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October 13, 2006

Quick Auction Update; Answering "Sagan" Questions

Bill Schafer forwarded me a note from the Minneapolis Public Library thanking him for his $5,000 contribution to the John M. Ford Book Endowment, and with that every bit of the auction for The Last Colony is taken care of: Book sent, bills paid, done. So, one last time, I want to thank Bill for his bid, and everyone else for bidding and helping to raise awareness of the Ford Book Endowment. I think we did some good.

Apropos to "The Sagan Diary," and in particular the signed, limited edition with the purchaser's names in the book as members of the 3rd Platoon, Company D, there have been a couple of questions. The first is whether someone buying the book could put someone else's name in there, with the idea being that they'd use the book as a distinctive gift. The answer is that generally this shouldn't be a problem; just drop a note to Subterranean while you're ordering about who you want to have listed, and they'll hook you up. In fact, I recommend this. What lovely gifts for friends, family, and your entire department at work!

Which leads to the next question: All the folks listed are supposed to be members of 3rd Platoon, Company D, but what happens if we end up with more people listed than who are normally in a platoon? Well, in fact, that's already happened: A platoon is usually 30-40 soldiers, and we've gotten more pre-orders than that so far. The solution is pretty simple: Instead of commemorating, 3rd Platoon, Company D, we'll now be commemorating Company D, of the CDF 23rd Infantry Battalion. And if we have to bump it up after that, we'll simply commemorate the fightin' 23rd. And if we have to commemorate a military unit higher than that, well, I imagine I'll be making a down payment on that Mustang I've had my eye on.

Needless to say, I'm delighted we're already up past platoon strength and are filling up company strength pretty handily. I'm working to make sure it's worth your investment. Also, I know my wife will hurt me if I mess this up, on account that Jane is her favorite character of mine. So that's extra incentive for me to get it right. The point is, I think you'll enjoy getting into Jane Sagan's head.

Posted by john at October 13, 2006 08:54 AM

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Steve Buchheit | October 13, 2006 10:17 AM

"Also, I know my wife will hurt me if I mess this up, on account that Jane is her favorite character of mine. So that's extra incentive for me to get it right. "

Okay, now I'm back to picturing Krissy with the bat instead of the gracious host of Thanksgiving and laughing over schaedenfud… shadenfrie… shidenfruddl…

DAMN YOU SCALZI, I can never type schadenfreund correctly!

Steve Buchheit | October 13, 2006 10:33 AM

Congrats on the great presale figures, BTW. :)

James | October 13, 2006 10:50 AM

"Also, I know my wife will hurt me if I mess this up, on account that Jane is her favorite character of mine. So that's extra incentive for me to get it right. "

Holy best story ever Batman! With incentive like that I bet you hit this one out of the park.

David Kirkpatrick | October 13, 2006 12:00 PM

Would the number of soldiers actually be an issue in this case? I was assuming that the commemoration was to honor everyone who died in the line of duty while serving in the platoon. Unless the whole 3rd platoon was wiped out at once and then the platoon was retired in commemoration, wouldn't the upper echelon continue to add new members as deaths reduced the platoon size? Thus, you could easily have a lot of members to commemorate, but still only have a current operating size of 30 - 40. I'd expect that such a commemorative might list the soldiers in the order in which they served. Not being wise in the ways of the military, there may be some reason this wouldn't work....

Andrew | October 13, 2006 12:09 PM

"And if we have to commemorate a military unit higher than that, well, I imagine I'll be making a down payment on that Mustang I've had my eye on. "

Wow a Mustang; I never thought of you as a car dude. Would this be one of the newer mustangs (or possibly one of the Shelby Mustangs) or do you have your eye on one of the classic 60's mustangs.

Besides his family and his job (36 years as a tool and die maker for Ford Canada) my dad loved two things: Green Cars and Mustangs. His last car was a green 1993 mustang. I learned how to drive on his green 1968 mustang.


John Scalzi | October 13, 2006 12:21 PM


"I never thought of you as a car dude."

I'm not. I just like Mustangs.

Danielle | October 13, 2006 01:03 PM

Mmmm...Mustangs. Who doesn't like them? I think I need me a few of those best-seller things too.

Steve Buchheit | October 13, 2006 01:25 PM

Danielle, I say buy the mustang, the use the panic inducment to drive the ambition to wirte the best-seller thing (only kidding).

Erbo | October 13, 2006 02:25 PM

Oh, it's easily possible that an entire platoon could be wiped out in one battle, or company, or battalion, for that matter. The First Battle of Coral wiped out way more soldiers than that, in fact...but you already knew that. And perhaps what would happen is that the CDF wouldn't necessarily retire those units permanently, just close them out and reactivate them at some later date..."with new faces but old traditions," as Heinlein put it.

Proud to have signed up as another member of Delta Company...or the 23rd I.B., if it comes to that.

Nathan who isn't even pretending to be working today | October 13, 2006 02:33 PM

I'm not sure I realized we were infantry. My feet hurt. Can I ride in the truck?

bensdad00 | October 13, 2006 03:46 PM

David and Erbo:

the US Army has (or at least had when I did my Basic Training) a tradition of using previously retired companies traditions alive as designated training battallions - The Third Infantry Division famed as "Rock of the Marne" during WWI is one such. for more info see this wiki


the final section on Army Lineage and Honors Certificates is the relevent one.

Scorpio | October 13, 2006 03:56 PM

So have you started thinking about the short story you are going to write for him? :)

Steve Buchheit | October 13, 2006 04:22 PM

Nathan, I'm only riding in the truck if it has air conditioning. I was in the Air Force, after all. :)

Of we go, into the wild blue something or other.

Timothy McClanahan | October 13, 2006 05:14 PM

Mmmm...Mustangs. Black 1966 Fastback, if you please.

It's amusing to me that this will be the only military 'service' I'll ever be associated with. None of the services would take me for helicopter pilot training back in the late 80s (even the Coast Guard!) because I wear glasses. Bastards.

Nathan | October 13, 2006 05:46 PM


We've got the heater on in the cab, but the back of the truck is cool and breezy. Hop on.

Steve Buchheit | October 13, 2006 06:23 PM

Nathan, cool, but the seats in back aren't upholstered. Ah well, I'll rough it.

Flying high, hope I don't die. Down we go, the fuselage asunder...

Timothy McClanahan | October 13, 2006 07:01 PM


Nathan | October 13, 2006 07:06 PM

Well, I know I'm gonna die. How else will I get in the Memorium.

I just hope I leave a pretty corpse.

Timothy McClanahan | October 13, 2006 07:19 PM


That Neil Guy | October 14, 2006 12:14 PM

This is such a tough call. I've just got to be frugal (I keep telling myself) now that there's a new baby in the house. And there's going to be the Last Colony to get next year. But it sure would be fun to have this Sagan ltd ed. Grrr. Curse you, Scalzi, for being such a fine writer. And curse you, Bill Schafer, for making this happen.

chris | October 14, 2006 03:34 PM

How long is this short story going to be, pagewise? How many pages of alien-squishing fun do I get for my 20 smackers?

John Scalzi | October 14, 2006 03:46 PM

It's going to be about 12.5k words, and the way the book is designed it'll be about 100 pages, including illustrations.

To be sure, "The Sagan Diaries" are designed as a collector's item rather than a budget-oriented item. If you're looking for a number of words per dollar value, I would suggest Android's Dream, which has 112k words/400 pages for about $20.

Nathan | October 14, 2006 04:15 PM

How many pages per dollar?

And to think, all these years I've been walking into Barnes & Noble, going up to the counter and asking for 5 lbs. of fiction.


John Scalzi | October 14, 2006 04:31 PM


"I've been walking into Barnes & Noble, going up to the counter and asking for 5 lbs. of fiction."

That explains all the Michener books in your collection.

Nathan | October 14, 2006 04:40 PM

Yeah, but I'm having to get rid of Michener to make room for Neal Stephenson. Them books is fat!

Hugh | October 14, 2006 05:31 PM

These days, if you ask for 5 lbs. of fiction, they'll recommend G.R.R. Martin.

WaywardSailorGirl | October 14, 2006 07:04 PM

Aaarrrgghhh....G.R.R. Martin. The author who spends hundreds of pages developing a kick ass character, only to kill him or her off with little or no preamble. I've almost thrown his books across the room for that.

Nathan | October 14, 2006 08:02 PM


I wasn't ignoring you. Honor Harrington fell on me and I've been pinned down for the last few hours.

Anonymous | October 15, 2006 03:34 PM

G.R.R. Martin, three hundred characters and counting... But Scalzi, I've got a question regarding my next few pounds of fiction. What does “A Sci Fi Essential Books” mean? I can’t find anything on it. Is it some sort of Sci-Fi recommendation listing?

John Scalzi | October 15, 2006 03:58 PM

It's something that Tor is doing with the Sci-Fi channel, highlighting some of the newest Tor releases.

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