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April 04, 2006

Odd and Ends, 4/3/06

Things and Stuff:

* An interview of me on SCIFI Wire, discussing the Hugo/Campbell nominations. Come see me give love to my fellow nominees, acknowledge my underdog status, and explain how being nominated for the Hugo and Campbell in the same year is like coughing up a live frog. Because, you know, it is.

* Good news from overseas: The Ghost Brigades has been sold in China, to the same folks who bought Old Man's War. That means both books will now be available in (Simplified) Chinese, German and Russian. Neat. Of course, there will be a delay between now and then. I think the soonest any of these will be out in their respective country's bookshelves will be this summer.

* SF writer Toby Buckell has broken into the ranks of pro bloggery as editor of Healthacker.com, a Web site whose goal is "Helping Geeks Get Healthy." The first step is prying the Cheetos and Mountain Dew from their chunky little fingers, I would think. Swing by and check it out.

* The mail today brought me two things: The DVD for Aeon Flux (just in case you thought there was no downside to reviewing DVDs) and my author copies of the Science Fiction Book Club edition of The Ghost Brigades. It looks good, but there are a few subtle differences between it and the Tor version of the hardcover. For the collectors, here are the major differences: The Tor dust jacket has raised letters, while the SFBC version doesn't; the SFBC has the author picture from Old Man's War while the Tor version has a new picture, and the SFBC version of the book has a black cover while the Tor version is blue. Also, the SFBC version has a previously deleted paragraph at the end of the final chapter in which John Perry wakes up and entire of the book was just a dream, the end. Yeah, don't know how that got through.

I'm kidding about that last paragraph, of course. Or am I????!111?!??!

* The Tom DeLay thing: Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha! Yeah, I'm real choked up about it. Good riddance.

* Ron Hogan is publishing outtakes from his recent Publishers Weekly cover story (w00t!) on science fiction over at GalleyCat; those outtakes include some discussion of the recent proliferation of ambitious but smaller SF houses like Pyr, and the following quote from Lou Anders, Pyr's editorial director, in reference to the NY Times' David Itzkoff's contention that science fiction is too geeky:

"I think science fiction needs to quit apologizing for not being sugar-coated, consolatory, easily-digestible pap. Science fiction is the genre that exists to examine the impact on society of technological evolution, which means, in this decade of exponential technological growth, it is poised to be the most relevant branch of literature going. You can't build a future you haven't imagined first, and if you're going to denigrate the people in our culture who have the most far-reaching imaginations, it's shooting yourself in the foot."

I've sat out the Itzkoff thing because I think Itzkoff asked the wrong question, so answering the question would simply result in further error. The question is not why science fiction is so geeky -- really, that's like asking why romance novels are so kissy -- but why SF does only a so-so job at best at trying to convince people who have the equivalent of Star Trek communicators and 17 jukeboxes in their pockets via their cell phones and iPods that science fiction can speak to them. Anders is exactly correct that SF has no need to apologize for being what it is, but it wouldn't hurt for SF from time to time to explain itself a little better to the unintiated, or more accurately, to the people who think they're the uninitiated, even as they live in a science fictional world.

This touches on what I blathered about last year regarding Science Fiction Outreach, so there's no need to retread that particular tire. But as with many things, it's reminder that asking the right questions matters.

Posted by john at April 4, 2006 02:14 PM

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Bearpaw | April 4, 2006 02:59 PM

Re: Tom Delay...

Predictably, he's proclaimed his total innocence and bemoaned being a victim of a partisan witch-hunt.

This quote is particularly guffaw-inducing: "I think I could have won this seat but it would have been nasty." Riiiight. Likes-to-dish-it-out-but-can't-take-it doesn't even begin to cover that.

But I suspect it had a little more to do with his former aide pleading guilty and promising to help federal investigators, and the fact that Delay can probably now use his political war chest to pay lawyers. (The FEC said Cunningham could do that, so Delay probably can too.)

Kevin Q | April 4, 2006 03:05 PM

About DeLay: On the one hand, the Dems lose an easy target. On the other hand, honesty in American politics just went up a small but significant amount at the announcemnt, and that's good for the country.

Anders said: "You can't build a future you haven't imagined first. . .," whereas Marshall McLuhan might suggest that you get the future you're not expecting.


CoolBlue | April 4, 2006 03:27 PM

Tom Delay recently said there was no fat in the Federal budget that he could find. For that, I am more than happy to see him go.

As to the rest, I'll let a jury decide and could care less anymore. If he's dirty I hope he spends good time in jail.

If he's not, I'll hold my breath until all the apologies are headline news.

Oh wait! No I won't.

Timmy | April 4, 2006 05:44 PM

Well, I've always said that coughing up a live frog is like being nominated for a Hugo and Campbell, but I never expected to see a reversal of THAT one.

Kevin Marks | April 4, 2006 07:12 PM

A bit of an oblique question, but I missed the 'Coffee House ' comments at the time. I've just signed up to take over the local Teenage Writers group at a local big bookstore. The way it works is we meet once a month to read each others' work and talk about writing. The wrinkle is that each month I have to pick a helpful book for teenage writers to read, which the bookshop will stock specially. Obviously "Coffee Shop" is on the list for a future month when it's in print, but what else is worth suggesting?
(My initial instinct was Orwell's essays, but that may be a bit of an acquired taste).

Martin Langeland | April 4, 2006 08:54 PM

Re: book club editions
Do they still hit the back cover with a small square die? They used to. But maybe that's arcana now.
-- ml

John Scalzi | April 5, 2006 06:14 AM

Martin: No, I don't think so. AT least, non of my SFBC books have it.

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