A Hugo loser’s speach


Brad Torgerson makes a gracious response on the Hugo Awards. Far more gracious than those who have made a point of saying “The right people” won… and lost.

Originally posted on Brad R. Torgersen:

The Hugo award winners were announced in London. I wasn’t there to see it. Having two stories on the ballot this year theoretically upped (or downed) my chances. As happened in 2012, I felt like something of an outsider to the final ballot, only more so this time because I’ve added “Baen author” to my list of credentials, along with a second Analog magazine AnLab readers’ choice award. Men with my kind of pedigree just don’t get to have Hugo awards very often these days. Maybe in 1970, when Larry Niven won for Ringworld. But not now. The Worldcon cotillion’s zeitgeist just isn’t there, for a guy like me to easily score a rocketship.

Which is not to say I didn’t score new readers. My mailbox tells me I got a lot of new people looking at my work for the first time, and enjoying what they saw. Enough for…

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MLS Snapshot: Sporting Kansas City 4-1 Toronto FC


Wifey and I attended this game last night. Lots of fun, as Sporting Park always is.

Originally posted on ProSoccerTalk:

One game, 100 words (or less): What began as an opportunity for Toronto to join the race at the top of the Eastern Conference turned into a reminder: The Reds are not on Sporting Kansas City’s level. In the first half, that reminder was obscured by two penalty calls that went Sporting’s way, allowing the defending champions to take a 2-1 lead into halftime. Over the final 45 minutes, the control that’s become characteristic of Peter Vermes’s team wore down the Reds, allowing the home side to claim a 4-1 result.


Sporting KC: Dom Dwyer (18′ p.k., 33′ p.k.), Soony Saad (64′), C.J. Sapong (77′)

Toronto: Gilberto (45′)

Three moments that mattered:

33′ –  Drawing the call – Go to ground in the penalty area, and you’re taking a chance, if you’re a defender. You’re giving the referee an out, something a savvy attacker can exploit.

That’s exactly what happened in the 33rd…

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I Generally Try to Refrain From Politics on This Blog

Not because you can’t guess my politics if you haven’t been stalking me about the internet already. Or even because I’m ashamed of them, because I’m not. But because generally, I believe in writing fiction as an escape from the morass of the real world which our political class has created.

That said, when one article so finely encapsulates everything wrong with the publishing industry, it cannot be ignored: http://hotair.com/archives/2014/08/13/report-simon-schuster-imprint-rejected-book-about-bergdahl-because-it-would-make-obama-look-bad/

Look folks, even if you love Obama, he will NOT be in office forever. At some point, posterity deserves to know the general facts of his regime, as opposed to the manufactured Palace Guard narrative we live under now. It’s not the soldiers’ fault that Dear Leader traded five certifiable Jihadists for one deserter-cum-wannabe Jihadist. They were the ones stuck holding the sack of carp that resulted in trying to get traitorous deserter BACK. Some of them may have even got dead thanks to him. I haven’t heard an apology from Bergdahl or his family to those soldiers. Have you?

Regardless of your politics, this was botched. And the story of the people caught in the very real crossfire deserves to be told. It would also be a story, if well-written, that would make money. Now if the publisher thought it was poorly told and didn’t want it for that reason, that would be understandable.

But no. The editor clearly squelched it for Political reasons. Because Obama forbid anyone paint their idol in a bad light. This can’t be published because the “right” would use this against him. Mind you, it’s not like the story wasn’t going to be told anyway. But you know, then they’d be accused of abetting the political opposition. Can’t have that.

So profit? Nah. We don’t want that. Political Correctness? Oh yes. We’ll have that. By the boatload. Narrative choice over story? Yeah, that’s good too.

And this is why Traditional Publishing is circling the drain, and can’t even figure out why.

Explaining Away the Magic

Ashley Capes shared an interesting take on “soft” magic systems today. http://mythicscribes.com/?wysija-page=1&controller=email&action=view&email_id=12&wysijap=subscriptions&user_id=712. I’ve had discussions on this in the past, including a rather interesting Twitter exchange with Nat Russo. While in general, I hold to Branden Sanderson’s First Rule of Magic, which is never have a PoV character use it without explaining it, it’s important to qualify that even there, he is talking about the Point of View character.

And even there, he’s quite willing to change the rules, let them learn things piecemeal, or just be flat out wrong on issues. See Kaladin in the Stormlight Archives. Neither he nor Shallan actually have much of the picture with regards to what they’re doing. And they learn more all the time. He did the same thing in Mistborn. So he’s certainly not adverse to having characters surprised by magic.

And I think that’s important. Especially if you have a character that doesn’t use or understand magic. Why should the reader inherently know more than the people living in the world? Let people be surprised. Let them learn by doing and interacting. Even when some things appear contradictory.

Contrary to the article, I don’t think this is a ‘market’ issue. It’s an issue of good storytelling. Whether you mean magic, tech in Sci-Fi, or high-stakes finance in a political potboiler. The rules the characters live under need to be explained as they’re encountered, to the extent they understand them. No more. No less. Neal Stephenson can get away with dropping an author tract that no one but ten people understand because he’s funny as Hell when he does it. But if your name is different from his, don’t get wrapped up in minutiae they haven’t seen. Let them explore, learn, read, and conjecture with the characters.

That’s what Speculative Fiction is about, at its heart, after all. The sense of wonder at finding the unknown, entering a new world and dwelling in it with the characters.

It isn’t nice to get me wound up this early in the morning


This spares me another long post on the Amazon/Hachette bruhaha. Oh Gosh! Amazon sent an e-mail. Really, get over it. If you’re so ill-informed as to think Hachette hasn’t been trying to delay and recruit high-powered muscle to help its case, you don’t know enough about this to comment on what Amazon did. Period.

Originally posted on madgeniusclub:

One of the last things I wanted to do this morning was another post on the Amazon/Hatchette ongoing battle. For one thing, I’ve already done several posts on the subject. For another, I have a feeling the negotiations with Hatchette are just the opening salvo in what looks to be a long battle between Amazon and the publishers caught colluding with Apple to price fix. Yes, this opening salvo is going to have a huge impact on how the rest of the negotiations go but it won’t be the end of it all. But a week or two without another Amazon/Hatchette post wasn’t to be.

I really didn’t think too much about it when I opened my email yesterday and found a message from Amazon about the current war of words. Nor was I surprised to see Amazon asking us — KDP authors — to email Hatchette and let the…

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Hope Is All We Have

And sometimes it’s enough. So when I see that the series I still consider the best Sci-Fi ever to show on TV is being prepped for the Big Screen by its creator, JMS, I do hope.

That said, I’ve had this hope before. Several times. Is it going to work better to pitch a reboot? I guess we’ll have to see. Somehow I don’t think WB is going to get any more gung-ho about it this time than they have previously. They never truly supported the franchise in the first place, even when it was the best thing they had.

On the other hand, JMS didn’t have a stable production company then. Is it big enough to manage this? Maybe on the cheap, as the TV series ran. But then, one thing the series proved is that writing and plot trump overpriced models.

Another space opera I’d like to see made is the Honor Harrington series. Supposedly one is in the works. But right now, I’ve only seen the mobile game. Still, Horatio Hornblower IN SPACE. What more do you need?

On another sci-fi related note: I watched Guardians of the Galaxy last night. It wasn’t a Marvel property I knew anything of. Yet coming out, I have to say I found it certifiably epic. The International Lord of Hate, Larry Correia’s review, was that it was like Star Wars, with more Han Solos. I’d say it wins because the emphasis on FUN overrides any worry about plausibility. Still, great flick. And I didn’t think it would be one when I heard about it.

Unethical Writers


There may be no original ideas under the sun. But there are certainly unique spins to every idea. And while I believe current copyright laws are a mess and shouldn’t last over a century, I *do* believe that a person has the right to profit from their own work.

Originally posted on madgeniusclub:

I was a little disconcerted Friday morning to walk into my classroom carrying my take-home exam in my hand, as prepared as I could be to take the ACS final that morning, and find the room abuzz with activity. Most, but not all, of the other students were huddled up comparing notes, not on the final, but the take-home exam. Now, the instructions on the front sheet of that exam were explicit. We were not to discuss the exam with anyone other than the professor, nor to use the internet as a resource while taking it. I complied. I was dismayed to see how many of my younger classmates were blatantly disregarding the ‘no discussion’ rule, and I have no reason to doubt they had also been using the internet liberally during their efforts.

What does this have to do with writing? Well, it’s anecdotal to the culture that seems…

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Decisions, decisions . . .


These are thoughts going through my mind as I try to decide how I’m going to enter the Indie Market. Right now, I don’t see a huge incentive to go anywhere but Amazon and KDP. On the Other Hand, sooner or later, someone will figure out how to compete with them. And if I’m locked into one company and ‘comfortable,’ that might make for a dangerous situation down the road.

Originally posted on madgeniusclub:

Amazon.com’s decision to launch Kindle Unlimited (KU), a subscription book-borrowing service, is still shaking out: but already, based on my own sales and loan figures for the month of July 2014, I can see it’s likely to have a significant impact on independent authors.

I currently have only one book, ‘War to the Knife’ (‘WttK’), in the KDP Select program (from which KU books are drawn). I withdrew the rest from the program a couple of months ago in order to make them available through other vendors and in other formats. Nevertheless, in the couple of weeks that KU was available during July, there were almost 300 ‘borrows’ of WttK – vastly more than usual under the previous Kindle Owners Lending Library (KOLL) program, which continues alongside KU. Furthermore, the fact that a KU ‘borrow’ is counted as a ‘sale’ for book ranking purposes in the Kindle Store…

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I Am Over Grimdark

It’s Official. I’ve picked up three straight “Grimdark” books in a row. Two of them highly acclaimed, near-5 star books on Amazon, and failed to finish ANY of them. I just can’t take the unrelentingly unsympathetic characters, the idea that somehow modern profanity in a Renaissance context makes for ‘deeper’ writing, and how no one is capable of doing the right thing for the right reason. EVER. Unless they are there to die like the rube they are.

Look, I get it. Grimdark started as a subversion of traditional fantasy. And the Heroic Journey NEEDED subverting. I’m not saying we need to go back to two-dimensional heroes that don’t face doubts or have flaws. I *like* flawed heroes. But there’s a distinction between flawed hero and slightly-off-black anti-hero. Sure, I have Baron Camuel in my Aurori series. And everyone loves the badass vampire who has no problem leaving a trail of blood in his path to accomplishing his ends. But the guy gets his fair share of thumpings too. Of course, I torture my heroes as well. So *everyone* gets it.

I believe in Earning Your Happy Ending. That’s a GOOD thing. But frankly, Grimdark has become the Dark Age Comics of Fantasy. An annoying cliche that is nothing more than glorying in the inverse of the heroic journey. It’s boring. And the practitioners have every bit as much an obligation to liven up the subversion as the traditionalists did to twist their own stories.

Even Steven Erikson, who frequently gets lumped into the Grimdark writers, saw this. The Parans and Fiddler represented tortured heroes, with real flaws. But they were legitimate heroes, and they represented–with Itkovian and Whiskeyjack–the moral center of the series. For all the glory of Rake, Karsa, Apsalar/Sorry, and yes, Quick Ben and Kalem, the world may have been Grimdark, but it was shot through with hope. It wasn’t gleefully crushing every moment of joy the reader could find.

I’m tired of the soul-sucking, darkness where the only difference between any of the characters is who the protagonist is and perhaps some hint of modern sensibilities that’s supposed to ‘tell’ us who the ‘good guy’ is, even when in the context of the story, they’re all bastards of the 1st rank.

Really, it’s over. Start subverting what you created with the abandon you took to hacheting traditional fantasy.