The (star!) road ahead

Yup, still deployed. Will be through Spring next year. Yup, still largely off the social media radar as a result. Just occasionally popping my head up now and again, with decreasing frequency. Which is a blessing in disguise, because it forces me to work on things that are both more important and more pressing, than who is shouting at who on the intarwebz.

The cosmetic revamp continues. I will keep fiddling with things, as connectivity and time permit. Until I settle on something that feels right. It’s been my habit to re-do my web look annually, but as one reviewer noted, we’re also dealing with “branding” issues, and this includes the artwork for my covers. So, it’s a slow process. Thanks again to everybody for the ongoing feedback. Especially since I switched my WordPress theme from Twenty Ten, to Twenty Eleven. Similar, but also different.

During the “remodel” I’ve been thinking back to when I first set up this blog. 2009 isn’t so far away. And yet, 2009 also seems like an eternity ago. Seven years (on the internet) is practically an epoch! My very first post was regarding my initial Finalist story, with the L. Ron Hubbard presents Writers and Illustrators of the Future Contest. I hadn’t published a single professional word at that point. Being a first-time Finalist was as close as I’d ever come to scoring. Wow. That was exciting! After so many years of rejection letters and disappointment, I was within striking distance.

Which meant being double-plus crushed a few months later, when I found out that my novelette “Outbound” didn’t make it. Damn, was that ever a bummer. The toughest rejection I ever got in my whole life. I sat at the kitchen table and sort of stared off into space, thinking, this is the best thing I’ve ever written to date, and I know it, and it couldn’t even win in a contest where the competition is with other aspiring writers!

How was I ever going to cut it in the big leagues?

Thankfully, I got my answer in January 2010. Analog magazine said, “Yes, we want this,” just 60 days after Writers of the Future told me I’d won, for a different story.

“Outbound” ran in September 2010. It was a hit with readers, none of whom knew me from Adam at that point. I’ve since had a few other hits with Analog. Enough to establish myself as one of that venerable magazine’s top new names, for the new century.

I’m immensely proud of that. More than I can sufficiently say. Because Analog is the cauldron of creation where so many amazing and spectacular names in this field, have first come forth. To include personal heroes like Orson Scott Card. As well as current top professionals like George R. R. Martin. Analog has been home to Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Robert A. Heinlein. Also: Lois McMaster Bujold, Vernor Vinge, Robert J. Sawyer, Frank Herbert, and so many others. In fact, the wikipedia entry lists several dozen notable names of both past and present. I am humbled enormously to see my name tucked away to the side, on that roster. And immensely gratified.

Of course, my track record with Analog (as well as Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show) got me the attention of Toni Weisskopf, at Baen Books. Who would eventually publish my “fix up” book, The Chaplain’s War, which was assmebled and expanded from the bones of two stories which had appeared in Analog.

To frame all of this so that you can understand, it’s a bit like being Charlie from Willy Wonka. One day I am an often-rejected, some would even say failed writer, who’s never managed to do much of anything worthwhile despite years and years of fruitless effort, and the next . . . it’s golden ticket time! Holy crap, sometimes dreams really do come true!

Now, of course, there is the question: what next? What about the seven years ahead? What’s happening between now, and 2022?

I can tell you that Baen has contracted me for the first book in what I am calling my Star-Wheeled trilogy. The launch novel, A Star-Wheeled Sky, is in a seperate universe from the Chaplain’s stories, and focuses on a future human civilization which finds itself at a critical juncture. Restricted for many hundreds of years to a relatively small region of the galaxy, there is finally the potential for first contact with an actual living alien race of unknown origin or power. The various nations of human space will each be in a mad rush to exploit this discovery. They’ve been at war with each other for a long time, dividing and re-dividing the limited worlds of humanity during a slow spiral toward civilizational cataclysm. All three books deal with this initial premise, and I’ve been writing portions of them for months. The first draft of the first book is a bit overdue, so I am going to be focusing entirely on that for the next month, to be sure Toni gets it well before Labor Day. Then? Completion of the remaining two.

Assuming all goes well with the Star-Wheeled books, I will try my hand at alternative history epic fantasy, with a trilogy I am planning (and which Baen has shown a lot of interest in) called Norse America. The setup is like this. The pantheons of the various peoples of Earth are real. Magic is also real, albeit dangerous and not necessarily well understood. The Viking settlers who’ve established themselves in Vinland around the year 1000 find themselves being pushed out by a relentless march of Frost Giants, coming down from the arctic. Retreat to Iceland has been made impossible. Leif Erikson and his heirs — along with perhaps a thousand Viking warriors — must flee to the Chesapeake Bay, where they encounter the remnants of the mound-building civilizations who have been pushed out of the Ohio region by a terrible threat coming up from the Southwest. The gods of the mound-builders and the Norse gods of the refugee Vikings know this is the time for a last-ditch alliance, through their respective peoples. Blood and traditions mingle. But the threat from the Southwest only grows stronger. The Frost Giants are still coming. And the shamans tell of visions of a third, perhaps still greater danger: men in boats from across the ocean, which has remained closed to Viking longships because of sea monsters and cursed storms. The invaders are seeking treasure as well as glory. It’s conquistador muskets against Ulfberht swords! Political alliances being forged, tested, and shattered. Family dynasties born, destroyed, and born again. The one god comes to drive out the many gods. And the chosen sons and daughters of a hybrid nation will rise to claim their destiny, as defenders of their civilization — or see it all burn in bitter defeat.

So, those are the major projects. I’d say they will keep me busy until mid 2017, at least?

Of course, that’s not everything. I’ve also got some collaborations in the works — for both stories, as well as books — in addition to new manuscripts and story ideas I want to pitch at Analog, Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, Galaxy’s Edge, and other venues. Including a planned Monster Hunter International story which I’ve already agreed to do for a book being put together by Bryan Thomas Schmidt, and Larry Correia.

Which doesn’t mention the extant stories soon to hit print! Including a story for an anthology inspired by the songs of the prog rock band, RUSH, being assembled and edited by Kevin J. Anderson.

So, that’s all of this year, all of next, and much of the following year. Beyond that? I want to get back to my nascent Emancipated Worlds project, which has been in stasis since 2011. I’ve got ideas for an additional space opera type trilogy, as well as an original swords-and-magic fantasy trilogy, plus the brewing seeds of at least two or three dozen other items which may evolve into either novelettes, novellas, or full-blown books. Including sequels to popular stories like “Outbound” and “Ray of Light.”

If the time between 1993 and 2009 was a desert, the time since has been a green field of trees, fruit, and honey. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to do things with my imagination which I only dreamed about 20 years ago, when I was still trying to get my feet under me — as an aspiring writer. The long proto-professional drought (seventeen years?) taught me to appreciate the good stuff, when it finally came. I don’t think I’d have the right perspective, had publication and success come quickly or easily.

I had to work for the shit. You know?

But it’s been worth it. And in many ways, I feel like I am just getting started!

I want to borrow something Geoffrey Lewis said so well, when asked (in story form) what the most pleasurable experience in his life has been.

What’s the best book or story I’ve ever done?

“The best one, is the next one.”

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111 thoughts on “The (star!) road ahead

  1. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a career. Just keep doing what you want and need to do and be happy with your life. If you can do that, you’re playing with house money.

  2. I think it’s pretty cool that you managed to make it from the ‘periodicals’ into getting an actual contract with Baen. I honestly didn’t think anyone was able to do that anymore.
    I myself have never submitted to Analog or any of its kin. Part of that was that back when I was reading them, I saw almost nothing that I liked or wanted to read, so I figured they wouldn’t be interested in anything I wanted to write. The other part was I’d sort of burned out on doing short stories from the fanzines and online posts I’d done.
    But I know disappointment! I’ve had my fair share, if I hadn’t decided to take a chance on selfpub via the kindle, all my writing would still be just for my own amusement.

  3. OK, you know this (now), but I have to say it in my role as “ambassador” for the Writers of the Future Forum…

    Which meant being double-plus crushed a few months later, when I found out that my novelette “Outbound” didn’t make it. Damn, was that ever a bummer. The toughest rejection I ever got in my whole life. I sat at the kitchen table and sort of stared off into space, thinking, this is the best thing I’ve ever written to date, and I know it, and it couldn’t even win in a contest where the competition is with other aspiring writers!

    Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. A Finalist in Writers of the Future means a pro editor (K.D. Wentworth back then, David Farland today) read your story and said, “Wow! That is good! That is so good, I would be proud to publish it. But there are seven other good stories here, and I can only publish three, so I’ll ask some other pros to vote on them.” And a non-winning Finalist simply means the pros liked three stories better than yours. Yours was still an excellent story.

    A WotF win is awesome; but a Finalist means you’re writing up at the winning level. Don’t let non-winning Finalist discourage you, it should ENcourage you!

    And as for “…the competition is with other aspiring writers…”, yes, it is; but it’s a multimodal distribution. They may have thousands of entrants each quarter who are “aspiring writers”, but they have a hundred or fewer who are on the road to pro status, who really have a clue what writing is all about. THAT is your competition, and you still scored in the top eight among those. If pro writing is major league ball, then the top tiers of Writers of the Future are the Triple-A farm teams, people who are ready for the majors or learning how to get there.

    Writers of the Future Finalist is a big deal, people, it really is. It’s not a guarantee, since there are no guarantees, but it’s an incredibly strong indicator. Semi-Finalist is, too. Honorable Mention means you have work to do, but you show potential. If you get one of these non-winning results, don’t sit around moping. WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!

  4. Van Stry,

    I’ve taken an “old fashioned” approach my entire career. Mostly because I semi-consciously modeled myself on Larry Niven. It was in 1992, when I was doing unpaid scripts for a little home-spun radio SF serial, and reading Larry Niven’s omnibus collections N-Space and Playgrounds of the Mind, that I decided I wanted to try to be “for real” like Larry is. So I set to work trying to break into the short fiction markets. I got dozens of rejections from Analog in particular, before I finally made my first sale. And I was thrilled to do well enough — in that magazine, and in other short fic venues — to earn the attention of Toni Weisskopf. Of course, Larry Correia and Mike Resnick put the good word in for me. But it takes more (at Baen) than having a good word put in for you. You need to be able to show that you can cut it, at the pro level. And of course, my first Baen book was a “fix up” which is also a very time-honored, old-fashioned way to put a novel together; using previously-published short fiction components. Orson Scott Card did it with Ender’s Game.

    Again, this was all (more or less) me modeling my approach, after the career of Larry Niven. The marketplace in 2015 is very different from what it was when Larry first came up in the field. Self-publishing used to mean “vanity” publishing, which was virtually impossible to make money at, and also virtually impossible to have taken seriously. Thanks to Amazon and the Kindle, self-pub is a legit pathway now. Had Amazon and the Kindle existed like they do not, back in 2000, I am almost sure I’d have gone that rout. Just because I was (at that time) tired of waiting for the editors to open a door for me.

    Still, the extra waiting was good, in that it made me work just that much harder on my craft.

    Nowadays, a good audience is where you find them: any venue, market, or means. I have friends going great guns via indie publishing, and making a hell of lot more money than I am making right now. And while the heavy lifting is all on them, they also have a certain degree of freedom too. I admire their chutzpah and their business savvy.

  5. Martin,

    I really do think that the Finalist pool — in the past ten years — has gotten enormously good. The stories, skill, and talent showing up in the Finalist pool these days, should make any Finalist feel proud. I didn’t mean to make it sound like being a non-winning Finalist is bad. It just happened to be a particularly low blow for me, in the summer of 2009. It didn’t help that I was enduring the crucible of WOCS (National Guard RTI program) and hating my civilian boss’s guts. Not scoring with “Outbound” was a punch in the stomach; or at least it felt like it, in the broader context.

    Thankfully my wife was able to talk me down to Earth, as she usually does. And I turned around and finished “Exanastasis,” which of course did win the Contest. So, it all worked out perfectly, in an unexpected sort of way. Because “Outbound” impressed Stan Schmidt tremendously, and went on to impress the Analog readers too. I was super-gratified by that. Because I believed in “Outbound” and wanted so much for that story to do well. And when it did, the experience was supremely satisfying.

  6. Brad, I’m ready to read all those books you talk about, so get ’em written. Oh, and write all that other stuff, too, while you’re at it. (Seriously, best of luck to you over there, and I’m looking forward to whatever you write.)

  7. Oh, I know that “low blow” feeling. Not personally, I tend toward the optimist side, but I’ve heard your story from a lot of friends. Getting close is almost more crushing than flat out rejection, because your hopes first raise and then they crash. And it’s to all those present-day Brads that I want to reach out and say, “No! Don’t give up! Not when you’re this close!”

  8. Very eager to read Norse America. I read the Facebook post where you brainstormed the worldbuilding in real time. It’s always amazing to see an idea blossom.

  9. I’m immensely proud of that. More than I can sufficiently say. Because Analog is the cauldron of creation where so many amazing and spectacular names in this field, have first come forth.

    “They laughed at Einstein and Tesla!”
    “Yes, but they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.”

    Here’s a list of fiction authors in Analog in Jan 2004 (I was going to do all of 2004 but there’s not enough time)

    – Ramona Louise Wheeler
    – Grey Rollins
    – Kyle Kirkland
    – Marie Ming
    – Robert Scherrer
    – Stephen L. Burns
    – Richard A. Lovett
    – Robert J. Sawyer
    – Michael A. Burstein
    – F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre
    – Bob Buckley
    – Steven Bratman
    – Alec Nevala-Lee

    (http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?285281)

    A decade later – well, I’ve only heard of Sawyer. Admittedly, I may not be as plugged in as some, but it’s probably as good an indication as anything else that the others are not making a munificent living off their writing. And the pattern seems to hold for the next few issues – only one or two remembered authors per issue, with the rest falling by the wayside.

    There’s a LOT of writers. Whoever gets to endure is as much happenstance as talent – finding the right deal and enthusiastic influencers. Word of mouth counts.

    And here’s the thing – thanks to your antics with the Puppies, I’m not going to be one of those influencers. I am never going to bother buying one of your books, and I am very likely never going to read one of your stories – there’s too much else to read, and I’m just going to dismiss you sight unseen. And to the limited extent that I influence others (some personal, a bit institutional), I’m going to turn them to people like Nick Harkaway or Paul di Fillipo. And if they ask me about you, I’m just going to tell them you’re just one of those assholes who decided to try wrecking the Hugos one year for the lolz.

    Now, at least you’ll have the other assholes – all the Gamergaters and MRAs who jumped on the bandwagon when VD started stirring up trouble. I’m not sure that they buy as much sf as the larger contingent of fans you pissed off, and I’m not sure that they’ll be around in a year or so when the next crusade is going on, but, hey, they’re there to keep you warm.

    What you have achieved is that you now have a huge number of the actual sf community who will, under most circumstances, dismiss your work sight unseen given the huge number of other authors, and will be that much more unlikely to buy your stuff even if they did like it. You made your bed, you lay down in it with the puppies, now live with it.

  10. ‘Huge’.

    The funny thing is, people against the whole Puppy initiative seem to forget that as much as they don’t agree with us, there will be people who also quietly agree – quietly, because they don’t want to deal with the histrionics that have come from the anti side.

    The biggest recruiters to our side has always come from the antics of the ASPs. That’s the reality of it. =)

    Oh and GamerGate is still here, almost a year on. It’ll be a year pretty soon.

    Also, this is the third Sad Puppies year… so… yeah. And the fact that you have to lie about the whole Sad Puppies campaign, especially Brad’s, says a lot.

    Go on and run back to Glyer’s. You’ve made your ‘brave’ little stand.

  11. “A Star-Wheeled Sky…focuses on a future human civilization which finds itself at a critical juncture.”

    It’s cool to hear about what you’ve got planned next. I can’t wait!

  12. @CPaca
    Actually, no, you’re wrong. The ‘larger contingent’ of fans look at the Hugo award as a sign of what NOT TO BUY. Really, they know it means the title is probably crap.

    I was having dinner last month with a friend of mine, a voracious reader, and In the course of our conversation I mentioned that when I, a small time indy reader with an $40 advertising campaign is outselling the Hugo award winner on Amazon, then something is wrong with the awards. His immediately response was: ‘Yeah, they’re crap, everyone knows not to read them’.

    Both of those things says a lot right there about the Hugos.

    So you can whine all you want about what Brad has done, but I’m willing to bet you that fifty years from now, people will still be reading his books, because they’re good and they’re interesting and people enjoy them. While the books that have won the Hugo for the last several years will be totally forgotten.

    Brad didn’t ‘break’ or ‘ruin’ the Hugo awards, that was done years ago by people like you. He’s just one of the people who’d like to see them become relevant again.

  13. I was having dinner last month with a friend of mine, a voracious reader, and In the course of our conversation I mentioned that when I, a small time indy reader with an $40 advertising campaign is outselling the Hugo award winner on Amazon, then something is wrong with the awards. His immediately response was: ‘Yeah, they’re crap, everyone knows not to read them’.

    Good for you. If I can interrupt your rant for a tiny moment and point out a few little facts:

    Brad isn’t up for a Hugo. I didn’t comment on Brad winning a Hugo. I commented on Brad alienating the community of dedicated sf readers who have influence.

    Now, go back to your charming little ranting.

  14. BTW :

    I was having dinner last month with a friend of mine, a voracious reader, and In the course of our conversation I mentioned that when I, a small time indy reader with an $40 advertising campaign is outselling the Hugo award winner on Amazon, then something is wrong with the awards. His immediately response was: ‘Yeah, they’re crap, everyone knows not to read them’.

    Let’s see – Ancillary Justice, published 1 Oct 2013

    Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,390 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
    #65 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure > Fantasy
    #89 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Space Opera
    #106 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Space Opera

    and

    Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
    #189 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Space Opera
    #353 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure > Science Fiction

    So what did you put out around Oct 2013?

    Shorts 11 Dec 2013
    Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #594,415 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
    #1196 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Genetic Engineering
    #1419 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Genetic Engineering
    #1428 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Anthologies & Short Stories

    and

    The Hammer Commission 16 Apr 2013
    Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #214,662 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
    #5236 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Paranormal & Urban
    #7182 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Paranormal & Urban

    Hmm. So, the best one you seem to have ever had was Portals 4
    Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,038 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
    #608 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure > Science Fiction
    #911 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure > Science Fiction
    #2068 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction

    So – Ancillary Justice, Hugo winner for 2014 – 5,390 in Kindle books.
    Portals 4 – your best – 35,038 in kindle books (at less than half the price).

    This must be more of the Puppy math…

  15. Oh, no, Brad! You’ve lost the “support” of a “reader”… who, ummm, never read a single one of the 25 things you wrote BEFORE SP3… And who, ummm, is self-described so unplugged that he doesn’t recognize any of a set of authors who have collectively around 320 pro publications (some going back 35 years, some as fresh as this month( in Analog, in other markets, and in novels… Oh, and one of those authors is a former SFWA officer, another is a little busy as a physicist/astronomer, and many of the others have a lot on their plates… Oh, and this unplugged-reader-who-never-read-you-and-never-will-again has INFLUENCE… INSTITUTIONAL influence! And he’s going to say BAD THINGS about you!

    Oh, however will you get by without him and his dozen (maybe) friends? Somehow you’ll just have to write for somebody else… like, say, the 28,000 readers of Analog every month. Maybe, someday, those readers will like your stuff enough to give you some comfort in your bitter old age…

  16. Huh-the moundbuilders and the viking discovery of North America aren’t too far off each other. The conquistadores are about 500 years later than those vikings, though, I think. Are you planning on having 25 generations pass before they show up to menace the no-longer-fledgling norse/moundbuilder community?

    In any case it sounds like an interesting story. And working on your writing will give you something to do with your time while deployed. I know that’s a difficult time for people and perhaps having a project you love, something that really engages your mind and gives you an outlet for your creativity, will be helpful with that.

    I still oppose what you did to the Hugos, though. You could always have just played fair–told all your fans and friends how to sign up but let them independently pick their own honest favorites. I wish you had done that.

  17. Oh look, the condescending concern trolls are back. You guys are just adorable, thinking your shaming attempts are going to hurt anyone’s feelings here.

  18. @CPaca.

    For the first 4 months after AC won the hugo, my POI series, books 1 & 2 were ranked in the top 100 across all scifi paperbacks and ebooks, and my ranking, overall, was below 2000, dropping below 1000 several times.
    AC was a lot higher than that, through that entire period.

    I spent $40 advertise both books, that was it.
    They spent over $100K advertising on AC, and are STILL spending that kind of money.
    If I spent one tenth of what they were spending, I’m sure I’d still be beating AC with my POI series, and when I release the next book in the series, all of the others will once again climb in the ranks.

    So yeah, I’ve outsold AC several times in the past, and probably will again, and I’m a nobody spending less than one percent of what TOR spends. So, tell me again how the Hugo is a symbol of quality?

    Oh, and a little reading comprehension test for you, exactly WHERE did I say Brad was up for a Hugo? Oh right, I didn’t say it anywhere, you just made that shit up.

  19. I commented on Brad alienating the community of dedicated sf readers who have influence.

    While I am sure the denizens at File 770 qualify as a ‘community’ I question the extent of the influence. Remember this graphic?

    Larry Correia thinks the blue circle is probably a thousand times larger!

    So, even if everyone in the yellow circle hates Sad Puppies with a mad passion, and they all want Larry Correia and myself to die in a fire, the actual consumer base is not only a) vastly larger than the total population of Puppy-haters, but also b) pretty much ignores anything going on in the very-small circle that Puppy-haters could claim to effectively dominate.

    Here’s the rub, though: not everyone in the yellow circle is a dedicated Puppy-kicker.

    Martin Shoemaker called it: if I have to pick Analog’s reader base, versus the Puppy-kickers and their “influence,” I pick Analog 100 times out of 100. Because not only are Analog’s readers much more representative of the total consumer body as a whole, their word of mouth is just as effective as that of the Puppy-kickers. Maybe moreso?

    Frankly, I think the Puppy-kickers have blown their shot. Everything nasty and bad that can possibly be said, has been said. Into every ear that might be sympathetic. The total reach of that influence, has been expended. Maybe a little additional bleed is possible, as the narrative lie about sexism and whatnot creeps into additional left-wing conversations. But that’s not a lot. Especially not when the country as a whole is getting tired of people shouting “Ism!” at the drop of a hat, and 21st century Political Correctness is earning itself a whopper of a comeuppance.

    I mean, Berke Breathed has been stirred! That’s like Smaug times a thousand!

    So you see, CPaca, I don’t care if you walk away. Because you were never “here” to begin with.

  20. Cat,

    We played exactly as fair as Seanan McGuire’s friends and fans, and Scalzi’s friends and fans, and Glyer’s friends and fans, and Locus’s friends and fans, and Connie Willis’s friends and fans, etc.

    In other words, a democracy was exercised democratically.

    If you don’t like the democracy — because it returns “wrong” answers — then you should lobby Worldcon to cancel the democracy, and install judges who always give you the “right” answers every year.

  21. Here’s the thing, about the market. You can either be a big fish in a small fishbowl, or try your luck in the open ocean. A good number of my friends in the business are people who’ve done well in the open ocean. I’ve seen what’s beyond the SF/F “ghetto” and it’s a vast potential readership. Occasionally, someone like J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyer manages to net a significant percentage of that vastness. Not everyone will see that kind of traction. But you don’t have to be a Meyer or a Rowling to be making six or even seven figures.

    Worldcon — the yellow circle in my diagram — contains probably 15,000 people world-wide. If we assume Worldcon has “influence” on a still larger consumer body, we might be generous and boost the total number to 50,000 unique pocketbooks.

    By contrast, Salt Lake City Comic Con draws between 100,000 and 150,000 people to a single event. And they’re running more than one event per year.

    And that’s a regional event. One of many, who all draw numbers in the tens or hundreds of thousands.

    Ask me which side of the market — the fishbowl, or the ocean — I am interested in tackling.

  22. One more thought, about the question of influence.

    There is nothing that can stop word-of-mouth from people who enjoy your product. Certainly not political bad-mouthing. Which is essentially what Puppy-kicking is: political bad-mouthing. Because (as Shadowdancer notes) political bad-mouthing cuts two ways. Person A who bad-mouths Person B, for the sake of Audience A, doesn’t realize that this also broadcasts to Audience B. And Audience B will pay attention to that as a positive, just as much or even moreso, compared to the inverse, with Audience A.

    What I’ve noticed (with the Puppy-kickers) is that Persons A spend so much time dwelling among and around Audience A, that they think Audience B is both meaningless, and does not exist.

    Which carries over to any number of other realms, like broadcast news. People who obsessively follow MSNBC and NPR are shocked and outraged that FOX cleans house by comparison.

    Ultimately, there are readers who will read (or not read) a thing out of a sense of political or moral duty, and there are readers who will read (or not read) a thing, because it’s fun.

    I’m interested in the latter category. The latter category is made up largely of small-f fans. I myself am a small-f fan. That’s the category I came out of, as a teenager. I didn’t know about or pay any attention to SF/F inside baseball. Small-f fans don’t care about the shrieking outrage over Sad Puppies, or if they do, they’re on the side of Sad Puppies by a ratio of about 7 to 3. I know. I have the hundreds of e-mails and messages.

    Plus, not every inside baseball Fan (caps f) or professional, is against Sad Puppies.

    Some people are supportive. Again, I have the e-mails and messages. Some from past Hugo winners, best-sellers, and even SMOFs who help run the cons.

    Puppy-kickers are like the proverbial New England liberal who, upon learning of Reagan’s election in 1980, exclaimed, “How could that man win, I don’t know anyone who voted for him!”

  23. Is that Clamps again? Quite the poor-quality trolling, particularly since it’s reliant on merely repeating old nonsense as comfort-truth again.

    Since that’s all it is. It’s not comfortable to realize the image of Beale, riling up thousands of nerdy gamers to assault the Noble Hugo Awards (frothing at the mouths as they do), is a simple myth. A modern fairy tale, full of monsters and darkness, to satisfy the imaginations of adults who behave like children.

    It’s uncomfortable, because the alternative is to realize that Beale would not be the first to have been ignored when they came to recruit #GamerGate as a “private army”. We’ve had David Draiman, an authentic rockstar, demand we push his pet causes, and told HIM to nark off; why would we follow a relatively-unheard-of novelist? To “rock the establishment — because reasons”?

    Stupid, stupid rat creatures.

    You might as well be blaming the Minnesota Republican Party. And had Beale exchanged a single communication with them, you probably would be.

    I’ve pointed out this simple reality before: #GamerGate had ZERO investment in the Hugos prior to the Sad Puppies’ sweep of the nominations. We continued to have ZERO investment, until their opposition — CHORFs, they call ’em — decided to lay blame for their losses, in the press, on #GamerGate.

    You idiots picked a fight with us in OUR arena: Ethical Journalism. You lied to the press, they believed you, and you got our attention.

    So here we are. And there you are, doubling-down as True Believers always seem wont to do. Admit fault? No no no. Too painful. Too hard on the ego. Better to add to the skein of fibbery, to malign and defame your fellow human beings, to indeed deny they are human beings at all, or at the least to deny their diversity and range of thought.

    All the better to hate the people you oppose.

    I don’t see “CHORFs” to fight here. I see religious zealots with pitchforks and Bibles of Social Righteousness in hand, declaring all who are not with them to be against them.

    Yeah. we’re up for that kind of fight. We LIKE that kind of fight. And it just so happens a lot of us gamers REALLY like Sci-Fi and Fantasy anyways. Some of us even write it. -;)

  24. I think what’s unfortunate — for the CHORFs — is that almost none of them stopped to examine their use of the phrase “GamerGate” — which, to them, means general purpose bad people.

    When the Honey Badgers had Sarah Hoyt, Mike Williamson, and myself, on their podcast, what we (the Puppies) got was a lively discussion with some very smart individuals who were nothing like the hateful, heinous monsters “GamerGaters” had been portrayed as — within the SF/F ghetto, up to that point.

    That didn’t surprise me. The Honey Badgers have been entirely polite, engaging, and professional in presentation. But it was nice to see first-hand that the one-dimensional “GamerGate” slur was shatterable — with even a little exposure to the people who actually make up a small portion of GamerGate.

    Which doesn’t mean there aren’t a few bad apples or bad actors here and there. GamerGate would seem to be comprised of hundreds of thousands of players at this point, and in any group that large — especially when it’s a grass-roots group — you’re going to have some genuine troublemakers.

    But the whole “Gamergate = pure evil” thing, is clearly a sloppy label invented for political purposes.

    As to who dragged GamerGate into this, I agree entirely that it wasn’t Vox nor was it Larry Correia, it was Brianna Wu. I don’t think anyone in GamerGate was very motivated to do or say much about Sad Puppies, until Wu and Wu’s friends inside SF/F decided to shout “GamerGate!” and point their fingers with horror. Once that whole clown car began to unload — Wu and Wu’s enablers — the shit was on. GamerGate gave a damn, because it was clear a fresh series of attacks were now being launched from an additional sector of the entertainment world.

  25. CPaca: What you have achieved is that you now have a huge number of the actual sf community who will, under most circumstances, dismiss your work sight unseen given the huge number of other authors, and will be that much more unlikely to buy your stuff even if they did like it. You made your bed, you lay down in it with the puppies, now live with it.

    I love this appeal to the “actual sci-fi community” as opposed to us non-existent fans.

    We’ve circled back, again, to where we started. Where the antics of one side are worthy of condemnation while the other side gets a free pass. Where turning down a book sight unseen is considered acceptable… will burning the works of the unworthy authors be next?

  26. Hi Brad,
    Nice to hear about your new projects and the VISA will be ready when they begin to pop up at Baen and/or Amazon.

  27. Calbeck, dead on.

    What Cpaca and Cat (and their brethren) don’t seem to realize is all the mild-mannered people like me they have incited to rage. Prior to Sad Puppies, I was not aware of what was going on in SciFi and the Hugos. I read mostly fantasy. As I read the blogs (and especially the comments in blogs), I began to realize what an incestuous, PC crowd Worldcon was. The more I dug, the more disgusted and frustrated I was.

    I think compassion is noble. I think the Golden Rule (treat others the way you want to be treated) is a perfect model of behavior. I think Social Justice is a crock of shit. It is simply a means to control other peoples’ actions through a narrative. That SJWs and CHORFs are so insistent on the narrative rather than simply entertaining fiction is infuriating and insulting. And rather than point to facts they always bemoan how bad someone feels. Grow up.

    There is no participation trophy for life. There is no easy setting. You are going to lose, probably most of the time. How you deal with that failure is how you grow. Do you honestly think no one goes through life experiencing pain or the word ‘no’? Even trust fund babies hear that word now and then. Someone else will always have it easier than you and conversely, someone else will always have it harder.

    Cpaca, Cat and the like, you reap what you sow. You just happened to sow the whirlwind.

  28. I think compassion is noble. I think the Golden Rule (treat others the way you want to be treated) is a perfect model of behavior. I think Social Justice is a crock of shit. It is simply a means to control other peoples’ actions through a narrative. That SJWs and CHORFs are so insistent on the narrative rather than simply entertaining fiction is infuriating and insulting. And rather than point to facts they always bemoan how bad someone feels. Grow up.

    There are obviously science-fiction fans turned off by the Puppy campaigns, and there are obviously science-fiction fans turned off by the Social Justice campaigns. Which one has more will only be determined by time. What’s important is that the Social Justice side cannot claim to have the moral high ground. All of their arguments are based on their side being morally superior to their opponents, which is why their tactics are acceptable this time.

  29. Well, Brad, you’ve lost the support of people who never supported you to begin with. I guess you’re finished now. 😉

  30. “I’ve pointed out this simple reality before: #GamerGate had ZERO investment in the Hugos prior to the Sad Puppies’ sweep of the nominations. We continued to have ZERO investment, until their opposition — CHORFs, they call ’em — decided to lay blame for their losses, in the press, on #GamerGate.

    You idiots picked a fight with us in OUR arena: Ethical Journalism. You lied to the press, they believed you, and you got our attention.”

    Spot on, Cal. It amazes me how much they try to cling to the narrative that GG was involved from the beginning. Probably so they can shift blame in their little minds.

    Also, I’ve never seen Vox claim even once that he did anything to bring GG in. He talks about both the Hugos and GG, usually in separate blog posts.

  31. Spot on, Cal. It amazes me how much they try to cling to the narrative that GG was involved from the beginning. Probably so they can shift blame in their little minds.

    Saying that we brought GamerGate in to the fight is not only false, if it were true it would also be irrelevant if you’re considering “bringing in outsiders to bolster your numbers” to be the offense in question. Let us not forget that this whole kerfuffle got kicked up a notch when the Social Justice Sci-Fi Fans brought in the media to libel Non-Progressive Sci-Fi Fans (the Puppies). It’s hard to remember just how many different attacks have been thrown at Non-Progressive Sci-Fi Fans and those opposed to the ‘Social Justice Culture War’.

  32. It seems to me that modern American popular culture is gradually being held prisoner (more and more) by complainers of all stripes. Again, this is the down side of the internet. Unhappy weirdos who’d otherwise have been disconnected and largely off the radar, in prior decades, are finding each other, and using the internet to rage against the normal universe for the crime of being . . . normal. The more we bow down to the endless harangues, the more the perpetually angry and rage-filled — because nothing is as oppressive as growing up in the upper-middle-class and going to a tony lib-arts college, without ever laying your hand to a mop or a broom — will push themselves on us.

    Sooner or later, decent people simply have to put their hands out and say, “Nope.”

    Zealotry never lasts forever. Sooner or later, all zealotry either self-implodes, or turns society against it. Or both. Right now the zealots rely on fear and intimidation to get what they want. But when too many people have been made afraid or intimidated, the comeuppance — the great backlash of normalcy against the unhappy clown car of slacktivists — will occur.

  33. Of course, the fun part of that was when Russell Moore, head of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, who’s been a relative moderate on gay marriage, went left on the Confederate battle flag and Ferguson, proceeded to post an article on it.
    Then got blocked on Facebook for being “abusive.”
    Fortunately, sanity prevailed, and they deblocked it. But it was very telling.

  34. I see on Twitter that Andy Weir, author of The Martian, is getting swarmed by the Usual Suspects for this tweet:

    “Andy WeirVerified account
    ‏@andyweirauthor @XploreDeepSpace Asimov, Heinlein, and Clarke. For more recent authors, I recommend Ernest Cline, Peter Clines, and Hugh Howey”

    Because they’re all male, of course, and boys have cooties.

    Among his attackers are Cora Buhlert, Natalie Luhrs and Requires Hate.

  35. I live in that little yellow circle, and I’m looking forward to another novel from Brad.

  36. CPaca on July 13, 2015 at 4:12 pm said:

    “They laughed at Einstein and Tesla!”
    “Yes, but they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.”

    ===8<—-
    You made your bed, you lay down in it with the puppies, now live with it.
    TL;DR version: I’m going to come into your online space, take advantage of your hospitality to pee on the floor, and claim a halo for it.

    Sounds like Clamps, again.

  37. Cat on July 13, 2015 at 8:45 pm said:

    I still oppose what you did to the Hugos, though. You could always have just played fair–told all your fans and friends how to sign up but let them independently pick their own honest favorites. I wish you had done that.

    Thank you for not attacking Mr. Torgersen as a person, or arbitrarily declaring that you are right and therefore he (and like-minded persons) must be wrong. I feel, at least, that you and I and others here could hold a civilized discussion over the process Mr. Torgersen used. For my part, I don’t think he told anyone who to nominate; he told them who he suggested they nominate.

    bassmanco on July 14, 2015 at 9:11 am said:

    What Cpaca and Cat (and their brethren) don’t seem to realize is all the mild-mannered people like me they have incited to rage.

    I think you’re off the mark to conflate Cpaca and Cat, Bassmanco. Cat’s comment above struck me as pretty civilized, for reasons stated above. He didn’t attack anyone; he stated disagreement. I have no problem with disagreement. About the worst you could say of him is “what you did to the Hugos”, and even that doesn’t read to me as an attack. God knows there’s been enough of the SJBs coming in here breathing fire and rage; I’d ask that we not respond in kind when someone isn’t being a flaming douchenozzle.

  38. Tobler’s career has gone as far as feminist affirmative action and complaining will get her. She’s locked into the “special” magazines forever and she knows it. Does she really think she can publicly shame Weir into reading her and then movie deals follow?

    Huang, Hate and Patel also realize they are stuck in that cycle forever, so they have nothing to lose by ganging up on Weir. Basically they’ll just publish each other until they’re old and gray.

  39. @William Underhill

    You are welcome. I’ve really said my piece though. And quiet as it was, it prompted the kinds of attacks I don’t want to look at again. Thanks anyway.

  40. “Sounds like Clamps, again.”

    No, CPaca isn’t Clamps, fortunately for CPaca. Clamps would have thrown in something about Vox Day, instead of just acting like an entitled brat.

    @Cat: Ummm…what? That seems like a bit of an overreaction, seeing I got hit with worse attacks when I was fifteen.

  41. Funny thing is, the traditional worldcon crowd (the ASP part of them anyway) may very well end up getting their wish of keeping the award more to themselves.

    After all the insane personal attacks leveled against people for disagreeing on how to vote on a fan award I am quite close to just throwing up my hands in disgust and saying to the goma with the Hugos entirely. There are probably a lot of other people thinking the same.

    Of course that impulse is rather impossible to combine with continued prestige and gravitas for the award, but that’s a secondary/unintended consequence. Given the number of people who look to the Hugo award for what not to read that ship may have already sailed.

    On the other hand, that outlook also involves a rather simplified view of the process. It isn’t merely SP and ASPs. It’s the SP loose confederation, the ASPs, the majority of historic WC crowd who doesn’t give a single solitary mierda either way, and the RPs, who don’t care about giving civility when none is given them nor what the ASPs want.

    Drive away the moderates, you’re still left with the rest…

    As for hurting Brad’s career one way or the other – a boycott or backlash only works at all if you bought the stuff to begin with.

    I saw Scalzi the other day (twitter) mocking someone for talking about sales of Lock In (I think it was that one, anyway) as an indicator of the Tor boycott. He actually wasn’t entirely wrong for dismissing the claim, though not for the reasons he thinks. (The biggest one of course being that any boycott will take months to show up or not. Those participating have to be in it for the long game.)

    Scalzi’s numbers won’t tell us anything about a Tor boycott, because many of the people angry about the libel and insults weren’t buying his stuff anyway.

  42. I do have to ask a question though. What is behind the impulse of going onto the blogs/FB pages/whatever of people you already don’t like just to tell them you don’t like them? Seems like a wasted effort.

    I’m not especially fond of Scalzi’s apparent online persona, but I’ve never said anything to him online (ever, as best I can recall) because he rightly doesn’t care what I think and doing so would only waste his time and my own. (Plus the fact that I have never met the man and I am generally unwilling to write someone off entirely purely from online activity)

    Sure, if there is a discussion to be had that changes things, but a plurality of the comments I’ve seen here and on other SP blogs are worded such that they actively sabotage any effort at said discussion.

    (I can’t remember where I saw it now, but I recently saw someone comment, that yeah, it is possible to go into a negotiation with both mid digits raised and come out with what you want, but why intentionally make things harder on yourself?)

  43. So, they’re attacking Andy Weir and Co. now, eh? My only disappointment with Weir’s recommendation is that he didn’t include Niven & Pournelle, but he is citing the authors he loved when he was a kid, which I do a lot too. Of course, the identitarians are having a butthurt event. Really, sooner or later, the identitarians will have attacked so many people, for so many silly reasons, that their actual list of friends is going to be horrendously short. Because people who just like what they like, will be tired of getting harangued for just liking what they like. Anyway, welcome to the culture war, Andy. Yeah, I know, it sucks. But we seem to be stuck with it for awhile. Internet crazies, and all that. There are snacks on the bar and drinks in the bathub. Yes, the room is big for a reason. It keeps filling up with more and more ordinary guys who are guilty of the sin of being ordinary guys. Yeah, yeah, I know. But to hell with Luhrs. Let’s talk about Heinlein.

  44. Jared: you can thank Teresa Nielsen-Hayden for dumping a barrel of poison into the water, right at the beginning. She was ginning up outrage in the final week of March, before the Hugo ballot had even been released. And she was apoplectic. Supposedly the results are confidential, but Teresa knew them anyway, and all the “wrong” people were on the ballot — or all the “right” people weren’t on the ballot — so she was chalking up the pool cue before the balls had been racked. Speed-dialing her media connections to arrange a coordinated hit — the day of the Hugo ballot release — didn’t make it any better. SPs learned from all of this that some of the people who hate SP, really, really, really hate SP with a passion. Enough to lie and character assassinate, and worse. So, you will have to forgive some folks if they aren’t willing to cut slack to known travelers from Mike Glyer’s blog, File 770. Which has become a haven for Puppy-haters of all descriptions.

  45. “But to hell with Luhrs. Let’s talk about Heinlein.”

    Good advice, whatever the situation.

  46. Brad R. Torgersen on July 16, 2015 at 1:59 am said:
    But to hell with Luhrs. Let’s talk about Heinlein.
    Works for me. Re-reading “Double Star” again at the moment. One of the things I love about it is that it contains a message but he doesn’t beat you over the head with it; he lays it out and shows it to you in the course of telling the story.

  47. Ladies and gentlemen and regular customers (to borrow from Mr. Robinson), I would like to solicit some advice, about writing.

    My problem is this: I have environments, not stories. I enjoy that part of it; figuring out how the world works, what there is in it and how it got that way. Some of those environments are pretty nebulous, and I do need to sit down and flesh them out. But I don’t have stories to set in them. I’m trying to figure out how to come up with stories to tell and frankly, I’m drawing a blank. Your thoughts and suggestions are much appreciated.

  48. I’m guessing Andy Weir can just roll around in all of his money until he feels better. I doubt a twitter flame war will bother him much.

  49. Be like Niven: Apply that environment with ruthless consistency. Find a character with a goal, and look for ways that the environment thwarts them. Then figure out how they use the environment to solve the problem. Then look for consequences. Repeat the ruthless consistency until you have a story.

  50. William Underhill,

    I included Cat for past comments and feigned attempts to sound reasonable when all she (I believe) has ever done is come in here and insult anything that didn’t tow the SJW line. I understand how that can come across as unfair or catty, but she set herself up for such treatment a few months ago.

    Attacking people is not my first instinct, but in this arena, it has become my default. I am tired of attempts at moderation and my willingness to compromise being used against me (and others). If the other side will not be genuine in their forays into the blogs I visit, why should I be cordial or do anything but denounce them?

  51. William, I’m re-reading Peter Hamilton’s Night’s Dawn novel right now. At 1.2 million words of non-stop action, it’s probably the single most amazing feat of SF writing of all time. He has more little dramas and stories in there than you can shake a stick at. I can’t think of a better primer for using/creating worlds for the purpose of problems/solutions.

    As for Cat, I agree she argues in bad faith; she has to. Like all supporters of intersectionality, disdain precedes facts or events. Trying to work up a cover story to make their disdain seem plausible is why their stories never match the facts.

    Take the simple premise that group defamation is always wrong and intersectionality falls to pieces on day one. For example SJWs are more than willing to concede a frickin’ flag amounted to racial incitement that goaded Roof to kill people in the Charleston murders. What that logic would suggest is SJWs have been far more guilty due to 3 years of non-stop racial incitement by hate-Tweeting and hate-blogging. If we are to accept the idea Roof’s atrocity was motivated by outside influences, then Publisher’s Weekly, the Nebulas, Hugos and Tor have to ditch their racists long before a flag goes.

    And look what these sick “feminists” use to fuel their hate speech and crusade: oh, dear: Andy Weir mentioned 6 or 7 SF authors and no women. Let’s review censor white men some more. The fact is there is no hate-Tweeting or hate-blogging on the other side of this issue which is institutionalized in SFF that can come anywhere near to matching that of our social justice crusaders. They are daffy liars and cultists.

  52. I went to File 770 just once. Out of the dozen or so people who responded, only one or two attempted civil discussion. The rest had already decided they knew everything about myself and my motives, and anything I said to the contrary was either dismissed without comment, or denied “because reasons”.

    The one thing which REALLY stuck with me, though, was the propagandist who claimed that my negative review of a single Puppy author had “revealed” that all Puppy-related entries were a sham. He connected this to my support for “Sex Criminals” in the Graphic Novel category as proof absolute that even GAMERGATE folks were rejecting the Puppies without even realizing it. AHA! said he.

    By judging on merit, and doing so regarding exactly one work, I had somehow proven what he already believed to be true.

    I say “one work” because in the reality is that I was not initially able to find the webcomic which had been entered for the Graphic Novel “Puppy slate”. It was on the ballot, but not in the packet, as it had not been provided to the Hugo committee for inclusion. Once I found it, I looked it over and concluded — that “Sex Criminals” remained my top pick. But because it had a generally more cohesive storyline than the rest of the entries, it became my Number Two pick. Artwise, it finished last, but I’ve always said that while decent writing can save bad art, great art can’t save bad writing.

    All of this last paragraph happened well after my “rejection” of “Puppy works” had been used to propagandize against SPs as a whole.

  53. So Gawker Media, home of anti-GamerGate sites such as Kotaku, just outed a gay man as part of a blackmail scheme which, when it failed, was exploited for clicks.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2015/07/17/gawkers-apparent-outing-cfo-meets-internet-backlash/30280505/

    Even Re/Code is calling it “an appalling act of gay shaming disguised as a story”.

    And who’s leading the charge against Gawker in the Twitter backlash? GAMERGATE. Even the USA Today story quote above contains quotes from a GG member.

  54. One of the things I love about it is that it contains a message but he doesn’t beat you over the head with it; he lays it out and shows it to you in the course of telling the story.

    This is the part that is difficult to explain to people who are being deliberately obtuse (aka: Puppy-kickers.) Message isn’t bad. But there is a fine balancing act that has to be achieved. If you cross over a certain hazy line — with the thrust of your prose — the message takes over the story, and then it’s tedious, boring, insulting, or some combination thereof. I call it “vehicle and passenger” where SF/F is concerned. The story (adventure and exploration) is the vehicle, while the message (meaning) is the passenger. Get the order right, and you can have a good story. Get the order mixed up — freight the passenger with the vehicle, or emphasize the passenger at the expense of the vehicle — and the story thuds along, like a sermon.

    I actually thought Atlas Shrugged thudded hard, in this regard. I know it’s a favorite of many. But I’ve tried to read it three different times, and I’ve ground to a halt each time.

  55. Regarding GAWKER stepping on its own tongue — golly, where have we seen that before? (knock, knock, Entertainment Weekly, others.) — he downside of “free range media” is that nobody is checking facts anymore. It’s all tabloid 24/7, and this means readers themselves have to do the fact-checking. I’m not a big supporter of GAWKER anyway, but they just got taken down another peg with me. Talk about smear jobs! Wow.

  56. Underhill,

    I agree with what Martin Shoemaker said. I could only add: one of the things that helped me a lot, was not rushing to write a story or a book, when all I had was a single item exciting me. Be it a plot, or an environment, or a character. Those stories always fell flat, because there wasn’t enough “there” there. What I eventually began doing is waiting until several elements organically clicked together in my head — an environment and a character and a predicament — before launching on the tale. If you’re a bit stumped on coming up with predicaments or problems for your environments, sometimes it’s useful to look back and history and see how people have gone into different frontiers ill-prepared, and suffered as a result. An unknown, especially naturally hostile environment, could suggest all manner of difficulties; assuming the character(s) show up without enough gear, or the wrong gear, or maybe they’re dealing with life forms so different from what we know, our understanding of biology breaks down, etc.

  57. “I actually thought Atlas Shrugged thudded hard, in this regard. I know it’s a favorite of many. But I’ve tried to read it three different times, and I’ve ground to a halt each time.”

    But . . . but . . . you’re a Sad Puppy! You MUST be a Randian! 😀

  58. I was able to slog through ‘Atlas Shrugged’ because I knew it had been published at a time when concise prose wasn’t necessarily the norm and my dad kept bugging me to read it. If Rand would have had an editor to reign her in, it would have been a masterpiece. As it is, the book is a depressingly accurate skewering of our current domestic situation.

  59. Atlas Shrugged seemed to be written about one thing: Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy. I know her book predates Jerry’s statement on the matter, but the Iron Law precisely encapsulates Atlas Shrugged with startling brevity.

  60. @Underhill

    For a long time, I had the same problem as you – I could build worlds, but had problems building stories in those worlds. Then a year ago, I wondered, ‘Why’ in the context of a story. “Why does x do y, and z?” In my case, ‘Why do dragons hoard treasure?”

    I don’t know if it will help, but it might, at least, in some part.

    (Still alive guys… just been very sick! T_T )

  61. Dave W: But none of it seems to be about us, unless I missed something. I suspect his boss had a chat with him.

  62. “Dave W: But none of it seems to be about us, unless I missed something. I suspect his boss had a chat with him.”

    Oh, I think you’re definitely right there. I wish I could’ve been a fly on the wall for that chat.

  63. Stories usually are about solving a problem. I look at the world building like the four walls of a dungeon. They define both the type of problem and the limits one must not stray beyond in order to solve the problem; one does not simply walk through the walls of a dungeon. In SF, it’s also how one’s worlds – the walls – are explored. It becomes a question of creating your world and then exploiting its natural currents.

  64. Ms. Duskstar, Mr. Robert, Mr. May – thank you also for your advice and commentary.

  65. Shadowdancer – get well soon!

    When building a story (or an adventure; most of my worldbuilding goes toward pencil and paper RPG, which has its own unique challenges), I always start with what I want the consumers, the readers or the players, to see. It can be characters, locations, or things, and often is some combination thereof, but generally it’s what makes this world special.

    Take the very nebulous ‘things’, which can include new technologies. If my goal is to tell a story about a new technology, I have to have events which show how the technology can be used, it’s limitations and how it can be misused. I then need to fill in the parts to string these events together, which will require characters and locations. For example, I may need a character familiar with the technology to explain what it does, and a character unfamiliar to be the audience surrogate for receiving that explanation (although you do want to make sure you spend more time showing than telling; one of my favorite tricks is to make the initial information incomplete or wrong and make the discovery part of the plot). The plot is like the big picture to these smaller puzzle pieces; if you’re doing it right, the plot will appear from the network of events showing locations, characters and things. You will hopefully also need to re-examine your original ideas and expand on them because of things suggested by the plot. For example, if one of the events is a catastrophic failure of the new technology, you’ll need to think of what safety measures would have been used and why they didn’t work. You’ll have to go back and change your events based on characters and things added as you fill in more pieces.

    Also, get someone else to take a look at your world, ideally at the start of the story making process. See what questions they have and what ideas they have. This is both an advantage and disadvantage of working with a pencil and paper RPG; your protagonists (via their players) have a mind and will of their own, and will want to look at and do things you hadn’t thought of.

    Working from the top down, by starting from the plot and filling in the details, is a lot harder. This is one of the issues with message fiction; you have a fixed moral, so the events and the plot are constrained to fit that moral, rather than evolving as the component characters, places and things evolve.

  66. GRRM unexpectedly praising Marko Kloos reminded me that Kloos was also on Tor.com’s Rocket Talk podcast last month.

    Now, maybe, *maybe*, folks who usually don’t give military SF the time of day just happen to like Mr. Kloos and his writing for reasons totally unrelated to him turning down his Sad Puppies nomination. Maybe. Or maybe they’re trying to send a message: reject the Puppies and you’ll get rewarded with praise and recognition.

    Perhaps I am being cynical. But experience has taught me that cynicism about the motives of Puppy-kickers is usually justified.

  67. @Christopher M. Chupik

    I think Marko Kloos was a very unusual case. When he turned down his Hugo nom, his criticism was directed almost exclusively at Vox Day and the Rabid Puppies. I think he would have wrestled with the decision more if it was just SP3, but he clearly wanted no association whatsoever with Day. I think he was as surprised as anyone else when GRRM started reading his novels. He also wanted to know if he could still go to the Hugo Loser’s Party if he had declined his nom, and GRRM said yes. And GRRM’s reviews of Kloos’ novels have been good but hardly gushing with praise.

  68. The secret to being on Tor is to either be a feminist lunatic or pretend feminist lunatics are super-heroes. Having no idea what words mean is a plus.

  69. The Norse America novel sounds like a great idea. I’ll be reading it.

    Don’t worry about the Puppy-Kickers. They can’t do much other than shriek.

    Stay safe.

  70. The chief Puppy-kicker speaks:

    http://whatever.scalzi.com/2015/07/19/why-im-disliked-a-ten-point-list/

    One of the more offensive statements:

    “Because I should be with them and I’m not. I’m a well-off straight white man who writes military science fiction (among other things); if you look at the stats, the correlation between these categories and “socially/politically conservative” is pretty high. That I’m not socially or politically conservative is apparently a source of confusion and upset for some.”

    No, John, lots of SJWs are well-off straight white men who like to act like they’re poor black lesbians to get street cred. We kind of expect that.

    Also, the very first comment is Janus threatening to use his mallet on commenters.

  71. If there’s one thing this whole kerfluffle has taught me, it’s that Scalzi isn’t worth the pixels his website occupies. Reading that is the first time I’ve thought of him in….. who knows how long.

  72. Given how much real estate and time Vox seems to occupy in their heads I suppose it’s natural for them to assume we think about them all the time.

    Yeah, no. There are so many more interesting and fun things to take up my time with.

  73. Mainstreaming hate speech, racial intolerance and incitement and incitement to hate men while imagining one is doing the opposite takes a special kind of intellect. He’s not the first person to imagine he’s a world-weary savant who can analyze the world from his internet cave while having the actual lived experience of a little girl running a lemonade stand and he won’t be the last.

    The mysterious stupidity of having the retarded maunderings of Audre Lorde as suddenly central to SFF in the first place aside, if it’s possible to be an anti-John W. Campbell which works to prevent the possibility of anything like a Golden Age then we are seeing that. The only way to enjoy the redneckery of Irwin Allen TV SF would’ve been to take some mushrooms and I don’t see why we should have to do that with SF literature in 2015. I like Star Trek as much as the next guy but there is no reason to be mining it for Hugo and Nebula Awards in the 21st century, nor has there ever been. We’ve slid quite a long way since The Stars My Destination, Dune, The Eyes of the Overworld and The Mote in God’s Eye; all the way from the Taj Mahal to a shanty town. The more we hear from this crew the more it only confirms their ability to cry and be confused far supersedes their talent as artists.

    There was recently a little exchange on Twitter between Scalzi and Justine Larbalestier on one side and a guy who made a perfectly apt analogy over the word “outlier” which Scalzi called moving the goalposts. It was the usual thing where race and sex determines both logic and morality, not actual logic and morality. Attempting to talk to these people is like talking to particularly bratty 6 yr. olds. Imagining them being a boss or working in Human Resources is genuinely frightening.

  74. When I was still trying to break into this field, I was under the impression that there were certain voices — certain “powerful” individuals — that you (as the aspirant) simply had to pay attention to. Then I noticed some of those people were dicks. Then I got published, and went to some events, and discovered that even bigger people agreed with me: some of the individuals in the must-pay-attention-to category, were dicks.

    How to square this? I tried. I tried so hard to convince myself that the dicks, weren’t actually dicks. Ultimately I stopped doublethinking it, and admitted to myself that the people-who-must-be-seen-and-heard, who were dicks, were dicks. That was step one.

    Step two was to simply tune out the dicks. Far easier said, than done. Because all it takes is one mouse-click, and bam. The dicks are magically inside your head, being dicks. I’d rather not let the dicks who are dicks, be dicks inside my skull. So I stopped clicking the links, and I stopped commenting on the Twitter stuff that was forwarded to me, and life’s been a lot happier. The dicks seldom make it past my digital front gate. And if they do — usually by accident — I quickly evict them. Because Lord knows, the dicks will never shut up.

    So what can you do? I say, just because somebody is shouting, that doesn’t mean you have to hear them.

    See, the field has always tended (too much) to operate along lines of cult-of-personality. Some individuals — in the 21st century — have refined cult-of-personality to an art form. The egotists crave attention, and love having haters as well as sycophants. Blogs and Twitter are ideal tools for creating both.

    I am not an egotist, nor a hater, nor a sycophant. So I unplug myself from the process as much as I am able. Let the dicks be dicks in somebody else’s head. Storytelling still wins. I am hoping to spread the word to every aspirant I can. You can ignore the egos and the dicks, and still have a career.

  75. I’m confused. To me unplugging would mean no SP, leaving the Hugos alone and starting your own award, which, by the way, was my original suggestion. Since SP has mysteriously all decided to fold their tents and go into a shell at the same time, it’s not too late to cancel SP4. Other than a prank like putting a rock over the entrance to an ant hill to stir up the ants, it makes no sense to go after the Hugos. They’re obsessed with their lesbian intersectional movement which opposes the awful “hegemony” of heterosexuality and whites and you couldn’t pry them away from it if you resurrected Vance, Bradbury and Heinlein. In fact, since they were straight white men, that in itself would be like putting a rock on an ant hill. Whoever the average WorldCon voter is, their interest in SF literature compared to storming the binary Bastille is zero; that’s not going to change anytime soon. When your heroes are Leckie, Hurley and Scalzi, you’ve reached bowling alley status, not to mention that of a boutique KKK concerned with wheel chair access. ISIS could set off an a-bomb in Chicago tomorrow and the race-gender crusade would find way to pin it on heterosexuality, toxic Western masculinity and whiteness.

  76. Seems to me that what Brad means is unplugging from direct tete-a-tete with individuals who insist on being dicks, in favor of helping organize a larger response from the grassroots of SF/F fandom.

    This is essentially the difference between being a Lieutenant on the front line, battling minute-to-minute for a patch of hillside, or a Colonel poring over battlemaps and formulating strategy to help the Lieutenant avoid walking into an ambush.

  77. James,

    This will be an academic repeat of everything I’ve been saying all year:

    What happens with Sad Puppies, after 2015, won’t be for me to decide.

    I know the reason I felt like getting actively involved (for SP3) is because I was tired of seeing “Science Fiction’s most prestigious award” ignore a giant hunk of the marketplace, including the fans, while pretending to be “inclusive.” I wanted people everywhere to understand the cognitively dissonant position that’s been taken by the “deciders” at Worldcon — the award for all, but chosen by a few. I wanted to point out that quality had become so much less important than demographics demagoguery, for voters who use the award as a political totem. I also wanted to point out that many Hugos are given entirely on the “buddy system” which also puts the lie to the sniffy quality argument.

    And I wanted to invite people to change the equation. To ensure that the everyday fan gets a seat at the table. Including (but not limited to) conservative fans.

    Which is, apparently, the worst thing ever.

    Just ask GRRM, the world’s biggest Trufan.

    The CHORFs may yet lock the doors to the SF/F ghetto. The nail house‘s self-regarding defenders may get their way. But at least we tried to make the award live up to its legacy. Once upon a time, this was the award of giants. It could be again. But only if there are too many voters for the Trufans to effectively combat, with the usual quiet manipulation and log-rolling. Time will tell. Either the Trufans win — and Worldcon and the Hugos pass utterly into obscurity — or they don’t. I hope for the latter, but won’t be shocked by the former.

    In either case, past 2015, it’s out of my hands. I’ve spent my pound of flesh for the project. And it was worth it. But unlike the CHORFs, I care more about having fun, than I do about being some kind of activist. I have my passions. I also have lots on my plate. I can’t devote myself to endlessly churning the butter of the debate. Others will take up the burden, or not. I am satisfied that I’ve acquitted myself. Once the histrionics over the final ballot died down, it fell to the voters. And with the voters it remains.

  78. Seems to me that what Brad means is unplugging from direct tete-a-tete with individuals who insist on being dicks, in favor of helping organize a larger response from the grassroots of SF/F fandom.

    Got it in one, calbeck!

    To add: the two key words I see in your statement are organize and grassroots. I think that’s the fundamental miscalculation of the CHORFs: they assume SP is this top-down thing, with two or three ring-leaders ginning up a false sentiment. Small wonder, since to many CHORFs, if you’re not sufficiently Trufan, you basically don’t exist. All Sad Puppies has done — for three years in a row — is provide a focus for a sentiment, and an audience, that’s been in existence for a long, long time. People were sick of being ignored, or treated like second-class. So SP (all iterations) gave them a rally point.

    Sasquan now has more members than any Worldcon in recent memory. Nobody knows how many of those members will vote. Nobody knows which way the votes will go. The script has been thrown in the trash can. This seems to terrify some people.

  79. From http://sasquan.org/member-numbers/:
    Membership types as of 19 Jul 15
    Total: 10036
    Attending: 4047
    Young Adult: 103
    Child: 185
    Dealer: 24
    Kid-in-Tow: 65
    Military: 21
    Staff: 30
    One-Day: 22
    Supporting: 5539

    That’s quite something… there’s more supporting members than will actually be on the ground. Those votes are going to make a huge difference, and which way it will go is anyone’s guess. Have to get back to work, but when I get home, I’m going to see if there’s historical data available for previous Worldcons.

  80. Ack – mean to add, how cool is it that one of the locations listed is “Space”, for the one member registered from Armstrong Station? 🙂

  81. An unpredictable Hugo Awards?

    This is probably the best thing to come out of Sad Puppies.

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