The Fall of Gold Eagle

So, I found a Nader Elhefnawy blog post on the shuttering of Harlequin’s Gold Eagle imprint for “men’s adventure” cheap thrillers in 2015 (although Harlequin has continued to release new Mack Bolan ebooks since then). Besides the increasing diversity in media as a whole, the genre is mentioned in the post as being squeezed both from above (from bigger-market, less assembly line-ish cheap thrillers) and below (from independent/self-published ones).

Now the indies and the big-timers both have structural weaknesses and strengths. As for how the Gold Eagle Bolans (and similar professional assembly line fiction) held up, I’ll have to read them. Even Ahern’s Survivalist doesn’t really match up, as that was a giant serial made by one person, not 27 standalone books made by different ones.

Back to a Big Book Backlog

Ok, so now I’m back to a big backlog of books to read. It’s not a bad problem to have. Now, to be fair, almost all of them are cheap thrillers. But I like cheap thrillers, so it’s only fair that I read stuff in a style that I like.

Besides, the cheap thriller genre can be surprisingly diverse, I’ve found. It can encompass everything from throwaway potboilers to gritty and genuinely thought-provoking tales like Peters’ Red Army. And even the former can be incredibly fun.

And even I don’t read only cheap thrillers.

 

My Creative 2018

I had a good 2018, all things considered. Were there bad parts in it? Of course. But on the whole, and especially in my creative endeavors, I had a good 2018. And I’m not just talking about the two Command LIVE scenarios I made or Paint The Force Red.

I’ve said it before, but starting up Fuldapocalypse was amazing and one of the best things I’ve done all year. First, I’ve had a lot of fun writing some of the reviews. Second, it’s been a huge eye-opener and horizon-broadening device for me. I was expecting to get variations on Hackett/Clancy/Bond, but the path took me to outright science fiction and more. I’ve had to throw aside the preconceptions and stereotypes of my past “Iceland Scale” and rework my entire review setup because of it. It’s fun.

But I’d argue a better part of Fuldapocalypse is getting me to write positive reviews. I have an instinct to be critical even of things I like. Peters’ Red Army remains my single favorite World War III story, yet I was prepared to write several paragraphs about its weaknesses and only one or two about its strengths. I’ve found that blog has helped me a lot. It’s also helped me become more selective-if it’s not review-worthy or if I’d just repeat myself for better or worse, I generally don’t review it.

Because of Fuldapocalypse, I now know how broad the “cheap thriller” genre is, and how much broader the military action subgenre is than I thought. I’m not complaining. And I think I’ve approached even works I still am highly critical of better.

So in creative terms, I had a pretty good 2018.

Jumpchain

So, I’ve known it existed for a long time, but have only recently begun to examine the phenomenon known as “Jumpchain”, a kind of internet choose-your-own-adventure story. This post on a jumpchain blog explains it far better than I could.

Being so focused on using and taking advantage of various setting powers, it’s no surprise that jumpchains are popular on Spacebattles. I’ll admit I was reminded of the Infinite Loops, in that both combined fantasy with rules.

On one hand, viewed as an actual story vehicle, it has everything from power creep (the original “victory condition” of the endjump and planeswalker spark went from being an epic struggle with an epic reward to a readily munchkin-able condition that gives something the jumper will likely already have, for one) to (for not all, but too many jumpchain writers) making the actual adventures themselves play second fiddle to describing and arguing about the builds.

But as a munchkin fantasy? I can feel the guilty pleasure, and the weaknesses described above are totally understandable. So I just can’t bring myself to dislike jumpchain.

If I had to write a big academic book…

If I had to write a big, academic, meticulously researched history/analysis book, I think it would be on the way the sort of story type I call the “cheap thriller” evolved throughout the centuries, from the beginning of modern printing all the way to the present. It would be an excuse to read lots and lots of cheap thrillers, and I find the trajectory of what’s popular and what isn’t at what time period legitimately fascinating.