From today until Thursday, May 3, Juggernaut, the first book of the Strain series, is free on Amazon! Be sure to grab it while you have the chance!
I’ve just started the process of uploading the Strain books to Amazon to relaunch that series as the first part of re-launching all my titles that were published elsewhere.
YAY! I’m so excited!
For now, I’ve decided to only release the books with Amazon.
The good news for those of you with Kindle Unlimited is that you will have access to the books that way rather than having to purchase them, so if that has been an obstacle in the past, hopefully it won’t be anymore.
For the few of you who do buy through other retailers, I understand this may be somewhat distressing. And I’ll be honest, I’ve been really reluctant about participating in KDP-Select and Kindle Unlimited because I believe that Amazon’s model is extremely destructive for self-publishers and small presses and I object on principle to giving a single retailer exclusive rights to distribute my book.
However, it turns out, inhabiting the moral high ground doesn’t actually pay very well.
So, I’m going to try to split the difference. If you wish to read the book in epub or pdf format, buy it on Amazon, screencap your receipt or purchase confirmation, then contact me with a link to that screencap image using the contact form on my About page, here:
You can also use any of my social media accounts.
Once you’ve done that, I will contact you with a link to download a copy of the ebook in the format of your choice.
I will update any purchase links as soon as I have them, right now I’m just waiting for the books to process!
As of today, I’ve requested, and received, my rights back on all my solo titles published with Riptide Publishing. I expect my co-written titles will revert back shortly. As per usual, it may take a while for all the books to be de-listed with all the various vendors.
As for what’s going to happen from here on out, I’m not sure. I need to look at my options for a while, because all this has come on very suddenly, but in light of everything that has happened in the last few days, I felt it was the appropriate and ethical thing to do.
I’m still trying to parse through how I feel about all that’s happened, but ultimately my feelings are irrelevant. This is a time for the voices of the people who have been hurt and affected by all this to be heard and supported. I admire and stand by the courageous souls who have spoken out and hope they find comfort and healing.
I first met Niki in 2013 at GRL in Atlanta, GA, where she was doing video interviews with authors and publishers for her vlog and video book club. Here she is interviewing me with Anne Tenino:
I remember the interview being a delightful experience, Niki was clever and kind and just a lot of fun. I also enjoyed going back to her YouTube channel and watching the video book club sessions, of which I wish there had been more.
I met her again in 2014 at GRL, which she had used crowdfunding to attend. The first night we were there, we had dinner together with four or five other people. I think Heidi Belleau might have been there? The whole evening is a bit fuzzy because–as I infamously announced to everyone, and you’d better believe Niki kept teasing me about it all weekend–I was plastered after one and a half margaritas due to the fact that all I’d had to eat that day was two pancakes and a mocha. But we hung out several times during the course of that GRL, since I attended as a reader and not an author and therefore had no particular duties, and really she was one of my favorite parts of the experience that year.
I admit, I didn’t know Niki incredibly well. I followed her on Tumblr for quite some time, until she stopped being active on Tumblr, and always found the material she posted and reblogged to be insightful and thought-provoking and sometimes just plain fun. She was a huge fan of Abigail Roux’s Cut & Run series, but I knew she was having financial troubles, so when the final book came out, I bought it and gifted it to her so she wouldn’t have to wait to read it.
After that, we sort of lost contact, mostly since she drifted away from Tumblr and that’s really the only social media platform I’m active on. If news of her passing last week has circulated in the M/M romance community, I haven’t seen it. So it wasn’t until today when I tagged her in the hopes of congratulating her on the release of her latest book (the release of which I hadn’t been aware of, most likely because we had fallen out of touch) that someone let me know what had happened.
I’m incredibly saddened, despite the fact that I didn’t know her well, because what I did know of her was so altogether wonderful.
RIP Niki. You’ll be missed in many communities.
I have no excuses. Actually, I do. I rebuilt my computer a few months ago and in the process lost my password to log onto WordPress and I’ve been too lazy to go through the process of resetting it. That, and the holidays just sort of sucked out of me any desire to put myself out there socially in the slightest way so I’ve been pretty much a hermit since January. But now here I am.
First things first, Riptide has dropped the prices on, like a LOT of my books (and much of the rest of their back catalog as well!) So if you’ve been wanting to get caught up but haven’t had the money, you might want to check out the new pricing!
So, what’s new with me, you might ask?
First of all, I’ve got a new book coming out in a few weeks. If you follow me on Tumblr, Facebook, or Twitter, you probably already know that, I just haven’t posted about it here.
Tattoo artist Geoff Gilchrest is convinced his life is some sort of cosmic joke. Why else would a hemophiliac also be a masochist? He’s given himself more than one elbow bleed since puberty just doing what guys do when alone and bored, so forget about whips and chains. How many partners would contemplate playing with someone even a mild flogging could kill?
Gallery owner Robin Brady knows he can deliver what Geoff needs: to be taken to the edge of danger but never beyond. But Robin came to Saugatuck to get away from the leather scene and heal from a betrayal by his former sub, so he’s not sure he should get involved with Geoff. His ambivalence isn’t helped by the fact that Geoff’s unwillingness to communicate about his well-being hits Robin in some very raw places.
Geoff’s hemophilia isn’t the obstacle he thinks it is. Instead, a lack of trust—on both their parts—is what could end them before they have a chance to begin.
Guys, it’s SOOPER KINKY, mmkay? Like whoa. I know, I know, big shocker coming from me, right? No, but seriously, even I was blushing as I wrote it.
What I loved about writing this book was the chance to explore some different and often neglected aspects of BDSM play, because I had a character who couldn’t go the route of the standard floggings and spankings and rope/cuff bondage. It required a HUGE amount of research, some of it in face-to-face (face-to-webcam?) chat with actual gay hemophiliacs who could give me insight into the clotting disorder–particularly as it regards sex–from the unique perspective of a gay man.
There’s a reason this book took over two years for me to write. Yep, that’s right. I started writing it a couple months after I finished Saugatuck Summer, in the late spring/early summer of 2013. I kept getting stuck and putting it on the shelf, then coming back to it because something just wasn’t falling into place, until finally it did. It’s probably the hardest I’ve worked on any of my books to date, so I really hope it finds an audience.
I’ve got a couple more projects in the hopper, one of which is the next book in the Player vs. Player series. I admit, it hasn’t been a terribly productive year for me so far, at least not since Risk Aware edits were completed. I went back down the gaming rabbit hole for a couple months, including trying my hand at making mods, which is something I’ve never done before.
Then I got into Shadowhunters and the Magnus/Alec relationship (Malec). That has pretty much consumed me for the past few weeks. I ever made my first-ever fanvidm, which again is something I never really imagined myself ever doing because God knows visual/video things and I are not really compatible.
So it’s been an…interesting spring for me so far, in which I’ve not done nearly as many of the things as I should have been doing and yet I’ve stretched myself and my limitations in a number of ways.
And now I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone things about Risk Aware!
Now until the end of the year, Riptide is having an incredible blowout sale and you can grab all of my backlist titles for a terrific discount!
The Laird’s Forbidden Lover — $0.99
The Professor’s Rule – The Complete Collection — $3.99 (individual titles are also discounted if you’re just missing some of the series)
Player vs. Player — $2.99
Strain — $2.99
Bane — $3.99
Juggernaut — $4.99
Saugatuck Summer — $2.99
Be sure to grab anything you’re missing from your library from any of Riptide’s other great authors as well!
… RISK AWARE has been contracted with Riptide. Look for it in the coming year!
“The brunet”, “the blond”, and “the younger man” are ruining your books! And here’s why! #epithets #makeitstop
There are few lessons I’ve learned as a writer that I’m more grateful for than when Leta here took me in hand when I first started writing slash and taught me the proper use (or rather lack thereof) of epithets.
I’ve tried to do my part; the subject was going around once on Tumblr and I passed the lesson on, and at least one of my mutuals commented that they found the explanation I provided made a lot of sense and clarified the issue for them for the first time.
Recently, I was reading a book from a popular series by an author is who quite well-known in the genre, and the POV character was using epithets to REFER TO HIMSELF. Like: “The tall man drew the short man in for a kiss…” where the POV character is “the short man.” I cringed so hard.
So yes, please take note and follow this advice!
I DNFed two books this week because I couldn’t deal with the authors’ wild overuse of epithets. One was self-published and the other was published by a press, so this isn’t just a self-pub thing. Authors, beta readers, editors, please, for the love of all that is holy, understand that epithets are unnecessary about 99% of the time. Every single time you use one, ask yourself, “Is this necessary?” I promise that the answer is nearly always no.
I googled looking for an explanation so that I wouldn’t have to actually write up everything myself. I found one on Tumblr that I’ll share here. Yes, it’s about fan fiction, but, dudes, this applies to all writing. Published work is actually expected to be held to a higher standard than fanfic most of the time, am I right?
GO READ THE ENTIRE POST but I am going to just cut and paste in…
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Please keep Veerender Jubbal in your thoughts. He’s been targeted by GG yet again but this could get him killed. A bathroom selfie was photoshopped to make it look like he was holding a Quran, wearing a bomb lined vest and for some odd reason, a dildo was added. An Italian news outlet has run the story as true sadly, but Buzzfeed (for once was useful) and called out the obvious photoshop.
It looks like a piss poor photoshop, and it’s a photo where he’s staring straight ahead which someone else couldn’t have taken. However news outlets are running this photo, and that piece of shit Milo Y of Brietbart/GG infamy is trying to harass him further by asking for an exclusive for Brietbart.
Veerender is a very young, sweet guy who’s only asking for equality in games and more representation of Sikh’s and brown men like him. For this, for his rightful anger he’s been targeted yet again. The incorrect party line of “he’s a Muslim terrorist” isn’t new but with the strong anti-Muslim vibe going on because of Paris right now, I am really, really worried for his safety. Not tagging him so I don’t bring hate to his FB.
If you follow him on twitter, please send some words of support, cute animal pics or something. I am very, very worried someone will believe that image is real and go after him.
They did this this weekend, AFTER Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris, for which ISIS has claimed responsibility. They did this in a time when anti-Islam sentiment is boiling over and Muslims all over the world are in danger of hate crimes.
It won’t matter that this innocent man is a Sikh. Many Sikhs have been subjected to hate crimes, especially since 9/11, because most people are too ignorant to realize that they’re not Muslims.
This is especially troubling because GamerGaters have been known to attempt murder-by-cop, in the form of something called swatting. Swatting is something that is done to a person who has been doxxed. The harasser makes some form of anonymous report to emergency services that something urgently bad is happening at a person’s address. Like, they’re holding a hostage or they’re waving a gun or whatever. This is done in the hopes that police will show up and bust down the target’s door with guns blazing.
Not that they’ll admit that is the goal, they claim it’s just harassment. But who living in the post-Ferguson world believes that it isn’t actually attempted murder? Especially since the targets of several notable incidences have been black or trans people (such as in this incident last year in Portland) both of whom have every reason to be afraid of being murdered by police.
(Ironically, a few months ago I started writing the sequel to Player vs. Player, called Swatted. My protag is of Middle Eastern descent. Guess what happens.)
For over a year now, I’ve been posting occasionally about GamerGate. GamerGate became a thing last August, just as I was finishing up edits to Player vs. Player (a book which was inspired by harassment of Jennifer Hepler, a writer who used to work on the Dragon Age franchise at BioWare) and Anita Sarkeesian, a media critic who runs a site called Feminist Frequency and does a Feminism 101-level critique of the portrayal of women in video games.
I’ve posted before about how I wrote Player vs. Player a year too early, because it wasn’t, in fact, informed by GamerGate. It just happened to be timely.
GamerGate claims to be about ethics in gaming journalism–which they basically define as preventing any gaming news outlets from posting any articles that might suggest in any way that women and minorities should receive better representation in video games. But here’s the truth about how it actually started.
TL;DR version: posts speculating about Zoe Quinn’s sex life kept getting deleted from legitimate gaming boards, and harassment posts kept getting deleted from other places. So the harassers decided they needed to try another tactic. Here are some of the posts leading up to these harassers deciding they were actually about “ethics in gaming journalism.”
(Extreme TW: Misogyny, misogynist slurs, homophobic slurs, harassment, bullying)
So it’s completely well-documented that the “ethics in gaming journalism” was a deliberate ploy on the part of these guys to put a veneer of legitimacy on their campaign of harassment of women. The #GamerGate tag was invented, coined by Adam Baldwin, and began spreading all over Twitter.
In the aftermath, the harassment spread to Anita Sarkeesian, who was already misogynist gamers pin-up girl, and to a woman named Leigh Alexander, who posted an article in which she asserted “gamers” are over. You can read the post and see for yourself what her meaning was, but misogynist gamer dudebros didn’t look beyond the title, which they decided was an attack upon them and their identity, and they attacked back.
Then a game developer named Brianna Wu created a few memes mocking GamerGate. For that, she was driven from her home by death and rape threats. (TW: death threats, rape threats, extreme misogyny.)
In the process of crusading for “ethics in gaming journalism”, there has been a flurry of awful behavior. #GamerGate co-opted antisemitic propaganda images to smear Anita Sarkeesian. (TW: antisemitism)
They equated gamergaters to the #BlackLivesMatter protesters in Ferguson, and equated male gamers to black Americans in the Jim Crow era:
(White nationalists are also claiming GamerGate is boosting their numbers. GamerGaters also frequently reference a trumped-up concept named Cultural Marxism, which is pretty much the next generation of the Nazi buzz phrase Cultural Bolshevism.)
A man named Davis Aurini, who outright confesses to being a white nationalist “on paper” partnered with another GamerGater to make a documentary called “The Sarkeesian Effect” and sought $15,000 per month for their trouble.
(This while accusing Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn and Brianna Wu of being “professional victims” capitalizing upon their harassment for sympathy and money. The irony astounds.)
They have committed ACTUAL acts of terrorism. In October 2014 Anita Sarkeesian had to cancel an appearance at Utah State University because someone threatened a campus massacre if she appeared (in the process referencing the actual 1989 massacre of several women on a campus in Montreal.)
This is on top of what Sarkeesian deals with on a daily basis.
When Felicia Day, popular actress and geek culture darling, timidly spoke up condemning GamerGate, they doxxed her. (Doxxing, for those who aren’t aware, is the publishing of a person’s personal and financial information–such as address, phone number, employer, family addresses, social security number, etc, for the purpose of harassment.)
Former NFL player and LGBTQIA+ rights activist Chris Kluwe, who had a couple days later posted an absolutely EPIC rant about #GamerGate, was also eventually doxxed. It is pathetic to note, however, that while Felicia Day was doxxed less than an hour after her post, it took them months to dox Kluwe. #GamerGate targets women much more aggressively than it does men.
They even spoke of trying to dox Brianna Wu’s veterinarian in the middle of the night as Brianna Wu waited at the vets with her dying dog. And then, of course, rejoiced and celebrated and harassed Brianna about her loss.
Last year, a Canadian teenager was arrested for swatting female gamers all over North America.
That’s not even close to the end of it.
The Venn diagram of GamerGaters and so-called Men’s Rights Activists isn’t quite a perfect circle, but I’d call it a short oval, at least. Paul Elam, leader of the MRA website A Voice For Men, initially voiced his support for GamerGate, but later seemed to walk to back. GamerGate is also supported by Roosh V, notorious pickup-artist who advocates for the legalization of rape (extreme TW: misogyny and rape apologia) and even confesses to committing rape (TW: rape descriptions).
The person who threatened the massacre if Anita Sarkeesian appeared at Utah State University referenced both GamerGate and repeated a lot of MRA rhetoric.
GamerGate also has a tremendous amount of overlap with neo-Nazi ideology. This really isn’t surprising. All three groups exist for the purpose of upholding white male supremacy, and they echo a lot of the same rhetoric.
For instance, ranting against the concept of so-called Cultural Marxism. The only difference between the three groups is MRAs blame feminists for it, white supremacists blame non-white people for it (as well as feminists), and GamerGaters blame “SJWs” (social justice warriors) for it.
It should be noted that “SJW” is pretty much the “all of the above” option, seeing as how it encompasses any oppressed group advocating for equality, including the groups that MRAs and white supremacists hate.
Here’s where it gets scary though:
Murder in the name of white supremacy is pretty much so universal that I’d be here for weeks listing them. Anders Behring Breivik springs to mind as one, but honestly it happens nearly every day in the US, frequently in the form of law enforcement killing black Americans.
MRAs has a history of celebrating men who murder women in the name of anti-feminism. They have stated Elliot Rodger would have been a hero if he’d just killed women and no men. They have blamed feminists for Rodger’s actions, because Rodger was an “incel” (involuntarily celibate) and because feminists engage in “creep shaming.”
Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot accused of crashing Germanwings Flight 9525, was called an incel hero and his actions an indication of the “beta uprising.” Vox Day, fantasy author and all-around horrible excuse for a human being, opines that Lubitz wouldn’t have crashed the plane if women and just jumped on his dick. MRAs also celebrated the recent massacre at Umpqua Community College.
PUA RooshV is so convinced that one day his followers will commit a massacre that he’s already formulating his response to it.
GamerGaters are already trying to commit murder obliquely with tactics such as swatting, and “raids” on sites such as Tumblr to attempt to harass depressed trans people into committing suicide.
How much longer before they go for the direct approach? Will someone have to actually die before these guys stop being handwaved off as just trolls?
They’ve just spread images of a Sikh man photoshopped to make him look like a terrorist. In the aftermath of a terrorist attack when the entire world is on a hair trigger. How can this be anything but attempted murder?
Get the complete STRAIN series for only $13.99 during @RiptideBooks anniversary celebration! #postapocalyptic #mmromance
For Riptide’s 4th Anniversary, they’re offering Strain: The Complete Collection for only $13.99. Which basically means you’re getting a book completely free. Get it while you can!
The BANE blog tour is making its final stops today, with the last chapter of REFUGE, a free STRAIN-universe short!
I’m leaving in a few hours for Seattle, so I’m afraid I won’t have a chance to make this post later, even though one of the stops for the tour hasn’t been posted yet.
Today on the BANE blog tour, I’ll be sharing the final chapter of REFUGE. REFUGE is a sweet beginning to an trans romance set close to 30 years after BANE. There’s a chance it may be the basis for a continuation of the STRAIN universe, but we’ll have to see what the muse decides about that.
Yesterday, Kal and Billie resolved some of Billie’s misunderstandings about the Wapato Island Refuge and they set off with Zeus on their journey. Billie begins to understand how much she enjoys being with Kal, but is the time right for them?
You can find the installments for today at the following stops:
I’m also making a spotlight stop at Rainbow Gold Reviews with another chance to enter the drawing for some Riptide store credit.
Thanks so much for joining me on the tour! If you need to catch up on REFUGE, you can find the previous installments here (or you can check out the Extras tab on the BANE page at Riptide):
Remember that you can comment at each stop to enter to win some Riptide store credit!
Today is the fourth day of the BANE blog tour, and we’re bringing you Chapter 4 of REFUGE.
REFUGE is a sweet beginning to an trans romance set close to 30 years after BANE. There’s a chance it may be the basis for a continuation of the STRAIN universe, but we’ll have to see what the muse decides about that.
Yesterday, Kal and Billie started to get to know each other, but Billie’s desire to find a home outside the Clean Zone where she won’t be an outcast conflicts with her fear of Kal’s people in the Wapato Island Refuge and the horrible things she’s been told about them and their settlement all her life. Today they start to pick through the truths and the lies, to decide if Billie can ever feel safe there.
You can find the installments for today at the following stops:
Be sure to check back tomorrow for the final chapter! If you need to catch up on REFUGE, you can find the previous installments here:
Remember that you can comment at each stop to enter to win some Riptide store credit!
It’s Day 3 of the BANE blog tour, with two new installments of REFUGE, a STRAIN-universe short! #postapocalyptic #mmromance
Day 3 of the BANE blog tour brings you the conclusion of Chapter 3 of REFUGE. REFUGE is a sweet beginning to an trans romance set close to 30 years after BANE. There’s a chance it may be the basis for a continuation of the STRAIN universe, but we’ll have to see what the muse decides about that.
Yesterday, Kal helped Billie out of the derelict building she was stuck in (and if you were paying attention you might have an idea of just how Kal relates to your faves from STRAIN and BANE.) Today you learn a little about what’s happening on the political front in the aftermath of BANE (don’t worry, spoilers are minimal and only very general.) You also learn how Zeus got his name!
You can find the installments for today at the following stops:
There’s also an excerpt from BANE at MM Good Book Reviews.
If you need to catch up on REFUGE, you can find the previous installments here:
Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents (Part 1)
Remember that you can comment at each stop to enter to win some Riptide store credit!
Today the Bane blog tour has four stops, each one with a segment of REFUGE, the sweet (no sex) beginning of an MtF/M romance set some years after Bane. It’s possible it may someday be the concept for another full novel in the Strain universe, though I make no promises at this point.
Yesterday you met Billie, a transwoman in a bit of trouble. If you missed them, yesterday’s segments were:
Today you get to meet Kal and perhaps more importantly, Zeus!
Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents (Chapter 3, Part 1)
Be sure to comment at each stop for a chance to win Riptide credit, and check in tomorrow for more segments of REFUGE.
Kicking off the BANE Blog Tour! Check out the first few installments of REFUGE, a STRAIN-universe short!
Today we’re kicking off the BANE blog tour with four stops.
Segments of REFUGE, a feel-good (yes, you heard that right, I can write fluff!) STRAIN-universe short, can be found at the following stops:
I’m also stopping by:
Comment at all of these stops for a chance to win store credit from Riptide!
BANE is now also available for purchase on the following sites:
Be sure to keep following the BANE blog tour each day for more chances to enter to win Riptide store credit, and further installments of REFUGE.
The weapon that nearly destroyed humanity may be their only salvation.
Rhys Cooper’s unique immunity to all three strains of the virus that nearly annihilated humanity has brought him the unwanted attention of Clean Zone scientists. They’ve summoned him for testing—ostensibly in the hopes of finding a vaccine—but Rhys’s partner, Darius Murrell, has good reason not to trust any government. He and his comrades in Delta Company were unwitting test subjects for Project Juggernaut, the military experiment that gave them superhuman abilities and unleashed the pandemic. Doubting the government’s intentions, Delta Company refuses to let Rhys go alone.
Fear of infection has kept Zach Houtman and his lover Nico Fernández apart for a decade. They meet rarely, just long enough to coordinate their spying on the head of the government’s virus research division. Secretary Littlewood is a vicious predator, and they suspect he’s trying to acquire the strain of the virus that would make him superhuman. To stop him, they need the perfect bait: Rhys.
For Rhys, helping them might cost him his relationship with Darius—or his life. For Zach and Nico, even if their plan succeeds, they still face the ultimate question: can infected and uninfected people ever live together safely?
For those of you who rely on Kindle, BANE has gone live on Amazon. B&N, Kobo, et. al. will no doubt be trickling out over the next 24 hours or so.
Also, today is your last chance to get STRAIN for $.99, so if you haven’t already, take advantage of that!
And be sure not to miss the BANE blog tour kicking off tomorrow. I’ll be sharing a short (and very sweet, for those of you who doubted I could do stories without smut) story from the STRAIN universe, called REFUGE. It’s set quite some time post-BANE, but any spoilers are only of the most general sort.
Tonight at midnight Eastern, BANE will be available for anyone who has pre-ordered from Riptide! Guys I’m so excited to have you all visit with Rhys and Darius (and Zach and Nico) again!
Also, STRAIN is available for $0.99 for a short time from Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and Itunes. If you weren’t already aware, BANE is best enjoyed after you’ve read both JUGGERNAUT and STRAIN (in whichever order you prefer.) So this is a great opportunity to catch up on where we left Darius and Rhys off before you jump back into their story with BANE.
I’m so excited!
I will say, Bane will be best understood if you’ve read both Strain and Juggernaut, so you also still have time to catch up on those.
As luck would have it, this weekend All Romance eBooks is having a 30% rebate sale. On other words, when you buy any book from the series (including pre-ordering Bane) you get 30% store credit from ARe to spend on more books!
Keep an eye out, I believe Riptide will also be having a sale on Strain in the near future to celebrate the release of Bane!
This is a post I originally shared during the Juggernaut blog tour when I stopped over at Prism Book Alliance. Some of the posts contained really important and interesting world-building background, so I thought I would share them again after the blog tour was over for people who might have missed them.
Envisioning the Future: The Corporate Tenements
If you follow me on Tumblr or elsewhere, or if you’ve read my book Player vs. Player, it’s pretty obvious that I take an active interest in politics and social justice issues. And one of the issues that keeps coming up in the current political dialogue is the fact that unrestrained capitalism has not turned out to be the positive, freedom-assuring force that it’s packaged and sold to the public as being. But with so much of the world population brainwashed into believing it’s a good thing, its preeminence doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon.
So when I envisioned the future world of Juggernaut, my starting point really had to be: what would the world—or at least the United States—look like with capitalism run completely amok?
It actually wasn’t that difficult to imagine, and I took a lot of my queues from the past, before labor regulations and unionization put constraints on employers and ensured fair treatment of workers.
Particularly, I looked to the coal mining camps of the latter 19th century before unionization. It’s hard for us to truly grasp just how completely a company could own a person, but the coal mining operations are one example where employers really did have that much control.
Coal mining towns and camps were often very isolated, and very enclosed. Miners were frequently paid in whole or in part using scrip, or a currency accepted only at the company store. Since prices at the company store were often very inflated, this meant scrip had considerably less value than the same amount of cash would have. Because of their isolation, however, miners had no choice but to buy their supplies at the company store, which kept them in perpetual poverty.
Many miners were responsible for buying the supplies needed to make the mines safe, such as timber for shoring up the walls (which, of course, they would have to buy from the company.) Miners were also paid by the tonnage they produced, rather than for the hours worked. This means that any time they took out of extracting coal to shore up the mine shafts or take other safety measures would reduce their productivity and therefore their income. The company could disavow all responsibility in the event of a collapse, since safety was the miners’ responsibility and the miners had shirked it.
The company also owned the miners’ housing. Which meant any complaints or attempts at unionizing could leave one homeless in addition to being unemployed. Security guards were more to keep union organizers out—with full legal authority to use lethal force if they found union organizers trying to infiltrate the camp—than to protect the miners and their families.
How could one ever become prosperous or get out of poverty under such conditions?
This was the template I used for life in the corporate tenements which are frequently mentioned in Juggernaut.
In the world of Juggernaut, corporate retail and service industry giants and large factory manufacturers have been taking PR dings for the fact that their employees are on public assistance, and one of the ways in which they combat this is to build or buy large apartment complexes in which they would provide employees with company subsidized housing and transportation to and from the workplace. Rent can be deducted from their wages, and credit extended against future earnings if an employee falls behind, keeping employees perpetually in debt to their employers.
The tenements are often run-down, with sanitation, maintenance, and safety problems. Employees who report problems within their apartments will often find themselves accused of damaging the property and will be charged for repairs.
The company store sees a resurgence, in the form of an arrangement where second-run, expired, and otherwise unsaleable goods are made available to employees (again, on credit against future wages if an employee can’t afford groceries that week.) Because transportation to and from the workplace is provided, many employees have no means of getting out of the tenements. Security is provided more for the PR value of keeping crime down within the tenements than for the safety of the employees, and the security forces are private rather than public police, employed by the company and their enforcement is conducted with the interests of the corporation, rather than the employees, in mind. In the insular colonies that the tenements become, the security guards are little more than armed toughs. Disputes are supposed to be handled by the resident superintendent, who also works for the corporation.
By this point in the future, all internet access is via communications satellites and in the tenements that access goes through a company-owned hub. This means any unrest or attempts to organize for better workers’ rights within the tenement can be monitored and sanctioned. Negative reports or documentation of life inside the tenements can be filtered to quash any negative publicity.
News from outside the tenement can likewise be filtered, particularly if it’s going to stir up dissent. This can particularly influence political expression within the tenements; positive information about candidate who will not act in the corporations’ best interests can be restricted, while propaganda for candidates who will serve corporate interests can flourish. Since employees lack transportation to voting sites, as a supposed “service” a proxy system is established—sort of the electoral college writ small—where a representative of the tenement can vote for the entire tenement. That representative is, of course, employed by the corporation.
Being fired or evicted means a negative recommendation from both employer and landlord. This makes finding other employment particularly difficult, and losing one’s job is an effective guarantee of perpetual unemployment and homelessness.
Non-corporate housing is a luxury reserved for the few people who work in industries or institutions where this sort of corporate control can’t in practicality exist. Since the middle class is almost completely gone, the vast majority of America’s workers live under these conditions.
Interestingly—considering how much effort went into world-building this particular concept—both of my protagonists come from privileged upbringings outside the corporate tenements. But they both have views inside the situation, Zach through his work with the homeless and impoverished, and Nico through his mother, who was raised in the tenements and found a way to get herself out.
This is perhaps an exaggerated vision of what the future of America may be, but it’s not a completely implausible one. It’s rather bleak and grim to consider, but it helps explain how there is so little oversight or control of the military R&D operations that resulted in Project Juggernaut. With so large a portion of the voting public removed from any actual position where they can influence things, public opinion would have little to no sway on things such as bioweapons development.
Leftist ableism, misinformation, #GamerGate, and the deliberately constructed decline of critical thought
If you followed me on Tumblr you know that a pet peeve of mine lately has been progressives using ableist language when making their points. You would also know that several times recently, I’ve had to deliberately counter leftist misinformation that makes its way across my dash.
And if you have read Player vs. Player or even skimmed the book jacket, you can probably guess that the GamerGate debacle is something I take very seriously, though that book was finalized before #GamerGate became a thing.
Would it surprise you to know that #GamerGate is a movement comprised of a significant number of left-leaning and leftist libertarian people?
Seen in that light, it makes a certain amount of sense that a great deal of #GamerGate’s rhetoric (even when they’re not maliciously harassing people) defaults to the use of ableist language.
I admit, the last election cycle, I was not aware of the left’s frequent reliance on ableist language. In the years since, I’ve had my eyes opened to a lot of things I hadn’t seen before, and perhaps that’s resulted in a sort of hypersensitivity to it. Mostly, it’s that I find myself time and again having to choose NOT to share articles, opinion pieces, and memes that otherwise make very valid points because of the use of ableist language. Progressives have no problem dismissing right-winger’s as “idiots” and call right-wing ideas “crazy,” “insane,” “lame,” and “stupid.” For a group of people who pride themselves on their open-minded ideas, the left has been extremely reluctant to stop using this language.
Now, of course, we see that a significant chunk of leftist #GamerGaters call themselves libertarians, which is a whole other kettle of fish from actually being progressive. Libertarians are, on the whole, people who like to pat themselves on the back for being tolerant enough not to care about things other people do that don’t personally affect them–such as having abortions or marrying someone of the same sex–but don’t see any reason why they should give up their racism, sexism, classism, transphobia and ableism. They’re conservatives who are minimally self-aware enough to want to avoid the shame of being blatant bigots, but they don’t actually want anything to change, so attempt to slip their bigotry in under the radar with a self-congratulatory veneer of open-mindedness. So there’s that.
When confronted by someone who points out this disconnect, the illusion evaporates and they quickly default to blatant racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and ableism, however. Which is #GamerGate in a nutshell. It’s a bunch of misogynists railing against the notion of change (specifically in the gaming industry and geek culture) while claiming they’re left-leaning because they generously permit women to have abortions. Meanwhile they spew a bunch of sexist vitriol, death threats, rape threats, sexual harassment, gendered slurs, and even deliberately organized campaigns to try to trigger dysphoria in at-risk trans people in an attempt to induce them to commit suicide.
Thus it would be really easy to dismiss them under the “no true Scotsman” fallacy, and give the rest of the left a pass on their more discreet forms of ableism. #GamerGate thinks nothing of using the r-word against people they disagree with–which for the rest of the left is just Going Too Far (though it wouldn’t be if, of all people, Sarah Palin hadn’t pointed it out very publicly–while unironically using the term “lamestream media.”) The r-word is basically a slur so offensive that the rest of the left won’t touch it. Instead, they default to more socially acceptable variations on the theme like “idiotic” and “insane.”
But here’s the thing. The right is neither idiotic nor insane. What they are is a group of people who are lacking in critical thinking skills.
That’s not a congenital deficit (unless it actually is, when taking into consideration people who are severely learning or developmentally disabled.) Critical thinking skills are something that are learned in the course of a well-rounded education, and thus can be acquired by anyone (except for those who literally lack the faculties to acquire them due to the aforementioned disabilities.)
And what we’ve seen for decades from the right–and this includes libertarians whose conceit is that they are “fiscally conservative but socially liberal”–is a concerted effort to deny people a well-rounded education.
They make a college education too expensive to afford without incurring enormous amounts of debt and then refuse to lower the interest rate on that debt.
They cut funding for educational programming on PBS, which poor families often rely on because they can’t afford cable. They cut funding for Head Start programs. They cut school budgets so that there are fewer teachers per student, and cut lunch and welfare programs that enable students to learn better because they’re not going hungry.
They construct curricula that neglect accurate and truthful education on the subjects of history and social studies and science. They are outright antipathetic to arts programs, despite the fact that scientific studies have repeatedly proven that children who receive arts education do better in most or all “core” subjects, particularly math, which then impacts the ability to learn science.
They continually, in ways both implicit and explicit, deride being educated or anything that smacks of “intellectualism,” dismissing it as being elitist.
It has repeatedly been demonstrated that educated people overwhelmingly tend to vote left. This is because educated people are people with sound critical thinking skills. They can look at the problems facing society, deconstruct what has created those problems, and promote rational, logical solutions that are backed by sound science. People without critical thinking skills tend to vote based upon emotion, scare tactics, and buzzwords, things that the right is very good at and relies on hugely in the absence of genuine solutions to our problems.
(Golly, that sure makes it look like the right’s attempts to prevent people receiving an education look like a well-choreographed, decades-long campaign to create a populace largely incapable of critical thought, doesn’t it?)
Which is why you get people outraged about Planned Parenthood is “selling baby parts” (which doesn’t happen) and then railing about their tax dollars paying for abortions (which also doesn’t happen.)
It’s why we can somehow pin all our fear of terrorist violence on Muslim people despite the fact that white American men are vastly more likely to carry out terrorist attacks on American citizens. It’s also why we can simultaneously scream to the high heavens that it’s unconstitutional to deny those white American men easy access to firearms but perfectly constitutional to detain, brutalize, and carry out invasive searches of Muslims and/or black Americans who have done nothing more illegal than buying an airline ticket or failing to obey a minor traffic law (if even that.)
It’s why people can convince themselves that a college-bound high school graduate who committed absolutely no crime is a “demonic” thug who deserved his own murder but the policeman who murdered him is a hero who deserves a million dollars in crowdfunding money.
It’s why the people who hold the vast majority of financial and political and media power in the US can unironically contend that they’re being oppressed because someone says “happy holidays” or suggests that they shouldn’t appropriate non-white cultures.
Which brings me the second subject I raised way up there in the first paragraph. In addition to the left’s not-so-subtle default to ableism, I’m seeing repeated instances of misinformation crossing my dash. Not nearly as many–or nearly as blatant–as the right, of course, but it’s very insidious.
Like this post from a couple days ago. A point of misinformation in the middle of an otherwise well-thought-out and factual argument is a rotten able that will taint the whole barrel.
Some may argue that, in a society that has deliberately been denied the ability to think critically, relying on appeals to emotion, buzzwords, and outrage generated on false premises–as opposed to accurately educating people about the issues–is the only way the left can win. But are we really still progressives if we do that?
TL;DR–if you pride yourself on being progressive but default to ableist language to further your agenda, you’re behaving no better than the sexist troglodytes of #GamerGate. And if you consider yourself progressive but you resort to tactics which bypass the requirement for critical thought (and would fail the test of critical thought if applied) you’re no better than FOX News.
Either way, knock it off.
Enter to win an early copy of BANE on the JUGGERNAUT blog tour! @BookReviewsMore @3ChicksAftrDark @AllIWantnMore
It’s the final day of the JUGGERNAUT blog tour!
You can still comment on all the the posts for a chance to win an early copy of BANE until August 15th, so if you’re chomping at the bit for the next book, stop by and strike up a conversation about JUGGERNAUT or the STRAIN universe in general.
You really don’t want to miss today’s stops in the tour. Over at Book Reviews and More by Kathy I share some thoughts on my inspirations for what the end of the world looks like, and some notable differences. I share an excerpt from JUGGERNAUT over at 3 Chicks After Dark, and at All I Want and More Books I discuss a major setting for some of the action in JUGGERNAUT, the quarantine camps.
Thank you so much to all the amazing blogs that have hosted my tour this week. See you in September for the BANE blog tour!