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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Reviewers wanted

Castalia has been publishing a lot of non-fiction of late. But over the next few months, we're going to be getting back to our original mission, which is advancing the state of Blue SF, which is to say science fiction that is written in the spirit of the science fiction giants, particularly Robert Heinlein.

So, I'm looking for 10 volunteers who can review for Amazon a forthcoming book by an author we are billing as the New New Heinlein - he does Heinlein better, more respectfully, and in a much more original way than Scalzi ever did - as well as 10 volunteers who can review a novel that is written in the tradition of Louis L'Amour.

That's right, in addition to the return to Blue SF, we're bringing back the Western too. So, if you're ready, able, and willing to read and review one of these books in short order, please email me with either BLUE SF or WESTERN in the title.

UPDATE: We have enough reviewers, thank you!

In addition to TWO new John C. Wright novels we will be publishing this summer and fall, I'm particularly excited to publish a novel that I can only describe as written in the tradition of W. Somerset Maugham's short stories. It's intelligent, funny, and remarkably good.

Our range is becoming increasingly eclectic, but as I told David the Good after his second-straight book went #1 in Gardening, (the Kindle and Paperback editions of Grow or Die are currently #3 AND #5 in the category) Castalia House has four major guidelines for the books we publish:
  • Expected #1 category bestseller. If it's not at least as popular as the most popular books in its category, it's probably not for us. That doesn't mean it's a bad book, but we intend to not only maintain, but improve our level of quality as we grow. As more good authors exit the orbit of the failing major publishers, we expect more of them to come our way.
  • Intelligent. We don't aim for the lowest common denominator. We'll leave that to everyone else.
  • Different and original. As Marc Aramini openly informed his SJW critics at Making Light, no one else would have published Between Light and Shadow. No one, because it was a crazy, unprofitable thing to do. Even Gene Wolfe, though flattered, thought the project was completely insane. It is brilliant and unique and completely over the heads of everyone who isn't a Wolfe fanatic, myself included. And that's why we published it.
  • No SJWs. We publish science fiction. We publish fantasy. We publish science. We publish philosophy. We publish religion. We publish literary analysis. We publish gardening. We publish economics. We are in the process of publishing both Westerns and literary novels. But we do not publish social justice in any form.
On a tangential note, I should note that later this year, there will be another debate on free trade. We're still sorting out the timing and the details, but it appears Robert Murphy, Thomas Woods, and myself will be involved.

Labels:

48 Comments:

Blogger Josh May 10, 2016 5:50 AM  

On a tangential note, I should note that later this year, there will be another debate on free trade. We're still sorting out the timing and the details, but it appears Robert Murphy, Thomas Woods, and myself will be involved.

Amazing news

Anonymous bub May 10, 2016 6:02 AM  

I really enjoyed this series, the first one's free. I would love to see this author at CH.

billed as a cross between Firefly and Ex Machina, I can testify that it's an accurate description. Mal lives.

Anonymous Lulabelle May 10, 2016 6:07 AM  

"I'm particularly excited to publish a novel that I can only describe as written in the tradition of W. Somerset Maugham's short stories."

I'm really looking forward to this!

Blogger Shimshon May 10, 2016 6:21 AM  

The new free trade debate sounds great. Have you considered including Robert Wenzel too? Or is three people enough?

Blogger VD May 10, 2016 6:56 AM  

The new free trade debate sounds great. Have you considered including Robert Wenzel too?

No, I have not. Nor will I.

Nor do I understand the impulse to greet an announcement by suggesting that the person announcing it do something different.

Blogger Shimshon May 10, 2016 7:02 AM  

You are correct and I apologize for my presumptuousness.

Blogger Raziel Walker May 10, 2016 7:16 AM  

Science fiction that is written in the spirit of .. Robert Heinlein

I don't enjoy RAH as much as I used to in part because of your crusade against pedophiles which I immediately linked to RAH and Arthur C. Clarke because both wrote stories that touch on the subject.
Vance, Vogt and Asimov are my giants.

Is a strong female lead in a book automatically SJW SF or would Louise Wu be just as good as Louis Wu if the story was basically the same otherwise?

Blogger Shimshon May 10, 2016 7:27 AM  

Further to the debate, I guess taking on a single PhD at a time is not much of a challenge for you anymore. Will you be handicapping yourself in some way too? Perhaps sedating the left hemisphere of your brain before the debate? It doesn't seem fair otherwise.

Blogger VD May 10, 2016 7:38 AM  

You are correct and I apologize for my presumptuousness.

NP.

I don't enjoy RAH as much as I used to in part because of your crusade against pedophiles which I immediately linked to RAH and Arthur C. Clarke because both wrote stories that touch on the subject.

Well, you could just as easily say that it is written in the spirit of Heinlein as reined in by Alice Dalgliesh. We're focused on his excellent juvenile novels, not his hippy free love nonsense. He was a much better writer when tightly edited. All the manly posturing - always threatening to send women away at the drop of a hat for one noble principle or another - was ludicrous gamma .

Is a strong female lead in a book automatically SJW SF or would Louise Wu be just as good as Louis Wu if the story was basically the same otherwise?

No. But it depends upon the story. Sometimes Louise Wu is really Louis Wu in a dress. You can't just say "Conan is a woman" and claim the character makes sense.

Blogger VD May 10, 2016 7:45 AM  

Further to the debate, I guess taking on a single PhD at a time is not much of a challenge for you anymore.

I think the idea is that Tom Woods will moderate. I've suggested that we use Brainstorm as the venue.

Anonymous James May 10, 2016 7:53 AM  

Is this the western that Peter Grant has been working on?

Anonymous J Delcano May 10, 2016 7:53 AM  

Another free trade debate is very welcome.  For what it is worth, I am interested to hear your take in the debate on whether free trade has caused a decline in the general quality of consumer goods.  If I recall correctly, Dr Miller a few times asserted that quality was increasing, which runs counter to my experience. Except for electronics in general, I don’t recall products that I am buying today being as shoddy as those my parents bought thirty years ago.  I am seeing this decline in quality not only with relatively low-cost items such as clothing, but also with more expensive products.  I swear that I am being made poorer by having to replace durable goods (dishwashers, from my recent experience) more frequently than my parents did – and it doesn’t matter if I buy mid-range or splurge on higher-priced products.  I suspect that the lower-cost products which free trade has made possible (presumably through low labor costs) has caused the competitive edge to shift from producing well-made goods of long lifespans to low-cost goods of short lifespans.  If you can’t get labor costs lower to keep the low prices that our MPAI consumers expect, cut corners on manufacturing to stay competitive ... which will then also build in a “planned obsolesce” of a shorter lifecycle than before.  The problem is that I am now seeing this creep into the higher-priced versions of products for which I expect a longer life, and I suspect the effects of free trade is the likely culprit.

Anonymous NorthernHamlet May 10, 2016 8:09 AM  

VD,

What's the word on the slush reading?

Blogger JL Domingo May 10, 2016 8:38 AM  

Is there a prospective date for Sea of Skulls?

Blogger tz May 10, 2016 8:53 AM  

I wondered if they read my comments AT Contra-Krugman episode 29 on globalism. I specifically said they needed to debate the free trade dogma.
And in this instance, stop confusing "globalism" with anything libertarian including voluntary exchange across borders which they go into. Climate change and the 5000 page crony deals are what TPTB mean by globalism.

Blogger tz May 10, 2016 8:59 AM  

@12 - quality per cost is up. They cost 20% of the original, but have 30-40% of the quality. ISO9000 is what allows this.
In absolute quality, no. The old trucks (lots around here) are built like tanks, but something keeps failing - you have an admixture of 50yr and 10yr durability. Now it is more uniform 15 yr.

Anonymous Rolf May 10, 2016 9:21 AM  

@12 - that's at much government regs as anything else. When you mandate a particular level of water usage for a dish washer or washing machine, for example, you have to do a lot of odd things to reduce water used per load that don't necessarily enhance cleaning ability. So, less water use, but less cleaning, too. Similarly, cars are much safer than 30 years ago, but all the emissions controls and litigation avoidance electronics added make them virtually non-repairable as a home item; you are simply not given the choice to buy a cheap, no-frills version. Same with the fridge and other major appliances. So it's a mixed bag - some ways better, some ways much worse, and it's not free trade that's the cause, but the straight-jacket of government bureaucracy that is doing it.

Blogger Josh May 10, 2016 9:34 AM  

Regarding appliances and stuff breaking: efficiency is at odds with durability.

Anonymous kfg May 10, 2016 9:36 AM  

"I swear that I am being made poorer by having to replace durable goods (dishwashers, from my recent experience) more frequently than my parents did –"

A while back I had an apartment that had an old, GE Monitor Top refrigerator in it. The lights dimmed every time the compressor kicked on, but it worked like a champ.

Not long after, my mother had her 7 year old refrigerator die. She went looking for a new one, specifically looking for one that would last for decades, as she was used to, and was told that 7 years is now the design lifespan.

The reason given is that the industry did research and discovered that that is average use life of a refrigerator, whether it still works or not, because people change them for "redecorating."

So they make them crappier to increase the profit margin and most people never even know it, because they dispose of it while it still works.

As I remarked to her, "Everything is crap now. Even the good stuff is crap."

There are exceptions (flashlights have gone fantastic), but not many.

Just remember, the less stitches, the more riches, take your Soma and be happy.

Blogger Christopher Yost May 10, 2016 9:41 AM  

Built-in obsolescence makes our factories productive!

Anonymous DissidentRight May 10, 2016 9:42 AM  

Robert Murphy, Thomas Woods, and myself will be involved.

Thanks Vox, looking forward to it!

Anonymous J Delcano May 10, 2016 9:44 AM  

@17. Based upon my personal observations, I disagree. I see a declining trend. Just this week, I had a zipper "pull tab" break on pants purchased a week ago, and my wife's month-old purse had a ring connecting the body to the strap fracture and separate. Both were short-lived middle-of-the-line products bought from stores I remember 15 years ago selling good-quality middle-of-the-line products. Neither failure is an outlier from my experiences with products purchased over the past few years (electronics being the exception). Something is wrong, it is getting worse, and I am seeing it in my lifetime. If ISO9000 is supposed to maintain quality standards, then it is either ineffective or is being subverted. I see middle-of-the-road products today being equivalent to cheap products of my youth, and I suspect the lack of quality is spreading to higher-end goods.

Blogger Matthew Heaving Bosoms May 10, 2016 10:02 AM  

Between Light and Shadow is going to be a massive beauty of a shelf-hogger. I've run some layout tests, and it will probably be 850 pages.

OpenID frankluke May 10, 2016 10:14 AM  

Vox,

I have a nonfiction manuscript that will be looking for a home when it's done. Would Castalia House's NF line be looking for OLD TESTAMENT APPRECIATION? It's written on the lay level showing how the themes and topics of the Old Testament work together. Most Christians shy away from the OT, and that's a crying shame. After I presented the first draft as a series of lessons at church, the head pastor's wife told me that she now looked forward to reading the OT.

Blogger VD May 10, 2016 10:17 AM  

Is there a prospective date for Sea of Skulls?

Probably September

Would Castalia House's NF line be looking for OLD TESTAMENT APPRECIATION?

No.

OpenID frankluke May 10, 2016 10:29 AM  

@25

Thank you.

Anonymous Anonymous May 10, 2016 10:32 AM  

ISO 9000 doesn't make Quality in itself, and for automotive plants they use the adapted version TS16949 anyway. Quality systems are only as good as the company makes them be - the old joke on these quality system standards is that you can make bad product, as long as you do it consistently.

FYI, reliability numbers are going up on things like cars, but it's very true that built in failures are expected in other consumer categories. The real bane of electronics today is lead free solder, which makes for crap durability and guarantees failures within ten years.

-M. Carole

Anonymous J Delcano May 10, 2016 11:13 AM  

Good points about planned obsolesce and government mandates.  I view those as caused more from MPAI factors (“I’m bored with how my kitchen looks – time for new appliances!” or “I want to feel good about myself by making everybody go green”), which are very plausible explanations.  However, I am beginning to wonder (due to my personal experience) if the lifecycle of products is becoming shorter than planned obsolesce due to cost-cutting on manufacturing practices and material quality.  Where I live, manufacturing has left for third world countries thanks to consumers demanding lower-cost products from foreign manufacturers.  (Which, as a free trader up until a few months ago, I thought was a good thing overall – Vox is changing my mind.)  So, when the competitive edge shifts from lowering labor costs and over to cutting costs on materials and manufacturing (again, as I suspect is happening), what do I do as a consumer when I notice I am buying crap?  Buy from the manufacturing companies that produced higher-quality goods I recall from my youth?  Oh, hell … they all went overseas, and are not here anymore.  Damn, now I have to buy cheaper products more often (spending more money overall) until somebody rebuilds manufacturing here so I can buy more expensive products less often (saving more money overall).  I sure hope my idiot Governor doesn’t stand in the way of bringing back manufacturing through asinine regulations and administrative hoops.  Of course the foreign manufactures might increase quality on their own, but MPAI consumers won’t want to spend more money for better quality, so there might not be an incentive at all.  Again, there are exceptions ... but those exceptions (autos, airplanes) seem to be those where low quality gets you killed quickly, so a different incentive comes into play.

Maybe I’m just in a bad whiney mood today … I’ll sit back and enjoy the decline into a new dark age, yelling at the kids walking on my lawn, while I wonder what my past support of free trade got me today. Thanks again for all of the thought-provoking responses.

Anonymous Bob May 10, 2016 11:15 AM  

L'Amour? His book, "Bowdrie", was one of the foundational works of my father's and my childhood. The L'Amour westerns are still among the only fictional works he reads.

I'm looking forward to that release.

Anonymous kfg May 10, 2016 11:25 AM  

"Buy from the manufacturing companies that produced higher-quality goods I recall from my youth? Oh, hell … they all went overseas, and are not here anymore."

The highest quality bicycle parts ever made, both in terms of technology and materials, were not made "here" - they were made in Japan.

Now Japan has transfered manufacturing of all but the highest end stuff to Taiwan and the mainland, and quality has taken a serious hit.

It isn't just an American phenomenon.

Blogger Stg58/Animal Mother May 10, 2016 11:40 AM  

I like Tom Woods. He's had a copy of "It's Very Simple" on his book shelf for years.

Blogger Stg58/Animal Mother May 10, 2016 11:40 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger justaguy May 10, 2016 12:00 PM  

High quality long lasting manufactured goods are still available, but these are not the low-cost options most people buy. Whether this shorter time preference is due to cost, desire for new features or fashion trend (i.e. stainless steel or black appliances in kitchen) or other reasons, I don't know. Whether it be clothes, accessories or appliances, the cost has decreased (median wage x hours worked to buy) dramatically as the increase in productivity causes natural deflation. But high quality- albeit better quality than a generation ago is still available.

Anonymous J Delcano May 10, 2016 12:14 PM  

@kfg - I was tempted when I wrote above about "exceptions (autos, airplanes)" to place a line about those quality-dependent products also being made by companies in different cultures with a high **something ** ... and that is where I have to do more thought, since I am not sure what that "something" is. I don't think "high IQ" is the right attribute. An idea more along the line of cultures that still have a high respect for rule of law and high degree of trust and cooperation between members of the culture. But I haven't developed my thoughts on that, so I left it out.

Japan is one of those nations that I was thinking about, and it is disheartening to find out they are falling into the same trap. I didn't know about that.

Blogger James Higham May 10, 2016 12:42 PM  

Very best of luck with that one.

Blogger SciVo May 10, 2016 12:54 PM  

VD wrote:The new free trade debate sounds great. Have you considered including Robert Wenzel too?

No, I have not. Nor will I.

Nor do I understand the impulse to greet an announcement by suggesting that the person announcing it do something different.


I think it's the impulse of someone who has an idea, but isn't accustomed to creating. So for example, in this case perhaps the commenter would like to hear an interview with Robert Wenzel, but it never occurred to him to make his own podcast.

That is the genius of the wiki ethos "to suggest is to volunteer." It pushes passive people to be generative and realize their visions.

Blogger Steve May 10, 2016 12:57 PM  

If you ever need reviewers for gardening-related material, I would love to volunteer! I am very experienced in gardening, composting, etc. Thanks!

Blogger SciVo May 10, 2016 1:10 PM  

J Delcano wrote:Good points about planned obsolesce and government mandates.  I view those as caused more from MPAI factors (“I’m bored with how my kitchen looks – time for new appliances!” or “I want to feel good about myself by making everybody go green”), which are very plausible explanations.

I think that the 7-year cycle for household appliances is more likely related to how often the middle and upper-middle classes move. I believe that home buyers can essentially fold new appliances into the mortgage, so if they were picturing a side-loading washing machine and a French door refrigerator, they can pick a house for itself and then finish it out how they want.

Blogger Alfred Genesson May 10, 2016 1:19 PM  

Great news on the book front. Love SF and Westerns, and the only new Westerns coming out worth my time are the Spillane/Collins books that started as screenplays for John Wayne, but never got made.

Mr. Wright, of course, issues a book and my wallet opens of its own volition. Kidding, it's almost anything Castalia House publishes that does that.

Blogger Were-Puppy May 10, 2016 1:52 PM  

@12 J Delcano

I swear that I am being made poorer by having to replace durable goods (dishwashers, from my recent experience) more frequently than my parents did – and it doesn’t matter if I buy mid-range or splurge on higher-priced products.
---

Oh yeah, I have noticed that too. I had a refrigerator that was gigantic that my parents had bought in 1972 and the thing lasted all the way to 2004 or something like that. The one I got after that one died lasted about 4 years before none of the door mechanics worked, the water feed gets wrecked somehow, etc.

I blame it on H1B visas and offshoring.

Blogger Gordon May 10, 2016 2:47 PM  

The appliance thing was explained to me by a small town dealer. She said that the manufacturer is required to hit a particular price point by stores like The Home Depot. So some parts are made as cheaply as possible. At the end it adds up to early death.

She said if you're willing to pay just a bit more you can get good quality--but you have to know where to look.

Blogger SteelPalm May 10, 2016 3:06 PM  

Already signed up, got the email, and will read and review the New New Heinlein as soon as possible.

Additionally, I'm both pleasantly surprised and impressed that you're a fan of Maugham. I consider him one of the very best short story writers of all time, and some of his novels (particularly "The Moon and Sixpence") are even better.

I have an idea of why he isn't more popular nowadays, but he is one of the giants of Western literature.

@39 Were-Puppy

Amusingly, this phenomena even applies to something as simple as shoes. Old-school 80's Reeboks could endure 20 plus years of hard-use. Nowadays, you're lucky to get a quarter of that before they fall apart.

Blogger Culture War Draftee May 10, 2016 3:46 PM  

Westerns!? Saddle up and ride pardner! I am very much looking forward to seeing a Castalia House Western. It's a genre I love and it is due for some fresh interest. There are still lots of people struggling away at it (I confess to writing a few specimens myself) but it is a struggle. The omnipresent Narrative has pretty much obliterated the form. Having Castalia take up the struggle is good news.

Yee-haw!

Anonymous kfg May 10, 2016 3:53 PM  

". . . Maugham . . . he is one of the giants of Western literature."

I have commented here before that if you want to get a handle on the 60s, an excellent place to start is by reading The Razor's Edge.

Blogger SciVo May 10, 2016 5:10 PM  

J Delcano wrote:@kfg - I was tempted when I wrote above about "exceptions (autos, airplanes)" to place a line about those quality-dependent products also being made by companies in different cultures with a high **something ** ... and that is where I have to do more thought, since I am not sure what that "something" is. I don't think "high IQ" is the right attribute. An idea more along the line of cultures that still have a high respect for rule of law and high degree of trust and cooperation between members of the culture. But I haven't developed my thoughts on that, so I left it out.

Perhaps you're thinking of high-trust cultures.

Blogger JL Domingo May 10, 2016 5:43 PM  

@25: Thank you. Selenoth is a breath of fresh air in Fantasy-related literature in my opinion.

Anonymous J Delcano May 10, 2016 7:40 PM  

@SciVo

Wow, that link ... wow. I have no idea how I have missed that. Thanks. I have a lot to take in there, but at first glance this appears to be the key to work through the idea I was trying to develop. Outstanding. This applies not only to why trade with some cultures is disadvantageous (if they don't care about ripping each other off or see ahead to the adverse implications which result, then there is zero chance that they care about not ripping us off), but also to the fracturing of an advanced civilization through immigration of "low commonweal" mindsets. Wow - we are a bunch of chumps to even think we can deal with them in good faith. This gives me a lot to think about. Thanks again.

Blogger SciVo May 11, 2016 2:56 AM  

You're welcome, J. I bookmark interesting articles like that to share later. And as bad as it is to trade with alien low-trust cultures, it is sheer insanity to invite them here.

Their mere presence destroys social capital painstakingly built up over millennia. We learned how to live so that women don't have to hide in ditches when walking alone at night, drilling it into not just our social norms but our DNA. They learned to keep their women behind stout walls when not draped in tents and escorted by strong men.

And we haven't just been lied to about race. There can only be an equality of opportunity between men and women, not an equality of results, because men are instinctive makers -- and left to their own devices, women aren't.

But that's all kind of depressing, so here's a reminder that #WhiteGirlsAreMagic.

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