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Famous Writers Never Give Birth To Snakes

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
We believe this is a picture of the baby birthed by the Los Angeles Times!  Exclusive!

We believe this is a picture of the baby birthed by the Los Angeles Times! Exclusive!

Hi, this is Sarah, and I’m sorry we’re late again, but my eye has been doing weird stuff, so I had to have a pretty thorough exam to make sure I wasn’t going to need surgery.

This week, several people have sent me links to this Ursula Le Guin appearance.

This made me think of something.  My paternal grandmother was a wonderful woman, whom I credit both with my being more or less sane, and with my storytelling.  Between the ages of one and six, she told me a story every night, usually involving werewolves or magic, stories she made up herself.  Until much later than that I was her shadow, following in her footsteps.  In a way, I still am.

Imagine my surprise when I went back after getting married, shortly after she turned eighty and the family tried to gently give me a hint something was not right.  What was not right was, in point of fact, scary.

You see, grandma grew up in very different times.  So, when she passed one of the local (illegal, this is Portugal) dumps, returning from the field where she went to cut grass for the rabbits, she would notice “perfectly good, just need a little mending” baby clothes.  She’d taken to rescuing them, bringing them home, washing them a million times, sewing any holes, and stacking them in her built in cabinets in the downstairs hall.  The cabinets, which were floor to ceiling were almost full.  No one could convince her that she wouldn’t, sooner or later, be besieged by a lot of new mothers with nothing to put on their kids.  The idea that onesies and baby socks had become more or less disposable simply wouldn’t enter her head.

While visiting and talking to her, other things emerged – like she was afraid of the “wave of crime” sweeping the country.  There really was no wave of crime, but she lived alone and she read the papers and watched TV news too much.  Worse, for a woman who’d always been sharp enough to look behind the story she was told, she’d started giving credence to the sort of tabloids that publish stories about women the next county over giving birth to snakes.

Since then, I’ve seen other people go that way.  It is a combination, I think, of aging and losing touch with the world, and of being too respected for people to actually have a word with, quietly.

I read and enjoyed the Earth Sea Trilogy.  (Fourth book?  What fourth book?  Let’s be charitable, okay?) and The Left Hand of Darkness was a beautiful if flawed work. I can’t say I’ve liked a lot more that Le Guin has done, but then most science fiction writers didn’t even write four books that I enjoyed.

So what is one to make of such statements as:

Ursula K. Le Guin gave a scorching speech at the National Book Awards on Wednesday, calling out Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and saying of capitalism “its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings.”

Surely a woman praised for her learning knows the difference between a social construct like the divine right of kings and “capitalism” which is simply a name for the barter and trade humans do to survive and which, btw, is not unfettered ANYWHERE in the universe, being hemmed in by governments and regulations everywhere.

And why on Earth she’s calling out Bezos is beyond me.  For allowing writers, at long last to make a buck?  Who knows?

And what about this:

“We need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and production of art,” Le Guin said.

We do, of course. For instance “art” is a subjective term which applies or should apply only to works that enduringly touch the emotions of humanity across the times and changes in society.  Shakespeare still touches us, for instance.  That’s art.

OTOH, thinking that any government, any entity, any academic can define art is to labor under the same sort of illusion as people who believe tabloids announcing women giving birth to snakes.

Art is proven in enduring. And most art – Shakespeare, Austen – was pretty commercially successful, as well. Art is what you aim for, and hopefully it happens. But there’s no guarantees. Competent and selling is the best you can be sure of.

One could make a comment about her being out of touch and believing too much of what she’s told, but we’re not the side that derides our elders for being old. People as old and older than her have embraced the digital revolution without fear and understand that while capitalism is an awful system, it’s better than any attempts at controlling it.

Instead I choose to believe this is the equivalent of her having cabinets full of baby clothes. I’m sure she still has contributions to make in areas where she doesn’t have blind spots.

For this, OTOH there is no excuse:

The Los Angeles Times thought Le Guin “stole the show” and said she accepted and shared her award with “all the writers who were excluded from literature for so long.”

Perhaps Le Guin doesn’t realize it, but The Los Angeles Times should realize that those excluded people – like say, people whose politics don’t agree with the establishment in publishing – are finding their voice and their audience with indie publishing. You know, people who can at last speak truth to the overwhelmingly leftist power in science fiction? One hesitates to ask if The Los Angeles Times believes that women give birth to snakes over in San Diego County?


Folks, remember to tell all your writer friends to send an e-mail to book.blug.fridat@gmail.com for submission guidelines.

Then, please ask them to follow the guidelines. Grrrr.


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The Troll’s Belt
By J.M. Ney-Grimm

Young deceit sprouts timeless trouble.

Motherless Brys Arnsson digs himself into trouble. Bad trouble. Tricked by a troll in J.M. Ney-Grimm’s richly imagined North-lands, Brys must dig himself and his best friend back out of danger. But that requires courage . . . and self-honesty. Traits Brys lacks at depth.

A twist on a classic, The Troll’s Belt builds from humor-threaded conflict to white-knuckle suspense.


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Troll-magic
By J.M. Ney-Grimm

North-land spellcasters who wield excessive power transform into trolls – potent, twisted, and hungry for dominance.

Prince Kellor, cursed by a troll-witch to live as a north-bear, wrestles with the challenges of a beast’s form. He sees his childhood friend Elle as the key to his escape.

But charming Elle will be no easy task. Traversing that delicate passage between adolescence and adulthood, she struggles to balance family loyalty against her passion for music.

In this epic adventure across a stunning landscape, from cool pine forests to an icy pinnacle of basalt so real it leaves you shivering, Elle and Kellor must summon essential wisdom and grit to prevail against a troll-witch’s malice in a lethal battle of wills.

Fighting against a nightmare pales beside fighting for a dream.


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Karma Putz
By J. Van Pelt

Imagine Keith Richards as a life insurance agent! Janis Joplin as a butcher! Mick Jagger as an anti-abortion activist! Jimi Hendrix as a youth pastor!

Karma Putz imagines characters very similar to five rock icons whose lives took a different turn. They end up living in the suburbs, battling crabgrass and watching “Pox News.” One day, they kidnap the world’s most famous pop musician, who bears a striking resemblance to Paul McCartney, and put him on trial for “crimes against humanity.”

Things don’t go as planned


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Dreaming Tower
By Elizabeth Bruner

Freed from a curse, Aidan finds himself at a loss in a world that he doesn’t quite recognize. When he starts dreaming of a woman also out of time, he wonders what she has to do with his future. A witch reveals that Aidan being released from his curse might have wide-ranging consequences, including costing the woman of his dreams her life and sanity.

Dawn went into a magic sleep expecting to wake up to a prince. When a fairy bent on mischief warped the spell, she found herself transported to the world of dreams while her kingdom disappeared. She begins to wonder if she’ll ever wake up when a horse gallops through her dreams and gives her hope.

With help from unexpected sources, Aidan takes off on a mission that has killed every other person who’s attempted it. Will he meet the same fate?

Will Aidan be able to find the missing kingdom in time to save the dreaming princess?


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Urdaisunia
By Kyra Halland

Rashali, a widowed Urdai peasant, has vowed to destroy the Sazars who conquered her land. Eruz, heir to the Sazar throne, walks the dangerous edge of treason to do what is right for all the people of Urdaisunia. When Rashali and Eruz meet by chance, the gods take notice, sending peasant and prince on intertwining paths of danger, love, and war as they fight to save the land they both love – Urdaisunia.


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The 10 Most Fascinating Fantasy Worlds of All Time

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014 - by Pierre Comtois

Throughout history man has desired to transform the world to suit himself. And though some statesmen in real life might have achieved a semblance of such, the goal has only ever been reached in story and myth. In earliest days, men told tales of such fantastic places as Atlantis, Ultima Thule, and Cathay until the rise of the scientific method put a stop to such fancies. Instead, science inspired a more logical approach to lands of never. Thus, the earliest imaginary worlds were those created by philosophers and free thinkers who dreamed of societies that operated on a more sensible basis than the pre-industrial communities they themselves inhabited. Lands such as Thomas More’s Utopia and and Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis.

But a funny thing happened even as the influence of science grew and western society became increasingly disdainful of anything that smacked of superstition: writers began to emerge who embraced fantasy as a response to logic and science, which needed the guidance of man’s imagination to give the two direction and purpose.

Enter the fantasists of the twentieth century who provided landscapes of the imagination over which their literary characters could roam, wrestling with moral questions often presented in the form of metaphor or symbol. But none of it seemed real until put on paper. As a result, venturing over the horizon of imagination to the land of “here there be dragons,” the modern fantasist has insisted on categorizing his world, giving it a cartographical pseudo-reality best represented by our 10 Most Fascinating Fantasy Worlds of All Time.

phantom tollbooth

10) Phantom Tollbooth

One of the cleverest of fantasy books, The Phantom Tollbooth written by Norton Juster, came with a map detailing the Kingdom of Wisdom, something that was still unusual in 1961 when the book was first published. Filled with places and landmarks that act as metaphors and puns, the Kingdom of Wisdom is a literary puzzle box that has delighted readers of all ages for decades.

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The 10 Most Influential Science Fiction Stories of the 1920s

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Pierre Comtois

Editor’s note: see the previous installment in Pierre’s series about the history of science fiction: “The 10 Most Influential Science Fiction Stories of the 1910s

By the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, science fiction had begun to take definite form as a distinct genre. Before that, fantastic stories with scientific premises were not treated much differently by publishers or critics from novels of gothic romance or exposes of modern life, or the trials and tribulations of small town folk. But Jules Verne and especially H.G. Wells triggered something in young people who had grown up with constant news of scientific progress and a steady stream of inventions from Thomas Edison’s laboratory.

Indeed, it was Edison’s example, as well as those by Alexander Graham Bell and Wilbur and Orville Wright, that promoted the notion that anyone might come up with the next great invention from their basement workshops. Imaginations that had been grounded by Horace Greeley’s admonition to “Go West, young man! Go West!” had slowly begun to be freed from such limited and earthbound goals and released into a universe of possibilities. Jack Williamson banged out stories of far worlds and interstellar warfare from a shed on his family’s New Mexico farmstead. H.P. Lovecraft scrawled ornate and awful visions of alien intelligences far beyond what mortal minds could comprehend all while never leaving the confines of his second story walk-up in Providence, Rhode Island. And the same thing was beginning to happen everywhere in the United States and, in some cases, elsewhere in the world.

The 1920s were an important transition period in SF from the literary tradition of Wells to the Wild West-style action of what would become known as space opera. And even as Wells’ ability to fascinate faded, new writers, championed primarily in the United States by the likes of Edmond Hamilton and Jack Williamson, pioneered a growing market for pulp magazine-based science fiction.

That movement began in 1926 with Amazing Stories, the first pulp magazine devoted completely to stories of science fiction. The magazine was published by Hugo Gernsback with the intention of using its stories to promote science and invention, but the SF movement proved more popular than the publisher anticipated and quickly escaped his control. To satisfy the demand for such stories, other magazines soon followed with editors eagerly cultivating American talent that soon enough eclipsed the few foreign writers working in the genre. Proceeding at a dizzy pace, 1920s SF quickly saw the birth of major trends that would dominate the field for decades to come including extra sensory powers, alien contact, time police, and robots. One of the most enduring was “space opera” that covered the rise and fall of star-faring empires and the fate of whole galaxies and dimensions in time and space. The form lost favor in the 1960s but made a comeback of sorts as the new century approached, spurred in part by the worldwide success of the Star Wars films proving the enduring nature of SF’s basic tropes.

The very newness of science fiction (or “scientifiction” as it was called then) invited excitement in readers primed for a literature that mixed science with romantic adventure while inspiring writers to unleash the wildest of their imaginings in stories that challenged a society whose adult population was unused to flights of fantasy. In the shadow of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ science fantasies of the 1910s, the following top 10 trend setting SF stories of the 1920s laid the groundwork for the coming golden age of science fiction.

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Time to Re-Define the F-Word

Monday, November 17th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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This past week a group of scientists from the European Space Agency landed a spaceship on a comet. Contemporary feminists commented on the happening, but not for the reason you’d think. Screw science. One of the guys on the team talked about the major breakthrough in an on-the-spot interview while wearing a shirt with barely-clad, busty women brandishing guns. Social media chaos ensued. The scientist cried out an apology over the Internet. Apparently the rather clever hashtag #shirtstorm is the real reason why Obama cancelled the space program.

And you wonder why Lana Del Rey would rather spend her time talking about Space-X and Tesla instead of associating herself with the pioneering movement for women that has turned into a forum for Dunham-loving yuppie nags. Celebrities are distancing themselves from the f-word because so-called feminists think the greatest thing they can do for womankind is to complain about a scientist’s tacky shirt. I’m sure that really inspired a teenage girl out there to forego joining ISIS and join in the fight against… dudes bearing busty broads?

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Punching Your Inner Hippie

Monday, November 17th, 2014 - by Frank J. Fleming
9780062302434

From PUNCH YOUR INNER HIPPIE by Frank J. Fleming Copyright © 2014 by Frank J. Fleming. Reprinted courtesy of Broadside Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

So I was working with someone who was really trying to tap his full potential, but his inner hippie kept pulling him down any time he tried to succeed. I think he was an accountant or something—all these people complaining about their problems just blend together. Anyway, let’s call this man “Bob,” as that’s what I called him. I told him, “Bob, if you want to get anywhere in life, you first need to defeat your inner hippie.”

“But I don’t know how,” he said. “It’s not like I can just punch myself.”

“Well, I can punch you,” I said, “and I will, because I like to help. But I won’t always be there. Instead, we need to find a way for you to really lay the smackdown on your inner hippie to silence its call to failure, and doing that will take some extreme measures. Come with me, Bob.”

“My name’s not Bob, by the way.”

“I don’t care. Come along.”

I took Bob to the zoo after hours and headed toward the gorilla pit. “See that gorilla, Bob?”

“Wow,” Bob said, “he’s massive.”

“Pretty intimidating, huh?”

“Yeah.”

“Is that gorilla anything like a hippie?”

Bob thought for a moment. “Not really . . . except he probably doesn’t bathe regularly.”

“Correct. A gorilla is nothing like a hippie,” I said, “and yet here is the thing: I want you to go punch him.”

“What?”

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An Alternative History of Rock’s Most Iconic Photograph

Monday, November 17th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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See Part 1 in Kathy Shaidle’s series exploring punk rock here: How the Sex Pistols Made History by Lying About It

Let’s get this out of the way:

Randal Doane is an assistant dean at Oberlin.

Politics aside (and he doesn’t shove it up your nose), this means you’ll trip over academic, culture-critic jargon — “codes” and “gestures” abound; “Eros” crashes the party — while otherwise enjoying his new book, Stealing All Transmissions: A Secret History of The Clash.

And there’s a lot to enjoy.

Stealing distills one fan’s decades of wide reading, deep listening, and just plain thinking into a multi-faceted gem.

In the hands of a less skillful writer, this book would feel like an out-of-your-league sexual pass, an awkward attempt to squeeze too many topics — the evolution of punk music (along with the etymology of the word); the rise and fall of AM and FM radio; the underground scenes in New York and California, to name but three — between only two (virtual) covers.

Somehow, though, Stealing works, distinguishing itself from similar titles by piling on plenty of original insights; for one thing (a bit like the recent How the Beatles Destroyed Rock ‘n’ Roll), this book explores how the medium changes the message — that is, how the technology we employ to consume music alters music itself, along with the culture at large.

(To cite a particularly cliched example: The LP made it easier to have sex to music, as one didn’t have to leap up to change the record, or worry that a radio DJ might ruin the mood with the wrong selection. How many children were conceived as Frank Sinatra’s Songs for Swingin’ Lovers spun away on the other side of the room– besides me, that is — I couldn’t begin to guess.)

Doane also demonstrates, in pointillistic detail, how a tiny band of now-forgotten local DJs championed (today we’d say “curated”) punk, and “broke” The Clash and other English bands in America.

In doing so, he reveals what we lost when that free-form radio format was killed off.

(P.S. — A note about audio that follows throughout: These interviews with Joe Strummer were recently uploaded to YouTube by HazyRock.com. While the date is unknown, they seem to correspond roughly to the “early days” period Doane focuses on in his book.)

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How to Shop for a Book

Sunday, November 16th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

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This is a guest post by Cedar Sanderson, author of Pixie Noir.  Sarah blurbed Pixie Noir thusly: “The unlikely love child of Monster Hunter International and the Princess Bride, this book … is unalloyed fun all the way.” -Sarah A. Hoyt, author of Darkship Thieves

It is an open secret that Cedar is the nice one of Sarah Hoyt’s friends, besides looking like a Heinlein character, red hair and all.  But she’s also sensible about things like books.

First, look at the cover. It might look like a child’s rendition, but this doesn’t mean the content is bad. I’ve seen some pretty bad writing under that pretty wrapper. What the cover ought to tell you is a little about what to expect. Not a faithful rendition of a scene, more a feeling for the tale you are about to immerse yourself in. This doesn’t always happen, and it’s something that can be forgiven, like a chocolate bar in a plain brown wrapper.

Next, check out the blurb, reviews, and other details. Are there typos in the blurb? Oh, so not good. Head on to the next option on the shelf/alsobot/list of titles below. Has the book won an award? Then it depends, was it an award given by fans who enjoy good stories? Then feel free to go on to the next step. Was it an award like the Hugo or Nebula, given out for writing approved message fiction? Step away from the book, and maybe do a little squirt of hand sanitizer, just to be sure.

The book has made it past the first steps of scrutiny, now it’s time for the next step. Look at the publisher? Why would you care who published it? Do you read publishers, or authors? No, wait, there is one exception. A certain flaming rocket logo is a good thing to scan for if you’re perusing a bookstore shelf. Online, the Baen cover art is generally a dead giveaway, being reminiscent of a certain scientist’s shirt.

If you’re shopping online, this is the fun part. Scroll down and look at the reviews. Ideally, you’ll see a mix of good and bad, tilted more to the good side. A book with only 5 star reviews should raise an eyebrow. No readers will all love the same book, and the old saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure is based in reality, after all. On the other hand, cogently written and on-point negative reviews should raise the other eyebrow, and have you clicking away from this title. Now me, I’m contrary. I have bought books based on negative reviews. Strawman reviews, attacking the author’s politics or perceived ideology are cues that whatever lies between the covers, it’s most likely not dull.

Now, the next step is to crack open the book and look inside. On Amazon, you can do this free and easy with the preview option. In a paper book, you can do what I do, cull a small stack, plop cross-legged on the floor, and start to skim. At home, you can legally do this wearing only a cat. I don’t recommend that in the bookstore.

Generally, Amazon gives you access to the first 20% of an ebook. Speaking as a former slush reader, this is usually plenty of time to get a feel for what’s in there. You want to find a good hook that draws you into the story, not a dull, draggy beginning that makes you feel gloomy. There should be some interesting characters, whom you can connect with. You should be able to immerse yourself in the fictional world and not be thrown out of the story by non-sequiters and egregious research errors.  You’ll know when it’s right, because suddenly you’re at the end of the sample and you click the buy button without a second thought.

Now that you’re hooked on a book, what next? Well, read! Enjoy! And when you’re done, remember where you found that one, and come visit us regularly, there are always new titles and authors to discover. Want more? I know, I know, I’m a greedy reader too. Check out blogs to find one that does regular reviews, and the reviews seem to align with your tastes (a good way to do this is to search for a book/author you really liked and find the reviewers who felt the same way).

Speaking of reviews, this is how you tip an author: review their book. It’s not hard to go to Amazon and write a review, it doesn’t need to be long, and it should not be a plot summary (please, for the love of spoilers, no plot summaries!). Or share a link to the book on social media. Or… both. Because you liked that book, and you want to have more, right? Authors need support, and readers need books. It’s a mutual admiration society. Speaking as a reader, I’m always tickled to do something fun to promote a favorite author, whether it’s simply sharing a link, putting the effort into a review, or even further like taking fun pictures of books and posting them to gloat when I have a new release… Ahem. Right. Sometimes I slip into fangirl mode.

So start your book shopping today, with the links below, and remember, escaping the mundane world gives your soul ease and amuses the brain. It’s food for the mind, and doesn’t go straight to your hips.


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Five by Five 3: Target Zone
By Kevin J Anderson (and others, including Sarah)

TARGETS ARE LOCKED!

Five short novels by five masters of military SF capture the excitement, and hell, of fantastic future war—on and off the battlefield. Stories of terrifying monsters, dangerous aliens and staggering cosmic dreadnaughts march alongside far-flung courtroom dramas and cautionary tales involving man and his devices.

Michael A. Stackpole—The Star Tigers are commandeered by a powerful alien overseer on a covert mission to a world long abandoned by an ancient species. There, the ruins of a forgotten war will tip the balance of their war, unless the Star Tigers can prevent it.

(Contains “And Not To Yield”, a novel in the Darkship universe.)


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Sparrowind: The Dragon Who Lived As A Knight
By R.K. Modena

Tiny Sparrowind can’t hunt from the sky, cannot hope to best his siblings in contests of strength, and scrapes by to survive. But in the books stashed in his parents’ hoard of gold and gems he finds a greater treasure: ideals.

Deciding to make his own way in life gives him more hope than he could have if he tried living only by the way of Dragonkind, but can this dreamer of a Dragon find his place in the world?

A delightful tale for all ages, that may be shared by reading out loud – either to a young audience, or those who are young at heart.


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Playing with Matches
By Suri Rosen

When 16-year-old Raina Resnick is expelled from her Manhattan private school, she’s sent to live with her strict aunt, where life becomes a torment. Her sister blames her for her broken engagement, and she’s a social pariah at her new school. In the tight-knit Jewish community, Raina finds she is good at one thing: matchmaking! As the anonymous “MatchMaven,” Raina sets up hopeless singles desperate to find the One – including her alienated sister. A cross between Jane Austen’s Emma, Dear Abby, and Yenta the matchmaker, Raina’s journey is both hilarious and heartbreaking as her life unravels from the effects of firsthand matchmaking.


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SECRET WAR
By Albert Schwartz

Tom Ryan, best-selling military novelist, has arranged a ride to familiarize himself with submarines. On August 10, 1991 he arrives at USS Haddock (SSN 621) as it prepares to depart San Diego for Japan. It would be a final deployment before going to the shipyard for nuclear defueling and decommissioning.

The transit is routine with plenty of opportunity for training. It doesn’t stay routine when Haddock is diverted to search for three Soviet submarines that had deployed from their base. Then events in the Soviet Union result in Haddock being given unprecedented orders. As history is made in Moscow events proceed under the ocean.

Join Tom Ryan aboard Haddock and enjoy the ride.


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Julia Blaine
By Vampire Music

Evil vampires cannot love — can they?

Vampire Gregory Weston loves the tinge of printer’s ink that flavors the blood of those who work with books; printers, publishers, editors and librarians are among his favorite sources of nourishment. Bored and lazy, seeking amusements to fill his endless existence, he has given up his unceasing quest to become human again — until accidentally, he employs Nia, a pregnant librarian. With child? Gregory has never experienced this situation. What a diversion for dispassionate scientific study! That she is beautiful has nothing to do with it.


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Children of Prophecy
By Glynn Stewart

An age in the past, the world’s two greatest Mages fought a bloody war to a draw that slew them both.

In the time since, the Kingdom of Vishni has known quiet, and the Swarm beyond the mountains has grown in strength and numbers. Now, with the Time of Prophecy at hand, dark forces move to fulfil ancient visions.

Two men, born to poverty but bearing the blood of those ancient Mages, will rise to decide the fate of both Swarm and Kingdom as the fires of this ancient conflict rise anew.


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Quantum Zoo
By Bridget McKenna, D.J. Gelner, et al

From a haunted old zoo filled with ghosts to a dying starship on its way to a new home – humanity’s final gasp, Quantum Zoo presents a dozen compelling stories featuring a dozen exotic and unusual menageries.

Jack the Ripper arrives for one last murder, while a dinosaur – out of place and out of time – bridges the gap between two poignant lovers in the wonderfully atmospheric England of Hugo-­ and Nebula-­nominated Bridget McKenna.

Quantum Zoo propels you on an enthralling journey through awe and emotion, highs and lows, with tender romance following hair-­raising action.

Join some of the hottest independent science-­fiction and fantasy authors writing today in the fascinating worlds they create from the zoo!


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Devouring Light
By J.M. Ney-Grimm

Can one small good deed offset ultimate destruction?

Mercurio stands watch over the first planet, guiding it through the perils of the void. Part messenger, part prankster, he cocks an eye for danger, but not from afar. Close to home lurks the real risk that his festival for Sol’s 25th anniversary will be a bust.

Failed negotiations with constellations and his fellow guardians send him to the brink of complete frustration…when a beautiful celestial wanderer fetches up at his domicile, seeking refuge.

Her form beguiles. Her mystery intrigues. And Mercurio’s fascination with his visitor poses yet another threat to Sol’s celebration.

Will Mercurio recognize his role as cat’s paw soon enough? Or will a looming menace – more lethal than any of the guardians imagine – threaten the solar system’s very existence?


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Elizabeth and Empire: Book Four of the Colplatschki Chronicles
By Alma T.C. Boykin

The higher the peak, the greater the fall.

Twenty years after the Seige of Vindobona, Duchess Elizabeth von Sarmas and her husband Col. Lazlo Destefani stand near the top of their world. But when a Frankonian army refuses to roll over and play dead, it sets off a series of conspiracies within the Imperial court that threated Elizabeth’s marriage, her position, and even her life. Emperor Thomas, young and untried, finds himself matching wits with King Laurence and even Elizabeth may not be canny, or strong, enough to stop Laurence this time.

They say the Age of Miracles is ended, but Elizabeth needs one more than ever!

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Knife Fights: A Memoir of Modern War in Theory and Practice

Saturday, November 15th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

KNIFE-FIGHTS

I’d read that Col. John Nagl’s Knife Fights was coming out, but somehow missed its publication last month. Until just now that is, and its already on my Kindle.

If you haven’t read him, you’ve missed out on the future — and the now — of warfare.

Just get this already.
*****
cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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The Top 10 Cinematic Portrayals of DC Comics Villains

Friday, November 14th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Warner Bros. recently announced an aggressive slate of films based upon DC Comics properties which will share a single cinematic universe, an answer to the successful franchise which Marvel Studios has built since 2008’s Iron Man. The DC slate opens with 2016’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and will continue the same year with Suicide Squad, which director David Ayer recently described as “The Dirty Dozen with supervillains.”

In the comics, the Suicide Squad boasts DC’s B-list villains, characters like Deadshot and Captain Boomerang. However, if rumors now circulating prove true, the cinematic interpretation of Suicide Squad may boast A-list villains like Lex Luthor and the Joker. Reports claim that bombshell actress Margot Robbie has been cast as Harley Quinn, and that Oscar-winner Jared Leto is in talks to play Joker.

In any case, the roster of DC Comics villains portrayed in live-action film is about to explode. Before that happens, let’s consider where the existing rogues gallery ranks. Here are the top 10 cinematic portrayals of DC Comics villains.

#10. Cillian Murphy’s Scarecrow

When it was announced that Christopher Nolan would be rebooting the Batman franchise years after Joel Schumacher piloted it into the ground, no one could have predicted how definitive the result would become. Among the bold moves made in re-imagining the property was featuring lesser known villains, including the Scarecrow.

Actor Cillian Murphy took what could have easily been a camp character and grounded him in a believable reality. Dr. Jonathan Crane served a vital narrative purpose befitting his nature as a criminal psychologist obsessed with fear. Fear stood as the dominant theme in Batman Begins, as Bruce Wayne turned his fear against the criminals holding an unholy grip upon Gotham City.

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The 10 Best Super-Hero vs Super-Hero Clashes in Comics

Friday, November 14th, 2014 - by Pierre Comtois

Let’s you and him fight! That has been the time-honored cry of comic-book fans for decades now, ever since Marvel launched the tradition of super-heroes clashing with one another almost as often as they did with super-villains. And what fans haven’t engaged in the favorite pastime of arguing about whose favorite hero was the stronger?

The hero vs. hero sub-genre began with the classic Torch vs. Sub-Mariner fight way back in comics’ golden age — not coincidentally at Timely Comics, ancestor to Marvel Comics. But aside from that instance, hero vs hero fights didn’t seem to catch fire and languished through the 1950s until Marvel started running super-heroes in its books again beginning with Fantastic Four #1.

Early encounters between the FF and hero/villain Sub-Mariner proved popular so it wasn’t long before Marvel began to regularly feature clashes between its super-heroes, a formula competitors tried to duplicate but never with such soul-satisfying results. The reason? Marvel’s secret weapon was artist Jack Kirby who could choreograph bludgeoning battle scenes better than anybody!

By comparison, competitors like DC were as sedate as a ladies’ sewing circle!

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The Women Some Women Can’t See

Friday, November 7th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
Image captured at a meeting of the downtrodden women of science fiction sewing circle and feminist empowerment society.

Image captured at a meeting of the downtrodden women of science fiction sewing circle and feminist empowerment society.

So The Atlantic has discovered women in Science Fiction. To be more precise, The Atlantic has discovered that women are “rising” in science fiction.  Again. Apparently they asked Ann Leckie about women and awards in Science Fiction and Leckie, best known for writing a novel in which people have two genders and pretend to only see the female one, explained:

But both Leckie and Hurley express a combination of optimism and cynicism when it comes to whether or not women in the science fiction world are actually making progress, and how quickly. Leckie points out that this isn’t the first time women have been in the spotlight for writing award winning science fiction. “Sometimes I feel very optimistic about it, I say look at this, there are more women getting awards,” she says. “And then I look back and the ‘70s. The ‘70s was a decade that was crammed with prominent women science fiction writers, and a lot of women made their debut in that decade or really came to prominence.”

This was the time of Ursula K. Le Guin and Vonda McIntyre, who both won joint Nebulas and Hugos. Anne McCaffrey, Kate Wilhelm, Joan Vinge, and Marion Zimmer Bradley were all nominated for Hugo Awards that decade. In 1973, the Alice Bradley Sheldon, who wrote under the pen name James Tiptree, Jr. wrote the famous, feminist short story called “The Women Men Don’t See.” Joanna Russ’s feminist science fiction book The Female Man was published in 1975 and nominated that year for a Nebula.

Then, Leckie says, the ‘80s and ‘90s happened. The rate of women nominated and winning awards dipped down again. And today, once again, society has this idea that women who write science fiction are a strange and interesting breed. In other words, today the community is having the same conversation it had in the ‘70s about women writing science fiction.

This is beyond precious.  First of all, I’d like to inform The Atlantic that the (ever-shrinking) community they’re talking about is the Science Fiction Writers of America, the same organization that went on the war path against two members for using the word “lady” which is apparently derogatory.  Of course, people with such high standards are having the best conversations.  At least, they’re having the best conversations, if the conversations you’re looking for are “excuse me, is the sky made of Swiss or Guyere?”

As for Ms. Leckie, I believe she is confused about the history of the field.  In fact, women went right on winning awards through the eighties and nineties.

For instance, this is a list of the Nebulas won by women since 1982 to 2011:

  • 2011 NOVEL: Blackout/All Clear, Connie Willis NOVELLA: “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window”, Rachel Swirsky SHORT STORY (tie): “Ponies”, Kij Johnson SHORT STORY (tie): “How Interesting: A Tiny Man”, Harlan Ellison
  • 2010 NOVELLA: The Women of Nell Gwynne’s, Kage Baker NOVELETTE: “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast”, Eugie Foster SHORT STORY: “Spar”, Kij Johnson RAY BRADBURY AWARD: District 9, Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell ANDRE NORTON AWARD: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Catherynne M. Valente
  • 2009 NOVEL: Powers, Ursula K. Le Guin NOVELLA: “The Spacetime Pool”, Catherine Asaro SHORT STORY: “Trophy Wives”, Nina Kiriki Hoffman
  • 2008 NOVELLA: “Fountain of Age”, Nancy Kress SHORT STORY: “Always”, Karen Joy Fowler ANDRE NORTON AWARD: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J. K. Rowling
  • 2007 SHORT STORY: “Echo”, Elizabeth Hand SCRIPT: Howl’s Moving Castle, Hayao Miyazaki, Cindy Davis Hewitt & Donald H. Hewitt ANDRE NORTON AWARD: Magic or Madness, Justine Larbalestier
  • 2006 NOVELLA: “Magic for Beginners”, Kelly Link NOVELETTE: “The Faery Handbag”, Kelly Link SHORT STORY: “I Live With You”, Carol Emshwiller ANDRE NORTON AWARD: Valiant, Holly Black
  • 2005 NOVEL: Paladin of Souls, Lois McMaster Bujold NOVELETTE: “Basement Magic”, Ellen Klages SHORT STORY: “Coming to Terms”, Eileen Gunn SCRIPT: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson
  • 2004 NOVEL: The Speed of Dark, Elizabeth Moon SHORT STORY: “What I Didn’t See”, Karen Joy Fowler SCRIPT: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Stephen Sinclair & Peter Jackson
  • 2003 SHORT STORY: “Creature”, Carol Emshwiller SCRIPT: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson
  • 2002 NOVEL: The Quantum Rose, Catherine Asaro NOVELETTE: “Louise’s Ghost”, Kelly Link SHORT STORY: “The Cure for Everything”, Severna Park
  • 2001 NOVELLA: “Goddesses”, Linda Nagata
  • 2000 NOVEL: Parable of the Talents, Octavia E. Butler NOVELETTE: “Mars Is No Place for Children”, Mary A. Turzillo SHORT STORY: “The Cost of Doing Business”, Leslie What
  • 1999 NOVELLA: “Reading the Bones”, Sheila Finch NOVELETTE: “Lost Girls”, Jane Yolen
  • 1998 NOVEL: The Moon and the Sun, Vonda N. McIntyre NOVELETTE: “The Flowers of Aulit Prison”, Nancy Kress SHORT STORY: “Sister Emily’s Lightship”, Jane Yolen
  • 1997 NOVEL: Slow River, Nicola Griffith SHORT STORY: “A Birthday”, Esther M. Friesner
  • 1996 NOVELLA: “Last Summer at Mars Hill”, Elizabeth Hand NOVELETTE: “Solitude”, Ursula K. Le Guin SHORT STORY: “Death and the Librarian”, Esther M. Friesner
  • 1995 SHORT STORY: “A Defense of the Social Contracts”, Martha Soukup
  • 1994 NOVEL: Red Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson
  • 1993 NOVEL: Doomsday Book, Connie Willis NOVELETTE: “Danny Goes to Mars”, Pamela Sargent SHORT STORY: “Even the Queen”, Connie Willis
  • 1992 NOVELLA: “Beggars in Spain”, Nancy Kress
  • 1991 NOVEL: Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
  • 1990 NOVEL: The Healer’s War, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough NOVELLA: “The Mountains of Mourning”, Lois McMaster Bujold NOVELETTE: “At the Rialto”, Connie Willis
  • 1989 NOVEL: Falling Free, Lois McMaster Bujold NOVELLA: “The Last of the Winnebagos”, Connie Willis
  • 1988 NOVELLA: “The Blind Geometer”, Pat Murphy SHORT STORY: “Forever Yours, Anna”, Kate Wilhelm
  • 1987 NOVELETTE: “The Girl Who Fell into the Sky”, Kate Wilhelm
  • 1986 SHORT STORY: “Out of All Them Bright Stars”, Nancy Kress
  • 1985 NOVELETTE: “Bloodchild”, Octavia E. Butler
  • 1983 NOVELETTE: “Fire Watch”, Connie Willis SHORT STORY: “A Letter from the Clearys”, Connie Willis
  • 1982 SHORT STORY: “The Bone Flute”, Lisa Tuttle [refused]
  • 1981 NOVELLA: “Unicorn Tapestry”, Suzy McKee Charnas

And this is a list of Hugo Awards for the same period:

1981 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at Devention in Denver, CO. 1981 Hugo Nominees

Novel: The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge

Dramatic Presentation: The Empire Strikes Back written by Leigh Brackett & Lawrence Kasdan, directed by Irvin Kershner (20th Century Fox)

Fan Writer: Susan Wood

Fan Artist: Victoria Poyser

1982 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at Chicon IV in Chicago, IL. 1982 Hugo Nominees

Novel: Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh

Fan Artist: Victoria Poyser

Campbell Award: Alexis Gilliland

1983 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at Constellation in Baltimore, MD. 1983 Hugo Nominees

Novella: “Souls” by Joanna Russ

Novelette: “Fire Watch” by Connie Willis

1984 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at LACon II in Los Angeles, CA. 1984 Hugo Nominees

Short Story: “Speech Sounds” by Octavia Butler

Professional Editor: Shawna McCarthy

1985 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at Aussiecon Two in Melbourne, Australia. 1985 Hugo Nominees

Novelette: “Bloodchild” by Octavia Butler

1986 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at Confederation in Atlanta, GA. 1986 Hugo Nominees

Professional Editor: Judy Lynn Del Rey [Note: Lester Del Rey rejected this award on the basis that Judy Lynn would have objected to the award being given just because she had recently died.]

Fan Artist: joan hanke-woods

Campbell Award: Melissa Scott

1987 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at Conspiracy ’87 in Brighton, United Kingdon. 1987 Hugo Nominees

Campbell Award: Karen Joy Fowler

1988 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at NolaCon II, in New Orleans, LA. 1988 Hugo Nominees

Novelette: “Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight” by Ursula K. Le Guin

Campbell Award: Judith Moffett

1989 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at Noreascon III in Boston, MA. 1989 Hugo Nominees

Novel: Cyteen by C.J. Cherryh

Novella: “The Last of the Winnebagos” by Connie Willis

Fan Artist: Brad Foster and Diana Gallagher Wu (tie)

Campbell Award: Michaela Roessner

1990 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at ConFiction in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. 1990 Hugo Nominees

Novella: “The Mountains of Mourning” by Lois McMaster Bujold

Short Story: “Boobs” by Suzy McKee Charnas

Fanzine: The Mad 3 Party (Leslie Turek, ed.)

Campbell Award: Kristine Kathryn Rusch

1991 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at Chicon V in Chicago, IL. 1991 Hugo Award Nominees

Novel: The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold

Campbell Award: Julia Ecklar

1992 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at MagiCon in Orlando, FL. Photos from the MagiCon Hugo Exhibit 1992 Hugo Award Nominees

Novel: Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold

Novella: “Beggars in Spain” by Nancy Kress

Fanzine: Mimosa (Dick & Nicki Lynch, ed.)

1993 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at ConFrancisco in San Francisco, CA. 1993 Hugo Nominees

Novel: A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge and Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (tie)

Novelette: “The Nutcracker Coup” by Janet Kagan

Short Story: “Even the Queen” by Connie Willis

Fanzine: Mimosa (Dick and Nicki Lynch, eds.)

Fan Artist: Peggy Ranson

Campbell Award: Laura Resnick

1994 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at Conadian in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. 1994 Hugo Nominees

Short Story: “Death on the Nile” by Connie Willis

Professional Editor: Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Fanzine: Mimosa (Dick & Nicki Lynch, eds.)

Campbell Award: Amy Thomson

1995 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out on Sunday, August 27 at Intersection in Glasgow, Scotland. 1995 Hugo Nominees

Novel: Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)

1996 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out on Sunday, September 1 at L.A.con III in Anaheim, CA. 1996 Hugo Nominees

Short Story: “The Lincoln Train” by Maureen F. McHugh (F&SF, April 1995)

Dramatic Presentation: Babylon 5 “The Coming of Shadows” written by J. Michael Straczynski, directed by Janet Greek (Warner Brothers)

1997 Hugo Winners

The 1997 Hugos were awarded at LoneStarCon II in San Antonio, TX. 1997 Hugo Award Nominees

Short Story: “The Soul Selects Her Own Society…” by Connie Willis (Asimov’s 4/96; War of the Worlds: Global Dispatches)

Fanzine: Mimosa (Dick & Nicki Lynch, eds.)

1998 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were awarded on Friday, August 7 at the Convention Center in Baltimore, MD at Bucconeer. Charles Sheffield served as Master of Ceremonies.

Fanzine: Mimosa (Dick & Nicki Lynch, eds.)

Campbell Award: Mary Doria Russell

1999 Hugo Winners

The 1999 Hugos were awarded at Aussiecon III on September 4 in Melborne, Australia. Complete voting records. 1999 Hugo Nominees

Campbell Award: Nalo Hopkinson

2000 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at Chicon 2000 (VI) on Saturday, September 3, 2000. Novel: A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge (Tor)

Novella: “The Winds of Marble Arch” by Connie Willis (Asimov’s 10-11/99)

2001 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at the Millennium Philcon on Sunday, September 2, 2001. Esther Friesner was the MC.

Novel: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (Bloomsbury; Scholastic/Levine)

Novelette: “Millennium Babies” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Asimov’s Jan 2000)

Fan Artist: Teddy Harvia

Campbell Award: Kristine Smith

2002 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at ConJosé on Sunday, September 1, 2002. Tad Williams served as the MC.

Professional Editor: Ellen Datlow

Dramatic Presentation: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson, directed by Peter Jackson (New Line Cinema)

Fan Artist: Teddy Harvia

Campbell Award: Jo Walton

2003 Winners

The 2003 Hugo Awards were given out at Torcon 3 on Saturday, August 30. Spider Robinson served as Toastmaster. Photos from Torcon. 2003 Hugo Award Nominees

Non-Fiction Book: Better to Have Loved: The Life of Judith Merril, Judith Merril and Emily Pohl-Weary (Between the Lines)

Fanzine: Mimosa (Richard & Nicki Lynch ed.)

Fan Artist: Sue Mason

Campbell Award: Wen Spencer

2004 Winners

The 2004 Hugo Awards were given out at Noreascon 4 on Saturday, September 4. Novel: Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold (Eos)

Semiprozine: Locus (Charles N. Brown, Jennfier Hall, and Kirsten Gong-Wong)

Fanzine: Emerald City edited by Cheryl Morgan

2005 Winners

The 2005 Hugo Awards were given out at Interaction on Saturday, August 6.

Novel: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury)

Novelette: “The Faery Handbag” by Kelly Link (The Faery Reel Viking)

Non-fiction Book: The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction ed. by Edward James & Farah Mendlesohn (Cambridge University Press)

Professional Editor: Ellen Datlow

Web Site: SciFiction ed. by Ellen Datlow, Craig Engler, general manager

Fan Artist: Sue Mason

Campbell Award: Elizabeth Bear

2006 Winners

The 2006 Hugo Awards were given out at L. A. Con on Saturday, August 26. Guest of Honor Connie Willis served as MC, aided by Robert Silverberg.

Novella: “Inside Job” by Connie Willis (Asimov’s January 2005)

Non-fiction Book: Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop by Kate Wilhelm (Small Beer Press)

Semiprozine: Locus, edited by Charles N. Brown, Kirsten Gong-Wong, & Liza Groen Trombi

Fanzine: Plokta edited by Alison Scott, Steve Davies & Mike Scott

Special Committee Awards: Betty Ballantine, Harlan Ellison

2007 Winners

The 2007 Hugo Awards were given out at Nippon on Saturday, September 1. Toastmasters were George Takei and Nozomi Ohmori 2007 Hugo Award Nominees

Professional Artist: Donato Giancola

Semiprozine: Locus, edited by Charles N. Brown, Kirsten Gong-Wong, & Liza Groen Trombi

Fanzine: Science Fiction Five-yearly edited by Lee Hoffman, Geri Sullivan & Randy Byers

Campbell Award: Naomi Novik

2008 Winners

The 2008 Hugo Awards were given out at Denvention on Saturday, August 9, 2008. The Master of Ceremony was Wil McCarthy.

Novella: “All Seated on the Ground” by Connie Willis (Asimov’s Dec. 2007; Subterranean Press)

Short Story: “Tideline” by Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s June 2007)

Semiprozine: Locus, edited by Charles N. Brown, Kirsten Gong-Wong, & Liza Groen Trombi

Campbell Award: Mary Robinette Kowal

2009 Winners

The 2009 Hugo Awards were given out at Anticipation on Sunday, August 9, 2009. The MCs were Julie Czerneda and Yves Meynard.

Novella: “The Erdmann Nexus” by Nancy Kress (Asimov’s Oct/Nov 2008)

Novelette: “Shoggoths in Bloom” by Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s Mar 2008)

Graphic Story: Girl Genius, Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones Written by Kaja & Phil Foglio, art by Phil Foglio, colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)

Editor, Short Form: Ellen Datlow

Semiprozine: Weird Tales edited by Ann VanderMeer & Stephen H. Segal

Fan Writer: Cheryl Morgan

2010 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at Aussiecon IV on Sunday, September 5, 2010. Garth Nix served as MC. 2010 Hugo Award Nominees

Graphic Novel: Girl Genius, Volume 9: Agatha Heterodyne & the Heirs of the Storm Written by Kaja & Phil Foglio; Art by Phil Foglio; Colours by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)

Editor – Short Form: Ellen Datlow

Semiprozine: Clarkesworld edited by Neil Clarke, Sean Wallace, & Cheryl Morgan

Campbell Award: Seanan McGuire

2011 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at Renovation on Saturday, August 20, 2011. Jay Lake and Ken Scholes served as MCs. 2011 Hugo Award Nominees

Novel: Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis (Ballantine Spectra)

Short Story: “For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s, September 2010)

Non-Fiction Book: Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Tara O’Shea (Mad Norwegian)

Graphic Novel: Girl Genius, Volume 10: Agatha Heterodyne & the Guardian Misuse Written by Kaja & Phil Foglio; Art by Phil Foglio; Colours by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)

Editor – Short Form: Sheila Williams

Semiprozine: Clarkesworld edited by Neil Clarke, Sean Wallace, & Cheryl Morgan; podcast directed by Kate Baker

Fan Writer: Claire Brialey

As you see, women quite disappeared from science fiction and fantasy in the eighties and nineties being kept out by the man. Whoever that man was. (Some men might actually have sneaked into the compilation above because I’m cut-pasting on a faulty mouse.  Some women probably got cut out, too. Let me assure you right now that this is a plot of the patriarchy. Your worst fears are justified.) Or perhaps while in other countries women are being enslaved and sold and killed, Ms. Leckie is trying to use the Gramscian tactic of claiming victimhood to make herself look interesting?  And therefore tries to claim discrimination that women in science fiction have never actually suffered, much less in the last thirty years? Nah, surely it would never happen. For heavens sake, that’s about as likely as the organization that used to represent all the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and which is now determined to represent only the POLITICALLY CORRECT Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America voting for all females for an award, and then celebrating the fact that only females won the award and saying that even if the stories aren’t all that good, the males deserve it for keeping women out of the awards women have been winning all along. As we know, that would never happen.  Not in a sane world.  Or an insane one.  Not unless the moon were made of green cheese. Which it’s not, since SFWA has narrowed it down to Swiss or Guyere in their latest important conversation.

And it’s a good thing that never happened, because if The AtlanticThe Atlantic, that’s like a real magazine, right?  And they have layers and layers of fact checkers, right? – were to publish an article about how women disappeared from the science fiction and fantasy awards in the eighties and nineties, we’d have to point at them and laugh and make duck noises, which would definitely leads to take them less seriously the next time they make grandiose claims based on the self-serving narrative of a small and vocal group, right.

But fortunately that never happened. Because if Ms. Leckie had said something as ridiculous as:

Leckie agrees, saying that there is a community of women writers who have been bolstered by their ability to find and support one another. “The Internet really lets people connect that wouldn’t have in the past, and lets conversations happen and connections happen. That’s really something that happens, I’m not sure it’s a club with membership cards but I think there’s some kind of community.”

One would be forced to respond, “Oh, Sweet Pea” (totally allowed. After all the Democrats used it in an ad) “A community of women is not in the nature of a writers’ society which, after all, cares more about excellence in writing than about what is between the writer’s legs.  A community of women is a sorority, a lesbian dating club or a sewing circle.  Given how conventional you all are and how you draw together for comfort and protection, Sweet Pea, I’m going with sewing circle.”

But since that embarrassing article never happened, I don’t have to say that.  And that’s good.  Imagine if I did have to say it.  Why, it would be rude.  And I’m never rude.  Even when sorely tempted by the self-aggrandizing nonsense of pseudo-pioneers.

The real pioneers are in indie, where we have some recommendations for you today.


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Farmhand
By Lilania Begley 

Wounded veteran Dev Macquire needs some farm help until he recovers. When his father, Gray, brings home a new hand, he’s dismayed to meet Irina. How can a woman do the rough, heavy work they need? As she works her way into their life, and into his heart, he’s faced with a new dilemma. Can he persuade her to stay, and to accept a new role in his life?
Irina took the job on a whim. She just wanted to work hard enough to forget why her life was on hold and her future uncertain. Daily reminded of a brighter past, a childhood spent on horseback…but her new feelings for Dev were definitely not sisterly. At the end of the summer she’d leave, it was too dangerous to risk staying near him.

As a wildfire threatens the countryside, racing toward the Macquire place, Dev and Irina discover what true partnership can feel like, working together to find the arsonist who is responsible. When the fires die out, are there embers left smoldering in hearts?


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Beneath the Canyons (Daughter of the Wildings Book 1)
By Kyra Halland 

Only $0.99 through 11/9/14!

Cowboys and gunslingers meet wizards in this high fantasy series set in a world inspired by the American Wild West. Silas Vendine is a mage, a bounty hunter authorized by the Mage Council to hunt down and stop renegade wizards. He’s also a freedom fighter, committed to protecting the non-magical people of the Wildings from the overreaching ambitions of the mages. It’s a dangerous life, and Silas knows it. Still, when he comes to the town of Bitterbush Springs and meets Lainie Banfrey, a young woman born in the Wildings who is both drawn to and terrified of her own developing magical abilities, he finds far more trouble and excitement than he bargained for…


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Wreathed
By Curtis Edmonds 

Wendy Jarrett is smart, tall, and lonely. Adam Lewis is tall, gorgeous, and available. They meet at the funeral for Adam’s crazy uncle Sheldon, and seem made for each other. But there’s a catch.

Sheldon was previously married to Wendy’s overbearing mother, and leaves the only possession in his estate—an ugly old Victorian house in Cape May—to her. This causes a serious rift between Wendy and Adam.

Wendy must take charge of the situation and learn the secret of the old house—and what she finds there may cause her to lose her chance at true love.


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Duty from Ashes (Honor and Duty, Book 2)
By Sam Schall 

Duty calls. Honor demands action.

Major Ashlyn Shaw has survived false accusations and a brutal military prison. Now free, she finds her homeworld once again at war with an enemy that will stop at nothing to destroy everything she holds dear. Duty has Ashlyn once again answering the call to serve. She has seen what the enemy is capable of and will do everything she can to prevent it from happening to the home she loves and the people she took an oath to protect.

But something has changed. It goes beyond the fact that the enemy has changed tactics they never wavered from during the previous war. It even goes beyond the fact that there is still a nagging doubt in the back of Ashlyn’s mind that those who betrayed her once before might do so again. No, there is more to the resumption of hostilities, something that seems to point at a new player in the game. But who and what are they playing at?

Will Ashlyn be able to unmask the real enemy before it is too late?

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Men on Strike Coming Soon in Paperback

Thursday, November 6th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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Men on Strike has a new cover and preface and is coming out in paperback soon. Thanks to everyone who bought the book and made it successful enough to come out in paperback.

*****

Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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Blondie’s Chris Stein Shrugs Off Iran’s Violent Treatment of Women

Monday, November 3rd, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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Debbie Harry’s ex-boyfriend and Blondie co-founder Chris Stein has just released a photography collection, featuring his lifelong muse.

And why not? No less an authority than rock photography guru Bob Gruen famously said, “You can’t take a bad picture of Debbie Harry.”

Unfortunately, Stein marrs the collection with a stunningly multi-level-stupid comment, regarding his famous picture, above.

Stein quips to who else but The Guardian:

UK tabloids don’t push the limits of credibility any more than their American counterparts, but in a way they got there first. Here, Debbie is reading about sexism under the ayatollah.

Get it? Decades of well-documented, sharia-inspired violence against women in Iran was probably exaggerated, according to Stein, because it was reported by a lower class “red top” English tabloid back in the 1970s.

Stein further ingratiates himself with his British host by slagging stupid, hysterical American “yellow journalists,” too, for no apparent reason.

Factor in the word “sexism” as his mealy-mouthed synonym for “rape, torture and murder,” and it’s quite breathtaking how much smug “enlightened” ignorance Stein managed to squeeze into two just sentences.

Especially the same week that Iranian authorities executed a woman for killing her rapist.

All this from a man I feel safe in presuming voted for Obama twice, and whose views on every subject are reliably, predictably “progressive.”

But of course!

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What Are the Secrets to How Asia Works?

Saturday, November 1st, 2014 - by Rich Tucker

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For centuries, the economic center of gravity followed Horace Greeley’s advice and went West. Slowly but steadily, it marched out of the Middle East, through Vienna, Paris, London and even New York.

But today the economic action isn’t in Chicago, or L.A., or even Honolulu. It’s gone so far west, it’s back in the East. Asia is where the growth is, and everyone wants to know why. Author Joe Studwell has an answer, and a warning.

Studwell is a journalist who’s lived and worked in Asia for decades. His most recent book, How Asia Works, aims to divulge the recipe for that continent’s economic success. And, of course, it’s important to note that Asia isn’t uniformly successful; it hosts its fair share of failing economic states. Studwell also explains why that’s the case.

“There are three critical interventions that governments can use to speed up economic development,” Studwell writes in his introduction. These could be boiled down into three Fs: farming, factories and finance.

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Who is the Real Monster in Publishing? A Halloween Tale

Friday, October 31st, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
Amazon -- BOO! Scared now?

Amazon — BOO!
Scared now?

Hi, this is Sarah.  Today we have a guest post by my friend Amanda Green.

Who is the Real Monster in Publishing?

I don’t have time and I don’t have the spare brain cells to move away from final edits into blogging. Unfortunately, the idiots just won’t let me alone. Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have gone to Facebook to check out what was going on. But, really, is that so bad as I have my last cup of coffee of the morning?

Anyway, I wander innocently — quit snickering — into one of the groups I belong to and find this waiting for me. Now, I know the Telegraph isn’t the most unbiased reporting site on the net. But it tops even the Guardian with this piece.

Let’s start from the beginning. . . .

Amazon is like Isis, says literary agent.

Wow, nothing like hitting a butt-ton of hot buttons right off the bat. Funny, you’d think with all the media coverage of the evil that is Amazon (yes, I’m being sarcastic), someone would have picked up the stories of the corporate troubleshooters going around beheading folks who it saw as being wrong. Hell, they’d have started with more than a few publishers and agents long ago. Funny, but I haven’t seen anything about that. Have you?

The online retailer has long been accused of making it nearly impossible for authors to earn a living.

What?!? Uh, not only no, but HELL NO.

Before Amazon started the KDP program, there was very little an author could do to get their work into the hands of the reading public. We vied for a very few slots available for new authors, sending our work out first to agents. Why first to agents? Because the vast majority of “real” publishers wouldn’t look at anything that didn’t come via that route. Then, if you were lucky enough to find an agent — who would take at least 15% of anything you earned plus expenses — your work was submitted to publishers. There was never any guarantee that you would be picked up by a publishing house and, if you were, you’d get your advance and probably never see another penny from your book.

Why? Because publishers, even after the Digital Age began, continued to follow the same business plan they had had since the invention of the printing press. For every book sold, the publisher received anywhere from 70% or more of the monies made plus expenses. The rest was divvied up between the author and his agent. Oh, one other little accounting anomaly they don’t talk about in mixed company — they use the figures from BookScan to determine how many books were sold. In case you don’t know what what BookScan is, it is the Nelson ratings for books. You know Neilson. That’s the company that puts little boxes in a small number of homes across the nation and the networks use hand-wavium to determine, based on that small number of “randomly selected” homes, what shows are popular and what are not.

But Amazon, the company that gave authors the first viable avenue to get our work directly into the hands of the public and that pays us up to 70% of monies earned, keeps us from making a living writing.

Riiight.

American agent Andrew Wylie “condemned the ‘brutality’ of Amazon’s tactics. . . .”

Sigh. Amazon is so brutal it offered to pay Hachette authors for sales made during the contract negotiation period. Hachette is the side in the dispute who declined. Even when Amazon said it would solely be responsible for payments to the authors, the publishers stepped in and, citing how evil Amazon was, declined this offer of help for their authors. But Amazon is brutal.

Oh, I know. Amazon is brutal for taking away the pre-order button on Hachette titles. Hmm, titles it may not be allowed to sell when they are published. Titles Hachette may decline to send to Amazon because they are still in contract negotiations. But Amazon is brutal.

“I believe with the restored health of the publishing industry and having some sense of where this sort of Isis-like distribution channel, Amazon, is going to be buried and in which plot of sand they will be stuck, publishers will be able to raise the author’s digital royalty to forty or fifty percent.”

Say what?

Hmm, why can’t they pay that sort of royalty on e-books now? Major publishers don’t have to re-edit, have new art done, store, transport, etc., e-books. All they have to do, if they know their jobs, is convert the file for digital release, resize the cover image and then save it in the appropriate format. Then they hit a button and upload it to the appropriate stores. They don’t even have to change the listings for the books because, duh, they have already set the listings up for the print version. The only thing that costs extra in the digital conversion is their idiotic belief that they have to include DRM.

So tell me again why authors aren’t making 40 – 50% royalties on e-books right now? Especially when mid to small size presses are already paying their authors up to that much?

“Writers will begin to make enough money to live.”

Pardon me but Bullsh*t!

The way they have the system gamed, there is no way most writers will ever make enough money to live. I’ve seen too many statements from writers I know, I’ve talked to too many others who get what can only be called works of fiction when it comes to their royalty reports. If the publishers can’t present accurate sales reports now to their authors, why in the world would anyone believe they would do so after they managed to crush Amazon — hahahahahahahahaha! — and the authors no longer had a viable alternative to what is, at best, voluntary indenture?

[He] went on to urge publishers to form a united front to turn the tide against Amazon. Only then, he said, could authors begin to profit again from sales of their books.

No, only then would publishers convince themselves that they were once again profiting from the sales of their books. Look folks, publishers want to return to the agency pricing model that the courts threw out. There were plenty of contracts signed with authors during that time and I don’t recall the publishers touting how they were increasing royalties for authors because now the publishers were free to set their own e-book prices. Oh, there was a slight increase in what some authors made but no where near what this almighty agent who has been drinking his own Kool-Aid seems to suggest they will become. And why? Because the publishers didn’t have to increase royalties. If they get their way with regard to Amazon, I guarantee they won’t do so unless forced and who is going to force them?

According to Wylie, Hachette is the great hero for standing tall against the evil of Amazon. Why? Because Amazon no longer offered the deep discounts for Hachette books and slowed shipping times, etc. Well boo fracking hoo. They are in contract negotiations. Amazon is a company out to make a profit. Guess what, boys and girls, so is Hachette and it makes that profit on the backs of authors.

Let’s be real for a moment. Amazon is no angel. But it is the height of hypocrisy for an agent to get out there and proclaim that all it will take is for Amazon to go down for authors to start earning a living wage from their work. For one, Amazon is the main distributor of books, print and digital, to the reading public. For another, raising prices for books — which is what the publishers want to be able to do at their whim — will not lead to an increase in sales. At least not an increase in sales for their authors. It might lead to one for those of us who are either hybrid-authors or indie authors. Finally, Wylie needs to climb out of his ivory tower office, quit hobnobbing with the publishing elite and get down in the trenches. He needs to talk to all those authors who have been orphaned by their publishers or who have been on the receiving end of what are obviously fictitious royalty reports but who have been too scared to challenge them because their agents have said the author would never again get a contract with any publisher. Add to that the need to listen to the authors when they discuss just how much more — chuckle — they would make with the royalty increase on e-books. We are talking pennies per copy, not big bucks. And remember, all that is after Wylie and agents like him get their cut, which very likely would go up as well, and after the publishers take out their cut. Wylie also needs to talk to the reading public and, more importantly, he needs to listen to it.

So, on this All Hallows Eve, Amazon is not the big bad monster. It is, in fact, the gladiator that came in and opened the market for authors in a way it has never been opened before.

Amanda Green is older than 20 and younger than death and that’s all you’ll get from her about her age. After all, it’s not polite to ask a woman how old she is. She’s a mother, a daughter and was a wife. She’s spent most of my life in the South and loves to travel. She’s also a writer, among whose works can be counted Nocturnal Origins, Nocturnal Serenade, and Nocturnal Interlude. When not writing under her own name, or under Ellie Ferguson or Sam Schall, she’s known to make trouble for the proponents of gynocracy, the defenders of the traditional system of publishing and other pesky critters online.


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Forge: Book I of the Thrall Web Series
By T.K. Anthony 

The shared colony planet of Forge is at the crossroads of three great peoples: the Scotian Realm, the Xern Cluster, and the Tormin Accord. Only a few know that Forge is also in the crosshairs of imminent invasion.

On Forge, a mindblind and amnesic Scotian labors under the whip of his Tormin master. Tazhret wants to believe the beautiful dream woman who whispers hope to his harrowed heart. But is she real, a memory of his forgotten past? Or merely the single bright thread in the grim visions induced by the same hallucinogen that took his Elemental talents and put him in the chains of indentured servitude.

Real or vision, Tazhret loves her just the same, never dreaming they share a dark future pitting them against their Scotian high king, and the predatory psychics of the Khevox Dominion…with the fate of the three peoples hanging on the thread of their love. An Instapundit reader recommendation.


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Seeds of Enmity: A Forge Prequel (Thrall Web Series)
By T.K. Anthony 

Thirteen-year-old Col Adair doesn’t realize the petty hostilities of young Duke Arran are only a screen for a dangerous foe, targeting Col, Clan Adair, and the Scotian Realm they serve. When an assault leaves Col alone to defend the lives of his family, will victory cost him his future?


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The Man Who Was A Santa Claus
By Walter Daniels 

It’s easy to believe that one person can’t make a difference. Joe never believed he would, and neither did eight-year-old Charlie. She didn’t believe in Santa, because they were all over, and never brought the Christmas Present that she really wanted. Neither knew what would come from their meeting, nor the lives that would be changed. Joe would have a bigger “family” than he ever expected. Charlie would get more than she ever dreamed of, when her “wish” was finally granted.

Like Charlie, maybe the next time you see a “Santa Claus,” you may be seeing a real one.


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Portals of Infinity, Book Three: Of Temples and Trials
By John Van Stry 

With the first of what he suspects will be many favors completed, William finds himself busy with important tasks back at his home on Saladin. Queen Rachel has several jobs she needs him to do, and Feliogustus has similar tasks in mind for him as well. All in all, it seems easy enough to Will, it’s not like he’ll be fighting in any wars, or traveling across the infinite on a strange quest after all.

But things aren’t always as easy as they might seem, and both politics, as well as the other gods, aren’t going to ignore Will, or the tasks he’s been set to complete. And is if dealing with that isn’t problem enough, when the time comes to do some serious diplomacy between Hiland and a neighboring Kingdom, a deadly problem comes from a most unexpected quarter, forcing Will to take immediate action to payback both his, and his God’s foes.

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New Ghost Stories for Halloween

Friday, October 31st, 2014 - by Andrew Klavan

The Fiction Desk 6 New Ghost Stories

Here’s a find for my fellow ghost story lovers, just in time for Halloween. Wandering aimlessly about the internet, I stumbled on a British site called The Fiction Desk. They apparently run an annual ghost story competition and then publish the winners as an anthology. So okay, for eight bucks I’m game. I downloaded last year’s book — New Ghost Stories — to see if there was anything worth reading.

And yes, I’m delighted to report there very much is! The ghost story is hard to do and I’m a connoisseur and very particular. A good ghost story doesn’t horrify but is marked by a shudder at the crisis point and a fine long chill afterward. M.R. James did it routinely; E.F. Benson and E. A. Poe both did it spectacularly a few times; Stephen King is a modern master when he puts his mind to it. There are many others less well known, but my point is, it takes real skill to pull it off.

All the stories in this anthology are skillful. All are well written. Most are pretty spooky. Some are very good. One — Chalklands by Richard Smyth — is downright excellent: beautifully written, wonderfully imagined, expertly constructed — and it delivers a genuine long-lasting eerie scare.

I’ve read a lot — a lot — of anthologies that include the most famous living names in the genre. This anthology can stand up with any of them. I realize eight dollars isn’t chump change, but these lesser known writers could all use support. So if you have the coin and enjoy a good ghost story, this is a solid anthology and good bedtime reading for the 31st.

******
Cross-posted from Klavan on the Culture

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7 Good Things and 8 Bad Things About the New Avengers Trailer

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 - by Pierre Comtois

Anticipation following the first Avengers movie was so thick you could cut it with a knife.

That anticipation was dimmed somewhat when it was learned that Thanos, who appeared for all but two seconds at the very end, was not slated as the villain for Avengers 2. Instead, he appeared next in the surprise blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy helping to underscore one of the exciting things about Marvel Studios films (as opposed to Marvel films from other studios): their interconnectivity, the ingredient that catapulted tiny Marvel Comics ahead of giant competitor DC Comics in the early 1960s.

Where will Thanos appear next? Who can tell?

The point is, the Marvel movie universe isn’t dependent on any single ingredient. Not Thanos, not Tony Stark, not Captain America, not SHIELD. Something to keep in mind as Avengers 2 rolls around along with rumors that major characters (driven by the expiration of standing contracts of the actors who play them) are soon to fall by the wayside.

Tony Stark may go off into the sunset, Cap may be killed off, Thor may end up in Valhalla leading to a possible reorganized and reconstituted Avengers team much like the epochal events that took place in Avengers #16 when Iron Man, Giant-Man, and Thor quit and were replaced by Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch, the latter two perhaps not coincidentally, set to be introduced in Avengers 2.

Which brings us to the new, recently released Avengers 2 trailer which, if it accurately presages the events in the film, raises the bar as well as the stakes for the new film, one that promises to meet if not exceed the colossal earnings of the first.

With so much riding on the new film, not least of which is the expectation that its content tops the first, the trailer hints at less than perfection. Yeah, there seems to be plenty to like in the sample footage, but there’s also stuff that makes discerning viewers stop and wonder. Thus, in the interests of keeping fans fully informed (in no particular order) here are some reasons why they should look forward to Avengers 2 as well as a few to inspire doubt.

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Gatekeepers, Devil Theories, And The ‘Creators Of Real Books’

Saturday, October 25th, 2014 - by Francis W. Porretto

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Amanda Green’s incredulous piece at Mad Genius Club, together with Sarah Hoyt’s fully compatible fulmination here at PJ Lifestyle, have cast an unsavory light on what remains of the “conventional” publishing industry…or, as they prefer to call themselves, the “creators of real books.”

Apparently, the “creators of real books” are somewhat put out at Amazon, now the largest outlet for reading material in the world…indeed, the largest such outlet the world has ever known. You’d think those “creators” would be leaning over backwards to please so important a conduit for their wares. You’d think they’d be straining to learn from Amazon’s success, and to copy whichever of its tactics they could. And you’d think they’d be examining their own practices critically, especially in light of the eBook explosion that’s been so important a component in reducing their market share.

Well, maybe some of them are doing one or more of those things. But some prefer to attack those who are doing it better than they.

Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

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The Real Reasons You Need to Read Mark Steyn’s New Book

Saturday, October 25th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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Why, yes, Mark Steyn does mention me in his new book, thanks.

Twice.

But leaving aside pages 228 and 409 for a moment:

Why (else) should you read The (Un)documented Mark Steyn?

For the same reason you’d buy — and maybe gift someone — The Who Hits 50! or Sound System:

Because a “greatest hits” collection — and that’s what Steyn’s new book is — is an ideal way to either introduce yourself to an artist’s work, or have all the “good ones”  in one convenient package.

So no more having to google “Martha + Stewart + coxcomb + topiary” when Christmas rolls around.

If you’re looking for that pithy Mark Steyn quote that you just know will be perfect for your next best man speech or poli-sci 101 term paper, you’ll probably find it in here.

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Who Creates the Books?

Friday, October 24th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
The field is your own.  Harvest it.

The field is your own. Harvest it.

Hi, this is Sarah, and I’m a writer.  Yes, I have actually tried to give it up, but the longest I lasted was two weeks, and then my sons and husband got together to beg me quite eloquently (which was a miracle as the younger kid was then one and a half) to go back to writing, because what I did instead of writing (obsessive cleaning and minding THEIR business) was driving them nuts.

I’ve been a writer since then, nineteen years woman and… woman.

Which is why there are some things that have the ability to make my blood boil, make me foam at the mouth.  This happened when I read my friend, Amanda Green’s post on our shared writers’ group blog, Mad Genius Club this week.

Let’s start with this article from USA Today. I knew from reading the headline that it was probably something that would have my blood pressure rising. After all, how else would I react to “Real books can defeat Amazon and e-books”?

Wait! What? Real books?

Then I started reading and I realize the headline was only the beginning.

And then she quotes the article.  Oh, my, does she quote the article.

The book business believes that Amazon is unfair in the way it sells books. It believes, in fact, that Amazon in its sales practices — pressuring the book publishers to lower their prices and profits — is the enemy. Amazon’s ultimate design, publishers believe, is to ruin them or to wholly shift the center of gravity in the business from the creators of books to Amazon, the dominant seller.

You should probably read all of Amanda’s post, but this is about the time that I turned Green and started stomping around the room, screaming “Sarah Smash.”

It might not have been so bad if it weren’t for an experience my friend Cedar had this week.  Cedar Sanderson is a young and upcoming writer.  I’ve been mentoring her for the best part of – eep – thirteen years, back when all she wanted to do was write some inspirational essays.  Well, a couple of years ago she started writing books, and now she has four in two series out and this year she’ll make in the low five figures from them.

She was talking to me about this a few weeks ago and said “I know it’s not much” which is when I told her the first time I made 15000 came when I’d been in the business for ten years, and had written ten books.  Oh, sure, I get almost that per advance, but advances aren’t paid outright.  They’re paid in three (sometimes four) installments linked to signing, delivery, acceptance and, sometimes, release of the book.  It’s amazing how many years that can stretch across.

Oh, and I was in the business four years before I got my first royalty check, after which the book was immediately taken out of print, because in the then-model, the publisher didn’t count on paying royalties.  Not to midlisters.  (Unless the publisher was Baen.  Which is why I’m still with Baen.)

Well, last week, Cedar went to a panel at the university she attends and was talking about career prospects.  The doyenne of the assembled group was an elderly woman staunchly against self publishing, who just loves her publisher and all its works (and all its empty promises – oops, sorry, thought I was in church for a moment.)

When it came Cedar’s time to talk, she said something about hoping to be able to make a living from writing.  At which point the elderly love-my-publisher writer laughed and said, “Honey, you can’t make a living from this.  I’ve been writing for twenty years and I’m not even close to that.”

That is not only factually wrong, (ask Chris Nuttall, Peter Grant, Doug Dandrige and a dozen more I can’t call to mind right now) but it is also morally wrong.

When I was a kid in Portugal, during the revolution, there was a whole lot of screaming about “the land to them who work it.”  This was mostly in the South where, since Roman times, the land has been held in a system of Latifundia.   And the cry to expropriate the owners and hand out the parcels to the workers was wrong on several heads: first because most of them wished to form collective farms, aka going broke on the installment plan; second because the land in the South of Portugal is so poor that even if you dolled it out into little parcels, each person would starve.  By having the huge farm, the owners made it possible for their various hired hands to make a living from farming.

When I read that journalist above talking about the publishers as the “creators” of the book, I thought of the same “The books to them who create them.”

Except the publishers don’t create the books anymore than those hired hands each farmed a parcel of land.

The publishers used to be an essential part of getting the book to market, pre-amazon.  They printed large numbers, publicized, acted as an intermediary between the writer and their public.

They were, in that sense, good hired hands.

And then the costs of producing a book and getting them to market, through print on demand (which according to my Berkley editor they were using in 03) dropped.  Electronic typesetting dropped it more.  Publishers outsourced the search for books to agents (all but Baen, which still has a slush pile.) And then they had the bright idea of making the writers publicize their own books.

This would be like the hired hands taking a break and demanding the owners of the fields use robots to do all the work, but they still expect to be paid.  What do you think would happen?  Well, it happened.

With the market in a shambles, with publishers using their power to bring to market books they thought were socially relevant and not what the readers wanted to read, Amazon gave writers a chance to go to the public directly.

Which brings me to what a publisher can do for you, which is… Give me a minute… Other than Baen which has a brand that will bring you at least a few thousand readers, like that, with no effort… what the other publishers can do for you is… uh…. Yeah….

Oh, yeah.  They can fudge your statements and take your money.  There I knew they did something.  Fortunately writers who used to work from Harlequin have won the right to class action suits this week, which means more will follow.

And at some point, will stupid journalists realize they’ve been sold a pot of message and that publishers as they exist now are as essential to the book business as a bicycle to the fish?

I doubt it.  They’re too busy putting playing cards in the spokes of publishing, because they like the noise so much.

As for the rest of us, we have work to do.

We work for a living.  And making a living from our hard work is a beautiful thing.

And as a final musical interlude, to remind you of what mainstream publishers REALLY do, by and large, sang to the tune of “Putting on the Ritz”

Robbing the Midlist
Have you seen the well to do?
Walking down Marx avenue
Crying that everything’s unfair
While their butlers do their hair
High-toned, caterwaulers
Condoned with lots of dollars
Spending every dime
Made on other guy’s lines!If you’re blue, and you want dough
Why not lean on someone you know
In the pubbing biz?
Robbing the midlistDifferent types will write a dystop-
ian cliché or bash on the pope
It all fits
When you’re robbing the midlist
 
Cashing in their six-figure advances
Even if their book has got no chances
Of a profit
 
Come let’s mix where pampered authors
Politic to get job offers
Hope they’re picked
For robbing the midlist
 
Tips the scales to favor their own voices
Tries to “Push” to cover their bad choices
Disappoint usNYT Bestsellers topping the list
Make readers stop or numb their wits
Robbing the midlist
Robbing the midlist
Robbing the midlist!

“Mercury retrograde” is the term used in astrology for the times when the planet Mercury appears to be moving backwards against the “fixed stars”. According to astrological lore, during periods when Mercury is retrograde, matters of communication, information, and relationships are impaired. Computers and networks are more likely to fail. Mail may go astray.

Mercury went retrograde on the 4th of October this year. I am a scientific materialist and of course don’t believe in this astrology stuff, but Mercury goes back prograde on the 25th of October. And not a minute too damn soon.

So, if you want to get your book plugged on Book Plug Friday, send an email to book.plug.friday@gmail.com.

But maybe wait until tomorrow.

Just sayin’


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Witchfinder (Magical Empires)
By Sarah Hoyt 

In Avalon, where the world runs on magic, the king of Britannia appoints a witchfinder to rescue unfortunates with magical power from lands where magic is a capital crime. Or he did. But after the royal princess was kidnapped from her cradle twenty years ago, all travel to other universes has been forbidden, and the position of witchfinder abolished. Seraphim Ainsling, Duke of Darkwater, son of the last witchfinder, breaks the edict. He can’t simply let people die for lack of rescue. His stubborn compassion will bring him trouble and disgrace, turmoil and danger — and maybe, just maybe, the greatest reward of all.


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Nevermore – A Novel of Love, Loss, & Edgar Allan Poe
By David Niall Wilson 

Nevermore is a dark, historical fantasy filled with romance, southern charm, and all the trappings of a classic historical romance. Walking the line between the occult, the paranormal, and the reality of 1800s life in The Great Dismal Swamp, Nevermore is also chock full of action and adventure. Follow Edgar Allan Poe and Lenore into The Great Dismal Swamp and experience one version of the birth of Poe’s famous poem, “The Raven.”


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I Would Like My Bailout in Bacon
By Wesley Morrison 

Satire, politics, geekery, and dogs.

Any questions?


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A Deed With No Name – A Rae Vigil 911 Story
By Jenna Vincent 

“In Jenna Vincent’s Romantic Suspense novel, Rae Vigil stumbles into an ugly case of domestic violence with a young child caught in the middle. The parents are very powerful and the police are powerless. Torn between saving the child and professional confidentiality, every instinct tells her not to get involved, but sometimes instincts are wrong.”


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Lone Star Sons
By Celia Hayes 

Jim Reade, a volunteer Texas Ranger, is the sole survivor of an ambush in the contested Nueces Strip. Rescued by Indian scout Toby Shaw, the two pursue a mysterious wagon carrying a cursed treasure. Sworn blood-brothers, Jim and Toby meet with other challenges and mysteries, including a trove of documents sought after by spies of three nations and a den of murderous robbers on the Opelousas Trace. The classic Wild West rides again, in this collection of adventures intended for younger readers by the author of the Adelsverein Trilogy.


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A Few Good Men
By Sarah Hoyt 

The Son Also Rises . . .

On a near future Earth, Good Man does not mean good at all. Instead, the term signifies a member of the ruling class, and what it takes to become a Good Man and to hold onto power is downright evil. Now a conspiracy hundreds of years in the making is about to be brought to light when the imprisoned son of the Good Man of Olympic Seacity escapes from his solitary confinement cell and returns to find his father assassinated.

But when Luce Keeva attempts to take hold of the reins of power, he finds that not all is as it seems, that a plot for his own imminent murder is afoot—and that a worldwide conflagration looms. It is a war of revolution, and a shadowy group known as the Sons of Liberty may prove to be Luce’s only ally in a fight to throw off an evil from the past that has enslaved humanity for generations.

Sequel to Sarah A. Hoyt’s award-winning Darkship Thieves, and Darkship Renegades, this is Book One in the Earth’s Revolution saga.

At the publisher’s request, this title is sold without DRM (DRM Rights Management).

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The New Teaser Trailer for The Avengers: Age of Ultron

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Movie Trailer Review

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10 Hits and Misses in Gotham’s First Five Episodes

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Fox’s Gotham has been running for a few weeks now, and it’s off to a bittersweet start. The Batman show without Batman serves as a prequel to the mythology we know.

There’s a lot to like in Gotham. It looks great, shot in New York and enhanced with seamless visual effects. The performances are solid, often transcending weak scripts.

But overall, Gotham suffers from an identity crisis. This show can’t decide what it’s trying to be. One scene evokes the grounded tone of The Dark Knight. The next evokes the camp of 1966. Here are 10 hits and misses in Gotham’s first five episodes.

5. Miss: Fish Mooney

The Portrayal: Jada Pinkett Smith lends the series its greatest star power. Her character, underworld player Fish Mooney, was conceived for the series as a new addition to the Batman mythology. Mooney serves as a lieutenant in the Falcone crime family. She despises her boss and aspires to replace him as the dominant figure in Gotham’s underworld.

Why It’s a Miss: It’s fitting that Fish Mooney was created uniquely for this show, because she personifies its tonal inconsistency. It’s unclear whether we’re meant to root for her or against her. In one scene, she’s ordering the brutal torture and execution of police officers, as if it’s no big deal. In the next, she’s helplessly browbeat by Falcone and proven largely impotent. Pinkett Smith chews the scenery, evoking the camp of the 1960s television show. Her portrayal has been described as an “Eartha Kitt impersonation.”

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How Adam Smith’s Ideas Can Make You Happier

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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I am reading Russ Robert’s new book How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness and it is quite informative. Roberts is an economist at the Hoover Institution at Stanford and he delved into Smith’s less famous book to gain insight into life and human nature and shares it with readers in simple, straightforward style:

Adam Smith may have become the patron saint of capitalism after he penned his most famous work, The Wealth of Nations. But few people know that when it came to the behavior of individuals—the way we perceive ourselves, the way we treat others, and the decisions we make in pursuit of happiness—the Scottish philosopher had just as much to say. He developed his ideas on human nature in an epic, sprawling work titled The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

Most economists have never read it, and for most of his life, Russ Roberts was no exception. But when he finally picked up the book by the founder of his field, he realized he’d stumbled upon what might be the greatest self-help book that almost no one has read.

In How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life, Roberts examines Smith’s forgotten masterpiece, and finds a treasure trove of timeless, practical wisdom. Smith’s insights into human nature are just as relevant today as they were three hundred years ago. What does it take to be truly happy? Should we pursue fame and fortune or the respect of our friends and family? How can we make the world a better place? Smith’s unexpected answers, framed within the rich context of current events, literature, history, and pop culture, are at once profound, counterintuitive, and highly entertaining.

By reinvigorating Smith’s neglected classic, Roberts provides us with an invaluable look at human behavior through the lens of one of history’s greatest minds.

I was most interested in the sections on being “loved and being lovely.” Smith says “Man naturally desires, not only to be loved, but to be lovely.” The author interprets this quote as “Smith means that we want people to like us, respect us, and care about us and take us seriously. We want them to want our presence, to enjoy our company.”

Smith also says that we dread being hated and hateful. Perhaps this explains why people are so afraid when it comes to politics. If you have the wrong political bent these days, you are seen as hateful and hated. Most people don’t seem to be able to tolerate being hated. Being hated is no fun, but pretending to go along with the PC crowd that is ruining our country has to be worse. Smith believes that true happiness comes when we earn the admiration of others honestly “by being respectable, honorable, blameless, generous, and kind.”

Yet how can you be those things in a society that does not value these traits? Our society rewards extroversion, hypocrisy, political correctness at all costs, and phony fads. How can one be genuine, authentic, and truly kind in today’s world? To do so is often to be hated, something Smith says that we dread. Is being hated that awful? Maybe we need people in this society who are strong enough to be hated in order to make significant positive changes in politics and society.

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Crossposted from Dr. Helen

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Marvel’s ‘Civil War’ Isn’t Pretty — But It’s Not Paranoid, Either

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 - by Jesse Hathaway

civil-war-trade

Seven years ago, the pages of Marvel Comics’ universe were rocked by a sweeping story arc across dozens of books, culminating in the death of the iconic American hero Captain America. Recently, the popular Marvel Cinematic line of films, also produced by Marvel Studios, announced that the “Civil War” arc will be the foundation upon which the next Captain America film will be based.

“Civil War,” a “crossover” series which began in 2006 under the pen of Scottish comic book writer Mark Millar, starts with an induced public panic over the supposed unaccountability of individuals with superpowers.

In-universe, the world was just beginning to recover from the aftershocks of United States government agent Nick Fury’s actions — think of the agency he runs, Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division (SHIELD), as a sort of Department of Homeland Security, hopped up on the drug known as “Kick” — including sparking multiple violent intergalactic and inter-dimensional incidents such as the “Secret War.”

The American public, we’re told, has become tired of their cities being trashed by the battles between gods and demigods such as Thor, Apocalypse, or the Beyonder. The final straw, we’re told, is what is referred to as the “Stamford Incident,” in which a team of inexperienced supers, the New Warriors, are, effectively, egged on by their reality-show handlers to surprise a band of villains hiding out in a quiet New York town.

In the chaos of the televised ambush, Nitro — a villain whose exactly-what-it-says-on-the-can power is “blowing himself up” — detonates himself, taking 600 civilians with him… 60 of whom are school children.

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