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.


  1. Superb book so far (about 1/3 through). Thank you for collecting your analyses in book form!

    1. Thanks for reading! I'm glad to finally have it out there.