Well, this week has been full of interesting. Interesting in a way that brings to mind that common curse (thought as I understand it, it is neither ancient, nor Chinese) “may you live in interesting times.”
I’m not just speaking of my own experiences here. The war in Ukraine continues to be a constant source of “interesting” as the world rightfully dogpiles on Russia for invading its neighbor in a naked power grab. The longer things go on, the more insane Russia looks, from their claims to their actions. Last night they shelled a nuclear power plant, briefly setting it on fire.
These are not the actions of sane people. You don’t shell a nuclear power plant in an area you’re trying to conquer. That’s supervillain 101. Russia is proving more inept than comic book villains right now, but with very real consequences to their nation’s actions.
Here’s hoping Kyiv is the stone their entire military trips over and can’t recover from.
Yeah, sorry to start off with such a dour topic, but that’s sort of the state of things these days on the international stage.
Thankfully, not everything making the news is terrible these days. Have you heard about Sanderson’s Kickstarter success?
Well, I have. Repeatedly. Constantly. So yes, I have heard about it, you can stop messaging me everywhere about it. It is cool, but I heard about it the first day.
Now, those of you that haven’t might be wondering what’s going on. Well, what’s going on is that today (literally), Brandon Sanderson has made publishing history. But you probably wanted a little more background than that.
So earlier this week, Brandon released a video saying that he’d “lied” to all his fans. A lie of omission as it turns out, but during 2020, when the world was in lockdown, Brandon found that all of his public appearances at cons and whatnot were now canceled and he had a lot more time to write. Based off his graph of time spent, I’d guess it was “like the old days” before he was a megastar. But the “lie” was that he kept quiet about this and pretended to be writing books at his “star level” pace.
At least, until this big unveiling that with that extra time no longer spent traveling (roughly a third of his workdays a year, IIRC) now spent writing, he’d written four books that no one knew about. And he was going to be publishing them through his own imprint (Dragonsteel Books) with a kickstarter campaign to finance the publication and gauge interest.
As I said above, we are now two days into this kickstarter, and it is the most successful kickstarter of all time.
Now on the one hand a lot of this isn’t surprising. Megastar author announces kickstarter, gets money. But there’s a bit more to it than that. Because this is Sanderson’s imprint. This isn’t like when when a major studio or publisher hops on Kickstarter just because they can.
This is Sanderson’s own imprint. In other words … this is indie.
That’s right. Four indie books, from one of the biggest authors in the world, who would have publishers promising their first and second-born children for a chance to publish his stuff, and they broke the all-time kickstarter record in less than two days.
Sometimes when discussing history, people talk about turning points. In the world of book publishing, this, I think, will be one of them. The Martian scoring a movie deal and becoming an international sensation despite not having major trad-pub backing was one. The meteoric success of Brandon’s kickstarter? I think this will count as another. Years from now, when moldy historians are discussing the moments when “indie” books finally became accepted the way indie games, music, and movies are, they’re going to point to this moment as one of those moments.
And there’s still a whole month to go.
If you want to check the kickstarter out (and maybe be a part of publishing history) you can check it out here.
But either way, this is a major success, both for Brandon as an author and for publishing as a whole.
Now, speaking of writing, most of you are probably wondering what I’ve been up to. Well … I sort of got distracted with my entry for the Troubadours and Space Princesses. Which is accepting submissions until March 31st, I’ll add.
Anyway, last week I reported that the story I had been working on was far too rough and needed some serious work and expansion, and since that expansion would have put it well over the word count, I’d set it aside for now.
Instead, I started work on a second story. Which is now, as of yesterday, complete. Four days work … and only 249 words over the high-end submission limit. Not bad, but I think I’m proving that, like a goldfish, if given the space, I will take it.
So right now I’m trimming. Patreon Supporters will get a glimpse of the rough, after which I’ll see if there’s anyone that isn’t being an Alpha Reader for Starforge that wants to give this a look before I send it in. Though a small part of me is tempted to write a short bit of flash fiction for a third go at having an entry, two 17,000-word entries in two weeks is more than enough time spent on this, I think.
Outside of that? Well, I do plan on at least going over the opening chapters of feedback for Starforge today and seeing what Alpha Readers are making of it. Speaking of which, if you’ve not read Colony or Jungle, I’d be curious to put you through the opening chapters of Starforge and see exactly how lost you are and how well everything’s carried over. That bit for this week on setting up sequels? One reason I picked it was because I’ve been weighing which approach may be needed for Starforge.
Anyway, if you haven’t read Colony or Jungle but would like a peek at the opening chapters of Starforge, drop me a line. I’d be curious what you make of the lead-in and whether or not it gives you enough to know what’s going on.
Now, there is one other thing I wish to talk about for a moment. Something that’s sucked away most of my free time this week.
Some of you have likely heard of this indie-darling of a game where you are marooned on an alien planet and through the use of fabrication must build a gigantic factory with the capacity to construct a rocket that can get you off world. Think Robinson Crusoe if the protagonist had owned a pocket fabricator capable of consuming the entire island in order to build a modern manufacturing line.
And you, as the player, are responsible for figuring out that production line.
Basically, it’s a bit of puzzle game, asking you to figure out how to assemble massive manufacturing lines of various technology you’ll need to get off world, while managing the supply and demand for all these resources, power, etc etc etc … Oh, and pollution levels, because you will be polluting and the local wildlife won’t like that.
Anyway, a friend gifted it to me years ago when it was in early access and after playing it a bit and coming up against some hard bottlenecks (largely due to a learning curve that’s more of a cliff combined with the game not being finished) I set it aside.
And last week, thinking “Well, it’s been out for a while and my new-game queue is vast, why not knock this one out?” I started it up again.
Please help, I need sleep. Hours vanish with this one if it grabs you, and in its current state it’s got me good, at least for one playthrough. I’m laying out conveyor belts and manufacturing lines in my sleep and redesigning my iron-mining operations.
Seriously though, it’s a lot of fun, though time really does slip away when a game is in progress. Like Simcity there’s a real zen to figuring out the ideal way to layout a massive factory, with parts of it becoming obsolete and getting torn down to make way for newer and more economical or productive means. There’s also a bit of joy to look at a giant spaghetti ball of conveyor belts, assembly machines, robotic arms, and think “Yeah, that could be done in about half the space if just that ONE conveyor belt I cannot move wasn’t there …”
Equally amusing is not realizing that and watching whole sections of your facility break into little pieces in rolling shortages as one very critical item accidentally gets shunted to the wrong belt and whole bits of your supply chain go down.
Huh. I’m sure there are modern, applicable platitudes there, but I’ll leave that for others to think of.
For now, I need to get to The Minstrel and the Marshal and get some last cuts in. Patreon Supporters keep an eye out, and those of you that want to Alpha Read but don’t want to work through the titan that is Starforge, drop me a line!
Until Monday! Enjoy your weekend!
EDIT: Just a quick highlight, since I hadn’t noticed before writing up this post, but both Jungle and Axtara have seen some more high ratings come in, along with another five-star review for the latter!
That’s 430 total reviews and ratings, for those keeping count. 500 is within reach!