Guest Blog: Steven R. Boyett Launches “Digital Writes”

After Steven R. Boyett contributed yet another penetrating comment on an E-Reads posting, we invited him to guest-blog for us. Well, “invited” may not be the appropriate word. We threatened to hurt him if he refused. We felt his sparkling insights deserved a wider forum than our comments box. Of his own free will and volition he accepted, and today we are happy to offer The Schlock of the New, the first of what we hope will be many feuilletons in a column he calls Digital Writes. Which means that E-Reads is now in Digital Writes Management. :-(
Steven R. Boyett

The Schlock of the New

Dear Sirs:
As a hansom cab driver of long standing I am writing to voice my objection to opening our public roadways to motor vehicle carriages for hire. Not only will this action devastate a grand tradition, it will take food from the mouths of children, notably my own. The inferior training and professionalism of these opportunistic motor carriage drivers represents a danger to the largely uninformed public, and their presence flies in the face of the people’s stated preference — indeed, their fond affection — for the hansom cab. The horses themselves are entitled to work for their living, as they have for generations stretching back to the Garden.
Yours most humbly,


Dear Sir or Madam:
I write with great dismay as the last member of a distinguished family of abacus-makers with a lineage older than writing itself. That a mass-produced device be available to any untrained person not possessed of a deep respect and affection for the God-given perfection of numbers is near to blasphemy. These “calculators” denote the end of an era, a noble industry, and indeed a way of life. As such they take money from trained professionals and disseminate ignorance by creating a generation of calculator-users who feel entitled to expect a device to perform a function while themselves possessing no mathematical ability whatsoever, much less appreciation for the marvelous intricacies upon which our Universe is constructed. Such a device can only be the herald of an Age of Ignorance, and those of us with a right to earn a living from our trade deplore it to our dying breath.


Dear Editor:
As a DJ who has spent years learning the subtleties of manipulating vinyl records upon the wonder that is the modern turntable (specifically the Technics 1200 series) so that he can entertain dancers and partygoers who appreciate good music, I am writing to express my outrage at the spread of “microwave DJs” — amateurs who use computers to play music files at nightclubs and other events. These people are not DJs and never will be. They are button-pushers whose work is all done for them by a soulless machine, not craftsmen who have spent years developing a specialized set of skills. This is not merely a fad, it is a dangerous trend that takes money from the pockets of real DJs, who have been earning a living with turntables for decades and have a right to continue to do so. It is not hyperbole to state that children will go hungry because of these computers, and audiences will soon forget the days when the backbone of their nightlife was a professional spinning real records (much more affordable than a live band, I might add) instead of a computer geek with taped-up Buddy Holly glasses. It is the end of an era.


Dear Mr. Boyett:
I’m afraid I must take exception to your naively utopian views on the advent of digital media as powerful democratizers of art by virtue of their relatively inexpensive production and virtually free distribution, reproduction, and reconfiguration. As a fiction writer who earns — I say earns — his living by writing the much-loved and hardly anachronistic objects known as printed books, I am seeing my rightful livelihood eradicated by those with no respect for professional skills, authorship, or indeed the printed book itself. I have worked for years to learn my trade and establish myself as a professional in an industry that stretches back for centuries, and these alleged “authors” who actually give away their (non)books for free are mere scabs who undermine this industry’s foundations. The more technology grants such abilities and access to the unprofessional, the more people will be coerced into believing themselves artists with a fundamental right to give away their work. And he who gives away his book makes it easier not to buy mine. He effectively takes food from my child’s mouth. He who quotes my work at length in his free blog may as well be siphoning gas from my car. He who shares my work breaks into my house and ransacks the drawers. He who incorporates it into his own work without permission or credit picks my pocket. He who steals my purse steals trash, but he that filches from me my good name robs me of that which not enriches him, and makes me poor indeed. My novels — modern retellings of beloved fairy tales, available on Amazon in print and Kindle format, and in used bookstores as well — belong to no one but me.

Steven R. Boyett was born in Atlanta, Georgia, grew up all over Florida, and attended the University of Tampa on a writing scholarship before quitting to write his first novel, Ariel, when he was nineteen. E-Reads publishes the e-book edition of Ariel.

Soon after Ariel was published he moved from Florida to Los Angeles, California, where he continued to write fiction and screenplays as well as teach college writing courses, seminars, and workshops. He has published stories in literary, science fiction, fantasy, and horror anthologies and magazines, as well as publishing articles and comic books. In the early Nineties his imprint Sneaker Press published chapbooks by the poets Carrie Etter and the late Nancy Lambert.

He has also been a martial arts instructor, professional paper marbler, advertising copywriter, proofreader, tyepsetter, writing teacher, and Website designer and editor.

In 2000 he took some time off from writing. He learned to play the didgeridoo and began composing and DJ-ing electronic music.

As a DJ he has played clubs, conventions, parties, Burning Man, and sporting events. He produces three of the world’s most popular music podcasts: Podrunner, Podrunner: Intervals, and Groovelectric.

In 2009 Berkley Books reissued Ariel and published its stunning sequel Elegy Beach.
Photo by Ken Mitchroney


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