Archive for August, 2015

Tell me a Story

Being an Editor, I imagine, is a lot like being the Battalion Logistics officer, or a worker in a Network Operations Center… The only time your name comes up is when something goes horribly wrong. When things are perfect, you are invisible. And even for those people in the know, for those who get to look behind the curtain and see the complex dance that goes into NetOps, Logistics and Editing, one hundred “attaboys” will be wiped out by one “Aw, shit”.

That is why I want to take this time to personally thank Toni Weisskopf for what she has done, both as an Editor, and as the head of Baen Books. When I do an inventory of books in my possession (sorry, former Logistics officer), both physical and e-copy, I see a lot of rocket ship logos. I see names like Weber, Drake, Correia, Williamson and Hoyt. And of course, “Oh, John Ringo, no!” Her handiwork is there, for anyone to see, if they know what to look for.

On the various pages and blogs that I visit, many revolve around writers and writing. I don’t do write myself, but just as someone who loves food likes to sometimes see what goes on in the kitchen, as a lover (if not a TruFan) of Science Fiction and Fantasy, I do like to see the stuff behind the curtain. As a result, I see many authors at various levels in the publishing world talking shop back and forth, discussing the mechanics of publishing, the challenges of getting stories out of the head and onto the paper, what it’s like to see cover art that is either perfect or not quite what they meant, and of course, working with an editor. Remember, these authors are everything from NYT Bestselling authors, to midlisters, to self-publishers, to those folks struggling to get that first story out of their head… All of them respect Toni. All of them.

From my own experience, Toni is also the one who took the time to write to a fan temporarily in Kuwait, about how to get a Baen care package. She would take the time outside of her busy work schedule, to drop an encouraging word on Facebook (to someone she has never actually met) to keep after that never-sufficiently-damned P90X fitness program.

I have written before about not wanting Gatekeepers. Before that ever occurred to me, Toni had embraced that philosophy. It can be summed up in one sentence…

Tell me a good, entertaining story.

So, thank you, Toni, for getting more good stories out there. Having read the books, seen the eARCs, and perused the slush pile, I know that there is a lot that goes into getting from that first rough manuscript to final, published copy. You have done your part in making sure that finished product is the high quality we, as readers, expect from Baen Publishing. As for me, I will do my part to make sure that you and your authors continue to win the coveted “George Washington” awards.


More Hugo Kerfluffle…

As some of you know, there has been a bit of an insurgency in the world of Science Fiction.  sumup

Basically, it comes down to this…

A few years ago, Best selling author Larry Correia noticed that the Hugo Awards, proclaimed as the premiere award in Science Fiction, were not actually going to the popular and best selling books of science fiction, but rather, were going to what he considered less fun, more literary message fiction. Even worse, it seemed that the whole process was being run by a fairly small group of people with an agenda. It seemed they wanted to make sure that the awards went to the “right” people, writing the “right” stories… When he pointed this out, he was roundly ridiculed, and told he was just jealous that he wasn’t being nominated. He replied that it seemed to him that the whole process was more about the politics or group membership of the author than the quality of the story, and that people like him, proudly and outspokenly conservative, were sabotaged from the start. They laughed at him, and he just said, “Watch…”

And thus, Sad Puppies was born.

All of this is to just prep you to go to Arts Mechanical, and see his take on the motivations of the puppies, here:

Why the Puppies Did It

You can see my take, written a couple months ago, here:

We’ve always been at war with Eastasia

And Here:

No More Gatekeepers

So I’ve been away. To get back into it, here is a review of Son of the Black Sword, Larry Correia


I have to admit, I approached this book with some concern. I have greatly enjoyed every book I’ve read by Larry Correia, which is all of them, but all of his books prior to Sonof the Black Sword take place in worlds very much like our own. Monster Hunter International is in our world, but with all of the legendary monsters we grew up fearing. The Grimnoir books are what our 1930s might have looked like, if people started gaining magical gifts in the 1800s. Even the Dead Six books, with Mike Kupari, are our world, if perhaps a small step into our future. All of these worlds are easily understood and relatable. The characters are very much like people we all know, with the same experiences and backgrounds to which we ourselves can relate. So the thought of Larry going into a completely new direction, a fantasy world that he has designed from the ground (or sea) up… Honestly, I was a bit concerned that it might (just maybe) be more than he can handle.

Wow. Was I wrong.

Son of the Black Sword introduces us to Ashok Vadal, Protector of the Law. In a world were all have their assigned place, and demons rise from the seas, the Protectors are given magic and authority to stop the depredations of the demons, and enforce the Law at any cost.

A single Protector could be a match for a riot, an uprising, or even a demon, but even among the Protectors, Ashok is powerful. He is unquestioning in his enforcement of Law and custom, devoted to the mission of the order, and would be considered among the most dangerous even when not bearing a powerful, magical sword.

But what would happen if the most dedicated servant of the Law found that his whole existence was prohibited by the very Law he upheld? What if his life and memories, and even his very dedication to the Law itself was nothing but a lie, a construct forced on him?

Trapped by his own unswerving dedication, Ashok is declared an outlaw and imprisoned, and the Order of the Inquisition forces a sentence on him that causes him to betray the very society that he had defended his whole life. As Ashok is forced to confront his black and white world, he is shocked to discover that not everything is black and white, and not everything within the sway of the Law is just. The consequences of which lead him to a path of rebellion, war and a return of the forbidden gods.

As I said, I was initially concerned about Larry Correia, famous and successful for writing urban fantasy and what he cheerfully refers to as “Pulp”, writing pure fantasy in a world of his own creation. But as I always seem to be after reading one of his books, I was incredibly satisfied with the finished product. He has built as complex and original a world as any in the fantasy market. In all honesty, probably a lot more original than most. He has populated it with believable characters placed into extraordinary circumstances. All of the characters are understandable and sympathetic, even the ones that you are not cheering along. He has written incredibly good action sequences and he’s done it without a single firearm present.

So after all is said and done, if you haven’t picked up on it so far, I highly recommend this book, not just to Correia fans, but to any fan of good fantasy. I couldn’t wait, so I bought the Advanced Reader Copy from the fine folks at (I swear, it’s like they deal in crack. I look over my bookshelf, both real and e-copy, and I see an awful lot of Baen logos…) and it’ll cost you $15.00. If you are more patient, and love the real books, the Hardcover version will be released 27 October and currently, they are asking 18.63 on Amazon. They are calling it an Epic new fantasy series, I cannot disagree.

~Shib out…