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Saturday, May 29, 2004

Brains, books, murder, Kirby...

The phone rang this afternoon, and it was someone offering us morels.
I said yes immediately, of course. It was quite pitiful how extremely and immediately I yessed, but when people offer you morels, you say yes. They may look like tiny alien brain-fungus, but they taste amazing...

And then the just-picked morels arrived. These weren't your normal morels (smallish, ugly brain-fungi which taste like heaven). They were the best, hugest, most impressive morels I'd ever seen: like tiny alien brain-fungus from some really high-gravity planet where the tiny aliens grew extraordinarily big, for tiny aliens, and have incredibly tasty and good-looking brains. Enough for whatever I wanted to do in the way of cooking this evening, and still have some left over to sautee with scrambled eggs for breakfast tomorrow morning.

So I started cooking with morels...

The world desperately needs your wisdom regarding the Giant Mushroom that has Baffled Experts in Congo!


Here's the Giant Congo Mushroom story on Yahoo news.


Well, for a start, you could slice it up really small, fry it in butter with a handful of sliced chives, add some white wine and let it simmer, and you've got some really nice Giant Congo Mushroom Sauce... then there's Giant Congo Mushroom risotto, sauteed Giant Congo Mushroom, roast Giant Congo Mushroom and chicken with Giant Congo Mushroom...


You have at several points and quite recently, discussed the idea of books being made freely available on the web, as probably not a good thing.

I am a little surprised that no one has mentioned this to you, but it has been done and now we know what happens when you do it -- your print sales for that free book go suddenly up, and so do print sales of your entire in-print backlist, even if it's from another publisher.
This is the Baen Free Library http://www.baen.com/library/ from Jim Baen books. Quite a few titles are available absolutely free for download in multiple formats including HTML and RTF, and are also included on a free CD with Baen hardback books. (Free to copy and give away too, but not sell.) This includes lots of novels from well-known and lesser-known writers. David Weber, Larry Niven, Eric Flint, David Drake and Mercedes Lackey to name a few. Other books are also available for download for a small monthly fee.There is also a sometime newsletter for the library, called "Prime Palaver", usually written by Eric Flint, but the last issue was written by Janis Ian, so I thought she would have told you about it.

Two of the recent books I purchased were a direct result of encountering their authors at BFL. There will be more, because I want the books in my hand. (A computer screen is not a comfortable place to read a book.) A lot of people have been writing in to Mr. Flint and saying similar things.

He has watched his own, Mr. Weber's and Ms. Lackey's sales increase across the board, the month when one of them adds a novel to the BFL.Ms. Ian's letter is also of great interest. She observes that despite many albums and many sales, she has never received a royalty check from her music publishers saying that they owed her any money. Ever.

Oh, and I found "Coraline" in my local bookstore, but not "The Wolves in the Walls". I comfort myself with the idea that this is because my walls are made of adobe, and are therefore much too think and sturdy to have any wolves in them. I called a local contractor with the idea of having them check, but was angrily hung-up on with a muttered comment, barely heard, about "wasting his time". Thus, I feel doubly reassured. No wolves in my walls.

David Leikam


I didn't say that books being freely available on the web was probably not a good thing. I said that it should be up to the copyright holder what gets posted and where, and that I think that people who post my novels on their sites without my permission are being tremendously ill-mannered.

I think it's great that books get posted on-line. I think that for example Cory Doctorow posting his books online is an excellent marketing idea (here's Cory's site). I'm all in favour of creative commons. I like putting my own work up on-line: I think it's a marvellous way for people to find stuff. The last post has a link to several sites which contain short stories and poems by me. There's free stuff to read all over neilgaiman.com. (And I'm happy to post links to places you can hear some of the audio books without paying for them, like this: http://www.scifi.com/set/playhouse/snowglassapples/ and also this, http://www.scifi.com/set/playhouse/murder/)

But part of the concept of copyright is that you can decide how and where your work is -- or isn't -- reproduced. I don't want people putting my novels up on their sites; I don't care whether they feel they're doing me some kind of favour by promoting my work or not. If I wanted the books up online, I'd post them myself.

(I'm not sure I understand your point on royalties. Authors mostly do get royalties. Well, I do, and so do most working authors I know. Some royalties arrive quarterly, some twice a year, some annually. They're what authors buy groceries with, pay the mortgage, all that stuff. They're what the Baen Books site is trying to increase for its authors by, as it explains on the front page, explicitly only putting the early books in a series on the web.)

You don't only have to worry about wolves in walls, of course; there's also wolves in computers to worry about. Luckily you can get a destop wossname proclaiming your computer free of wolves (although there is small print). Head for wolvesinthewalls.com and click on downloads. (There's also a screensaver for PCs and Macs --OS 8/9 and OS X - here.)

...

This is the most peculiar internet story I've seen in ages: a boy who plotted the strangest suicide -- by convincing an older boy to murder him. http://www.guardian.co.uk/crime/article/0,2763,1227362,00.html

...

I was pleased to get a copy of Roger Zelazny's novel Lord of Light the other day. It's one of my favourite books (I think the first thing author Steve Brust ever said to me was "Let's have an argument. Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light is the best book anyone's ever written." "Ah," I said, "If you make it best SF book of the 1960s, I'll go along with it." "Oh. Fair enough." It was the first of a long line of failed arguments.) It's got a blurb from me on it, which I hope sells many copies.

I googled Lord of Light, looking for the new cover, and found myself instead reading the story of the Lord of Light movie, the Jack Kirby-designed Sciencefictionland theme park, and how the CIA pretended to be making the film themselves and scuttled the deal. http://www.lordoflight.com/cia.html
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