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March 22, 2005

Agent to the Stars Cover Art

As many of you know, I managed to rope in Mike Krahulik (aka "Gabriel") of Penny Arcade to do the cover art for the cover of Agent to the Stars. And here it is!


I ask you, how awesome is that? The answer: Pretty damn so. The tabloid on the cover is the one that's mentioned in the book, and I particularly like how Gabe's given the picture a tabloidy feel with subtle half-toning (and finger smudges). I'm really really really really happy with this cover.

And now, a reminder: This book is going to be a signed limited edition, so if you want to own it, or even just the cover art, you're better off pre-ordering it now. Once the run is done, it's done; no more than 2,000 will be printed (1,000 is actually more likely, but that will depend on pre-orders).

And as a reminder, for each pre-order through the Subterranean Press site, Subterrean will contribute 10% of the book price to Child's Play, Penny Arcade's charity for childrens' hospitals. So not only do you get a cool signed hardcover with great cover art, but you'll also help make a hospital stay more bearable for a kid. And as an additional reminder, if we sell out an entire 2,000 copy print run, I will contribute an additional $500 to Child's Play from my own royalties from the book.

(Remember also that you can try Agent before you buy: The entire book is available online here. Enjoy, and then if you like, get it to keep.)

Naturally, I'll continue to keep you all in the loop with the progress of the book. Thanks to everyone who has pre-ordered, and thanks especially to Gabe for doing such excellent work.

Posted by john at March 22, 2005 03:16 PM

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» To the Stars from Blog o'RAM
Instapundit noted that John Scalzi's Agent to the Stars was available online. I took a quick look and now 4 chapters and 2 hours later I've realized I've been hooked. In addition to liking the characters I've met so far... [Read More]

Tracked on May 25, 2005 05:37 PM


JeremyT | March 22, 2005 03:51 PM

That is a thing of beauty.

Steven Garone | March 22, 2005 05:44 PM

Is this being done with a vanity press or is the publishing company only printing 2k for another reason?

Jon Hansen | March 22, 2005 05:50 PM

Steven, what part of "limited edition" is unclear?

John Scalzi | March 22, 2005 05:52 PM

Jon Hansen:

Now, now. It's a reasonable question.


It's being done through Subterranean Press, who is not a vanity press (I know this because they gave me money for the book, not the other way around -- paid Mike, too). Subterranean specializes in signed, limited editions of books. Authors who have made signed, limited editions of their work made available through Subterranean include Orson Scott Card, Dan Simmons, Robert Silverberg, Charles de Lint, George R.R. Martin and Brian Lumley.

The reason it's printing 2,000 copies is simply that's the business model it works with: Small printings of high-quality, signed collector editions. Actually, 2,000 is a high print run for Subterranean -- most printings, from what I understand, are between 250 and 1,000 copies.

Dawn B. | March 22, 2005 07:17 PM

Soooooo cool. And I already pre-ordered. Mwhah... did I miss the annoucment of what the uber cool item was for people who ordered in time with the note about from Whatever? Or is it still a secret?

John Scalzi | March 22, 2005 07:28 PM

It's still a secret.

Anonymous | March 22, 2005 07:44 PM

I really wish that he had placed the FF as the hood ornament (http://www.penny-arcade.com/view.php3?date=2004-10-27&res=l).

Mike Kozlowski | March 22, 2005 08:21 PM

Do you know, until I saw that cover, it never even occurred to my SF-soaked mind that "agent" and "stars" could have other meanings.

John Scalzi | March 22, 2005 08:28 PM

See, now, that's what a truly excellent cover will do!

Chris Byrne | March 22, 2005 09:01 PM

Speaking of hood ornaments, and knowing PA's history of copyright litigation (f**king strawberry shortcake bullshit), please tell me someone got Audis approval for the logo?

Yes, Gabe left off the last ring, but Audi is EXTREMELY protective of their copyright, and the vehicle in question is pretty clearly an Audi TT.

John Scalzi | March 22, 2005 09:08 PM

One, I don't think it looks like TT at all (and in the book the protagonist drives a Honda, anyway), and two, let us worry about that, Chris. But thanks.

Jamie Snow | March 22, 2005 09:46 PM

Uh how to start my post to make it noticeable and have people comment on it, thats always my problem getting people to check out my posts, the attention who*e(censoring it because I don't have time to read the rules right now, gotta get back to reading in a second) that I am.

Anyway, I just started reading the novel, online version of course and I am absolutely hooked. This is going to basically be a flagrent Fanboy post so delete it if you want. I mostly just wanted to say that I am hooked on Agent of the Stars, and will probably be checking out another one of your books soon, my birthday is tommorow and I am going to the book store so it works out nicely. My world of warcraft patch is done and installed and everything and I'm not logging in because I have to read more of this story.

I have to admit tho I wouldn't have even found out about this if it wasn't for Gabe and the fact that one of the posts above said that one of the other novelists that had his books published from subterrainian(spelling)press was Orson Scott Card who is my all time favorite author (but your quickly climbing the charts) coincidently the last book I completely read was Shadow of the Giant, which was like three weeks ago, and i've been reading The Age of the Spiritual Machines by Ray Kurzwell sporadically for the last couple weeks.

I don't think there is a single conducive thought through out that babbleing but I am excited to get back to reading, wasn't planning on going to sleep tonite anyway, gotta wait up for my birthday, tradition and what have you. I'll check back here in a bit because that's what I do.

You rock! Keep writeing.

John Scalzi | March 22, 2005 09:59 PM

Thanks, Jamie! Glad you're enjoying the reading so far!

Jamie Snow | March 22, 2005 10:20 PM

Wow you check the site often huh?

John Scalzi | March 22, 2005 10:27 PM


Jamie Snow | March 22, 2005 10:34 PM

Cool, I've got a question for you then. As I said before my bday is tomo and I am going to the book store, and if they have any of your books I am definetly going to get a couple, but here's the twist, I am not going to have time to surf around to see what your other books are about so if you could possibly tell me the books your most proud of or your favorites or what not, it would go a long way to helping me out.

My cousin just IMed me, he's actually an aspireing author but he's still in highschool so his aspirations change on a daily basis and I have sent him your link he'll probably check out the book soon.

ivan dellinger | March 22, 2005 10:37 PM

I just wanted to ask if there are plans for a normal (i.e. not all signed and fancy) run of this book planned for those of us who lack the cash at the moment and may miss out on this whole pre-order deally.

I read the book courtesy of the internet quite some time ago and i thought it was one of the best and most original sci-fi stories this side of P.K. Dick and nearly leapt from my seat in excitement when I saw the cover art on Penny Arcade. Unfortunately, as I suggested in the previous paragraph, I'm not exactly rolling in it right now and will likely miss this printing. I would really hate to not have a second chance, but if that's the case, I'm sure I can starve myself for a few weeks to scrounge up the change. It would certainly be worth it.



John Scalzi | March 22, 2005 11:20 PM

Jamie: Try "Old Man's War," which the science fiction book I currently have out in the stores. It's military science fiction, so there's lots of action, but it's also got some introspective and funny moments. If you can't find it, look for one of my "Book of the Dumb" books, which are about stupid people doing stupid things. That's always fun. And happy birthday!

Ivan: At this point there's no other book run planned for "Agent," although it will remain online indefinitely. I wouldn't be opposed to a paperback release of it somewhere down the line (and I would hope if there was one they'd use Gabe's excellent work), but to date there's not much movement.

Ironically, what would probably spur interest in a paperback release is if this this limited run sold out in pre-order; that would prove to pther publishers there's a market for the book (and me as an other -- and Gabe as a cover artist, not coincidentally).

Jamie Snow | March 23, 2005 01:09 AM

"Not exactly," I said, and turned to Joshua. "Say hello, Joshua."

"Hello, Joshua," Joshua said.

Carl was momentarily startled but recovered quite a bit quicker than I did. "Cute," he finally said.

"Thanks. I love that joke," Joshua said.

I don't know if its the being up late or what but I laughed for like 10 minutes just now when I read that.

Jamie Snow | March 23, 2005 01:20 AM

Joshua walked up. "Well?" he said.

"You're going to be in a Mighty Dog commercial," I said.

"Well, all right, then," Joshua said. "I would hate to be associated with anything that wasn't 100% pure beef, you know."

Yeah I think I have hit a particularly funny part of the book because I am haveing giggle fits every 5 minutes.

Kiyoshi Martinez | March 23, 2005 03:00 AM


I'm with the PA flood and just ordered your book (and not just for the cover art either). I like how your book is available for free and that alone sold me on it.

With that said, your writing is very solid and reminds me initially of Max Barry (specifically his novel "Syrup") to a certain extent.

I can't wait to get a hardcover copy of it and dedicate a weekend to reading it.

Jamie Snow | March 23, 2005 05:26 AM

It's totally worth the read Kiyoshi, I mean not that my taste counts for anything but i just finished it, like not even a minute ago. I don't remember when I started reading it but it was in the realm of 8 hours ago I think. Heh, it's 5 am, and I am officially 21years and 12 minutes old.

That was a fun way to spend a night, really really great fun story. Well I've done my reading for today, time to see if the bars are open this early.

skye estes | March 23, 2005 05:52 AM

i just finished the book; it was phenomenal. some editing mistakes, but those pop up in print, too. anyways, moot point. it was funny, thought-provoking, and impossible to break away from. did i mention funny? the yherajk are a profoundly hilarious people. remind me to hang out with them if they ever do drop by. pre-order? heck yes!

John Scalzi | March 23, 2005 07:12 AM

Kiyoshi, Jamie, Skye: Thanks!

Leonardo Herrera | March 23, 2005 07:58 AM

For some reason, I can't stop thinking of a movie with Jason Statham as the agent. Or at least, Kiefer Sutherland as the voice of Jason :-)

John Scalzi | March 23, 2005 08:49 AM

Interesting casting choices there, Leonardo!

Benson C | March 23, 2005 01:34 PM

I really shouldn't be reading this while at work, but it is a wonderful book.

I just put in my order and is now eagerly waiting for the book's arrival... in a month or so... the anticipation is killing me.

John Scalzi | March 23, 2005 01:59 PM

Thanks, Benson C!

To be clear, the publication date will be in July. We opened up pre-orders early so that Penny Arcade readers (and readers of this site) can be sure that they get a copy if they want it -- as I mentioned, there'll be only a limited number, and when they're gone, that's it.

From what the publisher had told me, it's selling at a pretty good clip (it was last month's biggest direct-seller -- even though it was only available on the last day of February -- and looks like this month's sales are good as well), so those of you have pre-ordered, I give you my most humble thanks.

Roger Baker | March 23, 2005 02:21 PM

That check I sent you to option "Agent" a million years ago still hanging on your fridge?

(Sadly, the option's now expired....fyi to all you connected Hollywood-types)


John Scalzi | March 23, 2005 02:30 PM

Roger: No longer on the fridge but somewhere in storage. I think you don't need to worry much about whether it'll ever be cashed. Of course, it's not like the $1 would kill you, and I could use a soda.


Shades747 | March 24, 2005 02:24 PM

Just bounced over from the PA site. Read the first two chapters and got myself hooked. Wish I had the time to finish reading it today while I'm at work. Decided to go ahead and order it though, as I got drawn in and really can't wait to see how the story goes. Looking forward to enjoying the limited edition. :)

Thanks for making it available for free. I certainly wouldn't have ordered the book on blind faith, and being able to read it until I got into the story is what made me decide to buy it. Thanks!

Jon V. | March 24, 2005 02:45 PM

I also just dropped in from PA. The general consensus on these boards would seem to indicate that your book rocks. I guess I'd better get started and then see if my checking account is interested. (I just scrolled back up to that cover art...gods its beautiful)

John Scalzi | March 24, 2005 03:06 PM

Shades747: Indeed, that's why it's out there for free -- I want to make sure that people who are interested in knowing what I write like have a good long example.

Jon V: Have to say I agree with your assessment. Gabe did some really great work.

Nikola | March 24, 2005 03:26 PM

Another from the Penny Arcade bunch; it took me a bit longer then 8 hours to finish, but I had to sleep somewhere in between as well as go to work, so I think I did OK overall:)

Thanks John, excellent work! I was about to send a few nitpick suggestions, then realized that books are not like software and no matter how much we try, there is rarely a version 1.1 out there (Ender's Game being the only example I can think of). So, good thing book stands well as it is! ;)

Btw, for those who support this type of business model, I think baen library (http://www.baen.com/) also has a similar read-before-you-buy system. I paid for all ten Harrington books before I ended up getting them for free on a CD with last book's limited edition, but I certainly appreciated the gesture, guts, respect, dedication and ideology it implies in the writer!

Dave D. | March 24, 2005 06:26 PM

Excellent. Agree with others that will make an excellent, interesting screenplay. Wag the dog, eh? but so much better.

In any case, good luck to you!

Joe | March 24, 2005 07:01 PM

I'm reading it online, and I'm on chapter 15 right now. I discovered it at work and abused my internet access all day long... luckily I was wearing my headphones so whenever I laughed too hard I could just say I was listening to a funny song. The hour-long commute without 'Agent' was a killer, but now: back to it!

I had every intention of buying a hard copy of the book until I saw the price. I just can't afford $30 for a book, even if it is hilarious... maybe if it was a softcover for under $10? Any chances of that ever happening?

Even thought I can't afford it, I will be recommending it to all my friends, and hopefully one of them will be able to splurge on it.

Good luck John, if your other books turn out as well as this one, you'll have great success!

Paul | March 24, 2005 11:09 PM

amazing! i started reading it 5 hours ago, intending to go grab some ZzZs after a 24 hour workday no less. no dice - i haven't stopped reading, even though i ran out of cigarettes 3 hours ago.

sure, it's a first novel and all that comes with that, but i loved it from start to finish. you've probably heard all the compliments i could possibly come up with, so i'll spare you the banality. i am, however, looking forward to reading more of your writing just as soon as i can get my hands on it (local indy bookstore or amazon


Alex | March 25, 2005 03:29 AM

Dude...wow. I saw Gabe's post on Monday and I finished reading Agent on Wednesday! I was hooked. I couldn't stop reading the damn thing. I'd say to myself, "ok, this last chapter then you gotta finish up work before you leave"...well, one chapter turned into 3!

Your characters felt real and that was one of the things I enjoyed most. Great story-telling. Thanks for the story. I pre-ordered my copy already.

Gonna pickup Old Man's War next. Good stuff, good luck to you.

Now, I'm a fan. =)

John Scalzi | March 25, 2005 11:01 AM

Joe asks:

"I just can't afford $30 for a book, even if it is hilarious... maybe if it was a softcover for under $10? Any chances of that ever happening?"

It's possible at some point but right now there's no offer on the table. If it sells well in this limited edition there may be some ammunition to approach a publisher with re: a mass-market release. No matter what, however, this is probably the only hardback release the book will get.

And of course, don't worry if you can't afford it; the book will be available online. And suggesting to your friends will be payment enough.

Alex and all: Thanks for the pre-orders! I'm very happy and gratified to see the book doing so well.

Melanie Fletcher | March 26, 2005 04:33 PM

Oh, man -- I love Penny Arcade to begin with, so this cover utterly rocks! Now I just have to go off and order the book.

Heather Braum | March 29, 2005 07:17 PM

I started reading "Agent" about 9 or so years(could be even more?) ago when all you had was 10 chapters. You had sent them to mom to read & she shared. I was in love & then bummed all at the same time because there was no more. Now I am waiting till I get my copy to finish reading it. After all I have waited this long. Great job John & Kudos to Gabe on the cover work, it is fantastic.Peace

Jeremiah | March 31, 2005 07:05 PM

Wow. I, like many in this horde, came here from PA. The cover work is very cool. But the content. wow. I love when books draw me in and I am gone for hours. This took me there. I dropped everything and read this book in a few days. John you have talent, and it is very admirable to put this online. Thank you for sharing it with us.

John Scalzi | April 1, 2005 12:38 AM

Thanks, Jeremiah. I'm glad you liked it!

John Graham | April 7, 2005 04:31 PM

Well done, John. Great character development, nice dry sense of humour. Something in there is reminiscent of those "hard-boiled" detective novels. The end of each chapter sucked me into the next one, and everything tied up nicely at the end. Time well spent; I'm thankful that PA steered me here.

Aljaz Majcen | June 5, 2005 12:08 PM

Hi John,

just ordered my copy of Agent... from Subterranean Press and, frankly, can't wait for it to arrive in july. I'm double glad a part of my payment will go to Child's play, a good cause and a friendly tap on your back for you making it happen.

Well, that's it, really, got nothing else to write about (insert a deep sigh here). Always enjoyed your writing and your website. Ah yes, sorry to read about Rex the cat's demise, I hope y'all coming to terms with this great loss. According to photos he indeed was a cat with a distinctive character and looks too.

Paint yourself a lightbulb here, but I just had an idea, but before I write it down, a small remark : when one of my nieces was six or seven and in her "I may well be a devil reincarnated, but you still have to love me, uncle dear" she said to me while innocently fiesting on her icecream "when you have nothing to do, do something nasty". So here's my idea, more of a request, come to think about it:
How about you write something more than just your autograph on my copy, you know, make it a bit more special by adding anything else that comes to your mind, or perhaps Athena can paint something, like herself in goth phase, you know what I mean. Then you can give it to the good folks at Subterranean, saying this particular copy is for the guy who ordered it from Slovenia.

I defend this plea with the following:
1. While receiving my copy, I'll have to pay additional customs fee for importing goods from the States, about another 40% to the actual price of book and postage I already paid with my credit card.
2. I will probably be the only reader in the beautiful country of Slovenia who ordered it.
3. Because I promise I'll place my copy on the shelf next to John Steinbeck classics I treasure more than anything.
4. A long time ago I met Alice Cooper in Vienna (btw, one of the nicest people one could ever hope to cross paths with) and he kindly took time to listen to my namespelling so he could write it down, so why not you too?
5. Because you value and are nice to those who read your works.
6. Please.

Now, you can still say no, bugger off, but it was definitely worth a try.

I hope spring is treating you, your wife and Athena kind. Take care,

from Lasko, Slovenia

John Scalzi | June 5, 2005 01:21 PM

I'll see what I can do, Aljaz!

william | July 25, 2005 01:46 AM

i had read old mans war awhile ago and really enjoyed it. i had been wondering if you were going to write a sequel so i decided to look at your site. also i do read penny arcade but must of missed the info about that cover. anyways going to read agent to the stars now, from peoples comments i cant wait. also eagerly awaiting the ghost brigade book. thanks for the quality reading material!

Morton L. Siegel | September 6, 2005 10:10 AM

Mr. Scalzi:
I recently read "Old Man's War" with a great deal of pleasure. You certainly are in the Robert Heinlein tradition. I suggest that your novel has some similar elements to books by Van Vogt and Varley (as to the `spare' bodies).
OMW had special resonance for me since I'm 73, spent a couple of years in the US Army, and lost a dearly beloved wife ten years ago. I'd love to have a replica of her.
You enjoy using bugshit as a synonym for crazy. You may be interested to learn that at the time of the Korean War, we used apeshit for nuts, bullshit and horseshit for lies, and chickenshit for excessive discipline.
Keep up the good work.
Morton L. Siegel

Pavel Rybin | September 9, 2005 10:42 AM

Just thought I'd contribute a bit of a "me too"-style comment.

I first found out about "Agent" when it was linked to from Penny Arcade. Started reading a few chapters online, and really liked it. I was never a big fan of reading books on a computer screen, so I ordered a hard-copy of the book when I realised it was available here in the UK. It just arrived this morning, complete with its very pretty cover art; I am now the proud owner of book 1105.

Really looking forward to continuing my reading of the book later. I'd like to add that it was great of you to keep the book available online even after you published it in the real world -- otherwise, I would probably have never started reading it, and thus never getting my hands on it either.

That's it really; I guess if I like the ending of this one, I might end up checking out your other work.


John Scalzi | September 9, 2005 11:19 AM

Cool, Pavel -- I hope you like it, and not just in the interest of my future sales.

Allison Joseph | September 20, 2005 09:42 PM


Using my site to advertise your book when it has no connection to what's being discussed isn't cool, Ms. Joseph. Don't do it again.

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