Philosofiction

Steve Bein, writer & philosopher

Find all of the Fated Blades novels at Powell's, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Audible, or from your favorite neighborhood bookstore.

The newest addition to the saga of the Fated Blades is the novella Streaming Dawn, an e-book exclusive available for any platform.

 

Nerdcool

Marvel Comics is launching a new Star Wars series, and issue 1 will have 30 different covers. Obviously I want all of them. Preferably as a massive wall covering in a massive room for my massive Star Wars collection.

Coolest of all is an amazing homage to the first appearance of the Punisher, with Boba Fett stepping in to reprise the role of Frank Castle. Check ‘em out:

Hmm... what's going on here?

I’ve been thinking about a quote from the latest

Daughter of the Sword

review:

“I am floored by how much I absolutely loved this book, and I’m completely astonished that more people haven’t already read it. 

Daughter of the Sword

is one of those rare gems that shines so bright, but really doesn’t get the attention it deserves.”

Bookworm Blues

If it’s not too terribly egomaniacal to say it, I want to +1 that sentiment. Astonished is a pretty powerful word, but I’ll admit to being at least a little surprised that the Fated Blades books haven’t drawn more readers than they have.

All authors must feel this way now and again. Let’s face it: a lot of garbage reaches the NYT bestsellers list. Some of that garbage even gets made into a major motion picture, and sends piles of cash back home to an author who now gets to swim in a giant pool of money like Scrooge McDuck.

This, of course, leaves all of us who aren’t drowning in money to wonder why such garbage is outselling our beautiful works of earth-shattering genius.

Okay, so not quite that, either. But still, reviews for the Fated Blades have been pretty damn good. So why aren’t more people reading these books?

I don’t know. In one sense it doesn’t matter; my only game plan is to write the best book I know how to write, then write the next one.

But given all the senses that do matter, what I’m supposed to do now is tell you Christmas is coming and you should buy Daughter of the Sword and Year of the Demon for all your friends and relatives. So yeah, do that.

Better yet, pre-order Disciple of the Wind for all of them, since pre-orders can actually be more important than point-of-purchase sales.

Seriously, though, if you’re reading this -- if you even know this site exists -- then you’ve probably read my books. If you like them, then buying them for your friends tells my publisher that you want to see more of them. If you’re dead broke, just tell others to read the Fated Blades; advice from a friend still sells more books than any other advertising strategy.

And thanks!

One step closer to Armageddon

Our robot overlords are one step closer to world domination -- or if not a step, a wheel-rotation or something.  are now a real thing. You can even rent them, at an hourly rate less than you’d have to pay a real live human. Here they are in all their Dalekian glory:

I don’t know if they actually say, “EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!” Maybe you have to pay extra for that. However, these definitely don’t look like cute R2D2ish buddies, do they? More like a disconcerting hybrid of warhead and rectal suppository.

At least they have the great weakness of the original Daleks: I don’t think these things can climb stairs.

Bookworm Blues says "It knocked my socks off!"

Daughter of the Sword collected its latest review, this time from Bookworm Blues. It’s a good one:

“It knocked my socks off. I couldn’t put it down….
Daughter of the Sword is an urban fantasy novel that is absolutely different than any other urban fantasy novel I’ve read before, written with an infectious passion, a soft touch, and an understanding that transcended its pages. This is a series to watch out for.”

“At its heart, this isn’t a book about swords and history, but about people. Shockingly real, incredibly alive, very captivating people in a country I really want to learn more about now.”

Thanks so much, Bookworm Sarah! Everyone else, you can read the complete review
here.


I met a legend today

How many days do you get to say you shook hands with one of your role models? Today I met one of mine: William Gibson, author of Neuromancer, Mona Lisa Overdrive, Count Zero, all books that set me on the path to writing science fiction.

WG at BP

He spoke at Book People today, Austin’s oldest indie bookstore. I got a shiny new copy of The Peripheral, his latest novel, and I also brought my shabby, yellowed, old-book-smelling copy of Neuromancer. Now I’ve got both of them autographed, the first-edition hardcover and the tattered paperback from 1986 that I’ve read and re-read more times than I can remember.

I don’t know whether it was my obsession with Japan that made me latch on to Gibson’s work, or whether it was Gibson’s novels that turned my Japanese fascination up to eleven. Either way, I was hooked. Now, the more I think about it, the more I come to understand what an influence he had on me. I’ve always credited Tolkien and Herbert for making me think seriously about world-building, but now I realize I was reading Gibson before I ever picked up
Dune.

There’s this tiny throwaway line in
Neuromancer that has always stayed with me: “Rent me a gun, Shin?” Case, the protagonist, asks this out of nowhere. That little line got me thinking: how many things would have to go wrong in a culture for unregistered gun rentals to become commonplace? It’s clear from the context that what Case is asking for isn’t legal, but it’s equally clear that this is no big deal. You need to shoot someone, you rent a gun for a few hours.

It’s a throwaway line, totally inessential to the plot, but what it does for the setting is enormous -- or it was for me, anyway. And today I got to shake hands with the guy that wrote it, and that makes today pretty good.

Comic Con debriefs

Two major Comic Cons in two consecutive weekends. Not a bad way to start an October.

At Austin Comic Con I hosted “Martial Arts and the Art of the Fight Scene.” This panel seems to be blessed with unusually good karma. As I was walking through the con, I happened to meet P.J. Hoover, an Austin-based writer and a third degree black belt in shaolin kung fu. (Check out her books
here.) I invited P.J. to join me on the panel, and with all of half an hour’s notice she agreed.

This was putting her on the spot to say the least, but she proved her kung fu is strong. What would have been a one-man show became a three-way dialogue between two authors and their audience, and it was a smash hit. P.J. writes children’s and YA fiction, so her take on violence and combat in writing overlaps with mine in some ways and radically differs in others. I learned a lot from the conversation and so did the audience.

Here’s P.J. and me:

austincomiccon

This is the second time this panel evolved from a solo act to a duet; at Minneapolis Comic Con it was swordsman and author Doug Hulick who joined me, and that time too the conversation became more than the sum of its parts. I sense a trend growing here.



Then came New York Comic Con, which eclipsed San Diego this year for the first time. With 133,000 fans in attendance, NYCC edged past SDCC’s 130,000 to become the world’s largest comic book convention. A few hundred of those fans came to a standing-room-only panel on Dr. Who featuring Yours Truly. You can see the crowd came gaily dressed:

NYCC14 standing room only

The panel was a lot of fun, with excellent questions from the audience and the moderator alike. Fellow panelists
Alex Hughes, Paul Park, and Anton Strout all made me laugh. Our success deserves a special mention, given the fact that Stan Lee was in the very next room.

NYCC14 autographing

One of my favorite things about NYC is the random things you see on the street, things you can’t see anywhere else -- for example, Batman catching a taxi with his Batcase rolling along in tow. Note that none of the other New Yorkers in this picture are even looking in his direction.

NYCC14 Batcase

I guess it’s just another ho-hum day in the Big Apple. Or Bat Apple, maybe.

BJJ in NYC

Me with Fabio Clemente, jiujitsu legend, at the Alliance mothership in NYC.

With Fabio Clemente

Some buddies from New York and me, this time with Fabio’s son Zata.

With Zata Clemente

We worked some cool set-ups to the Bravo choke, and improved my Bravo by about 1000%. Not that that means anything to those of you who don’t do jiujitsu. But if you know your jits, then maybe you agree with me: it’s the tiny little refinements that make this art so fascinating.

Off to NYC and the Twitterverse

Austin Comic Con was a huge hit! I’ll do a debrief on that one and also on New York Comic Con, where I’m headed tomorrow. My panel, “Trust Me, I’m the Doctor” is at 12:00 on Sunday in room 1A18, with autographing at 1:00 on Sunday at Table 19.

I’m also using this event as my launchpad into the Twitterverse. Now I just need followers! Come follow me at allbeinmyself.

More Comic Con goodness!

Looks like I’m in at Austin Comic Con too!

I’m doing a panel similar to the one I did with Doug Hulick at Minneapolis Comic Con, on martial arts and the art of writing fight scenes. (That one was a big hit, so I figured why reinvent the wheel?) That’s Friday night, October 3, at 7:00 in room 8. I’m looking forward to meeting new fans in Texas!

As usual, Wizard World is bringing lots of star power, but for me the highlight is unquestionably The Great One, Bruce Campbell.
Army of Darkness remains one of my all-time favorite films; I can’t wait to meet Ash himself in person.

Pasted Graphic 1

Trust Me, I'm the Doctor

That’s the name of my panel at New York Comic Con!

This happened very quickly. My publicist emailed me and asked if I was a Dr. Who fan. I said, of course, they had me as soon as they cast British Me as the Doctor. Christopher Ecclestone’s hairline has receded a bit more than mine, but otherwise we’re similar enough that I can pass for him at his own birthday party.

DrWhoDrB


So now I’m on a panel called “Trust Me, I’m the Doctor.” That’s Sunday, October 12, at 2:00 at NYCC. I’ll post final details, photos, and follow-up on
Facebook as soon as I have them.

Update, and Happy Pub Day!

Well, I’m back. It’s been three months since I’ve posted anything here, and let me tell you, this summer has been one hell of a roller coaster ride.

First things first: I finished
Disciple of the Wind! My agent says this is the best one yet. My editor got to the book right away, and her editorial letter was very short, which is another way of saying she thinks the book is pretty damn good.

As with
Daughter and Demon, the comments from my agent and editor made the book much stronger. One of the unexpected turns in developing this book is that it looks like Kaida is going to get her own stand-alone novella. (At least one, maybe more!) I’ll have more to say about that later, once plans firm up.

Apart from writing, the big news is that I’ve moved to Austin, to take up a teaching position at TExas State University. Everything really is bigger in Texas: one of the first things I saw here was a 99-can case of beer.

99-pack

Anyhow, when I wasn’t spending time writing
Disciple, I was packing, unpacking, selling one home, finding another one -- you know, the kind of chores that make it tough to update a site’s newsfeed on a regular basis.. Sorry ‘bout that. Now that my life is settled in one place, I plan on getting back to posting twice a month.

Last thing: tomorrow is another Happy Pub Day! The mass market edition of
Year of the Demon hits shelves tomorrow. Cover price is eight bucks cheap, so you can buy one for all your friends and family.

YOTD MM

Look for another post soon about New York Comic Con and Dr. Who!

C2E2 debrief, and an MCC update

I’m back in Minnesota after a very successful C2E2. (Pics to follow.) I signed more books at this con than at all the rest put together, which probably means these books are picking up steam. Many, many mahalos to everyone who came to the panel, stopped by the autographing tables, and visited Penguin’s booth to pick up a free copy of Daughter of Sword!

C2E2 DotS among thieves


While sitting at the autographing tables, I struck up a conversation with
Doug Hulick, a fellow author who is also a fellow martial artist. Doug trains primarily in European swordsmanship, and as it happens, he’s based in Minneapolis. That makes him the perfect partner for my panel this Saturday at Minneapolis Comic Con.

So now it’s not
my panel, it’s our panel, and I’m really excited to have Doug aboard. Here’s the blurb for Martial Arts and the Art of the Fight Scene:

There is nothing lowbrow about kick-ass action scenes! At least not according to award-winning novelist Steve Bein and Locus best-selling novelist Doug Hulick. Together, the two have over thirty years of experience in the martial arts, both Asian and Western. Join Steve and Doug in a discussion about what makes for great fights and gripping action sequences in fiction. 


That’s this Saturday at 4:00 in room M100 I in the Minneapolis Convention Center. You won’t believe the star power Wizard World has lined up for this event. But don’t let those celebs distract you at 4:00!



Fan mail!

I recently received an unusual question from a fan named Marc Weinstein, whose attention to detail is to be commended. He noticed that in Daughter of the Sword, Professor Yamada Yasuo’s name appears in reverse order, but only in one place: on the back cover. In the book, he’s always Yamada Yasuo, but in the cover copy he’s Yasuo Yamada. Marc asked why.

You could say the reason is jurisdictional. Everything inside the book is my territory, but for the cover I have shared custody with the marketing department.

Everything inside the book is as authentically Japanese as I know how to make it, and that includes addressing Professor Yamada by his last name. Japanese culture enforces social stratifications on many levels, and so despite the fact that Yamada and Mariko become close friends, there are at least three reasons why she’d never call him by his first name: he’s much older than her, he’s a college professor (or professor emeritus, anyway), and he’s her martial arts instructor.

Once we get to the cover, the goal isn’t to reflect Japanese culture accurately, or even to accurately reflect every detail of the novel. The function of the cover is to sell the book. The consensus was that people reading the back cover would be thrown off by reading “Professor Yamada Yasuo” on one line and “Professor Yamada” on the next, so we followed the Western naming convention and put his last name last.

Incidentally, this is also why Mariko has ten fingers on the covers of
Year of the Demon and Disciple of the Wind: people who don’t know the books might be thrown off by an anatomically correct Mariko. (If that explanation doesn’t suit you, scroll back a few posts and look at the happy face on Sayuri Oyamada, the cover model. Can you look her in the eye and ask her to sacrifice body parts for her art? I can’t.)

Thanks for the great question, Marc! Everyone else, I would love to make answering fan mail a regular feature of this site. Ask ‘em if you got ‘em: steve (at) philosofiction (dot) com.

Con-demonium?

My spring schedule is really getting tight! I can’t believe I have two cons on back-to-back weekends.

C2E2, aka Chicago Comic Con, runs April 25th-27th. I’m part of a panel called “All Things Fantastic” (and by that I’m pretty sure they mean fantasy fiction, not that everyone on the panel is a Fantastic Thing). I hope to see you there: 12:30-1:30 on Saturday, April 26th, in room S402. Afterward, come by Autographing Table 1 between 1:45-2:45 and we can chat one-on-one.

Then the very next week I’m hosting a session at
Minneapolis Comic Con. (Click the link to see some of the special guests; the list is phenomenal.) Saturday, May 3rd, at 4:00 in room M100 I, come on by so we can discuss one of my favorite things: kick-ass fight scenes. Believe it or not, I think there is a fine art to writing fight scenes and action sequences, and we can talk about how it’s done.

I hope to see you in Chicago or Minneapolis!

This is a job for RoboChuck

Vladimir Putin continues to distinguish himself as an 80’s Action Movie Bad Guy. Let me count the ways:

First, he gets his ninth degree black belt in Taekwondo, outranking Chuck Norris’s eighth dan. Anyone who challenges Chuck Norris is almost by definition an 80’s Action Movie Bad Guy.

Still not convinced? Consider this: Putin uses the same Soviet supersoldier stretching techniques as Ivan Drago from
Rocky IV.

putinator dragonator

When the BBC and CNN finally get onto this story, just remember, you heard it here first.

Second, Putin decides he wants the Crimea, even though he can only hurt his own cause by taking it. He’s not a dumb guy; he has to know he stands almost nothing to gain, and he was certain to suffer personally and politically just for attempting the annex. Sort of like the execs at Omni Consumer Products deciding to manufacture RoboCops even though all of their other activities are illegal.

Yesterday Putin sank from evil to almost comical. In a move worthy of a
Naked Gun bad guy, he conscripted dolphins into his army so he could train them to kill human beings. I swear to you this is not a joke. Get his: he took them from disabled children to remilitarize them.


ocp dolphinator

And today Putin called a meeting with (I am not making this up) Steven Seagal, to talk about (I am not making this up) reinstating Joseph Stalin’s favorite nationwide fitness program. In Uncle Joe’s day it involved throwing fake grenades. Today, presumably, it will include what passes for aikido when taught by an action star not aging well enough to show up in an Expendables movie. Says Seagal (and I’m not making this up either): “I know him well enough to know that he is one of the greatest world leaders, if not the greatest world leader alive.”

So here’s the movie I want to see: Chuck Norris, blown half to bits by a brainwashed, bomb-toting Russian dolphin, gets fitted with an invincible armored exoskeleton and goes to challenge an Evil Russian Dictator to hand-to-hand combat. But he fights bodyguard Steven Seagal first. Soundtrack by Harold Faltermeyer, of course. Hollywood, call me. You know this will kick ass.


chuckinator stevenator