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Thursday, 10 August, 2000, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
From deep space to cyberspace
Babylon 5 cast members
The Babylon 5 creator is trying fiction without the science
By BBC News Online internet reporter Mark Ward

The creator of science fiction TV series Babylon 5 is turning to the web to publish his latest work.

J Michael Straczynski is planning to make his latest novel available in four limited-life instalments that can be downloaded from the web.

Anyone wanting a permanent copy of the work, called Tribulations, will have to buy it in old-fashioned book form.

Straczynski's move follows the lead of horror writer Stephen King who is also experimenting with electronic publishing.

Ride online

Earlier this year, King made a 66-page story called Riding the Bullet available as an e-book and charged $2.50 (1.60) to read it.

Stephen King
Horror writer King is pioneering electronic publishing
Then, last month, King made available on the net the first two chapters of a novel called The Plant, a story about a publishing company taken over by a vampiric vine.

King took no steps to protect the text and trusted readers to pay $1 (0.67) for every chapter they downloaded and read.

He said he would only keep writing more instalments if 75% of people that read earlier segments paid up.

This appears to have happened because King has announced his intention to keep up with the work.

Reading rights

By contrast, Straczynski is not trusting people to pay for what they read.

Instead, the text is being made available for free via a streaming technology similar to that used to supply video and audio feeds over the internet.

Although the text is free, readers should not be able to save the text to their hard disk.

Anyone wanting a hard copy of the novel is being encouraged to buy an old-fashioned printed-page version when it is published on 21 August.

The instalments of Tribulations are being made available via the Bookface website.

The novel is a contemporary tale centring around a crime reporter on the Los Angeles News Tribune investigating a series of murders with supernatural origins.

The modern day story line marks something of a departure for Straczynski who is best known for his creation of the cult SciFi series Babylon 5.

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See also:

01 Aug 00 | Entertainment
King's new e-chapter pledge
25 Jul 00 | Entertainment
King's e-book experiment a success
20 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Stephen King's online thriller
09 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Author King rides the e-tide
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