About Brian Niemeier

Brian Niemeier is a John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer finalist. His second book, Souldancer, won the first ever Dragon Award for Best Horror Novel. He chose to pursue a writing career despite formal training in history and theology. His journey toward publication began at the behest of his long-suffering gaming group, who tactfully pointed out that he seemed to enjoy telling stories more than planning and adjudicating games.

Superversive vs. PulpRev

Paladin vs Antipaladin

This past weekend I had the pleasure of meeting a few of my readers for dinner and lively conversation. We talked for hours on a wide range of subjects, which as you’d expect of SFF fans getting some personal time with an author whose work they enjoy, included several hot button issues of the current publishing industry.

Even now, when digital age necessities like hustling on social media, building email lists, and gaming Amazon’s algorithm have largely made signings, convention appearances, and book tours obsolete, it still behooves authors to get out and talk to their audiences in meatspace. After all, the biggest change ushered in by the digital publishing revolution has been to once again make the reader king.

Below, in no particular order, I’ve listed some of the topics that my readers brought up. The sample size was admittedly small, but the fact that the sample came from out of town to chat with me about these items tends to suggest something about their overall importance.
The Superversive Movement vs. The Pulp Revolution

Though my work doesn’t meet the ideal of either literary movement, I’m sympathetic to and have friends in both camps.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Superversives and the #PulpRev, the former seek to overturn the rampant nihilism in contemporary SFF from above with stories informed by genuine virtue, while the latter identify post-World War II Campbellian sci-fi as the point where the genre went off the rails. The PulpRev revisits the classic pulps for the inspiration to make science fiction and fantasy–which are really the same genre–fun, heroic, and truly romantic again.

  • A brief rundown of my readers’ opinions on both movements:
  • The Superversives have more high profile authors.
  • The #PulpRev has a far bigger cultural footprint–due to their greater willingness to interact with the public on social media.
  • The Superversives lag behind in terms of marketing their ideas.
  • On the whole, the #PulpRev has the upper hand–though the two movements aren’t exactly in direct competition. There’s a high degree of overlap.

To any Superversives who feel inclined to take umbrage: don’t shoot the messenger! This is just what I heard.

Luckily, my readers did have actionable advice to help the Superversive movement catch up:

  1. Your membership is too private and insular. Discuss what’s going on in the movement out in the open more often. Conversations about upcoming projects, new members, superversive philosophy, etc. should be had in public to raise awareness and build interest.
  2. The Superversive Roundtables are too long. Try keeping the ordinary shows to one hour, tops. Your audience will give you a little longer for special events.
  3. Sci-Phi Journal, Forbidden Thoughts, and Astounding Frontiers are good. But there’s always room for improvement. Superversive magazines and anthologies should have a stronger editorial voice, and the story selections should show greater intentionality.
    Considering the raw brand power at the Superversives’ disposal, they should be able to quickly gain ground if these suggestions are implemented. They sound simple–and they are–but they’ll require discipline to succeed.

Castalia House

Lead Editor Vox Day has publicly stated on numerous occasions that he expects Castalia House to surpass Tor Books as the #1 publisher of science fiction and fantasy. This small, upstart house is off to a strong start, boasting 100% growth three years in a row and a blog that has already become a force to be reckoned with under the able editorship of Appendix N mastermind and #PulpRev guru Jeffro Johnson.

Of course, there’s still plenty of room to grow. Here’s a sampling of what my readers had to say about Castalia House:

  • CH’s nonfiction selection is superb. Whether it’s venerable military historian Martin van Creveld, ninja Ivan Throne, or the Supreme Dark Lord himself, Day has assembled a deep bench of world-class scholars. Oh, and lest we forget, gardeners.
  • Grandmasters like John C. Wright and best sellers like David VanDyke exemplify the strong brands to be found among CH’s biggest fiction authors.
  • However, one of my interlocutors noted that all of CH’s name fiction authors already had strong brands before they signed on. Castalia has yet to take a sci-fi author from the slush pile to the A list.
  • It was also pointed out that CH’s catalog is rather heavy on nonfiction for a house that aspires to the top spot in science fiction publishing. One reader opined that they need more authors.

That said, it should be mentioned that Castalia House has only been in business for three years. They’ve accomplished a tremendous amount in that short span, and their stable of authors will naturally fill out in time. I have it on good authority that the company’s leadership is keenly interested in building up unknown authors from scratch, and they’re devising strategies to make that happen. Recent experiments to this effect show promise.
On a personal note…

It was super cool hearing firsthand what my readers think about my books. One especially awesome guy asked how The Hymn of the Pearl is doing sales-wise (it’s doing well, but as I said above, there’s always room to do better). He even brought a paperback copy of The Secret Kings for me to sign. Looks like I spoke too soon about signings being obsolete.

Apparently people are excited about my next book. Don’t worry. I won’t draw out the suspense any longer than necessary.

Thanks to all of my awesome readers. You are why I do what I do!

@BrianNiemeier

April Puppy of the Month: Souldancer

It’s my unalloyed pleasure to report that Jon Mollison, Nathan Housley, and the Frisky Pagan have chosen Dragon Award winner and CLFA Book of the Year Finalist Souldancer as April’s Puppy of the Month book.

Brian Niemeier - Souldancer

Jon kicks off the festivities with a preamble drawn from his experience of reading my work.

We here at the Puppy of the Month Book Club have a knack for picking the first book of a series.  We’ve done it with The Swan Knight’s Son, The Chronicles of Amber, catskinner’s book, and Nethereal.  It’s high time we revisited at least one of those universes, and none of them are as deserving as Brian [Niemeier’s0  It was the very first Puppy of the Month, and it only took ten months to get to the sequel.

That’s really too long.

Not just because it’s too good of a series to languish that long, but because this is a challenging series to read.  Frankly, Nethereal kicked my butt.  Brian’s writing is deceptively dense and is thoroughly riddled with multiple references and layers of meaning that completely escaped my typically shallow reading.  It wasn’t until Frisky and Nate [joined] in the conversation and started pulling on threads that I realized how knotted were the stitches that made up the Nethereal sweater.  They introduced me to whole new dimensions in reading, and pushed me to approach the Book Club – and my other writing – with considerably more intellectual rigor, and to devote more time and thought to my own posts both here, at my blog, and over at Castalia House.

Jon and his colleagues really do deserve a round of applause. I’m honored that they find my writing worthy of their considerable analytical skills. Based on their previous Puppy of the Month book reviews, it’s safe to say we’re in for a treat.

Frankly, I’m always a bit taken aback when readers say that the Soul Cycle is unusually dense in content and complex in terms of plot. It’s all perfectly straightforward to me.

Then again, I’m the author, and I read everything in the exacting, contemplative way that Jon found most effective for reading Nethereal. I suspect that it stems from a mild, undiagnosed learning disorder that explains why I a) have an extremely slow reading speed and b) practically memorize almost everything I read.

Anyway, I think that Jon will find the going easier with Souldancer. The first book got most of the setup out of the way, letting SD’s story hit the ground running. It will certainly be interesting to find out what the Puppy of the Month reviewers think.

Jon continues with a brief review and some speculation on Souldancer’s prologue. I won’t confirm or deny his conjectures, except to say that Almeth’s pilgrimage to Kairos has more pertinent and far-reaching effects for SD and the entire Soul Cycle than he expects.

For those who missed the Puppy of the Month Book Club’s epic, multi-part review of Nethereal, you can catch up here. Note that PotM reviews are intended as read-along exercises, so if you haven’t read Nethereal or Souldancer, it is highly recommended that you remedy the situation before diving in.

Brian Niemeier - The Soul Cycle

@BrianNiemeier

Corroding Empire: Amazon’s Civil War

The controversy over The Corroding Empire just gets stranger and stranger.

The Corroding Empire

Amazon KDP has given Castalia House’s new science fiction parody more green and red lights than a drag racing track.

First it was thought that the book had been pulled at the behest of Tor Books, publisher of The Collapsing Empire.

Suspicion also fell on Collapsing Empire author John Scalzi, who tweeted this message the same day:

However, details emerged last night that neither Tor, Scalzi, nor Amazon per se were to blame for The Corroding Empire’s publication delays. Castalia House Lead Editor Vox Day explained:

UPDATE: Since some people seem to want to go on the warpath, let me be perfectly clear here: Amazon is not to blame. I even suspect that it is entirely possible that Tor Books is not to blame either, based on a) when the book was pulled and b) the fact that the book has shown as Live for nearly 24 hours but still does not have a page on any Amazon site. The most likely scenario, in my opinion, is a rogue low-level SJW employee, possibly two, in a specific department.

I have already spoken to the manager of one department and they have begun to investigate why Corrosion is Live but not available. They’ve done everything we asked and we have no problem with the way we have been treated.

Today, Vox announced that Corrosion (The Corroding Empire Book 1) was finally live on KDP.

As we suspected, there appear to have been internal shenanigans taking place at Amazon, as one or more SJWs appear to have abused their positions to interfere with our ability to sell THE CORRODING EMPIRE.

We’re still working with Amazon to sort out exactly who was responsible for precisely what, and to establish what, if anything, legitimately needed to be changed according to their guidelines. This should all be nailed down by the end of the day, but in the meantime, you can now order the book and post reviews again.

The Corroding Empire isn’t out of the woods yet, because following that conversation, it was blocked again, reinstated again and blocked a third time in short order.

Corrosion (The Corroding Empire Book 1)

Here is where the matter stands as of this writing:

UPDATE: Finally got to speak to a supervisor. She’s not only escalated the matter to legal, but has assured me that the book will be unblocked, stay unblocked, and that the matter will be fully investigated. It’s not just the three blocks, the culprit(s) also put the book on the Excluded list for Amazon Associates, which prevents others from being paid when someone buys the book.

The publisher insists that the issue is with rogue elements within KDP quality control and not with Amazon itself. If so, we could be witnessing a civil war within the world’s largest book distributor. However the situation gets sorted out, the resolution should be informative for publishers, authors, and readers alike.

@BrianNiemeier

MILO Witch Hunt Unmasks Legacy Publishers, Media

MILO

 

Media witch hunt

The recent witch hunt against Milo Yiannopoulos offered a valuable insight into how the legacy media, the political establishment, and New York publishers operate and what their real motives are.

The elites who run our government, press, and entertainment industries see themselves as better educated, better morally, and simply better than the people they seek to control.That’s why they’re unpersoning a gay Catholic of Jewish ancestry–because he poses a threat to their cultural dominance.

Look at the timing of their attacks. Three weeks ago, Leftist terrorists started riots over Milo’s planned speech at UC Berkeley. As a result, his upcoming book Dangerous climbed to the top of Amazon (which I can personally attest to, since a book on which Milo and I are credited as co-authors received a similar bump). Last week, he appeared with Bill Maher on HBO. Then came his (now cancelled) CPAC keynote speech announcement.

As independent author and journalist Mike Cernovich notes, Milo’s meteoric rise was on course to land him his own show on Fox News. The media and political elite that Milo has made a career of lambasting couldn’t allow that. In their panic to keep Milo from going mainstream, they got desperate.

Concern trolls are playing into the enemy’s hands.

Before we talk about what the media establishment’s dog-piling on Milo means for free expression, particularly on the part of non-Leftists who want to remain employed and enfranchised, let’s dispense with the blatantly ridiculous narrative that’s been deployed against him.

Here’s the video that was cherry-picked to falsely portray Milo as a pedophilia apologist. The conversation that the press mined for quotes occurs from 1:01:38 to 1:06:07 [Warning: NSFW language].

Law professor Glenn Reynolds examines a transcript of the video and delivers his informed opinion exonerating Milo (emphasis mine):

“It’s complicated” is usually the correct answer about questions concerning sex. But Milo’s actual position on pedophilia — he’s outed three pederasts in his reporting — doesn’t seem complicated at all.

Here is Milo’s own statement on the matter. The definitive quote:

I do not advocate for illegal behavior. I explicitly say on the tapes, in a section that was cut from the footage you have seen, that I think the current age of consent is “about right.” I do not believe any change in the the legal age of consent is justifiable or desirable.

Read the rest for some indispensable and devastating context. The short version: Milo himself was abused as a minor–in some instances by a priest. He continues to work through his childhood trauma using humor. His comments in the video weren’t intended to advocate for pedophilia–which he specifically denounced–or to belittle other victims.

Milo reiterates and expands on these points in his press conference from earlier this afternoon.

By spinning a pedophilia advocacy narrative against a victim of child sex abuse, the media establishment showed just how frightened they are.

The footage they’re using to crucify Milo has been publicly available for over a year. This isn’t a case of skeletons hidden in someone’s closet suddenly coming to light. It’s a brazen, coordinated attempt to de-platform a rival who’s proved spectacularly effective at competing for the public’s attention–specifically the vital college-age demographic.

In their attempt to destroy Milo, the legacy media resorted to pure Alinsky tactics. They targeted Milo personally and tried to polarize the Right into pro and anti-Milo camps by playing Conservatives’ own principles against them. Though support for Milo remains strong, more than a few people who are otherwise opposed to the social, political, and spiritual destruction wreaked by the mainstream media have been duped into helping them by letting themselves be led into the weeds of pointless semantic arguments and Pharisaism.

And if you think they won’t do it to you, it just means you’re not big enough yet.

The best argument for indie

Descending into the journalistic gutter to pull down Milo tipped the establishment’s hand. When they claim to champion the rights of gays, minorities, and immigrants; yet converge to destroy a homosexual Jew visiting the US from Europe, its obvious that all they care about is power.

They’re also projecting, as Milo’s former publisher Simon & Schuster demonstrate by continuing to publish admitted incestuous pedophile Lena Dunham. Aware of the glaring double standard, Salon tried to scrub all of the pro-pedophilia articles from their site. Unfortunately for them, the internet is forever.

What does all of this mean for non-Left wing writers, journalists, and public figures?

  1. Most of the government, media, and entertainment industry is corrupt. The elites who run the bureaucracies in Washington, Hollywood, and New York care only about maintaining their monopolies on power.
  2. Since their primary concern is maintaining their narrative, and because that narrative contradicts reality, the mainstream press cannot be trusted.
  3. Given that the legacy media is wholly invested in keeping its monopoly and will shamelessly lie to protect said monopoly, they will not think twice about turning their heavy artillery against anyone who dissents. This means YOU.
  4. Before indulging the urge to join the latest MSM witch hunt under the aegis of “keeping your side honest”, remember that the other side are proven liars who will distort or fabricate facts as convenient to push their narrative. Divide and conquer is their strategy. Don’t be a useful idiot.
  5. Legacy publishers are no longer a viable option for authors who are anywhere to the right of Mao. That goes double for the Big Five New York publishers. This is a blessing in disguise, since indie is almost always a smarter alternative to trad book publishing, anyway. The only exceptions I know of are Castalia House–who will be publishing my next book–and Baen.
  6. It doesn’t matter how lucrative or high-profile your brand is. The corrupt entertainment industry will gladly sacrifice anyone who deviates from the approved narrative. S&S forfeited at least $80 thousand of Milo’s advance, many times that in pre-order refunds, guaranteed spots on every major bestseller list, and millions in future sales. They knew this and still cancelled his book deal because power is more important to them than money.
  7. We need to wake up and realize that the industries and institutions that used to serve us have become not merely self-serving, but actively hostile to most people. You can’t depend on them. Stop helping them. Don’t give them one red cent of your dwindling, hard-earned wages. If you’re an author, use nontraditional publishing channels. If you have the means, build alternative platforms free of the thought police.
I don’t expect people over a certain age to understand the gravity of the situation. But for anyone who’s watched childhood promises of prosperity, an even playing field where success depends on merit, or even basic survival evaporate, trust your eyes. We are at war because war is being made on us. No one’s shooting yet, but our liberties and livelihoods are under attack by history’s most powerful cabal of lawless tyrants.
Worst of all, our forebears let the establishment have this unprecedented power over us. Our parents, professors, pastors, and politicians gave up the Western culture that was our inheritance without a fight. Mostly because they didn’t want to look “hypocritical” or “intolerant”.
Dislike Milo if you want. You’re entitled to your opinion, and I’m not here to police anyone’s thoughts.
But if you act on misinformed opinions by joining the establishment’s witch hunt against Milo–or any other outspoken critic of the mainstream media’s campaign to quash everyone’s right to free thought–you make yourself a willing pawn of billion dollar corporations who want to see you enslaved or dead.
You say you’re protecting our side from hypocrisy and moral turpitude? I say you’re just virtue-signaling. It doesn’t make sense to fret about the sniper who might be hiding in the hills when you’re surrounded by conspirators who are currently stabbing you to death.

Let’s get our priorities straight.

@BrianNiemeier

How to Design Magic Systems

Souldancer of FIre
When two magic systems love each other, sometimes they hug.

A speculative element is what sets the genres of science fiction, fantasy, and horror apart from literary fiction. There’s no element more speculative than magic, and it’s become a common term of art to speak of an SFF universe’s “magic system”. By reader request, here is my philosophy of magic in genre fiction–with advice on how to handle magic in your secondary world.

Changing depictions of magic in SFF

Historically, there have been two general approaches to depicting magic in speculative fiction.

  1. The old-school way: Magic is mysterious, ineffable, and unpredictable.
  2. The new-school way: Magic works like a technology that we can systematize.
The first way can be seen in works as late as Tolkien and going back to the Matter of Britain and before. Tales like these make little if any effort to explain where magic comes from–other than perhaps hinting at divine (sacramentality; not magic) or infernal origins. Nor do they define any explicit limits on what magic can and can’t do.
Wizards in these stories are almost never central protagonists. Instead they pop into the narrative at key times to aid and advise the main protagonist before exiting the stage for lengthy intervals. Think of Gandalf and Merlin, and you’ll get the idea.
In terms of story mechanics, the reason why wizards like Gandalf and Merlin don’t protag much  is due to the needs of dramatic tension. A well-made story should elicit suspense in the reader over how conflicts will be resolved. Being on the edge of your seat wondering how the hero will get out of this one is the main ingredient for good pacing.
The difficulty with old-school wizards in lead roles is that there’s no inherent reason why they can’t just magic themselves around obstacles. Sure, you can set limits on a wizard’s magic to set up situations he can’t just cast his way out of, but you’ve got to establish those limitations early on to avoid cheating the reader.
And if you do set limits on what magic can accomplish, guess what? You just systematized it a little.
That’s why Tolkien’s wizards are kind of old and new-school hybrids. Gandalf is a superhuman spirit, but he’s explicitly forbidden from drawing upon his angelic power. Instead he’s got to work with the skills available to his human form. That’s a pretty big limitation!
New-school, aka Sandersonian magic
No, Brandon Sanderson didn’t invent contemporary SFF magic. But he is the most prominent advocate for new-school, systematized magic, so I’m sticking with the “Sandersonian” description.
A better candidate for the father of new-school magic is the venerable Jack Vance (though yes, others did it before him, but again, he’s more popular).
If you’ve ever played D&D, you know how Vanceian magic systems work. Magic spells are 5th dimensional formulae of such complexity that a human mind can only hold a limited number of spells per day, and when the knowledge is actualized, i.e. a spell is cast, it’s totally purged from the caster’s mind. If a Vanceian wizard wants to cast that spell again, he has to memorize it all over again.
The upshot of this system is that it allowed Vance to use his transient amnesiac wizards as protagonists while maintaining dramatic tension. A Vanceian wizard can still use magic to escape from sticky situations–but not if he’s used all of his daily spells or memorized the wrong ones.
Categories of Magic
I like to put the various types of magic systems into a few broad categories.
Actual Magic: the original meaning of the term “magic”, using preternatural powers to achieve natural ends. In its archetypal form, magic means asking demons to do stuff for you with their superhuman powers. Old-school authors usually meant this when they wrote about magic.
Technology: this can be anything from Clarke’s sufficiently advanced tech to methods of turning invisible or making things go boom that are otherwise indistinguishable from actual magic. The key difference is that the users aren’t petitioning demons but manipulating “forces”.
Here;’s the tech vs. magic litmus test: if your characters are channeling and shaping created or emergent energies, they’re dealing with an esoteric technology; not real magic.
The vast majority of “magic systems” these days are actually cosmic force-driven technologies. The Force and Sanderson’s allomancy are examples of technology-style magic systems.
Superpowers: this category is rather nebulous and tends to overlap with technology-based magic systems. I distinguish between the two as follows: technological magic is a skill that can be learned. Superpowers are abilities beyond the natural powers proper to humans which are intrinsic to a character.
Super strength, invulnerability, psychic mind-powers, super intelligence, unaided flight, eye lasers, etc.–all are commonly recognized as superpowers. But like I said, sometimes this category overlaps with technological magic systems, such as Star Wars characters who are born with Force-sensitivity (an innate superpower) that lets them learn Jedi skills (a technology).
Designing your own magic system
To design an original magic system for your book, ask yourself these questions:
  • How do I want the presence of magic to affect my story’s mood and tone?
  • Will there be magic user-protagonists?
  • Is my cosmology purely material, or are there beings that transcend the natural?
  • In my world, is magic the result of a pact with preternatural entities, a skill which harnesses natural forces that anyone can learn, or innate to certain characters?
The answers to these questions, in light of the info we already covered above, should give you a basic starting point for setting up your own magic system–if you want a system at all.
It’s also perfectly fine to have multiple magic systems. The Soul Cycle series features all three categories of magic, because I’m greedy that way.
Priests and Teth disciples deal with gods and demons.
Factors learn how to draw on cosmic prana energy to fashion Workings.
Nexists are born with the power to directly affect the world by will alone.
And because clearly delineating these systems would be too simple, there’s considerable overlap between all of them.
Here’s the takeaway: in magic as in everything else, make it fun for the reader. Dramatic tension is a key ingredient of fun, so if you’re going to put magic users in lead roles, make sure to give them obstacles they can’t just magic their way out of. And if you’re going to limit their magic, make sure you clearly lay out what magic can and can’t do as early as possible.
I wouldn’t ask you to do anything I’m not willing to do myself. See these principles in action in my award-winning Soul Cycle.
thesoulcycle1

And the Soul Cycle tie-in short story “Elegy for the Locust”, available in the new best selling anthology Forbidden Thoughts!

forbiddenthoughts

The Secret Kings, Soul Cycle Book III: Now Available for Amazon Kindle

I’m pleased to announce the official release of the third thrilling volume in the award-winning Soul Cycle, The Secret Kings.

About The Secret Kings

 
Campbell Award finalist Brian Niemeier’s highly acclaimed Soul Cycle speeds toward its climax in the thrilling sequel to Dragon Award winner Souldancer, The Secret Kings.

The god of the Void is free. Aided by a Night Gen fleet, Shaiel’s fanatical Lawbringers spread his Will throughout the Middle Stratum and beyond.

Teg Cross, whose mercenary career took him to hell and back, finds the old world replaced by a new order on the brink of total war. A fateful meeting with a friend from his past sets him on a crusade to defy Shaiel’s rule.

Meanwhile, Nakvin strives to muster a last-ditch resistance in Avalon. But can worldly kings and queens stand against divine wrath?

The Secret Kings cover - clean

Thanks to my international team of publishing experts, including my lovely and talented editor L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright, my astounding cover artist Marcelo Orsi Blanco, and consummate professional formatters Jason and Marina Anderson from Polgarus Studio. This book wouldn’t exist in its current wonderful form without you.

Special thanks to all of my outstanding beta readers for helping me to polish the manuscript and get the book out the door by Christmas. We made it!

On the subject of early readers, initial reviews have been unanimously positive. Just because they’re beta readers, that doesn’t mean they’re sycophants. These guys have been some of my most rigorous and astute critics going back to Nethereal, so I’m inclined to trust their judgment.

To be completely honest with you, I wasn’t expecting quite this kind of response to The Secret Kings. I knew that the book was good, but I’d expected a reception on par with Souldancer, which is still my personal favorite entry in the series. SK is actually shaping up to be the fan favorite, which is fine by me. I work to please my readers, and if you guys are finding yourselves increasingly entertained by each new book I write, it means I’m succeeding at my job.

The Secret Kings - Front and Back Covers

On further reflection, it’s not surprising that this book resonates so well with audiences. There’s a nigh-universal hunger for good space opera, and The Secret Kings definitely fits that genre–even more so than Nethereal did. Compared to both of its predecessors, SK features more space battles, more fight scenes, and more overall action, all tightly wrapped into a little over 400 print pages.

The most common reader observation about The Secret Kings is that the previous two books in the Soul Cycle make more sense in light of the revelations it contains. That’s probably because SK ties together plot threads and character arcs from Nethereal and Souldancer in satisfying ways. In terms of things making more sense, it’s not that I didn’t give readers all the pieces in the prior two books; it’s that I’ve now provided categories that help frame the puzzle. As a result, the answers can be seen more clearly.

I’ve also provided sword fights, space werewolves, another kind of space werewolves, disintegration rays, space jellyfish, multiple flavors of teleportation, true friendship. long-awaited revenge, and even a touch of heartbreak. Because a little bitterness gives contrast and context to sweetness.

The Secret Kings, Soul Cycle Book III is available now from Amazon for Kindle. The trade paperback is currently undergoing review at Createspace and will be available any time now. I’ll update you as soon as the print version goes live.

In the meantime, please enjoy The Secret Kings with my heartfelt thanks.

For those who haven’t read the first two books in the Soul Cycle yet, I haven’t forgotten about you. Nethereal and Dragon Award winner Souldancer are both on sale now for $3.99 each.

Get all three exciting novels today and get ready for the fourth and final Soul Cycle book, which you’ll find a preview of in The Secret Kings.

Unpersoned by Twitter’s Deep Shadowban

No Twitter

Having written before about Twitter’s nasty penchant for censoring and outright banning users who deviate from the company’s rigid left wing ideology, I fully expected the Twitter thought police to come for me. Milo Yiannopoulos warned as much.

I just didn’t expect them this soon.

Daddy Warpig tweet 1

Late Friday afternoon: friends on Twitter started complaining that they couldn’t see my tweets. Daddy Warpig placed the blame on a shadowban.

NB: if you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a shadowban, it’s an unofficial and highly passive-aggressive method that Twitter uses to censor people who disagree with them, but who haven’t broken any rules. By keeping the shadowbanned user’s followers from seeing his tweets or even notifications from him, Twitter can say it’s a bug and maintain plausible deniability.

Shadow bans usually last for 24; sometimes 48 hours.

Daddy Warpig tweet 2

Mine was still in effect a day later.

Keep in mind, this whole time I hadn’t received any communication from Twitter. No prior warnings, no notice of a TOS violation, no explanation of what was happening or why. Nothing.

This wasn’t a surprise, since it perfectly fits the kind of arbitrary censorious behavior that conservative and libertarian users have sadly come to expect from Twitter. I’m neither a conservative nor a libertarian, but Twitter just puts everyone to the right of Chairman Mao into the same badthink box.

The censorship continued through Sunday and into today. Lasting longer and with more extensive effects than ever before, this represents a new form of Deep Shadowban.

Rawle tweet 1

Brand visibility is a matter of life and death for a writer’s career. Until quite recently, deplatforming an author could only hurt his career. That’s clearly what Twitter was banking on, but for a social network they’re pretty mired in analog thinking.

The shadowban’s main effect has been to piss my followers off.

PoW tweet

I can’t blame them for getting mad when conversations that look like this to me:

Convo 2

look like this to them:

Convo 3

But it’s the unintended side effects that should really make Twitter rethink the wisdom of shadowbans, especially in this age of antifragility.

Convo 4

 

Greyed tweet

My number of followers before the shadowban: 970.

My number of followers now: 1,033 and counting.

And has this whole messy business helped me sell books?

You bet 🙂

I’m not upset with Twitter for censoring me. Like a small but growing number of independent authors, that only makes me richer and stronger.

I am upset that my readers are upset. I answer to them; never to Twitter. So I’d appreciate it if Twitter would kindly stop belaboring my bosses’ social media experience.

Of course, I expect Twitter to double down. Again. They enjoy making people weaker than them miserable. Let’s see how they like it when the tables are turned.