Sunday, May 11, 2014

State of the Apocalypse, Five-Eleven-Fourteen

State of the neglected blog...yesterday’s pulps, today’s e-books....

As the days bleed into one another and my blog coasts, I notice a lopsided competition between my two top-rated posts, “First Friday Blues” and “Zombie Vagina Thursday.” It’s as if there are rival groups of viewers looking to boost the views of each. So far, “First Friday Blues,” featuring a photo of a young and pretty Carrie Fisher in the surf, is far and away number one. 

It’s nice to know pretty trumps ugly, but “Zombie Vagina Thursday,” which features a photo of a young woman with the image of a cyanotic vagina tattooed on her lower back, has its fans. Every now and then it gets a surge in pageviews. Even at number two on the charts, it still has over twice the number of pageviews as number three, “Old Dead Man’s New Year’s Sucking Eve.”

Every now and then I have to resist the urge to delete these posts. They’re not exactly representative of what I’m trying to do with this blog. Whatever that is.

Whatever brings ‘em in the door, say my more dominant (if not better) angels. If I don’t like this, I can knuckle down and make a post people want to look at more than young Carrie Fisher or undead vagina tattoos.

Like everything else, it’ll have to wait until I get Grace Among the Dead put to bed. Meanwhile, “The Anarchist’s Commencement Address” is doing much better than I’d thought it would—better than my zompoc novel excerpts.

Oh, Internet! You so crazy!

“Trapped in a Nazi Hell-Hole With One Thousand Man-Hungry Women”? There are worse ways to go. First, though, I need to know what these women look like. Also, that “man-hungry” business is metaphorical, right? You can’t be too careful in these situations.

I found a new favorite site via Google+, Pulp Covers: The Best of the Worst. The proprietor is good enough not only to share his collection of lurid pulp magazine and book covers with us, he makes the large versions of them downloadable. I’ve already got a few tucked aside for wallpaper/screensaver duty.

Friday, 9 May was the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. The details of the publication, in which Austen was able to negotiate 100% royalties upon paying “expenses” for the book’s publication, already had me thinking about today’s bookselling world, in which much is done via e-books, either self-published, or arranged through a third party.

All of this together makes me think of the disposable fiction we see in 21st century e-books. (Calling it “pulp” gives this fiction a dignity “disposable” naturally throws away.) Before e-books there were the pulps, and well before them were the “penny dreadfuls,” so named because these tales came cheap and were dreadfully written and edited (if edited at all). For those who complain about self-published e-books (hi, Bob!), it was always thus. Our problem as 21st century genre e-pulpsters is the really bad crap is sharing virtual news stand space as the rest of us.

If you read the PastNow article on Austen’s publication of Mansfield Park, you’ll note part of her contract had her paying publishing expenses. It’s not something you hear of today—unless you’re self-publishing.

Of interest to people who are all about “the branding” is how Jane Austen credited her book Because women simply did not write books, according the 1814 custom, Jane Austen could not use her (now) famous name. She had to credit it as “By the same author of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and SENSE AND SENSIBILITY.” Once again, Content is Dictator for Life. Austen couldn’t use her name—but she still had bragging rights on novel titles we still know today, 200 years down the road.

Just write a book people like, and the rest should follow. They don't even need to know your name. Only that the same person who wrote a Known Good Work wrote it.

I cleaned my desk for the first time since, oh, last year. My God, it's beautiful!