Most of us are amateurs and thieves if you listen to some folks

tariencole:

Of course, I still technically *am* an amateur for a few more months. But still, it doesn’t matter. The only “real” writers are the ones who work for ‘the cause.’

Originally posted on madgeniusclub:

Last week, I wondered if we were in a perpetual full moon phase because of all the craziness that seemed to be going on. Little did I know that the craziness was just beginning. In the time since that post went live, we’ve seen an author on Amazon taking the fight to reviewers because they didn’t like his book, another author going on a rant because of another writer’s politics and espousing the fact that you aren’t a “professional writer” if you self-publish on Amazon and then the latest from HarperCollins, once again proving that legacy publishers look at their customers as thieves. Foolishness, just foolishness with a sense of entitlement thrown in.

Starting from the top. . . .

For years, Sarah and I have inflicted on our friends and people we’ve done workshops with a certain book we found at an RWA conference. This book has been…

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Book Review: Hounded

A fun read, with a fascinating set of characters and an ‘all myths are true’ premise. Atticus o”Sullivan is the last of the Druids, and the narrator of this urban fantasy set in Tempe, Az. It’s not as gripping as Dresden or Kate Daniels, but it certainly got me turning pages.

Pros: The narrator is witty and enjoyable to listen to, a must in any 1st person story. The setting is lived in without being loaded with extraneous details. The secondary cast is filled with characters who are enjoyable even when they’re only scenery for Atticus to bounce his thoughts and stories off of. And when they have their own motives, they’re believable and twisted, without constituting unbelievable obstacles. Nobody trusts anyone. But everyone knows what they need, and are willing to help whichever horse advances their cause. Also, the Druid Magic is described believably and very sensible.

Cons: That same magic seems a bit too overpowered. As a result, there’s never any serious threat level to Atticus. Not only didn’t I doubt he was going to get out of the jam, I never really wondered *how* he would do so. Second, Atticus seems a bit too modern nerdish for a guy whose 2100 years old. Really, he acts like he could be the stoner in the comic book store (a combination of HIS characterizations, btw). It seems rather incongruous for a guy who’s been creeping around longer than the Highlander.

That said, it’s still a fun read. And a very good start to a series I was honestly had some trepidation toward.

Book Review: Gameboard of the Gods

The Frustrating, flattering to deceive 1st novel in the “Age of X” series from Richelle Mead of Bloodlines and Vampire Academy fame.

Poor pacing undermines what would otherwise be a strong novel (Though more a 2.5 than a true 2). The worldbuilding and main characters in the story are fascinating. I would not call it a Science Fiction, as some have. And I think that’s part of where some go off the rails with this book. There’s no attempt to justify the science or society in the book from rational grounds. That in itself is a deal breaker when it comes to sci-fi.

It’s presented with a sense of internal coherence that is consistent with post-apocalyptic fantasy, similar to Ilona Andrew’s Kate Daniels series. Think of it as cyberpunk (which may or may not be true sci-fi, depending on the author) meets American Gods. This doesn’t bother me, as I enjoy both genres. And Tessa’s insights indicate that perhaps we’re not to see RUNA as utopian as the 2 native main characters, Mae & Justin, do. Of course, the fact that she’s a foreign teenager–and acts like one–somewhat undermines her critique.

Mae and Justin are both infuriatingly real characters. And I mean that in a good sense. They both have legitimate, well-developed flaws. Mae is too guarded to tell the full truth to anyone. Justin is too much a schmoozing womanizer to allow Mae to trust him, and he has his own head-case issue…literally.

This in itself provides real impediments to the plot that are well utilized. Combined with the setting, and the ‘return of the gods’ plotline, it ought to have been enough to complicate the murder mystery. This would have been a good story, and while there still would’ve been head-shaking moments to me, they would have been BELIEVABLE head-shaking moments.

But…now we get to the negative, and why I rate the story as low as I do: There are too many *artificial* impediments to the mystery. Too many things that get answers from above when it’s convenient to the plot, and don’t seem to come from their investigation. And then there’s the fact Justin is SUPPOSED to be an expert on religions, and we are SUPPOSED to believe he has an incredible deductive mind. He does make some fine conclusions here and there…always where they are only peripheral to the case. But in the things that TRULY matter, he’s an idiot. No. Really. A 5 minute search he should’ve done anytime in the last 5 years, he waits until he’s already hosed himself over to check. Not to mention the clues are slapping his ‘genius’ in the face, and he can’t see it. Same with Mae and the symbol. “Death+crow+dark presence” hmm, what religion could this be? Sure, there COULD be others, but who would anyone guess first, and CHECK first? Yeah. He missed BOTH of these the entire book, and is supposed to be a genius. And then there’s the red herring video, which we KNOW isn’t fake from the beginning, but we’re supposed to think holds up the plot for 150 pages.

Sorry, but those are 3 artificial blocks too many. And it makes the book almost 200 pages longer than it should be. The story doesn’t hold up under the weight of the non-reveal reveals. And in the end it comes off all too disappointing. So while this is a book with a lot to like about it, it’s not a book I like.

Objects in This Article Are Not to Scale

One of the recurring arguments I hear is the Low Fantasy/Epic Fantasy argument. That is, does the audience want small-scale stories where we spend time close to a few (or even one) character. Or is the balance in favor of the traditional Epic Fantasy (“saving the world”)?

This article is relating to games. But it dredges through this argument on the side of Low Fantasy/”small scale” story telling again. http://toybox.io9.com/im-sick-of-saving-the-world-the-case-for-smaller-scale-1631918032?utm_campaign=socialflow_io9_facebook&utm_source=io9_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

Here’s the first thing I’d say: It doesn’t matter.

No Really. This is a Much Ado About Nothing debate. Execution matters more than scale. Characters have to be memorable in either setting. And there has to be stakes, or we’re in the realm of navel-gazing lit-fic, and while you might get an award, you won’t have enough readers to buy you a pack of K-Cups. If the story isn’t something that resonates with the reader, it doesn’t matter if you’re a hacker hiding from the Corps in a CyberJungle, or off on the world-saving quest.

Furthermore, there is plenty of evidence for an audience for both. Especially in books: Urban Fantasy sells. So does Game of Thrones, Wheel of Time, or Malazan Book of the Fallen. Execute your vision well, market the story strongly, and there will be an audience. No, you won’t win everyone over. Guess what? No story does. But write your story with ambition, drive, quality characterization and a taut plot, and you have a chance. Don’t, and you won’t.

In games, I think it’s a little harder to prove. Everyone remembers Planescape. But it never really sold well, especially in comparison to the other Golden Era of Infinity Engine Black Isle/Bioware titles. The games we know: Mass Effect, Baldur’s Gate, Knights of the Old Republic, Neverwinter Nights, Fallout, Diablo, and the Elder Scrolls series. They are all ‘save the world’ games. Set against that Planescape, a fine, if quixotic game. And if we’re being generous the Witcher series, which even here has a ‘global’ component to it. Now, do I think a smaller scale COULD work? Sure. But again, it has to be executed well.

I don’t buy what the article says about more ‘variety’ in smaller scale stories either. The only thing constraining either small or large scale stories is the imagination of the writer. Indeed, a large scale story can be comprised of several ‘smaller’ ones as subplots that tie into the overarching one. And a seemingly small scale story can blow up into a world-spanning one (See Dresden Files).

And as The Black Company showed, and Daniel Abraham is doing now with The Dagger and Coin series, one can write a seemingly large scale story from a constrained cast. Thus we see the universe as it effects each of the personal issues involves. Babylon 5 did this exceptionally well also. Londo and Mollari forming the heart of the story that the rest of the universe circled around.

So not only is this a Much Ado About Nothing Argument. In a very real sense, it’s an argument from a generation ago. This isn’t the Speculative Fiction environment anymore. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser CAN save the world.

Put This on a Shark’s Head

Freaking LASER BEAMS!

http://www.wired.com/2014/09/armys-new-laser-cannon-blasts-drones-out-of-the-sky-even-in-fog/

Yeah, I like me some untested weapons systems. They always seem to pay off in the end. Hello Laser, bye-bye drone.

But remember, these weapons can always be used for Evil purposes.

Of course, that may be half the fun. ;)

H/T Moe Lane for the news on operational laser cannons.

Remember When the US Couldn’t Win in Europe?

It really wasn’t that long ago. And all these whining ESPN talking heads who say Klinsmann sets the bar too low need to learn something about the sport. But that would be too much like work. And they think they’re being paid to yammer.

Winning in Europe is a big deal. Even more of a deal is that we sort-of expected it. Despite having a young team. How young? Jozy Altidore the team captain young. Really. But the kids made some experienced players look BAD on the goal.

The Redheaded Step Genre

tariencole:

I remember when I brought Tolkien to class. Oh, my teachers who were so proud of me reading history thought I’d lost my mind. Oh well. They didn’t get it, I read history because I enjoyed it. I thought it was fun. And so was Tolkien and at least the original Dune.

But God forbid literature be ‘fun.’ It has to be turgid, and ‘challenging.’ Sorry. But I can read non-fiction for those.

Originally posted on According To Hoyt:

When I was eight years old, I read Heinlein’s Have Spacesuit Will Travel. At the time I had no idea it was science fiction, because as far as I was concerned, trips to the moon was just what went on in America.

Hey, America in 1970 might very well have had contests with spacesuits as prizes. And contact with aliens, for all I knew.

So it went unremarked.  That was the same Summer I read Tom Sawyer and The Prince and the Pauper, so you might as well consider it my induction in the evil league of evil, since I was reading a dead white male and all.

Then when I was eleven, and my brother was studying engineering in college, he fell in with a dangerous crowd.  By which I mean he made friends with a guy who had every science fiction book ever translated to Portuguese.

My brother…

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Fisking the Guardian’s Village Idiot Again

tariencole:

And now that you’ve read my take, here is the International Lord of Hate. Who, it might be added, got this sad little man to admit he made up everything for his newspaper article. That is to say, he lied in an attempt to harm another business. There’s a legal term for that. It’s a tad bit harder to prove in the UK. But even still, misconstruing what someone said as if they didn’t usually fulfills the term.

Originally posted on Monster Hunter Nation:

Let me cut right to the chase. Damien Walter is a liar.

Don’t worry, I’ll go through the whole thing, but let’s get the important stuff out of the way for the TL/DR crowd.

In another incredibly ignorant yet smug article from the Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2014/aug/29/space-opera-new-guardians-of-the-galaxy-ancillary-justice Damien said the following:

 Baen’s chief editor Toni Weisskopf went so far as to issue a diatribe against any and all sci-fi that did not pander to this conservative agenda.

Cite it, Damien. Cite where Toni Weisskopf ever said that. If you can’t provide a cite of where she said that, then you are a liar and you should issue a retraction and an apology.

 Here, let me help you. Here is Toni’s “diatribe”. http://accordingtohoyt.com/2014/03/10/the-problem-of-engagement-a-guest-post-by-toni-weisskopf/ People can read it and judge for themselves.

So where is the part about pandering to a conservative agenda?

Damien can’t quote it, because it only exists in his…

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