If you’re like me, and, if you can read this, you are like me, at least in the larger "I share more DNA with you than with a banana slug" sort of way, after you write a particularly satisfying entry on your blog or journal, you may pause to wonder what would happen to those words if, say, an exchange of nuclear missiles between the United States and whoever has bought Russia’s nukes fried all the computers in the world with their electromagnetic pulses, turning the hard drive discs on which your words are stored and served into drink coasters and bug squashing implements. Chances are, those words would be gone, like much of the rest of civilization, and the only way they’d be recalled would be through your own memory, which would grow increasingly hazy as your start your new, post-literate, post-apocalyptic life, skewering lizards on sharpened tree branches and fighting off the inevitable mutant zombie hordes.
Or — prior to doomsday, you could devise a plan to encode your words into a stable, long-lasting storage medium which features unmediated informational access, generate a large number of such storage devices, and disperse those devices widely, including transactional areas and at centralized governmental repositories, where in each case they will be maintained in a controlled environment with access restricted to those with particular credentials. The multiplicity of these storage devices and the wide range of their dispersal all but ensures that at least one copy of your words will survive through the years to be puzzled over by the archeologists of the evolved rat people who will almost certainly succeed us as the dominant life form here on earth.
This is what I have done.
Which is to say, the Whatever is being made into a book.
More specifically, come June or July of 2006 (or sometime thereabouts), Subterranean Press will release a collection of selected writings from the Whatever, chosen from entries written between 1998 (when the Whatever opened for business) and the end of this very year. That’s a little over seven years of entries to choose from, which should be more than enough to showcase the range of subjects that have been tackled here over the years. Subterranean is best known for their entirely fabulous limited editions of science fiction, fantasy and horror, mostly distributed via mail order, online and specialty shops (most of you know it published my novel Agent to the Stars), but for this we’ll be trying something different: an open print run trade paperback, which we will try to jam into your local Barnes & Noble, just to see what happens. Yes, it’s something of an experiment; this is not the first collected book of online entries — pretty sure Wil Wheaton gets that distinction — but I suspect it’s still a new enough field that there’s some inherent risk involved. All I can say is that if we pull it off, the rat people of the future will hail us as geniuses. Geniuses! Greetings, rat people! Sorry about the mess.
Since what makes the Whatever go — and what helps make this book potentially commercially viable — are the folks who show up here to read and/or heckle me, it’s very likely that I will ask all y’all to help out in the selection of the entries which should appear in the book and in other aspects of its production. And it’s also pretty likely that Subterranean and I will do something special for readers of the Whatever who pre-order the book. What that might be, of course, I’m still working on. But suffice to say that if I’m going to have fun putting this book together — and I’m going to — I want you guys along for the ride.
The first thing I need to decide, I guess, is what I’m going to name it. Greetings to the Rat People! has a nice ring to it. But, er. Maybe not. I’m open to suggestion.