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Paleo E-books

Paleo E-books: Catchall conclusion – From archives to zines
April 30, 2009 | 4:56 pm

image George Santayana said “Those who forget the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it.” Certainly e-book history has been repeating—the iPhone/iPod Touch and the Kindle are standing in for the Palm PDA and the RocketBook as a new generation discovers e-books just as the early adopters did ten years ago (only a bit more successfully this time). But the history that people have been forgetting (or perhaps not knowing to begin with) is that there was a thriving electronic fiction community years before even the earliest commercial e-books were around to be adopted. Over the last four columns, I have...

Paleo E-books: Animé fanfic and Undocumented Features
April 29, 2009 | 6:23 pm

uf-title This series, “Paleo E-books,” looks at groups who were writing Internet literature in the late 1980s and early 1990s—well before most people had any idea what an “e-book” was. Prior “Paleo E-books” columns cover: The Superguy Mailing List The Legion of Net.Heroes & rec.arts.comics.creative alt.cyberpunk.chatsubo,, In this entry I will be looking at fan-written fiction, or “fanfic”—and in particular one of the more famous early Internet fanfic series: Undocumented Features. Today, there is nothing unusual about Internet fanfic; it’s just one of those things that people do on the Internet. It’s gotten so you can barely research Harry Potter without coming across a...

Paleo E-books: alt.cyberpunk.chatsubo and*
April 28, 2009 | 5:40 pm

chatsubo Prior columns in this series: The Superguy Mailing List The Legion of Net.Heroes & rec.arts.comics.creative The Legion of Net.Heroes might be the oldest Usenet-based shared-world fiction setting still alive and kicking—but there are some defunct settings that pre-date it. Identifying them by the names of their newsgroups, these are mainly alt.cyberpunk.chatsubo,, and Today we will look briefly at these groups where people were writing “e-books” before anybody ever knew what an “e-book” was. The Chatsubo and the Pubs When these groups are mentioned, they are often mentioned together, because they share more similarities than differences. Though they are based in different genres,...

Paleo E-books: The Legion of Net.Heroes
April 27, 2009 | 1:45 pm

lnh.logo This is the second in my “Paleo E-books” series looking at Internet writing communities that were producing electronic literature well before “e-books” were first popularized in the late 1990s. In this entry, I will look at the Legion of Net.Heroes (and, to a lesser extent, rec.arts.comics.creative). Like Superguy, the LNH is a shared universe centering on comic book superhero parody. However, perhaps owing to its different origin, the approach it takes is very different. The Legion of Net.Heroes The LNH had its genesis in April, 1992, in one of the free-wheeling discussions that took place on Usenet newsgroups (forums) at the height...

Paleo E-books: The Superguy mailing list
April 26, 2009 | 5:25 pm

superguy In the last few years, e-books have stopped being an early adopters’ toy and started attracting more general interest. People are starting to get the idea that perhaps reading off of screens—especially LCD or e-ink screens held in the palm of one’s hand—may not be so bad after all. But for a small yet active number of people (mostly college students), “reading off the screen” has been going on for as long as twenty-two years. Before the term e-book was in common use, before the World Wide Web was widespread, college students with too much time on their hands were...

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