We Have Launch.

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Longest project I’ve ever worked on.

So this is it. Crossing my fingers and praying there are no other obstacles, the Kickstarter Campaign for Wearing the Cape: The Roleplaying Game will launch February 1st. It’s been a long, long road.

So what to say about it?

First off, I can’t believe it’s finished. Now that the production phase of the project is complete, I can confidently say that, if I’d known just how much would be involved in making the game a reality, I wouldn’t have done it. I’d have paid someone else to do it.

First off, there’s the art.

I thought I knew what I was doing there. After all, I’d been good at finding great cover artists, right? Not just once, with my discovery of Viktoria Gavrilenko, but twice, the second being Jamal Campbell. Well…

The art has wound up being mostly the work of four artists, with another two thrown in. All of them good, but all of them having to wait upon my art direction. After all, none of them were psychic. Also, only one of the main four artists (Jamal), was a superhero artist (he now does lots and lots of comic covers for Marvel and Boom, the reason I needed to bring on more artists). It all still turned out pretty darn good, though; Kasia and Christopher picked it up to to marvelous work. Here’s a sample:

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I told myself at the beginning of the project that I wasn’t going to settle for less than great art, and I didn’t. I wish there was more of it, but then the gamebook still wouldn’t be finished. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in five years of self-publishing, sooner or later you’ve just got to get it done.

Aside from the art, my biggest obstacle with WtC:RPG had been the system itself. I was not about to try and design a whole new RPG system from scratch. “Darn it, Jim! I’m a writer, not a game designer!” You may remember, a couple of years ago, I thought we had it nailed with the Cortex+ system, a “universal” system used by Margaret Weis Productions. They caught my attention with the Firefly RPG and, even more impressively, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying. It looked perfect, and I corresponded with them before throwing together a gamebook for their approval.

Then I learned that MWP would not allow me to do a stand-alone gamebook; we could only produce a Wearing the Cape Sourcebook for use with their Heroic Roleplaying system. That might have worked, but they never published the core system—it was always “coming soon.” (As an update to that, MWP has recently licensed the Cortex System to Cam Banks, who is an excellent game designer, for further development. Good for them; if they do great things with it—which I expect—then there may yet be a Cortex System gamebook for Wearing the Cape in the future.)

But all that work wasn’t totally wasted; I had the world-background stuff written, and I just had to find another system. I found it in the Fate Core system.

Fate Core is in many ways a foundational system that inspired specific parts of the Cortex+ system. The great news with Fate Core is that unlike Cortex, it is a fully open-source system; I was able to make the complete and stand-alone gamebook I wanted with it.

Now I just needed to learn a new game system.

One that was completely different from any tabletop RPG I’d previously played.

So, no problem. I read, reread, and re-reread obsessively, picking up several of Evil Hat’s worked gamebooks to see how the Fate system worked out in a developed setting. I joined Fate Core’s Google+ community and asked lots of questions before starting to answer questions from other newbies. Comparing my answers to the answers of Fate veterans was a great way to see if I’d gotten it right—sort of like answering essay questions in school. And I pulled together not one round of playtesting but two, with gamers who’d played with Fate before, as well as gamers who, like me, hadn’t even heard of the system before playtesting began. They helped a lot.

The end result of it all is a game system that isn’t quite Fate Core. Call it Fate Core Compatible. There were a couple of things I wanted to do that Evil Hat’s excellent system didn’t quite stretch to, but fans of Fate Core will have no trouble with it—or with dropping my little additions and playing it with straight-up Fate Core if they want to.

And it’s finished. I can’t tell you how amazing that feels.

So, what about the Kickstarter Campaign? How does that work, and why am I doing one? Kickstarters are normally for selling an idea and convincing backers to pledge money so that you can make a game or whatever it is you want to produce, and my production costs are behind me, right?

Not quite.

I have produced the gamebook on a pay-as-I-go basis, which means that the development and art is paid for. It’s all sunk costs now. But to fund the print run of the quality hardback gamebook, now that’s another story. Basically, to pay for a print run of sufficient size to be economical, I need to scrape together another $10,000.

To do that, I’m offering a little extra for fans who want to help. The electronic edition of the gamebook will be a reward for backers who pledge at least $19 to help make it all happen. (After the Kickstarter Campaign is over, successful or not, the electronic edition will be available for purchase through DriveThru RPG for $25.) Fans who want the beautiful hardback printing of the gamebook will be able to get it (together with the electronic edition) as a reward for pledging $59 or more to the cause. Anyone who wants to go a little crazy can pledge more for some cool custom dice (see previous blog posts for pictures of those, they were a lot of fun to design).

And then there is the reward connected with Wearing the Cape: Barlow’s Guide to Superhumans (see the Dec. 3 post). Because nothing says “thank you!” quite like making you part of my world. That’s going to be a lot of fun. Seriously; growing up, I used to create my own personal characters to adventure in the worlds I most enjoyed. Just in my imagination, quite apart from the roleplaying games I so much enjoyed. Middle Earth. Narnia. The comics. Later the Honorverse and Vorkosiganverse. That’s how I learned character-creation and plotting. It will be interesting to see what others do with my own world.

So the campaign launches in nine days. What can you do to help?

Naturally I hope everybody who follows my blog wants something in the campaign enough to make a pledge. But also, these Kickstarter campaigns succeed or fail by word-of-mouth, so I hope that everyone who’s as excited about this as I am will spread the word wide. Link to the campaign on Facebook. Tell their friends about it. Get the word out that there’s a new, awesome, tabletop superhero RPG in town.

Because it is awesome. I’m sure I’m biased, just a bit, but I think that everyone who has been patiently waiting is going to be amazed.

I’ll see you there.

Marion G. Harmon

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Imagine. Please.

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So this is it. The end of another year.

And I’ve got to admit, I can’t remember one when we have been more divided as a community (I’m speaking of my American readers here). The 2016 Election was the most rancorous election cycle in living memory. The two major parties and their electorates increasingly view the other party as the enemy in a Manichean struggle of Good vs. Evil. Righteous anger seems to be the prevailing sentiment on both sides, and it’s only getting worse. So I’d like to take this moment to suggest, or even plead for, a New Year’s resolution.

Imagine. Please.

To explain what I mean, here’s a counterexample.

“No U.S. president, I expect, will ever appoint a Secretary of the Imagination. But if such a cabinet post ever were created, and Richard Foreman weren’t immediately appointed to it, you’d know that the Republicans were in power. Republicans don’t believe in the imagination, partly because so few of them have one, but mostly because it gets in the way of their chosen work, which is to destroy the human race and the planet. Human beings, who have imaginations, can see a recipe for disaster in the making; Republicans, whose goal in life is to profit from disaster and who don’t give a hoot about human beings, either can’t or won’t. Which is why I personally think they should be exterminated before they cause any more harm.

“This opinion is presumably not shared by Foreman; you can gauge the breadth of his imaginative compassion from his willingness to extend it even toward George W. Bush, idiot scion of a genetically criminal family that should have been sterilized three generations ago.”

This quote comes to us from the relatively temperate year of 2004, and the pen of Michael Feingold. I could dissect Feingold’s hyperbole in all sorts of ways, but here I’ll simply point out that he himself perfectly illustrates the singular lack of “imaginative compassion” he ascribes to Republicans. To him, they aren’t human beings. He thinks they should be exterminated before they can do more damage.

So spoke the Nazis and the Bolsheviks; you could change a few nouns and the paragraph would read like a familiar anti-Semitic or anti-capitalist screed.

This is the failure of the imagination; reducing others whose beliefs and motivations you don’t understand to a literally subhuman category. You can use other words: barbarian, bigot, racist, sexist, hater, etc. I’ve talked a bit about this human tendency with The Syllogism:

  1. I am a rational/good human being.
  2. Because I am a rational/good human being, I believe X.
  3. If you do not believe X, you are either ignorant, stupid, or evil.
  4. Because you are ignorant, stupid, or evil, it is useless to debate with you and pointless to listen to you.

I don’t often talk about non-fiction books in this blog, but I have a book I strongly urge everyone to read, one especially appropriate to this year and our modern political climate; The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion.

It is written by Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist. Haidt is a self-described liberal, but his research focuses on morality – its emotional foundations, cultural variations, and development. To quote the blurb, “He began his career studying the negative moral emotions, such as disgust, shame, and vengeance, but then moved on to the under-studied positive moral emotions, such as admiration, awe, and moral elevation. He is the co-developer of Moral Foundations Theory, and of the research site YourMorals.org. He uses his research to help people understand and respect the moral motives of their enemies.”

Haidt basically argues that conservatives and liberals disagree because they are being motivated by different moral matrixes. When they see each other as “evil”, it’s because they don’t understand the moral matrix the other is operating from (Haidt is not a moral relativist, and does believe in evil, he just doesn’t apply the word to most political or philosophical disagreements).

I don’t agree with everything that Haidt says, but I recommend this book to everybody. Why? Because he does a tremendous job of explaining liberals to conservatives and conservatives to liberals. Not in terms of specific political policies, but in terms of morality and ideology. He develops and works with a few axioms, two of which are:

There’s more to morality than harm and fairness.

Morality binds and blinds.

The second axiom sounds purely negative, but it’s not; rather it’s the acknowledgement that while a strong moral code can be a powerful tool for personal happiness and social order, at the same time it blinds us to the validity of competing moral codes. I could go on, but Haidt’s entire book is an exercise in the scholarly and scientific application of imagination to the problem of moral social conflict, and especially to the necessity of understanding the other side.

And this is important. Understanding does not mean agreement, and The Righteous Mind does not attempt to proselytize conservatism to liberals or liberalism to conservatives. Instead, I think anyone who reads this book will come a long way toward understanding how people he knows, family, friends, people he thinks or thought were good people, voted differently than he did in this divisive election.

If you’re a Democrat who wants to know how a good person could have voted conservative, read this book.

If you’re a Republican who wants to know how a good person could have voted liberal, read this book.

Because understanding doesn’t mean agreement, but it can help with acceptance.

And in 2017, we’re all going to need it.

Happy New Year.

Marion G. Harmon

 

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Good Will to All.

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No big news to share, no deep opinions. Wearing the Cape: The Roleplaying Game moves forward (with art still the current bottleneck), and drafting for Recursion (what will hopefully be one of two Wearing the Cape books for next year) continues. Meanwhile I just wanted to wish everyone a merry Christmas; 2016 has been a stressful year for all of us, and we can all use this seasonal celebration of joy and good will. To quote Dickens, God bless us, every one.

“One candle’s light dispels the night.  Now our eyes can see.”

Merry Christmas.

Marion G. Harmon

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Wearing the Cape: the Kickstarter.

Cover Flight

Coming soon, to a Kickstarter page near you!

I have been telling everyone that, once Team-Ups and Masterminds was behind me, I would be focusing on Wearing the Cape: The Roleplaying Game to drive the project through to completion.

So now the good news.

Although the Kickstarter campaign will not be launching in December as planned, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Here’s why; unlike most Kickstarter projects, when this Kickstarter campaign launches (hopefully in January), the primary product to be funded will already be finished. What this means is that Wearing the Cape: The Roleplaying Game will already be fully produced as a downloadable set of game rules. That’s right, it will be an ebook, fully laid out and with all the art, ready to read, enjoy, and play.

I realize this is not the “traditional” way a game is produced by crowd-funding; I decided to take this route because I had no idea if I could actually do it. Yes, I have years of roleplaying game experience. Yes, I found a great open-source game system, readily adaptable to the task of bringing the heroes and world of the books to life. Yes, I have five years now of self-publishing experience.

But a roleplaying game? Designed, produced, indie-published without the backing of an established game company? I had no idea if I could do it, or how long it would take, and I have seen too many Kickstarter campaigns that promised everything and a set delivery date, then folded years later promises unmet. I wasn’t going to do that.

So I wrote a draft of the game, solicited playtesters, found the artist. Found another artist. Found a third artist. Got help with the graphics and layout (lots of help). Went through two rounds of playtesting, with veteran Fate players and novices. Sought and received the input of two seasoned writers of Fate System games. Payed the art and development costs as I went. Found a small press willing to do the full print run of the quality gamebook at a reasonable price.

As a result, I will be able to promise everyone who decides to back this dream project two things: 1.) the week the Kickstarter campaign ends, they will be receiving their tickets to download the full copy of the finished game, and 2.) the instant the campaign ends, the small publisher will receive their money and commence printing of a fully prepared book.

In short, the purpose of the Kickstarter will be to fund the printing and distribution of several hundred quality hardback edition of the gamebook.

But that’s not all the Kickstarter is going to be about; like most Kickstarter campaigns, this one is going to have room to grow.

First, I’ve found a dice company able to stamp high-quality custom dice; as a Stretch Goal Add-On, Wearing the Cape fans who want custom dice to play their game with will get them as part of a deluxe package.

wtc-dice(Don’t panic; the game will be perfectly playable with standard Fate Dice or  6-sided dice.)

Second, Kickstarter campaigns form communities of enthusiastic people with lots of input to give, and I’m going to take full advantage of that. I have decided to produce, as a second Stretch Goal Add-On, Wearing the Cape: Barlow’s Guide to Superhumans.

Barlow’s Guide will be a sourcebook. The core game only has room for around 30 pages of background for the Post-Event World, and only the Sentinels—as seen at the beginning of Wearing the Cape—are fully written up. Most of the campaign background only deals with The Event and it’s aftermath in the US. So Wearing the Cape: Barlow’s Guide to Superhumans will go far beyond that. The sourcebook will hugely widen the background, to include experiences of The Event in other countries and describe how many parts of the world dealt with superhumans over the 10 years between The Event and the beginning of the series. Wearing the Cape fans will be polled for places and capes they would like to see in the sourcebook.

Also, there will be a limited number of pledge slots for fans who want to put their own cape characters into the official Post-Event World! They will need to pay extra for the excellent character art that will portray their personally designed heroes  (I have gained the commitment of the artist who did the cover art for Team-Ups and Crossovers for the individual pieces).

Throughout the 35-day campaign, I will be publishing Kickstarter updates tracking the ideas and work to go into Wearing the Cape: Barlow’s Guide to Superhuman—which will also be released as an ebook within 3 months of the end of the Kickstarter.

Will there be anything else? I’m not sure, but if the campaign does as well as I hope then I am considering adding a third Stretch Goal Add-On: a special hardback edition of Wearing the Cape, re-edited and with interior art pages.

What will all this look like? That’s still a bit up in the air, but I’ve roughed it out like this.

Wearing the Cape: The Roleplaying Game (PDF): $19.

Wearing the Cape: The Roleplaying Game (hardcopy): $59. (PDF copy and US/Canada shipping included.)

Hardcopy with Dice: $75.

Wearing the Cape: Barlow’s Guide to Superhumans (PDF): $19.

Wearing the Cape: Barlow’s Guide to Superhumans (hardcopy): $49. (PDF copy and US/Canada shipping included.)

Wearing the Cape, Special Edition (ebook): $9.

Wearing the Cape, Special Edition (paperback): $19. (Includes ebook)

Wearing the Cape, Special Edition (hardback): $30. (Includes ebook)

A Barlow’s Guide entry for your hero: $200 (Includes WtC:RPG hardcopy, PDFs for WtC:RPG and WtC:BGtS, and a print of your hero.

And if all goes well, backers will be receiving their e-copies of WtC:RPG in February. Thoughts, anyone?

M.G.Harmon

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Dead-Tree Edition Finished!

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Hello everyone, just thought I’d catch you up on the latest Team-Ups and Crossovers publishing news.

The Paperback Edition is Out!

It’s always a huge relief to get the last step of publication, the print-on-demand paperback edition, out of the way. Readers who are waiting for the print edition can order it today at the Createspace online store. It will take a few days to become available on Amazon.

Glitches and Fixes.

Some purchasers of the ebook may have discovered an infuriating glitch in the file; on some ebook readers, large blocks of text were whited out in the Astra Gets Grrl Power short story. The easy fix to this was to change the reader’s background to sepia (or black), but how is anyone to know that? Fortunately, we were able to discover the bad code creating the problem, scrub it, and re-upload a fixed ebook file to Amazon. In cases like this, Kindle Direct Publishing sends out notices to all previous purchasers alerting them to the fix and offering the option of updating their e-copy. Hopefully everyone has received one (if you haven’t, contact Amazon).

The good news in this is that, although it caused production of the paperback edition to run a little late, we also found a few typos and grammar errors that escaped the final edit-round. They have been fixed in the re-uploaded file (and of course in the paperback edition file).

Sales and Ratings.

It’s always nervous-making, the first 3 or 4 weeks, wondering how the new book will perform in sales and waiting for reader reviews to begin coming in. I’m happy to say that reader reception of Team-Ups and Crossovers has been very gratifying. Although released later this year than I wished for, T&C has enjoyed robust sales and tracks to do at least as well as Ronin Games did last year. Also, with just under 40 reviews, Team-Ups and Crossovers looks poised to continue the 4 1/2-star run of the rest of the Wearing the Cape books, so thank you to everyone who has posted thoughtful/critical reviews on Amazon!

Wearing the Cape: The Roleplaying Game.

I now get to turn my undivided attention to getting WtC:RPG ready for the December Kickstarter campaign. The art continues to come in, and the writing side is nearly complete.

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This project has been a dream of mine, and I’ll be glad to see it finished!

That’s it for now; if I don’t post again in the next week, have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Remember, it’s the family, not the turkey, that counts.

M.G.Harmon

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The Radical Moderate 6: Chill, Everyone.

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I went to sleep last night with the election undecided. I woke up this morning to learn that Donald Trump had won. I also woke up to find half the country losing its mind.

I did not vote for Trump. I am a constitutional conservative/classical liberal, yet despite the fact that a Hillary Administration would almost certainly have further eroded our constitutional rights, I couldn’t give Trump my vote; it’s the first time in my life I haven’t voted for the Republican candidate at the top of the ticket. So let’s say that this morning I’m feeling mixed emotions.

But I have one thing to say to both sides of this year’s bloodless war (because that’s what elections are).

Chill, everyone.

And I mean that sincerely.

A little perspective might be in order, here. For those who were politically active or aware, eight years ago when President Barrack Obama, our then most left-leaning US senator, won the White House, there were people on the Right firmly convinced that he was going to create a corps of Brown Shirts, put dissenters in re-education camps, etc.

Didn’t happen, of course, but today a significant number of otherwise intelligent people are convinced that Donald Trump is going to inaugurate a wave of government thuggery against racial minorities, against women, against homosexuals, against illegal immigrants, against everyone not of the Master Race (and I use MR intentionally, since many of them pretty much think Trump is Hitler).

But that’s not going to happen, either.

And yet the fear and despair is very real. I’d be tempted to call it overblown, except I remember many feeling variations of all this when Reagan won, when Clinton won, when Bush won, and when Obama won. Reagan was going to trigger WWIII, Clinton was going to abolish the 2nd Amendment and socialize the country, Bush was going to sell the country to his cronies, Obama was going to (see above).

Why is that?

It’s really very simple. Everyone has the quite rational fear that the opposition’s victorious candidate will try and push the country in a direction they won’t like. That’s what elections are about. That makes the day of their loss a day for gloom, naturally.

But the fear? I have a rational and intelligent friend who wrote on Facebook this morning:

 “I woke up this morning and cried. My heart is broken and I’m terrified of walking out my door. I don’t know if violence against people like me, people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, is going to be state sanctioned or not.”

Another wrote:

“Sanity lost the Executive and Legislative branches tonight. And, there will be seats to fill on the supreme court in short order. All the branches of the US government are now poised to bring about the apocalypse. There may not be a minimum safe distance, folks.”

And why shouldn’t they? After all, the liberal pundits are saying pretty much the same thing.

“We thought that the nation, while far from having transcended racial prejudice and misogyny, had become vastly more open and tolerant over time.

“We thought that the great majority of Americans valued democratic norms and the rule of law.

“It turns out that we were wrong.

“I don’t know how we go forward from here. Is America a failed state and society? It looks truly possible. I guess we have to pick ourselves up and try to find a way forward, but this has been a night of terrible revelations, and I don’t think it’s self-indulgent to feel quite a lot of despair.”

Paul Krugman

“Our little gathering broke up in confusion, with more than one of our guests wondering if they would actually have to move. It’s something that I, as a native-born, white male — some of whose family were probably in this country circa 1620 — will have to consider, too, if my wife and I are to have any form of health care before we reach Medicare (assuming that Medicare will still be there, either). These are words I never thought I would have to write. This has indeed been a campaign full of surprises, and I fear it will take away all our words for good.”

Kevin Baker

And of course, this is the way they think about those who voted for Trump;

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I will say it again: Chill. I would be saying the same to those on the Right in despair if Hillary had won.

Because this is what happens with every election; both sides demonize the other side’s candidate and voters to an extent that you would think, listening to them, that civil war is imminent. That the triumph of Fascism of The Left or Right is imminent. That the winning candidate is Hitler.

Underlying all this, naturally, is The Syllogism.

  1. I am a rational/good human being.
  2. Because I am a rational/good human being, I believe X.
  3. If you do not believe X, you are either ignorant, stupid, or evil.
  4. Because you are ignorant, stupid, or evil, it is useless to debate with you and pointless to listen to you.

During the heat of the election season, with candidates, supporters, and political pundits on both sides throwing every possible accusation of EVIL at each other, of course The Syllogism prevails. And on Election Day this means that, in the eyes of half the country, in the ashes of their loss, the ignorant, the stupid, and the evil, won.

Some people never recover their mental footing after an especially rancorous election; if you thought that Bush Derangement Syndrome was bad (and yes, Obama Derangement Syndrome), just wait till you see Trump Derangement Syndrome.

A little more perspective; when President Obama won, coming into office with a Congressional majority ready to help him advance his agenda, many Democrats believed that the voting shift foretold a Permanent Democratic Majority. Some Republicans thought so, too. It plainly wasn’t so. Yes, from the perspective of the Right great damage was done, but the Permanent Democratic Majority failed.

There will be no Permanent Republican Majority. And in the meantime, while from the perspective of the Left, great damage may be done, there will be no goosestepping gestapos knocking on their door. There will be no state-sanctioned violence against them. This is not the End Of America. It’s not even The End Of America As We Know It.

There are two reasons for this.

First, the great majority of those who voted for Trump are not, despite the frothing of much of the press, ignorant, homophobic, xenophobic, racist, sexist, haters. Just as when President Obama won, Trump has been swept into office by a protest-movement. And for most of the people in this movement it hasn’t been about racism, sexism, etc.; it’s been a populist and anti-establishment movement. Trump managed to pitch himself as the populist anti-establishment candidate, and won. The poisonous Alt-Right didn’t elect Trump, in fact they hurt his chances just like the racialists on the far Left hurt Hillary; both sides declared the other to be the full embodiment of their lunatic fringes. No, Trump won because he seized the tide and ran against a candidate just as noxious to the Right and much of the Middle as he was to the Left and much of the Middle.

That means that the above meme from American NewsX got it wrong, and America has not been revealed as Conrad’s new “heart of darkness”. As impossible as it is for many to believe, last night most Americans on both sides voted  with good intentions.

Second, we are a constitutional republic. While respect for the limits of federal power (and especially of executive-branch power) has taken a beating in this past administration, the checks and balances built into our system remain strong and so we’re not going to go the way of Venezuela. The Right has managed to take both the executive and legislative branches of government; well, the Republican Party has been in this position before. So has the Democratic Party. It won’t last, and while it does the Republican party is far from monolithic; factions within the party will check its excesses.

Meanwhile, despite recent erosion of the 1st Amendment, respect for our constitutional rights and liberties remains high; American citizens who voted Left are in no more danger now than American citizens who voted Right were before. Racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities are not in danger, any more than religious folk and gun-owners have been in danger under the Obama Administration. The Right is not now about to commence a march into fascism; it couldn’t even if it wanted to.

That’s the beauty of the American constitutional system. It thwarts all attempts at radical and rapid change.

The winners will exult for a time, until the more optimistic ones find that Trump is no more a wonder worker than President Obama turned out to be. The Right will win some legislative and policy victories. Then the pendulum will complete the rightward swing of its arc and swing left again. The cycle will continue.

Meanwhile:

dont-despair

Be kind to your friends and neighbors. Many of them have had a bad time.

M. G. Harmon

Posted in The Radical Moderate | 12 Comments

The Radical Moderate 5: “Choose! Choose the form of the Destructor!”

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“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”  (H. L. Mencken)

I promised myself I was going to let this election season go by without putting my political opinion out there. Because it really doesn’t matter what I think. Alas, I find it irresistible, rather like an impending sneeze or some less polite bodily exclamation; the internal pressure is too great. So, here’s my opinion.

November 8th is going to be a sad day.

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Why? Because whoever wins everyone is going to be disappointed. The close to 50% of the country who voted for the loser will be disappointed immediately, while the 51%+ who voted for the winner will spend the next four years being disappointed.
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I honestly don’t know if the political party whose candidate wins will be better off than the party of the candidate who loses. If the Democrats win, they will elevate one of the Left’s most morally and intellectually unfit politicians in modern history to be the figurehead of their party. If the Republicans win, they will elevate one of the most morally and intellectually unfit public figures in modern history to be the figurehead of their party. I’m not sure either party can survive that, and I’m reasonably certain that political leaders and thinkers on both sides are now wishing for a do-over on their respective party primaries. Alas, too late!
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This might actually be a good time to go back and reread my previous post on The Worst Form of Government. At the end of that post, I wrote “In this election cycle, vote for the candidate most likely to sustain and strengthen the worst form of government.” I’m honestly not sure that it’s possible to make that choice this time around; when your choice is between deep and blatant corruption and potentially frightening incompetence, it’s hard to decide who to pull the lever for. If you vote for the lesser of two evils, you’re still voting for an evil; there’s a strong moral argument to be made for picking a third-party candidate or None Of The Above.
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Would it cheer anyone if I remind you that we are not voting for a king or dictator on November 8th? We are voting for a president, and, whichever candidate wins, our next President will be hobbled by constitutional restrictions and deep unpopularity and public distrust. We have made the worst of all possible choices in our primaries this year, and must now choose a destructor, but we can survive him or her. If necessary, impeachment is as much a part of the Constitution as elections and either of their VP-picks would run the Executive Branch and represent America better.
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So go vote. Then have a drink. Or get a hug. But vote; the worst form of government needs to hear your voice.
M.G.Harmon
Posted in The Radical Moderate | 6 Comments

And We’re Rolling.

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So, Team-Ups and Crossovers has been out a week. What’s in a week? About 1,000 sales, that’s what. TUAC has hit #1 in one of its Amazon Categories at least twice, and would have hit #1 in the Superhero Novel category were the space not completely crowded out by vampire erotica. In general I’ve been quite happy with the launch; a couple of things are great, a couple of things not-so-great.

Great: The Amazon Reviews. With 15 Amazon Reviews up so far, TUAC has a solid 4 1/2 Star-Rating. Thanks, everyone who has taken a few minutes to review the book there—and I encourage everyone who enjoyed the latest Wearing the Cape book to go there and make their feelings known! (This is me being subtle.)

Not-So-Great: A couple of errors slipped past the editing process, including a code-error that causes some readers to show large blank spaces in the Astra Gets Grrl Power story. There is an easy fix; just change your reader’s background color (sepia is fine) or highlight the blank spots. However, I am working on the problem, and will re-upload a fixed file as soon as possible before asking Amazon to send all current owners a notice of the fix. (Once Amazon approves, you’ll be able to download a corrected copy.)

Other things.

There has been great buzz on the Velveteen-crossover stories, and readers have been lamenting that the first two Velveteen Vs. books are no longer available on ebook. Well, Seanan McGuire knows this, and so for her fans she has kept the individual stories that make up the two book available to read on her author-blog:

The first story is Velveteen vs. The Isley Crawfish Festival. Enjoy; it’s fascinating to read from the beginning and see how her superhero-concept evolved over time (plus it’s hysterically funny).

Dave Barrack’s Grrl Power fans have really been enjoying the Astra/Halo crossover story, and he has set up a page dedicated to talking about it. For anyone who hasn’t yet bought the book and intends to, I highly recommend going to Dave’s page and clicking on the book cover image to go to Amazon; if you do, then Dave will make a little extra money for the sale (and for a full-time indie writer/artist like Dave, every little extra bit counts).

Reception of some of the stories have been mixed. A few readers have not appreciated the voice of K.F. Lim. One reviewer thought A Traveler’s Tale the worst story in the book. I knew going in that, with the shifts in style between many of the stories, most readers would enjoy some stories more than others. I would love to hear back from everyone as to what their favorite stories were and why.

So talk to me. Let me know what you think we did right. Tell us what made you laugh. And thank you for all your support.

M.G. Harmon

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Update: Team-Ups and Crossovers Released!

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Just a quick update! The final stages went much more quickly than expected, and Team-Ups and Crossovers is now available for Kindle on Amazon!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M9GOOQB

As mentioned before, it will be available in paperback within a couple of weeks. Everyone have a great Halloween Weekend!

M.G.Harmon

Posted in Uncategorized | 25 Comments

Team Ups and Crossovers

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Typhoon, Velveteen, Astra, and The Mighty Halo. Not quite the finished cover-art, but close…

So I’m two months late. I’ve learned two things this year; 1.) I don’t multi-task at all well, and 2.) writing short stories is as hard as writing novels. Well you live and you learn, especially when you have no choice but to scale that learning curve, and Team Ups and Crossovers is now in the finishing stages of editing and I can talk about it.

Team Ups and Crossovers started with simply remembering how much I enjoyed the Marvel/DC crossovers. You know: Spider Man vs. Superman, the Justice League vs. The Avengers, etc. The comic writers had tremendous fun with them, and certainly a lot of readers did as well. Crossovers have actually become quite the fiction-trope, fueled by the internet’s powers to spread fanfiction far and wide (some of it as good as or better than the source material). Fanfiction.net is a guilty pleasure of mine, where you can find just about every kind of crossover you can imagine. For example, Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Supernatural, Castle/Firefly, Naruto/The Avengers, or Harry Potter/Buffy/Avengers/Firefly.

Of course most of these crossovers are less than serious!

I don’t read as much as I’d like to (I could read every hour of the day, but it cuts into writing), but I am currently enjoying several superhero series and it occurred to me to approach a couple of authors to see about co-writing a collection of crossover stories, the idea being that something happens to catapult Astra into a cross-worlds journey through several superhero universes. I was very fortunate; both of the authors whose universes I was most interested in being allowed to play in answered back affirmatively.

Seanan McGuire

I’ve reviewed her stuff here before, but I’ll say it again; Seanan’s Velveteen Vs. stories, taken together, give us one of the most imaginative superhero universes out there today. Velveteen, Jackie Frost, The Princess, Polychrome, Action Guy, Victory Anna, and many more are all original, delightful, fully realized characters inhabiting mostly stock superhero-types. The action in her stories spans the gamut, from foiling mundane crime to cosmic adventure, and while she peppers Velveteen’s world with a lot of joke-villains (good jokes!), her serious, plot-driving bad guys are serious, scary, and real. Real people under the powers, with believable motivations. Seanan is very, very good at portraying convincing evil.

Unfortunately for me, Seanan writes hard. I don’t think a year passes without her turning out at least three titles. On top of that she does the convention circuit, so she really didn’t have time to write or co-write a crossover story. Fortunately, when I reached out to her she admitted that while she hadn’t read my stuff she’d heard good things; she kindly gave me permission to write an Astra/Velveteen crossover, and approved the two linked tales I came up with for adventures in the world of Super Patriots Inc. I hope I got Velveteen right.

Dave Barrack

I don’t know who introduced me to Grrl Power. I think it was one of my readers. There are a lot of online comics out there today, but Grrl Power is in the top 10%. I rank it up there just below Girl Genius and Schlock Mercenary. Dave is both the writer and artist of Grrl Power, and while his art has improved since the first pages, his humor has always been first-rate. I encountered the series when it was already two years in, and reading Sydney/Halo’s first “adventure” (of course it was a bank-robbery) I laughed so hysterically I couldn’t keep reading. So of course I had to ask Dave about an Astra/Halo crossover.

Dave has been writing/drawing his webcomic full-time for two years now, but he said heck yeah and together we were able to co-write a hilariously fun story. Naturally Astra plays the straight man to Halo’s insanity. I don’t know about Dave, but I had so much fun with it that the door is always open to a sequel.

K.F.Lim

Funny story. I don’t respond to most reader reviews, but some I do. Some reviewers ask questions. Others make suggestions. When a reviewer addresses me in any way I take that as permission to respond as I would to fan-mail. I met KF on Goodreads, where she critically gushed over all of the then-published books in the series and proceeded to ship Hope hard with another major character. (For those not familiar with the terminology, ship is short for relationship; fans of well-loved characters will often ship them with other characters with whom they think they should be romantically involved). KF shipped so entertainingly that I had to ask her where she was getting it from; I expected some throwaway comment back, but KF is a lawyer and she laid out the subtext she read into certain scenes in the first few books and argued a case so convincing I can’t unsee it now. Not that things progressed that way of course, but that was the beginning of a long and enriching correspondence relationship.

KF wrote the last short story in Team Ups and Crossovers, in which Hope meets a very different CAI team after returning home from her cross-world adventures. My sole contribution was style-editing (after grad school law she writes too correctly). Her dialogue is dead-on and hilarious, she nailed Astra near-perfectly, and the new capes she introduces, beginning with Typhoon, are wonderful. I predict that many readers may find hers the most entertaining story in the book.

Publication Schedule.

As has become the practice, Team Ups and Crossovers will be released in Amazon Kindle format first, on November 1st. It will be followed within a few weeks by the print-on-demand edition. Again, I apologize for the lateness of the book, and hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it!

M.G.Harmon

Posted in Wearing the Cape | Tagged , , , , | 32 Comments