March 14th, 2007

Godzilla Breath

Second Life? I Don't Even Have a First One!

I've never understood the idea of Second Life. Online games like World of Warcraft I can at least understand - it's a virtual fantasy world where you can live out your dreams of being a hot magical princess who makes out with other hot magical princesses without your mom knowing. But Second Life is a virtual world that is, for all intents and purposes, identical to our own, and it seems silly to me to rush home from work or school, log onto Second Life basically exactly what you'd do if you weren't in front of the computer: go to the mall, hang out with friends, chat, etc.

Still, it was only a matter of time before big business realized they could market their wares to people directly inside Second Life, thus destroying whatever "I get to do what I want, when I want, without being patronized, condescended to or marketed at" appeal Second Life may have had. I'm told it's nigh impossible at this point to go anywhere in Second Life without encountering a car ad or a free downloadable song.

But to me, as a writer, this latest Second Life marketing ploy really takes the cake:

On Thursday, March 15, 2007—6pm PST, Dean Koontz will appear in Second Life to read an exclusive selection from his forthcoming novel, The Good Guy (on sale in hardcover 5/29), and answer your questions live. Koontz will be appearing — rather, his avatar will be appearing — in Second Life as the first-ever “Bantam Dell Authors-in-Second-Life” event.

That's right, now you don't have to do that pesky leave-the-house thing to meet your favorite author. He'll be appearing live on your computer - provided that is in fact him - so you can ask questions like "How come your avatar looks like a girl?" and "If you and Stephen King fought, who would win?" and that old favorite "This is the Second Life administrator. There's a problem with your login. What's your password?"

The real nightmare is in the foreseeable domino effect. Writers, especially those who toil in the midlist (and lowlist, like myself), are notorious for trying to sell their books to anyone, everywhere they can, no matter what time of day or night. Soon every author in the goddamn world will want a piece of the action. Second Life will become the new MySpace in that even authors who have no concept of how computers work will be stumbling around the virtual landscape like drunk thugs, shouting, "BUY MY BOOK! BUY MY BOOK! HERE'S THE LINK TO LULU.COM!"

Eh, who am I kidding? That's probably happening already. Whores, all of us.

Of course, the point of having a reading in an actual, real-life location instead of online is to move books, not just to existing fans but also to impulse buyers. With the author present, a random reader is more likely to buy the book right then and there so he or she can get it signed. In Second Life, will people really wander over, see some weird avatar of an unknown writer flapping its pixelated jaws and click the order button?

Anyway, I think Bantam's next Authors-in-Second-Life writer should be Brian Keene. So what if they published Terminal a hundred years ago? If nothing else, I want to see if he gives his avatar hair!