For the last couple of years I've probably read a hundred blog posts, trade articles and other gems o' wisdom telling me that no one reads anymore. These are always written by the Sit Around, Watch and Complain People. They say that we don't have time to read books. That, for whatever reason being perpetuated by the conspiracy theory of the moment, that we don't care anymore about the written word.
This always makes me laugh for many reasons, one being that they're writing this. If people don't read, isn't writing to bitch about it kind of an exercise in futility?
There are readers out there, my friends. Millions of people around the world use the internet every day. The internet is not all pictures. To use it, you generally have to do some reading. I think there are more people than we can even imagine reading every single minute of the day. And they're writing, too -- show me a kid with a mobile phone, and I bet you they've used it at least once a day not only to call someone, but to "text" them.
I write stories about the future, and never once in any of them have I left out stories. In my StarDoc universe, my space-traveling characters listen to stories or read them on computers. Amazingly enough, they also tell stories to each other. Just as our ancient ancestors told their stories in their ways. They etched them in colored pigments on cave walls. They carved them into clay tablets and baked them in the sun. They painted them on papyrus and animal hides. They tattooed them on their skins. The most frequently-used delivery system for stories is in oral retellings. In every culture, stories have been told around the fire or the hearth or at the bedside, passed along from father to son, mother to daughter.
Now, if you could go back and ask, say, an Egyptian stone cutter what he thought would happen to stories once his people gave up chiseling them into the walls of tombs, he'd have probably said, "Well, that's it, then. We're done for, dude."
There will always be someone to whine about the way it used to be, the way it is now, and how we're all, all doomed. They did it when e-books got started (that was supposed to kill print.) Then again when Y2K was about to arrive (that was supposed to destroy all the world's computers.) Now it seem that it's all about how print is on its way out. Again.
Times change. So do the ways we tell stories. You change with them, or you get left behind. But the pleasure and wonder of storytelling will never die just because times change. The only way stories die is when we stop telling them.
For the second PBW Holiday Giveaway, I have:
A Gift Bag of 11 Wonder-filled Reads
-- unsigned hardcover copy of Just After Sunset by Stephen King
-- unsigned trade paperback copy of Halo ~ The Cole Protocol by Tobias Buckell
-- unsigned paperback copies of The Iron Hunt by Marjorie M. Liu, Red by Jordan Summers, and Nightlife, Moonshine and Madhouse by Rob Thurman
-- a signed copy of a rare paperback-size hardcover edition of my S.L. Viehl novel Bio Rescue
-- signed paperback copies of my S.L. Viehl novels Afterburn, Blade Dancer and Omega Games
To have a chance to win this giveaway, in comments name your favorite SF or fantasy story or novel (or, if you can't pick just one, toss your name in the hat) by midnight EST on Saturday, December 13, 2008. I'll draw one name at random from everyone who participates and send the winner the gift bag with the 11 wonder-filled reads, plus an extra stocking stuffer -- a signed, printed* copy of my December Darkyn novella e-book release, Master of Shadows. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something from PBW in the past.
*Printed by me on bond paper and placed in a three-ring binder.