Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Round Up the Usual Suspects!

And if you don’t know who the usual suspects are… look no further than the Sad Pookas slate over at QuQu media.

The Frisky Pagan reacts to the news on Twitter:

Seriously, though… it’s an awesome list. Check it out!

It’s happening.

Well, it’s a new day.

Castalia House grew from 37 titles, including 5 in print and 1 in audiobook, to 65, with 19 titles in print and 8 in audiobook. Book sales increased 54 percent, with print now accounting for 21 percent of the total. The three new editors made a big difference, although we did not get three of the books out that I anticipated releasing this time last year. This year, we’re looking forward to publishing new fiction from John C. Wright, Nick Cole, B.V. Larson and David VanDyke, Peter Grant, Mojo Mori, Stefan Molyneux, and Martin van Creveld, as well as non-fiction from Jerry Pournelle, Jeffro Johnson, Mike Cernovich, Vox Day, and Martin van Creveld.

You know, I look at that list of names and it’s kind of nuts seeing mine in there. On the other hand, I’m already in the “six of five” club with Jerry Pournelle. So maybe it’s not that crazy…? Gripping hand is, the history role-playing games and pulp fiction are insanely interesting topics. They matter. And the dinosaur publishing houses have no idea how to cover them. They really don’t.

Just look at what the top rated Amazon reviews say about the guys that wrote books that come the closest to tackling the niche I fill:

“I’m not certain how much value experienced gamers will get out of this, other than a ‘Hey, I know those guys!’ But it’s definitely a perfect gift for befuddled significant others.”

“This book is perfect for someone who’s son/husband/granddaughter etc is into D&D and who wants to know more about what they are so into and why.”

“If you have played for any length of time however, it comes off as that guy at the gaming convention that has to share tales of his last game he played to everyone at the table even though you had to be there to really enjoy it.”

“What works well for, say, the read-aloud text for a D&D campaign is tiresome in a non-fiction book.”

“In the place of 25 years of D&D history, Ewalt instead writes about a series of random events undertaken as part of his reawakening to role-playing/’research’ for the book – LARPing, a trip to Wizards of the Coast, his introduction to D&D Next, a visit to Lake Geneva, WI for Gary Con, etc. There is nothing historical, investigative, or journalistic about any of this – its a gamer writing about some stuff he did these past couple of years.”

“It’s still worth reading the book, as he has a lot of enjoyable stories along the way…just don’t hold your breath for any deep revelation at the end.”

“I felt the angst that Ethan dealt with as he slipped back into gaming and fantasy after years of self-denial”

“The book confused me a little and like a previous reviewer mentioned, you read and are left with ‘….well, and now what – what did I learn?'”

“The narrative begins strongly, connected through Tolkien to the world of fantasy fandom at large, but steadily slowing down and dwindling in energy and enthusiasm to the end, by which time we’re left with the unfortunate impression of a grown man playing with toys in the woods and growing continuously more pissed off that he can’t get a decent girlfriend who shares his interests.”

It’s a little early to be spiking the football, sure. And granted, this is a niche topic. Looking at this, though, I can’t help but think that Big Publishing is about to get scooped.

Pulp Revolution Spinner Rack III

Something happened.

Those days when you’d go look for some science fiction and fantasy and struggle to find something good or different or old school… they’re over. Those days when you’d sift through a shelf of books always with the same dozen or so authors that are in all the big chain stores everywhere…? Those are gone too.

Between the hoopla surrounding the Sad Puppies campaigns, the debut of Cirsova magazine this year, and the proliferation of top notch book blogs in recent months, something of a critical mass has been reached. There are more authors turning up now than any of us can keep up with. And these are not the sort of people that would have risen to the top under the old regime. Far from it.

There is a wave coming. And it’s going to change everything. The authors that created the works below are the ones that are going to make it happen.

Pow Wow with the Mad Genius Peeps

A lot of water has gone under the bridge in the past three years. Not everyone has come to the same conclusions, as this post by Brad Torgersen over at Mad Genius Club illustrates.

Dig this exchange from the comments over at the clubhouse:

Jeffro: The problem with this analogy is that around 40% of the reading audience is ether underserved or not being served at all. When these people figure out what been done, that they have a choice… they walk away from the fake and watered down sff creators and they don’t come back.

The industry’s applecart is in the process of being upset. It doesn’t surprise me at all that they feel like a bunch of scrappy outsiders are busting in and shaking them down for their lunch money. Because that’s exactly what’s happening.

They wouldn’t have their position at all if they were able to conceive of another way. So yes… from their vantage point, the pie really is shrinking.

George Phillies: Jeffro, Which 40% did you have in mind, and why? I am not concerned if 40% is an exact number or a WAG.

Jeffro: There is a large number of people that thought “man, I really love me some science fiction and fantasy.” Over the past three decades or so, they dipped into the top tier magazines, said “nothing to see here”, and then went and played video games or tabletop rpgs instead of reading.

Forty percent is the number of people that the media narrative has declared to be irredeemable sexist racist homophobes. It’s no accident that the exceedingly moderate Sad Puppies were tarred with that brush. It also no accident that shows like Vikings, Flash, and Supergirl are completely unwatchable. They are vehicles for the exact same narrative you see in Time, on CNN, The New York Times, etc.

If you want undiluted heroism and romance, you pretty well have to go back to before 1940 and read a bunch of stuff that nobody is talking about. The stuff was synonymous with sff in the seventies but the sff encyclopaedias were subsequently rewritten to downplay, erase, or smear. The literary strain of sff exemplified in works like The Man in High Castle is essentially a repudiation of traditional Western ideals. Edgar Rice Burroughs and Lord Dunsany both are in the same camp as the author of Beowulf. The literary set is at war with that camp.

So yes… when ordinary people go looking for sff… they tend to think it doesn’t exist anymore. And they’re largely correct.

George Phillies: I am not clear what your problem is with Supergirl, which is one of the few TV shows that I watch, but thank you for your polite answer.

Jeffro: You know, I really didn’t want to go there. But I felt you deserved a straight answer to a direct question. Cheers.

Suburban Banshee: Don’t hold back! Tell us what you really think, Jeffro….

Ironically, Dunsany was pretty far out himself at the time he started writing; but he is certainly on the side of poetry and fiction as a binder, not a divider.

Jeffro: Dunsany is an interesting case as he defined fantasy for over half a century. His tales were more explicitly Christian than either Narnia or Middle Earth. Science fiction grandmasters like Poul Anderson and C. L. Moore worked in more or less the same spirit.

The living author whose work most resembles these classic authors…? John C. Wright. “The Parliament of Beasts and Birds” would have fit right in with Fifty-One Tales.

Neville Ross: jeffro, pray tell, what’s so wrong with both The Flash & Supergirl? Especially since both as as heroic as they’ve always been? The girl power thing’s been eased up this season, BTW, so that shouldn’t even be a factor anymore.

As for The Man In The High Castle, that novel’s a bulwark of SF-why all the hate? It’s just exploring an alternate history.

Jeffro: You just reduced this:

“The literary strain of sff exemplified in works like The Man in High Castle is essentially a repudiation of traditional Western ideals.”

To “hate.”

You know, I get that I look like I’m really out there to people, but you really need to up your game if you want to talk about this stuff.

Pulp Revolution: Not everybody gets it. Some people really don’t get it.

Pulp Revolution is Superversive!

I finally did finish listening to the Thanksgiving episode and I was pleasantly surprised when I heard Daddy Warpig explain that science fiction, fantasy, and horror were not all separate genres before 1940. Also, that what we call “Lovecraftian” in gaming is really more “Derlethian” if you want to be precise. That’s the same episode that has a full segment on “why we are thankful for Jeffro Johnson”, mind you.

(I know, right?!)

You’d think you couldn’t get more pulp revolution on the show than that, but the latest installment does it. This one has Misha Burnett in the line up explaining one of the pillars of pulp revival. John C. Wright’s startled reaction to this is priceless. You’d think he’d heard everything about everything science fiction already… but guys like Misha really are saying stuff you won’t hear in any other venue. All those author panels in the convention scene look like they’re all fumbling around in the dark in comparison.

Just one heads up: there is a spoiler in here for Atlas Shrugged that has nothing to do with the topic. The nature of it is such that I will never bother reading this book now. Not that I have time to do so anyway.