Assorted Fiction Notes And Observations

     In case I haven’t done so before, I’d like to issue a hearty recommendation of Philip S. Power’s Damsel series:

  1. Damsel: No More
  2. Damsel: Slaying Demons
  3. Damsel: Wilderness Hannah
  4. Damsel: Soda Supreme

     You know what a raving beast I am about originality. Well, here’s a giant helping. Hannah de Peyser is an heiress to a great fortune. As with most heiresses, her potential cash value makes her the target of kidnappers. Unfortunately, Hannah’s world is thickly populated with superheroes…and supervillains. This makes her situation rather less pleasant than that of heiresses in our reality.

     After the Nth such kidnapping attempt, she decides she’s had enough, and will be “the damsel in distress no more.” She resolves to become better able to fight off those who have targeted her – yea verily, even the super types. The story of her emergence from aimless party hound to a significant hero in her own right is both entertaining and inspiring.

     You can read the Damsel books as pure entertainment, which they certainly are, or as a tale of maturation and discovery, which they also are, or as a sermonette on the infinite possibilities open to one who has taken her life into her own hands to make what she can of it. In any case, give them a look.


     Two good bits of reading about fiction have recently come my way. Colonel Bunny supplied the first: Why Men Don’t Read Books By Women. The second is a brief Breitbart piece about some observations by Amanda Milius on “dissident” reactions against the politicization of entertainment. Both are worth your time, especially if you’re an indie writer, musician, or visual-media creator.


     Sigh. Another giveaway has come and gone, and once again I’m feeling a bit low. The inability to sell my novels is one thing; the inability to give them away is another, and considerably more depressing.

     You’d think a free, no-strings download of a book in your favorite genre would elicit the reaction “Why not?” After all, there’s no downside. You can read the book or discard it without having cracked its digital cover. You can even remove it from your “Content and Devices” library, leaving no evidence that it ever passed through your hands. Apparently I’m wrong about this. I’m still trying to figure it out.

     I’ve known for a while that my subject matter isn’t in the popular domain. (No space wars, apocalypses, time travel, vampires, werewolves, zombies, or harems.) But such are the stories I write. And so once again, I’ve been asking myself that deadliest of questions: What’s the point?


     Apropos of the above: In a last, despairing attempt to stimulate some sales, I’m reducing the prices of The Athene Academy Collection, the “prequel” to the Futanari Saga, and Innocents, the first full-length novel of the Saga, to $0.99, at which they will remain.

     These are not tales for persons averse to exploring the consequences of an unpleasant idea. The original premise was supplied me as part of a “challenge.” The three novelettes in The Athene Academy Collection were the first result. After I’d done a lot of research on the international sex trade, Innocents was the next.

     I’m also reducing the price of Which Art In Hope, the first novel of the Spooner Federation Saga, to $0.99.


     If you like F&SF conventions, be aware of BasedCon, a convention for indie fantasy and science fiction writers and fans. It will be held in Norton Shores, Michigan, and will run from September 15 through September 17. Have a few words about the Con’s intent:

     Sci-fi cons used to be a lot of fun. They were places where people of all colors and creeds could get together to talk and learn about science fiction and fantasy books, games, movies, and TV shows. Then, starting a few years ago, things changed. Cons became increasingly dominated by a small clique of authoritarian jerks who made them into venues for pushing social justice dogma and, in the name of “inclusiveness,” shut down any opinions that didn’t align with progressive orthodoxy. You may remember the Sad Puppies saga, which culminated in WorldCon voters selecting “No Award” in several categories of the Hugo Awards rather than reward people outside their tribe. Maybe you’re familiar with the Gamergate debacle. You probably heard about Gina Carano being fired from The Mandalorian because she voiced thoughts outside the acceptable range of opinion. Undoubtedly you’ve heard about the push to get Critical Race Theory and other social justice garbage into schools.

     Each of these controversies start the same way: a group of progressive malcontents moves into a space, takes it over, molds it to suit the group’s agenda, and then brands anyone who fights back as racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. For whatever reason, the problem is particularly bad in the realm of science fiction and fantasy publishing. As a result, a genre that has historically been about the unfettered exploration of ideas has become stagnant and derivative, and the people running the industry are often openly, unapologetically hostile to a significant portion of their audience. And if you’re an openly conservative sci-fi or fantasy author, good luck getting published.

     The publishing industry’s hostility to authors who are critical of progressive dogma was the primary impetus behind BasedCon. I wanted to put together an event where non-leftist authors could network and where new and aspiring authors could learn from authors who had already navigated these treacherous seas. When I mentioned the idea on Twitter, someone asked, “Are non-authors welcome?” And I thought, “Why not? A big meetup of sci-fi/fantasy authors and fans sounds like it could be a blast.” BasedCon was born.

     Sounds good, doesn’t it? At 850 miles away, I can’t get there by any of the methods of travel still open to me, so if any of my Gentle Readers should attend, I hope you’ll provide a full report!


     Finally, Hans G. Schantz, author of the Hidden Truth series, is organizing a multi-writer book sale that will commence on September 15 Midnight Pacific Time and run to September 22 Midnight Pacific Time. He’s timing it to coincide with BasedCon, mentioned above, at which he’ll be a featured guest and panelist. The books included will be priced at $0.99 or free. Books by some fairly well-known writers will be included in the sale, so if your To-Be-Read stack is getting short – mine always is – here’s another reason to mark your calendar.

     Hans’s last such group sale is described here, at his website. Some of the names will surely be familiar to you, so don’t miss out!


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    • George Abnego on August 9, 2021 at 9:31 AM

    ‘The inability to sell my novels is one thing; the inability to give them away is another, and considerably more depressing. You’d think a free, no-strings download of a book in your favorite genre would elicit the reaction “Why not?”’

    It is NOT a no-strings-attached offer.

    I went to download your book, and I recommended it to others before I did so. But when I got to Amazon’s page, I discovered I would have to sign up for a $10/month subscription – Kindle Unlimited. Yes, 1st month free, blah blah. We all know how that goes.

    I called my friends and we agreed we wanted no part of the bait and switch.

    Still think the story sounds interesting ( I am a life-long SF reader.)

    1. Well, George, it was absolutely free / no strings attached just this past Saturday.

    • JAMES on August 9, 2021 at 10:34 AM

    Yup, had a freebie run for my first book (and only fiction peice so far) and no one showed.  Depressed? Ayup.  So I gave away 10 dead tree versions with the stipulation that I get to interview them when finished (more of a ‘ what, if any, scene ‘sucke you in’?) So I might figure what of my style is working, and what smells of dead fish.

    So far, 4 interviews and good input,  and I’m mid-way through its sequel.

    Keep pushing type is all I can figure,,,,

    • SteveF on August 9, 2021 at 12:35 PM

    The inability to sell my novels is one thing; the inability to give them away is another, and considerably more depressing.

    Based on the popular and successful but not particularly talented creators I see on the Internet, you should show some cleavage and maybe do something with your hair. #FollowMeForMoreGreatAdvice

    re BasedCon, thanks for the heads-up. It’s a bit far but I’ll ask The Child if she’s interested. (Update: In the abstract she is, but not if it’s ten hours away.)

    if your To-Be-Read stack is getting short

    Aaaand that’s where you lose me. I cannot conceive of such a state. Even if I consider only fiction, the classics which I want to read are more than I’ll get to in my lifetime. (Unless, as I often suspect, I’m some form of divinity and can expect a very long lifetime.) Good-enough fiction is put up at an increasing rate on free-to-read websites by authors who write as a hobby or who are insufficiently woke to have a chance with a conventional publisher. (“Good-enough” is praise, and not faint praise. A number of amateur authors write well enough for me to use my limited free time on their stories. Even without professional editing, they’re often better than the garbage available from the big publishers.) There’s the pile of paperbacks and virtual pile of Kindle books I’ve purchased but not read yet. And I buy the works of about a dozen novelists, including you, whose work I like and whose careers I wish to support.

    I think that even if I stopped working and abandoned my family (notions which are often tempting, especially when The Child is being especially teenagerish) I don’t think I have time to read everything I want to read. If you roll in the previously-disregarded nonfiction, which takes about half of my reading time, there’s not a chance I’ll have time to get to everything.

    • SteveF on August 9, 2021 at 12:54 PM

    Contrary to the above, thanks for the recommendation for the Damsel series and Schantz’s sale. My daughter is interested in the former (and I already got the first book for her) and we’ll check out the latter next month.

    • Antony Deakin on August 9, 2021 at 6:49 PM

    If it’s any help I couldn’t get it in Canada. I think I’ve read pretty well all your books and love them!

    1. I just checked the Canadian Amazon site, Anthony, and In Vino is listed there. Perhaps it was a glitch of some sort.

    • Bill Fullerton on August 9, 2021 at 8:07 PM

    Fran I canceled Kindle when Bezos said he didn’t want conservatives as customers so I didn’t get your book, but I have read, if not all your books, all I know of. I will gladly buy this one if I can get it somewhere other than Kindle. I have enjoyed all of your stories

    • MrPink on August 10, 2021 at 5:46 AM

    Hi Francis,

    I guess I’m one of the few that took you up on your offer for a free book.  In the spirit of helpfulness, here’s my observations.

    Generally, your books are easy reads, at least for me.  But younger readers might not find them so.  Short attention span and all that. Also, they seem to prefer books that reinforce their world view, not challenge it.  Finally, your characters appear to dig deeper into their motivations than some thought leaders would care for.  As the Church is sadly out of favor these days, this might cause the books to not be seen by many – I would be (pleasantly) shocked to see them being reccomended on Opra’s book club.

    Last, while I’m an avid reader and actual buyer of your books, the futanari saga is not resonating with me.  Perhaps this book will change that when I get to reading it. As noted by others, the ‘to read’ stack is daunting, and right now Churchill has my attention.

    Please do fight on.  I appreceate your work.

    • 21stCenturyCassandra on August 11, 2021 at 9:28 PM

    Fran, I just re-read the Realm of Essences series. Great stuff!

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