The recent issue of SFP Indie is a little light on content.
Therefore we are putting in an open call for submissions. We need the
famous women in
science fiction history
behind science fiction
the influence of
Game of Thrones success on TV to fantasy
why women in
science fiction kick major butt
other articles of interest focused on fans of science fiction, fantasy, or paranormal fiction
A review on a science fiction, fantasy, or paranormal book (preferably written by a member of ASMSG
An interview of a member of ASMSG who writes science fiction, fantasy, or urban fantasy
What we DON'T want:
Shameless self promotion
Non-genre related articles
For an article to be accepted you MUST be a current member of ASMSG.
Articles should be between 500-1000 words and may have been
published before. Normally we pull articles already published on members
websites. However, there were few releveant posts for this issue.
In exchange for allowing us to use your work, you will
provide buy links for a book of your choice and links to your social media
(Facebook, Twitter, and blog). Normally we charge for advertising; however, we
are waiving all fees for this issue as a thank you for helping us out.
Submissions can be sent me using the contact form to the left or on the SFP Indie's Facebook page
By now you're heard that Jupiter Ascending did not do well at the box office. But does that automatically mean it's bad? Many movies now considered cult classics bombed at the box office. (Link: 11 Classic Movies That Were Box Office Bombs) My gut tells me, no matter what it's Rotten Tomato score, this is a movie we will be talking about for years.
1. Terry Frickin' Gilliam
When I left the movie I wanted to know if others had sensed a connection between Jupiter Ascending and Brazil. So I Googled "Jupiter Ascending Brazil" and learned that the one and only Terry Gilliam made a small but significant cameo in the film.
2. Weirdness About Mother
In Jupiter Ascending, one of the evil guys blackmails Jupiter into a marriage. What's weird about that is that Jupiter is the reincarnation of his mother. She looks exactly like his mother. Ick. Even though they're not biologically related, he believes she is his mother reborn. She looks exactly like her. Need I describe any furthur how icky this is?
However, in Brazil it's a bit creepier. Sam Lowry, the main character of Brazil, has daydreams about saving a beautiful redhead, Jill. At the end of the movie, his mother (played by the amazing Katherine Helmond has plastic surgery which makes her look exactly like Jill. Freud would have a field day. The viewer is left to wonder if Jill ever really existed or if she was simply a projection of Lowry's Oedipal feelings about his mother.
3. We're All Slaves
Jupiter's character has a similar story arch to Sam Lowry. Both are stuck in jobs they hate and dream of escape. Lowry is a low-level bureaucrat. Jupiter cleans toilets. While Brazil shows there is no escape from dehumanizing technology, Jupiter Ascending is a battle cry to the 99%. It demonizes the wealthy who live for millenia on the fuel of a humanity grown like a crop to feed their needs.
4. It's a Weird Hot Mess
Like Brazil and Time Bandits (another of Gilliam's classics) there is a lot going on in Jupiter Ascending. Some people will say there's too much. Even though Brazil is now seen as a cult classic, many reviewers hated it when it was released, including Roger Ebert.
"The movie is awash in elaborate special effects, sensational sets, apocalyptic scenes of destruction and a general lack of discipline. It's as if Gilliam sat down and wrote out all of his fantasies, heedless of production difficulties, and then they were filmed" - Roger Ebert Brazil
Jupiter Ascending has the same hectic pacing, creating a dream-like quality to large sections of the film. Like any Gilliam film, it will require several viewings before you catch everything here.
5. Release Problems
Jupiter Ascending was all set for a 2014 release when it was suddenly and surprisingly pulled. In some ways this worked in the films benefit. A year ago most people did not know who Eddie Redmayne was. Now he's up for an Oscar (although truth be told his performance is the single worst thing about this movie).
Link: Jupiter Ascending is Not Eddie Redmayne's Norbit
Gilliam struggled to get Brazil released in the U.S. because the studio didn't like the ending or the message of the movie...so they edited them out.
"...their immediate reaction was a nervous one: 'We're not sure what we've got, so let's try to change it into something that we do understand.' And I refused to play ball with them. I said, 'Sorry, this is the film that we agreed to make.' Terry Gilliam Interviewed About Brazil
So is Jupiter Ascending as good as Brazil. That's really impossible to say right now. Many of Gilliam's movies have been disastrous at the box office. However, time has been especially kind to them. They are movies that are impossible to forget. They linger at the back of your mind urging you to watch them over and over.
Perhaps the same will be true for the Wachowski's. Like Gilliam, they have had a rocky relationship with Hollywood. However, it's important to remember that Hollywood has a history of not supporting movies that turned out to be legends.
I'll leave you with a quote directly from Lana Wachowski herself:
“There were tons of movies that made a lot of money and were utterly and completely forgotten. Likewise, there were movies that didn’t make money that are still around and are still important and relevant.”
Link: Jupiter Ascending - What the Hell Happened?
The Nightlife: Moscow has everything vampire-junkies need: sex, blood and violence. Say goodbye to your family and friends. When you start reading The Nightlife: Moscow the rest of your world will seem like a petty distraction. Luedke's whirlwind pacing makes this book impossible to put down.
The novel starts with Aaron and his crew infiltrating the military compound of an ancient vampire with ties to the Russian mafia. Layered through the intense action in modern-day Moscow is a finely woven alternative magical history giving added richness to the already-intriguing world.
Just when you think everything is going well for our vampires, Luedke throws in an twist that takes the series in a completely unexpected and glorious direction. The world they live in has never been more interesting.
I enjoyed Luedke’s first few books. However, everything he’s written from Nightlife: Paris on has been one masterpiece after another.If you haven't read his work yet, do yourself a favor and pick up The Nightlife: Moscow today.
Every time I think Luedke has written the best scene ever he ups the ante. Each book in the Nightlife Series is better than the last. The first half of this book is on par with early Jim Butcher.
What Luedke has that Butcher doesn’t is sex. Lots and lots of sex. One of the benefits of ebooks is no one can has to know what your reading. However, you may want to read this in private to avoid any embarrassing blushing and hot flashes. There tintilating erotic dances with horrific and fantastical elements creating a breath-taking story. The whirlwind pacing of this book makes this book impossible to put down.
If you took the sex out you would have a book that falls easily in the top 10% of urban fantasy works. Adding the sex brings the Nightlife: Moscow to a completely different level. There is no voice quite like Luedke on the market today.
The book ends with our characters in a very interesting space. Now I have to wait god knows how long to see what happens next. So the bad news is I don't have a time machine and I have to wait for the next book.
Vampires Aaron and Michelle have landed in Moscow, on the prowl. In the company of a misfit pack of mercenary werewolves and Urvashi, a fallen angel, the vampires are forced into the violent, decadent underworld of Russian mafia, drugs and blood slaves.
This time the hunters have become the hunted.
Dmitri, a Russian vampire billionaire, sends his mafia goons to the streets, gunning for the wolf pack. Now they must bring the fight to Dmitri and face the ultimate battle for survival.
Experience the violent, sensual underbelly of Nightlife Moscow, as Aaron and Michelle mix up a wicked blend of sex, chaos, mayhem, and vengeance.
Get your copy of the latest urban fantasy – paranormal suspense novel from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Travis Luedke.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Travis Luedke is a NY Times & USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy, scifi, and paranormal romance, best known for his violently sexy NIGHTLIFE SERIES. Travis can be found catching a third degree sunburn in San Antonio, Texas, while plotting world domination through erotic paranormal badassary.
As the author of the Nightlife Series novels, Travis lives very vicariously through his writings. He invites you to enjoy his macabre flights of fancy, but be warned: The Nightlife Series is violent, sexy, and occasionally violently
THE NIGHTLIFE MOSCOW(Book 5 in The Nightlife Series)
People self-publish for a variety of reasons. For some it’s repeated rejection from the big publishing houses; for others it’s a desire for complete control over the process. Honestly, neither was an influence for me. I've only submitted once and never heard back from them. It was my one and only rejection.
For me, all I've ever wanted was to attract the attention of a big publisher. i learned they closely watch the self-publishing world. Like talent scouts, they seek out for highly-developed talent and help them reach a larger market.
Two years and four published novels later, I have a small but loyal fan base. I had completely given up on traditional publishing because it didn’t seem necessary. People around the world were buying and enjoying my books. Still, a tiny part of me still wondered if I would be better off working with a traditional publisher.
Then the universe gifted me with a very fortunate “coincidence” (note: I don’t believe in coincidences). On a trip to China I met Jim, a author from Canada, He was published through a small Canadian press and had even hit the best sellers list in Canada. He raved about his relationship with his editor and suddenly I was interested. I firmly believe a novel is only as good as its editor. People often rant about the low writing quality on books such as Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey. However, I don’t blame that on the writers. Where were the bloody editors? It’s their freakin’ job to ensure quality. Okay, rant over.
Jim was one of the most fascinating and genuinely interesting person I’ve ever met. So when he told me he would speak to his publisher about me I told him to go ahead. I had zero expectation he would.
But he did.
And it turns out the company that published him was also incredibly interesting. When I saw the calibre of books they put out and the authors they had worked with I’ll admit to being more than a little star struck. We corresponded for several months through email. Last week we spoke for the first time on the phone. It was a life changing conversation.
So here’s what I learned talking to a traditional publisher.
1. Everyone takes you more seriously.
When I told people I was talking with a traditional publisher about getting my books into brick and mortar stores I was blown away by their response. People I hadn’t spoken to in years were suddenly congratulating me. Forget that I’d already published four books, now that a publisher was talking to me suddenly I was a real writer. Admitted I was wrapped up in the glamor too. This company had worked with some of the biggest names in Canadian literature. And now they were talking to me? I started to imagine myself at fancy writing events sitting next to Margaret Atwood and Neil Gaiman drinking champagne and talking about zombies. Hey, a guy can dream.
2. Most authors’ sales suck.
I’d always heard that publisher will only approach self-published authors if their sales numbers are really high. Although sales are higher on release day, I average 2 book sales per day. Additionally I was recently part of an ebook box set called The Shadow Box which sold around 2000 copies in the first few weeks. I was disappointed by these numbers because they were way below my expectations.
When I told the publisher my sales numbers, he exhaled slowly and made the big reveal. I was currently selling about twice what he would expect to sell if my paperbacks were in brick and mortar stores. He also told me the average sale number for a book is around 300. Not 300 copies a year. Three hundred copies ever.
Sure I’d read the articles about how much money the average writer makes per year. I just didn’t believe it. After my experience with this publisher I believe those numbers are pretty accurate.
Just so you know, to be considered a best seller in Canada you have to sell about 4000 copies. Best sellers in the U.S. are around 50,000 copies because they have 10x our population.
Source: Reality Check: Canadian Writer's Average Income
So how does that translate to income? The industry average for royalties through traditional publishers is 7% of cover price. That's all that goes to the author. So if you sell 50,000 copies at $30 a pop, that's $1,500,000 in revenue but only $105,000 goes the writer. That's a decent wage but remember that's at the upper end of the range. That's our rock star writers.
3. Publishers aren’t millionaires either.
One of my friends, Maer Wilson, has her own publishing house. And unless she’s been holding out on me she doesn’t have a summer homes in the Hamptons. Book sales in general have been sliding since 2007 as less and less people read. Both independent book stores and giants like Barnes and Nobles are closing. They finding it increasingly difficult to compete with online retailers who have low overhead and access to an immense back catalog.
Hatchet group only publishers around 1800 books a year and yet they employ about 914 people. Penguin Random House has over 12,000 employees and publishes around 15,000 books a year (Source: Global Publishing Leaders 2014). Although income in publishing is typically low, (Source: Working at a Big Six Publishing House) both offer benefits because they want to attract the best employees.
Normally self-published authors have very little overhead and no extra employees. They only have to pay for editing, marketing, and cover art of their book. All this means they're able to sell their book cheaper than a traditional publisher ever could. It also explains why they some price ebooks are so high. If Hatchett was forced to sell their books for $2.99, they would have to significantly decrease the staff and operational costs. It would also likely mean they’d have to leave their New York offices.
4. Publishers need writers more than writers need publishers.
After the phone conversation I spent several days doing some serious thinking. I realize the relationship wouldn’t be a win-win for me. Why would I give up copyright to someone who cannot guarantee me an increase in sales? So I sent a breakup letter to the publisher. Don’t worry. I was gentle. And then the weirdest thing happen.
He kept writing.
No, he wasn’t offering me ridiculously large advances or begging me to sign. But he still wanted me to consider traditional publishing after I said “no thanks.” My how the times have changed. It used to be writers clamoring for the attention of publishers. Now it seems that publishers are trying to convince writers that they are still relevant.
5. Publishers are still relevant
If you think the self-publishing is the end of traditional publishers you’re dead wrong. There have been indie musicians for decades and that hasn’t hurt the traditional music industry. Even though ebook sales have risen (source: Rising Ebook Sales and Declining Publishing Market), nearly 70% of all book sales are still done in book stores.
Sure there are the rare cases of authors like Amanda Hocking who made 2.5 million off Amazon and yet she’s not really a household name. Be honest. Have you heard of her before? Most successful writers aren’t household names. However, they are well-known within their genre. This publisher published urban fantasy. Yet when I mentioned Jim Butcher he’d never heard of him. That was a big time alarm bell. This was obviously not the right publisher for my material.
Publishers still play a very important role. I just wish they would do more. Currently they offer limited promotional assistance, requiring the writer to build and market their own platform. In an email from the publisher, he told me here are 3 things a publisher can do for you that self-publishing can't:
1 Help author submit for government grants to subsidize their writing
2. Submit books to awards (since many awards still do not accept self-published work)
3. Assist with foreign distribution and translation
All are valid points. But here's the rub. Do those points merit the 93% cut that publishers take off the cover price? Sure, not all of the money goes into publishers pockets. Some goes to the book store. Some goes into production costs. But I'm not buying it. That's a very significant cut for what I see as a very limited reward.
After my recent experience with a traditional publisher, I feel a little like Cinderella in Into the Woods. All her life she dreams of meeting Prince Charming. But when she does, she soon realizes reality is nowhere near as glamorous as the dream. Everyone else thinks she’s crazy for walking away from the Prince. How could you not want the dream?
But for now, I'm walking away from traditional publishing. Future success for writers, it seems, is firmly in the self-publishing corner.
Casting actors in the role of book characters is tricky. Part of the description is on the page but a large part of it is left to the mind of the reader. I did not write the story with any actors in mind. Having said that, if I knew a movie was being made of Council of Peacocks and I could pick and choose the actors, here are my choices:
Josh is young, thing and wiry. He's the pretty boy no one suspects is dangerous. What they don't know is his father works for the Canadian Secret Service and has spent the last several years training Josh in martial arts, fire arms, and survival skills. He's also part-demon with telekinetic powers. In the first book, his powers are limited. However, by the second book, Beyond the Black Sea, he can create impenetrable telekinetic armor and all sorts of fun stuff.
Lucas Till is known for playing Alex Summers (a.k.a Havok) in the X-men movies. He has the nice balance of danger hidden beneath a thin veneer of vulnerability. He's not just a pretty face. Lucas can act and would do justice to the role.
Wisdom is an immortal with mysterious powers. As a child, he was kidnapped by a djinn and transported to a fire elemental plane. He spent millenia as slave surrounded by magic. Over the last two thousand years on Earth, he has used his powers to gain riches. But it's not enough. When you are as old as Wisdom, you need a cause. He's made the training of the half-demon children (called Anomalies) and the destruction of the Council of Peacocks his cause.
Peter Mensah is perfect. Whenever he walks on screen I get nervous. He's big, with a scary amount of intensity. He looks like the sort of man demons would fear.
EMILIA CLARK as ECHO
Echo is the strongest person Wisdom has ever known. She was born before the Roman empire. For centuries Wisdom tried to break her; he was never successful. In the end, she broke him. Wisdom does not realize how much she means to him until he loses her.
Emilia Clarke is perfect. I mean not just for the role. Just perfect. I'm completely gay but come on! She's jaw-dropping, heart-breakingly beautiful. As we've seen on Game of Thrones and will soon see in the new Terminator, she also has the soul of a warrior.
LYNDSY FORNESECA as GARNET
Lyndsy Fornseca as Garnet
Garnet is, like Josh, half-demon. However, she's had years to perfect her abilities. She's a powerful pyrokinetic with some degree of telepathy. Working with Wisdom has made her hard but she is not as strong as she'd like you to believe.
LAUREN HOLDEN AS ELAINE
Elaine is 100% human but that doesn't make her less dangerous. She's head of Wisdom's security. I like to think of her as Sarah Connor from Terminator 2 (minus the tinge of madness).
While I wasn't always a big fan of Andrea's decisions of the Walking Dead, there's no question that Lauren Holden is amazing. She's tough as nails but still completely feminine. She will shoot you dead without blinking but it doesn't take much to see her humanity.
DOMINIC COOPER as PROPATES
Propates is the Big Bad in this novel. He's the head of the Council of Peacocks and has a very volatile relationship with the others. Wisdom rescued Propates from a life of poverty during the height of the Roman empire. Well, he kidnapped him, slaughtered his family and saved him from poverty if we're being technical. Over the years Wisdom became less ruthless; Propates became more.
Dominic Cooper works because he has a smarmy charm. Propates truly believes he's acting in the best interest of the planet. I want him to be likeable even as he plots the mass murder of millions.