Archive for July, 2010

If I’m So Smart, Why Ain’t I Rich?

Amazon Kindle

From an Amazon.com News Release, July 19, 2010:

  • Over the past three months, for every 100 hardcover books Amazon.com has sold, it has sold 143 Kindle books. Over the past month, for every 100 hardcover books Amazon.com has sold, it has sold 180 Kindle books. This is across Amazon.com’s entire U.S. book business and includes sales of hardcover books where there is no Kindle edition. Free Kindle books are excluded and if included would make the number even higher.
  • Amazon sold more than 3x as many Kindle books in the first half of 2010 as in the first half of 2009.
  • The Association of American Publishers’ latest data reports that e-book sales grew 163 percent in the month of May and 207 percent year-to-date through May. Kindle book sales in May and year-to-date through May exceeded those growth rates.
  • On July 6, Hachette announced that James Patterson had sold 1.14 million e-books to date. Of those, 867,881 were Kindle books.
  • Five authors–Charlaine Harris, Stieg Larsson, Stephenie Meyer, James Patterson, and Nora Roberts–have each sold more than 500,000 Kindle books.


Here Come The Paperless Books

by J. Neil Schulman
President
SoftServ Publishing Services, Inc.

Version 1.2
December, 1987
Copyright © 1987 by J. Neil Schulman.
All Rights Reserved.

Logoright (L) 1987 by J. Neil Schulman.


The SoftServ Concept

SoftServ Publishing Services, Inc., is a recently formed
company creating the new information-media service industry of
Electronic Mass-Market Trade Publishing. The types of Works
previously available only as bound books–novels, anthologies,
self-help books, biographies, cookbooks, etc.–will be made
available as text files accessible on computers, either by
purchase of disks or as downloads via telephone lines using
modems. Once available on computer, they will be available to
monitors, to printers, to voice synthesizers, and–ultimately–to
pocket-size electronic “book players.”


Introduction
Publishing: History versus Ideal

Publishing exists both as an historical development and as a
theoretical ideal.

We need not deal here with much of the history: it is too
richly documented elsewhere. Still, we can note that since it
began in earnest with the invention of movable type by Johann
Gutenberg over five centuries ago, it has been assumed that
publishing occurs when a composed Work is set into type or onto
plates, when type or plate imprints ink onto sheets of paper,
when those sheets of paper are bound together into books or
periodicals, and when multiple copies of those imprinted books or
periodicals are distributed and marketed to people interested in
reading that composed Work.

As a theoretical game, publishing is far simpler: it is any
efficient and desirable medium for a composed Work to be made
available to those wishing access to it. This implies two
ultimate players: the Author of the composed Work, and the Reader
of it. All other players are Mediators between Author and
Reader. Further, Author and Reader each have an idealizable goal
of transmitting the Work from one to the other with as little
mediation between them as possible.

The Author’s Ideal is to create a Work that fulfills both
some internal goal (such as self-expression) and some external
goal (such as proselytizing or making money), to inform all
potential Readers of its information or entertainment value, and
to have it unceasingly available to all Readers who desire it.

The Reader’s Ideal is to have as varied a choice of Works as
possible for information and entertainment, to have elegant tests
to determine which of those Works are desired (and filter out
those which are not), and to have such Works available, as
painlessly as possible, whenever and wherever desired.

This article will proceed on these assumptions as follows:

First it will analyze the process, then demonstrate the
failures–and note success where due–of the current Trade and
Mass-Market Book Publishing Industry in serving these defined
ideals of Authors and Readers. It will then analyze and
demonstrate how the currently emerging technological media of
Computers and Data Communication can more-closely approach the
ideals of both Authors and Readers.

Second, it will show how SoftServ Publishing Services, Inc., is
creating the new information-media service industry of Electronic
Mass-Market Trade Publishing.

Note that the new industry is not electronic book
publishing. We are here proposing a new kind of publishing in
which the very concept implied by the word “book” needs to be
redefined, delimited, and in some cases discarded. Creation of
any new industry should never be looked upon as anything less
than mightily formidable. In discussing publishing that has no
ultimate need for paper, ink, glue, or binding, this task must,
at the start, seem daunting.

Authors write–publishers publish, critics critique, stores
sell, libraries shelve, and readers read–books. When one begins
by telling Authors and Readers that what they have been trading
for the last five centuries are not really books but what has
been recorded and transported inside books, then one is likely to
encounter–at least at first, at least among a significant part
of the populace–the sort of incredulity and stubbornness that
manufacturers of Horseless Carriages received when what had been
readily apparent to any moron for thousands of years was the
primary importance not of the carriage but of the horse.

Ultimately, people decided that carriages pulled by
horsepower rather than by horses worked better for getting
around, but that horses would still have an honored place on the
racetrack and at the riding academy.

So, I expect, it will be with “Paperless Books.”

Bound books will still have their place in the hearts–and
on the shelves–of those who appreciate their history, the beauty
of the crafts used in making them, the almost sensual smells of
paper and ink. For certain readers, books will remain delightful
to look at, wonderful to hold. For certain authors, there will
always be something approaching ecstasy in seeing their names on
the title page of a book, their words shining off the semi-
glossed sheets bound within.

But the Paperless Book will come as surely as did the
Horseless Carriage, and for the same reasons. Automobiles were
far better than horses at getting from one place to another.
Given the commonality, and approaching universality, of computers
and modems, software is simply far better than bound books at
getting Works from Author to Reader.

Let us say a profound thank you to Herr Gutenberg for giving
us economically practical books. Let us next give thanks to
Caxton, Cerf, and Ballantine for giving us quality books, for
their times, in the largest quantity and lowest price possible.

Then let us proceed to doing what Gutenberg, Caxton, Cerf,
and Ballantine were properly doing for their generations: making
the bridle path between Author and Reader as short, smooth, and
straightforward as possible.


I.
Book Publishing Today

Who has not heard the phrase, “You can’t judge a book by its
cover”? Yet, the obvious truth to anyone who gives even a
cursory glance at the process by which books today are ordered,
distributed, and vended, is that often the only ways books are
judged is by their covers.

The process of publishing books today is not driven by what
readers wish to read or by what authors wish to write, or even by
what editors wish to buy for publication.

For trade hardcovers and trade paperbacks, the process is
driven, chiefly, by what the large retail bookstore chains–
Waldenbooks, B. Dalton, Barnes & Noble–are willing to order and
display on their shelves. Secondarily, it’s driven by what chain
retailers such as K-Mart and Bradlees are willing to order and
display. Using the horse-racing analogy, the aggregate orders
from independent bookstores show, but rarely place or win, when
it comes to creating display space for a book.

For mass-market paperbacks–in addition to the
aforementioned outlets–the ordering process is driven by what
newspaper and magazine distributors are willing to order,
warehouse, and send out with their trucks for their drivers to
stack on wire racks in supermarkets, convenience stores, and
airports.

Both trade book and mass-market-paperback retailing are
driven by the same basic assumption that is used for selling soft
drinks, soap, and toilet paper: display space is valuable. Put a
product up: if it sells fast, reorder; if it doesn’t move, pull
it off and ship it back.

Retailers consider book-purchasing largely an impulse “buy”
based on generic use (the category: Romance, Biography, Science
Fiction, or Self-Help), brand familiarity (the author’s name),
packaging (the cover illustration, promo copy, and quotes), and
promotion (advertising and publicity).

Aside from price, the only difference between trade book and
mass-market paperback publishing is that unsold trade books are
shipped back to the publisher’s or distributor’s warehouse while
unsold mass-market paperbacks–like unsold magazines–have their
covers stripped off and sent back to the publisher for credit.
Minus their covers, unsold mass-market paperback books are
destroyed.

The necessity of product turnover is such a major element in
book retailing that the shelf-life of 95% of published books
should be measured in the halflives of highly radioactive
isotopes.

The shelf-life of a hardcover book averages six months
before unsold copies are removed from shelves and shipped back to
the warehouse, there to be marked down to or below unit cost and
sent back to bookstores as “remainders.” One year after
publication, all but bestselling hardcovers are virtually
impossible to find in the chain retail outlets other than as a
remainder unprofitable to either publisher or author.

The shelf-life of a paperback book averages six weeks before
unsold copies are removed from racks, have their covers stripped
for credit, and destroyed. Eight months after publication–for
all but bestsellers–a paperback won’t be found anywhere but
independent bookstores. Even a successful paperback isn’t immune
to a retail book outlet stripping covers for credit against new
orders even of the same book. Thus are still-salable books
regularly destroyed by retailers and distributors eager to
improve their cash flow a few percentage points by putting off
payment to publishers for another month.

The retailing requirements of books today dictate–up stream
from retail outlets to distributors and publishers, from there up
stream to the publishers’ sales and marketing staff, up stream
there to editorial staff, and up stream ultimately to authors
wishing to be published–what can and will be written and
published.

And, overwhelmingly, what can and will be published is
severely limited by several basic rules of mass-marketing:

1) A product must be standardized at the lowest common
denominator to sell at mass-market quantities.

2) Mass-marketing is selling many units of a few products,
not few units of many products.

3) Start-up costs for a new product are high, so reduce
costs by limiting advertising and letting the product’s packaging
sell it on the shelf.

4) Introducing a new product is risky, so reduce risk by
making the new product as much as possible like the products
already available, and selling them as “just as good.”

5) Moving a brand-name product around the store too much
loses sales, so keep it on the same shelf so the customer will
know where to find it.

These basic rules of retailing are filters which determine
what books are publishable today.

By rule one, a book must fit into a standard category or
appeal to the lowest common denominator: thus the necessity that
a publishable book be either a generic–science fiction, mystery,
or romance–or a surefire runaway bestseller. Thus is an out-of-
category book, other than those capable of significant publicity
based on the author’s reputation or connections, rendered
virtually unpublishable.

By rule two, effort must be spent promoting, advertising,
and selling only the product leaders: the books which are planned
from the outset to be bestsellers. (Accidental bestsellers are
all but impossible.) Thus the publishing industry’s reliance on
celebrity books, movie and television tie-ins, “formula”
bestsellers, self-help books, cookbooks, cute calendars, and
gimmicks.

By rule three, category books must sell themselves by
generic packaging and, in some cases–such as the general-fiction
category–author’s name, alone, minimizing the risk that
customers will perceive each new book as the unique product it
is. Corollary is that a different book package must be developed
and manufactured for each category into which one would wish to
shelve the same Work. This is rarely worth the effort and the
risk is almost never taken.

By rule four, literary invention is an undesirable risk.
This makes it necessary for the “uniqueness” of books to be
eliminated as much as possible, in order to make it possible to
sell them as “just as good” as the last one. (Book retailing
seems to have been unable to find a way to apply the marketing
technique of calling a book–vis a vis a previous book–”new and
improved.”)

And by rule five, an author with name-recognition value in a
particular category must be shelved in that one category whether
or not the new Work fits that category or not. Thus will one
find Isaac Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare shelved in the science-
fiction section of some bookstores where it might find a few
science fiction readers interested in Shakespeare … but far
fewer than shelving it in the theater section.

These are the market realities that a publisher must deal
with–by which an acquiring editor is placed in blinders and an
author is saddled–before that publisher decides whether a
particular Work has even the slightest chance of overcoming the
considerable costs of acquiring rights, editing, typesetting,
packaging, manufacturing, selling, advertising, publicizing,
shipping, warehousing, and (for paperbacks) destruction.

All these are endemic limitations on book publication, even
before one gets to the epidemic book-industry difficulties such
as coordinating availability of books with their advertising and
publicity, the mis-forecasting of trends, or the collapse of
marketing commitment for books already acquired–or even in
production–because the acquiring editor has left the company.


II.
How Electronic Availability
Changes Publishing Assumptions

Even before we get to the Author’s and Reader’s perspective
on publishing, we can demonstrate how electronic availability can
solve publishers’ problems with respect to distribution.

Much of this can also be applied as “retailer” benefits,
inasmuch as a percentage of consumers will prefer to do business
through already established retail channels.

1) The retail assumption of “scarce shelf space” is
eliminated at the outset: both storage space and display space in
electronic media are, for all practical purposes, unlimited.
“Shelf-life” no longer being scarce, there is no necessity of
“moving” a product or taking it off sale, or requiring that sales
be impulse “buys.”

2) Start-up costs and therefore start-up risks that are
caused by the book-manufacturing process are brought down to a
level that can only be thought of as “spectacularly low.”

The lengthy years between delivery of a completed Work to
the publisher and earnings of revenue which can be paid to the
Author can be reduced to several months, obviating the necessity
of large up-front “advances.”

Storage costs approach zero: about $1.00 per Work, period.

Manufacturing cost before placing a title on sale: $0.35.
(Preparation of the Work up to current publishing standards is
now the author’s financial responsibility.)

A grand total of One Copy needs to be published on disk
before the first sale is made: all further copies of most Works
can be placed onto disk in minutes; a copy can be downloaded via
modem in somewhat more minutes–but minutes nonetheless.
Availability to the consumer can better mass-market distribution,
while every order can be filled as if it were a special order.

3) There need be no out-of-print titles, no remaindered or
destroyed copies. Inventory is reducible to one copy per title.
Shipping cost per unit on disk approaches that of first-class
letters or–for download via modem–is costed directly to the
consumer.

4) There is no necessity of a time-limit on availability of
a title: costs can be amortized over a much longer time than for
book publishing.

5) There is no necessity of choosing one particular category
in which to publish a Work: it can be simultaneously published in
all marketable categories: categorization can now be inclusive
rather than exclusive, encouraging–rather than discouraging–
diversity in the marketplace.

6) Works no longer need to be placed onto inappropriate
“shelves” because of the author’s name value: cross-referencing
can make it available in all marketable categories.

7) There is no necessity of relying on surefire bestsellers:
twenty titles selling moderately well can produce the same
profitability as one title selling extremely well.

8 ) Finally, there is no longer any reason to reject any
worthwhile or interesting Work because of the risk: the risk of
publication approaches its being a non-existent market factor.

Virtually in one-fell-swoop, electronic availability manages
to eliminate almost the entire downside risk of publishing and
distributing Authors’ Works. As a consequence, the cost-per unit
to the consumer can equal and ultimately drop far below mass-
market paperbacks, while the unit profitability to publisher (and
retailer) can approach that of hardcovers.


III.
The Author’s Viewpoint

From the Author’s standpoint, the marketing of books is
almost always a nightmare rather than a dream. An Author’s most
brilliant Works are often unpublishable because they are unique,
or new, or cross categories lines, or because they are difficult
to describe in twenty words or less.

First Works, particularly first novels, are often
unpublishable merely because readers won’t know the Author’s
name, and therefore the book is unlikely to overcome economy-of-
scale minimum print-runs and produce a profit. This is
compounded if the first Work is also particularly unusual or
brilliant–which is often the case.

Certain categories of books–such as fiction anthologies or
short story collections–go in and out of fashion–if one tries
to sell one the wrong year, tough luck.

The author’s share of the proceeds from sales–called
“royalties,” under a contract in which editorial responsibility
is reserved to the publisher–is small: usually 10% for hardcover
(up to 15% royalty after sales numbers achieved only by a small
percentage of books); between 4% and 10% for paperbacks, with 8%
being the commonly achieved rate given the sales figures of most
paperback books. For books first published in hardcover, these
paperback royalties must be shared between author and hardcover
publisher, usually fifty-fifty. Usually only successful authors
are able to negotiate better splits. This often leaves the share
of paperback proceeds paid to author at 3% to 4%. Most states
collect more in sales tax on a paperback book than the percentage
received by the author who created it.

The publishing process itself is costly and time-consuming,
which, again, is why book publishers have the additional start-up
cost of paying an author advances against royalties in order to
acquire the right to publish their books.

A year is the average minimum from delivery of a completed
manuscript to first publication. A year after that is the
minimum for an author to see any royalties from the first three
months of sale, and if earned royalties have somehow managed to
exceed the advance against royalties given the author by the
publisher, a certain percentage will be held back by the
publisher against the possibility of bookstores returning copies
to the publisher’s warehouse.

Often these “reserves against returns” prevent authors from
seeing significant royalties for three or more years. Given such
delays, and the short shelf life of a book, authors regularly
figure that their advance is the only money they’ll ever see from
a book sale.

Except for bestsellers, advertising ranges from minimal to
zip. Publicity tours are likewise fantasy for anyone but the big
names. The average author is lucky to get a two-in-the-morning
radio call-in show. For that all-important day of glory–the
bookstore autograph signing–the author had better phone friends:
they are likely the only ones who’ll show up.

As for reviews, they are usually sporadic, and sometimes
nonexistent. A paperback original stands as much chance of a
front-page review in the New York Times Book Review as Jesse
Jackson has being elected … Pope. Even a respectable novel
published hardcover by a major publisher may find itself ignored
by every major newspaper, magazine, and book review in the
country.

But even success has its downside. An author who has had
any success at all in one category may find it impossible to sell
a book in another category. The author can, of course, use a pen
name … but then all the painstakingly acquired name value is
lost and it’s as if the author is publishing a first book.

This is a serious drawback to such a move. A beginning
author must often sign a publishing contract on a take-it-or-
leave-it basis, with publishers offering little advance money,
giving no guarantees, assuming the right to edit the author’s
Work any way they see fit, and taking high percentages of
subsidiary rights. It seems to an author like outright thievery
until one realizes that even stacking the cards this way, the
publisher is still more likely than not to lose money on the
book.

A few authors do manage to run this gauntlet all the way to
the bestseller’s list. Here is comparative paradise: high
advances, good distribution, prime reviews, real advertising,
publicity tours, movie sales. But for the vast majority of
authors, the bestseller list is a Shangri-La, never to be found.

No wonder it’s been observed that there are only four
hundred or so authors in this country of a quarter billion who
are able to make a full-time living out of writing.


IV.
Here Comes The Commercial

Here are just a few of the ways electronic availability will
be better able to serve Authors than the current book publishing
industry:

Author’s Problem 1: The Work is unpublishable because it is
too inventive, or doesn’t fit a publishing category, or the
author is unknown, or the book can’t easily be described, or that
sort of book is out of fashion.

SoftServ Solution: Send us your poor, your tired, your
huddled Authors yearning to breathe free! The cost of storage
and distribution of a Work on SoftServ is so low that there is
virtually no quality Work on which SoftServ can’t take a chance.
Additionally, SoftServ may sell an impressive enough number of
copies that traditional publishing may take notice and publish
the Work in book form.

Author’s Problem 2: The lion’s share of revenue produced
from sale of a Work is eaten up by retailers, distributors, and
publisher, leaving only crumbs for the Author.

SoftServ Solution: The SoftServ contract assumes–for Works
not yet published–that when the Author places the Work onto
disk, this is First Publication, making the Author the Work’s
Publisher. The Author/Publisher then places the Work on
consignment with SoftServ and contracts with SoftServ to provide
marketing and electronic dissemination services.

Pre-publication functions usually assumed in the publishing
contract to be the province of the Publisher will therefore
remain with the Author: editing, proofing, copyright, placing the
Work in a format suitable for publication–in this case putting
it onto a machine-readable form. The Author/Publisher may choose
to contract with SoftServ to provide these pre-publication
services, but SoftServ will charge for these services and apply
these charges against the Author/Publisher’s share of sale
proceeds. The Author/Publisher will be free to contract
elsewhere for these services, but they will have to negotiate
separate agreements.

Literary Agents may well decide to become “Packagers,”
preparing their client’s Works for publication through SoftServ
in exchange for a larger percentage than the usual agent’s
commission.

Book publishers contracting with SoftServ for Works they
control will find the process identical to a standard subsidiary
rights arrangement.

Because of the relatively low cost of electronic storage and
dissemination, a much-higher percentage of sale proceeds will be
paid to Proprietors than offered by standard book-publishing
contracts. The standard SoftServ contract will pay between one-
third to one-half of the proceeds to the Proprietor
(Author/Publisher), depending on how the Work is sold.

Author’s Problem 3: It takes a year or more before a
completed Work is published, and a year or more before royalties
are finally, received. Significant portions of revenue due
authors are held back as “reserve against returns.”

SoftServ Solution: SoftServ should usually be able to take a
completed Work in machine-readable form and have it on sale
within thirty days. Statements of account and payments of share-
of-proceeds for copies sold the previous month should follow
every thirty days thereafter. There will be no “reserve against
returns” because there will be no returns.

Author’s Problem 4: Loss of control over the editing,
packaging, and promotion of the Work.

SoftServ Solution: All these are the domain of the
Publisher, and for Works first made available on SoftServ, the
Author will also be the Publisher. However, at
Author/Publisher’s discretion, all these can be contracted to be
handled by SoftServ, either at cash cost charged against the
Author/Publisher’s share of the proceeds, or with percentages of
proceeds against sales dedicated to these purposes open to
negotiation.

Author’s Problem 5: Little or no advertising for the Work.

SoftServ Solution: Advertising can be handled either by the
Author/Publisher, or by SoftServ, and five percent of sale
proceeds will be set aside for that purpose.

Author’s Problem 6: Few reviews of a Work.

SoftServ Solution: While how long it will take for
newspapers and magazines to begin reviewing Works available only
electronically is a matter of speculation, it can be assumed that
the stodgy book-review media will take as long to review Works
available on SoftServ as they have to review mass-market
paperbacks: no time soon.

But additional review media already exist and can be created
for electronic Works. Reviews can be garnered from computer
bulletin boards, from fanzines, from computer users groups, and
those reviews placed on computer consumer networks such as
CompuServe, The Source, and Genie. SoftServ can find these
reviews and index them to the title of the Work, making a variety
of reviews available to potential consumers before they buy a
copy.

SoftServ will maintain both a reader’s review bulletin-board
electronic magazine called DisContents, wherein SoftServ readers
can list their opinions, and will start a professional electronic
critical review magazine, Pistols at Dawn!, wherein Authors and
Professional Critics can have at each other to their hearts’
content. It should be fun to watch.

Moreover, SoftServ will make available the first 7,500 to
10,000 words–approximately the first three chapters–of every
Work available free, and in addition will distribute SoftServ
Samplers to promote Works available on SoftServ.


V.
The Reader’s Viewpoint

From the Reader’s end, book-problems are more likely to be
annoyances rather than life catastrophes. Many of these itches
are so taken for granted that their elimination will be closely
akin to providing word processors to people who’ve used nothing
but typewriters: apprehension at first, soon followed by the
question, “How did I ever put up with it?”

Here are an even dozen common problems that the SoftServ
concept will eliminate for readers:

Reader’s Problem 1: Unavailability. Variations of: “Yeah, I
know you just saw the author on TV, but–”
“We don’t have it in yet.”
“We sold out.”
“The library only has one copy, and it’s out.”
“We just sent all our copies back to the warehouse.”
“It’s out of stock at the distributor.”
“We only have volumes two and three of the trilogy.”
More serious unavailabilities:
“Never heard of it.”
(Or the reader’s never heard of it!)
“It’s out of print from the publisher.”
“I haven’t seen a copy of that for years.”
“This library doesn’t have the budget to order
that many titles since Proposition 13.”
Most serious unavailabilities:
“The town council has passed a resolution forbidding
this library to carry that book.”
“The Campus Bookstore may not carry any book deemed by
the Student Council to be racist or sexist.”
“We burn books like that!”

SoftServ Solution: Works distributed by SoftServ can remain
in on-line storage permanently, available on a moment’s notice by
modem, twenty-four hours a day. They can be delivered directly
into the home, out of reach of all censorship short of cutting
off all telephone service or banning computers and modems.
Indexing of titles and cross-referencing with reviews stored on
SoftServ can make information about the Works also instantly
available.

Reader’s Problem 2: High price: “I’ll have to wait until it
comes out in paperback.” This leads to an additional
unavailability: many hardcover books never sell to paperback.

SoftServ Solution: SoftServ should be able to sell all but
the lengthiest Works at paperback prices, but offer revenues to
Authors equivalent to hardcover sales. Moreover, even when
scheduled for book publication, Authors could make their Works
available on SoftServ a year before the first printing.

Reader’s Problem 3: Misleading packaging due to category
requirements: “This novel is titled The Tomb but there’s no tomb
in it anywhere!” Or, “There’s a spaceship, a Bug-Eyed Monster,
and a Beautiful Babe on the cover–how come they’re not in the
book?”

SoftServ Solution: Works sold by SoftServ have no necessity
of being limited to one particular category. As a matter of
fact, the more categories a book can be indexed to, the better.
Current book publishing is category-exclusive. SoftServ
Publishing will be category-inclusive.

Reader’s Problem 4: Lack of variety: “After a while, these
sorts of books all run together. Doesn’t anybody write anything
original anymore?”

SoftServ Solution: Works sold through SoftServ need have
none of the retail market limitations on content, originality,
inventiveness, breaking category, or necessity of mass sales to
the “lowest common denominator.” The elimination of most start-
up costs and market risks makes even a first novel by a complete
unknown a potential money-maker. Because of this, electronic
publishing should produce a veritable renaissance in literature
by eliminating all retail-created limitations on publication.

Reader’s Problem 5: Storage space. Schulman’s First Law:
Books will exceed bookshelves.

SoftServ Solution: Given the storage capacities of current
diskettes, most people could keep their entire library in a
shoebox. When CD-Rom becomes industry standard, entire libraries
will be storable on one compact disk.

Reader’s Problem 6: Shipping weight of books when moving.
“Leave them behind? It took me ten years to build this
collection!”

SoftServ Solution: Take the shoebox (or CD) with you when
you move.

Reader’s Problem 7: Small type.

SoftServ Solution: Set your computer printer to print large
type.

Reader’s Problem 8: Difficulty of replacing worn-out copies.

SoftServ Solution: Print another copy. If you’re worried
that your diskette is getting old, make a new copy of it, too.

Reader’s Problem 9: Two people in the same household want to
read the same book at the same time, but don’t want to buy two
copies.

SoftServ Solution: Print out two copies. Or get a computer
with multi-user capability. Or even two computers, cheapskate.

Reader’s Problem 10: Difficulty locating a particular quote
in a book, or a particular scene, or a character.

SoftServ Solution: Global “string” searches could locate all
instances of a name or key word–a useful capability for both the
student and the professional.

Reader’s Problem 11: Illiteracy, Blindness, Poor Eyesight,
Reading Disfunctions, or English-language difficulties.

SoftServ Solution: For the illiterate or those with other
reading problems, works available on SoftServ could
simultaneously be displayed on screen as text and read aloud by a
voice synthesizer. Or just the latter. For the blind reader,
Works available on SoftServ could be immediately available to
Braille printers, dot-matrix printers using software designed to
print Braille, or any other equipment capable of accepting ASCII.

Reader’s Problem 12: Difficulties in judging a book by its
content, rather than by its cover, particularly: a) Obtaining a
wide variety of reviews of a Work–a comparison of opinions–
before purchase; and b) Difficulty of reading a significant
portion of a book–enough to decide on purchase–while standing
in a bookstore.

SoftServ Solution: Through on-line reviews available in
DisContents and the critic/author debates in Pistols at Dawn!–
all indexed both to Title and Author–the Reader will have access
to a powerful tool in determining which Works are worth purchase.

The SoftServ Sampler concept, mentioned under heading IV,
will also provide readers with free copies of the first 7,500 to
10,000 words–approximately the first three chapters–of every
Work available–another powerful tool in judging Works by their
content, not by their cover.

In addition to all these solutions to already-existing
problems, there will be one primary reason why Readers will come
to SoftServ to find the Authors they wish to read: That’s where
the Authors will be.

Given the overwhelming problems that SoftServ is able to
solve for the vast majority of Authors, and the much-higher-share
of proceeds-per-sale that will be available to Authors as
compared to traditional book publishing, the market will surely
gravitate toward even bestselling Authors placing their Works on
SoftServ then selling them to book publishers.

And given that many Works–even by name Authors–will remain
unpublishable as books given the high costs, high risks, and
limitations of book publishing, SoftServ will often remain the
one place where Readers will always be able to find a book.


VI.
Publishing a Work Through SoftServ

The process of publishing a work through SoftServ will
parallel that of publishing through print media.

An Author will write the work, and is free to engage
whatever editorial help is necessary. SoftServ will be
interested in seeing the Work only when it is finished and ready
for publication, and will rely on established authors, literary
agents, and publishers to prepare the Work up to publishable
standards, copyright it, place it into machine-readable form, and
format it to SoftServ’s electronic requirements.

At the point where the Work is ready to go, a Marketing
Agreement will be signed between the Proprietor of the Work and
SoftServ. SoftServ will place the Work on its host computers,
list it in its electronic catalog of available Works, and
publicize it to the electronic marketplace.

Works will be available through SoftServ both in electronic
“soft” versions in magnetic or optical media, and, if the Work is
not in print as a bound book, the Work will also be available as
an unbound “hard” copy.

For each copy of the Work sold through SoftServ, SoftServ
will collect from the purchaser, deduct its sales commission, and
forward the proceeds to the Proprietor. Statements and proceeds
will be sent once each month.

SoftServ will also sometimes handle subsidiary rights to
license the Work for traditional print publication such as in
book or magazine form, through a book club, or on tape.

For Works available on SoftServ that are also available, or
soon to be available, in published book form, SoftServ will make
the book version available direct-mail to its customers through
electronic orders from the SoftServ Electronic Bookshop.


VII.
Buying From SoftServ

Buying Works from SoftServ will begin with a sign-up
procedure to establish an account and a Personal Identification
Number (PIN) on the system. A start-up kit will then be sent
which includes a properly configured SoftServ Reader Program with
the PIN embedded in it, as well as XModem software to be used for
electronic modem communications with SoftServ, documentation, and
credit toward the purchase of two Works. Modem communications
with SoftServ, including access to the electronic catalog and to
place orders, will be available at 300 bps, 1200 bps, or 2400
bps. The customer will be responsible for all communications
charges, whether by telephone or through a computer network such
as the Source, CompuServe, or GEnie.

If the customer does not have a modem, a hard copy of the
catalog may be ordered and orders for Works will be able to be
placed either by mail or by ordinary voice telephone.

Once the SoftServ customer has a Reader Program for her or
his computer, the customer will be able to place orders with
SoftServ, either for the Work, or a SoftServ Sampler, to be
downloaded immediately via modem–at either 1200 bps or 2400 bps,
24 hours a day, 365 days a year–or mailed on disk. All Works
purchased will be in crunched, encrypted form and keyed to the
PIN number in that particular customer’s Reader Program: these
Works will not be accessible without the Reader Program or by any
other Reader Program. This is both to protect against pirating
of Works, and to be able to assure both Author and Reader that
the Work is authentic, and hasn’t been cut, edited, re-written,
censored, bowdlerized, or otherwise screwed up.

The customer will be billed for all copies ordered, and will
be allowed to make up to several hard or soft copies for personal
not-for-commercial-resale use.

SoftServ will also be experimenting with selling diskettes
and hard copies through retail outlets such as bookstores,
computer & electronics stores, copy shops, and department stores.


VIII.
The Bottom Line

Judging by how well it can serve the needs of Authors and Readers
as compared to the problems of book publishing today, there seems
little doubt that Electronic Mass-Market Trade Publishing is an idea
whose time has come.


My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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Guest Editorial by L. Neil Smith: Little Criminals — The Context of Consent

L. Neil Smith

L. Neil Smith is the First Initial Middle-Name-”Neil” Last-Name-Begins-With-”S” Prometheus-Award-Winning Libertarian-Science-Fiction-Author Gun-Writer Singer/Songwriter” who is not me. Now here’s something else we agree about.

Little Criminals — The Context of Consent

By L. Neil Smith
The Libertarian Enterprise

Have you ever noticed — in movies, books, or real life — that when a mugger attacks someone, he never says “Give me your money!” but usually says “Give me the money!” or even “Give me my money!” instead?

There seems to be a basic human drive to justify one’s actions, no matter how heinous they might actually be. Sometimes it’s a matter of self-deception — “I’m doing this for your own good!” — sometimes it’s a matter of propaganda: “We had to destroy the village to save it.” It’s the basis on which millions of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and others were stripped of their perceived humanity in the 1940s and
massacred.

I was probably only eight years old when I realized that socialism is nothing more than a fancied-up excuse for stealing other people’s property and killing them if they resist, that collectivism is just a shabby attempt to make theft and murder appear respectable. Later on, I came to understand that this is true of all “philosophies” of government.

We all live in a kleptocracy.

Lately, we have witnessed the rise of a movement — a thuggish crusade wrapped in the tattered robes of academic “respectability” against “Intellectual Property Rights” — dedicated to stripping creative individuals of whatever they create, to expropriate it for some imagined “greater good,” and to attack the creators viciously and defame them if they should be so gauche as to object to being stolen from.

Their principal “argument” seems to be, now that almost everything is digitized and can be duplicated, manipulated, and transported by means of electronics, that this somehow removes the moral obligation of civilized beings to respect the rights of others and honor their propriety. It’s fundamentally the same argument that victim disarmament advocates make when they claim — ignoring the principle involved — that the authors of the Second Amendment couldn’t possibly anticipate machine guns.

Even more, it’s like a rapist saying afterward, “Hey, if you were a virgin, at least that’s taken care of now. And if you weren’t, then you haven’t really lost anything, have you? True, I have benefited from your sexuality, but you still have it, don’t you? And if you didn’t want to get raped, you had no business going out in public and spraying pheromones all over. In fact, I think I’m the real victim, here.”

I am currently thinking these thoughts, and many more besides, because, when they thought I wasn’t looking, a small handful of literary muggers and rapists have taken something that I am fairly famous for having written — my “Covenant of Unanimous Consent” — inflicted alterations on it which they falsely claim makes it a different document, and then fraudulently passed it off as their own work.

Which means any signatures it gathered were obtained fraudulently, too. They would want me to mention who they are and give you their URL.

I’ve seen plagiarism before. In ninth grade, I won a short story contest because the guy who “beat” me had typed up something by Robert Sheckley or Richard Matheson and passed it off as his own. I’m not the one who turned him in, although I had immediately recognized the story. The idiot had to get on the PA system and confess to his crime. Whether it ruined his life forever or was the making of him, I have no way of knowing. I had no sympathy for him because what he did is a crime, in the legal sense but more importantly, in the moral sense, as well.

Back to the present.

In time, several individuals warned me about what had happened, and I contacted the plagiarists directly, myself. Imagine my surprise when, instead of apologizing humbly and abjectly, as they ought to have done, and sought to make restitution, they became obnoxious and aggressive, so that, in the end, I was considered the villain of the piece, and called names, simply for having defended my own work from theft.

You will be interested to learn — and falling-down amused, if you know me or my work at all well — that I am, officially, a “statist asshole.” In part, this is because I politely informed them I was sharing our correspondence with my attorney, to whom I had started blind-copying everything. My attorney is also among my very closest friends, and I had decided to blind-copy him to keep his Inbox clear of the heady liquid excrement (ever see the uncut final sequence of The Magic Christian?) I was having to wade through to protect my rights.

Never forget that I am a statist asshole.

Please note: I had never said that I was planning to sue this gang of little criminals, only that I was blind-copying my correspondence with them to my attorney. It was they who jumped to the conclusion that I wanted to sue them. Even when I told them that I wasn’t planning to sue them, and instead mentioned private adjudication — a process, I assume, that can legitimately involve attorneys — they childishly went on calling me a statist, not because it was true, but because it was such a swell smelly ball of excrement to smear on the wall.

This is not unlike the way, whenever they sensed dimly that they were losing the argument at hand, my grandmother Mabel and my wife’s grandmother Bertha (no, I am not kidding), both of whom were Roosevelt Democrats with minds so narrow they could look through a keyhole with both eyes, would resort to calling anyone who disagreed with them a communist.

Thus I am a statist asshole.

I have a small bet with myself that if I had informed these opponents of common, civilized behavior that I consider that what they have done amounts to an act of initiated force against me — with all of the consequences that entails — intervention on their behalf by the State, most likely in the form of badged and uniformed policemen who could prevent me from dealing with them directly, myself, would suddenly, miraculously appear a whole lot more attractive and morally acceptable.

But, statist asshole that I am, I have digressed.

At some point, I realized that the topic of intellectual property rights (about which I have never before been particularly interested) would have to be dealt with in Where We Stand, the volume I’m currently writing on libertarian policy, and that if I were to write an article about this little flapette for my editorial journal The Libertarian Enterprise, it might be suitable for the book. I conveyed that idea to the plagiarists as politely as I could, and put off any further argument with them until the article could be written and published.

The very next thing I knew, I was being defamed, by the leader of these scavengers and parasites, to all sixteen of the listeners to his Internet radio show, and all over the Internet. But, of course, had I decided to sue the guy for libel, slander, and defamation, in addition to his plagiarism, that would have made me a statist asshole all over again.

A double statist asshole.

Ever hear a mugger or rapist complain bitterly when it turns out his victim is armed and can defend him- or herself? I have. He sounds exactly like a left wing anti-gun politician. He also sounds exactly like the second-handers whole stole my work and offered it as their own.

Like many another pack of thieves, the Hole-In-The-Head Gang (to borrow a phrase) had an ideology with which to alibi themselves. The first tenet is that there is a distinction between physical property and what some — especially its creators — claim to be “intellectual property.”

They informed me, loftily, that just because I think of an idea, that doesn’t mean it belongs to me. That if I don’t want something I created stolen, then I shouldn’t communicate it to the world. Fine — and if everybody followed this “advice,” these creeps wouldn’t have any opposition to their thievery, and no stories or books would ever be published, no songs would ever be written, no music would ever be composed.

What a swell world that would be.

Believe it or not, one of these scavengers defended his crime by asserting that the Covenant of Unanimous Consent did not appear on one of the more prominent pages of my website. That’s exactly like ordering me to turn in my Yves Saint Laurent suit (believe it or not, I own one, and a nice Calvin Klein, too) because I don’t wear it very often. True, I had backed off pressing the Covenant as it became more and more obvious to me the movement had deteriorated so badly that the Zero Aggression Principle was now considered controversial, and even oppressive.

“You are a dinosaur and your assertion [presumably of my personal property rights] is invalid,” another of them informed me grandly. He, too, would want me to mention his name. “Innovation is impossible under your worldview.”

As an individualist, I’m not generally interested in Utilitarian arguments. However, it is worth noting that the past 300 years have seen the greatest progress in human history, and it’s exactly the same era in which copyright has been respected and stringently enforced. In this connection it’s worth asking, since there is no actual difference between intellectual property and physical property, when some self-appointed committee of sticky-fingered little rodents will “discover” that fact, and decide that you don’t really need your wallet, your car, your house, or especially your guns. It’s been done everywhere else, during the last couple of centuries, all over the world. Why not here?

Only we’ll call it libertarianism.

As I say, I had pretty much ignored the issue of intellectual property rights, even though arguments about it had been raging all over my blog at BigHeadPress.com, and in the virtual pages of my opinion journal, The Libertarian Enterprise. For the most part, I had been too busy creating more intellectual property, notably my vampire novel, Sweeter Than Wine and the policy guide, Where We Stand. Now I was going to have to think about it and say something coherent.

Damn.

My first observation is that, in a moral context, there is no discernible difference between physical property and intellectual property. As I first learned at the age of thirteen from the pages of Jack Finney’s 1959 novel Assault on a Queen, virtually everything we have, we have purchased at the price of little bits of our lives which we dedicate to fulfilling some employer’s interests rather than our own. We trade the seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and eventually the years of our lives for our homes, cars, and everything else.

Traditionally in civilized property theory, “mingling your labor with the land,” the concepts of “sweat equity,” and of “selling little bits of your life” in order to acquire whatever you need or want, abolishes any meaningful difference between physical and intellectual property. The farmer begins with a tree-covered lot that he must clear and plow and plant, and the writer with a damnedly blank page or screen.

Property is property and theft is theft. Or as my wife Cathy, who can be refreshingly straightforward, puts it, unless you can go out in a field somewhere and pee me a bicycle without reflecting on it, all property is intellectual property. Somebody had to think of it. Somebody had to build it. And somebody had to use his mind to earn the money “or other valuable consideration” that was exchanged for the bicycle.

When I first went to college as a freshly-fledged “admirer of Ayn Rand,” I was informed — by leftists deeply involved in what was billed as the “Civil Rights Movement” — that there are human rights and then there are property rights; only the former existed in reality and are legitimate. Some of them asserted mockingly that property couldn’t have rights, others that defending property rights is somehow reprehensible and evil. Doomed never to be popular at school, I disagreed. It had been my experience that those who disparage property rights most vociferously usually do it because they want your property themselves.

Almost to a man (if that’s not giving these poor creatures too much credit; I have noticed that none of these would-be looters seem to be female, perhaps because women are the ultimate creators and the fiercest guardians of that which evolution has put in their charge) these illiterati seem to be very poorly educated where history in general — and the history of the libertarian movement in particular — are concerned. One of them actually quotes one of the original ideological expropriationists for the common good, collectivist anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, in his messages: “Property is theft.”

That’s like a Jew leaning on Adolf Eichmann for support.

They seem a little unendowed in the imagination department, too. I have spent my entire adult life writing novels about how the mechanics of civilization can be re-engineered to exclude the very concept of government.

I hereby sentence them to read The Probability Broach, Pallas, and especially Forge of the Elders. Just because the state has protected intellectual property rights in the past, that doesn’t mean intellectual property rights don’t have to be protected. Just because it’s difficult to imagine how, that doesn’t relieve us of the moral burden.

Copyright © 2010 L. Neil Smith. All rights reserved. Used by permission. For reprint rights email L. Neil Smith.

My own writings on “IP” are in previous columns here on J. Neil Schulman @ Rational Review:

Informational Property — Logorights

Copying Is Not Theft? How About Identity Theft?

Copying Is Not Theft? How About Forgery? Counterfeiting? Plagiarism?

–J. Neil Schulman

The Two Neils

J. Neil Schulman (Photo Left)
with L. Neil Smith (Photo Right),
July, 1998

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A Pledge

J. Neil Schulman stands on Concord Bridge

J. Neil Schulman on Concord Bridge holding his James Madison Award

I think there is a kind of litigious evil which can not be permitted without the destruction of law itself: when a thief sues a property owner for defending himself from the thief. I pledge my life, my fortune, and my sacred honor that I will defend law itself from this kind of shameless thief.


My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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The NRA Needs to Grow a Pair


Let’s start with how long I’ve been involved with the NRA.

NRA Pro Marksman CertificateNRA Basic Marksmanship Certificate

I got my first NRA shooting certificate when I was 12-years-old and my NRA pistol certification when I was 38.

I’ve been an NRA member for a couple of decades, and I’m currently a Life Member. When I lived in Southern California I was President of the NRA Members Council of West Side Los Angeles.

J. Neil Schulman wearing NRA hat at 1994 rally

J. Neil Schulman wearing NRA Cap at 1994 rally

My father, concert violinist Julius Schulman, was also an NRA member — at least as far back as the 1960′s to his passing in 2000 — and I remember American Rifleman mailed to our house in Natick, Mass., and reading the digest of newspaper stories highlighting gun-owner defenses in the “Armed Citizen” column every month. That — and my father’s own personal accounts of how on several occasions he used his CCW-licensed handgun to save his own and others’ lives from criminal attacks — is one of the reasons I eventually wrote my 1994 Charlton-Heston-endorsed book Stopping Power: Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns.

Cover of Stopping Power
Cover: Self Control Not Gun Control

My 1995 book, Self Control Not Gun Control, contains this from my chapter, “In Defense of the NRA“:

Most of what you hear about guns on TV and radio, and most of what you read about guns in prominent magazines and newspapers, is distorted to the point of lying, by writers who have a prejudice against private ownership of guns by the American public.

Most journalists today write as if the NRA–usually lumped in with the Tobacco Institute–represents only the commercial interests of “merchants of death” who don’t care how many lives are lost–particularly the lives of our young people–just so long as they get to keep selling their product.

So let’s get that myth out of the way right now.

The National Rifle Association of America is a 124-year-old organization almost entirely financed by the dues and small contributions of its 3.2 million members, not by money from the gun manufacturers. In addition to the NRA’s other programs, the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action lobbies for the right to keep and bear arms not only of 70 million current American gun owners, but of anyone who might want to exercise that right in the future.

This media hostility to the NRA permeates the entire debate about guns and violence in this country, and allows lie to be piled upon lie. When NRA held a news conference to tell the media that a new Luntz-Weber poll showed that most Americans don’t think gun control will reduce crime or violence, the room was empty. When Handgun Control, Inc., called a news conference around the same time to discuss the results of a Louis Harris poll, the room was jammed with reporters and TV cameras, and the media reported Handgun Control’s interpretation of the poll results as if it were a papal encyclical.

At some point, you just have to ask yourself the following question: who knows more about guns–the millions of NRA members who own them, handle them on a regular basis, and have taken NRA’s safety courses…or journalists who talk and write about guns for television networks and national magazines, but are often afraid even to be in the same room with one?

As a comparison, would you believe a writer who spent his life railing about how dangerous automobiles were, but who had never sat behind the steering wheel of a car? Why on earth would you believe a critic who spent his life telling you how to improve automotive safety but who had never bothered to get an engineering degree–and who dismissed the opinions of real automotive experts who pointed out the critic’s incompetence and bias, sneering that the experts were “just mouthpieces for the automobile manufacturers’ lobby”?

So if I’m now telling the NRA’s political strategists that they’re acting like cowards — acting out of fear of what their enemies might do — understand that it’s said out of love.

The NRA is considering endorsing the solidly anti-gun-owner Nevada Senator Harry Reid — the current Senate Majority Leader — in his run against the solidly pro-gun-owner Sharron Angle.

Now, I’m not a big fan of Sharron Angle, even though the list of areas where we agree is formidable. She believes in the absolute right to keep and bear arms; so do I. She wants to phase out the Department of Education — a massive bureaucracy that doesn’t educate anybody — and Social Security — which given its bankruptcy guarantees the young workers being taxed for it no security whatsoever.

But Sharron Angle also is so opposed to legalizing marijuana that she’d bring back alcohol prohibition if necessary to prevent it; is opposed to legal gambling in her state whose entire economy is based on legal gambling; and is more anti-abortion than the Pope, who isn’t as opposed to saving the life of a mother as Mrs. Angle is.

I just don’t trust anyone who picks and chooses which of the Bill of Rights she likes and which she doesn’t like, and Sharron Angle’s devotion to the State using its police power to enforce her ideas on Christian morality makes me think that if push ever came to shove, she’d sell out the Second Amendment to keep something that offends her church illegal in a Las Vegas minute.

The 2012 election is coming up, and for you Heinlein fans out there, keep a sharp eye out for the crop of Nehemiah Scudders currently infecting the Tea Party movement. Sharron Angle and Sarah Palin give me the willies. But if Sharron Angle is elected, as a first-time senator she’ll be a back-bencher — no seniority, little power. No immediate threat.

There is just no excuse for the NRA considering endorsing Harry Reid to keep his U.S. Senate seat and his position as Senate Majority Leader simply because some election tout at 11250 Waples Mill Road is pissing his pants that if Nevada voters fire Reid New York Senator Charles Schumer might replace him.

So what? Even if the Republicans don’t take back one house or the other, are we so afraid of the outcome of one lousy election that we have to give our sanction of the victim to Harry Reid who is just as opposed to gun-owner rights as Schumer, but has the slight tactical advantage that he’s more retarded?

We’ve got the facts of gun-owner defenses on our side. We’ve got the Constitution on our side. At this fleeting moment in time we even have the Supreme Court on our side. Now’s no time to show the white feather.

The NRA is made up of people who are willing to shoot back when attacked. It’s intolerable that the world’s biggest organization defending the political immunities of gun owners should put up with lobbyists and political tacticians who are afraid of their own shadows.

As I wrote in a song I put on the soundtrack of my movie, Lady Magdalene’s, “I’d rather be tried by twelve than carried by six.”




My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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The Heinlein-Konkin Birthday Party


Samuel Edward Konkin IIIRobert A. Heinlein

For many years my friend Samuel Edward Konkin III –SEK3, for brevity — always celebrated his July 8th birthday in conjunction with Robert A. Heinlein’s July 7th birthday. When both were alive, it was not uncommon for me to put in a phone call to Mr. Heinlein so I could put Sam on the phone with him, and they could wish each other Happy Birthday.

Sam was a nocturnal creature at best, and an alien at worst. I don’t mean in this case a Canadian living in the United States; I mean someone whose home planet had a different circadian than Earth’s 24-hour cycle. Sam’s natural circadian was for a day somewhere between 26 and 27 hours, and there is no planet in our solar system with that circadian. So if Sam’s internal circadian matched some other humanoid species, it was from another star system; or maybe we need to look more closely at some brane in the 11th Dimension.

The point is, I’m writing this at about 11:00 PM on July 7th — and often enough, that’s about when Sam would be downing his first beer for the Heinlein-Konkin Birthday Party, which would be the official start of the party.

Aside from family members, Robert A. Heinlein and Samuel Edward Konkin III were the two most influential men in my life. Heinlein shaped my childhood through his novels and short stories; and he gets this place above other authors who were influential — such as C.S. Lewis — because I eventually met and became friends with Heinlein. C.S. Lewis had passed before I’d read him.

I wrote about Heinlein when he passed:

Sooner or later we all imagine there’s a set of technical manuals our parents were supposed to give us at birth with instructions on How Life Works.

Not that thick book called The Purpose of Your Life. You get that one later. These are “How To” manuals. Each is called Getting By When You’re Up The Creek Without a Paddle, Fighting Back When You’re Sick of Getting Pushed Around, Love — What It is and How to Survive It, or How to Keep From Going Crazy When Everyone Around You Already Is.

Obviously, sometime before you were born, your parents pawned the manuals for a down payment on a Chevy. Or maybe the tomes went overboard when their parents emigrated to America. Or were they incinerated during the big library fire in Alexandria?

Anyway, people keep fudging up replacements. You’ll find them in the Philosophy section, the Psychology section, the Science section, and (Someone help you) the UFO Abduction/Tarot/Astrology/Numerology section.

Look no further: you’ll find the closest thing to the Lost Manuals in the science fiction section: the author was Robert A. Heinlein.

An engineer by trade, Heinlein knew that while machines can be duplicated, people can’t be: no set of engineering instructions could apply to several billion individuals. He gave basic working diagrams; folks would have to jury-rig things from there.

Heinlein wrote fiction because that’s what non-engineers could understand best — and he set his stories in strange lands because things were changing so fast that any land we encounter was bound to be.

Take the Lost Manual titled Getting By When You’re Up the Creek Without a Paddle. Heinlein wrote several versions, each with a different slant. In Tunnel in the Sky teenagers on a two-week survival test find themselves stranded on a virgin planet, probably for good. In Job: A Comedy of Justice a preacher on vacation finds that while God might not play dice with the universe, it’s only because He prefers other games.

In Citizen of the Galaxy a boy is sold into slavery to a crippled beggar … and eventually concludes this was the best thing that ever happened to him. And in Have Space Suit — Will Travel a high school senior is abducted by a UFO, and ultimately finds himself in a distant courtroom appointed Clarence Darrow for the entire human race; this novel comes close to combining all the Lost Manuals into one.

Love — What It Is and How to Survive It: Heinlein wrote this several times, also. In The Door Into Summer a poor inventor lives through his fiancee turning into as much fun after work as Lucrezia Borgia; cryonics and a time machine give him a second shot at love. Time travel also helps Lazarus Long in Time Enough For Love find love a second time. It takes him 23 centuries to find the woman of his dreams but it turns out to be his own mother. (See previous Manual.)

As for How to Keep from Going Crazy When Everyone Around You Already Is — Heinlein considered most people “candidates for protective restraint.” Stranger in a Strange Land is Heinlein’s best attempt here. But try figuring out which characters aren’t already crazy.

Fighting Back When You’re Sick of Getting Pushed Around was Heinlein’s favorite topic. His early novel If This Goes On –, included in The Past Through Tomorrow, has a preacher combining the worst of Pat Robertson, Jimmy Swaggart, and Orel Roberts elected president; a century later a Masonic Cabal is taking on the American theocracy run by the Prophet Incarnate. Methuselah’s Children (also in TPTT) has Lazarus Long’s tribe fleeing Earth to escape genocide.

Heinlein wrote four other novels of revolution. In Sixth Column super-science drives out the Pan-Asian conquerors of America. In Red Planet colonial rebels on Mars seek Martian help against absentee rulers on Earth. In Between Planets the rebellion stretches from Venus to Mars: this is my nomination for Robert A. Heinlein’s best-written novel.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is Heinlein’s libertarian classic — the Atlas Shrugged of science fiction. The revolution is on the moon; its leaders have read Ayn Rand; and one of them, Professor Bernardo de la Paz, is based on Heinlein’s old buddy, Robert LeFevre of Rampart College.

Robert A. Heinlein, in his half-century career, wrote over 45 books selling forty million copies worldwide. A mindful history will place him alongside Dickens and Twain.

We must cry that his pen has been set down for the last time: we can rejoice at the immense lost legacy he has regained for us.

When SEK3 passed I wrote the following:

I first met Sam in 1971 in New York City, at the first libertarian meeting I ever attended, the New York Libertarian Association, in libertarian attorney Gary Greenberg’s living room. I’d already started a campus libertarian group at the branch of City University of New York I was attending. Sam, a believer in the “libertarian alliance” concept of stringing together libertarian groups, immediately found this naive 18-year-old worth talking to.

We found out almost immediately that we shared an interest in science fiction (particularly Robert A. Heinlein) and the works of C.S. Lewis, whose Narnian chronicles I’d read as a child. Sam was only the second other person in my life I’d met who had read Heinlein, and the first other person I’d met who’d read Lewis. It was Sam who told me that Lewis had written more than the Narnian children’s books, introduced me to Lewis’s nonfiction and adult fiction, and took me to my first meeting of the C.S. Lewis Society of New York, which we attended together regularly. Sam also took me to my first science-fiction convention, 1971′s Lunacon, in New York City, to my first world science-fiction convention, Torcon, in Toronto, ON, in 1973, and to my first meeting of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society (LASFS). We joined the just-formed Southern California C.S. Lewis Society together in 1975, and Sam and I each served on its governing council for a number of terms.

In New York, Sam took me to lectures where I met Murray Rothbard, introduced me to the writings of Ludwig von Mises, took me to my first libertarian conference at Hunter College in New York City, where I first met Robert LeFevre, and we audited recorded playings of the Brandens’ Basic Principles of Objectivism lectures together, also at Hunter College.

And, Sam and I tooled around New York City, searching out “underground gourmet” restaurants, and always (on the first day when possible) catching the latest Woody Allen movie or the latest James Bond movie.

Sam was a speaker at both of the libertarian CounterCon conferences on countereconomics I organized in 1974 and 1975.

We left New York together to come out to the promised land, Southern California, where he lived the rest of his life, except for two years in Las Vegas. Our automobile journey west with two other libertarians (Bob “Kedar” Cohen and Andy Thornton), in July and August 1975, took us to the Rivercon science fiction convention in Louisville,KY, and to the home of science-fiction magazine publisher Richard E. Geis in Portland, before we arrived in Los Angeles on August 10, 1975, where we spent our first night sleeping on the apartment floor of Dana Rohrabacher, Sam’s libertarian mentor, and now U.S. Congressman from Orange County, CA. Even today Congressman Rohrabacher still speaks fondly of Sam’s genius and imagination.

Dana introduced us to independent filmmaker Chris Schaefer, who managed an apartment complex in Long Beach. This became the AnarchoVillage (named after Sam’s recent six-floor walk-up apartment on East 11th Street in NYC which he’d dubbed the AnarchoSlum) and we lived two apartments away from each other until 1984. Many, many days were spent collating, folding, stapling, and mailing out magazines (many with articles of mine) with eating and drinking afterwards. When I was broke in those days, Sam was always happy to pick up the check and lay a “meal ob” on me, a concept we got from Eric Frank Russell’s libertarian SF novel, The Great Explosion.

A few years later I returned the favor when I set Sam up in an apartment he dubbed the AnarchoVilla, on Overland Avenue in Culver City. That apartment was production central for my book publishing. Sam was the production backbone and book designer for every book that came out from Pulpless.Com, and a talented graphic artist for many of the covers.

So, continue the tradition. Heinlein probably wouldn’t care what’s in your glass if you’re making a toast to them; but Sam had a firm belief that any beer you could see through wasn’t worth drinking.

Unless, of course that’s all that’s left in the bathtub.


My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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The Declaration of Independence


The Declaration of Independence

The Unanimous Declaration
of the Thirteen United States of America

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. –Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samual Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Source: The Pennsylvania Packet, July 8, 1776 And just so some wise-acre doesn’t give me grief about it — no, I’m not trying to claim a copyright on this document, which is freakingly obvious in the public domain. :-)


My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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It’s Time to Close the Damned Northern Border!

Enough already about the Southern border with Mexico. The Mexicans are no threat to our way of life. Drug gangs? Please. Arizona just added legalized concealed carry of firearms without any licensing requirement to its already-existing policy of legal open carry of firearms without any licensing requirement. Any Mexican drug gangs mix it up with us Wild West types we’ll kick their asses all the way back to Mexico City just like we did in the 1840′s.

Mexicans come here, they sell me cheap oranges, they’ll do first-rate plumbing, electrical work, construction, and landscaping for a fraction of the cost I’d have to pay a licensed union worker, and Mexican food rocks. So what if I have to learn a little Spanish to understand their gibberish? Their women are hot and it’s all natural — no Beverly Hills surgery required.

No, as usual everybody’s looking the wrong direction. The danger to the American Way of Life is all these damned Canadians.

Canada

To start with, how dumb and weak-assed do you have to have been to have a shot at joining in with a revolution put together by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Tom Paine, Sam Adams, and John Adams … and say, “No, thank you. We’re perfectly happy continuing to pay our taxes to some German king in London?” I mean, WTF?

Look, I like bangers and mashed as much as the next fellow, but I can’t recall seeing any drive-up windows with a clown logo where after putting in an order for bland sausages I’m asked by a pimply electronic voice, “You want mashed with that?”

Canadian politics? Their idea of a conservative is Leon Trotsky. They yammer all the time about how civilized they are and Americans aren’t but I seem to recall them sending troops to just about every stupid war we have. They may not pay their taxes to the Germans anymore but they still tax themselves half to death and brag about a socialized health care system that relies on private-sector American companies selling them drugs cheaper there than we can buy them here and Canadians running to American ER’s every time they actually need quality health care.

And I find it easier to mail a book or a DVD to London, Tokyo, or the Philippines than to get one past Canadian customs. I’ve had books and DVD’s that I paid overnight rates for sit in Canadian customs for a week or two before they finally deigned to allow their subjects to be allowed to receive them.

Then, of course, every time I run across some science-fiction novel that portrays America as some Jerry Falwell/Sarah Palin right-wing nightmare, by some coincidence it’s always some writer living in Toronto who never would dream of writing a 1984 dystopia set in their own country — it’s always set in mine. Like Canada has had a Bill of Rights going back over two centuries. Oh, wait. They didn’t get one that meant anything until after I’d published my first novel.

I have to admit that I harbored a Canadian illegal for decades. But you have you ask yourself: why is it that Canadians bitch so much about America but they don’t consider themselves a success at anything until they can make a go of it here?

Come on, I’m feeling feisty! You want a little one-on-one, Canada?

We had Frank Sinatra. Your answer was Michael Bublé.

We gave you Barbra Streisand. You gave us Céline Dion.

We gave you Elvis. You gave us Paul Anka.

I might be able to put up with Alanis Morissette if she could stop whining about her exes for five minutes.

We gave you Groucho Marx, Jack Benny, Danny Kaye, Mel Brooks, and Eddie Murphy. And, okay, you got something going with Mike Myers and Jim Carrey — but wait … aren’t they both naturalized U.S. citizens now?

And Alanis Morissette, too?

The point is, every time you get something going that might rightly be claimed as Canadian culture, you send it here and it becomes American culture.

Then you bitch about what barbarians we are.

Enough already. Eat your damned bangers and mashed.

I’m heading for Taco Bell.


My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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Kevin Sorbo Raises Up Alongside Night Movie


(OPENPRESS) July 1, 2010 — International movie & TV star, Kevin Sorbo — Meet the Spartans, Andromeda, and whose TV series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys was the #1 rated show worldwide — has joined the film production of Alongside Night as an executive producer as well as accepting the lead role of Nobel-prize-winning economist, Dr. Martin Vreeland.

Kevin Sorbo
Kevin Sorbo

Alongside Night, based on the highly-acclaimed 1979 novel adapted and to be directed by its author, J. Neil Schulman (writer/director of Lady Magdalene’s, writer of Twilight Zone: “Profile in Silver”) is the story of the final economic collapse of the United States as seen through the eyes of 18-year-old Elliot Vreeland, searching for his missing Nobel-laureate-economist father, and the mysterious 18-year-old “Lorimer” whom Elliot meets in a black-market underground, whose own father might be the reason Elliot’s father is missing.

The novel was published in hardcover by Crown Publishers on October 16, 1979, with an endorsement on the dust jacket from A Clockwork Orange author, Anthony Burgess, who wrote, “I received Alongside Night at noon today. It is now eight in the evening and I just finished it. I think I am entitled to some dinner now as I had no lunch. The unputdownability of the book ensured that. It is a remarkable and original story, and the picture it presents of an inflation- crippled America on the verge of revolution is all too acceptable. I wish, and so will many novelists, that I, or they, had thought of the idea first. A thrilling novel, crisply written, that fires the imagination as effectively as it stimulates the feelings.”

Alongside Night 1979 Crown Hardcover
Alongside Night by J. Neil Schulman
Cover of 1979 Crown Hardcover

An endorsement from Milton Friedman, 1976 Nobel laureate in Economics, also appeared on the first-edition dust jacket: “An absorbing novel–science fiction, yet also a cautionary tale with a disturbing resemblance to past history and future possibilities.”

More recently, Congressman Ron Paul endorsed the 2009 30th Anniversary Edition of Alongside Night, writing, “Alongside Night may be even more relevant today than it was in 1979. Hopefully this landmark work of libertarian science fiction will inspire a new generation of readers to learn more about the ideas of liberty and become active in the freedom movement.”

On June 2, 2010, Glenn Beck told the three-million listeners to his syndicated radio program, “It reads exactly like my show … written in 1979! Phenomenal! Phenomenal!”

1989 Prometheus Hall of Fame Award for Alongside Night1989 Prometheus Hall of Fame Award
for Alongside Night

In 1989 Alongside Night was entered into the Prometheus Hall of Fame, the first year of its eligibility, along with previous years’ Hall of Fame winners George Orwell’s 1984, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, and Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

Alongside Night was also voted Freedom Book of the Month for May 2009 by the Freedom Book Club.

The 30th Anniversary Edition of Alongside Night was first offered as a download from http://www.alongsidenight.net/ on June 13, 2009, and 203,136 copies were downloaded in the following year — over 100,000 copies within five days in May 2010.

Alongside Night 30th Anniversary edition
Alongside Night 30th Anniversary Edition

Alongside Night will be the second feature film written and directed by J. Neil Schulman, following his suspense-comedy, Lady Magdalene’s, starring the original Star Trek‘s Lt. Uhura, Nichelle Nichols. Lady Magdalene’s has won two film-festival awards: “Best Cutting Edge Film” at the 2008 San Diego Black Film Festival, and “Audience Choice” at the 2008 Cinema City International Film Festival adjacent to Universal Studios, Hollywood.

J. Neil Schulman was introduced to Kevin Sorbo by Nichelle Nichols on a flight in 2007 when both were flying from Los Angeles to Atlanta for the DragonCon Convention where Sorbo was a featured guest and Lady Magdalene’s was being screened. They got back in touch through Facebook, where Schulman proceeded to familiarize Sorbo with his new production. Schulman is also an executive producer on Alongside Night.

Hercules: The Legendary JourneysHercules: The Legendary Journeys

Kevin Sorbo is one of the most popular actors in the world today because of the immense and enduring popularity as Hercules in five TV movies in 1994, which led to the continuing series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1995-1999) and guest appearances on its spin-off series, Xena: Warrior Princess. (1995-2000)

Kevin Sorbo gained another large fan base from his starring role of Captain Dylan Hunt on the 2001-2005 series Andromeda.

He has made frequent guest appearances on other popular series including Cheers, Murder She Wrote, Dharma & Greg, Two and a Half Men, The O,C., and Psych, and has appeared as himself on Celebrity Jeopardy, Celebrity Poker Showdown, Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, MADTv, Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, Live with Regis, and Howard Stern.

In addition to Meet the Spartans Kevin Sorbo’s movie work includes roles in Kull the Conquerer, and An American Carol.

He currently has six features listed as “in production” on IMDb and four more listed as “in development.”

J. Neil Schulman is the author of twelve books including two other novels, The Rainbow Cadenza (Simon & Schuster, 1983), which won the Prometheus Award, and 2002′s Escape from Heaven, a Prometheus-award finalist. He’s also written frequently for magazines and newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, Reason, Liberty, and National Review, as well as having hosted and co-hosted radio shows. Admirers of his writing have included Charlton Heston, Robert A. Heinlein, Colin Wlson, Robert Anton Wilson, Piers Anthony, Dennis Prager, David Brin, Walter Williams, Gregory Benford, and Nathaniel Branden.

Alongside Night Plot Synopsis:

The American economy is in freefall. Markets are crashing. Inflation is soaring. Bankruptcies, foreclosures and unemployment are up, and even defense contracts are going overseas. The United States military is threatening to go on strike. Foreigners are buying up everything in America at firesale prices while gloating over the fall of a once great nation. Homeless people and gangs own the streets. Smugglers use the latest technology to operate bold enterprises that the government is powerless to stop, even with totalitarian spying on private communications. Anyone declared a terrorist by the administration is being sent to a secret federal prison where constitutional rights don’t exist.

And caught in the middle of it all are the brilliant teenage son of a missing Nobel-prizewinning economist, his best friend from prep school whose uncle was once an Israeli commando, and the beautiful but mysterious teenage girl he meets in a secret underground … a girl who carries a pistol with a silencer.

The setting could be next week. But this novel was written three decades ago.

Published Reviews:

Reason Magazine:
“One of the most widely hailed libertarian novels since the classic works of Ayn Rand.”

Science Fiction Review
:
“Probably the best libertarian novel since Atlas Shrugged.”

Los Angeles Times Book Review
:
“High Drama … A story of high adventure, close escapes, mistaken identities, and thrilling rescues. … A fast-moving tale of a future which is uncomfortably close at hand.”

Liberty Magazine:
“As the seventies ended … the time seemed ripe for a great libertarian novel to appear, and so it did. The novel was Alongside Night…”

Publishers Weekly
:
“An unabashedly polemical, libertarian novel which packages its message in a fast, effectively told action adventure.”

Sunday Detroit News:
“Let me begin with a disclaimer: I don’t really agree with many of J. Neil Schulman’s ideas about society or politics or money. But his first book, Alongside Night, is as enjoyable piece of cautionary fiction as I have read in some years … Like Ayn Rand and Robert A. Heinlein, Schulman can tell a good story!”


Alongside Night -- The Movie
Go to the Alongside Night Official Movie Website


Alongside Night is listed as in development on IMDb Pro and its official website is http://www.alongsidenightmovie.com/. It’s for sale on Amazon.com as both a trade paperback and as a Kindle download.

Jesulu Productions may be reached at [email protected]


My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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