A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Writing Life

Writer Scott Turow has gone to Moscow and seen the future:

"Last October, I visited Moscow and met with a group of authors who described the sad fate of writing as a livelihood in Russia. There is only a handful of publishers left, while e-publishing is savaged by instantaneous piracy that goes almost completely unpoliced. As a result, in the country of Tolstoy and Chekhov, few Russians, let alone Westerners, can name a contemporary Russian author whose work regularly affects the national conversation."


  1. So -- ignoring the huge historic irony of Turow's claim you boldfaced -- if works are widely and instantaneously pirated, why aren't those literary buccaneers reading their booty?

    One would think that just the opposite result would transpire.

    Here's KKR's take on the issue:


    1. Just a hunch, but I think it has something to do with the first line "...the sad fate of writing as a livelihood in Russia". There would be no livelihood at all, so far fewer writers.

    2. It may be my cold and consequent cold medicine, but I don't understand your explanation.

      Could you elucidate further, please?


    3. Livelihood = Paying, stable employment

      Paying, stable employment is a sufficient condition for having a class of writers, which is sufficient for having men spending a great time growing in influence and wisdom, which is sufficient for a Tolstoy, &c.

      However, killing the market kills the jobs. If a man rises to fame and influence, it must be by some other method, less tested and more capricious, than a market of ideas founded in filthy lucre.

      At least, that's my understanding of the case.

  2. Sf/F author Sergey Lukyanenko fairly recently explained on his (Russian-language) blog that he thinks sf readers are more tech savvy than most Russian readers. There is no convenient way to honestly buy ebooks in Russia, but piracy is rife and there is little enforcement against it. He thinks it is hurting print sales and forcing publishers to raise print book prices to survive, which is obviously a vicious circle. --Patrick M.

  3. 1. Oh, heck yeah Russians read. Tons o' bestsellers. Important bestsellers.

    2. Most of them are either fun books (ie, entertainingly funny or morose or violent), or ultra-political in ways Turow's hosts don't want to talk about (ie, all the Mother Russia Conquers The World books, and the local versions of Baen libertarianism). Or they're sf/fantasy, or mystery, or religious, or romance.

    3. Also, the covers are often prettier than ours.

    4. Therefore Turow pretends they don't exist.


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