Jon Del Arroz’s Definitive Top 5 Steampunk Books

It’s #SteampunkMonth in honor of Superversive Press’s first full length novel release, For Steam And Country, which will be available in all of your favorite online retailers on Thursday, June 15th.

As such, it’s time for another of Jon Del Arroz’s Definitive Top 5 lists! One I know a lot of people have been waiting for since #SteampunkMonth began.

The steampunk genre of literature is a pretty small market, not overexposed like many other subgenres of fantasy. There are a few works even in such a small crop that do stand out, and without further ado, here’s the list:

  1. Gail Carriger – Soulless. Ms. Carriger really is almost like the fairy god-mother of steampunk. Everyone seems to know who she is. Everyone loves her vivid descriptions of Victorian England, carriages, high tea times, and of course the beautiful attire worn by the aristocracy of the time. She was one of the first to emerge on the scene and embrace Steampunk, and with Soulless, she brought a book that was anything but, as I found it completely soulful and full of passion. It does feel a lot more like a romance with fantasy elements rather than the other way around, so be aware with that going in, and you’ll enjoy this world of werewolves and vampires that her heroine has been thrust into.

  1. Robyn Bennis – The Guns Above. I started reading this one last week, and it’s already made it into my top five. I’m currently very enthralled with this fantasy world that’s perpetually at war, where the costs of war are shown and realized. The protragonist is grinding through a really tough society, and finds herself in command of an airship after the opening of an intense battle. I can’t speak to the ending yet, but I’m so enthralled this made the list.

  1. Jean Rabe and Martin Greenburg (Editors) – Steampunk’d. Not many top lists of mine will have an anthology in it, but this one does. I really got into steampunk after cosplaying and then reading this book. It’s got a lot of incredible stories, including one of my favorite shorts of all times “Portrait of a Lady with a Monocle” by Jody Lynn Nye. You get a nice breadth of imaginative stories that give a good feel for what Steampunk is.

  1. Cherie Priest –Boneshaker. This is a story set in late 1800s alternate Seattle, where some experiment went drastically wrong and there’s this whole area that’s been walled off, as some gas that came up from the ground when it was being mined turned people into zombie-like creatures. This woman Blair’s husband was held responsible, and her son traverses into the walled off area to try to clear his name. She tries to track her son down and has to deal with all the horrors inside to rescue him. It also has one of my favorite book covers of all time.

  1. Beth Cato – Clockwork Dagger. This was an airship travel adventure like I always wanted. It’s a bit on the lighter side, which I love. There’s secret agents, secret royalties, secret romance and it comes to an epic conclusion. I love Octavia, the main character, and the cool medicine and the religious aspect intertwined with that. Cato made being a healer cool, and made a stellar fantasy universe.

Silver Empire To Relase Declan Finn’s A Pius Man

Before Declan Finn became known as the Dragon Award nominated vampire writer, he wrote a thriller series that’s been described as “The Da Vinci Code — but not heretical.”  The first book in that series is going to be released on July 1 and looks to be quite Superversive.

The description from Silver Empire:

As the head of Vatican security, Giovanni Figlia must protect a new, African Pope who courts controversy every other day. The Pope’s latest project is to make Pius XII, “Hitler’s Pope,” a saint. Things haven’t gotten better since the Pope employed American mercenary Sean Ryan.

Then a body fell onto the Vatican doorstep.

Mercenaries, spies, beautiful women, international intrigue and ancient secrets – The Pius Trilogy has it all!

The book is currently available for pre-order directly from the publisher here and will be on Amazon soon.

#SpaceOperaWeek: Five Current Space Operas You Should Be Reading

Yesterday I posted a definitive list of all-time best space operas, but there are some current new ones that provide a fresh take on the genre as well. I’m assuming you’ve already read my Star Realms: Rescue Run, so here’s what I’m excited to be reading lately:

1. The Revelations Cycle Series by Mark Wandrey and Chris Kennedy. Mechs. Monsters. Aliens. Mercs. This series is pure space opera fun with a really well-detailed world. The first book, Cartwright’s Cavaliers deals with one of the major human merc companies going through a bankruptcy and a young man inheriting the mantle to take it over and make it great again. It’s riveting fun all the way through, and you’ll love the CASPer mech suit action the whole way through. I Haven’t read the second book yet, but it’s on my short list to read soon!

2. Excalibur by Tim Marquitz. When I opened this up I felt like I was living what I wanted out of the Babylon 5 spinoff series Crusade that they never got around to delivering me. We have a somewhat disgraced captain who has been doing special jobs for the Covenant on the side with his band of fun and supremely competent crewmen. His ship is made of stolen alien tech — and those aliens are back in force, but for some reason, the fleet is caught with their pants down. It’s up to him to save the galaxy.

3. The Maxwell Saga by Peter Grant. I just picked up Take The Star Road, the first in a currently five book series. This is a Horatio Alger in space type of story, where we have a man picking up and working on a trading vessel to get experience to go join up with a colony that promises opportunity. A fun read the whole way, and he gets caught up with a Yakuza-type crime syndicate and their ancient legends. I’ve been told we can expect a new book in the series around Christmas.

4. The Darkship Series by Sarah Hoyt. There’s a world out there of genetically modified humans that is just rumor to the denziens of earth.They’re supposed to be terrible people to be eradicated, but our hero learns to love the people of Eden, or should I say a person of Eden, as adventure unfolds and nothing is what it seems. Lots of action and romance in this one. A new installment, Darkship Revenge, just came out a couple weeks ago!

5. A Greater Duty by Yakov Merkin. I just picked this one up, as it came out a couple of days ago, but it promises a lot of cool alien species, epic battles with a Galactic Alliance, and as a member of the #PulpRevolution, I know Yakov will have great instincts for a fun, dynamic story. It’s also edited by Superversive Press’s Ben Zwycky.

Jon Del Arroz’s Definitive Top 5: Space Opera Series

It’s #SpaceOperaWeek and I can think of no better way to launch my first regular Superversive column than to celebrate the genre in which I write and love. I’ll be doing more top fives as they feel appropriate, but as a writer of Space Opera, it makes a lot of sense to launch in celebration of some of my greatest influences. Naturally, these are just my opinions, so I expect outrage, disagreement, fist shaking, and the like at my choices. Just know that you’re wrong. It says definitive in the title, and we all know the internet never lies.

Without further ado, your Space Opera Top Five!

5. The Serrano Legacy – Elizabeth Moon wrote what at first feels like a light romp in the vein of “The Most Dangerous Game.” At the same time she has a compelling background with the Famlias and their political influence over the Fleet that both hampers and helps our heroes at different times. The characters are about the easiest to get attached to in science fiction, and when you get to the third book in the first trilogy – you start to see some really cool sci-fi concepts in a rejuvenation treatment that makes the elderly young again, and its consequences to society. Moon uses the universe as a backdrop for other stories from there, always relating to the Serranos and their influence over the fleet. From a pure fun perspective, this work is some of my favorite.

4. Hyperion Cantos – Dan Simmons shows the depth of imagination that Space Opera can attain. This series mixes literary prowess with Indiana Jones in space style fun. While the later books aren’t as good as the first couple installments, Simmons left his mark on the Space Opera genre and most modern authors riff off of his concepts even if subconsciously.

3. Star Wars: Thrawn Trilogy – Tie in fiction is looked down on quite a bit, and I actually will differentiate this from the Star Wars films, as we’re focusing on literary fiction for the purposes of this post. Honestly, this series stands on its own. One doesn’t even have to have seen Star Wars to enjoy the depth of character, the machinations of the supreme strategist Grand Admiral Thrawn, the coming to prominence of Mara Jade, or all of the other wonderful facets of this series. It takes Star Wars and adds real depth and gravitas to the universe. There are very few examples of space opera out there that are finer.

2. Lensman – The original Space Opera by E.E. “Doc” Smith. He wrote this over the course of his life. Two epic alien species the Arisians and The Eddorians toying with the younger races like humanity in order to try to assert their will over the galaxy. These books are short, action packed, and they have a great punch to them. This series has inspired the likes of Star Wars and Babylon 5, and still is some of the most impactful work in the genre to this day.

1. The Vorkosigan Saga – This is a series by multiple Hugo winner Lois McMasterBujold, which debuted in the early 1980s. Originally penned as Star Trek fanfiction, the world was launched with Shards of Honor, a romance story in space about lovers from two worlds with completely different values. Though this is one of the lighter stories in the universe, it grew from there as we next met Miles Vorkosigan, the series’ main protagonist in The Warrior’s Apprentice. It’s got sweeping empires, weird body modifications, a great fleet battle, mercenaries, spies, about everything you’d want out of a book. And while that book shaped my interest in the genre in my youth, the series honestly only gets much better as it goes along. Lois hit on every mark possible in space opera and plays with a number of different story archetypes.
Jon Del Arroz is the author of the Alliance Award nominated and top-10 Amazon bestselling Space Opera, Star Realms: Rescue Run. His second novel, For Steam And Country, is set to be released by Superversive Press this summer. He is considered to be the leading Hispanic voice in Science Fiction, and hails from the San Francisco Bay Area. He regularly posts to his popular Science Fiction blog at http://delarroz.com. Twitter: @jondelarroz Gab.ai: @otomo

Superversive Stand For The Fans At OdysseyCon

I am pleased to make an announcement on behalf of several great authors in the Science Fiction and Fantasy community.That announcement is: fans, we care about you, and we want you to have a good time. We support your coming out to express yourself in fandom.

A couple of weeks ago, an invited headlining guest flaked on a convention, OdysseyCon. No notice was given, no accommodations were asked for, simply bailing two weeks before it happened, leaving the fans without an honored guest. The Con responded professionally and nicely, trying to work things out as much as possible, but that wasn’t enough for this person who took to social media, and got a cabal of angry virtue signallers to start swearing, berating and attacking anyone they could.

The people who are left in the dust are fans, innocent folk who just wanted to spend a weekend hanging out, playing games, talking science fiction, listening to some authors speak and having a good time in fellowship. None of these virtue signallers thought or cared about the fans. It’s frankly shameful and unprofessional. The fans are our sustenance, readers are our life. As such, I felt compelled to help the readers of OdysseyCon, and spoke with several award winning and bestselling authors to help their weekend, as their convention no longer has an author guest.

The convention did get some great guests to attend: Michael Butt, an independent horror film maker and Brent Chumley, an artist known for Magic: The Gathering and actually worked by my side on Doomtown: Reloaded. These are both stellar individuals, who are high energy, full of life, and amazing artists. What’s missing though is the literary component.

Not being local to Wisconsin, the best I could think of to help was to bring the fans more of what they love. This is a thank you to readers for being so faithful and dedicated, and my hope that this will bring the fun and good times that has made fandom so great. I present you, attending members of OdysseyCon, a group of free ebooks especially compiled for you, the fan and reader. Because there are authors that care and want you to have the most enjoyable experience possible!

Details of how to redeem this will be passed out at the convention, but here’s what you can expect. We’re bringing you great books by:

Nick Cole – Winner of the 2016 Dragon Award for his Dystopian fiction!

Jon Del Arroz – Your humble blogger and Alliance Award nominated author of space opera and steampunk!

Declan Finn – Dragon Award Nominee for his epic vampire fiction!

Marina Fontaine – Dragon Award Nominee for her chilling dystopian fiction!

Robert Kroese – Bestselling author, creator of eight successful kickstarter projects, and highly regarded Science Fiction author oft compared to Douglas Adams!

L. Jagi Lamplighter – An astounding YA Fantasy Author whose Rachel series reviewers say is better than Harry Potter!

John C. Wright – A true Science Fiction Grand Master, nominated for more Hugo Awards in one year than any person alive, and Dragon Award winner!

Also included is the mega-bestselling Forbidden Thoughts anthology from Superversive Press, featuring incredible stories by Baen Books authors Sarah Hoyt, Larry Correia,Brad Torgersen and more!

Holy cow. That’s about the most star-studded line up you could possibly find, and there may even be more to come. Check back for updates. All of the authors want to thank you, the reader and convention attendee, for your support over the years. We really couldn’t do it without you and hope that you have a great OdysseyCon this year!

Amazon Bans The Corroding Empire

In times like these we have to remember that Amazon is a converged institution, that still lets the converged institutions that are big publishing have sway over them. They provided another example today that having a monopoly or oligopoly in a business is bad for the business and for everyone involved. I recommend congress do an immediate investigation into Amazon under Anti-Trust laws.  Here’s what went down:

  1. Tor Books author John Scalzi announced a book, which he turned in late, titled The Collapsing Empire.
  2. Castalia House quickly and effectively put out a parody book titled The Corroding Empire by Johan Kalsi, which beat out Scalzi’s actual work in pre-orders for several days.
  3. The parody, The Corroding Empire released today, to much fanfare (I’ve read a little myself, it is good science fiction work).
  4. Tor sent Amazon an ultimatum telling them to take it down.
  5. Amazon complied and sent Castalia House a notification that they were taking it down because they were pretending to be John Scalzi.
  6. Castalia House had their book removed, and there’s nothing they can do about it.

Now it’s clearly not something trying to mimic John Scalzi, but is something that’s an obvious parody. Their reasoning for taking this down is suspect at best. It would take a complete idiot to conflate the two in earnest, and moreover, the pre-order sales have already had its big bump. On Vox Popoli, Vox commented that the pre-ordered book had already sold “very well.” I expect with all the publicity that it’ll get from Amazon’s sketchy move, that it will sell even better.

Fortunately, Vox Day is on top of it. They planned to have trouble, and they have already got the book retitled with a new fictitious author’s name – Corrosion by Harry Seldon.

The new name is almost funnier than the first, referencing the Asimov character, Hari Seldon from Asimov’s Foundation series. Not to mention this is an absolutely gorgeous new cover. Well played, Castalia House. It goes to show that a modern press run by competent people can be much more nimble and adaptive than the giants of the past. The establishment won’t be able to keep up with this sort of thing, and that means in the short term that you can expect lashing out both more often, and more severely. In the long term, they won’t be around.

Even Mr. Scalzi has little he can do to react on twitter, image sent to me by Dan Wolfgang:

When The Blackballing Gets So Bad Even The MSM Reports

Hollywood Reporter actually posted an article A New McCarthyism today, following the theme of a lot of what I’ve posted about over the last few months, from my own local convention shunning me over politics, to Marvel Comics’ apparent litmus test of only hiring writers of the extreme left persuasion. This isn’t in Hollywood alone, but it’s something that’s across the entertainment industry from music, to writing, to comics, to games, and then to Hollywood itself. It’s actually far worse in some of the other forms of entertainment. I’ve posted up some of the direct name calling and shunning in public that’s been done to me by people like J. Michael Straczynski, hollywood writer, and Sharon Lee from science fiction publishing. As well as the doxxing that one of my former favorite bands The Early November did after they went off on a bizarre swearing tirade about the President on their twitter. The message is clear:

If you do not follow the groupthink exactly, you are not welcome here, and we will disavow you.  Continue reading