X-Message-Number: 936
Date: 29 Jun 92 18:10:42 EDT
From: Charles Platt <>

For dissemination via Cryonet 

I have read Kevin's recent news item re the possibility of 
"another book about cryonics."

First let me explain the way in which books are written and 
sold. A writer has a choice: 1) He can write the whole book 
and then try to find a publisher, or 2) He can write an 
outline of the book plus a couple of sample chapters, and try 
to get a deal on the basis of that. The advantage of 2) is 
that the writer can receive some money up front which will 
finance the subsequent job of finishing the book. The 
advantage of 1) is that a publisher may be willing to pay 
more money for a finished book, since there are fewer 
uncertainties involved, and what you see is what you get. 

I make a living, more or less, as a freelance writer. For 
many months I have been working on a nonfiction book about 
cryonics, following plan 1). I decided I wanted my book to be 
nothing less than the definitive work describing all the 
history, all the science, and all the people who have ever 
played a major part in the development of cryonics. I decided 
to take my time, gather as much material as possible, then 
figure out how to organize it, and then write a large chunk 
of the book so that publishers could see precisely how I was 
planning to treat the subject. In other words I took a long-
term gamble, spending money on travel to Florida, California, 
and elsewhere, without any guarantee that my work would 
subsequently find a publisher. The only precaution I took was 
to ask around before I began work, to make sure that no other 
writer had already started on a similar project. 

So far, so good. But now it turns out that a writer named 
Patrick Huyghe called Alcor a month or so ago, asked for some 
information, and told Ralph Whelan that he was planning to 
write a book of his own about cryonics. Unfortunately, Ralph 
did not take the statement very seriously, and did not tell 
Huyghe that I was already working on a similar book. Nor did 
Ralph tell me about Huyghe. Consequently, Huyghe went ahead 
and quickly put together an outline of his book, plus a short 
sample chapter. The outline and chapter have already been 
submitted to more than one publisher in New York, with a 
request for them to bid on it. 

I have seen the outline. It contains a fairly accurate, 
comprehensive historical overview of cryonics. Its tone is 
basically sympathetic but takes a detached viewpoint, and the 
author makes it clear that he will draw whatever conclusions 
he feels are appropriate. Thus, as Kevin's email stated, 
there are no guarantees that this will be a favorable book 
overall. Also, so far as I can tell, the writer seems not to 
be a suspension member of any organization, and seems not to 
have talked to many people in the field. This does not mean 
he will write a negative book, or a sloppy book; it merely 
means that we don't know exactly what he will do. 

I am now in the uncomfortable position of playing catch-up. I 
think I have done a lot more research than Huyghe (whose 
outline seems to be based on a few printed sources). Also, as 
a suspension member, I have made no secret of my belief in 
cryonics. Plus, I have an obvious motivation to portray 
cryonics in such a way that it will continue to flourish. 
Frankly I think I am writing a more ambitious and impassioned 
book, covering the subject from an insider's perspective, 
with vivid character sketches of the personalities involved. 

However, there have been many instances where the first book 
on a subject tends to eclipse the second book, regardless of 
other factors. Huyghe is certainly first to try to sell his 
book, and if he finds a publisher, his book may also be the 
first into print, because (based on his outline) I think he 
can write his book faster than I can write mine. Mine is 
perhaps too ambitious, requiring a very large investment of 
time. And I am still only half-way through doing the 
interviews that I want to do, with twenty completed but at 
least another twenty still to go. 

Of course, there may be room for two books on this subject. 
At this point, however, I can't say exactly how this will 
work out.  

--Charles Platt

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