Tomorrow — Sunday — at 2PM Pacific (11AM Eastern, 10PM UK) I’m doing my in-game book-signing in Second Life, a massively multiplayer online world with an extensive toolkit for creating in-game artifacts that have sophisticated behaviors and appearances (I once met a guy who makes a real living making and selling in-game penises).
The Second Lifers made a special effort to make me welcome, holding a design competition to create an in-game edition of my new book, Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town (which included a replica cover made by creating an in-game avatar that looked like the girl on the cover’s brilliant Dave McKean painting, posing it, and taking screenshots).
They also roped a Second Lifer, lilith Pendragon, into creating a custom avatar for me that looks pretty eerily lifelike (I logged in for a bit last night and made it do funky disco moves that required a lot more coordination that the real-life me could ever muster).
Second Life’s in-game reporter, Hamlet Linden, has run a fascinating interview with lilith, who apparently has a whole in-gmae business creating custom avatars for players:
So lilith’s Cory Doctorow joins an esteemed list of her celebrity tributes which also include Frieda Kahlo and Shirley Manson of Garbage (lilith most often wears her Ms. Manson, on herself). Her Cory is so exacting, I initially assumed she’d created a custom skin of him in Photoshop. But as she tells it, she brought Doctorow into this world “just using the [default avatar creation] sliders and looking at his pic. Then I made all the clothes in Photoshop.”
She did have a challenge recreating Cory’s skull-hugging haircut, however.
“I tried to do his hair with prims to get the flat top, but it just looked horrid, and I’m not patient,” she says. “Made a hair texture for his head, similar to how I did the corn rows for Snoop, and tweaked the hair sliders to make a little stick up in front.”
Alan, the eldest son of a mountain and a washing machine, refurbishes a house in Toronto, meets an anarchist bent on blanketing the city in free wireless Internet access, and falls for a woman with leathery wings on her back in Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town. But Alan is forced to return home and confront his misfit past when his murderous and deformed brother David reappears. Cory Doctorow adroitly interconnects these peculiar plots — e.g., the wireless blanket is used to track David’s movements — and successfully experiments with a risky prose style.
I was interviewed for this excellent, thoughtful article on the future of the book in USA Today.
“I think book is a verb,” Doctorow says. It’s what you’re doing when reading something like a narrative story or biography or academic argument in big chunks in multiple sessions, he says. “We need to find ways to insert the verb of book into technologies that arrive,” Doctorow adds.
Doctorow admits he hasn’t yet learned a lot from his fans about what books can become. But there are some interesting hints. For instance, he’s certain that the free electronic copies are helping increase sales of hard copy books, which is the opposite of what publishers and authors fear.
“For almost every writer, the number of sales they lose because people never hear of their book is far larger than the sales they’d lose because people can get it for free online,” Doctorow says. “The biggest threat we face isn’t piracy, it’s obscurity.”
After getting off to what was already an impressive start, Cory Doctorow has finally delivered the book, the one that puts him over the top as one of the rare, demonically original, challenging and gifted writers SF sees about as often as two-headed calves are born. These ranks include the likes of PKD, Ballard and Delany, artists who manage to write mold-breaking, unconventional stories that uproot nearly every preconception about what storytelling ought to do, and yet avoid being alienating or vapid and self-indulgent.
Matt May, of the Staccato Music Podcast (a podcast focusing on Creative Content licensed material) has posted an interview with me about EFF and my new novel, Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town.
My only scheduled Canadian signing for my novel Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town is tomorrow (Monday) night in Toronto, at BakkaPhoenix books at 7PM. Bakka is the sf bookstore that I worked at in the late 80s/early 90s — many other sf writers are Bakka alumni, including Michelle Sagara (Michelle West), Tanya Huff, Nalo Hopkinson, Robert J Sawyer and others. The store’s a real piece of Toronto history, and has an amazing new location at Queen St W and Niagara.
July 11, 7PM: BakkaPhoenix Books, 697 Queen St West, Toronto, ON, M6J 1E6, (416)963-9993
Wallace has posted two more wonderful illustrations (I especially love the family portrait illustration) in the series. He’s also running an RSS feed for anyone who cares to keep track of new illos as they are posted.
In preparation for my July 24 in-game virtual booksigning in Second Life, the Seocnd Lifers held a competition to design a virtual copy of my novel. The winner has just been announced and the virtual text is now freely available in-game. It’s a really sweet virtual artifact, too, designed by Second Lifer Falk Bergman.
In a particularly brilliant addition, Falk has created a script which will enable Cory to autograph the Second Life edition his novel. To do that, readers just have to bring their copy of his book to the event, and set it on a small table in front of Cory. To autograph it, Cory simply has to mouse-click the book, which causes a digitized picture of his real signature (with author’s dedication) to be superimposed on the cover. So signing the virtual edition of his book requires about as much effort as it does when he takes pen in hand to autograph the tree-based version.
Falk’s attention to detail is staggering. To recreate the cover of the hardback edition he brought Caliandris Pendragon onto the project, to painstakingly create an avatar resembling its exotic young woman in blue jeans. (Caliandris’ attention detail is also staggering: before fashioning a tribute to Dave McKean’s cover art for Someone, she led the team that created Numbakulla, a tribute to fantastic adventure games like Myst and Riven. The Second Life game is still in operation, thanks to a dedicated fan base, some of whom actually offered to help subsidize the monthly server costs of the island it’s based on.)