The Pen and Cape Society Introduces: Super Choice Adventure!

Submitted by Christopher Wright on

Did you like "Choose Your Own Adventure" stories back in the day? Do you like stories where the ending hasn't been figured out yet? Do you like those crazy stories where multiple authors take turns pushing it forward? What about all three smooshed together?

Introducing Super Choice Adventure: the adventure that's sort of like Choose Your Own Adventure but not close enough to violate any copyrights that's being written by multiple authors who haven't figured out the ending yet!

Various members of the Pen and Cape Society (including yours truly) have banded together to tell the story of a heroine with the ability to mimic the powers of fictional characters. It updates every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and at the end of each update the readers get to choose which power she mimics next -- and which Pen and Cape author tells the story.

Introducing The Pen and Cape Society

Submitted by Christopher Wright on

A few months ago I joined The Pen and Cape Society.

“What is that?” I hear you ask. Well it’s a group—a posse, if you will—of writers who create superhero fiction. The website describes it as “a collection of superhero fiction authors dedicated to cross-promotion and increasing awareness of the genre.” I create superhero fiction, and I could do with a little more awareness of the genre myself, so joining seemed like a no-brainer. If you ever see me using the hashtag #pencape on Twitter, that’s what I’m referring to.

“That’s all very well,” I hear you say, “but who are these people, exactly?” Well,I couldn’t tell you anything about their personal lives. I’ve never met them. In that respect we’re more like a secret society than a posse. Or an organization of supervillains... yes, yes, that’s it exactly. We meet in private forums. If we ever do video conferencing I suspect we’ll all be silhouettes on a screen, our voices electronically distorted so we’d never be able to recognize each other in public. We will all be stroking white, fluffy cats during our conversations (the cats will inexplicably be plainly visible even as we are all shrouded in shadow) and meetings will be tough to get through due to our tendencies toward monologuing, which is second only to our tendency to break into fits of uncontrollable, maniacal laughter.

Muah. Muaha. Muahahahaha. Ha. Hah. Ah.


“Fine,” I hear you say, “but what do they write?” Well that I can help you with: I’ve been reading their stuff. There are currently 22 members in our dastardly organization, and so far I’ve read ten. Ten is a solid number to start with, so without further ado: here are The First Ten Authors of the Pen and Cape Society Whose Work I’ve Read (More To Follow).

Amazon v. Hachette: Everyone Is Wrong But Me

Submitted by Christopher Wright on

Update 5:12 PM (CST): Global edit, Hatchette->Hachette. Because apparently I thought the publisher was actually named after an axe.

Updated 5:18 PM (CST), 11 August: Someone popular linked to this and site traffic is crazy. Load times are slow. Apologies. Also, see the addendum at the end.

I hoped I’d be able to stay out of this whole Hachette/Amazon mess. It should be easy: I’m not a recognized authority on publishing, after all, and my soapbox isn’t really pointed in that direction. But as it happens, no one in this argument is saying what I want them to say, so I’m going to have to say it myself, and leaving comments on other people’s blogs just isn’t going to cut it for me.

The Short Version

This is a horrible fight. No matter who wins we’re probably screwed. Hachette isn’t the hero, and Amazon isn’t the hero either.

The Long Version

Looking at this fight all by itself, without any context at all, Amazon probably deserves to win--and honestly, I think it probably will win whether it deserves to or not. There’s no legitimate reason an ebook should cost the same as a paperback. “Well we really want to” is not a legitimate reason. “Because we can get away with it” is only legitimate from a business perspective if you can actually get away with it, and the current fight between Amazon and Hachette suggests that they can’t.

As reader of books I want ebooks to be cheaper than paperbacks because a) they’re obviously cheaper to make and b) when I “buy” an ebook I have fewer rights to do what I want with it than I do when I buy a paperback, so please don’t try to pretend it’s the same thing. If the first sale doctrine doesn’t apply to an ebook purchase, or doesn’t apply as completely, then it better be cheaper. So strictly within the boundaries of the current argument between a publisher that wants to charge stupid prices for their product and a retailer that wants to sell a product at less-stupid prices, regardless of their actual motives, as someone who buys ebooks I gotta hand Amazon the win.

That said: an Amazon win is probably not in anyone’s long-term interests.

Here is the secret to understanding my take on Amazon: they’re not part of the publishing industry, although the things they do certainly affect it. They’re not a service and retail company, though that is the way they make all their money. At its core, Amazon is and always has been part of the computer industry, and if you view them from that perspective their business practices should scare the shit out of you.

More below the cut.