Atlanta Nights: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Atlanta Nights is a collaborative novel created by a group of science fiction and fantasy authors, with the express purpose of producing a bad piece of work of unpublishable quality to test whether publishing firm PublishAmerica would still accept it.[1] It was accepted, but after the hoax was revealed, the publisher withdrew its offer.[2]

The primary purpose of the exercise was to test PublishAmerica's claims to be a "traditional publisher" which would only accept high-quality manuscripts. Critics have long claimed that PublishAmerica is actually a vanity press which pays no special attention to the sales potential of the books they publish since most of their revenue comes from the authors rather than book buyers. PublishAmerica had previously made some highly derogatory public remarks about science fiction and fantasy writers, because many of their critics came from those communities; those derogatory remarks influenced the decision to make such a public test of PublishAmerica's claims.[3]



PublishAmerica described itself as a "traditional publisher" and claimed to accept only high-quality manuscripts for publication. Its website further stated that the company received over 70 manuscripts a day and rejected most of them.

At one point, PublishAmerica posted articles on their AuthorsMarket website stating that, among other things:

[S]cience-fiction and fantasy writers have it easier. It's unfair, but such is life. As a rule of thumb, the quality bar for sci-fi and fantasy is a lot lower than for all other fiction. Therefore, beware of published authors who are self-crowned writing experts. When they tell you what to do and not to do in getting your book published, always first ask them what genre they write. If it's sci-fi or fantasy, run. They have no clue about what it is to write real-life stories, and how to find them a home. Unless you are a sci-fi or fantasy author yourself.[4]
—Author's Market: Never Trust the "Experts"
But, alas, the SciFi and Fantasy genres have also attracted some of the lesser gods, writers who erroneously believe that SciFi, because it is set in a distant future, does not require believable storylines, or that Fantasy, because it is set in conditions that have never existed, does not need believable every-day characters. Obviously, and fortunately, there are not too many of them, but the ones who are indeed not ashamed to be seen as literary parasites and plagiarists, are usually the loudest, just like the proverbial wheel that needs the most grease.[5]
—Author's Market: Only Trust Your Own Eyes


In retaliation, a group of science fiction and fantasy authors under the direction of James D. Macdonald collaborated on a deliberately low-quality work, complete with obvious grammatical errors, nonsensical passages, and a complete lack of a coherent plot. The effort was partly inspired by another collaborative "hoax" work, Naked Came the Stranger, as the working title of Atlanta Nights was Naked Came the Badfic.[6]

The distinctive flaws of Atlanta Nights include nonidentical chapters written by two different authors from the same segment of outline (13 and 15), a missing chapter (21), two chapters that are word-for-word identical to each other (4 and 17), two different chapters with the same chapter number (12 and 12), and a chapter "written" by a computer program that generated random text based on patterns found in the previous chapters (34). Characters change gender and race; they die and reappear without explanation. Spelling and grammar are nonstandard and the formatting is inconsistent. The initials of characters who were named in the book spelled out the phrase "PublishAmerica is a vanity press."[7]

Under Macdonald's direction, the finale revealed that all the previous events of the plot had been a dream, although the book continues for several more chapters.

Submission, acceptance and then repudiation

The completed manuscript was offered to PublishAmerica by an unrevealed person not usually associated with fiction. The manuscript was accepted for publication on 7 December 2004.[2]

The hoaxers reviewed the contract with legal counsel, and made the decision not to carry the hoax through to actually publishing the book.

On 23 January 2005, the hoax was publicly revealed by the authors. On 24 January 2005, PublishAmerica retracted its acceptance, stating that after "further review" the novel failed to meet their standards.[8]


The authors subsequently published the book through print on demand publisher Lulu under the pseudonym "Travis Tea"[1] with all profits going to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Emergency Medical Fund.'s description of the novel states: "Atlanta Nights is a book that could only have been produced by an author well-versed in believable storylines, set in conditions that exist today, with believable every-day characters. Accepted by a Traditional Publisher, it is certain to resonate with an audience." Teresa Nielsen Hayden's review said, "The world is full of bad books written by amateurs. But why settle for the merely regrettable? Atlanta Nights is a bad book written by experts."


The authors of the chapters of this book include:

See also


External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Atlanta Nights is a collaborative novel created by a group of science fiction and fantasy authors, with the express purpose of producing an unpublishably bad piece of work and testing whether publishing firm PublishAmerica would still accept it, which they did.

  • “Honey, don’t you like hamburgers?” Bruce wanted to know, crestfallen. “That beef is chalked full of protein!” Bruce grinned contagiously. “And we could both use some protein, after last night! If you know what I mean!”
  • He didn't ever want to be stuck with riffraff like that so he had used the computer skills he had learned from cracking play station games and writing viruses on the internet to build his company to a person was today.
  • Pain.
    Whispering voices.
    Pain. Pain. Pain.
    Need pee--new pain--what are they sticking in me? . . .
  • Isadore:"Fortunately, fast and efficient Emergency Medical Services, based on a program founded by Lyndon Baines Johnson the 36th President of the United States helped y'all survive an otherwise, deadly crash"
  • The longtime security guard saluted the pair as they passed. What lucky people, he thought, so young and rich, they can afford to live here. Not like me. I have to live across town and wear a uniform and salute the young rich kids who make more money in a minute than I can make in my whole life.
  • Both men and women and couples were eating lunch.
  • Yvonne Perrin stood up and walked over to the waiter and took the shot glass full of vodka and poured it out in a planter that held a spindly rubber tree that never got enough light to grow properly even though it was near one of the windows that looked out onto the lake where some ducks were floating like they were waiting for someone to throw them some bread but there was nobody there at this time of day.
  • Those big, jiggle breasts, so close to him.
  • Then he took her home, and they had held hands like little kids and kissed outside her door. He couldn't remember any woman or boy as hot as she was. None of those teen-agers had ever been like this. He defiantly wanted to see her again.

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