Temeraire and Transformative Works

I recently finished Empire of Ivory, the fourth novel in Naomi Novik‘s excellent Temeraire series. It’s set in the time of Napoleon and Nelson and in an universe with dragons. Temeraire is a dragon.

His human sidekick, William Laurence, moves from the navy to the aerial corps when the newborn Temeraire becomes attached to him, toward the start of the first novel, His Majesty’s Dragon. The blend of fantasy and alternate history is wonderfully executed.

A further reason to applaud Naomi is that she is the founding chair of the Organization for Transformative Works, a pro-fanfic nonprofit. The T in OTW requires some explanation.

Transformative works are creative works about characters or settings created by fans of the original work, rather than by the original creators. Transformative works include but are not limited to fanfiction… A transformative use is one that, in the words of the U.S. Supreme Court, “adds something new, with a further purpose or different character, altering the [source] with new expression, meaning, or message.”

The bulk of my fanfic involvement came about a decade ago, when I read some X-Files fanfic, some of it very good. I also wrote some. The first act of Two Agents of the Bureau, my blank verse drama, seems to have survived. The other four acts were never born.

Were I to write Temeraire fanfic, I’d start at the end, with how I think the series should end. It should do so with the death of Laurence, and with the grieving Temeraire wondering where he now belongs: with his friends in the aerial corps, in China, the land of his birth, or… Temeraire takes to the sky, and… roll the titles.

That said, I’m in no hurry for the series to end. It has yet to take us to the Russian front, or to the New World, and I suspect that Temeraire is due for a visit to each of them.

The Thirteenth Tale

I spent much of yesterday reading The Thirteenth Tale. If you love books, particularly gothic novels, and are looking for an engrossing winter read, I can recommend this novel.

I found it hard to put down, so it’s just as well that I started it while at the in-laws’ place for the holidays, rather than in more usual circumstances with more work and kid-care to distract me from fiction. Dear reader, I hope that you are finding time to read books as well as blogs this holiday season.

Blogging a Book

Joe Wickert, publishing executive and blogger, pointed out today that many authors and publishers are still concerned about potential cannibalization when book content is also available for free online, but that such concern is excessive. He drew on evidence from a recent NY Times article: Turning Free Web Work Into Real Book Sales.

Joe started blogging at the insistence of Shel Israel and Robert Scoble, as a condition of Wiley publishing their book Naked Conversations. That book was written on the blog of the same name (or rather, on the blog that used to bear that name).

His post was timely for me, since I intend to write a book next year, or at least, to write a book proposal in the early part of next year. It reminded me that the book should have its very own blog, and soon. The book in question will be about management, but it’ll be interesting and otherwise readable.

Also timely was an entry in the WordPress.com forum from Mark, Support Maven at Automattic. Advertising your own book is allowed at WordPress.com. It’s one of the few cases in which advertising is allowed on WordPress.com blogs. So that’s the likely site of my book blog.

Business Week: Show Me the Books

Business Week just published its Best Business Books of the Year list. I clicked on the link (the one I’ve just provided for you), expecting to be taken to a text-based page I could scan quickly.

Instead, I was taken to a slide show, and had to click through the books a page at a time. There were thumbnails at the foot of the slideshow pages, but most titles weren’t legible.

This seems like a mistmatch between content and presentation. The people most interested in business books can probably cope with text, and don’t need a slide show to tell them about books. More generally, BW Online seems over-fond of slide shows when more conventional web pages would be better.

I guess there’s always dead trees. But the print edition seems to be trying to ape the online edition, and not in a good way.

Back to the slide show: I really like the illustration for the 2007 best books list. I looked for the name of the illustrator, but did so in vain.

Lookybook: Looking at Picture Books

Now here’s a rather wonderful idea. Lookybook allows you to look at picture books in their entirety.

It’s like a test drive track for kid’s books. I expect that many of the test drives will lead to purchases, and hence that the site will make money from its affiliate programs. I don’t think that it will be seen as providing a substitute for real books, and neither do the folks behind the Lookybook. “We know that nothing will replace the magic of reading a book with your child.”

I’ve started setting up my bookshelf. I would embed a book in this post, but WordPress.com restrictions prevent me using the widget that Lookybook provides. I like a lot of things about the site, including the fact that it refers to itself as a preview rather than a beta.

Things I’d like to see added include: a wishlist feature; tagging; a blog (Lookyblog?). And more books. There are currently a couple of hundred, with plans to get that above a thousand next year. I wish a prosperous holiday season to Lookybook, and to Drawn!, where I read about Lookybook.

Blog Hero: Internet Duct Tape

Eric, purveyor of fine Internet Duct Tape, is a blogging hero. I say so because he’s knowledgeable, helpful, and writes very well.

Now that the book Blogging Heroes: Interviews with 30 of the World’s Top Bloggers features Eric, his heroism becomes more official. Eric’s understandably excited post includes a link to the pdf of the chapter about him.

Congratulations, Eric!