Clean Reader and why I don’t think you should use it

Up to a few days ago I hadn’t heard of Clean Reader, then someone I know retweeted the following from John Scalzi

Asked for my thoughts on Clean Reader. They are: you bought the book, do what you want, but if you use the app, it’s not the book I wrote. [LINK]

My first thought was – that’s just dumb. Since then I’ve read a few more articles and blogs on the subject with more… colorful responses[LINK] and  [LINK] (you have been warned) and I have come to the conclusion that Clean Reader isn’t dumb, it is dangerous.

This censorship of swearing is to me the thin end of the wedge. In itself if someone told me that they had read a book that had been subject to Clean Reader, what I would take from that is that they have actually read the book at all. In much the same way that if you read a book originally written in another language that has been translated into yours, then you are reading a version not the original. With a formal translation the objective will be get the most accurate conversion possible. While Clean Read is designed to be inaccurate. So in itself Clean Read doesn’t seem that big a deal; it is a clumsily and inferior version of the original.

But the more I think, the more I see things I don’t like and that might provide unwelcome precedent.  To start with by using such a system you are effectively attributing words to an author that they didn’t actually write, something most us would react badly to. Secondly what next? This is just replacing individual words but assuming it doesn’t exist already, then if given the opportunity could we see programs that are even more invasive? One that edits away the subject of your preferred prejudiced, like people of colour?

Other religions?

Homosexuals?

Women?

It is worth noting that while Clean Reader is the product of an American Christian couple, this tendency isn’t unique to them. They was some argument a year or two ago about the removal of the word – and I apologize for its use – nigger in the works of Mark Twain. To put it mildly, it’s not a nice word but for better or worse, it is part of language and mindset of the time. If it is okay to change individual words in Twain’s work then is it for example okay to rewrite Jane Austin various heroines, so that they go out and make their own fortune rather than wait around for a man?

It speaks of a bland or cowardly mindset that decides to take out anything that doesn’t fit into its existing worldview. One that doesn’t want to be challenged and while Scalzi is right, you can do are you want, I can’t help feeling that there is a better solution:

Don’t read the book.

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State of the writer address

Okay, I’ll start by not apologizing for my failure to post in a while.

Or the I ain’t dead line either.

Instead lets move straight on to what have I been up to. In short a lot, most of it entirely personal and on the whole most of it positive or at least status indeterminate. However it has ate into my time for writing but that said I have managed to get some things done.

Firstly my second ships of the fleet book is about 70% done. This one is going to be covering the cruisers through and shortly after the Contact War. I have one more model to do, then check the write ups match the designs and then do the final images. ETA Before June (unless real life intrudes)

Second up we have my time travel piece. I’m not sure yet whether this is going to be novella or short novel (yes there is a difference [no I don’t know exactly what it is] ) ETA? Well with time travel this image probably sums it up:

 

time-travel-irrelevant

Finally we have an on going project relating to my other main hobby – table top wargaming. A friend and myself have been modifying a science fiction rule-set into one for World War Two, covering platoon to company scale games for 15mm figures. If you don’t game then that sentence probably meant absolutely nothing to you. While by this stage there’s not a hell of a lot left of the original rules  odds are this one will remain a private project since there would be copywrite issues but you never know.

What you be seeing here in the future is some samples of the new Ships of the Fleet book to replace the earlier attempts.

Until then regards

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I can feel a headache coming on yesterday

After a day spent working on a time travel story, which involved a lot of sitting trying to reconcile two timelines. I can now feel my brain trying to make a break for it.

I might call it a day until yesterday.

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History – picking the bits you like

This week I came across the following:

Verdun is an online video game where multiple players can take part in the fighting of World War I. The idea for the game was based on the 1916 Battle of Verdun.

 Even though the Battle of Verdun took place in 1916, two years after the Christmas Day Truce, the Verdun game designers decided to build in an extra section where gamers could call a truce in commemoration for the centenary of World War I,

The new sections give players the option to take a ceasefire and re-enact the truce. They can play football, have snow ball fights, make fires and sing Christmas carols with their opponents, rather than fighting.

The players can continue fighting at any point, but the designers felt it was a poignant feature to include at this time.

The Christmas Day Truce of 1914 is an iconic story and image of peace amongst bloodshed during World War I and still resonates today. Both sides of the conflict emerged from their trenches to meet in no-man’s land and enjoy a brief time of peace and festivities at Christmas.

The rest of the article can be found HERE but my first thought was ‘Presumably not getting hung up on fussy details like there were to the best of my knowledge no truces between the French and Germans (the French wanting the German out of their damn country), there were no Christmas truces in 1916 and last but not least the Battle of Verdun went from mid Feb 1916 to early Dec of the same year so didn’t actually straddle the Christmas.’ But on further reflection I find this kind of thing annoying.

The obvious response is, this is just a computer game, so who the heck cares? The answer I think is anyone who gives any kind of damn about history. At the start of this the centenary period I’ve largely been avoiding any kind of documentaries on the subject of World War One, which might surprise people as my interest in military history is well established. There has been a lot of what I wouldn’t even call revisionist history, I’d call fairytale history. The Christmas truce and football game in no-mans land is one of these fairy tales. Another popular one is tales of shell-shocked men dragged in front of kangaroo courts before being summarily shot. The problem with them, is that they aren’t actually true.

Certainly there were sections of the front where there were ceasefires on Christmas day 1914 but equally other sections saw fighting and casualties which because they don’t fit with the fairytale we don’t tend to hear about. Between the French and the Germans to the best of my knowledge there was no Christmas ceasefire because the French wanted the Germans out of their country! In the late eighties the BBC made a TV comedy series called Blackadder Goes Forth, which was set in the trenches of WW1. (Americans might not have heard of this one but it starred Rowan Atkinson also known for Mister Bean) It was really great, laugh out loud comedy with a final scene that remains powerful no matter how many times I’ve seen it but too many people seem to loose sight of the fact that it wasn’t a documentary.

The problem with fairytale history is that it at best twists that narrative puts a focus on items well out of proportion to their real relevance and at worst is used to justify personal agenda. So yes it is just a computer game, it is also spread falsehood and I believe that matters.

 

 

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Back to basics

Another short one*, I’m currently working on a second Ships of the Fleet book as a kind of wind down from the Battle Fleet universe before I start on a new project. This book is going to be the first generation of human cruisers covering from the Contact War to the early post war classes. Some of the ships that are going to be covered I’ve previously done here on the blog but those 3D models and their write ups are now a couple of years old and particularly with the former I can do better. I’m probably going to be replacing those within the next few weeks but I’d like to give you a quick taster.

River Class Mk 2This one is the new and improved model for the River Class Cruisers, of which Mississippi is a member.

 

Early cruiser

While this one is a Contact War era design that for the moment I will decline to name.

 

So as the saying goes, watch this space! (no pun intended)

 

 

*the number of short blog entries I’ve had of late makes me wonder how The Last Charge overshot my planned word count as much as it did.

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attaching something blunt and heavy.

Okay there has been a long hiatus on this blog, in part because frankly I’ve had nothing I really wanted to talk about and in part because WordPress has changed things, which in the finest traditions of the computer industry seems to be one step forward for five steps back – ho-hum.

On a mildly related note there was this story on NASA emailing a crescent wench into space. There is no doubt that currently 3D printing is a technology still in its infancy but it is a fascinating infancy. I’ve heard that the US Navy is currently testing the technology aboard some of its ships, where the motions of the ve3ssel are a distinct complicating factor. There are predictions that someday soon every household could have its own 3D printer. I’m not so sure on that one, especially if the manufacturers of paper printers get involved; my HP printer hasn’t seen the light of day in months because the cartridges cost €30 a pop and the ink somehow magically goes ‘off’ after a couple of months. But it is field of space travel where this technology could really come into its own. If the technology can be got to work reliably and can use local materials, then that spares us the difficulty of lugging everything from Earth.

It wasn’t a technology that existed when I started writing the Nameless War (a bit like e-readers), which I guess goes to show that the future will arrive sooner than you expect and won’t be what you expected.

Have a good Christmas folks.

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Paperback version of Ships of the Fleet now available

I’m pleased to say that Ships of the Fleet Vol 1 is now available in paperback thought Createspace as well as Amazon.UK and Amazon.com

Ships of the Fleet coverAs I said in my last post, I really wasn’t sure how well the print on demand system would cope with images, but they have printed out quite nicely and now I have the finished product in hand,  I think paper is the superior product for this kind of material. Sure you can’t zoom in* like you can with a tablet but what you do is establish a fixed page layout. Obviously I have SotF on my own kindle and tablet and it is rather obvious that the spacing is rather thrown out by images as the machine will leave large blanks if it can’t fit the entire image on the screen.  There isn’t really anything that can be done about it because different people will use different text sizes or screen orientation – I’ve noticed the e-book versions of the Osprey military history books suffer the same problem. Which I think shows why paper books are going to be around for a while yet. There is always likely to room for a premium version of practically anything.

In related news work is well underway for Ships of the Fleet Volume 2. This one will cover the cruisers of the Contact War through to the early post war period. So for readers of the Nameless War that means Hood and the rest of the Geriatrics squadron through to Mississippi. So far I have the first two models done, with the write up for one of them, which leaves another four models to do.

Until next times regards.

 

*except as Red Dwarf would put it by moving your head closer :-)

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