An Opportune Moment to Note a Thing re: Baen Books

Oh, look: A stack of new Baen books arrived at the Scalzi Compound, not 45 minutes ago. Here they all are (not shown: the nice Balance Point mug that was also in the package). This makes it a lovely time to address something that people have been asking me privately, which is whether my recent critique of the Baen publisher’s post on fandom means that I have somehow declared battle with an entire publishing house and all its authors, etc.

Short answer: No. Longer answer: Really, no. And here’s why:

1. I think Ms. Weisskopf’s posting was ill-advised for a number of reasons, which I don’t need to address again here. But we all show our ass on the Internet; indeed, future historians may come to define the Internet as “a global electronic communications network, tuned for the showing of ass.” It’s a thing that happens. I’ve done it myself. More than once! I may critique her words when I find fault in them (obviously), but I’m not going to decide this one critique means we are bitter enemies forever, personally or professionally. That seems a bit much. I’m certainly not going to hold it against the books and authors Baen publishes.

2. I like promoting authors and their work, and especially science fiction and fantasy authors and their work. Baen authors write good stuff; a lot of my readers will like the books and authors Baen publishes. If those books and authors do well, it’s a signal that the interest in the field is healthy. That’s good for what I do. So for my readers’ sake and my own as a writer, it makes sense to call attention to what Baen publishes, and I’m fortunate to be in a position to call attention to it.

3. I like many Baen authors and their work, either as people or as writers (and sometimes, both). I’m happy to promote their work because I like sharing what I like. Moreover, I know and like people who work at Baen itself. I’m happy to do my part to keep them employed. Sometimes these folks may have views significantly different than my own. I may still like them as people (or may still like their work) anyway.

4. There are writers and others at Baen whose opinions may differ from (or flat-out oppose) my own, and I may find those opinions anything from silly to dangerous. But, as it happens, there are writers and others at Tor, my own publisher, whose opinions may differ (or flat-out oppose) my own, too. I’m not going to stop reading and promoting Tor books; I’m not sure why I would treat Baen books any differently.

5. Likewise: There are authors and others all around who think what I do/say is silly or stupid or obnoxious or otherwise ill-advised. If on that basis they decide to have nothing to do with me, well, that’s fine. I would be sad if they decided that because of me, they would have nothing to do with any writer at Tor. Again, that seems a bit much.

6. But, you may say, Ms. Weisskopf is the publisher, and that’s different. Okay, but: You all know that I recently signed to do a TV series with FX, correct? That’s owned by Rupert Murdoch, the same fellow who is responsible for Fox News. He’s also responsible, if that’s the correct way to note it, for The Simpsons, Firefly and the new Cosmos series. It’s possible to have issues with a company, its C-suite and things it does and still find reasons to do business with them and/or support some of the things it does (please watch Redshirts when it comes out, on FX. Thank you).

7. At the end of the day, as a writer, what I want people to judge me by is my writing, and not so much who puts out the book. Clearly I think that should apply to other writers as well. As an example, the current Nebula slate has a Baen book on it: Fire With Fire, by Charles Gannon. If people voting for the Nebs hold the publisher against the book, that’s foolish. There’s also a self-published novel on the ballot: The Red: First Light, by Linda Nagata. If people hold the fact that it’s self-published against the book, that’s foolish too. In both cases (and indeed in every case), what matters are the words on the page. With any book from anywhere, ask: Is it a good book? Does it deserve note? Do I like it? If the answers to each are “yes,” then enjoy it and share it. Simple enough.

So that’s where I am with Baen, its authors and their books.

Also: Any books up there that seem interesting to you?

123 thoughts on “An Opportune Moment to Note a Thing re: Baen Books

  1. The Chandler collection, naturally. Though of course I’ve read every single one of the (short) novels collected therein, I do appreciate Baen’s continued support of an author who was at one time routinely at the top of Astounding’s readers polls (If I remember correctly he’s in the top 50 of all time, if not the top 25 of all time), yet one who gets overlooked all too frequently.

  2. Balance Point and Cauldron of Ghosts look interesting. There’s a lot of calling out of issues within the SF field recently, which to me is like hearing your parents fighting while you’re I’m bed. Any chance we can get some call outs about good events/ happenings, or is everyone just going to be a cranky pants until I move out?

  3. The one that interests me right now is the one I’m a third of the way through, and that’s Fire With Fire. I thought the David Drake collaboration was called “The Heretic,” but now I think I’m reading it wrong. “The Heretic” is an interesting title, anyway.

  4. This is my problem with Baen, illustrated here. I don’t like the look of any of those books, even the one I’ve read and know I like.

    Baen’s art direction, typography and design seems calculated to say, “Hey, Busiek! Not for you!” It’s not, of course — it’s designed to appeal to whomever it is they perceive as their target audience, and clearly, it works for them. They’re successful enough that I have to conclude they know what they’re doing.

    But I rarely look at a Baen book and think it looks like something I want to read.

    Used to be, I liked the look of Tor books and Night Shade books so much I’d try even books that didn’t sound all that appealing to me, based on the fact that the physical book itself looked so nice. I learned my lesson.

    But even now, I’ll be attracted to books that are really well-designed, and it’ll make me want to find interest in them, want to buy them and read them and like them. There’s an old proverb about that, I know.

    But Baen books are just so clearly, lousy packaged to aim themselves at someone other than me, I find it hard to buy them, and when I do, hard to bring myself to read them.

    Ah well. Such is life. And I’m sure they attract more happy customers than they chase off, so it works for them.

  5. I’ve a great fondness for A. Bertram Chandler’s Commodore Grimes books. Light-hearted sf adventure stories are among my favorites, all too rare then and now.

  6. I enjoy Norton’s books (well, most of them, at least!) Also Heinlein, though Waldo and Magic Inc. is sort of in the middle when it comes to his titles that I like most and least. It is nice seeing them again, at least! :) And I got the eARC of Cauldron of Ghost, and loved it! <3<3<3

  7. I’ve read Cauldron of Ghosts (e-ARC) and it’s great, but a series title, so don’t start there if you haven’t been reading Honor Harrington. I’m curious about The Heretic–I loved the original Stirling/Drake Raj Whitehall books, but I’ve found the “Raj and Center get beamed around the galaxy” sequels pretty uneven. Anybody here read it?

    kurtbusiek: One of my favorite things about Baen is their DRM-free ebooks, which have the additional benefit that nobody will see the gaudy cover of the book you’re reading!

  8. Whoops. A correction: When it’s says “clearly, lousy packaged” up there, I meant “clearly, loudly packaged,” and I think autocorrect got me while I wasn’t looking. I don’t want to suggest that Baen books are badly packaged — they’re packaged well for the people they’re aiming at I think. They’re just not aiming at me.

    And John: I’ve though about that myself, and wondered. But I bought an e-book of MOUNTAIN MAGIC a while back, and haven’t started reading it yet — and what contributes to that decision, I don’t know. Could be that it’s just lost in the pile of e-books I haven’t got to yet, or it could be that when I pick an e-book from the list, I’m influenced by the knowledge that I didn’t like the cover. Or something else.

    If having it as an e-book made a difference, I think what that would mean is that I didn’t want other people to see me reading an ugly, garish (to my mind, at least) book, turning it into something of a fashion choice. I think it’s more that the cover art, trade dress, etc. is like an overture, a stage-setting for the show to come, and if it’s (again, to my mind) discordant and ugly, it puts me in a bad frame of mind to enter into the story.

    Of course, in e-book form, once having gotten past it I don’t have to look at the cover again, but it’s already set a tone…

  9. “Any books up there that seem interesting to you?”

    Heretics, obviously.

    Ok, I’m easily amused.

    As for covers, yeah, there was a time (first 35 years of life) I was drawn in by ‘cool’ covers, same as album cover art (any band wants my money, get Roger Dean to do your cover) but lately, I’m going pretty much off of reviews and word of mouth.

  10. “I loved the original Stirling/Drake Raj Whitehall books, but I’ve found the “Raj and Center get beamed around the galaxy” sequels pretty uneven.”

    I agree with everything about this comment. The Choosen wasn’t bad but the rest of the sequels pretty much sucked compared to the original 5 books which were awesome.

  11. Marion – THE HERETIC is the Drake collaboration, with Tony Daniel. It’s part of The Raj Whitehall series – a great military leader (based loosely on the Byzantine general Belesarius) in the far future working with a supercomputer to reunite the Galactic Federation after a millennium-old fall, in later books using his computer “ghost” to train others to save their planets. I came across the original five-book series, THE GENERAL, when I was in Las Vegas for Consumer Electronics Show in the late Nineties, and loved them – so I’m eagerly awaiting the (hopeful) sequel to THE HERETIC, since the book feels like it ends in the middle!

    Really want to read CAULDRON OF GHOSTS, which is the third in the Victor Cachet/Anton Zilwicki series beginning with CROWN OF SLAVES. It’s a sideshow to the end of Drake’s long war between Manticore and the People’s Republic of Haven, and start of their alliance against the Genetic Supermen of Mesa, in his “Honorverse” – and I love it because the series heroes are a Manticoran ex-intelligence officer/lover of a political firebrand, and his friend a somewhat politically rigid Havenite superspy! Their relationship, and the relationships that spread out from them, are really enjoyable….

  12. I am already through Cauldron of Ghosts. It is really read-worthy. The only criticism i have: It ends when you still could read another thousand pages of the story ;-).

  13. John, perhaps you’ve answered this elsewhere…..what do you do with all of the books you receive? I’m sure you’re busy, do you have time to read them all, and afterward, do you donate them to your public library or keep them? With all of the books you’ve received, I’d think your house would be overflowing. Keep up the great writing.

  14. “Does the advent of eBooks change that for you at all? I’d be curious about your thoughts on that.”

    I’ve had a Kindle since 2009, first a K2 and now a PaperWhite and other than cookbooks, I haven’t bought anything in a print edition since.

    Cover design is still important regardless of the medium. The only real change is that with an ebook, the thumbnail is what you see while you’re shopping. That means fewer words, larger fonts, and larger bold images that work well at 150 pixels.

    The “language” of covers doesn’t change though. What font a publisher chooses for a book, the art style, the colors and how bold they are. Baen has a very consistent style that says light fun reading, adventure, and action and I think that’s a very good representation of the brand. For ebooks, Baen heavily designed titles are fantastic and grab the eye, but the art itself is a little busy to see at thumbnail.

  15. Cauldron of Ghosts, definitely; I’m set to order it as soon as it’s released to the general public, so I envy your getting it early. I couldn’t read the title on the middle book top row, but it seems from other comments to be the Drake-Daniels The Heretic, which I have ordered from Amazon already. The Norton, Heinlein, and Chandler books are reprints of books I already have. I’ve never tried Buettner; the book looks interesting, but at my age (77) I’m pretty selective about trying new authors when I have a hard time keeping up with ones I know I like.

  16. Of the titles pictured, probably the Norton; I already have a much older copy of the Heinlein … I do have some Baen titles (was very pleased to see them pick up P.C. Hodgell and even publish new volumes in her series) and I love the Baen eBooks site, not least because of the titles from Night Shade, etc., that they post there.

  17. You think Athena would like Waldo ? Your comments on her not being all that keen on a previous Heinlein make me wonder.

  18. I have to agree to a degree with Kurt on this: a lot Baen’s art direction on their books seems to be targeting the same person over and over. Both stylistically and their art choices. I don’t see them as bad…just not to my taste. But a lot Baen books have an aesthetic that sticks out to me….and like Kurt, it doesn’t appeal to me. I think the font choices and design are a large part of it, honestly.

    That translates LESS into ebooks for me, but I also admit to being very annoyed when I get an ebook that has no proper cover. I’ve gotten a few of those, where the publisher, for whatever reason, released the epub document with just a title page containing no artwork. Part of me still desires that cover A LOT and the lack of it bothers me. The work of folks like Chip Kidd really does sell books, as do the work of talented artists. They get my attention or solidify my interest. It can push me over the edge from “I should read that sometime…” to “I’m reading that right now.”

  19. I’m reading _Fire with Fire_ right now, and I am really enjoying it. I paid absolutely no attention to who published it when I bought it.

  20. >> I think the font choices and design are a large part of it, honestly.>>

    They’re a huge part of it. The color choices, as well. It just looks to me like someone who’s mastered the design software and doesn’t know what to do with it yet — but it’s so consistent that I have to recognize they’re deliberately making those choices, however much I don’t like them.

    >> I also admit to being very annoyed when I get an ebook that has no proper cover. I’ve gotten a few of those, where the publisher, for whatever reason, released the epub document with just a title page containing no artwork. Part of me still desires that cover A LOT and the lack of it bothers me.>>

    Me too. The cover, the title page — the beginning of a book is a setting of the stage, an overture, a proscenium. I want to be ushered in, and ushered in well.

    In fact, the thing I’m most looking forward to as e-books develop will be when they can better design them, making font selections, header choices, whatever. I do a lot of e-book reading these days myself, but ultimately, I don’t just want the text, I want the text _presented_well_. Covers, books design, fonts and so forth are all part of that.

  21. I used to be very influenced by cover art, but with ebooks and audiobooks not so much. I never used to walk past a paper back rack without looking… Now? I’m waiting for the new Scalzi or Johnson or… I don’t know if it’s all about cover art or more about the connection the Internet allows me to make with an author, or something else. But the way I shop for books has definitely changed.

  22. “Does the advent of eBooks change that for you at all? I’d be curious about your thoughts on that.”

    Yes. These days I buy all my books in ebook form, and it’s drastically decreased the importance of covers to me. Two of those covers seem neutral to me and the other four say very loudly, “This book is not for you!” I wouldn’t take it as any indication of quality, but books where the cover includes a man holding a gun tend to be fairly action-focused and assume that the reader is male in a way that will eventually irritate me. When I purchased physical books, I would have picked those up and quickly put them back.

    These days when I buy a book, it’s because I’ve searched for the title or because it’s been recommended to me as being similar to other books I’ve purchased. I might look at the cover, but it’s less important to me, both because it’s less visible and because I have information beyond the cover that indicates that I might like the book. (The exception to this rule would be free/inexpensive romances, as the covers for those tend to be more like labels than art.)

  23. >>In fact, the thing I’m most looking forward to as e-books develop will be when they can better design them, making font selections, header choices, whatever. I do a lot of e-book reading these days myself, but ultimately, I don’t just want the text, I want the text _presented_well_. Covers, books design, fonts and so forth are all part of that.>>

    Steer clear of anything with complex formatting at this point. I picked up the eBook edition of Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales and it was almost unreadable — it had lost all of the changes in font, indentation, etc., used to distinguish between Tolkien’s writing, his own commentary, his son Christopher’s commentary, etc.

    Cover is less of an issue for me at the moment because I have a Kindle with keyboard, so everything’s in not-very-high-resolution grayscale. But someday I’ll probably want to see those illustrations in color.

    Also, “real” page numbers for everything, and more internal chapter-stop bookmarks — I hate it when I accidentally skip right to the very last page of the book.

  24. Yeah, one of the things that’s held me back from ereaders is the lack of choice of fonts. If all the books look too much the same it does something funny to my reading experience.

  25. *sigh* Waldo & Magic, Inc. was the first Heinlein book I owned, c/o the RIF program. Nice to see it back in softcover.

  26. W/r/t kurtbusiek’s point, a data point: I preordered “Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance” and therefore had already paid for it by the time I saw the cover–but I HATED IT SO MUCH GAH that it actually shaved a little off my enjoyment of the book.

  27. >> I preordered “Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance” and therefore had already paid for it by the time I saw the cover–but I HATED IT SO MUCH GAH that it actually shaved a little off my enjoyment of the book.>>

    The hardcover is unimaginative but inoffensive, aside from the unfortunate font treatment on the title. But man, virtually every other edition is worse (except the Kindle one, which looks identical).

  28. @wizardru:

    Part of me still desires that cover A LOT and the lack of it bothers me. The work of folks like Chip Kidd really does sell books, as do the work of talented artists. They get my attention or solidify my interest. It can push me over the edge from “I should read that sometime…” to “I’m reading that right now.”

    Well, sure… I’d be lying if I said I’m not superficial enough that an attractive (or at least attention-getting) cover increases my odds of picking a book up — and that’s half the battle. But no matter how pretty the cover, I’m still unlikely to change my view that reading Cormac McCarthy is about as much fun as an Ebola colonic. :)

  29. In general, I don’t particularly care about cover art, except that it does catch the eye, favorably or otherwise. In my experience, there’s no guarantee that the cover art necessarily conveys the nature or direction of the story. Not all authors have input into the cover pictures. None of the covers in the set shown appeal to me, but none discourage me from interest, either.

    Mostly, I look at the authors and titles. I look at the authors to see if I’m familiar with their work or recognize the name. Titles can draw my interest, though those don’t always convey the nature or direction of the story, either. In my experience, they work more often than not.

    For context with regard to Baen Books in particular note, first, that I am not a huge fan of military science fiction and, second, that I worked in-house for Jim for a while and then as a freelance typesetter for several years, the latter being the source of more than a hundred of the Baen titles I own or have owned.

    Of the books shown above, I’m attracted to the Drake and Flint titles. I’ve read a number of Drake’s books and enjoyed them. I’ve read a few of Flint’s titles and enjoyed those as well. I’ve read at least three of their Belisarius series and liked those.

    I’m also acquainted with Eric Flint and have known Dave Drake for a good long time, though we aren’t what I’d call close. I don’t know how much that influences my continued interest in their writing, if at all. In both instances, I was introduced to their writing before I met the person.

    I’d be interested in reading The Heretic and Cauldron of Ghosts. I’m less interested in the Norton, Heinlein and Chandler titles, though I’d likely look at the flap copy. I’d read the flap copy on the Buettner and Gannon books. If that piqued my interest, I might read the first few pages. (Though flap copy sometimes misleads as well.)

  30. There’s an old adage about book covers.
    At first glance it looked like the cover font size means whoever approved it needs to wear glasses, but naah: They are filling the less visually appealing/detailed parts of the cover art with title and author.
    My opinion on the covers: meh, I’ve seen prettier and uglier.
    The books 4.5* are familiar and liked authors, 3.5** are books I’ve read.
    ‘Balance Point,’ Buettner seems quite promising, book and author.
    -
    *Daniels and Drake: Drake yes, Daniels ???
    **I can’t tell if I’ve read the Chandler one. Certainly some of it, maybe all of it.

  31. I agree with you about Baen Books. It is the authors and books that are most important.

    One of the first adult science fiction books I read was Heinleins Glory Road and then Stranger in a Strange land. These were the only ones in the library I found as soon I was allowed in the “adult” section (12 and over). I don’t think I have read any others so a re-issue of Waldo might be fun to read.

  32. I loved both Waldo and Magic, Inc., and the Tim Powers foreword would be an inducement to buy all by itself. Chandler’s Grimes was an amusing transmogrification of Forester’s Hornblower.

    The covers are as usual hideous in the extreme, but there’s an adage about that, you know.

  33. “These days I buy all my books in ebook form, and it’s drastically decreased the importance of covers to me.”

    I’ve actually found the opposite. I too buy mostly eBooks but in terms of browsing and trying something new (rather than a planned buy of an author I like or am anticipating) I’ve found that covers really influence how I pick them even now. When it was mostly in the book store I would browse and look at the spine and titles and see what grabbed me and then turn to the back and read the summary and then look at the cover. With eBooks it’s cover first since there really is no spine when you’re browsing online so it’s not even title you see first. Now normally buy eBooks on my computer and then transfer them to my eReader since I have a first generation nook and I can’t even remember the last time I turned on the wifi so I don’t know how much that influences it but I definitely think cover art is important. If I see a cover I like I’m far more likely to read the summary and maybe check out whatever preview is available.

    Sidenote: Hadn’t actually seen that Redshirts news and yay! I do hope they keep Duvall’s name the same since I’m always thrilled when I see my name (Maia) spelled correctly.

  34. kurtbusiek: “In fact, the thing I’m most looking forward to as e-books develop will be when they can better design them, making font selections, header choices, whatever. I do a lot of e-book reading these days myself, but ultimately, I don’t just want the text, I want the text _presented_well_. Covers, books design, fonts and so forth are all part of that.

    Exactly. In point of fact, I’d like to see ebooks follow the mold that some experimental digital comics have gone, such as the thoroughly enjoyable Batman ’66 title or the stuff being done by Thrillbent.com: taking advantage of the unique properties of the medium. I’d love a semi-animated book cover on my ebook to help set the stage.

    @Cranapia: “But no matter how pretty the cover, I’m still unlikely to change my view that reading Cormac McCarthy is about as much fun as an Ebola colonic.”

    Well, yes. A terrible cover won’t stop me from picking up a book I was really looking forward to any more than a great cover will make a bad book enjoyable. But covers can do things like tie books together or set a mood. The covers to the Peculiar Crimes Unit series by Christopher Fowler, for example, creates a great aesthetic across the line that makes them feel like a set.

  35. I find most of these covers rather garish. With respect to Waldo & Magic, Inc., I much prefer the abstract cover art of either the 1970 Signet paperback or the Doubleday Three by Heinlein hardcover omnibus (also including The Puppet Masters) that was carried by my junior high school library. The Baen cover bears no apparent relation to any character or scene in either Waldo or Magic, Inc. – or are those hands supposed to be waldoes?

    Covers like these, whether from Baen or any other publisher, will tend to reduce the chance of my even looking at a given book, much less buying it. (I’ve never used an e-book reader, at least not yet.)

  36. Lila: I’m curious why that is? The cover font/style/color choices are all pretty consistent with Bujold’s earlier books. To me, the cover doesn’t really stand out in any particular way, so I’m interested to know how it caused such a strong reaction.

  37. I’ve been reading SF and F since I was a kid, and I never gave much thought to publishers until pretty recently. If a book was recommended to me, or if I saw a book that looked like something I’d like, I’d buy it without thinking, “Oh, I love DAW books, or maybe I won’t buy this after all. It’s Bantam, and I don’t care for Bantam.”

    The only thing I ever really thought about Baen before this (and this was only from comments people made in online forums) is that it has the reputation for cheesy covers that don’t necessarily reflect on the actual content of the book’s being cheesy. So if a book cover is kind of off putting, but it’s a Baen book, maybe give it a chance anyway, since they’re known for cheesy covers, and it doesn’t mean the story is cheesy too.

    It’s complete news to me that different SF and F publishers might have different political philosophies or subscribe to different ideas about what SF and F should be. I always assumed they all wanted to pick up whatever authors they thought would sell well. I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that there’d be some branding, but like I said, until recently, I never really noticed the name of the publisher on the spine.

  38. Sorry for the double post, but of the ones listed above there, the Andre Norton probably appeals most. The colors are a bit softer, and anything with a canine on the cover will get my attention. Plus, well, Andre Norton. Military SF is not the thing I normally gravitate towards as a reader, but there are some notable exceptions. I enjoyed Old Man’s War very much, for instance, but I read it because I discovered your blog, John, and thought I should give your stuff a try.

  39. Cover art and design seems to be part of brand identity. Baen books always look sort of old fashioned to me, like they are trying to hearken back to the pulps. Which is fine, but it means I tend to overlook them when I’m browsing, and have to make an effort to search out works by authors that I know I like. I’m visual enough that I’m unlikely to pick up a Baen title when I need an emergency read.

    I’m very fond of Penguin’s house style; though it varies between imprints, there is a certain continuity that appeals to me, and I am *really* fond of their classics designs. They did a reissue of Proust a few years back, actually retranslations, that were just really beautiful, as well as being good translations of the works.

  40. The covers are kind of a barrier to entry for me as well (I adore Lois McMaster Bujold books but am not a fan of the covers on her sci fi books).

    The world is so full of good fiction these days that I’m suprised at any publishing house putting up any kind of barrier to entry.

    I won’t go out of my way to avoid Baen but they aren’t making good arguments for their books and at least one of their representatives seem not to want me (or any other non-American) as a customer.

  41. I would probably read all of them, but Cauldron of Ghosts is on my *waiting impatiently* list since the second one in the subseries came out.

    And, the rest of the post was goodness. Thanks, John.

  42. Those are 80s covers, I think, or late 70s. I’m not sure Baen commissions new covers for their reprints. This might account for it, or it may be a deliberate choice in the look they want to cultivate. Or both.

  43. Baen’s covers are pretty notorious–if anything these are a bit on the subdued side for them: see http://www.goodshowsir.co.uk/tag/baen-books/ for a selection of the “best.”

    Still, the classic-gaudy style seems to work for them. I remember reading Lois McMaster Bujold somewhere writing (I paraphrase, as I can’t remember where I saw this) that for one of her Miles books she was so fed up with the gaudy cover she made Jim Baen change it–and that book turned out as the lowest-selling one of the series. Whereupon she resolved to shut up and let Baen take care of the cover art going forward.

  44. I would be very, very surprised if the covers of Baen books were not consciously designed to send a marketing message to those who they consider their target market and who may not be familiar with the author. I *think* that my own reaction would be the same if I had not already seen other Baen books with their “house style for book covers”, but I have no way of knowing for sure if this is an accurate assessment.

    To me, their “style” brings back memories of the SF magazines and paperbacks of my teen-age years in the 50s. As such, it does not directly influence my willingness to buy their products, as I have memories of some great stories during that time, and memories of some truly bad stories in the same era. However, it does mean that I would have a rather neutral viewpoint about any of their authors with whom I am not familiar, and am willing to at least skim the book before making a decision.

    The same cannot be said of some other cover art that I have seen over the years – to which I have had both negative reactions and positive reactions. Obviously, people who are not as antique as I am would not be influenced in the same way, and even those who are my age may well have different reactions, given how much our attitudes are influenced by our life experiences in so many areas.

    Cover art can definitely be a factor in sales, to the point where it is foolish to not treat it as a major marketing factor. My favorite example of this is my own experience many years ago. On one of my visits to the public library I walked past a new book, stopped with a cliche double-take, walked back to that book, and picked it up. It had a recognizable portrait of Robert E. Lee on the cover in a three-piece suit, holding an AK-47. The title was “Guns of the South”, and the author was someone with whom I was completely unfamiliar at that time – Harry Turtledove. Thirty seconds later, I knew that this book was coming home with me.

    Some years later I was talking with Harry at a con and related that story to him. He told me that the idea for the book cover was his own, and that it appeared that I was far from the only customer who had reacted in the same way.

    – Tom -

  45. As I kind of said in the long-running comment thread about the Weisskopf thing, I’ll readily admit that I’ve found it easier to buy the Baen authors I do buy since I got a Kindle. I’m in my mid-fifties and we live in an academic town, and around here, when a person goes to someone’s house for a party, one of the things most do is browse their bookshelves. And in more than a few cases I’ve found myself trashing the slipcover of a Baen book in order to keep the book on my shelves. I really don’t want a guest to see the covers and make an erroneous but all too common snap judgement. Pathetic, I know, but there you have it. I’m still worried about how I’ll be perceived. (Note to self: find a shrink).

    The vast majority of my collection I’ve no problem with displaying. Gibson’s covers are gorgeous. Martha Wells’ covers do a great job of portraying what’s happening therein. Bruce Sterling, Ben Aaronovitch, Harry Connolly, Melissa Scott, Iain Banks, Ellen Kushner, Neal Stephenson…they’ve all got great fucking covers. OK, the paperback urban fantasy books with the (allegedly) hot women posing in uncomfortable positions with weapons motif is a little embarrassing, but that what libraries are for. Read’em. return ‘em, on to the next. But Baen. Almost all of their covers seem to basically say “This is a book with lots of explosions! In space! Or with lots of swords with scary looking evil-doers of one kind or another ” Arggh. I’m not a fan of Amazon, but thank the deities for the Kindle.

  46. Timeliebe–thank you for the clarification on HERETICS. The series does sound interesting.

    I was going to comment on the similar, rather generalized covers too. For example, I haven’t anything anything in FIRE WITH FIRE that is evoked by the Guy in a Sports Model Spaceship cover. I can only throw tiny stones, though, because my preferred novel-homes are made largely of glass. Urban Fantasy is justly known for the Supermodel with Leather and Tatts cover. (Perhaps more accurately Victoria’s Secret Models.)

    GUNS OF THE SOUTH is a great example, because there was an intriguing cover that actually resonated with events in the book.

  47. I’ve gotten Baen books from the library where I ended up keeping them turned over on the couch so I didn’t have to look at the terrible cover art while reading a wonderful book.

  48. Guys, I think we can retire Baen book covers as a topic of conversation at this point. The general feeling about them is clear. Let’s move on.

  49. Dearest Baen:

    While you’re reprinting Andre Norton, will you cast an eye upon her juveniles? I loved them, once upon a time, despite (or because of) the way they made my skin crawl with their weirdness, and my copies are falling apart.

    Best wishes,
    Kellan

  50. The story I heard about GUNS OF THE SOUTH was that the genesis of the story was a remark someone made to Turtledove that something was “as incongruous as Robert E Lee with an Uzi”. He changed it to an AK-47 for the story.

    And I gotta say, anything with cover art by Michael Whelan, and I’m halfway to buying it.

  51. Some thoughts:

    When Jim Baen left Tor and set up Baen Books, he very obviously modeled it almost exactly on Don Wollheim’s DAW Books from the previous decade: a deliberate mix of new and somewhat avant-garde SF/fantasy with about 30% reprinted ‘classic’ material, distinctive and sometimes garish cover art (and spines; while Baen didn’t go all the way in matching DAW’s black&red-on-yellow format, it was good odds that an early Baen Book would have either a gold or silver spine, slightly glittery), and an identical distribution model (independent imprint distributed by a major house – NAL/Signet for DAW, S&S/Pocket Books for Baen – and, in both cases, ultimately supplanting the major’s own SF paperback line.)

    Baen did manage the coup of scoring Robert Heinlein, in a more author-friendly version of what a small (and at that time not very ethical) publisher did to Louis L’Amour – obtaining the rights to either the magazine versions or earlier, non-renewed paperback versions of older stories. (Most if not all of which were still in print, under separate contract, from Baen’s old employer Ace Books.)

    But here we are, a good 40 years after DAW hit the streets and a good 30 years after Baen did the same…and the differences between the two couldn’t be more stark. Betsy Wollheim (and Sheila Gilbert) quieted down the trade dress and dropped most of the vintage writers (ironically, the John Grimes novels were a DAW mainstay back in the 70s), while Baen (and Weisskopf seemingly even more) cranked up the guns, tits & explosions while dumping almost anything that didn’t fit the blood&thunder category.

    Market divergence, I guess…but it’s one reason I was shocked but not surprised at Weisskopf’s essay. Both imprints used to appeal to a wide audience, but they’ve both found their niche, and Baen seems more determined to cling to it.

  52. georgewilliamherbert said “Cauldron of Ghosts is on my *waiting impatiently* list”
    Waiting? -rushes off to Amazon, comes back-Seeing as how that one isn’t out until 8 AP 2014 I /haven’t/ read it, and a hearty “me too” on the impatience.

  53. RPF @ March 14, 2014 at 1:36 pm: “Anybody here read it?”

    Speaking as a great fan of most everything Drake has written and co-written, my reaction to The Heretic was “eh”.

    They are trying to do something a bit off the formula by having a computer like Center (but evil/insane) on the other side. Points for trying, but it really didn’t do much for me.

    And yes, it does stop without finishing the story, but I have no great eagerness to see the sequel.

    Having read 1/2 or 2/3 of “Cauldron of Ghosts” I can say it is fully as good as the other Weber/Flint Honorverse books. Recommended.

  54. Interest?

    Well, Cauldron of Ghosts is in the main line of the Honor Harrington series, and that’s deep in my “e-books that keep me exercising” collection. I’m buying it when the e-book becomes available, despite the atrocious (but at least accurate) cover.

    Norton? I grew up on Norton. the Scholastic edition of Catseye was one of the first books I dropped a week’s allowance (about $0.25) on. But frankly I’ll only spend so much for nostalgia, and her mangled syntax is enough to take me out of the zone when working out. This one is only when I can score it cheap in a bundle.

    David Drake has made my three-strikes list on the first try.

    I enjoyed the Chandler stories as first editions, and still have a pretty fair collection (often as Ace Doubles). Nostalgia, smoother reading if less impressive worldcraft than Norton. Same result: wait for a good bundle.

    Waldo/Heinlein — no rush. Nostalgia, see above; at least unlikely to take me out of the zone.

    Buettner: volume N where it looks like I need to read 1 through N-1 first. Not ready to make that investment blind.

    As for Baen generally: they dominate my e-book collection thanks to the lack of DRM (which is a total deal-killer for me since none of the DRM schemes work on my systems. Never mind SpAmazon’s we-can-revoke-your-purchase-retroactively policy reminiscent of “Plays for Sure.”) But DRM or no DRM, I only get so desperate for workout reading and some just ain’t worth the bother (such as Drake and, with cautious exceptions, Ringo.)

  55. Wasn’t the working title for “Stranger in a Strange Land” “The Heretic”? ….odd how things come around.

    I don’t recall that Andre Norton, maybe I’ll pick it up.

  56. The world is so full of good fiction these days that I’m suprised at any publishing house putting up any kind of barrier to entry.

    One word: DRM

    Baen has gotten most of my e-book purchases so far precisely because I can buy an e-book from them and (I realize this is expecting a lot) actually read it. As distinct from admiring the entry in my credit balance that it cost to get the right to maybe read it some day if I’m good and buy a computer that the publisher (or Amazon) think is appropriate.

    I will be forever grateful to Our Gracious Host for pointing out to me that recent Tor/Macmillan fiction are not inaccessible. They may be hard to find, but if I do find one that I might like [1] I can buy it with some expectation of at least discovering whether the book itself is worthwhile instead of writing off the “purchase” as a total waste. Which is a crap shoot with most publishers who only allow you to discover that you’ve wasted your money after they have it.

    So in the roundabout way of another thread: there are reasons to prefer some publishers over others. Right now Baen and Tor are the only two on the list of those I trust. Pity that.

    [1] Yes, Mr. Scalzi, yours are on that list.

  57. It’s possible to have issues with a company, its C-suite and things it does and still find reasons to do business with them and/or support some of the things it does (please watch Redshirts when it comes out, on FX. Thank you).

    Except now we can’t trust because you have the number of dollars in your bank account directly tied to the same people who you’ve previously criticized.

    This is extremely simple. You are either with the enemy or against the enemy. There is a war going on, and you either pick sides or one of the sides take you out.

  58. Covers or no covers… I bought the monthly bundle of e-books at Baen, and will get to download them in a couple of days. I by e-books for two reasons. My Kindle and more importantly my smartphone weigh less than a hard cover or trade paperback (or even many mass market paperback). This is important for someone whose hands are not as strong as they used to be. Secondly, I cannot pile them up anywhere. I have a room converted to a library, shelves for books in my living room, more shelves in a room dedicated as an office.. even shelves in my bedroom, and STILL the dining room table is covered in books!
    I’ve been buying e-books at Baen for years. I am grateful to them for introducing me to books I never thought I would enjoy. I am a woman, living on the east coast, and a proud liberal. What a surprise (to me at least) that I really enjoy military SF.

  59. Dpmaine:

    “There is a war going on”

    Oh, I have no doubt you wish it were so. But, no. You’re wrong. Again. And no matter how much you want there to be a “war,” neither I nor anyone else needs to oblige your silly desire for one.

    Note, Dpmaine, that I recognize this will be your cue to step on a soapbox and read off a set of index cards about the culture war you fervently hope for, if only for your own entertainment. But I’ll be happy to just take that as read if you don’t mind, and save you the trouble of blathering and me the trouble of having to read it. Thanks.

  60. Half of the books in that photo above are by dead authors. Two of them are authors I admire very much (Heinlein and Norton), and one is an author I haven’t read but I’ve heard a lot of good things about. I really ought to read Chandler; maybe this would be a good place to start.

    And that’s definitely one good thing about Baen; they’ve been republishing a lot of great older works and bringing them to the attention of today’s readers. That’s a real service. It’s also something that makes me nervous about Baen; at least in some cases (I’m thinking Schmitz), their republications of older works have been so heavily modified that I wouldn’t necessarily feel like I was really reading the work I wanted to. So if I were going to buy these Heinlein or Norton or Chandler editions, I’d want to look closely at the fine print at the front of the book first.

  61. JS– Happily skip to the part where you know everything. Should I also skip the long list of links where you criticize and Fox News, Fox, Murdoch, or corporate control of the culture, and note how it just happens to have stopped right around the point in time where you got into bed with them? And how as far as back as I have been able to trace Whatever you have never, so far as I can see, made such a statement until after you were made, we can only assume, much richer because of such new sleeping arrangements? Or that also on the index cards you already know about?

  62. PS: Who said anything about a culture war? Rupert Murdoch is the enemy; he runs a corrupt news empire that is objectively evil: they hack into the cell phones of deceased children and listen to voicemail messages from friends and parents. They bribe officials. They hegemonically destroy all opposition and seek total control of the news business.

    Culture wars? Hah. This is a war between decent people and Rupert Murdoch. He won’t be happy until SOPA and it’s ten worst friends are law, their DRM on everything you look at, and he gets a monopolistic slice of it all.

  63. I’ve found after some experimentation that I’m not that into Dave Weber’s writing style, though I wish him no harm and appreciate what he’s done for the field. So his team up with Flint in his Honorverse would probably not attract me. I have Heinlein’s Waldo and Magic Inc. already. (They are basically novellas.) Not my favorite of his that I’ve read. Drake I’ve read and the story set-up is okay for a coming of age idea, but I’d rather get to co-author Tony Daniel’s Earthling first. (Daniel is a past Hugo nominee.) I’ve mild interest in the John Grimes omnibus, as I’ve heard some praise for the past series and I like humor. Buettner’s book is not the first in the series, so I would be reading the first in the series if I read it. It sounds kind of interesting. I would probably check out samples of his writing first. I am choosy about my military SF, but he’s done well in the field. I am fond of Andre Norton’s fantasy works for the younger set, so I have some interest in the Children of the Gates omnibus, which contains two I haven’t read, but she was so prolific, that I would probably do some research first to see if those two particular ones are ones I wanted to spend time on, as opposed to others by her.

  64. Eric Flint and Weber actually make a great team. For my money, better than either alone, and I really enjoy their team-ups in the Honorverse — even after Weber’s missteps in his own series. So I might pick that one up.

  65. GregT: partly just that it’s ugly (and I think the others are too), but mainly that it makes the book look more like a Retief novel or Flandry of Terra than what it is.

    (Incidentally, I had exactly the same experience as -et- with the cover art for “Guns of the South”.)

  66. Heretic, need to read the 1st chapter now.

    as for politics, SF needs inclusiveness now more than it needs issues. Besides I personally know at least two Baen authors who contribute (time & money) to Lib DEMs. So its not all as portrayed.

    /I will add that Jim Baen’s Con parties had politics (every room party at a SF con has that or sex if it was not trying to sign you up to sponsor their “con”), debate was allowed. Which in some SF forums seems not to happen.

  67. I didn’t say it before, but it kind of goes with this post’s bullet-point style: It seemed pretty clear to me that Toni was writing as a fan with a soapbox, not as the publisher of Baen Books issuing corporate policy. The appropriate mode of response is fannish, not boycott.

    For what that’s worth.

  68. This is where the internet makes things awkward for fans. Before the internet, I really had no idea what my favorite authors thought about anything, especially each other. Now that I can read all their blogs I am finding that many of the authors I have read and loved really hate each other. Well, okay, if I’m honest it’s that a few of them really don’t like you in particular…

    It’s okay though, because I can read Old Man’s War and Monster Hunter International and the few John Ringo book where he has a co-author to reign in his insanity and they don’t fight on my bookshelf.

    This is the blessing of being a fan without a strong loyalty to an exclusionary group. I can like who I like and nobody can tell me otherwise. I am glad to have you to agree with on this.

    (a note: I don’t read Ringo’s blog after I read his first few posts, but Correia has some interesting stuff when he’s not being political)

  69. Beth Meacham:

    It seemed pretty clear to me that Toni was writing as a fan with a soapbox, not as the publisher of Baen Books issuing corporate policy.

    I am not at all for a boycott of Baen Books, as I have said. And nobody has actually started a boycott, so fuming about imaginary things is unnecessary. But the above is not how it works. Weisskopf is the publisher of Baen Books, Whenever she speaks or writes in the SFF public, whether it’s the Baen Bar or elsewhere, she is doing so as the publisher of Baen Books. It is part of her job. What she says has consequences for her company. And the particular piece that Scalzi criticized is the type of thing that drives readers away, especially when some of her authors jump on the bandwagon and start calling others with a made-up definition of fascism from it; and perhaps even more importantly for Baen, since most readers won’t be reading the piece but a lot of SFF authors will, it drives other authors away from Baen because they assume they won’t be welcome there. If the fan with a soapbox is running the company, and is talking about the company as well, you reasonably assume that this will be their guiding principle in picking and supporting authors. So it was perhaps a professional mistake, (or perhaps it was a corporate strategy, who knows,) and there’s no getting a fan hall pass for it. It’s unlikely to cause her much grief in the short term. In the long term, especially if she continues to take that position in public as Baen’s publisher, it will have effects. Perhaps they will be the effects she wants and perhaps not.

  70. Yah, well. I am a book collector, and I’ll take my Heinlein (and my other Golden Age authors) in first-edition vintage paperbacks, the earlier in the edition run the better. So there. Later printings need not apply. Try and out-snob that, folks.

  71. As for point 4, that goes both ways and then some. I think some of your opinions and ideas are brilliant and others shallow, silly or simply wrong. That does not prevent me from reading a book of yours.

  72. bekabot @ March 15, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    Heinlein hardcover first editions with Clifford Geary illustrations.

    Your argument is invalid.

  73. @dpmaine:

    Culture wars? Hah. This is a war between decent people and Rupert Murdoch. He won’t be happy until SOPA and it’s ten worst friends are law, their DRM on everything you look at, and he gets a monopolistic slice of it all.

    Well, that’s adorable but I hope you brought that moral high horse dinner and a drink before crawling so far up its arse. But let’s play the game: You are aware Mr. Scalzi’s publisher publishes DRM-free e-books (against the initial opposition of Tor’s coporate parent, IIRC) and our host thinks that’s a wizard idea? If you insist on being a passive-aggressive dick, at least be a dick with a nodding acquaintance with reality. (And, yeah, I believe Scalzi is a sincere GLBT ally and marriage equality supporter even though Tor also publishes the vile Orson Scott Card.)

  74. Why would you call OSC vile? Because he does not agree with you? If disagreement is the criteria for vile then I am you, Scalzi and just about everyone on the planet is vile to someone. Pointless statement you made there…..

  75. Why is it so hard for people to realize things aren’t binary? Why can’t I enjoy John Ringo’s writing and at the same time disagree with this politics (or even eye roll when he gets preachy in his stories)?

  76. @WondersNeverCease Well, let’s see, arguing for armed rebellion might qualify…

    [W]hen government is the enemy of marriage, then the people who are actually creating successful marriages have no choice but to change governments, by whatever means is made possible or necessary… Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down….

  77. I’ve seen any number of people on here saying they aren’t calling for a boycott of Baen books. Is anyone calling for that anywhere? Why are we talking about it?

    Do people think Toni’s piece assumes us lefties will boycott Baen? Or is it just the posturing dudebros in the comments who talk about bravely standing up to whatever they think we’re going to do?

    cranapia: You are aware Mr. Scalzi’s publisher publishes DRM-free e-books (against the initial opposition of Tor’s coporate parent, IIRC) and our host thinks that’s a wizard idea? … (And, yeah, I believe Scalzi is a sincere GLBT ally and marriage equality supporter [derail clause omitted]

    Good point, and so do I. In fact I’m friends, online and in person, with several Toroids, and they’re LGBT allies, too (the ones who aren’t gay themselves). Not to mention that I’ve had harmless-to-pleasant interactions with Toni herself in person and online, much as I’ve been sharply critical of this particular piece.

    WondersNeverCease, Since Our Host has already asked us not to derail, I’ll just say that Google is your friend. Seriously, this information is very easy to find.

  78. @ Captain Button:

    What I was trying to intimate was that what I’m interested in is the paperbacks (not hardcovers, which tend to be too bulky to lug around, at least in quantity, though YMMV) — except that the PB’s I’m interested in are the vintage PB’s, the older the better, and in decent condition (no cracks in the spine and no major cover damage), etc. I’m more interested in cover art than in interior illustrations. So, not a potential buyer of either first-edition hardbacks or of paperbacks like Baen’s. That’s my secondary point.

    My larger, primary point was that if you make a big thing of unrolling your snob-credentials so that other people will be impressed by them what’s going to happen is that you’re going to discover that the people you’re trying to impress have snob-credentials of their own, which may possibly be more rigorous than yours, and which will certainly be different. And that these people will rate their own snob-quality by means of their own snob-credentials, not according to yours. And that this outcome is an outcome about as guaranteed as that the sun will come up in the east. So (with all due respect) I don’t think my point is invalid, though it may not have been the one you expected.

  79. (sigh) Another stack of new Baen releases, and still no new “John and Lobo” title from Mr. Van Name. That’s the only Baen series I follow, so I’ve no idea if it’s typical of their other offerings. I tend to follow individual authors, and not even notice who publishes their work – just glad that someone does when it’s something I like.

  80. Lou:

    Why is it so hard for people to realize things aren’t binary? Why can’t I enjoy John Ringo’s writing and at the same time disagree with this politics (or even eye roll when he gets preachy in his stories)?

    Because for some people, it is binary, and they get to decide that about themselves. And you get to decide to read Ringo and disagree with his politics. And others get to decide to criticize and judge you for doing it that way or agree with you that this is the way they do it too for authors. And the ones who criticize and judge you for the way you do it, you can in turn, criticize and judge for their stance, and they in turn can think your judgment is completely wrong and say so. We went over this with the Ender’s Game film — that’s how real free speech conversation works. And that free speech includes boycotts, if it comes to that.

    That does not of course include conducting crimes — threats of sexual/physical violence, stalking and Internet harassment tactics, etc. It does not mean that private sites can’t exclude content they don’t want on their sites. What it does mean is that if you say something in public, people can disagree with you and do so angrily and think you’re an awful person. If you are in a relevant professional position, what you said can have consequences.

    Xopher:

    Do people think Toni’s piece assumes us lefties will boycott Baen?

    Do you really even have to ask this question? You forgot you were evil, didn’t you? :) But if people want to stop buying Baen books, they have that right. The assumption that we will automatically all do so is part of the we’re hysterical fanatics position.

    Bekabot:

    I think Captain Button was actually joking with you, saying that his/her snobbery outranked your snobbery, understanding that the snobbery would be pretty pointless and you were joking about it. But I might have misunderstood.

  81. Thanks for the guilt trip, Bekabot. I’m in the process of yard-selling a bunch of my 60s paperbacks (some in good shape, some not) because I won’t have room for them all in the new digs (and in most case have other copies of one sort or another.)

    But I seriously doubt that the buyers will be serious collectors. Just readers, and I hope some kids.

  82. Bekabot:

    I think Captain Button was actually joking with you, saying that his/her snobbery outranked your snobbery, understanding that the snobbery would be pretty pointless and you were joking about it. But I might have misunderstood.

    Thanks for the guilt trip, Bekabot.

    Welp. I know I’ve been displaying the part of my character which is usually kept with its face turned to the wall, but I’ve been doing it with a purpose in view. And, FWIW, though I haven’t been in drastic earnest (just as I suspect Ms. Weisskopf, at the beginning of this brangle, was not in drastic earnest), I’ve been in fair-to-middling earnest, just as I suspect she was. More-or-less serious claims (by which I mean claims which are serious to the people who make them) are advanced under the cover of satire or humor all the time. The Weisskopf rant is far enough over the top to pass as a parody, but (again, I suspect) there’s a vein of serious intent holding it up and winding it together, and that vein of serious intent proceeds from the fact that, indeed, for some people, this stuff is binary, and that to them what you can like is determined by what you’ve earned the right to like. That’s not something I agree with when it’s stated as a proposition, but translate it into a feeling and I understand the nature of the vibe. It’s a vibe I have experienced — which doesn’t make it more valid or less foolish to people who aren’t into the same aficion. Short version: probably Captain Button doesn’t need my rap on the knuckles, but I’m pretty sure there are people out there who do. (Judgement call.)

    But I seriously doubt that the buyers will be serious collectors. Just readers, and I hope some kids.

    Maybe not, but it’s not a sure thing. Serious collectors love yard sales…

  83. Ah yes. Our differences are what makes things interesting. We can criticise or cheer all day long. But anyone who would attempt to shut up those who do not drink the same kool-aid are simply ignorant.

  84. It’s funny – when I first saw the Crown of Slaves series, I was thinking “Ah, yes, another one of those cases: unknown author writes book set in famous author’s universe; famous author adds name as co-author to boost sales.” And then I looked more closely and saw that the coauthor was Eric Flint! Yeah, not so much with the “unknown”. So Cauldron and its two predecessors is definitely on my radar, albeit so far hovering a bit out of reading-time range.

  85. Let’s not turn this into a thread about Mr. Card, please.

    Sorry about that, Mr. Scalzi, should have been more sensitive to room tone in making my point that if you want to take “tainted by association” to its reductio ad absurdum, I’m sure we can find a great deal in the von Holtzbrinck Publishing Group’s extensive holdings (including Tor’s corporate parent, Macmillan) to offend every ideology. Why you’d bother, however, currently escapes me.

  86. markjreed, be warned that Crown of Slaves and sequels aren’t just in the Honorverse, they’re a thread in the main Honor Harrington sequence. Not particularly comprehensible unless you’re up to speed on the story so far (now exceeding a dozen volumes.)

  87. cranapia: You are aware Mr. Scalzi’s publisher publishes DRM-free e-books (against the initial opposition of Tor’s coporate parent, IIRC) and our host thinks that’s a wizard idea? … (And, yeah, I believe Scalzi is a sincere GLBT ally and marriage equality supporter [derail clause omitted]

    Yes, yes, this is great. Until the point when the corporate overlords who now directly fund JS get legislation passed that makes it quite impossible to not publish DRM free books.

    The copyright and content protections that Murdoch supports (Murdoch, who is now known as JS’s sugar daddy), as well as the general business environment he supports, will snuff out any producer not at the mega-scale. At which point JS’s preferences will have absolutely no weight whatsoever, as the only people publishing will be the big content providers… who have DRM bolted onto every snippet of text, copy, and tune you can possibly hear. Several of his overseas proposals, where there is no such thing as “freedom of the press” have come dangerously close to banning independent publishing.

    If Murdoch had his way, Old Man’s War would been a copyright infringement for borrowing the aesthetic appeal of Heinlein’s work.

    But all that is swept under the rug now. There won’t be anymore posts critical of Fox News, Fox, or Rupert Murdoch. It is likely that he is contractually prohibited from doing anything more than cryptic references to them now. As long as he gets his slice, I guess…

  88. dpmaine: While it is entirely possible, as you suggest, that Scalzi is AT THIS VERY MINUTE walking around wearing a “Watch Megyn Kelly at 9!” t-shirt, how do you explain Seth McFarlane getting Cosmos back on the air when its every second is a slap in the face of Murdoch’s sugar daddy, Frightened Dumb People?

  89. Murdoch loves money over anything else. I don’t know the show or what it’s about, but if it’s profitable Murdoch will do it.

    JS just gave Murdoch a big kiss on Twitter. Murdoch makes a painful anti-gay remark, and Scalzi responds tepidly like a lap dog.

  90. Wow. I just looked at Scalzi’s toot, and, man, if you can’t tell the difference between a kiss and a poke in the eye, then I— {Just Good Sense is knocked unconscious by the good angel on his shoulder who hates feeding trolls.}

  91. “He’s also responsible, if that’s the correct way to note it, for The Simpsons, Firefly and the new Cosmos series.”

    I don’t know if I want to give Murdoch too much credit for Firefly, since Fox basically sabotaged the show and canceled it early.

  92. Is a “liberal bum fight” anything like a “conservative coc*IS EATEN BY ANGRY WOLVES QUOTING H. L. MENCKEN BEFORE COMPLETING HORRIBLE REMARK*

  93. dpmaine:

    “JS just gave Murdoch a big kiss on Twitter. Murdoch makes a painful anti-gay remark, and Scalzi responds tepidly like a lap dog.”

    Yeeeeeeeees, that’s it.

    I should note I thought I was responding to John Schwartz, who retweeted it, but even as a direct comment to Murdoch, it’s not a particularly lapdoggy statement. Also, dpmaine, if you think I’m going to abandon twenty years of a pro-gay rights stance because I have a book under option at Fox, you don’t know me very well. Which as it happens, is absolutely correct.

    dpmaine, it really looks like you’re attempting to troll. How about you don’t.

  94. JS– you didn’t refute anything Murdoch says. He says “gays are taking over the world, I hope some other people boycott!” and you say “those other people don’t even know gays are taking over the world”. You really showed him.

    The last negative thing you said about Fox or Murdoch was, so far as I can tell, six months ago. Are you now prohibited from using your publishing platforms to negatively portray any entity?

  95. dpmaine:

    “you didn’t refute anything Murdoch says.”

    Yes, because every time I post on the topic I have to list every single position of mine. And Twitter is perfect for that!

    Dpmaine, time to move on from this thread, I think. The obtuseness you’re showing at this point is intentional, I think. And if it’s not, you have other problems.

    That said, I note your question in the Reader Request week, which is rather more reasonable than the insinuation here. I may answer it.

  96. I have some direct questions as well, open to anyone:

    Is it true you wash your hair in clam broth? Is it true you used to dance in a flea circus? Is it true you’re getting a divorce as soon as your husband recovers his eyesight?*

    *shamelessly stolen from G. Marx

  97. Is it true you wash your hair in clam broth?

    What do you mean, “hair,” you insensitive clod?

  98. Greg, Could you please not use “stopped taking their meds” to mean “is being a jackass and/or troll”? It’s ableist and mean. Thanks.

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