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April 12, 2007

TLC and Other Stuff

tlc0412.jpg

With five days to go before its official release, The Last Colony is beginning to slip out into the wild; here it is at the Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio, as photographed by Jeff Hentosz. Jeff admits to positioning the book for maximum photogenics; I have no problem with that so long as it remained face out, high shelf after he was done (the face-out Old Man's War, I am told, was there already). But yes -- if you've been waiting for the book, it's beginning to get out there.

On the subject, here's a review of TLC at Fantasybookspot.com, which is nice and positive (although contains at least one minor spoiler): "I dare you to put the novel aside in the final 100 pages!" the review says, although without the exclamation mark, which I put in because I suspect that's what Tor's marketing folks will do once they get their hands on it. The reviewer has quibbles, but notes "with the quick and fun flow of the book, it’s easy to ignore these flaws." See, now, that's an actual compliment. I think nearly every book has flaws of some sort or another, but if your reader is going "eh, I'm having too much fun to complain," you're doing something right. Yes, I'm an expert at distracting you from my shortcomings! Look! Fluffy kittens!

Also out, an amusing and very positive review of The Ghost Brigades at the Agony Column, in which Rick Kleffel notes "you may want to go out and shove this book down the gullet of some Hollowood types who are without doubt making, bad stupid space movies when they could be filming Scalzi's work." I do appreciate the sentiment, although I would note that actually, physically attempting ram this or any other book past a movie producer's epiglottis is likely to cause that producer to have traumatic associations with the title, further reducing its chances of being produced.

Now, as it happens, there has been interest from Hollywood regarding these books, which is nice. We're waiting for a deal that makes sense for us. Other than that I can't say much, except to tell you not to get too excited. Strange are the ways of Hollywood, and slow. And I have no intention of being a cheap date.

Moving away from me for a moment: Kurt Vonnegut is dead from brain injuries from a fall. This is why, when I turn 70, I'm moving to a single level house. I don't have too much to say about his passing, other than that the man was brilliant and despite that, I enjoyed many of his books. Funny how being brilliant doesn't always equate to creating books that are good reads. This wasn't much of a problem for Vonnegut. Something for other brilliant authors to note and learn, hopefully.

Finally, this comment came in today in the Lee Iacocca thread, from Hirotami Hirano, in Japan:

I also lost my wife last month.
I read "Oldman's war" at a crematory.
Our marriage life was just so as in that.

Mr. Hirano, I am honored that my words spoke to you in that moment. You are in my thoughts.

Posted by john at April 12, 2007 08:16 AM

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Comments

Steve Buchheit | April 12, 2007 08:55 AM

Fluffy Kittens! Where?! Aw, dang, bought another book. I always fall for the fluffy kittens ploy.

So it goes.

Michael J. Lowrey | April 12, 2007 10:22 AM

You notice the NY Times couldn't resist the chance to sneer at SF in Vonnegut's obit?

"Some critics said he had invented a new literary type, infusing the science-fiction form with humor and moral relevance and elevating it to serious literature."

Because everybody knows science fiction never did anything serious like that before or since, and that he would have been more worthy of respect if he'd written mimetic novels about the internal angst of middle-aged white male professors in some Northeastern university town.

Damn it, couldn't they at least resist the yearning to p*ss on the poor bastard in his GRAVE?

Shawn Powers | April 12, 2007 10:48 AM

Congrats on the emergence of The Last Colony. I just finished The Ghost Brigades, so the timing couldn't be better (for me).

I read quite a few reviews that painted The Ghost Brigades as a good book, but not as good as Old Man's War. I guess it's proof that different books affect people in different ways, because I thought TGB had characterization at least as good as OMW. I did want to know more about the alien races -- but I figure that's just because you made them interesting enough that I wanted to know more about them.

Anywho, I look forward to The Last Colony. I'm glad the date is fast approaching. :)

Bruce | April 12, 2007 10:49 AM

awright John, I have to know. Did you know 'epiglottis' or did you have to look that one up?

John Scalzi | April 12, 2007 10:52 AM

I've known what an epiglottis is since at least the fourth grade, Bruce.

Bruce | April 12, 2007 10:57 AM

Wow, I guess my language skills are severely lacking then. That, or biology, as I didn't quite know where babies came from in the fourth grade.

Sorry if that question came across as offensive; I don't think I have ever heard that word before. BTW, I love OMW and AttS, I just finished the latter yesterday, and it was loads of fun!

Simon Haynes | April 12, 2007 11:07 AM

Thought you might like to know I'm reading (and thoroughly enjoying) OMW right now. Picked it up at Swancon over the weekend.

And now I'll have to buy TLC, dammit.

JJS | April 12, 2007 11:17 AM

I am not sure I would want to see movies to be made of any of your books. Hollywood's bastardization of science fiction in the past few years shows that they would have absolutely no respect for the story. They would "reimagine" the whole thing, resulting in 2 hours of crap.

John Scalzi | April 12, 2007 11:21 AM

Possibly. But on the other hand they would pay for my daughter's college education.

Shawn Powers | April 12, 2007 11:35 AM

What about the art man?!?!

Shawn Powers | April 12, 2007 11:37 AM

Hmm... I added fictitious "sarcasm" tags to that last comment. But they weren't shown. So this explanation should effectively kill any humor the comment might have held...

Bruce | April 12, 2007 11:50 AM

I dunno, I kinda would like to see a bunch of green people doing superhumanly things. I also would like to see the opening scene of OMW. I think that could be very touching visually.

Cassie | April 12, 2007 12:22 PM

The summer I turned 17, I read Vonnegut non-stop. Haven't picked him up again since, but he has a fondness in my heart for weeks of entertainment.

May he rest in peace.

Jim Wright | April 12, 2007 12:27 PM

I don't know - I'd like to see OMW as a movie, but doubt that Hollywood wouldn't screw it up. I mean really screw it up - Varley's Air Raid/Millennium and GRRM's Nightflyers come to mind as examples of how Hollywood can turn an excellent book into utter stinking crap (notice I didn't mention Heinlein and SST?)

On the other hand, I'd love to see TAD as a movie - just for the opening scene. Anybody else visualizing the "campfire" scene from Blazing Saddles, or is it just me?

John Scalzi | April 12, 2007 12:30 PM

Jim Wright:

Personally I think TAD is the book that is most easily adaptable to film as well, although most of my book have a pronounced three-act structure, which is the Hollywood standard.

It's worth noting re: Millennium that John Varley had an active role in its development, so we have to entertain the notion that adaptation is sometimes hard, for anyone.

Jim Wright | April 12, 2007 12:49 PM

John, Yep. As a side note, Varley is one of the most vocal critics of Millennium - I think he called it "an utter piece of shit."

Still, I'd love to see if anybody in Hollywood has the guts to play the opening scene in TAD exactly as you wrote it. I'd pay $12 bucks and drive all the way into Anchorage for that!

Andrew | April 12, 2007 12:52 PM

Dammit, I was just told I'd be getting TLC as a birthday present at the end of the month.

Natasha Samia | April 12, 2007 12:53 PM

"This is why, when I turn 70, I'm moving to a single level house"

http://www.nevadaappeal.com/article/20070126/NEWS/101260101. You may also want to get someone else to maintain your cars!

John Scalzi | April 12, 2007 12:55 PM

By the time I'm 70, they'll have self-driving cars. And all will be excellent.

Jim Wright | April 12, 2007 01:03 PM

they'll have self-driving cars.

We've got them now, they're called horses. At the rate we're going, in 70 years we may be back to them - and Congress will still be arguing about the energy bill.

Jeff Hentosz | April 12, 2007 01:17 PM

By the time you're 70 they'll have retirement communities on the moon. With PetSmarts and Targets and In-N-Outs. As we now know from the current FedEx commercial, you're completely weightless on the moon — so vastly-reduced chance of falling injuries.

Adam Rakunas | April 12, 2007 01:22 PM

By the time you're 70 they'll have retirement communities on the moon with...In-N-Outs.

The prospect of freeze-dried Double Doubles does not fill me with hope for the future.

Anonymous Coward | April 12, 2007 01:43 PM

I just re-read the first few pages of Old Man's War. It really is a very, very humble and loving eulogy. Your Japanese fan was very right to use them. They reflect well on you, as the first words of a new author.

Dot | April 12, 2007 02:12 PM

I first ran across Mr. Vonnegut's work in my high school library, and rapidly devoured anything else by him that I could find. It was quite a surprise to find his obit this morning on Nytimes.

I recently reread OMW and TGB. Really looking forward to TLC. May the postman be speedy.

Tim | April 12, 2007 03:18 PM

I'm glad to hear that your attracting some attention from Hollywood. Ever since I first read OMW I thought that it would translate very well into a movie (if they don't 're-imagine' it to death).

Old Jarhead | April 12, 2007 04:20 PM

The number of movies made from books where the movie on the screen was superior to the movie in my head is miniscule. I haven't said "I hope they make a movie out of that" in years because of the history of results.

Although I do watch Dune now and then just for the scene where the Navigator is wheeled in ensconced in the giant Iron Lung which is way cool.

And SST just so I can hoot and holler when Denise Richards, who has been speared through the shoulder and pinned to the ground is smiling and laughing and celebrating the capture of the Bug Queen a few minutes later.

And Alien just so I can FF and RW Sigourney Weaver in her t-shirt.

Jonathan Vos Post | April 12, 2007 06:20 PM

"Varley is one of the most vocal critics of Millennium."

Yes, but they did pay him for the option, and then pay him for his screenplay adapation of his novel.

After that, he earned at least $100,000 per screenplay for quite some time. The biggest risk, he said, was that if they actually shot any of those movies, and they did bad box office, he might be blamed. But if they never went into production, or never into distribution, his fees could stay the same.

Mr. Scalzi is a professional writer. Baby needs new shoes. Connect the dots.

Nathan | April 12, 2007 06:45 PM

they'll have self-driving cars.

When I was a kid, they assured me everyone would have a flying car by now. Feh!

Jim Wright | April 12, 2007 07:27 PM

Johnathan Vos Post: Agreed, I read Varley's blog too. He never blamed anybody but himself, I just mentioned it since Air Raid is one of my favorite Varley shorts, and I thought Millennium was a damned good expansion of the original story. And I was really looking forward to the movie - which was a piece of shit. Same thing with GRRM's Nightflyers, I loved that story - but the movie was even worse than Millennium, and I think GRRM was involved in it's development too.

I'm not saying that a novel can't be improved by a movie adaption: The Thirteenth Warrior is one of my favorite movies, ever, and I hated the book.

I just would hate to see an adaption of any of Scalzi's work that was poorly done. However, I would love to see OMW done well. But this is true of all of my favorites books - Ringworld, Nova, SST...

Joemedic | April 12, 2007 08:02 PM

"This is why, when I turn 70, I'm moving to a single level house"

Buy and sleep on a futon then. Most of the oldsters I pick up who end up with brain bleeds fell out of bed...

John Scalzi | April 12, 2007 08:06 PM

We already sleep close to the ground, actually (i.e., our box springs are on the floor).

Chang, for rizzle. | April 12, 2007 08:48 PM

Mrs. Chang and I sit here at Logan airport waiting for our flight which has been delayed 3 hours because of "weather." The harpy sitting across from our, though not visibly and expert at aviation, claims they should just be able to get her plane up if it's only raining (I heard something about ICE, not just rain). I kind of hope they get her plane up and away so we don't have to listen to her.

The worst part? The Borders her didn't have a copy of TLC. Snap and dag, I say! Snap and dag. Now we'll just have to each chocolate and share headphones. A very romantic time.

Joyce Reynolds-Ward | April 12, 2007 10:24 PM

Meanwhile, a dressage instructor that I saw get dumped by a fiesty warmblood when she was 72 just earned her Century award from the US Dressage Association (whatever the official title of the dang thing is these days, the Olympic folks keep playing with it.

Essentially, you earn a Century Award by riding in a dressage competition where the ages of you and the horse combined equal 100+.

The horse was 16 years old. The rider won her two classes (you don't have to win to earn the Century Award, you just have to successfully finish the test).

I want to earn a Century Award, m'self.

Oh, and when I started to learn to downhill ski last year, I made lots of noises about being old and starting at age 48--until one of the guys in our school group said "Oh yeah, I thought it was challenging when I started downhill skiing--at age 70."

Hokay.

My current plan is to stay as active as I can, for sure.

But I do miss Vonnegut. It's been awhile, but I started with Sirens of Titan and Cat's Cradle. Loved them.

JJS | April 12, 2007 11:37 PM

I read a lot of books by Kurt Vonnegut, but not all of them. My favorite of all was not a book, but a short story called "Who Am I This Time?" which is collected in Welcome to the Monkey House. Anyone else remember it?

Nikitta | April 13, 2007 03:46 AM

It wasn't the best news ever to wake up to yesterday, no. I had enjoyed both Cat's Cradle and Sirens of Titan and I was looking forwards to reading more of Kurt Vonnegut. I can still do that. In fact Slaughterhouse 5 is in my to-read pile right now, but it's still sad when one of the good ones die.

Cat's Cradle made me laugh out so loud in the train that it made people turn around and look at me funny. It also caused me to miss a couple of train stations.

In brighter news: I just saw that amazon.co.uk send me a mail yesterday to let me know that they've dispatched my order of The Last Colony. I expect it to arrive Monday or Tuesday.

thejaymo | April 13, 2007 08:28 AM

i work for Borders in the UK and so far the only Scalzi book we have seen is Androids Dream! havnt seen any of the others hardback or mass market! but when we do there will be photos!

dennis trainor | April 13, 2007 10:37 AM

thought you might like this short video tribute to Vonnegut (3:30)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9QvC9vE9uI

more info @ www.thehermitwithdavisfleetwood.com

dennis trainor | April 13, 2007 10:38 AM

thought you might like this short video tribute to Vonnegut (3:30)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9QvC9vE9uI

more info @ www.thehermitwithdavisfleetwood.com

dennis trainor | April 13, 2007 10:38 AM

thought you might like this short video tribute to Vonnegut (3:30)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9QvC9vE9uI

more info @ www.thehermitwithdavisfleetwood.com

Lugo | April 13, 2007 01:43 PM

"This is why, when I turn 70, I'm moving to a single level house."

Where does it say Vonnegut fell down the stairs? The obit I read said he fell at his home in Manhattan, which I presume was single-level.

Patrick in the Philippines | April 13, 2007 02:09 PM

Found this link to an appearance on the The Daily Show where Vonnegut cites as proof of 'Intelligent Design' giraffes, hippos and the clap.

http://www.crooksandliars.com/2007/04/12/kurt-vonnegut-on-the-daily-show/

Luke | April 13, 2007 02:57 PM

Here's to hoping that Niven and Pournelle weren't right about where Vonnegut would end up, in their Inferno.

Jim Wright | April 13, 2007 03:09 PM

Luke: I suspect old Kurt wouldn't be much fazed by ending up in Infernoland, since he survived the firebombing of Dresen in WWII. I suspect that if he did end up there, he'd be running the place before too long.

Jim Wright | April 13, 2007 03:13 PM

Where does it say Vonnegut fell down the stairs? It didn't. Vonnegut suffered injuries from a fall on the stairs a couple weeks ago. He never recovered from those injuries according to his wife. She didn't say exactly what those injuries were, only that they led eventually to his death yesterday.

Lugo | April 13, 2007 04:25 PM

I couldn't find any story that said he'd fallen on the stairs, just that he'd fallen.

Jim Whelan | April 13, 2007 05:36 PM

To JJS: "Who am I This Time" was filmed beautifully by Jonathan Demme, with great performances by a young Christopher Walken and Susan Sarandon. Available on DVD and VHS.

To John: Just read OMW and TAD in rapid succession. Loved 'em, look forward to more. You're my best SF discovery in a loooong time.

Crunchbird | April 13, 2007 10:47 PM

Picked up my copy of TLC at the Barnes & Noble in the mall near my office before lunch today, and after lunch and the commute home I'm already 118 pages in and loving it. It's a little bit puny relative to standard hardcover size, but I get so many of my hardcovers through Zooba.com these days that I'm starting to get used to that. I'm guessing at standard size it would also have looked a little thin next to all the whomping behemoths you run into on the SFF bookstore shelves.

I also just re-read OMW this past week after picking up a replacement paperback copy, and enjoyed it nearly as much as I did the first time. My hardcovers of it and TGB were gifted to my dad for his birthday (he got TAD for Christmas), and I'm pretty sure he'll love them. He was reading me Treasure Island and The Hobbit as bedtime stories when I was 4 and 5, and let me start reading his complete collection of PK Dick paperbacks when I was a teenager. I owe him a lot of my love of reading to him, and sharing new books and authors we've gotten hooked on with one another is something we've been doing for nearly 30 years now. Keep on doing what you're doing, and thanks.

-et- | April 15, 2007 12:48 AM

FWIW, Booksamillion.com had my copy of The Last Colony in my mailbox yesterday, the 13th. They were quoting 17 April when I placed my order in January, so they definitely bettered that date.

With best wishes,
- Tom -

Nikitta | April 16, 2007 06:23 AM

It seems that I had accidentially ordered TGB in stead of TLC. Amazon.co.uk quotes April 27th as the release date for TLC.

Excuse me while I kick myself.

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