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Notes from Underground

= Don't Shyte—I'm Just The Messenger =

Too Early to Register. During the 1990s, the concept of digital books was new and frightening to those in the ignorant print industry, and all of their infrastructure. When attempting to register copyright for both the published e-book and the print-on-demand edition of The Generals of October (John T. Cullen, 120,000 words) around 1999 or 2000, Clocktower Books was told by the Library of Congress Copyright Office that "nobody knows yet if these are real books, so we cannot register your copyright. At best, you can register it as an unpublished manuscript."

SFWA Refusal. Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA), in keeping with their 1930s pulp publishing model, refused to acknowledge the existence of our online magazine (which followed all of their rules for a professional publication) until a corporate entity arrived with money in 2000, after which they suspended their scruples and started handing out Nebulas for digital fiction. They refused to honor checks and official applications sent (registered mail) by Clocktower Books to secure professional publication credits for our authors—even though we published some of their top officers (Linda Dunn, Dr. Andrew Burt), and we published authors like Pat York, Tim Pratt, Melanie Tem, Ted Kosmatka (his first published story), Kameron Hurley, Joseph D'Lacey, and others. Many of our authors went on to win all the top awards and/or nominations in the field, including Nebulas, Hugos, Sturgeons, British Fantasy Award, and top awards in Canada and Australia.

Print as we have known it is Doomed. As recently as 2016, we see the print cartel in New York grappling with the ongoing collapse of their monopoly. Rather than embrace the enormous opportunities of the future, they are fighting tooth and nail to sabotage and kill off the digital market place in favor of their print product—a losing battle by people of the past. We live in a transitional age. Remarkably, locked in as they are to their large offset press runs, brick and mortar distribution systems, and so forth, they continue to resist the future—and that is the hand writing on the wall for their disappearance soon to come. We recognized this as long ago as the 1990s, and we will be proven right. More on this in an upcoming article—there is a lot more to be said, with many surprises. Ultimately, the only point in writing all this is to say that we were there so early that, twenty years ago, this medieval publishing modality was able to suppress us and the other early starters. But we are still here, and continue to blow our horn, as we deservedly ought to. Our place in history as digital pioneers may be ignored by those we are replacing, but people in the future will find us and understand the truth.

Prediction 2018. Despite how it may sound, I could care less about the New York City print cartel. From my vantage point of a lifetime involved professionally in writing, editing, and publishing—in the vanguard of the New Publishing (ink or not)—I plan to write some helpful homilies for struggling authors. Don't blue-pencil me; I'm just the messenger. Meanwhile, I make this prediction. By the turn of the century, upon waves of consolidation and buyouts (by primarily non-publishing corporations like the oil industry), there were at best five cartels in the Big Apple. The entire formerly U.S. publishin industry is now foreign owned: mostly German, a trifle French, and one Australian muck raker (whose nominal U.S. citizenship is nothing more than yet another of his predations). Therefore, just a quick take: with the slender margins in publishing, in the next economic crisis, I believe the Chinese or Indians will make an offer that the Germans can't refuse, and then the sell-out of our cultural heritage in the bottomless pit of corporate-republican greed will take yet one more large step toward the realization that we are living in the Chinese century. The so-called American century is an artifact of long-ago history by now. I'll have a lot more to say about this and other issues in further writings soon to come. In effect, the United States is once again turning in to a foreign colony, and that's my colonoscopy for you today (to be continued soon.)

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