Saturday, January 22, 2011

But Wait! Now How Much Would You Pay ... ?

So, digging among the old files, I came across another backlist-out-of-print-and-reverted book, The Omega Cage, with Michael Reaves. Probably have it up at Smashwords/ as an ebook real soon. 

A couple of minor characters in the Matador universe first showed up in this one. 

Those of you who don't know the backstory on the book, attend, and be amused ...

In the late 1980's, Reaves and I were jockeying to get some movie work. We wrote a couple of scripts and our agent started sending them around. We had meetings on the studio lots. We were full of ourselves -- Out of the way, motherfuckers, a couple of screenwriters are comin' through ... ! 

Pretty soon, we got a bite from a small production company -- would we like to drop by and chat?

Oh, would we?!

We donned our "Power Extreme!" underwear and went to call. 

The producer, who looked all of about sixteen, had read our script based on our novel Hellstar

He stroked us: "Great script, wunnaful, wunnaful, you guys are terrific writers, we love ya! Got depth, got heart, got chops out the wazoo!"

Well, that wasn't hard on the ears, no sirree.

Then the catch: "We can't do this movie, of course, it would cost way too much, but we have an idea, maybe you can come up with something? We're thinking ... Escape from Alcatraz in Space? Whaddya think?"

Reaves and I didn't miss a beat: Hey, no problem. That's a great an idea! Lookit, let's say we have the baddest prison in the galaxy, last stop, nobody gets out alive, call it ... The Omega Cage, right? And we got this smuggler, who runs afoul of the space mafia, they are, um ... Black Sun, see? So he gets shipped to the Cage, which is full of the baddest, bad asses, and --

And, boy, howdy, did we commence to blue-sky, spinning a story, using my Matador universe as a background.  We rolled over that guy like a tank. We had him, we could feel it.

He loved it. 

We did the Hollywood dance -- kind of like the mating ritual of sand hill cranes, very esoteric -- and basically agreed to "jot down some notes," which is code for they-don't-have-to-pay-for-it-yet, and off we went ...

We had a theoretical agreement. Along the way, during our "note-jotting," they wondered if we could get a book deal, to drum up interest in the movie?

Sure, we could do that. 

We called our editor, told her we were about to write a big movie script, and would she be interested in doing a book which would essentially be a long treatment of the movie?

Sure. Why not?

Out of the way, motherfuckers, a couple of screenwriters are comin' through!

Except ...

The bad part came right after that: Our producer quit and went to work in TV, and our baby was orphaned. 

Orphaned scripts have about the same chance of survival as a baby harp seal in a ring of hungry polar bears.

We went from pitching it to Fox, to Dino de Laurentiis, and then straight to Troma ... and that, folks, was the end of that -- except --

-- except we had a book to write that neither of us particularly wanted to write, contract already signed. Crap-oh-dear!

So we wrote it fast and as if it were the movie. 

Ace liked it; it sold surprisingly well, earned back the advance, much better than we expected, and eventually, it went out-of-print and they gave it back to us.

Had a cover featuring a man and a woman modeled upon Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lisa Hartman (Black), and a guy in a robotic combat suit that looks a whole lot like the ones you saw in Jim Cameron's Avatar twenty-odd years later. A whole lot, but we ain't sayin' Jim got it from us -- Saberhagen beat us all to it ...

Come tomorrow, all things going well, you can get the e-version of the book, The Omega Cage ...

(Like the cover? A photo of our old baby-gate/doggie-gate, tweaked in the graphics program a bit. We are nothing if not creative ...)

Addendum: The novels I'm adding to ebook list will also be going up at FS&, Dan Moran's store, and they'll look better there, Dan'l says. He's gotten sharp on .mobi and epub files and he cleans 'em up. Plus if you send people there as customers, you get a discount on stuff you buy. Something to consider. 


ian sadler said...

About time! :-)

It's the only one I'm missing from that universe

Love ya work...

Joshkie said...


Anonymous said...

Sandoz is one of the characters whos name poped up every once in a while that really made me want to know more about him. Really, any time you mention flex players its always made me curious. I liked how the book with Mourn went, and hope theres more books in the future that talk about more of the flex and the players within. Something about a setting where the best of the best work their way to the top makes for pretty awesome story play. Little hints of information like from Albino Knife where they say Darisha was ranked in the top 5 _before_ she learned Sumito... gah, so much I want to know thats unwritten :)

Brad said...

What's the chance of getting Hellstar out as an ebook? That's the only one I don't own or haven't read.

Steve Perry said...

Brad --

I'd have to say chances for Hellstar and Dome are between slim and snowball, at least coming from my house-- we wrote those books back in the CP/M 300 baud days, and any back-up files I had would have gone away with floppy disks when I left my Epson QX-10 behind.

I could disassemble a copy and run it through my scanner, but timewise, it's more work than I want to do.

I managed the six missing chapters of Spindoc, that was only thirty-some pages. And while it only takes about thirty seconds to scan a page, by the time I managed to get 300+ pp done, stored, then copied from the resulting PDFs into a WP file, it will run into some hours. And that's the easy and fast part.

After that, even with a 98% accuracy on the OCR, that means if a page runs 300 or so words (average word being five characters and a space) we are talking about 1500 characters X 98% = 30 characters per page that have to be mostly-manually corrected, because a global search wouldn't know which letter I want to replaced the artifact with, and they'd be different ...

There might be more accurate OCR than I have, and faster scanners, but at my level of technology, it's not a project that calls to me ...

Anonymous said...

Will pick this up. The only copy of this story I ever owned was missing a chapter and a half. Printing error.


Kevin said...

I'm glad to see these books being resurrected. While in print I would always hit up your works at the local bookstores. If they ran dry I would start making periodic rounds to used book stores trying to find them. Sadly the book that got me started and a fan of yours "The Man Who Never Missed" ended up MIA in a move. I'm still looking for a paperback to fill the stop in the bookshelf...hopefully it will turn up in one of those magical Asian shops that pop up unexpectedly.

That or I'll ask my wife for some digital purchases of your work to start up an electronic collection on my nook.

That kinda a round-about way of saying that I love your work and it has been thrilling as a fan to read your blog.


Justin said...

Kevni: While I prefer to buy new whenever possible, eBay and (owned by eBay, no bidding) are great places to find cheap used books. I've grabbed a few of Steve's books from them.

ian said...

Some amusing insight here, thanks for writing this.