Category Archives: Ranting

A cordial invitation

dragons

Hello droogs,

So this is a weird one to write, because it seems to be a sensitive issue for some folks, and lately, the map of the blogger/reader/author world is pocked with spaces marked “HERE BE DRAGONS”. I don’t really like telling people what not to do, and this post is kinda That. But I feel like something needs to be said, so excuse me while I pull on my ranty-panties and gird my loins and into the breach, like so much loin-girded ranty-panties-clad beef, leap.

SO

If you were to head over to eBay and type in the word “Illuminae”, you’ll find a bunch of Advanced Reader Copies for sale over there. This is probably true of almost every ARC that was up for grabs at BEA/Bookcon recently. It will be true again after ALA. It’s sad to say, but there is a certain breed of person who heads to these book fairs, takes the ARCs that publishers are giving away for free, and despite the fact that they’re clearly marked on their oh so shiny covers as NOT FOR SALE, then go off and sell them. Some people call these folks “entrepreneurs”. Some folks call them “thieves”. What you call them depends what side of the fence you’re sitting on. I do hereby cordially invite you to my side of the fence.

We have cake.

Nommy nommy ragecake.

Now Pretty Please with Sugar and Possibly a Scantily-clad Person of the Gender You Prefer on top understand – the idea that there’s a market for ARCs fills most authors with a big old terminal case of the warm fuzzies. We LOVE the thought that our new series is in demand. We LOVE that you guys are so excited about cracking the spine (nooooo, not the spinnnnnne) of our latest book that if you’re forced to wait until the release date you will simply OMGEXPLOOODE. I grew up in the second most isolated capital city in the world – good bands never came there, nothing interesting ever went on there, so I understand the frustration of never having the opportunity to go to these big book fairs or lay hands on an ARC through legitimate means. Authors really, truly, deeply appreciate it when people are excited about our books and talk about them on social media and feel that if they can’t read them right now, they will simply fucking dieeeeeeeee. Love. Love. Lurrrrve.

BUT

Supporting these ARC sellers and buying an Advanced Reader Copy of ILLUMINAE (or indeed, any other book) is a kinda dodgy thing to do. And when I say “kinda” I mean “scientifically proven”, and when I say “kinda dodgy”, I actually mean “more than a little shitty”.

Why?

5 simple reasons, because hey, who doesn’t like lists.

1. It shafts my publishers. Because my publishers spent money to make these ARCs. Indeed, my publishers spent an extraordinary amount of money producing what might very well be the most awesomest ARCs in the history of ARCage. And they do this to get pre-publication buzz about the book happening, by ensuring these ARCs get into the hands of booksellers, bloggers, reps, media people, librarians and other awesome folks. And while you could say “Hey Jay, I’m a blogger, if I buy an ARC and blog about how awesomesauce it is, isn’t that good for your publishers?” I could reply “Yes, absolutely. But the truth is, not every ARC that gets snaffled by these ARC sellers makes it into the hands of a blogger, and if they weren’t being snaffled by people who only intend to sell them, they COULD have gone to a blogger/rep/librarian who went home disappointed because all the copies at the bookfair were yoinked by ARC sellers before they got there”.

Hey that rhymes.

There’s also the principle of the thing. Like, NOT FOR SALE is printed right there on the cover, people. Presumably folks who buy ARCs can read, given they have, you know, words and stuff in them. It’s as if my publisher puts up a sign that says KEEP OFF THE GRASS, and not only do folks ignore it, they set up a lemonade stand on said grass and charge passers by 5 bits a gulp.

2. It shafts other bloggers. Because by buying from these ARC sellers, you perpetuate the existence of an ARC black market. If everyone simply refused to pay these ARC sellers money, the practice of selling ARCs would fizzle. But, because the market exists, people exist to serve it, taking those ARCs away from genuine bloggers, librarians and fans who otherwise would have got their grabbymitts on them. Furthermore, when publishers and authors see how the ARC system is consistently abused, they become reluctant to print ARCs in future. Suddenly, you see the rise of ARS (Advanced Reading Samples) instead of complete books. You see very limited ARC runs being produced because hey “people are only going to sell them on eBay”, which means ARCs are even harder for legitimate bloggers to get. You see publishers who simply refuse to print advanced copies at all. Worst of all, you see an increase in the ever-growing antagonism between content creators and consumers, because sitting back and watching someone pay exorbitant amounts for something that was supposed to be given away for free makes me and a lot of other author folks want to repeatedly stab someone in the eyes with blunted pencils.

3. It shafts bookstores. Because there is already a place where you can buy a copy of my new book if you can’t get your hands on an ARC, and that place is called a bookstore. Yes, you might have to wait a couple of extra months, but in doing so, you support a bookstore by making them money, which call me kooky, call me crazy, is a kinda awesome thing to be doing. Bookstores do wonderful things like employ people (who then go on to, you know, feed their families and stuff), and foster communities and recommend great titles to you based on your past purchases and give you a place to go and be and belong. And they are hurting. They’re hurting from eBook sales. They’re hurting from book piracy. They’re hurting from a shitty economy. And yes, they’re hurting from ARC sellers.

“But Jay, it’s only a couple of bucks, I only bought one ARC what’s the difference?” you say. And I reply “A couple of bucks adds up, because it’s not just you who is supporting the ARC black market. Talk to a small business owner about the difference even a couple of bucks can make on a bad day. And at the end of the story, who would you rather support – the person who employs other people (who then go on to, you know, feed their families and stuff) and fosters communities and recommends great titles to you based on your past purchases and gives you a place to go and be and belong, or the fucking shitjizzles who are hocking books they have no right to sell in the first place?”

4. You shaft yourself. Because almighty cthulhu, I love you people, but an incomplete, unpolished and error-laden copy of ILLUMINAE isn’t worth paying 70 American dollars for. Repeat: I love you people. But damn.

5. You shaft me. Because my publishers paid me (and Amie) money to acquire ILLUMINAE. They expect to make money when it gets published. And for every copy that gets paid for through channels where my publishers don’t see a cent, they make less money. And that means they’re less inclined to pay me (and Amie) money for our next series. And “Hey, boo fucking hoo Mr big time author, dry your eyes on all those fat checks you cash” you might say. To which I say “This gig is my livelihood. I pay my mortgage with this money. I feed my family. I keep my heat and lights on. And you’re already paying money supporting these ARC thieves anyway, so why is it a huge ask that you support the person(s) who actually, you know, wrote it, and the publishers who took a chance on it, instead of the arsepony who stole it and then sold it on fucking eBay?”

TLDR:

ARC sellers are doing the wrong thing. It says so right there on the cover of the ARC. Supporting them, you’re giving them your permission, your encouragement, and your hard-earned money.

They deserve NONE of these things.

Okay, ranty-panties off. Thank you to all the bloggers and librarians saying lovely things about ILLUMINAE so far. We’re very humbled and pleased you’re enjoying it. We love you guys. 🙂

Big scary hugs.


Why you should see JUPITER ASCENDING

jupe

Basically, because it’s bad.

And I mean terrible. I saw it last weekend, and it’s a clusterfuck of epic proportions. A film so charmless it makes the VHS footage from my 11th birthday party (spoilers: we had cake) look like a contender for Best Picture at the Oscars. I did an impromptu survey outside the cinema afterward, and 84% of attendees said they’d rather be kicked in the groin by a mad Irish woman than see the film again. I will go on record now: if you think JUPITER ASCENDING is a good film, you are demonstrably wrong.

But you should still go see it and here’s why:

ASCENDING cost 176 million spacebucks to make. That’s a greasy shit-ton of spacebucks. It pulled $18 million on it’s opening weekend; a kick to the lurve machine even by the Warner Brothers’ meager estimations. It’s being touted as the film that will send the Wachowski’s big budget career up in gouts of hellish green flame, and you know, there’s a drunken argument to be made for that. I thought CLOUD ATLAS was a work of unsung genius – say what you will about the movie’s treatment of race, it was still a masterfully executed piece of film, successfully balancing not only multiple themes, but multiple genres (scifi dystopia, post apocalypse action, spy thriller, slapstick comedy, period drama). But CA was based on the David Mitchell book, and it still bombed like the Enola Gay at the box office. Maybe the Wachowski’s don’t have any more good original ideas in them? Some people only have the one. Fair enough.

But here’s the thing – the failure of ASCENDING will not just be ringing alarm bells for any studio exec who wants to hire the Wachowskis for a big budget spectacle film again. It will ring alarm bells for any studio exec that wants to tackle an original science fiction script at all. It’s a brave studio that tries to make original sci fi these days to begin with. A squeaky peek at the list of top grossing sci-fi films shows a fairly obvious pattern to anyone with those eye-things in their skulls: the vast majority of these titles are sequels or based on existing IP. And some of these films seem to succeed in spite of being really shitty movies – the big budget, braindead spectacle of the TRANSFORMERS franchise, the STAR WARS prequels (“I find her . . . intoxicating . . . “), MAN OF STEEL, etc. It seems mainstream audiences are still willing to march like neckbearded zombies see a poorly reviewed, badly made shitpile with a familiar name than risk wetting their pantaloons on something they’ve never heard of.

This is the age of the reboot. STAR TREK. INDIANA JONES (fuck me, really?). GHOSTBUSTERS. ROBOCOP. MAD MAX. These are films I loved as a kid. And the thing is, studios bank on my bullshit sense of whiteboy nerd nostalgia. They know the average 40 something neckbeard with 2.5 sprogs loved Star Wars as a kid, so of course he’s going to drag those sprogs along if the studios vomit out another Star Wars film. The truth is, we need another Star Wars film like we need a fucking hole in our collective heads. The first one was made nearly forty years ago. There’s been more bad Star Wars films than good ones, and yet audiences keep flooding back like junkies. Full of  rose-colored remembrances of that first wonderful high, and indulging the doomed quest to feel that magic once more by doing the same thing over and over again.

Here is truth, people: that magic doesn’t lie in a fucking reboot. Or a re-hash. Or another goddman sequel. It lies in original film-makers like the Wachowskis. But this breed of filmaker? It’s a dying one. Young and promising directors who step into the sci-fi arena usually get snapped up by the studio system and put on regurgitation duty within one or two films. Any of you beautiful people see CHRONICLE? Sensational, right? A truly original take on the superhero genre. Cleverly shot. Directed exceptionally. What’s Josh Trank’s follow up? The FANTASTIC FOUR reboot. Niell Blomkamp explodes onto the scene with the brilliant rust-punk madness of DISTRICT 9. What’s he working on 5 years later? The fucking ALIEN reboot.

What happened to our sense of adventure? What happened to the mindset that gave us films like ALIEN? THE TERMINATOR? PLANET OF THE APES? TRON? And yes, even STAR WARS? Out of the box, genre-defining films that broke molds and expectations and linger in our collective consciousness decades after they were made? You think you’re going to feel the same sense of wonder watching yet another Indiana Jones film as you felt when you first saw RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARC? I have a bridge in Sydney I’d like to sell you. The dream is over, nerdkid. Open your eyes. Open your mind. There’s incredible, original stuff being written out there, and it’s within your power to see it get made. But here’s the thing. Studios won’t be looking for the new STAR WARS as long as audiences are satisfied with just another STAR WARS.

Seriously? Fuck STAR WARS, people. You deserve more.

We should demand the new. The bold. The brave. We should reward filmmakers who try to give us more than the same old rehashed, rebranded, nostalgia wankery. Even if they fail. And yes, they will fail. The Wachowskis just did. Walking into unknown territory means that will happen sometimes. That’s the risk you take. But unless that risk sees some kind of reward, the accountants of the Hollywood green machine will  give us a world where the new is feared around the boardroom table. Seen as too frightening. Not worth taking a chance on. Films like TRANSFORMERS 17: RISE OF THE PROFIT MARGIN will continue to get the big budgets. The big marketing. Great scripts with new ideas and unfamiliar names will never make it out of development hell. Promising new film-makers will get sucked into the regurgitation machine with the lure of big money, and never be seen again.

And our art, and our imagination, and this amazing nerdy culture we’ve built will suffer for it.

So please. Pretty please. With sugar on top.

Go see JUPITER ASCENDING.


Newsflash: the Firefly guys were villains

firefly-wall-cast1 copy

 

Update: I’m told there was Cracked vid posted late last year that covered this same topic. And here I was thinking I was being all original and shit. Tune in next week when write a 70,000 word thesis about how the rebels in Star Wars were the bad guys in Return of the Jedi only to find out Kevin Smith did that shit back in 1994.

Hello droogs.

So. This started as an idle tweet a few days back and devolved into a drunken conversation in which me and a buddy both proved we’ve spent waaaaaaaay too much time watching Firefly. And I’ll preface this waaaaaaay too long blog post by stressing that I lurrrrrrrve the Firefly series and Serenity movie. I love them in the pants. Were I unwed, I would take my Collector’s Edition Boxed Set in a manly fashion.

…wait, ew.

I genuinely believe Firefly is the best thing Mr Whedon has ever given us, up against some stiff competition. So I don’t want anyone thinking I’m a Whedon hater or this comes from a place of anything but love for the dude’s work. I’m just a nerd who likes to spitball about this stuff. And while, like many of you, I’ve got nothing for lurrrrve for Firefly and the crew of Serenity, I’ve got some bad news, droogs:

Mal Reynolds and the crew of Firefly were the fucking bad guys.

And I don’t mean in a Loveable Rogue archetype kind of way. I mean they were the straight-up villains. They’re the kind of people who, if you read about them in your holonews over your morning bowl of Jupiter Loops, you’d thump the table, complain bitterly to your lovebot about the slow collapse of civilization and demand to know WHAT THE FRACK your taxes were paying for.

. . .  sorry, wrong universe . . .

But I mean, really, THINK about it for a second. You’ve got a collection of ex-soldiers, fugitives, psychotics and ragtags now operating as a mercenary band, paying no attention to laws and regulations that govern civilized areas of space. They willingly do business with pimps, organized criminal cartels, corrupt bastards and full-tilt, pants-on-head-crazy sociopaths. And worst of all, with the exception of Simon and River, this is a life they CHOOSE. Mal, Zoe, Wash, Kaylee and Jayne are career criminals, who believe that the rules applying to everyone else in the universe simply don’t apply to them. People who freely lie, cheat, steal and murder their way across the galaxy in a desperate and misguided attempt to remain “free” from Alliance “control”. Because fuck you buddy, you can’t take the sky from me, and if you try, I swear me and my pretty floral bonnet will end you.

Now. The justification we’re given to excuse Mal & Co’s flagrant disregard for the laws of civilization are that the Alliance are “bad m’kay”. But what evidence are we really presented for this rationale?

Most Alliance people we meet in the series are just soldier boys doing their job. Space cops, basically. If they get given a galactic APB on some wanted fugitives, they don’t question the proofs of the case. There’s no galactic equivalent of the Serial podcast, through which the Alliance goons can sit around debating the merits of the evidence against Adnan . . . I mean River and Simon. They just do their damn job. Arrest the criminals, and trust the system to bring justice, because that’s the system their society built.

Now let’s talk about that system for a minute. From what we see of Alliance controlled space, it doesn’t seem all too PUREST FUCKING EVIL™ to me. They don’t have Universal Kitten Drowning Day or insist everyone listen to Top 40 radio. In fact, Alliance space seems pretty awesome. First off, it’s a democracy, as evidenced by the existence of a Parliament. People actually get a say in who governs them, as opposed to the outer rim. They have public heath care (as evidenced by the Alliance troops escorting medical supplies in the Train Job) and freedom of religion (Book follows a judeo-christian theology whereas Inara’s religious activities in Serenity seem more in line with theologies like Buddhism). They have a police force that protects and serves on a galactic scale. An administration large and efficient enough to successfully govern dozens of civilized worlds (ponder the size and complexity of a government that manages a single planet for a second, let alone dozens) and an economy that’s prosperous enough that even a wandering space prostitute can make a decent living.

Compare this to what we see of uncontrolled space. We have the areas controlled by Niska – a mass-murdering psychopath with a fondness for electrocuting people’s groins. We have Patience – a double-dealing warlord who “got herself elected mayor” and rules by the law of the gun. We have Ranse Burgess, who owns the local authorities and brutalizes a brothel full of space hookers with his laser pistol and rather unconvincing landspeeder . Time and time again on the fringe, we see examples of people with superior firepower or money terrorizing the members of the local populace. The areas where Alliance presence is thin or non-existent, ie, areas that by Mal’s rationale are “free”, are lawless wastelands governed at the point of a laser or car-battery connected to your joy factory. But oh wowwwww, they have ponies so I guess they’re the liberated ones.

Example – compare and contrast the way sex workers are treated in Alliance and non-Alliance space. In Alliance space, prostitution is legalized, regulated and considered an honorable vocation. Inara is treated with respect, and her companionship a sign of prestige. In fringe space, sex workers are treated, omg spoilers, like absolute shite. Brutalized and murdered by anyone with some pew pew at their disposal.

Our only two demonstrable examples of “the Alliance is bad, m’kay” are the project that spawned River Tam, and the Miranda disaster. And yes, these are some pants-wettingly awful things, but hold your fucking space ponies, kids. Alliance space is vast. The number of people employed in the bureaucracy must be in the hundreds of thousands, if not in the millions. The Serenity movie goes to great lengths to explain how ultra tip-top secret squirrel both these projects were. Can the actions of an obviously covert, off-the-books cabal within the Alliance leadership be used as excuse to write off the entire system as some kind of evil totalitarian regime? In an administration of hundreds of thousands if not millions of people, can you honestly expect there not to be a few bastards? How do we know the average member of the Alliance parliament wouldn’t have condemned the actions at Miranda? How we possibly imagine they didn’t? I mean, our only clue is that the “Top Member of Parliament” who came to inspect River knew about the Miranda incident – for all we know, he/she could have been the toe-cutter who came in and kicked heads and imprisoned/disappeared all the bastards involved after the Miranda project went hell in a space handbasket? Do we honestly believe Parliament is sitting around twirling their mustaches, stroking hairless cats and pondering ways through which to make the universe a crappier place to live?

Now, we’re TOLD that the Alliance fought a bloody war for domination of the settled worlds. But who tells us this?  Mal and Zoe, who both fought against the Alliance and lost. Their point of view is naturally going to be biased. The actual reasons for the war are vague and hand-wavey, basically coming down to “they wanted to control us, and we fought back”. But Whedon has said repeatedly that the Firefly crew were inspired by tales of the American civil war – if we take that comparison to it’s logical conclusion, the Alliance are the Union states (since they, you know, WON). Meaning the Browncoats were the fucking Confederacy. And I’m sure if you asked the average Confederate soldier why he was fighting, he’d have regurgitated the exact same mouthful of monkey jizz that Mal spouts – that they were resisting an oppressor who wanted to subvert their way of life. Take away our freedom. “Control” us. Right?

Looking at the state of the ‘verse outside Alliance controlled space, exactly what kind of “freedom” were the Browncoats fighting for? The right to hitch people’s testicles up to car batteries and make mud for a living?

So. The Confed . . . sorry, the Browncoats lose the war. And what does Malcolm Reynolds do? Does he sit back and decide that, hey public healthcare and an organized police force that applies a universal system of law and order doing away with oppressive local warlords and ushering an age of stability and economic prosperity sounds like a fan-fucking-tastic idea? Hellllll naw. He stamps his feet, buys a spaceship and decides “Fuck the law. Fuck the Alliance. I want to do what I want, when I want, and if that means I have to become a criminal, it’s better than being oppressed by the man and his pinko public medical aid bollocks. Fucking socialists.”

(I’m joking about the socialist part. Mal is more of a fascist)

So. Let’s look at our (lovable, very lovable, I really do love these guys, folks, i’m not even kidding) crew:

Zoe. A loyal 2IC who attempts on repeated occasions to convince Mal what a colossal bleeding asshole he’s being, Zoe serves as a kind of She-Ra/Jiminy Cricket hybrid, demonstrating time and time again she has a conscience in between her bouts of ass-kickery. And yet, she continues to ride with Mal even after his stubbornness and inability to accept any kind of governance drives them repeatedly into danger, eventually resulting in the mass-slaughter of thousands of people and the death of her husband. Her loyalty to her Captain is admirable on the surface, but the longer you stare at it, the more it starts to appear like some bizarre form of space Stockholm syndrome.

Jayne. A mercenary who sold out and murdered his former employers after the offer of more money from Mal. A killer who repeatedly demonstrates a total lack of morality, who delights in the prospect of violence. The kind of man who who’d happily trade a human being for a gun, and names his firearms. Yeah sure, he’s got some good one-liners and a sweet hat, but the dude is a dead-set FUCKING SOCIOPATH.

Wash. Poor Wash. A loveable manchild, who remains largely shielded from the day to day brutality of his wife and her comrades’ wetwork inside his cockpit with his toy dinosaurs. Who, when he meekly voices his unease at the increasingly amoral actions of his captain, is told to just shut the up and fly the ship or get out and walk. Who’s loyalty to his wife, and thus, inadvertently, his captain, ultimately gets him playing the role of Special Guest Protein in a rather surprising shish kabob. D:

Kaylee. Another babe in the woods type, mostly insulated from the carnage inflicted by her captain and crew. A young woman of little education (her mechanical skills are self taught, she just has a “gift for it”) who gravitates to the trappings of actual civilization whenever exposed to them, eg, her wistful obsession with Inara’s tales of her clientele and visits to civilized worlds, and her infatuation with cultured society’s trappings in Shindig.

Shepherd Book. Another of Mal’s Jiminy Crickets, who’s repeated failed attempts at providing his Captain with moral guidance see him eventually throwing his hands in the air (wave em like you just don’t care) and leaving the crew for greener, less blood-soaked and dodgy-as-fuck pastures. Oh, and then he gets murdered for hanging with them anyway. You’ll note that Book, who more than anyone else on the crew has actually spent extended periods of time in Alliance space, doesn’t seem to be possessed of the same blistering hate-induced boner of rage Mal does when it comes to the Alliance or their “control”.

Inara. Another member of the crew who spends extended time in Alliance space and seems to have absolutely no problem with it. A cultured and learned woman, who really only seems to stay with the crew because of her fondness for Kaylee and her feelings for Mal. You’ll notice the two people on Serenity who actually demonstrate some degree of education and aren’t wanted fugitives, Book and Inara, freely intermingle with Alliance society and don’t seem to have any real dramas with the way Alliance space is run. And like Book, Inara eventually makes like a well-dressed space tree when Mal gets too frothy at the mouth.

River. She goes where Simon goes. She has no choice. I’ll note again however, that her treatment at the Alliance’s hands is one of our main pointers towards them being made of pure Puppy Kicking Evil™. But again, we only get River’s side of this story, and she’s an unreliable narrator at best. What if the project that spawned her was an attempt to control her powers, which, if manifested without some measure of training, could result in a Tetsuo-style meltdown and the deaths of millions of people? What, if left untrained, she’d be a danger to everyone around her? We don’t know, is my point. We only get her hand-wavey hysterics and Simon’s assurances that they cut out bits of her brain. And yes, she did go through a very un-fun time. It sucks. But it’s better than her blowing holes in the moon, is all I’m saying.

Simon. A nice guy who gave all he had to rescue his sister. But why? River’s hidden messages in her letters to home were his first clue all was not well with her supposed school. But what if River’s increasing psychosis was a result of her developing powers? What if the damage to her amygdala (which he discovers in Ariel) was actually a symptom of her mutation, rather than a result of the project she was enrolled in? We know sweet FA about what happened to River, or how, or why. So while Simon’s actions might be admirable from a certain POV, he may be operating on a baseline assumption that is inherently flawed. All that aside, Simon IS a character with a moral compass, and he also demonstrates an increasing level of discomfort with the actions of Mal and his crew, eventually, AGAIN, leading him to GTFOASAPKTHXBAI in Serenity.

Do you notice a pattern here? Virtually everyone in the series with an education and a demonstrated sense of right and wrong end up bailing on Mal because he’s an amoral prick.

Which brings us to

Captain Malcolm Reynolds. You want to talk about ruthless totalitarian authority? Forget the Alliance, my friends. Look no further than Mal. This is a guy who tolerates zero insubordination on his ship. Who, when questioned by his crew in Serenity – people he claims to love and/or care for – actually threatens to fucking shoot them if they get in his way. A man whose desperate and misguided attempts to resist Alliance “control” and live a life of “freedom” sees any kind of moral compass he might have possessed completely erode. In the Firefly pilot, he tells Simon that, if Kaylee dies after Simon operates on her, he and his sister will be murdered shortly thereafter. In a later scene, he actually tells Simon that Kaylee did indeed die, inducing a moment of slow-mo, trouser-browning panic in the boy just to get a fucking laugh (and hell yes, it was hilarious, but woe betide you if  you believe these are the actions of a balanced man).

He repeatedly does business with murderers, bastards, and psychopaths. And sure, sometimes when he’s presented with face-to-face irrefutable proof of the immorality of his actions (ie, in The Train Job when told the shipment he’s stealing was, oh holy shit call the police, actually needed by the people he was stealing it from) he sometimes gets squeamish. But he still deals all the time with characters like Niska knowing exactly who they are and what they do. He knows these people are ruthless, murderous pricks. But as long as he’s not directly confronted with evidence of their brutality right in his (devilishly handsome have i mentioned i love him) face, he’d rather take the blood-soaked money of a pimp thuglord like Badger than earn a legitimate living within the confines of a perfectly regular and orderly society.

And why? Basically? Because he’s a narcissistic psycho and a bad fucking loser (and I love him, I really really do).

Seriously. Malcolm Reynolds’ twelve-headed hydra wang of hate for the alliance doesn’t come from outrage over the dubious morality of a couple of black bag cabals within the government – he has no inkling of their abuses of River or the Miranda incident until long after he turns outlaw. It doesn’t come from some irrational hatred of public heathcare or a regulated sex industry. It comes from the innate, unswerving knowledge that he knows better than anyone else. And the thing is?

Mal knows dick all about the Alliance. We’re never given any evidence that he’s spent time living in controlled space. He was a Browncoat footsoldier. A front line grunt. If the future is any analogue of the present, the dudes who get sent out to the front line to fight? They’re the poor. The uneducated. The expendable. The people who fall for the propaganda machine’s spin because they’re never taught to question. In all likelihood, Mal was convinced of the wrongness of Alliance control in the exact same way that troops who participated in the invasion of Iraq were convinced of the wrongness of the Hussein regime – a carefully orchestrated campaign of complete and utter bullshit. And the poor lad bought it hook line and sinker, suffered a traumatic and life-changing front line slaughter experience, and limped away from the war convinced that the Alliance leadership – every last democratically elected one of them – are a pack of fucking Stalins.

Mal talks about “Earth That Was” being “used up”, prompting humanity’s exploration and colonization of their new systems. He offers no real scientific explanation. Gives no demonstration of any real understanding or education about the fall. Can you imagine a character like Inara summing up the cataclysmic events leading to the fall of the cradle of human civilization in such childish, sitting-around-the-fireside-swapping-yarns kind of language? Mal is a rube. A rube who got duped into believing an enemy existed where actually there was just a differing point of view. And he picks up his hate baggage and carries it with him from that point on. He names his ship – the very symbol of his freedom – after the murderous defeat his troops suffered during the war. He nearly spends every waking moment living inside a physical manifestation of that defeat. And over the course of his journey in the series, and particularly the Serenity movie, he becomes the very monster he mistakenly beheld in the Alliance.

He’s a dictator, brooking absolutely no dissent among his people. Exercising control and demanding absolute fealty even when questioned by his oldest and most trusted friends. His actions lead directly to the death of most of his closest allies, Shepherd Book, Wash and thousands upon thousands of Alliance soldiers in the skies above Mr Universe’s lab. And why? To expose the actions of a secret cabal of black baggers in the hopes of bringing down the Alliance? Can you imagine, for one brief second, the ramifications if the Alliance government actually collapsed after the Miranda revelation? The carnage that would result if a government responsible for safeguarding dozens of worlds and the lives of billions upon billions of people fell over? Given what we see of fringe space and the alternatives – rule by warlords like Burgess and Patience or psychopaths like Niska – can you imagine what might rise in the Alliance’s ashes?

But none of that matters, see. The possible fallout from the Miranda transmission isn’t even considered by Mal. He abandons his crew to die (only River’s moment of murderous lucidity after Simon is wounded saves them all from torturous deaths at the hands of the Reavers) in order to deliver his “truth” to the universe, without even realizing that in the process, he’s drenched his hands with more blood than the average Alliance bureaucrat could ever imagine let alone match, and, worse-case-scenario, doomed the universe to a period of bloody upheaval and murderous civil war.

But, you can’t take the sky from him, right?

Again. I love the show. It’s funny and smart and wonderful. I love the characters. They’re rich and layered and as fun as a game of zero gee nude volleyball to watch. I love me a good rogue, and I’m as enamored with the idea of sticking it to the man and living free and doing and saying whatever the hell I want as anyone. Mal and his crew are awesome protagonists. In their own heads, they might even be heroes. But to the average inhabitant of the Firefly universe?

STONE. COLD. VILLAINS.

Discuss.


Amazon, Hachette, and flaming bullshit

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Beautiful people, a moment of your time, if you will.

I won’t bang on at length about this (there are many who will), but there’s some important stuff you should be made aware of.

If you are a book lover, THIS SHIT AFFECTS YOU.

If you are a reader, THIS SHIT AFFECTS YOU.

I presume you’re one of these, because you’re on my blog. So please take 5 minutes of your day, and read on.

In short:

* There is a big French publisher called Hachette. They publish many amazing authors (not me, har har, ego joke) and many incredible books. If you look at your shelves, you’ll find books from Hachette or its imprints.

* Amazon.com is currently engaged in “business negotiations” with Hachette, and is seeking “more favourable terms” in their new contract. In short, Amazon want Hachette to lower their prices, so Amazon can buy Hachette books cheaper, and thus, make more money when they sell them to you (for the same price they were selling them beforeyou will not save a CENT from this).

* Hachette do not want to sell Amazon their books cheaper. They sell them plenty cheap already.

* As a result, Amazon have begun listing Hachette books as “unavailable” for order on Amazon.com. They have begun delaying the shipment of Hachette books, citing a 3-5 week delivery time (note, the books are IN Amazon’s warehouses, Amazon just aren’t shipping them).

So why should you give a shit?

Amazon sell a lot of books. They buy in bulk, and with less overheads, they can sell cheaper than brick and mortar stores. It’s natural you want to buy from them. You can do it with the click of a button, after all.

You work hard. You like books, but you’re not a fkn millionaire. If the option is between paying $20 at a store, or $15 at Amazon, you’ll likely buy from Amazon.

The result? Book stores go out of business. Borders has collapsed. Angus and Robertson are gone. More and more retail chains are folding under the constant financial pressure of competing with Amazon. The eventual result?

Amazon becomes the only store left in the market. In other words, it establishes a monopoly over the book retailing industry.

Monopolies are NEVER good for consumers. When Amazon is the only store left, they can charge what they want, and if you want a book, you’ll have to pay it. When Amazon is the only store left, they can demand whatever price they want from publishers, and publishers will have to pay it.

If you think Amazon will use its monopoly only for good, a glance at its current dealings with Hachette should give you a clue about how altruistic it is.

Amazon is a business. Aggressive and expanding and pursuing an agenda which will see it as the only power remaining in the book retailing industry. It does not give two shits about you. It is not out to save you money. It is not your friend. And when it’s able to, it WILL bend you over and grease you up, just like its bending Hachette over right now.

So what can you do?

The answer is simple. You let Amazon know its strongarm bullshit is unacceptable. Money is the only language these fuckers understand, so you talk in Money. You buy somewhere else. Order online at Barnes and Noble. Order online from an indie store. Better yet, go out to your local bookstore and buy from them. Yes, it might cost you a few bucks more. But it’s a hell of a lot less than you’ll eventually pay if Amazon becomes the last man standing.

I’m not a Hachette author (I’m published by MacMillan). I’m not some left-wing hipster twat decrying the notion of capitalism. I’m just a person who doesn’t like the idea of some big, bully corporation fucking me. I’m an author who doesn’t like the though of my author friends not be able to pay their mortgages or electricity bills because Amazon has listed their titles as “unavailable”. Moreover, it fucking infuriates me that Amazon aren’t even TRYING to hide this behavior. They have so little regard for publishers and so little fear of readers, they can literally swing their big old gorilla cock at anyone they feel like and fear NO REPRISALS WHATSOEVER.

In short, this is bullshit. But YOU HAVE THE POWER TO STOP IT.

If you’re a reader, if you’re a book lover, SHARE THIS POST. Spread the word. Vote with your conscience, and your wallet. Don’t be fooled into thinking the few bucks you save today by allowing these gorilla dicks to have their way will balance out the fortune you pay for your books tomorrow.

You are the people. You have the power. Open your eyes. Open your mouths. Close your fingers and make a fist.


To Pimp or not to pimp

99 problems, I have.

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Firstly let me acknowledge the obvious:

This blog is an ad for my books.

My twitter feed? An ad. FB page? Ad. All of this stuff, websites and guest posts and cover reveals – all of my spandex-clad online wordery exists for a singular purpose: To Sell My Books. This is not to say I don’t like blogging about sloth pee-pee and tweeting pictures of Night’s Watch members chatting with jawas, or best of all, engaging with readers and being exposed to cool ideas and all the wondrous things that comes of swimming in the sticky pedo-slick murk of the internet. Because I sincerely do. But I want you to buy my book, too. And everything I do online is, if not motivated by this notion, at least informed by this notion – the sexing of your sweet, sweet monies.

I blog and I tweet and generally faff about on the internet in the vague hope of being entertaining, in the even vaguer hope that people will assume that, because I can be entertaining online, I can entertain you with a novel too. It’s a strange kind of pseudo-math, but it’s a math that often works. (I was terrible at maths fyi – memories of the 17% I scored on a high school trigonometry test haunt me to this day)

I am not alone in this (the self-pimping thing, not the Fear of Trig). Every author out there on social media is out there first and foremost as a product. Persona as commodity. Do not be fooled. Anyone who tells you different is selling you something (probably books). Anyone who says “I tweet because it’s fun” may very well be telling you the truth – because tweeting SHOULD BE fun – but they’re not telling you the whole truth. The whole truth is “I tweet because it’s fun and I’m hoping you’ll buy my shit”.

I think most people are cool with this notion. Most people are aware of the concept of author-as-pimp. And as a form of advertising, blogging about what interests me or tweeting random thoughts about STAR TREK is a hell of a lot more genuine that traditional forms of advertising. I like the notion of persona as brand. I like the notion that as an author, I can reach new readers just by having some vaguely amusing bullshit about hobbit sex being RT’ed all over the world. And I like the notion that actions on the internet have consequences – that, if you, as an artist act like a complete douche online, you can and will lose sales because of it. Of course, this notion can lead to a kind of paralysis in artists –  the unwillingness to say or do anything save the sickly sweet, for fear of alienating Those Who Hold The Dollars. But that’s okay too. Vanilla is the most popular flavour of ice cream, after all (fuck vanilla, seriously).

BUT

I’ve been pondering a particular form of self-pimpage I see other authors doing lately. I see it more often than ever, and I’m wondering why I can’t come at it, and why I won’t participate in it.

I’m talking about the RTpimp.

For those who’re squinting at the screen with WTF slapped all over your Chevvy Chases, the RT pimp is when some lovely, awesome, super-cool person takes the time out of their day to tweet me with a compliment about the book – “I love STORMDANCER more than my children” or “holy shit, STORMDANCER made me pop, like seventeen boners, brah”, etc – and then I go and RETWEET that compliment into my feed. ie

“RT @ladyawesomesauce87 STORMDANCER is the greatest thing since jesus. U r my saviour, Jay, yea, glory unto thee and death to the non-believer” *

Now, I don’t do this. I did it once, just to see what it would feel like (it felt like puppy-molestation) and never again shall I descend into that dank pit of danky dankness. But why? Because this stuff happens ALL THE TIME (RTpimping, not puppy molestation)

Having thought about this for a while now, my reasons for refusing to engage in the RTpimp are as follows:

  1. It seems illogical to me.
    The only people who generally see my RTs are people who follow me on twitter (science!). To give enough of a shit about me to put up with my inane dribbling, you must a) have already read my book and thought it didn’t suck, or b) at least be planning to read it in the very near future. Given these two possibilities, it seems odd for me to RT tweets telling you how fantabulously awesome my warez are because a) you’ve already read it, and so are aware how fantabulously awesome I am (har har ego joke) or b) you’re pretty much there anyway, and the probability of you being swayed to read it any faster because of the opinion of a total stranger seems remote.
    I mean, if it’s the Queen of England I’m retweeting? (“RT @QueenLizzieII dis kirstoff shit wuz teh awesumsauce”**) Yeah maybe. But a (lovely, awesome, super-cool) person you’ve never met? How many fucks do you not give?
  2. It’s feels like actual prostitution.
    When a lovely, awesome, super-cool person takes the time to tweet me about how much they liked STORMDANCER (and if I might be serious for a moment, it really does make my day), they tweeted me. If they wanted the world to know how much they loved the book, they could have done any number of things – written a review, or done a blog post, made a Buruu plushie from the plundered remnants of their dead grandmother’s quilt, written “STORMDANCER RULEZ” on their stomach in large red lettering and streaked naked through a football game, etc. And they’re still free to do all this stuff (don’t get arrested, pls). But when they take the time to tweet me, that feels like a message for me. And me jacking that message and pushing it out there into the world in the hope that somebody computes “because this complete and total stranger enjoyed this product and/or service, I too will be stimulated by it” seems disingenuous to me. It feels like I’m selling their feels.
    I don’t mind selling myself – I’m cool with the notion of being up on this stage. But dragging you up here with me without permission? That seems a little . . . Creepy Uncle™ to me.
  3. It seems wanker-ish.
    The RTpimp seems more than slightly self-congratulatory to me. It seems like a “hey, look at me” move. And while, as previously discussed, everything content-producers do online generally equates to “hey, look at me” it seems less in the “walk into the party dressed nice and tell an amusing anecdote about a puppy-molester” ballpark and more in the “walk into the party naked, stand in the middle of the room and start doing ‘the helicopter’ with my dick” league (DO NOT google that turn of phrase, for the love of god).
    It goes beyond the point of no return for me.
    It goes beyond self-promoting and into self-pleasuring.

This is not to say I think authors who do engage in the Rtpimp are wankers – far from it. This is not science, and nobody knows how this whole book promo in the internet age thing works, and though there are many wrong paths to walk online, I’m not sure the RTpimp will land you in virtual purgatory. I personally just don’t get it. And this is not to say seeing an RTpimp is an auto unfollow for me (although if it happens too often, I will most assuredly release the hounds). If I can deal with people tweeting about their fucking cats, I can deal with the occasional helicopter weiner. It all comes down to a question of personal taste – how far you’re willing to go to make a buck. How much you’re willing to sell to make the rent. And I totally take on board that everyone is going to draw that line in the sand in a different place.

Now what I’m wondering is if I’m alone in this? Do folks have rules for this kind of thing? What are your limits? And most importantly, how would you feel if your tweet to author X got RT’ed by them out into the world? Used? Or pleased?

KINSLAYER COVER REVEAL NEXT WEEK.

YOU BET YOUR ASS I WANT YOU TO RT THAT SHIT.

*Dramatization. May not have happened.

**Dramatization. Most definitely did NOT happen.


Bubblegum and Superman

Holy SHIT that lipstick is the wrong color for you, bro.

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So Orson Scott Card, renowned science fiction author, Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy and Locus award winner and all-round homophobic douche has been hired by DC to pen a new Superman anthology. A few minutes trawling Google under the parameters “Orson Scott Card” and “Superman” will present you with a flurry of diatribes, threats by retailers not to carry the line and the general outrage over DC’s decision.

DC have released an official statement about the hire:

“As content creators we steadfastly support freedom of expression, however the personal views of individuals associated with DC Comics are just that — personal views — and not those of the company itself.”

My first reaction was to applaud that sentiment. But honestly, thinking about it a little harder, this strikes me as a wantonly stupid hire for DC to be making.

Orson Scott Card is a bigot. A weak man hiding behind the dogmatic views of an organisation that preaches love but thrives on hatred. Not only does he write openly about the damaging effects he believes gays have on society, but he spearheads a group who actively campaign against gay rights. For my part, I will not ever knowingly spend a cent to support any of his work. Should I ever have the misfortune of meeting him, I will happily tell him so to his face.

Caveat – of course, if the execs at DC lose their collective minds and allow Card to publish anti-gay sentiment, open or veiled (such as the genocidal warfare against the “buggers” in Ender’s Game, yes Orson, I see what you did there) in the pages of his Supes anthology, this should be a no-brainer argument  But the odds of the company allowing Card’s homophobic views to inform his writing on Superman are right up there with them releasing a Justice League movie before Fenrir the Wolf swallows the sun, so it starts to get a little more complicated.

Now, there are some who would say the artist should be held separate from the art, and I truly get that. In an ideal world, you should be able  to watch a Roman Polanski film and judge it on its own merits, and never mind all that unpleasantness about him raping a 13 year old girl and fleeing the United States before he could be formally sentenced. But really? Fuck that. Because in purchasing art, you support the artist who created it. You make them money. You give tacit approval of their actions. “Yeah, you sexually assaulted a child, Roman, but damn, you can shoot good dialogue.”

In this age of twitter and fb and blogs and whatever, the line between the creator and the created grows ever thinner. And for good or ill, we’ve reached a point where art is now not only judged by its own strengths and failings, but also by the strengths and failings of the people who created it. The social media circus exacerbates the issue, but complaining about it strikes a sour note with me. Social media for creators is, at its most fundamental, a form of advertisement, and we creators engage in it precisely because we want people to know who we are.

This isn’t a new phenomenon, either – as Quentin Tarantino famously said during a hilaaaaaarious interview for Django Unchained, and by extension, summed up every interview with a creator EVER: “This is a commercial for my movie”. But somewhere along the line, persona has become inextricably tied up in content. It’s like a fistful of bubblegum smooshed through your hair – it doesn’t come out, your only solution is to cut it away. And as terrifying as that idea is to me – the knowledge that every time I write a ranty blog post or tweet a dick joke it could cost me a sale or a follower or whatever – I accept it, because that same device allows me to spread news about my art across the entire world. The sword, it is double-edged. But it’s still a sword that can slay some mighty big dragons, and creators always have the option of saying nothing, or being utterly vanilla and saying nothing of worth for fear of offending.

So, while I understand the idealized view that the artist is not the art, and visa versa, I believe there SHOULD be consequences for people’s actions.

Caveat – there is a WORLD of difference between views espoused in an artist’s work and the views they espouse in their personal lives. The idea that, because an artist writes a homophobic or misogynistic or racist character, they themselves are homophobic or misogynistic or racist is EXTRAORDINARILY DANGEROUS. Art is not life. My characters are not me. I am talking PURELY about political/social views espoused by the artist in their own lives here, NOT in their art. If you cannot differentiate between art and life, between my character’s words/thoughts/feelings and my own, you are not dealing with the correct reality

Now, we live in a society where people are free to think and say what they please. And in a way, the idea that a person can’t even get a JOB because of their personal beliefs is straight up horror story. After all, “I won’t hire you because, despite your ability to do this job and not allow your personal beliefs to impact on your output in any way, you believe gay people are evil sinners” isn’t so far removed from “I won’t hire you because, despite your ability to do this job and not allow your personal beliefs to impact on your output in any way, you are gay” or “have different skin to me” or “<insert bullshit othering here> to me”. The difference of course is some of those stances actively pursue an agenda of hate, and the other could be seen as doing society a favor (which one of these is not like the other, come on, can you tell which one?) But what begins as a completely logical reaction (“I won’t buy this guy’s work, because he’s a hateful, small-minded fool”) very quickly descends into a very grey quagmire of “What ifs?” and “Yes, buts…”, and if you’re not careful, you end up looking like a hateful, small-minded fool too.

Card is a renowned writer. His ability can’t really be questioned. He can do the job DC have hired him to do. He’s a hateful little shit, no doubt, but does that mean he shouldn’t be able to get a gig? There’s always the argument that people can vote with their dollars – that if Card’s presence in the scene is offensive to you, if you wish to let him know you consider his views as “Not Okay”, do as I do and don’t buy his work. Hell, if you really feel like it, don’t buy any more DC books until they deep-six him, and let them know why. Your unwillingness to give DC money will speak to them at a volume far in excess of any outraged tweet/post/piece of interpretive dance you make.

As for the idea of retailers not stocking the work, not even allowing people to make up their own minds about it, well, that’s just singularly insulting. Thank you Mr Comic Book Store Guy, but this grey pulpy mass between my ears actually fucking works for itself sometimes.

But, when all that is said and done, I don’t agree with DC’s decision to hire Card. I think it’s fucking woeful, truth be told. And the reason is kinda simple.

Imagine for one moment, Card had openly expressed views that were ultra-racist. That he had claimed black people were a blight on society. That he was a member of an organization that actively pursued an agenda of hatred towards people of color, and campaigned to have their rights as citizens revoked. Or imagine for a moment, Card had openly expressed views that were ultra-misogynistic – that women were inferior to men, that the best thing for society would be for women to get back in the kitchen and shut their mouths, and actively pursued such a goal, making no bones about it to anyone. Imagine he’d spoken this way about any one of a hundred minorities, be the line drawn on race, creed, whatever. Do you believe for a second that DC would have hired him? Do you honestly believe they’d be saying “Yes, we know he’s openly professed a burning hatred of all Latinos, but his personal views aren’t ours”?

No. Fucking. Way.

But somehow, someway, it ain’t so bad for Card to be bashing on gay folk. Somehow, this brand of hatred and fear isn’t quite so bad as the hatred and fear people of color or women have to deal with. Somehow, hiring a man who openly espouses vitriolic hatred of homosexuals, who will no doubt use the money he makes from DC to further his agenda of bigotry and bullshit, is ok.

Well, no. It’s not. Not in my book, anyway. ALL bigotry is bullshit. All hatred is baggage. And while I 100% support the right for people to openly spout said bullshit, I also support the right for everyone else in the free world to call them on it, and punish them for it. Because this shit is Not Okay.

Superman is a flagship character of the DC line. Defender of Truth Justice and All That Jazz. And I don’t even give a shit about Supes – I’m a dyed in the wool Marvel boy. But goddamn, this strikes me as some grade-A fucked up shit, right here.

Dangerous times, people. At least, it seems that way to me. But, I grant that the issue is complicated. I get that. And I’d be genuinely interested to hear what you folks think.

Happy Valentines Day, btw. 🙂


DRMGTFO

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Some stonkingly awesome news broke yesterday that folks might have missed given the current volume of the book blogosphere, so I’m going to reiterate it here:

Tor and Tor UK have announced that ALL their ebook content will become DRM free over the next three months.

This is huge, people. A day that should truly be celebrated as a victory of common sense and vision over narrow-sighted finger-in-the-dyke thinking.

Why? Glad you asked.

To begin with – What’s DRM?

From Wikipedia: Digital rights management (DRM) is a class of access control technologies that are used by hardware manufacturers, publishers, copyright holders and individuals with the intent to limit the use of digital content and devices after sale.

In other words, it’s the shit on your CDs that stops you being able to play them on your PC. It’s the shit that means when you buy a new computer game like Skyrim, you have to download an 8 gig ‘patch’ before you can frackin’ play it, because the developers didn’t actually put the finished game on the DVDs you bought at the store. And it’s the shit that means if you were to go and buy an ebook from Amazon for your Kindle, you couldn’t read it on your Nook. Even though you BOUGHT THE BOOK and should be able to read it however the hells you want to.

DRM does not stop eBook piracy. This is simply a fallacy. A quick trawl of the dozens of massive online pirate coves will result in a hit on pretty much any titles you like, despite the publishers of those titles ‘protecting’ these e-titles with DRM. Meanwhile, the people who actually do the right thing and purchase their eBooks through legitimate sources get prison-sexed. By purchasing a title protected by DRM, these consumers become locked into a single e-reader format. If they decide to change formats at a later date, if the format becomes obsolete, if the retailer goes the way of Borders, those readers run the very real risk of being unable to read the words they already bought and paid for.

Furthermore, many pirates cite DRM as a ‘reason’ why they make DRM protected content available. “I’m doing a favor for the consumer,” goes the argument. “They just want to be able to use the content they already paid for. I’m not a bastard thief. I’m a service provider.”

Yes, this decision by Tor & Tor UK makes it easier for ebook piracy to occur. But the truth is, ebook piracy already occurs. If someone wants to steal your work badly enough, they will steal it. In many pirate/hacker/cracker circles, there’s a perverse kind of pride taken in cracking DRM, and derisive snorting when said DRM is cracked with relative ease. Breaking DRM is some people’s idea of fun. It doesn’t prevent theft, and it actually makes the idea of theft more attractive to some people. And honestly, publishers? The kind of DRM placed on e-books can be cracked by anyone with a yellow belt in google-fu. I can fucking do it, and I need to call my wife for help when I want to turn my Macbook on.

Many consumers consider DRM a fundamental violation of the spirit of their purchase. When I buy an album, I am not renting it. I am BUYING it. If I want to listen to it on my computer, I should be able to do so. If I want to copy the files into my iTunes so I don’t have to get off my lazy ass every time I want to listen to a particular song, I should be able to do that. And if I want to copy it from the CD that I bought and paid for onto my iphone, you’re goddamn right I should be able to do that too. I BOUGHT it. It’s MINE now. According to the law as it stands now, even backing up the content that you bought is illegal.

As a lad who grew up in the 80s, I went through the financial buggery of having to transfer my music collection from tape to CD. It’s outrageous to suggest people should have to do something like that again in an age of electronic media, simply because an e-reader format goes the way of the Sega Dreamcast.

Finally, this move allows publishers (publishers who follow Tor’s lead, that is) to get out from under the mighty thumb of That Which Is Amazon. In order for us to avoid a situation where Amazon has a complete monopoly over the eBook market (and a high-school economics student can tell you why monopolies are bad, m’kay, but Charlie Stross explains the intricacies of it here better than I ever could) publishers need to free their content from DRM and allow other vendors to retail it.

This is a visionary and dramatic step by Tom Doherty Associates (of which Tor and Tor UK are a part), a victory for consumers, and a red-letter day in the history of publishing. I for one am immensely proud that I’m soon-to-be published by the company that is taking this all important (and hopefully trend-setting) step into a world with just a tiiiiiiny bit less idiocy in it, and I urge everyone to show their support by buying as many Tor books as you can once the DRM wall comes down.

There’s this book called STORMDANCER coming out in September on Tor UK that I hear is pretty awesome….

OH COME ON, YOU DIDN’T THINK YOU’D GET AWAY WITHOUT A PLUG DID YOU?!?