Military Control of Book Acquisitions?

Several months ago, I sent a slush submission into Baen for my new book, Dream Electric. I received this response from the acquisitions department, which was signed by an author by the name of Gray Rinehart:

Dear Author,

 Thank you for your patience as we considered your novel.  Unfortunately, it does not seem right for us.

 Due to the volume of manuscripts we receive and the press of other business it is impossible for us to go into particulars.  Please do not take this rejection as necessarily a reflection on your work; we can accept fewer than one percent of the manuscripts submitted to us.

 Best of luck in another market.

 Sincerely,

 Gray Rinehart

Contributing Editor

Baen Books

What struck me as interesting about this rather ordinary form letter in hindsight was the author himself, as well as more particularly, his past work history. When I looked up Rinehart’s bio, I discovered he happens to be a former high-ranking member of the Air Force and former speech writer for Bill Clinton, as well as for a slew of other presidential candidates. Rinehart’s affiliation with Clinton has recently been edited out of his bio on his page, graymanwrites.com, but this may give us a clue as to what impetus is actually driving acquisitions at some publishing houses.

You may recall the now infamous 1950s’ program called Operation Mockingbird, during which the CIA was discovered to be infiltrating the upper circles of the media in an effort to control and influence public sentiment. What’s interesting is that the same issue did not come to the fore ever in the publishing sector, at least as far as I know.

Which leads me to wonder: Are there members of government prevalent in the publishing world, some of whom may not be so conspicuous? It may be some years before we know perhaps, but I can say at least I’m a little uncomfortable with high-ranking speech writers for politicians potentially absconding themselves in the upper leagues of publishing. In this case, we are talking about a science fiction publisher, which may point to an interest in events beyond the perameters of our current scientific understanding. Or it may suggest an intrigue with sociological and philosophical hues created by the spec fiction crowd, some of which may critically sway public whim. After all, science fiction remains a dominant intellectual force in some ways.

Understand, of course, I entertain the possibility my line of thinking is all wrong.

Rinehart’s foray in acquisitions at one of science fiction’s most notorious publishers may be a genuine interest, and acquisitions may in fact be his preferred career move at the moment.

But given what’s happened in the past, I think it’s befitting that government, like its own distinctive relationship to religion, remain fundamentally separate from literature.

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