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November 09, 2006

Philcon Schedule and 2007 Convention and Appearance Thoughts

First off, for those of you attending Philcon, here's my panel schedule as it exists at the moment. This is where you know you'll be able to find me, and find me in full blatheration mode.

Fri 8:00 PM in Freedom Ballroom
Does this trend reflect something deeper in our society?

Notes: Leaving aside the issue of military science fiction entirely, has pacifist-oriented SF ever sold?

Fri 9:00 PM in Seminar A
Free give aways tend to get attention. But is it worth it? What kind of free samples do you want to give away and how?

Notes: Interestingly, by the time I'm on this panel, I'll have another piece of data for this topic. No, I won't tell you what it is yet. Wait until next week.

Sat 11:00 AM in Ballroom A
Or is this merely some liberal paranoid delusion?

Notes: Liberals? Paranoid? That's unpossible! This should be an interesting discussion in the aftermath of the 2006 elections.

Sat 12:00 PM in Logans 1
Panelists will discuss the most up-to-date knowledge about each planet in our Solar System, what missions are presently exploring the planet, and what missions are planned. Earth will be included. This panel will have to be 2 hours or we will have only about 5 minutes to spend on each planet with no time for questions.

Notes: Ooooh, this could be a lot of fun, as long as we have a moderator who moves things along nicely. Hopefully we won't get too bogged down in the Pluto thing. Or, perhaps, hopefully we will! Give the audience a thrill.

Sat 3:00 PM in Salon 1
What a writer needs to do to set up a website: domain names, site hosting and design or hiring a professional.

Notes: I'm not sure why anyone thinks I would know anything about this.

Sun 10:00 AM in Seminar B
Do other universes exist? Can we ever contact them?

Notes: And will they buy Girl Scout cookies from my daughter? She has a quota to meet, you know.

Sun 11:00 AM in Logans 2
How do we go about recruiting new readers?

Notes: Personally, I suggest blackmail.

In addition to the panels above, I may also do a reading, or I may not; apparently the readings schedule will be provided to us when we get there. The rest of the time I'm sure I'll be in the lobby or bar or dealer's room, poking Charlie Stross with a spoon to keep him awake. Philcon will be my last convention appearance of 2006, so if you're really itchin' to see me in my natural habitat with other geeks before this year slides off into the slag heap of history, this is where you're going to have to do it.

As for 2007, here are the SF conventions that at the moment I strongly suspect I'm going to be at: ConFusion, Boskone, Penguicon, Wiscon and the Heinlein Centennial. These are all conventions I've been to before, so this year I'm also hoping to add a few new conventions to the mix, particularly in places I've not yet been. I kind of want to go to a Minneapolis-area convention, for example, because it occurs to me there are a lot of folks in that general area I wouldn't mind seeing, both in the SF community and outside of it. I'd also like to attend an SF convention in the South and/or the West; I really haven't been out in those directions, notwithstanding last year's Worldcon.

Speaking of which, I'm sort of holding my fire about Worldcon this year. On one hand I'd like to go, because everyone I know raves about Japan and what a lovely country it is, and I'd like to see it, and by that time (hopefully), the Japanese version of Old Man's War will be out. On the other hand, it's a whole lot of money and unfortunately I'm not likely to have a lot of time this summer to take a week off to sightsee in Japan outside of the convention. So there's the question of whether it's worth thousands of dollars to travel to another country just to spend five days mostly staying inside a hotel. Basically, I'm going to punt making a decision on that until some time next year.

If I don't go to Worldcon I may try going down to Dragon*Con and seeing what it's like. I understand it's fairly insane. I'm not sure I want to bother with next year's NASFIC (Archon 31), because apparently the Holiday Inn at which it will be is making attendees do fairly ridiculous things to reserve a room, like send a photocopy of both sides of their credit card; also the hotel is charging the cards for the reservation when the reservation is made, not after one has stayed at the hotel. And apparently the hotel folks are maintaining this is standard operating procedure for all hotel, which is of course a contemptible lie. I feel sorry for the Archon folks, since it's really not their fault the hotel is suddenly acting like dicks. However, I think if the hotel is giving them that much trouble now, that they're not going to be much more helpful at the time of the actual convention, and I'm not sure I need to spend several hundred dollars to go somewhere I'm not wanted.

Aside from conventioneering, I'm giving some thought to attempting some sort of tour thingie around the release of The Last Colony, which would mean sometime in May or June. This is all very nebulous in my head at the moment, and among other things I would need to talk to the Tor folks about it. And it would require me to be organized, and we all know how that goes. So, really, you should kind of ignore this paragraph entirely. It's just me typing random brain squeezings.

Back on the convention front, I did have a nice thing happen last night, which was that I was invited to be the Guest of Honor at a science fiction convention of some note. Rather unfortunately the convention is happening on one of the only two weekends in 2007 in which I can't wiggle out of my plans. So I had to turn down the offer. But still: Cool. Nice to be wanted, you know?

Posted by john at November 9, 2006 11:40 AM

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Ann S. | November 9, 2006 12:01 PM

Oooh, Minneapolis! Yes, please come visit us. After lurking here for more than five years, it would be fun to hear you in full blatheration mode! We have libraries, and book stores, and convention centers, and.....and.....stuff!

theophylact | November 9, 2006 12:02 PM

Well, I thought LeGuin's The Dispossessed was a best-seller. And one could argue that The Stars My Destination was one, too.

Ron | November 9, 2006 12:03 PM

Ooooh, first comment. The power to direct the thread however I choose. BwahahahaHAHAHA.

Discussion topic: Britney's divorcing K-Fed!

Crap! Ann S. just beat me!

Ron | November 9, 2006 12:03 PM

Well, darnitall.

I like how the Military SF Panel is in the Freedom Ballroom. How appropriate.

Claire | November 9, 2006 12:08 PM

Dragon*Con officially rocks. You should go. The people-watching alone is worth it. I highly recommend playing "geek bingo", which a friend of mine and I developed to counteract the inevitable boredom that strikes while waiting in line for things.

Trust me, you haven't lived till you've shrieked "mullet!" at an unsuspecting Stormtrooper.

Jon | November 9, 2006 12:18 PM

Notes: Leaving aside the issue of military science fiction entirely, has pacifist-oriented SF ever sold?

I thought James White's Sector General series (which extols the virtues of both pacifism and vegetarianism) sold quite well.

It may have helped that he was an excellent writer, of course.

Therese Norén | November 9, 2006 12:22 PM

The rest of the time I'm sure I'll be in the lobby or bar or dealer's room, poking Charlie Stross with a spoon to keep him awake.

Damn this Atlantic thingy! I wanna watch!

Jon | November 9, 2006 12:25 PM

As an aside, I'd be very interested in detailed summary of the Military SF panel.

Especially as I'm trying to write something more-or-less in the genre for NaNoWriMo.

Ian Randal Strock | November 9, 2006 12:28 PM

Man, everyone's posting their Philcon schedules, and now I'm jealous I can't go. Instead, I'll be headed to your neck of the country. My wife and I are driving out to visit her parents in Kettering from the Friday of Philcon to the Sunday following Thanksgiving. Any cool things happening in the area (other than you'll be out of town) to break up the family time I'll be having?

Kate Nepveu | November 9, 2006 12:36 PM

Ah. We hadn't registered for Boskone yet.

That is now fixed. Hotel room too, even.

Dan Cordell | November 9, 2006 12:43 PM

My "first thoughts" as reading through the panel descriptions:


If the topic is on Military Sci-Fi, what does pacifism have to do with it? Can a book even BE pacifistic military sci-fi? That sounds utterly absurd (not to mention self-contradicting), though I won't discount that someone could write a compelling novel about it... and that many more could write godawful novels about it as well.


Whiskey tango foxtrot? Who thinks this shit up?


That sounds very cool--having a degree in Astrophysics myself I always like it when writers get things right.


How do we go about recruiting new readers?

Keep writing good books, duh. It'd also help if more parents would read to their kids (like my wonderful mother did for me)--I don't think there's any better way to get kids into reading.

Tim Walker | November 9, 2006 12:50 PM

John -- A general item and a specific one.

General: Yowza, you're heavily booked on panels for this thing - which, as I recall, you were for Worldcon as well. Intentional? Sell more books that way? Bigger vent to the ego? Or can you not say no to the nice organizers? Some combination of all of these? Enough questions in a row yet here?

Specific re the solar-system panel/discussion: Will this include a fistfight between you and Westerfeld? Or anyone from the IAU? Because there's still time for me to rearrange my schedule, buy plane tickets, etc.

Dan | November 9, 2006 12:58 PM

It's been my perception that Japan seems to have a lot of influence on Science Fiction writers. So, I wonder if and how it would impact your writing. Then again, the smashing together of occidental and oriental cultures in SF is kind of cliche, huh?

Ah well... I'm just typing out loud at this point.

Jon Hansen | November 9, 2006 01:11 PM

Despite the fact that it's my local convention, I've never been to DragonCon, as the Klingon contengent is a bit too thick on the ground for my tastes. But if you come and decide you need someone to go to dinner with one night, gimme a holler.

Jay Lake | November 9, 2006 01:18 PM

Actually, it IS the Archon folks' fault the hotel are being dickheads, in that the Archon concom signed a bad contract. Most hotel contracts for conventions specify the details of room holds, precharges, cancellation dates, etc.

Stephen G | November 9, 2006 01:31 PM

Speaking as one of the tech geeks who helps out with Dragon*con, you'd be more than welcome. And, yes, it's pretty crazy in that giant-hordes-of-fandom way.

JC | November 9, 2006 01:54 PM

I think of The Forever War as pacificist military SF.

Kristy | November 9, 2006 01:57 PM

Agree on the insane fun that is Dragon*Con.

Humbly submit the Pacific Northwest for your TLC tour.

Mark | November 9, 2006 02:02 PM

The Nasfic hotel sounds like a nightmare for the con committee. Jay Lake is right that the usual negotiated contract covers most everything (how many trash barrels in heavily trafficked areas etc.) and certainly cancellation dates, etc.

Looks like I'm more likely to be going to Japan than I thought.

Catherine | November 9, 2006 02:09 PM

I'll add my vote to you heading to Dragon*Con. it is usually the only con I can gt to andd I love the cosumuing and author panels... I'd love to see what you can add to that mix.

Brandon | November 9, 2006 02:33 PM

I agree with the various Dragon*Con suggestions. That's my neck of the woods after all and I've been looking for a reason to go to that convention. Even if I can't make it to the con, I'll buy you a beer at one of our fine drinking establishments.

cherie priest | November 9, 2006 02:47 PM

OMG YES! Come to DragonCon! COME TO THE CON OF THE DRAGONS, YES! That reminds me, I need to make my reservations/plane tickets (or perhaps I'll wait until I get paid ...)

Djscman | November 9, 2006 02:59 PM

On pacifist SF: I've kind of thought that all those post-apocalyptic books and movies, like Alas, Babylon and A Canticle For Leibowitz, might have kept us (in real life) from stepping over the nuclear brink. It's hard to follow the American Dream when your kid's face is sliding off from radiation burns. That is, the only way to win is not to play. Isn't that pacifist?

Whether that's still extant or not, I dunno. There are still plenty of stories and movies where a token warmonger character can't help but mess everything up for everyone.

Stephen G | November 9, 2006 03:00 PM

Regardless of Scalzi coming to D*C or not, clearly a group of us need to meet up at some point at the 2007 convention. Y'all can find me: I'm the guy with a shaved head who's wearing a black t-shirt, a radio and a head-set.

...what, you mean there are scads of people who fit that description? Fine: I'm the one who isn't in a Utilikilt.

mensley | November 9, 2006 03:55 PM

I'd also like to attend an SF convention in the South...

I'm going to try out MidSouthCon in Memphis this coming March 23-25.

I've never actually been to a con, so I thought I'd get my feet wet with a smaller regional one before attempting one of the big ones.

Miscellaneous Steve | November 9, 2006 04:10 PM

Humbly submit the Pacific Northwest for your TLC tour.

Seconded. How about a little stop over at Norwescon sometime, too?

I'm trying to write something more-or-less in the genre for NaNoWriMo.

My NaNoWriMo project has been sideswiped by the cold I picked up three days ago. I'm still writing, but my output has slowed and I'm falling behind. Also, NyQuil has influenced some of the decisions I've made in an...uh...interesting way.

Rachel | November 9, 2006 04:31 PM

Oh. You should go to dragon*con! It is really fun, and yes, a bit crazy. Anywhere where you can get into an elevator and find yourself standing inbetween a Wookie, Legolas, and 'pimp' Willie Wonka is probably a safe place to call crazy. But It's fun, and that's what matters.

And, it's in my city, so yeah. I'm not partial.

Oh, and just to add to your inventory of reasons why having free samples online is a really good way of garnering fans, I might mention that I first found this blogishthing about 2 days ago. I finished Agent To the Stars last night (mind you, that's fast. especially considering I also studied for my AP unit test, wrote an essay on The Scarlet Letter and wrote up a science fair paper all in those 2 days). I am now thoroghly addicted to your writing (I tend to cling to writers I like. It's an added plus that you write Sci-Fi Comedy, which is what I write most of the time), and I'm planning on buying one or another of your books this weekend. And I'm bringing you up at the local 'teen advisory board' meeting as someone we should do a book club or at least some sort of a flyer on.

So, yeah. Just thought I'd mention that.

SFC SKI | November 9, 2006 04:37 PM

I can't imagine enjoying pacifist military SF, but I'd like to see a good author prove it can be done. I have to applaud David Drake and Joe Haldeman as examples of writers whose military SF works don't shy away from describing the brutality of war, but they sure don't glamorize it.

As for SF being right ot left, I think there is enough variety to say SF can please just anout anyone who wants to bring their politics to reading. I read to get away from politics. I too hope for some detailed summaries form this panel. Sidenote, Joe Haldeman did some writer's seminars for OEF/OIF veterans which I attended, and I wouldn't say he is a pacifist, but he is wary of endorsing any war strictly on a govenment's say-so. "The Forever War" is definitely not pro-war. I can only say from my experience that war is the last, best option in dealing with a situation, and history has also proven that failing to wage war early on, or in half measure, has often made the consequences worse.

The Free Stuff? I read "Agent to the Stars" on this website, after purchasing "Old Man's War". Between those 2 examples, I am prepared to purchase John's other works without reading reviews. The Baen Free Library has also encouraged me to buy a lot of other books as well.

I suppose their is little chance for a "RamadiCon". Which reminds me, I'd like to know if you meet any SF fans or authors from the Middle East. In Egypt, I found a pulp printing of the original "Star Wars" in Arabic. I'd love to find more SF in that language.

Rachel | November 9, 2006 04:47 PM

By the way, did anyone who went to D*C two years ago go to the fan movies thing? I wanted to. If so, did you see 'Once Upon a Jedi'? Great flick. Not that I'm partial because I was an extra-who-got-her-one-line-cut in it or anything. But still.

The only compliants I have about D*C are:
1. I have no utilikilt. Curses
2. I never have a good costume Idea
3. The writing thingy isn't free
4. According to the parentals, I'm too young for most things, and I'm only allowed to go for one of the days. Stupid parentals.

Peter | November 9, 2006 05:30 PM

Forever Peace is even more overt with its pacifist message than Forever War, too.

Lee | November 9, 2006 05:46 PM

After lurking and posting comments on this blog for some time, I can't get rid of this word association in my mind - Scalzi - cat - bacon. This is weird and I hope you don't try the following just to prove the experts are wrong or if they indeed have nine lives.


JC | November 9, 2006 05:46 PM

Sidenote, Joe Haldeman did some writer's seminars for OEF/OIF veterans which I attended, and I wouldn't say he is a pacifist, but he is wary of endorsing any war strictly on a govenment's say-so.

Note that I didn't say that I think Joe Haldeman is a pacifist. (Honestly, I have no idea.) What I said was that I think The Forever War is a work of pacifist military SF.

Those two statements are not equivalent.

Lee | November 9, 2006 06:00 PM


You should go to Japan and savor the culture that gave us Godzilla, ninjas and other fantasy nightmares. If anything, the aging population of Japan will probably be receptive to your "Old Man's War" especially those who still dream of imperial glory. Remember, they are the only ones who have seen and experienced the catastrophe of a nuclear bomb. On the other hand, you will also experience the beauty of simplicity. Since you are a gadget freak your head will explode when you go to the Akihabara district and become an "otaku".

You can mellow out and go to one of the hot springs and get a relaxing massage (just don't give all the details to Krissy).

Rachel | November 9, 2006 07:39 PM

I forgot to mention- Although I cannot say I've acutally really experienced more than a tidbit of Japan, I did stay in the Tokyo airport for about 45 minutes while waiting for a conection flight to Bejing, and again while waiting for a flight back to the U.S. From what I saw, it's rediculously interesting. Their news chanel looked like a children's television show, with bubble letters and pastel colors everywhere. Everything was cutsie, almost more so than Disney, if that gives you a clue. At any rate, their airport personel are very very friendly and perky, especially seeing as how it was 3:00 am there. Admittedly, after my 27 hour plane ride there, I probably would have thought a brick wall to be perky.

Josh Jasper | November 9, 2006 09:29 PM

Notes: Leaving aside the issue of military science fiction entirely, has pacifist-oriented SF ever sold?

Spider Robinson's Stardancer books.

David | November 9, 2006 10:37 PM

Nancy Kress's novels Crucible and Crossfire presented some very intelligent and sympathetic pacifists. I'm not sure whether I'd say the novels themselves were pacifistic, but they made pacifism seem a lot more reasonable than it did before I read them.

Roger | November 9, 2006 10:42 PM

"to bother with next year's NASFIC (Archon 31), because apparently the Holiday Inn at which it will be is making attendees do fairly ridiculous things to reserve a room, like send a photocopy of both sides of their credit card; also the hotel is charging the cards for the reservation when the reservation is made, not after one has stayed at the hotel."

What a load of [insert expletive] I work at a motel. The only time we need a copy of the credit card is when the person is not going to have the credit card with them on arrival and wants to use that same credit card. Otherwise we can charge a No Show without the credit card in hand. Otherwise we accept the payment method they have at arrival. If they'd said something about having problems with this particular conference and needing something to protect themselves, then it would be another matter, but...

Scorpio | November 9, 2006 11:57 PM

Pacifist SF: _Still Forms on Foxfield_ -- Quaker SF by Jan Slonczewski. Same with _Door into Ocean_, only moreso.

And then there is _The Gate to Women's Country_ -- both pacifist and feminist; and pretty well known. Sherri Tepper, of course. Also her _Raising the Stones_ is pretty pacifistic.

So there is some out there, and it's not exactly obscure.

mensley | November 10, 2006 12:32 AM

... has pacifist-oriented SF ever sold?

Um, the mind boggles... I'll second the above noted Haldeman, Robinson, Tepper, and Kress.

I'd like to add Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Doris Lessing, Ray Bradbury, Walter Miller, Ursula K. LeGuin, and then I'll stop and realize that we haven't really talked about what we all mean by "pacifist-oriented" SF.

So, what do me mean by that?

Anthony Cunnigham | November 10, 2006 08:23 AM

Please post a picture of you poking Charlie with a spoon when you get back from Philcon.

Greg | November 10, 2006 09:15 AM

Somehow, I'm a panelist:

Fri 8:00 PM in Parlor B (1 hour)

Greg | November 10, 2006 10:47 AM

And somehow I suck at HTML tags.

Hugh Casey | November 10, 2006 11:39 AM

Can't wait to see you at Philcon!

I really... REALLY wanted you for the blogging panel that I created (I'm on the programming committee), but there was a scheduling conflict, dammit. Ah, well. Perhaps next year, if you like us and want to come back.

See you then!

-et- | November 10, 2006 12:11 PM

"the Holiday Inn at which it will be is making attendees do fairly ridiculous things to reserve a room, like send a photocopy of both sides of their credit card; also the hotel is charging the cards for the reservation when the reservation is made, not after one has stayed at the hotel.""

This seems to be a problem with Holiday Inn and large group meetings, although not all of them do this. For example, the Holiday Inn in Lisbon, Portugal did that this spring for an annual technical conference put on by the SAE. When the same conference was held in Frankfurt, Germany two years ago, no unusual credit-card nonsense was imposed.

Given that the SAE arranges a large number (probably 100+) of technical conferences each year at hotels all over the U.S. and the rest of the world, and that I was using the corporate credit-card of a Fortune 25 company, I found it incredible that Holiday Inn Lisbon pre-charged my card when I registered, even after I had argued with them on the phone. After going through this at a SAE conference, I am not surprised to hear that they are doing it at a Con.

With best wishes,
- Tom -

j_e_richards | November 10, 2006 05:14 PM

You need to do MARCON...Memorial Day weekend in Columbus

Steve Buchheit | November 10, 2006 06:20 PM

j_e_richards, MARCON normally conflicts with WisCon.

Say, Scalzi, was I on drugs or did you post earlier that you were tapped to be Toastmaster for ConFusion, 'cause you ain't on their website?

John Scalzi | November 10, 2006 06:29 PM

I'll be toastmaster in 2008.

Steve Buchheit | November 10, 2006 08:48 PM

You know, after I asked that question, I sat down to dinner and had that Gobsmack moment of "D'uh!" Yep, remembered that, sorry, must have been the drugs, or lack there of.

Claude Muncey | November 11, 2006 02:39 PM

Concerning the possible TLC tour, I would strongly support a stop in Fresno for the official John Scalzi Triumphant Return ceremonies involving being carried on the shoulders of a cheering crowd to your interview (front page placement, of course) at the Fresno Bee.

Or something like that.

Steve Bainbridge | November 13, 2006 12:38 AM

Think reading/signing on the Westside of Los Angeles. You can gloat about the lection all you want.

Magenta Griffith | November 13, 2006 10:11 AM

It would be great if you came here. Minneapolis is lovely in the spring. Come to Minicon 42, April 6-8 2007. Charles DeLint and Charles Vess are the GoHs. For more information go to http://www.mnstf.org/minicon/minicon42/

Matt Jarpe | November 15, 2006 10:26 AM

I was just looking into NASFIC last night. My first novel (RADIO FREEFALL, Tor) comes out next summer and I want to be at a big con when it hits the street. The Holiday Inn dickery is just too much. I can probably take a couple of taxis a day for the difference in price for the offsite hotel.

I was on a panel on Astronomy and Science Fiction at Capclave and we spent about 15 minutes on Pluto. People didn't seem as worked up about it as I thought they'd be. I moderated and I did try to steer the conversation towards a tour of the solar system, but my panelists didn't want to be steered. Then again, I guess it was astronomy and not planetology.

As for a con in the west, have you considered Bubonicon? There are a ton of SF writers in New Mexico. It's got a lot of big names for a little con. I'm making it part of my book promotion tour, partly because I've got free lodging, with four houses to choose from.

Alex Avriette | November 15, 2006 08:26 PM

John, I think Mr. Banks does a reasonable job of portraying a society without a pressing need for war. In particular, Look to Windward portrays the whole notion as sort of archaic and stupid. While those big shiny ships of his are always trying to find somebody to zap, it's usually comedic, rather than the focus of the book (indeed, even in The Algebraist, he takes a moment to describe a villain who doesn't just use nuclear weapons, he creates ART with nuclear weapons).

Just a thought. Active pacification? No, I don't think I've ever read anything like that in SF. On the other hand, I don't think we as people have any especially successful pacifist period, so what would the author draw from to describe same? It seems to me that the notion is just untenable.

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