Monthly Archives: January 2011

Going on the Account: Highly Effective?

Heard about an interesting act of piracy…

 

Apparently FranklinCovey, the business interest representing Dr. Steven Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, sent a cease-and-desist notice to Howard Tayler, the creator of Schlock Mercenary. The reason for their unhappiness was his reference to a book in the comic called…

 

…and here’s the connection for folks wondering why I’m discussing webcomics about space guns for hire…

 

“The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates.”

 

After receiving the C&D, Tayler engaged in what he called “The Great RetCon of 2011,” changing the name of his referenced work to “The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries.”  What made it so great was that the formerly-pirate-entitled work had been quoted in the comic since 2002, and only now some nine years later did Covey come and claim protection of his mark.

 

Mind you, some have observed that what FranklinCovey did in handling the situation may have been in violation of some of those “Seven Habits” referenced in the main work.  And the fact that had he probably had a pretty good shot at claiming parody might have saved Tayler from going back to fix close to eleven years worth of back entries.

 

Which raises an interesting question about this “Pirate Book” that’s no longer a pirate book:  Who’s the pirate here?

 

Yes, Tayler came along after Covey, made reference to his existing work and conceivably profited off of it, even though ‘profit’ may be a flexible term as far as revenue from online works go…

 

That said, the fact that the owners of the original property were less likely to “Think Win-Win” and opted instead for “Pillage, then burn,” shows at least a sympathy, if not alignment, with Anne Bonny.  Even if fully justified, going the tact they did doomed them to being thought scallywags by the casual observer.  Like William Kidd, whatever good motives were there to begin with were lost in the action taken.

 

Me, I’m all for protecting what belongs to you, but showing up to a knife fight with a chain gun has its drawbacks…

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Pirates, Writing

Going On the Account: Scary Scuttlebutt

And if this rumor about a fifth PotC film has any validity whatsoever, than there’s indeed much to worry about…

 

Dare I ask, what’s to come of this?  Having had to go to Tim Powers’ pirate novel for the meat of the next film, demonstrating that they just ran out of ideas, what’s likely now?  A back door effort to adapt some of Rafael Sabatini‘s works without paying any of the studios that had those titles for years?  Taking in some work with only partial pirate connections and trying to substitute cutlasses where needed in the plot?

 

Of course, if they turn around and decide to have Jack Sparrow team with a red-haired expert navigator buccaneer, I’d say yes to lunch…

Leave a comment

Filed under Fiction, Pirates

Going On the Account: Crime Pays, Quite a Bit…

This evening, the BBC is reporting on the findings of a study by Chatham House that maritime piracy worldwide costs the global economy between $7 billion and $12 billion dollars a year.

 

For the sake of comparison, the government of New York State was projected last month to run up a deficit close to $11 billion.   If all the pirates in the world chipped in 2% of their earnings, they could afford to buy Lady Gaga if Forbes figures are right.  And if they had forgone the cheep entertainment, they could conceivably purchase a post-R&D Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier to conduct more mayhem with…

 

Excuse me, need a minute; still digesting the mental picture of Lady Gaga being purchased…  Hey, I have weaknesses…

 

Anyway, getting out of the gutter and back on topic:  I’m not sure what’s more staggering, the actual sums pirates are acquiring with more purchasing power than the old Spanish Empire could ever hope to muster, or that such amounts only come to 7% of just US exports according to the US Department of Commerce, which would explain why this has come to pass;  as a small portion of the global economy, said amount could be passed off as a “price of doing business,” which means the will to fight piracy is just not there.

 

And that’s unfortunately a very human trait, in that we tend to wait for something bad to happen at too high a cost before we deal with it.  Some of the soul-wringing and finger-pointing attached to the Gabrielle Giffords tragedy is endemic of how people react to a bad situation:  With too little and often applied in the wrong measure.

 

(This particular matter, BTW, has weighed heavily on me for reasons that are beyond this discussion, and which I may or may not address at a later time.  It has to do with violence as depicted in my work, both present and planned…)

 

Which slouches back towards the beginning here; the figures discussed above is also discussed in a study by the One Earth Future Foundation, entitled Oceans Beyond Piracy, which is online with details.  It’s a plan that involves building coalitions and coordinating activities to fight the root causes, which of course means that no one’s going to sign up on this and carry it out.  Again, too little on the wrong course…

 

I’ve pointed out too many times before, how eternal piracy is.  And this report shows us, just how much longer we’re going to have to have it in our lives…

Leave a comment

Filed under Pirates

Going On the Account: Seeing to Keep Attackers at Bay

Today, io9 shared a post from New Scientist about an anti-pirate weapon designed to blind buccaneers at a distance of 4000 feet with a bright laser.

 

Something to keep in mind I suppose; especially me…

Leave a comment

Filed under Pirates

Going on the Account: Sightings Off the Port…

Time for a brief round-up:

 

  • Year-end figures are in for action off the coast of Somalia, collected and relayed by Jay Bahadur:

 

Number of Attacks Hijackings Success Rate
2008 134 50 37%
2009 228 68 30%
2010 243 74 30%

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Pirates

Going On the Account: All Ashore…

And so we come to the end of it.

 

My apologies for taking so long to getting around to a few words of thanks.  I got buried soon after the last part was uploaded, first by the holidays, then by the Snowpocalypse.  I’m still amazed that New York failed to keep moving with a lot less snow than we’ve seen before, and claims of dereliction and inequitable application of resources are taking a nasty life of their own, the kind that one sees when we miss one of the three meals we’re supposedly a revolution away from…

 

But the new year’s started and even Queens is now passable, so it’s time to say proper thanks.

 

The first thanks in general is to all of you, who’ve come back twice a week to see where the tale has gone.  I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from readers, much of it good about the work and the effort to present it.  And when I’ve had it coming, you have made sure to let me know in no uncertain terms.

 

To address one of those points in particular:  Non, mon français n’est pas très bon. C’était ma première fois par écrit dans cettelangue, et il peut être un certain temps avant d’essayer de nouveau. Yes, I am willing to admit it, there…

 

I also have to thank the people who contacted me and gave me my first direct experience with fan service.  Originally, Goddard Zoutman was not going to survive De Colera’s seizure of the Gale.  But when I got closer to the incident, I did hear from a few dedicated folk that they really liked him as a character, and so he managed to find a way to make it off the wreck alongside Osei and Charity.  Yes, I blew up the ship and ultimately left a few central characters dead by the side of the boat, but I’m not that heartless an SOB…

 

And I have special thanks for one fan, Cheryl, who as I started the work thought I might be interested in a news story about the French rescuing a ship from pirates off the coast of Somalia.  It was just a simpatico happening; the more my tale of historic pirates unfolded, the more developed the story of the real pirates became, and I could not ignore either and had to share both.  I didn’t become an expert on the current crisis, leaving that honor to Jay Bahadur, but it’s a tale that can’t be ignored.

 

Because of what Somalia tells us about the limits of human institutions and what makes people take drastic criminal action, it’s a basic story that ended up being woven through both narratives.  These themes were in Raging Gail from the moment of conception and plotting before the news was forwarded to me, but I could not ignore the parallel narratives in both and made it part of my effort to pass on news as it came from the Indian Ocean alongside the fictional adventures atop the waves of the Caribbean.

 

I also like to thank the large cast of content creators I’ve corresponded and met with during the run of the book.  Many of them offered a chance to put out the word about the book through their sites, often with the opportunity to buy space on ad boxes they ran, which was a big help in finding many of you.  I’ve gone beyond that with a few of them to correspond directly and even meet some face to face; wonderful people, all of them.  There is a wide, vigorous community of writers and artists out there on the Internet that are worth seeking out and exploring; I cannot stress enough how much you owe yourself to find them and sample their works.

 

I also need to thank the folks at WordPress for making available the tools I used to share my work with you.  When it came time to come up with a way to share the novel, I hadn’t had that much experience with WordPress and their hosting service.  This proved to be a great option, as it allowed me to spend less time on coding than on writing.  My only wish is that it was as easy to use then as it is now; they made a few changes over time that lowered the learning curve and would have saved me a lot of aggravation when it came time to layout had I the ability then to do what I can do now.  Not that I’d have used my time any more wisely, of course…

 

I especially need to thank my wife Susan, for aid both material and sympathetic.  She volunteered to give my work an eye before posting from the very beginning; I really do think the occasional scream of, “You used a preposition like that and still call yourself an English major??” was worth the invaluable advice she shared.  More importantly, she was encouraging during the process, never doubting me, giving me plenty of time and space to work in the midst of other commitments in a small apartment on the novel, and putting up with the occasional rant and tantrum when I struggled with a soft spot in the narrative.  For that, I love her dearly.

 

 

If I have any big regret right now, it’s that we can’t have this moment IRL.  I had considered it, as a way to note the occasion deserved some sort of celebration.  When Raging Gail was launched way back in January of 2008, I did so with a mass e-mail to everyone I knew, which ended up needing to be sent twice because halfway through putting it together I accidentally hit the “Send” button; not the most auspicious of starts, sadly…

 

But after that embarrassment (one of quite a few to come), it hit me that one of the differences between an online novel and a physical one is that, as far as the audience is concerned, the books’ not there yet, so doing what they do in brick-and-mortar-land, having a launch party for the novel, seemed out of place.  I could have packed a small bar with everyone on that list, I realized, and asked them to celebrate a tome for which they could only read the first few hundred words of.

 

A better idea would have been to hold a wrap party, a celebration that the book’s run has finished and that the entire work is now available from start to end.  And the more I considered it, the better the concept seemed.

 

Unfortunately, between the holidays and the distances for a lot of readers to trudge through unplowed streets for, this does not seem likely right now.  At some point, I’d love to get one together, but this just isn’t going to be the time.

 

Mind you, I could combine my wrap party with two other potential milestones:

 

One is for the launch of the reformat of this work.  I’ve been asked by a lot of readers, steady and casual, if Raging Gail might be put into a physical format, which I am considering.  One thing I’d probably want to do, to make it worth the while of longtime readers, would be to combine some of the chapters together, shave a few cliffs off which I left some characters hanging on, to allow for a smoother in-one-sitting narrative to read.  Throw in some additional materials, like a map showing the route of the Gale from the moment Hope came aboard, possibly a few additional words of insight about the period and the writing process, and then make the work available through print on demand and via Kindle.  There most likely will be a charge involved for this edition (hey, I gotta eat too, even if I could probably stand to lose a few pounds…), hence the need to come up with an edition that’s not exactly the same as the one online.

 

The other milestone could be tied to the next work…

 

I do have another book in me, maybe not as long as Raging Gail but no less ambitious.  As I’ve mentioned before, the next one will have pirates in it; beyond that, well, I’ve placed a few clues in the blogroll as to where things might be going in that one…  Worse case scenario, the wrap party for that one will make up for missing the last opportunity, which means we’d be having a “two-for-one.”  Depending on where the party gets hosted, that might be very appropriate…

 

 

 

As I mentioned above, I’m going to be looking into a new edition of this novel, and I’ll also keep up with “Going On the Account” with news about pirates in Somalia and elsewhere.

 

And it’ll also be there that I’ll announce the launch of the new work, hopefully before all the snow melts.

 

And THIS time, I won’t hit the “Send” button too early…

 

2 Comments

Filed under Fiction, Pirates, Writing