Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Reading, Read

'Way behind on this.

Most of my recent reading has been ebooks, in either the Kindle or Sony (BeBB or .lrf) formats. The Kindle books were read on my Vizio tablet, which, alas, bit the big one a couple of weeks ago when it fell out of my pack and onto the concrete.  The Sony books were either read on the tablet or on my Sony ebook reader.

The Hunger Games Trilogy.  (Suzanne Collins)  Listed as Young Adult fiction, and, I guess, it is: A lot of details one might expect to see filled in in adult fiction were either ignored or covered with such broad brush strokes they may as well have been ignored.

Then again, these are dystopian novels in which the government sends teenagers into the Arena in a "24 enter, one leaves" set up, to remind the subjects of the fact that they are at the mercy of the government.

Young Adult fiction has certainly changed since the days when I was reading Heinlein Juveniles, which were considered pretty darned sophisticated for the day.  And, hey, if it teaches young people not to trust The Man...

I enjoyed these, at least, as much as one can enjoy dystopian novels in which the government sends teenagers into the Arena in a "24 enter, one leaves" set up, to remind the subjects of the fact that they are at the mercy of the government.  If you are buying them for a niece or nephew, or grandchild, you may want to consider how to slip them past the parental units...

Recommended.  (I read these in the Sony format, as the Sony store had them cheaper than Amazon did at the time, even without the fact that Amazon charges me sales tax.  Feel free to comparison shop.)

Net Assets, The Anarchy Belt.  (Carl Bussjaeger) (Purchase directly from the author!)  For a lot of the readers of this blog I can sum these up by suggesting John Ross' Unintended Consequences meets L. Neil Smith's Probability Broach Universe.

In Net Assets, a frustrated aerospace engineer decides to crowd-source space flight, and various libertarian shenanigans ensue.  The Anarchy Belt (AKA The Anarchists) is a collection of short stories, many or most of which are set in the same universe as Net Assets. I have not yet started the third (so far) novel, Bargaining Position, nor have I read the stand-alone short story, "A Little Pussy", AKA "Cats in Space!"  (OK, that alternate title is my addition, since people keep reading the title and even with his cover art think he is peddling porn...)

These are highly recommended.  Well written, and the science is plausible.  (Or at least convincing...) Events have overtaken them, more rapidly, perhaps, than is the norm with science fiction, but so what?

NOTE:  DO NOT purchase the PIRATED "Near Space Press" editions of any of Carl's books.  Maybe "pirated" is a strong word for "never paid Carl any of the money he has coming to him", but it works for me.  Also, Amazon was pulling some bizarre crap on Carl--"Prove to us that you never signed away the rights to any of your works", prove a negative, WTF?--so he pulled them from there.

Carl says that Toni Weisskopf of Baen Publishing was showing some interest in his works, I have no idea why she has not bought them.  Really, they would fit in fine with Baen's stuff.

I will say that the Smashwords edition of The Anarchists/The Anarchy Belt has what I can only call "formatting problems".  Maybe "issues."  This often happens when a .pdf, which is often touted as a "universal" format, is ported over to an ebook reader.  I have learned that authors hate, hate, hate .pdfs.  Amanda Green and Sarah Hoyt just sponsored an on-line/email & blog-based workshop on digital publishing, which attracted many established authors as well as a bunch of wannabes like me, and the great majority of it dealt with how to convert your words into what (or which) formats.

As well as DRM, or Digital Rights Management. Amazon Kindle format and Sony .lrf format both use DRM.  Sony's is run by Adobe; when I first purchased The Hunger Games trilogy, I was not able to download it because Adobe's web server was down.  For a few days.


Anyway, it's handy to be able to carry a hundred books, for entertainment or education or reference, in a device that's only half an inch thick and weighs a pound or less.  A tablet has some advantages over an ebook reader; the ebook reader's main advantage is that it probably has a week or more battery life (in a black-and-white display.) The tablet will probably only last you an intercontinental flight before needing recharging.

But if you drop and break it...? Well, Amazon and Sony both let you download the files again.  Not sure about other sources.  So I doubt that hard-copy, dead-tree editions are going to disappear forever.  If nothing else, outfits like Easton Press will still be selling classics on acid-free, archival-quality materials.  Will the data on my ebook reader be readable in a thousand years?  Will they even be able to charge it, let alone access it? I dunno.

I have a bunch more to write up, as well as some I won't bother. But it's late, and Mrs. Drang will be home from work any minute now.


Richard Blaine said...

Oooh, more books shiny!

Carl "Bear" Bussjaeger said...

Thanks for the kind words. I'd like to clarify a few points.

The Anarchy Belt is not aka The Anarchists. The NSP-released The Anarchists was something they put together from a limited number of my short stories they found on the Internet, and was -- to put it mildly -- poorly edited. The Anarchy Belt has nearly twice as many stories, places the Net Assets-related tales in proper chronological sequence, includes background comments, and is much better edited (story titles aren't misspelled, for one thing). The crappy, abbreviated TA, which NSP is still selling as an ebook via Smashwords (DMCA takedowns? Ha!), is also three times the price of the authorized-and-more-complete TAB. You can also buy an similarly over-priced NSP version of NA from them.

Near Space Press not only published and sold Net Assets and The Anarchists without paying me, they even managed to stiff me for the federal taxes on the income they kept to themselves (thanks to Amazon). Additionally, they pirated (definitely in this case: I didn't approve it; I only learned of it by accident) my original cover art from Net Assets and sold prints on DeviantArt; I received no compensation whatsoever. last time I looked, they were still selling them. At least I haven't gotten the tax bill on that. Yet.

Regarding Amazon: In fact, they wouldn't allow me to pull the books. Subsequently, Amazon themselves delisted all my ebooks, and I had to request that they go ahead and kill the POD paperbacks (apparently they figured I only lacked the rights to my ebook editions, but retained the print rights; that's only a guess because they would tell me).

Baen: I think my books would have been a good match for Baen at one time. But when I could still afford to buy books, I noticed that more and more of what they offered began to fall into the general "big government/military/secret gov agencies will safe the day" class. My work tends to view gov as a problem to be countered.

PDFs: Except for cases in which a document is meant to be physcially printed on a wide variety of platforms, I also hate PDF. It was never meant for e-distribution/viewing. But that's what most readers ask for, so I did the conversion. Considering that I've earned roughly $900 total over 15+ years for all my fiction, I didn't feel much incentive to spend days per book reformatting.

Carl "Bear" Bussjaeger
Become a Patron of the Arts:

Author: Net Assets, Bargaining Position,
The Anarchy Belt, and more

NotClauswitz said...

I confess to being totally out of the eBook movement - funny since I helped design them... I guess its books in general, I read magazines now.

Drang said...

Thanks for the clarification re: The Anarchists/The Anarchist Belt. Guess I have another purchase to make...
I guess that senior editor at Baen who is said to be a Trotsyite may be having an effect. Still, Mike Williamson can hardly be said to be cranking out statist SF.

Carl-Bear said...

Williamson: Heavy on the mil SF that Baen Books likes.

Bear said...

Drang, check your gmail account.