Things that Douglas Adams taught me

My favorite author died 10 years ago, today.

I don’t want this to be one of those weepy sentimental things, because Douglas Adams was not a particularly sentimental person. What he was, was a man, a writer, an atheist, with a love of life and a love of humans and the sorts of things that they do that I don’t know if I can hope to live up to.

He was not a satirist, I think. He wasn’t cynical enough for that. He loved the shit out of life too much for that. What he did, was point out all of the things about humans that were absurd and point out how funny they are and how we should all be happy about it. Without all of life’s little absurdities, it really wouldn’t be very interesting.

He was an existentialist, though he might not have used the word. He showed me that life had no meaning, but that this is a good thing.

He taught me what it means to be a “radical atheist.”

He taught introduced me to Richard Dawkins who taught me about evolution.

He taught me that science is ridiculously interesting but reminded me that science is not so interesting that we should forget about life and why science is important.

He taught me that literature is important.

He showed me that even tragedy is necessary.

He taught me a lot of very important things and is largely responsible for the person I am today.

He was my friend even though he didn’t know it. I think he would have liked me.


Self-Publishing. Really just for fun?

This is sort of my little nod to xkcd. It is by far my favorite webcomic. Possibly the best of all possible webcomics.

I’m being a little hard on self-publishing and these days, it is largely undeserved, however, I think the point remains valid, at least for the foreseeable future. Self-publishing is clearly the wave of the future. Many people are doing it and some are making money at it. Blogging is an obvious example of self-publishing that has the ability to create a revenue stream for an independent blogger. For instance, I have made all of five dollars in the last couple years of writing this blog. This represents an actual monetary loss, of course, since I am loaded with hubris up to my eyeballs. No blogger or wordpress domains for me. No, I had to go out and buy a domain and host the bastard myself. I host through inmotionhosting and while I could not be happier with their product, I do take a yearly nontrivial pocketbook hit.

But it’s different when it comes to self-publishing that story that you sat down to write. There is a stigma to it. It’s like, “Why did you self-publish? You couldn’t get it published anywhere else?” This is a perfectly valid criticism, because often it is true. There are few people out there who opted to self-publish for idealistic reasons without ever sending it off to a publisher (though they do exist).

If you are published by a big publishing house, then you have instantly gained a certain amount of credibility. Of course, publishing houses are notorious for publishing terrible books. But that’s just it, isn’t it? For every hack musician that makes it big, there are a hundred exceedingly talented garage bands that never get noticed and only have their little groupies in their hometowns. There’s something personal about that, but you can’t make a living off it.

Self-published authors are the garage bands of the literary world and there is a certain sort of ronin samurai honor in that. They are not beholden to a daimyo. They have no feudal lord. They are independent, rogue artists, who are the future of the art. They are legion and it is from them that the greatest artists emerge.

It is technically the Kindle which makes it all possible, of course (and the B&N variant, the Nook). There are on-demand self-publishing print services like CreateSpace, but, by and large, self-publishing became a thing of the past after the printing-press became corporate. I mean, Ben Franklin self-published (he ran a print shop). But Amazon is sort of bringing back the heady, whimsy-filled days of self-publishing. When anything was possible. Anything. I suppose you could look at it as though Amazon is their daimyo, but it is like this big, indiscriminate daimyo that doesn’t care if it has a bunch of totally weak samurai running around, but I’m inclined to think that, since most of it happens on the writer’s terms, it’s not so bad. So they sell that novella for $.99, and they only get to keep $.35 per copy sold. The customer isn’t out anything if the work is bad. They can always pick up something else. And that is the key to selling a $.99 novella. Indeed, the very format of the novella is likely to make a resurgence as a result of the self-publishing wave.

Anyway, all of this is bringing me to an important announcement. I have self-published a novella. It is called The Harbormaster. It is a martian novella. It is on sale now in e-book edition at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You literally can’t go wrong picking it up. It’s very fun.

Oh, and if you don’t have e-reader, smartphone, or tablet, there are PC and Mac apps for both Kindle and Nook editions. If you don’t have a PC or Mac, then you couldn’t possibly be reading this unless you’re some sort of technomancer wizard and probably don’t need a kindle or nook in the first place.

Technically, I get more money if you buy it from B&N, but I think if you click on this handy Amazon Affiliate link, I might actually make up the difference:

And here’s the link to the B&N page in case you have a Nook (or just like B&N).

Wörter wie Honig.