Moravec's MIND AGE

Damien Broderick (
Fri, 27 Dec 1996 11:53:27 +1000

Hi folks

Max More recently posted a reply concerning the publication delay for Hans
Moravec's MIND AGE, the sequel to MIND CHILDREN. An error crept into his
account, and Hans has asked me to post the correction. He writes:
I think Max More
incorrectly data compressed my too-long description. Actually
Oxford has been the saint in the saga of my book, the villain was
Bantam Books. The too-long story follows, maybe you could post
it to correct Max's misimpression [snip]

In 1992 I signed a contract with Bantam Books for the Mind Children sequel.
Everything was going fine, I had received 2/3 of the advance as my manuscript
took form. Then suddenly in 1994, an awkward letter for my editor
explained that my manuscript was incomprehensible and unpublishable, and
immediately thereafter a Bantam lawyer demanded the advance back.

I quickly learned that the same thing had simultaneously happened to at
least dozens of other writers, including people like Gregory Benford and
Murray Gell Mann. Bantam, along with Doubleday and Dell had been absorbed
into German publishing conglomerate Bertelsmann, and downsized, dropping
lots of editors (including mine) and their projects. They exerted
their legal muscle to intimidate writers to get their money back without
contract-breaking penalties. Most quickly found other publishers, and
gave in to BDD to unencumber their rights. It took me longer to get a
very supportive offer from Oxford. In the interim I had such
unpleasant interactions with the Bantam lawyer that it became intolerable
to me to give in to their original (extortionate) terms. I offered a
very protracted paback based on a fraction of the royalties from a new
publisher, but they held out until finally (in September) I threatened
to simply put the MS on the Web, reducing their probability of any payback
to near zero. The standoff delayed the book by at least two years, during
which Oxford (also my German publisher Hoffmann und Campe) patiently waited.


Noting that Hans's future post-Spike intelligences are dubbed Exes
(Ex-human, ex-corporation, ex-traterrestrial), I wish you all a belated
happy Ex-mas!

Damien Broderick