Archive for the ‘Writers – Dead’ category

Free eBooks From Baen Books

December 7, 2008


Baen has been doing this for quite a while, but the population of eBook reading devices is now larger, so a reminder is in order.

Free Library

Introducing the Baen Free Library
by Eric Flint

Baen Books is now making available — for free — a number of its titles in electronic format. We’re calling it the Baen Free Library. Anyone who wishes can read these titles online — no conditions, no strings attached. (Later we may ask for an extremely simple, name & email only, registration.) Or, if you prefer, you can download the books in one of several formats. Again, with no conditions or strings attached. (URLs to sites which offer the readers for these format are also listed.)

These are the file formats available:
* Ebookwise/Rocket Format
* Mobipocket/Palm/Kindle Format
* Microsoft Reader Format
* Sony Digital Reader Format
* RTF Format

See the long list of free eBooks!

It’s Winter. It’s Cold. Time For Some Heat.

December 6, 2008

Harlan fucking Ellison, baby!




Wow. Did I need that!

I’ve been sitting here, oppressed by winter, bored as hell, unable to find a drop of juice to quench my soul — and bam! There’s Unca Harlan.

And look at that. There’s the difference between a writer and someone who pushes words around on paper:

Harlan Ellison: Told he’d never be a writer. Said, Fuck that!

Octavia Butler: Told her story was boring. That didn’t stop her!

J. Michael Straczynski: Told he was writing crap. Stopped doing that!

All three said, The fucking Word is in me. I’ve got to get it out. And I’ll keep doing it until it’s out!

And in their doing, they got better. They learned. They didn’t recycle shit. They knew what to walk away from or put away or change.

And they became the writers they knew they were.

I needed that.

Thanks for the one-billionth-trillionth time, Harlan!

BBC: Remake Of 1970s Survivors Series

December 6, 2008


In the 1970s, British TV writer Terry Nation created a series called Survivors (not to be confused with the recent reality game show, Survivor, the singular).

I didn’t see the series in the U.S. when it originally aired decades ago. It’s one of a handful of British TV series that slipped by me.

Now, the BBC has decided to “re-imagine” Survivors under the stewardship of Adrian Hodges.

Click to continue

UK’s The Do-Not Press On Hold

November 29, 2008


As you’ll soon see, The Do-Not Press I hold in very high regard. It’s been a long while since I’ve been to their website. Something made me go today and I was very disturbed to see this:


The Do-Not Press introduced me to Ken Bruen, via The Hackman Blues they published:


That cover had to be the most-successful publisher branding I’ve ever encountered.

I found Bruen on the shelves of the New York Public Library. And because The Do-Not Press published all of its crime fiction in that distinctive blue wrapper with red-dot logo, their books stood out on the shelves and I was also introduced to the works of the late John B. Spencer.

Unfortunately, whoever bought those books at the NYPL must have left because there were never any others from The Do-Not Press (this despite my repeated requests for them!). And since it’s a UK publisher, distribution in the U.S. was just about non-existent.

Now they seem to have nearly closed-up shop, no doubt another victim of all the book publishing turmoil going on in England.

Well I have a word of advice, Do-Not Press: eBooks!!!

I want to buy all your crime fiction, dammit. I trust your brand and I’m certain I’d love every word you’ve published.

Why don’t you and some other hard-pressed small publishers get together, hire someone to figure out eBooks and ePub for you, format all your print books into ePub eBooks, and then start selling them to eager people like me me me?!

And see if you all can make the case to the parasite agents and their blessed writers to do it at a sensible price.

Dying Dinosaurs Of Print: CHOOSE!

November 29, 2008

Over at Kung-Fu Monkey, Leverage co-creator/producer John Rogers posted: Streaming Mac to 360: Rivet.

It’s all about how on-demand streaming video via the Net is not the future — it’s right now.

This coincidentally dovetails nicely with my recent DVD epiphany.

And there’s one paragraph that I must quote:

The tone of voice when I talk about these things tend to be a disdainful “Well, sure but how are we supposed to monetize this?” Right question, wrong tone. We. Don’t. Have. A. Choice.

Emphasis added by me.

The music industry has been usurped by technology. Now television has been too. And movies.

The one remaining industry is book publishing.

Google has already stolen all of the historical backlist.

All that’s left is recent and not yet published.

It’s as if the book publishing industry was situated on a giant iceberg — which suddenly cracked apart, leaving publishers on a precarious floe.

Over there in a big rescue ship are eBook readers screaming, “We’ll save you! Just publish eBooks quickly and at reasonable prices!!!”

On the other side are the pirates on a self-built makeshift archipelago in international waters free from all law enforcement. They don’t care what book publishers do. They have worldwide distributed teams with scanners and free proofreaders ready to “set everything free.”

And on the horizon are writers themselves in small boats trying to figure out how to best survive on their own, liberated from the constraints of ink-and-paper publishing.

Book publishing — unlike music, unlike TV, unlike movies — Still. Has. A. Choice.

Will it allow eBook readers to rescue it?

The Tyranny of DVD

November 28, 2008

J&R had a really impressive and tempting Black Friday DVD sale. So tempting that at opening time, over 100 people had already lined up for it! (I was passing by, not a participant!)

Among the goodies: complete season boxed sets of Monk and House and others for only $15-$20!

I was really drooling over the possibilities of that … but then thought ahead.

1) How often would I want to watch those? After Hill Street Blues did its run, it had a very limited syndication life. I tuned in to one episode and … it was already dated! It seemed old, but not in a good way.

2) I already have several boxed sets of TV series. I don’t watch them as often as I thought I would. In fact, while watching some of them, I was beginning to resent watching them again. Another 25-50 minutes gone from my life — and for what?

3) DVD boxed sets weigh something. If I had been stupefyingly rich and indulged myself in every boxed set that looked good, I’d have even more things and even more weight to lug around when moving!

4) There really is only a very, very limited number of things I could stand to see more than 3-4 times. In movies, for example, Die Hard never seems to get old or tired for me. Same with The Final Countdown and The Long Good Friday. TV-wise, certain — but not all — episodes of The Twilight Zone. And Dennis Potter’s two groundbreaking serials: Pennies from Heaven and The Singing Detective are immortal. Those are just a few examples. But the total wouldn’t be as many as I think if I were to compile a list.

I wonder if I’m the only one who feels this way? I’m beginning to think a service such as Hulu is now a very good idea. Throw the repeats up on the Net. Let me watch them with ad breaks. I get it for free whenever I want it, you make money — and I also won’t have to hoard more stuff and weight to lug around.

More About Bond. James Bond.

November 28, 2008


A second viewing of Quantum of Solace — this one after seeing Casino Royale — made everything clearer. The first time I saw it, I didn’t know about the Vesper Lynd story.

I can see this is at least a trilogy of movies now.

Bond got information about Quantum from the Economic Hitman who was killed in the desert as well as Vesper Lynd’s phony boyfriend.

The next movie is Bond Goes Wild On Quantum’s Ass.

I did, of course, make up that title.

Writer Anthony Neil Smith isn’t fond of the new James Bond.

One point I agree with him about:


I call it abusive editing — because it makes me feel like I’m being slapped around!

Previously here:

James Bond Vs. James Bond
Reference: James Bond Timeline
The Name’s Grim. James Grim.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #439: Austrians

November 25, 2008

Another personal interjection.

From time to time, I can’t help bumping into posts from the Ludwig von Mises Institute. It has a blog here.

It also has this post, which presents a capsule overview of the “Austrian school” of economics and how it believes a free market should work versus the manic and depressive cycles we periodically experience: Economic Depressions: Their Cause and Cure

Ayn Rand and her ilk were supporters of the Austrian school.

I was never convinced.

I’m still not convinced.

Earlier today I posted excerpts from Jack London’s The People of the Abyss.

I keep seeing that nightmarish vision of a poverty-filled and coldly uncharitable society as the natural consequence of Austrian economics.


What else can I be expected to conclude when in this post — “Neanderthal” Economics — I see this:

In one of his most important books, America’s Great Depression, Murray lists six ways government could delay market adjustment, which he says would create the “favorite ‘anti-depression’ arsenal of government policy.” These include the following:

1. Prevent or delay liquidation
2. Inflate further
3. Keep wage rates up
4. Keep prices up
5. Stimulate consumption and discourage saving
6. Subsidize unemployment

Emphasis added by me.

The People of the Abyss is a document clearly showing the effects of not “subsidizing” unemployment. (And notice the Nazi-like sneer implied by the use of that term, subsidy, instead of the neutral insurance!) The People of the Abyss is a testament to people being reduced to being beggars and even to committing suicide because there is no safety net.

There is something inhumanly callous about any system of economics that ignores what Jack London terms “the thing happening.”

Ayn Rand’s acolytes imagined a broad sweeping vision of a world drenched in liberty due to economic freedom. I think that’s a delusional view of life. Not everyone is motivated by money. There is no syllogism in life where money = X behavior. People are not like computers, with output equaling input.

Alan Greenspan — a member of Ayn Rand’s core “Collective,” who read Atlas Shrugged as it was being written!discovered that aspect of human realitytoo late:

“I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms,” Mr. Greenspan said.

Who other than bankers and financiers should have been motivated by money and to its preservation? That’s their line of work, for god’s sake!

And yet the Austrians would have us fed to them — as trustworthy defenders of capital and its preservation?

Don’t tell me about gold-backed currency. Or gold itself. Is gold limitless? Unlike oil, there isn’t an abiotic hypothesis that would explain an expanding supply of it. That means growth is limited to the amount of available gold. That’s a worse prospect than the Peak Oil hypothesis!

How many Jews in Nazi Germany tried to buy their freedom? Shouldn’t that money have granted them that? Very often, all it got them was murdered and their wealth stolen.


So much for the overriding motivation of Dollar Uber Alles!

Of course, the Austrians, being good little bean counters and true-believing ideology-huggers, would probably argue that their system depends on a rational world.

Tell me: On what fucking planet does that exist? It’s not this one!

So, no. I couldn’t swallow von Mises and Company back in the early 1980s — and today I can’t tolerate its nonsense at all.

Holy Eejitcy, Batman!

November 25, 2008

Batman to be killed off after 70 years

Yeah, because, you know, it’s easier to fucking kill an icon than think of new ways of using him.

What Thing Will Happen To Us?

November 25, 2008

All the financial rescue plans are based upon a conceit.

It is this: That the world outside of the numbers will remain as it is.

That conceit alone can kill all of us.

The People of the Abyss by Jack London
(first published by Macmillan, 1903)

Chapter 8: the Carter and the Carpenter

The Carter had buried his wife and children, with the exception of one son, who grew to manhood and helped him in his little business. Then the thing happened. The son, a man of thirty-one, died of the smallpox. No sooner was this over than the father came down with fever and went to the hospital for three months. Then he was done for. He came out weak, debilitated, no strong young son to stand by him, his little business gone glimmering, and not a farthing. The thing had happened, and the game was up. No chance for an old man to start again. Friends all poor and unable to help. He had tried for work when they were putting up the stands for the first Coronation parade. ‘An’ I got fair sick of the answer; “No! no! no!” It rang in my ears at night when I tried to sleep, always the same, “No! no! no!”‘ Only the past week he had answered an advertisement in Hackney, and on giving his age was told, ‘Oh, too old, too old by far.’

Chapter 9: The Spike

It seems that not only the man who becomes old is punished for his involuntary misfortune, but likewise the man who is struck by disease or accident. Later on, I talked with another man, — ‘Ginger’ we called him, who stood at the head of the line — a sure indication that he had been waiting since one o’clock. A year before, one day, while in the employ of a fish dealer, he was carrying a heavy box of fish which was too much for him. Result: ‘something broke,’ and there was the box on the ground, and he on the ground beside it.

At the first hospital, whither he was immediately carried, they said it was a rupture, reduced the swelling, gave him some vaseline to rub on it, kept him four hours, and told him to get along. But he was not on the streets more than two or three hours when he was down on his back again. This time he went to another hospital and was patched up. But the point is, the employer did nothing, positively nothing, for the man injured in his employment, and even refused him ‘a light job now and again,’ when he came out. As far as Ginger is concerned, he is a broken man. His only chance to earn a living was by heavy work. He is now incapable of performing heavy work, and from now until he dies, the spike, the peg, and the streets are all he can look forward to in the way of food and shelter. The thing happened — that is all. He put his back under too great a load of fish, and his chance for happiness in life was crossed off the books.

Chapter 17: Inefficiency

As an illustration of how a good worker may suddenly become inefficient, and what then happens to him, I am tempted to give the case of M’Garry, a man thirty-two years of age, and an inmate of the workhouse. The extracts are quoted from the annual report of the trade union:

I worked at Sullivan’s place in Widnes, better known as the British Alkali Chemical Works. I was working in a shed, and I had to cross the yard. It was ten o’clock at night, and there was no light about. While crossing the yard I felt something take hold of my leg and screw it off. I became unconscious; I didn’t know what became of me for a day or two. On the following Sunday night I came to my senses, and found myself in the hospital. I asked the nurse what was to do with my legs, and she told me both legs were off.

There was a stationary crank in the yard, let into the ground; the hole was 18 inches long, 15 inches deep, and 15 inches wide. The crank revolved in the hole three revolutions a minute. There was no fence or covering over the hole. Since my accident they have stopped it altogether, and have covered the hole up with a piece of sheet iron . . . . They gave me £25. They didn’t reckon that as compensation; they said it was only for charity’s sake. Out of that I paid £9 for a machine by which to wheel myself about.

I was laboring at the time I got my legs off. I got twenty-four shillings a week, rather better pay than the other men, because I used to take shifts. When there was heavy work, to be done I used to be picked out to do it. Mr. Manton, the manager, visited me at the hospital several times. When I was getting better, I asked him if he would be able to find me a job. He told me not to trouble myself, as the firm was not cold-hearted. I would be right enough in any case . . . . Mr. Manton stopped coming to see me; and the last time, he said he thought of asking the directors to give me a fifty-pound note, so I could go home to my friends in Ireland.

Poor M’Garry! He received rather better pay than the other men because he was ambitious and took shifts, and when heavy work was to be done he was the man picked out to do it. And then the thing happened, and he went into the workhouse. The alternative to the workhouse is to go home to Ireland and burden his friends for the rest of his life. Comment is superfluous.

Chapter 18: Wages

All of which is hard enough. But the thing happens; the husband and father breaks his leg or his neck. No 9 cents a day per mouth for food is coming in; no 9 1/2 mills’ worth of bread per meal; and, at the end of the week, no $1.50 for rent. So out they must go, to the streets or the workhouse, or to a miserable den, somewhere, in which the mother will desperately endeavor to hold the family together on the 10 shillings she may possibly be able to earn.

Chapter 21: The Precariousness of Life

Old age, of course, makes pauperism. And then there is the accident, the thing happening, the death or disablement of the husband, father, and bread-winner. Here is a man, with a wife and three children, living on the ticklish security of twenty shillings ($5.00) per week — and there are hundreds of thousands of such families in London. Perforce, to even half exist, they must live up to the last penny of it, so that a week’s wages, $5.00, is all that stands between this family and pauperism or starvation. The thing happens, the father is struck down, and what then? A mother with three children can do little or nothing. Either she must hand her children over to society as juvenile paupers, in order to be free to do something adequate for herself, or she must go to the sweat-shops for work which she can perform in the vile den possible to her reduced income. But with the sweat-shops, married women who eke out their husband’s earnings, and single women who have but themselves miserably to support, determine the scale of wages. And this scale of wages, so determined, is so low that the mother and her three children can live only in positive beastliness and semi-starvation, till decay and death end their suffering.


Yet this mother and her three children we are considering, have done no wrong that they should be so punished. They have not sinned. The thing happened, that is all; the husband, father, and bread-winner, was struck down. There is no guarding against it. It is fortuitous. A family stands so many chances of escaping the bottom of the Abyss, and so many chances of falling plump down to it. The chance is reducible to cold, pitiless figures, and a few of these figures will not be out of place.


To the young working-man or working-woman, or married couple, there is no assurance of happy or healthy middle life, nor of solvent old age. Work as they will, they cannot make their future secure. It is all a matter of chance. Everything depends upon the thing happening, the thing with which they have nothing to do. Precaution cannot fend it off, nor can wiles evade it. If they remain on the industrial battlefield they must face it and take their chance against heavy odds. Of course, if they are favorably made and are not tied by kinship duties, they may run away from the industrial battlefield. In which event, the safest thing the man can do is to join the army; and for the woman, possibly, to become a Red Cross nurse or go into a nunnery. In either case they must forego home and children and all that makes life worth living and old age other than a nightmare.

Chapter 22: Suicide

Misfortune and misery are very potent in turning people’s heads, and drive one person to the lunatic asylum, and another to the morgue or the gallows. When the thing happens, and the father and husband, for all of his love for wife and children and his willingness to work, can get no work to do, it is a simple matter for his reason to totter and the light within his brain go out. And it is especially simple when it is taken into consideration that his body is ravaged by innutrition and disease, in addition to his soul being torn by the sight of his suffering wife and little ones.


Frank Cavilla lived and worked as a house decorator in London. He is described as a good workman, a steady fellow, and not given to drink, while all his neighbors unite in testifying that he was a gentle and affectionate husband and father.

His wife, Hannah Cavilla, was a big, handsome, light-hearted woman. She saw to it that his children were sent neat and clean (the neighbors all remarked the fact) to the Childeric Road Board School. And so, with such a man, so blessed, working steadily and living temperately, all went well, and the goose hung high.

Then the thing happened. He worked for a Mr. Beck, builder, and lived in one of his master’s houses in Trundley Road, Mr. Beck was thrown from his trap and killed. The thing was an unruly horse, and, as I say, it happened. Cavilla had to seek fresh employment and find another house.

This occurred eighteen months ago. For eighteen months he fought the big fight. He got rooms in a little house on Batavia Road, but could not make both ends meet. Steady work could not be obtained. He struggled manfully at casual employment of all sorts, his wife and four children starving before his eyes. He starved himself, and grew weak, and fell ill. This was three months ago, and then there was absolutely no food at all. They made no complaint, spoke no word; but poor folk know. The housewives of Batavia Road sent them food, but so respectable were the Cavillas that the food was sent anonymously, mysteriously, so as not to hurt their pride.

The thing had happened. He had fought, and starved, and suffered for eighteen months. He got up one September morning, early. He opened his pocket-knife. He cut the throat of his wife, Hannah Cavilla, aged thirty-three. He cut the throat of his first-born, Frank, aged twelve. He cut the throat of his son, Walter, aged eight. He cut the throat of his daughter, Nellie, aged four. He cut the throat of his youngest-born, Ernest, aged sixteen months. Then he watched beside the dead all day until the evening, when the police came, and he told them to put a penny in the slot of the gas-meter in order that they might have light to see.

Out of order, but a fitting climax:

Chapter 19: The Ghetto

The application of the Golden Rule determines that East London is an unfit place in which to live. Where you would not have your own babe live, and develop, and gather to itself knowledge of life and the things of life, is not a fit place for the babes of other men to live, and develop, and gather to themselves knowledge of life and the things of life. It is a simple thing, this Golden Rule, and all that is required. Political economy and the survival of the fittest can go hang if they say otherwise. What is not good enough for you is not good enough for other men, and there’s no more to be said.

Emphasis by me throughout.