thanks to Mr. Glyer for that.

The person continued to make all these presumptions about me that are false before going into the meat of her narrative: no one at Baycon knows who I am or even cares about me. This is where it gets pretty ironic, as then it launches into proof of that concept by mentioning how they were all spending their party evening (most conventions have parties after hours) talking smack about me.  I’m glad that while I was enjoying myself elsewhere with a group of people who legitimately didn’t know me, that these folk of which I am well familiar with a large number, including some who attended/guested who are still very much my friends, had a good time getting angry at me and mocking me where they safely couldn’t get called out on it.

They went further. A long-time attendee made ribbons – actually spent good hard earned money – to take a line from my original blog on the topic and mock me. For those not familiar with conventions, a custom in recent years has been for folk to attach ribbons to their badges, usually something silly or fun, or in promotion of something. They’re not that cheap to make, so it takes some dedication to want to do it (for those at cons in the near future that I’m attending, come find me to get your Grand Rislandian Army ribbons!). I’d heard about this before, and assumed it was a joke that they wouldn’t remember come convention time. Con-chairman Christopher Castro even chimed in on a Facebook thread to express his pleasure at his attendees mocking me in this manner back when the original word of my blackball from speaking hit. I reached out to him for comment, but he blocked me rather than reply. Word is that they gave out around 200 of these at the convention, $50-75 worth of printing costs and several hours of time dedicated to thinking about me.

Yet… no one knew who I was, according to this poster, including the poster herself who had quite a few details they apparently knew about me. The poster has since followed up to state that someone who called me a “cupcake” was responsible for this information — of whom I understand from use of that term to be Baycon programming director, Susie Rodriguez, the person directly responsible for my removal from speaking and the smear campaign. Nice source. The post then goes on to explain how their guest of honor, one of the writing duo known as James SA Corey, of The Expanse fame, had a look of disgust on his face when I was mentioned (I’ve never met or interacted with them, have no beef with them either. I’ve also reached out to them for comments on this topic as I hope to clear any ill-will up as a misunderstanding. From what I hear, they’re good guys and hard workers.) You see the cognitive dissonance that they have to form in order to make these arguments, which is what happens every time in these instances where SJWs get caught with their absurd behavior, and occurred from day one when the Baycon folk went into scramble mode to try to minimize the damage of being called out on their organization’s political problems.

Those comments went on, and they vary in nastiness as they always do when my name is evoked over there. It’s the same 5-10 people saying over and over how horrible I am or how much I don’t matter. The poem’s right in one regard– they sure spend a lot of time talking about me for how much I don’t matter. Something I said resonates to their core, and the reason, despite the cognitive dissonance, is the fact that these folk have spent decades preaching phony tolerance and diversity to a point where it became a witch hunt to find anyone who’s “not tolerant and diverse.” Those words lost their meaning, and became code for “we don’t like vocal Christians” a long time ago, and has in the last year or so added “we don’t like nationalists” to that. Now they’ve got someone willing to speak against their falsehoods, who not only proves there’s no tolerance or diversity desired with this crowd, but does so from a minority perspective who’s supposed to be leading a charge with them. It’s more than me, it’s what I represent as an anti-narrative to them. The narrative is their religion, and without it, they’re lost, as they’ve used that to fill that God-sized hole in their lives.

But there’s good news with this as well. Their tyranny over Baycon is over. New leadership was announced for the convention for 2018, leadership that I very much approve of. They’re of the same political persuasions, this is the San Francisco Bay Area after all, but they’re not the self-destruct-nuke-at-all-costs SJW types that handled the 2017 events. I expect to see some big changes next year, and hopefully the politics can be dropped from this sci-fi convention and it can get back to fun, as it’s the only thing I’ve asked since day one. I’ll of course be on top of watching this and making sure that pertinent sci-fi fandom news is brought to your attention.

Quick shout out my MANY friends from the guest list Baycon who stuck through me through the lambasting, through the attempts to smear my character through the last year. It was certainly rough with the mass of lies and vitriol flung at me, but I appreciate you being there, even if we don’t talk all that much. I won’t name your names for your own safety, but you know who you are. I love you very much and appreciate your support.

#Steampunk Clockwork Alchemy 2017 Round-Up

Clockwork Alchemy in San Jose, CA marked the first time I’d attended a convention wholly dedicated to steampunk – and it was a lot of fun! The crowd had about the highest percentage of people in cosplay I’ve seen, all in elegantly designed Victorian or Steampunk attire, and many I talked to are regular participants in the local ren faire or Dickens Fair – a really cool event around Christmas time that takes the theme of A Christmas Carol and extrapolates a whole convention center with prop-storefronts and everything. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this convention, but I was quite pleased to find on a search of their programming before the event that all of their content was themed, and most importantly there was NO POLITICS.  How refreshing! My wife and I decided to get a babysitter for the kids for a Saturday – Sunday morning jaunt to the con. I only wish we had more time!

The first thing we did was hit the dealer room, which was small but packed with cool themed craftsmen. I needed a new hat since losing my tophat for my steampunk attire a couple of years back, and I found a wonderful hat that the guy who designed it put a ton of work into. It’s gorgeous. Found some cool things for my wife as well like a teacup holster. And we met a craftsman who made a metal pendant version of my Grand Rislandian Army insignia – which readers of this blog will have a chance to win closer to release.

After that we looked into the programming. I’m no crafting person myself, but they had a ton of how-to-make-it-yourself content, of which would be of interest to a lot of people (cool costuming can get expensive!). They also had a “war room” where it was a big open room with live self-defense and weaponry demonstrations. I didn’t participate but I did watch and it was in depth and really cool. Next time that’s something I want to try when I’m not wearing a big heavy leather themed costume.

They also had a tent, outside which they had morning to evening dance and music performances. Really cool! I live streamed a little sample of that on Periscope on Saturday.

Beside that was the highlight of the entire convention, which I wouldn’t have thought at first, but my wife was pretty excited about – the tea room. They have a real brewer who made her own loose leaf blends, and set things up properly with china and the like, while people in themed costume serve you. It may sound a little silly or mundane but the atmosphere there was very themed and so wonderful that I was impressed – not to mention the tea blends they had were incredibly flavorful. It was free as well. Needless to say, the room was packed the whole time with a long wait, but it was well worth it.

We also visited the evening concert on Saturday night and played a cool board game Dicenstein in the gaming room with some nice folk. That ended up with a fun chat in the hotel bar with some folk we met through the online literary world.

Sunday, I travelled through author’s alley and talked to a lot of cool people including Harry Turtledove, the master of alt-history writing himself. I also met a great guy named Steve DeWinter who has a “Steampunk Oz” series that looks really cool, and M. Holly-Rosing, who wrote the comic for the Boston Metaphysical Society, which I’d seen online before. Was really cool to meet these folk! All in all it was an incredibly pleasant experience and I wish I could have spent another day there, as I know I missed the cool steampunk fashion show and ball on Sunday evening that looked like they would have been perhaps the most fun events of the convention.

And then the best part were the cool like-minded people. It was fun to chat steampunk with so many and share my bookmarks for my forthcoming release, which was very well received by all. My wife and I look forward to participating next year and hopefully we can contribute a little more with the release of For Steam And Country and perhaps a sequel if I can manage it in time for their event.

One more thing: I told a lot of people at the convention, but starting June 1, I’m going to be running #SteampunkMonth on the blog here, in which I’ll try to post some steampunk content every day through the month of June. I want everyone to join me in this and bring about a Steampunk revival on social media. Don’t be shy, join in the fun!

Tally ho!

 

Tordotcom Celebrates #SpaceOperaWeek By Censoring Popular Space Opera Author

When I first heard about #SpaceOperaWeek, I was excited. It provided a chance to talk about the sub-genre of Science Fiction that I love more than any other, and cross-platform across the internet through the use of the hashtag to where I’d be able to reach and connect with a lot of people.

Unfortunately, the promise that Tordotcom made in #SpaceOperaWeek turned out to be nothing but thin air.  The launch page really didn’t talk about space opera at all, just having some big logo announcing their initiative. The next post wasn’t about space opera or the joys of its fiction — but presenting a false narrative that women are somehow oppressed and erased in the genre (rebutted by the Hugo-nominated Castalia House who’s been active talking about the great women of space opera for years), a post about ponies in space,a post about the “underrated importance of ordinary, everyday life” in storytelling, and then shilling for a couple of Tor authors. Nothing else. No real space opera discussion at all.

I took matters into my own hands. I started using the hashtag, talking about Space Opera in earnest. I am somewhat of an authority on the genre at this point, having written 3 books in it (one published which you may have heard of, the others I’m revising), and read the genre the entirety of my existence. I’ve spoken on Space Opera on podcasts and at conventions, done interviews on it, written essays on it. If there’s one thing I know what I’m talking about — it’s Space Opera. A lot of cool people from the #PulpRevolution joined in the discussion, as many of those folk write space opera and all of us are heavily read in the genre. If you go look at the hashtag on twitter now — there’s no one who’s reading Tordotcom or any authors from Tordotcom talking about #SpaceOperaWeek, it’s only us. Author Yakov Merkin even released a new Space Opera book in the midst of the event.

Naturally the result was a number of fans and friends commenting to Tor that they’d like to see some essays or an interview with me. I produced one of the most relevant Space Operas of the last year, hailed by authors cross the spectrum from Mary Robinette Kowal to Vox Day, which was a Top-10 Amazon bestseller in the genre, so it would be fun to get some perspective, especially given the Tor writers self-admittedly don’t even like the genre (which is why there’s so little discussion).  I came to find out that after the first five requests — Tor deleted the next 10+ of people requesting I write without so much as reaching out to anyone on the matter.

That’s fine, that’s a lot of comments! I understand that though with the overwhelming readership demanding something you’d think they’d take action. I was so flabbergasted by the article about not liking space opera and about how ordinary, everyday life was what was important to write about — the opposite of everything Space Opera is about — that I took to writing a rebuttal article on the Hugo-nominated Castalia House blog. Not only do we now have a highly relevant space opera writer talking on the subject — but writing an article for a site that has garnered such prestige and honor in the genre that it is a finalist for science fiction’s top award. You’d think that #SpaceOperaWeek would certainly care about that. Nothing more could be on topic.

I posted a link to the article, mentioned it’s a rebuttal and how I’d love to further discuss space opera. Very respectful, as always, and earnestly interested in opening up more dialogue on my favorite genre.

Tordotcom deleted it rather than actually talk about the important literary elements of the genre. They censored the leading Hispanic voice in science fiction. They shun the site, contributors and readership of a Hugo-nominated blog.

So if the point isn’t to talk about Space Opera and celebrate together with leaders in the genre what is #SpaceOperaWeek for? Why do they have people who don’t even like the genre writing about it?

A lot of people reading are rolling their eyes and saying “it’s tordotcom what do you expect?” That’s not acceptable as an answer to me. I’m watching our industry and our form of entertainment that’s been a staple of western culture for the past one hundred years go from millions of readers to thousands of readers. The fun’s been sucked out of Science Fiction, and the whole point of Space Opera is that it brings the fun back to it. The term was originally something derogatory used by “real” science fiction writers and readers to talk about this “fantasy in space” that didn’t push heavy scientific or sociological concepts. The term itself is an attack on people who just like to tell fun stories in space.  Sounds a lot like how Tordotcom treats me and the #PulpRevolution crew, doesn’t it? The irony is thick.

Tordotcom hates Space Opera is the only conclusion. They have no real interest in discussing it, but fortunately there’s some places where they are. Do follow me on Twitter at @jondelarroz and look for articles by me and others for #SpaceOperaWeek that actually address the genre at:

http://www.castaliahouse.com

http://www.superversivesf.com  

We’ll have some real talk, and we won’t delete your contributions to the subject either.

#SpaceOperaWeek: Tor Dot Com Writers vs. #PulpRevolution Writers

Old establishment publishing during Space Opera Week (Tor Dot Com columnist):

Derp derp, trump bad. trump bad. trump bad.

#PulpRevolution new hot writers during Space Opera Week:

We talk about science fiction. Is it any wonder that we’re talking over the genre? That more and more people are turning to us for content and fiction and less to Big Publishing?

 

The Cult Of The New And Its Destruction Of Culture

 

Here’s a topic I haven’t really touched before, but it’s relevant to the way that culture has been systematically destroyed by a certain group over the last few decades. I’ve seen it discussed elsewhere as “the cult of the new” — where it’s driven by this near thoughtless consumerism of I NEED THE NEW THING NOW!, ignoring everything and anything that’s dated by even a few months, discarding as if it were irrelevant.

This topic struck me in a very personal way today, when I was personally attacked on Twitter by a group (which isn’t abnormal) for the crime of advocating for my forthcoming book, For Steam And Country. What was shocking about it and what got to me wasn’t the attacks, but a certain attack on one of the most revered authors in science fiction history, and one of the most prominent feminists ever to grace the field, one Anne McCaffrey.

It started because I was talking to a Tordotcom reviewer. A Hugo Nominated Fanzine writer chimed in to tell me how irrelevant I am by referencing my last novel, how she looked up “Rescue Run” and found that there was “nothing in sci-fi that returned on a google search”.

I corrected, of course, stating not only is there my extremely highly regarded, award nominated and well-reviewed book, but that I chose the title intentionally as an homage to the late great Anne McCaffrey, who wrote a book by the same name. This work was demeaned by her first as “it’s only a short story” (It’s a novella, actually) and this person who is nominated for the Hugo Award for fanzine work, retorted to that by calling Anne Mccaffrey “old and irrelevant.”

Let me stop right there.

As of my tracking, and I do track this, Anne McCaffrey has 63 published short stories in major SF magazines and a whopping 93 novels. I know this because i have all of them in their first print edition on a beautiful shelf in my living room on display.  McCaffrey wrote on psionics, wrote on genetic manipulation of animals in terraforming, in transplanting human brains into ship computer systems, on strange alien species such as sentient blades of grass. She not only did that but transcended genre with a lot of fantasy and romance books as well. She was not only “a woman science fiction author” as Tor likes to complain as late as today that there’s not enough love for, but THE woman science fiction author for decades. She is looked up to and revered by millions for her work in the genre. I can scarce think of someone more inspiring or relevant for that matter.

And of Hugos? This fanzine writer who writes self-described “feminist” commentary on science fiction is attacking the first woman ever to win the award! For shame! It boggles my mind to see this kind of lack of reverence for her.

Then there’s the fanzine element of this person’s nominations. Fanzines were originally created as content for Star Trek — but Pern in the 70s-80s was one of the biggest concepts out there for fanzines. Fanzines arguably wouldn’t exist without Pern fandom, in homage to Anne McCaffrey. Everything that this hugo nominated commentator does is built on the backs of what she’s dismissing out of hand.

As I’m writing this she followed up by saying “I love Anne McCaffrey as much as the next person who grew up not knowing any better.” Knowing any better? It’s so sad to see this lack of regard for her– no OUR betters and elders that I’m truly heartbroken.

And it comes down to the Cult of the New. Because Anne is no longer with us (may God have mercy on her eternal soul!), there’s nothing “new” about Anne’s work. It’s from an age past, something to be forgotten by the current cultural elite that want to erase history. Older works are things to read “before we knew better” to them. To them, our elders are people to be put into old folks home and forgotten about so they don’t disturb us, rather than revered as they should be. As a consequence, there’s no respect for true greatness because the great works are discarded.

Tor wrote an article on space opera today for their space opera week wondering why no one talks about Leigh Brackett, CL Moore and Andre Norton. Is it because they’re anti-woman? the author posited. No, it’s because of this, the lack of care for anything that didn’t drop to stands this week.

It’s horrible. And this is why the Hugo Awards are in such a tarnished state in a nutshell. Who in Science Fiction would want to be associated with that?  This is another reason why our fandom is dying. We need serious reform not just in the big publishing houses and markets — but in our souls.

BayCon Announces Program Riddled With Toxic Politics

A couple of months ago, I entered the conversation in the Science Fiction and Fantasy world in a big way by daring to speak out about a long-time sci-fi convention and their bad behavior with the way they treat anyone who disagrees with their staff politically. I was very scared at first, because I’d always been taught that one has to be quiet, never rock the boat, or you’ll lose out on opportunities – and the fear is a rational one. Most of the Science Fiction world is controlled by insane self-professed “social justice warriors” who have such a high level of hate and vitriol for anyone different than them, that speaking out not only makes one worry about their professional opportunities in such a context, but also for personal safety. I’ve gotten my share of death threats, both from frequenters of this convention and from hard left internet trolls as a result – but I don’t regret the decision. What I’ve gained in return is a loyal readership that dwarfs the amount of people who attend this convention at all. That’s the power of the truth, and the sad truth is: Science Fiction and Fantasy publishing and fandom are a disaster, and something needs to be done before there’s none left.

My main premise was that BayCon, the convention I mentioned, needs to cut it out with the politics. They’ve been going at it for years, each year going harder into their extreme politics than the last. The current programming director has pushed this convention into a “down with the patriarchy!” theme in the past, and went so far as to having brought a professional  fake victim, Brianna Wu, to be the guest of honor at another convention she ran rather than have an author or artist who creates relevant, fun entertainment.

When she was put in charge of programming this year, she decided to stick it to me because of my support of the president by removing me from speaking. An odd choice at best given that I had just released my debut novel, which has gone to be top-10 Amazon best selling in its genre and been award nominated. I am both more relevant and a bigger draw than ever before, and only on my way up. I’ve always brought a high degree of fun to the convention, always to high reviews from the attendees, of whom I still get messages from time to time asking if they’ll be seeing me there. My post, unlike their responses, was not a personal attack, but a call to action for the convention to return to science fiction fun, to entertainment, to a sense of wonder. I implored them to drop the politics schtick, as it turns people off.

They didn’t listen, but instead lashed out with insults, swearing, and attacking my credibility on fake news sites.  The convention chair even sent messages to me attempting to gaslight me on these matters, all in an attempt to save their own public relations. Instead of figuring out how to work with a popular local author, politics trumped all for them. I’m big on forgiveness and moving forward in love, and have since offered to help right the ship since then, even to the point of doing volunteer work which they desperately need, despite everything they’ve done to me. They sadly have no sense of professionalism or even understanding of the marketing boon that my presence would bring them at this point. That’s the self-defeating problem with social justice warriors – they don’t even think about their own sense of business, but that’s a story for another blog.

I looked at their programming schedule which they released yesterday, and it turns out BayCon didn’t even listen to my base premise: stop with the politics. They showed they learned nothing, and doubled down to where their programming is going to be, for lack of a better term, a shit show.

Here’s what attendees have to look forward to spending good money on seeing in the programming:

Writing a Dystopia While Living IN One – Insane and shows a lack of any semblance of reality. Mankind in the west has it better now than any time in history. It’s the complete opposite of dystopia. Which means the whole point of this is to whine about current politics. This opens the convention and sets the tone for their highly politically charged Utopia/Dystopia theme. Could it get more awful?

Witch-hunts and Watch-lists – I’m sure they won’t even drop a mention of the witch hunts about Russia or the fact that we’re all spied on. Or the “disavow” crew that goes around blackballing people from publishing or speaking engagements. Of course they won’t, because they’re creating these witch-hunts and watch-lists.

Confused About Climate Science?  –  I’m not confused. Current Climate “Science” fails as a predictive model regularly and therefore has no credible value. Of course, no one on the panel will say that because they care more about “consensus” in a 1984 bizarro kind of way to not allow dissent. Science really starts sounding like an oppressive religion these days.

People of Color in Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Fandom – is everyone invited? – I played with this on Facebook yesterday because it’s so funny. The only people disinvited are outspoken Christians and Conservatives. That’s the only spot hate exists in sci-fi or geek publishing and fandom.  All of the biggest Hispanic authors in the field are incidentally on the wrongthink side of the aisle. We are never invited to anything. There are no awards for us. No one in the establishment big publishing world gives us accolades, even though our readers are rabid for our stories. Should we start crying racism? Maybe we should.

Science Fiction as a Tool For Social Change –  This should be fun.  ‘nuff said.

Social Justice Dystopia – I mean when you’re having a PR problem because of your extreme politics, putting SOCIAL JUSTICE in the title of the panel is asinine.  I aim to create a Social Justice Dystopia personally by making these people squirm with their hypocrisy when I point out their fake news.

 

Yikes. I’ve been put on panels like these in the past, and they usually get a handful of people in the room as no one wants to save up for a convention and hotel, go to have their fun weekend, and get angry lectures to feel crappy. We can go to our facebook walls and see all these same people going REEEEEEEEEEE for free.

One thing I will give BayCon credit for – is they have taken my other important advice to get rid of the inappropriate sexual content that has riddled the con both with a group that presents danger to attendees, but makes it so that families don’t want to come, as we don’t want our kids anywhere near that kind of thing. I give credit where credit’s due, but there’s a lot of work to do still.

Sci-Fi conventions are on a decline. They have been for a long time. Worldcon, the premier SF con, saw its membership drop dramatically because of their political B.S. Baycon is on a similar route unless they can get their act together and promote fun over politics. They already have to compete for the Memorial Day weekend in the area with:

Fanime – one of the biggest anime conventions in the weekend, where all the youth go as they can have their fun.

KublaCon – San Francisco area’s biggest gaming convention, wall to wall games, none of the drama that Baycon has to offer.

Clockwork Alchemy – Steampunk fun, themed and good cosplay. You can guess where I’ll be spending my weekend as I’ll be releasing my Steampunk novel, For Steam And Country, soon.

With these alternatives, why would any normal person spend their money on a politics whine-fest that lies in its marketing and calls it a Science Fiction convention? And why have the people running this not even bothered to ask that question, and instead attack anyone personally who dares try to make the convention a better place? Many of us worked hard for BayCon for a long time because we’d always gone there. But it’s just not fun. And if your organization is something that’s supposed to be fun… you’ve got a big problem.  This is what happens when SJWs take over anything. You lose your focus, the organization morphs into something that it’s not supposed to be, and before you know it, you’re down the tubes.

Jon Del Arroz’s Based Dragon Award Recommendations

Ran a poll yesterday on which blog my readers would like to see next, and the winner by no uncertain terms was my recommendation for Dragon Award nominations. If you haven’t seen the Dragon Awards before, they are the premier award for Science Fiction and Fantasy, given at Dragon*Con, arguably the best convention that exists. Please, readers, do take the time to vote as this is really your award choice and your voice matters.

Best Science Fiction Escaping Infinity by Richard Paolinelli

Richard really has created a great science fiction, and I mean that in the classic sense. It’s on the short side, but it’s packed with a lot of ideas and it’s definitely the best sci-fi of the year. 

Best Fantasy  A Sea of Skulls by Vox Day

Vox Day is the most underrated fantasy author in fiction. His Arts of Dark and Light series is frankly better fantasy than Brandon Sanderson (of whom I’m a big fan), Terry Goodkind, Terry Brooks or George R.R. Martin. The characters are fantastic, the world is a very cool Roman-esque fantasy world, it’s tense all the way through, and it’s got very cool magic and magical beings.

Best Young Adult Rachel and the Many Splendored Dreamland by L. Jagi Lamplighter.

The Rachel series is really a wonderful take on wizardry school. I find it a shame that this series hasn’t won an award yet and that should be remedied in 2017.  Mrs. Lamplighter-Wright gets mad at me when I say that this series is better than Harry Potter… so I won’t say it. But I may have said it somewhere else in the past 🙂 

Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Star Realms: Rescue Run by Jon Del Arroz. 

It’s like Rogue One, only better and with actual characters who aren’t flat and have real romance. Do I need to explain this one to you? 😉  If you click on the nomination page and put one book in, put this one in. 

Best Alternate History  Breath of Earth by Beth Cato. 

This both took place in my home city and dealt with a period of time you don’t read a ton about. Everyone knows about the 1906 earthquake’s existence, but adding details and magic to it makes for a really compelling tale.

Best Apocalyptic A Place Outside The Wild by Daniel Humphreys.

Dan’s got a fresh take on Zombies that is very fun, a lot of action, and a wild ride. It’s pretty long for a zombie book but it only gives the plot that much more depth.

Best Horror Live and Let Bite by Declan Finn

Declan continues to redefine Vampire fiction with his third installment in the series. Book 1 got a dragon award nomination last year, and the series only gets more interesting from there. While book 2 is also eligible, this is where Declan should make his stand for the awards, as it fits the horror genre like fangs fit the Carotid artery.

Best Comic Book  Motor Girl #1 by Terry Moore.

His Rachel Rising was one of my favorite books of all time, and I was sad to see it end. This has classic cartoon elements, a gorilla (RIP Harambe), aliens, and a much deeper plot that’s unfolding. Issue 1 is great for the hook, and well worth the read.

Best Graphic Novel  Chew vol 12. – Sour Grapes by John Layman and Rob Guillory

Chew was honestly the best comic book of the last several years. The concept’s cool. It’s hilarious on every front. It’s actually pretty in depth, and the expansion of the powers of food get so ridiculous. People hated on the ending, but I thought it was fricking hilarious. Chew is most worthy of the Dragon.

Best Sci-Fi Or Fantasy TV Series No award.

I don’t like any SF/F TV shows right now. They all suck. Bah humbug.

Best Sci-Fi Or Fantasy Movie Passengers

This is a beautiful film. Great plot, great sci-fi, great romance, great characters. It can be a little slow at points but the timing feels realistic.There’s a lot of good sci-fi plot points and tropes in here and frankly Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence could do the hokey pokey on screen for two hours and I’d watch it and probably love it.

Best PC or Console Game Final Fantasy XV. 

An excellent installment to the Final Fantasy series. The battle system was wonderful, story great, characters compelling, the backstory and world were done right and the visuals are stunning as always.

Best Mobile Game Epic Card Game Digital

This game took everything fun about Magic: The Gathering and got rid of the heavy baggage of that game. It’s somewhat simpler to play though when I went into competitive matches I got STOMPED, so there is a lot more depth than people realize as well. There’s some cool mechanics unique to the game too and it’s super exciting that it’s now on a digital platform in app version. 

Best Board Game Hero Realms

Star Realms in Fantasy, yet they tweaked a couple of things to make it unique. You can play with “class decks” which you customize your playstyle before you even start, a nice innovation for deck building. On top of that, the power curve is very different. It’s worth a play, or a hundred.

Best Miniatures/CCG/RPG  Star Wars: Destiny

I mentioned this was my favorite game of 2016 launching at the tail end of the year. It’s a competitive card game but with dice, and has a very unique duel feel to it. I love how the dice work, the game mechanics are very clean and it’s always tense to play. Fantasy Flight usually nails it with their star wars games and this is no exception.

And there you have it. Go out and vote!