WorldCon Controversy 2015 – Historical Perspective

The current Worldcon kerfuffle may seem to some like a recent phenomenon based on the flaming currents of social media. However, such controversy has existed throughout the history of fandom. In fact, going back to the the very first Worldcon convention, prevalent members of science fiction were excluded based on their political beliefs. Sound familiar?

So with a desire to gain a better historical perspective, I called David Bischoff. I write science fiction with Dave, and he’s really the man to speak with regarding the history of SF&F fandom. Not only does Dave have a 40 year (and counting) history writing genre fiction, but he has extensive experience going to SF cons long past and getting into a heated debate or two…er, hundred.

The following is a transcript of our discussion: Enjoy!

Saul – What’s your thoughts on the Worldcon controversy involving Vox Day and the Sad Puppies?

David Bischoff – Well I just heard about all this hullabaloo when my esteemed colleague Jerry Oltion started posting notices on our local writer’s group page. I’m still puzzled about this whole thing about Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies, I didn’t know it was about Libertarianism. I just thought it was about people looking to push their own sad self published books. I don’t really know how a political philosophy pertains. Frankly as far as that goes, this seems to more the kind of thing that L. Ron Hubbard’s creeps do. But then Ron was an SF fan and writer who lived in a slan shack in the early 40s, so the tradition goes way back.

Saul – Is this really on par with Hubbard?

David – What I know is this. Why are people taking this so seriously? I think it’s a hoot and great publicity for SF and Worldcon. — Vox Day is a genius!

Saul – (Laughter)

David – He’s done what John W. Campbell used to do which is have fun being a Devil’s Advocate and poking sharp sticks of pseudo-reason at the dopey heart bleeding liberals.

Saul – I don’t know, it seems to be more than just having fun. Anyway, where do you place yourself on the scales of reason?

David – Me? I’m a rational and perfect Super-Liberal who has voted Democrat all his life, but actually would prefer to hang with conservatives who are lots more fun. Did you hear about the gorgeous Wonder Twins and their books? Now I’d collaborate with them in a heartbeat. Oops! Maybe I better read one of these gems first.

Saul – Do you think Libertarian SF is making a strong comeback?

David – How the hell am I supposed to know? I don’t see sales figures. I do know that some of the looniest people I ever met were Libertarians. I went to the 1981 Denver Worldcon which was just winding down a Libertarian Conference and lots of the nutters were staying on to the Worldcon. I remember all these weird people talking intensely to each other about their various personal theories. The talk of the early Worldcon was how one Libertarian had gotten so overexcited in a discussion or argument that he’d keeled over with a heart attack and died on the spot.

Saul – Sheesh, that’s horrible.

David – Frankly, I think that science fiction people INVENTED Libertarianism. Prominent amongst these was Robert A. Heinlein, who actually had a strong medical excuse.

Saul – Now that’s interesting. Did you know Heinlein? What was your impression of him?

Well I met him all the time in SF. Personally I was lucky enough to not only meet him in personally not long before he died, but to witness him in remarkable action at an SF con in the mid 70s when he was guest of honor.

Saul – How did that go?

David – His stint at the Worldcon was wild. First, he had this blood drive. Awesome. On the other hand, did the blood bankers really want blood so filled with booze and drugs? Then he demanded that if you wanted a book signed by him, you needed to show proof you’d given at least a pint of blood that weekend.

Saul – Sounds pretty driven for a good cause.

David – And that was just the beginning. His Guest of Honor speech was in a special auditorium to accomadate the masses who wanted to hear him. He walked on stage to a standing ovation. He set an alarm clock and put it on the podium. “I have a half hour to talk, and that’s all I’ll take. When the alarm rings, the talk is over.”

He proceeded to ramble on about wonky political stuff, often incoherently, for the full 39 minutes.

Saul – Then what happened?

David – People started booing.

Saul – Really?

David – I for one was happy the speech was only a half hour. Now mind you, I’m a big fan of everything the man wrote before TIME ENOUGH FOR LOVE. I once had an argument about this with Charles N. Brown, the remarkable founder of LOCUS, but I know people who agree with me. Nonetheless, I still read and reread his earlier stuff and it was and still is great. The man was not only a modern visionary, he wrote like a dream and really could draw a reader into a book. Just recently I reread THE DOOR INTO SUMMER . Hey. Any books up for the Hugo this year as good as DOOR INTO SUMMER. Rabid Poopies? Sad Poopies? Hey that’s the title of your next book Vox Day.

THE DOOR INTO DUMBER

Saul – (Laughter.)

David – Anyway, I got to meet him another time because a woman I was dating once and a while at the time knew him and his wife Virginia. I lived in Maryland at the time. Heinlein was a graduate of the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland and was attending a reunion there. Heinlein invited my friend to a party and she took me along as a date. My friend and collaborator Charles Sheffield was also there, so I was relieved about that.

Saul – So what happened at the party?

David – It was a wonderful party. Heinlein was so gracious. I think I heard later that he’d had some kind of operation that improved his mental facilities. You know, when you look back you can see there are plenty of SF fans and authors who were low grade autistic. Not Robert Anton Heinlein.

When he came over to chat with my friend and I shook his hand, and I asked him how his reunion was. He said it was wonderful. We talked a little more and he called Charles over and also a Japanese rocket scientist from NASA who both Charles and I knew and who was one of the biggest Heinlein fans in the world. We talked a bit more and then Heinlein excused himself.

“Pardon me, I really should go and talk the the Admiral over there now. But before I go, in case I get too tired and have to go to bed — Dave. Could you do me a favor.”

“Sure!” I said.

I was ready to give blood.

Saul – Ha!

David – He winked at me. “Just a minute.” He went off into the bedroom of the suite. When he returned he had a copy of one of my books.

“Could you honor me by autographing this for me?”

And he even had a pen. I find tears in my eyes now even as I think about that. You know what? Robert A. Heinlein won some Hugos and he cherished them. I don’t think he needed any help in getting on the Hugo ballot, ever.

—- To be continued in my next post. Stay tuned. —-

Favorable Book Reviews – Freedom Club

Freedom Club - KindleI’m very satisfied to report that Freedom Club continues to gain favorable reviews. Recently, I received a positive review from Eeclectic Breakfast who rated my book 4 stars on Amazon. A second four star review came from Adam-P-Reviews who also had a favorable opinion of my writing.

In addition, both Goodreads and Amazon have a continuously growing number of optimistic star ratings and comments. It’s a good sign, and gives me confidence that the years I spent writing this book are starting to pay off.

Take a look for yourself. If you find that the synopsis and reviews are to your liking, by all means, please take a read of Freedom Club.

New Post – Voodoo Robot Chili

For those who haven’t yet subscribed  to my new blog,  Voodoo Robot Chili (and you know who you are, but not necessarily in Heideggerian terms) please note that I’ve posted some new articles which you’re sure to love.

They’re witty, yet prophetic in the, “my god this beats the pants off a Magic 8-Ball” sort of way. Though, come to think of it, Magic 8-Balls don’t wear pants…

But who cares about that?

Trust me, I’m making fun of everyone from Dick Cheney, all the way up to Taylor Swift. Do you see the connection? I sure don’t. But that’s not the point. I’m just damn sure I’ve targeted everyone who’s scratched their butt at least once in their life. (Once again, you know who you/they are.)

So whoever (or whatever) you want to laugh at, don’t worry. And don’t get your  panties all bunched up into a pretzel. You’ll find a chuckle at  Voodoo Robot Chili.

Click on the link baby. You know you want to.

New Blog – Voodoo Robot Chili

Because I’m now working on my second novel, I’ve decided to start making posts in a new blog entitled, Voodoo Robot Chili. Some people feel it’s best to post from one single blog, and focus readers all in one spot. In the future I may do that. However, for aesthetic reasons, I feel there are benefits to dedicating a blog to one particular book. To begin, all the art and colors can be tuned to the new book’s aesthetics. More importantly, it’s easier to focus the posts in line with the genre of this particular book. In this case, military SF comedy.

Anyway, if you’ve enjoyed my writings in the past, I can only make a humble appeal to follow me on my next writing adventure. Please join me at Voodoo Robot Chili. I’ll make it worth the time.

Making a POD with Lightning Source: Holy crap…I got me a book!

The process of creating a POD version of Freedom Club continues to progress well.  After uploading my content PDFs for both the book’s interior and cover, I finally received my proof copy by UPS.

And the final result? You can see here:

It’s a perfect bound 5×8 trade paperback, perfectly square with soft cream paper. Just over 400 pages, it feels like a quality product. Lightning Source has done an outstanding job, and it sure does feel like I made the right choice using them for POD distribution.

I must say, seeing the book on real paper does give one a true sense of accomplishment. Now all I have to do is market the book, and get everyone to read the darn thing. That…will probably end of being a life long endeavor.

I am of course indebted to everyone at Hotspur Publishing who helped bring this to fruition. I’m certain my first book would have been a disaster if I’d gone it alone.

Stay tuned for more on my humble attempts at marketing.

Reader’s Guide and Having Fun

One criticism about my book FREEDOM CLUB is about its alternate history flashbacks, and the fact that diverging from the primary plot makes the book more difficult to read. I suppose this is true to some limited extent. However, I also feel that readers have become overly accustomed to the homogenized story-telling techniques employed by big publishers. I’m not saying I don’t like a good thriller now and then. But for some reason it seems wrong to enforce preconditions on how one must write a book. Is this not art?

Now some people will say that intellectual issues within a book are fine if treated the right way. The ‘right’ way? Sadly, I translate this as a prerequisite to couch all text in nail-biting action which keeps readers glued to each line of text. Fine for thrillers; but not every book needs to be a thriller, right?

Right?

In any event, to help readers try to understand my non-standard flashbacks,  I’ve put together a ‘reader’s guide’. You can see it from the blog’s main menu, and I hope it helps extract greater meaning from the flashbacks, so that they don’t feel like they are just roadblocks.

It was always my goal to make a book that would entice people to think. How interesting to see that when you actually do this, you pay a price.

And to those who say all higher learning can be fun: sorry, I must disagree. Intellectual pursuits can be extremely enjoyable, but they’re not fun. Look at any serious artist painting, writing, making music, sculpting…. Are they skipping around and going WEEEEEEE ? I don’t think so. Normally, they’ve got on some hard face and look like they’re zoned out (or want to kill someone). For sure, they are enjoying themselves.

But that’s not the same as having fun.

Making a POD with Lightning Source: Submitting New Titles

The process of creating a POD version of Freedom Club has progressed very well.  After having my designer create PDFs for both the book’s interior and cover, it was fairly painless to upload the files, and request a proof copy. Cost of the Proof? $30

One thing I’d like to highlight is the Lightning Source customer website. It shows all the titles that have been submitted, and contains an instant link to on-line chat with their customer support team. Below is a screen capture of my chat with them. They were nice about confirming the status of my new submission and the next steps of the process. I must say, it was wonderful having their on-line chat– right there on the spot. All my questions were answered, taking a lot of worry out of the process.

Customer service website with full overview and on-line Chat. Very nice!

Another point worth mentioning is the fact that Lightning Source  is having a campaign, allowing me to set up new titles for free. Normally, it costs $75 to set up each book, but this fee is dropped if I order 50 copies. Since I needed promotional copies anyway, this was great timing!

So far, so good. I’ll keep writing as this process continues.