« 25 Copies of Coffee Shop Available; The Future of Coffee Shop | Main | The Winner of the "Come Up With a Contest to Give Away a Copy of 'Coffee Shop'" Contest! »

March 01, 2007

This Entry is All About Me (As if All the Others Aren't)

Actually, it's all about my books and stuff, which means it's about my output, rather than me directly. But that's close enough for government work.

* My personal copies of the French version of Old Man's War have arrived and I'm quite pleased -- finally, a foreign-language version that I can sort of, kind of read! Seriously, it's surprising to me how much of the text I can puzzle out; naturally it helps quite a bit that it's a translation of my own work, so I always have a vague idea of what's supposed to be going on anyway. One thing I like is how much nicer stuff sounds in French. The French translation of BrainPal, for example: "Amicerveau." Excellent. From what I can puzzle out the translation appears pretty good, so thanks to translator Bernadette Emerich for that.

I'm also pleased to find out the cover is in fact original artwork for the book; it's done by Didier Florentz, who has posted a picture of the whole art on his Web site. It's inspired by the Special Forces attack on Coral in the last couple of chapters of the book, and you know what? It's just damn cool. I sent him an e-mail thanking him and asking him if he had a print I could get from him; I hope he reads English.

The French version of the book is available in Canada, incidentally, so you Francophones up there who have a desire to read me in your native tongue now have a way to do it. Have fun with that, you crazy kids!

* Whatever reader Patrick Vera informs me that the Japanese Amazon site has up the cover art for the Japanese version of Old Man's War, and here it is:

Patrick surmised that this is meant to be taken from the Battle of Coral, and I agree. And look! They're green! As they're supposed to be. The Japanese version of the book, so far as I can tell via Babelfish, is supposed to be out on April 30.

* The SFSite has up reviews of not one but two of my books: The Android's Dream and Coffee Shop. The reviewer for TAD (Peter D. TIllman) is very happy with the book:

This is a pretty near perfect light planetary romance, ending splendidly with all the Bad Biters badly-bit, and the Good Guys (and Girl) well-rewarded. Really a wonderfully entertaining book -- definitely a keeper. This is my second John Scalzi novel -- I liked Old Man's War, but that was apprentice work, compared to The Android's Dream.

The Coffee Shop review is not as glowy -- the reviewer (Paul Kincaid) does not agree with all my points -- but is generally positive:

What is particularly unusual and refreshing about this book, and about Scalzi's whole take on writing, is that he does not confine himself to the writing of fiction. This is not a book that follows the old, old pattern of taking us through the various stages of worldbuilding, character creation, dialogue and the like -- in fact Scalzi treats all these with a studied disinterest. For him, writing includes journalism, writing for web sites, even advertising, all of which he does or has done. From these skills (normally not even mentioned in such books) he learns very different lessons from those usually passed on to novelists, lessons about meeting the deadline and fitting the brief which infuse this book.

I think it's interesting that Kincaid notes how little the business end of writing gets discussed in writing books for novelists; I think he's correct, and I think that while there's certainly nothing wrong with a focus on the art of writing, a little more about the business of things wouldn't kill novelists (and aspiring novelists) to read and know.

* Whoops, I missed this when I first posted the entry: The Ghost Brigades anchors SFSite's Best SF and Fantasy Books of 2006: Readers' Choice list, in there with books by Vernor Vinge, Charlie Stross, Peter Watts, Naomi Novik and Scott Lynch, whose Lies of Locke Lamora takes the #1 spot. Cool. There's also the notation at the bottom of the page that suggests that I might have been ranked even higher if I didn't have more than one book out in the year of contention (The Android's Dream and Old Man's War are specified). These are the risks you take, and I'm happy to take them.

* Finally, if you happened to lose your copy of The Android's Dream on a recent Korean Air Lines flight, I want to thank you, because you helped me pick up a new fan, as this e-mail I received yesterday details:

I was flying back to the U.S. from Hong Kong last week, and had to change planes at Seoul. A copy of your book The Android's Dream was on the seat next to mine for the trans-pacific leg of the flight. I kept waiting for the owner to show up, but he/she never did. Once they shut the doors I appropriated it, thinking it must be an interview with Phillip K. Dick, and had to be better than reading the Skymall catalog.
Aside from brief pauses to eat I did not put that thing down for 12 hours. That book was exceptional. Robin's dialogue in particular had me laughing out loud and disturbing people all around me who were trying to sleep.
Unable to thank whoever left the book on the KAL flight I thought I'd thank you. So thank you.

Excellent. Although I'm sorry someone lost their copy of TAD -- unless this is part of some joint Tor Books-Korean Air Lines effort to expand the audience for science fiction on trans-Pacific flights. In which case: Mission accomplished, folks. Mission accomplished.

Posted by john at March 1, 2007 11:17 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Captain Button | March 1, 2007 12:28 PM

Just in case you hadn't noticed, your old classmate Ken Hite has given you a generally positive review:


That said, Old Man's War is a good, solid pull from the Campbell-Heinlein flask, interestingly cut with some newer caskings. Well worth your $7.99, and your five-to-ten hours.

John Scalzi | March 1, 2007 12:34 PM

He's not my classmate; he was in graduate school when I was in college. But we were pretty good friends back in the day, and I'm always happy to see him on the rare occasion I do. I keep hoping we'll cross paths at a convention or two.

I did see the review, and I'm glad he liked it.

Chang, father of pangolins | March 1, 2007 12:42 PM

Wow, that artwork is the shit! Really cool! It fits totally with what I imagined the worlds of OMW and TGB to look like.

I hope that i someday get published and the artwork for my book looks like something out of the book: Uplifted hypersexual koalas uprising against humans so they can uplift tortoises and have sex with them.

I know, I know, Charlie Stross did it already, but I'm going to make it more American.

Paul | March 1, 2007 12:43 PM

Traveller 1: "Did you lose your book?"

Traveller 2: "Nah. I got almost all the way through the first chapter, and realised that the whole damn thing was just one long fart joke, so I left the stupid book on the plane."

Kate | March 1, 2007 01:05 PM

I love the art as well. When I clicked on the link to Didier's site, and tried to save as a desktop background, I got the following message:

Les images de ce site song copyright Didier Florentz, merci de votre comprehension!

Which I'm assuming translates into: These are copyrighted images on Didier Florentz site, thank you for your understanding.

If I got that right, I'm amazed that my five years of french has allowed me to understand atleast the gist of things and to say: Ou est le salle de bains (Where is the bathroom), Je suis Kathryn(I am Kathryn), Sacre Fromage (Holy Cheese), and Merde!

If you can get either of those pieces of art in high rez background images, please let us know.

Jeff | March 1, 2007 01:07 PM

You had me guffawing in the break room today, John. TAD is great, it takes considerable talent to write good humorous fiction.

ship | March 1, 2007 01:31 PM

like the artwork. leave it to the japanese to give jane sagan hooters like a playboy playmate though; and am i imagining things, or can you see nipples through her body armor?

Kelsey | March 1, 2007 01:32 PM

Regarding the Korean art - I never imagined the OMW universe to be so sexy. It looks as if some aliens are about to be killed and then some sort of playful mounting will take place.

Can we learn about these other cultures by what artwork they choose to use for OMW? I think Chang should write us up a thesis.

Ray | March 1, 2007 01:33 PM

You mentioned you are reading the French edition of OMW. Are you finding that anything is getting lost in the translation? A lot of times watching American movies with German subtitles the dialogue is not even remotely close.

anghara | March 1, 2007 01:42 PM

Just FYI, I am now the proud possessor of copy#415 of the limited numbered signed edition of the Coffee Shop book - and it's a delight.

I don't plan on leaving it on any airplanes. At all.

John Scalzi | March 1, 2007 01:42 PM


I don't read or speak French with any sort of facility at all, but from what I can see just skimming, it pretty much seems that what I wrote is in there. There are a few changes that i've noticed, mostly relating to slang and idiom, which is to be expected in a translation. Overall, it seems fine. Someone who understands French and English both would have to take a look and tell me what they think, however. It's certain I'm not getting the full picture.


You're imagining things.

However, remember that in the book, all of the soldiers (not withstanding being green) are meant to be very attractive, so it's not entirely out of line with the text.

Alexandre Lemieux | March 1, 2007 01:54 PM

"Amicerveau"... (Shivers) I'm not sure if I like it, but I rarely like translated terms like that, which is why I usually don't bother reading translations. Congratulation for the French translation, anyway! I really like the cover art, as well as the one from the Japanese edition.

Maybe the book in that Korean Air Line plane was a book from bookcrossing.com.

Nathan | March 1, 2007 02:24 PM

I just dropped in here after reading Making Light's offering about the Boston P.D. Bomb Squad blowing up more stuff that wasn't dangerous.

Then I get introduced to bookcrossing.com here.

I can see this leading to fireworks in Boston.

Christian | March 1, 2007 02:34 PM

> If you can get either of those pieces of
> art in high rez background images, please
> let us know.

I second Kate's request! If Mr. Florentz is kind enough to give you a high rez version, please give us a taste of pixel love too!


PS - I'd love the Japanese cover art too!

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | March 1, 2007 03:23 PM

I'll have you know KAL charged us plenty for that "special placement."

It's a package deal. The empty trans-Pacific airline seats come bundled with empty seats on certain Utah ski lifts, empty pews in selected shrinking Protestant denominations, and empty chairs in several white-collar prison cafeterias.

Book marketing is more arcane than you can possibly imagine.

Liz B | March 1, 2007 03:33 PM

Reprints should have the blurb: "... better than reading the SkyMall catalog." SkyMall is awesome! ;)

Steve Buchheit | March 1, 2007 03:46 PM

John Sclazi, read in more White-Collar Prisons than John Grisham!

strugglingwriter | March 1, 2007 04:47 PM

Picked up Coffee Shop and enjoying that and looking forward to buying The Android's Dream. Must finish Coffee Shop first..addicted to books :)

Charlie | March 1, 2007 06:06 PM

I feel like the Japanese cover is meant to evoke Masamune Shirow - which is fairly appropriate, since Shirow is arguably the Heinlein of manga.

Given that, compared to Shirow's art, it's pretty damn restrained!

Jon Baker | March 1, 2007 08:28 PM

Not sure I like the French translation of the title. "The Old Man and the War." The possessive got lost. Brings to mind sort of a Hemingway pastiche, no?

Greg Lescoe | March 1, 2007 08:42 PM

Whee! Here comes the analysis of the Japanese title! Basically, the translation comes out to, in direct and inelegant literalness, "Old Man and Sky," except that "sky" is written such that the meaning is "outer space," but there are phonetic characters written by the word for "outer space" that mean "sky."

Yeah, it's complex. Not a very good new title, but I guess it works. : P

Old Jarhead | March 1, 2007 08:53 PM

"like the artwork. leave it to the japanese to give jane sagan hooters like a playboy playmate though; and am i imagining things, or can you see nipples through her body armor?"

Don't forget what they are wearing is described in TGB as a "unitard" which is composed of nanos which change the properties of said unitard depending on the situation. It isn't body armor on a 24/7 basis.

Besides, maybe its real cold on Coral!

Old Jarhead

Martin Langeland | March 1, 2007 08:56 PM

"One thing I like is how much nicer stuff sounds in French."
This reminds me of a quote from our fellow O-hi-yan:

"He's having all of his books translated into French. They lose something in the original."
-- James Thurber

Fortunately yours don't miss a thing in the original.

Steve Buchheit | March 1, 2007 09:52 PM

Hey, I didn't know the Empee (MP?) was a bullpup configuration.

Patrick Vera | March 1, 2007 10:49 PM

I always imagined the Empee to resemble a bullpup configured weapon. Makes it much more handy and compact. And since the Empee is a caseless weapon there is no hot flying brass in the face for left-handed shooters.

FYI- A bullpup configured weapon is one where the magazine or ammunition feed port of said weapon is located behind the trigger. The main advantage of this it allows for a much more compact weapon while retaining full-length barrels for better accuracy and stopping power.

The biggest disadvantage of bullpup guns is that the ejection ports tend to be on the right hand side of almost every gun they fling very hot brass. Thus for left handed shooters their face would cover the ejection port.

Examples of bullpup guns are the Austrian Steyr AUG, the British SA80, the French FAMAS and Belgian F2000 and P90.

Soren | March 1, 2007 11:05 PM

...since Shirow is arguably the Heinlein of manga.

Complete with the mid-career segue into, well, porn. Or at least a sharp and offputting increase in the ratio of psychosexual weirdness to interesting material.

I'd take the Japanese cover over what Baen would have used anyday.

John Scalzi | March 1, 2007 11:08 PM

I've often wondered what OMW would have looked like with a Baen cover.

Tania | March 1, 2007 11:18 PM

Congratulations Scalzi! You made the top 10 Readers Choice on SF Site.

Ok, you're number 10. But it's still the top 10.

kirulya | March 2, 2007 12:04 PM

Dear Mr. Scalzi,
I have read your book in Russian translation, and really liked it.
I would be happy to read your other books.
Here is a part of my blog (in Russian), where I tell people about you and promote your books.

Wish you the best,
kirulya from Israel.

Gwen | March 3, 2007 01:16 PM

empty pews in selected shrinking Protestant denominations

The Android's Dream: funnier than the Bible!

Paul M. | March 5, 2007 11:11 AM

pnh: Dangit! Now I need to go out to Alta/Snowbird and the other areas and make sure I ride EVERY SINGLE chair in the state. And just think of all that horrible powder I should pack down while making sure none of the pacement copies of TAD get tossed into the panty trees.

Post a comment.

Comments are moderated to stop spam; if your comment goes into moderation, it may take a couple of hours to be released. Please read this for my comment moderation policies.
Preview will not show paragraph breaks. Trust me, they're there.
The proprietor generally responds to commenters in kind. If you're polite, he'll be polite. If you're a jackass, he'll be a jackass. If you are ignorant, he may correct you.
When in doubt, read the comment thread rules.

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)