November 26th 2012
Two whole days before I descend on that London for the launch of Thy Kingdom Come – the book!
There will be copies for sale, as Jared pulled the pre-order when two-thirds of the print run had gone – but I’ll sign pretty much anything (not other author’s books – I’m given to believe that’s bad form…), and there will be readings and questions and general milling: it’s at Blackwells, Charing Cross, it’s on Wednesday 28th November, and the fun starts at 6pm. Tickets are free, but the store have asked if you could reserve a place by emailing them at: firstname.lastname@example.org
September 10th 2012
Sorry that the title of the post is a bit ronseal, as they say. I do have other news, but I’ll attempt to post that either later today or later this week.
Anyway, the full text of this year’s Greenbelt talk – “Money flows to the author: making books pay in the 21st Century” is now up. If you would like to hear me instead, the talk was recorded for the first time ever, and is available for a small charge from http://www.greenbelt.org.uk/media/talks/17932-simon-morden/
January 30th 2012
(Hell’s teeth, Morden – you’re such a nerd)
Well, that was interesting. Having fumed righteously against piracy in all its forms, I was contacted by a real live pirate (arrrr!) who put his side of the story. And I’m such a bleeding heart liberal, I not only took the time and trouble to read what he had to say, but also think seriously about the points he made.
And surprisingly (to me, at least) I am partly convinced: it’s certainly more nuanced than I allowed for. So I’ll try and go through some of the issues raised again, but this time with my special They Live glasses on. And yes, I do have plenty of gum.
Do I own the copyright to my work? Yes. Yes I do. And yes, my ability to charge for my art depends on me being able to assert that right. As the original creator of a piece of fiction, I can choose to do one of several things with it: I can give it away for free (under a Creative Commons licence) like I have done with Thy Kingdom Come, for example. This way, the work can be distributed freely without alteration, but also without allowing anyone else to attach their name to that work. I’m happy to do that with older pieces of work – and one of the things I have to think about next is whether I do the same thing with Heart. I can also release excerpts of my work as ‘tasters’ (or advertising, if you like). If you like what you’ve read so far, you can then continue to read when you purchase a copy.
Do I need paying for my work? Again, need is relative. Which is something I’ll touch on later. But for the moment, I live in a scarcity-driven capitalist economy. The future is not going to come and save me, supplying me and my family with fabbers and a Mr Fusion for all my energy needs. Likewise, I cannot eat a good reputation. One day I will. I have worked in a Gift Economy before, when I was a research scientist at a university. I provided not just my employers (the Natural Environment Research Council) with original research, but the whole world. In return, I was given enough money to live on: for the length of my contract, it didn’t matter if I produced one paper in a peer-reviewed journal, or half a dozen, but whether my contract was renewed at the end of it did depend on the quality of what I’d done already, that is to say, my reputation. I believe this is also a workable model for artists. But we’re not there yet. Click to read the rest of this item…
January 20th 2012
Right then. Piracy. SOPA/PIPA. Stuff like that.
I have very mixed feelings about the whole thing. On one hand, people who download music, films, books and audio that they would have ordinarily had to buy in order to listen to/see/read are stealing copyrighted material from their copyright holders. Downloaders make it increasingly difficult for artists to firstly, earn anything from their work, and secondly, make a living from their work so they can give up the day job and concentrate solely on their art.
In the case of the Metrozone books, they were pirated within a couple of days of being released as ebooks. Orbit (and their parent companies LittleBrown and Hachette) try and get those copies removed from file-sharing sites as soon as they can: they do so because the person uploading those files has no right to make them publicly available without the copyright holder’s consent.
And that copyright holder is not Orbit, or some faceless megacorp. It’s me. I’m the creator of the work, and it’s my copyright. By torrenting my work, you’re denying me income which I could put to good use – like repairing my roof and walls, which badly need doing, or saving for my children’s education.
Furthermore, because I’m losing digital sales, the next time I sell a book to Orbit, my advance goes down. Lost sales for the publisher results directly in lower advances for authors. Which means that fewer authors will be able to support themselves, and perhaps their families, with their work – and the vast majority of writers make peanuts as it is. With long, long hours and little pay, they’ll have to do something else instead of dedicating the time and effort into producing good prose.
April 25th 2011
I’m not going to have time to do this in the morning, as I have to be packed and checked out of my room by 10am. And yes, I intend not to be up at the crack o’dawn. So I’m here with a cup of (decaf) tea and my 3G dongle, while the ventilators outside the window rumble away and the lights of the NEC shine through the nets.
Sunday. Easter Day. It’s weird not being in church – it was weird last year, and it will remain weird – attending an SF convention over what is several of the most significant days of the Christian calendar with no religious input at all is a strange experience for someone who has always attended at least two services over the four-day period. Yes, I am at work: not so much selling books, as doing that nebulous networking thing that may or may not produce fruit a month or a year down the line. Being seen and showing willing is almost important as meeting people and saying the right things.
Breakfast was a much more civilised affair – no light opera fans mixing it with the SF crowd – so I get to eat my own body weight in fried food again, wash it down with tea, back to my room to blog. That done, because I’d heard good reports about the pool, and having remembered to bring my trunks and goggles, I headed for the hotel pool.
And very pleasant it was too. Being roughly circular and having a strip in the middle laned off for Proper Swimming, I got into my usual swimming fugue of just swimming quite quickly, not worrying about the time or how many lengths I’d done, not really thinking about swimming at all. There were maybe three or four other people in the pool at the same time – certainly not enough to even be vaguely distracting. Just swim and swim and swim until I felt I ought to come out. To be recommended.
Truth be told, signings and readings are odd things for writers. What if no one turns up? I’d chatted to a few of the dealers, and they weren’t doing fantastic business, the Dealers’ room being much quieter than I remember it from Eastercon 2010 – perhaps the effect of folk having less money in their pockets, fewer attendees, the hotel prices. Also, as I found out from the Forbidden Planet people, the hotel’s restriction on leafleting and putting up posters: always a big part of a con, but not allowed except on the very few notice boards dotted around the hotel.
So I yakked to the FP folk, signed their stock, and flogged a couple of books to someone I managed to dazzle long enough that their good sense and judgement was clouded and their wallet opened. Straight after, there was another author event in the Fan bar. I got to sit next to Stan Nichol, who is lovely, but such was the (lack of) interest, we talked to each other pretty much for the whole hour we were scheduled to be there. The lovely Bella from Orbit graciously plonked a pint of Illustrius in front of me, and Liz Williams passed the authorial ‘Consequences’ game to me for a suitably outrageous addition. I had to work with an enraged giant porcupine in the previous sentence, but I don’t know why it was enraged, and what happened to it after I passed it to Stan.
Also signing was Rod Rees. I’d had my eye on a copy of his Demi-Monde for a while, and he very graciously, because I was his first and only customer the entire session, pressed a newly minted copy of the wonderous Quercus hardback on me, signed and stamped, entirely free. An amazing gift, and straight to the top of my to-read pile.
I had afternoon tea (or hot chocolate in Bella’s case) and played on Bella’s Sony e-reader thingy. I still remain to be convinced of its superiority over the humble paperback, but certainly, for an industry pro, it beats lugging around a dozen manuscripts. They certainly have their place.
The reading. It’s hard, when you’re a classic introvert, to read something you’ve written, out loud, in public. I used to have real problems (as in Too Much Information sort of problems): now I just get incredibly nervous. My secret weapon was BSFA award-winning, Nebula award nominated (and later on that evening Hugo award nominated too) Aliette de Bodard. She’s this tiny bundle of talent who is clearly going places, and I was very lucky to be paired with her – because people came to hear her, and stayed to hear me. I’m grateful. She read a hauntingly beautiful story about the Aztecs. I read stuff that made people laugh. I was even forgiven when I went on too long. But there were cookies and flapjacks as well, and the audience nommed appreciatively.
Phoned home on my steam-powered and increasingly unreliable mobile, then downstairs to hear the Hugo nominations. Orbit have two authors in the Best Novel category: Mira Grant for Feed, and NK Jemsin’s A Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.
A long beer in the Fan bar with Roy Gray of Interzone, some mad New Zealanders, and a couple of others – the conversation naturally turned to rocket planes and real ale. And so to bed.
Tomorrow sees me here almost to the bitter end, but not quite. I’ve a panel at noon, and the train leaves late afternoon. I have to assume there’s a world outside the con for me to return to – it does become very bubble-like after a couple of days.
April 24th 2011
While I’m on.
I’m signing Equations of Life and Theories of Flight on the Forbidden Planet stall in the Dealers’ room, 2pm.
I’m reading with (Nebula nominated and BSFA-award winning) Aliette de Bodard at 7.30pm in Gladstone. We have cookies.
April 12th 2011
Eastercon is upon us once more, or rather Illustrious, the 62nd Eastercon is, from the 22nd to the 25th April at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole, NEC, Birmingham (UK – but you knew that already, right?)
I will be a busy little bee – partly due to saying “ooh, that looks interesting” to the Programme Co-ordinator and assuming I’d get bumped off the panels in question when More Important people came along – and partly due to stuff I’ve agreed to do in order to promote the books.
So, in hopefully the right order, and subject to last minute changes, management reserves the right etc etc… I’m kind of assuming I’ll get a chance to eat at some point during the weekend.
Saturday 4:30pm Earls “SF Infrastructure & Engineering”
Sub orbital flights, underground trans-continental high speed trains; LEO space station factories; Mag-lev high speed trains; Undersea communities; Floating cities – in the air and on the sea. Pournelle, Heinlein, Harrison, Anderson to name a few all had big infrastructure as a backdrop to their stories. Why don’t we have it now in the 21st century? Is it cost, science or engineering?
Saturday 9pm Earls “Real World Cyberwar”
The panel discuss real current-to-v-soon tech, DDOS, robot drones and swarms, cyber espionage, biowar, augmented terminators & legality of it: the push to a cyberwar treaty – a start of a Geneva Convention for cyberwar.
Sunday At some point Dealers’ Room – Forbidden Planet stall Signing
Pretty much what it says on the tin. With luck and a following wind, there will be copies of Theories of Flight available as well as Equations of Life. No idea what time this will be yet. Sorry.
Sunday 7:30pm Gladstone “Author reading #5: de Bodard & Morden”
The authors reads from some of their recent works. There will also be cookies. And maybe some flapjacks.
Monday 12noon Queens “Nuke From Orbit – It’s The Only Way To Be Sure”
How would you invade a planet – whether a rogue colony, a rival or just plain pillaging a civilisation? How would you do a sneak attack with an armada of spacecraft in the sky?
I have homework to do.
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