/ / News, Overclocked

This is the site for my new short story collection, “Overclocked: Stories of the Future Present,” published by Avalon Books in January 2007, exactly four years after my first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom was published. And just as with Down and Out, this collection is released under a liberal Creative Commons license.

That means you can buy it in a store, or you can download it for free. Or both.

Why would I do this? Because I’m a science fiction writer. That means I have to be attuned to the future, or at least the present. Most people seem to live in the distant past, pausing occasionally to look around, do a spit-take, and say, “Holy hells, when did all this happen?”

I try to live in the present. In my present, bits are easy to copy and they will never get harder to copy. Bits love to be copied. It’s probably in their Buddha nature or something.

In my present, electronic books sell the everlasting crap out of print books. Electronic books are naturally social beasts. They want you to paste them into your email signature, or pass them on to a friend. They want you to talk about them. They want you to search them. They want you to print out favorite chunks and pass them around the office. They want you to beam them from your PDA to a friend’s phone.

In my present, readers who love my work are the most important thing in the world. Readers have told me that they want electronic text and that they want paper text. That each adds value to the other.

So, living in the present, I have wrapped these six stories — intense, personal things that I sweated bullets over, good friends all — in Creative Commons licenses that encourage you to:

* Share them

* Improve on them

* Make new things from them

You’re free to do all this stuff, provided that you:

* Don’t charge money for your new works or copies

* Pass the same freedoms on when you distribute my stories or their offspring

* Don’t put any anti-copying technology (“DRM” “Technological Protection Measures” “Copy-protection”) on my work

I’m doing this because I’m convinced that ebooks sell print books. And because I’m convinced — in the immortal words of Tim O’Reilly — that my biggest problem is obscurity, not piracy.

So make me well known. Adapt my works in ways that make them suitable to your conversation. Tweak the format. Tweak the writing. Make videos. Make art. Make crap! There’s no such thing as a creator who creates alone, from the whole cloth. We all stand on the shoulders of giants. I’m no giant, but my shoulders are available anytime.

Mail me with your hacks, please and thanks! I’d love to hear what you make!

Now, some FAQs:

1. I want to send you money. Where should I send it?

Keep it! If you like the ebooks and you want to reward me, buy the print books. If you don’t want the print books, give them to a library or shelter. If you don’t like libraries or shelters, you should be ashamed of yourself there are other ways to reward me:

* Post a review of the book to your blog, MySpace, LiveJournal or other personal site — and paste it up at BN.com, Powells.com and Amazon.com. Personal endorsements from real readers are the best thing a writer like me can have.

* Attach the stories to an email and send it to five friends telling them why you liked it.

* Remix the stories in some cool way and put them back online.

And if none of that strikes your fancy, don’t sweat it. It’s on me.

2. You are a communist. Writers deserve to get paid.

First of all, that’s not a question.

Secondly, I’m more of a techno-agnostic social-democrat libertarian.

Lastly, I think the idea that writers deserve to get paid sounds great, but the truth is that most writers — nearly all writers — have not been paid through history. The Internet doesn’t change that. But it does make it possible for writers to earn their living in new and exciting ways. That’s what I’m doing here. If you have a scheme to provide full employment to writers, I’d love to hear it, but I think you’re going to have some problems getting it rolling.

Giving writers more copyright doesn’t make them more money. You could give me ten million years of copyright and the right to personally impale anyone who makes an unauthorized copy of my work and it wouldn’t change the word-rate at Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine.

More copyright just means that working writers have to go through more permissions-clearance hell when they want to create new things from old. More copyright means that dead writers’ works vanish from the historical record because their idiot descendants turn into lunatic saber-rattlers, or because no one can figure out who the right idiot descendant is. More copyright means that the public is denied the benefit of the 98 percent of works in copyright that have no visible owner, and that are out of print.

3. I want to do something commercial with your work. Is that possible?

Hell yeah! Just talk to my agent, Russell Galen, of Scovil Chicak Galen. For film inquiries, talk to my film agent, Justin Manask, of the IP Group.

4. Will you come and speak at my school/company/conference/whatever?

It’s possible. Email me.