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What if Red Dawn Happened, But It Was Islamic Terrorists Instead of Communists?

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015 - by Frank J. Fleming

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Now, I’ll just get this out of the way: I know some of you are going to say, “Hey, Liberty Island is also publishing your first novel, Superego, so you might just be saying this to help yourself.” Well, I don’t have time for your insane conspiracy theories. Why don’t you go back to disproving the moon landing. Besides, you know you can trust me. Remember that time in 2008 when I said I thought Barack Obama might not be that great of a president? I was mainly right about that. I never lead you wrong.

Anyway, The Big Bang is about an alternate history where Islamic extremists actually take over the U.S. after 9/11. As you might imagine, we end up with a lot more problems than which cartoons we’re allowed to publish. Now, you might wonder how in the world those idiots could accomplish taking over our country, but the title of the book gives you a bit of a clue to that. Not to reveal too much, but a lot goes wrong, worldwide, all at once.

The story jumps between a number of characters at different points in time — before, during, and after the titular tragedy. I was absolutely riveted trying to find out more about what had happened and thinking about how we really would react in such a situation (it made me very thankful that our country is awash in guns).

A number of the main characters are real people. I was a little unsure how that would play out, but Griffis fleshed them out very well and didn’t turn them into caricatures. All the details in the book are really well done, and Griffis makes the devastation and invasion frighteningly real.

I’ll definitely read the next book, as it’s pretty obvious from the ending that this is the first part of a series (it’s also obvious because the subtitle of the book is “Lonesome George Chronicles Book 1″ — sort of like how you knew there’d be another war when they named the first one World War I). The Big Bang is a thrilling story, and I highly recommend it. With such a great start, I’m really excited to see what other books Liberty Island publishes… whether or not they were written by me.

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Editor’s Note: This post is part of an ongoing dialogue between the writers of PJ Lifestyle and Liberty Island regarding the future of conservatism and the role of emerging counter-cultures in restoring American exceptionalism. See the previous installments in the series and join the discussion:

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Newsweek Throws the First Stone

Sunday, January 18th, 2015 - by Chris Queen

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In the Gospel of John, we read a story where a group of Jewish Torah teachers and Pharisees (members of a legalistic sect of Judaism) bring to Jesus a woman whom they caught in adultery, asking Him what punishment He thinks the woman deserves. Masterfully — as He always did — Jesus answers the scholars with a simple, yet profound statement:  “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7, NIV).

Recently, Newsweek featured a cover article on the Bible in which author Kurt Eichenwald — not a Biblical scholar but a business writer with a clear agenda — lets forth on how Christians misinterpret the Bible. In his piece, Eichenwald throws the first stone, not even pretending to mask an agenda against conservative Biblical scholarship:

They wave their Bibles at passersby, screaming their condemnations of homosexuals. They fall on their knees, worshipping at the base of granite monuments to the Ten Commandments while demanding prayer in school. They appeal to God to save America from their political opponents, mostly Democrats. They gather in football stadiums by the thousands to pray for the country’s salvation.

They are God’s frauds, cafeteria Christians who pick and choose which Bible verses they heed with less care than they exercise in selecting side orders for lunch. They are joined by religious rationalizers—fundamentalists who, unable to find Scripture supporting their biases and beliefs, twist phrases and modify translations to prove they are honoring the Bible’s words.

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In Defense of Editing

Saturday, January 17th, 2015 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

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Hi, this is Sarah and I think I’ve covered the topic of editing before.  However, Charlie suggested it’s time to hit it again, and he’s probably right.  I know I’ve hit the topic of covers a million times give or take ten thousand, and still people who are contemplating going indie tell me they could never afford it because covers are so expensive.  The short answer to that, again, is here.

The other point is editing, as in “I can’t afford to pay an editor, and editing is so important.”  Then you talk to them and you find out what they really mean is copy editing, which, yes, is important, but it’s also cheap and that they have no clue what other kinds of editing there could be or why it’s important.

And no matter how many times I explain, they come back to the same.

I think it’s because indie publishing is so new that it’s getting infusions of new blood all the time, so that, like Young Adult literature it needs to repeat itself because no matter how often you’ve said it, it’s always brand new for a significant number of newly-interested people.

So for those who are newcomers to the field, I will explain editing once again.

First of all, the first editing, that must happen, is your own.  Yes, you’ll sometimes hear of writers who publish their first drafts.  If their books are worth spit one of two things is happening: either they are lying (not necessarily on purpose.  What I consider first draft has undergone significant editing because I back-edit while writing, even though I know I shouldn’t), or they are so experienced that the writing is almost flawless outright.

Even so, I guarantee no one publishes first drafts without copy-editing. What is copyediting?

This is where you go in and fix words and punctuation.  Most of the time it means catching typos your spellchecker won’t catch. “Ours” for “hours,” for instance.  Ears for years. But it also means catching the “word of the day” (everyone has one.  Some days you repeat a word without noticing.  Could be something simple like “extraordinary,” or a really odd one like “counterproductive.” But your brain becomes enamored of the word and goes to it by preference if even remotely applicable.  When you’re copy-editing, you’ll find these patches, and you should fix them.

So copy-editing is the minimum level of editing you should have done.  You can do it, but if you do it you have to find a way to break the eye-glaze that comes with editing your own stuff.  Reading aloud or reading backward work for some people.  [Like me. Nothing better for technical writing.--Charlie] I can’t do reading aloud, because my training was in poetry, and I become obsessed by the sound of the words, and edit in such a way that the books read artificial, as though you should be declaiming.

However, I recommend you have someone else copy-edit your manuscript.  This should be someone you know has a grasp on basic grammar and preferably on the lingo of the time-period you’re writing in. (I had a lot of readers send me in “typos” in Witchfinder, that were actually Regency lingo.)

Now copyedits are the cheapest form of editing too. I’ve paid $10 for 10k words for it, though I suspect I got a discount.  It’s still not prohibitive.

You can also swap with another writer. We have a group of us who does that.

Next level up from copy-editing, sometimes included in it but often not, is “Continuity and fact-checking editing.”  This is where your copyeditor verifies that Henry the VIII really did have six wives.  Or that your character only has two arms in that action scene, not seven.  Good ones go further than that and will verify minutia in your books.  My favorite editor whom I used for my indie novel once got up on my case because I had the wrong kind of taper in an Elizabethan tavern scene.  He’s expensive and worth every penny. (And the publishing houses are bad at this, particularly for historical, because their copyeditors think they should do this and lack the ability.  This is how I had a copy editor tell me to capitalize Terra Firma because it was a country.)

For this, expect to pay more like $40 for 10k words. Or find your most obsessive friend and rope him into doing it.  (Or my older son.  No, seriously.  He chases every rabbit down the hole and all the way to China.)

The highest level of editing is structural editing and it is almost book doctoring. The line between the two blurs. Here the editor will tell you that your story lacks a climax. That you need to rewrite the ending.  That your male character should be female to enhance the impact of chapter 27.

Most of the time my advice on that level of editing is “don’t. Just don’t.”

Why do I say that?  Is it because I think it’s not necessary?  Oh, heck no.  At least once that type of editing – from Baen – saved the book. I had two climaxes of equal weight in the same book, and so it left you feeling strangely like it hadn’t ended.

Now, for those keeping score at home that was my 22nd published book, my thirtieth written book. Which means you can make these mistakes even with a ton of experience, and that editing absolutely saved my sorry behind.  So… why do I say don’t have it done?

Because it’s a d*mn difficult skill, an art really, and most of the people willing/offering to do this aren’t any better at it than you are and might be markedly worse. I’ve seen enough books botched by this type of edit, and the poor writer paying a mint for the privilege, to say “better not do it.”

If you absolutely must do it:

Make sure the editor is someone whose work you know and admire. Whether that work is writing or editing. If it’s editing, not only talk to the client and ask what the editor had them change, but read the book with an eye for how it worked.

Make sure the editor works in your genre/subgenre. As with covers, if they don’t, they’re likely to give you something that won’t work at all. For instance, having a Romance editor do SF or vice versa will mess up the book.

Make sure the editor is experienced.  Yeah, I know.  It’s unfair.  But editing is like writing something you learn b doing.  Not enough experience means bad, no matter how much book learning you have.

Make sure your personalities are compatible.  My indie editor has a snide, acerbic sense of humor.  Before I got used to it, I thought he hated my work.  (And no, Mister, if you read this, you shall never be forgiven for that cat picture. ;))

The reason it’s so important to make sure you get what you pay for, is that Structural editing is expensive.  I would expect to pay somewhere North of 1k for a normal size novel, supposing you don’t get special-friend discounts.

However, finding a good Structural editor is almost as hard as finding a good artist. In the meantime, you can sort of roll your own with Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. I recommend it in any case if you write novels.  It helped me get fluent in novel writing.

And whatever you choose to do, good luck.  Remember the goal is to create the best product you can, not to make it perfect. It will never be perfect. If you read traditionally published books, you’ll find some glitches too.  Your goal is for your indie work to be no worse.


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Quantum Zoo
Edited By J.M. Ney-Grimm

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 good deed offset ultimate destruction?

Mercurio guards the first planet, guiding it through the perils of the void. Part messenger, part prankster, he cocks an eye for danger.

When a beautiful celestial wanderer seeks refuge at his domicile, will he recognize his role as cat’s paw? Or will a looming menace – more lethal than Mercurio imagines – threaten the solar system’s very existence?


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Peaks of Grace: Book Five in the Colplatschki Chronicles
By Alma T.C. Boykin 

A hundred fifty years after the Great Fires, only a few small enclaves west of the Triangle Mountains remain free of Frankonian control. The deSarm family’s valley is one of them. When Marta deSarm’s father makes a desperate offer to Phillip of Frankonia, his daughter must deal with the results. But the valley holds two secrets: a young woman with a terrible burden and a glorious gift, and the mountain called Godown’s Grace.

And the Sarm Valley guards its secrets.

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Legendary Batman Artist Suffers Stroke

Saturday, January 17th, 2015 - by Stephen McDonald

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Some of the happiest afternoons of my childhood were passed in the company of a guy named Norm Breyfogle.

Norm was the artist on Detective Comics back in the late ‘80s. But it might be more accurate to say he was the window through which I got to see Batman patrolling the rooftops of Gotham, beating the ever-loving hell out of drug dealers and triumphing over crazed killers.  For me and many other late-Generation Xers, Norm was the definitive Batman artist.  It was his version of the character (along with writer Alan Grant) that my generation grew up with.

It’s probably hard to appreciate now how innovative Norm’s style was at the time.  I couldn’t have explained back then, of course—I just liked the artwork’s energy and story-telling—but looking back his style was much more expressionistic than his contemporaries’.  Perspective and shadow were distorted to amplify every panel’s mood.

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But it wasn’t just a scene’s feel that he cared about.  There was so much energy in Norm’s action scenes as he showed heartbeat-by-heartbeat how Batman defeated a given bad guy:

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Long after I’d stopped reading comics, Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies would occasionally make me nostalgic for the version I grew up with.  It was a pleasant surprise to discover online that I was just one of many impressed, and grateful, for Norm’s years on the character.  It made me happy to know that, even decades later, his work on Batman was remembered as one of the best runs in comics history.

My generation’s Batman, still one of the best.  Cool.

So it came as a shock to learn that Norm Breyfogle, just 54 years old, suffered a stroke in mid-December.

He’s expected to recover eventually, but in the meantime the stroke has paralyzed his left side which is especially heartbreaking considering Norm is a left-handed artist. It’s also put him in the hole for $200K on medical expenses. His family has turned to crowdfunding to help with the costs, and has set up a contribution site here.

I gave, and have since been watching the funds-raised bar, hoping it will make it to $200K. It hovers at $70K as of this writing. There’s only 7 days left in the drive.

The comic book blogosphere has covered it, trying to spread word about the crowdfunding effort. But the guys reading those sites will probably skew younger. They’re not of the generation that grew up reading Norm’s Batman. They don’t owe childhood memories to him like I do.

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Most guys my age don’t follow comic book news anymore. I only learned about what happened to Norm myself because a friend who has kept a hand in the comics posted it on Facebook. With the clock ticking down, it’s time to get word out to other corners of the internet where his old fans may now be.

Which is why I’m here now. To get word out that a man who brought a lot of happiness to a generation of kids needs help. To let all the people that grew up enjoying Norm’s work know that he could use some of your help now.

If you’re able to, please consider contributing.

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This Graphic Novel Has Tremendous Potential In the Culture War

Sunday, January 11th, 2015 - by Andrew Klavan

I don’t know Anthony Gonzales-Clark, but he brought this Kickstarter crowd-funding project to my attention, and it genuinely looks cool and worth supporting. Gonzales-Clark wants to create a graphic novel called “City On A Hill,” about the history and ideas behind the American founding.

To have such a graphic novel produced by a guy who reads Thomas Sowell (featured prominently in the appeal) would be no small strike in the culture war, so if you have a couple of bucks, try to help Gonzales-Clark reach his 11K plus goal.

*****

Cross-posted from Klavan on the Culture

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Thank God for Marvel’s Agent Carter Feminism

Saturday, January 10th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Don’t let the stereotypical G.I. lunks distract you with their butt-smacking, “don’t you need to file something” portrayal of 1940s masculinity. Marvel’s Agent Carter is far from your oh-so-played-out second wave feminist portrayal of manhood – and womanhood, for that matter. Which is why it’s the best show going on television for feminism today.

For every lunk there’s a hero, Carter’s colleague Agent Sousa being one of them. One brilliant expository exchange sets the tone, demonstrating exactly how appealing real men find Carter’s fearless independence:

Carter: “I’m grateful. I’m also more than capable of handling whatever these adolescents throw at me.”

Sousa: “Yes, ma’am. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.”

Carter: “Well that’s another thing we have in common.”

Carter is a fully empowered female. Sousa knows it, respects it, and likes it. And Carter likes him for it. This kind of His Girl Friday exchange gets equity feminism the screen time our culture so desperately needs. Unlike her Avengers’ counterpart the Black Widow, Agent Carter isn’t squished into slicked up body suits and forced to perform gymnastic feats in order to intrigue her male audience. And unlike gender feminists, Carter draws authority from her sex and uses it to save the day.

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Gadflies and Offense

Friday, January 9th, 2015 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

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Je Suis Charlie. Actually I’m not Charlie.  I’m Sarah.  But for the purposes of this disquisition, I wanted to indicate that I stand with Charlie Hebdo, the magazine in Paris where people were murdered for drawing cartoons of the prophet Mohammad.

In the wake of this dreadful event, we were treated to a spectacle of frothing at the mouth, whining and screaming – no, not in support, though heaven knows quite a few brave souls rallied to support – about the people who refuse to give in to the head-slicers.

People on Facebook, before the blood stains dried on the floor of the magazine headquarters, were whining about how the “right wing” would take “advantage” of this, and claiming that the magazine “really was very bad” and that they knew what they were risking and therefore had it coming.

Crazier fringes of social media, for instance, my colleagues, either claimed that it is still easier to be a cartoonist in France than a Muslim. (Question for the class: if it’s so difficult to be a Muslim in France, why do they immigrate there? Oh, wait, because it’s more difficult to be a Muslim – or alive – in the majority Muslim countries they came from.) Or that the “right wing” was demanding all Muslims apologize – this from a leading light who then apologized to Muslims for this – or that the right wing was filling Facebook with negativity. This last, the precious flower who claimed this, countered by posting pictures of baby animals.

A particular jewel of preciousness residing in California tweeted the following:

@SofiaSamatar when you live under white supremacy & Islamophobic paranoia, the line between supporting free speech & bolstering hatred is so thin.

I’m not a hundred percent sure what they think white supremacy is, or what race they think the Muslims in France are. However, let me clarify that for them: France is while a bit more xenophobic than the States not in any sense white-supremacist. And the Muslims in France are mostly of Mediterranean origin, that is about the same color I am.  Or, you know, the same as Portuguese, Greeks, and Italians who also immigrated to France.  I don’t see any of those being driven mad by “white supremacy” and killing cartoonists.

And if this precious flower thinks that the US is a white supremacy regime after electing a black president twice, she might need therapy. Whatever she’s seeing is not reality.

Then there are the people who say that Charlie Hebdo had it coming because they were “nasty” and “disrespectful” to everyone, not just Muslims, that they were a polluting element in society, which “upset” people.

I have for years now decried the nonsense of trigger warnings and people who confused PTSD with “being mildly inconvenienced.” I’m not doubting the existence of PTSD, mind, I’m saying that when you get to trigger warning for “holes” or “spiders” for people READING a text, you’ve gone well beyond sanity.

I suspect half the people who say Charlie Hebdo courted their fate are people who believe they have a right to be protected from unpleasantness.

To them I say: Grow up. (Actually I say something more forthright, Anglo-Saxon and four letter, but PJMedia would cut it out.)

Oh, sure, you’re free to say whatever you want – see, our side recognizes that – but I’m also free to tell you to make the sign of the double emu with an umbrella up in that part of your anatomy where the sun don’t shine.

You don’t have a right to never be offended. You don’t have a right to never be questioned. You certainly don’t have a right to never be made uncomfortable.

This is not only because giving you that right would cause other people to be uncomfortable.  No.  This is because giving you that right is actively detrimental to civilization.

First of all, people can find offense and things to upset them in just about everything, regardless of content. I recently talked to a young lady whose parents forbid music with a rhythm – even classical music – because they deem that sexual. I know people who consider fiction – all fiction – offensive, because it creates something that doesn’t exist. I know people – and for those who’ve read me and know the most sex in my books is a kiss this will be great fun – who think my books are pornographic. I’ve simultaneously been accused of proselytizing Christianity and of being anti-Christian for the exact same book.

People can find offense wherever. Give the pointing finger the right to decide what anyone can do and no one will do anything. Some people will object to chipping flint, as it violates the rocks of Mother Earth.

Second of all, civilization needs reality checks.  Most people like the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo are gadflies.  They will attack everyone equally and most of their attacks will be somewhere between fart jokes and armpit noises.

But sometimes the gadflies are needed to point out what’s wrong with things that have gotten entrenched in society to the point no one analyses them anymore.  Take Marxism. (Please! I’ll give you a free barf bag as an additional prize!) Most people aren’t aware of the extent to which it has penetrated their thoughts, and it takes a joke juxtaposing, say, equality of results and the town drunk for them to see what is wrong with it.

And sometimes the gadflies expose the amount to which the “reasonable people” are cowards who have allowed themselves to be cowed.  Their silly bravery in the face of physical attacks and eventually death stands in contrast to the fear at CNN which immediately banned all non-respectful references to “the prophet” as though there were only one.

They definitely expose the hypocrisy of those who constantly chide others for “victim blaming” but who would blame these most hapless victims who were killed over some lines drawn on paper?

Je suis Charlie, even though this is Sarah – but Charlie is 100% with me on this – we will not shut up, we will not be cowed, we will not kowtow to desert hillbillies who critique art with machine guns.

We will write and say what we want to, and we will defend the right of free speech of everyone else. Even of Ms. “White Supremacy Believer” above, and of CNN.

Even as we think they should do the sign of the double emu with an umbrella up in the part of their anatomy where the sun don’t shine. And THEN open the umbrella.


Je suis Charlie, C’est vrai — mon prénom est Charlie. But for the purposes of this article, my point, as with Sarah’s, is to indicate my support for free expression against the people who want to tell me what to think or what to say.

All of them.


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Wisdom From My Internet
By Michael Z. Williamson

You learn some amazing things on the internet. The War of 1812 was just a dispute over labor and hiring practices. Pico de Gallo was not a conquistadore. Hugo Chavez is not a line of clothing. There was no medieval siege engine called the Battering Lamb. Americans apparently like debt–they keep voting for more of it.

Join SF writer and satirist Michael Z. Williamson for a collection of snark, comments, random typings and alcohol-fueled puns that is worth at least half the cover price.


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Nocturnal Lives (boxed set)
By Amanda S. Green

This “box set” includes the first three novels in the Nocturnal Lives series.


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Duty from Ashes
By Sam Schall

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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One-Eyed Dragon
By Cedar Sanderson

One-Eyed Dragon is a story of medieval Japan, a man retired from war, and the quiet village he set up shop in. When a strange woman comes to him for a tattoo, he reluctantly takes her money, and tries to unravel her mystery. Meanwhile, savage men threaten his newfound peace. Can there be friendship in exile, for a man who is so scarred and cast out?


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Rainbow’s Lodestone
By J.M. Ney-Grimm

A lost birthright and unending agony.

On a whim, the rainbow’s child falls to earth, where a cruel adversary takes advantage of her innocence. Can she reclaim her thunder-swept heavens? Must she dwindle and die? This transcendent short story of J.M. Ney-Grimm’s troll-ridden North-lands explores how inner freedom creates outer opportunities.

Earth trumps heaven until ancient music plays.


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Star-drake
By J.M. Ney-Grimm

Gefnen – troll-herald and hound for Koschey the Deathless – hunts life across the moors of the far north.

Not deer, not pheasant, not meat for the table. His master eats choicer fruits. When the piercing scent of youth tingles his senses, Gefnen focuses his chase. The prey – a boy – lacks guardians strong enough to best a troll. Swift triumph awaits.

But other seekers tilt the chances of this game. Spirit of storm, poignant memories of a sea-prince, and something more ancient than memory or the wind shape the looming tumult.

Gefnen hunts victory, but a darker victory hunts him.

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Killing Hitler: Tom Cruise Paid Proper Respect to the Catholic Hero Bill O’Reilly Dismisses

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015 - by David Forsmark

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First, let me say that I come here to mostly praise Bill O’Reilly’s Killing series, not to bury it. This is not another history snob sniffing that there is “nothing new” in the books. While I can’t say that I have learned any Major New Truths of history from reading the books—and it is a fair statement to say that the heavy lifting of original research has been done by others—I am still very happy these books exist, and the history snobs should be, too.

Why? Because these books all contain Big Truths that those of us who love history all sit around and say, “What your high school history teacher should have told you is…”

Nor am I going to snipe that the books are filled with little details—like the pattern of the tablecloth at Potsdam—that scream “look at all my cool research”? If you really are a history buff that makes them kind of fun.

I actually picked up Killing Patton, because this is the one time that O’Reilly and his coauthor Martin Dugard (whose books on David Livingstone and Captain Cook are among my all-time favorites) propose to make a Big Revelation in their new book: That General George S. Patton was killed by the NKVD at Stalin’s orders.

Early in the book, O’Reilly and Dugard bring up the forced suicide of Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, Patton’s famed nemesis. The German commander of the defense of Normandy was a sympathizer of the German Resistance that nearly killed Hitler.

But while the authors inform us of the color of Rommel’s mucous after he ingests cyanide, this dismissive sentence of an actual Big Truth drove me nuts.

The book states that the attempted assassination of July 20, 1944 was, “engineered by members of the German military who no longer believed Hitler was fit to rule Germany.”

While this might be true of Rommel, to blow off the rest of the heroic circle of conspirators — which included labor leaders and clergy — in this way would be like saying the Founding Fathers “thought British taxes on tea were cutting too far into their profits.”

Good grief, Bill, even Tom Cruise got this one right.

Next: Why FDR Wanted Hitler Alive

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How Conservatives Can Counter the Likable Liberal

Monday, January 5th, 2015 - by Mark Ellis

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It’s understandable when conservatives go on offense against leftist celebrities who get nasty with blanket disparagement of conservatism. Names like Rosie O’Donnell, Janeane Garofalo, and David Letterman at his most pointed come to mind, but there are ubiquitous instances and individuals.

When the attacks are mean-spirited, it’s easy to respond in kind. But what about the likable liberal? The entertainment icon we know is a committed progressive Democrat, but whose contribution to the arts objectively transcends the unceasing wrangle of a divided country?

In the comedy of Martin Short, an occasionally outspoken Hollywood-by-way-of-Canada liberal, we experience an evocation of the heartbreak and joyfulness of show business. Though an obvious prodigy talent, the comedian has always walked between the dichotomous pillars of persevering success and flop-sweat failure. It’s part of what makes him so hysterically funny.

He steers clear of overt political ideology in I Must Say, but in the past has made known his affiliations, which raises the question: Should there always be a socio-political angle when conservative cultural arbiters review or analyze a mainstream culture permeated with progressive ideology?

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Did the 1960s Really Happen? (Part One)

Sunday, January 4th, 2015 - by Kathy Shaidle

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Last year I read three books that challenged the mainstream view of the 1960s.

(Herewith I’m employing the folk definition of “The Sixties” as that stretch between the Kennedy assassination in November 1963 and the May 1975 fall of Saigon.)

I say “mainstream” because I haven’t entertained many illusions about what really happened during that overlong Baby Boomer idyl since I was a kid.

In the first place, I grew up “soaking in it,” in the dishwashing liquid commercial catchphrase of the era, and I hated almost every minute.

In the second, as an adult, I discerned certain disruptions in the official “peace and love” narrative.

Being a bratty pest by temperament, I’ve made a minor career out of helping debunking the myth of the selfless hippie, the noble white liberal, the enlightened radical, the powerless housewife and the era’s other stock characters.

(I’m also rather fond of rehabilitating the laughingstocks of the age.)

This year, I read three books that, to various degrees, reinforced my view that what we call The Sixties — an allegedly Edenic era that canny progressives continue to evoke when crafting 21st century policy — was a Potemkin village of the imagination, or, in the words of the narrator below, “a mass hallucination”:

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Two Sides of the Mind

Friday, January 2nd, 2015 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

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Hi, this is Sarah, and I know that I’ve mentioned before that I have this small problem: when I’m writing, I can’t edit, clean up and put books up for sale.

In the same way, when I was working for the traditional short story markets, which involved  a lot of making spreadsheets and keeping track not just of where things had been sent, but where things might be acceptable, where similar things had gotten a sale or a “close but no cigar.”  I could and did this highly rational and logical task, but I couldn’t do it at the same time that I was writing.

Charlie pointed me to this article this week, which explains why, no matter how many decisions I made, no matter how much I tried to write and submit the same week, I could never do it. Instead I’d go through months and months of writing stories, and then through a month or two when I submitted.

Turns out that while you’re engaging the rational part of your brain, you can’t engage the emotional area of your brain, and vice versa:

The new study shows that adults presented with social or analytical problems — all external stimuli — consistently engaged the appropriate neural pathway to solve the problem, while repressing the other pathway. The see-sawing brain activity was recorded using functional magnetic resonance imaging. 

(There’s a lot more to it, and you should read the whole thing, but that’s the gist of the article.)

It also solved another problem for me, to wit why so many of my colleagues, who are otherwise smart and logical people think that the purpose of writing is to engage in “social justice” issues, and are both completely unable to see that “social justice” is an oxymoron which would punish people for crimes they didn’t commit and circumstances in which they had no choice, while elevating other people for similar circumstances, but also that their stories, conceived for the purposes of “social justice” fail not only on logical sense, but also on emotional engagement with the public.  These very intelligent people, be they writers or editors will engage in all manner of explanation for why the print-runs and sales keep falling, but never the obvious reason.

This is because the part they are engaging when writing these tales is purely emotional. Now, as illustrated by my dilemma above, we all engage different parts of the brain when writing and when considering how to present our work to the world.

Normally the emotional part of the brain is engaged by the story itself. I grieve with my characters, and live with them through their challenges. That is a difficult and not particularly rational process – I often spend the rewrite process making my story more logical and closing up plot holes – but here is the thing: those reasons and emotions are essential to the story, and at some level, there is always a certain amount of following the journey the way the reader will. Part of this is built on our own experience as readers and writers (and it’s why experience at both is essential to making a good writer.)

But the authors who write for “social justice” and who seem to market as though they are on a religious crusade which promises them victory if they’re pure enough, write from a narrative that gives them feelings and emotions in exchange for believing the right beliefs and saying the thing they were convinced – emotionally – need to be said.

Their emotion comes from saying those things, not from creating a story that can pull others along with the story. At the same time their marketing comes from the certainty that they’re “on the right side of history” and other such quasi-religious beliefs.

And there you have it why the publishing business got itself so backward and sideways. This is not unique to this time and place, but happens any time that the arts establishment are under the sway of a strong faith. This is how establishment art always ends up losing popularity and being open to takeover by rebels and outsiders.


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The Hammer Commission
By John Van Stry 

To most people, Mark’s job seems dull, he investigates crimes committed against Church property; theft, vandalism, the occasional robbery.

But that’s just window dressing. Mark is actually an elite member of a thousand year old secret society that hunts down devils, demons, and other evils. His job is to find them, remove, dispel, or kill them. He’s on the front lines of the secret ongoing war between Heaven and Hell. However as wars go, this one seems to be finally winding down.

Unfortunately for Mark, all of that is about to change…


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Skies of Navarys (Lodestone Tales 1)
By J.M. Ney-Grimm 

A royal geomancer announces that the goddess Evaia shrugs, and every citizen on the island springs to action. Amidst the uproar, the aeromancer Palujon steals unique and magical lodestones.

Mago discovers the theft and vows to retrieve the stones. His friend Liliyah questions Palujon’s motives. Why would a man of his stature break the law? Is he truly a rogue? Life and death hang on her answers.


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Resonant Bronze (Lodestone Tales 2)
By AUTHOR 

The warriors of Torbellai brought back a prize in the night, and young Paitra wants to see it. Even hidden away in the armory, the artifact changed the whole mood of their mountain citadel from dread foreboding to hope.

But the warlord hid the fighters’ plunder for good reason. Forged by trolls and radiating magic, it presents grave risk to any who approach it. Will Paitra survive his curiosity?

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New Year, New Page

Monday, December 29th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
In the New Year, control the popcorn kittens!

In the New Year, control the popcorn kittens!

All right.  It’s time to start preparing for the new year.  No, this doesn’t mean you should make a whole slew of resolutions.  Why not? Because if you’re a writer, but particularly if you’re an indie writer, you no longer have a governor for your efforts.  There is no publisher saying “only one book a year.”  Heck, there isn’t even a publisher saying “only a book a month.”  And so, you feel so free and will over-resolution yourself to death.

So, instead of new year’s resolutions, the friendly staff at your Book Plug Friday headquarters, high on the side of the mighty Rocky Mountains would like to offer you…

New Year’s Suggestions:

1-      Don’t overbook yourself.  Not only us, but all our friends who have gone indie, the moment we write in hard and fast “A novel a month” or whatever, our muse decamps to Southern climes to watch scantily dressed strangers and drink fruity alcoholic drinks, leaving us high and dry and blocked. Popcorn kittens are the perennial problem of the indie writer.  Give them a valium.

2-      Pencil those deadlines in as “would like to” but don’t kill yourself  if you don’t. Just because you work for yourself, there’s no reason to abuse your employee.  Make sure you pencil in a free month now and then, so if you blow one month, it can take that one.  Otherwise you’ll suffer a tsunami of deadlines.

3-      Pencil in time for all your other work, too. Remember you’re not only writer, but also publisher and at the very least art director, if not art designer.

4-      Consider different computers for writing, publishing and whatever else you do on the net.  (In my case, catering to my political news obsession.) If you can’t afford that many computers, have a laptop and change the location. Your brain is a creature of habit.

5-      If you can, designate a day “publishing day.”  It’s something Dean Wesley Smith told us to do three years ago, and we still haven’t done, because… time and things interfering.  But if you can, it will keep production more steady than our habit of writing for months at a stretch then publishing for one month, then…

6-      Make time to research the market, the marketing, the covers, the tags.  Yes, I know, you researched it all years ago.  It’s probably outdated.  It changes very fast.

7-      Make contact with other indie writers. The most valuable information has come to me via a friend saying “Hey, did you notice that—” And for things like KULL, not to mention mutual publicity, friends are invaluable.

8-      Remember it’s all about the writing.  It’s always about the writing.  If your other stuff is stealing from the writing, find a way to minimize it. Trade editing and cover design with friends; let the house go without cleaning every other week.  Whatever.  Just keep writing.

And if you’re a reader of Book Plug Friday and JUST a reader, I have just one New Year’s suggestion for you:

Read more.  We’re counting on you!


[Charlie here:] Yeah, it’s late again. Look, I’m really not a big fan of the holidays.

In the mean time, I want to announce a mild change in the submission guidelines — which you can, as always, get by emailing book.blug.friday@gmail.com — because there’s one point in them that is nearly uniformly being missed. That would be the desire for short blurbs.

Last week there were a half dozen submissions with excessively long blurbs, up to 400–500 words. Some of them were very nice words, but there were too damn many of them. So here’s the revision:

Blurbs should be 100 words or less. If a blurb is long enough to make me wonder, it will be word-counted (using the UNIX command wc(1)). Anything in excess of 125 words will be rejected automatically. Between 100 and 125 words, you’re in the lap of the Gods.


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Broken Eden
By Wesley Morrison 

After seeing his entire unit die in a failed black op, Brahm Tanner retreats from the military and even his family. Now running a freelance hostage retrieval unit, life—and business—are good. At least until the President of the United States insists on hiring him.

A covert, underground facility has gone dark, apparently taken over by its own commander. Why the military of the most powerful nation on Earth is now standing down, however, and who the partners in this “shared” facility truly are, the President refuses to say.

Every instinct tells Brahm to walk. And every experience says that he and his current team are being set up as scapegoats.

Then the President names the commander of the base: General Benjamin Tanner.

Brahm’s father.

A Screenplay for a Film That Never Was…


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The Lost Book of Anggird
By Kyra Halland 

Stodgy Professor Roric Rossony and his free-spirited assistant Perarre Tabrano have been asked to find a way to stop the deterioration of the powerful magica. When the professor delves too deeply into lost and forbidden books, magical disaster strikes, and he and Perarre are forced to flee from the authorities on a dangerous journey to discover the origins of magic.


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The Alecto Initiative
By Jordan Leah Hunter and Owen R. O’Neill 

Life was never easy in the Methuselah Cluster, but when her alcoholic father found her a ‘job’ so he could look for ‘work’ off-planet, 11-year-old Loralynn Kennakris began to learn how ugly it could get. Within months, she was sold to a brutal slaver, who took the last thing she owned: her name.

Most slaves last a year or two. Kris survived eight before she was rescued.

Unfortunately, eight years in hell prepared Kris for everything but freedom, and her new life isn’t what she imagined: the authorities think she’s a terrorist plant, a beautiful celebrity is complicating matters in more ways than one . . . and someone is trying to kill her.

So now she’s mad. Game On.


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Livli’s Gift
By J.M. Ney-Grimm 

In Kaunis-spa′s magical spring, Livli achieves spectacular cures. A born pioneer, she hopes to match new ways for healing with new ways of living. But the Kaunis-sisters fear rapid change. While Livli pushes forward the new, one influential foe pushes back. Home will keep its ancient customs, even if Livli loses everything. Must surrender spell defeat? Or could letting go harness real power?


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A Knot of Trolls
By J.M. Ney-Grimm 

North-lands spellcasters who reach too boldly for power transform into trolls – grotesque villains wielding a potent magic and destined for madness. A KNOT OF TROLLS features seven of these evildoers, each pursuing a unique design for troubling their neighbors. Across the ages of the world, ordinary youths must rise to the challenges laid down by trolls. Destiny and hope lie in the balance.


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Beverly Hills Is Burning
By Neil Russell 

Rail Black, a former Delta Force operator, is rich and lives in Beverly Hills. But unlike many wealthy people in the world’s entertainment capital, Rail is not in show business. In fact, he avoids it at all costs. Until now.

From ninety years in the past, a time when gangsters and tycoons roamed Hollywood and scratched each other’s wallets–Rail is thrust into a labyrinth of murder, duplicity, money, sex and power.RB


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Starship’s Mage: Omnibus
By Glynn Stewart 

In a galaxy tied together by the magic of the elite Jump Magi, Damien Montgomery is a newly graduated member of their number.

With no family or connections to find a ship, he is forced to service on an interstellar freighter known to be hunted by pirates.

When he takes drastic action to save the Blue Jay from their pursuers, he sets in motion a sequence of events beyond his control – and attracts enemies on both sides of the law!

(The first episode is now free, and can be found here.)


On special from Sarah!


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Ill Met By Moonlight (Magical Shakespeare Book 1)
By Sarah A. Hoyt 

On limited time sale from 4.99!!!

Young Will Shakespeare is a humble school master who arrives home to find his wife and infant daughter, Susannah are missing, kidnapped by the fairies of Arden Woods, the children of Titania and Oberon. His attempts at rescue are interrupted and complicated by a feud over throne of fairyland, between Sylvanus, king regnant, and his younger brother Quicksilver who is both more and less than he seems. Amid treachery, murder, duel and seduction, Shakespeare discovers the enchantment of fairyland, which will always remain with him, for good and ill. (This book was originally published by Ace/Berkley 10/2001)


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All Night Awake (Magical Shakespeare Book 2)
By Sarah A. Hoyt 

On limited time sale from 4.99!!!

Touched by the magic of fairyland, unable to forget Lady Silver, Shakespeare goes to London to seek his fortune. But there, the elf will follow, on the trail of a creature so deadly that, unless Shakespeare and the king of Elves stop it, it might very well consume London and all of England. (This book was originally published by Ace/Berkley 10/2002)
Praise for All Night Awake:
“Ingenious… fans of the first book won’t be disappointed.” – Publishers Weekly
“Hoyt sustains her intriguing premise with a soaring, lyrical style. A most enchanting novel” – Booklist


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Any Man So Daring (Magical Shakespeare Book 3)
By Sarah A. Hoyt 

On limited time sale from 4.99!!!

William Shakespeare, successful playwright, receives word that his only son has died. Reality is far more complex. The young Hamnet is a hostage in fairyland, where a war rages, and where a young princess waits a Prince Charming who might never come.

Can an all too human playwright stop the magical war that threatens both worlds?
(This book was originally published by Ace/Berkley 10/2003)


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No Will But His
By Sarah A. Hoyt 

On limited time sale from 5.99!!!

Kathryn Howard belongs to a wealthy and powerful family, the same family that Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s great love originated from. From a young age, her ambitious relatives maneuver to make her queen. Brought up in a careless manner, ignorant of the ways of the court, Kathryn falls victim to her kind heart, all the while wishing she could be the wife of Thomas Culpepper.


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Witchfinder (Magical Empires Book 1)
By Sarah A. Hoyt 

ON SALE FROM 6.99 for a limited time!!!

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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7 Good Books I Read in 2014

Monday, December 29th, 2014 - by Andrew Klavan

Here’s some books I read this year that are worth looking into.

For one reason or another, most relating to work projects, I did a lot of re-reading this year. Here are three good old good ones that stood out:

From Dawn to Decadence by Jacques Barzun is a book I found life-changing the first time out. It’s a look at modern western culture from the Reformation (the dawn) to the modern world (the decadence). Barzun was a genius of vast learning and this was his masterpiece, published when he was 93. The book is not easy, but to my mind it’s a must read for anyone who cares about where we came from and where we’re going.

I first read Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov decades ago. For me, it paled in comparison to Crime and Punishment which had utterly rocked my world when I was 19. But since then, I’ve read it again and again and each reading opens up new layers of emotion and meaning. In my life, it will never match C&P, which marked me indelibly, but it is clearly greater in scope and depth and — not to belabor the obvious but — a masterpiece of world literature. This is a wonderful new translation.

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler also marked me for life. I read it as a boy and it made me want to write crime fiction. Returning to it now was a Proustian experience — if that’s not too big a literary stretch. Reading it on my e-reader, I could practically feel the old paperback in my hands. A brilliant piece of American writing about the weary business of being an honest man in a corrupt world. Again, it’s obvious, but must be said: the writing, the characters, the setting and the attitude make it a classic in the field beyond question. More of my take on Chandler is here.

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8 Books That Make Great Christmas Gifts for Children

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014 - by J. Christian Adams

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Editor’s Note: This article was first published as “8 Great Last Minute Christmas Gifts for Children“ in 2012 and is now resurrected and republished as part of the Ghost-Lists of Christmas Past Series.

It’s late in the holiday shopping season, and you are short on ideas for that child, nephew, niece or grandchild who loves to read. As someone who has perused quite a number of books for kids, I can tell you that there are good ones and bad ones – and I don’t mean quality. While some of the bad ones are obviously bad, sometimes it is not so clear. So here are eight PJ-approved gifts for kids, while there is still time to get them:

1. The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco.

This is probably the most beautiful children’s book I have ever read. It is the story of Jewish immigrants to the United States and tells the tale of an article of clothing owned by those immigrants turned into a quilt passed down one generation to the next. It is a story of traditions, family, goodness, celebration and America.

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These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

Sunday, December 21st, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

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Yesterday [for some value of today -- this is Charlie, and I am once again way behind, and it's not Sarah's fault]  I (hi guys, this is Sarah) was looking for information on writers of SF/F.  Long story short, my novels in science fiction started out having chapter titles from pulp shorts/novels I remembered reading (the trick is they’re sometimes not the English titles, as Portuguese translators changed them.) In the fourth book, now, I’ve run out of easy titles and had a choice of changing the system or finding more titles.

So I was trolling the least savory corners of the net and finding bibliographies. (Well, not the least savory. That would be Dino-on-girl or beastie-on-boy.)

I came across about 20 lists of “the best women writers” and the “best female writers” of science fiction and fantasy. Weirdly, none for men. Geesh, for an oppressed minority, female writers sure get a lot of attention.

I’m not on any of these lists – duh – which brings me to when I was asked to produce a list of “best female writers” of SF and was unable to come up with ten. It’s not that there aren’t ten good female writers, it’s that I don’t READ that way – who does? – and therefore don’t remember my authors that way. And when I asked for help, what I got was “lists of female authors I heard were important because they were the “first” – actually just “the most talked about” or “the first of the right (left) political persuasion” female writer to do/be/whatever.”

Most of the most ballyhooed first or best are demonstrably false, but beyond that this bothered me beneath the skin, as it were, because they weren’t lists of best ANYTHING. They were lists with training wheels.

For instance, my friend Kevin J. Anderson, often jokes by introducing me as “the best Portuguese-born female science fiction writer published originally in America.” (If he just threw in “libertarian” I think he’d have a list of one, if he doesn’t already.) He gets away with this because it’s obviously a joke. I know where I stand. I’m mid-mid to high mid-list. That’s where I belong for now, not in “best” anything. But see, I have plans.

If someone did this seriously it would be the equivalent of telling me “You’re pretty good for a Portuguese chick writing in English as a second language. We don’t think you’ll ever get any further, so we’re pinning a medal on you now.” Do that, in seriousness, and you’ll withdraw a bloody stump.  Who are you to patronize me?  I might never get any further than I am, but trying is my prerogative. (Oh, and buy my books.)

So I’ve been thinking on this concept of lists and “best” writers, and I discussed it with Charlie. As usual, we are but two minds that fester as a single one. Most of the lists of “bests” go by awards or what someone said was first or important.

That’s, pardon me, the end product of a bovine digestive tract. There’s only one real measure of what is best: “What stays with you.” And there’s only a real measure of what is classic: “What stays with a lot of people.”

So, below is a – non-gender-segregated, because no one gets prizes for having a vagina – list of writers that stayed with me or that I return to time and again.  In no particular order, IMHO, YMMV, TANSTAAFL and BBQ also OIMMBLTTA*.

Robert A. Heinlein – Duh. I named my first son after him, not after any other writer.  (Beyond the fact that my husband wouldn’t let me name him Clifford, and Ray wasn’t even in the running.)  Widely credited as inspiring more scientists than any other science fiction writer.  The opinion of which works people like varies, some people (deviationists in the Church of Heinlein, which my fans and I have – ridiculously – been accused of being) excluding the later ones, some the earlier ones.  I like them all, but my favorites that get read every year are The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, Starship Troopers, Puppet Masters and The Door Into Summer. When you talk to someone and they say they no longer read science fiction, they inevitably end with “no one writes like Heinlein anymore.” I concur, though some of us try.

Isaac Asimov – is here because he was prolific and popularized science fiction. I remember him and reading a ton of his books when I was little. What I don’t remember is the books. I remember a short story “Liar“, mostly because I was afraid I was on track to be the female character. [Charlie: I liked Asimov although a lot of his stuff hasn't worn well for me. But still, the I, Robot stories, and the Lije Bailey books, like The Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun, are worth the time.]

Ray Bradbury – Yes, I know.  Possibly an acquired taste, but if so, I acquired him.  Part of it is that he translates magnificently to Portuguese, but the other part is that he’s just a good writer, period.  Unorthodox for Science Fiction, but very good.

The first book I read in English for Americans was Dandelion Wine.  I was 14, and I still have the book, with all the difficult words with a translation penciled over it in Portuguese.  Towards the end of the book, the “explanation” is in English, as I’d graduated to an English-English dictionary.  I bought both my sons’ copies at 12, but they say Bradbury is depressing.  Don’t care.  Fahrenheit 451 remains and will always be a favorite of mine. [Charlie: Ray was pretty much the first person to encourage my own writing.  I'd recommend his later novels, like Death is a Lonely Business and Green Shadows, White Whale, and of course his short stories.]

Clifford Simak – In Portugal he is considered one of the “great three” – Asimov is often dropped from the list – and I used to get up really early to snag a copy of his books when they were released in Portuguese.  Portuguese books rarely go back to press, so that was my one and only chance. I love particularly Werewolf Principle and They Walked Like Men.  They Walked Like Men used to bother me as I thought it was anti-money.  Re-reading it, I realized it was anti-fiat-currency.  Fine.  I’m okay with that. [Charlie: I'm not a Simak fan for no reason I can explain.  But I will note that an awful lot of Simak is now available in Kindle collections, being out of copyright.]

Anne McCaffrey – okay, fine, she’s not to everyone’s taste, and when I tried to re-read her recently, I couldn’t.  But the reason I couldn’t was that so many things kept kicking me out because they’re tired tropes of fantasy.  The thing to remember though was that they weren’t, until she made them so.  (And also that she was writing science fiction.)  I’m going to recommend all the Dragon books through White Dragon. Though my favorite when I first read them was Moretta.

Ursula LeGuin – Why is she beneath Anne McCaffrey? Don’t I know she was way more “relevant.”  Well, yes, I do know that. Pfui.  She was relevant because at some point she flipped over into female supremacy.  She was also, more or less explicitly more left than other women writing at the time. However, recently, when introducing someone to fantasy I recommended the Tombs of Atuan [Earthsea] trilogy.  (What do you mean there are four books?  Pfui.  I can’t hear you!) I remember that one because for a kid who read all sorts of weird religious stuff, it struck a chord.

Then there’s The Left Hand of Darkness. I tried re-reading it recently and couldn’t because the narrative technique is SO seventies. (And the best thing about getting older is that each decade takes me farther away from the seventies.) BUT for better or worse, this is the book that got me into writing. As a biology-geek (in my spare time) I was offended by the design of her hermaphrodites. As a history-geek I was offended by the society derived from it. So I said to myself, I said, “Sarah, you can write hermaphrodites better than that.” I couldn’t.  But now I think I can and it’s on the slate for when the other stuff is done.  (Could be twenty years, of course.)

[Charlie: I liked LHoD and The Dispossessed. On the other hand, if someone hands you LeGuin's translation of the Tao Te Ching, drop it quickly and wash your hands. And, look, Ursula, if you wanted to call it "poetry inspired by..." then I'd have no trouble, but passing this off as a translation is a travesty.]

Terry Pratchett – Appears this late only because he’s rather recent.  His disk world is a creation of genius, which allows him to do anything he wants to, historical or not.

I have a little crush on Captain Vimes, which is shameful for a libertarian.  And I think older son IS Captain Carrot.

If you’re reading Pratchett and you think he’s just “funny, ah ah” you’re missing layers and layers of meaning. Pratchett writes characters that LIVE which considering their background is amazing.

He also falls into the category of artists whose art can go against his own explicit beliefs to touch something eternal about the human condition. Highly recommended. I revisit him regularly.  Off the top of my head: Night Watch, Witches Abroad, Thief of Time, Small Gods, Monstrous Regiment.

Diana Wynne Jones – Okay, I’m going to admit right now that the woman could never write a satisfying ending and that her last books were… uh… odd. (She died of brain cancer, so I don’t think we can hold it against her.)  However, I recommend the Chrestomanci series and also The Merlin Conspiracy.)

Jerry Pournelle – why is he so far down? No reason except I only discovered him when I came to America. Also, that he is a personal friend, and one always feels a little guilty about recommending a personal friend. Read everything he ever wrote, alone or with Larry Niven.  Favorites are Footfall and Lucifer’s Hammer.

Jerry has been a great influence on fans – particularly not-on-the-left fans – about ten years younger than I.  As big as Heinlein for me and my generation.  He was also one of Mr. Heinlein’s protégés and has some great Heinlein stories, if you can sit down with him.

BTW it has reached my ears that he had a stroke this weekend, and I’m praying, so hard. He’s one of my favorite colleagues.

There are a lot of other writers I enjoy and remember, some of them contemporary and my friends, but if I get into that, I’ll be here all day. Quickly: A. E. Van Vogt; Philip Jose Farmer, Larry Correia, Dave Freer, John Ringo, about a million and a half writers whose names refuse to come to mind right now (including some of my own) and a bunch of indies you can find if you follow my blog, or even check out the announcements here regularly.

So, go forth, happy holidays and happy reading.

*Objects in Mirror might be larger than they appear.


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Sarvet’s Wanderyar
By J.M. Ney-Grimm 

Running away leads right back home – or does it?

Sarvet walks with a grinding limp, and her mountain culture keeps girls close to home. Worse, her mother emphasizes all the things Sarvet can’t do. No matter how gutsy her spirit or bold her defiance, staying put means growing weaker. Yet only boys get wanderyars. Lacking their supplies and training, how can Sarvet escape?

Can dreams – even big dreams – and inner certainty transform impossible barricades into a way out?


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Worlds Apart Book 10: Eventide
By James Wittenbach 

The 10th Book in the Worlds Apart series finds the badly damaged Pathfinder Ship Pegasus limping into the Eventide system, hoping to make repairs. Instead, they find an undeveloped, backwater colony with limited technology and scant resources. And worse, Eventide has drawn the attention of the Kariad: Alien busybodies who meddle in human civilizations that fail to meet their standards. Commander Keeler has seen other colonies ruined by their misguided social engineering. He makes a wager with the Kariad; if he can fix the civilization on Eventide, the Kariad must never meddle in human affairs again.


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Manx Prize
By Laura Montgomery 

In the second half of the twenty-first century, orbital debris takes its first large-scale human casualties from an orbiting tourist habitat. Haunted by visions of destruction, Charlotte Fisher, a young engineer, determines to win a prize offered by a consortium of satellite and orbitat operators for the first successful de-orbiting of space junk. Her employer backs these efforts until the reentry of a piece of debris kills two people, and she and her team are spun off. With limited resources and the unwanted gift of a lawyer who, regardless of his appeal, she doesn’t need, she faces daunting odds.


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A Cat for Christmas: A Cat Among Dragons Short Story
By Alma T.C. Boykin 

Major Rahoul P. Khan returns to the 58th Regiment of Foot. The holiday season calls up memories he’d rather have left in Afghanistan. Can the Cat help him keep Christmas?

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10 Super-Heroes Who Died & Managed to Stay Dead

Saturday, December 20th, 2014 - by Pierre Comtois

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

No words have ever proven to be more true especially when applied to the world of super-heroes.

For them, death has always been at best uncertain.

But what there was in the world of super-heroes was virtually non-existent until the silver age when it was learned that Captain America’s youthful partner Bucky was killed at the end of World War II.

After that, death for super-heroes remained a rare event but when it happened, it was usually done for dramatic purposes. In more recent years, death often comes for no other reason than to replace unfashionable white males with more politically acceptable ethnic or gender specific substitutes.

But whatever the reason editors or writers might have for killing off heroes, readers themselves have always taken their demise seriously, hoping for the most part that those who have made the supreme sacrifice are not robbed of their halos.

Unfortunately, the desires of fans for the permanency of death in their favorite comic book universes have too often turned out not to be final. And so, whether it’s clones, robot duplicates, returning spirits, impersonators, stand-ins, or alternate universe versions, most super-hero deaths never seem to last.

Caveat Emptor: although the following list includes characters who have been thoroughly killed (and numbered in the order of least likely to be revived), their deaths have mostly taken place in the traditional continuity stemming from comics’ silver age of the 1960s. It does not take into account any 21st century developments in the Marvel or DC universes wherein most if not all past continuities have been scuttled or confused beyond the average reader’s ability to understand.

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10) Blue Beetle

The Blue Beetle has a long history going all the way back to comics’ golden age but the Blue Beetle, whose rights were eventually acquired by DC, was the Ted Kord version first introduced by artist Steve Ditko in 1966. After DC bought the rights to the Beetle, the character was played mostly for laughs until he was executed in Countdown to Infinite Crisis (2005). Kord’s death made way for an ethnic re-do with a young Hispanic boy taking on the mantle of the Blue Beetle.

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34 Holiday Gifts for the Southern Culture Lover on Your List

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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This holiday season, I know you’ve been wondering: what can I give the Southern culture lover on my gift list? Well, worry no more, because I, your intrepid Southern culture expert, have decided to swoop in like a Christmas miracle and save the day!

Here’s a list of 34 awesome gift choices that cover just about every area of the culture below the Mason-Dixon line. The best part: nearly everything on this list is eligible for Amazon Prime, for all you procrastinators. Enjoy!

5. Explore The Literary South

One of the greatest traditions in the South is storytelling, and a classic Southern story makes a wonderful gift for the bookworm on your list. Here are just a few recommendations.

William Faulkner is one of the best known and most respected authors in the South or anywhere. I’ve always had a difficult time keeping my concentration reading his novels, but I love his short stories. I highly recommend The Collected Stories of William Faulkner (also available for Kindle) as a sort of greatest hits collection and The Uncollected Stories of William Faulkner for deeper cuts (get it here for Kindle).

Georgia’s own Flannery O’Connor also made a name for herself in literary circles, and her short stories are some of the best in American literature as a whole. Check out The Complete Stories (also on Kindle) to experience her true genius in all its glory, but I also recommend the slim volume A Prayer Journal (also on Kindle) for some of the most beautiful, lyrical Christian prayers I’ve ever read.

Of course, there are plenty of great Southern novels to choose from, but here are some of my favorites. Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God delves into the lives of black people in rural Florida with a lyrical flair. In Ellen Foster, by Kaye Gibbons, a precocious orphan tells her own story. James Dickey’s Deliverance is the same harrowing story as the movie, but with greater depth. And Family Linen by Lee Smith is my all-time favorite novel — a twisty, darkly comic family tale.

You can’t go wrong with any of these choices for literature lovers.

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Can Superhero Movies Be Reduced to a Racial Numbers Game?

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014 - by Pierre Comtois

With the huge success of Marvel Studios, superheroes have entered the public consciousness like never before. But the film producer’s success has become a double-edged sword: its entertainment value to millions of people worldwide has drawn to it the unwanted attention of racial bean counters who have called for different colored faces under the masks.

But how is that to be accomplished? In their call to diversify representation in movies along racial lines, promoters comb each new release, counting heads, and claim there are not enough faces of color in the casts. Something has to be done, they say, raising the specter of white privilege and subtle racist attitudes that only the most arcane of arithmetical equations can balance.

In an attempt to satisfy its critics, the film industry has taken steps to right the imbalance. Superhero movies and television shows have done their share but mostly by changing the skin color of existing characters rather than inventing new ones.

On TV, Iris West in the new Flash television show was switched from white to African-American, as was Deathlok on Agents of SHIELD and Pete Ross in Smallville.

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It’s Human, But Is It Art?

Friday, December 12th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
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If only this guy had listened to the critics of his time, he could now be obscure and ignored just like everyone the critics admired! Instead, he’s still read and performed. Hack!

I am not going to give you a link, but that great intellect for the ages (the man who has a grant for writing a novel, but hasn’t) Damien Walter, over at Al Guardian is pronouncing again.

Apparently he was all over Twitter with a cover of Jim Baen’s Universe (now defunct) claiming that these terrible covers are the reason Science Fiction isn’t taken seriously.

It’s been a long day that involved having blood drawn for medical tests, and I am old enough and tired enough that I’m not putting up with this anymore.

There are people out there who complain about Heinlein’s end to The Number of the Beast in which critics are imprisoned in a pocket universe from which they can only escape if they ever have a single, solitary creative thought.

All I can say is that those people aren’t as tired of critics and opiners on what constitutes literature or worthy literary expression as I was even back when I first read that book and snorted with glee at the ending. I was twenty one. On the other hand I had already acquired a bachelors in literature, one of those experiences likely to rip all illusion from your eyes and all forgiveness from your heart.

So, not exactly in response to Damien Walter, (who is loonier than a moonstruck moonling dancing in the moonlight) but in response to his ilk, I feel it’s time I set the record straight on what is literature, what isn’t and what is worthy and isn’t.

I will confess that part of this is in response to many people who have asked in groups I frequent – as we’re trying to build a culture away from Marxism – for “worthy” books for themselves and their children. This always devolves into a list of “approved” books, well thought of by the talking heads who are, of course, wholly-owned subsidiaries of the establishment.

No mas. Enough is enough.

So, what is literature? Should your kids read it?  Should you read it?  How can it improve your life?  And should you be worried if science fiction isn’t considered “real literature”?

Charlie has a definition of literature that involves Aristotle’s Poetics. That’s fine.  It’s way too intellectual for me, and I’ll let him talk about it. I merely have a degree in this stuff, and most of it consisted of people blathering about things that had nothing in fact to do with literature.

For my purposes I’m going to define literature as a narrative/emotional experience packaged into words.

Is it an art?

Oh, assuredly. You can still read Shakespeare, Austen and Kipling (and Dumas and fill in your own favorites) and still understand it at an emotion-level as well as a narrative-level. Which means that there is art there, to touch something essentially human across the centuries.

The problem is judging the art. This is not a problem unique to writing. We partake the same thing with the plastic arts, with music and with practically every artistic field.

The problem is this: for the last century and a bit a self-hating, sour-faced minority of the reading public, aka critics, has installed itself as the arbiters of what is and isn’t art.  And they are applying it not in terms of the emotions the story touches, or in terms of the narrative cogency, but in terms of “being socially relevant.”

In this century that has come to mean Western-hating, male-hating and most of all – and this is very important – fun-hating.

Instead of rousing tales that touch humans enough to read them for pleasure, literature has come to mean “beautiful words telling us establishment messages.”

We’ve seen this in art before. Look for instance to when French in the regency had defined what plays should be. Good plays, to be worthy, should have no blood on stage.  No panic or death or anything else should happen on stage. These were decorously relayed by messengers telling us what had happened off stage.In the more eventful plays, so many messengers crossed on stage it looked like a relay race.

The critics of the time often said that upstart, Shakespeare, would be better off imitating them and showing more class and taste.

Those other playwrights are not seen or heard from anymore. For some reason, Messenger Relay Race is less stirring than Romeo and Juliet. Who would have thought it? Other than any human being with a pulse, of course.

And therein lies the rub.

Literature happens, and we can tell when it has happened, and when it’s art. But we can only tell it’s art when it’s stood the test of time. Until then we call it “rousing good stuff.” In other words, stuff people buy and read for fun.

The first indication of art, we can take it, is the pleasure of readers in reading it.

And as for being taken seriously – by the likes of little Damien – who cares? Those are social games people play to make sure they’re in with the smart set.

They’re welcome to their games.

We’re playing for the ages.


Charlie here. Yes, you’re right, Book Plug Friday is late this week. In fact, a week late. The story of how that happened is boring even to me, but it was my fault.

Second, this is a SPECIAL EDITION because we have four of Sarah’s ebooks on sale. Go check them out.


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Frizzy, the S.A.D. Elf: Santa’s Izzy Elves #4
By Dorothea Jensen 

Frizzy, one of Santa’s Izzy Elves, styles Christmas dollies’ hair, but misses them when Santa takes them away for delivery. She decides to change her job so she doesn’t get so attached to the toys she works. Her plan doesn’t work out exactly as she intended, in this award-winning illustrated rhyming Christmas story for kids aged 4 and up.
“…a highly original and wonderfully developed children’s book…appeal[s] to girls and boys alike,…the rhymes…fit into the story perfectly…full color images are superbly done…with a creative and engaging story, Jensen has succeeded at crafting a memorable Christmas story for children that is so good it’s possible it will be enjoyed year round.” -Red City Review


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Dizzy, the Stowaway Elf: Santa’s Izzy Elves #3
By Dorothea Jensen 

Dizzy, one of Santa’s tech-savvy Izzy Elves, knows all about his friend Tizzy’s Great Adventure and he wants to have an adventure too! When he sneaks aboard Santa’s sleigh, Dizzy finds all the adventure he’s dreamed of, in this award-winning illustrated rhyming Christmas story for kids aged 4 and up.
“A little elf’s clandestine adventure as a stowaway on Santa’s sleigh takes an unexpected turn in an engaging contemporary spin on the classic 19th century poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas”…The author propels her present-day take on the classic Christmas poem with gentle humor and suspense…appealing energy and colorful verbal imagery…” -Kirkus Reviews


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Santa Hunk
By Kirsten Mortensen 

First of all: forget everything you ever heard about him being a fat old
guy who’s never seen a razor.

I mean, think about it. Santa’s an immortal. He’s immortal. A god,
basically. And I’m telling you, he looks like a god.

The guy is gorgeous.

Those things you’ve seen about the goofy red suit and the big jiggly
belly? Most of it comes from a poem a guy wrote for his kids. “’Twas the
night before Christmas.” You know the poem I mean. And it’s a nice poem.
It’s a timeless classic.

But the guy who wrote that poem? He’d never seen Santa.

He made it all up.

Me? I have seen Santa.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I saw him — but I’m not the one who found him.

Clare found him.

She found him — then she nearly lost him again…


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Red Queen: The Substrate Wars
By Jeb Kinnison 

Set on a California college campus just a decade or two from now, the world
of Red Queen is post-terrorist disaster, repressive and censored ‹ rather
like China today, but with a stagnant economy and no jobs for young people.
In that sense it is a dystopia, though not so far from our own day and time;
only a few steps beyond where we are now. The students are cowed but not
unaware, and they seize the opportunity to make a difference when their
smarts and courage allow it. And so they change the world.

This is Book 1 of Substrate Wars, the series: A growing band of campus
freedom-fighters discover a new technology that could either destroy the
world, or save it.


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Crawling Between Heaven And Earth
By Sarah A. Hoyt 

A collection of short stories by Prometheus Award Winner Sarah A. Hoyt. The first edition of this collection was published by Dark Regions Press in paper, only. This updated edition contains two bonus short stories: High Stakes and Sweet Alice.

It also contains the stories: Elvis Died for Your Sins; Like Dreams Of Waking; Ariadne’s Skein;Thirst;Dear John;Trafalgar Square;The Green Bay Tree; Another George; Songs;Thy Vain Worlds;Crawling Between Heaven and Earth


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Ill Met By Moonlight (Magical Shakespeare Book 1)
By Sarah A. Hoyt 

Young Will Shakespeare is a humble school master who arrives home to find his wife and infant daughter, Susannah are missing, kidnapped by the fairies of Arden Woods, the children of Titania and Oberon. His attempts at rescue are interrupted and complicated by a feud over throne of fairyland, between Sylvanus, king regnant, and his younger brother Quicksilver who is both more and less than he seems. Amid treachery, murder, duel and seduction, Shakespeare discovers the enchantment of fairyland, which will always remain with him, for good and ill. (This book was originally published by Ace/Berkley 10/2001)


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Death of a Musketeer (Musketeers Mysteries Book 1)
By Sarah A. Hoyt 

April in Paris 1625. D’Artagnan, and his new friends who hide their true identities under the assumed names of Athos, Porthos and Aramis, discover the corpse of a beautiful woman who looks like the Queen of France. Suspecting an intrigue of Cardinal Richelieu’s and fearing the murder will go unpunished they start investigating. But the enterprise will be fraught with danger, traps from the Cardinal, duels with guards and plotting from the king himself.


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Witchfinder (Magical Empires Book 1)
By Sarah A. 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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3 Top Lessons from the New Republic Implosion

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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Now that the pixel dust has (mostly) settled, we can begin trying to glean some lessons from the sudden crack up of The New Republic.

Since its inception 100 years ago, TNR has positioned itself as the journal of American liberalism, when that word was still synonymous with patriotism, freedom and even a hawkish foreign policy.

The magazine cheer-led for Stalin longer than was seemly and opposed the Vietnam War. However, it was also critical of the New Left’s excesses and, under contentious editor Martin Peretz, became largely pro-Israel.

It may have been “the in-flight magazine of Air Force One” during the Clinton administration but that didn’t prevent TNR from being highly critical of his (and Hillary’s) policies.

So it wouldn’t be entirely fair or accurate to describe The New Republic as a “liberal” magazine, although that’s what a lot of conservative commentators have been doing since this week’s Chernobyl-level meltdown.

In a magazine landscape in which The Nation is unmistakeably far-left, and National Review and the Weekly Standard are clearly “right wing,” The New Republic sometimes seemed… confused — a reflection of the particular passions of whoever happened to be editor at the time.

And many of those editors over the years have been quite young.

As have the magazine’s writers.

That’s why it’s likely that the prospect of having a 28-year-old owner didn’t immediately strike fear into the hearts of New Republic stakeholders.

Ooops.

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Leaders See Opportunities, not Obstacles

Sunday, December 7th, 2014 - by Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Rick Lynch

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After I retired from the US Army, I wrote a book about adaptive leadership entitled Adapt or Die: Leadership Principles from an American General. I took 35 years in the Army and 4 years at West Point and condensed those down to 9 leadership principles with a focus on Faith and Family. I am convinced that we as a Nation are struggling due to ineffective leadership who can’t adapt to changing circumstances. This is occurring at all levels, from National down to local communities. We must change that.

A critical trait for effective, adaptive senior leaders is to focus on opportunities, not obstacles. In our day-to-day lives, routinely things happen that were unforeseen.  Resources that we thought were going to be made available are no longer available. The time we thought we had is truncated. Events took a different turn than we expected. Effective leaders look upon these changed circumstances as an opportunity, not as an obstacle. I was taught many years ago that you can’t roll up your sleeves while you are wringing your hands. We must capitalize on opportunities as they come our way.

We as a nation now have an opportunity as a result of the mid-term elections.  America has voted. We have decided who will be our leaders at all levels. We selected US Senators and Representatives, Governors, and State Legislators. Starting January 1, 2015 we will have our elected leaders in place.  The question is will they, on behalf of the American public, embrace the changes and focus on the opportunity at hand. We must demand that they do.

The key element in all this will be to focus on doing what is right for America, as opposed to doing what is right for a particular political party. As a leader, I always asked three questions: (1) Are we doing the right things? (2) Are we doing things right? (3) What are we missing? These are very important questions.  If we are doing the right things the right way, let’s drive on.  If not, let’s stop and make the appropriate correction.  That’s what needs to happen now throughout America.

I am concerned that we as Americans have lost our identity. In the past, we proudly introduced ourselves as Americans. Now the tendency is to introduce ourselves as Republicans or Democrats, Liberals or Conservatives, etc. We must regain our identity, and our leaders must focus on what is right for America.  They must put aside their petty differences and work towards compromise. They cannot spend all their time focused on how to win the next election, but rather on how to enact laws and pass legislation that is in the best interests of America. We must break out of the current stalemate, and make things happen.

In a democracy, the elected officials work for us.  Let’s demand that they spend time focused on opportunities for America, and then do things to make those opportunities come to life.  We must demand action.  Let’s not let them spend time worrying about the obstacles in their path, commiserating about who won or lost the election or how do we make the other party look bad. Let’s not accept that.  Our Nation’s future depends on leaders who will take advantage of the opportunity given to them to do what is right for America.

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The 10 Most Fascinating Science Fiction Worlds of All Time

Friday, December 5th, 2014 - by Pierre Comtois

World-building as an imaginative exercise has been with mankind almost from the time men discovered fire, but it was only relatively recently that fancy began to give way to logic. That began with the work of Jules Verne, who based his many novels on a strict application of the science of his time, an approach that can be seen most strikingly with The Mysterious Island.

The work of H.G. Wells quickly followed. Utilizing points of departure that were a bit more fanciful than those of Verne (alien invasion, invisibility, time travel), Wells kickstarted modern science fiction, which, in America, soon morphed into tales of interplanetary warfare and galactic empires. But the stories by such writers as Edmond Hamilton and Doc Smith concentrated more on action than social context. As a result, though they created elaborate worlds filled with planets populated by every kind of alien creature, they lacked the background and cohesion needed to create believable settings.

That approach had to wait another decade or so until John Campbell (editor of Astounding Science Fiction and himself a former writer of space opera in the Hamilton style) determined to raise the quality of science fiction from the slam-bang-action variety to more thoughtful fare. With that revolution, writers began to turn out stories with more fully realized futurescapes that explored every societal permutation that intelligent beings were capable of creating. Reaching its full flower in the mid-fifties, the movement eclipsed space opera with many authorial visions becoming so popular that they generated numberless sequels, affording the space needed to build complex universes for readers to explore.

With much of the genre landscape over the years blurring the line between science fiction and fantasy, any list of the most interesting SF futurescapes would have to meet certain criteria, including a strong basis in reality and science, and be made up of multiple stories or volumes enabling a full exploration of the futurescape. That said, check out the following list of the top ten most fascinating worlds in science fiction:

vance city of chasch

10) Tschai

Beginning with City of the Chasch, Jack Vance created the world of Tschai, a planet hundreds of light years from Earth. There, spaceman Adam Reith is stranded, forcing him to deal with Tschai’s interconnected alien races. Through the course of the books, each race is thoroughly explored, making the changes brought on their societies through Reith’s influence all the more fascinating.

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Could You Become An Assassin-For-Hire?

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Book Talk

Editor’s Note: We’re launching some new discussions and debates this winter in dialogue with the new fiction publishing company Liberty Island. See the previous installments: David S. Bernstein on November 19: “5 Leaders of the New Conservative Counter-Culture,”  Dave Swindle on November 25: “7 Reasons Why Thanksgiving Will Be My Last Day on Facebook,” this collection of discussion starters from Monday: “60 Questions to Provoke Debates About How to Fix Our Popular Culture.”  Also see “My Growing List of 65 Read-ALL-Their-Books Authors” for more description of the method behind the madness of this work-in-progress book collection. The goal: 365 books total, 7 lists of 52 each, organized thematically by day. What books should make it onto the final list? How should the organization structure be revised? Your input and suggestions are most valued. Please join the discussion on Twitter (@DaveSwindle) and Instagram (@DaveSwindlePJM) and your responses might appear in future installments.

Episode 1, December 2, 2014: “I Need Your Help Assembling the Ultimate Reading List For My Brother

Wednesday: Technology: Tools of Self-Transformation

Wednesday: How does technology transform our lives? And by “technology” I don’t just mean computers — writing is a form of technology. One’s diet is a technology. These are practical tools one should master.

Writing, Poetry, and Comics

  • Strunk and White The Elements of Style
  • On Writing by Stephen King
  • Break, Blow, Burn by Camille Paglia
  • Watchmen by Alan Moore
  • Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman
  • Testament by Douglas Rushkoff
  • Six Walks in the Fictional Woods by Umberto Eco

Novels And Genre Fiction

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Film and Television

  • Fantasia by John Culhane
  • The Birds by Camille Paglia
  • Scorsese on Scorsese
  • Magnolia, a screenplay, by P.T. Anderson
  • Crackpot by John Waters
  • Midnight Movies by Hoberman and Rosenbaum
  • Hollywood Babylon by Kenneth Anger
  • Hollywood Babylon II by Kenneth Anger
  • Red Star Over Hollywood: The Film Colony’s Long Romance with the Left by Ron Radosh
  • Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV by Ben Shapiro

Economics

Education

Art and Media Theory

Internet and Technology

  • An Army of Davids by Glenn Reynolds
  • Program or Be Programmed by Douglas Rushkoff
  • Present Shock by Douglas Rushkoff
  • The Wikipedia Revolution
  • The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson

Pets

  • What’s a Dog For?: The Surprising History, Science, Philosophy, and Politics of Man’s Best Friend by John Homan

Diet and Drugs

  • High Society: Mind Altering Drugs in History and Culture
  • Sex, Drugs, and Magick by Robert Anton Wilson
  • The Peyote Cult by Weston La Barre
  • Romancing Opiates by Theodore Dalrymple

Generational Theory

  • Generations by Howe and Strauss
  • The Fourth Turning by Howe and Strauss
  • Generation X Reader by Douglas Roushkoff
  • Millennials Rising by Howe and Strauss
  • Queens of all the Earth by Hannah Sternberg

Futurism

Marriage and Monogamy

  • Men and Marriage by George Gilder
  • The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
  • Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America by Jonathan Rauch
  • What to Expect When No One’s Expecting by Jonathan V. Last

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Is America Overdue for a Satanic Revival? (Part Two)

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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The “Christmas single” phenomenon is unknown in the U.S., unless you’ve ever watched Love, Actually.

It’s sort of the “Black Friday” of the British music industry. Since so much music is sold (or, at least, used to be) during the holiday season, having the #1 song on the charts during that time gives one lucky record company a financial boost.

After Slade took the top spot in 1973 with their “Merry Xmas Everybody” — beating out  “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” by Wizzard — “an emotional attachment to the Christmas countdown has developed, and for many [in the United Kingdom], it is part of the fabric of their childhood.”

So I doubt many American readers care that there’s a campaign to get Iron Maiden’s old chestnut “The Number of the Beast” to the top of the charts in time for Christmas, “for a laugh.”

What’s really funny (sort of) is that, during the early 1970s, such a campaign would have been denounced on the front page of every British tabloid, and remarked upon within American newspapers’ “entertainment” sections, at the very least.

Why?

Because culture-watchers would see it as yet another sign of the satanic takeover of the culture, and the world — the one I wrote about last week.

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