DragonCon 2017: Monster Hunter Files

Focused on the upcoming anthology of stories set in the world of Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International! Panelists: Jim Butcher, Larry Correia, Faith Hunter, Jonathan Maberry, Jody Lynn Nye.

This is one panel I actually got to see, unlike many of the videos I’ll be posting. However, as I noted before, the video is not mine. How can you tell? It’s got film quality.

One of the authors was a last minute addition, since Kelly Lockhart had not written for this anthology, so Larry acted as moderator, and they slipped in … Quincy? I think that’s his name.
Anyway, if you’re waiting for the next Monster Hunter Book after the Anthology, may I suggest…
amzn.to/2wF41P2

Fans For The Dragon

I was there this year at the the second annual Dragon Award. It was not a very large crowd – partly, I believe, because both Jim Butcher and John Ringo were scheduled on panels at that same hour. I’m sure all their fans were at those panels instead, and maybe not even aware of the awards. Poor planning, but hopefully that will be corrected in the future.

However, it was a happy crowd of both fans and a handful of the nominees that were able to attend. We had wonderful presenters, including the late Jerry Pournelle. The winners were announced, with applause each time. There was no booing, nor no-awarding, and not a single wooden asterix in site. And while none of the people I knew personally won an award this year, there was no real sense of loss. For all those who won are excellent at their craft, entertain their large audience, and by the vote of the fans, were made winners.

The Dragon Award really is a fan award, straightforward and fun. Over 8,000 people voted this year, almost twice as much as last year! My hope is someday that number will double, then triple! And keep on growing, drawing in more fans, and sharing the fun of good, fan-loved, science fiction and fantasy! Til someday that auditorium is packed, and the teardrop of fire is seen as a great achievement, and gift from your fans.

I had a great time, and can’t wait to see what the next year brings. I have the list of the winners for the 2017 Dragon Award. But first, as is my custom as the official dancing girl of SVSF, I have another VICTORY DANCE!

Best Science Fiction Novel

Babylon’s Ashes, by James S.A. Corey

Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)

Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge, by Larry Correia and John Ringo

Best Young Adult / Middle-Grade Novel

The Hammer of Thor, by Rick Riordan

Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel

Iron Dragoons, by Richard Fox

Best Alternate History Novel

Fallout: The Hot War, by Harry Turtledove

Best Apocalyptic Novel

Walkaway, by Cory Doctorow

Best Horror Novel

The Changeling, by Victor LaValle

Best Comic Book

The Dresden Files: Dog Men, by Jim Butcher, Mark Powers, Diego Galindo

Best Graphic Novel

Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Wild Card, by Jim Butcher, Carlos Gomez

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series

Stranger Things, by Netflix

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie

Wonder Woman directed, by Patty Jenkins

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, by Nintendo

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game

Pokemon GO, by Niantic

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game

Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow’s Walk, by Avalon Hill

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game

Magic the Gathering: Eldritch Moon, by Wizards of the Coast

Great winners, all. Can’t wait for next year!

Book Review: Dangerous by Milo

Cross Posted form Marina’s Musings

I bought this book on principle because I wanted to support Milo, especially after Simon and Schuster pulled it from Amazon after the latest manufactured outrage proved too much for their tender corporate feelings. (And before you ask, yes, I’ve seen the infamous interview that precipitated the breach of contract from S&S. Considering this is the same company that published Lena Dunham, color me unimpressed.) Be that as it may, I forked over the big bucks for the hard cover, or rather had my husband pre-order it for me for our wedding anniversary, with the full expectation of having it in my book case as a conversation piece and not much more. After all, having gotten into the habit of listening to Milo’s broadcasts on Youtube while doing housework, I was very familiar with his views and could probably repeat most of his jokes verbatim.

Unlike most nonfiction from popular commentators, however, Dangerous is not simply a “best of” collection from previous speeches and blog posts. It’s a combination of a personal manifesto and solid cultural analysis, complete with references and statistics, and it flows seamlessly from hilariously irreverent to deadly serious. Much as I enjoyed this book, I wish Milo would consider writing fiction because oh my does he have a way with words.

Dangerous is  divided into three parts. The first (Foreword, Preamble and Prologue) is an introduction to who Milo is, what he does, and why so many consider him dangerous. Prone as he is to exaggerations, the claim is absolutely true. Mention his name in mixed company and you’re likely to encounter an equivalent of the Kingsman finale minus the pretty fireworks.

Personally I think he nails it with the following:

“I am a threat because I don’t belong to anyone. I am unaffiliated.”

This goes beyond identity politics, which insists on putting people in neat little boxes and proceeds to predict everything from the food they should eat to books they should read to politicians and causes they support. In addition to being impossible to classify, Milo is also immune to social and peer pressure. The fools who rejoiced at him resigning from Breitbart (where he already had essentially free hand) didn’t realize that he would become even more unstoppable with private funding and self-made platform. This is one scalp not up for the taking by Social Justice Brigades, and it has to drive them insane.

The second part is eleven chapters, nine of which are titled “Why [insert a group here] Hate Me.” If you believe the adage of knowing the man by his enemies, the list is impressive (or should I say fabulous?):

Progressive Left
Alt-Right
Twitter
Feminists
Black Lives Matter
The Media
Establishment Gays
Establishment Republicans
and finally…
Muslims

Some on this list hate because they should be able to control him and claim him as one of their own, but can’t. Some because he is the only one pointing out the unspeakable truths in a way that’s actually accessible, therefore reaching the audience most others can’t. Some because he’s a direct threat to their comfort and power. It’s a mix-and-match kind of thing with a lot of overlap. He does not hate all of the groups back, by the way, cutting some of them more slack than I would do personally, but the nuance is not reciprocated by the other side. No matter. The haters don’t win, and their attempts only result in getting him more followers and better hair products.

These chapters are useful not just as a recap of Milo’s detractors, but also provide a refresher on the history and current state of each group,  and whether or not there’s  hope that one or some of them would ever turn towards the light, so to speak. He has surprising amount of respect for intellectuals, considering how vocally he had been denounced by nearly every Conservative pundit. And, as he points out at the end of the Establishment Republicans chapter, “No movement has ever survived with just moderates and intellectual, and no movement has ever survived with just hellraisers. If we want to win, we need both.” To which I say, Amen. In spite of the current frictions, the two sides of the pro-freedom coin need not be at odds.

There are two additional chapters dedicated to the folks who DON’T hate him: Gamergate and college kids who love free speech. If you’re still unfamiliar with Gamergate, this chapter provides and excellent summary. And apparently we have Allum Bokhari of Breitbart to thank (or blame) for kickstarting Milo’s career by sending him information on Gamergate. Or should we more accurately thank Zoe Quinn? Well, you get the idea.

The chapter on college tours gives me hope. The protesters and general therapy-dog-demanding whiners get all the attention, but Milo would not BE doing college tours to begin with if there weren’t large groups of students eager to see and support him. Perhaps there’s no need to be overly down on the new generation after all. There’s a lot of free thought and bravery to be found among the current crop of college students, and they could very well fix the world we of the Gen X allowed so carelessly to slide in the wrong direction.

The third pard, Epilogue, has a title I will leave for you to discover. Suffice it to say, it’s essentially a call to action, and a guide on how to be successful if you want to try your luck as a Milo-style Culture Warrior. While there’s only one Milo, the field is wide open for ambitious copycats.
The gist of the advice is as simple as it is challenging: work hard and be fearless.

Not everyone can be hot.
Not everyone can be outrageous and funny.
Not everyone can risk denouncement and loss of employment.
But everyone can do something.
Find that something.
Then do it.

In the meantime, go read the book.

The Superversive from the East: Legend of the Galactic Heroes

In the 1980s, one of the greatest works of science fiction ever to come out of Japan first hit the shelves as a light novel: Legend of the Galactic Heroes. It would later get adapted into a 110-episode anime series, produce two movies, and several side-stories mini-series. Unfortunately, only recently did the original light novels get licensed for release into the West. (You can fix that here)

Whether you read the novels or watch the anime, you’ll find a truly epic Space Opera that hits most of the things you want out of a Superversive work. While the moral clarity is muddled at times, as this story reflects the mood of its day, the protagonist and the deuteragonist (and their key allies) are clear heroes with heroic virtue and epic flaws.

There are no supernatural powers. There are no aliens. There are no giant robots, laser swords (save for those shown as part of an in-fiction feature film), transformable machines, or other tropes popular with the famous SF/F franchises arising in Japan at this time. The fantastic elements are confined to FTL travel, cybernetics, the many technologies implied by the fact that galaxy-wide human colonization occurred, and high-end medical technologies. Yet there are massive fleet battles only eclipsed by E.E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensman series, and cultural conflicts (with attendant political intrigues) that drive the plot overall (and thus many subplots therein).

What there is, however, is true love (but often filial instead of romantic). What there is, however, is courage against often ridiculous odds. Faith held against powers willing and able to destroy you and yours, and fortitude in times of struggle are what you will find here. And, while individuals can succumb to their tragic flaws, the overall conclusion is hopeful in both absolute and practical terms. If you can find a good playlist online, and you can deal with subtitles, the long-running series and its related works will bring you up without lying to you on what it often takes to climb that mountain to a better tomorrow.

Moreso than any other work of science fiction or fantasy out of Japan, I recommend Legend of the Galactic Heroes, especially if you like your key characters to be competent as well as their opposition. Victory here is earned, and therefore deserved- including the hopeful end.

Signal Boost: July CLFA Booknado is Here!

This month’s New Releases include  Astounding Frontiers #1, Doctor to Dragons by G. Scott Huggins (both from Superversive Press), Love’s Highway by Forbidden Thoughts contributor Jane Lebak, a new and improved edition of Declan Finn’s Catholic thriller A Pius Man and many more. Check out the link below for the full list and more details. Happy Reading!

https://conservativelibertarianfictionalliance.com/2017/07/21/july-booknado/

Review: The Book of Helen

I got a kindle copy of The Book of Helen for free in exchange for a review.

Remember Helen of Troy? She has lived to a ripe old age, her husband Menelaus died of natural causes. Her step-children are all interested in showing her the door, one way or another. Her only option is to fly to Rhodes, only Rhodes’ Queen Ployoxo has other ideas for her.

Being a historian, I’m wary of “historical novels,” mainly because so many are either BS, or they try too hard to be “authentic.” The Book of Helen doesn’t have this problem. Sure, it has various and sundry elements of Greek life, but they’re implemented casually and effortlessly. It might be in a historical setting, but it doesn’t try to ram all of their studies down your throat.

There are parts of this book that read like a Greek myth version of The West Wing (the early years, when it was about strategy and process, and not about slant). Helen is a political genius, almost a savant, and can manage crowd, and is basically “the hostess with the mostess” on steroids. The resulting style feels very much like Mary Stewart meets Clare Booth Luce. The Book of Helen retells the story of the original Troy incident with little to no interference from deities, and no magic. If there is a god involved anywhere, the meddling is implied, with just a hint of an explanation. When Paris meets Helen, she assumes that the story of discord’s apple is merely a pickup line.  On the other hand, like Clare Booth Luce’s play The Women, Antonetti has a nice, crisp way of addressing the character traits and social tactics of other women. And let’s throw in flashbacks reminiscent of John Le Carre’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, where the stories are told in interrogation-style fashion.

From a historical point of view, it’s nice that someone remembers that Helen was of Sparta, as in “THIS! IS! SPARTA!” Yes, she does know how to shoot arrows at people. Sparta and its society also acts as a major plot point.

One of the more interesting elements in the story revolves around Helen’s servant, Pythia, a slave who becomes Helen’s scribe.  The relationship between the two of them is very much like a Doctor Who companion, or Dr. Watson to Sherlock Holmes — while Helen is a political and social genius for the big picture, almost bordering on the savant, she has blind spots about comment sense matters that Pythia must smack her upside the head over. The interplay has some fun elements to it, and adds a lot of the charm to this book.

Also, this has some nice themes along with it: grief, envy, hard work, a sideways pro-life message if you want to read into it that way.  This is also the first time I’ve seen someone turn the concept of bella figura into a working concept in fiction (a concept that basically says that it is not enough to do good, one must also look good while doing it).

Now, why is this review not a 5/5?  Let’s discuss.

So, everyone knows the entire story of the Illiad and the Odyssey?  Yes? Good, because there is almost no back story or explanation for what’s going on here at the beginning. Menelaus is dead on page one, and if you don’t know the original Homer, you’re going to be a little lost for a few chapters. The backstory will be filled in, you just need to hang in there.

There is too much talking at times, and not enough action. I also wanted more physical descriptions. Does Helen now have grey hair, or is it still blonde? I caught implications that she was either going grey, but had enough blonde still left over to hide any grey; she’s “still as beautiful as ever,” but has she aged gracefully like Erin Grey, or did she not age at all? No idea.

And the speeches just kept going. Maybe if they were broken up a little more and turned into something like discussions, and not Dostoevsky monologues …it still would have been too much talking, but it wouldn’t have been a blizzard of words. There were moments my eyes crossed. Chapter six is the first time the reader will come across it, but if you slog through it, I promise that the rest of the book will be worth the time.

By the end, I wanted more. I wanted more of the story, more of the people, more time with the various and sundry characters, just more. There’s a sequel too The Book of Helenplanned, called The Book of Penelope.

If and/or when it comes out, I will be reading it.

Declan Finn is a Dragon Award nominated author. His “Catholic Vampire romance novels” can be found on his personal website. As well as all the other strange things he does.