I have just given a talk at the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Confernece called Ebooks: Neither E, Nor Books, which is something of an anomaly for me in three ways:
- I wrote out this talk, word for word, in advance of the presentation
- I am releasing that written text as a free, public domain file, right now, moments before I get off the stage
So here’s the text of that talk, dedicated to the Public Domain, for you to do with what you will.
This isn’t to say that copyright is bad, but that there’s such a thing as good copyright and bad copyright, and that sometimes, too much good copyright is a bad thing. It’s like chilis in soup: a little goes a long way, and too much spoils the broth.
From the Luther Bible to the first phonorecords, from radio to the pulps, from cable to MP3, the world has shown that its first preference for new media is its “democratic-ness” — the ease with which it can reproduced.
(And please, before we get any farther, forget all that business about how the Internet’s copying model is more disruptive than the technologies that proceeded it. For Christ’s sake, the Vaudeville performers who sued Marconi for inventing the radio had to go from a regime where they had *one hundred percent* control over who could get into the theater and hear them perform to a regime where they had *zero* percent control over who could build or acquire a radio and tune into a recording of them performing. For that matter, look at the difference between a monkish Bible and a Luther Bible — next to that phase-change, Napster is peanuts)
My second novel, Eastern Standard Tribe starts shipping today — it should be showing up in bookstores any day now.
As with Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, my first novel, I’ve made the whole text of the novel available as a free download in a variety of open, standards-defined formats, under the terms of a Creative Commons license — and I’ve written a short essay explaining why I’ve done it: in a nutshell, this worked really well for my first book, and I’d be crazy not to repeat the experiment with my second novel.
I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing it.
0wnz0red, the final story in this book, has just qualified as a finalist for the 2003 Nebula Award for Best Novelette. I am over the moon.
Mars Magazine has republished my story A Place So Foreign, with some keen fan art.
RainTaxi magazine has a great review of Place So Foreign in its winter 2003 ish:
Doctorow embeds exposition in the action and dialogue, making his fiction fun to read–in other words, you don’t have to slog through idle descriptions of technology or mythical family trees. When the “robutler” in the title story affixes its “electrode fingertips” to the narrator’s temples to “juice” them and clear away his headache, the incident passes so quickly that it doesn’t seem too cute or campy. The author’s minimalist style is a refreshing change from the meticulous, heavy-handed prose of classic fantasy and SF novels, aptly conveying what it might feel like to have your temples juiced.
My short story, “Beat Me Daddy (Eight to the Bar)” (which wasn’t included in the collection, but is still a personal favorite of mine) was originally published in the print magazine Black Gate last winter. Now, thanks to the good graces of Fortean Bureau, an excellent webzine, the story is online for free in its entirety. Here’s a taste:
We were the Eight-Bar Band: there was me and my bugle; and Timson, whose piano had no top and got rained on from time to time; and Steve, the front-man and singer. And then there was blissed-out, autistic Hambone, our “percussionist” who whacked things together, more-or-less on the beat. Sometimes, it seemed like he was playing another song, but then he’d come back to the rhythm and bam, you’d realise that he’d been subtly keeping time all along, in the mess of clangs and crashes he’d been generating.
I think he may be a genius.
Why the Eight-Bar Band? Thank the military. Against all odds, they managed to build automated bombers that still fly, roaring overhead every minute or so, bomb-bay doors open, dry firing on our little band of survivors. The War had been over for ten years, but still, they flew.
So. The Eight-Bar Band. Everything had a rest every eight bars, punctuated by the white-noise roar of the most expensive rhythm section ever imagined by the military-industrial complex.
We were playing through “Basin Street Blues,” arranged for bugle, half-piano, tin cans, vocals, and bombers. Steve, the front-man, was always after me to sing backup on this, crooning a call-and-response. I blew a bugle because I didn’t like singing. Bugle’s almost like singing, anyway, and I did the backup vocals through it, so when Steve sang, “Come along wi-ith me,” I blew, “Wah wah wah wah-wah wah,” which sounded dynamite. Steve hated it. Like most front-men, he had an ego that could swallow the battered planet, and didn’t want any lip from the troops. That was us. The troops. Wah-wah.
The (admittedly modest) initial print-run of my short story collection has nearly sold out in just over a month since the initial publication (w00t!). My publisher is going back to the press for a second run, and he’s asked me to provide him with any errata that I would like fixed before it goes to press (this means that the missing acknowledgements page will finally see print!).
If you’ve noticed any typos in the print edition (not the electronic texts), I’d love to know about them so we can get them fixed in the second printing (oh, also, this means that this is just about your last chance to get a copy of the first edition, which is sure to be an errata-filled collector’s item after my untimely death). Please email me by Friday with any tyopos, etc.
A reminder: I’ll be reading and signing books on Thursday night at Berkeley’s The Other Change of Hobbit (2020 Shattuck Ave, 1-510-848-0413) from 6-8PM. Hope to see you there!
A reminder: I’ll be launching A Place So Foreign and Eight More at Borderlands Books in San Francisco this Thursday, at 7PM. I’m going to be signing copies and reading from a new work. Hope to see you!
This is pretty flattering: a reader of mine has set up a MeetUp day for fans of my writing. If you’re interested in hanging out with people in your town who dig my stuff, you can sign up for the International Cory Doctorow Meetup Day: