An Essential Cornerstone of Publishing History: For a fuller account of our early HTML publishing online, please visit the Clocktower Books Museum site online. For several brief, shining moments, we were the world leaders in a new industry. All these rave requests date from circa 1996 through circa 1999. Another shining moment was around 2002-2005 during my presence at Fictionwise (defunct since 2012). Another shining (decade) was 1998-2007the world's first professional web-only magazine of SFFH online.
Global Fan Raves. At right, see a quick collage of snippets from raves around the world c1996-c1999, clipped mainly to show some of the addresses (South Africa, New Zealand, Germany, Canada, etc). Full emails in the four pages following. These are probably the only ones we can salvage from the end of last century. These are genuine raves from highly intelligent, tech-savvy readers who also gave hundreds of Great and Good review ratings at Fictionwise in the early 2000s (for another page soon).
Good News: Free Reading. You can read all of my Web Classic books plus later ones (half free/try-buy whole) at Galley City. So the joy and excitement of these early readers is still available online in the HTML Novel format.
In A Nutshell: Readers around the world were able to visit our website(s) in the late 1990s, and read entire HTML novels free online. Many of them were so rapt in suspense, that they couldn't wait any longer, and requested that we provide them the full novel immediately in a TXT file so they could learn what happens next, and how it ends. HINT: all of my novels have always had a strong romantic character line along with suspense, wonder, etc, and they *always* end in HEA. The only exception is Lethal Journey, my 1892 noir period novel closely based on a true story (mysterious 1892 death of the Beautiful Stranger at the Hotel del Coronado near San Diego, a true crime that became a national scandal at the time, and gave rise to a still-notorious ghost legend).
My Purpose Here on this website (4 July 2020, Vision Year or so we hope) is to gather as many of my old reviews & raves from fans around the world as can still be recovered. As I gathered what old files I could find (among the many lost), it became imperative to include those excited download requests from avid readers around the world. Their enthusiasm and enjoyment speak as loudly as any rave review! And it's a lost world, a golden age, when our brave new adventure took (mostly tech-savvy) readers by storm. It was a real war against establishment evil and mediocrity on the back end, but I'll avoid negativity here today while reveling in these golden memories.
Sample Download Requests. On these few pages (Reviews 4a through 4e) you'll find the rave comments and download requests of our avid readers around the world. That was the first wave, lasting from about 1996 to about 2001. A second wave (for me as author, and for our ground-breaking professional SFFH magazine (originally Deep Outside SFFH with Brian Callahan; see SF Encyclopedia), a second wave briefly came around 2002 to 2005 at Fictionwise, the dot-com that was for a decade or so the world's premier publisher of digital fiction and nonfiction. I had a lot of bestsellers and success there while it lasted. It's all documented at the Clocktower Books Museum as noted above. As I (John T. Cullen, real name Jean T. Cullen) became sole proprietor in 2001, the imprint name changed from Clocktower Fiction to Clocktower Books to include nonfiction. With a group of friends, I continued our pioneer SFFH magazine under the new title Far Sector SFFH.
Bottom Line for these pages, today, is for me to publish online what pieces of that heritage can be salvaged. Names of readers will be kept anonymous (no data were ever collected, so no privacy issues).
Back in early 1996, Brian Callahan and I launched C&C Publishers. Starting with two websites (The Haunted Village SFFH and Neon Blue Fiction (suspense)) we began publishing entire (not partial) novels (proprietary, not public domain, hence disregard Project Gutenberg et al. in this story) to be read online (not on portable media like floppies, tape, or CD-ROM). We published several of my novels and short stories in weekly serial installments, released every Sunday afternoon PST to be available to avid readers around the world as they came to work. Most people did not yet have home or personal computers, and hand-held devices were largely unknown, so this was a hot innovation at the time. I should add (due credit) that Andy McCann, who launched Planet Magazine (short SFFH) in 1994, became my first SF short story publisher in 1997 (see Control Game, illustration by Brian Callahan).
HTML Novel. I have come to call it the HTML Novel: published entirely online in HTML code, to be read online (now also on hand-helds). Readers who were eager to learn what happens next, and couldn't stand the rhythm of weekly chapter posts, could request the full manuscript in a TXT file. Note: all this material is copyright registered. By 2000 or so, we were able to not only publish e-books, but also print editions ("print on demand"). Funny story that says a lot: I had the published print edition for my political thriller CON2: The Generals of October in hand, about 1999, and submitted a registration complete with fees to the Library of Congress. I was told "we do not yet know if these are real books, so we cannot register your copyright; if you wish, you can submit it to us for registration as an unpublished manuscript." The Gatekeepers of Mediocrity (GOM) were in full spleen on all fronts; but that's a story for another day. Today, I am celebrating these kudos and accolades received from real readers around the world at the dawn of a new age.
John Argo. I must add one other item, shed one more ray of light into the darkness. Back in 1996, I was so thrilled at the limitless potential of this new digital publishing medium that I thought hard to find a suitable pseudonym for my suspense and speculative fiction. As a history and literature buff, it didn't take me long to think of a perfect name (which has been ignored and subject to blank looks for over twenty years). Argo was the name of the great sailing ship built by the ship-builder Argos of Colchis, over 3000 years ago during the Bronze Age. On the fabulous ship Argo, Jason and the Argonauts (literally: Argo-Sailors) set out on amazing adventures like finding the Golden Fleece. We send our SF heroes in to the galaxy... in those times (as recorded a thousand years later by the ancient Hellenes or 'Greeks'), space opera consisted of sailing the myth and monster infested unknown waters of the Mediterranean, Agean, Pontic, and Aral Seas. If you don't believe me, just think: modern film makers are still celebrating those amazing adventures, as in Ray Harryhausen's 1963 Jason and the Argonauts. So now you know why I chose John Argo as my SFFH pseudonym back in 1996. Look at the pseudonym for my short story Control Game published 1997.