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Saturday, December 07, 2013

The irrelevance of SFWA

Well, I think this should suffice to explode any remaining vestiges of the perceived importance of the SFWA concerning one's prospective career in writing science fiction. Barely one week after the release of QUANTUM MORTIS: A Man Disrupted, Amazon has ranked me as the ~1* author in Science Fiction. First time that's ever happened.

It also demonstrates, to a certain extent, the lack of an absolute need to distribute books through bookstores. As it happens, the 96 94 ranking applies to all books; the ebook-only ranking is 77. Conventional print distribution is still desirable, of course, but it isn't absolutely necessary anymore. And it is going to become even less important when Barnes & Noble finally goes the way of Waldenbooks, Borders, and B. Dalton.

The punchline is that in addition to relative nobodies like me cracking the top 100 Most Popular Books in Science Fiction, the #1 author in the category is someone nearly as well-beloved by the SFWA pinkshirts, Orson Scott Card. And the #3 author in Fantasy? None other than the SFWA-spurning master Monster Hunter himself, Larry Correia. Note that the SF author listed just above me, Aaron Johnston, is playing in Orson Scott Card's universe.

Sure, the pinkshirts have still got George R.R. Martin to top the fantasy list and Tor will continue dutifully trying to push its dreadful Pink SF on everyone, but how long will that last? While it is still easier to make obeisance to the pinkshirts and their ever-changing PC standards, the point is that their approval is no longer necessary and will eventually become undesirable. By way of example, look at how rapidly and completely McRapey changed his tune with regards to self-publishers. Were we not all creators last year too? Now that the gatekeepers are crumbling and people are given a broader range from which they can choose what sort of science fiction and fantasy they prefer, I expect Blue SF to absolutely foxnews the hell out of Pink SF.

And setting aside new distribution models, just wait until the effects from the new shared revenue translation model begin to come into play. There are already no less than 10 translations in the works from Latin to Bahasa Indonesia; here is a short selection from one of them:
Vuonna 2810 ensimmäisen kerran asutettu ja terraformoitu Rhysalan kehittyi nopeasti tärkeäksi planeetaksi Kantillonin alasektorissa Terran Laajemman Keskusvallan reunamilla. Strategisen sijaintinsa vuoksi planeetta oli kiivaan sotilaallisen toiminnan kohteena ja vaihtoi haltijaa useita kertoja ennen kuin lopulta vakiinnutti asemansa itsenäisenä planeettana vuonna 2935 Keskusvallan 21. laivueen amiraalin Beze Davenantin, ensimmäisen Rhysalan Herttuan, alaisuudessa.
— Thucidean Marc, ”Rhysalan Herttuoiden historia”
It was certainly a fascinating discussion trying to determine whether 'valtapiiri', 'valtakunta', 'imperiumi' or 'keskuvallan' was the best way to translate 'Ascendancy'. As you can see, we went with the latter. Also, if you're ever being chased by a Finn, just tell him he's got an extra umlaut in a word and be sure not to tell him which one. It's like scattering salt in front of a leprechaun. If the Russians had only known this trick back in the days of the Talvisota, they would have captured Helsinki in a week.

As one translator wrote: "I'm interested in being an active part in the Blue SF Revolution". There are no shortage of languages still unaddressed, so if you're a native speaker of one of them and you want to take an active part too, get in touch.

*For varying quantities of ~. To be more specific, No. 94.

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34 Comments:

Blogger Rantor December 07, 2013 6:45 AM  

Congratulations on the top 100 designation.

Blogger Vox December 07, 2013 6:56 AM  

Thanks, but it's you guys who did it, not me. I'm simply pointing out that we don't have to put up with this Pink SF shit that has turned so many of us off to a genre we used to love. We really don't. If there are enough people willing to support and encourage those who dare to provide something other than the PC-riddled derivative crap that the publishers are pushing, we can change the industry for the better.

Anonymous zen0 December 07, 2013 7:28 AM  

The Long March through the institutions begins?

Blogger JACIII December 07, 2013 8:33 AM  

Vox : Picking on men with breasts.

Does this count as "picking on girls"? Because I suspect, and await impatiently, the whining that will ensue.
First there was the breast thumping of the SFWA Pinkers and their minimally male minions enforcing PC conformity, next will come the crying because they were just trying to make the world a better place and got shat upon for having the courage to try to do the right thing.
May their rationalizations become continually more convoluted. And entertaining.

Anonymous Krul December 07, 2013 8:33 AM  

GRRM is a pinkshirt? Nihilistic sure, but pinkshirt? Not so sure.

Which reminds me, what the hell is wrong with you people? I read Abercrombie's First Law Trilogy based on the fact that it came in at #2 on your list of epic fantasies after LOTR, and guess what? It's crap.

It's entertaining at first, but there's no real plot and no real resolution. In the beginning a couple of the characters are likeable, but by the end they're all reprehensible. Most of the second book is padded with dull and completely unnecessary travelogue.

Now it's not all bad - the world and some of the characters are at least interesting, even if they are hateful - but you're going to tell me that this junk has earned the #2 spot in epic fantasy? That in all of epic fantasy there's NOTHING better than this except for Lord of the FREAKIN' Rings? That's like saying that the tallest mountain in the world is Mt Everest and the second tallest is the grassy knoll. Sheesh!

Anonymous Krul December 07, 2013 8:35 AM  

^Corrected link^

Anonymous VD December 07, 2013 8:46 AM  

Which reminds me, what the hell is wrong with you people? I read Abercrombie's First Law Trilogy based on the fact that it came in at #2 on your list of epic fantasies after LOTR, and guess what? It's crap.

I wasn't rating it solely on the trilogy, but including the other books set in that world. If it were limited to the first three book, GRRM would be number two.

And yes, GRRM is without question a pinkshirt. The way his fiction has gone downhill is, at least in part, a consequence of that.

Anonymous Krul December 07, 2013 8:56 AM  

VD - I wasn't rating it solely on the trilogy, but including the other books set in that world.

I see. Do the other books follow sequentially, or ar they standalone novels set in the same world? If the latter, can you recommend any that are significantly better than the trilogy?

Anonymous Heh December 07, 2013 9:09 AM  

Agree with Krul on First Law. I read it because Vox talked about it at Black Gate. It just was not very well done.

I also read The Heroes and Best Served Cold. I don't think they are significantly better than the trilogy. About the same. If you didn't like the trilogy you won't like these either.

Anonymous Daniel December 07, 2013 9:19 AM  

I'm in. I'm down. I'm red hot for Blue.

And the ad for the Hobbit features a warrior woman elf thing threatening to rain death upon her enemies, Swarzenegger-style. I laughed. I cried. It was much worse than Cats.

The Jellicle Dwarfs are a joke.

Anonymous GG December 07, 2013 9:21 AM  

Congratulations, VD.

"I expect Blue SF to absolutely foxnews the hell out of Pink SF."

Yes. Also, as I unsuccessfully tried to explain the other day, blue sci/fi is also going to become increasingly popular with women. Those writing it may not care, but I find it hysterically funny.

Anonymous Andrew December 07, 2013 9:25 AM  

As someone who has read 'A Throne of Bones' and all the novellas as well as all of GRR Martin's books, I think Vox's universe will trump Martin's in the end, however, Martin's first book was better than Vox's first. I'm not an expert critic, so, when I say better, I just mean it was more enthralling, entertaining, captivating, whatever. However, when everything's done, I think the books of the Selenoth series will be the more enthralling, entertaining, and simply better than the Song of Ice and Fire. Martin has the talent, he just kind of self-destructed. I think Vox has slightly less talent as a writer, but more vision and in the end his series will be the better one.

It's a shame, because when I read Game of Thrones I had just turned 14 and was so excited to read the next one. The King of the North was going to ride to victory! Then, after reading each sequel my excitement became less and less for the next installment. It's like Martin over thought things and instead of being content with making a really cool epic fantasy story where at least some of your favorite characters lived he decided to screw with everyone and make everyone die.

Anonymous Carlotta December 07, 2013 9:40 AM  

It is almost like there was this master take down plan to get kicked out and then give a knockout shot of doing this after being kicked out.....

Anonymous Eric Ashley December 07, 2013 9:58 AM  

The Deed of Paksennarrion is definitely pinkish in that the hero is a seven lettered hero, but it has one of the best descriptions of martyrdom in fantasy, the girl does not sleep with the guy, and it has a very good bit about recovering from shattering evil. Its better than GRRM (which is not saying much), but pretty much the rest of modern fantasy.

This doom of the gatekeepers is very promising, both for me as a writer, but also as a reader, and as a citizen, and as a Christian. So bring the whole corrupt tower down!

Oh, and I can translate. Into my native Arcturian. Any time you're ready to sell to Arcturus Five, give me a call. Niat doi vei si dien!RRR

Anonymous Anonymous December 07, 2013 10:19 AM  

Any way to petition Amazon to create a "Blue" sub category under Sci/Fi? Of course they'd want a "Pink" category.

Anonymous Inane Rambler December 07, 2013 10:34 AM  

I finished A Throne of Bones, I didn't finish Game of Thrones. Take from that what you will.

Anonymous Maximo Macaroni December 07, 2013 11:04 AM  

Since when do real men, real writers, kowtow to women and bureaucrats and guilt trips?! I don't slavishly adore Hemingway, but at least he would have laughed at Scalzi. And then knocked him down.

Anonymous Stickwick December 07, 2013 11:06 AM  

Just bought QM at Barnes & Noble, and looking forward to reading it. I would've rather contributed to the Amazon stats by buying it from Amazon, but I prefer B&N's ebook format to that of the Kindle.

Anonymous Orville December 07, 2013 11:23 AM  

Just about done with Disrupted, and I like it. This is probably the fourth s/f e-book I've purchased based on a recommendation from your blog. As it is next to impossible to find interesting hard cover s/f in bookstores, I really appreciate the links to yours and similarly minded blue s/f writers pushing their e-books.

Anonymous VD December 07, 2013 11:35 AM  

As it is next to impossible to find interesting hard cover s/f in bookstores, I really appreciate the links to yours and similarly minded blue s/f writers pushing their e-books.

I'll keep doing the Lions Den posts as long as there writers to market their books and people willing to provide the reviews.

Anonymous Rigel Kent December 07, 2013 11:47 AM  

I've considered myself a big fan of SF for a long time now. Then about the time VD was having his dust up with the SFWA I realized that I rarely picked up new SF and it was even more rare that I enjoyed it. When I did read SF it was the oldies but goodies from decades past.

What new stuff I did enjoy tended to be fantasy. This is why I'm excited about prospects for this blue SF movement you're talking about. It's nice having some new good stuff to look forward to.

Blogger Paul, Dammit! December 07, 2013 11:50 AM  

I tend to buy new authors' work based on recommendations from my shipmates (and they with me). I can't tell you how many authors from the SFWA ended up getting their work summed up as "Knights of the Round Table gay fanfiction, or "Team Edward in Space." Scalzi's last softcover was accused of making my 1st mate start to lactate.

OpenID cailcorishev December 07, 2013 12:44 PM  

I considered offering to do a Latin translation, but you did ask for "native" speakers. Not sure where you found one of those.

(Just kidding; I'm not fluent enough to translate a whole book capably, but it's cool that someone is doing it.)

Blogger Rantor December 07, 2013 1:10 PM  

Tried to get my wife interested I. Translating into German, but she doesn't think she is up to it. Would try myself but I am not as fluent as I should be despite 25 years of sprechen mit meiner Frau.

Anonymous VD December 07, 2013 1:31 PM  

Tried to get my wife interested

I prefer only fans of the book for this. Anyone else is very likely to quit partway through.

Anonymous Campion December 07, 2013 1:44 PM  

Vox,
I could have sworn you said you were "a genuine person of color." Doesn't look that way from your photo. What gives?

Anonymous VD December 07, 2013 2:06 PM  

I could have sworn you said you were "a genuine person of color." Doesn't look that way from your photo. What gives?

What gives is that looks can be deceiving. I am tri-racial.

Anonymous Josh December 07, 2013 2:19 PM  

There are already no less than 10 translations in the works from Latin to Bahasa Indonesia

That appears insanely faster than traditional publishing. How long before you surpass McRapey in number of translations?

Anonymous Truth December 07, 2013 2:33 PM  

So you're bragging that 4 or 5 "Blue SF" novels are in the top 100? Whoop de do. That's an awful small number.

Anonymous VD December 07, 2013 2:40 PM  

So you're bragging that 4 or 5 "Blue SF" novels are in the top 100? Whoop de do. That's an awful small number.

I'm not bragging at all. And you're right, it is an awfully small number. But from from small seeds, tall trees grow. It wasn't as if Pink SF took over the genre overnight. It took decades.

That appears insanely faster than traditional publishing.

If it works, if the translators are actually able to complete the translations, it will be. Traditional publishing can't do it this way because they can't afford to share more revenue than they historically gave to the original author. They farmed out the expense to traditional publishers in other countries and cut the translators out of the revenues by limiting them to work-for-hire.

Blogger Brad Andrews December 07, 2013 2:45 PM  

I would suspect a lot of the sea change is also being driven by the growing acceptance of ebooks. I am not the only one, but I have finally been dragged into it and have read more ebook fiction in the last year than I probably read the decade before.

It is easy, convenient and flexible. The form factor on a phone is still not ideal, but a tablet works well for me and I am even adapting to technical books on it.

I wonder how many more are like that.

I would liken it to the growth of the Internet, especially with sites like Drudge, blowing a hole in the media monopoly.

OpenID cailcorishev December 07, 2013 3:26 PM  

Brad, I'm usually a very late adopter of new tech, but I'm starting to feel the pull too. I've been watching the development of electronic paper for about 20 years, so I was excited when the first e-readers came out, but they were so small; I wanted something I could view a US-letter-sized PDF on. I definitely don't want to read on a phone (or have a phone at all, but no choice there). But now there are these tablets, and I see people doing some pretty cool stuff with them. I also see families where each person has at least one, so the price might be getting down to where I can't resist. I have a feeling I'll be pulling the trigger before long, and then finally start reading all the books and documents I've been putting off because reading on a PC just isn't comfortable.

Blogger Markku December 07, 2013 4:21 PM  

What gives?

Nigga got vampirism.

Anonymous Joe Author December 07, 2013 10:55 PM  

"than the PC-riddled derivative crap that the publishers are pushing"

The customer is always right. Blame them! So more power to you to ramp up "Blue SF".


"Everybody's talkin' 'bout the new sound...Funny, but it's still rock and roll to me"--Billy Joel

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