Ryan from Finnean Nilsen Projects On the Future (and Past)
I grew up around books. And by "books" I mean hundreds of pieces of paper glued or bound between cardboard covers. Thousands of them - check that: hundreds of thousands of them. Recently I was discussing the book industry with a prominent man, many years in the business and dozens of successful imprints to his credit, and I stopped him and said, "I've been in the book business for twenty-five years."
He said, "Ryan, you're twenty-nine."
Both statements are true.
My dad opened his first book store twenty-five (six, seven...? No one's certain about the exact date and I obviously didn't mark the calender) years ago, and to this day some of my oldest memories are of wandering through book stores, imagining that I was in a jungle being chased by mercenaries (I have no idea why... No, I do: Dad's attempts to get me reading were giving my Don Pendelton novels... But, now that I think about it, he could have given me those because of my daydreams...). I used to take the gun magazines and cut the pictures out, laminate them with tape and run around pretending they were real. My sister would take the stickers out of Harlequin romances and sell them for a quarter a piece to women who just wanted to humor the little entrepreneur. But for both, the books were real. Tangible. They were something we could hold in our hands. I could run through the isles with my hands out, flipping the covers with my fingertips. I could fold the thing over and set it on the table - not recommended, by the way (any time my dad found a book like that, or open and set down pages first, he'd pick it up, close it and *SLAM* it onto the table. Then we'd get to hear The Speech which went something like this: "You know you're not supposed to do that, because it breaks the spine. Do you like watching television? Do you like to eat? Do you like water and electricity? Do you like our house? Because books pay for all of that!") - and I could hold it, in my hands, as a real thing.
Because they mattered (or because I liked to eat. Either way), and I always liked that.
Now, all these years later, here I am talking about the past. Books, some say, are history. Some day, some author will be writing a novel about a very old and quaint notion called a book. It was this physical thing you printed. And they would print up tens of thousands of them and send them out. And, because of this, for years and years and years, these books would be passed from friend to friend, library to library, tiny store to second hand book shop to Salvation Armies. And people liked them, enjoyed them, coveted them, loved them. Because they mattered.
And they'll upload it to a website, and people will read it and remark on how backward we were. How silly to hold on to things like books. To think they mattered. That they were anything more than a vehicle for the words. Like a phone that only makes calls...
Camp 417's ebook is one of the most technologically advanced in the world. So advanced, that Amazon's computers rejected it and we were forced to dumb it down for the kindle.
But it's an ebook. It's not a book. To be clear: I believe ebooks are the future. I simply don't believe books are the past. I can see a day when ebooks reach full interactivity, when you can be reading and then push a button and play the game, watch the movie, interact with the writer. You don't send a letter, you click "Write To Me" and there they are. And in keeping with that, WEbook is the first true online publishing community, where you can interact with - equally - the writer and the reader. Full, unabated access. Advanced, interactive ebooks. A publishing platform that's new - brand new.
So, what about books?
A few decades ago, a group of people tried to remove books they didn't like. They didn't use a computer program. They didn't just send out a memo and all of them were deleted from user's devices. They had to use fire. And no matter how aggressive, how fanatical, how fierce, they never could wipe them out. Because you print ten thousand, or a hundred thousand or a million of these really old school things - hundreds of pages between cardboard covers - and you can't silence them. You can't destroy them all.
And they're the future, too (and the past)...
by Finnean Nilsen Projects
Published by WEbook
Every end has a beginning:
Every legend, its source:
Cut off, surrounded and alone, twenty men must turn the tide...
Evil is alive:
And the feeding has begun...
Where the dead live
Doctor Keith Manning touched the butt of his cigarette to his lips, pulled hard on it, drawing the smoke deep into his lungs. Savoring it. Then let it out through his nose, enjoying the feel as it rolled around him like a cloud moving around a mountain. The day bright and clear. The pale winter sun shining down eerily, like a photo taken with the shutter open too wide.
“Dad,” Peter said, “I thought you said you were cutting back.”
The old doctor grunted. “I’m ninety years old,” he said, “if I wanna smoke, I’ll damn sure smoke as much as I want.”
Behind them, the house was alive with the sounds of children playing and fighting, the low hum of conversation from the living room, and the smells of baking from the kitchen. The party in full swing. Keith ignoring it. He had stopped feeling the day was worth celebrating after the first sixty. Now, at ninety, they were a chore.
“That’s it!” a woman screeched from inside. “Out, all of you!”
The screen door burst open and a stream of children surged out. Fifteen in all, ranging from knee high to nearly full-grown. As they streamed past, each said, “Hi Grandpa.”
He nodded and laughed, patting them on their heads when he could reach. They fanned out on the lawn. The older ones heading off to chat in low voices, exchanging secrets so explosive no adult could be permitted to hear.
“It’s a fine family you built, Old Man,” Peter told him.
“I had help,” Keith said and smiled again as he heard his wife’s voice from the kitchen. He imagined her in there, sitting heavily in her favorite chair, overseeing the proceedings with the watchful eye of a boot camp sergeant.
Frankie, barely seven, thin from his latest growth spurt, ran up to them and rattled off in the machine gun speech of excited children the world over: “Grandpa, Grandpa, we’re playing War!” He gave the name an announcer-type emphasis. “You were in a war, weren’t you? Dad said you were in World War Two. He called it the ‘Big One.’ Did you ever kill anyone, Grandpa? Didja?”
“Your Great Grandpa was a medic,” Peter explained. “He saved people, he didn’t kill them.”
Then he rose, touching Keith’s hand as he did, and crossed around his father. Took the boy by the shoulders and guided him into the house.
“And he doesn’t like to talk about it,” he whispered to his grandson as they passed into the house. “Let’s go check on that cake.”
Keith rolled the question over in his mind, memories probing the edges of his consciousness. Fighting to be heard, to be experienced again in their full intensity. Memories of violence, the kind very few men had ever known. Violence and rage and horror so white hot—even decades later—the potency never lessened. The fear never left. The nightmare never fully awoken from.
Did you kill anyone in the war?
“No one who didn’t ask me to,” he answered, but no one was listening.