"Vintage" ebooks

Who owns the rights to publish ebooks?

The picture of publishing economics has changed dramatically.  Since the middle of 2011, Amazon is selling more eBooks than hardcover and paperback books combined.  What this trend makes clear, is it is becoming increasingly difficult to publish a book profitably based solely on bound book sales.  This article looks at HarperCollins' recently filed lawsuit against eBook publisher Open Road, and the role legacy publishing contracts, and contract ambiguity, plays in the battle over lucrative eBook rights.  
. . . 
Read the rest of the article, posted on attorney Lloyd Jassin's Copylaw website:

Copylaw: Who Controls eBook Rights?: The Court Battle that Could Determine the Fate of the Book Industry: A Review & Analysis The picture of publishing economics has changed ...

As always, Lloyd does a thorough job discussing the legal issues. And there's footnotes.

I don't know if the decision will necessarily change the face of the publishing industry, but it certainly will have an effect on the majors, as well as any number of literary estates.
Life's been good . . .

. . . goodbye 2011. Hello 2012.
American Sniper . . .

. . . on Facebook here.

Planning note: Chris has several events planned at the SHOT Show in Vegas, one more reason to attend what is the biggest shooting, hunting, outdoor sports event in the world. (The convention is January 17-20. Website here.)
Eagle upgrades

The major sale of hardware to Saudi Arabia announced this week by the Obama administration has actually been in the works for well over a year, and if you don't think the timing of the announcement has anything to do with Iran, you're not following closely. (The reasons for the delays are more complicated, but lest we digress...)

Eighty-four new F-15SAs - brand new Saudi strike versions - are the essential part of the deal, though the plan to upgrade another seventy existing F-15s isn't too shabby either. The aircraft have a variety of upgrades over the "old" F-15s, most notably in radar and weapons capabilities.

By the time this contract is fulfilled - which of course will take several years - the Saudi air force will be flying most advanced fleet of Eagles on the planet. I'm already looking forward to the mock duels between the Saudi Eagles and F-35s . . .

The present F-15Ss are fairly capable on their own, as the video here shows:

Talk about 'Make my day'


Iran Threatens to Block Oil Shipments, as U.S. Prepares Sanctions

NYT story. (And may other places.)

If Iran actually did try and block the Gulf, the question wouldn't be whether the U.S. would respond, but rather whether the response would end only with the elimination of the country's nuclear plants and other capabilities. You'd have to expect the government would be targeted as well.

The tiny navy would be wiped out within a few hours, if that. Ditto the air force.

And I guess you'd have to change the handicap on Obama's reelection chances, no matter what.

Of course, eventually they might be in a position to get weapons even after the shellacking. But without a doubt, they'd get them a lot faster by continuing to pretend that they're complying, which is what I expect they'll end up doing, tossing in just enough window dressing to give everyone political cover and avoid a war.

Giving the U.S. - and Israel - an excuse to attack them is not particularly smart. Oh, wait . . .
What the copy editor taught me . . .

Or tried to:

* Lights can't twitter. (Nor can they Tweet . . .)

* You can't really get away with using "shopped" (as in Photoshop) as a verb for anything other than buying stuff.

* You can't use "sweat" in the past tense any more.


Helen Frankenthaler, dead at 83.
Now on Kindle

Three of my techno-thrillers previously available only in "book" form on now available for the Kindle; more e-formats to come.

Here are the links:

Brother's Keeper takes place on the cusp of the old cold war; for me, family relationships and responsibilities are as important to the story as geo-political ones. (Don't worry though; stuff still gets blown up.)

Much of Havana Strike is set in Cuba - makes sense from the name, no? "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" has always haunted me after writing this; kind of a theme song.

This is an Andy Fisher book - the irreverent, chain-smoking, coffee guzzling FBI special agent and star of many a sleepless night. He returns in my next novel, The Helios Conspiracy, due out at the end of February.

Sniper excerpt . . .

Up on Townhall.
Re-upped . . .

Three of my older (but not that old) novels should be available on Amazon.com as Kindle e-books in time for the holidays:

More details and links when they're live.
IBM predicts the future

A bit too optimistic? Or inevitable?
Now available on Kindle

The third book in the Jake Gibbs - Patriot Spy series.

On sale here.
Outtakes from American Sniper

Helping Chris Kyle write his autobiography was a real labor of love. We started with hours and hours of interviews. He recounted his experiences in raw, straight language. I didn't try to adorn it; the words and memories were eloquent enough on their own.

Chris was initially very reluctant to do the book. In the end, I think two things convinced him: first, he would be able to bring some light to a few of the extremely brave things his friends did during the war, and two, he would have a chance to talk about the toll the war takes on families.

Of course, everyone wants to know what the fighting was like, and there's plenty of that.

Some of the outtakes from our interviews are now on my web site at http://www.jimdefelice.com/American_Sniper.html There are links there to buy the book. It's not like any other war memoir you've read.
North Korea - now part of China?

NORTH KOREA as we know it is over.

Interesting op-ed in today's NY Times.

Speaking of the Times, I was somewhat amused by the story saying that the CIA's was taken by surprise by  Kim Jong-ils' death and calling this a serious intelligence failure.* Besides wondering why journalists expect to be told what spy agencies know, it is kind of amusing to see intelligence agencies judged on journalistic standards - i.e. Who got that story first? rather than by things that are actually relevant.

*Actually, the story back peddles much lower in the copy, almost as if someone pimped up the beginning and then someone else read it and tried to dial back. "Extensive" or "minor" - which is it? If you're going to analyze something, you ought to at least decide what you're saying. But that's another problem . . .

Outtakes from American Sniper

I've posted some of the audio from the work sessions with Chris Kyle as we wrote American Sniper on my webpage. They're located here.

You can also get to them from the main page.
Kim Jong-il

. . . dead* at 69**. What happens next?

* Notice it took two days to figure it out?

**Officially. Unofficially, who knows?

American Sniper

. . . now has a Facebook page here.
The destruction of culture


Now there's all this pressure to offer [culture] for free because of a misunderstanding of the economics of the media business. Creative work is devalued, because you were under the illusion that you were paying for a thing. You were never really paying for a thing — you were paying for a piece of culture.

From Robert Levine's thoughtful assessment of web culture and our collective future in the LA Times.
Osprey in action

Note the wing control surfaces as it lands . . .

To answer some questions I've been meaning to answer but keep forgetting - the wing on the V-22 Osprey does not actually rotate; the engines/rotors/big things hanging off the end of the wings do. But that common misunderstanding is pretty reasonable if you've seen the aircraft in action, because to naked eye the movement of the flight control surfaces does make it look like the whole wing is rotating. I'm sure I've made that mistake myself millions of times.

Damn thing sure does kick up a fuss . . .

Some images from the Bulge

Both the Americans . . .

. . . and the Germans suffered very heavy losses.

If you're looking at this map, you're ready to panic . . .

If you have this one, things are much more manageable.

Most Americans know about the heroic defense at Bastogone* by the 101st Airborne, which played a key role in stemming the German tide. But most don't realize that more men died after the town was relieved than before.

And if you really want to get critical, the defenses on the north shoulder of the German salient were the key to the collapse of the German overall plan. But the events there have never received the dramatic treatment as Bastogone or the Third Army drive from the south.

By the way, Bradley was actually up where it says 12th Tac on the bottom map - that's his "tactical" headquarters. The fact that he was so close to the front was one of the reasons (at least allegedly) that he so many problems with Ike. It's interesting that the map subconsciously takes him so far out of the picture.

*Spelled Bostogne on the army map - was it drawn by a Red Sox fan?

The Bulge

Some 67 years ago today - assuming my math is right - the German army launched a massive offensive in the Ardennes so effective it's probably one of the few World War II battles that most Americans who aren't history buffs can name -- the Battle of the Bulge.

Omar Bradley was the commander of the armies that were caught in the Bulge. Ironically, when the attack was launched he was already en route to Versailles to discuss strategy with Eisenhower -- strategy on getting more soldiers, not about dealing with the German offensive.

The strength and location of the German offensive took Bradley, like everyone else, by surprise. He quickly recovered, however, and in some respects his reaction and the things that he did are probably the most eloquent proof of his worth as a soldier. Unfortunately, he was at odds with Eisenhower about the strategy for dealing with the attack and the ultimate capabilities of the Germans (and the Americans). History actually proved Bradley right, but that has tended to be lost in the telling of the battle, at least to the popular imagination.

There are many lessons that can be drawn from the Bulge - never underestimate your enemy, never underestimate yourself. The battle certainly shows how difficult it is to restore your perspective on things when things you believed suddenly turn out not to be true.

Me, my Marist cap, and the General

CSpan has posted a video of my talk at Marist on General Bradley, and is even selling videos of it, God bless them.

Here's the link: http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/OmarB (I can't get the video to play here, but it will at the link.)

Once again, thanks to Marist College, CSpan, and the General.
At sea

China's carrier, on its second sea trial a week or two ago.


Question: If your wife sends you a relationship request, and you deny it, what are the odds of ever having sex again?

Speaking of the MiG-25 . . .

The Russian announcer is saying, "This is one bad-ass mf of a plane."

It was fast-fast-ugly. Serious Cold War iron.
MiG-ing around . . .

Spent a good hunk of yesterday looking at satellite images of southern Libya (don't ask). along the way, I had a chance to study images of a military air base and noted some MiG-25s.

Funny thing is, the aircraft in an image in 2004 were in exactly the same place as the image in 2010. The only thing that had changed was the amount of sand on the wing and fuselage.

Damn. If they didn't want to use the thing, they could have at least let me borrow it for a bit.
It ain't over until it's over . . .

Had an interesting talk with Neil McCabe at Guns&Patriots Tuesday. He's doing a podcast on the Battle of the Bulge and very graciously invited me to share some thoughts.*

As we were talking, we both noted that things for the Americans went comparatively easily after the Bulge. "Game over," in effect.

But thinking later, I realized that, while yes what happened afterwards was considerably easier for the Americans than the Bulge, there was still considerable fighting, dying and suffering. That's one problem with the way we talk about history. We (myself included) tend to wrap things up into very neat packages. History in general is seldom like that, and war certainly isn't.

The Bulge began around 5:30 in the morning December 16, 1944, and continued until the end of January 1945, was a horrific battle fought with courage and savagery. It produced an enormous number of casualties on both sides, and set the final course of the war. But it was just one stop on the way to the end.

*I'll post a link when it's up. In the meantime, check this page at Human Events for the Guns & Patriots newsletter and articles.
Coming soon . . .

. . . to a Kindle near you.

The third book in the Jake Gibbs series.
I wonder what they'll say . . .


President Obama on the RQ-170 Sentinel lost in Iran:

"We've asked for it back. We'll see how the Iranians respond," Obama said at a news conference. Obama said he wouldn't comment further "on intelligence matters that are classified."

At least he still has a sense of humor.
Mitt the (wise?) spender

The NY Times has a fairly complimentary story today about Mitt Romney's frugality - at least I interpret frugality that way.

But there is also this:

Several of Mr. Romney’s colleagues saw a measure of delusion in his thrift, especially after his self-financed 1994 campaign against Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts. Mr. Wolpow recalled Mr. Romney’s response after learning that a few Bain Capital executives had invested their own money in a jet-sharing program to make travel easier. 
“I don’t see how anyone could spend $2 million on the share of a private jet,” Mr. Romney told him. 
Mr. Wolpow replied playfully: “Mitt, I don’t see how anyone could spend $4 million trying to beat Ted Kennedy.”


Gene therapy breakthrough

SATURDAY, Dec. 10 (HealthDay News) -- A single treatment of gene therapy dramatically improved symptoms and quality of life in a small group of men with hemophilia B, an uncommon form of the bleeding disorder, a new study suggests.

Full story here.

As rare as the disease is, the breakthrough itself is breath-taking. And perhaps a little scary.
Would you trust your spaceship . . .

. . . to this crew?

(That's us getting ready to go inside a clean room on the NASA tour last week, courtesy of NASA and Tor/Forge publishers . . .  Photo stolen from Larry Bond.)

It's never too late . . .

. . . for true art to shine.
More on the UAV

This up-dated National Journal story is probably the best "mainstream" account of the UAV, mixing some prudent speculation in:

I can't see the future . . .

Though I suppose I should be happy to take the credit . . .

More than a few people have commented on the similarity between the RQ-170 situation in Iran and the opening sections of Raven.

Thanks for the kind words.

While I'd love to claim some sort of ESP or ability to read the future, the truth is that something like this was bound to happen eventually. The Dreamland and Dreamland: Whiplash books always start from some sort of "real" premise and move on from there.

And yes, it's a hell of a lot easier to recover a UAV in fiction ... but even there it got complicated.

(You can get Raven Strike at your local bookstore, or here, here, here, or here.)

Real or fake?

It's all in the wings . . . maybe.

Story laying out questions about the Iranian images here. Only the CIA and Air Force know for sure, right?

The Sea Dart

I always wanted one of these when I was a kid . . .

Maybe I can slip one into a future book.

Really good overview of the project at Defense Media Network:

Convair's Sea Dart waterborne jet fighter was
a brilliant mistake whose time never came

Story here: http://www.defensemedianetwork.com/stories/xf2y-1yf2y-1-sea-dart-a-jet-fighter-on-water-skis/
Now on YouTube (naturally) . . .

By the way, what the "expert" says pretty much shows he knows as much about the aircraft as he does about baseball . . .

Classy job on the flag, though. Really adds to the credibility of the production.

Iran UAV claim, video




I'm amazed that any country that's not Germany or France wants to continue using the Euro.

Frankly, the ease of transactions is no longer much of a selling point - bank transfers and ATMs make the point essentially moot. The inconvenience is far outweighed by flexibility and, most importantly, sovereignty.

This isn't an argument for irresponsible spending, which would catch up with any country eventually. It's an argument against long-term penury, and permanent second-class citizenship.

All those British critics years ago knew what they were talking about, no?
What's Christmas coming to?

Is it wrong that I find the graphic of Santa gunning the Grinch terribly amusing?
The Gray Ghost

. . . and the Black Widow during testing.

If you're a fanatic about the YF-23, into Fifth Generation fighters, or just want to check out cool aircraft, here's a great site on the Northrup entry into the "contest" that eventually yielded the Raptor. http://www.yf-23.net/index.html

Phil Morden

Quite a while back, I posted a picture of an awesome-looking Phil Morden rifle. There's been a lot of interest, questions and requests in its wake.

I don't know Morden, nor do I have any connection to Top Shot or its producers. Here's a Facebook page that will give you more information about him and Top Shot: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Phil-Morden-Top-Shot-Season-3/102510356505801

The usual disclaimers - this isn't an endorsement, advertisement, etc., etc. - apply.
About the UAV . . .

So if you figured out a way to kill a UAV using cyber-warfare, would you brag about it? Or wait until you'd downed an entire fleet (if ever)?

On the other hand, if you wanted your enemy to think you could down it so they would cease and desist . . .

(And yes, losing the UAV is a big deal, no matter what anyone says, even if it's not catastrophic. The first order of business is to figure out what really did happen to it.)
Does fiction follow real-life . . .

. . . or is it the other way around?

I'm having a lot of trouble with the next Dreamland: Whiplash because not one but two major plot elements have now been nearly duplicated by real life.

Modifications are needed.
With allies like this . . .

If you were Pakistan and were worried about losing your nuclear weapons, who would you fear more: The U.S. or Islamic radicals?

A good story from the Atlantic on a range of issues concerning our so-called ally: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/12/the-ally-from-hell/8730/
Have a Bradley Christmas? 

Pundit Review Radio very graciously included my biography of Omar Bradley in its year end best-of round up.

Story here: http://www.punditreview.com/2011/12/pundit-review-radio-book-recommendations-history/

Yeah, but it's cool anyway

Dreamland's latest

Hard to believe, but Raven Strike is the 13th book in the series (we doubled up for a bunch of years).

On sale now in various places, including on-line at B&N here.
Call me a NASA fan-boy

Having spent the better part of last week at the Goddard Space Center, all I can say is . . . wow.

Not to sound too jingoistic, but it's hard not to talk to the scientists, engineers, and technicians there and not come away feeling good about America. (And just to note, many programs have foreign participation.) Goddard is the best and brightest on steroids.

For me, one of the signature moments came early on when I saw gear you'd pick up at the local Home Depot in the high-tech clean room where the deep-space telescope is being built. Granted, there were some very high-tech gadgets in the room as well, but the juxtaposition emphasized that so much of space exploration is not about tools but about imagination and creativity.

I got about three hours sleep total last week, but it was definitely worth it. And maybe some day I'll figure out if the guy in the astro-biology discussion meant it when he said some scientists would claim clay is alive.

Starting the season off right . . .
Speaking of Pakistan . . .

Pak troops fire on U.S. forces ALL the time. Think that happened here?


Brief overview of yesterday: Learned about custom chip fab, nano-shutters, AI, space robotics, geo satellites, earth science, and mangled lug nuts.

Can't wait to see what they'll do for an encore.

(Still having posting problems. But I'll try to keep up the Twitter feed.)