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Alien Game from Castalia House now available


Rod Walker is pleased to announce the release of his newest novel from Castalia House, Alien Game. The book is available at Amazon America, Amazon Britain, and Amazon Australia.

If RW were to describe Alien Game, he would call it “Jurassic Park In Space Meets Disaster Movie”. The publisher would describe it as “While the books are intentionally written to be reminiscent of the twelve so-called juveniles of Robert Heinlein, they are not slavish imitations or color-by-numbers copies; it would probably be more accurate to describe them as being two parts Heinlein, one part Correia.”

Two parts Robert Heinlein, one part Larry Correia. That sounds like the kind of book RW would like to read, so naturally he wrote it himself! RW hopes you enjoy Alien Game.

The official book description:

With nothing to do but work or lose himself in the dubious digital pleasures of the Netrix, Sam Hammond finds himself bored beyond belief on the oppressive planet of New Princeton. And when he gets himself in trouble for a stupid act of vandalism, he has the choice of spending a year in prison or working off his time as an indentured servant for anyone who buys his contract.

He might have chosen the prison if he’d known that he’d find himself working security for a safari colony on a jungle world where the herbivores are the size of a stadium, the apex predators are vicious lizards that can turn themselves almost invisible, and the skies are filled with huge, acid-breathing fliers. And when New Princeton’s Minister of Ecology arrives for a visit with a spaceship full of wealthy and powerful guests, Sam discovers that Man is the most dangerous animal on the planet.

Rod Walker is the New New Heinlein, and ALIEN GAME marks another step in the return of science fiction to its classical form and historical heights. Written in the style and tradition of Robert Heinlein’s 12 classic juvenile novels published by Scribner, ALIEN GAME is an exciting tale of space, technology, courage, independence, and the indomitable spirit of Man.

an overused monomyth

Rod Walker liked this post on the overuse of Joseph Campbell’s monomyth in modern fiction. Read the whole thing, but here’s a central quote:

You want to know why so many films, series, books, and comics are shit now? In addition to SocJus dogma, they all glommed on to Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth theory and turned it into the One Plot. Like the One Ring, it yearns to bring all narrative into its dominion and bind all to is will. Entertainment media is a business, and like any other it seeks to minimize risk; if they can find a way to reduce costs and risk, they’ll take it and that’s what happened starting with Campbell’s adoption by George Lucas (and his peers) in that decade.

And yes, this shit is all over gaming now. It has been for years, as both vidya and tabletop took their cues from the very popular media whose narrative structure devolved into the One Plot and replaced the exciting and stimulating virtual experience driving by “You’re in this situation. What do you do?” with incompetent adaptations of The One Plot.

It also makes, in time, for boring reads. The One Plot reduces literature to grey goo, a memetic gruel that barely qualifies as readable, but not truly satifying or nourishing. It rewards lazy writing by mediocre writers and equally incompetent editors and publishers, making such easy for predatory parties to target and overtake for their own ends. Meanwhile, the audience diminishes with the deliverance of satisfaction.

RW doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with the monomyth-style plot and it can be done quite well, but it has definitely been overused. There is more to fiction than Joseph Campbell’s ideas on mythology.

Rod Walker’s book isn’t based on the monomyth. 


cavalry charge in Mount & Blade

It’s time for a splendid cavalry charge in Mount & Blade! It is fun to have 20 or 30 heavy horsemen and send them screaming at a band of Taiga Bandits who didn’t realize they picked the wrong caravan to attack.

Of course, heavy horsemen are expensive. After this battle, Rod Walker’s Mount & Blade character will have to loot some villages to pay the salaries of his mercenaries. Or engage in honest trade. But looting villages seems like less work!

Rod Walker’s book has battles.


a dying community

Rod Walker thought this was an interesting post from Cirsova. Central quote:

Because we were brought up in a discussion about short fiction, I mentioned that we have a decent chunk of content freely available if anyone was interested in checking us out, and I pointed out that despite our fans having a conservative bent, we really only care about good stories, and I offered to field any questions.

And I got called misogynistic fascist.

By someone who is a regular columnist for Interzone Magazine.

The traditionally published SF/F “community”, not to put to fine of a point on it, is a nasty place full of people policing each other for political heresy. It kind of reminds Rod Walker of a small, dying Protestant denomination where the members spend more time in meaningless infighting over the font of the bulletin than in attempting to grow the church. It is a grim and joyless slog, and Rod Walker stopped paying attention to it years ago. In the old days, you had to be part of this community to get published, but nowadays with Kindle Direct Publishing, you can publish anything you want without anyone’s approval.

Here’s the thing – it’s now possible to become a bestseller writer without networking with the old “community” at all. The bestselling SF/F writers on Kindle probably wouldn’t touch SFWA with a ten-foot pole.

Because of that, the traditionally published SF/F “community” is eventually going to die out because all the new talent won’t even think to join, like one of those old churches that’s now been converted to lofts or a craft brewery or something.

Before 2016, Rod Walker hadn’t commented on another blog for years, but the “Pulp Revolution” and Castalia House blogs are way more interesting and fun than anything happening in traditional publishing today.

Rod Walker has an interesting book. 

Somewhither Audio

Somewhither by John C Wright is now available in audiobook. 22 hours long, as read by Jon Mollison.

22 hours! The mind boggles. Rod Walker can sometimes get through six words without mangling his speech, but these occasions are few and far between.

Anyway, Rod Walker really liked Somewhither and wrote a review of it, but for the life of him cannot remember where he put it. So he shall have write it anew.

Meanwhile, Rod Walker has a book. 


publishing screening

Nick Cole writes some satire that is nearly indistinguishable from the real thing. Central quote:

Evan Fein-Epstein received his first manuscript from Tonkler and Huff Publishing last Wednesday morning after completing the company’s in-house certification as a Sensitivity Reader. Late Thursday morning, after attending an organic pet potpourri-mixing seminar and an impromptu Resist Trump Chant Circle at The Learning Annex, he was ready to begin reviewing Jack McNulty’s latest novel in the wildly popular Storm Hardcastle Thriller series: Option Zero. By three o’clock Evan Fein-Epstein was suffering from PTSD.

“The passages that contained the AK assault guns made me feel like I was in Iraq or something,” said Evan while both hands held a slightly shaking cup of Mystical Bliss during our first interview. “Those guns should be banned. They shoot thousands of rounds per second.”

Evan is part of a new program being standardized by major publishers to help vet tomorrow’s blockbuster reads and protect readers from harmful material. Sensitivity Readers scan finished manuscripts for harmful content that might offend certain readers. Themes such as gender, sexuality, and race are scrutinized to prevent a dwindling reader base from being exposed to dangerous or patriarchal ideas.

The amusing part is that it’s basically identical to hundreds of similar non-satire articles.

Rod Walker has a book. 

storytelling first

Jasyn Jones has an excellent post on storytelling in Silver Age SF at the Castalia House blog. Central quote:

Elevating a critical frame where the worthiness of a story is determined primarily by the veracity of the science involved is insanity. Normal people, the mass audience who used to read SF, care more about storytelling than minute technical details.

This is very true! Except nowadays “veracity of the science” has been replaced with social justice, and social justice is even deadlier to a good story. That said, a writer’s primary objective must be above all to tell an excellent story. There’s nothing wrong with a writer throwing in favorable references to his political views or religion or whatever, but they cannot take the place of honor from the story.

Rod Walker focused on storytelling in his book. 

back to Mount & Blade

Inspired by PC Bushi’s post on Mount & Blade, Rod Walker has resumed playing the game with a character named after the protagonist of a series of novellas he will be releasing later in the year.

So far, RW has managed to get his company of mercenaries slaughtered at the hands of Steppe Bandits, slaughtered at the hands of a band of renegade Khergit Lancers, and slaughtered at the hands of some Forest Bandits. Shortly before typing this, his company of mercenaries got slaughtered by several converging bands of Sea Raiders.

He’s not a very good mercenary commander, but his character has escaped from every fiasco, and has made a profit on every mission! This has increased his character’s Renown, and will make it easier to hire mercenaries for next profitable fiasco.

Rod Walker’s book also has some guys just trying to turn a profit.

the sensitivity reader scam

After yesterday’s post about sensitivity readers, long-time SF writer Dean Wesley Smith points out an angle that Rod Walker overlooked. Central quote:

Sadly, some people will hire themselves out to do this and new writers are going to buy into this scam just as they bought into the scam of needing a “developmental editor” or a “book doctor” or some other named scam.

That is a good point. There are a LOT of scams out there for unwary writers – people who will charge you thousands of dollars to “format” your ebook and some such thing, never mind that you can appropriately format your book for the major ebookstores with free software.

Truth be told, RW thinks that to be a writer, you need a little bit of arrogance, of confidence in your own works. There’s no need to be obnoxious about it, of course, but it’s good to be confident in your own work.

Rod Walker is confident in his book. 

more good stuff on Appendix N

Jon Del Arroz has a good post on Jeffro Johnson’s Appendix N book. Central quote:

It’s changed the way I think about stories. It’s changed the ways I think about worldbuilding. It’s got my hungry for more reading and literature like few events in my life have ever done. Now I discovered this group touting a #PulpRevolution a few months ago, but until reading Appendix N I’m not sure that I grasped the full meaning of what it entails. There is such a deep world of reading out there that we’ve missed out on based on modern storytelling conventions, where everything has to be told at least in somewhat of a bubble (sensitivity readers will make sure of that!).

If you’re at all interested in literary history, you need to read this book immediately. We’ve collectively missed out on so much fun that went on in the 1930s-1960s in genre fiction. I look forward to getting into some of Edgar Rice Burrough’s more obscure works that I haven’t read, reading A. Merrit and Leigh Brackett among others. These people deserve full biographies and studies dedicated to them, and while ERB certainly has that, the others had until now been lost to time. Appendix N is going to open up the flood gates.

That is one of the good things about ebooks. Ebooks stay in print forever. Rod Walker has read about half of the Appendix N list now, and he’s read them in ebooks that came from either Gutenberg or Open Road Media.

Rod Walker also has a book.