Signal Boost: Lawdog Africa in Paperback

Not speculative fiction but humorous and perhaps of interest to some of our readers, The Lawdog Files: African Adventure is now in paperback!

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 first put on the deputy’s star, he grew up in Nigeria, where his experiences were equally unforgettable. In THE LAWDOG FILES: 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.

Now on Kindle and in paperback

Signal Boosts: New title from Castalia House

New book by the witty and erudite Rolf Nelson:


Bishop Thomas Cranberry finds himself at a loss when he is confronted by a thief and realizes some disturbing truths about himself. The experience sends him in search of the men who are increasingly absent from the Church, who find themselves at a loss in a world that has gone increasingly feral, and who feel that they have nowhere to go and no one to whom they can turn for support. In listening to them and attempting to understand their plight, he finds an unexpected mission.

THE HERETICS OF ST. POSSENTI is for readers who want to know how one inspired man can make a difference in a fallen world. It is a novel for those who need inspiration to get them though the day and those who look for unusual ways to accomplish the mission. It is for people who understand and respect the old ways but know that sometimes a seed cannot grow without splitting the pavement.


See on Amazon

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.


More on Downplaying the Classics

Daniel over at Castalia House has another essay called Downplaying the Classics: Further Evidence. He continues to make an interesting case for the decline in science fiction quality recently.

Some have argued that one of the reasons that the 1960s may rank so well among readers is because the best from that era has been given enough time for nostalgic fans to have forgotten the forgettable but popular books of the moment, and the cream of the crop is the only set that attracts attention. This “Classic Effect” unfairly pits a settled canon of supernovels against today’s as yet unfiltered greats. It boils down to: “The good old days were not as good as we think they were, and today’s era will be the good old days…given enough time.”

I have uncovered a tantalizing bit of evidence that appears to argue the opposite.

GoodReads, a social media site for book lovers, draws upon thousands and even hundreds of thousands of apparent user and other reviews in order to rank its books. It also contains lists of books about which the participants are particularly fanatical. The users there have a user ranked “Best of Each Decade” list that we are examining for head-to-head comparison.

My side theory to this has been that if the “Classic Effect” is true, then the most recent decade (2000-2009) should suffer from “unsettled canon” drag upon reader ratings, while the settled stuff from the 1960s should have the benefit of less political argument and more zealous “pure” fans. The Classic Effect anticipates that the now-Classics from 1960-1969 will necessarily rank higher than the unsettled recent ones.

According to GoodReads, they don’t.

Looking at GoodReads top 15 Classics from the 1960s, the novels rank an average of 4.0 stars by users there. This is identical to the GoodReads ranks of the 2000s: 4.0 stars.

The “Classic Effect” does not show up there, and, because it does not, I suspect it is not a reasonable explanation for any discrepancies that may occur at Amazon. After all, if nostalgia should have an impact, it is more likely to occur at place for book fans who don’t have to have purchased the book to opine on it, rather than a place for book buyers, like Amazon. (Note: I realize that you can rate a book at Amazon without buying it, as well, but it is weighted toward verified purchasers.)

But that calm equivalence is actually where the chaos begins.

Read the rest

Is Sci Fi quality declining?

Daniel over at Castalia House has an interesting blog post up called Evidence for the Bust Years: The Decline of Science Fiction, According to Readers. He is advancing the idea, using book ratings out of 5, as a proxy for the quality of science fiction over time. He outlines his method and the results are interesting.

I preselected a single book from each year that I know sold reasonably well in its day. I tried to do this without regard for my bias in favor or against it (if I have read it at all) by drawing my choices from a number of pre-selected lists.

You may be surprised by what turned up.

For example, for the 1950s, I took a gander at the American Science Fiction Classic Novels of the 1950s For general guidance, particularly the decades of the 1970s through 1980s, James Wallace Harris’ site was invaluable. Daniel Immerwahr’s Books of the Century helped me to fill in a few significant gaps, as well.

Basically, I tried to fairly pre-select a decent list of a top-selling (perhaps in some cases the highest selling) science fiction, with a representative from each year between 1948 and 2010.

Then, and only then…I cross-checked those books’ reader reviews at Amazon.

Now, I weighted my choices slightly. For example, in 1969, I had to choose (among hundreds) between Ubik, Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, and Ursula LeGuin’s Left Hand of Darkness. I chose LeGuin as the representative out of those three, even though Vonnegut was the better seller for that year, and Ubik was a better story than the other two. Left Hand of Darkness, however, was definitely a top-seller and also more stereotypically represents popular science fiction in the paperback market of that year.

’69 was a tough call, but no where near the most difficult. Dying Earth, Martian Chronicles, and I, Robot all came out in the same year. Which one would you pick to represent that year’s popular books? Ultimately, it didn’t matter. After all, I was just trying to select a reasonable example from that year though it became decidedly obvious that some years were simply more abundant than others.

Award-winning (or at least nominated) books make up a good sampling of my selections, but not always. If I did not recognize a book (or at the very least the name of the author), it was eliminated, even if it had won an award. I tried, very inartfully, to identify a representative book from the era that has a chance of still having even a modest fanbase today.

I ended in 2010, because I think the last five years might produce more heat than light.

My selection, therefore, has a clear streak of subjectivity, but one that I hope had little to no impact on the mystery I’m trying to unlock:

Read the rest