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The Retreat from Liberty

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  • The Retreat from Liberty

    Long ago, in what seems like another lifetime, I Was A Teenage Anarchist. In 1983 or 1984, I found in my local radical bookshop a little pamphlet called "The Retreat from Liberty", by one Michael Moorcock - a name familiar from the fantasy books I'd begun to devour from the age of 11.
    It was inspirational writing, and probably had a bigger influence on my politics at the time than anything else: cue years of opposition to Thatcher in particular, and now the corporate takeover of our lives.
    Of course, I was keen to spread the message - and so lent my copy to someone, who never returned it. Not once, but three times! So my question is whether we're ever likely to see a reprint - perhaps even in an updated form - and if not, is there any chance of RFL being released on the Web?

  • #2
    Retreat from Liberty

    I have a soft spot for that essay, even though it was written at white heat in a couple of days. There are still copies available second hand, I think,
    but I know Savoy have plans to reprint it in a book of my non-fiction they're planning. It might be a good idea to put it on the net, too. It just needs someone with patience to put it into an electronic form. It was written long before I had a computer! It might seem a bit dated now, of course, with its attacks on La Thatcher, but I still think that its argument for feminism remains pretty valid.

    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
    The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
    Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
    The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
    Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

    Comment


    • #3
      I could always type up my copy sometime if I get a chance. I managed to do A Caribbean Crisis a few years ago and they're about the same size :)

      Of course, I'd have to find it first, I've just recently moved after some positive personal upheaval, so most of my books are still packed away in boxes!

      ian.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Ian Davey
        I managed to do A Caribbean Crisis a few years ago and they're about the same size :)
        You're the guy who did that!? Many thanks man!
        \\

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks, Ian! If you can do that, I'd happily put it up on the NW site.
          And thanks, too, for typing out Caribbean Crisis. I sympathise!
          All best,
          Mike

          Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
          The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
          Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


          Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
          The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
          Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

          Comment


          • #6
            Hey Mr. Moorcock, since we're talking about e-books, how do you feel about them? Because you know, there's a lot of them freely on the net (KaZaa, Shareza, etc) and because for some guys like me (who lives in a free-Moorcock country) it's the primal way to get in touch with your work (since the only way I could buy one of your books was importing it form UK)?
            \\

            Comment


            • #7
              I can't speak for Mr. M, but I view downloading any copyrighted material from the internet for free as stealing, unless the author is giving it away. There are plenty of online booksellers where you can buy Mr. M's books no matter where in the world you are. If I buy a book and give it to you as a gift, Mr. M gets paid, and no new copy is created. If I buy a book and photocopy of it, there now exists two copies, for which Mr. M has only been paid once. See the difference. People don't seem to realize that the simple act of renting a movie, taking it home and duping it is stealing and against federal law.

              END OF RANT

              Sorry, but this subject irks me to no end...

              Comment


              • #8
                Yeah, I agree with that, but let's just study my case: I first heard about Moorcock's writings through Blind Guardian (a rock band) and when I searched for his works on Brazilians bookstores I found out that there's no translated version and the English version is nowhere to be found. Then I searched Amazon.com and realized that almost all of his books were out of print.
                Nowadays I know how good his work is, but I wouldn't import a book from England if I didn't know the writer was good (would you?). So my only option was to search the internet and get a copy of Elric of Melnibone. I know this is a form of stealing, but if stealing leads to buying (and I will buy all his books, even the ones I already read, sooner or later) is it so bad? I think real fans will always support their idols, the people who really care about the work will buy the book (if they are able to), so who cares about the others? I know money is lost, but Homer never got a buck from his writings. I know this is a hard subject, but we can't judge ideas, but cases. And you know, we live in modern times and we must adapt ourselves to the changes. A virus only attacks from within.
                \\

                Comment


                • #9
                  Information Wants To Be Free

                  I respectfully offer this perspective.

                  http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/II/IWtbF.html
                  The cat spread its wings and flew high into the air, hovering to keep pace with them as they moved cautiously toward the city. Then, as they climbed over the rubble of what had once been a gateway and began to make their way through piles of weed-grown masonry, the cat flew to the squat building with the yellow dome upon its roof. It flew twice around the dome and then came back to settle on Jhary's shoulder. - The King of the Swords

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Information Wants To Be Free

                    Originally posted by Berry Sizemore
                    I respectfully offer this perspective.

                    http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/II/IWtbF.html
                    Very good ones, but they don't close any ideas, but gives us a lot to think...
                    \\

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Certain types of information should be and are free. 2 x 9 = 18 should be and is free information.

                      Entertainment is not free, unless the creator(s) give it away for free.

                      That's just my 2 cents.


                      :)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        My point of view is not so black and white... but I think that since we all live different lives, so we have different opinions... So I'm fine with that... :D And, after all, my english is not that good for me to express my full opinions
                        \\

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I have what I think is a fairly sane attitude. If you buy one of my books second hand, I don't get paid for that, either. On the other hand when a new book comes out you might have liked the second hand one so much that you're prepared to buy the new one. Similarly, I'm prepared to put hard-to-get books (such as Breakfast in the Ruins, which is available free on the net) on the net because at the moment they are ONLY available second hand, so it's makes no difference to my income if you get it off the net or buy it second hand.
                          However, of course I have to make a living and since it's so easy to get books off Amazon and the various other online booksellers, or get them second hand online, I can't afford to put ALL my books online. I tend, therefore, to be fairly fierce about protecting copyrights on, say, the Elric books, which are probably still my main sellers,
                          but less fierce about something more obscure going on to the net, since it doesn't constitute a crucial part of my income. Similarly with my music. I do get a fairly regular royalty for most of my stuff when it's played on air and so on, but where it's hard to get I have no problem about putting a version on line. However, contractually I can't always do that -- i.e. I will be breaking my bargain with the publisher if I agree to books that are in print going on line.
                          Our bargain is that we are both making a venture together -- I am offering my work and he is offering his capital. Together we form a partnership. Because he is risking his capital (which doesn't simply include an advance on royalties but also involves paying for the book to be published, advertised and distributed) it would not be fair (or legal) of me simply to let all my work be available for free downloading. In the case of something like The Retreat from Liberty, which was not written for money in the first place (though the publisher hoped to make a profit on his outlay)
                          I have no problems about it being available free. The same goes for the Sexton Blake story I wrote and various other texts which are not in print.
                          Sometimes work might not be in print but my agent will be negotiating with a publisher to put out another edition. Again it would be unprofessional and unfair of me to undercut the agent in his negotiations.
                          At the moment US readers can only buy the omnibus titles in the British mass market paperback versions because my US agent's strategy has been to let all the major backlist go out of print until he thinks the time is right to begin negotiating a deal with a publisher to put it back in print. That's why so few old titles are currently available in the US. The reason you get sued for putting work out free without permission is because you are interfering with that bargain between publisher (record company/movie company) and artist who are both risking their labour (in the artist's case) and their capital (in the publisher's case) to see if the public wants to buy that particular product.
                          Frequently a publisher will expect a loss on certain books which he is ready to sustain if in the long term he believes that the artist is ultimately going to make a profit. That essentially means he is acting as a patron, to support the artist until the artist reaches a large enough public to begin making a living. One of the reasons why so many more people publish their own work is because of what I believe to be a corruption of the old notions of partnership. Once shareholders become involved, they begin demanding a profit on everything. This means that the publisher is no longer so willing to support a promising artist for as long as it takes for that artist to reach their potential public.
                          Some institutions aren't best served by being quoted on the stock market. It's what's wrong with shareholders having stakes, for instance, in the private prison system or in the hospital system. There are some enterprises which should not be on the market because they should not be subject to shareholders demands. When I first began in publishing most firms were family owned or owned by a very small group of people. They paid relatively small advances and did their best to sustain a broad range of writers. As soon as they began putting their companies on the market and performing 'badly' (that is still
                          making the 4% profit on capital most of them hoped for but not making the 10% or 20% expected by shareholders) they were then vulnerable to take over. That's how we now have a situation where Viacom, for instance, owns Simon and Schuster, Scribner and a whole variety of other publishers and media companies or where Random House, for instance, owns half the imprints we see or why Ruper Murdoch's company owns Harper Collins but
                          hopes to sell it because in spite of buying viable companies with good
                          sales records they actually can't run publishing companies the way they run TV companies -- that is, they can't make the kind of profits demanded of people who invest in, say, Fox or Sky.
                          While those companies have resources which makes it possible to pay millions to some authors, they do not have the instincts which allow them to publish authors who are not likely to make millions. The chances of a Mervyn Peake or even a J.R.R.Tolkien being published in the mainstream these days -- i.e. writers who in their day were regarded as marginal and a bad risk -- become poorer. Thanks to the net and POD, it means that authors can get published as they used to (i.e. small advances, low risks) and I think that's healthy.
                          But, of course, authors now expect to get the millions they hear the likes of Stephen King getting, and that's another corruption of the old system. It has to be remembered that Kafka worked in an insurance office and Primo Levi worked as a chemist for a paint manufacturer and that only a very, very few writers, no matter how talented they were, have ever been able to make a living simply by writing books. That's something I'm always aware of and why I consider myself fortunate to be amongst the relatively few people who are so lucky! Attitudes are beginning to change towards net-published work or POD work as people realise that that is where they are most likely to find their Kafkas and Peakes and Henry Greens and Ronald Furbanks rather than amongst the ranks of those published by 'major' houses. I know this has only so much to do with the discussion, but I think it's worth having a realistic view of the world of publishing.

                          Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                          The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                          Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                          Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                          The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                          Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I do empathize with your situation lordmarioh. It must be difficult to live somewhere where you cannot get what you want through traditional means. Like Mr. M said, even here in the States his work is now becoming hard to find, unless you do delve into the 2nd hand market. Abe books is the best place that I've found, although you have to watch out for inflated prices. I've seen copies of Kane of Old Mars fetching prices over $50!!!

                            Re: 2nd hand books: I guess my view on a 2nd hand book is that the author was paid for the original copy, and no new copy was created as a result of the re-sale. The difference I see with a downloaded copy is that a new copy has been created that the author was never paid for.

                            Great points Mr. M, as usual.

                            Sorry that I came off sounding so black and white, Lordmarioh, no offense intended.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Good points, dlackey.
                              I am very much against inflated exploitational prices on my books and we are currently trying to work out a way in which copies of which I have spares are sold for fair prices. It used to be well known that if I caught a dealer doing this sort of thing I would immediately refuse to do business with them and would recommend readers not to use them. I was especially upset by certain dealers who were getting books signed and then immediately charging extra for the signature. Given that they got my signature free (and through false pretences) I thought that very unfair.
                              Again, I'll sign second hand books for dealers, pretty much on the logic you've already presented, but if I discover those books selling for more than seems a fair market price I will refuse any further signatures.
                              I have the same feelings about trying to keep the prices of new books as low as possible and I think we managed to offer many White Wolf titles, as well as the Victor Gollancz paperbacks, at the lowest possible prices.

                              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                              The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                              Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                              The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                              Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

                              Comment

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