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Thursday, June 02, 2016

On the book front

Peter Grant discusses Brings the Lightning and the challenges of publishing a Western at Sarah's place:
The third element in my interest in the Western genre was moving to the USA in the 1990’s, and being able to see many of the places mentioned in the books for the first time. Frontier towns such as Dodge City and Abilene were no longer just names, but places I could actually visit. Exotic-sounding locales like Tucumcari (used to good effect by Sergio Leone in his ‘spaghetti Western’ movies) and Taos (infamous for its eponymous bootleg alcohol) were no longer all that exotic, but every bit as dusty and beat-down as the histories described them. I renewed my acquaintance with Westerns from the benefit of that new perspective, and enjoyed them all the more.

The big question for a writer (and, in the case of my new book, the small press that’s published it) is: how does one reach readers in a genre where one hasn’t previously written? I note from initial sales that the book is popular with readers of my blog, and the shared Mad Genius Club writers’ blog, and other books from my publisher. However, despite using categories and keywords typical of the genre, it doesn’t seem to be attracting much attention – yet – from ‘regular’ Western aficionados. That’s not surprising, given that most of them don’t know it exists yet; but what channels should be used to inform them? The genre’s been moribund for so long that it’s hard to think of a commercial outlet that will reach them.
Rawle Nyanze reviews God, Robot, and finds it to be unexpectedly interesting:
I did not expect a book about Bible-believing robots to be this good.

The premise of God, Robot seems very silly at first: a corporation builds robots that worship the Christian God. However, what lies within is a story of how these artificial beings come to understand their place in God’s order as they grapple with their own programming, with human society, and with whether or not they have souls. The result is a wide-ranging tale of great depth that anyone could read and enjoy, whether or not they believe in God.

The book opens with an interstellar criminal named Locke, who is cornered in a monastery by a policeman. Before the policeman arrests him, though, he tells stories about theological robots, or “theobots” to explain why he did what he did. The stories cover the entire range of theobot history, from their creation in 21st-century California to their journey into deep space, along with all the ways they, and human society, changed throughout the centuries. Each story is written by a different author, but they all move the larger history forward and keep the theme unified.
 And finally, Marina reviewed On the Existence of Gods:
It is true that the impasse between those of us who believe in Higher Power of some kind and those commonly identified as non-believers will not be resolved through conversation and argument. Anyone who doubts me is welcome to pick a current hot-topic political issue and try to bring an opponent over to their side. (Don't do it now. I want you to keep reading, not to start a flame war on social media or  tick off family members. But if you haven't tried it yet and are up for a challenge, just see how it goes for you.)

However, just because we can't talk each other into or out of faith, does not mean that one of the central questions of human existence cannot be examined in a proper manner. Dominic Saltarelli, an atheist, and Vox Day, a Christian, took up the challenge (originally presented by PZ Meyers, who declared it impossible to present a rational argument for the existence of gods, refusing Vox Day's offer of debate back in 2008). Considering the current state of discourse in this country, you will be well advised to read Dominic's Introduction chapter of OTEOG where he describes his decision process in taking his place opposite Vox in the debate. Suffice it to say that Dominic behaved as a proper intellectual in the matter and even called out those nominally on his side for often refusing to do so. Vox, in his own Introduction, similarly points out that many believers are just as guilty of repeating tired, flawed arguments without applying the proper intellectual rigor to the process.

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28 Comments:

Blogger lowercaseb June 02, 2016 5:05 PM  

It's funny how good these reviews are when they ACTUALLY READ THE BOOKS!

Sorry to vent, but reading reviews on Amazon can almost be an argument in itself against a loving, caring G-d who created us in his image.

That said...G-d, Robot is the next on my list after I am done with Anti-Fragile.

Blogger Cataline Sergius June 02, 2016 5:22 PM  

The premise of God, Robot seems very silly at first: a corporation builds robots that worship the Christian God. However, what lies within is a story of how these artificial beings come to understand their place in God’s order as they grapple with their own programming, with human society, and with whether or not they have souls. The result is a wide-ranging tale of great depth that anyone could read and enjoy, whether or not they believe in God.

I remember this being one of those areas great disappointment with Battlestar Galactica after it's first season.

That the Cylons were so hyper intelligent that they could see God's footprints in the Cosmos. They didn't have faith per say. They knew that God existed.

I remembered wondering at the time, "is that why the Cylons wiped out the human race? That they were certain God loved humans and not them. And they hated humanity for that? Is that the Cylon Plan?"

Shortly after the second season began I came to the conclusion that I had drastically overestimated the talents of Ron Moore and company. They were winging it, the Cylons didn't have a plan.

Liquids finds it's own level. Ron Moore is now doing Scottish time travel porn for Showtime and I have moved on to the considerably more satisfactory God Robot.

Blogger Jew613 June 02, 2016 6:00 PM  

I like Peter Grant's article besides the ritual flagellation of his own people.

Blogger tublecane June 02, 2016 6:01 PM  

"God, Robot" is a crappy title. The art of fiction titling is in decline, I believe.

Blogger RobertT June 02, 2016 6:05 PM  

" pick a current hot-topic political issue and try to bring an opponent over to their side "

Scott Adams says he can do it in 10 minutes. I can't. I've given up talking politics with people.

Anonymous #1037 June 02, 2016 6:08 PM  

Hey what about advertising "Brings the lightning" in gun magazines or on gun blogs?

Blogger Alfred Genesson June 02, 2016 6:55 PM  

I've only started "Brings the Lightning", but am so far having more fun than even the new Spillane/Collins books have provided. I think availability of a real paperback will help greatly. Westerns should be entertaining, but also emergency campfire starters. Read each page first.

Anonymous BGKB June 02, 2016 8:04 PM  

Can we add fake amazon reviewers to the SJW list?
http://www.vdare.com/posts/refugee-resettlement-watch-roundup-amazon-reviewers-dont-like-it-etc

Blogger lowercaseb June 02, 2016 8:35 PM  

Cataline Sergius wrote:I had drastically overestimated the talents of Ron Moore and company. They were winging it, the Cylons didn't have a plan.

Preach it! Luckily, I was warned beforehand how annoyingly inept and unsatisfying the conclusion of the series was, so I stopped watched at the mid season finale of Season 4. If they had only ended there, it would have had the most satisfying Twilight Zone/Outer Limits ending ever. They wouldn't have needed to tie up anything.

Looking forward to "G-d, Robot".

Blogger Don Longford June 02, 2016 8:39 PM  

Reach the Western novel lovers through advertising on Ag forums and rodeo sites. Hell, get up a mini campaign on the top 10 US and Canadian rodeos, get a presence at the Calgary Stampede, with the two big season end finales, the CFR and NFR.

Blogger lowercaseb June 02, 2016 8:39 PM  

BGKB wrote:Can we add fake amazon reviewers to the SJW list?

http://www.vdare.com/posts/refugee-resettlement-watch-roundup-amazon-reviewers-dont-like-it-etc


That, and a few other lists as well. I personally am triggered by fake reviewers on Amazon. A slow, steady triggering while holding my breath...

...OK, even I have to laugh at myself when I try to be hard.

Anonymous BGKB June 02, 2016 9:28 PM  

Since guns are never OT, sale on HilLAIRy, Bern, and BathHOuseBarry targets
http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/muslim-free-gun-store-sells-obama-clinton-and-sanders-targets/ar-BBtJyE1?ocid=spartandhp

Florida Gun Supply in Inverness, about 75 miles north of Tampa, has the targets for sale for $4.99, a discount from the usual $9.99 price.

Blogger Matthew June 02, 2016 9:48 PM  

RobertT wrote:Scott Adams says he can do it in 10 minutes. I can't. I've given up talking politics with people.

weev says he can, too, but it's to a very different side.

Blogger Matthew June 02, 2016 9:49 PM  

Alfred Genesson wrote:I've only started "Brings the Lightning", but am so far having more fun than even the new Spillane/Collins books have provided. I think availability of a real paperback will help greatly. Westerns should be entertaining, but also emergency campfire starters. Read each page first.

Have no fear.

Anonymous BluePony June 02, 2016 10:13 PM  

Never cared for westerns, but I want to read this one. Kindle? (checks) Kindle! Sale.

Anonymous BluePony June 02, 2016 10:16 PM  

"Scott Adams says he can do it in 10 minutes. I can't. I've given up talking politics with people."

He done hypmotizes them.

Not sure I buy all his claims on that front, though. He says a lot of things on his blog just to get a rise out of people. It's why I like him.

Anonymous Sagramore June 02, 2016 10:32 PM  

@13 Weev was talking about Shanley.

Blogger Matthew June 02, 2016 10:38 PM  

Sagramore.

Unless you read MPC, you have no idea what I'm talking about.

OpenID malcolmthecynic June 02, 2016 10:51 PM  

tublecane,

FWIW, "God, Robot" was originally a working title until John C. Wright saw it in one of our documents and said "Oh, is 'God, Robot' the title now? That's an excellent title, evocative of Asimov's original anthology and a good indicator to the reader of what the book is about."

So I think it's a good title.

Blogger David The Good June 02, 2016 10:59 PM  

I believe that relaunching the Western genre is one of the greatest things we can do. Watched High Noon with the kids recently. A good man standing against evil even when his wife walks away. Powerful. I look forward to reading Grant's book.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan June 02, 2016 11:00 PM  

I rather enjoyed BTL

Anonymous Millenium June 02, 2016 11:24 PM  

@ David: If you watched High Noon then give Rio Bravo a go. John Wayne and Howard Hawks made it in response to High Noon.

Blogger Matthew June 02, 2016 11:32 PM  

malcolmthecynic wrote:tublecane,

FWIW, "God, Robot" was originally a working title until John C. Wright saw it in one of our documents and said "Oh, is 'God, Robot' the title now? That's an excellent title, evocative of Asimov's original anthology and a good indicator to the reader of what the book is about."

So I think it's a good title.


I agree. And what the hell does a Kenite metalsmith have to say about good writing, anyway?

Anonymous r June 03, 2016 3:28 AM  

Scott Adams says he can convert people into Trump supporters in 10 minutes. I believe this, I've done similar; but it draws on a *lot* of ground work that Trump has been doing for nearly a year now. It's just a matter of hooking up the right connections and watching Trump's persuasion work its magic in real time. It's a thing of beauty.

Blogger szopen June 03, 2016 5:03 AM  

Theobots seems like something Stanisław Lem wrote about. In one of his short story Pirx becomes strained in a alien planet, where the last believers are robots. He hides there in monastery of those robots. Those robots have supposedly a way to convert everyone. They say "it does not involve no violence, no more than pointing finger to the sky and saying 'look'" and say that the last thing in which their faith can be expressed is the refusal to use that ultimate conversion tool.

The story also involves a lot about theology, philosophy and so on, as usual with Lem's stuff.

Blogger tublecane June 03, 2016 6:22 AM  

@19-I assumed it was a play on "I, Robot." Unlike the latter, however, "God, Robot" doesn't make any apparent sense. It does convey the information that the book is about God and Robots, which admittedly is more than alot of titles accomplish.

OpenID malcolmthecynic June 03, 2016 6:12 PM  

@26

Neither does "I, Robot", in the context of the book itself. It would make sense as a confession by a robot...but it's not.

Blogger The Overgrown Hobbit June 04, 2016 1:00 AM  

The problem with Westerns is that central to the genre is the setting.

And the U.S. West sucks: Hot. Dry. Dead. Scorpian and snake-ridden. Ugly. Dust-choked...

If anyone can pull it off, though, it will be Mr. Grant. I w ish him all the best.

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