A rogue planet brand check

In which I riff on the Bigger Vision animating the lifeless universe around here

A rogue planet brand check

The eggheads call a planet a "rogue planet" when it doesn't orbit a star

Rogue planets are just hanging out in deep space, doing whatever you do when you're a lightless planet in deep space.

These worlds make for grand space-opera storytelling in my own private universe.

I like Big Idea fiction that puts human beings out in extreme environments.

Chasing down rogue planets to play fusion-drive hop-scotch across the night sky has unexplored potential for space opera tales. Nobody's really done that before.

It's not just cool setting for spaceships and cybernetic astronauts, either.

The rogue planet is a metaphor for existential loneliness.

Alienation and isolation.

Dread, even.

Even less literally...

It's about staying staying away from normal.

Hanging out in the shadows and the empty spaces where nobody's looking... finding the out-of-the-way spots that nobody knows about... staying away from the attention and discovering all the cool bad-ass stuff going on out of the public eye.

Call it curation.

Yeah, I'm into storytelling. And I'll be selling sci-fi action cyberpunk space opera stories soon enough.

But there's more happening here than a simple writer telling stories.

There's a point of view behind all the words I churn out here (and that's only the stuff I put out in public view...)

Here's a few of the "unpopular" key ideas motivating me.

1. 80s sci-fi action movies are the best thing ever

Movies now just don't have that same flair.

You can argue that they didn't have the best effects compared to today, but I think that's garbage.

All this CGI is not nearly so effective as the practical effects used 40 years ago.

You're going to have a hard time telling me that the stories are better, or the acting is superior.

Don't get me started on the endless recycling of "capeshit" as the kids call it.

The technical improvements haven't made better films. They've made it easier to dress up a third-rate product.

Movie making has turned into a monoculture chasing the blockbuster big-event movie. There's no room for the kind of creativity and innovation you got out of a low-budget John Carpenter production.

The action films you know best and think of most fondly, like Predator, The Terminator, and Robocop, couldn't get made today.

You can see this by the way failing Hollywood handles the remakes. Predator this, Terminator that, and none of it worth the 120 minutes you spend watching it.

The IP isn't enough to capture the magic.

They made films differently back in the 80s. Think about this list:

I don't include stuff like Indiana Jones and Star Wars here, but they were just as innovative in their time... and they're also victims of the same grinding erosion of independent creativity.

Those movies were so good that Hollywood can't stop capitalizing off the nostalgia. Every single movie on that list has had at least one reboot, prequel, or sequel in the last 10 years.

Only two of those – Scott's Prometheus and Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049 – are even worth watching, in my accurate reckoning.

Predators, with Adrian Brody in the lead role back in 2010, was watchable but it doesn't feel like a Predator movie.

Everything else feels like a bland cash-grab... or worse, a remake to purify these properties of crimethink so as to fit the standards of today's political commissars.

Up here in the Age of Woke, where every film has to star a snarky Action Grrl who don't need no man, we can be nostalgic for Sigourney Weaver's Ripley.

An unlikely action star who remains at the top of the most memorable heroes, Ripley is feminine and nurturing yet competent, full of heart, and willing to crack alien skulls when necessary.

The characters weren't just "unwoke". What's sad is that today's culture manages to transform all aspects of a character into this simple yes/no question. Is this character an activist and therefore good, or are they problematic and therefore evil?

When Arnold's major roles from the 80s are more likable, relatable, competent, believable people than these political caricatures, that's saying something.

A competent character that the audience likes, thrown into extraordinary circumstances, is basic storytelling... and it's getting harder to find that kind of honesty.

The over-the-top campiness of the Arnold action scene, capped with a one-line zinger, is the stuff of parody for the fart-sniffing circuit... but tell me what movies you're cracking open for a fun watch on a Saturday night.

2. Synthwave music is more interesting than any mainstream music

Ever since the "core" of mainstream music fell apart back in the late 90s, there have been no world-shaking acts to replace them.

The days of arena-rock tours selling out 90,000 seat stadiums are long gone.

Today's pop music is manufactured by assembly line, tweaked to perfection by algorithms and digital processing, and shipped off to brainwash the masses who still pay attention.

At the same time, music disintegrated into a hundred thousand micro-genres, helped along by the spread of new media channels – Youtube, Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp, and 1000 others – that make it easier than ever to cultivate a personal audience.

With an audience only an upload away, more creators are experimenting with different kinds and styles of music.

While I'm nostalgic for the hey-day of 80s and 90s arena rock, the upside is access to more, different, and hyper-specialized kinds of music.

With a subscription to Digitally Imported, regular Bandcamp purchases, and Youtube playlists I discover more music in a week than I can listen to in a month.

That's not so great for the "commodity" artists... but the savvy musicians who know how to build an audience and give 'em what they want can earn a living at their trade.

There's few things better than pumping up an inspired synthwave playlist and jamming like it's 1984 in Miami Beach.

In fact the state of the music industry has a lot to teach us wordsmiths about the realities of business for creatives.

That might even be the real lesson... great as the music is, it's also a symbol of the independence, the control, financial freedom, and the creative ingenuity that you can have for yourself when you stop thinking like a writer and think of yourself as being in the business of independent publishing.

3. Pulp stories written by sci-fi, horror, and Western authors are making a comeback, bigly

The forces behind shifts in movies and music haven't left writers alone either.

What the iPod did for music, Amazon did for authors.

You can complain about Amazon the business, and maybe there's a lot to complain about.

But you'd be silly not to recognize that Amazon is the reality.

Whatever your feelings, you must see reality as it is, not how you wish it would be.

Truth is, Amazon is the greatest opportunity for authors in the last 100 years... if not in the history of writing and publishing.

The Kindle store lets you publish your stories and books and get them in front of the world's largest audience of readers, all with their credit cards out.

With a few bucks on Ingram Spark, you can print paperback and hard-cover editions of your work and get them into every bookstore on Earth.

Today, you have unprecedented access to tools, media, and distribution channels that authors 100 years ago could not have dreamed.

That's how modern-day "pulp" writers are able to strike out, grow a following, and make a living by writing stories.

There's a lot of people out there who like these kinds of books.

There are few things more enjoyable than a Robert E. Howard page-turner... except maybe a James M. Cain or Donald Westlake page-turner.

These were 80s movies before 80s movies were a thing.

The failing big publishers don't want to touch them. They gambled their business model on the big-hit bestsellers and they're going under.

But what the publishers and distributors want, and what the people are willing to pay for with their own money, are two different things.

The taste for fun, action-packed, page-turning stories with heroic characters and real bad guys never went away.

The publishers just stopped selling them.

While all the petty-minded people who hang out in writer's groups love to shriek and moan every time Amazon makes an "unfair" change... the savvy are out there doing the work to build audiences and tell the stories people want to read.

Sure, it sucks when you get comfy on somebody else's gravy train and they change the agreement.

You think a trillion-dollar corporation owes you the business and lifestyle that you want?

You think they're going to change their profitable strategy because a writer, who is poor in mind and spirit, whines that it's "not good for business"?

You're not owed anything. If you choose to build your business on rented land, you go in knowing the risks. But you'd best do it with a Plan B. If you're the type to go all-in on one platform and get lazy with no contingency plans, you deserve what you get.

You can't get away with ignorance about business, sales, and marketing, not today.

If you aren't willing or able to run your brand as a business, you're going to fail. Maybe you don't want to hear that, but that doesn't make it false.

Business is movement. If you sit still you're begging for a shark to come along and eat your lunch. And it's going to happen. The question is not "if", it is when and how bad.

Write hard, write fast. No mercy.

That's how the old-time writers made their living. Thanks to the possibilities for independent publishing, you can do it today if you're willing to do the work... if you can understand that OldPub is dead and not coming back... if you can adapt to circumstances instead of doubling down on a 50 year old business model that never worked that well to begin with.

Vox Day just funded a bindery for his publishing imprint by crowdsourcing it to his audience. He did this by selling $1000 leather-bound editions of Homer's Odyssey. Let that sink in for a minute. Anybody still complaining that it's so hard to be a writer lives in the wrong universe.

There is no excuse today to be "surprised". Yes, things can happen that you didn't foresee. Nobody saw the worldwide overreaction to the Covid mania, not in exactly the way it rolled out.

But acute observers had been ready for a major shake-up, which seems to happen about every 10 years.

I'm not talking about having perfect foresight.

I mean being in such a position that when shocks happen, you can resist them, or even thrive on them.

That takes a certain flexibility of mind that, to be blunt about it, most people just don't have.

You don't get that by throwing all your eggs in one basket and crossing your fingers.

You have no excuse for being blindsided when things turn south. The herd animals plugged into video games, Netflix, and social media all day, they get taken by surprise.

You have to hold yourself to a higher standard

That's the State of the RP.

The world is changing and you have to change with it. There's immense value left to rot in the old culture of the last century. We're only beginning to tap those wells.

The tools for creating and distributing have made it easier than ever for anyone with the desire and the guts to create their own brand and publishing company... and more.

We're only seeing the beginning. The Web 3.0 revolutions have only begun to ripple the water... but there's a Kraken down there ready to explode.

Maybe you find some of this motivating. Or maybe you don't.

It is what it is.

You can do what most will do... head back to your woke Netflix and watch as Disney bleeds the life out of the zombie corpses of the IP you used to love, complaining about it to 8 people on twitter.

If you're the type to take action instead of complaining, you can join me and be a part of the rogue planet vision for a better culture and a better future.

Just click here: