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June 16, 2005

The Acclerando E-Book

Let me take a quick moment to pimp Charlie Stross' Accelerando, which is he offering up as a free e-book at Accelerando.org. You should do the following, in this order:

1. Go and get the e-book
2. Read it with your head in a vise so that the top of your head doesn't pop off
3. Go get the hardback when it goes on sale on July 1st (which means, realistically, it'll start appearing in the stores beginning about now).

I'm personally very high on this book, which I think is just ridiculously overstuffed with cool ideas and situations and thought-provoking tidbits, and I'm very pleased that Charlie (and his publishers, Ace here in the US and Orbit in the UK) are open to giving people a chance to check out the goods, since I've been blathering about the book to anyone who asks for months, and now they'll get a chance to check it out for themselves. It is the book to beat in 2005, and it pains me to say this, considering I've two books out this year as well. But there you are. I cannot lie. Check it out.

Posted by john at June 16, 2005 11:57 AM

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Eric Berlin | June 16, 2005 12:24 PM

Read it with your head in a vise? Wouldn't that just increase the pressure on your head, making it easier for the top to pop off?

John Scalzi | June 16, 2005 12:40 PM

It depends on how you position your head.

Bill Schafer | June 16, 2005 12:52 PM

When I started this one I felt as though I needed a processor upgrade by the end of the first page. I've been meaning to get around to that anyway.

John Scalzi | June 16, 2005 01:14 PM

Heh. Yes, I know what you mean, Bill.

Ted Lemon | June 16, 2005 01:41 PM


This of course throws into sharp relief my usual book frustration: I don't like to have tons of books around, so I prefer electronic copies, but they charge *extra* for electronic copies, so I wind up buying paper copies or going to the library.

In this case Mr. Stross has kindly or enterprisingly released the product for free, which puts me in an ethical dilemma: I would like to encourage him to write more books by compensating him for his effort, but that would mean buying a paper book I don't need.

This is really the same dilemma I run into when I get the book from the library. I do that to avoid having extra books around, or to get around the one year hardcover delay, but I'd still like to reward the author for producing the work.

I am curious to know what you opinion about this situation is as someone who makes a living writing. I've read some of your other discussion about books, and about who's a thieving bastard and who's not. My problem is that I don't *want* to be a thieving bastard, but I also don't want to be a librarian. Suggestions?

(BTW, this is actually relevant to you as well, since I read my father's copy of Old Man's War.)

John Scalzi | June 16, 2005 01:56 PM

"My problem is that I don't *want* to be a thieving bastard, but I also don't want to be a librarian. Suggestions?"

In this particular case, I would suggest buying a copy of the book for a friend who might not otherwise hear of the book. Or, alternately and if you have not gotten your copy from the local library, buy a copy of the book *for* your local library. I for one would be very pleased to hear that your local library now has a copy of my book, thanks to you. And certainly libraries these days would be happy to take a new book that doesn't cut into their already strapped budget.

Tim Kyger | June 16, 2005 04:44 PM

I have to agree with you, John. (BTW, loved "Old Man's War. Patrick Hayden forced it on me I tell ya!) "Accelerando" is probably the most important sf book of 2005, bar none -- and perhaps the most important over the past 5 years or so also. IMHO, of course, and YMMV. (BFD... )

WFIW, I grew up just south of you, in what was then Mad River Township. It's now Bevercreek, I think, or perhaps Dayton annexed it (I'm not too sure).

I just downloaded the e-book, despite my having read all the "components" as they appeared in Asimov's. I'm looking forward to seeing how Charles Stross has linked the parts together in a novel, instead of a collection.

Ted Lemon | June 16, 2005 05:58 PM

Ooh, good idea! Unfortunately, the Tucson Public Library already has seven copies of Old Man's War (they also seem to like Charles Stross - I think they have a pretty savvy acquisitions person), but the idea still has merit. I just have to find some library that *doesn't* have your book, or a friend who wants it. Hm, I know this Buddhist Lama who really likes SF...

Brian Greenberg | June 16, 2005 06:33 PM

Ted Lemon:
I would like to encourage him to write more books by compensating him for his effort, but that would mean buying a paper book I don't need

Why don't you just send him a check?

Ted Lemon | June 16, 2005 09:14 PM

I don't have his address. And no, don't post it here.

The check idea has merit, but I think the cost and hassle of cashing an international check is more than it'd be worth. I sometimes fantasize about some kind of new wave publishing system where authors put up content and people subscribe, and then they vote on who gets paid, and the authors with good books wind up with big honking aggregated checks instead of a giant pile of tiny checks. This is basically what the publishing industry does now, but the current system is way inefficient. I think I got something like a dollar out of the cover price of every one of my books that was sold (I had a co-author, which cut into the profits, as did the rather remarkable allowances for returns).

Oh well, life goes on. I will try to work within the constraints of the existing system until technology and the invisible hand of the market step in to correct the situation. ;')

John Scalzi | June 16, 2005 11:10 PM

Ted, I wrote about this in the last entry for 6/16/05.

David Goldfarb | June 17, 2005 04:33 AM

Charlie needs to put up a PayPal tip jar on accelerando.org, for people who want to pay him for the e-book but not buy the paper version....

Justin Anderson | June 17, 2005 09:55 AM


If you haven't already, you ought to check out Fictionwise. Everything they sell seems to be discounted somewhere between significantly and massively (backlist stuff can often be had for $2 - $4). plus their Buywise club is actually a pretty damned good deal (assuming you buy a lot of books from them, of course).

Adam | June 17, 2005 12:56 PM

Excellent! My dad gave me a stack of back issues of Asimov's and Charles Stross' stories have really jumped out at me the most. Despite the fact that I have this on pre-order at a book store, and have probably read most of the shorts already, I'm still going to download the e-book version.

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