Lyonesse Update and Author Spotlight – Cheah Kai Wai

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logo-01Thank you to all who have contributed so far to the Lyonesse kickstarter project! As of this morning we’re more than two thirds of the way to our goal! If you haven’t already, stop by and contribute. A $7 contribution gets you an entire year’s subscription – including at least 52 stories (one per week, plus the occasional bonus story) from some of the most amazing up and coming science fiction and fantasy authors. We’ve got some great stuff on deck for our first quarter, and I can’t wait to start sharing these stories with readers. Speaking of our great up and coming authors, today I’d like to spotlight Cheah Kai Wai.

benjamincheahI first became aware of Cheah Kai Wai when I read his story Flashpoint: Titan in Dr. Jerry Pournelle’s There Will Be War: Volume X. The most excellent story intrigued me in its own right. I found it extra fascinating, however, for personal reasons. It featured a scenario quite similar to my own contribution to that anthology (The Fourth Fleet). Yet he took it in a completely different direction and made it a wholly different story. Many (myself included) would argue he actually made it a better story, as evidenced by the Hugo nomination it received.

Flashpoint: Titan was a great story. His contribution to Lyonesse, if I may say so, is leagues better. We Bury Our Own blew me away when I read it, and it will do the same to you. I won’t go into to much detail because you really don’t want to know too much going in. Let me just say, “science fiction battle angels.” It’s every bit as awesome as that makes it sound – but it’s also got a depth to it that might catch you well off guard.

I believe he also has a novel forthcoming from Castalia House, which I look forward to with great interest. Cheah Kai Wai is definitely a young author to watch.


Lyonesse – Making Short Fiction Great Again

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logo-01The Lyonesse Kickstarter is now live! Drop by and help us Make Short Fiction Great Again!

What is Lyonesse?

Lyonesse is a short fiction subscription service. Here’s what Lyonesse offers for readers:

  • The best science fiction and fantasy short stories, one per week, delivered right to your inbox.
  • Bonus stories throughout the year, frequently but not always on or around holidays.
  • Established names in the genre and new up-and-coming authors.
  • A strong back catalog of previously published stories.
  • A low, low subscription fee – our introductory rate will be $6.99 for the entire year – back catalog included!

That’s right – at least 52 of the best science fiction and fantasy stories throughout the year for less than seven dollars! And not from slouches, either. Our lineup includes stories from Hugo Award nominee Cheah Kai Wai, Dragon Award nominee Declan Finn, and established genre authors such as L. Jagi Lamplighter – and that’s just what we have lined up for our first quarter!

Main Goal – $600

Our initial goal is to reach $600. This will allow us to pay each of the authors in our first quarter lineup at least $50 each for their stories. The first $600 will go entirely to the authors.

Stretch Goal – $1500

Our stretch goal is $1500. We’d like to reach this amount so that we can pay each of our initial authors at least $100 each for their stories. This will also leave us enough extra to fund server and software costs for the first 6 months.

What is Lyonesse?

Lyonesse is a short fiction subscription service. Here’s what Lyonesse offers for readers:

  • The best science fiction and fantasy short stories, one per week, delivered right to your inbox.
  • Bonus stories throughout the year, frequently but not always on or around holidays.
  • Established names in the genre and new up-and-coming authors.
  • A strong back catalog of previously published stories.
  • A low, low subscription fee – our introductory rate will be $6.99 for the entire year – back catalog included!

That’s right – at least 52 of the best science fiction and fantasy stories throughout the year for less than seven dollars! And not from slouches, either. Our lineup includes stories from Hugo Award nominee Cheah Kai Wai, Dragon Award nominee Declan Finn, and established genre authors such as L. Jagi Lamplighter – and that’s just what we have lined up for our first quarter!

Main Goal – $600

Our initial goal is to reach $600. This will allow us to pay each of the authors in our first quarter lineup at least $50 each for their stories. The first $600 will go entirely to the authors.

Stretch Goal – $1500

Our stretch goal is $1500. We’d like to reach this amount so that we can pay each of our initial authors at least $100 each for their stories. This will also leave us enough extra to fund server and software costs for the first 6 months.


Lyonesse Author Spotlight – Jonathan Ward

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It’s time to meet another of the authors whose stories you’ll be reading after you purchase your Lyonesse subscription. We’ve already met met Dean Abbott and Anya Ow. Today we meet Jonathan Ward. In the words of his Amazon.com bio:

jonathanwardJonathan is a science-fiction, horror and fantasy writer hailing from the sprawling urban metropolis of Bedford. He has wanted to be an author since the age of eight, though it’s questionable whether his writing talents have improved since then. When not writing he can be found reading a good book, out exploring new places, or in the pub being sarcastic to his closest friends.

outliersMr. Ward has a rather extensive back catalog of books. His latest novel, Outliers, is set in a world where a new drug is giving people extraordinary talents and abilities. Meanwhile, clandestine groups fight for power. It’s the first part of what promises to be a fascinating new series.

His Lyonesse submission, Number 43, tells the tale of a man augmented chemically and mechanically by a mad scientist. As he reaches the point of madness, he also fights for his freedom. It’s a dark and gritty tale that veers almost into the horror side of science fiction, and you’ll find it quite intriguing.


Money Can’t Buy Happiness – But Status Can

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money-can-t-buy-happinessWe’ve all heard the old saying that money can’t buy happiness. Interestingly, science backs this up. Kind of.

First of all, we have to acknowledge the obvious. If you lack the barest necessities in life, money can buy a large increase in happiness. In other words, if you don’t have a roof over your head, clothing to protect you from the elements, clean water to drink, or enough food to eat, then money will definitely make you happier. Of course, in modern terms you don’t need all that much money to buy these things. Those of us fortunate enough to live in the modern western world essentially never have this issue. Even the very poorest of our poor manage to meet these basic needs.

But what happens after that point? Happiness research shows us that increases in absolute wealth (a raise, a bonus, a nice sized gift) make us happier… for a brief time. After that, we return very quickly to our baseline levels of happiness. Even very large increases in absolute wealth – such as winning the lottery – only increase happiness temporarily.

But research and psychology also reveal a darker truth about humanity. Changes in relative wealth bring about lasting effects on happiness – even if absolute wealth remains unchanged. The ugly reality is that money isn’t the driver – status is. When we are richer than our peers, we are held in higher status by the group. And human beings like status. Higher status, as a rule, makes us happier. Lower status makes us less happy. This rule is especially true for women. Call me sexist all you want, the science backs that. But it’s true for men, too.

People feel good when they feel like they’re doing better than their peers. Status succeeds where money fails – it can buy happiness.

So what can you do about it? Making more money gives you higher status, right? Not necessarily. If you get a raise but so do all of your peers, your happiness level is unlikely to change. If you win the lottery, your social status isn’t actually likely to go up very much. It might even go down. People tend to look down on those who didn’t earn their wealth.

The socialist paradise of equal income for all is impossible. But even if it were possible, it would be a social disaster. We’d have more depression and unhappiness than any other system we can imagine would provide. People are not rational, and they are not perfectly altruistic. If all are equal, all will be unhappy. This ironclad law is hardwired into our base psychology.

But part of its impossibility returns to that same psychology. The more equal people are in income, the more they will elevate the stupidest shit to the level of status symbol. I’ve watched retail workers decide they’re “too good” to hang out with other retail workers now… just because their shop moved to a “higher class” shopping center. Same employees at both shops, nobody’s salary changed. They’re both still working menial jobs that aren’t really enough to live on. But now one person considers herself better than the other. If we take away money as the driver, people will find other ways to compete for status.

Human beings aren’t pretty. Don’t expect it of them. This isn’t a pleasant truth. But it is truth.


Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge – BOOK REVIEW

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Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge by Larry Correia and John Ringo

Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge by Larry Correia and John Ringo

I held off on buying Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge for quite some time. It came out back in August, just as I was settling into the homeward stretch on Post Traumatic Stress. So I made myself wait. I promised myself that I would read it when I finished my own novel, as a reward. When I finished the first draft a few weeks ago, I promptly bought myself a copy and devoured it.

For those who aren’t familiar, the book is set in the world of Larry Correia’s blockbuster Monster Hunter International series. The series mostly centers around Owen Zastava Pitt as he joins Monster Hunter International, a band of redneck libertarian mercenaries from south Alabama who hunt monsters. The series is pretty much exactly as awesome as that makes it sound.

Bestselling author John Ringo wrote this entry, however. After the editing job turned into a bit more than just editing, Mr. Correia became a co-author.

Fans of both Mr. Ringo and Mr. Correia will love this book. Unfortunately, I only really fit into one of those categories. I have not read much by Mr. Ringo before, but what I have read I have only moderately enjoyed. I did, however, enjoy this book quite a bit more than I have enjoyed Mr. Ringo’s other works.

The problem I tend to run into with Mr. Ringo’s works is that largeish portions of them come off as either lectures or preaching to the choir, depending upon your political inclinations. I’m not particularly fond of either. I understand quite well why this has brought Mr. Ringo a massive audience – I’m simply not a huge fan of it myself.

With that said, this book exhibits considerably less of that than other works of his that I’ve read. And what it does have comes off less as a direct lecture to the reader and more of just showing the main character’s personality. I found that much easier to stomach. Also, when Mr. Ringo isn’t lecturing to me the book is generally a heck of a lot of fun.

On the other hand… even though it’s assembled as a novel, the book reads more like a collection of short stories strung together than like a typical novel plot. I guess that fits with the “Memoirs” theme, but left me a bit unsatisfied.

All told, I’d give it three and a half stars – but existing fans of Mr. Ringo would probably add an extra star on top of that.


Lyonesse Author Spotlight – Anya Ow

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anyaowIt’s time to meet another of the authors whose stories you’ll be reading after you purchase your Lyonesse subscription. Last time we met Dean Abbott. Today, we meet Anya Ow. In the words of her own bio:

One of the first things I ever drew was a five-legged dog: I’ve been adding more randomness to life since the 80s. I practiced as a lawyer for a few years before switching to advertising (it’s better for the soul). Now designing, doodling and writing on the side in between work. Born in Singapore. Based in Melbourne. Culturally food obsessed.

Her first book, The Firebird’s Tale, begins with the end of a familiar story: a Prince who never smiled, and by Imperial decree, has to marry the one who managed to make him do so.

Except that it was all an accident, and the Prince would say he didn’t actually smile at the thief who dared to rob a Tsar, and the thief was not even a woman—or, as it turns out, even human.

The book is available now, from Less than Three Press.

Her Lyonesse submission, The Dreaming Wounds, tells of a special family. They carry the gift of seeing ghosts – and helping put them to rest. I must say that the tale caught me by surprise at more than one point.


Realignment

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A generation change is underway in American politics, and it has been for some time. The media has subjected us to arguments of the GOP crack up for years – and they are correct. What they have failed to note is the strong evidence that the Democratic party is also fracturing. The simple fact of the matter is that both major parties are facing realignment of the sort that we generally only see once per generation.

2016electoralcollege

The election of Bill Clinton in 1992 ushered in the era of the Baby Boomers in American politics. The defeat of his wife almost – almost – neatly bookends this. Although Trump himself, at 70, is a Baby Boomer, his election is the beginning of the end for that demographic’s political power. Vice President Pence, 57, is technically a Boomer himself, but barely.

The political power of Generation X is rising – and over the next decade it will eclipse the Boomers. The GOP felt the brunt earlier. The Democratic party’s hold on the White House has insulated it from the turmoil. The 2016 election has stripped away this insulation. The next four years will reveal a Democratic party in terrible shape.

Other pundits have already noted the party’s shallow bench. This is clearly true. Only eighteen of fifty governors are Democrats. The Senate and the House are both majority Republican. Republicans control thirty state legislatures and seven more are split.

But it’s only part of the story, and not even the most important part. The bigger issue is demographics – yes, the same demographics that partisans have assured us would usher in a permanent Democratic majority. Those partisans are wrong. There are no permanent majorities in American politics.

Let me repeat that: there are no permanent majorities in American politics.

The fault lines in the Democratic party have been there for all to see since 2008. This year’s primaries made them blindingly obvious. In short, the Democratic party serves four major constituencies that make up it’s coalition. They are:

  1. Rich white “limousine liberals.”
  2. Single women
  3. African Americans
  4. Immigrant communities (including 2nd and 3rd generation descendants)

The media rarely breaks it down like this. They love to talk about the “gender gap,” conveniently ignoring that the gap disappears (and often even flips) among married women. They love to lump the last two categories together into “minorities.” This is deliberate rhetoric designed to keep everyone on the same page.

But the reality is that each of these four groups has different interests. For the past few decades, those interests have overlapped enough to form a solid coalition. But those interests are now diverging. The 2008 and 2016 primaries tell the story well. In both years, the primary vote split very nearly down the middle. In 2008, groups 1 and 2 voted for Hillary Clinton while groups 3 and 4 voted for Barack Obama. In 2016, groups 2, 3, and 4 voted for Clinton while group 1 voted for Sanders.

The simple fact of the matter is that the interests of these groups are diverging. Group 3 is eyeing group 4 carefully. Indeed, that’s why Trump pulled in double the African American vote that Mitt Romney received. The reasons are crystal clear to anyone willing to look with an objective eye. Large amounts of low-skilled, low paid immigrants from group 4 are hurting group 3 more than anyone by competing for their jobs. Trumps message on immigration connected with a portion of the African American voters. Over time, it will connect with more. This is a real issue that the Democratic party has papered over for years now. In their loss, expect it to rise to the top.

But group 4 also conflicts with group 2. You may believe that the US is a cesspool of sexism. Maybe you’re right. Maybe you’re not. But if you want to pretend that many of the countries we’re importing immigrants from at the moment aren’t considerably worse on this score, then you’re living in a land of delusion. I have this bridge…

An influx of Hispanic, Asian, and Middle Eastern immigrants does not help the feminist cause. The political alliances between these groups have just about lasted as long as they possibly can. The split is coming.

Again, this isn’t a forecast of the inevitable demise of the Democratic party. The Republican party’s coalition is changing, too. Had Hillary won, it would have postponed the realignment. It never had a prayer of preventing it. Our two parties aren’t going away, and they won’t lose their lock on American politics. It’s also unlikely that we’re moving away from a polarized, fifty-fifty nation. But by the time my children are old enough to vote, we won’t recognize either party anymore. And a lot of people who would currently never even dream of voting for one party or the other will be solid converts.


A Pius Book Deal

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Dragon Award nominated author Declan Finn.

Dragon Award nominated author Declan Finn.

I am pleased to announce the newest author in the Silver Empire family: Declan Finn. Mr. Finn is the Dragon Award nominated author of Honor at Stake, Sad Puppies Bite Back, and many more.

We have picked up Mr Finn for not one, not three, but five books! We’re picking up the entire Pius Trilogy – A Pius Man, A Pius Legacy, and A Pius Stand. We’re also picking up the related works, Pius Tales (a collection of short stories) and Pius History (the real history behind the trilogy). These books, previously self published by Mr. Finn, will continue to be available on Amazon.com through November 18, 2016.

apiusman_ebook-01Afterward, we’ll be taking them down for new covers, new ebook and print layouts, and a mild editing pass. We’ll be re-releasing the books soon, spacing them out a few months apart.

We’re very excited to have Mr. Finn aboard. This is a huge expansion for Silver Empire, and a big step forward for Mr. Finn. We look forward to a long partnership with him. For more information see the official Silver Empire press release, Mr. Finn’s blog, and his author page at SilverEmpire.org.


Lyonesse Author Spotlight – Dean Abbott

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Lyonesse contributor Dean Abbott

Lyonesse contributor Dean Abbott

With an imminent launch coming, it’s time to meet some of the authors whose stories you’ll be reading after you purchase your Lyonesse subscription.

Dean Abbott is the son of a long line of  Hoosier farmers.  Though he does not work in that field, he maintains an interest in all things rural and agricultural. He currently lives in Ohio with his wife, three daughters and their three-legged dog, Celia.

His blog, The Lower Lights, explores the possibilities of building modern lives around traditional values while examining the forces that make that difficult. Posts meander between the macro and the micro. Some posts may be about big picture trends while others focus on instituting traditional ways of thinking into everyday life.

His Lyonesse submission, The Artifact, tells a tale of a spacefaring humanity shaken to the core by a discovery made off world… or are they? When corrupt governments get involved, who can tell? Look for it in the first quarter of 2017 with your Lyonesse subscription.