« Chapter Twenty Two | Main

December 08, 2004


Thank you for reading Agent to the Stars! If you have a comment about the book, or a question for me, here's where to leave it.

Note: I am moderating comments to keep the spam out -- your comment may not appear immediately. Don't panic! I will liberate it quickly.

Secondary Note: There seems to be some trouble with comments -- if you can't leave one here, feel free to send the comment to me in e-mail at john@scalzi.com.

Posted by john at December 8, 2004 11:55 PM


A rollicking good read, and will certainly pass it on. Many thanks, John, and best of luck with the dead tree career.


p.s. My inner proof-reader also sends its compliments, and wishes to draw your attention very gently towards a minor typo in the following paragraph in ch. 20 which should read "mine", not "mind":

"My grandmother looked at Michelle, and then at me. She smiled, gently slid her hand out of mind ..."


Posted by: has at December 9, 2004 05:08 PM

Wow, cool

Posted by: Lola at December 11, 2004 08:14 PM

A fun read.

Chapter 10 finishes with an incomplete word in the html blogged version, after '...Joshua and waved'. The missing text from p. 113-114 of the pdf is included below:

I looked at Gwedif and Joshua and waved.
They waved back. Suddenly I was flung into space, the Ionar receding behind me like a fastball thrown by a titan. The large blue plate that was the planet Earth began to grow at a distressing rate.

It didn't get bad until the last minute, as the pickup showed no signs of slowing down and the surface of the planet became ever more sharply defined. The last five seconds I couldn't even watch -- I covered my eyes and sobbed out the
Lord's Prayer.

And then I was just off the unmarked road I and Gwedif were picked up from. I didn't feel the landing, but when I opened my eyes, dust was swirling around and there was cracked earth underneath my pickup that matched the cracked earth on the other side of the road.

I started the pickup and went home. Then I went to work. Marcella said that if I hadn't have arrived in those last ten minutes, she had been planning to call the FBI.


I don't understand your choice to spell 'cell phone' as 'cel phone' -- the etymology of cel and cell are very different.

Also, 'bellwether', not 'bellweather'.

Best wishes.

Posted by: Lloyd at December 13, 2004 11:51 AM

I enjoyed the story greatly. Thanks for making it available online!

Posted by: Vulpyne at December 25, 2004 04:58 PM


I have not read your book but I am looking for information on the concept of "shareware novels." Do you know of any others who have used this method of distribution? Any URLs I should visit?


Posted by: Marc Tull at December 27, 2004 03:11 PM

Chapter 10 is truncated on the web. Please look into this. I can't wait to continue reading.

PS I loved Old Man's War

Posted by: Tim M at January 13, 2005 04:57 PM

I have only read 3 chapters but I'm enjoying it quite a it so far. I'll report back when I've read more, but I'm now considering buying Old Man's War.

Your marketing strategy is working, Mr. Scalzi :D

Posted by: Mikhail Capone at January 15, 2005 04:33 PM


Tim M: It's a problem with Moveable Type -- the chapter's too big. However, it's only the last couple of sentences missing, and they're non-essential so I edited upwards. Go ahead and keep reading.

Posted by: John Scalzi at January 15, 2005 10:13 PM

I noticed a couple of typos, too, but I assume those will get edited out before the hardcover edition and anyway, I don't remember what they are...

The more important comment is that I'd planned on only reading the first chapter today, and I just finished the whole thing. Great fun. I loved it.

Posted by: Ellen at January 25, 2005 11:15 PM

What a great read, enjoyed it immensely. Just read Old Man's War and would highly recommend it. Will keep looking for what's next.

Posted by: Hank at February 2, 2005 08:01 PM

I have been stuck in bed for the last two weeks. Over the last weekend, my husband could tell that i was ...well, DONE with tv-there are only so many hours of columbo and murder she wrote on the boob-tube, anyway, so last weekend he bought me your book Old Man's War as he had heard it being recommended on some blog or another. then yesterday he bought me a laptop and i have just about gone though 1/2 of this book. Anyway, to make a short story long, i am really enjoying it, and if you had your donate button up, i would probably put in at least $5 for the enjoyment and distraction that i am getting today!

Posted by: Jordana at February 4, 2005 04:54 PM

Thanks, Jordana. Glad you've been enjoying it!

Posted by: John Scalzi at February 4, 2005 06:02 PM

This has got to be one of the best stories that i've ever read. And I do read a lot, especially science fiction. The writing style is enjoyable, I just like hearing how things are described.

I can't believe this hasn't be optioned into a movie, or at least a sci-fi channel show. These stories are why I got into film and writing and I really do appreciate you posting this for everyone to see.

Thanks again,

P.S. Who's YOUR agent? :)

Posted by: Derek at February 19, 2005 11:37 PM


Agents: I have more than one, actually. For fiction, my agent is Ethan Ellenberg, of the Ethan Ellenberg Agency. For non-fiction, Robert Shepard of the Robert Shepard Agency. Currently I've got one property being shopped to the studios; it's being handled by Joel Gotler, although that representation is (for now, at least) limited to that one property.

Which is not, incidentally, Agent to the Stars (It's Old Man's War," my current novel). Agent has not been actively shopped for two reasons: One, I'm lazy, and two, it's not been actually published yet, and pitching properties is easier (so I am told) if someone *else* has taken a chance on it. The good news is that "Agent" will be formally published later this year, so that might indeed help the cause.

Glad you enjoyed it!

Posted by: John Scalzi at February 20, 2005 09:03 AM

Entertaining! I frankley liked it even more than OMW. I enjoyed the philosophical musings (indirect) on the nature of consciencness and the nature of identity. I see a bit of the same in OMW. Are you going to flesh it out anymore in the next book?


Posted by: jcp at March 6, 2005 06:47 PM

I'm being called to dinner at the moment, but to be brief, JCP: Yes, the issue of identity plays a very big role in Ghost Brigades, the OMW sequel.

And now, food!

Posted by: John Scalzi at March 6, 2005 08:38 PM

wow...i should've been finishing this project for class, but i had to check PA first...and there was this link...and then this story...and 8 hours later, i'm so far behind schedule lol.

this is a great story, refreshing and original.

kudos, you rock. i'll definitely be grabbing this one up.


Posted by: jr at March 22, 2005 09:03 PM

Cool, jr. Sorry to put you behind schedule, but really glad you enjoyed the story. Good luck on the project!

Posted by: John Scalzi at March 22, 2005 11:27 PM

Great story! The best free online novel I've read all year. Okay, ever.

There are a variety of editing-type issues that I noticed, but they didn't stop me from enjoying the story. The only major plot hole: no advanced alien race would EVER use AOL. :) Unless you're going with product placement, in which case more power to you.

Posted by: James W at March 23, 2005 12:20 AM

Just wanted to say that I loved this from the perspective of reading for fun, something I haven't been able to do since my literature degree in college, as well as from a methodology perspective. Being a wannabe writer myself, it helps to be shown a way to see if I'm cut out for writing in the first place. Now to find a copy of Old Man's War.

Posted by: R G Giles at March 23, 2005 01:02 AM

Great read, started this at work out of curiousity off the Penny Arcade link. Ended up comming home and not moving till I finished it, just wanted to drop my compliments before i got dinner, suddenly realized I haven't eaten in 4 hours. Thanks for the greay story.

Posted by: chris at March 23, 2005 01:41 AM

Very good book! I just read it in one painfully long sitting. To put it in perspective, Snow Crash is one of the most enthralling books I have ever read but I usually notice time after 4 or 5 hours (i am a very slow reader)

I also took the time to leave a compliment even when I should be in bed.

Definitly (sp? me=lazy) sold me on Old Man's War.

Posted by: Nik at March 23, 2005 03:52 AM

This was an awesome read. I just burned an evening tearing through the whole thing and I'm considering buying it.


Posted by: george at March 23, 2005 04:46 AM

I was a bit skeptical about the nature of this, having been directed here from Penny Arcade. To say the least the skepticism is erased after reading this entirely in a single sitting. Kudos

Posted by: Tom at March 23, 2005 04:57 AM

Thanks for the great read. Like the other PA readers here, I just blew my entire evening scrolling down a webpage as enjoyable and fun as it was long (and it was long).

Posted by: Jake at March 23, 2005 06:04 AM

PA has quite the interesting friends.

4 hours of great fun. I'll buy the book, of course. Props to you, John. Tell Ethan to make it a movie already.

Posted by: Demetri at March 23, 2005 07:03 AM

Gotta catch up on comments:

James W: Yes, indeed, a few typos and grammar issues here and there. We're going through the printed text with a fine-toothed editorial comb in order to weed them out. Hopefully we'll catch them.

I'm glad so many of you took up your evening to read it! I had a lot of fun writing it, so it's always good to hear that people reading it feel the same.

Demitri: We're pushing "Old Man's War" in Hollywood at the moment, so once we're through with that we'll toward promoting "Agent." Well see how it goes!

Posted by: John Scalzi at March 23, 2005 07:25 AM

Like others I followed the Penny Arcade link while browsing at work and basically chewed (or in this case scrolled) through the whole book through lunch and as soon as I got home. A most enjoyable read, I'll forward this to my friends.

Posted by: Robert at March 23, 2005 08:31 AM

Another Penny-Arcader. Good story. I'll buy the hard copy. If I don't catch the first print run, you better reprint. I only buy books that I'll read more than once, and this story qualifies.

Posted by: Mr.Dragonfly at March 23, 2005 10:03 AM

Well, at least I'm only the 24 commenter.. hopefully that means I can still get one of the signed copies before the rest of the PA crew arrive :-) Great book... don't suppose you'll be posting Old Man's War online sometime soon?

Posted by: Imron at March 23, 2005 10:17 AM

This is one of the best books I've ever read. I decided to check the first chapter out, just to see how it was, but I ended up staying up until 6 in the morning finishing it. I'm stunned by the sheer brilliance of this work.

It transcends literature in a way that I wouldn't even be able to describe. The potential of this book is far beyond 1,000 or 2,000 copies.

There's such an exquisite mix of emotions, with the perfect flow in between. I'm just amazed, to put it simply. The story is such that I only wish, in my most wonderful of dreams, could become a reality.

I'll do my best to get a copy, but I don't have the funds available right now, an I'm afraid with the publicity, that I won't be able to get a copy of the book before they run out. This is now my main object of desire. Thank you, John Scalzi, for you have made my day, and have created a magnificent piece of literature, that is (in my opinion) surely to be regarded as a classic.

(By the way, I'm most likely not going to remember to check up on this page, so if you need to respond, please do so to my email. I haven't ever given feedback to anything of this scope before, but I just had to comment on this.)

-Matt Tracy

Posted by: Matt Tracy at March 23, 2005 10:21 AM

its 7:30 am. i've been reading all night. i followed a link from PA at about 4, and read till ten pm. intended not to read anymore tonight... ended up bac kat it by 3 am. the list of books that have done this to me os very, very small, and i have about 100 full novels on my shelf. your trully talented. i'll be buying the hardcover, and old mans war when i get the chance. probably the rest of your work as well.

as an aspiring author myself, the idea of publishing to the web like this, and the quality of the work it self, inspires me greatly. if i werent about to collapse, i'd go work on my own projects. thanks for taking a day of my life. couldnt have spent it better.

Posted by: Arklan at March 23, 2005 10:31 AM

It's a great read. I put it up there with Heinlein, only not as preachy. Ever thought of a sequel?

I agree that this book has greater potential than just 2000 copies.

Posted by: Eugene at March 23, 2005 11:48 AM

"Though a lot of SF writers are more or less efficiently continuing the tradition of Robert A. Heinlein, Scalzi's astonishingly proficient first novel reads like an original work by the late grand master."

Just check the main site. Looks like I'm not the first to make this comparison =D

I'll be looking out for your books now Mr. Scalzi!

Posted by: Eugene at March 23, 2005 11:57 AM


Actually, I did post Old Man's War up on the site a couple of years ago -- that's how I sold it (the editor at Tor read it there and made an offer for it). Tor now owns the electronic rights to the book, however, so it's up to them if they want to put it up online.


I haven't given thought to a sequel, although it's not a bad idea. First, however, I have to work my way through a few other books I'm doing, including a sequel to Old Man's War.

Thanks to everyone who's been writing that they see more commercial potential in it than 2,000 copies. As I mentioned earlier, one of the best ways to confirm this would be to quickly sell those copies on pre-order, and we'll see what happens in that arena.

However, no matter what, I feel it's important that the novel stays here, on this site where people can see it. I like the idea of being able to let people read a full novel of my work so they can get an idea whether they like my style -- and if they do, they can get a hardback copy or pick up another one of the books (and if they don't -- well, no harm done, since it didn't cost them anything to find out).

Posted by: John Scalzi at March 23, 2005 12:23 PM

i just sat on my floor and read agent to the stars from beginning to end over a period of some hours. i haven't read any fiction in a while, and i wandered here from penny-arcade. i enjoyed the piece in your 'whatever' link about rejection from editors, and the slushkiller link as well, so i thought i'd start your story.

i am very impressed. you are obviously a pragmatist, a psychologist, an anthropologist and a hell of a business man. i am going to purchase a physical copy as i am now a fan of the author as well as the cover artist.

would you be flattered if i made a douglass adams comparison? because you should be. the themes and methods of resolve in this story were of the greatest scifi calibur, embodying hope and intelligence. the wit was dry, clever and topical. and i couldn't stop reading, so i can see why it got published. or should have.

from a marketing perspective, having it online is of course, common-sense-genius. this would be a hard book to sell, and even though the cover is appropriate, it won't help. agent tackles surprisingly complicated moral issues and resolves them in intelligent ways that kept me very involved. i'm twentythree and i've been reading for over fifteen years, and lately only fiction has seemed worthwhile. i'm sure agent to the stars will remain one of the books i love to force people to read even though they're busy with eco and vonnegut. and they always thank me.

these were my thoughts. i had been considering e-mailing you to tell you how surprised i was to find such a good read so suddenly, and it became a definite that i should let you know when the yoda quote actually made me laugh out loud.

for some reason, i was more emotionally touched by this story than i should have been. thank you.

Posted by: justin bruns at March 23, 2005 01:04 PM

Wow, i just wandered over here from Penny Arcade to see what ll the hubub was about. I just read the first 5 chapters and i really enjoy it, its reminiscent of the old Sci-fi pulp fiction novels.

Posted by: Alan Meigs at March 23, 2005 01:15 PM

Justin Bruns asks:

"would you be flattered if i made a douglass adams comparison?"

Indeed I would -- Hitchhiker's rocks and it's also one of the most consistently funny books in science fiction ever. So thanks much!

It's true this novel does reflect many of my interests and experiences; I was a film critic for many years, so much of what I learned from that made it into the book as well as other of my interests. I think the point to made from that is very simply that one of the best things you can do for your writing is to read, and experience life -- they'll make a difference.

I am also pleased you found parts emotionally resonant; as a reader I like stories that go across the range of emotions (as long as it makes sense to it that way for the story), so as a writer I try to do it when it's appropriate as well. It's good to know my attempts succeeded for you. Thanks.

Posted by: John Scalzi at March 23, 2005 02:09 PM

Wow. I loved the book - thanks for allowing us to read it online. I'll now buy the book and hope others who read it do the same.

Posted by: Nick Elliott at March 23, 2005 03:02 PM

Came over here because of Gabe's post on PA. Just wanted to say I loved it. Spent a night reading line after line (which is saying alot since WoW is always calling).

I most enjoyed the way you were able to transfer from what seemed to be a purely entertaining book with little deeper meaning to what turned out to be a well thought out commentary on morality and acceptance.

The scene between Tom's grandma and Joshua was perfect. And I was floored by the way Joshua (along with his bretherin) handled the Michelle issue, cold and detached while at the same time full of emotion.

Once again, amazing story.

Posted by: Chris at March 23, 2005 03:17 PM

Great story. Thanks for sharing it :)

Signed: A french guy with an american name.

Posted by: Kevin at March 23, 2005 04:09 PM

I just have to say, thanks for letting me skimp on work today. Great story. Hope theres potential for more.

PS. I think you could probably get the 2,000 copies from PA people alone. That's how I found this site.

Posted by: misterstinky at March 23, 2005 04:24 PM

Good stuff, Mr. Scalzi. Your portrayal of possible alien/human interaction reminds me of some of the better Alan Dean Foster. I'm clearly part of the PA rush on your book; when I started reading yesterday, it only had 16 comments... I hope we're not doing anything too shattering to your bandwidth. Even if we are, it looks like you've gotten yourself a nice boost to publicity as well as an excellent cover!

Posted by: Seeker at March 23, 2005 04:37 PM

Mr. Stinky writes:

"I think you could probably get the 2,000 copies from PA people alone."

I would be perfectly happy with that, of course; I'm a huge PA fan, and I figure that people who share my PA fanboyness would be people who I'd like to have as readers, too.

Seeker says:

"I hope we're not doing anything too shattering to your bandwidth."

Nope; we're good. The site is pretty well-traveled as it is -- not as much as PA (who is?), but enough that I've had a fair amount of bandwidth built in. And of course I'm pleased that PA fans have been curious enough to come on through and see what's here. In the words of Apu: Thank you, come again.

Posted by: John Scalzi at March 23, 2005 05:14 PM

You bastard! I was supposed to be spending all day today doing nothing but work. 6 hours later, I haven't gotten a damn thing done! How dare you steal my time?

Seriously, though, this book is fantastic. And hilarious. And a million other things. I haven't read this much in one sitting in months and months. This is a truly fantastic piece of fiction. Here's to hoping it becomes reality :-).

Oh, and here's to hoping that you sell a zillion copies, too. Great work.

Posted by: Primathon at March 23, 2005 05:22 PM

Excellent read. I don't think my boss would appreciate the amount of work time I just spent reading this, but hey, they don't have to know..

The writing style makes me think of several different authors. The imagination of Heinlein, the humour of Dave Barry. I'm also reminded of the British author Christopher Brookmyre, who I recommend heartily. All in all, a very enjoyable read.

I'll be pre-ordering my copy shortly!

Posted by: James at March 23, 2005 05:32 PM

As with many others, I followed the PA link here and read it straight through. I thoroughly enjoyed it - I've had a longtime affinity for science fiction of this type and this holds its own with the big boys. It's in a distinct and culturally relevant style that is wonderfully readable and cogent. I'm glad that you chose to post this and that you got Gabe to do the cover. I'll probably buy the hardcover too.

Wonderful work; I'm looking forward to reading some of your other stuff

Posted by: Matt Maslanka at March 23, 2005 06:25 PM

Wow. Damn.

Now that was a /supremely/ entertaining read. I followed the Penny Arcade link as well and just couldn't stop reading. I'm very pleased that it is going to be published, because before I even entered the comments section here I was thinking 'Now that would make for a hell of an enjoyable movie'. Thoroughly amusing and with a 'common humanity' message that gets right to the heart my own personal idealism.

Add that to just the sample chapter and buzz of 'Old Man's War' that I've read so far, and you can color me a convert to your work. I'm an old fan of Heinlein and Starship Troopers remains the title I name as my favorite sci-fi novel (well, I'm a sucker for powered armor), and your writing really did give me a nice warm fuzzy glow of nostalgia for the late master. I'll be picking up a copy of Agent, Old Man's War, Ghost Brigades, and frankly whatever other fiction of yours I can track down. That was thoroughly satisfying stuff, and I'll be recommending you wholeheartedly to my friends.

Posted by: Chris Clark at March 23, 2005 08:30 PM

Chris Clark: Thanks, and you pegged a very important thing when you said, "I'll be recommending you wholeheartedly to my friends." In my experience, nothing matters more than this sort of word of mouth, so I thank you and everyone else who tells a friend.

Primathon: I hope it sells a zillion, too -- or at least 2,000, which will be the max print run. And James, I totally sympathize with the boss not being pleased; I've been known to get caught up with reading at expense of other things, too (like right now, I'm supposed to be finishing up work on a book. Shhhh. Don't tell.)

Posted by: John Scalzi at March 23, 2005 09:07 PM

I'm just amazed at this book. The Adams comparison was running through my head throughout, but, alas, someone beat me to it. Being 2am when I started the book, I, unlike, the truly dedicated, took two sittings to finish it, but this refects only on the amount of calculus I had to finish.

After three chapters I ordered the book, and told myself I'd read no more than five so I wouldn't ruin it for myself when it came this summer. Ignoring myself was fun, and i'm certain I'll be able to read through it again with no loss in enjoyment.

The limited edition is a great idea, but it's unfortunate that there are no current plans for further publishing. With the word of mouth I plan on giving, I am loathe to loan out my signed pristine first edition to every one of my friends. With 2,000 PA fans recommending the book, I think that sales could be huge. But then again, I'm no agent.

Posted by: Justin Buck at March 23, 2005 09:54 PM

I followed this link many others, undoubtedly, from Gabe's post. It's a lucky thing I am currently on holiday from Uni, as I might have screwed up some assignment otherwise. I read the whole thing in one sitting, glued to the warm glow of my monitor. I too was reminded of Douglas Adams' works, much like 'Hitchhiker's Guide' I can see myself in awe as people tell me they haven't read this book. Truly a must read. Made even more amazing by the fact that I thought I had found my new favourite book merely days ago. I think it's because I am a sucker for sci-fi. I wait with anxiety for the hard copy; so I can force people to read it. p.s. Sorry for the lack of paragraphing, but it just doesn't seem to be happening no matter what I do.

Posted by: Owen at March 23, 2005 10:12 PM

Good stuff. I was referred by PA like everyone else, and although this isn't Heinlein, it has a sense of humor and a grasp of the public sphere that Heinlein lacks. There are telltale signs of its being your first novel, but that doesn't matter much. The Carl section is a jarring POV shift which doesn't really give him much character, the characters exposed to the aliens later in the novel don't have as much of a reaction as the earlier ones, and the coincidences at the end are a little too explicit (as opposed to those at the beginning, which Tom explains away, a much better method). A great read nonetheless - I'd definitely donate if you still had a button up.

Posted by: Robyrt at March 23, 2005 10:27 PM

Very nice. I will make sure to look for OMW.

Posted by: Tomothy at March 23, 2005 11:08 PM

Also I'd say it reminds me a lot more of Max Barry than Douglas Adams. Douglas Adams like Terry Pratchett has a more 'far out' sense of humour I think. This is a little more subtle which is in its own way very cool. So anyway John I don't know if you've read anything by Max Barry but if you haven't then go check out 'Syrup' I think you'd probably enjoy it.

Posted by: Tomothy at March 23, 2005 11:25 PM

What can i say but wow. I also saw the cover on PA and was like cool never heard of it whats it about. one minute later i was like wow he gievs it away it must be a hard sell but i can waste 10 mins on a chapter. 12 hours late i have finished the book and almost missed a exam for one class and a midterm for another because of it. damn good work if i do say so myself. I am defenetly gonna look into buying the special edition but now for more than the cover. Just wanted to thank you for the great story and to also thank you for publishing the book online for free, being a linux geek (read cheap lazy bastard) i can defenitly appreciate free products. What im trying to get at is THANK YOU

Posted by: Fatmanforprez at March 24, 2005 12:14 AM

Followed a link from--you guessed it--Penny Arcade. I'm a habitual lurker in pretty much all things web-related, but I wanted to let you know I thought this book was absolutely fantastic; I devoured it as quickly as I could read, and was sad when I got to the end and couldn't read more. The characters are realistic and likable, the plot progressed smoothly and was completely engrossing, and what really blew me away was how you conveyed so much emotion without laying it on too thickly--I was tearing up in places without feeling at all like I'd been manipulated into being schmaltzy. Short version: Great story, wonderful read, thanks a lot. I can't wait to read more of your stuff.

Posted by: Rien at March 24, 2005 01:21 AM

I'll be honest with you, I didn't expect much when I first checked out the link to your book from Penny-Arcade. I mean a free online story? What could I expect?

But I kid you not when I say this is probably one of the most entertaining reads I've read in a good while. Definately preordering the hardcopy. Thanks for the free ride.

Posted by: Eric at March 24, 2005 03:15 AM

Wow. Wow. Wowwy wow wow wow (to steal a line).

That was terrific, wow, it was just so very human. I was tearing up a lot towards the latter end of the book. That puts you right up there with The Iron Giant and the Blue Fairy scene in AI.

A few things:

1) I'm sure as hell forwarding this to all my friends that are even remotely interested in Science Fiction. Let's long tail this summabitch!

2) I can't justify 30 bucks right now for the dead tree edition (though I'd really like it). How would you feel about me putting a fiver in an envelope to thank you for sharing this?

3) I can't find any information about Rachel Spiegelman. If she's real, where can I learn more about her story?

Posted by: Danno at March 24, 2005 03:40 AM

That Gabe.. from time to time he sources real gems..

I for one will be seeing the movie when it comes out.. possibly even at the cinema.

btw: looks like you found your horse.. when i got to the (main) page, there were 16 comments.. now there appear to be (many) more. Good luck with the (inevitable, and now thorougly expected) adaptation.

Posted by: Gideon at March 24, 2005 07:02 AM


You're not likely to find any independent information about Rachel Spiegelman because I made her up, but I'm pleased to hear she seems real enough.

Also, don't worry about sending me a fiver, although I do appreciate the thought. Just let other people know about Agent. It's here to be read.

Eric: I know what you mean -- stuff that's free is often worth what you pay for it. I'm glad you found this an exception! I am otherwise a full-time writer, so I had lots of practice prior to writing this.

The publisher tells me that "Agent" is now the best-selling book off the Subterranean Press site for the month, so if you've ordered the book, thank you very much!

Posted by: John Scalzi at March 24, 2005 08:42 AM

What a great read.
I enjoy your style of writing, more plot, less fill.
Are you sure your only going to print 1000-2000 copies?


Posted by: Brent Kadler at March 24, 2005 10:24 AM

Brent: Of this edition of the book? Yes. If some publisher in the future wants to make an offer for a trade paperback or mass-market paperback version I would consider it, but so far none has. But those would not be signed and numbered (i.e., collector's editions) as this one is, and they might not have the same cover art (the publisher would have to come to a separate agreement with Gabe/Penny Arcade for that).

Posted by: John Scalzi at March 24, 2005 10:30 AM

Another PA visit here, another happy reader! I really do put you right up there alongside my glee for authors like Adams, Pratchett, Heinlen and Harry Harrison with his Stainless Steel Rat series. Books like theirs, and yours, make me want to write a novel, ignoring the falacy inherent my logic; those who can read, can write.

I can't wait to get my dead tree copy of the book so I can read it again. Like others here, I managed to ignore my real life in favor of finishing the book, going so far as too pull myself away with the promise of finishing it the next day. You'll be proud to hear the magnetism of your story didn't take long to drag me back and now I'll have to postphone my errands for tommorrow. It was worth it.

Posted by: crysys at March 24, 2005 11:30 AM


Thanks for putting this book online. I've never read a whole book online, but I enjoyed reading this one. I just kept scrolling...

I was wondering if you drew any inspiration for the Yherajk from Orson Scott Card's short story "Mortal Gods"? That story has similar blob-shaped aliens who carry their memories with them when they reproduce and therefore can never really die.

If you haven't read it, check it out. It's a good story.

Posted by: Luke Francl at March 24, 2005 12:36 PM

Mr. Scalzi,

I found your novel to be a gripping read, and certainly worthy of keeping me up until 3 am (I, too, wandered over here from the intrepid fellows of Penny Arcade). As an aspiring writer myself, I'm always interested to see how authors (particularly novelists, like yourself) fill space--and of all the authors I've read, I'd rate you among the best. Only on one or two occasions (the ambulance parade comes to mind) did I find myself really squirming under the yoke of cliche, and even then, it was still a joy to read.

So. Congrats, this is a very compelling read.

As was said above, I noticed a variety of proof-reading errors, but expect that those have or will be addressed before the final pressing. Also, it would be good to just make a quick grammar sweep and make sure everything checks out.


Posted by: Kyle at March 24, 2005 12:51 PM

Kyle: Yup, we're copyediting the book manuscript right now.

Luke Francl: I'm aware of the OSC story (if it's the one I'm thinking of, collected in Maps in the Mirror), but it's not an conscious inspiration for the aliens. I knew I had to make the aliens transformative and simply picked what I figured would be the most reasonable way to do it. But I did that story several years prior to writing this, so it's certainly possible that it had some indirect influence. There would, of course, be worse things than to be influenced by OSC.

Posted by: John Scalzi at March 24, 2005 01:04 PM

An absolutley excellent book. The humor was perfect, I found myself laughing out loud at several moments and even reciting some lines to myself out loud.
The sudden change of mood from humorus to serious did not even disturb the pace of my reading. In fact made it so much better. I was early reading line after line to see what happend. And that the hiding of what Tom's Grandmother might have gone through during WW2 is excellent. No clear indications, just a simple suggestion.
I read through all the chapters in roughly two days, which says alot about this book and how good it is. If it had been in paper format I'd been eagerly trying to get my friends to read it. One of the best Sci-Fi Comedy stories I've read so far.

This is one book I really want to buy, alas I might not be able to get my hands on it for a very long time.

Posted by: Jesper at March 24, 2005 02:00 PM

PA directed me here. I read the book, enjoyed the book and then ordered the book. I've read sci-fi and fantasy for over 20 years and this was a nice, easy read. Not unlike some of the earlier Heinlein pulp sci-fi. I read it in about 4 hours time, while at work, and appreciated the large font size which made online reading quite nice. If you have notes about the process that went into the online publishing and followup that happened with this story, I think that would make for an interesting appendix to the bound edition.

Posted by: Jon L-ski at March 24, 2005 02:44 PM

how's this for productivity... this morning (probably about 10AM) i hopped on penny arcade's website to see gabe talking about doing the cover for your book... checking it out, i saw you had the book online... i figured i'd read a chapter and not be that interested...

needless to say i couldn't stop...

it's 4:25PM as of this writing, and i finished the entire novel...

and did i mention that i'm at work? 6-1/2 hours on the clock reading your book... it was awesome, definitely picking up a copy...

Posted by: b i gHEAD at March 24, 2005 04:26 PM

i just commented, but i wanted to say one more thing...

when are we going to see a movie based on this?.. it has all the comedy/drama/sci-fi to be a huge hit... think about it... Jude Law as Tom (sans english accent), Rachel Weisz as Miranda, Shannon Elizabeth as Michelle, and Joshua voiced by Tobey Maguire... it'd be awesome...

Posted by: b i gHEAD at March 24, 2005 04:40 PM

"When are we going to see a movie based on this?"

It'll probably be a bit, I'm afraid. As it happens I do have a theatrical agent (i.e., someone who shops my books to studios), but at the moment he's shopping "Old Man's War," which is my other novel that came out from Tor in January. After he's through with that one we may try shopping Agent, and then, of course, we'd have to see if anyone's interested. Interesting casting ideas, though!

Posted by: John Scalzi at March 24, 2005 05:02 PM

That was a really fun read! I can't say I couldn't put it down, because techincally it was on the computer, but I did have to read it all in one sitting. Thanks for posting!

Posted by: Michael Gawenka at March 24, 2005 06:30 PM

that was a great book. i look forward to reading mroe of your material.

Posted by: lopez at March 24, 2005 06:34 PM

Hope nobody mentioned this already, i believe chapter eleven:
"Yes, indeed," Roland has gotten out the Evian and was delicately administering a drop to both our glasses, "she was perfect.

I beleve you want to use "had" instead of "has".

So far it's great!

Posted by: Izaak alpert at March 24, 2005 06:58 PM

Very well writen, a great read, 2 thumbs up =D

Posted by: kieran at March 24, 2005 08:24 PM

At 1:20 this afternoon I got online to do some research on Bablon for the book Ive been trying to write for the last few years but being the slacker I am I stoped in on Penny Arcade first... Seven hours later my search engine has yet to be revved and have someone new whose talent i envy, Thank You.

Posted by: Shane Trammell at March 24, 2005 09:16 PM

Absolutely fantastic. Like so many people here, I simply followed a Penny Arcade link, and now, after wasting away 5 hours at work, and then my Friday morning, I've completed reading this story. Absolutely fantastic, I loved it, and now I can see I'm going to have to go out and find 'Old Mans War'

Posted by: Buzz at March 24, 2005 10:28 PM

Hey, great story, thanks for the free read. I don't know what that editor was thinking, I love sci-fi comedy.

Will definitely be checking out your other stuff.

thanks again,


Posted by: geekd at March 24, 2005 10:51 PM

Oh my gosh. Like so many others, I followed the link from PA (not only do you get a great cover, but great advertising to boot), thinking I'd check out the first couple of chapters while I ate dinner. Suddenly it's five hours later and there's a brand new $30 charge heading for my credit card. That was a great read! I'll definitely be sending this link to my friends, and next time I'm in a book store I'll keep an eye out for Old Man's War - which I recall reading about in the Washington Post, by the way. They had all kinds of good things to say about it. At least, I'm pretty sure they did, because I mostly skimmed it so I could get the recycling out, but it was positive enough that I thought, "Hmm, I'll have to look for that." And now I really will have to! ...But alas, the afterglow is fading, and the fact that I still have three hours of reading to do for tomorrow is sinking in. Oh well. It was worth it.

Posted by: Melissa at March 25, 2005 12:11 AM

Truely amazing. Now that I'm done this great read, I'm sure you could turn this into a movie. I can see the scenes so clearly in my head it's astounding. I'll be your agent. Har har. I'll be buying this shortly.


Posted by: Morgan at March 25, 2005 12:29 AM

Well add me to the ever growing list of PA followers. I followed the link yesterday afternoon while at work and basically killed my productivity for the day then. Really was too busy today to read more than a chapter at work, so skipped out on gaming tonight (*gasp*) and finished it. One of the few stories I've read that actually got me to laugh out loud (a list that includes previously mentioned Douglas Adams).

Anyway, thanks for the very enjoyable read, I reserved the book and will be looking for your other books as soon as I finish my "current", interrupted ;), book.

(apologize for formatting, I give up on trying to make it work)

Posted by: Trin [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 25, 2005 01:04 AM

and would you look at that, the preview failed, but formating did survive....

Posted by: Trin [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 25, 2005 01:05 AM

Well I liked it. It has inspired me to be an agent. Or an shapeless alien. I haven't decided yet, and I don't have to. I'm young. Stop rushing me, John.
Anyway, I just wanted to say that the book was entertaining and light hearted in all the right places. The only thing I would like to have had seen was some details on Amanda, the crying assistant turned heartless agent. I think it's Amanda. Maybe I missed something, somewhere.

Posted by: askaflaska at March 25, 2005 01:30 AM

Wow, just wow. Read it in three days, put off a war on Neveron just to read it. I'm stunned, it's was fabalous. After this next paycheck expect a bill from, as in cash to you.

Do with it what you will. The guys at PA did the right thing working with you, and you did the right thing giving them the chance. I don't know what you actually do for a living, if you're an agent posing as a writer or a writer posing as an agent, but either way. Well done, Well, Well, Well done, you give all of us out here hacking away everyday to write somthing worth a shit something to look up to.

You have my utmost respect... is your ass raw enough? lol. Kudos man, I think I need a copy of this hard cover to read for my kids.

Posted by: Jason Johnson at March 25, 2005 06:34 AM

Thank You.
Thank you for sharing this awesome tale on the internet. I kept expecting that it to be a teaser, in that the chapter i just finished would be the last "FREE" chapter and that I'd have to buy the book to finish the story.

It's been a long time since I've had this much fun reading, your sense of humor with a clever mix of sci-fi is refreshing... I haven't laughed so hard while sitting in front of my puter in ages.

I'd be surprised if the release of Hitch Hikers Guide this summer doesnt get this story made into a big budget movie. More like disappointed.

Thank you again,

Posted by: Mike at March 25, 2005 09:14 AM

I saw the link and cover art on Penny Arcade and had to find out for myself. Great characters, awesomely written... I can't just buy this book for myself, it'll be Christmas presents for the whole family!

Posted by: Greywing at March 25, 2005 10:37 AM

You're my new hero, Greywing.

Mike writes:

"I'd be surprised if the release of Hitch Hikers Guide this summer doesnt get this story made into a big budget movie."

Thanks, Mike. Hitchhiker's does, of course, have the advantage of being a well-loved science fiction classic that has sold millions over the decades (not mention having previous been a radio and television show). But one can hope!

Jason Johnson:

"The guys at PA did the right thing working with you, and you did the right thing giving them the chance."

Well, of course, I've been looking for a way to get in on some PA action for a while (I actually suggested Gabe to do the cover of Old Man's War, although eventually Tor went in another -- and very good -- direction), so I'm glad this worked out. And I hope that the book art open up some eyes in the publishing industry; I'm very pleased that Gabe's cover for my book is the first one he's done outside PA work, but it would be a shame if it were the last.


"It has inspired me to be an agent. Or an shapeless alien."

Given the state of my personal diet, I'm angling more toward the second, myself.

Posted by: John Scalzi at March 25, 2005 11:16 AM

Thank you very much for that experience, Mr. Scalzi. It was amazing. It is already one of my favorite books. Like others I see similarities with Douglass Adams, though you are something on your own. As soon as this poor college student has some money, he's going to buy everyone of your books he can find.

Jose R.

Posted by: Jose at March 25, 2005 11:31 AM

Came from PA, like everyone else, and am very glad I clicked. Fantastic story, and as a Broke College Student I definitely appreciate the free read and the opportunity to get to know your writing style before deciding I definitely need to get to the bookstore and look for Old Man's War. :D

Posted by: Alison at March 25, 2005 07:16 PM

I just finished reading, and I must say I liked it, much more than I expected. If you're curious, I got the link from Penny Arcade. I didn't think I'd enjoy it too much, because frankly there's a lot of crap Sci-fi out there which just doesn't suit me, but I was contentfully surprised with this. I've grown rather attached the the characters and sadly wish that there was more to the story. Well written =).

-Max Flanagan

Posted by: Lexsip at March 25, 2005 07:58 PM

Excellent story, wonderful concept and great writing. Getting Mike Krahulik to do the cover art was genius. Definately going to order a printing.

Posted by: Paul Menard at March 25, 2005 08:16 PM

Hugely enjoyable: a nice mix of comedy and pathos. Moves brilliantly.

If I were your editor I'd suggest that Carl's narrative needs to pick up the pace a bit, and that What Happens To Michelle is a little bit too fortuitous. But I don't know what can be done about that. Minor against a solid achievement.

I really enjoyed this book. Don't write a sequel: this story is over, and a sequel would only spoil it. Go on and write other good things.

I noticed a couple small typos remaining, and one previously unmentioned serious copy-editable glitch that needs to be fixed. In chapter 22 you write "affect" where you mean "effect".

Couple personal questions, if you don't mind:
1) Where did you learn what you know about film agenting?
2) How familiar are you with L.A. as a place?

Posted by: Simon at March 25, 2005 11:43 PM

Simon: In reverse order: I grew up in LA, so I'm quite familiar with the area, and I was (and am) I film critic, so I'm familiar with the industry as a business. I also have friends in agency and in the film business (a good friend of mine from college is now a VP at Paramount, for example).

I would note, however, that a competent writer would be able to write about both simply by doing research (and then running it past LA natives and/or agents for veracity). Writing what you know is good, which is why I did it. But writing about what you didn't know before you researched it is possible, too.

Posted by: John Scalzi at March 26, 2005 08:17 AM

I, too, found your book through Penny Arcade, and I admit I only started reading because of the pun in the title. That and boredom. What can I say, it was a slow Saturday.

And now it's early Sunday morning—and I haven't looked away from this screen for hours. As someone with an interest in both SF and humor writing, your work serves as inspiration, and I can't wait to track down your other novels in my local bookstore.

I will certainly attempt to purchase a hardcopy of "Agent to the Stars" in the near future, although with the limited printing and your connections to Penny Arcade, I'll keep the online version bookmarked, too.

Thanks again for wearing out my eyes in this most-entertaining way.

Posted by: John Shanks at March 27, 2005 05:16 AM

A great short read (took two days), but an amazing one nonetheless. I love the intermingling of three worlds here, Science Fiction, History, and Hollywood. It had great moments of humerousness and light heartedness.

I'm suggesting this to my fellow readers everywhere.

Posted by: EFX at March 27, 2005 08:05 PM

Very well done, funny and entertaining. Bravo, John Scalzi!

Posted by: Blank Lane at March 27, 2005 10:11 PM

Fantastic! Reading this was the funnest two days at work I've had in a loooong time. :-)

Posted by: Eric Hansen at March 29, 2005 05:29 PM

I, like many others, followed the Penny-Arcade link here. I honestly wasn't expecting a great deal from it, but I was completely (and obviously very pleasantly) surpised. I read the story over a period of a few days and found that the moment I started reading I lost track of everything else I was doing, a rarity for me. Great work and best wishes with future projects!

Posted by: Theotus at March 30, 2005 05:03 AM

Earlier today I was looking through the Penny Arcade archives to find the strip about the usefulness of gay pornography in Shadow Hearts: Covenant. I saw a link to this site. Hours later I realize that I just read this whole story in one sitting. Thanks for making it available online. I'll be sure pick up a copy sometime soon.

Posted by: Walter at March 30, 2005 07:52 AM

Loved it! Took me 2 days to read while at work. Two very unproductive days I might add but so worth it! I'll be telling all my friends about it.

Posted by: Mark B. at March 30, 2005 09:16 AM

Great read. I really loved the story. Will be sure to pass this along to all my friends. Gonna have to go shopping for some of your novels on paper... that way I can step away from the computer and still read.

Posted by: Duncan at March 30, 2005 12:00 PM

I was refered here by a friend - not PA - and just wanted to add my comment to the others. I enjoyed it a lot. What else can I say? I'm another who read it all in one sitting, nicely killing most of a day. :)

PS, I'm also impressed that you take the time to answer many of the comments people have left. I don't think many popular authors/artists manange to do that sort of thing.

Posted by: Suz at March 30, 2005 03:19 PM

"I'm also impressed that you take the time to answer many of the comments people have left. I don't think many popular authors/artists manange to do that sort of thing."

Heh. Well, you know. I want to let people know I appreciate their comments. Also, I'm here in front of the computer *anyway* -- book deadlines, you know. That being the case, this makes for a nice distraction. So thank you all! You're helping me retain my sanity.

Posted by: John Scalzi at March 30, 2005 04:50 PM

Funniest thing ive ever read

Posted by: Mike at March 30, 2005 11:25 PM

I just finished the book, and it has got be one of the most entertaining novels I've read so far this year. Good job :)

Posted by: Dan at April 1, 2005 01:15 AM

Unbelievable. When I came here from Penny Arcade, I have to be honest, I wasn't expecting anything wonderful. But you just climbed into my top five, my friend. That was an absolutely fantastic read.
It's one of those stories that leaves me wanting to be living in it, and not many do that. You write with the believability of Wells and Wyndham...
Stunning. Absolutely, incredibly, fantastically stunning.

- Campbell J McKenzie

Posted by: Campbell J. McKenzie at April 1, 2005 10:26 AM

So, what is the pre-order count at this time?

Posted by: Jon L-ski at April 1, 2005 11:23 AM

You know, I don't have an exact count. I know it's Subterranean's best selling book off its own Web site for the second month running, so that's good news (we'll see if we can keep it going into April).

Posted by: John Scalzi at April 1, 2005 04:07 PM

Great work! Like everyone else here, I thoroughly enjoyed "Agent to the Stars." I will certainly be looking foward to reading some of your other works.

I too noticed a couple of typos, but the one thing that I noticed which I don't think has been mentioned on this forum yet, was the inconsistency in the name of Carl Lupo's first wife:

From chapter 9:

"Susan died in '81. Car accident; some drunk idiot came up the wrong way on an onramp and plowed right into her car. They both died instantly. Pregnant at the time, you know."

And from chapter 10:

"[Joshua] was also the name of my father, and, incidentally, of the baby that Sarah was carrying when she died..."

Thanks again for the wonderful read; like many here, it kept me up all night. I'll definately be passing it on to everyone I know!


Posted by: Ashley at April 3, 2005 06:06 PM

VERY entertaining book. Easy and enjoyable to read, which explains all the readers who went through it in one sitting...
Congratulation on your achievements!

Posted by: Seb at April 4, 2005 01:32 AM

Digame! I found your introduction to be incredibly stimulating, as a "wanne-be" writer myself. Thank you very much for that =] I am also interested in the method in which you began this project>
shareware novels -- where does one go to find them? how can a writer get involved with them? Is a literary agent required to obtain the rights to one?

Also, I thoroughly enjoy your work! It was truly funny and provocative -- I find so few novels live up to their review key points ;) Your character development was very strong, and the characters were also enduring {I especially enjoyed Carl}. Not an obvious element for some writers, even the award winning ones =] I hope I enjoy your other work as much as this one, in the meantime though I have a few questions for you.

How much of you, of your personality such as habits or interests were a part of your main character, Tom?

This novel has a very "screen play" feel to it. Any thoughts, negotiations, or even discussions about a film being made from it?

There is a great deal of linking between the Holocaust of Nazi, Germany and the concepts of alien life forms reaching out to mankind in friendship. What guided you to link these two "events", albiet fiction or non, together?

Did this story begin to move you as you became further involved with it? As a writer, I think any work one divulges enough of their time and energy into will eventually become an attachment to its author, because each work slowly becomes a life, or a collection of lives, that in turn make up a beautiful world that can only fully be understood by its creator.

Thank you for your time =] I hope I read much more of your work for many years to come.

Posted by: michi at April 4, 2005 02:43 PM

Michi, your questions in order:

1. I imagine Thomas has some of my attitudes, but biographically there's very little that we have in common. If he's like any one, he's like my friend Naren, who works in management in Hollywood, although the character is not truly based on him, either.

2. No discussions for film at this point. I wouldn't mind, but as I mentioned upward in the thread, I have another property that's being shopped in Hollywood at the moment, so one thing at a time.

3. As to the linking of the Holocaust and the alien introduction, it wasn't necessarily a conscious decision. I tend to be an opportunistic writer, which is to say that I'll capitalize on colorful details I add in early and expand on them as I write. I don't typically have a strong roadmap as I write -- I just go and see where the story takes me.

4. The story did move me, although I should say I was fully engaged with it at all points. I was sometimes surprised at where it took me, but I can't see that as a bad thing.

Posted by: John Scalzi at April 5, 2005 12:31 AM

Great read. I really enjoyed it. I'll have to check out your books in print.

Posted by: Jon Doe at April 6, 2005 11:38 AM

Very excellent book, original and absorbing. I'll be looking for your books in print, for sure.

Posted by: Brendon at April 7, 2005 05:32 AM

I followed a link from www.whatthemuffins.com out of curiosity (they were posting it as a link from Penny Arcade, in case you're curious about how this is getting spread around). I started reading and couldn't stop - I was up until 2 in the morning and then late to work the next day because I was having such fun reading. I'll definitely be on the lookout for more of your work. Thanks for making your book available like this!

Posted by: Jasmine [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 7, 2005 09:06 PM

What a great read, i enjoyed reading it. I highly recommend Old Man's War . I will keep looking for what's next.

Posted by: junowil danico at April 22, 2005 04:59 PM

Wow. Just wow. I'm a big fan of science fiction (my favorite author being Spider Robinson) and this book was just fantastic. I laughed out loud at the funny bits, sniffled at the sad bits, and was genuinely concerned for Michelle when she was in the coma.

Great writting and, as has been mentioned, great characters. I found your book through Penny Arcade and now that I've finished reading it I went straight to the pre-order link that PA had on their site. The page that it leads me to gives me a "product not found" error, so I can only assume that the pre-order is over. Any other way I can purchase a hard copy of this novel? I'd love to have it around to read in the future.

Keep up the great work.

Posted by: Mike Orr at April 28, 2005 01:45 PM

When I first heard you were releasing this entire novel for free online and trying to sell it at the same time, I thought you were crazy. After finishing it, though, I have to say I was wrong. It's a great story and very well written. I may just have to buy it anyway, fill some more rapidly depleting shelf space between Orson Scott Card and Robert Heinlein. Good company, I'd say.

Posted by: partimegamer at May 3, 2005 01:03 PM

I really enjoyed this novel, a great and compelling read! I found it reminicent of the soft comic SF feel of Harry Harrisons "Stainless Steel Rat" or "The Technicolor Time Machine" and a part of the genre that is sadly under-represented in todays bookstores.

Thanks for this unexpected introduction to your work (I clicked a link on BoingBoing at lunch time yesterday and finished the read over an extended lunch today ;-). I will definately be trying to track down a Tree Ware version of your other work!

Posted by: Neil Jones at May 17, 2005 10:02 AM

Wonderful read John. Arrived here at midnite, via Instapundit (where I found out about and bought Old Mans War), and couldn't help reading the free version in one rush. My order for an autographed version is coming at you.

Keep up the great work.

Kevin Skjei

Posted by: Kevin Skjei at May 26, 2005 07:18 AM

Thanks, Kevin. I'm glad you enjoyed it, and pleased you decided it was worth owning as well. One of the great arguments going on among writers at the moment is whether letting our audiences see the books in full will help or hinder sales; my feeling is that it mostly helps (that is, as long as you have a book readers want!).

Posted by: John Scalzi at May 26, 2005 07:55 AM

oh man do i ever love this book. thanks for making it free! will buy it one day... especialy with the PA cover on there. thanks a bunch man!


Posted by: -=xander=- at May 26, 2005 02:51 PM

Thank you, Mr. Scalzi. I started reading this book this morning and just finished it. I totally loved it!

Posted by: RheGirl [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 26, 2005 04:56 PM

I followed this link from Vodkapundit. Started reading in my office and now I'm 2 hours late leaving for home. Loved the story. Great idea putting it online. I'm going to Amazon to look for more of your work.

Posted by: William Bromberg at June 2, 2005 06:41 PM

Excellent, William. I'm glad you liked it, and you will indeed find a number of books from me on Amazon -- hope you find one you like!

Posted by: John Scalzi at June 3, 2005 08:22 AM

Mr Scalzi,

I bought "Old Man's War", then read it in one sitting. I have read all of Heinlein, Azimov, Anderson, and Dickson.

Old Man's encapsulates many of RAH's pragmatic themes with a fresh viewpoint.

I have just read "Agent to the Stars" which brings a dimension to SF not often seen, humor with twist.

Thank you making it available online. I will unhesitatingly buy all your books in the future.

Posted by: RC Power at June 5, 2005 09:23 PM

Wow. I read this straight through. What a rollicking story, much more chick-friendly than Old Man's War. I'd buy it in a heartbeat as a gift for, say, airplane reading.

Posted by: dilys at June 8, 2005 12:11 AM

Excellent. I live to make airplane rides less annoying.

I suppose it is more chick-friendly than OMW, which is your basic military SF, although I hope OMW isn't actually chick-deterring. I like readers of all sorts.

Posted by: John Scalzi at June 8, 2005 12:22 PM

Great story, I really enjoyed it. I am off to search amazon for OMW.

Hope to read more of your work in the future!

Thanks for writting this!

Posted by: Scott at June 9, 2005 09:58 AM

Thank you. I'm not sure I can express how very gratefull I am. I wen't and bought 'Old Mans War'. I hunted it down localy, waiting for it in the mail would have been unbearable.

Posted by: monolithfoo at June 14, 2005 11:49 AM

Was sent here from the Baen website, where the guys reccommend you (and they also put books online and then sell you the hardback - and the paperback later, so you can read it in the bath easier:) )

Read the reviews and first chapter of OMW and purchased the hardback.

Read Agent to the Stars and pre-ordered it on Amazon.

Guess I'm a sucker for a good story :)

Posted by: Rachel Clements at June 21, 2005 03:11 PM

Got here from "By the Way...." I like your style and sly humor. It does draw one in.

My late husband (a great science fiction fan) used to scold me that to read science fiction, you must suspend belief. My reply was that yes, I can suspend belief, but I cannot suspend logic. So I had a few specific problems with 'Agent'.

In the late '70s I had the good fortune to attend a week-long simulation seminar with Isaac Asimov, Izzy Adler, Marc Chartrand, and Trudy Bell at the Rensselaerville Institute on Man and Science. Our topic was what would happen if we actually got a visit. (We worried about the effects on religion, for one thing, and the majority who would simply not accept friendly gestures at face value.)

So, when the alien entered the dog, I thought "Good. In Europe and North America, dog connotation is friendly and faithful. In the rest of the world it's at least not threatening." But presenting the alien in a once-human body would, in my opinion, be extremely threatening. The nutters will not have been privy to, nor bother to read, nor accept, the aliens' scruples regarding entering the human body. All they will see is that it WAS done, and CAN be done to me, rapidly becoming WILL be done to me! "Homeland Defense"-types everywhere would be aiming missiles.

Second problem, where's the rabid DA charging the agent and alien with murder? The woman left the hospital alive, and then "disappeared". Somebody is going to have to prove she was absolutely dead, and even if that can be proven (doubtful), you still can't kidnap and play with dead bodies. In the real world, there would be ramifications.

Last - the aliens communicate with scents, and after a discussion the room is full of odors. Wouldn't that be like a hall where everything said echoed without end, echo on echo on echo until it would be impossible to understand anything?

It was still fun. Thank you for sharing it.


(When I preview this, all the paragraph breaks have disappeared. Sorry, but I don't know how to fix it.)

Posted by: Silk at June 30, 2005 04:03 AM

Hi, Silk. In answer to your questions:

Scents: I would imagine that scents would somewhat quickly degrade from their original form, much as sounds fade, so that older smells would be read as "noise" and ignored.

Re: The aggressive DA -- It's an interesting idea, but I don't see the crime. Michelle's legal guardian took custody of her still-living body, as was his right, and administered an unconventional therapy which was not illegal. In the process Michelle became something other than what she was previously, but as the new entity has her memories and a substantial amount of her personality, it's difficult to suggest there was a murder, since the "self" has continued onward. And in any event there was no bodily death, just a transformation into another form. No crime, no case.

As for the "people would freak" idea -- we'll have to agree to disagree, there. As I noted in the book, the idea of how the Yherajk was interoduced was designed to be specifically non-threatening. I certainly would say particular individuals would freak out (indeed, I've planned out short stories in the universe predicated on that), but I think if it were clear the alien species were non-antagonistic, most people would remain calm.

Glad you still thought it was fun!

Posted by: John Scalzi at June 30, 2005 12:57 PM

First of all, praise !
I thoroughly enjoyed your story : It has few slow moments in it, it's a very interesting twist on the alien-human encounter types, it's witty, and most of all, fun. I may sound like I'm comparing apples and oranges, but the sparsed little references in the book made my brain go "snap... crackle.. pop!", as if I was reading something by Paul Auster. So overall, a VERY good read.
Favorite quote : "Do you have Nintendo?"

Now, constructive criticism !

- Carl didn't like his being the "deus ex machina", well neither did I. It was hard for me to feel any fear, or stress, or concern for the characters, but that may be the way you wanted it. Perhaps a next book without the safety net? I'd love to read it.

- The plot twist is expected. No biggie. It was pretty much wanted by the reader, as well. But still. Safety net.

- More like advice coupled with a plea : are there any plans to translate this book ? If there are, please make sure the french team doesn't fuck it up. I mean it. You cannot imagine how much is lost between the original and the translated version, especially here in Chiracistan (I can make that type of joke without coming off as a racist, because I'm french!). Hire people who actually have a clue about the simplest american idioms and you're good to go.

That's about it. Thanks for making me waste the better part of two days at the office. I'll make sure to check on your other work.

Posted by: Michael Westphal at July 15, 2005 11:33 AM

another reader that followed the PA link. Liked it a lot. ...and wanted to add that the mind/mine typo is still there. Thanks for the entertainment!

My grandmother looked at Michelle, and then at me. She smiled, gently slid her hand out of mind, put it to her temple, and made a corkscrew motion.

Posted by: Glen at July 20, 2005 07:07 AM

Thoroughly enjoyed the book.
Thanks very much for making it available.

Posted by: Paul at July 20, 2005 01:31 PM

Wow. Just wow. I will have to pick up a copy of this if I can - it was a great read, whether dipping in and out of it or reading as much as I could.

I also like the cover-art that I've seen... good job getting it.


Posted by: Alex at July 23, 2005 05:52 PM

Hi, I had just finished your "Old Mans War", and looked you up on the web to see what else you have written. Thanks for that, man. I loved the idea, it was different, and you write in a very easy style, wanted you to know I'm along for the ride from now on. Also, BIG THANKS for the free read of "AGENT". My wife, however, DOESN'T thank you, because I wasted the ENTIRE day reading it online! Oh, well, what are days off for, anyway? Thanks, your new pal, Bob
P.S. Looking forward very much to the rest of the story i.e. Old Mans War, again, thanks.

Posted by: Bob Lee at July 27, 2005 11:12 PM

I'm stting here with "Old Man's War" which I have just finished. I've been reading science fiction since the 50s. I've never written to an author but I wanted you to know that you really touched me. Maybe it's because I was in the military and just turned 60. Nah! It was just really awesome writing. Thanks for taking me away.


Posted by: Rich Uttke at August 15, 2005 02:39 PM

What a great read! It is rare for me to laugh out loud at a book but with this one I did several times. I read your "Old Man's War" and enjoyed that immensely too. Write more, you have a new fan. I posted a thread here: http://www.the-flipside.co.uk/forum/index.php?showtopic=14776
a forum I am a member of, to try and stir up interest for others. Great stuff man.


Posted by: Colin at August 17, 2005 01:14 AM

Fantastic and wonderful. I enjoyed it thoroughly. Will definitely pick up Old Man's War. Thank you for sharing this with the world.

Posted by: Gretchen at February 15, 2006 12:01 PM

Awesome Loved it, a really great read

Posted by: Francis Smit at March 6, 2006 01:26 AM

Great read!!! Just finished "Old Man's War", " The Ghost Brigades" and "Agent"... Outstanding in all 3.I WANT MOVIES!!!!!!! as soon as possible.And more books in the CDF world.

Thanks for the great reads.


Posted by: Duane at March 9, 2006 05:43 PM

Truly moving, but it still manages to be lighthearted at the same time.

Only the "Bingo" line made me cringe, ;) but with this I feel it sums the whole thing up nicely.

Awesome. Best wishes. Keep writing.

Posted by: Mat at March 11, 2006 08:43 PM

I really hate this book.

Now that I read it, or to be more accurate gulped it, every other book for the next 12 months is going to be drab and boring.

I'm reporting you to the literary police, nobody should be allowed to utterly destroy one year (or even more) of future readings by making a book that is at the same time fun, intelligent, sensitive, original and a real page turner.

How can anybody else compete? That's just too unfair.

Posted by: Robert at March 15, 2006 10:33 AM

Heh. Sorry, Robert. I'll try to suck more next time.

Posted by: John Scalzi at March 15, 2006 09:05 PM

yes sir, i enjoy your work.you are a good writer.

Dear Sir,
I have the respectful honour to send to you this my application for a job and carreer extend. Sir, I am a writer born 1987 Cameroon. I hard three books unpublished [The exiled twins. The wind of change and The rape.] All these books are still unpublished. I want to publish them. But for the main time, I have not yet had a good site to manage my publishing. That make why now I am looking for one. I doubt whether you are interested? Please sir, if you are interested, try to contact me for more information’s.
Sir, I am also interested in further study curse if available.
Timah Jacob.

Posted by: timah at March 18, 2006 06:12 AM

Hi. Inasmuch as my own writing keeps me busy, I would not have time to do justice to other writers. Sorry!

Posted by: John Scalzi at March 18, 2006 12:02 PM

Mr. Scalzi.

Thanks so much for publishing this book - FOR FREE - online. Your story was an unexpected cure for my literary blues.

I feel like reading again.


Posted by: Phil Chiu at March 29, 2006 01:29 AM


Same for Old Man's War. Can't wait to read Ghost Brigade.

Posted by: Heidi at April 20, 2006 06:56 PM

I love your story. Let me know if you ever get it published, im running an Internetbookshop on http://www.elounge.com, so maybe we can find out something.

Posted by: Michaael at May 1, 2006 10:35 AM

Hi. In fact, it is published, via Subterranean Press. It'll also be available in paperback by Tor Books, although not for a couple of years.

Posted by: John Scalzi at May 3, 2006 11:46 AM

Stayed up past my bed time to read it. Not that a 54 yr old really has a set bed time! Tomorrow I will go out and pick up "Old Man's War" and Ghost Brigades"

Thanks for the work!!!

Posted by: Chris at May 24, 2006 12:23 AM

I thought this was really good! I found it while looking online for fiction to read as I had no good books. I stayed up all night to finish it!

I agree that this needs to be edited, though. Grammer and punctuation was not a strong point. Although I am sure this will be fixed with you future works in print!

Posted by: Lori at July 9, 2006 06:43 AM

ive just read through this on my playstation portable and i can honestly say that this is the best science fiction, the best novel I have read. I was just wondering if your working on anything at the moment. signed probably your youngest fan at aged 13 p.s. This really makes me think about douglas adams, whos work comes second to yours.

Posted by: ben adams at July 23, 2006 07:12 PM

I'm on Chapter 19 now, this is a great read... Not for nothing, but do you think that your story is fundamentally true and that Tom Cruise is the Trojan Horse, but they screwed up?... Anyway, I very much enjoy your books; thank you for providing one "pro bono"; I know at this point that you really don't need the advertising...

Posted by: Brad Selbst at August 10, 2006 01:44 AM

Sir, it's an excellent read. I must say, very funny indeed!

The reason i'm commenting here is because i'd like your opinion on something: It's a novel actually.

I'm a writer (aspiring to be anyway...) and i'd like your opinion on a [work-in-progress] novel i've written. It's science fiction. here's the address to MY website:


Look in the "My Fiction" section for the novel.

Thank you.

Posted by: JItendar Singh at September 27, 2006 08:39 AM

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