Home » Amazon, Fantasy/SciFi » Amazon Pulls Castalia House Book for Ripping Off John Scalzi Cover

Amazon Pulls Castalia House Book for Ripping Off John Scalzi Cover

2 April 2017

From io9:

Amazon blocked sales for The Corroding Empire, a scifi book from Vox Day’s conservative publishing company Castalia House, because the cover bore an uncanny resemblance to John Scalzi’s latest book, The Collapsing Empire. And it wasn’t a coincidence.

Update: Amazon has since resumed sales for The Corroding Empire, with the original cover. We’ve reached out to Amazon for more information.

. . . .

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi was released from Tor Books Tuesday, almost a year after it was first announced. Earlier this month, Theodore Beale (aka Vox Day) revealed on his blog that The Corroding Empire from Johan Kalsi was available for pre-order… and would be released one day before Scalzi’s book. Amazon temporarily made the book unavailable to buy, but it looks to have been restored for the time being.

. . . .

There’s a reason Beale made a cover that looks exactly like Scalzi’s, and it’s not to ride his coattails. This is all part of Beale’s longstanding feud (or obsession) with Scalzi, who hasn’t shied away from criticizing him in the past. Beale has long considered himself Scalzi’s literary rival, even though they’re on completely different levels of success.

Link to the rest at io9 and thanks to John for the tip.

Is there a basis for a lawsuit? Probably, but PG isn’t going to get into the details.

Is this childish? Definitely.

Amazon, Fantasy/SciFi

45 Comments to “Amazon Pulls Castalia House Book for Ripping Off John Scalzi Cover”

  1. This happens all the time, it’s just that not everyone is John Scalzi, and therefore cannot make a fuss and make things turn on a dime to suit their whims.

  2. Beale has long considered himself Scalzi’s literary rival, even though they’re on completely different levels of success.

    What kind of lousy reporting is this? Oh, right, io9 is a Gawker property. BuzzFeed has more journalistic integrity than these guys.

    • Except this is true.

      • What do they mean by “levels”? What do they mean by “completely different”? Where is the substance? Why all the insinuation? Are they even trying to hide their bias anymore?

        I couldn’t care less about this alleged rivalry between Vox and Scalzi. Frankly, I think they’re both scumbags. I’m just sick of dishonest reporters who care less about truth than their agenda.

  3. http://voxday.blogspot.com.es/2017/03/here-come-fake-reviews.html#c8719793516819286421

    Apparently, not Scalzi’s nor Tor’s doing. Since it’s Vox himself saying it, I think I’d trust it. Not exactly the guy to rob them of blame, yes?

    Take care.

  4. Childish is the whole point of the exercise.
    And making a quick buck on the side.

  5. I’ve been trying my best to let this pass, but… I did not succeed.

    “An interstellar science fiction epic in space”

    Where else could it be ‘interstellar’?

  6. Stealling from an old shashdot meme:

    “Amazon Pulls Castalia House Book for Ripping Off John Scalzi Cover” and nothing of value was lost.

  7. THey should not have pulled it, even if Beale is an unlikable crank.

    I’ve seen so many similar sci-fi space shots with ships, planets, space stations, that it’s just a common thing in teh genre. The font isn’t created just for Scalzi (and they are similar, not identical).

    But my main issue is that that short story by “Stephen King” that fooled many King fans was included in Stephen King recommendations on Kindle, and many King fans bought it thinking it was THE King, not a story by an amateur a few pages long that fooled fans. If Amazon can leave that one there,and recommend it to SK fans as if it were SK’s, they can leave Beale’s.

    It’s not as if the author names were identical and really could fool buyers on an item page.

    • This looks like an intentional act to mislead Amazon’s customers and Scalzi readers, rather than anything coincidental. If I was Amazon and this book was brought to my attention, I would have delayed publication of it until Scalzi’s book was established in sales/reviews to lessen confusion (and corresponding returns).

      • Of course, it’s intentional. But are you saying Scalzi’s readers are so stupid that they don’t know how to read his name? He didn’t put “John Scalzi” on the cover. Johan Kalsi is obviously tongue-in-cheek. A neener.

        The cover looks like a parody, honestly.

        • It may be parody but it appears that the intent is to confuse Amazon’s customers who want to buy a Scalzi book. The title, cover and release date all point to that conclusion.

          Buyer beware, huh?

          • Felix J. Torres

            Well, of course it is.
            He’s made himself a big fat target.

            Fast buck artists don’t go after respected industry figures, quiet midlist professionals like a Kate Wilhelm or a Patricia McKillip.

            There’s a history to consider, here.

  8. I did a search for the book on Amazon and found another that is similar in attack. I expect to see more like this. After all, this is the start of a “food fight”. HA!

    This is the blurb:

    [quote]
    Amazon.com: THE RUSTING EMPIRE eBook: Joann Skallsee: Books

    The universe is subject to the whimsical nature of The Cycle, a powerful, unpredictable force that controls everything. When The Cycle starts to change, the people of The Realm are thrust to the brink of war with their arch-nemesis The Federation.

    “The Cycle was a force of nature. Predictable in it’s timing, but unpredictable in it’s behavior. When The Cycle appeared, it had the ability to bend space-time, transporting people, objects, and even places across dimensions with either the rage of a raped ape, or the gentleness of a lion consoling a wounded duck abandoned by it’s family.”

    Critical Acclaim for The Rusting Empire

    The cover was misleading, I was meaning to purchase the Collated Works of Friedrich Nietzsche. – Nichole

    Only one chapter 5. Sad! – Anonymous

    Petty rip-off of Hamilton’s Federalist Papers. – Jefferson

    So many colonoscopies. Seriously, what book needs this many colonoscopies. – Dr. Philips

    Nothing but bad puns and commas. The only thing it had more of than commas was colonoscopies. Unfortunately this did not redeem the story. – Pete

    Stop contacting us. – Charles Slim’s Analog Blog
    [/quote]

    This is the blurb for Beale’s book:

    [quote]
    Amazon.com: Corrosion (The Corroding Empire Book 1) eBook: Johan Kalsi, Vox Day: Books

    Galactic society is ruled by algorithms. From interstellar travel and planetary terraforming to artificial intelligence and agriculture, every human endeavor has become completely dependent upon the hypercomplex equations that optimize the activities making life possible across hundreds of inhabited worlds. Throughout the galaxy, Man has become dependent upon the reliable operation of ten million different automated systems.

    And when things begin to go wrong and mysterious accidents begin to happen no one has any idea what is happening, except for a sentient medical drone and the First Technocrat of Continox. But their ability to even begin to try fixing the unthinkably complicated problem of galaxy-wide algorithmic decay is made considerably more difficult by the fact the former is an outlaw and the latter is facing a death sentence.

    Johan Kalsi is Finland’s hottest science fiction author. An accomplished geneticist as well as a 6’3″ ex-Finnish Marine, in CORROSION, Kalsi shows himself to be more Asimovian than Asimov himself. CORROSION marks his English-language debut.
    [/quote]

    Then this is the blurb for Scalzi’s book:

    [quote]
    The Collapsing Empire Kindle Edition
    by John Scalzi

    “John Scalzi is the most entertaining, accessible writer working in SF today.” —Joe Hill, author of The Fireman

    Our universe is ruled by physics. Faster than light travel is impossible—until the discovery of The Flow, an extradimensional field available at certain points in space-time, which can take us to other planets around other stars.

    Riding The Flow, humanity spreads to innumerable other worlds. Earth is forgotten. A new empire arises, the Interdependency, based on the doctrine that no one human outpost can survive without the others. It’s a hedge against interstellar war—and, for the empire’s rulers, a system of control.

    The Flow is eternal—but it’s not static. Just as a river changes course, The Flow changes as well. In rare cases, entire worlds have been cut off from the rest of humanity. When it’s discovered that the entire Flow is moving, possibly separating all human worlds from one another forever, three individuals—a scientist, a starship captain, and the emperox of the Interdependency—must race against time to discover what, if anything, can be salvaged from an interstellar empire on the brink of collapse.

    “Fans of Game of Thrones and Dune will enjoy this bawdy, brutal, and brilliant political adventure” —Booklist on The Collapsing Empire

    “Scalzi is one of the slickest writers that SF has ever produced.” —The Wall Street Journal on The Human Division

    “Political plotting, plenty of snark, puzzle-solving, and a healthy dose of action…Scalzi continues to be almost insufferably good at his brand of fun but think-y sci-fi adventure.” —Kirkus Reviews
    [/quote]

    I harvested the “sample” for all three books. I suspect that there will be many more like this.

    • Is it going to be a “fight,” though? If that were the case I’d expect to see e-books like “A Stone of Groans by Pox Vay” or whatever coming from the other side. Instead, Scalzi seems to be shrugging it off.

      • Felix J. Torres

        He knows he’s being baited.
        No sense drawing a bigger spotlight. Or maybe spitlight. 🙂

    • If there is a “food fight” it needs to rise to the epic level of the food fight that starts here at 6:13 in order to be worth getting interested in.

      Pretty sure it won’t though 🙂

    • I was under the impression that such quotes of recommendation/testimonials were not allowed in the book description. So, is Amazon gonna pull Scalzi’s page until he fixes that?

      Quote from Amazon’s TOS:

      The inclusion of any of the following information in detail page titles, descriptions, bullet points, or images is prohibited:
      Pornographic, obscene, or offensive content.
      Phone numbers, physical mail addresses, email addresses, or website URLs.
      Availability, price, condition, alternative ordering information (such as links to other websites for placing orders), or alternative shipping offers (such as free shipping).
      Spoilers regarding Books, Music, Video, or DVD (BMVD) listings (information that reveals plot elements crucial to the suspense, mystery, or surprise ending of a story).
      Reviews, quotes, or testimonials.
      Solicitations for positive customer reviews.
      Advertisements, promotional material, or watermarks on images, photos, or videos.
      Time-sensitive information (i.e., dates of promotional tours, seminars, lectures, etc.).

      • Traditional publisher, like Tor, seem to have a different set of standards to follow than people publishing via KDP.

    • Felix J. Torres

      Hmm, on re-reading the blurbs for the Scalzi piece, I realized the WSJ called him “slick”. I’m not sure I would consider that a quotable compliment. To me that is “praise by faint damnation” verging on a sly dig.

      Sounds like there’s a lot of folks don’t care for him.

      I ignore author catfights but this one sounds amusing…

  9. Aren’t both books supposed to be “rip-offs”? As in, Scalzi is ripping off Asimov’s Foundation (I’ve heard), and this Vox Day is parodying him? Or ripping off the rip-off? Whatever to both of them.

    What I do care about is whether or not Amazon is now deciding to pull books. On what criteria? Clear-cut plagiarism? Or is one book an “homage” and another a “parody”?

    Ferran’s link indicates the book-pulling is the action of a rogue employee. If so, Amazon must serve up his head forthwith. I do not care what metal they use for the platter they serve it on: they need to make it clear books will not be pulled on the basis of politics, likes, rivalries, and any other childish motives.

    • Yes. As I understand it, they’re both vaguely based on Asimov’s Foundation books.

      I’m not a great Asimov fan, but having read the beginning of both of these now, I’d say the Corroding Empire is much closer to what he would have written. It actually reads like a serious attempt to write an SF novel, unlike Scalzi’s parody.

      I believe some other writers released books too. I remember seeing one called ‘The Prolapsing Empire’, but I’m too scared to go and look it up on Amazon.

      • Thanks for the clarification. And I completely understand your fear. Amazon’s you-seem-interested-in-this bot is nothing to fool around with …

      • Felix J. Torres

        Thanks for verifying my private guess.

        That makes it *two* recent books “reimagining” classics. First Piper’s LITTLE FUZZY and now FOUNDATION. I suppose Heinlein or Dickson will be next. Hmm, ORPHANS OF THE SKY seems to be high concept enough for that purpose.

        Maybe that’s how he’s going to meet his obligations under the 9 figure contract?

      • Thanks for finding this:

        [quote]
        The Prolapsing Empire: An On-Schedule Story Kindle Edition
        by E. Reagan Wright (Author)

        There had never been a more deserving Re-Scriber for a promotion to Chief Officer, Political. Doey’s years of slaving away in the Culture Mines finally paid off, and now he was one step closer to the tippy-top position of the Aynal Empire. His first mission as Chief Officer, Political, was a simple run through the low streets of the city to break up a clandestine culture mill churning out written works that weren’t derivative rehashes of previous greats carefully reworked to fit into this week’s Narrative.

        At least it should have been. Only Doey’s astounding ability to justify victory in the face of overwhelming defeat could possibly see him through the events of his first thrilling and heroic day as the savior of a collapsing empire. Find out how in this thrilling 6,400 word story set in a distant future that bludgeons the reader with Terry Pratchett levels of subtle satire aimed straight at the heart of the most delusional sci-fi writer of our day, John Scalzi.
        [/quote]

        That’s now three books we have found so far that mock Scalzi’s latest.

  10. I’m not a Scalzi fan,and think his novel Red Shirts shouldn’t have been near any awards, but what a sad little man Theodore Beale is. Still, he’s getting publicity and that’s his game, since he can’t sell many books normally.

    • Felix J. Torres

      Meh. Two of a kind. Both making money off somebody else’s work.

      • We all stand on the shoulders of giants to reach the keyboard.

        • Felix J. Torres

          Some more than others.
          And with less respect.

        • Yes, we do. But by definition, science fiction is /supposed/ to be the one genre in which the whole idea is to [try to] imagine something new. Recycling classics to an audience too young to know the original is the exact opposite. Sad.

  11. Oh, dear: “with the gentleness of a lion consoling a wounded duck abandoned by its family.” I may have to read that one.

  12. I’ve been working on a book entitled “The Girl Who Ripped off the Swede” under the pen name Steve Larsson. Think I’ll get in trouble over that?

  13. It’s just a continuation of the Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies — Hugos slap-fight that’s been on-going for a few years. Scalzi’s tossed more than a few barbs at the SP/RP, and Beale/Day tosses grenades.

    The SP were more low-key with the Hugos this year — looks like they’ve shifted to the Dragon Awards and left the Hugos to those who they see as the S** types……

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