FAQ 27nov12: On Downloading And The Length Of Books

[The FAQ category]

What are your opinions on the quandary of downloading scans of comics due to a Trade Paperback’s lack of back matter. I recently bought a copy of the original 1997 Helix comics single of Transmetropolitan and loved your essay in the back. The TPBs lack this and I want to read them all. I hate illegal downloading, but lust after your mouth-words. Guide me.


Is this something I really have to have an opinion about?  If I’d wanted that stuff in the trades, I’d have had them put in there.  They were just ephemera for the monthly readers, for as long as we had use of those editorial pages.  But I certainly can’t stop you from downloading scans, and would really have no interest in doing so.  I don’t police my readers.

So long as you’re not making new money off me, I won’t track you down and have eels violently introduced into your innards through whatever human portal presents itself.  How’s that?

The new book, Gun Machine, is rather short for a novel at 320ish pages. Crooked Little Vein wasn’t all that long either. Has this been a conscious decision on your point to write shorter books or have you found, so far, that this has been the appropriate length to get your stories on paper?


GUN MACHINE came out around 85 to 90 thousand words long, which is almost 40,000 words longer than CROOKED LITTLE VEIN.  I’ll never be Neal Stephenson (in a great many ways).  I tend towards concision.  They end where they want to end.  I suspect the one I’m currently writing will be about as long as GUN MACHINE.  I dream of (being able to afford to spend several years) writing a huge meandering doorstop like AGAINST THE DAY, but I seem not to be that kind of writer.

(Also: I think I’d actually question “rather short for a novel.”)

Greg Rucka had an interesting further comment on this:

ruckawriter said: 90K novel is not “short.” I’ve read 60K novels that read as if they’re three times as long, and that’s not a good thing. Over 120K, in my experience, and the publisher gets nervous. And raises the price, to boot.

Bookmarks for 2012-11-26

  • The Ethics of Nostalgia | Notes on Metamodernism
    ."..as much as we may still love to superficially aestheticise history as a ‘style’ and a consumer ‘product’, we are also witnessing an engagement with nostalgia that is about ethics rather than simply style. Like postmodernism in the 1980s and 1990s, our current engagement with the past is consciously aware of what Fredric Jameson has termed its own “random cannibalization of all the styles of the past”, yet nevertheless seeks to say something beyond style in the process."
    (tags:theory philosophy history )
  • Surgeon « mary anne hobbs
    "…this is the Surgeon… one of the most fascinating men i ever met.. President of the Russian motorcycle club the Night Wolves…"
    (tags:writing )
  • One big fiction, read and written by us all | Books | The Observer
    "The newly released iPhone and iPad app The Silent History collects case histories of a future epidemic of speechlessness, in the form of a serial novel released one day at a time. Each short episode is designed to be absorbed in 15 minutes and some of the stories are tied to particular locations: the reader stands within 10 metres of a dot on the map in order to unlock the section."
    (tags:digital publishing books )