Friend Friday: Ben Wheeler On His Pulp Influences

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Ben Wheeler stopped by the blog today to talk about his pulp influences in his new novel, Sheikh Of Mars.

This is a unique piece of literature, unpretentious and very awesome. A jewel I have offered to the crown of the literary West. My muse whispered the finest and highest secrets of heaven into my ear. I couched myself in the traditions of the dead and the masters such that it was not I who raised my pen to write, but their ghosts.

But which ghosts inspired me and then haunted me? Which ghosts were particularly vindictive towards the exorcists and pastors I brought forth to expel them from my home? Scheherazade, C.S. Lewis, Edgar Rice Burroughs and John C Wright from 100 years in the future. The time traveling ghost surprised me too but after he explained that he really was a dead cyborg simulacra from the Mandarins of the Forbidden Library. I asked him to stop because it’s ALMOST too much for me and I was OK with the time traveling ghost after a minute to adjust.

So, at some point of time around the turn of the century, adventure stories were associated with Penny Dreadfuls, Pulps and the low-brow masses. Yet, these stories were full of life, surprises and awesomeness as cannot be described in mere sentences and many paragraphs. Yet, literary overlords attempted to destroy Sci-fi adventure over time, by making boring, philosophically untenable and sexually indecent books the norm. I.e. Asimov at anything less than his best, Arthur C. Clark in Childhood’s End and Robert A. Heinlein by Stranger in a Strange Land. Conan and Tarzan were put down while a medley of unrememberable and unique only if you haven’t read ANY of their other works were promoted. Pulp became a bad word. Only now do we understand how much has nearly been buried and burnt. Yet, I cherish the works of the dead almost as much as I cherish the living. Let me talk about them.

Scheherazade sashays and is their progenitor. In 1001 Nights the west was introduced to Muslim story telling, certain word and thoughts, and the drama and emotion of the Middle East and the further Asiatic lands. Cleverly keeping her neck, she told story after story of fighting, strange happenings and Djinn. I read this in the fifth grade. I sighed in wonder at the beautiful illustrations in both book and word. I drank in the fights, the clever words and the strange deeds these foreigners from a millennia ago. Those stories have never left me. How can they? When you visit Baghdad, the city of Peace, and sail and shipwreck with Sinbad the Sailor, you cannot go back without a sense of their language, beats and wordplay. Even now, a decade and a half later I have thought patterns and vocal cues from those wondrous stories. I would be a far different writer without her. I would like to think she, not Calliope, is my real muse.

C.S. Lewis holds her arm. Of the Chronicles of Narnia series, my favorite is the Magician’s Nephew, but I love A Horse and His Boy nearly as fiercely. Set in the same sort of world, a fantasy Arabia far from Narnia, with all the cruelty, murder and plotting one would expect, A Horse and His Boy is drenched in consequence, luxury and blood. The Calormenes slave and plot the capture of Susan Pevensie. Radagast rides with a small army to invade Arkenland. Aslan wounds a girl for having her maidservant nearly whipped to death and it is called good, and is so. Yet, all of it flows within the tale as smooth as silk and as rich as cream. Ah! That I could fold meaning and depth into my own tales as C. S. Lewis! A story without deeper meaning is a story only of its time. The best may be remembered, only, but that which lies beneath its surface grants immortality.

Edgar Rice Burroughs brings pleasant memories. My father gave me his old, battered copy of Tarzan when I was a teenager. There, I learned how write adventure and the battle of wills. This is one of the secret techniques of the best pulp tales. The real challenge in Tarzan is not the physical differences between Tarzan and his savage jungle, but his will and cleverness. Even as he is scarred by fights with a gorilla and leopards, it is cleverness that wins him the fights, and his will to live and succeed that keeps him going. I learned that fighting is not merely the flourishing of swords, but the eye-to-eye and the will-to-will. Righteousness is a great cause, but if the man you fight is as dedicated, as skilled, as clever, then prepare yourself! In Sheik of Mars, I write many fight scenes, but more important is the protagonist powering through despair, death and the machinations of fate. Haroun’s will cannot falter, no matter what madness or confidence his enemies depend on!

A man must wrestle the ape and gather more of that human soul than the ape can gather animalistic fury. These lessons apply to real life, after all. So Tarzan is the gentleman barbarian of the jungle, and John Carter the Warlord of Mars, so too must I gather my will and aim to be nothing less than the Sci-fi grandmaster of the Millennial generation. With these heights to fight for, how can I fail? I have prepared every clever word and turn of phrase. I am a prince of the Baptists and trained from a child to know good art from bad art, and to know why things are good or bad. As Tarzan’s noble blood and hard jungle living gave him that vital force to overcome Kerchak, my own mind, training and life must seek God’s will and wrestle the demons until they are cast out of their literary fastnesses. This is an easy lesson for me, but a hard lesson for others and it costs more dear than any dream. For, when you admit the spiritual war exists, and you are a soldier on God’s side of it, where can you retreat but the self-reflective throne-room of God Most High? You can see yourself within the sea of glass…

John C. Wright is the most recent of the inspirations. The man is a treasure, and I’ll be damned before his torch fades, sputters and falls without someone to inherit it. For, each torch we carry is not just our own soulfire, but the fire of those who came before. The Iron Chamber of Memory is a great work, and inspired immense spiritual revival in me. I wept at passages. I understood the loneliness and despair within its characters at times. What am I, but a poor fellow soldier like the characters within? Burdened by knowledge and ideas I cannot communicate through voice as I can with writing and dedicated to the eradication of evil, in self and beyond? My soul grew bright and hot at the reading of that book, and I can only hope I put a bit of that spiritual fire into Sheik of Mars. I can only pray that those who pick up that book are similarly inspired to not give in and fight on, just a little more.

My inspirations may seem esoteric to you, beloved reader. Indeed, I was asked about pulp but I only barely mentioned them. Sheik of Mars is in the spirit of Pulp Revival, but I say that I am more a child of the Western Tradition, and that my life has been guided by God’s invisible hand to write what I do, think as I do and dream as I do. I endured madness, loneliness and hate, reading more and more. Even at times I wished God would just let me die, and I sought anything but God’s love, I was still being guided and trained to be able to write Sheik of Mars, and every book after that, from Seven Siblings (I SWEAR I’ll find another name for it) to Jasper Silver: Escape from Earth to Cybergothic to everything beyond. I have a thousand stories to tell, and I will tell them.

Sheik of Mars is not just a part of a Pulp Revival and Superversive, it is my blowing of the horn and declaring to the literary overlords that I defy them, their works and their master. Ah! Lord knows I am weak and can be sifted like wheat, yet I will stand Sheik of Mars against anything by Scalzi, Jemison and the perverted pedophile masters from whom they took their torches. I will stand Sheik of Mars as part of the revival of the Western Literary Tradition. This is a book to read if you love good books!

Sheik of Mars is a story of faith, fighting and fate. Sheik of Mars is a story of inventive characters, dramatic surprises and deadly circumstances. Sheik of Mars has deeper meaning like the old stories. Sheik of Mars has awesome fights like the best pulps of old. Sheik of Mars does not shy away from blood, death or evil. For, it must be defied so that goodness, love and faith win in the end. God wills it.

Check out Sheik of Mars. Rebuke me where I am wrong, or lavish it with praise. Wrestle with me in the arena of words. I am not a coward or thin skinned, and can tell good criticism from bad. Come, read it, grow inspired. Become my rival. Ask me for advice, if you can find me. But check it out. It is not enough we read for pleasure (and Sheik of Mars is a pleasurable read!) but also to gain that Vital Force that once was so powerful it defined the Pulp era and took the Enemy 60 or more years to bring so low as in our generation. For 3.99 and, in some states, tax, you can read it for yourselves and support me as I write another book, with different characters, settings and goals, but still the same spirit of adventure, swashbuckling and righteousness!

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Star Wars Creators, Media Lash Out At Star Wars Fans In Attempt To Sweep Their Failure Under The Rug

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Ever since Solo debut in the box office, we’ve been hearing rumblings from the media about how the film was a dismal failure. Forbes came out with an article on May 27th calling it a “bomb”, following several articles across the internet where it mentioned Disney was ready for the movie to fail. In some ways, it was set up from the start with production troubles, switching teams midstream, even if there weren’t a disastrous problem with the Star Wars franchise as a whole, movie goers were tepid of this film going in. 

When the movie fulfilled the prophecy where everyone agreed it was going to fail, the internet became a hotbed of analyses explaining why the movie performed so dismally. Perhaps the oddest theory was male feminist and science fiction writer John Scalzi’s tweet proclaiming the movie didn’t do well because it didn’t have a strong female lead. But the majority of the internet’s consensus was that they tuned out of Star Wars because of The Last Jedi’s slap in the face to fans, the film having destroyed the legacy of beloved characters in a train wreck of a plot. 

As the mainstream media reached peak worry for the franchise’s future on Monday, June 5th, with stories of Solo’s failure reaching Drudge Report, it looked like some heads would have to roll within the franchise. After all, anyone with business sense would see that the very expensive Star Wars investment was squandered by people who didn’t understand the pulse of moviegoers.

But like clockwork, the media got involved in what appears to be a coordinated assault on Star Wars fans.

Solo Failed Because… #GamerGate?

On the same day all of the bad box office news was releasing, Last Jedi actress Kelly Marie Tran, who played Rose, deleted her Instagram account. Within minutes of this, director and writer Rian Johnson made an ominous, passive aggressive tweet on the topic:

Manbabies? By the vague post, it appears as if Rian knows he screwed up with The Last Jedi, and instead of taking responsibility, blamed the fans. The timing was very odd for the Instagram account being deleted at the very least, and shortly thereafter, The Mary Sue came out with an article claiming “racist” mobs were harassing the actress which led to the Instagram deletion. NBCNews went on to liken the situation to #GamerGate and actually evoked Milo Yiannopoulos in the article, even though he’s been largely silent about Star Wars. It was strange to say the least, and with Rian Johnson’s follow up tweet, it started to look coordinated:

The Fake News Media Strikes Back

Like usual with the blogosphere, once one group set into motion, the others all joined in. Soon there were articles about how poor Ms. Tran was “harassed off the internet” popping up in the Washington Post, USA Today, Slate, The Daily Beast, all the usual suspects. Their content was all so similar in the articles that none are worth speaking about individually. This was clearly a coordinated effort. The oddest part was not one of these sources actually had a screen shot of any of the alleged harassment and/or racism on Instagram. All of the original articles only referenced Rian’s tweet on the subject and an alleged change to the Star Wars Wikipedia which is called “Wookiepedia” that referenced this about the character Rose (I’ll stress not the actress, the character in the film): 

Childish to say the least, but not nearly a harassment of the actress as the media’s portraying it to be.

After scouring more than 30 articles on the subject, I was unable to corroborate any of the alleged Instagram harassment of Tran. Given that she is a star of a very prominent geek franchise, I’m certain some mean comments were left regarding The Last Jedi, but alleging “harassment” by fans and racism seems to be the playbook that’s used every time there’s a social justice failure at the box office. This happened with #GamerGate, where they claimed poorly made games were due to “sexist” fans. This happened with #ComicsGate where with horrible stories including making Captain America into a Nazi, fans were blamed for “not wanting diversity”, and now fans are being blamed for the failure of a movie. 

Star Wars Creators Lash Out:

It didn’t end there. A new round of articles to keep this media cycle going hit this morning. The tactic by the media seems to be to overwhelm everyone with a blitzkrieg of articles on the topic so that the general public has sympathy for Tran and therefore for the Star Wars franchise as a whole. That way the blame can be shifted away from those who have been in charge of the franchise for the last several years as it’s sank lower with each release. 

Mark Hamill even was brought into the fold, posting a picture with him and Tran with the hashtag, #GetALifeNerds. It’s not the best look for such a prominent actor to be lashing out at fans and telling them to get a life to say the least. It adds to the appearance of a coordinated attempt to blame the movie failure on fans, and with more lack of evidence in this new round of articles, it makes the entertainment media look very suspect.

Perhaps the oddest of all was Star Wars novel writer Chuck Wendig, who has been under fire the last several years for his shoddy writing in the Aftermath series. He finally lost it on twitter, lashing out at fans, blaming white male fans in particular for both his and The Last Jedi’s failure: “it’s sexism and racism. It’s sphincter-stung white dudes who are so tender, so brittle, they cannot hack that the world is now only 90% about them instead of 95%.” 

Very odd comments to say the least, when the only people talking about race in the contest of the film are the filmmakers themselves and the media who’s pushing the narrative. Wendig’s rant  went on for more than a dozen tweets, reported by Bounding Into Comics. How far he goes to defend this strange narrative is astounding.

Anger, Fear, Aggression, Of The Dark Side Are They

With the hard media push, the strange deletion of any potential evidence by Tran of the accusations, and the creators all lashing out in tandem, it appears as if this is a deception campaign aimed more at Disney’s executives than at fans. They’re framing an argument as if to say “if you fire us, you’re on the side of racists and sexists!” In order to shoo away any responsibility for the fans abandoning the franchise. It’s such a bizarre move that it’s only going to hurt the franchise further, as fans now have been insulted not just by a movie giving them the proverbial middle finger with its content, but by the creators they’ve been following telling them they’re horrible people and they don’t deserve to even watch the films.

Begun, the #StarWarsGate have.

If you like great characters and epic space opera, try my novel The Stars Entwined, on sale for 99 cents this week only. It’s got characters who are true to themselves, and an epic backdrop with world building that blows the current Star Wars iteration away. Check it out here. 

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How To Know If The Negative Voices Are Right Or If You’re On The Right Track

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As you progress in any field, or really anything in life, you’ll find that you will get a contingent of negative voices toward whatever you do. They’ll come in a variety of forms from outright hostility, to some subtle passive aggressive remarks, even to quiet concern over the direction you’re heading. It can get overwhelming at times, and if you’re got a unique enough a vision, sometimes you’ll have the weight of an entire industry on you.

But at the same time, great artists have unique visions, ones that are in their own direction, and that’s what makes them great. Sometimes, great artists aren’t even recognized when they’re alive, though with the internet, it’s much easier to find your niche and connect with those who might be able to connect with your work than in ages past.

There’s a few simple things you can do to know if you’re on the right track, or a few observations you can make. At the end of the day, it’s hard to know conclusively if you made right moves in anything, and mileage may vary, but there’s guidelines.

Pray

First thing to do is pray to Jesus Christ. His will is far more important than mine, yours, or any of the people surrounding us. And remember, “A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.” It may be his will for you to bear some suffering. But don’t worry, light is up ahead and so is eternal salvation. If you pray and listen to God, you will always be on the right path.

Surround Yourself With Smart Friends Who Understand Your Vision

This is so crucial. It’s kinda like don’t be unequally yoked, another Biblical truth, in some ways. There will be people who get what you’re doing, and what you’re going for. Those types are invaluable because you can bounce ideas off of them before you start to move. If those people are maintaining you’re doing good work, the outside voices are more likely the ones in the wrong about what you’re doing. The opposite is also true — don’t surround yourself with the naysayers. The voices can be overwhelming and can drag you down so you don’t actually produce your vision, and that doesn’t help you accomplish what you’re setting out to do. You’ll be able to tell who’s who by their general way of being and if it’s aligned with yours. Is this person seeing what I’m going for? Is the advice they’re giving toward my goals? Haven they even attempted to ascertain what my goals are? Drive by negative comments vs. someone legitimately interested in helping and providing critical feedback are also easy to spot.

Set Yourself Tangible Goals And Deadlines – Are You True To Your Own Vision?

If you have very specific goals and things you want to accomplish, write them down. Make yourself a list of what you want to do today, what you want to accomplish this week, month, and also in the long term. Revisit these and make sure you stay on path. If you have your work clearly organized, odds are you’re going to do something good. It’s hard work, but everything in life that bears fruit is always hard work. There’s no easy path.

How’s Your Passion Level? 

If you’re taking heat and you’re finding yourself still excited, still energized, there’s a good chance that you’re on the right path. The whole point of most of the naysayers is to get you down, slow you down, bring you back to earth, but if you’re still flying high, that’s the most important thing. Follow your passion.  Sometimes you’ll get a little tired too, but recognize when that’s a temporary thing vs. a not wanting to do this anymore sort of situation.

Is Your Work Resonating? 

We get instant feedback in today’s age. For every negative person out there that loudly spews hate, is there an equal and opposite reaction? If you have that going for you, then it just means your work has an audience of one sort of person and not of another. That’s okay.  If you’re finding people are giving acclaims, buying your work, loving your work, not only does it make it easier to bear the negativity on the opposite end, but it likely means there’s a different motivation for the negativity than for your success.

All of these examples are not cut and dry metrics, and except for the last one, they all require action on your part to make sure you’re going in the right direction. Artistry is hard work, whether it’s in the form of writing fiction, making other content, reporting on important events, performance art, whatever it is, if you’re dedicated and have a clear vision, don’t worry about the naysayers. They’ll be there no matter how good your work is, they won’t always see what you see. It’s a part of life. Now go forth and create and be free from fear, because fear is what’s used to hold us back.

Zaira wasn’t sure if she was on the right track when she inherited an airship from her missing father. He was the adventurer. He was the leader. What was she but a simple farm girl? Could she really bear his mantle? Her lessons in persistence and passion, and how to stay determined to vision, are exactly what we’re talking about in the blog today. Read it here.

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Federalist: SJWs Must Uphold The Same Standards They Place On Us

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My new article is up in the Federalist this morning about double standards and the way we’re targeted and destroyed by them en masse, and yet we don’t put enough pressure on them for their horrific behavior to keep them accountable.

The double standards for what constitutes a fireable offense in the entertainment industry are shocking and completely politically driven.

Samantha Bee has not been fired for calling Ivanka Trump a “feckless c–t.” She uttered some of the most vile comments about a daughter of a sitting president ever to be recorded (and family members of politicians used to be considered off limits by polite society). Her network, TBS, issued an apology, but took no substantive punitive action toward the comedian. She is costing the network money as two sponsors have dropped the show so far, but TBS sticks with her.

Roseanne Barr, by contrast, faced severe consequences for calling Valerie Jarrett the “baby” of the Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes. She lost her show, and the other actors, producers, writers, and all of the employees of her show lost their jobs because of a single bad tweet. ABC acted within minutes, as if they had been waiting for an excuse to fire her, although the reboot of “Roseanne” had been making the network millions.

Read the rest of the article here.  

And while you’re fighting, read a book about individuals who decide to fight evil trends of galactic proportions in my book, The Stars Entwined. Buy it here. 

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Conventions Fight Back Against The Shrieking SJWs

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It seems no place in culture is safe from a coup attempting to turn it into a “safe space” in 2018. Every convention, cultural gathering, institution is flooded by social justice causes. In most cases, the pressure gets to be so enormous they bow to the mob and ruin their once fun and entertaining institutions.

Dragon*Con has been one of the only conventions that’s been welcoming to anyone regardless of creed. It also made the convention a prime target for social justice craziness.

It’s a matter of time before they start to cause trouble in these organizations. After all, the culture is dominated in the traditional establishment forms by extreme leftists who want every institution to look exactly the same—that is, to become a place where Americans can’t escape their negative, fear-mongering extreme politics. We’ve watched as WorldCon, and Origins have all stated their directions this year, while SFWA’s Nebula Awards weekend was so crazy the organization applauded calling J.R. Tolkien a racist, and as FanX in Utah has been receiving enormous pressure to do the same.

Dragon*Con Under Siege 

Dragon*Con faced a quiet coup attempt by their Literary Track head named Charlotte Stromborn. She was originally in charge of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern track when Dragon*Con had separate literary events going on, but after the author’s passing, it was folded into the overall literary genre. She has always been an activist on her social media, espousing extreme left wing ideology and often ranting about harassment.

Over the weekend, it was announced that she would be parting ways with the convention. It appeared as if Ms. Stromborn attempted to get NYT Bestsellers Larry Correia and John Ringo banned from Dragon*Con similarly to how other conventions were treating them over their conservative views. She stated on twitter “If you think there are some good arguments to be made for the inclusion of voices like Correia’s and Ringo’s ya all can also talk* to me.  *don’t talk to me, ever.”

Her passive aggressive statement made it clear that in the name of “inclusivity” she wanted to make sure voices were banned that had any sort of differing opinions than the lockstep SJW elites. This is odd as Correia has been a large part of Dragon*Con for years and has never been accused of causing an issue at the convention. Her rabble rousing was clearly over the line to Dragon*Con as well.

An Ugly Departure Of A Programming Director

Her facebook post regarding her departure was long winded, passive aggressive rant type of post where she often subtly referenced her extreme views in trying to get conservatives deplatformed, while simultaneously being vague in the details to try to make it seem like she was personally attacked, in standard SJW fashion. Dragon*Con had her page removed after she continued to make rants about the convention. Any conservative fans who dissented had their comments removed from her posting before it was deleted, further showing how extreme Ms. Stromborn wishes silence of half the country.

She seemed to think that Dragon*Con was supposed to be her own private club of extremists from her quite long-winded Facebook rant on the topic, of which some are excerpted here:

“What I found was a colorful family of misfits I didn’t have to explain myself to; who accepted me on the basis that I loved what they loved; and who demanded nothing of me other than my empathy and authenticity. “

Dragon*Con decided that alienating half the country was not worth the loud-mouthed SJWs who only accept people who are just like them, as Ms. Stromborn wanted the convention to be.

Her refusing to back down unless certain authors were uninvited and Dragon*Con taking a stand against the attempted political mobbing marks the first time a convention has openly gone against the SJW hate mob. This is a big shift in culture as people are fast learning that the SJWs don’t actually create “inclusive spaces” they actively attempt to exclude normal people which eventually shuts down a convention, or kills the audience off and harms a group financially.

ConCarolinas Back On Track

But there was a second instance this weekend. ConCarolinas at their closing ceremonies announced they made a mistake with John Ringo, and henceforth will no longer be using political ideology as a litmus test for who gets invited. This is great news as well, and it means that ConCarolinas is going to stick to their original mission of promoting geek fandom and literature, and is standing up to the bullies who successfully mobbed Mr. Ringo out of the convention earlier this year. As conservatives, we must accept this apology, applaud and support them for standing up. This is a great first step and it will lead to a wonderful ConCarolinas in the future.

Two instances like this make for a cultural wave. We can expect more to follow suit as we’ve seen the direction SJWs have taken conventions, publishers, comic book stores, and others over the last decade. They’d met with zero resistance, all the while whittling fandom away into fractions of what it once was. Finally, enough is enough. The SJWs pushed too hard and too far when they twisted “diversity and inclusivity” to mean “let’s ban anyone who thinks differently than us!” Other conventions had best pay attention, or they’re going to find themselves endlessly getting pushed further and further into no attendees. A political convention not only is not fun for normal people, but it’s not fun for the people who are attending who are even on their side. No one wants to sit through hours of whining about identity politics. We’re here to read books and to have fun.

If you want to Make Science Fiction Fun Again, you can get the official hat of the Happy Frogs here. Proudly show how you want sci-fi to be fun at your local convention:

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Fear And Loathing In SLC: How A Social Justice Mob Got To Brandon Sanderson

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Vague accusations of harassment. The media dials in on it like white on rice, escalating the sound of the severity with each article even though they’re only sourcing themselves. No details or evidence of what happened. Big celebrities jump on the train, condemning anyone remotely involved.

No, I’m not talking about GamerGate. This is about FanX Con in Utah, a geek media convention with high profile celebrities from David Tennant to Brandon Sanderson.

Well, maybe not Brandon Sanderson this year. He’s not sure he’s going to attend anymore, after co-signing a letter with several other authors who are up in arms, as he stated on his blog:

For now, I am still scheduled to appear at FanX this fall. My team and I have been evaluating whether or not this is a position we can still take—and it will greatly depend on how FanX responds to this letter in the next few weeks.

So what happened at FanX? It must be very serious for a bunch of well respected authors to write a letter threatening to remove themselves from a convention, one would think. But this is 2018.

Flashback to last year, OdysseyCon had SJW Monica Valentinelli who flaked as guest of honor of a convention because she learned that a man was going to be there who had been falsely accused of sexual harassment at WisCon years prior, and cleared of the charges. Just his being there, not that he did anything was something that triggered her to the point of blowing up the convention. It didn’t stop Tor from firing him, nor every “respectable” author in the community from dog piling on him at the time. He was guilty of the accusation, and this is how the SJW Inquisition rolls. OdysseyCon even banned him from attending just to appease her. But it wasn’t enough. It’s never enough. This set a precedent for the way social justice crazies go after conventions to try to force them into submission.  

FanX Gets Harassed By The Mob

Fast forward to FanX. This time, they have a repeat guest named Richard Paul Evans, author of the Christmas Box. Last year, he was on a panel with a woman named Shannon Hale and afterward allegedly gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek. That is the entirety of the accusation. Some of the news reports call it simply a “hug”. There was no hard evidence of what transpired, only hearsay, in which in the name-and-shame era of the seek and destroy SJWs, is enough to permanently destroy someone, and to destroy anyone remotely associated with them. It looked absurd to the general public.

FanX apparently thought it was absurd as well. One of the organizers stated on Facebook at the time: “From our point of view, we could not publicly ban RPE. We had no proof. We would be sued for libel and defamation from Riachad. Then it would get out you would be banned and humiliated at FanX for kissing a guest on the cheek and touching her.”  A valid concern by the organizers. If I were Richard, I certainly would sue for defamation against the con if I had hugged someone in passing as colleagues and been eviscerated for it by the convention and by the press subsequently.

The situation died down for a couple of months and then the SJWs came out in full force in May. Richard was finally banned, and like clockwork, the usual suspects started moaning that “it’s not enough”. There were demands made to change the code of conduct policies to be more vague, more witch-hunt prone, to which FanX summarily ignored as they didn’t have any real problems at their convention, and their policies are fine for any sane individual. An email was exchanged where the alleged hug victim, Shannon Hale, demanded more be done—even though the man who she literally couldn’t even was already banned. The FanX group was tired, and told her she should likely sit this con out if she was looking to cause trouble.

She went public, and started tearing the convention to pieces. At that point, all the SJWs pounced the con, threatening boycotts, guests bailing, similarly to OddyseyCon. The convention just didn’t want more trouble, so the SJWs created it. Just like they did at Worldcon this year. Just like they did at ConCarolinas. Just like they did at Origins. It’s a trend to where it’s constant.

“I don’t even want to go to conventions anymore,” one female regular con-goer told me yesterday evening, when asked about FanX. “You can’t just have fun anymore. Everyone’s just looking for a fight.”

And that’s what’s going on. The big name authors then jumped on the bandwagon for political points, culminating with Sanderson using his platform to try to bully this convention into…. what? There’s no specifics anyone wants. The  “evil” RPE is ALREADY banned for his hugging and cheek-kissing ways (hopefully all conventions ban the country of Italy next. The nerve of those harassers!). But everyone seems to demand that the conventions take absurd steps to where any accusation can get anyone banned at any time. They want the con to turn into a feminist police.

So far, the convention has held out and not made public bowing statements to the mob of authors acting like high school bullies as they threaten to ruin everyone’s fun for the sake of their zealotry, but with this kind of pressure, for how much longer? 

The Pressure Has Pushed Sanderson Left

Sanderson himself has been veering further left over the last several years, which is probably what led him to join the author-bully mob in targeting this convention. Last year, he released his book Oathbringer. Whereas he used to not include homosexual characters in his books for stated religious reasons, he’s been pressured for years over that fact, and inserted a scene to signal homosexual relations despite it being wildly out of place in the book. His editor at Tor Books, Moshe Feder, is an extremist who regularly attacks Republicans/Christians/Conservatives on social media, including speaking about me last year by throwing shade, “obviously isn’t smart enough to be a good writer,” when I had never interacted with him. I reached out to Sanderson’s assistants for clarification/apology, they refused to. It seems it’s okay to harass conservative authors on social media without comment to try to defame/destroy them, but not to kiss a woman on the cheek in a friendly way. 

One can only speculate why Sanderson has started to signal about social justice causes. His associations with Tor and by proxy surrounding some of the absolute most extreme people in the industry perhaps made him lose touch with his core audience who turned to Sanderson as the last bastion of fun fiction without politics that traditional publishing had to offer. Now it seems no one is safe in the era of identity politics.

It’s a sad day for fandom, as Sanderson is one of the top authors in the field, and has mostly stayed out of the political fray until the last year or so. But the pressure mounts on everyone with the way our culture war is shaping up. The pressure to destroy others who aren’t lockstep and are approved targets becomes too much for many. I hope, as a long time fan, that Sanderson can see past the mob and not fall further down this track of SJW lunacy. And call on Sanderson to retract his statement about FanX and take this no further. No good comes with this path. 

If you like books that don’t virtue signal, just have fun characters, read my book For Steam And Country. It’s got a diverse cast and a strong female lead… but it doesn’t matter. The characters are the characters and everyone can have fun with them. And the characters don’t sit around and shriek sexual harassment if someone hugs them. They go kick ass cuz that’s way more fun to read. Check it out here.

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But Why Do You Defend THAT Person? Aren’t You Angry About How They…

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This is a follow up to my viral blog about our movement, from last week.

We’re at war.  There is a side that’s in lockstep. They don’t care how offensive any of them treat us. They don’t care how crazy they go in the defense of the cause. They are the Borg.

They’ve made whole industries of assimilating and bringing their collectivism to a point where if you’re not in 100% agreement with the outrage of the moment, you will be destroyed. It happens everywhere. Every time.

And yet when someone who’s not in lockstep as an artist steps out of line, maybe says something a little controversial, doesn’t phrase things the best, were taken completely out of context, whatever, they send their full collective media to destroy that person. It’s a law of nature. And it’s effective. They dominate the conversation about that person until the collective consciousness only remembers one thing: “that person is bad. we must never allow them to work again.”

You’ll note I have a track record of being extremely consistent on one important thing: I always stand up for the individual artist in entertainment who’s up against the SJW Borg cube of information destruction. I don’t care if that person is extreme right, if they’re a centrist, or even if they’re likely a leftist. The reason is, the independent voice needs to be heard in a free society. We need to be able to, as artists, create work without fear of some monolithic destruction of our livelihoods and families because we spoke out with different political views.

And it’s always about the political views. It’s never about the person, even though the media works overdrive to frame it that way. But why don’t I care about this person being a “terrible human being?” Let’s go down the checklist of what “terrible human beings” do and ask if in any of the instances the person destroyed over politics in entertainment did the following:

Did the person rape?

Did the person murder?

Is the person a pedophile?

Is the person a human trafficker?

Did the person sell hard drugs repeatedly and destroy others lives?

Did the person say something mean on Twitter?

Notice how one doesn’t match the others at all in the “standards” used for what a terrible human being is? How one on that list is not a crime but the others are? And yet it’s used repeatedly as a standard to completely shun someone like a scarlet letter.

If you are an entertainer and you’re writing or saying millions of words, you’re going to say something that’s offensive to someone. It’s going to happen. It doesn’t matter. Not a single person can be that polished to NEVER say anything offensive. Not a single person out there who uses twitter regularly without a handler doing it can ever NOT get mad and say something a little over the line. I really don’t care.

We are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God. There’s not one perfect human out there, not on our side, not on their side, not in the middle. We live in an absurd time where we can view every other person’s private thoughts, actions, etc. in real time, something never done before. And the media has tricked us into when, someone center-right says something, that we must immediately completely detach and destroy. It’s a scam meant to hold our movement down, nothing more. They have billions and trillions of entertainment dollars at stake, and they don’t want to risk losing even a small segment of the market to anyone on our side. That is what this is about.

And so I’ll stick up for the artist vs. the corporation. The artist vs. the convention. The artist vs. the establishment media. That’s the right thing to do. That’s what individualism is all about. The corporate demands we all assimilate or be destroyed. The line must be drawn here, this far, and no further.

If you want to support independent art, try my new book The Stars Entwined. While it evokes the feelings of classic sci-fi like Babylon 5, Star Trek, or Lois Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga in readers, it would never get published by an establishment publisher all because of my identity. Support real independent art here. 

 

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What We Can Learn From Roseanne’s Handling of SJW Attacks

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Watching what happened to Roseanne yesterday was incredible. One tweet mocking an appointed official — a single person mind you — and her job was gone, her reruns pulled from other networks, her agent dropped her as a client.The entire weight of hollywood and the media came on her to trash her and act like she was worse than an MS-13 murderer over a couple of angry words.  It all happened so fast and so hard it looked like this had been coordinated and planned for some time.

Her first mistake was apologizing. Once she was on record as agreeing to having done “bad” — by which we’ll define as insulting someone in a tweet who isn’t allowed to be insulted because of politics — the sharks decided to come out to play. SJWs are never interested in apologies or righting situations. There’s no good faith disagreement where they believe people can have arguments and move past it. They only want to completely and utterly destroy people over identity politics.

So they proceeded to do so. Roseanne had a lot of pressure immediately.  She posted about quitting twitter, the first sign she wasn’t able to handle this immense negative pressure. She’s an old lady after all, not a culture warrior. She’s never faced this kind of scrutiny before coming out for Trump. This is the kind of pressure I’ve faced for months when SJWs targeted me as a lower-level entertainer, with banning, trying to dox my kids, sending a creepy package to my house. This kind of pressure I faced for standing up for myself over their identity politics was designed to break me the way they did Roseanne yesterday.

Eventually she returned to twitter, with a bunch of angry retweets. But she posted some bizarre things too. And I don’t mean attacking the SJWs for their hypocrisy. I wish she’d come out a little harder and nailed them to the wall. After all, ABC hires Joy Behar who calls Christians “mentally ill”, and Keith Olbermann who’s said all sorts of crazy offensive things toward conservatives. The double standard is incredibly clear.

But she posted “don’t defend me,” ‘don’t boycott ABC” (The latter is now deleted).  Even while retweeting, a passive aggressive move, she wouldn’t stand up for herself and for the complete wrong in tne way the industry treated her.

When SJWs attack, again, there’s no getting back in good graces. SJW author John Scalzi wrote a blog about it this last month about how, according to him, it should take 10+ years to even consider allowing someone back into the fold once they’ve crossed the SJW cultural line. However, that won’t even happen in reality. Once you’re a target, you’re shunned for life. 10+ years is meant to make everyone forget about you and your entire existence, to make you irrelevant in culture, which is why he suggests that.

We don’t have to take that anymore.

It’s really hard. It requires a lot of stamina and when the attacks come in on this extreme a level, it can break a person down. We see Roseanne going through the stages of grief already:

  1. Shock – Quitting twitter immediately. Can’t handle it
  2. Denial – Don’t blame ABC! Don’t defend her! Now this is moved to just the ambien.

Next will be anger. We’ll see how she lashes out and if she does publicly. At this stage it can get crucial, and you can be made or broken to an extreme degree at this point.  Last September, when the president of SFWA went around to people to “warn” them not to associate with me after I wrote my article detailing how science fiction publishers discriminate against men on the whole, I found myself angry. I lashed out because she had the power to make me lose friends I’d spent years cultivating. These people were afraid of her and afraid to cross her, and when she presented the “him or me” ultimatum both in public and in private, it shook my world. It even shook my business when my cover artist went full crazy, blocking and refusing to respond even on business matters.

That kind of thing can make you really upset, really angry. Even someone like me who’s pretty strong about these kind of things fell into a pretty dark depression at the time. My friends were worried for me personally, worried that they were going to break me. It took time, but I persevered through it. I can only imagine what it can do to someone with less willpower.

Roseanne looks like she’s in a bad spot, and I don’t see her coming out of it as a fighter. It’s not her nature, and she’s going to be in for major trouble personally. Being under SJW attack is very difficult. It’s stressful, painful, and it’s designed to be so so that you can’t think straight about what you’re doing. But if you ever get in this situation, here’s some handy tips:

  1. Never apologize. Apologizing just makes them push harder. I can’t tell you how many times I was told by industry professionals to apologize to the SJW elites. “For what, they attacked ME?” I’d reply. They’d never have anything specific, but told me I had to set pride aside anyway. No, you don’t. That’s a tactic they use to isolate you and put you in a position of submission. You’ll never be accepted no matter what you do. Embrace that. It’s over on that front.
  2. Surround yourself with friends who understand. There’s a lot of us out there now. It didn’t used to be that way. If you’re under attack, reach out to me. Reach out to Vox Day. Reach out to Chuck Dixon. We care. We’ve been there. We want to help as best we can. They cast us as pariahs and make people afraid of us as boogeymen intentionally as well — it’s to cut off the support network of anyone who wants to stand up and fight them.
  3. Build your own platform. They love to deplatform. They pushed me out of conventions and major publishers — so I came out with my own work through superversive press, through my freestartr, I’m doing my own discussion panels via periscope and youtube. That’s what makes me successful. Never backing down for a minute. Work harder. They want to censor your work from the world, that’s the entire goal is to maintain lockstep over culture.
  4. Laugh. You really have two choices with the attacks, laugh at it, or get so angry/depressed you cloud yourself. When you’re laughing, you’re having fun, and that’s the key to producing great culture. It also drives them far crazier when you’re laughing at them — because they’re supposed to be respectable. If you take away that respect, you are going to make them lose their cool and make mistakes. You’ll also have an intoxicating element of your personality where people will enjoy and follow — people love laughter. It’s a game. It’s funny. None of this matters in the scale of eternity. Have the most fun with it you can.

And that’s all you can do. Ride the wave. It’ll go in cycles for how hard you’re attacked if you’re on the right an committed to making culture. You’re either in it to win it, or you’re going to flounder and lose. Which will you choose?

Sean Barrows had hard choices involving a much bigger scale than simple culture production. HIs choices impact not only all of humanity, but the balance of power in the whole galaxy. Read The Stars Entwined and see the excellent worldbuilding and hard work on character I built when I was under the heaviest of pressure. It’s some of the finest science fiction of the last year. Read it here.

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Writers Beware: Wiscon Has Gone Full Crazy

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Over the weekend, WisCon held its 42nd annual conference, They are a conference known for causing trouble for individuals and generating group hate outrage, with several past incidents, including the targeted doxing of an author who disagreed with them politically, as well as the target and destruction of an editor’s career because he made an off color joke at a party. This time, they targeted one of their own: a woman, Lisa Freitag who was invited to speak at the con (and has spoken there and been a part of the community for 20 years according to one eye witness).

This woman’s crime? She was on a panel called “Killable Bodies” of which the description of the topic is here:

In SFF with an action element there’s a desire for cool giant battle scenes, heroes who spin, twirl, slice off heads, and general melee violence. This is an old background trope: the killable mook, guard, or minion whose life can be taken in a cool or funny way is familiar from traditional action films. But many SFF stories take this trope further with a killable race or non-sentient army: the Orcs in Lord of the Rings, the Chitauri in Avengers, and the many robot armies that we see represented solely so that heroes can create cool violent carnage without having to answer difficult moral questions. What happens when SFF comes to rely on this trope? If we’re going to have violent action in SFF, is this better than the alternative? Is it ever not just super racist?

The woman in question appears to have pointed out that in modern traditional fiction, the only “acceptable” villains are confederates and Nazis. If one of those two or allegorical versions are not used, this crowd freaks out and cries racist, making it nearly impossible to have any other villain archetype. But in the discussion of them as killable bodies, it also appears that she pointed out these groups beyond any other are used as cardboard cartoon cutout mustache twirling concepts, and almost never presented as actual human beings with feelings.

In this political climate, this was enough to send WisCon into outright panic. It’s an innocuous topic about villains in fiction, and yet the irresistible desire to make it into CURRENT YEAR POLITICS happened. And it triggered the snowflakes. WIsxcon’s statement:

During the Killable Bodies In SFF panel at WisCon this morning (Sunday), a panelist engaged in Nazi and Confederate apologia and also appeared to posit that disabled or injured people sometimes “have to be sacrificed.”

They continued this behavior even after the audience and other panel members expressed the harm this was causing them.

WisCon rejects these ideas. They are in conflict with our Code of Conduct. The panelist in question will be banned and asked to immediately leave convention spaces.

The relevant passage from the Code of Conduct is here:

Harassment includes: Verbal or written comments or displayed images that harmfully reinforce structures of oppression (related to gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, religion, geographic origin, or class); deliberate intimidation; stalking; body policing (including gender policing in all bathrooms); unwelcome photography or recording; sustained disruption of talks or other events; inappropriate physical contact; and unwelcome sexual attention. 

Please read the full Code of Conduct here. 

If you or anyone you know are in need of any support following this experience, please contact us. We will be working to find folks who can provide emotional support to you.

ETA: This particular individual has been banned for WisCon 42. The decision as to whether this ban will be extended in the future will be determined by our Anti Abuse Team post-con. Should you have information to contribute, you are welcome to email safety@wiscon.net.

Banned for discussing a topic on topic in a panel because the suggestion that authors should recognize FICTIONAL Nazi or confederate trope-types, and work a little harder on their villains to give them motivations, feelings, etc. like any other human character if they want their work to be good.

One of the other panelists chimed in on their blog:

Lisa repeatedly made statements that expressed a desire to sympathize with both individual Nazis (in this context we would be talking about, I believe, Third Reich-era Nazis), and later also individual Confederate soldiers. That this happened once was confusing, surprising, and alarming. That this happened multiple times as the panel went on was flabbergasting, frightening, and finally just damaging.

A lot of people have checked in on me since the panel, making sure I was doing okay, and I appreciate all of you so much.

“Are you okay?” because someone presented that villains should be thought of as individuals in the making of good fiction? That’s not confusing, nor surprising, at least the topic isn’t. But the confusing and surprising part is that aspiring writers and professionals flipped out and are worried whether someone’s “okay” because ideas were discussed. If an author can’t handle that simple exercise, they need to be committed rather than trying to make sure other authors’ ideas are shunned.  The whole concept of this is so ridiculous and so on the side of censorship that it’s bizarre.

Another blogger who attended the panel admitted there was nothing even remotely strange about what she was saying:

  • The discussion was focused on Nazis in Third Reich.
  • X did not express support for Nazi or Confederate ideology.

If it was on topic, and the panelist didn’t advocate for any ideology, what is the concern about?

We live in an age where we have actual fascists in control of science fiction fandom and especially the convention scene. Remember, fascism is defined as: “characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and control of industry and commerce”.

People like WisCon don’t even want “triggering” identities mentioned as HUMAN, even though both Confederates and Nazis were by all accounts, humans. The soldiers had families, they did have feelings, and when writing fiction allegorizing or about these groups, it’s good to remember that if you want good fiction. There’s nothing controversial about that statement in the least, and the fact that WisCon targeted and actively attempted to destroy a woman over talking about that is far more troubling — it’s a sign of what’s going on in these times with censorship of authors. If ideas can’t be presented realistically, then why are we in this game? Why even write if you can’t think for yourself as an individual and must go with the group panic at all times?

Will Shetterly, a self-professed communist writer, was not impressed:

No one’s ever made a clear distinction between fiction and literature, but a traditional one is that literature deals with nuance: in a literary work, there may be good guys and bad guys, but they exist on a spectrum and their motivations come from complex histories. A pulp fiction writer doesn’t need subtlety or a knowledge of history or sympathy for people who come from different circumstances: Nazis and Confederates are bad people who may be killed without a second thought as the plot demands. There’s no need to ask why fascism is popular in times of economic desperation or to note that many Confederates were conscripts or deserters. In pulp fiction, Crusader logic applies: kill them all and let God sort them out.

Ah, well. Whether WisCon was ever truly a literary convention is debatable. That it is not one now is not.

Scathing comments and well deserved. If WisCon is going to teach a whole generation of aspiring writers to not care about their villains and not bother to work out their loves, fears, motivations, passions, then we’re going to see some of the worst writing ever come out of Traditional Publishing. Since those publishers nod their heads and agree with WisCon, we can expect this to happen. At least there’s those of us on the indie side who are willing to write without fear and without censorship. And we will stand with Lisa Freitag and her very rational, intelligent ideas that good writers recognize villains as people.

Patreon was banning ideas, so I switched over to Freestartr. I’m delivering short fiction that isn’t censored, is very fun, and with real, in depth characters. Check it out and sign up, especially if you’re a blog reader who supports my reporting and commentary, It’s the only way I monetize and I need your help to keep expanding this community. There’ll be a new Von Monocle story out this month. You won’t want to miss it.

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Friend Friday: Daniel Humphreys On Proper Word Counts For Indie Authors

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This Friday I’m happy to be joined by my good friend, Dan Humphreys. He’s best known for his Dragon Award nominated zombie series, but he also does really cool urban fantasy work with Fade, his recent book out by Silver Empire Press. He stops by to talk about word counts for indie authors, and how long your book should ideally be.

For regular readers of Jon’s blog, it should come as no surprise that he has strongly held opinions, and that he’ll stick to his guns.

On one particular issue, he and I don’t agree, and as much as he’s tried, he’s never been able to change my mind.

Lest you think this is something serious, I’m talking about word counts.

Not too long after we met, Jon was absolutely flabbergasted when I offered him a copy of my first book, A Place Outside The Wild. At just shy of 180,000 words, Wild weighs in, literally, at over 600 pages in trade paperback.†”Dude. Write shorter books,” Jon said. As I recall, the larger conversation was about publication speeds. Since Wild came out in September of 2016, I’ve put out three novels, with a fourth due next month. All in all, that works out to two books a year, which is pretty solid if I do say so myself. In the release aspect, obviously, writing shorter books is the way to go if you want to go quarterly or more frequently.

I grew up reading Tom Clancy and Stephen King. If a book wasn’t a doorstop, more often than not, I didn’t regard it as worth reading. That more than anything probably informs my predilection for epic tales, but for me, at least, I usually feel like the story demands what it demands in terms of space. Could I have trimmed a bit from Wild? Possibly. Being honest, probably. As a reader, long books always struck me as a better value proposition. And growing up in Phoenix, I wanted to make those trips to the library on my mountain bike†count. There was less opportunity to melt into the pavement if I got enough big books to tide me over for a week or two.

The funniest part, of course, is that I’ve gotten better. My novel Warhawks, will never be for sale because I have no desire to go back and put in the work that it needs. It’s the first book in what I always planned to be a space opera trilogy, written over twenty years ago. It’s also almost a thousand pages wrong. I’ve been serializing it and poking fun at myself with the moniker #FreeAwfulNovel over at my own blog. On the bright side, scanning it to PDF is letting me recycle a†lot†of paper.

So in that regard, darn it, Jon is correct. Writer shorter books. The sequel to Wild, A Place Called Hope, is a mere 130,000 words for a total of over a quarter-million words of zombies, explosions, and heroic deeds. My urban fantasy series is a hiccup in comparison–the first two books in the series combined are only a bit larger than Hope. Somewhere, Jon pumps his fist and declares victory.

The real question is what you, the audience, thinks. Do you prefer shorter, more frequent works, or waiting a bit longer for something hefty? The tradpub model has long been one release a year for established authors. The indie revolution has turned that notion on its ear, and writing teams like Nick Cole and Jason Anspach, or Chris Kennedy, Mark Wandrey, and their crew, are pumping out new releases every other month if not more. I’d love to hear your takes in the comments.

–The first book in Daniel Humphreys’ Paxton Locke urban fantasy series, Fade, is available now from Amazon. Book two, Night’s Black Agents releases June 19, and the third book, Come, Seeling Night, will be available early 2019. (Sooner, if Jon can keep pushing Dan to ‘write shorter books.’)

 

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