Some of the loot I brought home from the Spring Games Plus auction last year (click for bigger version)
Tomorrow is one of the highlights of my year — the Spring Auction at Games Plus in Mount Prospect, Illinois, one of the finest game stores in the Midwest, about an hour’s drive from my house.
I’ve written about the Spring and Fall 2012 auctions (in “Spring in Illinois brings… Auction Fever” and The Paris Fashion Week of Fantasy Games, respectively), and I’ve been looking forward to returning this year.
The Games Plus auctions are just about the friendliest I’ve ever attended. The store is run by a group of dedicated and professional gamers who know their stuff, and they keep the proceedings running with an experienced hand — and a quick wit. Even if I were unable to bid, I think I’d enjoy sitting in the audience, just for the entertainment value.
Of course, it’s a lot more fun to be able to bid.
As I mentioned in the previous articles, it’s important to have a budget for these things, and to conserve funds for those items you really want.
Ha, ha. A budget! Excuse me while I regain control of my writing limbs. A budget — that’s a good one.
Let me put it another way: It’s important to keep a running total of your purchases, and always to be aware of how much money you’ve spent. Why? All that constant arithmetic will distract you from non-stop bidding. Eventually you’ll crumble up the sheet and abandon it as futile, but for a while it will help you keep a lid on things.
Read More »
We’ve reported here on a handful of Kickstarter failures, including Erik Chevalier, whose Doom That Came To Atlantic City campaign raised an astounding $122,874 on a $35,000 goal, and who managed to spend virtually all the money without producing a single copy of the game. But I don’t think I’ve ever read an example as egregious as John Campbell’s Sad Pictures for Children.
Campbell is the author of the web comic Pictures for Sad Children. He self-published his first book, collecting the first 200 comics, in 2011 and launched a Kickstarter campaign in April 2012 to fund a second volume. He set a goal of $8,000 and raised over $51,000.
Unlike Chevalier, Campbell managed to print the books and began distributing them to backers, but he quickly became disillusioned with the level of effort and cost involved. As complaints from his backers mounted, an apparently furious Campbell posted a video showing him burning 127 copies of the book, one for every e-mail he received requesting an update.
In a rambling and nonsensical Update 32, Campbell vents his wrath at his backers, saying no more books will be mailed, that he’ll burn one copy of the book for every attempt to contact him, and asking for more money — this time with no promises attached.
I shipped about 75% of kickstarter rewards to backers. I will not be shipping any more. I will not be issuing any refunds. For every message I receive about this book through e-mail, social media or any other means, I will burn another book… If you would like a refund, please contact a fan of my work directly for your money. This is where the money would come from anyway. I am cutting out the middle man…
Read More »
I don’t know about you, but when I first bought my Kindle, I dreamed of having a vast portable library of great new fantasy books, patiently acquired through diligent bargain hunting. Also, I dreamed about Jennifer Lawrence in a Carmen Miranda banana hat, but that’s a different topic.
The Kindle turned out to be pretty great. Huge avalanche of great new digital books over the last few years — also great. But who has time to constantly hunt for the latest discounts?
John DeNardo at SF Signal, that’s who. John regularly keeps up-to-date on digital special offers at Amazon.com and reports on them in fabulous detail. But this morning, he outdid himself, posting a list of 300 Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Kindle eBook deals for $3.99 or less — including some of the most intriguing books we’ve covered in the last few months:
The Winds of Khalakovo by Bradley Beaulieu — $0.99
The Straits of Galahesh by Bradley Beaulieu — $0.99
Legends: Stories in Honor of David Gemmell edited by Ian Whates — $3.99
The Woodcutter by Kate Danley — $0.99
The Death of the Necromancer by Martha Wells — $2.99
Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone — $2.99
Necropolis by Michael Dempsey — $1.99
Clockwork Phoenix edited by Mike Allen — $3.99
The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty — $1.99
Stories, edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio — $3.79
Chrysanthe by Yves Meynard — $1.99
The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu — $3.79
And many, many others. See John’s detailed list of discount digital delights at SF Signal. And remember to thank him, next time you see him.
It’s been a rough twelve months for The Science Fiction Writers of America Bulletin.
Early last year, issue #200 drew complaints for some generally tasteless remarks on female editors from columnists Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg (and a cover that did nothing to allay concerns that SFWA was still presided over by an Old Guard unwelcoming to women). The problems compounded in later issues as Resnick and Malzberg mocked and trivialized those who raised the issue, and C.J. Henderson praised Barbie for maintaining “quiet dignity the way a woman should.” In June, editor Jean Rabe stepped down and the Bulletin went on hiatus.
Compounding the problem, the recent petition to protect the magazine from perceived censorship and the evils of political correctness put the spotlight back on the missing Bulletin. (And, naturally, in the midst of a fierce debate on whether sexism inside SFWA was a real issue, a member used the SFWA boards at SFF.Net to launch a sexist attack on ex-SWFA officer Mary Robinette Kowal.)
Now SFWA reports that the long-delayed issue 203 has gone to the printer. Guest-edited by Tansy Rayner Roberts, who was ably assisted by Production Editor Jaym Gates, this issue is described as “an outreach tool for conventions and other events.”
While Resnick and Malzberg are noticeably absent, the issue does contain interviews with Eileen Gunn, Adam Rakunas and 2013′s Norton winner E.C. Myers, and contributions from Sheila Finch, Richard Dansky, James Patrick Kelly, Cat Rambo, Ari Asercion, Michael Capobianco, Russell Davis, M.C.A. Hogarth, Nancy Holder, and Erin Underwood, and many others.
Read More »
Lynn Shepherd’s latest novel The Solitary House, set in the gas-lit world of London in 1850, features a pair of detectives – one of whom appears to be suffering from early stage Alzheimer’s – in the employ of a powerful financier with a dark past. It sounds fascinating, actually, exactly the kind of book I’d be interested in reading.
Of course, that was before she took a swipe at the world’s most popular fantasy writer in an ill-conceived and mean-spirited article last week at The Huffington Post, “If JK Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It.”
I didn’t much mind Rowling when she was Pottering about. I’ve never read a word (or seen a minute) so I can’t comment on whether the books were good, bad or indifferent. I did think it a shame that adults were reading them… But The Casual Vacancy changed all that… That book sucked the oxygen from the entire publishing and reading atmosphere… what can an ordinary author do, up against such a Golgomath?
And then there was the whole Cuckoo’s Calling saga… The book dominated crime lists, and crime reviews in newspapers, and crime sections in bookshops, making it even more difficult than it already was for other books — just as well-written, and just as well-received — to get a look in. Rowling has no need of either the shelf space or the column inches, but other writers desperately do.
Now Rowling’s legions of fans are venting their anger at Shepherd in a cascade of 1-star reviews at Amazon,com, which are quickly overwhelming legitimate reviews of the book. As of this morning, there are 59; here are just a few snippets from the more entertaining examples.
Read More »
Happy day! The Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) announced the nominees for the 2013 Nebula Awards today.
So many novels! Last year, there were only six nominated; this year there are eight. Yowsah. Does that mean there were 33% more awesome novels published this year? Probably. That’s the most logical explanation.
Remember to vote! These awards count on your input to pick the winner. Ha-ha — except they don’t, of course. Only active members of SFWA can vote. Which they do, when they’re not loudly denying there’s harassment of women writers or spending all their time actually harassing women writers. Let’s hope the spectacle of the awards puts all the recent ugliness behind us — at least until the inevitable next blow up.
This year’s nominees are:
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler (Marian Wood)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman (Morrow)
Fire with Fire, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
Hild, Nicola Griffith (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie (Orbit)
The Red: First Light, Linda Nagata (Mythic Island)
A Stranger in Olondria, Sofia Samatar (Small Beer)
The Golem and the Jinni, Helene Wecker (Harper)
Read More »
We dove into the politics of fantasy in January, with articles from M Harold Page (“Why Medieval Fantasy is not Inherently Conservative,”) and Derek Kunsken (“Is Fantasy Inherently not Political?”) — both of which cracked the Top Five for the month.
We didn’t steer clear of controversy on the rest of the chart, either. Nick Ozment dissected the latest Peter Jackson pic, with a little help from friends Frederic S. Durbin and Gabe Dybing, in “Inkjetlings Round eTable: Jackson’s Desolation of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”
Rounding out the Top Five for the month were our look at the economics of labeling the film 47 Ronin an early flop, and Joe Bonadonna’s detailed review of The Sacred Band by Janet Morris and Chris Morris.
The complete Top 50 Black Gate posts in January were:
- Why Medieval Fantasy is not Inherently Conservative
- Inkjetlings Round eTable: Jackson’s Desolation of The Hobbit
- Universal Labels 47 Ronin a Flop less than 24 hours After Release
- Heroic Fantasy with the Sharp Edge of Reality: A Review of The Sacred Band
- Is Fantasy Inherently not Political?
- Observations: The Fellowship of the Ring movie
- The Weapons of Fantasy
- Observations: The Two Towers movie
- You Can’t Go Home Again
- A History of Godzilla on Film, Part 3: Down and Out in Osaka
Read More »
I enjoyed the first season of NBC’s superhero drama Heroes – quite a bit, actually. It was smart and fun, and had a genuinely original take on the ensemble superhero idea. It didn’t hurt that it had a very talented and diverse cast, either, including Hayden Panettiere, Ali Larter, Masi Oka, George Takei, and Zachary Quinto as the sinister supervillian Sylar. Now, I haven’t seen Seasons 2 through 4. I understand the cast expanded a bit — adding Kristen Bell, Zeljko Ivanek, and Malcolm McDowell, among others — and, as usual, the show received a lot of fan criticism for losing its way. Fans. They love you, until they don’t.
Regardless, I was surprised and pleased to read on the CNN website this morning that NBC is bringing back Heroes next year:
NBC helped kickstart the superhero TV trend in 2006 with Heroes, an X-Men-ish action-drama about a group of people with superhuman powers. Now the network is bringing back the show for a 13-episode event series to air in 2015. Original series creator Tim Kring is on board to run the show. Titled Heroes Reborn, the project is billed as a stand-alone story; the characters have not yet been announced.
The announcement has already generated buzz and backlash in the fan press. NBC has also announced they will introduce the new characters and storylines in a digital series before the mini-series airs. Until then, enjoy the 20-second teaser promo that ran during Olympics coverage.
Mark Rigney’s “The Find,” part of his perennially popular Tales of Gemen series, hit the top of the fiction charts this month. “The Find” is actually Part II of the series, which began with “The Trade,” which Tangent Online called a “Marvelous tale. Can’t wait for the next part.”
Next on the list was E.E. Knight’s sword & sorcery epic “The Terror of the Vale,” the second in the Blue Pilgrim sequence, following “That of the Pit.” Third was Martha Wells’ complete novel, the Nebula nominee The Death of the Necromancer. Making its debut on the list was Sword Sisters by Tara Cardinal and Alex Bledsoe, the exciting new sword & sorcery novel from our friends at Rogue Blades Entertainment. It’s great to see RBE publishing novels again — and you can check it out right here.
Rounding out the Top Five was Joe Bonadonna’s fast-paced adventure “The Moonstones of Sor Lunarum.” Also making the list were exciting stories by Dave Gross, Mike Allen, Vaughn Heppner, Jamie McEwan, Aaron Bradford Starr, Janet Morris and Chris Morris, Jason E. Thummel, David C. Smith, Ryan Harvey, Michael Shea, Harry Connolly, John C. Hocking, and Alex Kreis.
If you haven’t sampled the adventure fantasy stories offered through our new Black Gate Online Fiction line, you’re missing out. All last year we presented an original short story or novella from the best writers in the industry every week, all completely free. Here are the Top Twenty most-read stories in January:
- “The Find,” Part II of The Tales of Gemen, by Mark Rigney
- “The Terror in the Vale,” by E.E. Knight
- The Death of the Necromancer, a complete novel by Martha Wells
- An excerpt from Sword Sisters, by Tara Cardinal and Alex Bledsoe
- “The Moonstones of Sor Lunarum,” by Joe Bonadonna
- An excerpt from Pathfinder Tales: King of Chaos, by Dave Gross
- An excerpt from The Black Fire Concerto, by Mike Allen
- “Draugr Stonemaker,” by Vaughn Heppner
- “Falling Castles,” by Jamie McEwan
- “The Sealord’s Successor,” by Aaron Bradford Starr
Read More »
Sean P. Fodera (source: MidAmerican Fan Photo Archive)
Macmillan Associate Director of Contracts Sean P. Fodera, who attacked Mary Robinette Kowal in a series of public posts at SFF.Net, and recently threatened to sue individuals linking to a critical Daily Dot article by Aja Romano, has consulted with his attorney and been absent from the Internet for several days. Now, as noted by the folks at Reddit, Fodera has posted “a full and lengthy apology, beautifully written by his lawyer.”
First, I’d like to be clear that any statements I have made (or make hereafter) on this matter have been (or will be) my own opinions, and do not represent the opinions of my employer. I should have included a disclaimer to this effect in my regular posts on sff.net…
I fully accept and acknowledge that my statements about Mary Robinette Kowal were extreme and unnecessary… I want to apologize to Mary for doing that. Mary, if you are reading this, I really am very sorry for my inconsiderate and insensitive response to the question, and my later posts…
With regard to the articles and other posts that my comments inspired, I have spoken at length to legal counsel, who feel that I may have legitimate cause to bring suit against The Daily Dot and/or Aja Romano for defamation. However, this would be a costly and very lengthy endeavor… My attorney has also updated me on the legal status of linking to the Daily Dot article. I had not kept up on the recent rulings in this area, and was therefore referencing outdated information in stating that I believed linkers are also liable in defamation cases. This is why it was important to consult counsel, so that I could have reputable and up-to-date information about my options in this situation.
Mary, always a class act, responded immediately on SFF.Net.
Thank you. That is a deeply handsome apology. I accept without reservation.
You can read the complete text of Fodera’s apology here and Mary’s response here.