A Tale of Two Covers: The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi, and The Corroding Empire by Johan Kalsi
io9 is reporting that Amazon temporarily blocked sales of The Corroding Empire, the short story collection from pseudonymous “Johan Kalsi” that Castalia House created to troll John Scalzi’s new Tor release The Collapsing Empire.
The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi was released from Tor Books Tuesday, almost a year after it was first announced. Earlier this month, Theodore Beale (aka Vox Day) revealed on his blog that The Corroding Empire from Johan Kalsi was available for pre-order… and would be released one day before Scalzi’s book. Amazon temporarily made the book unavailable to buy, but it looks to have been restored for the time being… There’s a reason Beale made a cover that looks exactly like Scalzi’s, and it’s not to ride his coattails. This is all part of Beale’s longstanding feud (or obsession) with Scalzi, who hasn’t shied away from criticizing him in the past.
I assumed the Castalia House release was a parody of Scalzi’s new book, but that doesn’t appear to be the case — it’s a straight up collection of SF stories, packaged to look virtually identical to The Collapsing Empire. I’m not sure of the exact point, but Theo is obsessively tracking the comparative sales of the two books on his blog.
Read the complete report at io9 here.
The cover of The Collapsing Empire is by Sparth. The artist for The Corroding Empire is uncredited.
Our previous articles in the Tale of Two Covers series include:
The Last Page by Anthony Huso
Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner
Ellen Kushner on Basilisk
Shadows and Tall Trees 7 edited by Michael Kelly
Alan Baxter’s Crow Shine and Sarah Remy’s The Bone Cave
Swords Against Darkness
Richard Adams’ Watership Down
Wow. I thought 4th grade behavior ended when people left 4th grade. Guess not.
I saw this before and it just blows my mind, how people that are intelligent enough to be successful (assuming Beale is successful) but act so stupid and immature.
Y’know, way back like 80s or what-not there was a big adult baby whine between Jerry Pournelle and other writers over their focus on science fiction. Jerry Pournelle started chucking out a series of Military Science Fiction titled “There will be war” and then some other house put out an anthology “There will be Peace”, etc.
And I thought it was pretty neat. You know, people having different ideas and trying to sell them, to express in the form of stories that people might read. And that people could read both…be amused by both hard hitting stories of heroic soldiers in robotic assisted hover tanks blasting apart the enemy and thoughtful calm people finding ways to have all creatures live in an indefinite (or pretty close) universe…
Versus people having a “Correct” form of “RightThink” and monopolized publishers extruding via a “Novel Writing Machine” appropriate content for the accepted GroupThink and writers, actors, public figures under constant scrutiny and should any commit WrongSpeak or ThoughtKrime they are to be excluded, tried in public, then executed at least professionally.
I’ve been following this and I think that Vox’s only crime is parody which if it is “Plagiarism” well Mad Magazine should be on Death Row like as of 70 years ago…
And I do think there is an insane “Left Wing” groupthink that is almost as crazy as the right wing version but is focused on one outrage after another to briefly focus on. And that they do more harm than good. IMO their crazy train is the reason we have the Legitimate APE in office now – Vox would probably block me for “Mocking the God-Emperor” there – that they went so extreme after any outrage (classic sports team logos, classic movies, expressions people used for centuries, claiming threats for mere criticism, calling for censorship of video games) that they bred a backlash and gave the “Legitimate Ape” far more credit than he deserved; He said stuff they shrieked about but since no one could “Fire” him he laughed it off and in all their screaming they turned him into some kind of public hero – versus “Richie Rich without any redeeming qualities” which he had been seen as before.
Vox spoke truth about the sheer flood of “One star trolls” – people who post reviews online, sometimes as a “Tinpot General” through dozens of emails – who do it to attack a work, to try to get stuff removed from the markets. Not because they picked up a book and hated it, but because they don’t like the ideology of the people writing them and want to deny them the ability to earn a living – for ThoughtCRIME…
He’s far from the only writer assaulted for it. Orson Scott Card also – because ‘gasp!’ due to his faith he DARES say he opposes Homosexuality and Gay Marriage… Like Mr Card never screamed for people go to out and kill or mutilate gays… He just said he disapproved of it and was against Gay marriage… OSC was the first science fiction writer I read, in a school trip to the library – “You like video games, Young Mister ….? Perhaps this will help you appreciate the written word…” and boy did it work!!! – I mean I had pure Heebie Jeebies when I found out he was a Mormon…eeeeeeeeeeeeeee… But in a way that’s a good thing about writing, about fiction – you can read and enjoy the works of someone you’d avoid in RL and maybe see them as human. Also there’s a good philosopher who’s modern who’s also assaulted by one star trolls because while Anarchist he’s got “Deviations from the norm not socially acceptable”…
That is the last thing I want in any market.
If I slipped on the steps of a publisher, had lawyers run out and offer me settlements and I won the lottery – Elephant Sh– fantasy of “if I was in charge of publishing” – no I would not make it so the ONLY choices were ultra macho fantasy, adventure and science fiction. Absolutely I’d bring them back; Gor would get its comic book, something Penthouse decided to drop – There would be “men’s adventure” magazines for a few years to try to pump some testosterone back into society – lots of modern writing but still classic appeal Science Fiction and Sword and Sorcery. Oh, yeah, if I could get the artists to cooperate I’d put out a real “heavy metal” adaptation series, especially if I could find a halfway decent Druuna look alike;-)
Hokay, que the trucks to remove the Pachyderm deposit…sorry…
But I’d not cancel nor block from the market every single thing not 100% agreeing with my ideals and opinions.
I’d allow the alternatives – unlike the purge done in the late 70s/early 80s where they cancelled lots of good stuff and excreted “Sword and Sorceress” and all that MZB stuff. I wouldn’t care if the writers were women, gay, pedos, non-whites… If they could write a good story I’d give them a chance as long as I thought it good – AND with today’s digital market I’d open the floodgates – ANYONE could publish on all major sites – with only a slight chip off of the price for using the site – like 5% – something no one would argue with – its only pixels on a computer server that costs 99% as much to keep active all day doing nothing as near 100% capacity. Just have “This product 100% sponsored by …publishing… as quality” and “This product sold through … in interest of free markets, no direct sponsorship.” notes on the sales page and inside the cover on books/pdf files.
And you know what – while I’d like to go “the old school, evolved for modern readers will beat out the new P.C. upchuck…” and only worry I’d be selling the new, PC stuff and the stuff I like ending up in a tinier niche – heh doubt that will happen. However, what I think is that a truly “Open” market would evolve into something else. That there would be a market for most everything and many writers could find a tiny niche but also there would be interesting trends no one, readers or writers, thought possible…
Maybe we’d see “R-ped by the Pteranodon; The Movie”…
Hehe – not likely….
But can’t we go “I won’t pull out a Gladius and force you to read GOR as long as you don’t scream to block it or White Guilt me to read Lovecraft Country…”?
How do the two books compare where it matters, in the quality of their content?
What’s it gonna take for extreme right or extreme left to realize, the majority of people are sick of them both.
By now they are only preaching to their own or arguing with their opposition. The rest of us just want to read good books without somebody trying to beat us over the head with their ideology.
Is there any form of extremism that is a good thing? Seems to me all policies or beliefs have a point where once its crossed, start to become as bad or worse than what it opposes.
Thanks guys, I come here for a break from the politics and news. Can you take those conversations outside please ?
@Tiberius: Those books have not much in common except the cover.
Im baffled by this unprofessional behavior. If I would be an author at Castalia , Id worry if my story would be used for cheap shots at another author (and its NOT a parody – like I said, the stories have nothing in common. The cover is not a parody, because it doesnt make fun of the other cover). And the author is not even credited.
It also signals “The reputation of my company is less important to me than a silly prank”. If Amazon really pull the cover because they think its too similiar to the Scalzi-one (*), VD in effect damaged his own company and the relationship with his main selling platform. Again: To play a silly prank.
I dont get the motivation behind it. I would never work with a publisher this unprofessional.
(*) Ive read accusations that Amazon pulled the book because of “political reasons” which is unlikely, because a) Amazon doesnt read all the books they sell nor care for the feuds of its authors and b) you can buy all right-wing books without problems. You can buy Mein Kampf for Gods sake – what would be differnt here?
Minor nitpick: the IO9 article was following a File770 article.
@Tiberius I’m reading the Scalzi at the moment, and it’s up to his usual standards.
It anyone would like to know a bit more about the contents of Corrosion, a brave soul has read it so you don’t have to:
I’m not touching most of your post, but in passing I’ll say I read Lovecraft Country because it sounded like a cool idea (and Lovecraft!) and it turned out to be a really good book.
Y’all on the extreme left end of the universe make me shake my head and laugh. You are so mired in your own echo chamber of politics and bereft of any humor that you deserve your self-induced misery. And because you do your one stop shopping for fake news directly from the Hive Mind center you never bother to listen to the other side’s viewpoint.
GreenGestalt is right (sorry, “correct”, I didn’t intend to trigger a raging hissy fit from 90% of the room for saying the word “right”): Just enjoy the fiction like they did before when Pournelle and whoever was going at it. These one star reviews do no one any good and if y’all really hate Vox Day as much as you do then you need to stop the one star reviews because you help him more than hurt him. It is obvious that the one star reviews are just drive by postings hoping to machine gun someone from buying a book. Do you realize that Sad and Rabid Puppies love those reviews and will actually make the book more popular? Not only do you serve to rally the troops to buy it but you generate attention to the book of your hated enemy. But don’t believe me—check out the book sales. Johan Kalsi’s book is beating the snot out of John Scalzi’s book despite the best efforts of some partisan SJWs working at Amazon. I mean—THAT IS PATHETIC! After all the hoopla, the anticipation, the advertiizing, the book bombs ,and the focus of every Anti Puppy blog on the left side of the galaxy this is the best that Scalzi could do on launch day? Really? That is the best you’ve got?
I’m not reading Scalzi’s book. I don’t like the man. It’s not as if he is a starving writer forced to scrape by. The last book I read of his was mediocre at best and his antics and fascist views have alienated me to the point that if I were given a choice of being forced to read one of his books or taking a bullet to my skull, I’d take the bullet. I am reading “Johan Kalzi’s” book for three reasons: 1. I could use a good laugh at Scalzi’s expense. And 2. I’m curious. 3. Considering how mean spirited, viscious, and shallow those on the irrational left side have been, I’d rather see their greatest enemy prosper. When I write the review it will be an earned 1,2,3,4,5 star.
Who exactly are you talking to, Ape? I didnt write any reviews on either book. I read the sample of Corroding and didnt like it (neither the story appealed to me nor the writing). It didnt see particular “right” to me, but maybe the right-wing part is not included in the sample?
What is so “conservative” aboput this book, that would anybody hate it? And would Amazon jank this book for “political reasons”?
What ideas are in this book that are not included in books by Wright or Niemeyer that havent been an issue with amazon?
P.S. I dont care for your fights, you Americans, and I certainly dont hate any fans for reading something I dont. Whyx should I?
peer—Corrosion was yanked for political reasons by partisan people who worked for Amazon. When Amazon found out they corrected this restored the book for sale. In between that time the left wing blogosphere went nuts in reporting that Vox Day and Castilia House were thwarted. I was talking to the irrational left and to the partisans that think that these SJW games they play are okay. In all my encounters with you peer you seem to be rational. I don’t see anything wrong with reading a sample of a book and deciding that it isn’t to your taste nor would I hold it against you. The irrational left do not think like that. It is like Thomas Parker said above, “I thought 4th grade behavior ended in the 4th grade.” No, sadly, John Scalzi starts a lot of this and Vox Day reacts and does it right back at him. Vox Day uses the same tactics used against him but what is comical is the cry of Scalzi’s corner, “He hit me back.”
“Corrosion was yanked for political reasons by partisan people who worked for Amazon”
Sorry, I have a hard time believing this. Simply because I know of instances where things are iced or yanked because they were too similiar, but not once because its “too conservative”. Why this book and not, say, the latest von Correira, Torgenson or Wright? Why a book by an anonymynous author?
The cover on the other hand was deliberatly made to be similiar to Scalzis, its not even a spoof, ist just something that looks very similiar. So in the absence of proof for the opposite, Ifind the explanation that people complained about the similiarity and amazon reacted much more convincing.
“Irrational left” – I think there are irrational people on both sides of the political spectrum. 😉
And as I say to my kids (who are not even in fourth grade): “I dont care who started it, I care who it ends!” And I think this shenanigangs have gone too long already and this stunt by VD was not exactly deescalating (I havent read a comment from Scalzi on this yet, but maybe I just wasnt paying attention).
On the other hand, I dont really care about this squabbels. Ill just read what I like…
@Wild Ape “But don’t believe me—check out the book sales. Johan Kalsi’s book is beating the snot out of John Scalzi’s book despite the best efforts of some partisan SJWs working at Amazon. I mean—THAT IS PATHETIC!”
A couple of mouse clicks reveals that you are lying.
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #246 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#4 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Space Opera
#5 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Military
#6 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Space Opera
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,718 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#14 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Galactic Empire
#18 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Galactic Empire
#40 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Military
Low hanging fruit, that.
peer–it sounds like you do care about the squabbles. I think for someone who is disinterested you are doing a poor job in showing it. The reason why Corrosion was temporarily yanked was because it was a parody on John Scalzi and the humor was too biting for the partisan left to resist. I also find it amusing that you are laying this at the feet of Vox Day when this very same stunt was done to Vox Day by Scalzi. Correia, Torgerson, and Wright were not yanked because they aren’t writing parodies. I also sympathize with you attempting to understand American politics but Vox Day is not a conservative. In fact, he would be insulted to be called such. Johan Kalsi is a pen name and a parody of John Scalzi name and biography. Scalzi is probably the biggest wimp in the western world and Johan Kalsi is supposedly a Finnish Marine. Scalzi has a penchant for taking popular universes (such as Red Shirts and Star Trek) and giving them his own spin. His book is supposedly based or inspired by Azimov’s Foundation. That is why the parody book cover quote “Kalzi rips off of Azimov better than John Scalzi rips off Heinlein” is so freakin’ hilarious. Also, you and I are different because we can have rational discussions, perhaps disagree and not harbor ill will towards the other (at least I don’t towards you and I may be projecting). The irrational left cannot have an adult conversation. As for the cover the artist who painted it said that Scalzi’s cover was lame and that he could do a better job. Now, it is all opinion and taste but I think Castillia House’s artist did a better job. In my opinion the Scalzi cover looks a bit bland and the other looks like a warship. Which one would I blast out of the sky if it were attacking me? I’d pick Kalzi’s, but that is just me. Opinions will vary and no one is right or wrong.
As for Amazon, and this is the most interesting part. Amazon reversed what the employees did and the partisan employee or employees yanked it not once but several times until a supervisor from Amazon stepped in and corrected it. The parody book STILL outsold Scalzi’s book. Hey, I’m not on the side that tells you what you should or should not read. Scalzi and his SJWs are. It matters who ends it? It is all past that. Whether or not you want to be dragged into a fight that is the reality of things. Everyone will be splashed by this.
@ Mary—-“A couple of mouse clicks reveals that you are lying.”—-
I don’t doubt your numbers, for now, are false. When I checked yesterday Kalzi was up. What is revealing is how you leapted immediately to calling me a liar. I suppose if a stock which goes up and down and you read it at a certain high point while another reads it when it drops makes one of them a liar in your jaded corner of the world.
Another trick that publishers do, for instance, like Hillary Clinton’s book, is the publishers buy off tons of them in order to generate sales and hype of a best seller. It is an old trick. The only problem is over time the market corrects what is done and that is why Donald Trump’s book beat Hillary’s like a baby seal:
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,217 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
#83 in Books > History > World > Women in History
#145 in Books > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Political
#158 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Gender Studies
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
#1 in Books > Biographies & Memoirs > Professionals & Academics > Business
#1 in Books > Business & Money > Small Business & Entrepreneurship > Entrepreneurship
#1 in Books > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Rich & Famous
For a while Trump’s was ahead, then fell behind, but then the market equilibrium took hold. Winning!
“it sounds like you do care about the squabbles”
Lets just say, I find them annoying and distrative and most of all unnecessary. 🙂
I havent seen any stunts since the Hugos. And as I always claimed here: I dont understand the reasoning behind all this. Most of the stuff I do read are _accusations_ about some stuff that somebody _might_ be doing. Ive seen very few concrete examples. I never was somebody who was impressed by some unnamed boogey man – I need concrete names and concrete events and then I will form an opinion. I see actions like the slates, I see this cover, I see some trolling from left and from right (I tend to see more of the latter, but that may be perception bias,, that I freely admit) – but thats not a war, its mainly petty squabbels. Like you said – 4th grade stuff.
Then again, it seems to me that its mostly a question of who reads what and which side reads more. Which is the most uninteresting thing for me. To my knowledge I was the only person into Heavy Metal music in my school and I am now a boardgame designer. Im used to by in the minority. I cant understand why people would like jewel or survivor or reads Trumps autobiography, but I dont care. This “we must fight those who dont like our stuff” is what annoys me. I dont care who “wins”, however you define wionning in this case. I just want peace and quiet and reliable Amazon ratings for both Scalzi and Day.
“Also, you and I are different because we can have rational discussions, perhaps disagree and not harbor ill will towards the other” Now, that is true 🙂
And since the only thing that everybody seem to agree on, is that this stuff is immature. So can we stop it. Please?
@Wild Ape Yes, a liar, as in you were lying when you said that Kalsi was outselling Scalzi. You asked us to check the numbers and I did and you were proven to be a liar. Be honest, did you say that because you thought nobody would actually check?
I checked again and Kalsi is slipping even further!
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #290 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#4 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Space Opera
#6 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Military
#6 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Space Opera
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,071 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store) #19 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Galactic Empire
#22 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Galactic Empire
#44 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Military
And all this heat is being generated by a stunt that has all the maturity of shortsheeting someone’s bed or pulling their chair out from under them as they sit down.
@Mary—Oooh I bet you really think calling me a liar hurt my feelings. That is however how immature female bullies roll. They like to tear you down socially with lies and smears. I’ve been called a lot worse on this site sweetie. As for the numbers, I honestly based them upon numbers I looked at the other day after Kalsi’s book was available to buy and I posted them here. You ASSUMED that I lied because you felt demoralized by what I said and went to check. It is called the market.
But Scalzi has competition in the military sci-fi category. BV Larson’s Rogue World #7 is top dog.
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #248 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Space Exploration
#1 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Exploration
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > First Contact
Now BV Larson is an independent and did this without any backing or media hype and sequels rarely do as well as the first in a series as they typically have flagging numbers compared to the first.
What is intriguing is that many are saying that Scalzi has peaked. We will see, personally there is so much riding on Scalzi that I think the fix is in to get him another Hugo.
By the way, last time I talked to you, you were preening about the Hugos and you said that the Puppies couldn’t muster the votes. How did the Puppies do at the Dragon Con Fan Awards Hmmm? Evidently on a level playing field things work out differently. Can you say steamrolled?
Get used to losing sister. The tide has shifted and the chokehold you on the left once had is fading. Oh, and this is just in from Amazon:
John Scalzi’s the Collapsing Empire:
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,136 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
#67 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Military
#79 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Space Opera
#107 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure > Science Fiction
and as for Johan Kalzi
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,489 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#20 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Galactic Empire
#23 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Galactic Empire
#51 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Military
Who is the liar now?
@Thomas Parker—“And all this heat is being generated by a stunt that has all the maturity of shortsheeting someone’s bed or pulling their chair out from under them as they sit down.”
Yes sir, I agree. You have passive aggressive behavior going on here. This problem however has been spinning out of control for a couple of years. Now this recent scuffle I lay at the feet of John Scalzi or Scalzi’s partisans. Scalzi started this with his own parody of Vox Day’s book and Corrosion is Day’s response. The one star reviews bit was brought on by Scalzi’s partisans and there was retaliation. Vox Day policed his own people to quit with the one star fake reviews. Vox Day was the one that clarified what was going on at Amazon and that it wasn’t an SJW converged Amazon doing mischief but the mischief of a couple of employees. That is important because Amazon has competition too and even though the management is liberal they are fair and do not sacrifice profit for politics. I have only seen Scalzi’s half egging people on and encouraging more Sophomoric behavior. And this must end.
Bullying in its worst form comes from people who have an overblown superiority complex. When the bully’s superiority is threatened the bully attacks and is merciless. They feel that their victim deserves the scorn and derision because they DARE to stand up to the narcissist. They frequently ruin their victim socially by getting others to chime in. Because the victim “deserves” that includes demonizing them, it includes ruining their livelihood, it includes physically attacking them, it includes exterminating them, or demoralizing them to a point where they take their own life.
Vox Day is doing his part but I see no one on the left doing the same. The left are a bunch of bullies who feel that anyone who dares to disagree with you deserves your social media piranha attacks. Mary Nehlen out of the gate calls me a liar. A lie is a deception. It has intent. I stated the facts as I knew them to be. As you can see the numbers have changed over the course of a single day but no one has lied except Mary. She is the one engaged in smear.
After the Hugo show in 2015 when all the establishment crapped on their guests because they were voted on by Vox Day I stopped being nice. They were mad at Vox Day but they took it out on the guests. Displaced anger allows people to do a lot of evil things. In this last election Trump supporters have been attacked, shot, and a couple were killed because someone had their vanity hurt and wanted to embrace their inner bully. Is this what the left wants for sci-fi fandom? If the answer is yes then you are not far from achieving your goal. If no, then someone has to speak out and stop this tide of 4th grade stupid show from the people on the left bench.
[…] Black Gate: “I assumed the Castalia House release was a parody of Scalzi’s new book, but that doesn’t appear to be the case — it’s a straight up collection of SF stories, packaged to look virtually identical to The Collapsing Empire. I’m not sure of the exact point, but Theo is obsessively tracking the comparative sales of the two books on his blog.” […]
I’ve locked this post to comments because the discussion has ceased to be productive.
Ape, in particular, your blanket attacks on Black Gate readers who happen to be on the left side of the political spectrum was uncalled for. I’ve worked very hard to make this site politically neutral. There was no political angle to my original post. So turning it into a platform for a lengthy political screed was uninvited and unwelcome. You endured some harsh attacks in the comments that followed, but it seems pretty clear to me that you invited them.
Peer, Barsoomia, Thomas – my thanks for trying to return the conversation to more civil ground.