Infinimata Press: Projects: Cleanup In Aisle 1

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-04-26 17:00:00-04:00 No comments

Last night after too damn much procrastinating I sat down and began the work of remastering the first of the former Genji Press (now Infinimata) titles, Summerworld. I'd already assembled cover art for it, as shown here, but hadn't yet started work on cleaning up the interior. This is the first of the remasters where I find myself removing as much from the original as I find myself adding new things.

The first editions of Summerworld had two things that I later decided I didn't want to use: chapter titles and little interstitial images — icons, basically — on each chapter. The former were kinda twee, and the latter were a pain in the tuckus to format correctly. I eventually gravitated towards using titles on parts of a book, but not on chapters as such, and I decided to ditch the use of the chapter names on new editions going forward.

I wasn't happy to see the manuscript formatting itself not in great shape, either. The template I've been using for modernizing all Infinimata projects has a lot less in it than the previous templates, and so I spent most of my time identifying and removing by hand all the obsolete style information.

Another thing I may do is clean up the most egregious of the old, bad syntactical habits I used to have. I've got enough notes in my style guide to identify most of them automatically. This is not a case of "rewriting" the book by any measure, though. Consider it akin to the semi-automated process by which movies are remastered with software that flags and allows quasi-manual cleanup of film scratches, debris, dirt, splice lines, and so on.

On an analogous note: Something I've flirted with from time to time is making "master print" versions of my novels by rendering the text to some neutral format like Markdown, with just enough block-level style information in it to re-render it back out as PDF and HTML. It would be akin to the old-school way of storing a color film's negative as three separate black-and-white negatives, one for each color channel (as per the Metrocolor process). But the more I thought about the idea, the less I liked it — for instance, what to do about things Markdown itself has no native support for, like footnotes? Convert those to HTML, and cross my fingers? Or maybe just use Word's .DOCX as the master format for everything, since I've already been doing that with fair success. If it ain't too broke ...

I didn't like that I had to twist my own arm to get the wheel turning with this book, and I know why. The book is fifteen years old at this point, and I knew I was going to look at it and cringe. But then I told myself, that's just what I think will happen; why not find out what actually does happen? So I made a copy of the latest version of the document (ALWAYS WORK ON COPIES NEVER ORIGINALS THIS RULE WILL SAVE YOUR ASS), fired it up in Word, merged in the 2021 edition of the stylesheet, and just Got To Work. And ... wuddya know, I didn't cringe anywhere nearly as much as I thought I might. Maybe when it comes to remastering The Four-Day Weekend, I won't want to hide from it under the desk either.

Tags: Infinimata Press Summerworld