Babylon 5 creator publishes novel for free on the Net

But it's not yours to keep

J Michael Straczynski, the creator of Babylon 5, is to publish his new novel Tribulations, in its entirety on the Web, for free. But it's not yours to keep.

The book, described as "one part thriller and one part pure fantasy complete with supernatural visitations, priests, soldiers of light, politics and lots of humor", is to be published in four weekly instalments on the US site Bookface.com. The first episode is out today.

From 21 August, Bookface will also offer Tribulations for sale as a trade paperback from DarkTales, a horror genre publisher. So why do this, when it has already published the book on the Web?

Tribulations on Bookface is, in effect, acting as a gigantic advertising come-on for the print version. Bookface uses what it calls streaming text technology to enable readers to browse content while protecting that content from being "copied, redistributed or altered on its site". No special software or hardware required.

In a statement (you can tell he's an author), Straczynski says: "The Internet has become the new electronic hearth, allowing readers, fans, and writers to communicate at a previously unimaginable level of intimacy. As with any relationship, there have been bumps along the road as all parties adjust to this new intimacy. The system offered by Bookface promises the first real approach by which fans of a writer's work may have full access to that work, maintaining the conversation in a way that does not compromise the interests of the author."

How long before the crackers intrude upon this cosy intimacy? ®

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