Monday, March 29, 2021

Superversive's Best Books of 2020!

With the more pleasant  weather of spring now hitting us, it is now time to focus on warmer thoughts. For one: now that the mess that is 2020 is now well in the rear-view mirror, what are the books you most enjoyed from it? In fact, what are some of the books others might not even know about? Certainly there are quite a few, as much was published last year in the NewPub world even during darker times.

SuperversiveSF is putting together a list of some of the best titles of 2020 to share with readers. However, it is also reader selected, which means you can vote for anything, as well. As examples, my books Someone is Aiming for You & Other Adventures and The Pulp Mindset both released last year, so both would be eligible. Multiple folks voting for the same book is encouraged so as to allow them higher visibility on the list for more people to learn about them. In other words, go crazy. We want as many nominations as we can get!

Be sure to add what you can, the bigger the list is better to show just how much NewPub has grown over the last few years. And it's only growing further this year.

As for myself, though it is March I still have plans to release in the ballpark of 3-4 novels this year. I wish I could share more than that, but it's not up to me to divulge some of it. I can tell you that two of them are 100% complete, one is nearly there with just some editing work to be done, and the last is currently 50% written. So yes, I'm still on track for this year!

On top of this, I have some other shorter stories on the way, including one interesting piece I am planning to post here on the blog. If all goes according to plan, I will have almost doubled my output this year over my output for every year since I've started publishing. There is a lot on the way, in other words. God willing, it will be a big year!

Aside from myself I speak with other writers who are constantly digging in and pushing their own writings. It won't just be me, but many writers who will be using 2021 to deliver some truly great material to you.

It's been a long three months so far, but the year is only 1/4 done. Get ready for what's coming because it's going to blow you away!

In other news, Cirsova's project has recently passed the stretch goal to supply FREE DIGITAL COPIES for everyone, including for the public domain. If you have not contributed, please do so. The next stretch goal will enable those behind this project to do the same to many more obscure and out of print works. This is a very good thing! Help us to ensure that happens!

Saturday, March 27, 2021

The Art & Craft of Writing!

Find it Here!

For those that have been paying attention since I wrote the Pulp Mindset, you certainly remember that I have told you that despite reading plenty of books about writing there wasn't one I could really recommend you. The reason is simply that most of them are written from a perspective of an author who has forgotten what it was like to be a writer putting pen to paper for the first time. They would give out advice that always felt a bit detached from reality. From this angle, I explained that most writing books aren't worth the time, and I still more or less stand by those words. There are very few writers that can successfully explain how to be one.

So it might shock you today that I am reversing course on those words a little. That is because this is an exception to that rule. I am actually going to recommend a book on the craft of writing for fledgling writers. The reason for this is quite simple: the author of the book in question is the person who helped me the most when I was learning to write. She was the first one who explained tips and tricks in ways I could understand and apply them to my stories and make them the best I could. Because of her I finally broke the last barriers into becoming a writer. 

In other words, she is the real deal.

L. Jagi Lamplighter was the very first editor I ever had that gave me tips to drastically improve my writing and understand how to get my prose in order. If there is anyone I would fully recommend a book on writing by, it would be her. And today, she has written that very book. There was simply no way I wouldn't promote it to my readers.

The description:

Up your writing game!
Practical, hands-on fiction writing fundamentals. Delve into the secrets of writing fiction, presented in clear language to make them easily-graspable and useable.

Lamplighter brings her years of writing and editing experience to this new approach to understanding storytelling and how its many parts work together to weave a well-crafted and entertaining tale. Insights into theme, character, description, plot, portraying emotions, avoiding infodumps, dealing with tropes, and more.

New hope for writers in despair.

“The course is a treasure trove of practical, positive advice you can use immediately to improve your WIP or solidify your ideas for a new project.” Marina Fontaine, author of Chasing Freedom.

“I took L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright’s “Guinea Pig” writing class in November of 2018 and it definitely upped my game. Since “graduating” her course, I’ve sold over 30 short stories and 2 novellas (as of February 2021). Thanks, Jagi.” —James Pyles, author of multiple published short stories.

“I especially liked how you simply laid out ideas about story and characters, which instantly made me go, ‘Oh, yeah! I’ve seen that before!’... I felt that these were techniques that would have taken me ages to work out on my own, and seeing them simply stated has seriously helped me as a writer.”—Billy Charlton, teen student.

I can cosign the usefulness of her advice in full.

You can find the book in question here.

I know very well how tough it can be being a writer starting out, and I know there are few resources that can really get you the help you need. But trust me when I tell you that this is one you are definitely going to want to have. Surviving in NewPub will be tough without a guide, and this is the sort of invaluable resource many of you have been asking for. Now it is here. Writers take note!

Pick up The Art & Craft of Writing: Secrets for Taking Your Writing to the Next Level today! It's exactly what you've been looking for.

For a book to give you right writing headspace, get yourself a Pulp Mindset! A #1 bestseller in five categories!

Thursday, March 25, 2021

. . . And Between the Wasteland & Sky

Wolfwood: "Well I'll be. I'm actually surprised that you can smile like that."
Vash: "Huh? What do you mean?"
Wolfwood: "You had me kinda worried. I noticed you always smile and seem really friendly, but the way you smiled was so empty it hurt to watch you. You're hurting like crazy on the inside, yet you grin and bear it."

It's been a very long time since I talked about the subject this blog was named after. I've always thought Trigun deserved more recognition than it has but never felt the need to really go into detail about it. To be quite honest, I didn't feel like there was much of a point of bringing it back up until I remind myself just how much it influenced what I do now. So that will be the subject for today. I think I owe it a bit more proper focus than I have given it in the past.

For those unaware, the title of this blog Wasteland & Sky comes from an episode title of the anime Trigun. The full moniker is . . . And Between the Wasteland & Sky and it's the title of the eighth episode. The reason I chose it is a bit hard to explain aside from the fact that it neatly sums up the whole series and is a phrase that stuck with me since I first saw Trigun back in the '90s. Choosing it as the title seemed to fit perfectly with what I cover here.

What struck me specifically is what the main character, Vash, says during the preview for this episode. Every episode has, instead of a typical episode preview describing what happens next week, Vash usually describing something tangentially related to the events of the story. But this one was a slight bit different. It marks a turning point in the series and gives the game away as to what the whole shebang actually about.

"People who sin say this: that they had to, to survive. People who sin say this: "It's too late now to stop." The shadow called sin dogs them steadily from behind, silently without a word. Remorse and agony are repeated only to end up at despair in the end, but the sinners just don't know that if they'd only turn around there's a light there, a light which keeps shining on them ever so lonely. A light that will never fade."

I wasn't in a very good place when I first saw Trigun back in the '90s but it is a series that helped me work a lot of things out when I least expected it to. That isn't very common with me when it comes to art. So, if anything, I felt I owed it something in return. Hopefully a blog title by a weird action writer will suffice. And if I by chance sell you on watching it, then I consider this entire project worth the effort.

For those unaware, Trigun was originally a manga series by Yasuhiro Nightow that ran from 1995-2007 across two different magazines. It began as shonen, an action series for boys, for its first couple of years before it was revived after the magazine went under as a seinen, an action series for adults, for the last chunk of its run. It had a bit of a troubled production history behind the scenes, but the manga was a huge seller nonetheless.

Nightow began his career as most do with one-shots, most of which you cannot easily find online and have never been printed in English. He has a bit of an odd view of the world in contrast to most mangaka in that he never utilizes mindless violence just to set mood--every life is viewed as precious and everyone is worth saving. Its a theme that carries over to every work he has done. This might come across is a sort of simple humanism, and maybe it began that way, but it certainly changed as he went on. It definitely changed with Trigun.

After publishing a one-shot for the popular SNK fighting game Samurai Spirits (Samurai Shodown in the west) he was able to quit his job selling apartments and began a career in the manga industry that has lasted to this day.

"When I look at you, I’m reminded of everything I hate about myself. You know, it hurts." ~ Nicholas D. Wolfwood

When he began research for his first series, he wandered into learning about Christianity, specifically Catholicism, and it changed his thought process tremendously. This ended up being the backbone of Trigun, and everything he's done since.

At this point it's a bit controversial, since the internet keeps scrubbing old information, and that the Japanese don't like talking about their personal beliefs in public, so I can't outright say Nightow is a Catholic, but I can say it definitely affected the way he approached storytelling from here on out. Nothing he has ever done has gone against it, retaining that moral core he started with way back in the 1990s. I'm not going to speculate except to say that there is a reason his works have such a strong western appeal.

Before we go any further, let us first talk about what Trigun is actually about. I'm going to start with the anime because that is the version that is best at summing up the back story and adding additional stakes to the proceedings. It also retains a bit more wonder and is what I believe the superior version of the story, though both are worth experiencing.

Be warned there will be some vague spoilers, but that is really unavoidable in this case. I would recommend simply watching the series if such a thing bothers you. I can't imagine being into anime and not having seen it, to be quite honest.

In the distant future, humanity has left Earth behind for the stars. In the anime we are never told what precisely happened to cause it except that we wasted what we were given. All we have left is hope for a better future than the past we left behind. On the way towards a new home world there is a disaster and the ships are forced to land on a desert planet in the middle of nowhere. From these ruins, the remnants of humanity attempt to survive their seemingly doomed fate.

Hundreds of years later, humanity is now a lawless group living like outlaws in the west. Violence comes quick and hard. A bounty is set on a man named Vash the Stampede, the Humanoid Typhoon, an outlaw known for destroying everything he comes across and has 60 billion double dollar bounty on his head. The series starts as we join two insurance girls as they follow the rumors and attempt to catch up with him to prevent further damage from happening. But the man they meet up with is anything but what the rumors suggest.

Who is Vash the Stampede and why is the world the way it is? These mysteries form the backbone of what happens next.

For the first half of the series, we follow Vash around as he gets into crazed situation after crazed situation, somehow managing to appeal to the good in even the most monstrous man and somehow bringing that to the forefront. He is a gunslinger, but does not even fire his gun until episode 5. He acts like a goofball who lucks himself out of bad situations. Is this the legendary outlaw? Whoever this man is he doesn't seem to be what he presents himself as.

And he isn't.

During the episodic adventures of the first half of the series, Vash stumbles across a preacher in the desert. This man, named Nicholas D. Wolfwood, states to be wandering the land attempting to spread the Good News, but simply has no luck and always ends up in situations like this. He and Vash get along surprisingly well, having a lot in common, and more than the audience thinks. Though that is explored in more detail later.

"Luck and persistence won't work forever." ~ Nicholas D. Wolfwood

The hard turn around the middle of the series throws a lot of people off who were hoping for or expecting a lighthearted action adventure series. However, this turn was always hinted at earlier in the story. When we begin to learn what Vash is and who his enemies are, the series moves from being highly enjoyable into being a classic. This relationship between Wolfwood and Vash ends up being pivotal to the entire story.

Now there will be real spoiler talk. Avoid if you don't want to know what happens in Trigun, but again, definitely watch it for yourself regardless.

As the series goes on, the tone changes, but it only really changes to reveal what was already there to begin with. The anime writer and director were just very clever about subtly hinting at everything to come.

The first episode alone hints at a number of things that will come into play later, even if the events themselves don't seem to matter too much. The point is that this is who Vash is and this is his life, to be hated and persecuted by those who misunderstand his cause. It isn't a shaggy dog story, not everyone spits on him, but that who he is matters a lot more than we are first told. It ties in very well with the overall themes of the series.

This is an old video by the defunct JesuOtaku which went into the production process behind Trigun and talking about the first episode, but the series covering it was never finished. Only a chunk of the first half was explored. It's very interesting if you desire to know more about the anime. You can see the first edition here:

Let us talk about one thing that the first episode sets up.

One aspect of Trigun to note is how the dual suns on this alien world are used. It's very subtle and hard to miss at the same time, but it becomes more obvious as the story goes on that they are meant to represent eyes. Whose eyes? Well, that becomes more obvious as the series progresses. But the hints are there in the very first episode.

It's also hinted at in the episode quote above.

Let me emphasize:

"Remorse and agony are repeated only to end up at despair in the end, but the sinners just don't know that if they'd only turn around there's a light there, a light which keeps shining on them ever so lonely. A light that will never fade."

The writer and director all but spelled it out.

The first time the dual suns are shown is looking down on Vash as he encounters danger, right after his first reveal, and the second major framing on them as at the end of the episode as he walks away from town and the townspeople joke of a "Miracle without God" and laugh before the camera pans up to the eyes silently watching what has just happened. This is the first hint as to why they are used the way they are.

Every point after this the suns are used to look down on characters during pivotal emotional and plot-related turns (including being particularly blurry as if crying when someone is made to execute another character) as if silently watching but actually with them as they act.

This sets up the theme of the story early, being heavily weighted around Christianity and sacrificial love, a God that always remains with you. You might not even notice this touch on a first watch, I sure didn't as a teenager, but it will still affect you while you watch in ways you won't even understand. When you see what the series is actually doing you won't be able to do anything but have a higher opinion of the entire project. The thing is, it's so good at doing this sort of thing subtly that it puts most "Christian" art to shame.

This expands to the backstory, which explains how the humanity that doggedly pursued progress despite ignoring the sins they left behind ended up here. Their past mistakes is what caused their downfall and near extinction at the edge of the universe.

It ends up being two characters, Vash and Knives, that change them forever. And they aren't even human.

Humanity escaped to the boundless recesses of space, away from the world they were given. Lost among the stars they came upon two strange babies on their way through endless space. It is hinted that they are plants--beings that live in the energy reactors and supply life to humans on their voyage. But this pair aren't quite plants, in fact they are somehow a lot like humans. They learn, adapt, grow, and even love. What they really are is never really explained, and it is for the better. As they get older, the two brothers, Vash and Knives, start to see the human world they were born into quite differently. And neither one of them are necessarily wrong about it, just incomplete.

Raised primarily by a young woman named Rem, the two youths are given a glimpse into her hopeful vision of the future, a world where humanity can live in peace. Rem lost everyone she cared about back on Earth, including her fiancé, leaving her with nothing but this journey towards the future to stake her life on. She explains to the pair how humanity has failed time and time again, but that they learn a little bit more each time. Eventually, they will reach their own Eden. It's an inevitability.

Vash buys into this right away, since he has a more hopeful view of humans after meeting the ones he has on the ships. Knives, however, sees a truth that the others are skimming over a bit and it ends up sticking with him. It is significant that these holes in Rem's ideals is what allows Knives to come to the opposite conclusion. Because his conclusion, while ultimately wrong, cannot be argued with by her one-sided ideals. And because they can't give him an answer, one that explains humanity's penchant for sinning (though he doesn't use that word, he doesn't have the vocabulary), it ends up destroying them all. This is a significant point, one we will always deal with even here on Earth. It's not one we can shed by escaping to the stars.

Humanity destroys, they leech, the pervert, and they hate. For every step forward, there is always a step back that quite often undoes any good we do. What guarantee do these people have that they are any different than the ones that ruined Earth? That they won't spread their poison to other worlds and do even worse than they did there? How are humans worthy of being allowed to exist? Earth being destroyed was a sign, wasn't it? A sign that humans deserve destruction.

Knives asks this, not maliciously, but as a naïve child who wants to know the truth. But Rem can't really answer it except to say that she has hope things will change. For a kid who wants answers, this sounds like an excuse, and it eats away at Knives, especially as he sees the vices the other crew members engage in, which are the same as the ones back on Earth. These people are lying, he decides, they are no different at all.

As time goes on, Knives slips into madness with these thoughts, unable to accept that these evil creatures be allowed to pollute other worlds. He sabotages crew members and, eventually, the ships themselves. They can't allowed to pollute the universe further: they must die. He is the one that forces humanity to land on this barren rock, though he was hoping for them to die in the wreckage instead. Thanks to Rem's self-sacrifice, Vash, Knives, and the rest of humanity is saved, though barely. But it comes at a great cost.

While humans struggle to survive on this dead world, Vash and Knives continue to argue, their conflict reaching a fever pitch. One night Vash stands above his sleeping brother, ready to crush his head with a large stone, but can't do it. He doesn't understand how he can protect all life when he considers it so valuable. how can he justify killing at all? Wasn't this world supposed to be different? Knives takes advantage of this weakness, and the two's relationship explodes in violence with Vash shooting someone for the first time--his own brother.

Their conflict only grows fiercer as the years go on. Eventually, it begins to take down entire towns and settlements, though from the shadows. Humanity is hanging on by the barest threads. How can Vash protect them if he can't control the monster inside of him?

"I was dreaming, Rem. Everything was so horribly dry there on that planet, even people's hearts. As I watched the people who lived there from far away, I kept wondering why they went on living, how they kept on living. Rem, listen to me, Rem. I did a bad thing. I did a bad thing. Tell me? What should I do?"

For hundreds of years afterwards, as humanity rebuilds, Vash wanders the land helping people from behind the scenes, doing what good he can without any thanks or recognition. His body covered in scars and his memories filled with those who have died, he carries on alone. His red coat symbolizes the dream of Rem he carries and hopes to fulfill--it is the color of her favorite flower. No matter what happens, he will someday defeat Knives. Despite this endless battle, he is a little happy. It is enough for him to see others prosper, even as he suffers his own battles alone.

Knives, almost fatally injured from his last encounter with his brother, heals his body like a plant would, removing his scars and keeping his rage buried in the pits of his stained soul. He spends most of his years hiding in the dark and licking his wounds. Nothing changes for him. He still wears the exact same outfit he did when they first landed on this rock, strongly asserting that he has not changed at all, and never will. Using his rage and vicious intellect, he recruits soldiers to his cause: Humans who have given up on humanity and have accepted their punishment of oblivion. It isn't as if he had to try very hard to convince them when you see the wasteland the remnants of humanity lives in. They will be the ones to wipe out our existence, but not until they first destroy Vash the Stampede.

One such character that epitomizes the ultimate form of Knives' beliefs is a man named Legato Bluesummers, a pure nihilist who sees no value in any existence, including his own. thanks to all the mutations and cybernetics that occurred due to landing on this world, he has powers of his own. Legato has the ability to control bodies to his own whim, able to show human beings what they really are when faced with their impending mortality. Of everyone in the series, Legato  has the highest body count next to Knives. His confrontation with Vash is possibly the most important one in the entire series, especially as the ultimate ideal of Knives' ambition.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Wolfwood. Wolfwood is Legato's polar opposite and the full fruition of Vash's ideals. But not as we see them while they are alive. Both Legato and Wolfwood only reach their ultimate form as they die, giving both Vash and Knives the final push they need for their final stand off. It is only in death that we become the ultimate form of what we strive to be, and so it is here.

"Why don't you go ahead? I would welcome this to be my time. After all, there's no reason for such an egocentric, incomplete life like mine to be allowed to continue anyway. Give me the gift of nothingness. Give me death." ~ Legato Bluesummers

You see, while the series can be said to ultimately be about Vash and Knives and their conflict, it is actually about the competing and complete views of Wolfwood and Legato that they achieved on death. Legato achieved the nihilist wish of oblivion in his attempts to drag others to hell, and Wolfwood achieved atonement and forgiveness in his attempts to save others. One was lead to Hell, the other to Heaven.

It is also significant that the two never actually interact with each other through the story. It is only through Vash and Knives that their influences are shown.

Wolfwood and Legato both lived through the same misery on this planet at the edge of the wasteland, but they each took different paths through life. Legato gave up on everything, accepting that his role was to inflict the misery human beings deal out back on them as a just reward. Wolfwood struggled with meaning in life and death before finding the cross to hold him up through the endless tribulations that comprised his existence.

An aspect of Wolfwood not usually discussed is his role as a supposed priest. The thing to note is that he isn't one, it's his cover. But it also isn't a total lie. He is a follower of Christ, using this faith as his only light through the darkness of the desert around him. He has killed because he had to, never because he wanted to, but his proficiency with weapons and violence has always eaten at him. What if Vash was right? What if there was another way? What if he was the one who was wrong? That he is recruited to be a member of Knives' forces is notable because the enemy has misjudged and misunderstood him. They wanted him to be a priest for Knives' oncoming apocalypse, but he couldn't go through with it because of who he actually is inside. He could never harm innocents, not after being reminded by the very man he was meant to kill that all life is precious.

Much is said about Wolfwood's death scene, and it is definitely one of the most powerful scenes in anime, full stop. Where Legato's death is a victory for the character in one sense, it is ultimately a defeat for him in another. Wolfwood's death comes from a defeat, but it is ultimately a victory for him. As he leans on the cross in an abandoned church, he makes a confession--something he could never do before, spilling everything out for God to hear including things he had nearly forgotten about. He laments everything he has done wrong in his life and what he could have done better, making the scene far more emotional and impactful than you would expect for a space western adventure story. It is at this point he realizes there is always a chance at redemption, a second chance. Despite the absolute misery he has been through and his struggles to do the right thing, he still clings fast to the knowledge that this world is worth saving. We all have value.

"Has everything I've ever done in my life been a mistake?" is still a line that gets me today when I re-watch the series. It is a question neither Legato or Knives could ever utter. Despite his regrets, Wolfwood dies peacefully under the cross, embracing the Living God who forgave him of all his sins.

"Would I be wrong to ask for your forgiveness? I did not want to die this way."

Both Wolfwood's and Legato's deaths destroy Vash. Someone who clung to Rem's ideal that life was precious and everyone could be saved, that the future was always open, was proven wrong. Legato devalued himself to the level of trash and made Vash take him out like he was nothing, turning the gunslinger into a sinner. Wolfwood was his greatest friend, the missing half of his personality, and he couldn't save him from death either. For someone who has the ability to avoid killing as easily as Vash does, someone who is supposed to protect humans with his superhuman skills, to be forced into such a helpless state of sin obliterates his soul.

It is only from understanding the true nature of forgiveness and hope, the reality of sin, and the words of Wolfwood, that he is able to recover from his spiritual death spiral. His naïve humanism wasn't enough to save anyone, least of all himself, sending him into this pit of despair. Legato was right, there will always be those who choose evil willingly. So what is the point of hoping for an Eden that will never come? But it is through his experiences, and those around him, that bring Vash toa new understanding. What he needed was more than Rem's gullible hopes and words: he needed to be complete. Inheriting Wolfwood's cross, Vash was now fully realized and could take on his brother, ending this conflict for good.

Vash would fulfil his promise to Rem. He would take care of Knives.

Much has been said about the final episode of Trigun, so I'll keep it brief. When Vash and Knives meet for the last standoff, they are now the fully realized versions of themselves. Vash has his optimism and hope, but he also has the cross to hold him up, and a drive to do what needs to be done. He must stop Knives from harming anyone ever again. Knives is also complete, fully empty, haggard-looking, and still wearing the same garb as he did hundreds of years ago as if nothing had changed. They are now the perfect ideal form of both Legato and Wolfwood, and the final confrontation is set to prove just who was ultimately right in their view of humanity.

However, the final decision Vash makes at the end of the series is still controversial for a lot of people. Many think the ultimate message is that he didn't learn anything or that doing nothing is morally right. After all, how could he spare Knives after all he has done? But those reasons are not why Vash chose not to kill Knives.

To understand his decision, you have to understand two major things. The first is that Vash used something he never had before to defeat Knives--the cross. He used it to obliterate Knives' ideals for good--you can see it on his face after he has been shot to near death. The second are his final lines in the series. It is his speech to Rem where he thanks her for everything she did to get him here. But he also tells her that he has to move on, and throws his coat, the one he wore to carry her spirit, away. He is not acting under Rem's guidance when he chose to spare Knives, but under his own new understanding of the value of life.

Vash isn't the same person he was at the beginning of the series and the reason he chose to spare his brother is because he now comprehends redemption and forgiveness, forcibly putting his brother's evil to pasture and leaving him utterly annihlated spiritually. Now he has the chance to save his soul, something he couldn't do for Legato, and takes up this cross for himself. It is Vash's first new step in the new world he will create for himself, and the rest of humanity.

"Repeated tragedies, repeated pain, the wishes of man are so strong and yet so frail and weak. To live, to stay alive, who would have known survival was this hard...this painful? I must choose. I must make the choice, in the moment that intertwines life and death. Can I choose to remain a human?"

The series ends with a water well being discovered in the nearby town for a reason. The world is not over, and Armageddon has passed. Now they can build a future, better than the one Rem imagined possible.

Suffice to say, Japan really didn't know how to take this ending. You see, the manga for Trigun hadn't yet ended when the anime aired. The manga had been put on hiatus and had been brought back in a new magazine by the time the anime had been greenlit. This meant that Nightow, the head writer of the anime, and the series director, all more or less had to create a new ending for themselves. What happens in the manga isn't quite the same, though it is good in its own way. It's just not as powerful as the anime, which isn't a fault. Few things are that powerful.

As a consequence, the manga's story goes off in a bit of a different direction, being more in depth in back story and introducing a whole swath of characters that never showed up in the anime. Manga readers were taken aback. The more subdued and grounded, and explicitly Christian, ending of the anime also bewildered Japanese audiences. As a result, while the manga was a huge hit, the anime never grew beyond a cult favorite in its home country. It was only when it went overseas that it became a phenomenon, and achieved its fame.

We've already discussed what was going on with anime at the time. There was a shift happening away from action and adventure towards insular otaku bait. An outright bonkers and foreign concept like Trigun was completely out of their wheelhouse, even with a studio like Madhouse behind it. Nonetheless, time has been kind to it and Trigun is recognized as a classic today all over the world. Its popularity was enough overseas that it even received a movie. They really don't make them like this anymore, if they ever even did beforehand.

For another analysis of what makes Trigun tick, check out this one by SuperversiveSF:

Stepping away from spoilers, I also wanted to mention a few other things about those who made it. Let us first start with the dub cast for the series. 

Trigun is one of those few series actually is the better experience as a dub. Some of the character voices might be a bit wacky for one-off characters, but the casting for Vash, Wolfwood, Meryl, Millie, Legato, and Knives, are far above the Japanese version. Nightow saying the canonical language being spoken in the series being English also probably helps to get what he wants across, too. Nonetheless, there is a reason Johnny Yong Bosch hit the big time here after his first voice-acting role as Vash. He is pitch perfect.

Another party to note is the soundtrack. Composed by Tsuneo Imahori, the music consists of a mixture of hard rock, acoustic ballads, western twang, rockabilly, blues, and even both traditional western and Japanese stylings. You can hear an example of it below. Imahori is my favorite anime composer for a very good reason, and the Trigun soundtrack remains one of the best. Special mention should be made of the electric guitar riff and feedback on every episode title, signifying a distant arrival on some intangible force or revelation sneaking up on you. It is excellent stuff.

But much of the credit has to go to three individuals who really pushed the series forward. Without them, Trigun would not be close to what it is now.

The first is the aforementioned Yasuhiro Nightow for writing the original story, concept, and characters. Trigun put him on the map, and let him to create two more series with just as explicitly Christian themes after this. The first is Gungrave, a story meant to be the opposite of Trigun in showing a descent into sin and despair from a rejection of the Good. The second is Blood Blockade Battlefront, a story about the supernatural crashing into the natural and what can be done to balance the chaos towards peace. Both of these were also hits, proving his talents are quite real.

Next up is the director, Satoshi Nishimura. Nishimura is a lover of action and was quite the fan of the Trigun manga when brought on to direct it as his first series. He butted heads quite fiercely with the head writer, who wanted restraint and asked Nishimura told hold off on Vash shooting his gun for five episodes. It's because of this restraint that allowed Nishimura to really fly off the handle when the action was able to be let loose. It's his direction which balanced both Nightow's intent with the head writer's vision that gives the series the striking image it has today.

Nishimura would go on to direct other anime favorites with Hajime no Ippo and Ushio & Tora as well as involved staff in a lot more projects, including many others you certainly know quite well. I'd list them, but he's been everywhere and done everything. Looking at the amount of things he's worked on, you can tell he knows how to handle action and was the perfect choice for director.

Last, but not least, is the head writer, Yousuke Kuroda. He is a prolific anime screenwriter whose name should be far more well known than it is. It is because of his leadership abilities and focus on story above all else that lead Trigun, a story that didn't yet have an ending, to receive a complete anime adaption that managed to surpass the source material and break out big overseas. He didn't write "anime", he wrote stories for anime, and that's quite a big difference. Though he and Nishimura apparently had a volatile relationship over this struggle of their extremes between action and themes, it ended up helping the series and allowed both their talents to be used to the best of their abilities. They are both well aware of how important Trigun is to a lot of people. 

For examples of Kuroda's work you might know, he has worked on the following anime series as head writer: Gungrave, Excel Saga, Drifters, Hellsing Ultimate, Honey & Clover, Infinite Ryvius, s-CRY-ed, Magical Girl Pretty Sammy, Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Gundam Build Fighters, and My Hero Academia. He was also one of the writers on Tenchi Muyo and Tenchi Universe, as well as the manga. Suffice to say, if you know anime, you know his work.

It is no coincidence that these three talented individuals not only created the Trigun anime, but also many other great things before and after it. You would have to be talented to make this series. Trigun is anime at its peak.

So, in conclusion, that is why this blog exists at all. If you detest anime or hate it, you might not understand any of what was just written. But it is what it is. Without Trigun this blog probably would not exist, and neither would I as a writer. It's a series that deserves more attention than it has gotten, especially from the weeb crowd who cling to far more subversive material from that time period instead.

If you've never seen Trigun, go see it. If you haven't seen Trigun in years, go see it again. If you have no interest in anime . . . well, that's a shame. you are missing out on a fantastic action adventure tale about faith, redemption, and sacrificial love. Consider this the strongest recommendation I will ever make on this blog. Go watch Trigun. There is nothing else like it.

I can't say it'll affect you like it did me, but that's just art. You never know which ones will click the most for some people. But it does highlight a lot of what I intend to do on this blog.

We also stand in the border between the wasteland and the sky, fighting our way through. Sometimes all we need to do is pay attention, to look over shoulders, and we might find that light shining down upon us. Who really knows what might be waiting for us ahead?

That's what makes it so interesting. No matter how many times you stumble you can always get back up. No matter how low you fall you can always see the light shining from behind you. And that is a world worth fighting for.

Stories of light on the edge of despair

Saturday, March 20, 2021

An Onslaught of Cirsova!

Find it Here!

For those paying attention, you might be surprised that Cirsova has appeared so often recently in these posts. there is a very good reason for that. That is because they are getting a lot done this year. But this is also the year of their fifth anniversary, putting out high quality pulp tales of daring and wonder for half a decade now.

Due to this, their first issue out the gate contains three different print covers. It's truly a birthday blowout! Amazon hasn't linked the different versions, so I will here.

Check them out below.

Cover by Anton Oxenuk

Cover by Genzoman

Cover by P. Alexander (Yes, that's Chen from Touhou)

Not only have they gone all out with covers, but the stories themselves are truly something different, as well. They really went for variety in this one.

For their Spring 2021 issue they have given out quite the buffet of content: a serialization, short stories, a poem, and a comic book! This is the most explosive issue yet!

Here is the description:

The Artomique Paradigm (Part 1 of 3)

Earth is now in contact with their intergalactic cousins! But during recent conflicts with aliens and pirates, the Artomiques, fascist refugees from an alternate timeline, have become Terra’s dominant faction using stolen Wild Stars technology!

The Grain Merchant of Alomar

The Mongoose & Meerkat have set up in the city of Alomar—in spare rooms of a wealthy merchant who has no idea they’re living there, even after he’s hired them!

Devil’s Deal

A gambler and a wannabe cardsharp, Henry finally has an Ace up his sleeve: the ability to see a moment into the future—a diabolical gift from the Devil Himself!

The Book of Dark Sighs

Dareon and Blue, the Rogues of Merth, find themselves in the crosshairs of an old foe! They must find for him a powerful tome, or Blue’s love will perish at his hand!

My Name is John Carter (Part 9)



The fearsome legions of the God Badaxe are on the march, cleaving a bloody swath through the magical land of Pangaea. Countless villages have been burnt to the ground, their young male populations examined and beheaded. Somewhere, a boy with a strange birthmark on his right palm poses a deadly threat to the most powerful being on Pangea—if he is allowed to reach maturity!

So with this issue you are getting quite a grab bag of high quality fiction. Cirsova definitely isn't resting on its laurels this year. 

Once again, you can find the new issue here.

Of course, don't forget that Cirsova are also running a crowdfund for a lost space romance adventure from the son of Nathaniel Hawthorne! If they reach the last stretch goal (of which they are in striking range!) they will be able to restore more lost classics! Be sure to back it today!

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Time for Action!

When things work correctly, you shouldn't notice them at all. This is a major part of what makes a stable society work. It also ends up being the downfall of said society when the next generation to be given the keys doesn't understand this truth. Part of the reason you notice so many things that are off these days is that just about everyone has forgotten what makes the world tick. Until we relearn it, we are doomed to a cycle of making the same dumb mistakes.

The arts are no different. In fact, you can learn how bad any society is by the entertainment they put out. A culture that lives off subversive remakes of old properties is one incapable of making anything new. One perusal of any overpriced streaming service should easily show you that much. It is a society that sees no future for itself so it must reshape the past endlessly.

All of that aside, one smaller part of the problem is that we've forgotten what pacing is. Not only have we forgotten it, for many younger folks it's never been a reality for them at all. Before we even begin to fix things that have gone wrong, we must understand what the present is doing so much worse than the past. In this case, I find it is pretty straightforward. Nonetheless, I will try to explain it a bit for the younger crowd who might not know.

If you've been engaged in entertainment for any length of time, you've noticed how horrendous pacing in storytelling has become. Unless you are younger than a Millennial you might not even know what good pacing even is. This is because you've grown up with an objectively inferior experience from older generations. It's not a nostalgia thing, it's a craft thing.

Of all the things to complain about in modern storytelling, I think this subject gets less talk than it deserves, possibly because it is difficult to quantify. But that is what is going to be done in today's post. We need to go over the pacing problem currently landing a wrecking ball into basic storytelling. there isn't a single genre or medium this issue hasn't done damage to.

So without further ado, we shall begin. Just what is the problem with pacing? It is in the action. Let us go into what that means.

The strangest aspect of entertainment today is how absolutely slow it has gotten. This isn't a new problem, but an old error that always returns during times of decadence and bloated egos seizing control of the arts. On Cannon Cruisers we constantly use the term "1970s pacing" to refer to movies with needless padding that take far too long for the ball to get rolling, and there is a reason for that. The 1970s is a period where a lot of storytelling went inward and out of its way to chase off as much audience as it could. It got selfish and greedy.

The issue at play is that filmmakers began to think their product was more important than their audience, and it shows in a lot of the needlessly long films from that time period. It's an issue of decadence and unearned arrogance on the creator's part.

There's no part of storycraft you can botch more than pacing to tell your audience that their time is not as important as yours. When you tell a story, you are communicating an idea to your audience. When you refuse to tell it in as concise a way as possible, you are neglecting the ones indulging in said art. No one needs your story, but your story needs an audience. It is you that should be respecting them, not expecting them to bow to your whims. This was a big part of why 1970s cinema is one of the hardest eras to go back to, outside of a handful of other examples such as b-movies. This is mostly because the B-movies respected the audience more than the "important" films from the time period did. There is a reason "important" '70s movies rarely make re-watch lists.

Cinema aside, I've been reading a lot from the 1970s/80s horror paperback wave this past year, ever since I went through Paperbacks From Hell, and I learned something I should have already known since I realized it in other mediums and in many other things I've read about and experienced in the industry. OldPub really did not respect the reader's time, just as they don't now.

I've been stuck on a certain book for a few weeks now, slowly going through it because the concept was initially really interesting to me, but after getting over 250 pages into a 400 page paperback I've come to realize that I've grown very impatient with OldPub books. I can see the formula holding these books back from being as good as they could be, and it has gotten under my skin. Just like all OldPub genre books, it has to fill a word count and be a certain length in order to be stocked on big chain store shelves, and I can feel the lack of editing and the over-usage of padding to get it to that pre-determined length. However the original story was meant to go I don't know, but I do know several top notch editors that would have put a redline through at least 60% of this book for being redundant, filler, or being stretched way too thin.

But here is the kicker, and the part that knocked my enthusiasm over into the waste basket. The story is supposed to be a horror tale about a drug that brings violent hallucinations upon its user, a very cool concept that could lead to a lot of horrifying or unsettling moments. Then reality hit me that I wasn't read a pulp story but a modern genre book. I should have known better. Not only did I not get that, I get everything I expected from a post-1980 genre book.

Instead, the central concept is used three times total in the first 75% of the book, and only one of those scenes last longer than a page or really affects the longer plot. The rest is a boring back and forth war with a single drug dealer and one crony, relationship drama between "broken" people, and needlessly following every step of another character in scenes that could have been summed up with a paragraph when he joins the plot later. Then there is the whole prologue which is the definition of "Short story as chapter" that was completely unnecessary for the audience. 

It's not really a horror story, despite the advertisement that it was supposed to be one. There isn't really any horror here, it's just another modern thriller with a vague supernatural presence that, for the majority of the book, wouldn't matter if it was excised entirely from the plot. The thing that makes it unique is the thing that they barely touch on. It's maddening, and it reminds me of why I had a hard time reading when I was younger.

The concept failing aside, it is pointlessly sluggish. There is a clear disrespect for the reader's time, though I don't think that mistake was intended by the author. The editor is really to blame here, because it doesn't feel like they did much of anything to tighten up this story.

A lot of these faults may be due to the fact that it's the author's first book, but there is so much needless padding and waffling that you can be certain is the decision of an editor. It was clearly an editor who told the writer to add unnecessary fat and refused to cut redundant plot points that didn't need to be dwelled on. Instead of editing down, it was edited up. In other words, the book exists as it does in order to fill shelf on a bookstore, not because the story needs to be the way it is. You can blame this on the lumber side of OldPub's business model for why they champion horrendous pacing and have for around half a century, at this point.

It's a lot like in '70s cinema where the first 20 minutes of the story would be stretched to almost double the length, thereby making the movie interminable to sit through. For some unfathomable reason, in 1970s movies it is the first quarter and third quarter of the movie that tends to go on way past the point of tolerance, whereas the second quarter and finale are usually the same as every other era. It is as if they want to keep you from the action, the movement of the plot.

There is a reason I came up with the hard rule for action films after watching so many from this time. It's simple. Rarely does an action movie ever justify being shorter than 80 minutes or longer than 100, so ones that break this rule tend not to be very good on a fundamental level. Rushing through the story shows a lack of craft, and stalling shows a disrespect for the audience's time and overestimation of your own talents. An action and adventure story is meant to introduce quickly, then get to the rising action ASAP. The audience needs to be wowed as soon as you can do it, but do it too often or take too long to do it and they will rightfully drift off. Remember, they are here for the action. they aren't here for you to waste their time.

This means knowing when to end the story. Action stories should be as short as possible because the audience will get burned out or even desensitized to what you do. The faster and stronger your punches, the quicker the fight is won. Are you in a fight with your audience? In a sense. You are fighting to keep them engaged, and they are engaged in action and adventure because they want to see action and adventure. The less they get of it, the less they will want to stick around. You need to offer it to them while also making sure they stick around for the whole ride. This requires respecting their time and knowing the right way to cater to their needs.

Think of it in movie terms, such as the above. Imagine the shortest limit I put up there, an 80 minute action movie. How would that work? How do you make a movie so short and yet mange to hit all the right points? Naturally, few movies are as short as 80 minutes, but it appears to be the bare minimum you can go before you start losing things you need to make the story work. In essence, an 80 minute action movie would be the bare minimum required.

I will describe it in four blocks.

First 20 minutes: Introduction

In the first 20 minutes, you need to introduce your protagonist, their goals and why we should root for them. you must do the same for the antagonist. At the same time, the conflict between the two, why they are opposed, is to be set up. where most action movies go wrong as bloating this up with big, elaborate back stories or convoluted motivations in an attempt to be clever. You don't need to be clever, you need to be clear. Tell the audience straight out what they want to know. The longer you take to set it up, the more you risk the audience tuning out.

At the same time as the above, you need to have some action early in the story to give an indication as to what the audience will be expecting for the rest of the movie. This chunk of time is essentially the entirety of the first act, and it's very necessary. It's important set up, but dragging it out too long risks boring the audience and blowing through it too quickly risks confusing them. I can say, audiences will be looking at the time if you blow past half an hour on setup, and that is the last thing any moviemaker should ever want.

Second 20 minutes: Rising Action

Next, you ratchet up the action, leading up to the second act turn. Whether the heroes or villains suffer a win or loss doesn't matter so much as that  the actual situation changes by the end of this conflict stage. The status quo must be rocked, and it must be reflected in the action. The carnage here must trump everything that came before, otherwise the audience will not feel the tension as best they need to stick with the story. Remember, this is action!

When this part ends, it shouldn't contain finality, but just enough of a shakeup that means the protagonist and antagonist have unfinished business and, to use an old cliché, that said business is now personal. If it isn't personal by this point then the characters are not as invested as they should be, and neither will the audience be.

Third 20 minutes: Tension Release

Yes, action stories shouldn't have constant explosions and knife fights. The audience needs to take in what just happened and learned how it affected what the characters have just gone through. Just as the introduction builds to the chaos the audience just experienced, so to must it be built again. This is the one period of the movie where there should be a lull in the action, the audience needs a breather and requires catching up with what just happened.

At the same time, the plot needs to continue towards the setup for the final confrontation. Linger too long on downtime and you risk the audience losing interest again. You need to remember that this is an action story, so things still have to move. All the pieces on the board must come to the place they need to be for the final checkmate. The hero says goodbye, he might not make it back, etc. Get ready for the climax, because this is all going to explode.

Fourth 20 minutes: Climax

This is where everything goes off the rails, in a good way. Everything has led to this moment, and the action needs to reflect all the buildup you have had so far. But it isn't just a final release. Even during the climax does the action rise, leading to the iconic standoff between protagonist and antagonist, where it is released in a battle of wills that can go however your story is meant to go . . . but it must top everything seen so far. It leads to the final moment when both hero and villain exchange their final (possibly metaphoric) blows with each other, and the correct party walks away. Do this right and the audience will be pumping their fist as the cheesy rock song plays and the credits roll over the remaining debris of what was just unleashed.

You'll notice I didn't put "denouement" in its own category. This is because action movies shouldn't have them. The story should end as close to the villain's defeat as possible, letting the audience leave on the high they came in for. The longer you risk going on and on after the final confrontation, the more you risk losing the effect you worked so hard for. You want the audience feeling like something got accomplished, and it meant something. That final image is going to stick with them long after they've put that movie back in the case again. This is what any creator wants the audience to feel.

This is the key to making a good action movie. It requires an order to the chaos, just as most storytelling does. It prioritizes giving the audience what they want through tight pacing and parsing out gold nuggets of action in all the right places. Every classic action movie does this.

Yes, the above formula does look a lot like the Lester Dent formula, but since it we are working with visuals and not words there is a lot more to keep track of. Director-style, actors, execution of action, and even cinematography, can change the amount of time it takes for any of these things to happen. However, if you risk going over 30 minutes in any of these categories, you risk losing the audience entirely. Hence why there are few good action movies that break the 2 hour mark, and none that reach 3 hours without severe pacing problems. These movies simply don't warrant being that long because they go against the point of action, which is to be quick and brutal.

And sure enough, as long as I've been doing Cannon Cruisers and have covered well over 100 movies by now, this unwritten rule appears to have been put to good use. Just like most stories, there is a clear winning formula at play here.

Next time you watch an action movie, try to keep it that above formula in your head. You'll notice each part falls somewhere within the 20-30 minute limit I've described. For good reason. Most classic action directors knew how to put audience needs first.

But this is just one medium.

In a prose story, you have a lot more room when it comes to overall length. You have different forms such as short story or novel to work with. Even with novels, you aren't limited to a length. A movie has to be a set length in order to work for the single-sitting experience it is required to be, but a novel has many options for its many different sizes.

It has the options, but OldPub doesn't use them. While action movies were exploding in the 1980s, action books were dying. And now they no longer exist in that system. Instead, everything has been codified into one bland mashup thriller genre where everything is the same length with the same covers and with the same plots. It has no fangs.

OldPub has done nothing but fumble the ball in this aspect. By pushing everything into one neat little 400 page package, it has stifled the potential of many modern books into falling to a mushy baby food formula. This is exactly why I can't read them as easily as I can older books. A long time ago you could find anything on a shelf and it would be wildly different from the thing next to it. Now you walk into a modern book store and see a sanitized shelf of the same safe paperbacks operating under the same tired clichés and you already know everything you're going to get. And it is not going to feel as satisfying as a story that flows freely.

For example, Lord of the Rings justifies its length by offering enough of a story that it can support being large--people aren't coming to Tolkien for pistol duels or fist fights. They are coming for a wide open adventure that will wow them. He wasn't setting out to write "Epic Fantasy" in the OldPub checkbox mold; he was setting out to write the story that needed to be written. Hence why the story, despite being so long, is expertly paced.

However, this isn't how it works in OldPub; you are meant to work for the wood pulp printers, not the audience. This means your editor is going to make your story bend and break to get on that shelf at the correct length to fulfil quota. This leads to you promising an exciting story on the cover and instead delivering an uneven and flaccid experience with occasional spikes of violence or death, full of subplots that do little but stall forward momentum. This is how you get a modern OldPub book.

This is how you get the book I was referring to above. The audience is left with an experience that isn't as good as it could and should be.

What I am saying is that the above book squandered its potential by having to fall into the incorrect formula, because OldPub is as bad at setting up formulas as it is at selling books. But this wasn't even the first book I've even talked about on this blog with similar issues. In fact, I know there is far more I haven't touched that contain these issues, and more.

Several horror novels from this time period suffer from pacing issues. Ghost Train should have had a hard edit to bring down its overlong length, and The Keep, awfulness of the story aside, was interminable with constant repetition. These are books that would not have been harmed by losing at least 100 pages of their length. Most of my experience with paperbacks from post-1980 fall into this camp of potential being squandered by editors not directing writers in the correct direction. We know why they didn't, but it is still maddening to see happen.

However, in my reviews of both Nightblood (a longer book) and The Spirit (a short one) I came to the opposite conclusion of the above two. Nightblood entirely justified its longer length by having enough story to tell and masterfully employing escalation as it goes along. It's a story that is the exact length it needs to be The Spirit was pulp length and was perfect for it, knowing exactly the right time to bow out without wasting a single word. It needed to be short to have the power it has. But neither of these were the typical length of modern paperbacks, breaking with apparent tradition of the era. Instead, they were merely allowed to be what they were supposed to be.

This is how it should be. A shelf where every book is the same length would look, not only bad, but wrong. Perfect pacing means knowing the right size a story needs to be, which means they are not all going to be the same size. That's just obvious. Speaking as a writer, if every one of my books came out looking the same I would think there's something off with my storytelling ability. No two stories are the exact same length, unless they are artificially tweaked to be that way.

So you can see why it is disconcerting looking at the shelf of a modern OldPub bookstore chain. It is clearly not how it is supposed to be.

And that was one of the things that turned me off of going into the big book chain stores, when they were still around. I would look at the uniform covers, the uniform length, and the clearly carefully researched uniform blurbs, and feel like I'm walking into a book factory, not a store selling stories. It felt far too fake.

Writing formulas are flexible, but no less reliant on pacing to tell their story. Movies need to fall into a sweet spot, a pocket, in order to reach their true potential. So do TV shows, comics, and even video games. Books, however, do not. They can be anything, which is their greatest advantage. And yet it feels as if writing today has the tightest straitjacket of them all.

This is one of the reasons the pulp formula has taken off so well among NewPub authors, because it works for every story of every length. Get the pacing down, and you can do whatever you want. This is how it should be.

If after 250 pages in a 400 page book, you've barely touched on what is supposedly the selling point of your story, then you have made a critical error somewhere along the line. It's a good bet that someone expecting a horror book about a drug that brings hallucinations to life shouldn't have to see it a grand total of three times 75% of the way through the story, and only one of the three really affecting much in the way of plot. I didn't pick this book up to read a generic modern thriller with a typical modern romance subplot that moves along at a glacier pace. But there was a formula to fit in order to cut paper costs, so the story has to suffer for it. you're not buying an OldPub book for the story, you're buying extra stock from a wood pulp paper company.

And it shows.

As a result, I'm not going to review the book in question which is why I haven't mentioned the title thus far. It's obscure enough that you probably won't find it unless you're deliberately looking for it anyway. However, I'm also not sure if my problems come from the author, first book issues, or simply that the editor had their priorities all wrong. Possibly a combination of all three.

Either way, it seems fairly clear that OldPub hasn't had a story-first mentality since at least the 1970s, if not far earlier. By the 1980s, they were already falling behind the success of movies due to this practice. It's no wonder that no one reads anymore. You couldn't make a potentially exciting industry less exciting if you tried. This is the where OldPub has led us. So you can see why I don't spare time heaping praise on them.

Every bookshelf stacked with their product looks exactly the same. No wonder I would get bored so quickly at every chain bookstore I went into. It's all so stale and utterly predictable. Every one of them looks like this:

Not my picture.

Thankfully, that era is coming to a close. With the NewPub revolution, you can write whatever you want and even find an audience doing it. Just be sure to get a good editor and cover behind you and you're all set. You don't need this industry anymore.

I would argue that pacing is more important to writing than ideas are. You can get ideas everywhere from dreams to having a random thought while watching a leaf fall from a tree. You can only get good pacing with practice and an editor that cares enough to recognize its importance. A good idea can be enhanced by good pacing. Good pacing can't be dragged down by a bad idea. Their are copious amounts of movies with bad writing that are still beloved which prove that true. The audience will forgive just about anything if they think you respect them.

I'm not going to tell you to pay closer attention to the pacing and obvious formula the next time you read an OldPub book, if you even do anymore, because I don't think it's necessary. You know deep down when something isn't quite right, and everyone is fairly aware that something isn't right with the OldPub system. Instead, I'll just tell you to read NewPub instead. You can find much better outside of the wood pulp stores.

Readers are ready for a return to action, and I intend to give it to them, as do other in the new world of publishing. Come join us as we take a steamroller over the old ways and build a new future worth looking forward to. It's going to be great.

Be certain, we won't waste your time.

For a FREE collection of NewPub stories, check out the bestselling Corona-Chan Anthology! Stories of action, adventure, comedy, and wonder. It's been a whole year since we first put this out, so be sure to give it a download!

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Signal Boost ~ The Cosmic Courtship Crowdfund!

Find it Here!

Most of the projects I try to include here are new ones created by NewPub authors. We are, after all, creating a new landscape for entertainment. However, today I'm presenting my readers with something a bit different: a project attempting to archive a nearly forgotten work. That would be the space romance tale, The Cosmic Courtship by Julian Hawthorne, the son of literary great Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Cirsova Publishing, as well as Michael Tierney and Robert Allen Lupton, have got together to preserve this old story by creating a kickstarter meant to offer readers the material in every available publishing format, as well as bonus content! This is a project unlike any other. The crowdfunding campaign can be found here.

The description:

A Lost Pulp Adventure Restored!

While most are at least somewhat familiar with Nathaniel Hawthorne as one of the great American authors, less well known is that his son, Julian Hawthorne, was an incredibly prolific writer in his own right. Julian wrote on a wide variety of subjects, ranging from literary analysis of his father's works to poetry to period romances and adventures. Late in his career, Julian even dabbled in the emerging genre of Science Fiction [Hugo Gernsback had only recently coined the awkward term "Scientifiction" when this story was first published.]

The Cosmic Courtship was serialized in Frank A. Munsey's All-Story Weekly across four issues, beginning with the November 24, 1917 issue and running through the December 15, 1917 issue. While this story has been in the public domain for some time, it has never been collected or published elsewhere until now.

Cirsova Publishing has partnered with Michael Tierney and Robert Allen Lupton to preserve this story for posterity and ensure that it is not lost to future generations.

Goals of this Project

The foremost goal of this project is to get an exciting, essentially lost, classic pulp story back into print and into the hands of scifi fans, pulp aficionados, and readers in general!

What do we mean by "essentially lost"? While The Cosmic Courtship is a work in the Public Domain and part of the world's common literary heritage, there's virtually no way for anyone to read it! It has only ever been printed in now very expensive and hard to find pulp magazines. Even if cost were not an object, availability often is.

This is the case for many novels and novellas from the early pulp era. Julian Hawthorne's The Cosmic Courtship is only one example.

The main issues with a project like this are the investment of time and the risk to (often nigh-irreplaceable) physical materials required to reproduce the texts.

It is important that the team be compensated for their time and work that they put into making these texts available.

There are multiple different formats being offered from a "magazine" edition, to hardcover, trade paperback, and the ever-important pocket paperback. There are even bulk order classroom sets for those who wish to pass lost classics down to the younger generation. I'm fairly certain my readers already know which one I have chosen to back.

Once again, you can find the project here.

For something new, how about HP Lovecraft in a Catholic girl's school?