Saturday, July 30, 2022

Weekend Lounge: Last Saturday of July!

Not much to talk about this week aside from a new episode of Geek Gab! You can tune into it above. Hopefully it is live when you're clicking on it.

That said, there is still some stuff to mention. There is one thing I wanted to get to that I keep forgetting to mention.

Now I can finally being up that the second volume of the Cannon Film Guide finally released. This one covers the years between 1985-1987, whereas the first went over 1980-1984. Despite that, this volume is TWICE the size of the last at over 1000 (!) pages. For those interested in the best purveyor of b-movies, the Cannon Film guide has proven itself to be more than up to the task.

Find it Here!

I still have yet to pick up my copy, so do not expect a review anytime soon. Nonetheless, here is the description:

"Trunick's Guide . . . will sit comfortably on reference shelves next to Michael J. Weldon's Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film and Danny Peary's Cult Movies books." - Spectrum Culture

"The Cannon Film Guide is a treasure trove of info for Golan/Globus fans. Even diehard Cannon scholars will learn from this tome." - Paul Talbot, author of the Bronson's Loose! books

The unbelievable story of the legendary 1980s B-movie studio continues in The Cannon Film Guide Volume II, which covers the company's output from 1985 to 1987, their peak production years under Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus. This book takes an up-close look at sixty Cannon movies, from deep cuts to cult classics, including American Ninja, The Delta Force, Over the Top, Invasion USA, Masters of the Universe, Runaway Train, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, King Solomon's Mines, Lifeforce, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, and many more. With hundreds of photos and more than forty interviews with Cannon directors, writers, and stars, this is an indispensable reference book for fans of the VHS era's wildest production company.

"For students of film history-of which the Cannon saga has been a largely unexplored chapter-fans of exploitation filmmaking and B-movies, and aficionados of cult cinema, The Cannon Film Guide is likely to be an essential addition to your bookshelf." - Den of Geek

You can find the second volume of the Cannon Film Guide here. It is available in both paperback and hardcover. This series was originally slated for three volumes (Volume 1: 1980-1984, Volume 2: 1985-1987, and Volume 3: 1988-to the end) so there is still one more to go. The first volume was great, so there is little doubt the follow-ups will not be either as good, or surpass it. For those interested in the strangeness that was the 1980s, this series is bound to inform you.

If you want to know more about Cannon Films, you can always check out my still-ongoing Cannon Cruisers podcast. We have covered over 100 Cannon Films at this point, as well as over 100 Non-Cannon favorites from the same era. We still put out a new episode every Sunday, as we have for nearly 5 (!) years by this point. It's been quite a journey.

Check out the Cannon Cruisers here!

That's all for this month, folks. Hope you're beating the heat and keeping cool. Take care and I'll see you in August!

"JD Cowan has over the years shown himself to be one of the most prominent, and perhaps most important, essayists of the new movement in pulp revival beginning in the mid 2010s. His is must read work." ~ P. Alexander, Cirsova

Thursday, July 28, 2022

End of the Month Signal Boost!

Find it Here!

Once again we're back with a new signal boost post, and a pile of new books for you to check out! There's always something to look forward to these days. Today, we've got a few humdingers to talk about.

The first is the above Stellar Stories by adventure writer David Skinner! This is a collection featuring new stories as well as pieces published in places such as both StoryHack and Cirsova magazine, as well as the old PulpRev Sampler! It contains eight different tales for your reading pleasure, and there is even a physical edition available on Lulu. He truly went all out on this one!

The description is as follows:

Eight stories of rockets and robots, monsters and Martians, fistfights and beauties, wonders and awe...

A young man's blind date is kidnapped by Martians and he is drawn into her secrets. A brotherhood outside of time seeks to mend a Solar System devastated by lunatic machines. Men from a Plutonian research base confront metaphysical weirdness on Charon. Two runaway sisters resolve to rescue the implanted helper-sentience of a deceased warrior. And more!

You can find Stellar Stories here! It is listed as volume 1, and the author does have more published stories beyond what is included in this book, so there should hopefully be a new entry in the not too distant future. Until then, enjoy this release!

Find it Here!

For something a bit different, there is Yakov Merkin's second batch of Isekai light novels, Light Unto Another World, currently being kickstarted right now as we speak! This campaign is for volumes 6-10, following on from the first which covered the original 1-5.

For those interested in diving in, here is the description:

For returning readers, Light Unto Another World needs no introduction. For all newcomers, however, Light Unto Another World is my take on the isekai (portal fantasy genre). As enjoyable as many isekai anime & light novels are, they can get very same-y, especially in regard to the types of main characters, and the story setups.

So I decided to put a little spin on things, while not throwing out the fun stuff or subverting the genre.

Uriel Makkis is a very different sort of isekai/portal fantasy protagonist that what you'll usually find. Decisive, with a clear sense of what needs to be done, he very much charts his own course on this new world, while not forgetting where he's come from. Determined to shape this new world rather than become swept up in it.

There is much more to it than this, so be sure to check out the campaign page for yourself. This is not quite what you might think it is!

Find it Here!

Finally, let us take a look at a new series by PulpRev master Kit Sun Cheah, with Saga of the Swordbreakers. You should know to expect intense action from him by this point, plenty of martial arts and genre madness to go around. The second book is up for preorder, and out in a week, but the first entry is readily available right now.

Here is the description:

Li Ming is a small-town boy with big dreams.

In the era of the Five States and Ten Corporations, the immortals of the jianghu stand head and shoulders above the masses. Li Ming aspires to join their ranks.

But the world of the rivers and lakes is fraught with peril. Deception and danger lurk in the shadows. Bloodthirsty beasts roam the wilds. Martial cultivators constantly battle for wealth, glory and status.

Armed with his ancestral swordbreaker, Li Ming enters the jianghu as a biaohang, eager to deliver justice with steel and magic—and to chase the dream of immortality.

But first, he must prove himself worthy.

He is also quick to add this disclaimer for those who might be worried of being tricked by the contents within:

Author's Note: This series is not a power fantasy. There are no LitRPG / GameLit elements, no unconventional relationships, and no sexual content. It is, quite simply, a cultivation story—in the actual sense of the term.

So there will be no bait and switch for those who just want a straightforward adventure. This is more appreciated than you might think!

Once again, you can find both books in the Saga of the Swordbreaker series here. I'm sure he also has more on the way.

That is all for this time! Keep your head up: there's a new surprise just about every day in NewPub. We've got fresh experiences around ever corner. You just got to keep looking. Eventually you won't be able to turn around without finding something to your taste. At that point, NewPub will be all that remains.

Out of the dark age and into the forges to create a brand new start. I can hardly wait.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Living in the Post-Fanatic World

How does one move on from an era built on false premises and hinged on dated materialist jargon that no one even believes any longer? I'm still not sure how one does this, because there are still many who think the old rules apply even though they clearly do not. We still follow aberrations and half-truth explanations from those who we know are wrong and out of touch, their philosophies wedded to a small slice of history that has long since expired. Until we finally accept that we were wrong to trail off the beaten path, and retrace our steps accordingly, we will continue to spin our wheels in a culture that has long since run out of road.

Nonetheless, we will have to move on, whether by choice or not. We can't cling to a failed past forever. Eventually, reality will reassert itself. Where will we be when it does?

It is fairly obvious to just about anyone living today that we are ruled by a class of people who loathe and look down on us, for little real reason except that we let them. It was a long and very stupid process that lead to this happening, but we still allowed it to happen to begin with. that's what happens when material comfort comes over eternal truths. Sure, we've always been ruled by other people (we always will be, get used to it) but it is only today in the modern age where it feels particularly frustrating to most of us. Why is that?

The difference might be that people who ruled you before didn't necessarily hate you. Sure, they might have looked down on you, but there was a point where they didn't see you as cartoon stereotypes they invented in their own propaganda that they then bought into themselves. They at the very least saw you as people. 

What this change has led to is a society full of Jim Jones wannabes who throw their weight around as if they are in control when the vast majority actually considers them depraved, unhinged, and loopy. Everyone wants to be a cult leader, because they hate everyone else. Once the right insane mental patient is in charge, all the other mental patients will be cured. This is the lie of Utopia we still insist on chasing.

How they see normal people

This is especially prevalent on social media were you will find no shortage of nobodies who pop up like whack-a-moles to spout declarative statements into a sea of people who have no idea who they actually are. On top of that, it is frequently objectively wrong or silly advice. There is a reason this is known as the clown era in some circles.

OldPub, as we've learned definitively by now, epitomizes the clown age we live in. They are run by the above example, inside and out. Cultists of the postmodern materialist age that has long since over still think they should rule over you.

What is particularly noticeable about such people is not what they rant about, but that their entire worldview is always pinned with undeserved arrogance and a barely concealed hatred for who they are talking to. It is as strange as it is noticeable. People who desire to assert control over others typically detest them more than they respect them.

Let me share with you a recent example of this attitude taken from where else but social media. It is the very best place to find this sort of thing without even really trying.

"Let me tell you about my Comps..."

Spend enough time on social media of any kind and you are likely to get a cavalcade of unsolicited opinions on anything and everything, and these bits of knowledge nuggets are frequently dead wrong or just plain goofy. On social media, it is unavoidable. One such example is the following speech from an OldPub acolyte on how important "comps" are to selling your books. Let us go over this advice and how ridiculous it is.

For those who don't know what "comps" are, because no normal person knows (which is part of the underlying issue with OldPub as a whole--they do not appeal to normal people) is something in the vein of "comparables" as in authors or books similar to the one you're writing and trying to sell. You know, all those useless "My book is like Game of Thrones meets Stephen King" pitches that mean nothing to anyone listening? It's just that.

Basically, they consider such a simple comparison as one of the most important parts of selling your book. More important than editing, advertising, or cover art (none of which OldPub authors have control over, yet all of which said industry is abysmal at) is a "comp" that is as useless as putting your book on an OldPub chain bookstore shelf and expecting any sales.

Why is this useless? I shall explain. There are many reasons, all of which are highlighted in the below example.

This silly twitter thread was posted on July 15th, 2022:

I'm sure you see the issue right off the bat. It's a bit hard to ignore.

This is the biggest problem with the thread: nothing she is talking about here matters at all. Nobody cares what your book is "similar" to, and will not suddenly buy it because you spouted the correct buzzwords or buzzwords. Do you know how many "Stars Wars meets Dune" stories there are out there? Take a guess at how many of them are anything like either, never mind the two combined. the answer is not surprising.

This advice is also slathered with the usual ignorant arrogance this industry is so very good at screaming at newer writers. You would be a far better writer if you never listened to anyone in the industry ever again. There is nothing to be gained here.

Of course, there is another layer to the "Comp" thing. It is about how creativity works in the first place, and how this nonsense devalues it.

Here is the truth: unless you are very deliberately writing a pastiche or aping a modern mainstream formula (like generic James Patterson-style assembly-line hackwork) you are very likely not very comparable with other writers or stories. This is not to say you are a special snowflake or whatever similar outdated term they use nowadays to devalue art, but the fact is that writing is a way of filtering the way you see the world into a story. Since you are an individual, you will naturally put large pieces of yourself in whatever you write and it will show up your work in some way to be different to other books on the market, even those in the same genre. This is art; it's all like this. Rearranging tropes and speaking through our experiences and beliefs is how art has managed to last so long despite it supposedly being so easy to create in formulas and workshops. The human spirit is a fascinating thing, which is what makes art so fantastic a thing.

I can use myself and other authors as an example. Thinking back through my books, from Knights of the End, Grey Cat Blues, Someone is Aiming for You, Gemini Warrior, Brutal Dreams, my short stories, and even in work like The Pulp Mindset or The Last Fanatics, I am drawing a blank on what I should compare them to, because I didn't model them off other things when I first wrote them. There is no one in OldPub writing anything like these stories, and even in NewPub you end up with writers who might write similar themes or concepts but the final result is drastically different. This isn't to blow smoke, it is how it works with all writers.

I recently spoke of Rawle Nyanzi's Sasha Reed, for instance. He himself admits he got the central idea for the project from old Penelope Pitstop cartoons, even though he didn't do it intentionally, but the stories themselves are nothing alike and are not comparable to the cartoon at all. So what does one compare them to? What is the "Comp" in this situation? A trope is not enough to make something similar enough to another thing to make them worthy of comparison. You have to factor in theme, intent, genre, and the actual plot and characters. In this case, the work stands as what it is.

Another example would by Alexander Hellene's Pulp Rock. Who is making an anthology of music themed pulp-style stories that would be comparable to it? In OldPub? Nothing at all. Every story inside isn't even comparable to each other, so what should the whole even be compared to? The same extends to StoryHack's Sidearm & Sorcery anthology: who is even doing traditional sword and sorcery in OldPub, never mind with a modern setting twist? Even if they did, the stories inside all take the concept differently enough that they don't compare to each other.

This isn't to say these are the most original ideas in the world, or that nothing can ever be like them, but that there isn't anything quite like them, because there can't be. They were all formed by the individuals in charge who had their own idea and vision of what the final result should be. The end result is obviously not going to be formulaic modern 400 page, 100k word hackwork that gets dumped onto OldPub store shelves. Those are designed to be disposable and stock.

If you read enough (ironic, considering the OP) you would know that it a lot easier to write something not comparable to OldPub's generic modern slush than it is to write something in their frame, especially if you read a lot. Being yourself makes it harder to be a comparable. And why would you ever want to be comparable to an industry that doesn't sell? You need to move beyond it. There is no future in a dead industry stuck in the past.

As for the site listed above, well, it's silly. Here is what one gets when one of my influences, CL Moore, is put into it:

Yes, this is a real screenshot.

Should I truly go into why the above is not only stupid, but wrong? It should be very self-evident. The list doesn't even include her own husband, Henry Kuttner, whom she co-wrote with for a large chunk of her career. This isn't even going into the other two writers on the list. The long and short of it is that this supposed valuable resource is not very valuable at all.

Not only that, but the author in question is not like her "Comps" in the slightest. This is typical dead internet nonsense that is common of the modern day.

CL Moore wrote gothic stories with adventure trappings, sometimes in the distant past or even the far-off future, but her concern was more on the side of the fae and the relationship between man and woman. It isn't quite like what anyone else in the pulps was trying to do. HP Lovecraft wrote cosmic horror about man's insignificance in a universe that they can never truly understand. Cordwainer Smith wrote of an "Instrumentality of Man" and how Christianity and science would bring about a future unlike any we could imagine. Do you see how these three connect with each other? Because they don't really, at all.

None of these three writers are comparable, other than that they all wrote stories in magazines. That's literally it. At that point you might as well say Edgar Rice Burroughs is completely interchangeable with Isaac Asimov. It makes as much sense as this.

As for the last piece of advice on categories, there is no reason to do this. Amazon's search feature (the only one you need to care about) is completely busted. No matter what tag you put in, you are unlikely too show up on a random search. It used to be pay to play, but it doesn't even do that anymore, mostly because the internet is dead. You should not worry too much about genre classification, as we've gone over many times. Sell the story before anything else.

This part is a good clue that the writer of this thread does not understand the audience. Nonetheless, she will persist with her arrogance accordingly.

Your book won't be shelved anywhere in a "real-live" bookstore, because bookstores only order from their corporate masters in the paper cartel. Not to mention that no one goes to these stores anymore either.

You can also forget about libraries because your librarian will not stock your books and if they do no one will check it out or know it's there to begin with. I hate to be that guy, but libraries are functionally useless in the modern day, just as the people running then are more interested in political posturing and lecturing parents than inspiring kids to read. We have an illiteracy epidemic and until that is fixed your book being in a library is not going to matter. [Note: From insider knowledge I've accrued, entire swaths of OldPub books never even get checked out once. They are eventually dumped from their listing when it is time to clean house. Librarians aren't going to sell your book when they can't even sell their corporate masters' works.] Libraries are not for reading, they're prayer chambers for Fanatics. You won't reach anyone from being stocked in one.

For the second point, I don't think I've ever seen a book and then wanted to write my own version of it. Why would I do that? I've been inspired by things I've read, but to say something like Grey Cat Blues, for instance, is comparable to Rumble Fish, a book that is of a completely different intent and genre, simply because I was inspired to write mine after reading that, is incorrect. This is how inspiration works: you take a piece of one work and translate it into something completely different. This is why "it's X meets Y!" comparisons don't work and are a very shallow interpretation of creativity. You are either not different enough from your inspiration, or you are relying on them to carry your work, if you need these "Comps" for some reason. Either way, that is not what art is meant to do. Originality comes from your take on a familiar subject, it doesn't fall out of thin air. Whatever this is, it will not foster any originality.

And again, when we get into the third point, this is not how creativity works. There is no direct line from writing due to a single inspiration into having a 100% similar stock of opinions and tastes as said original writer. I have little in common with the backgrounds of most pulp-era writers, yet they have inspired me to write many things. Just because they are inspirations does not make them comparable to each other, either. If they were it would mean my own interests and inspirations and my tastes are very limited and I' writing for personal validation.

This is strange considering the original point of the twitter thread was to chastise people for not either reading enough or exploring outside their interests. This is the opposite of that. Then again, the thread definitely comes off as someone rehashing advice they were told by an industry that can't sell water in the desert.

Many such cases!

Here we come to the silliest entry so far. If this is how your creative process works then you've probably been attending too many writing workshops. That is money you could be spending on better covers and editing, two things that will be far more valuable to you. Jargon while talking to people who will forget they talked to you two seconds after they move on, is not worth this amount of discussion. Then again, this misunderstanding of storytelling and audiences is why OldPub is dead. "Comps" do not matter.

There is nothing less creative than trying to mix and match your potential story to tropes and diagrams created by people, again, who have no idea how to sell books but act as authorities on the subject. I don't claim to be an expert in this arena, but it is fairly clear to anyone paying attention that the current day industry is such an utter failure that every piece of advice it gives out should be discarded and those in charge should be ignored. They have done enough damage to the scene already and chased more than enough people away.

The second tweet is complete nonsense. "Good sellers but not bestsellers" is silly. Books don't sell at all, and getting on the NYT best seller list is as easy as your rich urbanite publisher buying up copies for you (that you will never see a penny of) to get on said list for fake clout that normal people, again, don't care about. This is a shell game with no prize. Nothing sells, because OldPub does not sell to anyone except cultists in "book" circles who all have the same uniform thoughts and beliefs on every single issue. If you copy them, you are destined for failure. No one should want to be comparable to a dead industry.

Nothing quite compares to the tone-deafness of the third point, however. "My book is like the Sopranos" is a dumb enough statement on its surface, a meaningless comparison, but its fairly clear what that means. No one who hears it is stupid enough to think there will be actors speaking Italian or a bopping soundtrack when they flip the pages. "One specific element" to focus on is, again, pointless. It feels like you are pathetically trying to glom on to something far more popular for your own gain. You really don't think the average person who hears this won't just roll their eyes and silently pass on your book? They already do this now.

Of course it isn't about the average person, at all. OldPub gave up on appealing to normal people decades ago, chasing away everyone they could to appeal to upper class urbanite cliques and their personal fetish material. they'd rather rule the world instead. You will never appeal to normal people by using OldPub's methods because they were never intended tor reach normal people in the first place. It's a waste of time.

That is what makes this thread doubly ridiculous. It is saying how to be successful by doing things that will provably not make you successful.

Speaking of "disrespectful" …

Saying "I don't have any comps" means you think enough about your story that you believe it can stand out on its own. The only "comp" you have is that it is part of a genre like adventure, mystery, or romance. It is not disrespectful to not want to lower your work and works by others by insinuating they are prepackaged tropes that can be exchanged at random to be sold piecemeal as gruel. By writing what you can, the best you can, you are a creative maverick, because you are writing the sort of stories only you can write, and not what out of touch overpaid book execs think you should. Your only "comps" should be that is a part of a series or of a wider genre. That is it.

You should not follow other people or approach them with the sole intent on profiting off of them or their audience, as this section of the tweet thread implies. Find like-minded creatives, sure, but do not befriend them just because you think their audience will like your stuff so you can squeeze a few bucks out of them. Creatives interact because they like each other and enjoy talking shop, even if they don't sell the same thing, at the end of the day. Friendship is exchange and back and forth interaction, it is not a transactional relationship where one must profit off the other in equal amounts. Follow who you wish to follow because you like them before anything else. Following someone because you think you can get something out of them is doomed to fail the second you don't get what you thought you should have gotten. Human beings do not work or operate this way.

I shouldn't even need to address the third passage which contradicts everything she has written so far, and even in the same section of the tweets. If you're an upper class bored urbanite (like everyone in OldPub is) then there are plenty of people already writing the same grievance fiction and nihilist philosophy you are. This is the easiest thing to find similar works in, because they're all the same. Your "Comps" are that point are simply other cultists who will not even buy your work at all, because their attitude is all for show.

Much like this tweet thread, it all goes nowhere. You gain nothing by following any of this advice.

As if proving my above statement, misunderstanding writing as a whole is all this section is. We've gone off from "loving" chastisement to outright condescending here. You should not think about any of this when you write your own work, you should only focus on the story. Bending to weird elitists is how normal readers were chased away to begin with.

All of this material she is talking about is "issue book" material. It's already narrow in scope and guaranteed to appeal to a fringe minority of potential buyers regardless of how you try to sell it. If you're aiming for mainstream success with a book that has an extremely specific niche or appeal then it really doesn't matter what amount of advertising or self-promotion you do for it. There is a limit to who you will reach.

At some point it became standard in the industry to think that anything publishers want to sell should automatically be mega sellers or there is something wrong with audience. Frequently, this attitude just means that publishers have extraordinarily limited taste that is out of touch with the common man. Nonetheless such groups assert that it is the audience's fault that they won't buy their wares, even in a time where people read less than ever before.

No matter what your "comp" is, if it's an "issue book" then people who don't care about the issue will simply tune out immediately. That is just the way it works.

She even admits as much when she finishes up in the last few posts:

None of this matters. If you're a writer and you're considering an agent, you are wasting your time. It is the 2020s, not the 1970s. Hilariously enough, for a thread professing to inform people, it does little but parse outdated advice around like candy at Halloween. None of this applies to a new writer coming up in the 2020s, in any way. If it does, then your work will likely be little more than the factory-pressed assembly-line hackwork OldPub desires--the very work we already know normal people do not want anything to do with.

This entire twitter thread is a waste of time, even more so if you're an aspiring writer. As a writer, I can tell you that it is pointless advice to follow.

Once again, here is a little bit of insider information for potential writers. Agents, publishers, and editors, in OldPub, literally do not care about your theme, dramatic arc, setting, style, or "big idea" at all. They do not consider it when looking at manuscripts handed to them from their goon agents who work for them. You are not creating anything when you work for them: you are producing product they can weaponize for their pet social causes.

OldPub cares about which demographic your book can be used on to milk media attention and gather headpats from their cult pals in the media. All you have to do is not be a part of one of these groups, and your book will never even be considered at all. Doubly so if you disagree with them on the wrong issues. Therefore, whatever book gets into the pipeline is by definition already going to be formulaic hackwork meant to be sold as product over any attempt at art or entertainment. In such a case, this advice is pointless because it is the publisher's job to fill in the blanks for you. If you are independent, you are not selling prepackaged wares to a prepackaged audience, therefore it is completely unnecessary to even try engaging in this practice.

But that is the whole thread in a nutshell. It is pointless.

So now that we've entered the post-Fanatic world, what is the future? Where are we going now that these old ways have finally passed away? How can we correct the damage that has been done by an industry that neglected its job for so long?

Right now, all of that is still up in the air. We do know the future does not lie in a class of people who at best are ambivalent to the majority of people they are supposed to be working for. That era is over, and it isn't coming back. There is too much competition from too many other mediums to allow poseurs and irony-poisoned self-hating misanthropists a space to ruin the image of your scenes any longer. This includes reading, most of all because it is one of the oldest ones. For reading to be saved, it must be returned to the average Joe again.

The above attitudes are not just an obstacle in one industry; material Fanaticism has been a big problem for a long time, long before any of us alive today were born. It's going to take time to wean ourselves off of it. There is no sense in getting upset about those still trapped in that mindset, even if we also still relapse into it. That has just been the most standard way of thinking for so long that it won't be easy to shake off overnight. We still have to wait for the remnants of the 20th century to burn off first before we can finally focus on how best to move forward.

Until then, focus on your craft, get as good as you can, and learn what you are able along the way. Put your work out there, connect with others, and do what you must do for your audience. There is no formula for success except to just do the best you can as only you can do it. As of right now, it's really all that can be done. Creators should create, after all. Worrying about the above nonsense, like in the Twitter thread, will not help you at all.

Just be aware that there is no guarantee that you will see tangible results off the bat. It could take a long time, it might not even happen in your lifetime. What is important is that you do what you are able to do. As long as you stay away from writing workshops, agents, and OldPub advice as a whole, you will at least be on the road to becoming the best writer you can be. This is what any writer should care about above all else. What makes your writing stand out? That answer, is you. You are the only weapon that no one else has in their arsenal.

It might sound corny, but that doesn't matter. It's true. The content of what you're doing is the focus, and the identity you press into it is what allows it to stand out from the crowd. You are you, and that is what you have to always remember when creating. Attempting to slide yourself into broken and proven unsuccessful corporate molds will only end in disaster, as we've seen by the state of OldPub today. That past is gone and never coming back.

I surely am grateful for that, as we all should be. The past is over, and we're lucky to finally be able to move on.

"JD has been naming names and documenting the decline and fall of genre fiction for a long time. It wasn’t always like this and his work is important to the question of why it’s like this now." ~ Conan, Esq.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Weekend Rest Stop!

My newest book can be found Here!

How is summer going for you? It's been a long one, and the heat hasn't let up much at all. Nonetheless, there has been a lot going on.

I recently had an interview with DMR Books about my career in writing so far. It was a fun one. You can find my piece with them on their site here. Hard to believe I've been writing for about a decade at this point, but I have!

Other authors have also been putting out plenty of work themselves, as the recent Signal Boost post has shown. I also know plenty of other authors who are also working on material of their own. Hopefully I can share some of that with you in the future.

Today also features a new episode of Geek Gab, which never fails to be a listening podcast listen. You can find that one here.

As for me, I just finished up two short stories I'm submitting. Here's hoping those go well! Then it is on to finish Y Signal, and then to work on the Gemini Man Trilogy. That is more or less my plan for the rest of the year, God willing, unless something goes wrong. Here's hoping it doesn't!

This year has been a lot messier than I've hoped it would be. Hopefully things will settle down soon. It would definitely be nice.

Lastly, I'll leave you with two interviews done by VTuber Pipkin Pippa (Pippa Pipkin for you westerners) which are quite good listens. A while back she interviewed two different developers at currently crumbling video game megacorp Blizzard to see both what it was like back in the day, and what it became by the end. They are very informative at how such a titan could end up in such a joke state.

This is the first interview with someone who had been there since their heyday in the 1990s. It tells you a lot about how things changed. Yes, it even goes into some of the rumors, including the "breast milk" one. Suffice to say, the subject can get NSFW.

The second interview is radically different. This time she interviews someone who came along later with a vastly different view on the industry and the customers within. It also shows just how much things have changed in the industry, attitude-wise. This is probably a good example of what caused AAA to be the disaster it is today.

Keep in mind that these are long interviews, but they can be put on in the background as you do other things. If you want a good example as to how an entire industry destroyed itself with hubris and corporate nonsense, they are definitely worth delving into.

Do not think for a second other industries, such as the book industry, did not fall into this exact trap. The same mentalities killed both.

Regardless, have a good weekend. Summer isn't over yet, and there is plenty more to do. Hopefully it all turns out better in the end. We can only hope.

"Ever wanted to know why the fun and wonder has been sucked out of sci-fi, fantasy, and adventure? JD has the receipts. Essential reading." ~ Alexander Hellene, author of The Last Ancestor

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Pseudo Signal Boost?

Find it Here!

Today I wanted to highlight some books, but they aren't the usual sort, given that two of them are not really new releases and one of them isn't even out yet! However, why not do things a bit different this time? It's fun to shake it up every now and then.

First up is Cirsova's new Kickstarter, which is as out of left field as always. This time it is for Misha Burnett's new collection, An Atlas of Bad Roads. One can say a lot about the consistent quality of the projects that Cirsova releases, but they are always quite a bit different than anything you would get from OldPub. That is not even factoring in superstar weird writer Misha Burnett into it! This project is no different.

The description:

There are many strange places off the beaten paths in this great land of ours. From the abandoned shopping malls where squatters revel in violent nihilism to the new subdivisions built atop ruins where tragedies lay buried, Misha Burnett is your guide to the weird and out of the way places that are haunted by the past and the future.

This all new collection from Misha Burnett includes 16 strange tales of the macabre as well as 16 original poems, exploring the mysterious nature of the seemingly mundane world, where the run-down warehouses, shady night clubs, and even 24-hour gas stations may be home to magical fae creatures or skulking maniacs.

You've been offered a map to these beautiful vistas and disturbing local attractions. Just try not to get lost.

As always, you can jump in with any format your heart desires, including a magazine/atlas style with is apt for the contents. This is going to be a weird one, though I guess that is to be expected. You can find the kickstarter for An Atlas of Bad Roads here.

It's sure to be a good one.

Next we will cover The Perils of Sasha Reed by Rawle Nyanzi, a compilation of short adventure tales all starring the same main cast.

Find it Here!

Wait a minute, wasn't this already released? You would be correct to ask that. It has. However, you might have noticed the new "Volume 1" distinction on this one. Rawle Nyanzi has decided to turn this one into an ongoing series. Not only that, but this release is a brand new pulp-style paperback for your more tangible reading needs. If you haven't checked The Perils of Sash Reed out yet, now is the best time.

The description:


Pit girl Sasha Reed has a problem: every dirtbag on the planet wants to kidnap her! Her new subspace storage technology has attracted the attention of mutants, mad scientists, and the worst scum the Earth Sphere has to offer. Now Sasha and her gun-toting race car driver boyfriend must deal with all sorts of danger in this short story series!

You can find the paperback version of The Perils of Sasha Reed: Volume 1 here.

Here's hoping Volume 2 isn't too far away!

Lastly, we have the not-yet-released Gun Magus by N. R. LaPoint. However, it is available for preorder before its release date next week. If you like them weird, it doesn't get weirder!

Find it Here!

From the author of Chalk and Lightsinger comes another bizarre tale, though at this point you should probably expect it from him. This one is a mashup of old style action with Isekai in a story full of fast-paced adventure!

The description:

Low on luck, but not ammo

The last thing Kenneth Jericho needed was a gunfight and car chase with human traffickers. What started as a bad morning only got worse.

A flash of light sends Ken to a strange world filled with magic, hideous monsters, beautiful women, and seemingly unlimited ammo.

With pistol in hand, Ken is thrown into a race against time to stop a local ganglord's reign of terror. 
But is the thug the brains behind the violence, or is someone - or something - else pulling his strings?

You can find Gun Magus here! This one promises to be a good time. Get it ahead of the line and preorder it now.

That's it for this week, though there is still quite a number of new releases coming all the time so it might not be long before I make another one of these posts. Hard to tell, really. It is not like that is anything worth complaining about, though.

As for myself, do not forget the release of the new collection, The Last Fanatics! This is 400 pages of our journey through Fandom over the past few years compiled in one handy place. The readers wanted this one, so here it is!

There is still more on the way, so please stay tuned for what is coming next. It has been quite a year behind the scenes, let me tell you, but I do not intend to stop anytime soon, and neither do many of the others in NewPub. This wild west is just beginning to get wild.

Just wait until you see what's coming next!

"JD Cowan has over the years shown himself to be one of the most prominent, and perhaps most important, essayists of the new movement in pulp revival beginning in the mid 2010s. His is must read work." ~ P. Alexander, Cirsova

Thursday, July 7, 2022

New Release ~ "The Last Fanatics: How the Genre Wars Killed Wonder!"

Find it Here!

"JD Cowan has over the years shown himself to be one of the most prominent, and perhaps most important, essayists of the new movement in pulp revival beginning in the mid 2010s. His is must read work." ~ P. Alexander, Cirsova
"JD has been naming names and documenting the decline and fall of genre fiction for a long time. It wasn’t always like this and his work is important to the question of why it’s like this now." ~ Conan, Esq.
"Ever wanted to know why the fun and wonder has been sucked out of sci-fi, fantasy, and adventure? JD has the receipts. Essential reading." ~ Alexander Hellene

This has been a long time coming, and it is thanks to you, dear reader, that it has happened. Today is the official release of my new book, The Last Fanatics: How the Genre Wars Killed Wonder. This is a collection of essays, edited by myself, of my series on Fandom that I have been writing for the last couple of years on Wasteland & Sky. It's been some time editing it, but the final release is here at last! My readers demanded this one, so here it is!

Find yourself a comfortable seat and dive in. We go deep in this one!

Even if you've read the original pieces, they have all been edited a great deal and sharpened tremendously. Get ready for one final dive into modern Fanaticism as we look over just what destroyed the genre landscape before spilling over into other adjacent industries. Here, the entire series of posts of Fandom has been edited into book form to make it less unwieldy for readers. It's 400 pages of one writer swimming backwards through the history of Fandom to its source. We go back nearly a century to see just what is the root of all this.

Here is the official description of The Last Fanatics:

Once upon a time, there was a tradition of storytelling that went back into the Gothic romances all the way through the fairy tales into the classics. It was a world without genre boundaries, checked boxes, and corporate writing workshops. This tradition created all the things you grew up with, the stories and ideas you hold dear, and the beating heart of adventure that has sustained us since the beginning of recorded history.

And then it was destroyed.

Learn how a gaggle of Fanatics poisoned the well of discourse and imagination by turning storytelling into mechanical formulas with rules and boundaries that never existed before. Who gave them this power, and how much of their garbage still taints discourse and the industry today? In The Last Fanatics, all will be laid bare.

It is time for the truth to be shouted out loud!

*Contains the collected and edited series of Fandom essays from Wasteland & Sky

So what is exactly in this tome? I am glad you asked! Let us go through it.

The Last Fanatics is split up into five sections, bookended by a Foreword and an Afterword. The Foreword was given to me by professional firebrand gamemaster Jeffro Johnson. I couldn't think of a better person to start this book off than the person who helped send me on this journey in the first place. There he discusses how he began his Appendix N quest. Aside from that and the Afterword, written by yours truly, the remained of the work is edited from the posts on this very blog. I spent a lot of time sharpening them for your reading enjoyment.

It took some time to go over these with a fine-toothed comb to make the whole thing work outside of blog form, so I hope you have a good time reading it, even if you've already read the blog entries before. I would actually recommend going through both, as they each offer different and varying information between them to add to the whole picture. Regardless, this was quite the journey and I am glad I have taken it.

Here is the full table of contents:

  • "Foreword" by Jeffro Johnson
  • Part I: Fandom: An Illustrative History
  • I: Origins from the Crypt
  • II: The Machine’s Crossroads
  • III: Nightmares & Monsters
  • IV: Mechanical Men
  • V: Humanity in the Pulp Jungle
  • Part II: A Revolution of Pulp
  • VI: The First Adventure
  • VII: The Heart of Heroism
  • VIII: Wonder’s End
  • Part III: Science Fiction Doesn't Exist
  • IX: Fantastic Nothings
  • X: Digging a Deeper Hole
  • XI: The Invisible Enemy
  • XII: Crude Delusions
  • XIII: The Final Future
  • Part IV: The Last Fanatic
  • XIV: The End is the Beginning
  • XV: Long Way Down
  • XVI: The Pied Piper’s Pit
  • XVII: Mutation & Death
  • XVIII: Dead Endings
  • Part V: Odds and the End
  • XIX: Phantom Humanity
  • XX: Tomorrow
  • "Afterword"

Once again, you can find The Last Fanatics here. The paperback and hardcover versions are also both available, so choose the format you prefer! I am amazed how fast KDP was to work with this time, as this is the first time I've managed to have not only a paperback edition, but a hardcover one, available on release date and not being held up by their incomprehensible systems. So I will give them kudos for that. Regardless, it is nice to have all the formats ready for the readers!

To get to the heart of the matter, my series on Fandom has always been somewhat controversial and I severely doubt the book version will be much different. What started as a simple look into Fandom's revisionism of an entire pocket of literature turned out to be an onslaught of anti-social posturing slathered in a desire for meaning that centered on one's self. Looking back on it now, my attitude is quite different than when I first wrote these chapters. You can probably tell due to how incendiary some of the commentary and analyzation can be at times. Reading through a lot of this the first time was definitely difficult. The obvious hate and resentment was hard to take in.

When I originally wrote much of this series, I was fairly ignorant on Fandom and thought a lot of what happened to the pulps was, as we've been sold since they disappeared, a natural changing of the market brought about by the war. There is some of that in the history, times always change and so do tastes, but the truth is that this shift had always been orchestrated by a bunch of antisocial materialists who simply wanted to turn the world upside down. A good portion of the reason why the world today is turned around backwards and fueled with resentment for the past is because of things and attitudes that caused things like this. We got it into our heads that our era was special and above everything that came before, and that we were heading towards Utopia disconnected from the past, therefore all the deck chairs needed arranging accordingly.

At a certain point when going over the final edit for this book, any anger I might have still had towards this crowd and that old time had long melted away to nothing. There isn't really anything to get upset about in regards to this, since that mess is long over and done. If anything, I feel for all the writers and readers who were denied the stories they always wanted to have and were unaware they could have had them all along. They were denied what they always wanted to have, and no one had the right to deny that to them in the first place.

But now we live in a NewPub world. You can find just about anything you want, as long as you're willing to look for it. We have more options available than ever before, which means you no longer need to put up with those who hate you. You can do anything, and it is about time we act like it. The revolution has come and gone, which means it's time to rebuild. The Last Fanatics is a good blueprint for getting past this and moving on.

The place where this all started . . .

At the end of the day, I wrote The Last Fanatics: How the Genre Wars Killed Wonder for two main reasons. This needed to be put into book form. The first reason I did this was that readers kept asking for this one, and the other is that we needed a final word on this old era that has been holding us back for too long. We no longer live under Fandom's rules, and it is time we realize that. Fandom is gone, and we don't need to live under their rules and frames any longer. There is nothing left at this point to do but build.

My Fandom series more or less concludes with the publication of this book. I don't have anything else to really add on the subject that wouldn't be treading water. I might read a book or two on the topic in the future, and I might even write a post here on it, but that would be separate from the subject at hand and focused purely on the events within said theoretical book. The bigger picture has already been painted. We now know what lead to the downfall of an entire industry and the wider scene. Nothing we could possibly learn in the future would change the core truth of what happened, or what needs to be done about it.

Either way, The Last Fanatics has been a long time coming. I want to thank every reader and commenter on this series since I first found that one stray book in that used bookstore back in 2019. I did not think this would develop into what it has over the last three years, and it is thanks to you and your prodding that I even bothered to look deeper than the surface level. This book very much exists, in a big way, because of you.

So, enjoy!

The last of the Fanatics might finally be on their way out, but we've still got a lot of rebuilding ahead of us. Now, at least, we can look to the future with a knowing hope that things can only improve from here. That dark chapter in the history of Romance and Adventure storytelling is finally finished and it is time for better ways. I, for one, am excited to see where we go from here.

Once again, thank you for reading!

You can find The Last Fanatics in the format of your choice here.