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July 25, 2005 4:05 AM   Subscribe

Sci-fi writer and Marine Biologist Peter Watts puts his first two novels, Starfish and Maelstrom online under Creative Commons license. Behemoth to follow shortly. The most original and starkly vivid account of a dystopian future that I have read for years, made all the more enthralling by Watt's scientific background and knowledge. You will find some of his short stories at the link as well. Via BoingBoing
posted by lucien (29 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's really cool - I'd like to see more novels available digitally. I'll have to make some time to actually read them though. Had a friend clue me into Accelerando yesterday too, which is another CC-released sci-fi novel.
posted by smith186 at 5:26 AM on July 25, 2005


Doctorow put his latest online too
posted by amberglow at 5:29 AM on July 25, 2005


Very cool. I actually read Starfish in dead-tree form a couple of years ago. It's a really distinctive, dark, and interesting SF novel. Hopefully this will allow Watts to reach a new audience.
posted by selfnoise at 5:31 AM on July 25, 2005


Thanks for the links, and for the recs, I would probably not read these without the above comments that make them seem worth it.
posted by OmieWise at 5:34 AM on July 25, 2005


Holy smoke! Starfish has been one of my favorites for quite a while. He's a really good writer. It's encouraging to see authors taking these kinds of steps with their work.
posted by verb at 5:47 AM on July 25, 2005


Wonderful!
posted by odinsdream at 5:55 AM on July 25, 2005


I like this line:

You can even make so-called "derivative works" — write stories using the same characters, create deep-sea-sexual-abuse-role-playing games, whatever.

I though Starfish was a very interesting novel so I'm pleased to see Maelstrom available.
posted by ninebelow at 6:06 AM on July 25, 2005


Has a non-established author ever used CC-licencing to increase the spread of their work?

There are, of course, tons of bands that have used free or nearly free distribution of music to increase their fanbase. But authors?
posted by docgonzo at 6:31 AM on July 25, 2005


Docgonzo asks:

"Has a non-established author ever used CC-licencing to increase the spread of their work?"

Cory used it for his first novel, so arguably he was "non-established" as an author at that point (he was, however, reasonably well-known in SF and tech geek circles and had written short stories).

There are of course a fair number of writers, most not yet formally published, who post entire novels online for public consumption, with or without CC licensing.

Personally I don't seeing a CC license being as critical to the spread of work as much as simply making the work available to be freely distributed and/or read online.
posted by jscalzi at 6:44 AM on July 25, 2005


Realistically, in terms of sales, Doctorow is still "non established". Not trying to be snarky, just looking at book order charts.

That's ok, they don't have to be established, they're the Lewis and Clark of the new world after all. ;)
posted by cavalier at 6:47 AM on July 25, 2005


deep-sea-sexual-abuse-role-playing games

The water is dark. Suddenly, the ghostly pale form of The Giant Squid looms up before you! The Giant Squid's tentacles creep closer and closer...

Roll 2d6 against swimsuit removal
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 6:50 AM on July 25, 2005


"Has a non-established author ever used CC-licencing to increase the spread of their work?"

There is a debate as to the effectiveness of this tactic. Some people point to Doctorow's success as evidence that the tactic is a good one. Others point out the incompatibility of this tactic with the traditional system, adding that since the publishing system manages publicity for the books they produce, this tactic is a bad one. Truth be told, it's still too early to say which view is (more) correct.
posted by voltairemodern at 6:56 AM on July 25, 2005


Here is a recent piece by John C. Dvorak criticizing Creative Commons and here is a very well written rebuttal that I found very informative. [Via Waxy]
posted by Espy Gillespie at 7:28 AM on July 25, 2005


Roll 2d6 against swimsuit removal

Ha! Goes nicely with the earlier dolphin-love thread.
posted by mecran01 at 8:03 AM on July 25, 2005


My recollection of the first SF writing available online was something over at the old glassdog site. Anyone remember the story?
posted by nofundy at 8:31 AM on July 25, 2005


Realistically, in terms of sales, Doctorow is still "non established".

It's not sales that make you established, it publications and with four books out Doctorow certainly counts as established.
posted by ninebelow at 8:39 AM on July 25, 2005


voltairemodern asks some apposite questions. At risk of being accused of self-publicizing, I'd like to reference this transcript of a bunch of questions a reporter from The Book Standard asked me about this very topic last month.
posted by cstross at 9:28 AM on July 25, 2005


mecran01, you and Fuzzy Monster have obviously been watching too much tentacle monster anime.
posted by Chuckles at 9:33 AM on July 25, 2005


Surely availability makes you established? Walking into a bookstore and being able to pick up a book makes you more accessible to the general populace and more likely to be discussed. But that's according to the traditional position of the goalposts.
posted by Navek Rednam at 9:34 AM on July 25, 2005


Surely availability makes you established? Walking into a bookstore and being able to pick up a book makes you more accessible to the general populace and more likely to be discussed. But that's according to the traditional position of the goalposts.
posted by Navek Rednam at 9:36 AM on July 25, 2005


Espy: Here is a recent piece by John C. Dvorak criticizing Creative Commons and here is a very well written rebuttal that I found very informative. [Via Waxy]

The Dvorak piece is bad, very bad. Not bad in terms of effects, but bad in that it lacks basic information that would have been made clear with 20 mitunes of research. In the comments for the online article. he admits that he's frequently guilty of "writing before reading."
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:54 AM on July 25, 2005


Dvorak's descent from decent columnist to mid-grade internet troll has been one of the most depressing developments of late regarding tech journalism.
posted by selfnoise at 10:13 AM on July 25, 2005


KirkJobSluder - I completely agree, and it's Joe Gratz's response piece that I think people should read. It's an easy to follow debunking oof the most common and uninformed assumptions people have about CC.

Like Gratz says: "Five minutes on the phone with a Creative Commons staffer, and this column would have looked very different." I think it's unfortunate that someone like Dvorak could be so woefully uninformed about CC. It doesn't bode well for its introduction to the population at large.

on preview: selfnoise is pretty much right.
posted by Espy Gillespie at 10:18 AM on July 25, 2005


The Baen Free Library offers a fairly sizeable selection of books from (already established) sci fi authors. I recall reading that many authors discovered after making their works available on the website that their earlier works experienced a sizable resurgence in popularity.
posted by hindmost at 11:14 AM on July 25, 2005


What's really creepy about Watt's work is that while it is partially about the sea, it really is about the mind and memory as an organic function and the prospect of mind control. Most of the main characters have had their personalities forcably modified or tweaked with results that turn out to be disasterous for humanity.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:15 PM on July 25, 2005


I highly endorse this. Spent the afternoon reading Starfish.

A while back, I spent the best part of a week converting all of the Baen Free Library to quality PDFs so I could share it with friends who had not yet discovered John Ringo (I finished A Watch on the Rhine last Saturday). If any MeFites want the PDF versions, shoot me an email.

Thanks to cstross putting some of his works online, I bought The Atrocity Archives in hardcover two weeks ago, and read it in one sitting. I've got paperback copies of Singularity Sky (lost my older copy) and Iron Sunrise two feet in front of me waiting to be read after I get done re-reading Singularity Sky.

Due to recommendations on MeFi, I've got jscalzi's Old Man's War on the bookshelf in the living room after devouring it in one sitting as well.

You know what the coolest thing is? I've sent email (or comments on here) to both Charlie and John and actually *gotten responses*. I've been reading since I was 3 years old, and to be able to communicate with my favorite authors is JUST FUCKING AWESOME.
posted by mrbill at 4:07 PM on July 25, 2005


Mrbill:

"You know what the coolest thing is? I've sent email (or comments on here) to both Charlie and John and actually *gotten responses*."

I think most writers who are not King- or Rowling-level famous make an effort to respond to readers who send along e-mail (not implying King/Rowling don't answer fan mail, but I just can't imagine dealing with the volume they get). Aside from being simple and beneficial reader maintainance (we're glad you read our book, and hope you'll read the next one, too), answering reader mail is fun.

But it is certainly true that the latest generation of writers (particularly, it seems, the SF writers) seems to be a whole lot more accessible. Many of us have personal sites/blogs and respond to comments left there, or show up here or other sites online. One does wonder what the implications of such immediate accessibility will be for long-term writing careers (assuming a minimum standard of writing competence when it comes to the books). I suspect in the long run it will be beneficial.
posted by jscalzi at 5:20 PM on July 25, 2005


But it is certainly true that the latest generation of writers (particularly, it seems, the SF writers) seems to be a whole lot more accessible

You reminded me--the wonderful Crooked Timber/Mieville thing

Home (one of the short stories), by Watts, floored me when i read it earlier--i'm going to read them all.
posted by amberglow at 7:12 PM on July 25, 2005


"Others point out the incompatibility of this tactic with the traditional system, adding that since the publishing system manages publicity for the books they produce, this tactic is a bad one."

You know, to this fifteen-year veteran of the "traditional system," this sentence comes close to being word salad; its structure implies causative relationships that its words don't actually deliver. What incompatibility? And how does the fact that we have our own publicists mean that we disdain any other kind of publicity?

Cory nailed it when he observed that, for most authors--himself definitely included--piracy is far smaller threat than obscurity.
posted by pnh at 7:51 PM on July 25, 2005


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