Thursday, April 28, 2016

Submitting to Castalia House, 2

I mentioned a while ago that I was going to take a shot at Castalia House for publishing either Sad Puppies Bite Back and / or Set to Kill. It's a long shot, but I'll happily take it. If you don't ask, you don't get.

If you remember from last time, Castalia desires "a one-page author bio describing who the author is and what the author stands for rather than the author’s credentials."

If you remember last time, you might recall that it was a little scattershot, and all over the place. I've refined it, and you can see it, well, here.

I started writing at sixteen, turning out a 4,000 page series of novels in 15 months. I majored in history in college because I saw it as nothing but endless possibilities for stories. When researching Pope Pius XII as a graduate student in history, I was so angered by the lies told about “Hitler's Pope,” I proceeded to write an epic trilogy dedicated to the truth around Pius XII. (Making Dan Brown look like the pompous lying idiot that he is was an added bonus.) The only reason I don't have a PhD is that I assumed the university in question cared more about truth than about politics. I prefer writing fiction because it is sometimes easier to write truth that way.

I write because fiction should support the truth. Evil is real, and cannot be negotiated with, sated, or reasoned with. The Prince of this World may triumph, but said Prince can have it over my smoldering corpse. There are only two paths for evil. Either evil should be redeemed, or evil should be ended at the point of a sword. More often than not, the cliché that “a villain does not see a villain in the mirror” is merely an excuse to justify evil; it also presupposes that the villain believes in villainy, or heroes, or good, or evil, as moral equivalency and subjectivity are the first refuge of villains.  Though, every time I have a fully developed, three dimensional villain that lasts for any length of time, they are either killed off as soon as possible, or eventually redeemed.

As an ultramontane Catholic and as a realist, I believe in the Nicene creed and in Murphy's Law, usually in that order. My beliefs can be summed up by the Baltimore Catechism, the Summa Theologica, sprinkled lightly with the Demotivators of Despair, Inc. As Thomist by training, I have no problem taking reductions to absurdity and making them a punchline. (See “Sad Puppies Bite Back” at my blog for prime examples).

In the 2016 years Roman Catholics have been around, we have discussed everything from Just War and regicide (“Yes, you may take Hitler or Putin out back and shoot him in the head”), to hating the sin, but loving the sinner. At heart, any good Catholic is a happy warrior, and the culture wars are a battlefield that can always use more people. 

As of now, I'm still proceeding as though they are going to reject me. I'm going to have someone working on a cover, I'm going to have another reader take a gander at Set to Kill. I'm going to have an alternate version of Sad Puppies Bite Back called Tearful Puppies Bite Back, and it will tie in with Set to Kill.... because if I'm self publishing, I'm going to cover my behind something fierce. Because lawyers are a thing. And annoying at times.

However, if I'm going with Castalia, I'm going to dedicate the majority of my energies to promotion, and working on any edits they want me to make.

If I'm not going with Castalia, I'm going to have to have a version filled with aliases at the ready.

As for those people who are editing my vampire novels ... don't worry, my fans, you'll learn about it when I do.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Future of the #HugoAwards and #SadPuppies

If you look at the Hugo Awards as a Sad Puppy route -- in everything but Best Novel -- one should ask, What is the point, purpose, and future of Sad Puppies? Should there be an SP5? If there is, what does it do? Does it chase the Dragon? Does it stick with the Hugos?

If you look at the Hugos and its latest collection of nominees, such as "Space Raptor Butt Invasion," be this the end of the Hugos? Won't everything just be No Awarded again?

And the answer to that my friends, is ... do any of us care?

Yeah, you heard me, do we give a flying $%*& about anything the Hugos do? Do we care if they can be saved from themselves?

In fact, no offense to Vox, but at this point, do we even bother burning them down?

Everyone obviously knows where I stand: we're done.

The Dragon award will be a fair, unbalanced place to get genuine fan feedback in awards. 60,000 fans all there to have fun, and all of them nerds. Let's see someone, ANYONE, try to rig that. No one has that many people in their back pocket, not Vox, not Scalzi, not 770, not Larry et al.

Obviously, the Dragon is only starting, and it's still in flux, and they're trying to get their baring. But let's face it, with that many people on board, it's not even a contest.

As for the Hugos ... The very existence of the Dragon will out muscle the Hugos, by numbers if nothing else. Looking at the farce from last year, if you asked me how long the Hugos would last as a presence, I would have said 10 years. It would slowly peter out, becoming a close-knit, clubhouse award within 5 years, and in another 5, it would fade away so much, people would think it's died a natural death, even if some people still bother with it.

With the Dragon in the mix? I'm not even sure I'm going to lay money on it lasting five years. Maybe three, if Vox decides that it's still worth his time.

Yes, Rabid Puppies seems dedicated towards the destruction of the Hugos. Or taking them over. One or the other. Though if it becomes too easy, maybe even Vox will decide to let them fester and die on their own. No idea, one way or the other.

Vox, meanwhile, has declared the Sad Puppies irrelevant, since we only really impacted one major category. Though I think the entire enterprise is just beating a dead horse at the time.

There is an argument against walking away from the Hugos, of course.

Technically, ignoring the Hugos from now on would be forfeiting. If this were a sport or a war, that would be tantamount to surrender. Though I would think that it's more along the lines of knife fighting on a frozen lake, and then your opponent falls through and can't swim -- if you don't continue fighting, their last words can be about how you walked away, you pathetic cowards, and blurb blurb blurb ....

And sure, if Sad and / or Rabid walked away from the Hugos, the SJWs could go and laugh about how they sure beat those ruddy Puppies, they sure beat us, and gee, why has everyone gone to Atlanta?

I've had conversations with several people over the future of the Sad Puppies. It's been suggested that we should do, well, something with it. I concur, moving on to something else would be interesting. Though no one is really considering having the Sad Puppies impact the Dragon awards, unless, somehow, something becomes really freaking screwy with them. But that's been rejected as a possibility by every sane person I know. And most of the insane ones.

We mustn't dismiss the possibility of the Sad Puppies refining this year's technique so that we kick ass and take names next year. Though I'm wondering ... why would we want to?

Though thus far, the best reason I've heard for continuing Sad Puppies with the same mission? Just to drive left-wing douche bags insane. Which I guess is a good enough reason.  After all, if the SJWs want to troll us, then I see no reason not to return the favor.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

#HugoAwards to #SadPuppies: We're Rabid

I told you so.

As I said on Tuesday's post, I wouldn't be getting a Hugo nomination.

Surprise surprise, no nomination. Not one, out of three categories.

Part of that is because that the Hugos this year have gone rabid. Very, rabid, really.

Seriously, the tagline for Vox this year should be "All your Hugos are belong to us."

Look at this, for example:

Image result for Asymmetrical Warfare hugo

Everything here is Rabid. Everything.

Asymmetrical Warfare is the only overlap with Sad Puppies.

No, I don't have a prediction outside of No Award....

Except .... This category was given no award last year. It might look suspicious if they did it again. (Nice category you have there, would be a shame if something should .... happen to it.)

With television, you might notice something stand out....

For the record, the My Little Pony nomination is definitely a Rabid choice, as well as a Sad Puppy choice.  Hmm.

Supernatural: Rabid

Grimm: Rabid

Doctor Who: Sad.

Jessica Jones: Nobody.

Prediction: if the Puppy Kickers show up, it'll be Jessica Jones. If it's the Rabids, it's My Little Pony. Otherwise, it's up for grabs.

Best Related is almost entirely Rabid. I mean, look at this.

Jeffro works for Vox. SJWs Always Lie is by Vox.  Safe Spaces as Rape Room is a Rabid pick.

And Gene Wolfe, the author, is awesome. The pick is rabid. As is the Moira Greyland one.

Appendix N and Safe Spaces as Rape Rooms had additional Sad Puppy Backing. But there was no other overlap.

So, yes, very Rabid.  And I'm apparently not Rabid enough, even though I'm very apathetic to the Hugos in the first place.

If I were to make a guess, if the Rabids get one, they go for SJWs always lie. Or Jeffro.

If the Kickers go for something, the safest bet is with Gene Wolfe and only Gene Wolfe. Remember, Gene Wolfe has been published with Tor for longer than the Neilsen-Haydens have been alive.

And now, I present Sad Puppies 4: The Revenge of Baen.
BEST EDITOR – LONG FORM (1764 ballots)Vox Day
Sheila E. Gilbert
Liz Gorinsky
Jim Minz
Toni Weisskopf
Oh look, Shiela Gilbert and Toni Weisskopf. Again. Because screw you, David Gerrold. Let's see them No Award Toni this year, huh?

Jim Mintz? Nominated by both puppies. As was Toni, I believe.

And Vox is Rabid. Obviously. Though he wasn't nominated by the Sad Puppies. Then again, Sad Puppies only had three editors they were interested in this year.

Liz Gorinsky, by the way, it also of Tor. And responsible for the Tor website. Which means I'm all in favor of her losing.

Next up is the award for Best New Writer, and our good acquaintance Brian Niemeier (from whom I stole all of the numbers crunching earlier one) wanted to be on this list, and this one alone.


Image result for Best New Writer 2016 hugo

And he got it. He was a joint pick, between Sad and Rabid.

Then again, he's also against Rabid pick Pierce Brown, Sebastien de Castell, and the almost guaranteed winner Andy Weir.

I have no idea who or what an Alyssa Wong is, except she's a Sad Puppy.

If Brian is reading this blog, 1) congratulations, 2) enjoy your hate mail, and 3) let me know if you need any help answering your hate mail. In public.

Yes, yes, I can hear you now: Come now, Declan, show us best novel, there's a good author.

Oh, you're probably wondering about best novel, aren't you?

Well, this is one where everybody, even the Puppy Kickers showed up in force.

And by "in force," I mean the Puppy Kickers got ONE novels. That's it, one. Because remember, this is what the Sad Puppy list looked like for Best Novel.

And Leckie will probably bow out (if I recall correctly, she didn't want to play this year).

At the end of the day, NK Jemisin, who would probably kill Vox if she could, is the only Puppy Kicker pick here. 

Butcher? Stephenson? Rabid and Sad nominated. 

Leckie and Naomi Novik? Sad Puppy only.

And Jemisin slipped through the crack there. (Though she was #12 on the Sad Puppy list, IIRC)

However, something I find interesting: first, nothing that was Rabid only was nominated for best novel. Which is odd, I would have thought, given most of the categories, that Vox would have had a monopoly. 

So what does this mean? It means that the Sad Puppies turned out in force for the Best Novel category, and perhaps only Best Novel. I mean, compare the voting. People turned out for Best Novel head and shoulders above every other category. This tracks with the voting on the original list. Most votes were cast for Best Novel than anything else.

Looking at the original Sad Puppies list, my bet is simple: The Puppies had already read Novik, Butcher and Stephenson, and no time to read anything else. So while they could agree on the top three novels (out of five) tastes varied wildly on the rest of them (Ringo and Correia said no, and Niemeier was more interested in the Campbell -- and Williamson is a matter of taste).

And let's face it, I don't have a wide readership yet. So ... no, that wasn't going to happen. Sorry, but no.

Leckie got in because the Hugo baseline already went for her book once, so that wasn't all the difficult. Same for Jemisin.

Frankly, it's the only reason I can think of for why John C. Wright didn't get a nomination this year. Remember, John was nominated in at least three different categories last year (it may have been five). And some of those categories, Wright was nominated three times.


Yes, if you compare the whole list -- and I give props to 770 for doing that job for me-- you'll see quite clearly just how much Vox dominated this list. It makes me wonder what would have happened if we went with five nominees this year instead of ten.

And, with a few exceptions, anything that isn't Rabid is Sad.

There is, already, I kid you not, a movement to no award the Hugos again. This tweet went up within the hour of the nominees being mentioned.

If you can see it properly, you can see that removing all of the Rabid stuff would no award best short story, best related and best graphic story -- the former two were no awarded last year.

I also suspect that there is a combination of 1) Sad Puppies focusing a lot on the Best novel and little else and 2) a lot of Sad Puppy followers becoming more rabid.

But let's look at this, shall we? Take it away, Nicki Kenyon.
Best Novel: All 5 nominees were in the top 12 recommended by SP4, including 3 of the top 7 recommended by the fans.

Best Novella: All top 4 SP4 recommendations were nominated, and all 5 nominees were in the top 8 slots SP4 compiled.

Best Novellete: Only 3 of the nominees were on the SP4 list (all within the top 6 slots). 19 works were recommended by SP4 overall.

Best Short Story: Only 2 of the nominees were on the list, both within the top 20 listed; 38 works were listed overall.

Best Editor (Long Form): 2 of the 3 recommendees by SP4 made the nominee list. Sadly, politics will almost definitely keep the extremely deserving Toni Weisskopf, who is one of the most influential and successful women in publishing, from being recognized with an award.

Campbell Nominees: All 5 of the works on the shortlist were recommended by SP4, including the top 3 selections agreed upon by the group. 19 total works were recommended overall.
So, despite appearances, Rabid Puppies didn't take EVERYTHING. But it feels like it. Well, I don't do "the feels." I do "the facts."

Though right now, according to Vox, the numbers are around 60 nominations out of 80-something. There is overlap, of course, but the Rabids came and they swept most of it.

As was noted
This year, the Sad and Rabid Puppies have done it again. Ten out of fifteen Hugo Award categories have been completely dominated by Puppy-endorsed nominees — double what the campaigns achieved in 2015. The Puppies have also secured three out of five nominations for Best Novel, three out of four nominations for Best Short-Form Dramatic Presentation, and three out of five nominations for Best Long-Form Editor.

In total, the Rabid Puppies swept six categories on their own, while a combination of Sad & Rabid puppy nominations swept a further four.

Some of the Rabid Puppies nominations this year — such as a My Little Pony episode for Best Short-Form Dramatic Presentation and a porn parody in Best Short Story — seem clearly intended as troll options, a demonstration of the Puppies’ power to exert their will on the awards.
Tell me again how the Puppies are irrelevant?

And of course, right after the Hugo nominations were announced, The Guardian published an article titled: "Hugo awards shortlist dominated by rightwing campaign."

As Kenyon continues to note, the usual puppy kickers made the following claims.
1) the Sad Puppies nominated quality works, but the quality works Sad Puppies nominated were nominated despite the Sad Puppies and
John Scalzi had an article about the Hugo awards TWENTY MINUTES BEFORE THE FINALISTS WERE ANNOUNCED. Nice trick, there, John-John. Are we using the Force again, or just a lucky guess?

In short, here we go again.

As for me?

Yeah, I'm good. Remember, I didn't even think I'd get on the Sad Puppy list, and you think I'd honestly expect a Hugo nod? Heh. I wasn't even sure I wanted a Hugo if they offered me one.

Also, I'm not worried about the Hugos. Why?

Because I'm....  [slides on shades] ...... chasing the Dragon.


Yes, yes, I know that the likelihood of me even being nominated for a Dragon is even worse than being a Hugo finalist, but hell, I didn't even think of getting on the Sad Puppy 4 list. What have I got to lose? If you don't try, you don't get.

I've had some people speculate that there might be something fishy about the Sad Puppy / Hugo discrepancy. There is none, really. Fans of mine voted for Honor at Stake on the SP4 list, which they were free to do, at no cost to themselves, I had about twenty fans do so. Those people who had never heard of me didn't have the time to read all of the books on the list. Let's face it, when you're given ten books and a small time frame to read them in, how are we going to play it? Are you going to read them in order, or are you going to read the ones with Big Names attached to them, that are vaguely familiar?

Anyway, this is my obligatory pull for Honor at Stake to be nominated for a Dragon Award.  Go, sign up, vote, it's free.

Be well all. And grab some popcorn, because we're not even done yet. Over the next week or two, expect people to be bullied off the nomination due to "concerns" about Puppies, or people who don't want the nomination to inform the Hugos loudly and publicly.

Brace yourselves, everyone, things are about to get interesting.


The Hugos are coming, the Hugos are coming

If you go by the expected traditional wisdom, I don't have a hope in Hell of getting even a single Hugo nomination.

Oh well. I really wanted those death threats from my betters, who would go out of their way to show that I was inferior and stupid and barbarian Catholic and stuff.

How do I know this? Well, I'm told that the Hugo nomination people would have contacted all of the nominees. My publisher on Honor At Stake should have gotten something. I should have gotten a contact on Sad Puppies Bite Back

I have heard nothing. At all. And are we really surprised? Doing the math, about 20 fans voted for me in best novel with Honor at Stake. That doesn't translate into sales, especially since the Sad Puppies list came out about two weeks before the nomination. So I'm not shocked.

Though I am a little surprised about Sad Puppies Bite Back. Though I guess I shouldn't be. I got six votes in best fan writer, 12 for best related. But it's not exactly like it's that long ...

Okay, Sad Puppies Bite Back is about 24,000 words. Yes, I counted. That's half a novel. Yeesh. Who knew? So I guess it's not that surprising that people didn't speed through it and decide if it needed to be on the Hugo's nominations.

Ah well. My only problem here is that I need to actually work on making more blogs. I was going to rely on utterly insane comments.

This is where I shrug, say it was a nice ride, and move on to the next project.

Oh well, I can at least retire this image.

Yeah. That would have been so much fun, though, really. Heh.

I'll probably examine the rest of the list either later today, or just save it for Wednesday's blog. Depends on how the day goes. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Set To Kill, Meet the Puppies

As my regular readers know I'm writing this new book called Set to Kill: a murder mystery that takes place at "WyvernCon" in Atlanta.

Yes, WyvernCon. Because I'm subtle. 

I have two groups at WyvernCon, the Tearful Puppies (the Hydrophobic Puppies didn't show up), and their Puppy Punters ("Dog Catchers" didn't convey my meaning).

Puppy Punters include

Patty and Terry Smith-Smythe-Smits, publishers at Rot books (Name of Publisher to change ... I hear "Midden" is a good idea).

Their minion Fred Moshevsky, a drooling hunchback.

Kendall Adler, who draws on company walls with the

Author S Typhoon Teacup

Johnny Noah Prada

Nicole K.Victoria Daalman.

And Charles RR Martinez. ... who is so white it's pronounced Martin-es.

Yama "Crabs" Marshman, Internet stalker, from the back end of Boston.

And, of course, Jerry Friedman, an aging author still claiming cred for a popular creation over 50 years ago, the Hairballs.

Tearful Puppies include ....

Gary Castelo, intergalactic lord of rage / dark lord of the fisk.

Rachel Hartley, Vile yet Glamorous Fairy Princess

Jesse James, and his daughters Faith and Sophia. Do not mention the old west outlaw to him.

Omar Gunderson

Colonel George Bradley

Tom Knighton

Cryomancer, an Australian artist

Calvin Y, "Crazy Cal" Jefferson.

I won't even go into Agnes O'Day, leader of the Hydrophobic Puppies

Yes, because I'm subtle.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Music to Write to Within Temptation - Edge of the World Lyrics

With this one, it's mostly the refrain that carries this one for me.

For the record, there will be no radio show on Sunday. Why? Because I don't have a guest. And I don't think anyone cares about me monologuing.

Unless I magically get a guest this weekend, I'll be taking this Sunday off. Well, not really. I'll be spending it trying to fill a radio schedule.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Movie Night: The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934)

So, this one has Leslie Howard &  Merle Oberon.

Yes, a while ago, I did Pimpernel Smith, so I figured that I should at least do the original. Yes, I'm doing it backwards, but free films. Enjoy.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Making Things Difficult

Dear American Airlines,

When I originally planned a July 7th flight to Chattanooga for LibertyCon, I specifically scheduled your 10:30 am flight, funneling me and my party through Charlotte. Which I accepted. It would put me there at 3:30 pm local time. 

Now I find that you have shunted that flight to 8:30am, meaning I have to drag everybody out of bed, kicking and screaming, cram them into a car at 6:00 am, in order to get them to an airport by 6;30, because this New York, planning for airport security to NOT screw us over is a bad, bad idea.

I would like to thank you, American Airlines, for making my life even more difficult than it had to be. 

Of course, I would also like your ignorant asses for not informing me of this at all. In fact, had I not booked through Priceline, I doubt that I would have been informed about this until 24 hours before the flight.

I would like to thank you again, American Airlines, for being consistent in the quality of service I have come to expect from you.

Next time, I'm taking the bus. In fact, if you're not careful, I may do that anyway. I bought flight insurance.


Declan Finn

With luck, you cannot tell that I'm sleep deprived by how I wrote the above.

However, you know that something must be off, because I didn't use a music blog, and I don't have a substantive premise for today's blog.

But hey, this seems to work for Sarah Hoyt.

Actually, there is a new bit of business that's new to me. And this involves some audience participation.

I have been informed that I've made TV appearances. I've even had my books at Borders (RIP) and on The Catholic Network.

I say that I've been informed, because this is the first time I've heard of any of this. At all. Ever.

Seriously, why does no one tell me about this stuff?

So ... from now on, if you see something, say something. No, really. I have no awareness of things like this. As far as I know, the only PR I have is reviews, this blog, my Twitter account, Google+, and Facebook. That's it. Apparently, there's more than that.

Anyway, if you see my books on the shelf of a real bookstore, or in some place I didn't personally put it, please, let me know in the comments. It'll be nice to know.

Until then, here, have a meme about Harriet Tubman, gun-toting Republican who just replaced an American President on the $20 bill.

Terminator Tubman1 - Harriet Tubman says "Come with me If you want to live"

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Can We Stop?

Fun Fact: homosexuals are somewhere between 2% and 5% of the US population, and about 1.85% of the entire planet Earth. Previous estimates were brought to you by the vile slander of a Doctor Kinsey, who had enough of his own problems that biased his research methodology as well as his results.

At which point, you have to wonder what the numbers of genuine "transgender" people are.

And now, we've got .... this.

The stupid. It burns. It burns so badly. I mean, look at this, these students have become so open minded that their brains have fallen straight out of their heads. Honestly, is there anything here that they won't "accept?" Because "acceptance"?

Look, the biggest number I've seen on the Trans population is .3% of the population of the United States, and that's from a study that strikes me as seriously, seriously off. I don't know if it's biased, the stats are bad, or the metrics are rigged, but looking at the rest of the "stats" in that study, I want to take that with a pinch of salt and a shot of tequila.

And heck, researchers from the American Society for Suicide Prevention, and from the Williams Institute, did a study on suicide attempts in transgender and gender non-conforming adults. The data was drawn from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS). This survey was conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality.

Their conclusion?  That people who "transition" are TEN TIMES MORE LIKELY TO COMMIT SUICIDE THAN THE REST OF THE POPULATION.

So ... with these two facts, I have to ask some questions. Even assuming that there are that many Trans people in the entire country, why should we pass laws like "gender neutral bathrooms"? Doesn't that inconvenience an entire population for less than a fraction?

And if those who transition are more likely to off themselves, why are we hearing about more "rights" for them, and not about more screening and therapy? Because, really, it sounds like either these people were not mentally fit to have this surgery in the first place, or they were not sufficiently prepared for life as a butterfly. Yes, butterfly. Because I'm tired of this terminology BS. Aren't those people pushing for all transients to transient, then aren't they basically trying to rush them into a procedure that will more often than not lead to them murdering themselves?

Frankly, here's my thing: if you were born with two sets of genitalia, and the wrong ones get cut, then that's a genuine problem. Not even up for discussion. But obviously, that's not even being CONSIDERED. It's "You can be whatever you want to be." Yeah, well, I want to be a bestselling author, and that's something I have to work for, not wish upon a star and get it. If I want to be Batman, or anyone or anything else, also not going to happen.

And now, we've got Doctor Strange having gender bending -- I mean, hell, we're bending space and time, why not something else while we're at it -- and it's generally being shoved in everyone's face. And why? No real reason that I could find. Because ... "Oh look, gay marriage, now what's next"? Honestly, I neither know, nor care, I would just like the screaming to stop. I want the stupid "LET'S SHOVE IT IN EVERYONE'S FACE" to stop.

How about we make a deal, world? If I get in your face, feel free to punch me in the face. And if you continue to get in mine, I will do the same to you? Is that fair? Is that accepting enough for you?

And why the good ***damn do I have to accept anyone or anything? Is my accepting of who and what you are so vitally important to you? Do you know me? Do you respect my opinion so much that it is vital to your continued well being? Am I such a person of importance and veneration, that if I don't approve of your every single action, that you will fold like a house of cards?

No, seriously, I'm curious, why should I care? I mean, hell, on the one hand, imagine that a butterfly is going to use a public restroom ... if this person looks like the proper sex for that bathroom, who's going to check? Unless said person has had really lousy surgery, who'll notice? Anyone wearing beard or a mustache hair while walking into a women's bathroom will probably have trouble. Though to be honest, if a guy dressed like a woman used a urinal right next to me, I probably wouldn't even notice, I live in New York.

I reiterate, why should I care? And frankly, why should my apathy upset anyone?  But the refrain is that I, and people like me, will be made to care. Guess what folks, when people ram pamphlets into my face about saving the wales or decreasing our nuclear arsenal, my first thought is that we should nuke the wales as soon as possible.

I am a really cranky human being who has to force himself to not going into full-on misanthropy. Do you really want to force me to give you that much attention? Because it will probably not end well. Trust me, there are people who have asked for my signatures on petitions who know better. Then again, they were asking for signatures against "attacking ISIS" while I was wearing a t-shirt that says "waterboarding instructor," so that's its own joke right there.

I must ask, does this "acceptance" and "tolerance" go both ways? Hi, I'm Catholic, I believe that the Pope can make infallible decisions, that babies shouldn't be aborted and that violent criminals should be fed to sharks (dead or alive), and that torturing terrorists is no big deal if they're following Inquisition guidelines, and tyrannicide is still approved by the Catholic church. You must accept that belief, right? I'm sorry, do you not accept that belief? Why don't you accept that belief? How dare you NOT accept that belief. You SHOULD!! You MUST! Because TOLERANCE!! And ACCEPTANCE!!! And HAVE I MADE MY POINT YET, OR MUST I STICK IT IN YOUR EYE?


Anyway, can we all move on to something else now? Let the washout, has been music stars like Ringo Star and Bruce Springsteen have their temper tantrums, as long as the rest of us are left alone? Can we agree on that? Please?

And, no, for the record, I am not having trans, gay, lesbian, or bi characters in any of my work unless there is a damn good reason for it. If you don't like that, I invite you to attempt anatomically impossible acts upon yourself.  Unless there's a surgery for that too.

Right now, I would just love it -- love it-- if we could have news stories and controversies about something relatively important. What's ISIS doing? Has Baghdad or Damascus fallen? Has Putin taken Georgia yet? And frankly, if this LGBTQMOUSE stuff is your bailiwick, here's an easy one: people are being slaughtered all over the world for being anything less than straight, and we're having arguments over bathrooms. Maybe you can find something important about that.

But seriously, can we just stop?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Submitting to Castalia, the Intro

As I've mentioned, went I have them both ready, I'm going to send Set to Kill and Sad Puppies Bite Back to Castalia House.

Their submissions page is interesting.
We are looking for writers who believe there is a fundamental distinction between good and evil. We are interested in writers who harken back to the Golden Age of SF and the Inklings. We are seeking writers who respect the past as much as they anticipate the future. We want to publish writers with souls, writers with chests, writers who possess a sense of the numinous and the ineffable. We hope to hear from authors who are just as interested in telling a fascinating story and entertaining the reader as they are in demonstrating literary pyrotechnics.
Oh yes, this looks awesome. I have found my people! Yay!

Now, what they require is a single document of

  • a one-page synopsis
  • a one-page author bio describing who the author is and what the author stands for rather than the author’s credentials
  • the completed manuscript.

Huh. The first one is standard, the third one is obligatory, the second one ... huh.

Okay, granted, doing a synopsis of Sad Puppies Bite Back is going to be a train wreck. SWATting here and there, some replies by the Puppy Kickers, counter attacks by the Puppies, ending in the arrest of The Stalker, then an interlude for A WorldCon Carol, and ending at WorldCon .... with the head of Castalia as the Supreme Evil Overlord trying to kill them all. Yeah, that'll go over well.

There's a reason I'm holding off on that until The Hugo nominations come out. After all, if SPBB is a nominee, that would be great.

As for my bio, that needs some work. Especially the way they want to do it. I should probably just sum up my entire worldview as "See the Baltimore Catechism and the Summa Theologica" and go from there.

Anyway, this is what it looks like thus far. Be amused.

As an ultramontane Catholic and as a realist, I believe in the Nicene creed and in Murphy's Law, usually in that order. My beliefs can be summed up by the Baltimore Catechism, the Summa Theologica, sprinkled likely with the Demotivators of Despair.Inc. As Thomist by training, I have no problem taking reductions to absurdity and making them a punchline. (See “Sad Puppies Bite Back” for prime examples).

Evil is real, and cannot be negotiated with, sated, or reasoned with. The Prince of this World may triumph, but said Prince can have it over my smoldering corpse. There are only two paths for evil. Either evil is redeemed, or evil is ended at the point of a sword. More often than not, the cliché that “a villain does not see a villain in the mirror” is merely an excuse to justify evil; it also presupposes that the villain believes in villainy, or heroes, or good, or evil, as moral equivalency and subjectivity are the first refuge of villains.  Though, every time I have a fully developed, three dimensional villain that lasts for any length of time, they are either killed off as soon as possible, or redeemed.

I write because fiction should support the truth. When researching Pope Pius XII as a graduate student in history, I was so angered by the lies told about “Hitler's Pope,” I proceeded to write an epic trilogy dedicated the truth around Pius XII. Making Dan Brown look like the pompous lying idiot that he is was an added bonus. 
Yes, I know, needs work.

Now, let's look at the odds for a second, shall we? None of these are science fiction or fantasy. Okay, maybe Sad Puppies Bite Back is a fantasy. It's just that deranged. And when you get to A WorldCon Carol, we are so far into la la land, we might as well be in Los Angeles.

But Set To Kill? Different kind of fantasy, and a different kind of deranged. I somehow suspect that it's the wrong kind of both. It's a murder mystery at a science fiction convention where the cops don't solve the mystery.

It's as much a fantasy as, well, Jessica Fletcher

Again, I suspect the wrong kind of fantasy.

There's a reason I'm already making alternate plans to get them self published.

What's that you ask? I'm not running them through the publisher of Honor At Stake? Nope. They've already got a series under contract from me, and they have enough problems. Backlog can be a bear and a half.

Anyway, Hugo nominations are announced on the 26th. So, I have a few days to get this all submission ready.

This is going to get so very, very strange.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Music Blog: Within Temptation - Stairway To The Skies

So, yes, I'm being lazy. There was no radio show. There was no blog yesterday. And today, I'm doing a music blog.

To which I answer .... yup.

Anyway, Marina Fontaine has her own point of view on the whole SFC problem from the other day. So you can check that out.

And it was almost like John C. Wright read my own thoughts on the gender bending in Doctor Strange and kept going with his variation (though make no mistake, I'm certain he rarely looks at this blog, so I don't mean I prompted him to more thoughts on the matter). And while I was briefly tempted to write my own blog bouncing off his post, I read his comments, where he continued to write about what I was thinking. So ... there's that. Enjoy.

For the record, Set to Kill is going through more readers. I'm holding off on sending it out until I get notice about anything from the Hugos. And I mean anything. I mean, Vox likes to boast about "3 / 5 Hugo nominations are likely Rabid Puppies," but still, dude, they were also Sad Puppy nominations ... so does means we can only work together to get anything done? I have no idea. But I'll be amused to find out.

We'll see.

Anyway, I'm thinking of running Set To Kill past Vox's Castalia House publisher, mainly because I would like more money, please, if I can manage it. And they seem to have a fairly long reach. And hey, if he does John C. Wright well, that means the publisher has got to be kick ass.

However, they only publish SFF works. My only hope there is that they'd take Set to Kill because it's Puppy related.

But again, we'll see.

And oh, look, Music.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Trans-Baiting, Disney Politics, and the Ancient One in Doctor Strange

This was a lengthy rant subtracted from my Doctor Strange teaser trailer review of yesterday. Because, take a look at that once again. Remember the Ancient One I mentioned? The really old Tibetan guy who trained Doctor Strange?

Who did they get to play this old wise man of Tibet?

Tilda Swinton, the nearest white female.

Gah! Space alien! Kill it, kill it!
For the love of God, what the Hell did they do to the Ancient One? Did they think that Mister Miagi was too cliche, so they turned the little old Chinese man with phenomenal cosmic power into a "gender ambiguous" bald Caucasian woman? I'm with John C. Wright on this, I am not amused.

Damn it, that thing with the Ancient One grates on me the more I think about it. Especially since the last time I saw Swinton play "gender ambiguous" was ... wait for it ... the film Constantine with Keanu Reeves, another major suck-fest that I'm sure she'd like to wipe off of her resume (I think I stopped 30 minutes into the film).

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, weren't we just dealing with the racist pricks bitching that the casting of Iron Fist, a blond-haired, blue-eyed character in the comics, was too white?

So, are we suffering from a sudden dearth of Chinese, or even Asian actors? Did I miss the sudden disappearance of Jackie Chan? Because an older Chan would have been amazing as the Ancient One.

And in a comment of Wright's regarding the politically correct, he notes
How do these Morlocks think? Putting a bald white woman into the place of the Ancient One, a senior citizen Oriental man — how does that help minority representation or diversity or whatever their stupid buzzword of the day is today? So now we want fewer Tibetans, Chinese and Japanese in films? How does that work?
The answer, sir, is that it doesn't work, and that they think that going "gender neutral" will dodge bitching from people who, I'm certain, Disney expects to scream "cultural appropriation," or some other damn thing.

Again, quoting from Wright
What is sad is everything else in the teaser looks perfect, and comes straight from the comic — the selfish doctor, the car accident, him seeking a magical solution in which he does not believe in the mystic East — just as Stan Lee and Steve Ditko wrote it.
The rational by studio exec Kevin Feige?
In a time when Marvelites are calling out their favorite movie studio on the lack of female characters in these films, in comes Tilda---
Stop, Kevin. Stop right there. No one is calling for generic "female characters." We've been calling for a Black Widow film. Or a Captain Marvel film.

What we have not wanted is for you f**kers to play gender-bending with classic comic book characters. You tried to split the baby, and it didn't exactly work like how you wanted.

If you want to go and make a She Hulk or a Jessica Drew film, Kevin, be my guest, knock yourself out, I would love to see what you guys did with that.

I would have had you people do a Quake film, but you already done screwed that up on Agents of SHIELD. Nicely done, dumbass.

Remember how this SHOULD HAVE GONE?

How about a Hellcat film? Remember her? She was rewritten as the plucky best friend on Jessica Jones, and stole a whole swath of the series. I'd be happy with more of her.

How about an Elektra film that doesn't suck? I hear you already have an actress for that one.

Or Silver Sable! That was an awesome character. How about giving her a movie?

Or how about Night Nurse, the movie?

Or maybe .... or that ... or the other thing.... AND HAVE I MADE MY POINT YET?

Oh, and Mr. Feige, did you not notice that you DIDN'T GIVE ANYONE a female character? No. What you did was create a genderless character. Do you understand the difference between the two? Can you wrap your brain around the difference? Not only did you fail in what you say fans wanted, you lied about what you actually did, and hoped no one would notice.

Guess what, jackass? We noticed. Enjoy the slavering hordes who will come after you. Or are you expecting that the people you hear calling for "women" will be content with some trans-variant?

Hey, if you wanted more women in the cast, maybe instead of screwing up the Ancient One, you could have added Doctor Strange's partner in magic, Clea.

You know, the woman who has been part of his comics for over fifty years? Ruler of her own reality? According to Wikipedia, in terms of raw power, she's actually more powerful than Doctor Strange himself.

I'd say she'd be played by Rachel McAdams, but unless we're making Clea a nurse, that's not it. In fact, there's nothing in Clea's biography that indicates that she's a nurse. And according to the film's Wiki page, Rachel McAdam's is playing a nurse from Strange's past.  Now, I know the Marvel Cinematic Universe has changed some things -- eg: Jane Foster was never an astrophysicist, and where is Donald Blake, anyway? -- but if McAdams is going to play Clea, there would be no real point in having the Ancient One be gender bended into looking like a freaking space alien.

No, seriously, this is pissing me the hell off. The politically correct nimrods have bitched, whined, kicked and screamed about "minorities and women" in film, but they not only screw over this opportunity by giving it to the nearest white person, the character is completely and utterly neutered. Literally.

Sad thing is? Had they just given it to, oh, I don't know, Bai Ling and made the Ancient One a woman, plain and simple, I don't think I would have cared half as much. She would at least have been Asian. And, frankly, she could have been made to look older (she's 50 this year, and still in amazing shape). And, frankly, she already has some interesting, sharp features that would work as far as a character that can bend space and time and probably throw fireballs as a starter kit. And let's face it, not even traditional Asian cultural misogyny would be able to hold up against a woman who can KILL YOU WITH HER BRAIN.

But to make the character a white "neuter" and then blame the fans for it pisses me off no end, especially since this is an outright and outrageous lie. It is slander. It is libel. If Feige were pointing to a specific person, I'd ask if it were actionable.

When you have something that you're going to experiment with a classical character, don't make that experiment front and center of your trailer.

Kevin Feige took any enthusiasm that I might have had and stomped on it with his PC BS about the Ancient One. And you know what? Maybe I would have been less pissed off it they had at least gotten an Asian woman.... Or an Asian actor.... Or an older actor who could pretend to be ancient...

Or maybe they would have made a better impression on me had they NOT decided to make this choice that smacks of trans-pandering, at the height of the transgender political BS going the rounds.Maybe this would have gone over well had they even come out and admitted that they were doing it for political reasons, instead of blaming us, the fans, for this stupidity.

Maybe if they had handled this in any other way imaginable., I might not be so annoyed just thinking about it for longer than five seconds.

Let's make a deal, Kevin. See this amazingly awesome poster?

Give me the movie that this poster promises, and I will consider forgiving you your idiocy.


That is all.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Doctor Strange and the Suicide Squad

So, two trailers came out in the past few days.

#1: Suicide Squad

To start with, I'm really tired of the paranoid view of Superman. They've obviously decided to stuff this DCU filled with backstory -- as we have career criminals with history here -- but they didn't decide to just jump to the part where Superman can be trusted already and move along? I know the Injustice alternate universe where Superman is the villain is popular right now, but does it have to seep into everything? Also, if Superman had decided to take out the President, these guys wouldn't have been able to stop him. Thank you. Have a nice day.

I keep hearing that Joker is not the villain of the piece. He's not a big part of the movie. Funny, since he seems to get larger and larger roles in these trailers. Am I missing something? The best interpretation I've heard (assuming that the film people aren't straight out lying to us) is that Joker is just thriving in the chaos in the wake of the actual bad guys.

I still have serious problems with Will Smith as Deadshot. Consider for a moment that Floyd Lawton, Deadshot, became the best shooter on the planet after he had accidentally shot and killed his brother. Deadshot is both simultaneously proficient as hell, with deep suicidal tendencies, kept alive only by the fact that he has a daughter. Do they look like they have any intention at all of having Will Smith playing a role of any more depth than, well, Will Smith?

Once more, Harley Quinn is obviously and evidently stealing this entire trailer, and probably the movie. We've already seen that there will be a ton of backstory on her, including her origins. Hence the heavy Joker presence. In short, this should probably be "Harley and the Suicide Squad" more than anything else. Which makes me wonder why they bothered getting a big name for Deadshot rather than ... anyone else?

Think about it a moment, when The Magnificent Seven came out, most of the actors (at least 5/7) were Big Names, the equivalent of Will Smith today. They had careers, and were easily identifiable. These folks? Margot Robie was big in Wolf of Wall Street, there's Will Smith, and Jared Leto.  Other than that? Not a whole hell of a lot of people I can pick out of a lineup. Jai Courtney I know from three films. Viola Davis will probably not be a big part of the film, on par with the voice on the phone for Mission Impossible.

The rest? Eh.

And, also, has anyone else noticed that this is sooooo much lighter in tone than the first trailer? It's like someone decided "Hmmm, dark didn't work out well for us with Batman versus Superman, maybe we should lighten up the tone a little bit, and make it look more like Guardians of the Galaxy."

But I've noticed that they still haven't explained who the enemy is in this one. If it's not the Joker, then what the hell is going on, exactly?

This one has me mildly tempted to see it. Mildly.

#2: Doctor Strange

Okay, now listen here, Marvel, you get one more origin story.  This is it. I am really, really tired of them otherwise.

For those of you who are wondering what the hell is going on here, Doctor Steven Strange is a surgeon, and like all surgeons, an arrogant narcissistic bastard. When he has his hands ruined in an accident, he goes off to seek ways to repair his hands, going to far flung Tibet to find the mystical Ancient One, a wise old man who has mastered the mystic arts.  The Ancient One has decided that Doctor Strange will be his replacement, and trains him in the ways of sorcery. In so doing, the Ancient One snubs another student, Baron Mordo, who becomes Strange's enemy in order to get the power he feels is rightfully his.

If you didn't get any of that from the teaser, don't worry, neither did I, and I knew all of this in advance. If you're not a fan, you didn't understand it at all.

While I appreciate that they're trying to convey the full weight and power of the forces we're dealing with in the teaser, could they have done something other than use effects and imagery out of Inception? I hated that film (it was boring. I gave up on it.)

Right now, I'm not even entirely certain I like Cumberbatch's American accent, but it may grow on me.

And for the love of God, what the Hell did they do to the Ancient One? Did they think that Mister Miagi was too cliche, so they turned the little old Chinese man with phenomenal cosmic power into a "gender ambiguous" bald Caucasian woman? I'm with John C. Wright on this, I am not amused.

Other than that ... there's not a whole hell of a lot of stuff going on in this teaser. The imagery is okay, so they have the look down. And there's so very little here. There are before and after pictures of Doctor Strange, going from the top of the world to the bottom of the trash heap. There are special effects out of Inception, some halfway decent reflections of Lost Horizon, but aside from that, there's so little "there" there.

As Wright notes, the imagery fits. The look is generally good. But damn it, pretend there is a plot when you make a teaser. And when you have something that you're going to experiment with a classical character, don't make that experiment front and center of your trailer.

There is no action in the teaser. None. Look at it. It's all character, and Cumberbatch can probably pull it off without breathing hard.

Sigh ... maybe I'll calm down with the first full trailer. Or if Tilda Swinton is only ten minutes of the movie. Which would be nice, because I'm really, really bone-tired of origin stories. Please stop. Maybe then, if this "Ancient One" is in only a few minutes of the film, it'll be more tolerable.

If you're wondering why I'm so down on origin stories, tell me if you've heard this one:
Arrogant, unrepentant genius is also a pure schmuck. After he is injured in a way that alters his life forever, he goes out and seeks ways to fix himself, and in so doing, finds a power and an ability that makes him into a superhero.
Riddle me this, Batman, is that Iron Man or Doctor Strange? The answer is: Both. It's not the exact same story, but the character arcs as so similar, I'm not 100% certain I want to see it in full yet again. I'll happily take his origin in flashbacks. You know, like they do on Arrow. Or Daredevil. Or Jessica Jones.

In short, please make what we see in the teaser be the first 10-20 minutes of the film, and not the first 40-50.

But you know what? I'm not impressed. I'm underwhelmed. Wake me when we get a real trailer.

Anti-#SadPuppies as Dragon Slayers

The people who have really, really, really hated Puppies of every stripe, have decided that they are going to be Dragon slayers.

In short, it's Puppy Kickers versus the new Dragon Awards.

The cries from the Puppy Kickers? "Oh, DragonCon is just a regional award."

It's the largest SFF convention on the planet. It gets 60,000 members without even breathing hard. In fact, it's probably closer to 100,000, but they low ball their numbers so the fire marshall doesn't shut them down. They should probably move into the nearby convention center, because this is spiraling out of control.

But no, it's "a regional convention." People from all over the world attend. But how cute. They have cast members from Daredevil and Lord of the Rings. How novel. They have an artist alley bigger than the guest list of WorldCon. Such an adorable widdle convention. And of course, because it's so "regional," set in such a "backward state," it excludes all those darned "foreigners" and such.

Yes. Really. I read that as a complaint.

But, as was explained by Hitler the other day: someone might ask why DragonCon gets sixty thousand people every year, and WorldCon can barely bring in a paltry few thousand.

And, hey, how's this for regional: YOU CAN VOTE ONLINE. FROM ANYWHERE. FOR FREE. It's called the internet. Nice to have you join the 21st century. Even the "lousy foreigners" can vote.

Off the top of my head, the guests they've had at the con include: Larry Niven, George R. R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Robert Anton Wilson, Todd McFarlane, Robert Bloch, Adam West, Jim Steranko, Ray Harryhausen, Harlan Ellison, John Carpenter, Dave Stevens, Julie Schwartz, and the cast of Baen books. And also, in previous years, they've had Ray Bradbury, James Marsters, John Rhys Davies, Ray Park, Olivia, Warren Ellis, Dr. Demento, Peter Davison, Robert Jordan, Anne McCaffrey, George Takei, Mickey Rooney, Summer Glau, George Romero, Laurell K. Hamilton, Sean Astin, Mickey Dolenz, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Patrick Stewart, Adam Savage, Terry Gilliam, Malcolm McDowell, Lois McMaster Bujold, Stan Lee, Michael Whelan, Richard Garfield, Ralph Bakshi, Richard Garriott, Jefferson Starship, Christopher Lloyd, Ernest Borgnine, Boris Vallejo, Carrie Fisher, Amanda Tapping, Martin Landau, and Sylvester McCoy.

... But it's merely a regional convention. No one interesting goes there, mind you.

Hold on, I rolled my eyes so hard, I think they got stuck rolling back into my head. Ow.

Now let's see if we can follow along with the Puppy Kickers, shall we?

Step one, "You guys can participate too, you know."

We do.


Step three: "You know what, fine, you want an award, go make your own, leave ours alone."

Someone does


Do I have this right? Have I got the pattern down? Yeesh, I've dated two women who were unmedicated bipolar, and neither one of them were nearly this prone to outbursts and turning on a dime.

And, of course, the existence of the Dragon Awards is all the fault of the Puppies! Apparently, yes, the Puppies orchestrated this.  Funny, I don't recall us being that organized. Or in any way involved in the setup of DragonCon. The closest we have is John Ringo and his wife, and he's not actually a Puppy -- he doesn't care, or want a Hugo.  Does this make us the Illumipuppy? The Protocols of the Puppies of Zion? Are the Puppies run by the Vatican? The Jesuits? The Opus Dei? Are the Puppies the subject of the next Dan Brown novel?

I'd explain to them that Puppy panels were banned at DragonCon because they didn't want political arguments, they just wanted to have fun, but I'm not sure they understand terms like "apolitical" and "fun."

Maybe someone should explain that being beaten, kicked, libeled and slandered encourages people to go off and play with their own toys.

But, apparently "real fans" don't actually love science fiction. Only "Wrong fans" applaud another venue to promote SF. "Real fans" are only in love with the preservation of their tiny in-bred community. Have fun with that, fellas.

But, hey, if all the Puppy Kickers want to wage war on the Dragon, let them. Every time they decide to expand their enemies list by one, they quadruple the amount of detractors, and lose that many supporters.

So please Puppy Kickers, please denounce Dragon Con. Make enemies out of at least SIXTY THOUSAND people. And lose ALL the supporters you Puppies Kickers might have had have among them. Burn it down, and maybe, as the flames reach you, you'll realize that you locked yourself in the burning building.

Piss off a Puppy Kicker and sign up to vote in the Dragon Awards today. It's free.

.... Maybe vote for Honor at Stake at some point. Heh.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Strong Female Character Problems

You have probably already seen this Rogue One: A Star Wars Story trailer, but in case you missed it, here it is.

This inspired the question among some friends of mine: what the hell is it with these really freaking tiny women adopting the "strong female character" trope?

Now, if you've read my novels, you know that I have no problem with strong, kick ass women. I've defended against that stupidity from feminazis often enough. Look at my defense of women in military science fiction. Or my article on SFCs. Or when I beat up on the idiocy of Tor writer Liz Bourke.

On the other hand, there is a major problem with the Strong Female Character that's being used lately. Because, sorry, when I create a woman character who is ALSO a bad ass, I also make certain that these women are either a) not a size zero, or b) fighting in creative, indirect ways.

Why? A few reasons. To start with, even among well-skilled (and equally skilled) male fighters, the bigger fighter is probably going to win -- the odds are nearly certain. There's a good reason that Loki rarely, if ever, directly engages with Thor -- Thor has got at least fifty pounds of muscle on him. Depending on the comic, the Joker is not squaring off against Batman and exchanging punches most of the time, because Batman is twice Joker's weight.

Hell, if you have two pro-wrestlers, how many of them fight exactly the same? When you get out of different weight classes, the changes are extreme. But you're not going to have a 5'6" wrestler like Rey Mysterio take on the 6'11" Undertaker in a direct fight -- the smaller wrestler will be bouncing around the ring like a ping pong ball, and trying to catch him is a pain in the ass. Small people fight different than bigger people. Simple as that. If you're small, you go in, strike something critical, then get away from them as soon as possible. If you're big, you close with the opponent, and crush them.

So, why are women being treated so much differently than men in this area? Seriously, there are weight differences between men, but somehow, all women are allowed to fight exactly the same way as men in media, even though women are naturally 50-100 pounds lighter.

Granted, in some cases, this works -- when these well-trained kick ass females are going up against untrained hoodlums, there is no contest. That's superior skill versus brute strength. I'd take a dozen marines with handguns versus three dozen MS-13 members armed with SMGs any day of the week.

But, somehow, as I go through my collection of media, which grows larger with each passing day, the kick ass woman are getting smaller, and their opponents (many of whom are supposed to be of equal talent and ability) are getting bigger.

For example, look at Jaimie Alexander, who is basically playing Jason Bourne on Blindspot -- who can kick the ass of almost everyone she comes across. She is possibly better known as the Lady Sif in the Thor films.

Jaimie Alexander

Okay, yes, she's very pretty. But I didn't pick this photo for the underwear value. Look at her arms. Now look at her legs. Where's the muscle? She's 5'9", but she's also a toothpick. I am never happier than when she's using weaponry, because her shooting someone feels more believable than her bringing down a 6'3" thug with her bare hands.

Enter the other 5'9" female bad ass who has spent her days swinging a sword.

Yeah, I know Xena is a stereotype, but please look at these two actresses, and riddle me this, Batman, which one looks more believable in terms of being able to hold her own in general?

She's not a toothpick, she's not "a guy with breasts," and she had this bright light in her eyes right before she wiped the floor with everyone in a berserker rage, and she looked like she was having fun. (Yes, I'm ignoring some of the later seasons. I think I ditched the show somewhere around the time she met Lucifer ... or when she was crucified by Julius Cesar, after having only met King David ... yeah, that show hurt my brain after a while).

And even after all you do the compare and contrast in build, why are the "strong women fighters" straight-up brawlers? When you consider that not even all men fight like this, why are all women fighting like this? Are the stunt coordinators that stupid? (Unlikely). Or are the directors and writers? (That's where my money is).

Hell, the closest we have to a Lucy Lawless type these days is Adrianne Palicki. She, sadly, was wasted on a Wonder Woman pilot from David E. Kelly (seriously, who allowed the lawyer show guy to make Wonder Woman?), and is currently being wasted on Agents of SHIELD.  People who have better things to do with their lives might recognize her as Perkins from John Wick.

Adrianne Palicki

Note, from this photo, three things.

1) Her body type is not "Toothpick."

2) She is 5'11" in body armor.

3) She is holding an improvised weapon, because people who fight have weaponry.

Thank you. Was that so hard?

Frankly, I think I would have preferred her to being Wonder Woman in the films than Gal Gadot. Why? Because Wonder Woman was many things, but never a toothpick. Heck, I would have even taken Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter), who is 5'7", and not a size zero.

Does anyone remember Antje Traue from Man of Steel? I mean, look at this woman.

Oh wow, look! Muscles!

Height? 5'6"

Can we have her in some of these films? I know everyone in Star Wars is British, but still, can we make an effort here, people?

Seriously, Hollywood, what are you doing to get these toothpicks as actresses? It's very offputting. There's "thin" and then there's "good God, please eat a hamburger, I'm expecting you to break."

This is why, at the end of the day, the most believable kick ass woman in current  media is, well, Scarlet Johansson's Black Widow. Why? Because despite her being 5'3" (yes, she's that tiny), she's 1) not a toothpick and 2) she fights in so many varied and sundry methods and styles, she never takes someone on directly and / or bare handed. She's jumping on people and breaking necks, or dropping them with a gadget, or just shooting them.

Hell, remember Black Widow in Avengers, where she just stood square against Hawkeye and exchanged blows with him? Of course you don't, because it never happened. She jumped all over the place like a freaking rubber ball, and catch her if you can.

Don't get me wrong, there are places and points where not only should these smaller women be used, the can, and have, been used WELL.  Black Widow is brilliantly and intelligently executed. Remember Rey in The Force Awakens? She was tiny, short, and the managed to be victorious in her light saber duel because she fought smart -- she spent most of the fight strategically maneuvering to better positions, using her environment, and was fighting a partially trained Sith who had already been shot with the SciFi equivalent of a howitzer.

Frankly, the best points where getting these tiny, tiny women to perform great feats of strength is, really, science fiction or fantasy. Whether it's the Bionic Woman or Summer Glau as a Terminator, or Buffy the Vampire slayer, it's impressive because they're so small. Supergirl is fine, because, well, she's a freaking alien. But this isn't how normal people operate.  Hell, Buffy was supposed to be stronger than your average bear, and she still jumped around all over the place.

Why is Buffy the Vampire Slayer better executed than some of these more "serious" thrillers, like Blindspot?

(Hell, I'm actually surprised that Jaime Alexander isn't better built, considering she has to carry what looks like at least twenty pounds of plastic armor in the Thor films. I didn't expect her to be that tiny.)

For a moment, let's look at my books ... with normal characters, because I'm not counting the vampire as "normal." That's covered under my "science fiction and fantasy" exception.

(Though I should note, Amanda Colt is not the toothpick Jaimie Alexander. I think I would rather have Scarlet Johansson, if she were a little taller. Anyway...)

If you haven't read / don't recall The Pius Trilogy, I have three women who have gotten into fights.

Exhibit A) Wilhelmina Goldberg: Five-feet tall (really 4'11") Goldberg is a computer nerd. She used to work for the NSA, but went over to the Secret Service to audit security, since she's not tall enough to jump in front of Presidents. Her fights included: punching someone in the balls, and dropping low and cutting their Achilles tendons.

Exhibit B) Maureen McGrail: somewhere around 5'9 (because I don't recall), imagine Jaimie Alexander with about thirty pounds of muscle on her, and a broader frame. She's ridiculously over skilled. Even though she has more black belt levels than Chuck Norris, her fighting style boiled down to: attack joints, attack eyes, and deflecting, rather than blocking attacks.

Exhibit C) Manana Shushurin: 5'7" or so. Also insanely well-trained. Her primary form of fighting?Shooting people in the head. Yes, really. She may have gotten into three actual physical altercations in the entire trilogy, but most of the time, she just shot her enemies. Because bullets are your friend.

Seriously, at the end of the day, can we have a collection of characters and actresses who look, well, healthy? I'm tired of the cliche. It's getting problematic, and the execution is getting more and more lazy as things go on. At least in the Thor films, Alexander's Lady Sif is covered in body armor to bulk her up. But in general, the actresses seem to be getting smaller and shorter, and becoming more like empty-handed, bare-knuckle brawlers. And it really needs to stop.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Hitler Finds Out About the Dragon Awards

Brought to you by The Catholic Geeks general and Novel Ninja Matthew Bowman.

I would have spread the joy of that link around on the Catholic Geeks blog, but WordPress doesn't want me to embed videos anywhere. Damnit.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

6 Years. and 800 Blogs later, Still alive

When I started this blog five years ago, it was to drum up publicity for A Pius Man: A Holy Thriller, book one of what would become The Pius Trilogy

After a while, it was the only way to sell my books.

Then I went rogue from my agent, and did the entire Pius trilogy myself. Books two and three came out in 2014.

Now, six years since we have started, and 800 blog posts later, I guess we should be looking back and asking: what the hell are we still doing here?  Especially now that the Puppies have taken over the blog?

You'd think that this would be something obvious.  Look above, under the giant blog banner. You'd think I don't get much clearer than that.

But, when I posted one of my Sad Puppies Bite Back posts over in the comments of a blog called File 770, I was met with some ... interesting replies in the comments. Including derision, people who thought that SPBB was about threatening the anti-Puppies, and people who wondered what the site was even about.

And people wonder why I don't read comments on most websites. The term "cesspool of stupid" comes to mind. Who allows these people out in public? There should be a license to be on the internet some days.

Not that I'm cynical or anything.

But, it did occur to me that there would be some people confused about what this site's common thread was, considering we've veered so wildly from the original point of glorified marketing.

So, what's it all about?

It's about stories. How do you create them? How do you shape them?  How do you assemble dreams when the world is so busy trying to stomp on them and take them away from you? That's why I dissect political opinions of Superheroes, or examine bad comic book storylines, or try to predict where things are going.  That's why I look at faith in fiction, to see just how much of the writer goes into the story, and how much should go into the story.  This blog will also address the Catholic faith in particular because, well, I'm Catholic -- it's part of me, and who I am, and part of my stories, so it comes with the package.

But, as fiction is not just about how a story is made, but also about the process of selling it. That's why I look at women in fiction, or the politics of publishing, etc.

Also ... it's about marketing. I'm not dead yet and I'm still writing and publishing books. I have a publisher now, and I'm not afraid to use them.

(Honor At Stake, now #2 suggestion for best novel for Sad Puppies 4 -- subtle plug, subtle plug).

That's why I allowed my brain to be taken over by a parody universe that won't leave me alone. I mean, it's not like I can make money on Sad Puppies Bite Back yet, despite how popular it is.

Okay, I may not be able to make money on it at this point. May. Not.  Why not?  Because I use the real names of real people, like George RR Martin, and Scalzi, and the Haydens, David Gerrold, Moshe Feder, and additional psychos.

Yes, they're parody -- and boy, are these guys a parody -- but there are also lawyers, and you don't need to have a leg to stand on to file a lawsuit. And while I would probably win any lawsuit, and any countersuit, the legal fees would probably kill me before we got to the countersuit phase.

However, there might be a few ways in order to rub the serial numbers off of this. Only if I scrub really, really hard. If you've looked at Set to Kill, you probably have a good idea of what I can do for Sad Puppies Bite Back, if I work at it.

And, of course, now that Sad Puppies Bite back is up for two different Hugo awards? I should at least consider publishing it.

If it gets a Hugo Nomination? It's more than likely I will publish it. Why? Because it would be a Hugo nominated work, and I don't think anyone would want to draw attention to the fact that they are so thin-skinned, they can't take a joke.

But, one disaster at a time, folks. One disaster at a time.

However, even if I can't sell it, Sad Puppies Bite Back has brought hundreds of people to my blog, and has improved my sales a lot. It won't get me into the big money territory, but it's a lot more than I've been getting.

It's also gotten me some interesting friends along the way, which is an improvement for an introvert like me.

So, to the trolls who lurk under the bridge at File 770, that's what the blog is about.

As for all you newcomers who want a laugh, or want a book recommendation, or some music to listen to as you pen your destruction of an alien civilization, or comic book trivia, or just want to look into the brain of a deeply deranged writer, welcome, my friends, to The Pius Geek.

The party is just warming up.

Because of this mischegas that is my life, I've made some great friends, like Sarah Hoyt,  Ann Margaret Lewis, Karina Fabian, Daniella Bova, Daria Anne DiGiovanni, Margot St. Aubin, Dawn Witzke, and Matt Bowman, the Novel Ninja.

I've read some awesome books, like Amy Lynn, Ordinance 93, The Watson Chronicles, the Book of Helen, Stealing Jenny, and a whole slough of others. Slew? Slough? Oh, you get the idea.

And these people.  Wow.

Heck, due to Kia Heavey, I have a new model for Manana Shushurin, now that the previous model is far, far too respectable to be associated with the likes of me.  She was before, but I guess she finally figured that out. :)  Kia is an author, and I recommend her books. Heck, I have.

Ann and Karina have been responsible for dragging me into the Catholic Writer's Guild. And if they weren't (it's been so long, they may not have), they're a large chunk of the reason I've stayed.

There's the CLFA, and that's also a long story.

Margot was largely responsible for the gun shop visit of 2014, and accompanied me to the first Catholic Writers Guild conference that I was a guest at.

I've lost some good friends.  One of my first beta readers for A Pius Man died before it was published. The first artist for the site, with whom I was acquaintances since college, and I drifted apart.

This blog caught me one of my best friends, author Rebekah Hendershot, and we managed to burn that bridge, with each other still on it. Heck, we burned that bridge so thoroughly, I think I've completely edited her out of the history of the website, with perhaps one exception.

Yeah. When things go badly, they go badly.

This blog has gotten me some of the best things in my life, and has taken away a few.  It's been a bumpy ride, almost from day one.

Along the way, I've shared with you how I invest myself in my work, dissected my life to show you how it enters my writing, given you the story of everything that has been important in my life. You folks know when I'm single, when I'm hurting, and when I'm going to lose myself in video games.

I've shared my wonder at emerging technology, my irritation at politics and the comic book industry, my love of reading and even the music du jour.

I'd like to thank you all for putting up with me that long. I never thought I was that interesting.  This blog has lasted has still longer than some relationships I've had.

And now, I have an almost constant readership of over 4000 people a month, give or take a few hundred.

Now if only you would all buy The Pius Trilogy, Honor at Stake and Codename Winterborn....

Yes, I'm joking.  But you can't blame a guy for trying, can you? :)

Looking back on some of the strangeness, these are the all-time top blogs ever read on this site as of this minute.

1) Who would Captain America vote for? An election special:
This one is still on top. Odd though, huh?  Written back for the Presidential election of 2012, I was fed up with politics, and thought it much more amusing to speculate on what comic book characters would vote for who. I still like it better than most modern politics.  The hits on this one used to equal an entire month of viewership on the blog....

But then #2 happened.

2) Sad Puppies Bite Back.
The first journey down the rabbit hole. Yes. It was a one-shot that spiraled so far out of control, I really don't see the end of it. But people are still coming to the blog just to read them.  I'd publish these, but I'd really like to avoid being sued by David Gerrold or John Scalzi, or any of the other Puppy Kickers.

This is where it started, with Larry and Brad and Sarah.  And from what I've found? All of them I've SWATted found it funny.  Who knew?

3) Sex, DC Comics, and ... wtf?
Yup, it's still here. Right after the dawn of DC's New 52 Universes in 2011, the comics had gone into a sideways spiral of strange. I think this had something to do with sex being in the title.

4) This one is also still here.  Waaaay back in 2010, I ripped apart all of the Disasters to Marvel At: A Comic Discussion, with every stupid decision that Marvel comics had made for the previous 5 years.  Sadly, some of those decisions are still going strong.

5) Sad Puppies Bite Back (Part two)
This is where things start going really odd. And I probably should have seen it coming that things were going to really go sideways ... "sideways" as in "The Puppies have taken over my blog."  I think part one got suggestions of nominating this for a "Best related" award from the Hugos.

6) Cry Havoc! And Let Slip the Puppies of War!
This was after the Entertainment Weekly's libelous article about Sad Puppies, written and published without talking to anyone within Sad Puppies. At all. Yes, really.  Believe it or not, in retrospect, this was not what got me really into the Sad Puppies bandwagon. That was when someone decided to go after Brad Torgersen's wife. Then, then I had a meltdown, and decided someone needed a stern talking to.

7) Puppies Come to WorldCon  (SPBB III)
This was going to be The End. Period. Dot. Final. The last straw. The Puppies were going to come to the Hugos, and it would have to end there. Why? Because there would be nothing left for me to write until the Hugos came out. It was a perfect out, right? Right?

8) Snarky Theology 4: "Things that go boink in the night."
Yeah, this one is still here.  From the Easter of 2011, it's still on the top ten list. I can't get rid of the damn thing. I had tried to play nice and explain my faith, and tenets of Catholicism to the average person.  That ended in disaster and a flame war, and a few other things going wrong along the way.

But, once again, Sex scores well on the site.

This is still freaking strange for a blog all about Catholic thrillers.

9) Sad Puppies Bite Back XI: Puppies with Teeth

Yeah ... I'm not sure what part brings people to this chapter of SPBB than any of the others. Is it SWATting Jim Butcher or Peter Grant? Shadowdancer? Having a final reckoning with Andrew Marston?

Yeah. I have no idea.

10) And a surprising newcomer, a post I only published about three weeks ago: #SadPuppies ask -- who's rabid? It was a brief look at some of the psychosis among Puppy Kickers ... maybe Puppy Kickers adjacent ... and John C. Wright, Vox Day, and File 770 linked to it.

This is going to be an interesting year.