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«M.Y.T.H. Inc In Action», Robert Asprin

Author's Note:

I am not a fast writer,

I am not a slow writer,

I am a half fast writer!

R. L. ASPRIN

THE FAN MAIL I've received has been pretty much split on the subject of my last Introduction; some found it interesting and insightful, while others thought it was boring and a waste. If you are of the latter group, please feel free to jump ahead directly into the story, since there is nothing in this message you need to know to understand (and, hopefully, enjoy) the book.

For the rest of you, this note is mostly an apology ... or, more accurately, a string of apologies.

Back in M. Y.T.H. Inc. Link, I optimistically stated that I would be trying to write two Myth episodes a year... and things have not been the same since. I, my publishers, and many bookstores and dealers have been flooded with queries and demands for "the next Myth book," with each reader being sure the books were in existence somewhere because of the schedule I had so foolishly "committed to" in that introduction.

To belabor the obvious, I haven't been able to write at the speed I anticipated at the time. While the popularity of the series and the loyalty of its readers is both gratifying and profitable, any publisher can tell you that trying to get a book out of an author when "it isn't happening" is like pushing on a rope. You see, when I made my writing "guesstimate," I had just finished writing MIL, and the speed with which the prose goes onto the page when I'm closing on the end of a book was still fresh in my mind. That is, when it's flowing, it flows very fast. What I had overlooked was the months of outlining and false starts that go on before things get flowing (These books only look spontaneous and easy to write. Honest!) Anyway, the cruel realities of the situation surfaced when I tried to meet my promised schedule, and I fell far behind my anticipated timetable. As the queries and demands from the readers grew, the tolerance of the publishers for late delivery grew less and less, and the pressures on me increased "to get the manuscript in" with, less and less time for rewrites and polish.

Finally, in 1988, things blew up. I got into a dispute with Donning/Starblaze (the prime Myth publisher... the mass market [small paperback] editions from Ace are subcontracted reprints) over royalties. The dispute has been settled, and the only reason I mention it here is that it lasted the better part of a year... delaying my writing that much more.

In addition to the negotiated terms of that settlement, however, there is an additional apology that I owe the management of Donning. You see, part of the settlement was that the next book (the one you're holding) would not be advertised nor orders taken until the manuscript had been delivered. This was an effort to take some of the "deadline" pressure off my writing as I tried to get back into stride. There were two unfortunate side effects of that condition, however. First, I was unable to reply to the many readers and fans asking when the next book would be out ... as it would be less than fair to insist that Donning not advertise a release date, then banter it about myself. Secondly, at one point I gave my assurance to Donning on the phone as to when the manuscript would be completed... then promptly forgot that I had done so. This meant that when I encountered problems with my writing, I neglected to warn Donning of the delay, and in that absence of revised information, they launched an extensive and expensive advertising campaign for the release of the book in late '89 ... only to suffer embarrassment and loss of credibility when the manuscript failed to appear for production.

While I am not in a position to repair the financial damage caused by the "false start" advertising campaign, I feel it only honorable to offer public apology to Donning for the professional embarrassment which my memory lapse caused. For the record, the late appearance of this volume is due to delays at the author's end, not the publisher, distributor, bookstore, or dealer. Writers are often quite loud in voicing horror stories about having their works mishandled by the publishing industry, yet not so vocal when it comes to admitting their own shortcomings. Folks, this time the confusion and delays were my fault, and the distress I feel because of that will only be compounded if I allow others to take the blame by remaining silent.

While I'm prattling, let me try to head off another potential round of misunderstanding and confusion. In July of '90, another humor series of mine, science fiction this time, will premiere with the publishing of Phule's Company. Please do not panic. This new series is in addition to, not replacing, the MYTH novels. As promised back in MIL, the MYTH novels will continue at least through #12.

(More than) Enough said. While this intro hasn't been as much fun as the last, look at it as a different sort of insight into the "carefree life of an author" and the frustrating complexities of the publishing industry. Enjoy the book. I only hope it justifies the wait.

ROBERT LYNN ASPRIN February 1990

Introduction:

"What am I doing here?"

-ANY RECRUIT, ANY ARMY

"NAME?"

Now, in those circles within whose company I am accustomed to travelin', it is considered impolite to ask questions in general... and that question in specific. Unfortunately, I was currently well outside those circles, and as such felt compelled to answer the inquiry, however rude.

"Guido."

"Home address?"

"The Bazaar at Deva."

"What?"

"The Bazaar at ... Oh! Uh... just say... 'varies.'"

The joker what was takin' down this information gives me a hard look before continuing with his questions. I give him my best innocent look back, which as any jury can tell you is most convincing though deep down inside I am more than a little annoyed with myself. Bein' a smarter than average individual, I should have recalled that even though my travels and adventures with the Boss have accustomed me to other dimensions, to most folks here on Klah such places as the Bazaar at Deva are unheard of, and therefore suspicious. As I am makin' a specific effort to be inconspicuous, this is not the wisest answer to have given.

"Height and weight?"


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