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Saturday, March 30, 2013

A heart-warming tale

Of frustration and giving up:
Somewhere out there is a literary agent (who shall remain unnamed here) who asked for science fiction submissions on Twitter the Friday before last. I was in bed at the time, reading my Twitter feed on the iPad (as one does), so I got out of bed again to send that agent a query letter that followed the requirements of the agency in question.

I woke up the next morning to find a form rejection in my inbox. That agent had rejected the query without having asked for sample pages–without even having read a single word of the novel. And it was a nice, short, courteous, and professional query letter, not two lines of HAY U WANT TO B MY AGENTZ? CHK YES OR NO LULZ.

I said a very naughty word at the computer screen and felt something in my head go SNAP. Then I had Scrivener compile the ebook files for the novel, bought some cover art, made a book cover, uploaded everything to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing service, and told people on my blog that the novel is available for sale.
I haven't read Terms of Enlistment yet, but it came to my attention because apparently some of the people who have been buying The Wardog's Coin also picked up Marko Kloos's book and appear to think rather well of it.  (Marko, if you happen to read this, send me a review copy and I will reciprocate.)

I've been published by a major New York publisher.  And I've been published by a small independent publisher in a manner that very nearly amounts to self-publishing.  And while the people at Pocket always treated me very well, and I have absolutely no complaints about my experience there, I will say that I VASTLY prefer the independent publishing.  Simply the ability to select the cover artists with whom I prefer to work alone makes it worthwhile to me; I'm still convinced that what wrecked the Eternal Warriors series was Pocket's disastrous decision to abandon the Rowena covers for a stock-photo, pseudo-Left Behind look that only managed to get the trade paperbacks banished from the Science Fiction and Fantasy section.  And it's wonderful to decide to publish, pull the trigger, and see the book reviews appearing the very next day instead of waiting more than two years for the finished book to be completed.

My support for self-publishing doesn't mean I won't ever publish with a conventional publisher again.  I'm talking to a few of them right now since it would be good if there were ways for people to buy the beautiful doorstopper besides sight-unseen from Amazon.  But I'm not in any particular hurry to do so, (my main priorities are a) the game, b) Book Two, and c) the stories for the Summa hardcover), and I'm only going to partner with a publisher who truly understands my objectives and is willing to work with me in the same constructive and mutually beneficial manner that Hinterlands does.

Labels:

77 Comments:

Anonymous jack March 30, 2013 10:30 AM  

And so the days go by. I may just check this book out you mentioned. That is if my argument with Amazon over keeping an e books, which I purchased from them, on two different Kindles, which I purchased from them and registered both with them, can be resolved. If not then back to Best Buy goes the newer Kindle, cancel goes the Amazon account with request [polite] for a refund check of the balance in that account and I begin to examine my options concerning e readers.
If this sounds like a request for advice on how to maintain e books on two legal readers at the same time it is. That is without turning off the wifi connect on each and cross loading the books from a back up dvd. A pain. Then, of course, they are not then synced to come up on last page read. Believe it or not there is a real reason for wanting to do all this.
Sorry for the ot. I feel better now. Before cancelling that account I should go to Amazon and buy the mentioned book by the frustrated author.

Blogger Markku March 30, 2013 10:33 AM  

Jack: Note that you can also buy it from his blog, and you can choose the DRM free epub format. You can then use Calibre to convert it to the Kindle format if you want.

Anonymous Koanic March 30, 2013 10:45 AM  

Crispy festive smell
a leftist institution
screams and burns in hell.

Anonymous The other skeptic March 30, 2013 10:48 AM  

I read the preview of Marko's book on Amazon, and while it did look engaging, I had some problems:

1. He has 40 recruits turning up to basic training and after being talked to by some guy, seven decide to leave and get back on the shuttle. However, that night, or the next morning, there are still forty recruits? Did the magnificent seven sneak back in or were they replaced with the seven samurai?

2. In a world where the military can pick and chose, there are equal numbers of male and female recruits. Come on, that is just so unlikely. Ignoring upper body strength in a world with powered suits (the preview doesn't go that far so I don't know) more males on the RHS of the bell curve have faster reflexes than women as well as greater intelligence. Perhaps he has been pussy whipped by the women around him. How many women want military SF anyway? Hell, even Hammers Slammers grates on me at times.

I did find the first-person narrative format interesting, however, and while he seemed to do a lot of telling rather than showing, it didn't put me off for some reason.

Anonymous The other skeptic March 30, 2013 10:52 AM  

I'm talking to a few of them right now since it would be good if there were ways for people to buy the beautiful doorstopper besides sight-unseen from Amazon.

Aren't most people interested in the content rather than the cover?

Having review amounts up on Amazon or your web site would allow people to determine if they think a book is worth buying. I think you can tell if you will like a work from just one chapter, but maybe two would be needed.

Anonymous jack March 30, 2013 10:55 AM  

Thanks Markku. I will hit his blog. I have calibre but have been interested in seeing just how accomodating Amazon will be. There surely has to be way do this in Amazon's world. Surely some others have wanted to do this. In case anyone has an interest. I purchased an Kindle paperwhite to compliment my older Kindle. It has a build in light which may just help save my aging eyes. I do miss the text to speech which, for some reason, is no longer offered except on their Fire? It doesn't take a whole lot to please me. Just a thing or three here and there.

Anonymous VD March 30, 2013 10:58 AM  

Having review amounts up on Amazon or your web site would allow people to determine if they think a book is worth buying.

There already are on Amazon.

Anonymous The other skeptic March 30, 2013 11:04 AM  

If everyone deserves employment regardless of their abilities then surely I deserve a lucrative book contract. I am sure I could write 100,000 words of drivel.

Anonymous Flannel Avenger March 30, 2013 11:16 AM  

I got the DRM free version of ATOB from Marcher Lord when I pre-ordered the book, but it wouldn't stay in sync between the kindle app on my Galaxy Tab, my phone, and my laptop, so I don't know that going DRM free would resolve the issues with the Kindle.

Anonymous Salt March 30, 2013 11:25 AM  

I've looked into LULU for eBook publishing and it's interesting. Gives access to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. A man here, who has put out a few books the traditional way, uses it. He loves it.

Anonymous jack March 30, 2013 11:31 AM  

@Flannel: Interesting. I received a polite reply from Amazon that may have solved the problem. They claim [not yet tested by me] that up to 6 devices can share the same e book. You have to register all devices to the same Amazon account [already done] then sync them [from each kindle, I think] thru the cloud. Then it should work. We'll see. The on board manual doesn't make this clear. Nor, the on line one, although I will admit to a possible comprehension of material problem on my part. I know, I know, hard to believe but the remote possibility had to be voiced.
Thanks all for the advice.

Anonymous LL March 30, 2013 11:41 AM  

The other skeptic, I read and reviewed the book on my blog and for point 1, I didn't notice that discrepency. On point 2, you are working under the assumption of all of them being chosen to fill infantry ranks or some such. That is not the case in this book. It is a short, easy read and not filled with so many details and explanations of this, that, & the other as to bog it down.

Anonymous JohnS March 30, 2013 11:48 AM  

You sure you don't have a dud kindle?

My kindle stuff (including vox's new stuff) is synced on my ipad, laptop, desktop, and the droid razr i'm typing on right now. Syncs to the proper page too.

This is using the free app, mind you.

I don't own the kindle hardware

Blogger mmaier2112 March 30, 2013 11:49 AM  

Establishment folks have such limited imaginations.

I would think the e-book self-publishing could easily be the "amateur league" of writing.

Less investment up front from everyone all around. You'd think houses would relish the idea of not having to sift through so much dross to find gold to spend their money on.

But then again, it might just be that the agents and publishers are more interested in making new friends (of the right political stripes) than making good books.

Anonymous Jill March 30, 2013 11:58 AM  

As a hardcore libertarian, I'm not sure why I didn't decide to self-pub a long time ago. My ego was tied to the system, I guess (I'm sure I could make a political tie-in analogy, but I'll refrain). What's one more book on a deluged market, anyway? In the grand scheme of things, it's about as meaningless as the money people might pay for it. But if my words bring sunshine and light into the humdrum lives of.....

Anonymous VD March 30, 2013 12:15 PM  

As a hardcore libertarian, I'm not sure why I didn't decide to self-pub a long time ago. My ego was tied to the system, I guess.

It's hard to free oneself from the idea that the approval of the traditional gatekeepers is necessary, or even meaningful in any positive manner. Decades of hearing sneering references to "vanity presses" tends to have its impact.

Anonymous Moriah Jovan March 30, 2013 12:30 PM  

I'm always amused when someone who previously said something to the effect of (or in Koos's case, verbatim) "the majority of self-published books are self-published because they didn’t make the cut—they failed to interest an agent or a publisher. (An awful lot of them are self-published because the prospective author didn’t want to bother subjecting themselves to the traditional agent/publisher query gauntlet.)"

http://munchkinwrangler.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/why-i-wont-self-publish/

See, the problem all these "Yog's (misinterpreted) Law" disciples don't understand is that it's a matter of odds. It's always been odds. Publishing slots : writers.

I escaped from the Cult of Traditional Publishing in 2007 and took rather quite a lot of abuse from Goldberg and Konrath and their ilk. So in one way, I'm all, "Welcome home, son. What took you so long?" and "What, you didn't make the cut?"

@mmaier2112 "I would think the e-book self-publishing could easily be the "amateur league" of writing."

It already is. In my genre (romance), publishers have been drawing off successful self-pubbed work for the last two years. If anyone in romance (other than Harlequin) is taking unpublished work now, I'd be shocked.

Anonymous David March 30, 2013 12:38 PM  

"I'm still convinced that what wrecked the Eternal Warriors series was Pocket's disastrous decision to abandon the Rowena covers for a stock-photo, pseudo-Left Behind look that only managed to get the trade paperbacks banished from the Science Fiction and Fantasy section."

I bought Summa Elvetica in hardcopy a few years ago based on the description and cover. I pre-ordered the AToB hardcover and I purchased A Magic Broken soon after it was out. I like them all and plan to pick up Wardog's Coin soon after I finish my current novel.

I have not looked at the Eternal Warriors series and yes the unappealing art is a factor in that decision.

I can buy a book with no art at all and enjoy it. But if I don't like the art I am less inclined to buy it.

Anonymous Loki-v1.01 March 30, 2013 12:41 PM  

Just out of curiosity, I am guessing TWdC's rapid decline from <10 to >40 in amazon ranking is due to a lack of sustained sales? The high initial ranking due to blog follower sales?

Anonymous Sal March 30, 2013 12:59 PM  

"Decades of hearing sneering references to "vanity presses" tends to have its impact."

Still do 'em in the gym though. I used this joke and it got me some very fit, very fine and very fun female attention.

Anonymous VD March 30, 2013 1:07 PM  

Just out of curiosity, I am guessing TWdC's rapid decline from <10 to >40 in amazon ranking is due to a lack of sustained sales? The high initial ranking due to blog follower sales?

Exactly. Although it's true of most books; for some reason people vastly prefer to buy newly released books rather than older books that are new to them. The exception being when a) related media is produced or b) when a second book in the series revives interest in the previous one.

Dan Brown's Angels and Demons didn't sell as well as The World in Shadow when they came out the same month from the same publisher. Pocket dropped him. Then The DaVinci Code was a huge hit and now the first book has sold millions.

Anonymous James May March 30, 2013 1:33 PM  

I still remember the wonderful cover art for E. Hoffman Price's "The Devil Wives of Li Fong" Rowena did so long ago.

On that note, last night I saw a surprisingly good Chinese romantic sword and sorcery film called "Painted Skin: The Resurrection."

The movie often rises to great lyrical heights that conveys an odd mythological tone. The way the scenes are set, the cinematography, design and acting are fantastic in both senses of the term.

For those of you who like that baroque ClarkAshtonian flourish old fantasy had and which is completely invisible in the plodding and sensible fantasy literature and film of today, I think you'll be amazed.

With a few changes, this is the way a Conan-like film should've been done. Something that reflects the poetry that underlay Howard and Clark Ashton Smith's writing but brings it front and center.

If someone wrote a novel that could capture Painted's artistry, going back to reading the current crop of fantasy literature would seem at once like a hold up and an auto repair manual. But that's what happens when a field is essentially taken over by ma and pa taking a break from the fields.

I can only imagine what would happen if these Painted's people adapted Abraham Merritt's "The Ship of Ishtar," one of fantasy's great bizarre romantic adventure novels.

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus March 30, 2013 2:26 PM  

Now buying three books for the Nook this weekend: Monster Hunter: Legion, The Wardog's Coin, and Terms of Enlistment. If it wasn't for the fact that ATOB was IMHO a freaking *steal* at $5 for the epub...I'd be bitching about you costing me money Vox. ;-) I liked that enough that I'll probably be picking it up in hardcover to share.

Anonymous bob k. mando March 30, 2013 3:07 PM  

Moriah Jovan March 30, 2013 12:30 PM
It already is. In my genre (romance)





holy crap.

not merely female, not merely a writer but A ROMANCE NOVELIST is now reading VP.

i would say that i don't think the warren denizens will be able to handle this ... but i'm not sure *I* can handle this.

[twitch]
let the the fanfic novelizations of the 50 Shades of the wereseals of Selenoth commence.
[/twitch]

Anonymous bob k. mando March 30, 2013 3:14 PM  

also, Dave Duncan is an author who seems to have completely given up on a long standing relationship with a traditional publisher. it's been several years since i've seen anything of his on the shelf and i'm sure he's had more than 20 books published by a mainline SF publisher in the last 30 years.

he looks to be publishing exclusively ( which is very disappointing to a guy who enjoys the whole browsing the bookstack experience ) via ereads and Amazon now.

what does ereads.com qualify as? a self publishing facilitator?

Anonymous bob k. mando March 30, 2013 3:18 PM  

one last post and i'm done blitzing this thread for a while, Duncan's comments on Tor publishing decisions are amusing:
http://daveduncan.com/?p=562

Anonymous Moriah Jovan March 30, 2013 3:31 PM  

@bob k. mando

Not sure whether to take that as a compliment or not. A fan of mine pointed me to VP because of my blatant libertarianism, and she thought I would enjoy it.

Anonymous VD March 30, 2013 3:32 PM  

See, the problem all these "Yog's (misinterpreted) Law" disciples don't understand is that it's a matter of odds. It's always been odds. Publishing slots : writers.

Precisely. And it's going to get even more interesting soon, as the number of desirable slots in certain sales channels will be intrinsically limited.

Anonymous James May March 30, 2013 3:33 PM  

If epub is a farm system, where are the great talent scouts, someone the industry respects? We had Bob Davis at Munsey at a crucial time in the history of SF&F, John Campbell some years later. We had Frederik Pohl, a few others.

Today it's every man for himself, and yet woman and children are still first, depending on whether one is inside or outside the hyper-politicized SFWA.

The result is a landscape of voices virtually no one can make sense of in artistic terms, or in terms of an authoritative literary voice. Democracy may be great for society, but it's hell on art. Wheat not separated from chaff confuses the edible with the inedible.

That's why "Ender's Game" is considered a historic game-changing artistic triumph and better SF like "The Black Ship," by Christopher Rowley, "The Dragon Never Sleeps," by Glen Cook and "Palace" by Katherine Kerr and Mark Kreighbaum are works no one's heard of.

Anonymous Moriah Jovan March 30, 2013 3:37 PM  

@James May

"If epub is a farm system, where are the great talent scouts, someone the industry respects?"

That's the wrong question.

The question is: "When did traditional publishers get rid of all their great talent scouts and start listening to the marketing department as to what readers really want?"

The answer is: 1998.

Anonymous VD March 30, 2013 3:50 PM  

The answer is: 1998.

Why then particularly? I don't necessarily disagree, it just seems remarkably precise.

Anonymous Salt March 30, 2013 3:56 PM  

@VD

First Wereseal sighting? Couldn't be Vampires.

Anonymous Moriah Jovan March 30, 2013 4:04 PM  

I was being sarcastic, but it's actually a personal date (read: I'm bitter). I remember getting a call from an editor (actually, this happened three times with three different books in the same year) in 1998 who said she loved my book but she'd already bought one vaguely similar (though not as good) two months ago and her marketing department wouldn't let her buy mine.

More broadly speaking, and speaking to the genre I love most: The books that began coming out around 2000-2002 were remarkably less cutting-edge (read: non-controversial) than they were in the late 80s, mid- to late 90s. The ones that came after that were carbon copies of the safe ones. Really remarkable books, ones that got people stirred up, just seemed to vanish. (One or two escaped here or there, but those come with stories of how well-placed the agent was.) So, figure in a 2- to 3-year production line, and I would drill down to 1998.

Aside: *I* consider myself a romance writer. My fans do not. Technically speaking, I write family saga. You know. Doorstoppers without the spaceships or dragons.

Anonymous bob k. mando March 30, 2013 4:10 PM  

Moriah Jovan March 30, 2013 3:31 PM
Not sure whether to take that as a compliment or not.



tis neither, really.

on the one hand, Vox ( and many of the rest of us ) have been lamenting the Harlequinization of the genre which passes for SF / F for years now.

on the other hand, the rabbits regularly make accusations that Vox is misogynist or hates women or will never get laid or what have you.

on the other other hand, VP has several regular commenters who are ( claim to be ) female and he's ( claims to be ) married to a smoking hot blond of nordic extraction.

on the other other other hand, now we've got you.

it's all very cognitive dissonance and i'm making a joke about it.

taking umbrage at my comment would be like Loki and Sigyn getting pissed at me for taking the piss out of them. it's all meant in good fun.

however, i readily admit that my humor is not for everyone. Dave Moody of the SiriusXM Speedway program just slammed the phone down on me and told me never to call back again just this week. why? because i was suggesting that Gibbs hire Kurt Busch to sub for Hamlin. so Gibbs could have BOTH of the former Roush champions driving for him at the same time and so the Ku-Ky Bros could be on the same professional team for the first time in their careers. all the stupid, crap suggestions callers had been making all day long but MY idea is "out of bounds". and that was after i had prefaced my call with "lets get a really good rumor going". *shrugs*

i've also had Alan Colmes hang up on me.

tards have a hard time handling my humor.

Anonymous James May March 30, 2013 4:10 PM  

Marketing has always been a legitimate part of SF. However using it as a sole guide leaves one following from behind and the result is a lot of trouble with zombies and Tribbles and demons at the Battle of Britain. If one considers marketing to be an acknowledgment of fans, there needs to be editors and writers to provide balance.

You had that at Munsey. You had that with Campbell. Fan/editor/writer were the tripod of a perfect storm. You don't have that now.

I am stunned by how many times I've read SF&F in recent years that came with enthusiastic recommendations from editors and fans. I start reading and my inner voice says "really? I can frickin' do better than this and I'm not even a writer." I can't even imagine saying I could do what Vance, Peter Hamilton or Poul Anderson have done.

So my inner voice tells my outer arms to reach for Clark Ashton Smith or Walter Miller and hope the unperfect storm will pass. But what can you say about a community that has so many people who don't even know who the hell Jack Vance is?

That's like a military war college that's never heard of Pearl Harbor.

I don't think this is a case of get off my grass. I go back and read stuff I liked quite a bit years ago and can see how some is very creaky. Some of that I knew at the time and some I didn't. For example, reading the highly regarded "Delilah and the Space Rigger," (1949) by Heinlein shows it doesn't hold up well. I once like it quite a bit.

Heinlein's almost unknown short, "Goldfish Bowl," (1942) still seems completely modern in style and idea, and original. So does "The Weapon Shop" from the same year.

Anonymous VD March 30, 2013 4:16 PM  

James, one of these days when the inflation/deflation debate is done, we're going to have to throw down on Ender's Game. I'm not saying it is one of the greatest SF novels of all time. (That, in my opinion, would be Dune.) But I simply don't see how it merits the derision you direct towards it.

And you have to admit he did some interesting things in the subsequent novels, even if they weren't as compelling.

Anonymous VD March 30, 2013 4:16 PM  

her marketing department wouldn't let her buy mine.

The marketing department has been my problem since around 2002, if I recall correctly.

Anonymous Moriah Jovan March 30, 2013 4:18 PM  

@bob k. mando

"however, i readily admit that my humor is not for everyone."

I haven't read enough of your comments to get a good feel of you yet (see what I did there?) whether you're an old internet curmudgeon or an asshole, but I adore internet curmudgeons no matter what, and assholes when they agree with me.

I cut my teeth in Usenet, and so I usually I lurk a lot longer before commenting. But self-pub is a topic close to my heart, and I couldn't resist.

@James May

"Marketing has always been a legitimate part of SF. However using it as a sole guide leaves one following from behind..."

But you see, my point is that all of publishing is now using marketing as the sole guide. The self-pub farm team scouts don't use quality as a criterion. They only care about how many copies the author has sold on her own. The ones who've done land-office business are marketers either by profession or nature.

Anonymous bob k. mando March 30, 2013 4:49 PM  

VD March 30, 2013 4:16 PM
But I simply don't see how it merits the derision you direct towards it.




he holds forth Peter Hamilton as an example of 'great' SF. nothing further need be said.

i've read one Hamilton novel. i'll not make that mistake again.

( actually, aside from his constant pimping of Hamilton and derision for EG i don't really disagree with Captain Slow much )



Moriah Jovan March 30, 2013 4:18 PM
whether you're an old internet curmudgeon or an asshole



i believe the medically accurate term is 'old ass internet curmudgeon hole'.


how can anything on the internet be 'old'? the whole world wide web thing is just barely of drinking age.

Anonymous James May March 30, 2013 4:49 PM  

My take on "Ender's Game" is that my derision is in direct proportion to it's place on "Best of" lists, where it places very high, often No.1. In other words, it's not bad, just average.

I read Ender's when it first came out, so I am aware of its context and work surrounding it at the time. It doesn't even rise to the level of Varley's more or less contemporaneous short fiction. I read the sequel when it came out. I thought it was better and more original in an artistic sense - still, no game-changer - not by any means.

The bottom line for me is this: if one looks at great SF in terms of an upward progression in terms of artistry and historic and seminal game-changing head turners you might get something like this:

"Who Goes There?", the early work of Heinlein/Van Vogt, Foundation, "Vintage Season," "The Witches of Karres," "Scanners Live In Vain," "Coming Attraction," "The Dying Earth," "Fahrenheit 451," "Fondly Fahrenheit," "Exploration Team," "The Stars My Destination," "To Live Forever," "The Big Front Yard," "A Canticle For Leibowitz," "Dune," "A Rose For Ecclesiastes," "No Truce With Kings," "Soldier Ask Not," "The Dragon Masters," "Neutron Star,' "Nightwings."

My memory's not that great so that's not an exhaustive or definitive list but simply pointing out that something important, as opposed to popular, happened there in each instance. There's simply nothing important or seminal in "Ender's Game" and no one can point to such a thing on a literary scale of the genre's evolution. "The Mote In God's Eye" and all I've listed are more important and better works. Ender's doesn't even make my top 100 novels.

It is hideously overrated and famous for being famous.

Anonymous James May March 30, 2013 5:02 PM  

If you like, I can post as Capt. Slow in the future, or refer to you as Lieut. Moron. Your call.

It's always noteworthy that when someone can't defend a thing, someone else who can is "pimping." I disregard that with the same wave of the hand as the idea you'd ever call me Capt. Slow in person or admire being called Private Forearm Shiver.

Hamilton's "Night's Dawn" is a tour de force. Simply put, there is no SF writer of his generation capable of such a complex work written with such complete authority. And it is effortlessly creative.

I am not fan of Hamilton's Mandel work, or the Void Trilogy. "Great North Road" comes close to self-plagiarizing. But "Fallen Dragon" is excellent and the Pandora duology even better. Pimp something so we know what you think of as good.

Anonymous Screw u bob March 30, 2013 5:36 PM  

"whether you're an old internet curmudgeon or an asshole.

You're right on both counts. Mando is your typical boomer who thinks his shit doesn't stink. Unless the novel,movie or music is pre 70's he'll predictably discount it.


Anonymous The other skeptic March 30, 2013 6:09 PM  

Does Amazon vet the stuff that is self-published? Do they reserve the right to withdraw something from sale if enough people object to it?

Anonymous bob k. mando March 30, 2013 6:14 PM  

James May March 30, 2013 5:02 PM
If you like, I can post as Capt. Slow in the future, or refer to you as Lieut. Moron.




i take it you're not grokking the reference?

or are you actually getting that pissy about being conflated with someone in pop culture?




James May March 30, 2013 5:02 PM
I disregard that with the same wave of the hand as the idea you'd ever call me Capt. Slow in person




your name is James May. of COURSE i would call you Captain Slow in person.

that's just as obvious as the fact that i would have refused to call Hemingway 'Papa' had i met him in person. reading ( the ostensibly non-fic ) 'Byline: Ernest Hemingway' made obvious just how much effort he put into creating his own cult of personality.





James May March 30, 2013 5:02 PM
Hamilton's "Night's Dawn" is a tour de force.



i'm pretty sure that Reality Dysfunction was the book that turned me off of him.

whichever one it was, the protagonist was a really, REALLY crap 'James Bond in space' rip off of the 007 movies. to characterize it as trite and insipid would be a complement.




James May March 30, 2013 5:02 PM
Pimp something so we know what you think of as good.



you say this as though i have not done so previously.

currently, i'm enjoying the Niven / Lerner World's books. is it just a further rehash of Known Space? yep. still fun.

i also just discovered John C. Wright's "Count to a Trillion". which is something of a feat, given how few and far between his books seem to be on the shelves. to be fair, this protagonist is also a bit absurd. balance that with Wright being proudly Catholic and not particularly concerned with sucking up to the liberal editorial hegemony.

i liked Card's latest Shadows book.

i'm getting somewhat impatient waiting for Donaldson's new IllEarth books to be printed in mass market paperback.

i used to buy everything Cherryh published, despite her weaknesses. i thought Downbelow Station very good. now, i don't even look under her name. she has completely lost it.

this is actually odd that i have current SF reading recommendations because it's been years since i've seen new stuff popping up on the shelves that i was interested in buying. you notice i'm several years behind the Niven stuff.

Anonymous bob k. mando March 30, 2013 6:26 PM  

Screw u bob March 30, 2013 5:36 PM
You're right on both counts. Mando is your typical boomer who thinks his shit doesn't stink. Unless the novel,movie or music is pre 70's he'll predictably discount it.




hee.

NOT a boomer. i love helping make Cryin Ryan cry.

almost all of my SF/F reading rec's are 60s-90s. i just made the mistake of re-reading Burroughs original Martian trilogy. damn, i liked that as a teenager? and i used to like Wilbur Smith? *shudder* Bester is great, though.

i would agree that general movie quality has also crashed since the advent of the hippies in the late 60s and then the massive incursion of CGI in place of characterization in the 90s but you can still find decent stuff like 'A Beautiful Mind', 'Pulp Fiction' or 'Dark City'.

i would like to know how you found out my shit doesn't stink though. that seems a bit stalkerish.

troll harder, little one. ;-]

Anonymous Screw u bob March 30, 2013 6:39 PM  

"troll harder, little one. ;-]"

Oh yeah and in his predictably insecure leftard way always has to answer back. ;-)

Anonymous Daniel March 30, 2013 6:46 PM  

Does Amazon vet the stuff that is self-published? Do they reserve the right to withdraw something from sale if enough people object to it?

Sure, they have the right, they provide the service. Their chief concern is not objections, but copyright challenges. They check stuff against their database to try to ensure that what someone claims to have rights to is actually something they have rights to.

They certainly are no more likely to vet self-published stuff than they are to vet the traditionally published stuff for quality. If it sells they profit. Generally speaking they will profit more on self-published stuff anyhow, as they have a publication wing that effectively gets two shares of a book sale, rather than a reseller.

Anonymous Luscinia Hâfez March 30, 2013 6:53 PM  

I think what wrecked Eternal Warriors is the fact that they are complete and utter crap.

Anonymous bob k. mando March 30, 2013 7:05 PM  

welp, i'm enjoying my screwing thus far.

i'm getting paid for this, right?

Anonymous VD March 30, 2013 7:05 PM  

I think what wrecked Eternal Warriors is the fact that they are complete and utter crap.

And yet, the first book alone sold 35,000 with the Rowena cover and only 7,000 with the Left Behind one. So regardless of whether they are complete and utter crap or not, your theory is clearly incorrect.

Anonymous Luscinia Hâfez March 30, 2013 7:11 PM  

They sold because you have a blog with a disturbingly large following. And fundamentalist Christians will buy anything that shares their beliefs. Call me when you win some awards.

Anonymous The other skeptic March 30, 2013 7:11 PM  

Sure, they have the right, they provide the service. Their chief concern is not objections, but copyright challenges. They check stuff against their database to try to ensure that what someone claims to have rights to is actually something they have rights to.

So they would not mind if someone wrote something pandering to pandering to Muslim fantasies about beheading gays?

Anonymous VD March 30, 2013 7:18 PM  

They sold because you have a blog with a disturbingly large following.

You're missing the point, unsurprisingly. The first one sold well. The second one didn't, even though it was, by all accounts, a better book. Your theory can't account for the observed historical facts. Which is why it is obviously incorrect.

More importantly, both books were published BEFORE I started my blog or had any following. You quite clearly know nothing about the books.

And now perhaps you understand why your opinion is totally irrelevant to me. You're simply not very intelligent.

Anonymous James May March 30, 2013 7:22 PM  

Actually you're wrong. The host of some vapid car show made for idiots wouldn't hold you by your legs off the Qasr-Al-Nil Bridge - I would. Everyone knows what "grok" is. How one could imagine I don't know of a famous James May that kicks my Google presence down to 1,000,000th place for my photo site escapes me.

I once read a Cherryh book called "Rimrunners." I think C.J. made a bet whether she could write an entire novel where nothing happens. There was in fact a lot of running - in circles. Downbelow is probably her best work - slightly above average.

The hilarious satire is the cover for "Rimrunners" actually shows the woman running in a circular corridor. I guess Maitz had his own sense of humor.

Putting up Cherryh, Card and Donaldson as aces is revealing. They would in fact need pimps in the old days when fans were connoisseurs. I doubt if any of the three could pass muster with Joseph Campbell. They certainly can't touch the old guard.

There is nothing in the least Bond-like about Joshua Calvert. He is a young man who inherited his father's ship. He strikes it rich finding an artifact near the station he lives on that is sold at an auction. He refits the ship and becomes a trader. He is only one of many characters and in no way dominates the narrative, though he is nominally the centerpiece. I'd be surprised if Calvert is in more than 20% of the total work.

I'd like anyone to tell me when an SF writer in the last few decades has tackled a work more ambitious than Night's Dawn. Just one tiny sequence where an asteroid is about to hit the hero's exact spot, while they're chasing a rogue scientist in cars and being chased behind, at the same time their fighter spaceplanes in support are being attacked by other spaceplanes and the whole planet about to being simultaneously taken over by the demons and while orbital war is breaking out is masterful. That's not including a mysterious being who looks human among the good guys who suddenly reveals himself, enormous powers, and pops out of sight. It is textbook on how to create plot, mystery, drama and tension rather than Mr. Dither.

Niven has perhaps the two single greatest anthologies of short fiction by one SF author ever published, post 1960. The fact he constantly needs co-authors is revealing. Perhaps that Pohl had a lot more to do with those early Known Space stories than anyone has ever let on. The Ringworld sequels are fluff. You'd think a completely different person had written them.

Anonymous tiredofitall March 30, 2013 7:55 PM  

"I woke up the next morning to find a form rejection in my inbox. That agent had rejected the query without having asked for sample pages–without even having read a single word of the novel."

And yet another nail in the "going to run my stuff by publishers" coffin. If I ever do get my shit together and am ready to publish I'm definitely doing the self-publish through Amazon route.

Anonymous Anonymous Poster March 30, 2013 7:58 PM  

"I'm not saying it is one of the greatest SF novels of all time. (That, in my opinion, would be Dune.)"

Dune is Fantasy you dingbat.

Anonymous VD March 30, 2013 8:10 PM  

Dune is Fantasy you dingbat.

"Dune is a 1965 Epic science fiction novel by Frank Herbert. It won the Hugo Award in 1966, and the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel. Dune is frequently cited as the world's best-selling science fiction novel and is the start of the Dune saga."

Your knowledge doesn't even rise to the level of Wikipedia.

Anonymous Anonymous Poster March 30, 2013 8:15 PM  

Wikipedia is wrong. What actual science is in Dune? It's all magic masquerading as "future science". Your ability to discern actual genres doesn't rise to the level of one who would be successful at dividing nebula awards by genre.

Anonymous Luscinia Hâfez March 30, 2013 8:53 PM  

You said they sold 35000 with the (recent, republished) Rowena cover and 70000 with the original Left Behind cover.

Face it, Vox, you're not as good a writer as you think you are. I mean it when I say "give me one minute and I can write a sentence better than anything in The War In Heaven."

Blogger Rantor March 30, 2013 9:42 PM  

Actually Luscinia you are being dyslexic with your numbers...

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus March 30, 2013 9:54 PM  

I stumbled onto Hamilton's Pandora duology in the local library while I was taking my kids there. The library doesn't have much in the way of sf&f, so I took a chance. Glad I did. Epic.

@ L. Halfazz :

Vox can take care of himself I am sure...but I certainly think you've got that minute handy, let's see what you've got.





Anonymous Luscinia Hâfez March 30, 2013 10:06 PM  

Yeah, that was a typo. I was at least two orders of magnitude off there.

Hamilton, bah. McAuley and Harrison are the only grand space opera you need.

Anonymous bob k. mando March 30, 2013 11:17 PM  

Luscinia Hâfez March 30, 2013 7:11 PM
...fundamentalist Christians will buy anything that shares their beliefs.




because Vox has never said ANYTHING that vanilla Protestants might find disturbing. INTENSELY DISTURBING.

do you have any idea how ignorant you are? clearly not.



James May March 30, 2013 7:22 PM
The host of some vapid car show made for idiots wouldn't hold you by your legs off the Qasr-Al-Nil Bridge - I would.



*sigh*

so you're going to get pissy and all Internet Armchair Tough Guy then.

right, you go on ahead and dangle me.





James May March 30, 2013 7:22 PM
There is nothing in the least Bond-like about Joshua Calvert.



and yet my description was apt enough that you know EXACTLY who i'm talking about, even though *i* wouldn't have recalled the character's name, any of his physical attributes or even the plot points that you do cover here in a million years.

you've made my point for me. according the wiki he's also http://nightsdawn.wikia.com/wiki/Joshua_Calvert
" an adventurer, a womaniser and an avid partygoer — a prototypical “loveable rogue”. Despite this he is an excellent captain, born with an unrivalled ability in flying starships and an instinct for survival which ... borders on the psychic. He also possesses an innate charm which makes him almost universally popular with those who meet him. "


he is, thematically, James Bond in space. i would call him a lampoon of James Bond, but the Bond movies are lampoons of the spy genre as it is.

Hamilton's problem is that he tries to play Calvert as a serious character. the character of Bond qua Bond is successful precisely BECAUSE he's a literary/theatrical wink to the audience.

you try to play the lampoon as though he's not to be laughed at/with at least once in a while and you just look like an Asperger victim.

Pussy Galore? Mr. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang? everybody is in on the joke. except, apparently, Peter Hamilton and his readers.

if Calvert and Hamilton share gross physical characteristics then Calvert is one of the most over the top Gary Stus i've ever seen.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MartyStu




James May March 30, 2013 7:22 PM
Just one tiny sequence where an asteroid is about to hit the hero's exact spot, while they're chasing a rogue scientist in cars and being chased behind, at the same time their fighter spaceplanes in support are being attacked by other spaceplanes and the whole planet about to being simultaneously taken over by the demons and while orbital war is breaking out is masterful. That's not including a mysterious being who looks human among the good guys who suddenly reveals himself, enormous powers, and pops out of sight.




some might describe that as throwing the kitchen sink at the plot. i would call it throwing the compost pile and the latrine at the page.

Hamilton 'solves' the plot problems he creates the same way he makes Joshua Calvert exemplary at everything: deus ex machina piled atop deus ex machina to the power of deus ex machina.

you should read Burroughs. that's exactly the problem i have with his Martian novels.






James May March 30, 2013 7:22 PM
It is textbook on how to create plot, mystery, drama and tension rather than Mr. Dither.




so, is what yer sayin here is, the Silmarillion really ain't yer cup of tea?

that's cool and all. not everybody can handle dense prose. and i would agree that the first two books of the Silmarillion are pretty tough sledding.



James May March 30, 2013 7:22 PM
Putting up Cherryh, Card and Donaldson as aces is revealing ... They certainly can't touch the old guard.


there's a REASON why i didn't lard my post with suggestions for Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, Herbert and the rest. i could have. but i didn't.

you're a bright boy, you figure it out.

Anonymous bob k. mando March 30, 2013 11:18 PM  

James May March 30, 2013 7:22 PM
I think C.J. made a bet whether she could write an entire novel where nothing happens.



to quote myself:
"i used to buy everything Cherryh published, despite her weaknesses."


do you also despise Gerrold? i consider 'The Man Who Folded Himself' to be the best time travel treatment i've ever seen.

the Ch'torr books are also good. i'm done waiting for the next installment though. 20 years since the last publication date is WAY beyond teasing.




Anonymous Poster March 30, 2013 8:15 PM
Wikipedia is wrong. What actual science is in Dune? It's all magic masquerading as "future science".




right. and your personal opinion is incontrovertible fact, not to be gainsayed by any other person on the planet. on penalty of death?


you can see why we're so leery of letting people like you have control of the world.

amusingly enough, there's a discussion about this very subject going on at Ars Technica right now:
http://arstechnica.com/civis/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=1199649
"Personal shields, lasguns, poison sniffers, shield walls, ornithopters, interstellar space travel, aliens....yes, it has them all. It's sci-fi. "

in addition, i would point out that the Tleilaxu are gene engineers, a great deal of thought went into the stillsuits and Seitchs, and there are nuclear weapons.

the environmentalist, psychological and social 'sciences' may be rather soft but they also figure heavily in Dune.

Anonymous The other skeptic March 31, 2013 12:19 AM  

Face it, Vox, you're not as good a writer as you think you are. I mean it when I say "give me one minute and I can write a sentence better than anything in The War In Heaven."

Then show us, don't tell us.

Anonymous James May March 31, 2013 12:33 AM  

Lieut. Moron. It was using the word "protagonist," not your completely inaccurate description. Calvert is nothing like Bond in any way, shape or form. He is not a lampoon of Bond. The only "problem" Hamilton has are readers like you who are dullards.

The idea Calvert has Bond as a literary ancestor is moronic. There were plenty of lady's men before Bond and after. Fleming has no exclusivity there. Paul Newman in "Hud" was a ladies man. Was he Bond-like, out on the ranch? If you'd actually read Bond you'd understand he was a much more complicated character than Calvert - deeper and more of a puzzle - and at times cruel. Calvert is never cruel to women. They are completely different.

There is no deus ex machina in the sequence I mentioned. It is tightly plotted and the science worked out precisely and internal consistency logical. Hamilton's too smart to need or use things like that and he doesn't, other than perhaps the ending itself. If you've read only 1/3, how would you know anyway? Or was it the America PB - 1/6 then?

Calvert and others escape tight spots using science worked out in advance and firmly established that is logical to the world he has created and not based on easy outs. His tactical battles in space are like that. All his plotting is like that.

"Rimrunner" is not a novel with a weakness - it is sheer artistic autism.

Other than definitive statements about work you've read, little you write makes sense to me.

I have read Burroughs. He actually often used the amazing coincidence as a kind of signature inside joke with his readers, not because he was dumb. What's crazier than being trapped on a hill surrounded by cannibals and about to die with his girl then raising his sword hand and encountering their invisible flier they'd lost days before in Fighting Man? It just happened to drift there. Impossible.

People who don't understand simple genre distinctions aren't worth talking to. If people want Star Wars and Dune to be fantasy, fine - it is - and a toaster oven too.

I read the first of Gerrold's Chtorr series. As soon as I came to the giant alien fur penises and understood it was purposefully written for a gay audience I put it down. Not my thing.

Anonymous Jack Amok March 31, 2013 1:14 AM  

If everyone deserves employment regardless of their abilities then surely I deserve a lucrative book contract. I am sure I could write 100,000 words of drivel.

Only 999,974 left to go...

Sorry, seemed to be in the spirit of the thread, which is one of the more viperous ones of late.



Blogger Justthisguy March 31, 2013 2:51 AM  

"sheer artistic autism..." Dammit, James, will you quit picking on My People? I know that a lot of us have been seduced by The Narrative (we are famously gullible) but some of us do eventually grow up somewhat, and come to the truth and the True Church. In Christ there is no Jew or Greek, nor is there jock nor geek. As I wrote here a while back, God made all kinds of people.

Blogger Justthisguy March 31, 2013 3:25 AM  

Oh, on Mr. Kloos: I first heard about him about ten years ago when he was Tam K's housemate, when Tam was a moderator on the old High Road gun-nerd forum. If he never writes anything else in his life, his reputation is assured by his essay, "Why The Gun is Civilization."

Mr. Kloos is not a native speaker of English. He seems to do right well in his writing in English.

I commend Our Tam's blog to all gun nerds. She can be kinda harsh and snarky, but she knows all about teh gunz and has an excellent collection of them. She blogs at http://booksbikesboomsticks.blogspot.com Please don't tell her I sent you.

Anonymous VD March 31, 2013 3:51 AM  

I mean it when I say "give me one minute and I can write a sentence better than anything in The War In Heaven."

Perhaps you can, although given the math and logic skills you've demonstrated in this thread, I'm more than a little dubious of your claims. Especially since I've seen what passes for your artwork and a three year-old armed with a crayon can produce better drawings in thirty seconds.

If you truly can write better than me, I definitely suggest you switch from "drawing" or whatever you call it to writing.

Blogger Justthisguy March 31, 2013 5:38 AM  

Hey! Luscinia? Vox, just typing on his blog without thinking about it too much, not previewing nor proofreading, writes a mean stick of type. You do know he does this to amuse himself, not so much us, right?

Anonymous Luscinia Hâfez March 31, 2013 8:26 AM  

And yet he couldn't write literature if his ass depended on it.

http://yamathespacefish.deviantart.com/art/Nocturne-chapter-3-105196396
I could just pick something at random and it would be better than The War In Heaven, but I didn't.

Anonymous The other skeptic March 31, 2013 9:39 AM  

"If everyone deserves employment regardless of their abilities then surely I deserve a lucrative book contract. I am sure I could write 100,000 words of drivel.

Only 999,974 left to go..."

Are you sure about that? I will refrain from snide remarks.

Anonymous jack March 31, 2013 2:58 PM  

@Vox.

And yet, the first book alone sold 35,000 with the Rowena cover and only 7,000 with the Left Behind one. So regardless of whether they are complete and utter crap or not, your theory is clearly incorrect.

Late comment; I may email you [Vox]

If you have the rights or can get them back; why not reissue the books with the covers of your choices, and spruce up any errors you don't like. I have read all three and think they stand well as written. Maybe at Hinterlands? I would very much like to see this experiment.

Blogger Markku March 31, 2013 4:16 PM  

In case it wasn't obvious to everyone already, yamathespacefish is Dimwit Dan's profile (I have a good memory), and this is Ol' Dan himself.

No comment, too easy.

Anonymous The other skeptic March 31, 2013 4:45 PM  

Hey, we should Nominate Yamatthespacefish for a McRapey award or something.

Blogger James Dixon April 01, 2013 5:03 PM  

> They claim [not yet tested by me] that up to 6 devices can share the same e book. You have to register all devices to the same Amazon account [already done] then sync them [from each kindle, I think] thru the cloud.

My wife currently has three devices registered (her Kindle, her computer, and her iPod Touch), and that's how it seems to work.

> Duncan's comments on Tor publishing decisions are amusing:

I'm sure Lawrence Watt-Evans could add some entertaining comments if he wanted to. He's pretty much entirely self published now.

> ...Palace" by Katherine Kerr...

OK, Kerr's a pretty good writer. I'll have to see if I can find that one to check it out.

> ...i used to buy everything Cherryh published, despite her weaknesses. i thought Downbelow Station very good. now, i don't even look under her name. she has completely lost it.

Cherryh's weaknesses are stronger than man writers strengths. :)
But yeah, my wife says she's strictly doing pot boilers now. What can you say? She has to pay the bills and it's what her publisher will take.

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