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May 14, 2007

Various & Sundry 5/14/07

Little bits here and there, mostly wrapping up the SFWA election stuff:

* Here's a nice review of The Last Colony by the San Diego Union Tribune, which calls the book "A lovely ending to a very neat trilogy that began with Old Man's War and continued with The Ghost Brigades." Excellent.

scalzibutton0514.jpg* David Moles, SFWA's resident heretic (because someone has to be) has set up an entire CafePress shop with "Don't Blame Me, I Voted for Scalzi" shirts, mugs and stickers. Get 'em just in time for SFWA's next business meeting! (For those of you who aren't members of SFWA, there's also a "I would have voted for Scalzi, if only I had been eligible" store, too). I approve of all of this, although I suspect the "I Voted For Scalzi" thong underwear might be a bit much.

* Moles also has a somewhat more serious look at what a SFWA membership is good for, and his conclusion is: at this point, not a whole lot. Bearing in mind that Moles has a somewhat unique perspective (he is, after all, currently under censure by SFWA for posting bits from its private boards on his Web page), neither is his perspective completely wrong.

I do think it's entirely fair to say that SFWA, as an organization, is at a crisis point; not the first in its life, nor possibly the last, or even the most critical, but a crisis point nonetheless. The crisis today is one of its identity: Is it primarily an organization of and for working writers, or it is a clubhouse for science fiction enthusiasts who at one point also wrote some science fiction? Clearly I think it needs to be the former, which is why I ran for president. I think Mr. Capobianco, who won the election, has an opportunity to swing the perception of what SFWA is back toward that; it will take rather a lot of work, and I hope he's up for it.

* Folks have also asked me what thoughts I have about the current post-SFWA election fracas du jour, the details of which I should not discuss here, because most of said details of it are currently unfolding in SFWA's private areas. This much I will say: Look, either the party in question will do the right and ethical thing, or they won't. If they do the right and ethical thing, and quickly, then people will probably cut them some slack and move on. If they don't do the right and ethical thing, then people in SFWA will continue to think what I suspect a lot of them are thinking right about now, i.e., this person is a lying sack of shit. It's entirely up to this person how this will play out.

Sorry for you non-SFWAns that I can't be more direct about this. I'm glad I don't have to deal with this issue, however, outside of my role as a general SFWA member.

* Finally, for the folks who are asking how I'm taking my defeat: Trust me, I'm fine. I've known for a couple of weeks that I didn't win, which is enough time to internalize the result and move on. The good news is that I have lots to keep me busy. Rumor has it I'm working on a book, and as far as my editor knows, I am! So that's good.

Posted by john at May 14, 2007 10:45 AM

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Steve Buchheit | May 14, 2007 11:25 AM

If this is defeat (successful career, wonderful home, family, friends, etc), it don't seem so bad.

John Scalzi | May 14, 2007 11:33 AM

Steve Buchheit:

Yes, it's not so bad. And I do think it's worth noting that I was outvoted -- even if all the votes prior to my announcement were thrown out, Mr. Capobianco would still have the majority of the votes. He was the clear choice of the SFWA membership, and I hope he serves them well.

Dr. Phil | May 14, 2007 11:34 AM

Rumor has it I'm working on a book...

No wonder celebrities worry about what the tabloids say about them. Some of us have To Do lists -- the famous find out what they're supposed to be doing via the tabloids and the rumor mills. I'm including continent-trotting award winning genre authors just coming off of wildly successful and lavish publisher sponsored book tours in the "famous" category. Just hope you don't have to find out from the rumor mills or tabloids that you have an upcoming jail date.

Dr. Phil

John Scalzi | May 14, 2007 11:46 AM

Dr. Phil:

"I'm including continent-trotting award winning genre authors just coming off of wildly successful and lavish publisher sponsored book tours in the 'famous' category."

If I'm so famous, where the hell are my groupies? Not that I don't like all y'all, you know. Even so.

RooK | May 14, 2007 12:17 PM

If I'm so famous, where the hell are my groupies?

Maybe you should ask Krissy. After all, you do have an awfully big yard.

Jeff Hentosz | May 14, 2007 12:24 PM

"...where the hell are my groupies?"

Check Moles' house. Groupies like bad boys.

Dr. Phil | May 14, 2007 12:31 PM

This is the New Age of Groupies Online -- they're lurking on the Whatever. That's how you get 25,000 hits a day, but only 60-70 comments per blog entry. There's 24,703 lurking groupies who've never posted on the Whatever. They've never showed up at your appearances. If/When they show up at cons, they keep to themselves -- but that's just a few. Of the other 24,627...

They are like unto the undead -- pale, pasty, sickly creatures shackled by the ropes of chains they've made in their own life to their computers. All the needs of life, save for Edy's Root Beer Float Ice Cream, flow from the glowing screen of the temple on their computer desk. Their trinity of gods is Amazon, eBay and UPS (which now delivers on Saturdays in some areas).

But though you've never seen them -- nay, you want to see them NOT! -- do not fail to believe that they ARE groupies. They lust for Brain Pals, even after your stark warnings at the Great Temple at Google.com; they staple pork meat products to feral cats caught outside their cellar doors in grotesque imitations of their Master's deeds; they once owned a goldfish named Ghoti. They worked feverishly the last few weeks trying to sell a novel or three short stories to markets at pro rates in order to vote for Scalzi in the SFWA election, though they've never written an SF story in their short pathetic lives before -- fanfic featuring Buffy and Jean Luc Picard not withstanding. Their collective failures have made them restless -- disturb them NOT!

They gaze lovingly at the concept of a happy Ohio atomic family of father, mother and daughter, though they never remember their own mouldy origins very well, not being quite sure if they were abandoned at birth by alien visitors, whether the last of their father was in that last meat pie from the freezer or perhaps what resides under the inch thick green scum of that third filled bathtub in the second oldest part of their irregular basement is dear old mom.

O yea, Scalzi, you HAVE groupies. Do NOT call them out to meet you. Just be happy they generate sales of OMW and TAD and bacon every time you mention such things. But do not call them out...

Dr. Phil

Steve Buchheit | May 14, 2007 01:04 PM

Dr. Phil, I think the major plus of having groupies is casual nookie (not group nookie, which is a whole other spectrum of Scalzi Lurker). Not that I would condone such things, but, you know, I did play guitar once. And John was a drummer, so, you know, seconds and all. But it's better to be the primary draw.

John, Neil gets the goths, I'm not sure what the girl groupies of a Heinlienesque writer would be like and if they would take to such groupie activities.

John Scalzi | May 14, 2007 01:06 PM

Steve Buchheit:

"I'm not sure what the girl groupies of a Heinlienesque writer would be like and if they would take to such groupie activities."

Clearly, they would be redheads, as adept with guns as with babies, and without notable sexual hangups. Did you not read the fellow's books?

Steve Buchheit | May 14, 2007 01:10 PM

Okay, Heinlein's predilictions for his female characters (including self-floatation devices) not withstanding, I'm not sure those types of women would be drawn to be actually groupies of such writers. So I was wondering what kinds of female groupies (at least I'm pretty sure that's what we're discussing) wuld be drawn to such works, not what kinds of women Robert dreamed of.

But, you know, redheads, and capable with a gun, yeah, I'm all for that. I have a genetic weakness for redheads anyway.

Dr. Phil | May 14, 2007 01:11 PM

Clearly, they would be redheads, as adept with guns as with babies, and without notable sexual hangups. Did you not read the fellow's books?

I know I read the books. And I fear that those who read the books would form the gene pool for groupies. It's in the math. Characters not equal to groupies. Sorry.

Dr. Phil

Steve Buchheit | May 14, 2007 01:15 PM

Plu, you know, Krissy's defensive perimeter and scent marking. That's gotta put off a lot of potential groupies.

Although I have to say I've found once I was no longer "on the market" I was suddenly irresistable to some women. So that may have a unique counter effect.

Either way, John, I think you ought to be investing in flexible cold packs. I have a feeling you might be needing them soon, either way.

John Scalzi | May 14, 2007 01:18 PM

I didn't say I wanted to do anything with groupies. I just want to have them.

Steve Buchheit | May 14, 2007 01:23 PM

So, groupies=nuclear weapons then?

John Scalzi | May 14, 2007 01:29 PM

Yes. MAD: Mutually Assured Debauchery.

Kate | May 14, 2007 01:48 PM

John Scalzi | May 14, 2007 01:06 PM

Clearly, they would be redheads, as adept with guns as with babies, and without notable sexual hangups. Did you not read the fellow's books?

Hellloooo? *raises hand*

Steve Buchheit | May 14, 2007 01:51 PM

Ha! I yield.

Also, to play the fanboy, I gave my brother my copy of OMW this weekend to snare another into All That Is Scalzi adding another to the list. Wait a sec. Ah, the SFWA plan become clear. So Lincolnesque in it's scope. Yes, lose the first election while having arguable won the debates. Yes. And then come roaring into the Presidency at the time of greatest division to suspend all our corpus habeii and free the pixel-stained technopeasantry while Sherman burns through Georgia and reunite SFWA into a more federalist system. It's so clear now.

Patrick M. | May 14, 2007 03:10 PM

"his much I will say: Look, either the party in question will do the right and ethical thing, or they won't."

Is his name Andrew?

"He was the clear choice of the SFWA membership...."

Er.. Only 300+ voted, I thought membership was in the 1500s.

John Scalzi | May 14, 2007 03:21 PM

Patrick M., if the other 1,200 don't vote, they choose to let the 300 that do make the choices. Of those 300, I was not the preferred candidate.

Andrew | May 14, 2007 03:23 PM

I have this vision of Frank Miller's "The SWFA 300" coming to a home movie near You(Tube).

Joe Hass | May 14, 2007 03:26 PM

Good heavens, John: had I known you wanted groupies, I would've paid a bunch of high school freshman to come to Novi and shriek every time you mentioned a book title. And I would've thrown my underwear after your reading. Because that's what good groupies do.

John Scalzi | May 14, 2007 03:35 PM

Well, there's a mental image I didn't need, Joe. Thanks SO much.

will shetterly | May 14, 2007 04:41 PM

I wouldn't make much of losing. SFWA elections always have low turnout--you would think most SFWAns were Americans. I know at least one person who said you didn't get that vote simply because you were a write-in candidate; the story might've been entirely different if you'd been on the ballot. I suspect some people assumed a write-in candidate couldn't win, and therefore didn't bother to write you in.

Here's what you did: Some people joined, and some people rejoined. Issues have been raised that cannot be suppressed now--well, not without an astonishing amount of effort. As you undoubtedly know, Things Are Happening under SFWA's Cone of Silence that will almost certainly have major repercussions.

So, whatever you do, don't feel like a loser. You were a late-comer, and you couldn't overcome those obstacles. You fought the good fight, and in a year, we'll see whether SFWA has changed course or should be allowed to die as an interesting relic of the mid-20th century.

John Scalzi | May 14, 2007 05:05 PM

Oh, I don't feel bad about losing, Will. I know running in itself did quite a bit of good. And this way I actually still get to write books.

MWT | May 14, 2007 05:07 PM

Out of curiosity, what was the actual breakdown of numbers for the votes?

John Scalzi | May 14, 2007 05:08 PM


President 215 Capobianco 79 Scalzi 13 Other Write-Ins

VP 215 Burt 76 Murphy 10 Other Write-Ins

Treasurer 279 Linville 8 Write-Ins

Secretary 278 Mintz 10 Write-Ins

SC Regional Director 81 Paul Melko 2 Write-Ins

Canadian Regional Director

12 Chris Atack 1 Write-In

Bitter | May 14, 2007 05:20 PM

Hi John,

A quick question here. You wrote,
"SFWA,...Is it primarily an organization of
and for working writers, or it is a clubhouse
for science fiction enthusiasts who at one
point also wrote some science fiction?"

So is SFWA only for SciFI writers or is it for Fantasy writers as well? I thought it was for both, but just heavily weighted in the SciFi side of things.

Just wondering if I should start shopping around for a Professional Fantasy Organization to join. I like watching SciFi, but don't ever see myself writing any of it...


Jeri | May 14, 2007 07:22 PM

I am intelligent, redheaded, and good with both diapers and DNS troubleshooting - but I lack that hyperbolic, herdlike mentality that makes a really good groupie. I concur - there's a big difference between character and groupie. None of Heinlein's women would have made a good one.

I'm with Dr. Phil. I've been to the occasional con, and I am a casual fan and sometime amateur writer. I'm not sure I'd really want to take home the type of groupie the genre tends to attract.

Against trend, I did meet Pillow, the very popular stripper/Klingon language instructor, at AlasCon. My husband claimed to be unimpressed. LOL

I wonder if John Grisham or Danielle Steele have groupies? ;)


Scorpio | May 14, 2007 11:10 PM

The pictures of the Nebulas made it look like any other gathering of fans, only older.

That said, I understand that SFWA, trying to raise money, once opened its membership to bystanders. Likely that was a Bad Idea.

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) | May 15, 2007 06:02 AM

I've read the books too, and I think it's clear that one of Heinlein's redheads would have eaten any number of groupies for lunch and wanted seconds. Groupies by definition are lightweights, dietetic almost. They do have some use for keeping score: the more groupies you have the higher status you have as a rocker/writer/motocross racer. But if you're not interested in them for sex, they're not much good as doorstops.

Jim Millen | May 15, 2007 07:20 AM

I'm not a published writer and would be astonished if I ever became such; neither do I live in the US. Accordingly, my opinion of the SFWA doesn't matter much. However, if the organisation cares at all about their reputation then they really need to change the way they go about business.

I've only really become aware of the SFWA because of Scalzi's interest here, otherwise I would have carried on in cheerful ignorance. But since the start of the elections, I've tried to find out more following posts on this and other blogs. And the overwhelming impression I've come away with is that the SFWA is a closed shop jealously guarding a bunch of sordid little secrets. Perhaps that's slightly harsh, and indeed the SFWA is under no obligation to publicise how it operates. But I can't help feeling it would attract more people if it really invested in becoming more open, honest and accountable. Hopefully the effect of Scalzi's bid for election will push things in that direction...

On an entirely unrelated note, one happy coincidence is that whilst Googling SFWA, I discovered the South Florida Windsurfing Association. As a windsurfer myself, that'll be a great help if I ever visit Florida!

Kendall | May 15, 2007 09:41 AM

Bitter--it's the Science Fiction AND FANTASY Writers of America, despite the abbreviation. I think John was using the term "science fiction" loosely, as many people do. E.g., when I say I'm going to a "science fiction convention," I don't mean it's solely for science fiction; it's normally a con for SF & fantasy (and sometimes horror). (Well, any horror with fantastical or SF elements is fantasy or SF anyway. ;-)

chang, who is not chang | May 15, 2007 01:53 PM

>> President 215 Capobianco 79 Scalzi 13 Other Write-Ins

The Beauteous Ghlaghghee only received 13 votes? Now I know the fix is in.

I'd ask for a recount, Scalzi.

The Official Ghlaghghee Fan Club

TCO | May 15, 2007 08:31 PM

I have no idea what the fracas is, but since you alluded to it and said only part of the conversations are private, please point me to the place where the public parts are.

On a different subject, is that VP "millionaire" going to return the money that he said he would? And how come he has the weakest publishing creds in history?

Bitter | May 16, 2007 03:45 PM

Thanks Kendall! :) Didn't know if SFWA had pretty much fazed out the Fantasy side of the organization. Glad to hear it hasn't.

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