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Friday, February 20, 2015

Novella Book Bomb: the aftermath

Final tally: over 1,500 books sold. Thanks very much to everyone who participated! Final Amazon rankings:

One Bright Star to Guide Them: #359
Big Boys Don't Cry: #411
Other Heads: #883

This means that nearly twice as many people bought a Sad Puppies-recommended novella as cast a Hugo nominating ballot in 2014. Larry's campaign to increase reading is clearly working, as longtime fan figure Mike Glyer of File 770 not only read Tom Kratman's novella, but reviewed it as well:
I plunked down $2.99 for Tom Kratman’s novella “Big Boys Don’t Cry” during yesterday’s ”book bomb” pushing novellas on the Sad Puppies slate, because I just can’t stand on the sidewalk when the parade goes by. Sometimes this leads to good things. I bought Redshirts a couple years ago because of the social media campaign and it turned out to be pretty good. Can lightning strike twice?

Maggie, the protagonist of “Big Boys Don’t Cry,” is a Ratha — a sentient armored weapons platform, the human race’s ultimate ground combat unit. Spoiler warning: She’s not a boy. And apparently she can cry.

As a big fan of Keith Laumer’s original Bolo stories, as well as Elizabeth Bear’s 2008 Hugo-winning ”Tideline”, I find Kratman’s variation compelling because he asks important questions about intelligent, self-aware tanks the earlier classics never investigated.

Like: Why do artificial intelligences subject themselves to human command? Why do they sacrifice themselves for human interests?
Stay tuned. There will be more activity on this front.

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20 Comments:

Anonymous kfg February 20, 2015 6:47 AM  

"Why do artificial intelligences subject themselves to human command? "

They were drawn that way. Explain Cher Ami and Barry der Menschenretter.

Anonymous roo_ster February 20, 2015 7:28 AM  

Bought both and read kratman's story. Good story. Also a warning regarding allowing drones autonomy. The russians had to ship in troops from the far east to suppress the europeans in the west of the country because the easterners had little sympathy for the kulaks. Drones by their nature or programming have no sympathy or morality that might stay their hand.

Blogger Hunsdon February 20, 2015 7:58 AM  

Actually, I believe Laumer did explain one of those answers---for the honor of the regiment.

Blogger JCclimber February 20, 2015 9:51 AM  

If the pinkies really cared about SciFi, they would be rejoicing at the results of these book bombs, because sales in the genre are down and increased rankings elevate the entire spectrum on Amazon. Also, new readers may enter the field.

But I suspect they are not happy at all.

Anonymous Smiffy February 20, 2015 9:56 AM  

"Why do artificial intelligences subject themselves to human command? Why do they sacrifice themselves for human interests?"

From an early Bolo short story: "For the honour of the regiment!"

Blogger SirThermite February 20, 2015 10:51 AM  

Guessing the numbers would've been higher if more of us hadn't already bought Wright's and Kratman's outstanding novellas when they were first released. I was in Haiti when "One Bright Star..." came out but believe I was still able to obtain it over Amazon's Whispernet 3G service, and not too long after I bought two more copies from CH to gift to my sisters. Good stuff!

Anonymous Ridip February 20, 2015 11:22 AM  

Everyone's favorite troll is over in the comments at 770 telling people not to buy it. And Cat is right on his heels.

So shocked.

Anonymous Daniel February 20, 2015 11:28 AM  

However, going below 500 is well into the narrow bit of the long tail. The books are better off having sold early to the early adopters and bounce on a book bomb. Those are two major sales events, because when you blip under a rank of #1000 you are seen by a sizable number of untapped people.

In other words, I'd rather bounce twice below 500 on separate dates than hit 300 once.

Glyer actually cares about science fiction. Too bad his trusted friends of the left will eventually hang him out to dry. He flirts with badthink occasionally (not just with sad puppies)...enough to damn him as soon as an SJW bloc determines he's next.

Blogger Mekadave February 20, 2015 11:45 AM  

Seen in the comments: Clamps trying to tell Glyer how he could've avoided paying Castalia for the story. He just can't help himself! :-D

It must be killing him to not post here.

Anonymous Leonidas February 20, 2015 11:49 AM  

No joke, my wife's short story rocketed to #5 in her category yesterday just from us being on the periphery of this book bomb. Even the collateral damage from the bombing run is pretty strong. :)

Anonymous Trimegistus February 20, 2015 12:07 PM  

I said this on Larry's blog yesterday but it bears repeating:

The pinkshirts don't give a damn about sales. Most of them (Scalzi excepted, by the way) operate in the academic/nonprofit/government grant sector of literature. They don't get paid for writing stories, they get paid for academic prestige, which they earn by writing stories.

But the key is that prestige doesn't come from sales, it comes from reviews. For someone like N.K. Jemisin, a couple of reviews in a high-status literary journal are worth more than a thousand copies sold of her fantasy novels. The reviews help her career as an "educator" and "activist."

This is important because it means the Pinkies are perfectly happy to see SF follow the same course as poetry or jazz: become an art form of interest only to people who get paid to teach classes about it. For them, sales and popularity are actually a BAD thing because that taints the whole field with the aura of lowbrow trash. They don't want ANY SF books to sell well, so their efforts to make the field incestuous and boring are entirely rational as it serves their own profit.

Blogger Bard February 20, 2015 3:06 PM  

Vox,
A Man Disrupted was quite good. I really enjoyed it. Going to purchase A Mind Programmed.

Anonymous WaterBoy February 20, 2015 3:34 PM  

Leonidas: "Even the collateral damage from the bombing run is pretty strong."

Very well put, and quite amusing.

Blogger Quadko February 20, 2015 4:07 PM  

From an early Bolo short story: "For the honour of the regiment!"
And when that answer becomes irrelevant for a variety of reasons? That's the boundary Kratman explores well.

Anonymous VD February 20, 2015 4:24 PM  

A Man Disrupted was quite good. I really enjoyed it. Going to purchase A Mind Programmed.

Cool, glad to hear it.

Anonymous JoeyWheels February 20, 2015 4:30 PM  

Though I will never abandon dead tree editions, I did recently purchase a Kindle. I took advantage of the Book Bomb. I bought all the titles, I have not written for the work published in Asimov(?) yet.

I'd say the BB worked out well for me, and I will be reading as much as I can in order to make Hugo nominations by deadline.

WOOF! SNARL!

Anonymous tiredofitall February 20, 2015 5:10 PM  

"I bought Redshirts a couple years ago because of the social media campaign and it turned out to be pretty good."

Yeah, that wasn't my takeaway from that book.

What I got was meta-driven hackery salved over by a wink to the audience. Sorta like McRapey was poking his readers in the eye while saying, "Ain't I a stinker for screwing you outta $6 for this?"

Blogger MidKnight February 20, 2015 7:17 PM  

I need to plow through my "to read" list faster. "The Stars Came Back" is trying to distract me for a re-read.

Blogger qt February 20, 2015 7:56 PM  

Trimegistus:
I refer you (and the rest of us) to Poul Anderson's short story "A Critique of Impure Reason," in which the only fiction printed is written by university professors, to be reviewed by other university professors.

Anonymous kfg February 20, 2015 11:26 PM  

We've passed beyond that stage now. The university professors prefer to ignore the original material and review each other's reviews.

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