Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A non-Politically Correct Nonfiction Bookshelf

There are eleven nonfiction titles that should be highlighted with all the fiction. Most of these titles concern the war on the West waged by Islam. Others are about the war on America waged by our own government, about the decaying state of the arts, of language, and of education. Most of them are collections of my essays on Rule of Reason  and edwardcline.blogspot. These titles do not sell as well as the fiction; the fiction sells well (really! At least a dozen full sets of the republished Sparrowhawk and Cyrus Skeen series sell every month). Fiction takes readers away from the depressing state of the world (at least, mine does); the nonfiction reminds them of just how depressing the world can be and will continue to be. Do I blame them? No. But then I am indulging in a kind of catharsis every time I pen a new column about the killing machine called Islam and the depredations and betrayals of our government.

The New Sparrowhawk Companion is a republished title I also rescued from the collapse and bankruptcy of the original publisher, MacAdam/Cage Publishing. It was my idea, suggested to the publisher after Book Six; War was released. The publisher by this time had accrued a large stable of writers and an extensive backlist, but its ambition was greater than its capacity to deal honestly and fairly with its authors. It was a spendthrift. It competed with larger, mainstream publishers in bidding contests for titles and authors it thought would enhance its prestige and appeal. For example, it paid Audrey Niffenegger, a teacher of “creative writing,” a handsome sum for The Time Traveler’s Wife, which was also made into a flop of a movie. The novel did not sell as well as MacAdam/Cage Publishing expected. This was the deal that broke the publisher. Then MacAdam/Cage Publishing began its regular delinquencies with royalty payments to its other authors, and then underhandedly “leasing” or selling the e-book rights to books it had no contractual claim to, in order to raise cash. This was theft and a demonstrable violation of contract.
Having gone without royalty payments for a long time, I saw the writing on the wall and began republishing Sparrowhawk on Kindle, something MacAdam/Cage Publishing refused to do. I had even offered the publisher a chance to publish the first Cyrus Skeen novels, believing as he did not that the series was a perfect fit because the stories were set in San Fransicso,
 MacAdam/Cage Publishing’s location. Then David Poindexter, the mover and creator of MacAdam/Cage Publishing, died, and everything fell apart faster than a house of dominoes.
 The firm filed for bankruptcy, leaving all its authors high and dry as creditors, and even its staff. Its illustrator, it came out later, had even loaned the publisher money to keep the firm solvent. She never saw a penny of it back again. To my knowledge, her suit is still in court. Piles of printed books accumulated in warehouses, which would not release the titles until they were paid. These titles were eventually bought by second-hand book vendors connected to Amazon and to other major retailers. Thousands of copies of the old edition of Sparrowhawk are still being sold by these vendors. In the meantime, I had rid the original edition of all the typos and formatting errors MacAdam/Cage Publishing had never bothered to correct and now the series has been refreshed and is doing well, with cleaned up texts and covers thematically consistent with each title. (See my Rule of Reason column, “Sparrowhawk Rescued from Oblivion” from August 2013 for more sordid details.)There are nearly 800,000 words in the Sparrowhawk series. It was a long, tedious job doing what the publisher was remiss in performing.

The New Sparrowhawk Companion is a collection of essays about the six titles in the Sparrowhawk story by other contributors, and includes a list of characters (over 300) and in which title each appears, a lexicon of 18th century terms, a bibliography of some of my research sources, and other features created to help a reader grasp and appreciate the series and the period in which the story is set.
Rational Scrutiny: Paradoxes and Contradictions in Detective Fiction, is another animal entirely. It is a collection of essays, some old, some new, about the art of writing detective fiction. They focus mainly on the Chess Hanrahan first person narrated novels, and on what then was only a handful of Cyrus Skeen novels (seven). It includes “The Wizards of Disambiguation,” a critique of politically correct speech and writing and of academics who claimed that The Maltese Falcon was, among other things, a fictional diatribe against capitalism. It was my submission to the Western Illinois Press to be included in its compendium of essays about the art of detective fiction (it was rejected). The Cunning Craft was eventually published, but I have no idea what is in it or whose articles were included, because its Amazon selling price of over $200 did not entice me to reward the Western Illinois Press for its Marxist snubbing. Marxists do not like to be contradicted with facts. “Wizards” could be treated as a companion essay to “The Ghouls of Grammatical Egalitarianism,” from 2013, a review of Guidelines for Bias-Free Writing, by Marilyn Schwartz and the Task Force on Bias-Free Language.
The remaining nonfiction titles are collectively potpourris of my Rule of Reason columns on politics, the culture, Islam, and freedom of speech. Islam’s Reign of Terror, however, was commissioned by Voltaire Press and I was paid for it. The essay appeared on Voltaire Press’s site. When I proposed to the owner of Voltaire Press that we convert it into a pamphlet, I received no response. So, I went ahead with the project and it is now available as a print book, on Kindle, and on Audible. The piece bears a Voltaire Press copyright notice, which I included for legal reasons. However, there were miseries connected with that site. See my article “Thumbs Down on Voltaire Press” for details. I later learned there was a reason why Voltaire Press never responded. The founder had been arrested, I think in Mississippi, as a fugitive from the charge of having absconded with Duke University funds (in North Carolina). I have been blocked from Voltaire Press’s site, unable to leave comments. Indeed, an Internet search for Voltaire Press turns up nothing. It had a Facebook page, from which I was also blocked, and that has vanished, as well. The new “owner” of Voltaire Press never replied to my queries about Reign of Terror, his identity remains unknown, and he, too, has gone the way of all puff balls. Exciting times for me, but now water under the bridge.  Islam’s Reign of Terror has a companion pamphlet, A Handbook on Islam, published later. The new “owner” of Voltaire Press never replied to my queries about Reign of Terror, his identity remains unknown, and he, too, has gone the way of all puff balls. Exciting times for me, but now water under the bridge. 
The first nonfiction collection of my Rule of Reason  essays is in Running Out My Guns, and like the others with the naval warfare-themed covers (the exception in terms of covers is From the Crow’s Nest), includes pieces about Obama, Islam, the state of the culture (including a longish piece on the film about Mozart, “Amadeus: A Pinnacle of Cultural Corruption,” the Danish cartoon uproar, censorship and freedom of speech. These titles, including Letters of Marque, Corsairs & Freebooters, Broadsides in the War of Ideas, Boarding Parties & Grappling Hooks, and the latest and the longest, Routing Islam, represent a wide panoply of subjects and issues. Of special interest is the four-part essay on the rise and attraction of Barack Obama, “The Year of the Long Knives,” from 2008, and pieces on Geert Wilders, and on Cass Sunstein, Obama’s wannabe speech “czar.” And I mustn't forget Cogitations, another non-naval warfare collection of essays.

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