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December 01, 2004

Notes on the Hiatus

As promised, I am returning on a more or less full-time basis for December. I hope you didn't miss me too much.

Here's what's been going on.

Rough Guide to Science Fiction
Yes, I did quite a bit of writing on it. No, it's not done. A good half of my November was given over to being sick in a way that basically sapped me of my will to live, and also to write. So writing did get done, just a lot slower than I would have preferred. I'll be busy making up lost time this month. More I won't say because I'm a bit aggravated with myself for not having got more done. Regardless, it will be done soon, if for no other reason than I have no choice to get it done, or die trying.

Old Man's War
Lots of nice, positive developments here, including (as previously noted) a nice sales boost for the book via Glenn Reynolds and Instapundit last week (he also said nice things about it yesterday. Update 12/1: And today, too!). Folks have also begun chiming in on the Amazon page, which I've appreciated as well. Some early pro reviews have also begun to filter in, and they seem to be positive, including at least one fairly significant review which I've heard about from official sources but not seen, and must therefore be all mysterious-like about until I myself know more. The book is also beginning to make its way around movie studios from what I understand, although very clearly one needs to treat any stuff like that with a grain of salt the size of the Rock of Gibraltar -- it's one of those "I'll believe it when I get my fat slab 'o option money" things; one of the nice things about having been a movie critic for so many years is that I have a fairly clear understanding how the movie industry works. I won't be looking for a Santa Monica bungalow anytime soon, is what I'm saying.

I've already started doing some press for Old Man's War, and when some of that starts to appear in the world, I'll certainly link to it. For now, here's something: An interview for the Dragon Page radio talk show, based in Arizona but syndicated around the country. The page I just linked to has a schedule of when and where you can hear online streaming versions, although for a limited time you can also download an MP3 of the show for your Podcasting pleasure (that's an 8.5MB download). My portion starts about five minutes into the show. We chat about the book, military science fiction and also a bit about blogging, so it's a little of everything. Listening to it reminds me I need to curb the "ummms" and "aaaaahs" and make my interview voice more rich and manly -- my excuse is that when I did the interview my lungs were still 90% phlegm and my throat still shredded -- you can hear my voice crack in a couple of places.

In any event, things for this book are in the "so far, so good" territory of things, and that's always nice for one's debut novel.

Book of the Dumb 2
Out and seems to be doing well, although at the moment the first Book of the Dumb is outselling it, at least on Amazon. I'm not too terribly concerned about this since we haven't done publicity on 2 yet and it's still finding its way into the stores. And anyway, the more Book of the Dumb 1 sells, the more people will be primed for BotD2. I am pleased to see the first book selling so well a year after it was released; it seems to suggest these books could have a reasonably long shelf life. And I like that.

Other Writing Projects
In addition to wrapping up Science Fiction Film, I'll be doing a project for a business client and doing some pieces for an upcoming Uncle John's book on New Jersey, all of which will keep me busy for the first part of the month (this is why I said I'd be "more or less" back to full time). I'm pleased with all of this; it's nice to keep busy and it'll also end the year on something of a financial high note, and considering how much money we like everyone else hemorrhage over the holidays, this is definitely not a bad thing at all.

One of my big dreams is to take a month off where I do nothing except maybe update this and By the Way; I was planning that for December, but that was before the business gig kicked in. Now I'm thinking January (or perhaps the second half of January/first half of February). Point is, time off would be nice -- time off that doesn't involve sickness of some sort.

Life in General
Well, it's fine. You know.

Thoughts About the Election and Other Political Stuff
Eh. Like everyone else who voted for Kerry, I was depressed for a day, and then I got over it because no matter how depressed I got, Bush was still going to be President until 2008. I'll have more to say about it over time, I'm sure, but that's a basic snapshot of my reaction to the election: I voted, the other guy won, let's move on to doing what we can to minimize the damage. End of story.

I do admit to being deeply tired of hearing about the "red state, blue state" dichotomy, since as it's been amply noted that if about 1% of Ohio voters had voted the other way, we'd be talking about who was going to be in Kerry Cabinet. Look, I voted for Kerry in a county where 70% of the voters (including, I suspect, all my neighbors) went for Bush. The day after the election, they were still the good neighbors I had the day before. I'm not pleased they voted for Bush, but I don't imagine they're pleased I voted for Kerry, and aside from that we get along well. I still live in a pretty good place, with pretty good people.

Anyway, I'm sort of fatigued at the idea of seeing 58 million of my fellow citizens as the enemy, and I would imagine many of them feel the same way. I'm for the old idea of disagreeing and still being civil. We all make mistakes; let's hope in time Bush voters realize that they've made one (and that the rest of us don't pay too heavily for it). Having said that, if by some unfathomable twist of fate Dubya ends up presiding over a happier, better America at the end of his second term, I'll be happy to say that their vote wasn't the worst thing they ever did. Four years is a long time and much can happen. It's time to make it happen.

Posted by john at December 1, 2004 12:00 AM

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Scalzi is back to blogging again on Whatever, after a November hiatus. Here's what he has to say about the presidential election. Eh. Like everyone else who voted for Kerry, I was depressed for a day, and then I got... [Read More]

Tracked on December 1, 2004 02:53 AM


thane | December 1, 2004 01:06 AM

John -

Thanks for the civility. I tried to provide a little in your absence. I, as a Bush supporter, am also tired of the animosity. I am willing to believe that those who voted for Kerry had valid reasons in doing so. You yourself articulated many of those here. I wish that they would do they same for me and the rest of the 60 million who voted for Bush.

I too hope that Bush is able to turn our present set of circumstances into a more prosperous and safe America.


Brian Greenberg | December 1, 2004 08:13 AM

Welcome back, John. I look forward to adding the Whatever back to my list of time-consuming activities that substitute for a good night's sleep.

One thing, though: "We all make mistakes; let's hope in time Bush voters realize that they've made one." Since Bush won, couldn't we all wish that in time, Kerry voters realize they made one? Sounds like we'd all be better off, no?

John Scalzi | December 1, 2004 08:53 AM


Kerry *isn't* President, and thereby we have no way to judge his performance. It's possible that Bush could end up being a good president (however unlikely in my opinion), but a successful Bush second term would say nothing about whether a first Kerry term would have been successful or unsuccessful.

Julie | December 1, 2004 09:56 AM

Congrats on Old Man's War. When I went to check it out on Amazon (buying it for my husband), I noticed that in the "Customers who shopped for this also.." section there is also listed a Terrine of Foie Gras. Fancy!

Kate Nepveu | December 1, 2004 11:16 AM

Glad you're back and feeling better. Please do let us know when _Old Man's War_ hits shelves--I think my dad might like it, but I'd want to flip through it first.

(In the meantime, I might look at the Books of the Dumb for him.)

Tripp | December 1, 2004 11:58 AM


I may have been the first to say "Old Man's War" will have a sequel. I know you don't plan on one, but it will be wildly successful and you will be writing a sequel.

Thank goodness.

It has a great hook - baby boomers can be rejuvinated to fornicate again!

It is the literary equivalent to Viagra.

As for the next four years - my big worry is the draft. If we muddle through with a mediocre economy and no draft I'll be safisfied. Anytihng more than that and I'll be grateful.

Uncle Chachi | December 1, 2004 12:33 PM

Welcome back! The work days go by so much faster with your bits coming down my wire.

Anyway, I ordered a copy of OMW as a holiday gift, but just got notice that it won't ship until sometime in January :(

John Scalzi | December 1, 2004 01:29 PM

Uncle C:

It should ship earlier than that -- from what Tor tells me, it's already off the presses and heading to warehouses. Of course, I can't promise that, but I'm hoping it'll be out for the holidays.

Tripp: Actually, I *do* plan a sequel -- Tor wants me to have it ready for publication about a year after OMW hits, so I'll be writing it early next year. I didn't want to *only* sequels to OMW, but since I've written another entirely unrelated novel, I'm not too worried about that. Thanks for the good thoughts!

dave munger | December 1, 2004 01:45 PM

John, congratulations on Professor Reynolds' great review of OMW (if you haven't seen it, he posted it at 12:10 today). Two links from the good man, now!

I know Auburn beat you to it, but you may win that Pulitzer yet.

John Scalzi | December 1, 2004 01:55 PM

Thanks, Dave. Unlikely they'll give a Pulitzer for SF. However, a Hugo would be nice.

Haven't seen the full review yet -- will go check it out now.

dave munger | December 1, 2004 02:22 PM

Who knows -- maybe it could happen. After all, Independence Day won it. Okay, so it's not exactly SF, but it does have the same name as an SF film.

Tripp | December 1, 2004 02:48 PM

A sequel to OMW?


Dave Wechsler | December 1, 2004 04:24 PM


Good thing I don't work for Rough Guides anymore or I'd go scurrying back to them with the info that you haven't made much progress on your book. I certainly hope your editor doesn't have access to the internet!

John Scalzi | December 1, 2004 04:34 PM


Well, Dave, in the same spirit of not saying anything on the Internet one wouldn't want one's mother to know, the folks at Rough Guide already know where I'm at with the book and why. They also know I'm busting my ass now to get it to them as soon as possible. So I think I'm pretty safe chatting about it here (so long as chatting about it here doesn't take time away from writing more in the book...)

Sue | December 1, 2004 05:04 PM

Woo! My copy of BOTD2 arrived today!

kali yuga | December 4, 2004 11:57 AM

Yes, it's important that we not consider the Nazi thugs who live around us as "enemies." After all, they're only actively destroying the world that we and our children are going to end up living in. Besides, so long as we accept their idiot dictator, their gutter religion, their looting of the treasury at the expense of the poor and the elderly, and their policies of mass murder and environmental destruction, they really aren't all that difficult to get along with.

Nothing to get fatigued over . . .

John Scalzi | December 4, 2004 01:19 PM

This is a test to see if I can leave a comment -- I'm having problems doing so.

John Scalzi | December 4, 2004 01:43 PM


Gosh, the veil has been lifted from my eyes. I will hence to my garage to claim my shovel, with which I will personally smash into a bloody pulp the heads of the 37,000 people in my county who voted for Bush. I'll do it for the *children.* With enough liberals and enough shovels, we can kill every single one of the 58 million Nazis who voted for Bush. And who can blame us? They're Nazis, after all.

Or, I could just roll my eyes at your overheated rhetoric and tell you to get a grip, already. Almost none of the people who voted for Bush are genuinely evil. Rather than calling 58 million people Nazi thugs, you might try to make the case to them that their interests lie in not voting for the people who plan to stripmine the nation in every possible way it can be stripmined.

Calling all Bush voters Nazi thugs is the easy -- and the profoundly stupid -- way out. I don't have much tolerance for that. So, please, try not be so gaggingly stupid with your next comment. Thank you.

kali yuga | December 4, 2004 03:19 PM

I advocated violence against no one.

However, I'm not going to GET OVER it. I don't know how much evidence you need that these right-wing nutjobs pose a direct threat to your democracy, your environment, and your family's future. If that doesn't make someone your enemy, then you're a far better man than I.

kali yuga | December 4, 2004 04:51 PM

By the way, rather than calling me "stupid" for generalizing that the people who support the Bush agenda (pre-emptive war, state-sanctioned use of torture, stripping away of civil liberties, intolerance of the rights of minorities, looting of the treasury, dismantling of the social safety net, destruction of the environment, etc.) are essentially Nazis, maybe you could explain your bizarre assumption that the majority of those who support this kind of agenda are basically "good" people. Are these the sorts of activities that "good" people support?

John Scalzi | December 4, 2004 04:52 PM

"I advocated violence against no one."

So you're saying we should live peacefully with Nazis? How very Chamberlain of you, and look where it got him.

See, here's the problem with comparing people who voted for Bush with a group who killed nine million people genocidally and caused another 100 million people to die in a conflict that engaged every major country on the face of the globe: It catches you in internal moral consistencies. Either these people are Nazis, who should be expunged from the face of the planet by any means necessary, or they're not, in which case we might be able to live with them. All Nazis are good for is killing, because that's all the rest of us were good for to them (well, that and cheap labor). At least have the courage to live up to the implications of what you call people.

What annoys me with politically simplistic people (which is what you clearly are)is that they are simply not smart enough to view people as anything more than enemies or allies. This is a stupid way to view people and their motivations, and most certainly way a stupid, stupid way to deal with them. Acknowledging that people are not the enemy is not the same thing as suggesting one has to "get over" their political positions; one can fight passionately for the causes one believes in and still understand that those with differing views are not evil for having them.

It also rather simplisically suggests that every single person who voted for Bush signs off on every last thing on the man's agenda, which is simply not true, any more than the idea that everyone who voted for Kerry signed off on everything on his. Or, alternately, that those who oppose Bush have no recourse except to bend over and take it in the ass for the next four years. Last I saw, there are 44 Democratic senators; that'll work for a start.

If you want to think that more than half of the US is your enemy, be my guest, but you're stupid and short-sighted for doing so. If they're your enemy, all you can do is try to defeat them, and sorry to say, but in your simplistic political world view, that's not going to happen; they've got more people on their side. If you view them not as the enemy but as people who can be brought around to your point of view, there is a lot more room for opportunity.

Politics is supposed to be about persuasion, not about civil warfare. If you can't understand it, you're no better, smarter, or helpful to your fellow citizen than the twits on the right who are calling you the enemy.

kali yuga | December 4, 2004 06:09 PM

"Politics is supposed to be about persuasion, not about civil warfare."

Well, next time I read The Art of Persuasion, I'll have to pay closer attention to the chapter on insults, since they seem to serve you quite well.

Anyway, since you've used the word five times within two posts, I guess we've established that I'm "stupid." I suppose there's no point in pursuing this discussion then. You win.

Good luck with your 44 senators. They've done a splendid job so far.

John Scalzi | December 4, 2004 10:44 PM

Kali Yaga writes:

"Well, next time I read The Art of Persuasion, I'll have to pay closer attention to the chapter on insults, since they seem to serve you quite well."

I'm not the one calling 58 million Americans genocidal Aryans, sweetheart.

"I guess we've established that I'm 'stupid.'"

Well, no. It's also possible that you're not stupid, you just write stupid things.

kali yuga | December 5, 2004 12:55 AM

"I'm not the one calling 58 million Americans genocidal Aryans, sweetheart."

I wasn't talking to those 58 million Americans-- I was talking to you, and even though you reveal yourself to be, like the majority of "reasonable" Democrats, laughably naive, I do not refer to you as "stupid" or "simple."

History has a tendency to repeat itself, and whether you care to believe it or not, there's nothing in the gene pool of the American public that precludes it from perpetrating the same sort of heinous brutality as the fascist states of the early twentieth century. In fact, everything in the resume of George W. Bush suggests that this is precisely the road down which this country is headed.

Now, you can reject this possibility as "stupid" all you want, but reality has a way of waking people up, usually by smacking them sharply in the face and reminding them that they are not as insulated from the world around them as they would like to think they are.

"Every time I look around this place
I see them scream but I hear no sound
And the terrible things happen down the road
To someone else that I don't even know
Nothing bad ever happens to me"
-- Oingo Boingo

John Scalzi | December 5, 2004 01:39 AM

"I wasn't talking to those 58 million Americans-- I was talking to you - "

And? Are we in some special club where it's understood that we can call the majority of American voters genocidal Aryans, just for chuckles and grins? Yes, you said it to me -- and I said to you your characterization was stupid. I can't be blamed if that wasn't the response you were expecting; it's not my job to conform to your expectations.

"Now, you can reject this possibility as 'stupid' all you want, but reality has a way of waking people up, usually by smacking them sharply in the face and reminding them that they are not as insulated from the world around them as they would like to think they are."

I don't know. I think you have to be pretty damn well insulated from reality to characterize 58 million Americans as genocidal Aryans.

Your problem (or more accurately, your biggest problem, as rhetorically, you appear to have several) is your inability to distinguish between the policies of the Bush administration (very bad, in my opinion) and the personalities and motivations of the people who voted for Bush (varying, but most without abjectly evil intent). Likewise, an inability to separate the need to vigorously oppose the policies of the Bush administration with a "need" to demonize those who voted for Bush, thus forever negating the possibility that you might be able to get some of them to back *your* political positions -- and thereby thwart further erosion of liberties, et al. Until you can parse this not-particularly difficult distinction, I'm going to continue to take you rather less seriously than you clearly take yourself. You may think it's naive to see these people as potential converts instead of an enemy, but given how poorly you appear to think about these matters, I'm not particularly concerned what you think.

Now, if you don't want me to call what you say stupid, Kali, then it's simple: don't say pan-hit stupid things. You appear to be under the impression that when you say something stupid by way of an attempt to admonish me, I'm under some obligation to pretend you're doing other than saying something stupid. Allow me to disabuse you of the notion.

Additionally, if you don't want to be told you're saying stupid things and yet wish to persist in saying them, you're better off leaving here and going to someplace where you and your like-minded friends can glower in a paranoid fashion at everyone who is not within 50 miles of a shoreline, and have a jolly old time saying stupid things about them to each other, far away from me.

As a trival note, I'm not a Democrat and never have been (I've always been registered as an independent), so you got *that* wrong, too. If you can't characterize a *single* person correctly, you can imagine I'm hesitant to trust your characterization of larger groups.

"You're just a little crass socialist brat
From a suburban family, and you never really had to work
And then you tell me that we've got to get back
To the struggling masses (whoever they are)
You talk talk talk about their suffering and pain
Your mouth is bigger than your entire brain
What the hell do you know about suffering and pain..."
-- Oingo Boingo

Anonymous | December 5, 2004 10:27 AM

"I think you have to be pretty damn well insulated from reality to characterize 58 million Americans as genocidal Aryans."

The parallels between 1930s Germany and the United States of today are there to see for anyone who cares to look. Pre-emptive war based on fabricated justification, consolidation of power under a single political party, complete disregard of human rights, scapegoating of minority groups, elimination of civil liberties, merging of corporate and government interests, etc. Are the parallels exact? No, but they are substantial.

"Your problem is your inability to distinguish between the policies of the Bush administration and the personalities and motivations of the people who voted for Bush."

Sorry, but in a representative democracy the voters are responsible for the government they produce, particularly after four years of getting a good long look at exactly what they're voting for. Were most Good Germans who supported Hitler "abjectly evil"? That's arguable, I suppose. What's not arguable is that they were complicit in producing enormous evil.

"you and your like-minded friends can glower in a paranoid fashion at everyone who is not within 50 miles of a shoreline"

No shoreline within fifty miles of me. In fact, no shoreline within hundreds of miles of me. If you can't characterize a *single* person correctly, you can imagine I'm hesitant to trust your characterization of larger groups.

John Scalzi | December 5, 2004 11:38 AM

"The parallels between 1930s Germany and the United States of today are there to see for anyone who cares to look."

One could equally say the parallels between, say, the United States of the 1890s and the United States of today are *also* equally there for anyone to see, including an ill-advised optional war -- Cuba -- which opened the door to an even more ill-advised conflict against guerilla-like insurgents that dragged on for several years, inflicting many thousands of American deaths and casualties (the Philippines). It was also a time of rampant commerical overreach, social division and the melding of the religious and the political (cf. William Jennings Bryan -- a Democrat, incidentally). Indeed, one could make the argument that the 1890s are a far *better* comparison, since among other things the Germany of the 1930s was the direct result of chaotic social and economic conditions of the Weimar Republic, which in itself was a construct of ruinously stupid conditions imposed on Germany by the Allies after WWI -- which is not exactly parallel to the American experience.

If I recall, we managed to get out of the 1890s without devolving into dictatorship; indeed, out of the worse excesses of the "Gilded Age" came some of the most classically "liberal" triumphs, not the least of which were food safety and labor laws. I see no reason why parallel is less plausible than yours, and several reasons why it is more plausible. So, you know, I'm not *entirely* convinced we're going the route of Jew-killing fascism here in these here United States, nor that those people who voted for Bush have voted for an Administration with the same predilications.

Basically, if all you can do is reach for the Nazis when you need a historical parallel for the United States and its citizens, you need to get out more.

Calnj | December 6, 2004 04:26 PM

"...and doing some pieces for an upcoming Uncle John's book on New Jersey..."

I'm not sure if this is good news or bad. Can you share details? The only experience I've had with Uncle John's are your Books OTD, so that doesn't really bode well for NJ. Our rep is bad enough as it is. ;)

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