Amazon Yanks Castalia House’s “The Corroding Empire”

The Corroding Empire, Castalia House’s parody of John Scalzi’s The Collapsing Empire with a look-alike cover, has been taken off sale by Amazon.

Day told Vox Popoli readers in “Amazon Pulls Corroding Empire”

Fascinating. We just received an email from Amazon informing us that the title, cover, and author of THE CORRODING EMPIRE were “misleading”.

The Scalzi book, available for pre-order since May 2016, will have its official release on March 21.

Pre-orders for the Castalia House book have been taken on Amazon since about March 6, and its publication date is today, March 20. Although sales are shut down, people have reported they got their pre-ordered copies on schedule.

When he announced the Castalia House book, Vox Day made clear their version was more than a parody, that his goal was to show up Tor’s book, in a continuation of his one-sided feud with author and former SFWA President Scalzi.

Nevertheless, from concept to cover, from title to text, THE CORRODING EMPIRE  is a very clear and public demonstration that the Castalia House team can do what they do, and do it better, even as an in-house joke in our copious spare time.

After all, what would be more amusing than for THE CORRODING EMPIRE to outsell and outrank The Collapsing Empire? This isn’t a lame Bored of the Rings-style parody, it is, quite to the contrary, a legitimate Foundation-style novel that effectively demonstrates how hapless Tor’s latest imitative mediocrity is by comparison.

And he soon posted claims that the Castalia House parody was running ahead of the real book, in “A tale of two preorders”.

The Corroding Empire #15 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Space Opera

The Collapsing Empire #151 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Space Opera

Vox Day has posted an image of the book’s replacement cover and is working to get Amazon to resume sales.

In any event, we will have CORROSION by Harry Seldon, complete with a new cover, back up soon. It’s not like we aren’t in the habit of anticipating enemy action, after all.

94 thoughts on “Amazon Yanks Castalia House’s “The Corroding Empire”

  1. Pretty close on the cover. Without a statement of parody I can see why Amazon yanked it.

  2. It rather reminds me of the movies from “The Asylum”, who make those straight-to-DVD soundalikes of upcoming blockbusters, e.g “Independents’ Day” or “Ghosthunters”. Although they also make Sharknado movies, so all is forgiven.

  3. I wasn’t aware of the impending release of John Scalzi’s new book until this stunt by Theodore Beale. So thanks for that, Mr. Three-Dimensional Xanatos Gambit.

  4. If I didn’t know better I’d kind of feel bad for the Castalia House authors whose publisher has so much copious spare time that he write, edit, promote and publish a sad bit of anger wankery when he could be trying to help them.

    Harry Seldon? lol.

  5. I haven’t read a Scalzi novel in a while (nothing against him, I just have a huge TBR pile – last thing I read was Redshirts a couple years ago, to see if it was as terrible as the *Pups claimed), but VD’s constant pushing of the new one is making me consider checking this one out.

  6. @Matt Y

    Harry Seldon? lol.

    That is … much more clever than I tend to expect from the barking section. It’s telling, however, that he doesn’t want to put his own name on this one.

    I find this a bit telling on his announcement, though:

    It’s not like we aren’t in the habit of anticipating enemy action, after all.

    That – to me – reads as “I knew I was over the line and expected to get caught.”

    I hope that the artist for the original cover didn’t have a payment upon publication clause (although the pre-orderers who got theirs might suggest that Vox is stuck paying for two covers).

  7. kathodus: I think the last thing of Scalzi’s I read was his novella “Unlocked” which I liked very much.

  8. Counting the attempt to submit fake reviews on Goodreads, this is at least the third time Amazon has had to reign him in. I wonder at what point they kick Castalia House off the platform entirely?

  9. IIRC, Amazon ranks aren’t worth anything useful as a measurement because they’re only a snapshot of a particular moment in time.

    I’m looking forward to reading Scalzi’s latest work – I’ve liked most of what I’ve read of his and loved Lock In. Given what I’ve seen from Castalia thus far, even if it wasn’t against my principles I don’t think I’d buy anything from them. I prefer to spend my book budget on things worth reading, and very much prefer to avoid funding someone’s petty one-sided internet feud. If I’m going to fund anyone’s petty one-sided internet feud, it’s going to be mine, should I ever choose to start one.

  10. @Mike Glyer – that’s on my list of to-reads. I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. I should just grab it and put it at the top of the list, since it’s a novella.

  11. I really liked the sample I read of The Collapsing Empire. In this book, Scalzi seems to have gotten over his incessant “said” problem, and the characters were quite interesting.

    I’ll find out soon enough. My copy arrives tomorrow.

  12. Meredith: If I’m going to fund anyone’s petty one-sided internet feud, it’s going to be mine

    Aha! Now we know where all the referrer fees from those Meredith Moment book sale posts have been going! 😉

  13. Bonnie

    In this book, Scalzi seems to have gotten over his incessant “said” problem

    I never got that, most he said/she saids fade into the background for me. Adverbs on the other hand yank me out especially when they get too obnoxious about it, like Name of the Wind or Scalzi’s entirely subtly tweet.

  14. With this as an example of his creativity and wit, the man has clearly missed his calling. He should be working in Hollywood, pitching old television shows as brand new feature films.

    Now, if he really wanted to show up Tor and prove that he was better at what they do, he’d come up with the same type of book, but have a distinctive cover, a different title and author name and wholly separated release date. That’s what a person confident in their abilities and work would do under similar circumstances and with such motivations.

  15. Also I note with amusement that both old and new covers of anger wankery book call it an ‘Interstellar Science Fiction Epic in Space’. Stupid idiot.

  16. I missed the: ” Kalsi rips off Asimov even better than Scalzi rips off Heinlein.” blurb on the cover. That was comedy magic.

  17. @kathodus

    I also really liked Unlocked, and it’s a great companion to Lock In, although they’re very different. I hope you enjoy it when you get around to trying it out! 🙂

    @JJ

    Well, I need to be prepared should I ever completely lose the plot and start a petty one-sided internet feud, right? I mean, aside from the fake petty one-sided internet feuds I’ve occasionally declared for things like ‘voting against Farscape in the honeycomb brackets’. Those are very cheap to run. Free, even.

    @Bonnie McDaniel

    The ‘said’ thing never really bothered me, but I understand he got a bit of feedback after Lock In was published that repeating ‘said’ a lot is annoying for audiobook listeners, and decided to mix it up a bit more after that because audiobooks are something he puts a fair amount of work into.

    One of the hallmarks of an inexperienced fanfiction writer is the lengths they’ll go to to avoid using ‘said’ or a character’s name (vs the blonde, the shorter man, the mechanic, etc). I notice that more than I notice people using it, but you’re not the first person I’ve seen complain of ‘said’ overuse so it does seem to be a significant minority even outside of audiobook concerns.

    @Robert Reynolds

    Yes, I think that would be a more sensible approach if the goal was to produce good work. Unfortunately, I doubt quality is particularly high on Beale’s priority list. (At least, I hope it isn’t. If that’s what Castalia aiming for quality looks like…)

  18. Reading excerpts of each book side by side it’s clear which book is better, even as someone who isn’t fond of space operas.

    Things are not looking good for mr scalzi

  19. airboy:

    “I missed the: ” Kalsi rips off Asimov even better than Scalzi rips off Heinlein.” blurb on the cover. That was comedy magic.”

    Yes. Ha ha ha. It was so amusing. It is so fun with stalkers and harassers that you have to laugh with them.

  20. Meredith: “IIRC, Amazon ranks aren’t worth anything useful as a measurement because they’re only a snapshot of a particular moment in time.

    And in a particular category of book. Or sub-category. Or sub-sub-category. Or sub-sub-sub-category.

    Which is why there are hundreds (if not thousands) of self-published authors proudly proclaiming themselves “#1 Amazon Bestseller”, while not mentioning it was for the bestselling fantasy/talking-animal/communist/left-handed-protagonist/written-in-heiroglyphics book, between 2:12 and 2:13 AM on a Tuesday.

  21. Bruce – they forgot to mention they were giving it away for free then too.

  22. Continuing my usual bafflement at how Ted and his fanbase can treat this as anything but an inevitable consequence of being a jackass. This isn’t a victory, it wasn’t even a battle.

  23. @Meredith:

    The ‘said’ thing never really bothered me, but I understand he got a bit of feedback after Lock In was published that repeating ‘said’ a lot is annoying for audiobook listeners

    Can confirm. Didn’t hear or read Lock In, but in Redshirts this was awful – a cast of characters who all sound exactly the same, speaking bald dialogue for what felt like pages on end: line, “Bob said,” line, “Alice said.” It felt like somebody had written a script, and called it a day. This was definitely made worse by the narrator, who stressed the heck out of those “Alice said” snippets, as though they were each worthy of special attention :-/

    I enjoy Scalzi’s blog, but I really haven’t gotten along with his fiction.

  24. Self-inflicted wounds.

    If Teddy Boy had spent a fraction of the time and energy over the years doing something else with his life other than carrying on this one-sided feud … well, he’d still be a talent-less fascist asshole, but at least a less publicly pathetic one.

    I read the first chapter of Scalzi’s a while back and found it entertaining. There was a lot of info about the setting/universe given without an infodump — in fact, it took place during a violent starship mutiny. Now that’s space opera, I tells ya.

  25. Scalzi seems to be ignoring VD. Looks to be the best option. I’d assumed the refugee from the IRS living off his Daddy’s ill-gotten gains was giving his latest wankery away for free, and presumably paying someone to coordinate the “orders” to game the Amazon rankings.

    If the sad little turd put half the effort into writing as he does his one sided feud, he might one day reach the foothills of mediocrity.

    ETA to Standback I actually think Scalzi is better at the non space opera stuff, Lock in was pretty smart and suffers less from the characters all having the same snarky tone, which gets pretty tiresome in the old man’s war series.

  26. @Chris: I can credit that. He also might just be developing richer writing style. Possibly 🙂

    I bounced really hard off of Redshirts and Old Man’s War. I’m not eager to try another; I’ve got so much other material I do want to read. I might have missed some stuff of Scalzi’s I’d enjoy, and maybe someday I’ll find that out 🙂

  27. @Standback Reading like a script is part of the point of Redshirts. I didn’t mind too much, but appreciate that many would have issues with it. I found Lock in quite bland.
    However The Collapsing Empire looks more my thing, although probably have enough things in the queue (how did I miss that Europe in Winter is out until this week?) that it will be pb pricing before I get to it.

  28. @Errol

    Reading like a script is part of the point of Redshirts.

    I’ve heard that interpretation before, but assuming that the bad writing is deliberate doesn’t make it one whit more enjoyable to read 😛

    It also doesn’t explain all the many, many lines going “Am I the only one that thinks that explanation makes no sense at all?” and “Man, I really want to slap you right now.” 😛

  29. @ Chris S
    Just so you know, I’m definitely stealing “he might someday reach the foothills of mediocrity”. Thanks!

  30. So TCE is supposed to be a parody. But .. How can you write a true parody of something that hasn’t been released yet? Unless you’re Mad magazine, or a similar publication, good luck. Does this even qualify as a parody?

    Also, I think the best parodies are created by people who like the source material, even a little bit. Parodists who hate the source material often end up at best trying too hard. At worst they come off as people who like to keep blathering on to tell you how awful some story or genre is.

  31. John Scalzi comments on this in a tweet discussion begun by Jim C. Hines:

    In response to a comment by SF writer Annalee Flower Horne, “I kinda wonder how many hours he spent on that bullshit. At least that’s time he didn’t spend punching down?” Scalzi writes, “That’s kind of how I think about it — if he’s bothering me, he has less time to inflict himself on others. So, fine.”

    He also tweeted, “Learned a racist piece of shit thought I was subtweeting him when I was talking about that cool secret Empire thing earlier. Oh, honey. No.”

  32. @Anne: It is parody in the sense that it is making fun of the original. The manner in which it is making fun of the original is by carefully copycatting its title and outward design, mangling the author name, and having a crack at Scalzi on the cover. See? Good fun. You’re probably laughing already.

    If it is an extraordinarily good work of parody, it is quite possible that the text contains any number of additional humorous, parodic elements. Happily, this text will presumably be preserved in its entirety, to amuse and make merry. Unless the text is as parodic as the cover, i.e. the exact same thing but with minute variations.

  33. I don’t think the cover would’ve been leaked — it looks like the original cover reveal dates back to at least May of 2016 on tor.com.

  34. The “M” is totally different in the parody version. It looks clunky. And the parody “R” is nowhere as nice as the chiseled “R” on Scalzi’s cover. Whoever at Tor did the cover cares about type.

  35. I enjoyed the OMW works but I bounced hard off of ‘Redshirts’ as well. I still have a couple of his works in my TBR pile, but because of RS, he keeps getting supplanted by other authors.

  36. Meredith: “IIRC, Amazon ranks aren’t worth anything useful as a measurement because they’re only a snapshot of a particular moment in time.”

    And in a particular category of book. Or sub-category. Or sub-sub-category. Or sub-sub-sub-category.

    One of my books on games made it to #3 spot once. I sold a whopping 12 books on that day.

  37. Ah, that reminded me to pre-order the UK edition. Which turns out to be on special at Amazon.co.uk for only £5.99.

  38. I see VD’s minions are now posting fake reviews of The Collapsing Empire on Amazon.

    What a bunch of jerks.

  39. @rob_matic, that goes directly against the VD’s insistence that one should never review a book one hasn’t read, and his loyal pack of lone wolves would never deviate from his script. I don’t see how it’s possible that he could say one thing but mean another. Sorry, but you have lost this round of 4th-dimensional chess.

  40. @kathodus – VD can read? Wow. That’s a pretty big assumption you’re making there, he sure as hell can’t write.

  41. kathodus wrote: “Sorry, but you have lost this round of 4th-dimensional chess.”

    The only possible response is: Queen to Queen’s level 3

    The next response involves laughing maniacally, punching Star Fleet equipment, and blowing up that poor green woman.

  42. This is just pathetic. I was certain VD would be spending his time jockeying for a cabinet position in the Trump administration by now- this is just a waste of his lack of talent.

  43. Rose Embolism

    This is just pathetic. I was certain VD would be spending his time jockeying for a cabinet position in the Trump administration

    This was easier than learning how to speak Russian.

  44. kathodus says in response @rob_matic that goes directly against the VD’s insistence that one should never review a book one hasn’t read, and his loyal pack of lone wolves would never deviate from his script. I don’t see how it’s possible that he could say one thing but mean another. Sorry, but you have lost this round of 4th-dimensional chess.

    Amazon’s been removing them as there’s now just one negative review and I tagged it for removing as it’s very clearly not a review.

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