A Missive To Our Reading Thralls – Free Range Oyster

*Yeah, I’m days late posting this.  Yeah, I’m okay.  This weekend just got really weird, what with the classless behavior of the SF Aristos, at the same time we were putting a home for sale AND dealing with paperwork and last minute stuff AND figuring out some things we forgot when moving boy out AND still recovering from beyond massive auto-immune attack.  Now I’ve delivered Black Tide short, after dissuading it from becoming a novel. Betas say it’s good.  I’ll write the other two overdue shorts today, then swing to novels including Witch’s Daughter and finishing Rogue Magic.  (And also, yes, Darkship Revenge, Dragons and the Shifters’ Bowl of Red.)  This means, now and then you’ll get a filler post like this.  I have a post percolating about “signaling” and “elites” but it will wait.  Love you all.*

Happy Saturday, minions, henchmen, partners-in-villainy, and other associates of our beloved Beautiful but Evil Space Princess! As we pause for a moment in our depredations against all that is good, right, and SJW-approved in the name of the Evil League of Evil, I offer you some reading material to slake your thirst for entertainment. Adventure, magic, heroism, science, freedom of contract, oppressive cisheteronormative patriarchy, all that is good in books! So go enjoy a good (evil) book for a while, and return rejuvenated to your nefarious efforts to bring down the Holy SFWA Empire. Oh, and gentlemen: don’t forget to practice twirling those moustachios!

As always, future promo post entries can (and should!) be sent to my email. Happy reading!

Jason Dyck, AKA The Free Range Oyster
Codemonkey, minion wrangler, and teetotal tippler

PS: Since I lack a proper sarcasm font, the humour-impaired should probably just ignore that whole first paragraph.

John Van Stry

Demigods and Deities

Portals of Infinity: Book Five

Life can be complicated for those who the gods pick as their champions, and for William, it’s really no different. Between dealing with issues at home for his god Feliogustus, to helping Queen Rachel defend Hiland against the growing threat of Barassa, to being loaned out to other gods in other spheres, William has been kept busy.

Many of these tasks have had consequences however. Some of those William expected, and for one of them the time has come to deal with it and a trip back to Sireen may soon be in order. Complicating that matter however are those who are holding a grudge against William for his thwarting of their actions. But when the followers of another god kidnap his youngest child, William’s first question is, is this revenge, or is there something special about his child? With both his god, and the goddess Aryanna mostly mute on the issue, beyond their one command to keep the child ‘hidden’, William wonders what it is they won’t say, and why.

As always, there are things you need to take on faith when you work for a god, but sometimes their responses can be very frustrating. Especially when they order you not to ask questions, but the welfare of your own child is involved. Add to that some equally strange discoveries about his old foe Cenewyg back on Earth, which are also affecting his life and William is left with more questions than for which he has answers.

Max Florschutz

Dead Silver

Chupacabra hunting. Murder. Vacations aren’t supposed to turn out like this.

When Hawke Decroux gets an invitation from an old friend to come to New Mexico and help track down some chupacabras, it seems like a simple enough request. Hang out with a friend, enjoy some sun, help a few locals out, and maybe, just maybe, catch a live chupacabra and net a sweet fifty thousand dollar reward as the cherry on top of the deal.

But as Hawke arrives, he finds that his friend has turned up missing. The animal attacks are growing more violent and frequent, far more dangerous than any chupacabra attack seen before. Something strange is going on in Silver Dreams, and if Hawke can’t figure out what it is, the entire town might find itself facing a situation far worse than a few missing farm animals… a horror straight from their darkest nightmares.

Christopher Chupik

Enigma Front


A wave of possibilities rolls across the land and nothing remains the same IN ITS WAKE… Dinosaurs. Dragons. Clowns. From nineteenth-century China to the moons of Saturn, from the Renaissance to the aftermath of apocalypse, these eighteen stories share one theme – change, like you’ve never seen it before.


Read stories penned by Aurora, Hugo, and Nebula Award winners, as well as
up-and-coming authors, in a single volume.

Daniel Potter

Off Leash

Freelance Familiars Book 1

When Thomas Khatt awakens to the magical world following the sudden, violent death of his elderly Archmagus neighbor, he doesn’t get the standard package of awesome power combined with a hero destiny. Nope, he trades his thumbs in for a tail, tawny fur and four feet with a very low co-efficient of friction on linoleum. His destiny as one of three talking mountain lions in the magical world? To be sold at auction and bonded to some pimply faced apprentice for life. Thomas would rather eat dirty kitty litter.

Armed only with an impressive set of chompers and buckets of snark, Thomas faces off against a lightning-bolt throwing granny and a sexy union recruiter as he desperately tries to hold the threads of his old life together. To stay off the leash he’ll have to take advantage of the chaos caused by the Archmagus’ death and help the local Inquisition solve his murder. A pyromanic squirrel, religious werewolves, and cat-hating cops all add to the chaos as Thomas attempts to become the first Freelance Familiar.

175 thoughts on “A Missive To Our Reading Thralls – Free Range Oyster

  1. I am not sure it is appropriate to describe the Aristo behaviour as “classless” — such behaviour has been a hallmark of their (aspirational) class since human culture first developed classes.

    That they want all of the perquisites of aristocratic elites does not, of course, require we accord it them; it is more a reason to stockpile over-ripe tomatoes and possibly tar & feathers (figurative, I hasten to add.)

    1. Surely you’ve heard the SJW’s blather on about wanting a “classless” society. Now we know what the really mean – they wish to be uncouth and not be called on it.

    2. I went to see if ESR had any comments.

      The top post over this is called, “On having good form” so I thought he had. Turns out it’s about his martial arts class.

        1. Oh, I know. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he never commented.

          I just thought seeing the title and how well it would work anyway was amusing.

        2. He was at least aware the then-impending mess at Penguicon when, since a work of his was nominated for a Campbell (which he thought was not deserving of the award, perhaps a later work might be) ACME delivered unto him a few cans of Campbell’s soup. Upon opening the parcel there was a pause and then, “Oh, I know what this is about.”

    3. I recommend C.S. Lewis’s Studies in Words. One reality of semantic drift is that as soon as someone uses “upper-class” to mean “that which befits an upper-class member,” someone else notes the obvious truth that social class is, if not orthogonal to it, certainly not entirely correlated.

  2. Regarding the promo items, I wonder whether we cannot do something to enable better browsing of the material? It seems to be accessible through Amazon’s “look inside” feature, which is probably preferable to establishing a site for samples or attempting to post excerpts with the promos here; is this something which should be “understood” or does anybody think it requires explicit recognition?

    Similarly, do Huns & Hoydens want format info in these promos? Presumably all are published in digital form, Kindle, Nook or whatever and are DRM free? I observe several of the items seem to be in the Kindle Unlimited program but, as I don’t like reading excited electrons, I am not a member of that and it would be helpful to know when trees have been killed for my entertainment.

    These all look interesting and I wish the authors the greatest success. As always, satisfied customers need to Review the works on Amazon (dissatisfied customers should write the author directly) and tout them to friends.

    1. Hark to the wise marsupial. Indeed, reviews are like gold coins to authors. It does not have to be like a book report in grade school! Just what you would say if you were talking to a friend about a book you think they would enjoy.

      “There were space battles! And a cool robot with a cape, and a really funny dog that keeps getting in trouble, and…”

      You get the idea.

    2. Honestly? I’m okay with a dissatisfied customer leaving a review on Amazon as long as they explain why, aren’t arrogant or insulting about it, or aren’t using heavy personal opinions like “I think this should have had more sex—1 Star”. If they didn’t like the book, then they didn’t like the book, and if they explain their reasons for why, they may help some other would-be disappointed reader who would dislike it for the same reasons choose something else.

      Ultimately, I want those who read the book to be happy with it—to have enjoyed it—but if someone hasn’t, and doesn’t feel it was worth their time or money, then letting others know why they felt that way may help the audience better self-select for things that they like. If one two-star review turns away two potential buyers who wouldn’t have enjoyed it either way, but also entices three potential buyers that decide they are okay with the areas that review didn’t like, I’m all right with that (even if it does mean less money in the short-term; I’d rather build rep).

      By that same token, the system only works if people review in the first place, love it, hate it, or feel fairly neutral about it. No matter what, if you can, please leave reviews!

    3. I’ve shifted to all-Amazon (Hail Beelza-Bezos!) because of the lack of sales at other outlets. The next novel will have a print version, but my earlier collections and books don’t, in part because of $$ concerns when I was having the covers and formatting done. Everything was/is DRM free.

      And yes, I love reviews, good ones especially, but the not-so-great to thiz-buk-sux! at least build numbers (and provide hints as to what needs improvement.)

      1. I might make note that the “bad review, write the author” quip was intended tongue-in-cheek (we shall leave aside speculation about just whose cheek for another time) mainly because I’ve written the “Leave A @!#$ REVIEW” comment here so very many times, and yet it can never be said enough.

        I take it as a given that the Huns & Hoydens know the proper etiquette of posting bad reviews: review the work, not the author, keep to factual statements and qualify opinions as just that.

        I allow I am more likely, when reading an Amazon review, to look at the negatives more than the superlatives. Sometimes the negatives provide much better information and, in the instance of some reviews of works by (ForEx – why is it whenever I see that abreviation my mind flashes to a condom?) Ringo or Kratman the negative reviews will tell me precisely why I would enjoy the book. Of course, sometimes the negative reviews just tell me the reviewer is a dolt.

        1. I’ve hesitated to leave reviews because they come down to: I didn’t like the book. It seems well-written but it didn’t hold my interest.

          I don’t want to do that authors I’ve met here. It seems tacky.

          1. If you can’t put your thumb on it more precisely than that, it’s probably not going to help steer people. I generally don’t review books I haven’t read twice myself.

            Tom Easton observed that some people looked to his column to reliably steer them to the right books as he described them as turkeys.

            1. Hah! Precisely what I used his column for. (And, conversely, when he gushed over it, I knew to not even take a look at the cover.)

        2. One of the pieces of advice I always give new authors is that one-stars sell books. It’s hard for authors to believe, because they’ve got a large chunk of their life and their ego wrapped up in their books, but it’s true. Five star reviews tell you what’s good about the book, one-star reviews tell you who the book’s audience is.

          I own a lovely cookbook on the strength of a one star. It started “This doesn’t have new recipes! It’s just a compilation of the best of her last five cookbooks!” … I GO ONE CLICK BUY NOW.

          1. I have known writers to rejoice over one-stars because then audiences know you’re selling to more than your friends.

          2. This was reliable for kitchen utensils too. My favorite on a carafe “This carafe was useless and flimsy. When I was forced to use it to shift some dirt in my yard, it broke after a couple hours.” I wish it were a joke review, but it wasn’t. The guy defended it in comments and it became obvious he was absolutely serious.

  3. Really, a book preview post today.

    Like I haven’t bought four indies already today, one of them already the Hun’s fault (September book…it’s my first time in the group and I’m so excited I got it in dead tree to make note taking easier).

    Fine, now it is five….are you happy now? 🙂

      1. If it wasn’t for eBooks my nightstand would be shrinking due to compression from both the weight of the “to read” pile and the fact it would be pressing against the ceiling.

        And that’s without the technical manuals.

  4. “Now I’ve delivered Black Tide short, after dissuading it from becoming a novel. Betas say it’s good. ”
    Spurned and abandoned.
    Nobody loves me,
    everybody hates me.
    Guess I’d better go eat worms.
    Big fat juicy ones,
    long thin slimy ones.
    Ooh how they wiggle and squirm.

      1. You forget little Portagee, one of my more pleasant missions in life is to spin you up. Good for the blood flow, don’t you know.

          1. Done!
            Amazing what a bit of shameless whining will bestow on kindly old Uncle Lar. I did figure that after this past weekend a bit of harmless fun might just be in order.

              1. I loves you too, niece of my heart.
                A little something came to me over at MGC that you and others here may find amusing. I offered my services as minion to the unholy triumvirate of Kate, Sarah, and Amanda including turning hardwood posts into stakes for Kate to put to good use. Someone offered a supply and asked “ash or ironwood?” I said ash as ironwood is a booger to carve, but after a bit added this further comment:
                “On sober reflection, ash wood is the perfect choice. Each completed sharpened stake shall be delivered to Kate for her utilization. And each shall be known as yet another ash to risk in service to Sad Puppies 4 The Embitchening. We see your petty asterisk and go you one better you social justice pathetic wannabes.”
                After all, when an enemy offers you a golden opportunity one must take it must one not?

                1. Due to the tender graces of the emerald ash borer, I have over 30 dead ash trees on my property. I can guarantee an unlimited supply of wood. I just took one down that was at least 85 years old. It was over 30″ in diameter at the base.

                    1. I don’t take down the trees until they have been dead for at least two years. The borers are long gone from it by then. I have almost 6 acres of which about half is wooded. About half of that was in ash trees. Most were 30+ years old.

                      Right now I have over 2 full cords of firewood ans am looking for a sawmill to make billets so I can have someone turn some baseball bats to give to my 4 sons and 6 nephews.

                    2. A few years ago on Blackfive, they were doing some sort of milblog fundraiser and one of the inducements was if you donated x amount, one of the members would send you a foot long baseball bat with “Official Blackfive Cluebat” burned into it. I’m thinking that something like that for Sad Puppies would be amusing. I still have mine somewhere around here…

  5. Just an FYI, I read ‘Off Leash’, and I loved it. I’m the one who told the writer to put it up here, that’s just how much I liked it! 🙂
    It’s a fun book, with an interesting situation. For a first book, it’s a really great story.
    (Oh, and buy my new book too! 😉 )

      1. Next, on Sick Sad World! Exploding mailboxes! SJW plot, or childish pranks? Was it intended for you – or the postman?! Film at eleven!

  6. Was there video of the proceedings? I’ve asked for a refund due to violations of Hugo Rules (Mark Protection, Nomination and validation processes), and their response is:

    “Whatever ‘asterisk awards’ there might have been were not given out by Sasquan. All Hugo Finalists (and indeed all votes) were treated exactly the same by the Hugo Administrators.”

      1. Atchooly I asked here because someone said you might know who got that footage -XD

        Sasquan is pushing back on this, so if I pursue a refund via my credit card company I’m going to need some hard evidence. So far all I’m getting it anecdotal stuff and a flat denial from ConCom that any of that happened. Most recent response is:

        “They were not awards. They were *gifts* to each and every nominee.” Yet I’ve heard that it was stated during the event that ONLY Puppy noms received the asterisks.

            1. Wow, after bragging they were over budget can they afford 900+ plus puppies contacting CC companies and demanding refunds?

              Can CC processors requiring bonding? If so, would future WorldCons face bonding issues over this?

              Sometimes the stupid burns not just witnesses but the stupid person themselves.

            2. I think this might be a tempest in a teacup (do I have to worry about summoning her by using her name?). As I understand it, nominees who don’t win have traditionally received pins to commemorate the achievement. The only examples that I am familiar with are miniature rocketship pins, but I don’t think there’s anything that mandates that. So the use of an asterisk for the nominee (or finalist, who the heck cares) pins might be more than a bit tasteless, but it wouldn’t constitute a new category of award or any IP infringement.

              1. Use of an asterisk in awards ceremonies has a standard: to invalidate the award being given. That’s not merely “tasteless”, it’s an official revocation of the nomination without cause.

                This is reinforced by the nullification disks stating “official”, as well as carrying the Sasquan/Hugo marks (which are protected by law and cannot be used on anything without permission of the Mark Committee).

                Witnesses to the event also state there was a specific slide in the awards presentation showing the asterisks, showing that the award was indeed authorized.

                Thus, everyone who voted other than “No Award” in five categories was disenfranchised by the illegal nullification of the very entries which had already passed the Nomination and verification processes.

                  1. I don’t know if they did or didn’t get Loser Pins, what I do know is that they were given awards (described as “wooden coasters”) with asterisks punched out of the middle. These were embossed with “Official Nominee” and according to witnesses shown on a slide during the award presentations. Absent any other official explanation from Sasquan or the Hugo Committee, asterisks on awards conventionally nullify them — they are symbolic of the award having been illegally obtained.

                    1. Frixample, a gold-medal winner who is later found to have used performance drugs would have their award nullified by the placement of an asterisk next to it on the record.

                1. Officially they’re not nullification disks, they’re nominee recognition pins. There was nothing illegal about the No Award decision.

                  Unofficially, they’re a slap in the face to everyone nominated and an example of the petty childishness that has been endemic on the CHORF side.

                  1. I’ve been wondering ever since I heard about those “coasters”. Would showing up at KC with yellow asterisk patches, after the fashion of the Star of David patches the Nazis made Jews wear, be over the top?

                    1. At this point I don’t think there is a top to go over. They’ve shelled their own position, I don’t see how they could object to anything we do.

                    2. Yes.

                      The Puppy Kickers (hereinafter referred to as Punters) have made it clear that our presence is unwonted, disrespectful and.deleterious to the general health and welfare of fandom.

                      The Punters have agreed to allow us to give them our money so long as we keep our stupid opinions to ourselves and try to blend in as much as possible, although they would prefer we not attend their Worldly con at all.

                      OTOH, I don’t think many of us much give a flying flip what those Punters think.

                  2. Not saying “No Award” was illegal. Pointing out that the pins themselves were illegally commissioned and also that asterisks do in fact nullify awards in standard award nomenclature. That’s why they’re a slap in the face to begin with.

                    At this time, however, the Hugo Committee has responded to me, claiming that these were NOT official awards at all and NEVER approved. This is despite what the awards themselves say.

        1. As I understood it (trying to hear it through the cheering of the smug classes) – they were given free to the nominees. But everyone else could purchase them, proceeds to the charity favored by PTerry.

  7. Thanks for promo! And John’s suggestion to apply. If you have any questions about Off Leash. Which you should bought already, I mean if the cat doesn’t sell to ya, the firework toting squirrel should! 😉

    1. You need to rename the initial witch 😀 (I keed, I keed!) Bought and enjoying as my commute book at present.

  8. The Dishonorable Opposition has retreated to their bunkers – yes, we still have to dig them out of there, but that’s next year.

    The House of Time Soaking is finally on the market.

    Only some things were forgotten when boy moved out. Now taken care of.

    The Eczema Attack From Hell is being defeated.

    Our Evil Space Princess is once again penning missives that bring wonder and good cheer to her loyal minions.

    See? Things do get better…

  9. Two things, one of which is small but cheerful. Thing One: “Off Leash” looks awesome and I have downloaded it forthwith.

    Thing Two: I scanned the blurb for “Off Leash” and planned immediately to read it and pass it on to my nine-year-old daughter if it was okay for her. (She’s been reading at 12th-grade level for two years now, and her brain really needs new things to grab on to and turn over curiously and bang against the floor.) And then I realized that THAT was what’s been pulling me toward Human Wave/Hunnish stuff of late; I can pass it on to my voracious reader of a child without worrying that she’s going to get a massive dose of “everything you and your parents and your friends value is really a Massive Pile o’Suck and you are a bad bad person for valuing it!” So, thanks.

    (Thing 2.5: I let her read the Darkship books. She is now LOUDLY demanding Darkship Revenge and apparently really really wants to see a “Thena Junior” some day. Sarah, you have a Very Small Fan.)

            1. …gotta finish those, yeah…Meanwhile, I will leave you with the image of 9-year-old blond bookworm, scuffing along the trails and going “Theeeee-NA! Juuuuuun-IOR!”

              But at least she kept time. 😀

      1. I definitely did, and it will be passed on to Child this weekend. That was a *fun* read. I love urban fantasy but am utterly sick of tough-girls-in-love-triangles, so that made it even better.

    1. This brings to mind another factor to consider when submitting your book blurbs: please warn of elements which might not be “family friendly.”

      This is not because anyone here is likely to object to such content as it is in recognition that many books are bought for family.

      I presume some one or another of the Librarian Hoyters can offer up basic guidelines and reasonably well-defined terms?

      1. I actually would like to inquire further about this, since it’s something I’d never considered until today. Is there a specific way you’d like to see this done, similar to a movie rating placed somewhere near the end of the synopsis? Because now that I’m thinking about it, that’s what I’m thinking of. Possibly right next to the page count at the end of the blurb.

        This is something easily doable, especially if not specific enough to give away plot points, and I see the usefulness.

        1. Gotta get some sleep, but I’ll give you a proper answer tomorrow. Been meaning to do a simple submission guide for a while. Going to crash out now and let my poor immune system slug it out with this miserable bug.

          1. As stated above, I suspect our Librarian members can offer some pointers on how best to do this; it had simply struck me as potentially consumer friendly. As we all agree, anything that helps folk find books they like and facilitates transfers of vast sums of lucre to our authors is a good A Good Thing.

      2. On Kiwi I put a separate line that says:

        Note: This story contains profanity, some violence, and sexual situations, although not especially graphic, they may be offensive to some readers.

        Which Amazon, in their wisdom, has now shoved below a “Read More” tag.

    2. You fool! You don’t know what you’ve created! 😀

      Seriously though, welcome. It’s great to see so many new members of our Horde of Huns and Hoydens.

  10. Just so everybody knows, my story in Enigma Front is “Grasshoppers”. It’s a really good collection. I know I sometimes joke about the state of Canadian SF, but there are some fine writers, most of whom I know personally, in this anthology.

    1. but there are some fine writers, most of whom I know personally, in this anthology.

      And then there’s Robert J. Sawyer.

      Take that however you wish. ;P

      1. My own personal experiences with Rob have been pretty good, though limited. He remembers my name, though we only meet once a year.

  11. I just spent an hour and a half in traffic hitting our two “major” book stores, wandering around, looking for any of the Hugo top five or at the very least something to read. I figured they’d have them on an end cap, nope… nothing. Couldn’t find any of them. Everything else was either zombies or vampires or zombie vampires.

    So. Good timing. Thank you.

    Longish PostScript: As this is a gathering place for folks that would know – I desperately need something to read. Recommendations would be welcome. I’m picky and/or burned out on some genres, though. I’d prefer something without vampires, zombies, werewolves, elves, dwarves, fairies, orcs, or unicorns (unless they’re avatars a la Amber’s Pattern). No sword and sandal; no incoherent magic systems. Burned out on Ringo, though one of the crappy bookstores I went to today is about 150 yards from where the Posleen landed in Gust Front. (Which may explain all the traffic.)

    Books that I’ve beaten to death: Falkenberg’s Legion, Hoerot/Beowulf, on my third run through Feast of Souls now, Dies the Fire. Wrecked two copies each of Guns of the South, Armor, and 1632.

    So (sorry for the long OT post), suggestions would be welcome. Otherwise I’m just going to have to lock myself in a closet with a pile of Tom Holt and wait for the end.

    PPS: The premise for ‘Off Leash’ reminds me of ‘The Dog Days of Arthur Cane’. I read the pages out of that one, too.

    1. Eh. I suspect you’d LIKE my Shifters. They’re not… vampires and werewolves. Or you could try Dave Freer (anything really) or even my science fiction. It probably wouldn’t poison you. PROBABLY.

      1. John Ringo, David Weber..Try the Baen website: http://www.Baen.com They have a Free Library and and sample chapters of all their recent books.Also Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.Esther Friesner funny fantasy.Gordon Dickson, Poul Anderson Jerry Pournelle, Larry Niven Joel Rosenberg .Judith Tarr, S. M. Stirling, Holly Lisle, Randall Garrett, Steven Brust, Heather Gladney–Teot’s War. Diane Duane, Barbara Hambly, Rosemary Edghill, Selina Rosen–Bubbas of the Apocalypse–a collection of stories about Bubbas.

        If you are looking for mysteries I recommend Hugh Pentecost, Ed Hoch, Ed Bain, James Melville (they’re set in Japan) Simenon (wrote excellent books but was a total troll in WWII–he was a collaborator with the Germans.) Mary Janice Davidson, Charlotte MacLeod, Donna Andrews.

        In Economics I’d rec Thomas Sowell (all of his books), Milton Friedman.

        Miltary History: Archer Jones–The Art of War in the Western World. R. Ernest & Trevor N. Dupuy

        General Fiction: George MacDonald Fraser–The General Danced at Dawn. He just put out a collection of all his McAuslan stories on kindle at Amazon.

        Commentary Magazine 1965-1995. New Criterion, City Journal. NC and CJ are available on the web. American Scholar 1975-1985 Joseph Epstein

        Judaica A. J. Heschel, Joseph Telushkin, Dennis Prager Lucy Davidowitz

        Nonfiction Peter Hathaway Capstick Big Game hunting in Africa. Midge Decter, Gertrude Himmelfarb Bill Whittle, William Safire Nonie Darwish, Andrew Roberts, Arthur Herman, Dinesh D’Souza, Robert Conquest, Paul Johnson, Ann Coulter, Victor Davis Hanson, Paul A. Rahe–Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift, Heather MacDonald, Mark Steyn, Jean-Francois Revel, Lewis Grizzard–Southern Humor. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Bjorn Lomborg-The Skeptical Enviromentalist, Samuel McCracken, Dixie Lee Ray.

        A few to get you started !

        1. Barry Hugheart.

          Which reminds me, I’m liking Steve White’s time travelers.

          If non-fction, John Clark’s Ignition! is fun for practically all audiences.

          1. Ignition! is *hilarious* to all who have frantically flapped to disperse the aerosol byproducts of unsanctioned combustion incidents before the boss/professor/Big Cheese got back from lunch. Not that I am implying or averring any such incident ever took place in my vicinity or with my knowledge. Ever.

              1. I had nothing to do with why the teacher’s desk got a new sanding and finish job over the course of two and a half class periods. And I have witnesses.

              1. I had a feeling I screwed up. Steve White and C. Chancy are also fans. Sarah, per the Steve White podcast, he seems to have different information about what happened to Hughart than you do. He doesn’t seem to know, and I got the impression you did.

        2. Jeez… covered everything there.
          Let’s see… Ayaan Hirsi Ali (and some of her husband’s), about half of VDH’s, all of Coulter’s, some D’Souza, Sowell’s ‘Culture’ series, nearly all of Stirling’s, most of Pournelle’s (including with Niven & Barnes, and some just Barnes), most Kratman, some Ringo.

          So now I have about twenty tabs open looking up the rest.

          1. I will also toss in a vote for Holly Lisle, whose worldbuilding is excellent and whose fantasy is…unconventional. I’m fond of the Secret Texts trilogy (Diplomacy of Wolves, Vengeance of Dragons, Courage of Falcons), or Hunting the Corrigan’s Blood and its sequel Warpaint for sci-fi. And I love, love, LOVE the “Tales from the Longview” shorts she writes – tangentially connected to her other sci-fi stuff, but stands on its own. She indie-publishes on Kindle, but you can find some of her older stuff in used bookstores, as a rule.

        1. Had a teenage girl when the Twilight books were coming out. Midnight at Borders standing around with all the other dads. Have to listen to the same child now lecture about how it was abusive relationship. It was. To me.

          1. Her historical book is no vampires. My error in not specifying better, which is doubly bad because she has a vampire Dracula show up in her vampire comedy series.

            I think we haven’t mentioned Dave Weber. With his Sword of the South out, I suspect I’ve figured out a major gimmick of the series, and I am pretty sure all the needed information is available from open sources.

      1. Mine too. Normally I’m a hard sf and mil sf type. I have every book Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle (together and separate), Poul Anderson, John Ringo, Tom Kratman, and RAH have written.

        1. For some reason I can’t get into Niven solo, but together with Pournelle he’s great. Ringo can get a bit pervy at times so I’ve shied away from him. RAH, again, got a little weird about sex. Mainly, the characters just become unlikable to me. All the tramping about offends my sense of honor.

          Kratman is great for just blowing off steam. At his best he’s like Pournelle’s Falkenberg battle sequences.

            1. I made it through the first one. Didn’t do much for me for some reason. Not sure why; I just remember it being dry.

      2. Second the Darkship Thieves nomination. It’s awesome. Also, try Sabina Chase’s Sequoyah trilogy for good SF adventure. I’m finally reading the Harry Dresden books by Jim Butcher and loving them.

    2. Rough question, given lack of data points regarding your preferences. I presume you’ve read Heinlein and probably Gordon Dickson (esp. the Dorsai series) and Poul Anderson (if not, try The High Crusade)?

      H. Beam Piper, especially Little Fuzzy and the Lord Kalvan stories are genuinely pleasant reads and, IIRC, available at Project Gutenberg.

      1. Read most of Heinlein. I got off the boat with Stranger… too strange. Kept reading him, but Starship Troopers was more my speed.

        Not read Dickson or Piper. Adding Little Fuzzy to the list.

        Have Anderson’s War of the Gods, plus read some ages ago that the b@$t#rds at the library made me bring back. Not a huge fan.

        I kind of break down SF I like into types.
        A) What would you do? where the SF part of it is mainly to put the characters in a unique position. e.g. 1632, Dies the Fire, RAH’s Job (read while I was a dishwasher). If the characters aren’t fully developed it’ll suck, but if done well it’s my favorite type. Most good first contact stories fall into this type.

        B) What if? Using SF to explore technical possibilities. e.g. Haldeman’s Forever War, the Foundation series, Passage. The characters can be 2D because it’s about the story.

        C) MilSF. Best when told well from one character’s perspective, e.g. Armor, Starship Troopers. Not just blowing stuff up, but making you care about why that much ordinance was needed.

        D) Romps. Sometimes you’re just in a mood to vent and really like a book where all the folks you don’t like get blowed up (but good). e.g. Kratman, 1632. The stuff that just makes me want to punch a Frenchman.

        E) Other Stuff. Anything with very good character development. I’ll love a wizards and monsters epic if it can get me to suspend disbelief. (Most can’t.) e.g. Legacy of Kings, 90% of WoT (Mat was a putz),

        The ones I keep going back to match more than one. Ringo’s Last Centurion (A,, C, & D) never makes it back to the shelf. (Side rant – am I the only one bothered by the peshmerga thing?) King David’s Spaceship (B & C), Passage (A & B). And so on.

        1. On Anderson, when he is basing his books on Norse Myth, your satisfaction largely depends on your fondness for the source material.

          The High Crusade seems like something you’d find amusing, described thusly

          The High Crusade is a science fiction novel by Poul Anderson about the consequences of an extraterrestrial scoutship landing in Medieval England.

          You might also look at Operation Chaos and <IThree Hearts and Three Lions, each of which seems to fit your expressed criteria.

          Have you looked into Christopher Stasheff’s books? I also recommend some of Harry Turtledove’s books as being the sort of thing you’ve described. If you don’t mind a little Fantasy in your MilFic, try Legend by David Gemmell or Brian Daley’s The Doomfarers of Coramonde.

          1. Turtledove has his own shelf already. I quit after World War, mainly because I couldn’t take his ‘romantic’ scenes any more. Flint’s overrunning his shelf onto Turtledove’s at the moment. (He has the decency to close the door and give his characters some privacy.)

            I was the kid who had a fully Aesir/Vanir family tree mapped out on the back of my homework. (Tramps, all of them.) Still couldn’t really like that book.

            1. For interesting alien/human relationship stories, try C. J. Cherryh. Her Foreigner series has gotten extremely long, but the Chanur series was good. She is good at not making her aliens humans in strange costumes.
              Also, Julie E. Czerneda’s Web Shifters (trilogy, I think, been a while)

              1. It is so obvious a choice I expect that is why it has escaped mention: read Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga. Baen offers them in very nicely priced omnibus collections.

                For that matter, David Drake’s RCN series is rat gud MilSF. Try With the Lightnings, the first in the series.

                Drake & Flint’s Bellisarius series is a jolly good read.

            2. Haven’t seen them yet – try Pyramid Scheme and Pyramid Power by Flint and Freer. Available at Baen, of course.

              (I wish they would get some more of those written – but they are a s**tload of research.)

          2. I will second The High Crusade which has a separate short story from the 80s magazine Ares which also included a game based on the novel.

        2. John Hemry’s Paul Sinclair series is military, though it’s courtroom dramas.

          Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet series is straight combat.

          (Mind you, Hemry and Campbell are one and the same.)

    3. Kratman of course. Jeffro Johnson’s Appendix N reviews have some stuff that might fit, like Merritt. Doc Smith.

      John Wright’s Somewither

      I’ve been trying to sell people on C. Chancy’s A Net of Dawn and Bones lately. (Haven’t bought it or read it myself yet.) Decent chance it is not to your interest. Also on my to purchase list are John D Brown’s Dark God books, Lamplighter’s Rachel Griffon, Dave Freer’s Joy Cometh cozy, and the upcoming short collection for Spencer’s Tinker books.

      I hear Pete Grant writes books that are like what you are interested in.

      1. Is it wrong to recommend Larry Correia’s frothy goodness? Monster Hunter International is a present day (sorta) MIB answer to the question of “If monsters really existed, what might be the response of truly competent people?”

        His Grimnoir Chronicles are a different kind of high combat experience, set in an alt-hist 1930s. Be cautioned: a main character is an Okie girl who fully expresses Correia’s innate sexism (sorta the way Faith Smith expresses John Ringo’s.)

        1. If it is wrong to recommend Larry Correia, I don’t want to be right. Son of the Black Sword is also interesting.

      2. I have Caliphate and the whole Carrera series. A lot of the rest seems to cross over with Ringo into a hugely complex web of books that I don’t have the financial resources to get into at the moment.

        Chancy’s looks interesting. So does Somewhither. However. I don’t have a Kindle. Or any kind of tablet. Or a cell phone, for that matter.

        Part of it is that I like actual books. Part is that you can’t smack someone with a Kindle. But most of it is that after 30 years of telling people to quit touching the screen I can’t bring myself to touch the screen.

        1. There is a kindle program for the PC. I’ve also used calibre to convert other formats to ones I prefer to read on the computer. But maybe I’m a freak.

          1. I really should get a Kindle. I generally read when I smoke, eat, walk, go to the can, wait in line at the bank (not all at once, mind you). Actually sitting down to read is rare. Except in the can. Or eating. (Again, not all at once.)

            1. I find I read as much if not more on the kindle app on the smartphone than the kindle itself, just because the phone is with me almost everywhere I may be that contains wait times reading opportunities.

              1. No cell phone, for religious reasons.
                Every time I get behind someone talking on one while driving I take the Lord’s name in vain and contemplate violating the prohibition against murder.

                1. I ride motorcycles everywhere, and of the close calls I have had most are looking down at a text or got the thing glued to their ear. The closest I’m not positive about because A: I couldn’t see into the truck easily because the window tinting and B: I was looking at the gap between the dually fender and guardrail, barely wider than my bike that I was able to jump the curb and get through, not trying to get a close look at the driver.

                  You know, maybe we need strobes on cars like those old flashing antennae and bluetooth devices that warn anyone you are using your phone while driving. You want to talk or even stupider, text? Fine, you will have the whole of your vehicle flashing yellow in warning to others.

                  1. I have noticed that anyone wearing a hat way more likely to do something stupid behind the wheel and someone bareheaded. This seems to apply equally across sex, race, and age groups.

                    It’s definitely noticeable with cheap baseball caps. Anything other than that, including long-billed caps and cowboy hats, seems to have an exponential effect.

                    20-odd years ago I swore that if anyone ever hit me while using their phone, the very next person who saw it would be a proctologist. The only difference is, nowadays there would probably be half a dozen people recording me while I put that phone where the sun doesn’t shine… I’d probably lose in court, but some things are a matter of principle.

                    “Too bad you bought into the ‘phablet’ super-size phone schtick…”

                    1. “I have noticed that anyone wearing a hat way more likely to do something stupid behind the wheel and someone bareheaded.” My dad always said this. Then wore a hat while driving.

                    2. My dad never said that, but he was the best driver I ever met, and he wore a hat all the time.

                      Then again, working outside all day for half the year, that was probably a good thing.

                  2. If they only hurt themselves, I’d be happy with letting people do it with only a warning for others; but they don’t so I’m willing to suppress it.
                    Shouldn’t be that hard: Require that cellphones won’t connect outgoing traffic (including responses to incoming) unless the phone has been in the same cell for X minutes (correspond to speed < 20mph) or it's 911. Might be enough to make people pull over to chat.
                    Yeah, an inconvenience for passengers, unless you also use NFC or Bluetooth sourced from the steering wheel to tell the phone "this is the driver".

        2. Leonard Wibberly’s “Mouse” books are delightful, much better than the mildly amusing than the movies based on them and should be very much to any conservative/libertarian taste.

          Three sample quotes:

          From Oxford Sir Roger had taken away only two pieces of learning, acquired out of his own observations. The first was that while the pen might be mightier than the sword, the sword spoke louder, clearer and more effectively at any given moment. The second was that “Aye” might be turned into “Nay” and vice versa if a sufficient quantity of wordage was applied to the problem.

          “… the world is not a place for timid men, nor is liberty a birthright of those who fear to fight and speak for it come what may.”

          “It is fear that enslaves men and costs them their liberty. Doubt before battle is more powerful than any cannon, and terror has destroyed more armies than all the weapons in the world.”

      3. Blatant conflict of interest notice: Hi, I’m Peter Grant’s wife!

        If you like space opera of the young man adventuring against the galaxy, which becomes mil scifi as he joins the navy, then you may like my husband’s Maxwell series. I can assure you he works on the orbital calculations and the closing rates, to the grumbling and number-crunching level.

        If you like much more gritty milscifi, Peter’s started a trilogy (2 of 3 written now) called the Laredo War trilogy. That draws a lot more, here and there, on his combat experience in the African bush.

        In fact, I can recommend the entire Mad Genius Club as good writers, as well as a fair number of the regular commenters. 🙂 (Although, if you want to avoid elves, skip Cedar Sanderson’s Pixie Noir. Though given it opens with the main character ogling a woman’s rack as she answers the cabin’s door in the middle of Alaska, even that avoids being a tiresome urban fantasy clone or Tolkien ripoff by quite a ways.)

        Also, check out Brad Torgersen, Larry Correia, Tom Kratman, and John C. Wright. As well, for modern stories set on a ranch in Texas by a guy who really knows his stories, and his shooting, and has been there and done something (but won’t say what. And he doesn’t have the t-shirt, so much as patches and pins all over the flight jacket.) …anyway, check out J. L. Curtis. (He comments here as OldNFO.)

        1. Again, have to get a Kindle. Maybe I can steal one from the kids. (They pinched my books often enough.)

          I liked Torgersen’s Chaplain’s War, though I caught myself doing to the same thing I do to talk radio: rant to myself that, “You’re explaining it wrong!”

          Correia I’ve avoided because I try to stay away from monsters. I don’t even read them and the whole vamp/zombie/zombie cow thing has reached saturation point. May have to give the first one a try.

          Kratman I’ve got.

          With Wright the trouble is that it looks interesting, but I don’t feel like donating to Tor at the moment. Library, maybe, but I hate giving books back.

          Thanks much. Plan B: Steal a Kindle from the children, bury it at the bottom of the hamper when I’m done just like they did with my copy of Ender’s Game.

          1. Haven’t seen him listed, so I will chime in and recommend Mad Mike Williamson’s books. Kick ass action military SF. I suspect you would like his Freehold series.

          2. The thing about vampires in Larry Correia’s MHI books is that they are just one of the stronger types of evil critters that need to be killed with extreme prejudice, not the angsty, self-hating love interest to one of the main characters that makes one want to vomit, like the whole Twilight thing did.

            And I think Kate Paulk did an interesting twist, in the way she made her vampire main character a reluctant hero in her Con vampire series. Plus tons of humor, though some of it comes from in-jokes found on this blog and possibly Mad Genius Club.

              1. Does F. Paul Wilson write anything but horror these days? I really like his scifi, but there’s so little of it.

            1. Well Kate Paulk’s Jim is one of these vampires that has to feed on Humans (although he has fed on some supernatural critters) but doesn’t have to kill the Human he feeds on.

              Still sometimes, he has to take more blood than a human can afford to lose but he normally seeks out the “local neighborhood mugger”. [Smile]

          3. Do you have a used bookstore near? I am planning to take the “buy it used, send the difference to the author directly” route with all TOR books from now on. (I absolutely have to finish out “Safehold.”)

            Of course, with an appropriately polite note to the author asking them to never sign another contract with those shiites.

      4. I have read Net of Dawn and Bones, and it is quite good. The first chapter is quite different to what comes afterward, though it establishes a lot.

        Chancy is better known as the fanfic author Vathara. She had written original fantasy before, but this is the first one for sale. (Falcon’s Reach is still up somewhere for free.)

    4. The magic system in Mahouka is not incoherent. The biology is a bit odd, especially where he pushes things to get the societal effects he wants. Issue is that it is a Japanese LN, and to get it in English you have to go through Hachette, if they even have it yet..

      1. There usually are fan translations of LNs, but don’t bother. The difference in readable English between the Baka-Tsuki version of “A Certain Magical Index” or their “Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya” and the ones actually done by publishing houses is night and day in favor of the pros.

        Now, I’ve seen some fans make excellent translations, but they usually are the ones who make compromises with the literal translation for readability and meaning’s sake. Most fans are too wed to exacting literal translations for my taste.

    5. In addition to all of the above, if you are in the mood for space combat in a bit lighter vein, I’m currently reading and liking “My Life: An Ex-Quarterback’s Adventures in the Galactic Empire” by Colin Alexander (ebook – I didn’t see if you were looking just for dead tree stuff or not). Like one of the reviewers on Amazon, I was skeptical, but have been impressed.

    6. Got about a dozen to beg borrow or steal, which should keep me busy for a couple of weeks. Thank you everyone for your help!

    7. Late to the party (but I did hit Ctrl+F to make sure someone else hadn’t suggested it), but if you’re looking for Science-Fiction, I’m going to recommend my absolute favorite book of all time:

      The Icarus Hunt, by Timothy Zahn. Murder mystery on a cargo ship in the distant future, where each of the crew members have been hired independently and are stuck on a ship with one another. Oh, and not long after they take off, every government in the known galaxy suddenly has a warrant out of the seizure of their ship.

      I’m probably not doing it justice, but Zahn spins a great tale. The rest of his writings are quite good as well, but The Icarus Hunt, to this day, remains my absolute favorite mystery. And it is a mystery where you can put all the pieces together yourself, rather than a cheap one that hides clues from the audience to cover its own weak plot. Zahn is great at misdirection and playing out the puzzle pieces just so. You have the clues, but usually won’t see the solution until the reveal, at which point you slap your forehead and say “Of course! How did I not—?”

      One other thing that I’ll mention is that Zahn is very good at building alien cultures, especially in his later books. The Conquerers trilogy takes this to great heights with multiple alien races that remain alien and distinctly different … but also understandable.

      You can find him at any good library. If you’ve not read any of them before, I hope you enjoy them. You’re in for a ride.

        1. James White’s Sector General novels have some pretty decent aliens, as well. IIRC, they would be YA suitable.

          1. I read most of them at 8 or 9 years old, so I can retroactively give them the YA stamp of approval… I re-read a few of them a while back, and they still held up well.

    8. I’m surprised no one’s mentioned him yet, but you might try Brandon Sanderson. No one has even been able to complain about his magic systems being incoherent.

      1. In fact, he’s been teasing us that all his magic systems share a certain underlying logic and structure. Fans have been enjoying the attempts to figure out the rules.

  12. “Oh, and gentlemen: don’t forget to practice twirling those moustachios!”

    You forgot to say, “…and then rub your hands while saying mwah, hah, hah, hah.”

  13. Once again I shall shill for Taylor Anderson’s Destroyermen series. Alternate world crossover military SF with dinosaurs.

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