I’d be overwhelmed if it weren’t for the stress meds, I suspect. I have been working on finishing up the upcoming “commemorative edition” of Passport to the Cosmos by John Mack which for me meant receiving another draft of the book and verifying that all the errors I’d detected had been corrrected (90% of them had been, some I need to reassert). It has also meant selecting the photos and sketches that are to be introduced to the book for the first time. In that effort I have the assistance of Danny Mack and Karin, who narrowed two boxes of photos down to less than 10. It will be even fewer in the finished book, and so we have one more round to go through — and, more difficult than the selecting, the decisions about which pics go on which pages. Some pesky clearances to sort out on a couple pics, too, where other people can be recognized. We have had the advantage of having some lovely sketches available, which will also appear in the book for the first time. The sketches have in fact come to dominate what would have been photo pages, because after all, the book is about a subject that is not reliably photographed! My Photoshop skills were involved in both the pics and sketches, in that I had to remove dust, and on one of the sketches remove the presence of the graph paper on which the sketch was made! Another sketch, by African artist Credo Mutwah, was received as a photograph and I had to correct the perspective, to make it as close to the quality of an actual scan as I could. All of this, I then upload to the publisher, which is located in Canada.
Then there’s the new foreword. Michael H. Cohen, a friend of John’s and a gifted attorney who advises doctors about how to responsibly include alternative treatments (such as nutritional supplements) within the sometimes conservative field of medicine, wrote a moving tribute to John at the time of John’s death in 2004. An edited, 2 page version appeared in Shift magazine. The new edition of Passport to the Cosmos will present a full 8 page version. But like any author, Michael is a bit nervous and has a few last-minute changes to make to his pages, which I need to learn of and record tomorrow.*
Indeed, tomorrow is the day when the entire book should be finished. All our photo selections and placement, all our typo corrections, and all the modifications to the new foreword are sort of due tomorrow. We haven’t seen John Mack’s bio yet, so there’s one more element not yet approved.
*I should add that many people wrote moving remembrances of John, and that I intend no slight upon any of them by selecting Michael’s for this book. Michael’s references Passport to the Cosmos by name, and works well as an introduction to it, whereas other remembrances may, if I have my way, end up in a different book at some point in the future — a collection of essays by (and a few about) John Mack from across his entire career. So, Michael is not getting special treatment, his words simply serve the needs of this book best right now.
Additionally, I’ve had to straighten out some confusion about the critic’s blurbs that may appear on the back cover. Some blurbs for the previous book, Abduction, were sent out in promotional material for this new edition of Passport to the Cosmos. This may be because on the 1999 edition, blurbs for both books were presented on the back cover — carefully identified as such. But somewhere down the line the distinction was blurred, and I’ve had to restate which are the blurbs for Passport — and edit them down to back-cover size. And I’ve asked Budd Hopkins if he’d be able to offer some brief words as well, since — even though they disagreed with some of the finer points of the subject — they were friends and colleagues. I’d hoped to include a photograph of him and John together as well, but that will have to be saved for a future volume.
Unrelated to the book, but related again to John Mack, a new release of John Mack’s documentary DVD, Touched, by filmmaker Laurel Chiten, is being prepped and I just had to go into my archives and find the menu music from the original DVD, and other reference material so that they can create new menus. I’ve heard that the film is getting a new transfer — this time from the master videotape, so hopefully it will be superior visual quality to the original, which in my opinion was a bit blurry. However, I am not involved with the DVD beyond my learning that I needed to upload them the menu music, and also the easter egg, to an ftp server somewhere. The easter egg was an audio interview with filmmaker Laurel Chiten conducted by Whitley Strieber. I suggested to the new company that this interview may be best presented as a regular extra this time rather than as a hidden easter egg, because I don’t know that anyone actually found the durn thing.
So, in doing the uploading I missed Michael’s phone call and will have to do that tomorrow. It is going to be another busy day.
My plans to make my holiday update letter has again been put off for a few more days!