Book Launch: Guided by the Beauty of Their Weapons


Box Day, as it were.

So, it’s not exactly news that this has been coming, but Guided by the Beauty of Their Weapons is now available. Purchase links below. As always, I have no preference where you buy.

US Kindle. US Print.

UK Kindle. UK Print.

Smashwords (epub version).

Guided by the Beauty of Their Weapons is my end-of-year collection, which is to say, a collection of my best work in 2015. For what it’s worth, which is, I hope, either $6.99 or $19.99 depending on your choice of formats, I think it’s also just my best book outright. Plus it has a space ship on the cover.

It’s not a book about Vox Day. It’s a book that starts with Vox - indeed with a revised and expanded version of the title essay. If you liked it before, and lots of people did, you’ll love it now. The background is more thorough, providing a pocket history of the Hugos and a full history of the Puppies. The definition of fascism is more rigorous (I use Umberto Eco’s “Ur-Fascism” for it). The analysis of Vox Day is more substantive. And I talk a bit about Ursula Vernon’s “Jackalope Wives” and contrast it with a John C Wright story, which is really funny. And it’s got my interview with Vox, the Shabcast “afterparty” (Jack is very happy to have himself saying “fuck you, Vox Day” in print in an actual book; page 167, incidentally) and some other stuff that mentions him.

It’s also got a preview chapter of The Last War in Albion Volume 1 (the V for Vendetta chapter), a sort of best-of of The Super Nintendo Project, and the complete text of Recursive Occlusion, which also marks that book’s debut in ebook form. And a ton of stand-alone essays, including my big guide to Janelle Monae’s Metropolis Suite, my piece on True Detective, Hannibal, and the anthropocene extinction, and a short story in which I casually propose how to end capitalism. Oh, and an exclusive twenty-five page interview with Peter Harness about The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion in which he reveals his rejected Doctor Who pitch featuring “beheaded medieval bishops, gigantic wicker men, and Scottish nationalism.”

But none of this quite describes what the book is.

Warren Ellis, in one of his frequent bouts of profound wisdom, describes the job of the writer as just looking up, at the world, and describing what you see. 2015 was a year where the progressive science fiction tradition I ply my trade in came under a sustained attack. We fought back, and we won, but it was an ugly, harsh year. And that’s the sort of year where it’s important to do that. And that, more than anything, is what Guided by the Beauty of Their Weapons is: an attempt to take stock and say “here’s where we are” in the wake of a hell of a year. An effort that starts by dealing with the right-wing zealots, but that moves on to far bigger questions like "other than opposing the fascists who explicitly want a scorched earth policy where the world is devoid of any expression of progressive values whatsoever, what should we be thinking about?"

I hope you enjoy. We’ll be back tomorrow with the usual post-Christmas ebook sale on Smashwords


William Shaw 5 years, 1 month ago

I can confirm that this is, on fact, a very good book. Here's my review:
Hope everyone else enjoys it as much as I did.

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Camestros Felapton 5 years, 1 month ago

I'm only part way through the book but it was fun to re-read the post-debate podcast transcript again particularly the interjections from Quiz the cat the Marxist Aslan.

I like the additions to the original Guided By... essay. Using Jackalope Wives as a point of comparison was well done (one of the best stories of 2014) and really highlighted the quality problem that Sad/Rabid Puppies had by way of contrast.

Umberto Eco's Ur-Fascism was also a sound addition. It fits so well into the original that I was thrown for a moment and had to check whether it had originally been there.

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Elizabeth Sandifer 5 years, 1 month ago

Thanks. My biggest regret with the original was that I'd been a smidge lazy with my definition of fascism, so the Ur-Fascism change was, I thought, pretty essential. Jackalope Wives was more fortuitous - I knew I kind of wanted to expand the handling of Wright, as I'd been left with little to do but shrug and go "well that was straightforward" on the first pass - and then it won the Alfie and things became obvious.

My personal favorite added bit is the extended analysis of Beale's serial mediocrity, however.

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Camestros Felapton 5 years, 1 month ago

I'd read that Eco essay some years ago and only re-read it fairly recently. I'd forgotten how good it was at cutting through the problem of trying to state what fascism is in a way that is neither too specific nor to general.
[for those who haven't read it ]

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Nicholas Caluda 5 years, 1 month ago

Be honest - you chose the release date just so you could make that awful/fantastic pun, didn't you?

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Elizabeth Sandifer 5 years, 1 month ago

I actually literally edited the pun into the already queued post at 3am when I thought of it.

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redheadedfemme 5 years, 1 month ago

Thank you for this, Phil. I had slotted the original essay as a nomination for Best Related Work, but now I will gladly change that to the entire book. I especially appreciated your pieces on the movie Ex Machina and Cixin Liu's The Three Body Problem. (I didn't like that book as much as you did, but after reading your impressions of The Dark Forest I may have to give it a try.)

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Elizabeth Sandifer 5 years, 1 month ago

I was fairly neutral on Three-Body Problem on its own; I enjoyed it and it rolled along, but the end left me somewhat unsatisfied. Dark Forest, on the other hand, was absolutely delightful and is easily my frontrunner for Best Novel.

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Eric Gimlin 5 years, 1 month ago

Dumb question for the day: Can anybody correctly point me to where I register for Worldcon for 2016? I think I found the right page, but my brain is going into slight paranoia mode based on how much clicking through I had to do to get there.

Thanks in advance.

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Lovecraft In Brooklyn 5 years, 1 month ago

A Christmas present to myself! Can't wait to read this.

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Kate 5 years, 1 month ago

I have only just realised that Eruditorum Press' logo is a scroll and not a lizard.

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Elizabeth Sandifer 5 years, 1 month ago

Goddammit I'm never going to unsee the Lizard now.

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