In addition to the fabulous book news in the previous entry, here’s another thing to make today National John Scalzi Literary Fabulousness Day — a package of advance reader copies of The Ghost Brigades. Whoo-hoo! And there was much rejoicing. This ARC is of the first pass edit of the manuscript, so there are a few rough spots here in there (one character’s name switches between "Seaborg" and "Seaborn," and there are a few sentences I’ve gone and broken into two, and so on), but damn, this thing looks good. Very pleased. What a good day. I needed one after the spectacularly crappy day I had yesterday, so thanks, Tor and Subterranean.

Greetings to the Rat People! Or, An Announcement

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.

EFF and Bloggers

Cory Doctorow sent along word that the Electronic Frontier Foundation is starting a fundraising campaign today for the purpose of defending the rights of bloggers to basically say whatever the hell they want, whenever the hell they want to say it, and naturally enough, I can get behind that. I have to say I am personally confused as to why free speech is an issue for bloggers, particularly here in the US, and I’m also deeply amused and annoyed regarding the fiction that bloggers can’t be journalists, or whatever nonsense people are trying to promulgate on that score. Being that I regularly write for print newspapers and magazines (and even do verifiable journalism for them from time to time), I suppose I’m better insulated from that particular sort of stupidity, since I can easily point to thousands of newspaper and magazine articles and then tell whatever person is of the mind I couldn’t be a journalist in a Web space to kiss my ass. And as for my free speech online, I know my rights under the Constitution of the United States and I’m not shy about exercising them.

However, just because I know my rights doesn’t mean others do, or that they won’t try to curtail them if at all possible, usually with a phalanx of lawyers to shovel paper about in an intimidating fashion. Also, not everyone lives in the United States and has that little philosophical gem of human liberty known as the First Amendment guarding their back. And this is where folks like the EFF come in: The organization is focused on rights online, and for bloggers this means both informing bloggers about their rights, and in defending those rights when necessary. This makes them a useful organization to have around.

Cory’s note reminds me that I’ve been planning to contribute to the EFF for some time now; I think I’ll do that today (I’ll go for the $65 contribution because it comes with a t-shirt, and I need another one of those). The EFF is trying to encourage bloggers to link to the fundraising drive by offering premiums and whatnot for the bloggers who get the most people to sign up, but, you know, I couldn’t really give a rat’s ass about that. However, I would ask you to look at the EFF’s spiel here, and if the group and its work are something you think you can support, go ahead and support it. Which is to say, contribute to the EFF if you feel it’s worth doing rather than to get your favorite blogger some useless tchochtke. If you contribute (or if you can’t contribute but support EFF and its goals), you can also put up a badge, which you may find here. I’ve gone ahead and put one up here through the end of the month.

That’s my pitch to you for today. I end on an existential query: Cory’s a friend and fellow blogger, but he’s also the European Affairs Coordinator for Electronic Frontier Foundation, which presents the question — does this mean the Blogosphere is part of Europe? If so, I want some euros.