A disappointment

‘Game Of Thrones’ Audience Disappointed By Season Finale’s Bland, Uninspired Incest

Criticizing the show’s reluctance to explore new creative ground, Game Of Thrones fans reported being disappointed Sunday by the bland, uninspired incest in the HBO drama’s season finale.

“You’d think this far into the show’s run they’d have found some new angles on incestuous relationships, but this was just more of the same, by-the-numbers intercourse between blood relatives we’ve seen before,” said local viewer Jaime Cohn, echoing the views of thousands of fans who complained about the series’ increasingly derivative depiction of sexual relations between siblings and other family members. “In the early seasons, it felt like the show’s creators weren’t afraid to take risks on fresh ideas like incest involving twins or even between multiple generations of the same family, but since then it hasn’t really progressed at all. By this point, they should be experimenting with things like group sex with identical quadruplets, but it’s pretty obvious that the writers are just on autopilot now.” 

Despite their disappointment with the episode’s lackluster incest, fans almost unanimously agreed that the show’s latest season had staked out bold new territory in terms of narrative implausibility.

As for myself, I was a little shocked. There has been no rape at all this entire season. Which would seem impossible for A Game of Thrones, until you recall that the series has passed the material from George RR Martin’s novels. But I’m sure Martin will rectify this shocking and uncharacteristic omission when he finally gets around to writing the novelization of the TV series based on his previous novels.

There is still a long way to go, but I have to admit that I am increasingly confident that ARTS OF DARK AND LIGHT will eventually come to be seen as superior epic fantasy in comparison to A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE.


Dragon Award last week

Last chance to register and vote in the 2017 Dragon Awards is this week. The Finalist ballot is here, and the registration signup is here.

My own A SEA OF SKULLS is a finalist in the Best Fantasy Novel category.

From a #DailyMemeWars subscriber:

Once again your “MEME of the Week” email subscription paid off:  I opened her up the other day and downloaded A Throne of Bones and A Sea of Skulls for free.  Two books that I was planning on reading for September.  I’ve been reading the first novel on this bus, and it’s fantastic. Combined with the free download, this guarantees that I will be making a more probing choice to make a purchase from Castalia House.  Brilliant marketing idea on your part, or whoever suggested it.

This is literally the ONLY useful email list that I’ve ever subscribed too.

Just thought you would like to know that your promotion style is making it real easy for people like me to become customers.  Also, the writing is great too.


EXCERPT: The Promethean

This is an excerpt from Owen Stanley’s excellent new novel, THE PROMETHEAN.

Despite Harry’s enormous wealth, he was dismayed when the estimates from Bill Grogan and Vishnu were finally presented to him, not to mention Wayne Ruger’s, which looked like the defence budget for a small but unusually belligerent third-world nation. The project was obviously going to need considerably more money than he had originally anticipated, and, unfortunately, most of his capital was tied up in various forms of investment that precluded easy liquidation. Like most billionaires of his class, he had less cash in his bank account than was carried by the average Uber driver.

He was sitting in his office with Jerry one morning, reviewing the three estimates, which, no matter how many times he read them over, obstinately refused to shrink, and discussing the inevitable cash-flow crisis they would entail. By now, Jerry had quite a good grasp of the British R&D scene, and he suggested that Harry approach the Government’s Bio-Engineering Research Fund to see if they would consider offering some support to Project Frank.

“But if we do that,” Harry objected, “Frank won’t be a secret any longer. We can’t risk that.”

Jerry told him not to worry. “Granting agencies like the Fund deal with this problem of commercial sensitivity all the time. They have a very strict confidentiality policy that no details of any applications or grants are put in the public domain. None of our possible competitors is going to find out what we’re doing until it’s far too late.”

Not seeing any other way to move forward on the project, Harry reluctantly agreed to Jerry’s proposal. So they sent in an application containing the detailed specifications for Project Frank to the Fund, and, upon opening his morning mail a few weeks later, Harry was delighted to find a letter from Professor Price-Williams, the Fund’s Chairman, saying that they had been most impressed by the specifications and might, in due course, be able to offer a grant of up to four million pounds. But before the application could proceed any further, the project would have to be approved by their former Ethics Committee, since many of the projects supported by the Fund had applications in medicine and social welfare.

Rather ominously, the professor mentioned that the Ethics Committee had recently been renamed the Diversity and Inclusion Committee by the Department of Culture. But the CVs of the Committee members were enclosed, in order to give Mr. Hockenheimer the opportunity to prepare himself for the kind of questions they might put to him, and Professor Price-Williams wished him the best of luck.

The appointment with the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of the Bio-Engineering Research Fund turned out to be on a Friday afternoon at the Committee’s offices in a magnificent house overlooking Regents Park, one of the most desirable locations in London, and rented at vast expense by the Department of Culture.

The Government was lucky enough to be able to call upon a large pool of high-minded volunteers for such committees, who were happy to give impartial advice for the public good, without any recompense apart from their expenses. In this case, it is true, none of them happened to possess any scientific or engineering background whatever, let alone any qualifications to discuss robotics. Fortunately, practical knowledge of this kind was not considered necessary because the function of the Committee was to bring a more morally enlightened and humane perspective to the discussions that was beyond the limited mental horizon of engineers.

The Chairperson was a tall, handsome woman, Nkwandi Obolajuwan, who had been appointed to head the Committee when the Department found that she was not only a second-generation Nigerian immigrant, but also wheelchair-bound, which was believed to give her special insight into the challenges of marginalisation. Despite her triple handicaps of race, gender, and physical disability, she had nevertheless achieved a very comfortable life as a lawyer representing her fellow immigrants. To be sure, most of them happened to be very wealthy relatives of very corrupt African politicians and Middle Eastern royal families, but she did not think this was grounds for discriminating against them by refusing to help them. While she enjoyed her evenings in her luxurious apartment with a bottle of prosecco and some Charbonnel et Walker chocolates in front of the telly, she was tireless in her support of many worthy social justice causes, which had first brought her to the attention of the Department.

Percy Crump was the Committee’s self-appointed representative for the Fat Acceptance Movement. His very limited academic credits were largely in the field of Women’s Studies and it was through these that he had become aware of society’s persistent prejudice against women of ample proportions. He was naturally sympathetic to their plight because he was himself conspicuously overweight, and he had no sooner heard about the Fat Acceptance Movement than he became one of its better-known advocates. He had made a full-time career out of demanding concessions and the construction of special facilities by public transport companies, traffic engineers, and businesses to compensate himself and his fellow sufferers for all the discrimination and bigotry and daily microaggressions they endured from the so-called “normal.”

The committee’s token student, representing British youth, was Aminah Khan, a Muslim in a headscarf. Serious and orthodox, or as the less sympathetic might have called her, sullen and narrow-minded, she detested most aspects of Western culture and longed for the day when the infidels would finally submit to Allah. In the meantime, she was determined to assert the claims of Sharia law in decadent Britain.

Godfrey Sunderland was Lecturer in Protest Theory at the London School of Politics, and in his spare time, an activist for the People’s Antifascist Front. Originally from a wealthy family of aristocratic lineage, his blond dreadlocks nevertheless expressed his claim to have been born black in a white skin. “Race is just a cultural construct, man,” he would snap at anyone who dared to find his assertion of ‘wrongskin’ somewhat implausible. He regarded Nkwandi as a sellout to the system, not to say a coconut, because he particularly despised lawyers. In Godfrey’s opinion, lawyers accepted the whole rotten system of unjust power, and instead of undermining it, tried to work within it like maggots inside a corpse. When the Revolution came and the people took back the power that was rightfully theirs, there would be no need for lawyers who, if they were lucky, just might be allowed to slink away unharmed. And if they weren’t lucky, well….

The fifth member of the committee was a lesbian social worker, Toni Clark. She was a feminist and ill-disposed to men in general. Somewhat surprisingly, she did not regard gay men as allies in the LGBTQIAP+ alliance, but as hoggers of the political limelight, only interested in talking up their own status as victims, and just as prone as their straight brethren to pushing women to one side. She viewed Harry with disapproval, of course, not only because he was an American capitalist, but because his business activities objectified women in an offensive and blatantly heterosexist way.

The Committee had read Harry’s CV and the specifications for Project Frank prior to the meeting, and in the preliminary discussions its members had taken a distinctly hostile view of both Harry and his project. As a very white, very male, and very rich American capitalist who had literally built his fortune on the exploitation of women adorning themselves for the sexual pleasure of men, he was already politically suspect, and his project promised to be even worse.

While the technical specifications were almost entirely above their heads, they had grasped the general gist of Harry’s proposal, and as Nkwandi said when Harry took his seat at the end of the table, “Our main problem, Mr. Hockenheimer, is that your whole project has some dangerously elitist tendencies, and is markedly insensitive to just about every marginalised community in our society. We feel that it’s hard to combine the idea of a toy for the corporate elite with the principles of equality, diversity, and inclusion that guide this committee. If your project is approved, it is bound to become extremely well-known, and one may even say ‘iconic’, so we have to consider very carefully what kind of messages it will send to the general public.”

“I wasn’t really thinking about messages,” replied Harry. “My intention is merely to build and provide a great new technology to the public.”

“That’s all very well, Mr. Hockenheimer, but the fact is that in this case, the medium is the message. You simply can’t avoid sending messages in a project of this sort, and that’s why, I’m afraid, we’re going to require some drastic modifications before we can even consider approving it for funding. Perhaps I should explain that whereas the old Ethics Committee existed primarily to ensure there were no inappropriate conflicts of interest, the Diversity and Inclusion Committee has the much broader remit of ensuring that all the Fund’s projects adhere to the societally correct values of equality and social justice.”

Harry’s heart sank.


1,354 pages free

I’m pleased to be able to inform everyone that both A THRONE OF BONES and A SEA OF SKULLS are free ebooks today on Amazon. That is a combined 1,354 pages of truly epic fantasy, and will cost you literally nothing except the hours required to read them.

A SEA OF SKULLS

In Selenoth, the war drums are beating throughout the land. The savage orcs of Hagahorn and Zoth Ommog are on the move, imperiling Man, Dwarf, and Elf alike. The Houses Martial of Amorr have gone to war with each other, pitting legion against legion, and family against family, as civil war wracks the disintegrating Empire. In the north, inhuman wolf-demons besiege the last redoubt of Man in the White Sea, while in Savondir, the royal house of de Mirid desperately prepares to defend the kingdom against an invading army that is larger than any it has ever faced before. And in the underground realm of the King of Iron Mountain, a strange new enemy has been attacking dwarf villages throughout the Underdeep.

Beneath the widespread violence that has seized all Selenoth in its grasp, a select few are beginning to recognize the appearance of a historic pattern of almost unimaginable proportions. Are all these conflicts involving Orc, Elf, Man, and Dwarf the natural result of inevitable rivalries, or are they little more than battlegrounds in an ancient war that began long before the dawn of time?

From the reviews:

  • “With this book, Vox Day has catapulted himself into the storied and rarefied rank of writers that sits just below The Master himself. That’s right, I went there. I just said that Vox Day has written a book that is nearly as good as J. R. R. Tolkien’s work.”
  • “It is the best fantasy book of the past 50 years.”
  • “As richly developed as its predecessor was, A Sea Of Skulls added many new dimensions to this world and the crisis it’s in. All the positives I spoke of in my review of A Throne Of Bones, and more, were leveled up.”
  • “Vox’s Selenoth is amazing. I can hardly wait for more. I am a big-time Tolkien and George Martin fan. Vox’s Selenoth has wiggled its way between Middle Earth and Westeros”
  • “Why did it take me so long to find Vox Day? What a great storyteller this man is, a grand master of multiverse chess.”
As you may recall, A SEA OF SKULLS is a Finalist for Best Fantasy Novel in the 2017 Dragon Awards. If you find it sufficiently compelling, you may wish to vote for it here before August 28th.

THE PROMETHEAN

THE PROMETHEAN is a brutally funny novel exposing the utter insanity of modern academia and the world of technology. An extraordinary tale of ambition, social justice, and human folly, it combines the mordant wit of W. Somerset Maugham with a sense of humor reminiscent of P.G. Wodehouse.

When American billionaire Henry Hockenheimer discovers that conquering the corporate world is no longer enough for him on the eve of his 40th birthday, he decides to leave his mark on the world by creating the first Superman, a robot as intellectually brilliant as it is physically capable. But his ideas are thwarted on every side by the most brilliant minds of the academic world, from the AI researcher Dr. Vishnu Sharma to the wheelchair-bound head of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of Her Majesty’s Government’s Bio-Engineering Research Fund, Nkwandi Obolajuwan, and, of course, Dr. Sydney Prout, formerly of the United Nations, now Special Adviser on Human Rights to the European Union.

And when Hockenheimer succeeds, despite all of the incredible obstacles placed in his way, he discovers that success can be the cruelest failure of all.

THE PROMETHEAN is available at Amazon via ebook and Kindle Unlimited.

From the reviews:

  • I do not remember which famous English authors use similar storytelling styles as satire, but Owen Stanley has generally followed their design and adapted it well to our age. His skewering of the EU and the diversity commission is written by a man with either first- or second-hand knowledge of these groups.
  • Absolutely delightful, not to mention timely, witty, thought-provoking and occasionally side-splitting. I was almost in need of surgery.
I absolutely loved THE MISSIONARIES, which is both brilliant and hysterically funny. And to be honest, I consider successfully encouraging Dr. Stanley to write a second novel, which he originally had no plans to do, to be my single greatest success as an editor to date.

Three and three

If conservatives, Republicans, and the Alt-Right want to survive the conflict with Antifa and the violent forces of globalism, then all of them would do very well to read this book: 4th Generation Warfare Handbook. I would strongly advise getting the paperback, both for future reference and the ability to share it with others.

This is not a practical guide. But it establishes core principles that need to be understood, from which specific practices and policies can be developed.

The Three Classic Levels of War

The three classic levels of war – strategic, operational, and tactical – still exist in Fourth Generation war. But all three are affected, and to some extent changed, by the Fourth Generation. One important change is that, while in the first three generations strategy was the province of generals, the Fourth Generation has given us the “strategic corporal.” These days, the actions of a single enlisted man can have strategic consequences, especially if they happen to take place when cameras are rolling.

What succeeds on the tactical level can easily be counter-productive at the operational and strategic levels. For example, by using their overwhelming firepower at the tactical level, state forces may in some cases intimidate the local population into fearing them and leaving them alone. But fear and hate are closely related, and if the local population ends up hating the state forces, that works toward their strategic defeat.

Fourth Generation war poses an especially difficult problem to operational art: put simply, it is difficult to operationalize. Often, Fourth Generation opponents have strategic centers of gravity that are intangible. These may involve proving their manhood to their comrades and local women, obeying the commandments of their religion, or demonstrating their tribe’s bravery to other tribes. Because operational art is the art of focusing tactical actions on enemy strategic centers of gravity, operational art becomes difficult or even impossible.

Three New Levels of War

While the three classic levels of war carry over into the Fourth Generation, they are joined there by three new levels which may ultimately be more important. Colonel Boyd identified these three new levels as the physical, the mental, and the moral levels. Furthermore, he argued that the physical level – killing people and breaking things – is the least powerful, the moral level is the most powerful, and the mental level lies between the other two. Colonel Boyd argued that this is especially true in guerrilla warfare, which is more closely related to Fourth Generation war than is formal warfare between state militaries. The history of guerrilla warfare, from the Spanish guerrilla war against Napoleon through Israel’s experience in southern Lebanon, supports Colonel Boyd’s observation.

This leads to the central dilemma of Fourth Generation war: what works for you on the physical (and sometimes mental) level often works against you at the moral level. It is therefore very easy to win all the tactical engagements in a Fourth Generation conflict yet still lose the war. To the degree you win at the physical level by utilizing firepower that causes casualties and property damage to the local population, every physical victory may move you closer to moral defeat, and the moral level is decisive.

Some examples from the American experience in Iraq help illustrate the contradiction between the physical and moral levels:

  • The U. S. Army conducted many raids on civilian homes in areas it occupied. In these raids, the troops physically dominated the civilians. Mentally, they terrified them. But at the moral level, breaking into private homes in the middle of the night, terrifying women and children, and sometimes treating detainees in ways that publicly humiliated them (like stepping on their heads) worked powerfully against the Americans. An enraged population responded by providing the Iraqi resistance with more support at each level of war, physical, mental, and moral.
  • At Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison, MPs and interrogators dominated prisoners physically and mentally – as too many photographs attest. But when that domination was publicly exposed, the United States suffered an enormous defeat at the moral level. Some American commanders recognized this when they referred to the soldiers responsible for the abuse as, “the jerks who lost us the war.”
  • In Iraq and elsewhere, American troops (other than Special Forces) quickly establish base camps that mirror American conditions: air conditioning, good medical care, plenty of food and pure water. The local people are not allowed into the bases except in service roles. Physically, the American superiority over the lives the locals lead is overwhelming. Mentally, it projects the power and success of American society. But morally, the constant message of “we are better than you” works against the Americans. Traditional cultures tend to put high values on pride and honor, and when foreigners seem to sneer at local ways, the locals may respond by defending their honor in a traditional manner – by fighting. After many, if not most, American military interventions, Fourth Generation war has tended to intensify and spread rather than contract.

The practice of a successful Fourth Generation entity, al-Qaeda, offers an interesting contrast. Osama bin Laden, who came from a wealthy family, lived for years in an Afghan cave. In part, this was for security. But bin Laden’s choice also reflected a keen understanding of the power of the moral level of war. By sharing the hardships and dangers of his followers, Osama bin Laden drew a sharp contrast at the moral level with the leaders of local states, and also with senior officers in most state armies.

The contradiction between the physical and moral levels of war in Fourth Generation conflicts is similar to the tension between the tactical and strategic levels, but the two are not identical. The physical, mental, and moral levels all play at each of the three classic levels – tactical, operational, and strategic. Any disharmony among levels creates openings which Fourth Generation opponents will be quick to exploit.


Publisher’s perspective

From Publisher’s Weekly:

Unit sales of adult nonfiction increased 4%, led by Ready or Not!, a new cookbook by Michelle Tam and Henry Fong, which sold more than 20,200 copies in its first week. The book just beat out Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur, which sold 20,003 copies (both Ready or Not! and Milk and Honey are published by Andrews McMeel). Unit sales in adult fiction fell 6% compared to last year. The book that made the biggest splash was Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks, which sold just under 22,000 copies in its first week, putting it in second place on the category bestseller list.

This is interesting, because our more successful books are normally expected to do around 2,000 copies in their first week. SJWADD should top that without too much trouble. So, while we still have a long way to go, we are about one-tenth of the way to the top already. Not bad for Year Three.


Squeaks

The following is an excerpt from one of the many hilarious stories in LawDog’s second straight bestseller, THE LAWDOG FILES: AFRICAN ADVENTURES.

SQUEAKS, Part 1

Many, MANY moons ago—and don’t even ask, ’cause I won’t tell you—when I was still a pup, the family lived in Nigeria. We had a bungalow at the Odibo Estates, out near the Biafran border. Every evening peddlers, called traders, used to walk up and down the main road, offering various knick-knacks and merchandise for sale or trade.

Ali Cheap-Cheap was one of the busier traders, and he spent a lot of time on our front porch haggling with Mom. Now, Ali Cheap-Cheap was very proud of his ability to acquire just about anything you might want or need.

One evening, Mom was visiting on the front porch with the visiting wife of one of the English engineers. Said wife had never been outside of London before, and as a consequence, she loathed Africa. She and Mom were chattering and griping when along came Ali Cheap-Cheap. Old Ali Cheap-Cheap didn’t have anything that Mom or the English lady wanted, so, before he wandered off, he asked if, “Madams want for anything?”

The English lady got a funny look in her eye, tapped her snake-hide purse and said, “I want one of these.” “Yes, madam,” replied Ali, and off he trotted.

About three weeks later, Mom and her new English friend were on the front porch again, when along came Ali Cheap-Cheap. With a friend. Ali and friend had a cane pole slung over their shoulders, and there was a burlap bag hanging from said pole.

Now, at this point I should mention that also on the front porch, in addition to the two ladies, was a Mongoose-a-minium, in which lived our pet kusimanse, or as it is known to science, Helogale parvula, the pygmy mongoose. This Mongoose-a-minium had a Plexiglas ceiling which Dad had assured us was unbreakable.

Riiiight.

Up to the porch came Ali Cheap-Cheap and his buddy.

Mom was eyeing the burlap bag with some trepidation, having had some nasty experiences with what the locals tended to store in burlap bags, when Ali and buddy proudly lifted it and announced to the English lady, “Oh, madam! We have your beef!”

I should interject here that “beef” is bush slang for any animal.

Wait for it.

Mom had risen to her full height, and was about to order Ali to get his beef away from her house, when Squeaker, our pygmy mongoose, wandered out of his apartment, and screamed in sheer outrage. It was always amazing how much sheer volume that little hairball could put out. Ali and his buddy were startled by the shriek and dropped the burlap sack onto the Plexiglass roof of Squeaker’s residence.

The unbreakable glass promptly shattered and caused the burlap sack and its contents to fall into the Mongoose-a-minium. It turned out that inside said sack was one observably scared 15-foot python.

Squeaker, who was about the size and girth of a tennis ball, offered up a brief prayer to the Mongoose God for the meal he was about to partake of, and latched onto the snake’s tail with tooth and claw.

The snake discovered that he has been dumped into a place which reeks of mongoose, panicked and attempted to slide up the side of the Mongoose-a-minium and down onto the porch, but was hindered in doing so by Squeaker, who was not only still firmly attached to the python’s tail, but was bracing all four legs against the wall to prevent his meal from getting away.

Did I mention that the snake was approximately fifteen feet long?

Squeaker didn’t even slow him down.

The python hit the porch floor with Squeaks gnawing away at his tail like a chipmunk on speed, and noticed that, in the interest of ventilation, the sliding glass door in the front of our house was open about six inches.

Yep. You guessed it. In goes the snake.

Now, Dad and one of his Brit buddies named Tom were sitting in the house, drinking whiskey-and-sodas. Tom looked down and saw several yards of snake whip by, shrieked, and made a flat-footed, sitting-down leap all the way from the sofa to the top of the bar. Whereupon he proceeded to utter genteel curses upon all and sundry at the top of his lungs.

Dad looked down, lifted his feet, ensured that his drink didn’t tip over, and watched the snake haul scales with bemused interest. Dad didn’t ruffle easily.

And yes, things just got crazier from there. If you haven’t acquired a copy of LawDog’s African adventures yet, you really must. It’s genuinely THAT funny.


The LawDog Files: African Adventures

LawDog had the honor of representing law and order in the Texas town of Bugscuffle as a Sheriff’s Deputy, where he became notorious for, among other things, the famous Case of the Pink Gorilla Suit. But long before he put on the deputy’s star, he grew up in Nigeria, where his experiences were equally unforgettable. In AFRICAN ADVENTURES, LawDog chronicles his encounters with everything from bush pilots, 15-foot pythons, pygmy mongooses, brigadier-captains, and Peace Corp hippies to the Nigerian space program.

THE LAWDOG FILES: AFRICAN ADVENTURES are every bit as hilarious as the previous volume, as LawDog relates his unforgettable experiences in a laconic, self-deprecating manner that is funny in its own right. Africa wins again, and again, and again, but, so too does the reader in this sobering, but hilarious collection of true tales from the Dark Continent.

Already a #1 category bestseller!

From the reviews:

  • Better than the first! Only two authors have ever made me laugh so much and so hard that I had to put the book down to finish later. One is Terry Pratchett, and the other is LawDog. I made it to the Independence Day story and was laughing so hard I couldn’t see the words.
  • Not for anyone who is recovering from abdominal surgery. Seriously. I’m in pain. I don’t think any stitches broke, but OWww. Still an hour before I can have another pain pill.
  • I had a hard time imagining how he could top those stories. But the new ‘African Adventures’ is even more enjoyable than expected. Even more than the first LawDog Files, this one is packed with absolutely hilarious stories.