World's First True E-Novels 1996: Documented History
Clocktower Fiction 1996-2006 As we can see from the images at right, I let the dot-com domain CTF lapse in December 2006. Brian had left me as sole proprietor of Clocktower Books and our websites in late 2001. By then, the CTF domain was for all intents and purposes a museum piece already.
We Became Magazine Publishers Online. This is because on 15 April 1998, C&C Publishers (Callahan & Cullen or vice & versa) took a dramatic new direction as we launched the world's first professional magazine online without print antecedents (Outside: Speculative & Dark Fiction, soon renamed Deep Outside SFFH).
Sharpwriter.com. Also, in 1998, I launched my first personal website (sharpwriter.com). All of this is to say that our original two websites were rapidly becoming obsolete (in our view at the time). In addition to CTF/THV/NBF going, we launched a major online magazine operation that soon became well known across the Internet. I'll talk about the famous ten-year run of this magazine shortly. A number of our early published authors went to to nominations or outright wins in the Nebula, Hugo, Sturgeon, and similar awards.
Our early publishing efforts were further overshadowed when e-commerce arrived online. C&C CTF (renamed Clocktower Books in 2000) in 1998-1999 started publishing e-novels through Nuvomedia Rocket eBooks and print on demand (POD) through Ingram's LightningSource division. With both the magazine and the new publishing venture, involving dozens of other writers, we were kept incredibly busywhen you consider that both Brian and I were working full time, plus I was continuing to write my own novels and short stories. Plus, I was married with one child, and had plenty of family matters to keep me busy. That is some of the background for why Clocktower Fiction domain name slid out of my control when it did.
When e-commerce arrived online in 1998, so did every criminal and sleaze bag in the world. Hackers, phishers, wormers, and other malevolent sociopaths came out from under their rocks. Until then, my friends and I had a blast amid the rapidly vanishing innocence of the early Internet. We had myriad projects going all at once amid that genesis glow of excitement, which was shared by early readers around the world. There were still good times to come, including our magazine days and the Fictionwise decade, where I enjoyed many bestsellers. But the Clocktower Fiction world of 1996-1998 was coming to an endso I can now see from my perspective in 2015. it had been a remarkable (and brief) window in time lasting maybe 24 months.
At this writing in 2015, I want to focus on pulling together every shred of documentation I can find pertaining to my early period on line. I want to tell the story of what we did in 1996 when I believe (to the best of my knowledge) I published the world's first real e-novels online for download. It is a story that must be forensically put together from fragmentary records, because much of the early Internet publishing world has been lost. And yet, it is amazing how much still resides in the ether. My searches in 2014-2015 have yielded some substantive results, both online and in my own personal archives at home.