Very few people offer assistance to their competition. Doing so is evidence of an exceedingly rare generosity toward one’s fellow man.
Until recently, I’d only encountered one memorable example of this selfless behavior, when, many years ago in an introductory graduate seminar on research skills, I observed one student in the class periodically offer valuable tips to the class at large. His generosity made quite an impression on me at the time, yet I hadn’t thought about that graduate student for a long while until a couple of months ago. That was when I participated in an online book sale promoted by a scientist and inventor who also writes science fiction, Hans G. Schantz.
The idea behind this sale, which Schantz has named the Big Based Book Sale, is that for a designated week, all of the participating authors lower the price of their Kindle eBooks to 99 cents and then promote the heck out of the event. Since the sale is advertised specifically as a “based” book event, the target audience is readers of science fiction and fantasy who’ve had it up to their eyeballs with political correctness and the “woke” narrative.
The books offered are, at the very minimum, void of PC content. Some, like Schantz’s own novels, actually serve up direct counter-arguments to the shibboleths of a PC worldview. In his novels, these might be reflected in the narrative arc or in the dialogue itself. (His young adult trilogy, The Hidden Truth, for instance, is predicated on the reality of a globalist cabal, while his fictional high school students debate topics such as why or why not women should have the vote.) In the end, I imagine that all of the authors offering their works for this event approach being “based” differently.
But the one thing they all have in common is the likelihood that they wouldn’t have been published by a mainstream publishing house, not because of a lack of literary merit, but because their work contains heretical content according to the leftist censors that some publishing houses have actually hired to function as gatekeepers. And there’s the rub: It’s not so much that the content being produced these days is so lame, as if writers are typing with a checklist of obligatory criteria next to their keyboard. It’s the silencing from these Puritanical scolds who wield so much power over what gets published that has introduced a new level of Philistinism into our culture. Interesting work, full of the variety that free minds are capable of producing, might very well languish in obscurity despite there being readers eager to engage with fresh work.
That’s why the Big Based Book Sale event appealed to me, because like so many Americans, I am revolted by the values being sledgehammered into our consciousness nonstop. The repetition of the same themes, the unvarying uniformity of opinion, and the specific values themselves are both distasteful and wearily predictable. As an author of a fantasy novella myself that can at least lay claim to not being “woke” if not actually “based,” I quite happily participated in the event despite having low expectations regarding sales. I mean, how much interest could these notices — essentially online flyers — generate, even with a couple hundred people sending them out through their social media platforms?
Well, much to my surprise, the answer is quite a lot. The sale moved a considerable number of books overall, and it seemed that nearly everyone who participated sold something. I was taken aback by what this implied about Schantz’s reach — which appears to be driven mainly by his substack, “The Wise of Heart” — as well as the grassroots marketing effectiveness of the authors who participated.
Let’s face it, it takes a lot of work to create excitement about a book sale. At the same time, the success of the sale only proves there’s a hunger for novels that don’t fit the current understanding of the world — the world as a social justice warrior imagines it. These books show that there’s more than one way to understand the term “alternate reality, ”and people are lapping it up.
More importantly, I was impressed by Schantz’s personal generosity. He has made the effort to create and maintain both a forum for writers and a means for them to get their books in front of the public. Schantz creates a “flyer” — essentially an annotated catalog to advertise the titles — comprised of the books’ descriptions, editorial reviews, and links to Amazon, making browsing rather enjoyable and purchasing hassle-free. For participating authors, he even tracks sales from the event and produces a final “tally” at the end — all for what is inarguably his own competition.
I was delighted with this experience. But most of all, I was impressed by Schantz’s disinterestedness in service to a larger goal, that of promoting fiction that deals frankly with reality and ventures into intellectually taboo areas. Those in conservative circles constantly bemoan the near-complete takeover of culture by the left. One possible answer to this assault on civilization may very well come from grassroots movements such as these.
Schantz welcomes new authors and readers to his periodic sales, the next taking place for one week during the Thanksgiving holiday, Nov. 22 to 29. For more information, click on this link, which will go live Wednesday.