Humble eBook Bundle 2 has been in development since our first eBook bundle, almost one year ago, and we are very pleased to have brought together such a diverse and accomplished lineup.

In attendance today:

  • petersbeagle: Peter S. Beagle, well-loved fantasy author, best known for The Last Unicorn.
  • connorfc: Connor Cochran, Peter's friend and editor.
  • LoisBujold: Lois McMaster Bujold, 5-time Hugo winner and author of Shards of Honor, the first novel of the Vorkosigan Saga.
  • doctorow: Cory Doctorow, writer, blogger, and activist. The novel Little Brother is in the bundle.

Proof: https://twitter.com/humble/status/355362706313846784

Thanks everyone for participating! Check back tomorrow for an AMA with Cherie Priest, Robert Charles Wilson, and the Machine of Death team.

Comments: 263 • Responses: 92  • Date: 

LoisBujold43 karma

Hi there...

Lois McMaster Bujold here. I have a newish blog at Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16094.Lois_McMaster_Bujold/blog

This is my first time on Reddit, so it will be learn-as-I-go, much like the rest of my career. I shall try popping down to the first question I see, and find out what happens...

Ta, L.

LoisBujold10 karma

Almost 3 PM...I'm not quite sure when we're supposed to stop, here...

Anyway, if folks still have unanswered questions, you can find me on my Goodreads blog. I also have a recent written interview here:

http://amazingstoriesmag.com/2013/07/interview-with-award-winning-author-lois-mcmaster-bujold/

And an audiovisual one here:

http://www.authorsroad.com/LoisMcMasterBujold.html

(That photo was taken toward the end of the session, when we were all relaxing.)

Ta, L.

LoisBujold4 karma

3:10, I think this was supposed to be two hours... OK, I believe they're ready to put out the cat, here, so I too shall move along. Thanks to everyone for their interesting questions, and my apologies to anyone I didn't get to.

And thanks to the folks at Humble Bundle and Reddit for setting this up -- it was a good learning experience.

best regards, Lois Mcmaster Bujold.

alligatorfight28 karma

For Cory:

what do you think of Randall Munroe's depiction of you as a caped super-blogger that resides in a hot-air balloon?

doctorow42 karma

I could not possibly be more delighted if you turned my delighted dial up to 11.

Randy is a super dude. I actually own the Blagofaire strip -- the only one he's ever parted with -- framed on my wall. My wife got it for me for my birthday.

ersatzredhead23 karma

My questions are for Mr. Doctorow. So far, I have read Little Brother and For the Win. I am in the middle of reading Homeland online-- the part where Marcus finds out about Zyz and the various techniques they use to earn money. I just want to say that I love your stance on making your work available to your fanbase for free online. I prefer browsing my school's library to the public library just for now but it only has Little Brother and For the Win out of all your works. I'm going to talk to my school's librarian in September about acquiring more of your work, because my friends and classmates are also eager to read more of your work as well as have the option to do work in English class based off your work. I should stop rambling now. So this is what I want to ask:

  1. What/who inspired you to make your work available online?

  2. Regarding the stuff that Marcus and his friends can do, with computers, in your books: What are some interesting and unique experiences that influenced or gave you background knowledge on something-- anything-- that has happened in your books to your characters?

  3. I am a high-schooler and the system in place in Toronto-- let alone Ontario-- is quite scary to navigate these days. In the beginning of the 2012-13 school year I was told I have to be at least seventeen to apply to take a full, non-makeup, summer school credit course and then I just recently found out that they changed the requirement to at least 12 credits. This really pisses me off, since I am short four credits because of absence due to illness in the 9th grade and I could've applied to do a course this summer. Even though I'm a lazy student, I am always interested in what I learn at school. I just don't like doing the repetitive, fact-based, unimaginative work-- that some education professionals whom I have dealt with-- believe every student needs to do to absorb what's learned and how to apply it. The following question regards your experience with the TDSB. I recently found that you received your high school diploma through the SEED program. What was that experience like? What are some of your opinions on alternative credit-earning programs in the TDSB and their success/failure in preparing students for post-secondary education/the workplace/etc.?

  4. I am not extremely familiar with your work with the EFF but I think you would have valuable insight on this next question. What are some of your thoughts on the NSA surveillance leaks? I would alsolike to know your thoughts on how this affects Canadians, because I read on VICE's Canadian site that "the NSA only need to be 51% sure, 'the lowest conceivable standard, ' that the suspicious individual they are targeting lives outside of the US" to carry out surveillance on Canadians.

  5. I know these questions seem to not be properly ordered in relevance. Anyway, who are some authors and what are some books, which you would recommend to teenagers? I will accept non-fiction and fiction recommendations.

flad12 karma

[deleted]

ersatzredhead7 karma

Thanks

doctorow22 karma

I are idiot.

ersatzredhead8 karma

I am experiencing a "this book is so awesome" reader's high from Homeland at the moment, so you're off the hook.

doctorow8 karma

Thank you! It's 630PM here in the UK so I'm home with my kid clambering all over me, so I experienced a pointing-device malfunction.

FoolsRun19 karma

Mrs. Bujold,

I am a huge fan. I cannot count the number of times I've re-purchased your books after giving them away in a fit of "OHMYGODYOUHAVETOREADTHIS!".

People get really creeped out when you stare waiting for them to start reading the book you just handed them.

I'm afraid my question might be trite, but here goes: Do you have a plan for Miles? Do you know how it will end? Is it over now? Is it over after every book until there's another?

Thank you for your stories.

LoisBujold19 karma

Your last clause nailed it; it's always over after every book until there is another. There has never been a plan, not least because no one can even count on being alive next year, and I've almost always written with that thought in the back of my mind.

Right now I am at a curious confluence of tiredness and choice paralysis; I could write anything I wanted to, but I have to want to. We'll just have to see where that goes.

Meanwhile, I'm doing a lot of reading, watching, and surfing (net, not water.) Something may yet come of this accumulation, who knows?

Ta, L.

cordeliashonor7 karma

I do the same thing :) I can't say how many "Shards of Honor" or "Cordelia's Honor" I've bought and given away...

fuzzymae5 karma

I'm such a Cordelia fangirl, I can't even. I recommended Cordelia's Honor to an Internet friend, and when she got hooked it was all I could do not to spam her going "Where are you now? What's happening? ISN'T SHE THE BEST"

LoisBujold13 karma

Thank you, all above!

Word-of-mouth has always been the lifeblood of my career, right from the beginning when there wasn't even an internet to speed it up. Folks like you matter tremendously to every writer you support.

Ta, L.

Schlitzi13 karma

Dear Mrs Bujold,

first of all thank you for doing this IAMA. First of all I want to say that you are the main reason my brother hated me as a teen, since I used to steal from his piggy bank in order to get your books.

I have several questions and would be delighted if you could answer any of them:

  1. You have been working within the Vorkosigan universe for almost 3 decades now. Has there ever been a point where you felt that working with the Vorkosigan characters was more of an obligation than pleasure?

  2. What where the toughest lessons you learned when you first tried to break from SF into Fantasy?

  3. The spoiler was one of the toughest reads for me and with the last novel leading to spoiler I feel that you are taking care of all the lose ends in the Vorkosigan saga. Are you going to end writing in this Universe (except of course Bean offers you ridiculous amounts of money)?

  4. Can you explain why Bean is still doing cover art that reminds me of the early 90s?

  5. Have you ever made a mental list of actors who would be perfect fits for your characters (for a potential TV show)?

LoisBujold19 karma

Hi Schlitzi --

Might as well take these in order...

  1. In general, my habit of contracting books one at a time allows me not to be trapped; when I wanted a change, I took it. (Hence The Spirit Ring, The Curse of Chalion and so on.) All my books are miserable in the middle for me, so that part of the writing process doesn't count.

  2. I do not find writing fantasy to be different than writing SF, in terms of my process -- though I do more research for the fantasy, curiously enough. I originally bought the rumor that fantasy sold better than SF, but experiment has shown that all Bujold books sell pretty much the same.

  3. I don't know where the Vorkosiverse is going from here. I don't have anything in process, but I try not to rule anything out. Right now I want something fresh, but I've been able to get a lot of variety into my series work. It will just depend on finding an idea that really excites me, and following it where it leads.

My frontbrain responds eagerly to bribes, but my backbrain, where the books actually come from, does not seem to. So I need to be cautious there.

Right now, I'm in input-and-cultural-filter-feeding mode. Also being-distracted-by-the-internet mode, which I am not quite sure should count.

  1. Apparently, Baen's cover arts sells, at least to some people. Not being an art person, still less a sales person, I doubt I could do better. One benefit is that it assures that my audience consists primarily of readers who think for themselves and do not judge a book by its cover, so.

That said, my last two covers were quite extraordinary paintings by David Seeley -- if you go to his website, you can see the originals before all the best details were all covered up by my Big Name lettering. http://www.daveseeley.com/

  1. Not really for most of them, although Aral's physical type was partly inspired by the late British actor Oliver Reed. And the actor who played Avon in the old Blakes' 7 -- ah, Paul Darrow, that was it -- provided a physical model for Duv Galeni. But that's all what they call fantasy casting, now. Real casting would require a whole new generation of actors, with whom I am mostly not familiar.

Ta, L.

bensendan4 karma

Lois McMaster Bujold: what cultural plankton are you sifting at the moment? I remember from your blog something about anime and Japanese fantasy novels?

LoisBujold7 karma

I'm somewhat becalmed right now; trying some pop sci, in the hopes that it won't make me crazy the way the news would. I just got on to Steven Pinker. (I also rec Your Inner Fish, by... Schubin, I think.)

Ta, L.

doctorow13 karma

Gosh, just a few quick questions, huh?

What/who inspired you to make your work available online?

It was a long journey and things have changed over the year, but really it came down to the fact that I realized early on that there was no way -- no. way. at. all. -- to stop people from copying stuff that they loved, and that what most people called piracy was really just fandom by another name. No one scanned and OCRed books for any reason apart from loving them. So I figured, when live gives you SARS, make sarsaparilla: if there was no way to compel people to pay if they didn't want to, better to harness the love and good feelings of readers to get them to support me, and to create a social contract through an act of public generosity and trust in the hopes of eliciting a reciprocal feeling.

Regarding the stuff that Marcus and his friends can do, with computers, in your books: What are some interesting and unique experiences that influenced or gave you background knowledge on something-- anything-- that has happened in your books to your characters?

Well, I worked for Electronic Frontier Foundation for several years and that certainly exposed me to a lot of stuff about security, privacy and free/open source software. But before then, I was co-founder of a free/open P2P search company called OpenCola and worked with a lot of smart and committed free/open activists, including a bunch of Cult of the Dead Cow hackers who came to work for us. But even before that, I grew up with networked computers -- a teletype terminal connected to a mainframe by acoustic coupler in 1977, an Apple ][+ with a modem in 1979 -- and these meant that my whole life was spent around networks and computers.

I am a high-schooler and the system in place in Toronto-- let alone Ontario-- is quite scary to navigate these days. In the beginning of the 2012-13 school year I was told I have to be at least seventeen to apply to take a full, non-makeup, summer school credit course and then I just recently found out that they changed the requirement to at least 12 credits. This really pisses me off, since I am short four credits because of absence due to illness in the 9th grade and I could've applied to do a course this summer. Even though I'm a lazy student, I am always interested in what I learn at school. I just don't like doing the repetitive, fact-based, unimaginative work-- that some education professionals whom I have dealt with-- believe every student needs to do to absorb what's learned and how to apply it. The following question regards your experience with the TDSB. I recently found that you received your high school diploma through the SEED program. What was that experience like? What are some of your opinions on alternative credit-earning programs in the TDSB and their success/failure in preparing students for post-secondary education/the workplace/etc.?

It was a lot looser than what you're going through. I spent 7 years in high school -- including a year where I basically did no coursework and spent my time in the streets protesting and organising against the Gulf War I, and a year I spent in Mexico writing -- and in the end when I wanted to graduate, I realised that I was 10 credits short of a diploma, but that I had all my prerequisites (including my OACs), so I just signed up for 10 credits' worth of basic grade 9 courses through the Independent Learning Centre and did like one per day -- gr 9 intro to typing, that sort of thing. Bam, diploma.

SEED expected students to do some of their learning in the community -- you had to find people who'd teach you what you wanted to learn. I'd find stuff I wanted to study, find experts in the world who'd oversee the work, and do it for credit.

I am not extremely familiar with your work with the EFF but I think you would have valuable insight on this next question. What are some of your thoughts on the NSA surveillance leaks? I would alsolike to know your thoughts on how this affects Canadians, because I read on VICE's Canadian site that "the NSA only need to be 51% sure, 'the lowest conceivable standard, ' that the suspicious individual they are targeting lives outside of the US" to carry out surveillance on Canadians.

Well, the first thing to recognise about the NSA leaks is that the NSA has always maintained that it has the unlimited right to spy on foreigners without suspicion and without any limits. So Canadians have always been fair game for the NSA. The other important thing about the NSA is that much of the scope of NSA spying became apparent when Mark Klein blew the whistle on the work he'd done at AT&T to build a secret room in San Francisco's Folsom Street Network Center with a beam splitter that diverted a copy of all the traffic on AT&T's fibre lines to the NSA. EFF's been suing over this stuff for three presidential administrations now, and Bush and Obama have both stymied them by citing state secrecy. But thanks to Snowden's leaks, a judge has just given them the go-ahead to sue again.

I think the NSA leaks show us that the spies have no adult supervision. They have pursued the principle that bigger haystacks must have more needles in them, sucking up titanic amounts of data without regard to whether it is likely to contain any useful intel. I wrote a column about this that I podcasted this week:

http://craphound.com/?p=4868

I know these questions seem to not be properly ordered in relevance. Anyway, who are some authors and what are some books, which you would recommend to teenagers? I will accept non-fiction and fiction recommendations.

Here's a ton of reviews I've done lately -- be sure not to skip over the children's books, either, as there are some KILLER books being published for little kids now, too, that are totally adult-friendly:

http://boingboing.net/author/cory_doctorow_1?tag=books

fffffttttt3 karma

Uh, I think you replied to the wrong comment! For folks trying to follow, the question is ersatzredhead's at the top of the page (or was, when I loaded this page...)

doctorow6 karma

I are idiot. Sorry.

marvborg13 karma

[deleted]

doctorow12 karma

I'm realistic about my personal risks. I'm relatively affluent, well-known, and I have some of the best civil liberties lawyers in the world on speed dial, so I feel like I'm the lucky 0.0000001% of the world who have some obvious and likely effective next steps in the event that I end up in a Tuttle/Buttle situation (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWbIxFKtTmE) or even a Richilieu (http://quotationsbook.com/quote/19331/#sthash.DynHnYho.dpbs).

I am most worried at border checkpoints, because it seems to me that those zones are the places where we have the fewest rights (http://boingboing.net/2011/01/12/wikileaks-volunteer-1.html). I cross borders a lot and I feel very vulnerable and scared there.

In general, I think that most of us have more to fear from a David Mery scenario (http://gizmonaut.net/) than any specific targeting in response to our beliefs.

doctorow12 karma

All right gang, the babysitter has to go home so I'm going to go turn into a father and stop being a redditor for a couple hours. Thanks for the awesome questions -- and thanks to my fellow Humblers!

CanadianVelociraptor11 karma

Questions for Cory Doctorow:

  • Is it necessary for a digital rights activist to get involved in law/politics by becoming a lawyer/politician, or do you think that meaningful progress can be made from behind a keyboard? Which approach is more influential?

  • Do you think we are (slowly) winning the battle for digital freedoms, or are we falling behind? How good or bad does the whole situation look right now?

I'm a huge fan of your writing, and would like to sincerely thank you for the work you have done; your novels have gotten me interested in the politics of technology and have inspired me to start taking action.

doctorow17 karma

Is it necessary for a digital rights activist to get involved in law/politics by becoming a lawyer/politician, or do you think that meaningful progress can be made from behind a keyboard? Which approach is more influential?

No, I think that both are absolutely needed. Lessig talks about four kinds of law: code, norms, law, and markets. I think the cause needs all four. For example, lawyers made strong crypto legal:

https://www.eff.org/ar/cases/bernstein-v-us-dept-justice

Hackers made good crypto:

https://www.torproject.org/

Businesses built on crypto:

https://www.ipredator.se/

and activists made sure everyone understood why crypto is important:

http://www.cryptoparty.org

Do you think we are (slowly) winning the battle for digital freedoms, or are we falling behind? How good or bad does the whole situation look right now?

I think that every day that goes by sees more people recruited to the cause of digital freedom, because every day sees more people who depend on networks for vital parts of their lives -- for example, my grandmother depends on Skype to see my daughter, because we live in London, UK and she lives in Toronto. Every time that happens, there's someone else who understands that the net isn't just glorified VoD, better telephony, or a more-perfect porn distribution system -- it's the nervous system of the 21st century and deserves to be regulated as such.

I'm a huge fan of your writing, and would like to sincerely thank you for the work you have done; your novels have gotten me interested in the politics of technology and have inspired me to start taking action.

Thank you, that is AMAZING to hear.

mercedesdantes10 karma

Question for all the authors: I'm going to be teaching middle school in the future, and I'm wondering what it was that caused you to republish your books in ebook formats? Do you find that you better reach the younger audiences through online means? Or just that there's enough of a difference in the demographics of ereaders and traditional readers that it was worthwile to publish your stories again online?

petersbeagle17 karma

THE LAST UNICORN has never been published in ebook form before now. I learned about Humble Bundle and thought that the best place to premiere it would be with them, because of the number of people it would reach, and because it would benefit charities I support.

o0rxkxrox0o2 karma

This is awesome. The cartoon version is easily my favorite all time movie. I read the novel years ago and I'm super excited to read it again on my e-reader. Thank you :)

connorfc4 karma

Since you like the movie so much, please do check out www.lastunicorntour.com -- we're going to be hold real movie theater screenings all over America over the next two years, and Peter is going to be at every one.

doctorow15 karma

My first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (http://craphound.com/down) was the first novel published under a CC license, in 2003. At the time, I figured, hey, I kinda enjoy reading books on my PalmOS device, and all the commercial ebook stores are total crap, so let's just see what happens.

mercedesdantes5 karma

So you must have gotten a good response from it then, right? Enough to publish other books under CC?

doctorow8 karma

Yup!

LoisBujold12 karma

Well, I first became acquainted with e-books through my traditional publishers, so I've been watching this market slowly grow, then explode, pretty much from the beginning. I have also been following other writers' experiences, as they post or talk about them. The more formats and the more venues in which one's books are available, they more they can sell. I believe Kris Rusch, on her blog The Business Rusch, had a very interesting analysis of how broad the e-book market's reach has become now that people can read books on their cell phones, etc., making parallels with how the paperback revolution of the last mid-century expanded readerships.

The key is distribution. For most of my career, book distribution has been a blockade, a choked channel that few could get through; with the e-market, it becomes a flood tide.

Which creates other problems, of course, but availability is no longer one of them.

And, bluntly, Amazon's 70% royalty rate and access to customers (and vice versa) completely changed the game, basically overnight. Back in 1990, Ben Bova wrote a near-future SF novel titled Cyberbooks that predicted one thing dead-on -- that the revolution would not come from the publishers themselves. I must reread that soon, to see what else he was right about.

Ta, L.

tazz_20049 karma

Dear doctorow, What was your inspiration for "When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth" ?

The short story was badass. It was an inspirational story for me, I had just started my life as a sysadmin around the time.

doctorow17 karma

Thanks! I think the seed of that was when I was hanging around my apartment on 9/11 and all the normal business email had stopped, but I was still getting hammered by automated spam, and I realized that if we all died tomorrow, the bots would keep sending spam to each other for years while the machines broke down. The rest followed from there.

WalterMatthau9 karma

Question for Mr. Beagle:

I just wanted to tell you that "A Fine and Private Place" is one of the most beautiful books I've ever read, and that I'm thankful to you for writing it. I'm interested in the motivation to write the book as it seems to be so different from the other type of writing you do, and just wondered if there was some special story behind it.

Thank you!

petersbeagle14 karma

I began writing A FINE AND PRIVATE PLACE in 1958, when I was 19, and working as a music counselor at a summer camp in upstate New York. On my days off I'd hitchhike home to see my parents in the Bronx, and one afternoon my mother and I went for a walk in the local cemetery - which isn't as odd as it might read, considering that it was by far the greenest place in our neighborhood, about half the size of Central Park. and that we lived about two blocks away. My mother and I were commenting on the size of some of the grander mausoleums, and I suggested that they were really big enough to live in - especially with several lavatories within easy distance. My mother, being a practical woman, wanted to know how one would survive there, and I replied lightly, "Well, it would be like Elijah in the Bible - obviously, you'd be fed by a raven." By the end of our walk, we'd more or less worked out the basic plot of A FINE AND PRIVATE PLACE, and I hitchhiked back to camp and started writing it in the evenings. Got three chapters done that summer, continued working on it during my senior year at the University of Pittsburgh, and finished it that summer. It's still a very special book to me - it was always my mother's favorite - but it's a hard one for me to judge, more than fifty years later, because I mostly see that kid writing late at night in his dorm room, trying to type softly, so as not to wake up his roommate. You can't really type softly, not then, not now.

nickelundertone9 karma

Where's Wil ???

doctorow10 karma

He's doing the Humble Ebook Bundle AMA part II, tomorrow!

Rueles8 karma

Before starting I would like to apologize because my English is horrible.

My question is for all of them, despite being big fan of Cory Doctorow

With the recent changes in the publishing market, which is the most likely future for those who want to live as a writer?

doctorow13 karma

About the same as the past: don't plan on it!

There has never, ever been a time when even a few percentage of the people who wanted to earn a living from any kind of arts-careers made it, and of the ones that did, only a tiny minority continued to earn a living through their lives. This fact is independent of the Internet.

The best career advice for the arts is:

  • Save

  • Have other marketable skills

  • Marry someone with a straight job and insurance, etc

  • Have a good accountant and keep careful records

  • Only do stuff you love because you're almost certainly never going to earn enough to make it worth doing stuff you hate

LoisBujold10 karma

This is all true. Listen to the man.

Ta, Lois.

ThePurpleWitch7 karma

Not a question Mr Beagle, but I wanted to share a parenting fan girl moment I had because of you at BayCon. I had pointed you out at your table to my 10 year old daughter. The Last Unicorn has been one of her favorites for years. The look on her face when I told her you where the one that wrote it, that it all came out of you was priceless.

She was to shy to come talk to you. But if you remember a little pink haired girl that would just stare at you that was her.

petersbeagle12 karma

I can't swear in honesty that I remember her in any real detail - though the pink hair does bring up an image - but it really matters to me that you brought her up to me. I never thought of an audience while I was writing THE LAST UNICORN, but Rankin/Bass made children's movies, and I'll go with Jimmy Webb, who wrote that TLU was his favorite experience of writing for film, and that it opened his work up "to an entirely new audience of seven-year-old girls. They may not know that I wrote 'By The Time I get To Phoenix,' or 'Wichita Lineman,' but they do know that I wrote 'Man's Road.'" For myself, my definitive fan-boy moment came when I met the writer Jessamyn West, best known for FRIENDLY PERSUASION. She was almost 80 at the time, and I was a grown man with books published...but I turned into that pink, mumbling, stammering adolescent who'd first read her short stories in high school. We're all somebody's fanboy/fangirl - and a good thing, too.

bensendan7 karma

I got a reddit account because of this conversation

doctorow6 karma

Welcome!

connorfc7 karma

Hi, this is Connor Cochran, Peter S. Beagle's editor and associate. I'm online now and happy to answer questions along with everyone else in the ebook bundle team.

cordeliashonor7 karma

Dear Lois McMaster Bujold,

I love the Vorkosigan books. I'm sure you'll get plenty of questions about Aral and Miles, so I thought I'd ask about a few others.

-I loved seeing more about Taura in Winterfair Gifts. Will she be back, more? Hopefully with Roic?

-I loved the latest, from Ivan's perspective. It seemed to sum up his life and ambitions nicely though, just as you've done with Miles. Are you thinking of doing that more with other characters, like Quinn or Mark and Kareen (or any of the other sisters) or Ilyan, or is the Vorkosigan universe starting to wrap up? I hope not, but it's been such a pleasure, regardless.

LoisBujold7 karma

I don't know for sure if the Vorkosiverse is done; I don't have anything brewing for it right now. I did touch on Taura's fate in CryoBurn, so anything else with her would have to be another prequel.

I had great fun with the laid-back Ivan. He very much suited my current semi-retired mood. I want more comedy, I think.

Ta, L.

spockosbrain6 karma

For Ms Bujold. First, I love your work. Since Miles has to deal with politics and cultural issues all the time I'm going to ask you a political and cultural question. Approval of same sex marriage has been sweeping the US. Do you approve?

If people disagree with your stance on same sex marriage should they not see a movie based on one of your books? Should they boycott reading and buying your Vorkosigan books even if they have nothing to do with the topic?

I ask because of the upcoming Ender's Game movie. I loved the book but I disagree strongly with Card's stated politics on this issue. I'm conflicted on what message I am sending if I go to the movie.

This is relevant because of your book Ethan of Athos, a book that was set on a world of men. Only men. I believe most of the men were gay. (I read it in 1989 so I don't remember all the details). Men had babies using a machine with a female uterus to have babies. Mostly male babies if i remember correctly.

The machine was failing and one of the men needed to go out to the world of men and women and get a new one. He had to deal with prejudices of other people and other worlds.

Did people attack this book and you because of your pro same sex relationship views? Have people told you they will not buy/ read your books because of your views on same sex relationships?

That book was written in 1986. Have your views changed? What do you think about Card and his views? Do you think they will change? Have you talked to him about this?

LoisBujold8 karma

Well, personally, I'm not sure anyone should get married, but that said, I think gays should have all the same rights to screw up their lives as straights do.

Yes, that remark is tongue-in-cheek, but not very.

I believe Ethan of Athos is too obscure a book to have generated much fallout for me. All kinds of people can disagree with an author's worldview; in general, the best solution to me seems to be to go on to some more congenial author's books. Apparently, in my case, they do.

Tens of thousands of books published die every year of simple obscurity. One does not need to attack a book; they may simply be ignored to death, much more efficiently.

There have been no movies based on my books, nor any on the horizon, so that question is alas wholly hypothetical for me.

Ta, L.

vincanis6 karma

Question to Ms. Bujold:

As someone who found your books through the freely distributed Baen CD's, and subsequently bought several of them, I was very upset to see your attacks on the CD sharing portion of the Fifth Imperium website. Could you please explain your logic in attacking them for distributing freely-available promo materials from Baen which have led new readers to your books?

craigmaloney3 karma

Also it appears Ms. Bujold's previous books are no longer available via the Baen ebook store. I was hoping to send some friends that way to have them check out some of her books.

LoisBujold15 karma

Combining both the above questions...

When a batch of my older books at Baen came to the end of their term of license last year, I looked very carefully over the exploratory experiences I'd acquired in direct-placement e-books, in the UK and with some shorter works (and with The Spirit Ring, which was free because I'd held back from the prior relicensing to try it on the YA market -- didn't fly, they didn't want a singleton, I didn't want to write six more). Also, at the time, Baen was closed out of the larger e-book marketplace, a problem that has recently been partially corrected -- I'm going to be very interested to see what that does to my frontlist book royalties when they come through next spring. I also did some hard arithmetic and accounting, comparing my early direct-placement results, Eos, and Baen. The upshot was that I decided to keep my e-rights and market my older backlist myself as direct-placements. So Baen no longer has the e-license to a lot of my early single titles.

So far, this seems to have been very much the right decision for me, although I've always counted all writing income as fairy gold.

As a general observation, while giving away stuff for free may be a good promotional ploy for a young, fast writer at the dawn of his/her career, it does not seem to work so well for an old, slow writer at the sunset of hers. This is data, not theory, by the way.

Ta, L.

andrewgee5 karma

This is a question for Cory - thanks for doing the AMA everyone!

We're at a pivotal time in terms of determining what information qualifies as personal/private, and it's fairly unfortunate (however predictable) that companies beat us to the punch in terms of getting their hands on our data cost-free, simply because there were no protections in place when the data field emerged.

It feels like we're slowly starting to loosen the grip that corporations have on our personal information, but what do you think is going to be the big factor that tip the scales back in favour of the individual? What is the most effective thing that individuals like myself can be doing to help?

doctorow7 karma

It feels like we're slowly starting to loosen the grip that corporations have on our personal information, but what do you think is going to be the big factor that tip the scales back in favour of the individual? What is the most effective thing that individuals like myself can be doing to help?

This is an incredibly hard problem. We're very bad at privacy because the decisions we make are separated by so much time and space from their consequences, so we can never get good at them. As I wrote recently, almost all our privacy disclosures do no harm, and some of them cause grotesque harm, but when this happens, it happens so far away from the disclosure that we can't learn from it.

So anything we can do to bridge that gap, help people estimate better what privacy costs them, would make a huge difference.

I also think there's scope for much better, on-by-default privacy settings in browsers and mobile devices. In particular, I think it would be huge if stock Android let you set which permissions you'd give apps (location, etc) by default, and then if an app requests your location, you get to say "lie about it" or "tell the truth" -- so you can tell your taxi-hailing app to tell the truth about your location, and your join-the-dots app to lie. There's a Cyanogenmod option that does this.

HereticLocke5 karma

To Mr. Doctorow: Hi Mr. Doctorow, I am "Locke" and I would like to know when your first graphic novel will be released? The one published ,through :01. I forget what it's called - " Alias Game"? It's a play on Ender's Game but obviously nothing on Buggers and has a female character. I just wanted to let you know that Homeland was FANTASTIC, and it felt personal to me. I could easily relate to Marcus, especially since I'll be going off to College soon. But what I loved more than Homeland was Pirate Cinema. PC was so much fun to read because I felt as if I was in London. And I loved it! The whole book was a film in my mind, but in contrast with other books I have read in the past, I felt like I was there watching on the sidelines. Great stuff! When will the sequel to PC be available? I could see on the spine that PC is book 1. :D Also, do you not blog on Craphound anymore? I've noticed you're more on Tumblr now. Sorry I'm all over the place, my text is usually this "jumpy" when I'm mobile.

Edit: I believe information deserves to be free. And people should try and start to care about information. Referencing the NSA spying, Americans should have done more. Online protests can do so much, sometimes old-fashioned protests/riots make louder noise. What's your opinion?

HereticLocke

doctorow3 karma

Hey there!

FirstSecond is going to publish ANDA'S GAME (adapted from this story: http://www.salon.com/2004/11/15/andas_game by Jen Wong) in 2014; I had six stories adapted for comics by IDW and collected: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1600101720/downandoutint-20

I'm SO glad you liked the books!

I dop post on Craphound.com all the time -- I don't know what Fumble is. Are you sure that's me?

notlmx075 karma

Mr. Doctorow- just wanted to let you know I am a big fan, and loved your reading of "The Hacker Crackdown" that I heard on a CD I got from Defcon.

doctorow5 karma

Thanks! Someone put that reading on CD? COOL!

Bruce is my daughter's godfather, and is a totally hoopy frood.

lunapome4 karma

I always wonder what authors think of their fans at book signings. I am a very shy individual and coming up with something to say to my hero seems like a herculean feat. I agonize about it waiting in line, and honestly several days before hand, and then blow it when coming face to face.

One of my biggest regrets in life was when I went to Lois McMaster Bujold's book signing for Cryoburn. Now this takes a bit of backstory so bare with me, my husband has short gut syndrome since birth (he is missing most of his intestines) and cannot live without being hooked up to an IV for his nutrition. He had gotten a bad infection and they had to take the central line out (his feeding IV) but they were having a terrible time getting line back in. So I spent nearly two weeks watching my husband lose alarming amounts of weight and get weaker and weaker while we had several failed surgeries attempting to get the line back in.

My husband and I are huge fans of Bujold and when not scared out of our minds about our situation we were looking forward to going to the Cryoburn book signing and meeting Bujold. As the days dragged on though it looked less and less likely that we would be able to attend. But on the day of the book signing in Seattle they finally got the line placed and as my husband was wheeled out of the surgery room he told me to get my ass to that book signing and get our books signed.

And as I stood in that line I wracked my brain trying to figure out how to tell Bujold how much meeting her and getting our books signed meant to both of us right now but I couldn't find the words. I just sounded like a crazy person, thought the sleep deprivation and sudden lack of stress is partly to blame. But I have regretted that day ever since, since I could not find the words to tell my hero how important she was to me and my husband.

LoisBujold8 karma

Oh, wait, I don't want to let this one go unanswered --

Don't worry about clutching at a book signing -- the by-then-pie-eyed author is barely processing everyone anyway, which is really a shame. I have often wondered about the psychology of book signings. It's like... "If we could, we would sit down and have a drink and a real talk together, but we can't, so I'll sign this book instead." Seems a poor substitute for a better interaction, but the numbers are against us.

I hope your husband is doing better now --

Ta, L.

Sibbo944 karma

To all of the authors, which book's ending stayed with you the longest after reading?

doctorow10 karma

There's so many of them -- shelves full of favorites!

The first novel I ever read to myself was Alice in Wonderland and now I'm married to a woman named Alice, so that was probably pretty influential. (She was also the first woman to play Quake on the English national team)

LoisBujold8 karma

Well, I first read The Lord of the Rings at age 15, and it's still the book I imagine taking with me if I ever have to go into a hospice... and not only because if I were cut off mid-read, I wouldn't have missed finding out how it goes.

The Last Unicorn is also a lasting favorite, mainly for the character of Molly.

For most books I find memorable, it's the whole gestalt of the thing, or special bits, rather than the ending as such. Schmendrick's calling up the vision of the real Robin Hood for the bandit wanna-be's is such a scene -- I barely remember the words; I remember it as a visual memory. Which is a curious effect, come to think.

Ta, L.

petersbeagle6 karma

Bless you, Lois! She's my favorite, too!

Peter

connorfc6 karma

The ending of an incredibly obscure but incredibly wonderful first novel called IT HAPPENED IN BOSTON?, by Russell H. Greenan. I was introduced to the book around 1972 and I have been trying to make complete sense of the ending for decades. The last sequence either represents a complete descent into madness by the first-person protagonist, or else success almost literally beyond imagining. A brilliant book. His thriller THE QUEEN OF AMERICA also had a knock-you-down-daring ending, in a totally different way.

petersbeagle3 karma

Time for me to head back to Oakland, for a latish lunch with a young Cuban-American writer friend. I address him as "Sobrino," which means "nephew," and he in turn calls me "Tio Zorro" - "Uncle Fox." Thank you all for the questions, the kindness, and the simple interest. Writers so often feel that they're mostly blowing their horns in wasteland, and having to survive on echoes. Again, my thanks - hope to do this again!

illbeinmybunk2 karma

Hi, Mr. Beagle -

I'm shamelessly replying to your comment here in hopes that you'll see this later: I wanted to say thank you for writing The Last Unicorn, which may have been the very first "grown-up" fantasy book that I ever read. I don't know if it's really marketed as an adult book, especially after the animated movie, but it felt grown-up to me at the time. I picked the book out because of the unicorn on the cover (I was a horse-crazy little girl), and came away from reading it with the idea that there could be more to fairy tales than Disney might tell us; that there could be a high cost for freedom or power; that love could irrevocably change someone, for better or worse. You set a high bar for my later reading!

It seems cheesy to say that the book changed my life, but in its own way, I think it did. Thank you.

connorfc2 karma

I'll make sure he sees it!

Lurking_Grue3 karma

Cory, Will there be a Humble Audiobook bundle?

*Crossing fingers for homeland audiobook*

Hope to see you at Comicon next week!

doctorow4 karma

That is definitely in the plans, but it's only planning stage at this point. I would LOVE it, because I love audiobooks and hate DRM, and Audible has 90% of the market and won't allow creators or publishers to sell without DRM.

connorfc7 karma

Hey, Cory -- Peter's audiobooks are available through Audible with DRM and through Conlan Press without DRM. Maybe you could work the same kind of deal and sell through two outlets?

doctorow7 karma

I wouldn't want Audible to sell with DRM, and that ends up cutting about 90% of your sales.

totheroflcopter3 karma

I would die if you talked Wil into doing the Homeland audiobook! x_x

doctorow6 karma

He's my first choice, too!

guaka3 karma

To all: what's your take on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies?

doctorow1 karma

I know enough about crypto to know that I don't know enough about crypto. But Ben Laurie (maintainer of openSSL and Google cryptographer) does, and he's very skeptical:

http://boingboing.net/2013/05/05/ben-laurie-on-bitcoin.html

which makes me skeptical.

ThatWitch3 karma

Hi Cory, I'm huge fan who you made shed a few tears at your Homeland tour at Busboys and Poets in DC. As controversial as wikileaks, Bradley Manning, Aaron Swartz and Edward Snowden have been, they have forced people to talk about very important issues that we face in a digital age. I wish things could have turned out differently, but is this all part of a necessary digital revolution? How can we go about it safely? How can we make it so whats currently happening can be used for progress instead of moving backwards? How big of a role do generational differences play? For example, the average age of the US House is 57 and the Senate is 62.

edit: Thought I would also add that I have your books (and boingboing) to partially thank for my growing interest in privacy, tech, and data and I'm sure i'm not the only one!

doctorow3 karma

Thank you. I had a hard time keeping my eyes dry at that stop, too.

I think that Lessig's Rootstrikers are our best hope for responsive policy that serves the people. It is totally, blindingly obvious that politics are corrupted by money, and so only by moving on that dynamic can we make a difference.

Mugiwara043 karma

Ms Bujold! Hi! I kind of love you. Thank you for the multiple hours of reading and rereading you have given me. Just two questions:

  • How much fun was it writing a whole book about Ivan? Or at least, I hope it was fun. I had a blast reading it. Was it extremely different from writing a book about Miles (or Cordelia)?

  • I'm really curious about Barrayar's history. Like, it's founding, and the immediate aftermath of losing their connection to everyone else, and the descent into how it was during the Time of Isolation. Have you ever thought about writing anything set in that (rather broad) time period?

  • And, my own interests aside, what in the Vorkosigan universe would you like to write about that you haven't found a way to work into a story yet?

LoisBujold6 karma

Ivan was grand fun at both ends, a trial in the middle where I lost my way for a while and had to back up and throw away five chapters. All for the best, as it turned out.

No ToI stuff planned at this time -- that can go to the fanficcers, I suspect.

I am interested in an older Cordelia, but am entirely unwilling to inflict a plot of any kind upon her -- the woman has suffered enough! This presents a problem I have not yet solved, book-wise. How do you write a happy ending...? There are reasons everyone skips that part...

Ta, L.

tacwes3 karma

A question for Cory: I am going into grade eleven in Ottawa, ON and my teachers are trying to find a new book to replace Lord of the Flies. Little Brother is one of three options for a replacement. How do you feel about your book replacing Golding's classic?

doctorow11 karma

Well, it's a funny emotion... Flattered, honored, and slightly horrified.

LotF is a gorgeously written and brilliant book, and I disagree with it as thoroughly as anything I've ever read. Golding's thesis (SPOILERS) is that people will just degenerate and eat each other in extremis, and while this has been known to happen, there have also been lots of places and times when the reverse happened:

http://boingboing.net/2013/04/14/elite-panic-why-rich-people-t.html

and by not advancing a thesis as to why it went all barbaric this time, ISTM that Golding is saying that the savagery on display is fundamental to human nature, and I think that this is just wrong, and a dangerous lie besides:

http://boingboing.net/2013/05/27/disaster-porn-and-elite-panic.html

riningear3 karma

Cory Doctorow: I only read Little Brother in paperback form some time ago, around when it was released, and I was absolutely in love with it. Now, I'm starting to see some parallels between this book and some of what's going on now, and you've make some really accurate predictions. Plus, I've followed some of your work otherwise, and I totally look up to you, as I'm interested in digital age culture and politics and such.

Anyway, questions.

What's your view on copyright as it stands now, with companies like Netflix, Valve, Hulu, and even Crunchyroll starting to take lead in delivering digital content?

What's your opinion on how this whole NSA thing going on should be handled, in a nutshell?

What are your recommendations for starting points on digital age politics and stuff like that?

Thanks to all the authors for the AMA!

doctorow7 karma

What's your view on copyright as it stands now, with companies like Netflix, Valve, Hulu, and even Crunchyroll starting to take lead in delivering digital content?

I'm a writer, but I'm a human being first, and so I think the critical thing about copyright is what it's doing to the world, and how it's functioning for creators is only incidental. And the problem is that copyright has become the #1 justification for (non-secret) network surveillance, censorship without proof of wrongdoing, Internet disconnection, and, worst of all, devices designed to hide things from their owners and betray them (with DRM). All of those things are SO much more important than whether or how Hulu works.

Here's a column about this:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2013/mar/28/copyright-wars-internet

What's your opinion on how this whole NSA thing going on should be handled, in a nutshell?

The Obama administration should drop its use of state secrecy to prevent the courts from previewing the legality of its spying. The details of the secret interpretation of FISA should be revealed. Congress should debate whether this is what they intended with FISA and craft new legislation in light of the Bush and Obama administration's use of FISA to trump the 4th Amendment.

What are your recommendations for starting points on digital age politics and stuff like that?

Boyle's PUBLIC DOMAIN; Patry's HOW TO FIX COPYRIGHT; Zittrain's THE FUTURE OF THE INTERNET

Skyflyer3 karma

A question to Lois McMaster Bujold: I love your books and I usually end up with both eARC from Baen (when available) and the hardcover. Do you plan to release another book in the same universe as Curse of Chalion?

Of all the authors in the Humble eBook Bundle 2 I've only read Bujold so I'll probably buy the bundle because there are some books there that I really would like to read but just haven't taken the time to buy them yet.

LoisBujold4 karma

By "release" I assume you mean "write", yes? I have nothing going on there at present, but, again, nothing is firmly ruled out.

I think you will find the Bundle a good buy -- quite a variety of tastes are covered!

Ta, L.

embryoconcepts2 karma

I was interested in the Chalion series, as well. Such a wildly different universe from the Vorkosigan series, but still richly and beautifully written. And, as always happens at the end of your books, I have to sit and stare blankly at the last page muttering "but...but...I need more...".

Thanks for being so good at what you do, and sharing it with the world!

LoisBujold5 karma

Thanks!

I'm not so sure how well Chalion would go with my current mood for comedy, but... hm. Well, we'll have to see.

It's interesting how different subjects can constrain the tones of possible stories.

Ta, L.

scruffandstuff3 karma

Mr. Doctorow, I just wanted to thank you for visiting Lexington with Charles Strauss. I really enjoyed hearing the two of you discussing Rapture of the Nerds. After reading the book, I have to ask, which section of it were you most proud of?

doctorow4 karma

Thanks for coming out! Charlie and I had SUCH a good time on that tour.

I loved the bit where we had the sliders that controlled mood and it triggered a whole meditation on cognition, metacognition and free will. I sometimes wonder if a brain can understand itself and I felt like I was getting in the neighborhood with that one.

Also, Lexington's liquor stores have a genuinely superior bourbon selection.

scruffandstuff1 karma

The bourbon trail is actually a great tour, if you ever find yourself in the area again. I have never been so intimidated by yeast before or since.

doctorow2 karma

Get thee behind me, Satan.

TheRegularHexahedron3 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA. My question is about the financial side of Humble Bundle as it affects the authors. Do the authors get a significant amount of money from offering their books? I know Mr. Doctorow is a special case since all his books are already online for free, but can joining a Humble Bundle hurt future book sales for authors or is it just free money they otherwise wouldn't have gotten?

P.S. I bought my beat-the-average collection and I'm looking forward to reading them all!

doctorow8 karma

We've only done one of these and it made a shitton of money for all concerned -- old pros, megastars, mid-career shlubs (ahem), and so forth. I think there's never anything wrong with getting a $80K+ dumped in your account, and acquiring tens of thousands of new readers.

LoisBujold6 karma

I quite hope this bundle does as well for all concerned as the first one did! When I was first looking over the HB offer, John Scalzi was very generous in sharing his professional experiences with me -- I believe he had a couple of blog posts last fall detailing it all, if you want to look 'em up.

And that darned download counter is horribly seductive.

I'm especially interested in the acquiring-new-readers aspect, but that will take some time to play out.

Ta, L.

jadepearl2 karma

For Mr. Cochran:

Do you have any advice for someone looking to get into editing? Has the industry changed a lot since you entered it?

Thanks!

connorfc2 karma

My path into editing wasn't typical -- I was a writer first (lots of comic books, about a dozen SF and fantasy stories, and then near-on two million words of magazine nonfiction) and wound up editing when one of the magazines I worked for lost a couple of employees and needed an emergency fill-in until they could hire new people with the right mix of English language and music technology skills.

The normal route into editing is now -- and always has been -- that you find a place where editing is being done (book publishing, magazine publishing, blog publishing, whatever) and get in the door by taking a low-level or intern position where you can learn the ropes from people who are already experienced at the various tasks that are involved. And I do mean "various" -- while being able to communicate clearly in the particular language at hand is a must, there are a lot of other skills involved as well. Don't assume that being a wiz at parsing grammatical structure is all you need. That's only the first step.

lasermike0262 karma

Cory, I've enjoyed your books. Thanks.

Are you aware of any draft law to undo and prevent what the NSA and the president is doing to Americans and the rest of the world?

This domestic espionage system didn't happen over night. They had the draft law sitting on the shelf and they were waiting for the moment to put it in place. I'm not aware of any draft law out there. It appears the we are flat footed. We too need draft law to deploy at a moments notice.

I would also add that as a citizen of the US I have never felt so victimized by my government.

doctorow5 karma

I think the best hope for cracking open the NSA is EFF's ongoing litigation, which just got a greenlight thanks to the Snowden leaks:

http://boingboing.net/2013/07/09/effs-nsa-lawsuit-goes-ahead.html

shaneroben2 karma

Mr. Doctorow -

I read Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town and loved the main character's unique family. It seemed so imaginative and different from anything I'd read before.

This is the only one of your books I've read. Which should I read next?

Do you have any recommendations of other books or authors with similarly wildly imaginative worlds?

doctorow3 karma

None of them are quite like that one (but I think that after I finish the current book, I'm going to take a crack at that sort of thing again).

I think I'm honor bound to recommend that you get the Humble Bundle and try Little Brother (and 9 other killer books!).

As to other recommendations, here's my book reviews:

http://boingboing.net/author/cory_doctorow_1?tag=books

totheroflcopter2 karma

Hey guys! This question is for Cory. I'm sorry if someone has already asked this. What was it that originally sparked your interest with copyright law?

doctorow4 karma

I had co-founded a P2P startup called OpenCola and we spent a lot of time talking to EFF lawyers about it. One time, I was flying to Hong Kong to give a talk on P2P with Cindy Cohn, EFF's Legal Director and Fred von Lohmann (now one of the heads of copyright at Google, then head of copyright at EFF).

We got into a hammer-and-tongs argument about copyright -- I was a maximalist in those days, having learned everything from pretty unsophisticated notes in writers' manuals -- and 15 hours later, I was half converted. We argued through the streets of Hong Kong for three days, and picked it up again shortly after when we all appeared on the bill at a conference in London, and by the end of it, I was converted.

guaka2 karma

To Cory. I just watched an interview (about Homeland) where you mention that you live in a 600 sqft apartment in London. You're also an avid reader. What do you do with your (paper) books once you have read them?

doctorow2 karma

I have a pretty big office, and I purge my shelves regularly:

https://secure.flickr.com/photos/doctorow/8537325170/in/set-72157622138315932

guaka2 karma

To all, but mostly to Cory: do you think a post-scarcity economy is achievable in the 21st century? What's the closest thing to Whuffie at this point?

doctorow4 karma

I think that there are times and places where we can "live as though it was the first days of a better nation" -- Kathryn Myronuk calles Burning Man the closest thing to a post-scarcity society we have.

I think that applying market logic to nonscarce goods -- like information -- has held back the project of a post-scarcity world.

Kilerazn2 karma

Any career advice for people majoring in literature and want to write a book in the future? Any lessons learned from mistakes and such? If you could start over again would you do anything differently?

Thanks for doing this Ama and I look forward to reading your books

petersbeagle7 karma

I often say that I've never learned anything, except by doing it wrong. Sometimes by doing it wrong a lot (wrote a song about that once...) I do try to plan at least a little bit ahead of myself - but so often I'm still the little kid telling himself stories to keep himself company. For the rest, I recommend reading EVERYTHING, whether it's in your "comfort zone" or not. EVERYTHING...

jadepearl4 karma

Since you are so widely read, do you struggle with coming up with new ideas? It seems I will often come up with a plot or idea, and then realize it was from something else I read a while ago.

connorfc10 karma

One of my jobs with Peter is to pay close attention to the slippery idea-fish that are always swimming by. A few weeks ago at a LAST UNICORN screening in San Antonio, he referred to disliking something so strongly that his feelings on the subject were "north of broccoli." Right on the spot, with the audience as our witnesses, I made him swear to write a children's book story with NORTH OF BROCCOLI for a title. It was just too good to pass up. And now he's doing it.

jadepearl1 karma

Ha ha, excellent! Do you have to keep notes to remind him with?

connorfc4 karma

I do indeed keep a spreadsheet with all the ideas and titles that come up in our travels and discussions, and from time to time I nudge him with reminders. Titles have created more than one story. Back in 2005 we had to come up with a title for an upcoming story collection of his, and the effort Was Not Going Well. The publisher wanted to give it a terrible title and we didn't like any of the alternatives we were brainstorming. On a long drive to a STAR TREK convention in Las Vegas we hit on the alliterative phrase SALT WINE AND SECRETS as a candidate, because it sounded cool. Problem is, it would only make sense if there was a story called "Salt Wine" in the book. Peter went very silent on me, and by the time we got to Vegas (a) he'd pretty much figured out the story's plot, and (b) we'd decided SALT WINE AND SECRETS wasn't the right book title after all. So he went ahead and wrote "Salt Wine," which turned out to be a great story, and the book it was in eventually wound up being called THE LINE BETWEEN. (An idea which finally came to us at a pirate-themed miniature golf course in Orlando, Florida, but that's another story.)

petersbeagle4 karma

All authors steal. Sometimes we know we're doing it; sometimes it's completely unconscious - I read Charles G. Finney's THE CIRCUS OF DR. LAO when I was 17, and didn't realize how much it had influenced Mommy Fortuna's Midnight Carnival until THE LAST UNICORN was published. Shakespeare lifted plots - and even characters - left and right, as all his contemporaries did; he just couldn't help redoing them like Shakespeare. There's a fine line between "homage" or "influence," or any one of a dozen critical euphemisms, and plagiarism, and we may or may not recognize when we've crossed it. I wrote one of my favorite stories, "Professor Gottesman and the Indian Rhinoceros," and only realized that I'd been unconsciously imitating my old friend - and major influence - Robert Nathan after I'd sent the story to his widow, the actress Anna Lee. She wrote back immediately, "It's the best story Robert never wrote!" and I was touched and honored.

doctorow4 karma

I answered some of this here:

http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1i36rw/were_a_few_of_the_authors_of_humble_ebook_bundle/cb0jt1n

But the top advice I didn't take until too late was WRITE EVERY DAY. Anything you do every day becomes a habits. You get habitual stuff for free. Choose a word-target -- 100 words, whatever -- and do it every day, stopping in the middle of a sentence so you can pick up the next day and type a few words without being creative.

Here's a column I wrote about it:

http://www.locusmag.com/Features/2009/01/cory-doctorow-writing-in-age-of.html

Humblefactory2 karma

Question for Mr. Doctorow (I've been a fan since D&OMC, but really got hooked with Makers)

As a maker-booster of the first stripe, what do you think the maker community should be working on -- legally, technically, or culturally -- to ensure that the same sort of "walled garden" issues that are plaguing the open internet today don't become embedded in the "matternet" before we can even get it off the ground?

doctorow3 karma

That is a totally excellent and important question. I don't think I have a single defintive answer, but generally I think that any time there's a popular device whose functionality is limited for business reasons (locking Ios devices to the App Store, for example), then there's real service to be done in showing people that this isn't an inherent limitation of technology, but rather a deliberate anti-feature implemented to stop them from doing things that might benefit them.

toop42 karma

Cory Doctorow - I read Little Brother and Homeland and love both of them. Very thought provoking books that seems plausible that something like that may happen. My question is where can I read more books like this?! I've done a pretty good amount of research to find books like Little Brother and Homeland, but nothing has struck my fancy.

doctorow3 karma

Well, I've written two more YA books in a similar vein: FOR THE WIN and PIRATE CINEMA. Try Scott Westerfeld's UGLIES books, Dan Kraus's ROTTERS, Gould's JUMPER, REFLEX and IMPULSE; Okorafor's AKATA WITCH; everything by Daniel Pinkwater (especially the NEDDIAD books) -- and more! Ask a YA librarian. They're ninjas at this.

CryptoBomber2 karma

To Cory:

It looks like all of peoples' recent hotmail and sexy skype chats are being monitored compliments of Microsoft and the NSA.. has the whole world gone crazy? Comments?

doctorow6 karma

I think that Microsoft's had a lot to answer for for a long time when it comes to Skype privacy:

https://citizenlab.org/2013/07/china-chats/

so in some ways, this is more of the same.

As I said elsewhere in this thread, the spooks have zero adult supervision. They are able to argue that unless they know everything, always, we all might die. Politicians know this is empire-building, budget-grabbing hyperbole, but they also know that spy agencies attract sneaky creeps who like to leak information that Senator Dingleberry cut the funding to the program that put microphones in all the kindergarten toilets and that's why the terrorists were able to blow up Six Flags Over East Bumblefuck, and so they can't afford to do the right thing and impose oversight and discipline on the Max Smart brigade.

CaptainJeff2 karma

Question for all involved.

In which order would you suggest someone who has just purchased the Humble eBook Bundle 2 read the books? Assuming the reader is not familiar with any of them already.

doctorow6 karma

I think you should read them in alphabetical order.

By which I mean, you should write a python script that merges the text of all the books into a single textfile and then alphabetizes it.

You laugh, but someone's done this with James Joyce and it's not bad:

http://www.abebooks.com/book-search/title/ulysses/author/james-joyce/first-edition/signed/pics/page-1/

LoisBujold3 karma

Heh.

This reminds me of an anecdote about a book of the later Henry James, in which two chapters near the end were accidentally swapped out of order, and no one noticed for decades of reprints.

Ta, L.

turbov212 karma

For Cory Doctorow:

This is probably me being too much of a continuity nerd, so my apologies up front for either being a continuity wonk or if I've missed this being asked somewhere else. Possibly both.

In Little Brother the X-Net was built on the "Xbox Universal," a version of the Xbox that Microsoft gave away, subsidized by their licensing fees and such. Given that such an Xbox would have set that story around the present or future, after the initial tumult of the "Great Recession" (or "Depression 2.0"), did you have to do any extra work on the narrative so that their financial crises didn't come too far behind ours?

Thanks, and thank you for sharing your stories!

doctorow5 karma

Good question! I've always strived to set the YA novels in a kind of contrafactual near future -- not our world, but a world like our world, and a few years away. So I didn't worry too much that MSFT's product pipeline didn't conform to my narrative!

newcolour2 karma

A question for all authors: do you think universal feelings like love, hate, faith, etc. are affected by the ever changing technology? Meeting somebody is very often delegated to "machines" now, like computers and cell phones. How does that affect our perception of "the other person" and the feelings and sensations we would feel for them if we actually met them?

connorfc7 karma

Human beings are all about connections. We're hardwired to crave them and make them. Since all those universal feelings you cite are affected by our personal experiences -- by our connections -- obviously any technology which makes it easier to connect is going to change how those universals are expressed. Obviously these expressions will vary from individual to individual (some people are going to be assholes no matter what you do) but on the whole I think we're in the process of building a bigger, more empathic sense of the world and the other people we're sharing it with. The "other" is only separate and different when you can fill in the blank space with fear, instead of actual knowledge and communication.

newcolour3 karma

Thanks for the reply and for being on AMA. I'm enjoying this very much

connorfc3 karma

You're welcome. It's my first dive into this kind of swimming pool, and it's fun! I keep worrying about missing something cool in one of Cory's answers, though...

doctorow3 karma

I think our experience of the world is always changed by our metaphors, and that those come from our technologies -- the way we conceived of things like honor and duty and patriotism and morals were different in the clockwork era than in the networked era

disfit2 karma

I just got home from work, and am expected at the dinner table, so brain dead and pressed for time, no questions from me.

I just want to thank you all for your works and contributing to HumbleBundle (even though I have got those books already, $#$&*!)

And anybody who knows Peter S. Beagle only from The Last Unicorn: Shame on you. Pick up Rhinoceros Who Quoted Nietzsche, Tamsin or Folk of the Air

(wanders off muttering "Best known for ... Tssss ... <sigh>")

connorfc3 karma

Just FYI, THE FOLK OF THE AIR is going to be reissued next year in an rewritten/expanded version called, simply, AVICENNA.

drojretiE2 karma

To Cory Doctorow: I recently finished Pirate Cinema after getting it from the previous bundle. A part from an exciting story with lots of cool set-pieces and great ideas, squatting, friganism, anarchists and great heists, I must say I will miss the Jammie Dodgers. It's been a while since I've grown so fond of characters. Any chance of seeing them again in the future?

I also found it cool that the Green Party was mentioned so often, being a Green Youth in Norway hoping to help my party enter parliament in this autumn's election. In Norway digital rights are an important subject for the Greens, and there are but few parties other than us (none of which in power) caring about ensuring a free internet and good ways for artists to make money. (The old mastodonts, Labour and Conservative, are pretty similar when it comes to file-sharing, with a recent law from Labour making it easier to prosecute "those pesky infringers".) My hopes are that the Green Party will be voice in parliament, but also a people's voice, as of now everyone seems to be ignoring the problem, as is the case it seems in most of Europe.

How do you feel about the Green Party in the UK? (It seems they're good guys) Do you think they'll win more power from the old dinosaurs someday?

Lastly: I look forward to reading more of your works, and was delighted to find Little Brother translated to norwegian at my local library. But I'm delighted to have gotten is through this bundle too, as I love concept of bundles, and the concept of literature, and was delighted to see the two come together last autumn. I dream of the day when concepts like this are more common, and I can't wait to read these books.

doctorow4 karma

I recently finished Pirate Cinema after getting it from the previous bundle. A part from an exciting story with lots of cool set-pieces and great ideas, squatting, friganism, anarchists and great heists, I must say I will miss the Jammie Dodgers. It's been a while since I've grown so fond of characters. Any chance of seeing them again in the future?

I wouldn't rule it out! I hadn't planned on writing a LITTLE BROTHER sequel -- half the fun for me is making up new people and new worlds -- but writing HOMELAND was an amazing experience, like the greatest high-school reunion ever. I'm working on a prequel to DOWN AND OUT IN THE MAGIC KINGDOM now, so a PC sequel is certainly in the realm of possibility.

How do you feel about the Green Party in the UK? (It seems they're good guys) Do you think they'll win more power from the old dinosaurs someday?

I think the Greens around the world have been really consistently right on on digital issues (even if they had a long and stupid flirtation with homeopathy). And, like the Pirates, even when they're not winning seats, they're often useful for keeping the other parties (especially left-leaning third parties like Canada's NDP and the UK LibDems) honest on these issues, because they're terrified of losing voters to the Greens. The NZ Greens were AMAZING on bill 92A.

delighted to find Little Brother translated to norwegian at my local library

Thank you! My editor and translator in .no were AMAZING and I came out and did a fab gig at the Litteraturhaus (sp?) when it launched. Send 'em a letter and tell 'em you liked it and maybe they'll pick up HOMELAND.

jadepearl2 karma

For Ms. Bujold, I just wanted to say thanks for being such a prolific writer! Your Vorkosigan novels in particular have been some of my favorites for a long time, and I reread them when I can. I've always appreciated your ability to balance having a plot with a spot of romance without turning the story into a bodice ripper.

I did notice when I read the Sharing Knife, there was more of a focus on the romance. Did you do anything different with the Sharing Knife novels? Was it intended to focus more on their relationship?

And unrelated, but do you enjoy writing sci-fi or fantasy more?

Thanks again for doing what you do, and I'll continue to read whatever you publish!

LoisBujold4 karma

The Sharing Knife was, indeed, an experiment in making the romance plot the central spine for the book. This disconcerted some of my F&SF readers, who expect some political plot to be central. So, yes.

(I have some more to say on the problems of mixing romance with other plots in-- oh, I can plug this here -- in my Denvention GoH speech, which is collected in -- another recent e-experiment -- Sidelines: Talks and Essays, which is what it says on the tin.)

I like fantasy and SF both about equally; I go back and forth depending on my mood. I am not much for dystopias or horror in any genre, however.

Interesting book rec of the month viz dystopias: Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature, which I reviewed recently on Goodreads. Still thinking about it.

Ta, L.

jadepearl2 karma

For all of the authors:

I used to have a turtle named Schmendrick. How do you feel about people naming their pets and children after your characters?

doctorow5 karma

I'm cool with it. Also, schmendrick is what I call my kid (and what my dad called me!)

LoisBujold5 karma

Pets are OK; children are slightly alarming.

Especially when you meet them and they are now taller than you.

Ta, L.

petersbeagle4 karma

Well, as a lifelong Furry (sans the body suit), I'd be pleased to have animals named for my characters - and I've rcently met a couple of small Amaltheas - but I decline to take any responsibility for kids named Schmendrick, Haggard or Rukh. On the other hand, I had a wonderful teacher in high school named Mollie Epstein - we students called her "Jolly Mollie" behind her back, but revered her, as we should have - and it was she who submitted a poem of mine to the Scholastic Magazine writing contest, without ever telling me about it. The poem won first prize, which brought with it a scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh. So Mollie (Molly, in my spelling) remains one of my favorite names to this day.

ninjalibrarian1 karma

My questions are for Mr. Doctorow. I heard you speak at the dystopia panel at the ALA Conference. Two of your points were that one of the things laid bare by dystopia is a deeper truth and that at their best, dystopias are about how people are good.

Do you think those are something that most authors who write in the dystopia genre are aware of as their writing, or do you think it comes about as more of a realization after a work is completed?

Also, what do you think of Patrick Ness' "Five Big Questions" for dystopia that he talked about at the conference?

  • Why is it so popular?

  • What does it accomplish?

  • How useful is the label when writing for teens?

  • Why not utopia?

  • What's the future of dystopia?

doctorow3 karma

Why is it so popular?

Because we love the idea of thinking about clearing away the buzz of trivialities and focusing on the immediate, concrete and vital. When civilization stops, the refrigerator-hum of societal expectation ceases and leaves behind a ringing silence in which you can finally hear yourself think.

What does it accomplish?

Depends on which dystopia you mean. For a lot of people, it just spreads the vile slander that, in the absence of cops and guard labor, we'd all rape and eat each other:

http://www.locusmag.com/Perspectives/2013/03/cory-doctorow-ten-years-on/

http://boingboing.net/2013/05/27/disaster-porn-and-elite-panic.html#comment-913146021

How useful is the label when writing for teens?

To the extent that it sells books or helps librarians, I'm all for it. We live in an age of networked books, where we can use hashtags instead of subject headings. The more the merrier!

http://boingboing.net/2007/05/02/everything-is-miscel.html

Why not utopia?

It's harder to write a story with real drama unless there's also a big conflict. For the record, the best-ever example of a utopian novel with real conflict is Kim Stanley Robinson's Pacific Edge; it was my model for Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.

What's the future of dystopia?

That's easy: imagine the NSA stamping on a human face forever.

toocleverbyhalf1 karma

Thanks all for contributing. Some of you I am already familiar with, but most of you I have not read before. Assuming I "buy" the bundle, what other work of yours would you recommend I pick up next?

petersbeagle3 karma

I'd suggest either my first novel, A FINE AND PRIVATE PLACE (which is very different from THE LAST UNICORN) or one of my story collections, like SLEIGHT OF HAND, or perhaps THE LINE BETWEEN, which includes the Hugo/Nebula-winning story "Two Hearts," a sort of coda to THE LAST UNICORN.

LoisBujold3 karma

If you like Shards, the next logical book would be Barrayar, its direct sequel. The Shards file should have my own reading-order guide at the end, also found here:

http://www.goodreads.com/story/show/293438-the-vorkosigan-saga-reading-order-debate-the-chef-recommends

If you prefer fantasy, give The Curse of Chalion a whirl; if you like more romance, try the first volume of The Sharing Knife, Beguilement.

Ta, L.

connorfc2 karma

Fans of THE LAST UNICORN who want to stay "in that world" a little longer should move on to Peter's story collection THE LINE BETWEEN, because it has the sequel story "Two Hearts" in it, and then go to his collection SLEIGHT OF HAND, because it has a Schmendrick story set before THE LAST UNICORN in it. (That story is called "The Woman Who Married the Man in the Moon.")

But if you just want to read more Beagle, and don't care about staying with THE LAST UNICORN, I'd go to I SEE BY MY OUTFIT (his way cool nonfiction book about traveling cross-country on a motorscooter), then A FINE AND PRIVATE PLACE, then any of the story collections.

Boingo4Life1 karma

Peter: I just wanted to say I'm glad you have finally (and rightfully) been invited back to Dragon*Con. Financial circumstances prevent me from attending (for the first time in five years- go figure), but I hope to see you during the Last Unicorn screening tour, which I am positively thrilled about. You are one of the humblest and most delightful people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting- godspeed in all your future endeavors. And if you need a helping hand while in Alabama, I'm your gal!

petersbeagle2 karma

I'm honored, truly - but don't be deceived by that ostentatious humility. In real life, I'm as egotistical, envious and spiteful as the next literary S.O.B. Ask Connor.

connorfc1 karma

I'm going to pass up all obvious joke opportunities and be completely straight about this. I've worked with a lot of writers, and you really are a sweetheart compared to most of them. Which doesn't mean you don't do any number of things to make a man tear his hair out, because you're human and that goes with the territory. But you're definitely not an S.O.B.

Rueles1 karma

A question for Mr. Cochran.

What is the biggest motivation for a editor in your work?

An editor is always a friend of his writers? That can happen a relationship of love and hate?

connorfc4 karma

My personal motivations as a publisher are simple -- (A) I want to make things better for readers by bringing them amazing things; (B) to make things better for creators by helping them do their best work and build up their audiences; and (C) to manage to make enough money from it to support my loved ones and keep doing more A and B...

Stupider1 karma

[deleted]

LoisBujold3 karma

I started out with lined notebook paper and a fistful of Number Two pencils. Total cost under five bucks, probably. That worked well for my first ten books and several awards... (I had to type them up before submission, of course.)

Yes, I've been dragged into the 21st Century by now. But it's not the tools -- it's what you do with them, as proved by that famous photographer who went out with a pin-hole camera.

That said, I need distraction-free work spaces for my first drafts.

Ta, L.

paine3141 karma

Do you write your works differently, knowing they will be available in electronic formats? For example, do you change pacing or think more readily about including multimedia?

LoisBujold3 karma

No. But a good long time ago, I was in a critique group where we read our offerings out loud to each other, which may have slightly sharpened my awareness of the need for my sentences (especially dialogue) to be sayable.

Otherwise, I am a very visual writer.

In novels and stories, multimedia seems to me to be a distraction to the movie I'm trying to make run in your head with my words, that ideal trance state. It might be OK for nonfiction, joining charts, graphs, and illustrations to help convey the information.

Ta, L.

notalannister1 karma

Hey Mr. Doctorow! I read about the short story you are writing for Neal Stephenson's Hieroglyph project "about Burning Man alums who land a 3D printer on the moon that sinters regolith together over the course of a generation to build a habitat for their grandchildren to inhabit". How's the story coming along, and when and how can readers access it and support this project?

doctorow3 karma

I'm posting daily wordcounts to my Tumblr and Twitter, and you can sponsor it in the Clarion Writeathon:

http://clarionwriteathon.org/members/profile.php?writerid=610243

I'm hoping it'll be done by end of summer!