Years later, my copy had disappeared, and a five-year search had turned up no printing house with a copy or the desire to print another run. So I put out the word on the net. A fellow MSC-fan named Frank was kind enough to photocopy the whole book and mail the copies to me. I didn't have the book, but I did have the source material -- and a scanner. Some handy character-recognition software, plus Photoshop, and I was in business. (As a geek and not an artist, I'm pretty pleased with the image work. Those large images were previously split in the middle by the book spine and had to be joined. And the source images were terrible.)
More recently, a kind soul named Andy wrote to tell me that not only did he have a hardbound copy of MSC that he was willing to part with, but he also had The Big Kerplop, an entire Mad Scientists novel about which I had only heard rumors. Luckily for me, Andy lives in San Jose. He gave me his spare copy of MSC and a photocopy of TBK. In exchange, I took him for a flying tour of San Francisco.
I finally got a nasty letter from Brinley's son Sheridan. Apparently those darn copyrights were renewed. Oops! I promptly pulled everything from the site.
Before everything got pulled,
I received some extremely gratifying bits of mail.
"I was looking for some Mad Scientist Club info on the Net (some of my favorite books when I was a kid) and their was a link to your pages. The books online? Wow! Just what I needed. Then I thought, who put these here? And that was it for 45 minutes."
"Just discovered your page the other day -- THANK YOU ever so much for reprinting The Mad Scientists' Club! I read it in the fifth grade, and I can safely and honestly attest I wouldn't be the bomb-throwing anarchist hacker freakazoid from hell that I am today if not for that book."
"I have had at least 5 copies of the Mad Scientist Club over the years. I just gave away my only duplicate set. [...] They too were my favorites when I was younger. I am now a spacecraft flight engineer (worked with NASA controlling the Magellan Spacecraft to Venus) thanks in part to those books."
"The story of your involement with the book struck a bit of a chord, cause my Mom assumed I wouldn't have any use for that old box of books, and put them in a rummage sale somewhere, I think, and when I went looking for it, it was gone. So, I've been looking for a copy of it with increasing fervor for the past few years, getting various "it's out of print" setbacks, and finally did the obvious thing, and did a search. You were number one, btw.
"Anyway, thanks for posting it, I hope you get busted by the copyright police soon, (I'll help scrape up your bail, and testify, if it helps....:) ) so we can all get another copy of the book!"
"Thanks so much for the pages, Mad Scientist Club was a fav of mine also, but I'm sad to see the books are out of print. Thanks for making the Internet a great place!"
"I wanted to thank you for posting the Mad Scientist Club on the net. It was my favorite book too as a boy--one I read over and over again. I still have my original book, but was looking to buy one for my son when I ran across your listing. Thanks for taking the time to put it there."I would have scanned the stories just for myself, but it sure was gratifying to make a few other folks happy as well.