Friday, 13 June 2008

epublishing and sticks

Today I'm also posting on - where I will be guesting on the 13th of each month.

Lyrical Press are a new e and pod publisher. They love all kinds of stories and are the first place to offer a home to my urban fantasy meets supernatural meets romance style writing. 

When I first told the more traditional of my author friends of my intention to epublish their reaction was quite startling. The UK, where I am, is definitely not as technically forward in this area as the US, Canada or Japan, but one comment I received was 'Why are you doing this? Do you even know anyone who downloads and reads ebooks?'

But the thing is I do.

I'm a bit of a technophile and for a very short time during my first degree was in danger of becoming a computer scientist. But while I am a gamer I don't tend to wear a big belt to clip all my gadgets onto and I did have a habit of falling asleep in lectures about C++, so it wasn't going to be career path for me.

But I love science. I've even recently remembered how much I used to love New Scientist and I've been thinking about re-establishing my paper subscription rather than searching through the net. (Feb's edition this year had a major feature on why 2008 will be the year zero for time travel, and while my maths isn't quite good enough I can recognize a tardis at a hundred paces.)

I also subscribe to the idea  that science fiction often drives science. I think the most often quoted example is of the overhead bed monitors in the sick bay of the original startrek that became a real world hospital reality. If you think about it it's hardly surprising that those who adore sci-fi as children and young adults might be inspired work in real world science to move our reality closer to their beloved fiction.

Today the majority of science fiction I find is fairly hard core - whereas my interest has always been in how science can influence both culture and society. And not least that we live in a world where some of us carry touch sensitive pdas and wireless communicators as a matter of course while far away in the amazon there remain tribes that have yet to be contacted by the outside world (Did anyone see those recent aerial photos of tribes men throwing sticks at helicopters?)

Now, while I wouldn't describe my traditional writing friends as quite throwing sticks at this newfangled epublishing lark, I do think they are missing the huge and exciting possibilities this world is opening up. Yes, there are internet publishers who appear overnight and disappear within a few weeks (sometimes dragging those all important rights with them), but there are people like Lyrical, who are new, but who are doing their best to promote and channel their merchandize and ensure as much as they can they only turn out top quality work.

As a writer of fiction I imagine worlds - and as one very good friend once told in a fit of fear that means we have to be everyone in that world - not a mean task before breakfast when only the cat is awake to keep you company. I also look around in this world and imagine possibilities here. When you've been reading news on the net it's all too easy to imagine the incoming darkness, but I think writers, more than anyone else, have to help imagine real futures. We have to work with new technologies and we have to take risks. We have to say this is a new form of communication and yes, it might not all be plain sailing at first, but it's a world we need to embrace. Otherwise I fear the more traditional writers - and publishers - will be left behind under layers of very eco-friendly dust. 

My gut feeling is that paper books will continue to exist for a long time, but that our and subsequent generations will become more and more accepting of reading books via a screen of some kind - perhaps even with various embedded links in it so you can follow through thoughts and ideas. How about a story told from four different viewpoints, so that in every scene you can click through to another character's point of view -but only if you wish-. The whole form of the novel has never had more exciting possibilities.

A very long time ago when I was very young, in an age my six year old son does not believe existed, there was no internet. At the time I was working on an international Sunday newspaper and I said to my section editor 'Do you know what's coming? Do you realize how email alone will transform our world?' He told me not to be so foolish. He wanted facts and this internet and email business was only a fad. I was right then......

What do you think?

(Oh, and do pop over to Lyrical and see what I was rambling on about there too!)

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