Category: Uncategorized

Because You Can Never Have Too Much Cirsova

It’s that time of year again!  Time to subscribe to one of the best short fiction magazines on the market today.  Cirsova once again is offering digital subscriptions to the two issues slated for release in 2018.  At $10 each for the print copies, this is an incredible bargain for what you get.

More stories by the always reliable Adrian Cole and exciting newcomer Dominika Lein are slated for Issue #7, and the Editor even promises more Abraham Strongjohn!  His “At the Feet of Neptune’s Queen” was a highlight of the inaugural issue, so I’m excited to see what he has planned for us.

Why not swing by and back it right now, while it’s fresh in your mind?  You can get both issues in digital format for just a buck!  That’s what I did – but I also support the magazine by purchasing advertising for one of my fun and adventurous novels.

And don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter – I’m giving away a digital download code for a copy of the video game Cuphead in just two days!

 

Stop Supporting Your Enemies

Yesterday Brian Niemeier dropped an epic post about Fifth Columnists that is well worth taking the time to read.  Zeroing in on the most important bit:

Don’t GIVE money to people who hate you.

Don’t give MONEY to people who hate you.

Don’t give money to people who HATE you.

Even with all that said, Brian undersells this important concept.  It’s not just about the money.

Consider that the SJWs themselves provided a massive amount of support to Vox Day during the Alt*Hero crowdfunding campaign.  All of their outrage and sturm and drang served Vox’s interests by elevating the profile of his project.  Their constant attention – even negative attention – directed potential allies toward Arkhaven Press, and they only fell silent on the subject once the big funding bomb went off and it was too late to stop him.  Similarly, recent attacks by Mr. Diversity and Comics and Ethan van Sciber work to Vox’s advantage as they are exposing Alt*Hero to a new pool of potential customers.

In the fight for attention in today’s crowded entertainment market, any attention paid to the people who hate you works to their advantage.  The Last Jedi might have been the worst film you’ve ever seen, but to paraphrase Jack Sparrow, “Ah, but you did see it!”  Even if you didn’t see the thing, if you spend hours mocking the producers and stars and fans and various hangers-on, you are still providing oxygen to the dumpster fire.

Granted, mockery is a weapon against which the earnest and pinch-faced leftists are particularly vulnerable.  It’s an important tool, but that is a blade best wielded sparingly and with scalpel precision.  You only have so many hours in the day.  So after that first rush of dogpiling on the rabbit, pivot away, and use the rest of your time to help fan the flames of other, better, properties produced by those who do not hate you.

An example:  Daddy Warpig provided a tour de force demolition of The Last Jedi.  Rather than join in the Mouse Wars curb-stomping, I’ve turned my focus on a far better Star Wars than anything the House of Mouse could possibly produce.  The first in my series of detailed reviews of Nick Cole and Jason Anspach’s Galaxy’s Edge series went live this past week.  There will be more to follow.  At least five more by current count, and more if we are lucky.  Seriously, it’s so good I’ve been sucked into an epic book series for the first time in years, even after swearing them off for good.

Likewise, when it comes to enjoying the slow motion train wreck between Marvel and DC with all those lesser trains like IDW thrown in for good measure…it’s time to stop.  If you are a comics fan, turn the spotlight on alternatives.  Deny Marvel and DC the oxygen they need to survive by pointing fellow comic book fans away from the wreckage of the SJW convergence.  I’ll have a local kine comic review up in a few days, I’ll wear my Alt*Hero shirt with pride, and if the local shop ever gets in gear and orders a few Alterna Comics, you’ll hear about those, too.

This isn’t just about making a better marketplace or even making a better world for you and your children.  It’s also about making a better life for yourself.  Getting dragged down into mockery of incompetents might be cathartic given how many of those currently sit in seats of media power, but it’s also not a negative mindset and not terribly constructive.  Focus on the positive creators, and focus on creating better alternatives to the major media producers, and you’ll clear a lot of anger and bitterness from your own heart.  You’ll start to notice all of the wonderful aspects of life that surround you, and as you and your circle of friends talk more about the things you’ve discovered worth your time, you’ll start to find more and more great stories to read, and hear, and watch.

And what could be a better use of your time than that?

As for supporting your friends – I’ll be doing a little bit of that later today by rolling the bones of fate to determine who gets a download code for a copy of Cuphead.  If read this post too late to get in on the fun, don’t worry, everyone who signs up for my newsletter will receive a free e-novella, “Wyrm’s Bane”, as a thank you for being part of my audience.

Planetary Defense Awards – 2017 Ballot

January means that it’s time to start thinking about awards season.  And when it comes to sci-fi, the hot new award on the block is the Planetary Awards.

This year, I’m going to go with “The Last American” for the short category.  Schuyler Hernstrom’s poignant and rambunctious kitchen-sink adventure complete with astronauts, wild-haired barbarians, lizard men, and oh, so much more was another breathtaking read from my favorite modern era author.  It’s a standout, even among the excellent company it keeps in Issue #5 of Cirsova Magazine.

For long form, I’d like to nominate “The Corroding Empire” by Johan Kalsi, but that’s an edge case that might get dinged for being more of a collection of short stories set in the same milieu.  Another honorable mention goes to “The Heretics of St. Possenti“, which is a prequel to a sci-fi book, but doesn’t actually qualify as sci-fi itself.  So instead, we’ll play it safe and nominate Nick Cole and Jason Anspach’s “Legionnaire“.  I’m not usually a big fan of mil-sf, but the characters and writing were so engaging that the book sucked me in, drained me dry, and spit me back out.  Nobody does jaded old warriors clinging to last scraps of decency like Nick Cole does – he even clears the very high bar set by Glen Cook – so this ranks as the best SF book I read in 2017, and my nomination for the award.

Make sure you get your own votes in before February 14th!

Happy Swaggy New Year!

A thank you give away for my followers

Happy New Year, readers mine!

Take a gander over there on the right sidebar and you’ll see a place to enter your email to sign up for my newsletter. It’s a short and infrequent affair, but it’s the best place to keep up with what I’ve been writing and what’s coming down the publishing pike in 2018.

To celebrate big new things and the fresh face of 2018, and more importantly, to thank all of my subscribers for trusting me with the sacred duty of preserving their inbox from spam, I’d like to give everyone a copy of the breakout smash video game hit of last year, Cuphead.  That’s a little outside my marketing budget just yet, so instead I am going to give away one copy to a random subscriber on January 10th.

That means that, if you aren’t a subscriber, it’s not too late.  Sign up today and not only will you be registered for the giveaway, but I’ll send you a link that you can use to download one of my fantasy novellas, “Wyrm’s Bane”.  It’s the story of a girl, a city, and a dragon that needs a good killing.  You can’t lose, so register today.

And have a Happy New Year!

Fine print: The copy that will be given away is actually the download code suitable for use on your PC.  This is not a Steam code.

Magic: The Smattering

The CCG can die in a cold fire so far as I’m concerned.  I’ve never forgiven it for stealing the limelight of tabletop gaming away from RPGs in the early 1990s.  Which means that I’ve been following the Convergence of Magic: The Gathering with a morbidity similar to that which I feel watching Marvel Comics choke on their adherence to the Narrative.  If you are near to this sordid mess, allow Breitbart to fill you in on the details.  Here’s the story in a nutshell:

Jeremy Hambly has been reported to the Wizards of the Coast Stasi by its SJW informants, investigated and found guilty of doing something that hundreds, if not thousands of millions of us do on the internet every day: bantering, shitposting, fighting snark with snark, invoking Kek and Pepe the Frog…And, instead of shrugging its shoulders, and going “Meh. This is what people on the internet do”, Wizards of the Coast Stasi has decided to confiscate his property, destroy part of his livelihood, and snatch away the hobby he loves.

Nice.  I’ve already shed any desire to own WotC’s official D&D product lines thanks to the usual suspects wedging their mental-illnesses into the product line.  As a non-player of M:tG, you might think I’ve nothing to withhold from the CCG line, either.

Au contraire, mon frère!

My son loves the game.  My usual M:tG budget for under the tree is around forty to fifty bucks.  This year – zero.  The disaster at WotC has me irritated enough that I even made it a point to steer away from all Hasbro products this Christmas.  Instead of Toys R’ Us, I spent my money down at the local game/comic shop on 40k items or boardgames from independent companies that I don’t know hate me.

Side note:  They probably do hate me – all of tabletop gaming seems to be pandering to the tastes of the bully-nerds these days.  Can’t even buy Reaper figures any more since they told me they don’t want my money.  C’est la vie.  Alternative Armies, Khurasan, and Ral Partha Europe have everything I need for the foreseeable future with more on the way.  But at least these smaller companies, unlike WotC, don’t go out of their way to tell me to walk away from the counter and take my money with me.

Admittedly, my own small budget represents less than a rounding error for a company like Hasbro.  But there are an awful lot of me out there.  A few hundred bucks here, a few hundred there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.  And watch me laugh when the God Emperor fires up the anti-Monopoly machine and comes after Hasbro.  Lolbertarian Jon would have defended that company loud and proud.  Alt-Right Jon finds the thought of Hasbro being broken up grimly amusing.

It didn’t have to be this way, but Hasbro chose the NY cocktail party crowd over the beer and pretzel crowd.  So when the profits flag and the stock dips and the predatory investors come a calling, shed no tears for Hasbro.  They made this bed – they can choke on it.

 

True Detective – Purdy Gud [Non-Spoiler Review]

Heard a lot about HBO’s “True Detective” over the years, and over the past week finally had a chance to give it a whirl.  It’s a slow-burn detective story about two anti-heroic cops who stop a serial killer.

It’s…good?

McConaughey and Harrelson turn in the sort of excellent dramatic performance we’ve come to expect.  The central mystery has the sort of twists and turns elegantly laid out and revealed with perfect timing.  The bad guys are nasty, the crimes heinous, and the eight episode season includes one of the best shoot-out scenes I’ve ever seen.

The setting – Louisiana’s deep, deep swamps and bayous, are loving shown and play an integral role in the story that makes the setting almost a character in its own right.  This show wouldn’t work anywhere else in America.  The culture of coastal Lousiana and the labyrinthine swamps and islands and the characters that our two heroes(?) have to wade through make this a decidedly cajan story.  Transplanting this mystery to the Ozarks or NYC or, god forbid, LA, would require the removal and rewriting of so much atmosphere and background that the result would be an entirely different tale, and one not likely to evoke such gloomy ambiance.

Unfortunately, the show is really slow.  I mean, really, really slow.  The long, loving establishing shots of a nice car driving through past wide vistas of swamps backlit by massive chemical plants are the least of the issues.  Alone, those help to establish the dreamy, steamy side of Cajun country.  The problem arises when the show repeatedly lingers on the relationship drama and the long winded philosophizing of McConaughey’s character.  Good stuff in small doses, but two hands that are vastly overplayed in the show.  We get it, already, get to the catching of the bad guys!

My fast-forward finger got a serious workout while watching this show.  Which isn’t to say that it isn’t a good show, just that you should be ready to skip past the “HBO-y” scenes to get to the good stuff.

Spoilerific review coming on Friday.

 

13 Hours: More Like This, Please

Watching a film is a rare occurrence for me these days. Not just because finding a film that appeals to me is a rare occurrence, although that is a factor, but more because of my limited time. Which is not to say that I don’t enjoy movies, I just don’t watch them.  Instead, I fire them up as background noise while my hands are busy painting wargame figures or prepping the terrain for them to fight and die to protect.  Sometimes this allows me to take risks that I wouldn’t normally take.

Which led me to actually watching 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.  My expectations were pretty low – I figured it would be the same sort of generic film featuring flat characters and meaningless action that we saw in Act of Valor.  (That film where we learned being an actual Navy Seal doesn’t mean you could act wet if you fell out of a boat.)  Instead, something very, very different happened.  I put down my brush, put up the paint, and sat down to give the film my complete and undivided attention.

This film was great.  Easily one of the top five movies I’ve watched this year, and without question my favorite Michael Bay movie.

The characters are deeper than you find in most Michael Bay films.  They should be – these were real people after all – but the script and direction gave each character time to develop and motivations that made sense.  All of the characters.  Even the CIA station chief who represents the major foil for the main protagonists is allowed moments late in the film that provide context for what seem like stupid or obnoxious decisions he makes in the first act.  The ambassador, in his limited amount of screen time, is presented as an glad-hander at first, but not a two-dimensional idiot.  He’s just a little naive, no great crime, and he is given a quiet dignity when the attack begins, and a moment of reflection in the closing credits that leaves the viewer with a deep sense of regret at his death.  The blonde female diplomat swept up the action could well have been a vapid corporate drone or governmental bureaucrat, but is instead shown in a deeply sympathetic light.  She isn’t shown as selfish or naïve, but as a woman caught in the middle of competing interests the same as the titular six secret warriors.

Then there are the severely undermanned and unprepared security personnel at the embassy.  Tough operatives, they are initially painted as braggarts and tough guys who don’t understand they are completely out of their element.  It quickly becomes clear that they know their limitations, and much of their bravado is either a mask to hide their worry or a deliberate attempt to bluff their way through a situation they are ill-prepared for.  Similarly, the  nebbish local Libyan guide and interpreter pressed into service as a gunman might have been the comic relief, but his willingness to fight on when he could easily lose himself in the streets of Benghazi and in spite of his fears create a hero the equal of the ultra-warrior special forces.

For my money, the lesser troops steal the movie.  The six secret warriors have years of training and experience and all the best toys.  They’ve been through fights like this before.  They know what to expect and have developed the muscle memory and coping mechanisms to literally soldier on through figurative hell.  The embassy security detail, the interpreter, and even a few local soldiers who stay to help the Americans fight off wave after wave of attacks don’t have those luxuries and yet when given a chance to run, they stay to fight for redemption, for their friends, and for their country.

As if that isn’t enough, the film even takes a moment to mourn the senseless death of the faceless attackers.  This short moment of honoring the valor of men who fought and died against incredible odds in no way excuses their actions.  It’s just a brief touch of humanity to remind the viewer that real blood was spilled, real tears shed, and real lives lost and taken.  It is respectful and forgiving without being entirely sympathetic.

Unlike some of Michael Bay’s films, you can actually follow the action in this one.  Early scenes lay out the geography of the battle for the Benghazi ambassador’s residence and the nearby CIA station that comprise the major set pieces.  The lines of attack by the *ahem* protestors angry about a YouTube video *ahem* are painted in clear establishing shots repeated as needed to demonstrate who is where and make it easy to understand what’s about to happen and then to follow along as it actually happens.

As this film tells the story from the point of view of the American Six, all of the higher level politicking and excuse making and finger-pointing that cost a woman an election get short shrift.  Those are briefly touched upon, but only within the context of the immediate experience of the men who fought and died for that woman’s lies.  They don’t know what was going on any more than the average American, and Bay conveys that sense of uncertainty and betrayal without obvious or heavy-handed messaging.  Give the man credit, he understood such moments to be un-necessary.  The backstory casts a pall over the proceedings and lends them greater weight, but we all know what happened.  Bay let the viewers fill in the  gaps, and this only makes the tragic deaths that much more poignant.

The hashtag-resist crowd won’t like this cinematic reminder of their candidate’s failures, but everyone else will appreciate it for the touching and emotional experience of men who dedicated themselves to…well, they didn’t really know in the end, except that when their government abandoned them, they were there for each other.  And that’s a great message for everyone to remember.

Happy Thanksgiving

As part of my ongoing pushback against all things [Current Year], my kids will be receiving a healthy dose of factual history.  In addition to giving thanks for the blessings we enjoy and discussing how and to Whom we give thanks, my kids will receive a short explanation of how Thanksgiving is also a reminder of our American heritage and how blessed we are to be the descendants and inheritors of the pioneers who made America Great the First Time.  Yes, we’re going to talk about how hard it is to up stakes and rebuild your lives in a strange and foreign (and largely depopulated) land, and how it took a little luck, a lot of grit, and a whole lot of hard work to make it work.

We’re also going to try and track down a film about the Puritans.  Or at least one puritan.

Solomon Kane.  We’re going to try to watch Solomon Kane.

It’s a Robert E. Howard property, so my guess is that the film-makers took the name and botch the character, but it’s worth a shot.  Given that Conan was really the story of Kull, I’m hoping that Solomon Kane will be the story of Conan.

Staying In Touch

Scuttlebutt has it that old @Jack is up to his usual tricks these days.  The House Un-Twitter Activities Committee is hard at work preparing yet another purge list for their latest pogrom.  For a site dedicated to helping people communicate, they sure do love to make it harder to reach people.  As a well known associate of such crimethinkers as Vox Day, Mike Cernovich, the Gamergate crowd, and now the ComicsGate crowd – to say nothing of a crimethinker in his own right – it’s a safe bet I’ll be swept up in the night of the Long Mutes.

To that end, I’m adding an email list/newsletter to JonMollison.com.  There’s a form over there to the right of the words you’re reading now, or you can subscribe here:

Email

Don’t worry, this list will only be used a few times each year to make the big announcements about new releases, upcoming signings, and those rare occasions where I want to reach my select fans for information too time sensitive or too personal to warrant a blog post.  I’ll send out a free e-novella to anyone who signs up over the next week, so don’t wait too long or you’ll miss out on the fun.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me over the past year – next year is going to be even better than this one!

On Jeffro’s Departure

Jeffro Johnson blazed up through the game blogging scene in record time. Never one of the more prolific writers on gaming, his posts were nevertheless widely recognized as making up in for their lack of quantity with massive amounts of quality. Early on, his analytical gaze turned toward Car Wars, OSR scholarship, and gaming with kids. That was what initially drew me to him, but once he sat down at the bad kids table of sci-fi and fantasy, his fate was sealed. He could have been just another casualty of the War on Noticing, but instead of sitting down, shutting up, and obeying the orders of the gaming scenesters, he forged ahead with a very un-gamerlike survey of Appendix N, and the rest is history.

In doing so, he blazed a path for those of us lost in the woods to follow. After a decade of poking fun of the SJWs in gaming – to their faces – and repeated sanctions for violating one of the many taboos present in what passes for culture amongst the SJWs, he showed me that gaming existed outside of the rainbow haired fatty crowd. He showed me that fans of the Campbellian style of science fiction – and its predecessors – didn’t just exist, they had a strong enough presence in fandom to tilt the Hugo Awards away from the steady march of Progress(ivism). As a result, my steady output as a wargame blogger sequed into the vastly more lucrative and emotionally rewarding world of literary self-publishing.

If you’ve ever enjoyed any of my stories, or any of my columns here or at the Castalia House blog, you have Jeffro to thank for it. His influence in my own work should be plain to all but the most casual reader. (For the record, Alex over at Cirsova comes in a close second, with a veritable army of other writers tied for a distant third.)

So it is with some sadness that I learned of his decision to step down as the Editor of the CH blog. I can tell you that working with Jeffro is as much fun as reading his columns. He has an infectious enthusiasm for fantasy and sci-fi in all its forms and an unabashed love of Western culture. Together, those traits helped him inspire so many others to take up the fight to recapture the themes and styles that made sci-fi and fantasy tales such an important part of our culture, and his influence will continue to be felt long after he has hung up his editorship.

I know that his influence on me will remain. He has always been ready with advice when my own certitude wavered, and support when my own doubts cropped up. Even if he never writes another word, he has already set something big in motion that not even Jeffro himself could stop.   Even if the history books fail to recognize his influence – and many of those who would write such histories have already stuck his name down the memory hole for his crimethink – the fact of his influence will remain and linger for at least as long as my own works continue to hit the digital shelves over at Amazon.com.

On the bright side, his successor, Morgan Holmes, has been an excellent source of information about some relatively obscure topics in sf/f.  His long running series on forgotten sf/f artists has been fascinating, even for those of us who never paid much attention to art beyond Frazetta and a few of TSR’s stalwart painters.  Jeffro leaves the blog in good hands, and I continue to be excited to be a part of it.