Three-Decade-Old Milton-Friedman-Endorsed Novel Projecting Economic Meltdown Goes Viral on Web
(OPENPRESS) October 3, 2009 -- In 1979 J. Neil Schulman's first novel, Alongside Night, was released in hardcover by Crown Publishers, with endorsements from Nobel-laureate-in-economics, Milton Friedman and literary lion Anthony Burgess. The novel projected a future when the United States is in a final state of collapse due to the federal government overspending and hyper-inflating the dollar to pay its foreign creditors.
Now, three decades after its original publication -- and with many of the novel's projections eerily reflecting reality -- Alongside Night has become a viral phenomenon on the World Wide Web.
On June 13, 2009, the novel's current publisher -- Pulpless.com -- released a new 30th Anniversary PDF eBook edition of Alongside Night as a free download on the web from http://www.alongsidenight.net. On September 30, 2009 the number of Alongside Night eBook downloads passed 50,000 copies. This number of downloads was accomplished without a dime of advertising, and with no publicity coverage whatsoever from any major media outlet -- no television, talk radio, magazine, newspaper, or major media website. It was a completely viral Internet phenomenon driven by bloggers, podcasters, and one YouTube interview with the author.
In a June 22, 2009 article by Rachel Deahl on PublishersWeekly.com, Mundania Press president and publisher Daniel J. Reitz --whose publishing firm houses a number of imprints that publish romance, sci-fi, mystery and YA, among other genres, and has some 600 authors on its list-- reported "that his house’s e-books sell, on average, 100 to 200 copies in their first month. There are exceptions, however. Marie Rochelle, one of Mundania’s biggest sellers, who specializes in interracial romances, moved 4,000 to 5,000 copies in her first month in the e-book format and several thousand print copies."
The Pulpless.com PDF eBook edition of Alongside Night had, by comparison, 22,645 downloads in its first two weeks of availability from first release on June 13, 2009 through June 30, 2009 -- to repeat, without any advertising or major media publicity.
A Wikipedia article on Alongside Night describes it as "a Prometheus Award winning libertarian and anarchist dystopian novel by science fiction writer J. Neil Schulman first published in 1979 by Crown Publishers. Subsequent paperback editions have been released by Ace Books in 1982, Avon Books in 1987, Pulpless.com in 1999, and Amazon Kindle in 2009. The book focuses on the character of Elliot, the son of a fictional economist and Nobel Laureate, and his experiences in a police state United States in the near future. The novel's economic projections of the United States in economic meltdown have recently been noted as eerily reflecting current real-world developments."
Wikipedia also reports, "The author has recently completed a screenplay adaptation and in addition to a feature film production a new graphic novel, audiobook, and Massively Multiplayer Online Game are being planned."
Alongside Night's honors include being inducted into the Libertarian Futurist Society's Prometheus Hall of Fame in 1989 -- its first year of eligibility -- and its selection as Freedom Book of the Month for May, 2009 by the Freedom Book Club.
No personal information from the downloader is requested by Pulpless.com's website in order to download the novel for free. The free PDF edition of Alongside Night includes pages of display advertising in between chapters -- mostly of books, films, products, and services of interest to libertarians.
Milton Friedman's letter of endorsement on Alongside Night reads, "An absorbing novel--science fiction, yet also a cautionary tale with a disturbing resemblance to past history and future possibilities."
Anthony Burgess's endorsement reads, "I received Alongside Night at noon today. It is now eight in the evening and I just finished it. I think I am entitled to some dinner now as I had no lunch. The unputdownability of the book ensured that. It is a remarkable and original story, and the picture it presents of an inflation- crippled America on the verge of revolution is all too acceptable. I wish, and so will many novelists, that I, or they, had thought of the idea first. A thrilling novel, crisply written, that fires the imagination as effectively as it stimulates the feelings."
Congressman Ron Paul endorsed Alongside Night in 2009, saying, "J. Neil Schulman’s Alongside Night may be even more relevant today than it was in 1979. Hopefully, the special thirtieth anniversary edition of this landmark work of libertarian science fiction will inspire a new generation of readers to learn more about the ideas of liberty and become active in the freedom movement."
Full information on Alongside Night is available on its official website at http://www.alongsidenight.com. The Alongside Night Facebook Group also updates Facebook members on the novel.
Full information on J. Neil Schulman and his subsequent career as a novelist, screenwriter, journalist, publisher, and filmmaker are on his personal website at http://www.jneilschulman.com, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jneilschulman, on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/jneilschulman, and on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._Neil_Schulman.
(OPENPRESS) October 11, 2008 -- Author/filmmaker, J. Neil Schulman, who in 1989 won the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award
for his 1979 novel of America in financial meltdown, Alongside Night -- and who on October 1, 2008, accepted the
Audience Choice award from the Cinema City International Film Festival for Lady Magdalene’s, the suspense-comedy feature
film he wrote, produced, and directed -- has just completed a screenplay adaptation of Alongside Night that he’s been
working on for 27 years.
“I don’t think I spent as much time working on this screenplay as J.R.R. Tolkien spent writing his Lord of the Rings trilogy,” Schulman said, “but it took the current world financial crisis catching up to projections I made in my novel three decades ago for me to decide that I finally needed to get my story of how our country can be rescued from government policies that take us to the brink of catastrophe as an action movie that’s at once chilling, funny, and hopeful.”
Alongside Night won high-profile praise when it was released in hardcover by Crown Publishers in 1979.
Milton Friedman, the first American to win the Nobel Prize for economics, wrote about Alongside Night, “An absorbing novel--science fiction, yet also a cautionary tale with a disturbing resemblance to past history and future possibilities.”
The Los Angeles Times Book Review wrote, “High Drama ... A story of high adventure, close escapes, mistaken identities, and thrilling rescues. ... A fast-moving tale of a future which is uncomfortably close at hand.”
And Anthony Burgess, author of the dystopian novel A Clockwork Orange, wrote, “I received Alongside Night at noon today. It is now eight in the evening and I just finished it. I think I am entitled to some dinner now as I had no lunch. The unputdownability of the book ensured that. It is a remarkable and original story, and the picture it presents of an inflation- crippled America on the verge of revolution is all too acceptable. I wish, and so will many novelists, that I, or they, had thought of the idea first. A thrilling novel, crisply written, that fires the imagination as effectively as it stimulates the feelings.”
As described by the Wikipedia entry on Alongside Night, “The book focuses on the character of Elliot, the son of a fictional economist and Nobel Laureate ... set in a United States on the brink of economic collapse, where inflation is spiraling out of control and the government struggles to keep hold of its power. Trading in foreign currency has become illegal and many shops are subject to rationing; as a result there is a sprawling black market for almost all conceivable goods. Other nations have not fared so grimly, and organisations such as EUCOMTO (European Common Market Treaty Organization - the novel's prophetic vision of the future EU) issue stable gold standard currencies.”
In an email of October 8, 2008, Schulman stated that it was his intent to “sell the script to a production company or get it financed so I can begin pre-production through my own company [Jesulu Productions].”
Following its 1979 Crown hardcover release, Alongside Night’s publishing history has included mass-market paperback editions from Ace Books in 1981 and from Avon Books in 1987. It’s currently available both in a Pulpless.com web-downloadable eBook edition from http://www.alongsidenight.com and in the trade-paperback edition available on Amazon.com and most other book retailers.