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February 28, 2007

Being Poor is Hoping the Toothache Goes Away.

For want of a dentist

Maryland boy, 12, dies after bacteria from tooth spread to his brain

Twelve-year-old Deamonte Driver died of a toothache Sunday.
A routine, $80 tooth extraction might have saved him.
If his mother had been insured.
If his family had not lost its Medicaid.
If Medicaid dentists weren't so hard to find.
If his mother hadn't been focused on getting a dentist for his brother, who had six rotted teeth.
By the time Deamonte's own aching tooth got any attention, the bacteria from the abscess had spread to his brain, doctors said. After two operations and more than six weeks of hospital care, the Prince George's County boy died.

Some folks will want to blame the insurance system in the US. Some folks will want to blame the dentists. Some folks will want to blame the government. Some folks will want to blame the mother. Some folks will blame some combination of any or all of the above.

I'm not particularly interested in whom to blame. You all can argue about that. I just think it's a shame that ultimately this kid is dead for no other reason than because he was poor.

Posted by john at 05:33 PM | Comments (135) | TrackBack

Author Interview: Hal Duncan

The taunting is over: The author interview with Hal Duncan is now up over at By The Way. Hal talks about his books Ink and Vellum, the state of the fantasy genre, and why he writes such long entries over at his blog. It's a really excellent interview. Enjoy.

Posted by john at 11:46 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Cheese: The Universal 80s Constant

For your consideration: A perestroika-era video of Soviet musicians doing a snappy, jazzy remix of a Soviet anthem:

Also for your consideration: "Stars," by Hear N' Aid, the 80s metal analogue to Band-Aid and USA for Africa:

Compare and contrast.

Posted by john at 09:57 AM | Comments (26) | TrackBack

Deven Desai, Deven Desai, Every Single One of Us is Deven Desai


Happy birthday to Deven Desai, who is a charter member of the Scalzi Inner Circle, the entrance requirements of which -- well, let's just say if you've had the initiation you wouldn't be forgetting it. No, this is not an invitation to speculate on what the initiation might be. It's not like that, you sick freaks. Damn it, just let me wish my friend a happy birthday in peace. Sheesh.

The title to this entry, incidentally, should be read with INXS' song "Devil Inside" running along in your head. Yeah, it's a high school thing. For all you kids who only know of INXS as that lame reality TV show band, here's the video for the song:

That Michael Hutchence, not a bad singer. Too bad about that death by auto-erotic asphyxiation thing.

I shoot the first person who makes an association between auto-erotic asphyxiation and initiation to my inner circle. Don't give me that look. I know how you people think.

Posted by john at 08:29 AM | Comments (23) | TrackBack

February 27, 2007

My New AIM Account

About a year ago I got a Google Talk account and made that publicly available to people, just in case they wanted to IM me or whatever. The problem with this is that not really all that many people have Google Talk, and since firing up Google Talk was a little bit of a pain (because I'm an idiot, I could never get it to work on Trillian), I hardly ever signed onto it, and now use it primarily to contact one particular person.

However, recently people have been asking if I'm even on IM, and -- provided I have some free time -- I'm not averse to chatting with folks. So I've gone ahead and made myself another public IM account, this time on the AOL Instant Messenger, which most people seem to have. Here's the screenname:


Simple. Feel free to add me to your buddy lists, and, if you see me online, feel free to likewise drop me an IM. Because if I'm on my public IM screenname, that means I'm feeling, you know, public.

(For those of you dying to know, yes, I also have a more private IM screenname, which I use primarily for business clients and family/friends of long-standing. I don't make that one public because it's meant to be a low-bandwidth thing. Please don't be offended if you don't know it; not a lot of people do.)

How often will I be on the ScalziOnAIM screenname? I dunno. Depends on how much free time I have. I'm on it now, though.

Posted by john at 09:29 PM | Comments (32) | TrackBack

They Got the Idea From the Lesbian Seagull


Oh noes!! The kolalas have gone all Lilith Fair!

Female koalas indulge in lesbian "sex sessions", rejecting male suitors and attempting to mate with each other, sometimes up to five at a time, according to researchers.
The furry, eucalyptus-eating creatures appear to develop this tendency for same-sex liaisons when they are in captivity. In the wild, they remain heterosexual.
Scientists monitoring the marsupials with digital cameras counted three homosexual interactions for every heterosexual one.

I for one am waiting the imminent arrival of LezMarsupial.com, showing only the finest in hawt same-sex koala-on-koala action. My credit card is at the ready!

(No, LezMarsupial.com doesn't really exist. But I bet by the end of the day, someone will register it.)

I have no reason for posting this. I just think it's funny. Especially the headline for the story at the link: "Australia rocked by 'lesbian' koala revelation" Really? Rocked? Is Australia going to kick the koalas out of the house, so that they tearfully have to show up on New Zealand's doorstep? Personally, I can't imagine the Australians I know going anything other than "you go, situationally lesbian koalas!" Because the Australians I know are all cool like that.

Also, "Situationally Lesbian Koalas" is the name of my next band.

Update, 6:44pm: Look! It's Lezmarsupial.com! No, I didn't do it.

Posted by john at 01:29 PM | Comments (60) | TrackBack

2006 Nebula/Norton Nominees

Oh, look: Here's the Nebula Ballot for this year:


The Privilege of the Sword - Ellen Kushner (Bantam Spectra, Jul06)
Seeker - Jack McDevitt (Ace, Nov05)
The Girl in the Glass - Jeffrey Ford (Dark Alley, Aug05)
Farthing - Jo Walton (Tor Books, Jul06)
From the Files of the Time Rangers - Richard Bowes (Golden Gryphon Press, Sep05)
To Crush the Moon - Wil McCarthy (Bantam Spectra, May05)


Burn - James Patrick Kelly (Tachyon Publications, Dec05)
"Sanctuary" - Michael A. Burstein (Analog, Sep05)
"The Walls of the Universe" - Paul Melko (Asimov's, Apr/May06)
"Inclination" - William Shunn (Asimov's, Apr/May06)


"The Language of Moths" - Chris Barzak (Realms of Fantasy, Apr05)
"Walpurgis Afternoon" - Delia Sherman (F&SF, Dec05)
"Journey into the Kingdom" - M. Rickert (F&SF, May06)
"Two Hearts" - Peter S. Beagle (F&SF, Oct/Nov05)
"Little Faces" - Vonda N. McIntyre (SCI FICTION, 23 Feb05)

Short Stories:

"Echo" - Elizabeth Hand (F&SF, Oct/Nov05)
"Helen Remembers the Stork Club" - Esther M. Friesner (F&SF, Nov05)
"The Woman in Schrodinger's Wave Equations" - Eugene Mirabelli (F&SF, Aug05)
"Henry James, This One's For You" - Jack McDevitt (Subterranean #2, Nov05)
"An End To All Things" - Karina Sumner-Smith (Children of Magic, Daw Books, Jun06)
"Pip and the Fairies" - Theodora Goss (Strange Horizons, 3 Oct05)


Batman Begins - Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer (Warner Bros., released 17 Jun05)
Howl's Moving Castle - Hayao Miyazaki, Cindy Davis Hewitt, and Donald H. Hewitt (Studio Ghibli and Walt Disney Pictures, U.S. Premier 10 Jun05. Based on the novel by Diana Wynne Jones.)
Unfinished Business - Michael Taylor (Battlestar Galactica, Dec06)
The Girl in the Fireplace - Steven Moffat (Doctor Who, BBC/The Sci-Fi Channel, Oct06 (broadcast 10 Oct06))

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy:

Magic or Madness - Justine Larbalestier (Penguin Razorbill, May05)
Devilish - Maureen Johnson, Razorbill (Penguin Young Readers Group, Sep06)
The King of Attolia - Megan Whalen Turner, Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins, 2006)
Midnighters #2: Touching Darkness - Scott Westerfeld (Eos, Mar05)
Peeps - Scott Westerfeld (Penguin Razorbill, Sep05)
Life As We Knew It - Susan Beth Pfeffer (Harcourt, Oct06)

Leaving aside my usual rant about how the Nebulas need to get on a calendar year schedule, I think this is a pretty good slate, and it's got a lot of my friends in it. Yay! I know award nominees! I feel shiny.

For those of you wondering, I wasn't even close to being considered for the Nebula this year. But then I wasn't even close to being considered for the Nebula last year either, when I got on the Hugo ballot, so this isn't indicative of anything other than the Nebulas and the Hugo having different constituencies and tastes, which is in and of itself not a bad thing.

The Nebulas and Norton will be unveiled on May 12. Best of luck to all the nominees.

Posted by john at 09:57 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Why You Wish You Were Me Right Now

INK_US_small.jpgThe reason is because I have in my grubby little hands an interview with Hal Duncan that is chock full of awesome, and you can't read it until tomorrow, when I put it up for the Wednesday Author Interview. Honestly, looking at this interview, I don't know how you're going to survive not reading it until then. You're just going to have to find a way to muddle through somehow.

However, while you wait, there is something you can do, which is get Hal's latest book Ink, which hits stores here in the US today. And like the interview, it is chock full of awesome. I know this because I read it a while back, when the ARC was sent to me. And I remember when I was reading it that I was wondering how the rest of you were going to survive not reading it until today. Well, how did you? Seriously, man. I want to know.

Posted by john at 12:00 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

February 26, 2007

The "Come Up With a Contest to Give Away a Copy of 'Coffee Shop'" Contest!


Like two mighty monoliths doth rise this pair of books, as if hewn from the very plywood of my desk! What do these two avatars of writination herald? Why, the advent of not one but two -- yes, two -- book giveaway contests!

Here's the deal: Since Coffee Shop sold out on printing, I thought it would be fun to give away a copy to one of you fine folks here at the Whatever, as a way of saying "thanks." But frankly, I've had a really crappy day and I can't think of a contest to give away a copy that would actually be fun, because crappy days do that to me. But then I thought: Why think when you guys can think for me? Clearly, this is a solution to all my problems, and in the future I'll have you all think for me all the time. But for now I'll just keep it focused on on this.

The plan is simple: I'm having two contests. The first contest will be to think up of a contest to give away a copy of Coffee Shop, the prize for which will be -- wait for it -- a copy of Coffee Shop. After we've determined what the contest will be, then we'll have that contest, the prize for which will be -- can you guess? -- a copy of Coffee Shop!


So, with that in mind, here are the rules for the "Come Up With a Contest to Give Away a Copy of 'Coffee Shop'" Contest:

1. Think of a fun contest people can do, preferably in a comment thread on this actual site, to win a copy of Coffee Shop.

2. Post that idea in the comment thread to this entry.

3. Do it by 11:59:59 EST, Wednesday, February 28, 2007.

4. One idea per entrant (so make it good).

I'll look through the entries on Thursday, March 1, and declare a winner on Friday, March 2, and then we'll start the official Contest to Give Away a Copy of Coffee Shop on Monday, March 5. See? Easy.

Now, when I say that the contest is preferably something people can do in a comment thread here, be aware I'm thinking of something both writing-based and able to be posted in the comment thread. However, if you think you can make an excellent argument for something outside the comment thread, to which people can then post links to in the comment thread, that's fine too. Likewise, if you want to post your contest idea in your own blog/journal/Web space and then just drop a link in the comment thread, you can do that.

I reserve the right not to use any of your contest ideas if I think they're all totally lame. However, even in that event, I will randomly select a winner of the make a contest contest. So someone will win, even if you all let me down.

Okay, then: What sort of contest should I have to give away a copy of Coffee Shop? Tell me, damn it!

Posted by john at 10:18 PM | Comments (100) | TrackBack

Subterranean Magazine -- Now Online! Plus, New Short Story From Me


Subterranean Magazine is moving online -- there are still a couple more print editions to go, but even as those are getting out the door the magazine online version is getting started, with original fiction, columns and reviews, updated three times a week. Today's debut slate of material includes a column by Norman Partridge, reviews from Dorman Schindler of You Suck, Hart & Boot and Heart-Shaped Box, a long fiction piece by Lucius Shepard, and a couple of short-shorts, one by Poppy Z. Brite, and the other by yours truly. Yes! Short fiction! From me! It's a fun piece, sort of silly. I know, how could that be, right?

Best of all, it's all free. But if you go there and happen to pick up a book from Subterranean Press now and then, they certainly wouldn't mind.

Which reminds me that today is the official release date for Coffee Shop, and also the official out-of-print day -- the run's all sold out. You guys are super-awesome. Thank you. We're discussing the idea of a second printing, but right now we're leaning against that (if Amazon comes to us wanting 750 more copies, we may change our minds). I'll of course let you know if we do go back for another printing. The Sagan Diary is still available, of course, although the limited editions are beginning to get scarce, so if you want one of those, here's the link.

"The Sagan Diary," incidentally, got its first review on Amazon today. Not terribly kind, alas. I like this review better.

If all this Subterranean pimpery isn't enough, remember that if you haven't done so you can download Subterranean #4 (the one I guest-edited) as a pdf here. Perfect for your last minute Hugo short story consideration needs.

Posted by john at 10:18 AM | Comments (37) | TrackBack

Oscar Wrapup 2007

Well, I whiffed the Best Picture category both times, first in my initial guess of Babel and later for my last minute hunch that Letters might be in the envelope. But I pretty much nailed everything else, including the Best Supporting Actor going to Alan Arkin and Best Animated Film going to Happy Feet, which means I nailed most of the surprises. So overall I feel pretty good about my continuing ability to do Oscar predictions.

A couple of thoughts:

* I guess the Academy voters decided they didn't actually like Dreamgirls after all. Going with Arkin over Murphy is one thing; not giving the film the Oscar in the Best Original Song -- in which it had three nominations -- is another. I suspect Melissa Etheridge was probably the most surprised winner of the evening.

* Likewise, Babel walking out the door with just the Original Score Oscar is a bit of a poor showing for a Best Picture nominee touted as front runner going in (Letters got just Sound Editing, but no one except crazy people thought it was going to win). I guess this is the Academy saying "we had our spinach last year," because while The Departed is many things, "spinach" ain't one of them.

* Having said that, no one's under the illusion The Departed winning Best Picture is anything more than the Academy deciding to make the drapes match the carpet, right? Apparently enough voters in the Academy went "well, as long as we're giving Scorsese Best Director..." and then scribbled The Departed into the Best Picture line on the ballot. It's not to say it's not a good film, merely not the best picture on the slate. But, eh. It was "Let's make it up to Marty" night. There are worse things.

* Mildly surprised that Pan's Labyrinth didn't get Best Foreign Language film (although The Lives of Others has been steadily building buzz, so not too surprised), but inasmuch as the film walked out the door as the second most Oscar-honored film of the night, including as the winner for Best Cinematography, I don't think anyone should complain too much.

* Just as technical note, Al Gore himself did not win the Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth, it went to director Davis Guggenheim. The clock for rabid foaming conservatives to try to nab him in an either real or imagined "I invented the Internet" moment regarding to whom the Oscar belongs to starts... now.

Your post-Oscar thoughts?

Posted by john at 07:43 AM | Comments (53) | TrackBack

February 25, 2007

Exercising Your Franchise, Geek Style

A reminder to members of LA Con IV (that's last year's Worldcon) and Nippon2007 (that's this year's): You have but a week to get in your nominations for this year's Hugo Awards, so if you haven't done it yet, I suggest you get on it, because your nominations have to be received, not mailed, on 3/3/07. Fortunately you can do your nominating online. I realize I've been flogging voting for the Hugos a bit this year, but I would remind folks that I expect that the Japanese fans, giddy with the thought of getting their own home-grown writers and fans on the ballot, will almost certainly be nominating in large numbers, so those of us in the rest of the world ought not be sanguine about the idea that our favorite non-Japanese works and folk of 2006 will get on the ballot. This is the last time I'll pester all y'all about it. Just vote, already.

Those of you who are not members of this year's or last year's Worldcons yet wish to register your approval of works published in 2006, despair not: For you, there's the Locus Awards ballot, which is still open and eager for the votes of anyone who cares to cast one. The online ballot comes with voting suggestions taken from Locus' 2006 Recommended Reading List, but if none of those is to your liking you can also add your own preferences by typing them in.

Honestly, I can't think of a better way to spend your Sunday than engaging in a bit of Geek Democracy. Have fun nominating and voting for your favorites. I'm sure their authors will thank you.

Posted by john at 01:54 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

February 24, 2007

Athena Experiments With Metaphor

I swear to you she makes this stuff up on her own.

Incidentally, a shiny penny to the first person who notes a certain puzzling mismatch somewhere in the video.

Posted by john at 11:02 PM | Comments (45) | TrackBack

Quick Final Oscar Notes

The Oscars are tomorrow, and I'll generally stand by my earlier picks, with the following caveat: Call me crazy, but I have the weirdest feeling that Letters from Iwo Jima might walk with the Best Picture award. This will happen if the voters felt like voting for Babel is too much like voting for Crash last year (a vibe I'm getting), if they don't decide to match up Scorsese's almost-certain directing nod with a Best Picture nod for The Departed (and I don't think they will), and if they can't bring themselves to vote for Little Miss Sunshine, because it's a comedy, and everyone knows voting for a comedy for Best Picture is like throwing your vote away. At which point they say "screw it, I'm voting for Eastwood's flick" and they're done. This could really happen this year. God help me, I think it just might.

So: Letters from Iwo Jima for Best Picture. I swear, if it happens, I'm gonna look like a goddamn genius.

Posted by john at 06:01 PM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

I'm Willing to Bet The Reporter Was Snickering His Head Off as He Wrote This Lede

This is the lede in question:

The lawyer for a former Baptist church leader who had spoken out against homosexuality said Thursday the minister has a constitutional right to solicit sex from an undercover policeman.

Well, and so he does, for what little good it does him at this point.

Not to be too snarky about this, but at what point should a reasonable person simply assume that any minster all het up about the gays is just a step away from being a Bathhouse Billy? Because I have to tell you, at this point it's getting to be my default setting.

Posted by john at 03:23 PM | Comments (45) | TrackBack

More Money (Another Followup)

Some more follow-up bits on "The Money Entry 2007," based on comments and e-mails:

* For those of you who have been speculating as to where my fiction writing fits in with my overall writing income, for 2006 I made about $123,000 total from writing and editing. That's up a bit from last year. The share of my income from writing fiction has gone up this year, while the shares of some others have gone down (corporate writing, which I didn't do a whole lot of) and other segments have remained largely steady. This is standard -- my writing income sources increase and decrease from year to year, depending on my opportunities and interest. I suspect that over the next few years (at least) fiction writing will be a substantial percentage of my income; I also suspect that I will continue to generate writing income outside of fiction writing, because, well. Money moves slowly in the fiction world. Which brings us to the next point.

* For folks who are surprised that I made only $67K in fiction writing last year when I am an award-winning, best-selling author (and I smell nice, too), there are two things to note here. The first is that while I know it seems like I've been around science fiction forever (an illusion which this blog has no doubt helped to perpetuate), my first formally published novel in the field, Old Man's War, debuted only two years ago, and despite being reasonably prolific I still have only four novels in the marketplace, one of which was a limited edition and is currently unavailable for sale. From a business point of view it's still the early stages of my SF-writing career; I'm only now, in 2007, beginning to accrue some of the economic benefits of the notoriety and sales I've garnered over the last couple of years.

The second thing to note is a reinforcement of a point I made in the original article, which even if you are fortunate enough to receive royalties on your work, as I have, there's a substantial lag time between when those royalties first begin to accrue, and when they actually arrive in your hands. At this point, for example, the royalties I've seen from Tor are only for the hardcover of Old Man's War, with some early sales of the trade paperback. It was in trade where the sales of OMW really began to climb; those sales won't likely be reflected until my next royalty statement, which I'm a couple of months from receiving. That royalty statement will also show the early sales of the hardcover of The Ghost Brigades, which came out a year ago... but the bulk of the royalties of that edition of the book will wait until the royalty statement after that.

All of which is to say that it's very likely that I earned more than $67k in science fiction income in 2006; much of that income -- the royalty part -- won't be disbursed to me until this year, and it's entirely possible some of it won't get to me until 2008. As I noted in the original article, I'm counting the checks I've received, not what I expect to have made. Doing that might have been good enough for Enron, but look where they are today.

* Let me offer another perspective on the royalty payment time lag: Tor made the offer on Old Man's War in December of 2002; it took another two years for the book to be published -- January 2005 -- and then another year and a half before I received my first royalty check for the book. So: about 42 months from offer to royalties, during which time I wrote six other books (all since published but not all in science fiction) and got nominated for three major genre awards. I hope this sufficiently illustrates the time-delay principle. And remember that I am one of the relative few who earns royalties at all.

Bear in mind I don't wish to imply Tor is screwing me over by making me wait so long for my royalties; the mechanics of book distribution and sales is sufficiently complex that I am willing to believe it takes some large percentage of that lag time to accurately track sales.

* Having said all that, let's all have some perspective: for most humans, even in the US, $67k is a nice income. I think people may also have an unrealistic expectation of what even well-known authors bring home for their work, particularly in genre. As David Dyer-Bennet noted in a previous thread, and to which I agree, that figure almost certainly puts me in the top 1% of earners in science fiction; there are almost certainly bigger names than I who earned less for their SF writing in the same time frame. Is it fair that all these intelligent, interesting people telling fascinating and mind-expanding stories are trundling along making relatively paltry sums while Paris Hilton gets paid a million dollars just to show up at a party? Not really; Hell, it's not even fair these folks are earning less than me. But as I've noted before, you're in the wrong universe for "fair."

Being a reasonably successful author in any genre is the doorway not to uncountable riches but to a fairly comfortable middle-class living, provided you're not stupid with money and you're reasonably healthy and you don't snort or drink things that make you want more of them, now. But generally speaking there's a reason that so many authors do something else, too, although what that job is does seem to vary from genre to genre; science fiction is laden with authors who are also scientists or IT folk, while literary fiction is teeming with authors who teach creative writing, and many non-fiction authors are journalists or commentators. It's also why a spouse with a good job and (here in the US) good benefits is worth his or her weight in gold.

It's not just with writers that people make the assumption that a certain amount of success and notoriety equates to lots of money, but in other fields it's also true that until you're right near the peak of the field, money is not mind-bogglingly great. A good example of this would be this article about the Dresden Dolls, a musical group who in many ways is at in their career where I'm at in mine: Relatively new, a bit niche-y, but with a good base of fans and a not insignificant amount of success (hey, I bought their last album). They've traveled the world, they've seen a million faces and rocked them all, and the two members of the band are clearing $1,500 a month when they tour. That would come out to $18k a year if touring was all they did. I assume the band members have other sources of income, of course, but I would be willing to bet that what they made last year, individually, is not too far off (either one direction or another) from what I made.

Which is to say there are more middle-income "famous" people than you might expect.

Posted by john at 02:21 PM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

February 23, 2007

Money Entry Addendum

To answer the question before it gets asked: The reason I talk about money I make as a writer is because someone should. People get weirded out about the topic and I think that's damn silly, and I think it's particularly silly in a field like writing, where authors sharing information about money is a net good. Then we all have an understanding about what people are making and what's a decent amount of money to expect for one's work in the writing field, and in the case of science fiction, in this particular genre. We're in a business (or want to be); let's make sure we talk about it as a business from time to time. I think the fact that people don't talk about money is a large part of the reason some publishers can offer ridiculously low sums to authors and pretend like they're doing them a favor.

The fact I made $67K writing science fiction last year does not make me a better writer than someone who made less in the field; it doesn't make me a lesser writer than someone who makes more. I think we all understand that beyond a certain level of literary competence, the quality of writing and the popularity of writing are functionally independent from each other. Lord knows I'm not offering up the amount to brag; $67K is a decent chunk of cash but it's not all that. Also, I'd look like a dick. And anyway, in my circle of writer friends I can can point to a bunch who've made more. I'm not under the delusion I'm king of the SF writing world (if I were, man, this world would suck).

It's also to the point that I'm not worried that you know how much I make. I assume most of you aren't so lame that you'd factor in my income when it comes to whether you'd wish to consort with me or not, and if you are that lame, well, of course, I'd rather you avoided me anyway. I'm not so naive that I don't think money matters in terms of how people approach other people, or that it doesn't matter in life. But personally I find it a poor indicator of personal quality.

I'll tell you what I make because I know people are curious, and because I don't see any reason not to share. There's lots of stuff I don't tell you about me, because it's none of your damn business, but how much I make is trivial enough, and it might also be useful to some of you. I understand many people are not comfortable in talking about money, or have personal or strategic reasons for talking about it, and that's fair enough; sometimes I'll be strategically quiet about it as well. This, however, is not one of those times. I also accept some people find it vaguely unseemly when I talk about what I make. Since there are lot of things I write about that seem vaguely unseemly to people, I'll just add it to the pile.

My point in talking about money is simple: I'm a working writer, and as a working writer I'm not particularly special -- what I do is what any competent writer can do, with effort and with a little luck. This is me saying: This is how I do this. This is what I make. This is how I make it. Just in case it's helpful for the rest of you to see how I get this thing done.

Posted by john at 07:16 AM | Comments (106) | TrackBack

The Money Entry 2007: Science Fiction Income

Last year, in response to a question from the peanut gallery, I spilled the beans on how much I made in a year from my writing. This year I thought I'd return to the subject, not in an overall sense (in 2006 I did fine, thank you), but looking at one segment of my income: The income I received from writing and editing science fiction.

2006 was an interesting year for me in this regard, primarily because it's the first year that, frankly, I've gotten any substantial amount of income from science fiction. To bracket this, allow me to note that I've been making income off of science fiction since 1999, which is the year that I first offered Agent to the Stars online as "shareware." So from 1999 through 2006, here's how the income came down. Note that I'm breaking down the income as to when it was actually received, ie., when I had cash in my hot little hands:

1999: About $400, from Agent readers
2000: About $1000, from Agent readers
2001: About $1100, from Agent readers and a short story sale at Strange Horizons
2002: About $1000, from Agent readers
2003: About $6000, from Agent readers and from first part of advance for Old Man's War
2004: About $5000, from Agent readers and from first part of advance for The Android's Dream
2005: About $15,000, from second part of OMW advance, first part of The Ghost Brigades advance, advance for Agent to the Stars hardcover, and short story sale to Subterranean Press.
2006: About $67,000.

As you can see, there's quite a jump from 2006 from the rest of the years; I made more than four times as much in science fiction than the year before, and about twice what I made for all the years previous. So what happened? Lots of things:

1. 2006 was the first year I received royalties on sales of Old Man's War. The book had earned out on its advance roughly halfway through 2005 -- but royalty statements are tallied up only twice a year (halfway through the fiscal year and then again at the end) and it takes a few months after that for the information (and checks) to be sent to agents and authors. And even when your book is in the black, there's another publishing accounting practice called "reserves against returns," in which the publisher holds some of your royalties in escrow just in case more than expected copies of your book come flooding back to the publisher from booksellers. What this reserves does (or, at the very least, did for me) is to retard the flow of royalties to the author by one royalty statement, which is to say, by another six months. So although Old Man's War was published in January 2005, I waited seventeen months to get my first royalty check.

(There was also another another wrinkle here in that in addition to earning out its advance, OMW also had to earn out the advance of The Android's Dream, which I sold at the same time; the contracts specified I wouldn't see royalties from either until both were earned out -- so theoretically it would have been possible that I wouldn't have seen royalties from Old Man's War until deep into 2008, since TAD wasn't published until late October 2006. Fortunately, OMW was up to the task -- and because of that I get royalties from TAD from book one. So buy it, damn it.)

Bear in mind it's not a guaranteed thing that an author will receive royalties; the conventional wisdom is that most books either don't earn out for their authors or just about break even, and I suspect that most publishers try to calibrate their advances to authors based on what they expect the author to make from the book over the course of the book's run. Indeed, I've heard at least one author say to me that if you're getting royalties, that just means the publisher didn't pay you enough up front. We can have a philosophical debate as to whether it's better for an author to get a big chunk of money up front or a smaller flow out the back; for now, however, I can say I'm pleased to have the royalty income.

I should also note that while a time lag for royalties is standard operating procedure, there are times when royalties can come more quickly than not. When the limited edition hardcover of Agent to the Stars sold out its print run midway through 2006, Subterranean Press quickly cut me a check for the royalties I was owed. This was partially because as a limited run, there was a finite timespan the book was available (i.e., up until the moment the last one sold) and also a finite amount or royalty I would be owed, and as a small press Subterranean has pretty tight control of its inventory, all of which is not necessarily the case with an open-ended book run. It's also partially because Subterranean Press publisher Bill Schafer is a hoopy frood who knows where his towel is, and also knows authors like to get paid sooner than later whenever possible.

All told, my royalty income in 2006 was about $15,000.

2. My fiction agent Ethan Ellenberg began to sell foreign-language rights for Old Man's War and The Ghost Brigades, and has been reasonably successful, as OMW has been sold in eight foreign languages now, and TGB in five. The income from foreign language rights varies considerably: I made nearly as much for Old Man's War for the German language rights, for example, as I did for the English language rights. The Chinese language rights? Not so much. A whole lot depends on the the foreign market itself: whether SF is a popular genre, how much income the readers in the country have to buy books, how much books sell for in each market and so on. In aggregate, however, it can add up to a comfortable amount.

The problem with foreign rights is that they are typically contingent on the success of the book in its original language and market -- and then of course subsequent sales in that language will be charted against how one's previous editions do in that language. So to make foreign language sales work your work has to be commercially adept in two different tongues. Given how little control authors have on the sales of their work in their first language, they can expect even less control in the second language, so you basically hope everything works out in the end.

Naturally, in the case of OMW, I suspect that the fact it was Hugo-nominated is a substantial selling point for foreign-language editors; me winning the Campbell Award doesn't hurt, either.

Theoretically it's possible that somewhere down the line I might see royalties from foreign-language editions. That'd be nice, but I'm not waiting up nights for that.

All told, my foreign sales income in 2006 was about $20,000.

3. Because my sales of Old Man's War and The Ghost Brigades have been healthy, my advances have gone up commensurately (having a good agent helps in this regard as well). In 2006, I signed a three-book contract with Tor, with each book bringing $25k each, some of which I got upon signing. One of the books (The Last Colony) is in the can; the other two I have to write yet (they're on hold while I bang out the follow-up to The Android's Dream, for which I have a separate contract; yes, Tor will have me for a while.)

What do I think of $25k for a novel? I think it's fine; I've seen my sales so far for my books and it's in line with that. It's less than the advances I've gotten for non-fiction but that's an "apples and oranges" comparison in terms of sales and distribution. Other friends of mine who are writers are making more, but then again, they're selling more as well, and some of them are also in other segments of the publishing business that pay higher advances; anecdotally it seems genre pays less in advances than mainstream or lit fic.

Would I like to get paid more up front per book? I wouldn't mind. However, inasmuch as a large portion of my writing income comes from outside of fiction writing (and I have a spouse with a good, benefits-laden job) I'm not living from book advance to book advance either. I can afford to look at intangibles as well. In the case of Tor, for example, I've been very pleased with their long-term strategy for promoting my work (and me!), and that has its value as well, in terms of the overall health of my fiction career. My agent will probably stab me in the eye for saying this, but sometimes intangibles like that are worth as much as more money up front.

Mind you, this warm and fuzzy feeling for Tor and its folk doesn't stop me from approaching the business side of my career as a business -- this is why I have an agent, after all: so I can say nice things about Tor while he wrestles and argues with them about money and rights and what have you. Ethan earns his 15%. What I'm saying is that from a business point of view, it behooves me to look at an entire package, of which money is one part, and many other things are many other parts.

In addition to the three-book contract discussed above, Tor also bought the rights to publish Agent to the Stars at some point in the future, most likely as a trade paperback (I'll be revising that one prior to its Tor publication to bring some of the cultural references up to date).

All told, my advance income in 2006 was about $30,000.

4. Miscellaneous income -- This includes my fee for guest editing Subterranean magazine issue #4 and payment for the short story "How I Proposed to My Wife: An Alien Sex Story" ("The Sagan Diary," which I also wrote in 2006, I took no upfront payment for; some of you will recall that I wrote it in exchange for a $5k bid on a draft copy of The Last Colony, the proceeds of which went to the John M. Ford Book Endowment -- although SubPress is splitting the back-end profits with me, which will end up being nice, indeed). I recognize that it might be offensive to some to label income from short story writing as "miscellaneous," but please understand that it's strictly an economic designation; I write little enough short fiction, and the payment for it is typically so low relative to other writing, that it doesn't really earn its own breakout designation.

My miscellaneous income was about $2,000 in 2006.

(Caveat: These numbers aren't exact because I don't have all my 1099 tax forms spread out in front of me when I'm writing this. There's probably a margin of error of, oh, about $3k.)

Now, what really happened in 2006, in regard to my science fiction income, was that I had been in the science fiction publishing business for enough time, and had been successful enough at it (for various reasons, one of which was being just damn lucky) that this was the year that many potential revenue sources began to flow income in my direction. In short, time was a major contributing factor -- I've now been doing this long enough, basically.

Should I expect this level of income from science fiction every year? I don't think so, as there are any number of ways this income could go down. If one of my books sells poorly, that will have an impact on my future advances and on my royalties. If my books sell poorly in other languages, that will have an impact on future foreign sales. I could develop a massive writer's block or simply choose to write more in other fields and thus write fewer SF novels. My publishers could suddenly have economic seizures and be unable to pay me what they owe me. Rampant electronic piracy could eat away into my sales! (sorry, had to throw that one in there for all the fearful Luddites out there.) There are lots of ways this income could go away. Writing SF isn't a great way to have a stable income.

(Which isn't to say it couldn't go up, mind you: OMW is selling very nicely in mass market, TGB is heading to mass market in April/May, I'm touring with The Last Colony when it comes out, TAD is holding its own nicely, "The Sagan Diary" is doing mind-bogglingly well for a novelette, and so on. And there are still foreign languages to sell in. Don't get me wrong, I think I'm going to do just fine in 2007, as far as science fiction is concerned. It's simply foolish to assume that just because I'm doing well one year, that all years in the future will be equally cheery. Anyone who has been a writer over the long haul will tell you that some years you're up, and some years you're down.)

In any event, this is what a reasonable amount of success in science fiction publishing looks like, circa early 2007.

The floor is now open to questions and comments.

(Edited in later: Why I write about my writing income, and some follow-up thoughts, based on comments and e-mails)

Posted by john at 06:59 AM | Comments (100) | TrackBack

February 22, 2007

Open Thread: Medical "Facts"

Okay, the only reason I haven't vomited all over my own feet today is that I've only drunk water since I woke up. Which is to say, I'm sick and I'm going to go lie down. You're going to have to get along without me today. Here, have an open thread.

To get you started, a topic: Relate interesting medical-related "facts." As with this previous thread on "facts," the word "facts" is in quotes for a reason.

Here's three from me:

1. The 17th century Flemish believed that crocodile teeth would cure gout and syphilis when ground into a poultice with chicken fat and cow dung, but abandoned the practice when it was determined that the poultice invariably cured the wrong disease of the two in any particular patient.

2. American President Martin Van Buren (1782 - 1862) was afflicted with "pica," a disorder which causes a person to consume non-food objects such as rocks or coins. Van Buren's nickname "The Little Magician" is rooted in the fact that coins in his vicinity would disappear down his gullet if others did not keep a close eye on them.

3. Recent medical studies at the University of Kentucky suggest that Americans in the southern states have the highest rates of flatulence, breaking wind 1.3 times as often as midwesterners, the second most flatulent group, and 2.1 times as much as the least flatulent Americans, who reside in the Pacific northwest. However, Pacific northwesterners rank at the top for smelliest flatulence, which may relate to a high incidence of vegetarianism and veganism in the area, relative to other regions in the country.

Now. Your "facts," please.

Posted by john at 11:38 AM | Comments (51) | TrackBack

February 21, 2007

Movements and Reprehensibility

Two links related to me for you this evening:

* John C. Wright talks about Old Man's War and the New Comprehensibility, but rather more importantly, he launches his own new science fiction movement: The New Space Princess Movement:

The literary movement will follow two basic principles: first, science fiction stories should have space-princesses in them who are absurdly good looking. Second, The space princesses must be half-clad (if you are a pessimist. The optimist sees the space princess as half-naked). Third, dinosaurs are also way cool, as are ninjas. Dinosaur ninjas are best of all.

I have nothing bad to say about this proposed new literary movement.

In discussing OMW, incidentally, Wright brings up a small objection about recreational sex in a co-ed military (i.e., that it's shown not having any effect on unit cohesion and etc); this isn't the first time the topic has been mentioned. It's an interesting topic, although I would note that strictly speaking the issue of sex in the regular CDF ranks is not touched on at all; everybody screws around in the book in the interim period between getting their new bodies and starting basic training. Once they start training and fighting, sex exits the book. To be honest, I don't know what the rules and regs about sex in the regular CDF are once the recruits are formally inducted; I didn't think about it at the time. My assumption is that it's "don't screw around with your platoonmates." The Special Forces, of course, would have an entirely different set of rules, as discussed in The Ghost Brigades.

* Here's an interesting essay on Old Man's War from author Gabriel McKee, which takes the book to task for its level of militarism, which McKee finds "morally reprehensible":

Scalzi's characters universally take glee in fighting. I hoped that someone, somewhere in this book would feel a pang of conscience about their army's xenocidal imperialism. The narrator eventually does express some guilt in one scene about two thirds in. While slaughtering a species of aliens that literally can't fight back (they're under an inch tall), he begins to worry that military life has turned him into a soulless killing machine. His superior officers laugh off his concerns, and his guilt lasts all of nine pages, after which the character just gets over it and goes back to following orders. It's a shame, too—if the book would have been far more enjoyable for me if it had brought some moral complexity to its wanton destruction.

Naturally, I don't think the book is as morally reprehensible as McKee does; in particular I would dispute that the majority of the characters take glee in fighting (indeed, one of the characters who clearly does meets a sticky ending). But I think it's an interesting take on the book, and I think a discussion regarding the morality of the OMW universe and characters is worth having, even if I don't agree with the McKee's characterization of the events in the book or the conclusions McKee comes to. Check it out for yourself and see what you think.

Posted by john at 07:37 PM | Comments (37) | TrackBack

On Electronic Editions of My Books

This is another one of those "I'm putting this online so I can refer people to it later," entries, since I'm getting two or three queries about this subject a week.

1. No, I don't know when my novels will be available in electronic format. That's all up to Tor, to whom I've licensed the electronic rights. I know they have plans to release the works electronically, although I can't share what those plans are at the moment, nor can I guess when those plans will go into effect.

2. Yes, I've communicated to Tor that I'd be happy to have my books in electronic format. The issue here is not author reluctance or even reluctance on the part of Tor; the issue is that Tor is part of a large corporation, and large corporations take their time making decisions.

3. Inasmuch as I've had one book available online since 1999, and have electronic versions of other books available to overseas military and to Hugo voters, I really don't need people to enumerate all the ways that electronic versions of my book would be a good thing. Yes, I know. I get it, really I do.

4. Yes, I am aware that pirated versions of my books are floating around on the Internet; in one sense it's flattering (yay! I'm popular enough to be pirated!), but on the other hand I can't guarantee that what you're reading is what I wrote; honestly, who knows what those crazy pirates are up to these days. If you find yourself in the presence of a pirated electronic copy of one of my books and are having a crisis of morality about it, relax. Read it if you want; if it works for you, consider picking up a physical copy later. Simple. If you're one of those hardcore "I want to pay you but I won't buy anything but e-books" sort of people and you come across a pirated copy, go ahead and read it, and if you like it, consider picking up a physical copy and giving it to one of your friends who still does all his or her reading old school. Again, simple enough.

5. When official e-book editions become available, clearly, I will trumpet their existence hither and yon, and there will be much rejoicing. Until then assume that if you haven't heard from me about it, they don't officially exist yet.

There, that should do it.

Posted by john at 05:35 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Wil Wheaton on John Scalzi

No, it's not like that, and more's the pity for you, because, you know, we're both damn hawt. Rather, Wil makes me the subject of his "Geek in Review" column this week, hitting on a few of my books as he does so, and also mentioning the Whatever. I am, of course, appropriately humbled.

Posted by john at 03:29 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Oh, Look, the Wolves are Here

And they sent a lovely image:


I guess I better go get consumed now.

Posted by john at 02:54 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Fog and Ice

We're fog-bound today, and waiting for the wolves to descend from the frozen north to consume our very bones, but before that happens, I went outside and got some photos. The entire collection is here, but let me post a couple here as well.

Posted by john at 11:09 AM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

February 20, 2007

Reviews and Interviews, 2/20/07

A small clutch of Scalzi-related scribblings coming at you:

* Rick Kleffel has nice things to say about "The Sagan Diary" over at The Agony Column, calling it "a must-have book for just about any serious reader of science fiction and certainly for any serious collector of science fiction." He also heaps love on Bob Eggleton for the cover and inside art, which I think is entirely appropriate. The review is dated 2/21/07, so it actually comes to us from the future. And you know how exciting that is.

* Professor Bainbridge devours his advance reader's copy of The Last Colony, and is happy with the meal, and also picks up on something I'm 100% in agreement with:

Despite its SF trappings, for example, TLC reminds me more of Allen Drury's novels of political suspense, with a little Robert Ludlum-style wheels within wheels conspiracy theory story thrown in too, than it does most SF. Indeed, to continue the analogy to political thrillers, there's even a subplot that's a variant on the good old sleeping killer story. All of which means that, if Tor can manage the marketing trick, the OMW to TLC trilogy ought to reach readers who ordinarily would never be caught dead in the sci fi section of their bookstore.

It's the New Comprehensible! In full effect! Seriously, however, I'm delighted Professor Bainbridge liked this series all the way through.

* And for those of you who don't get enough of me here, Abebooks is running an interview with me, and for good measure they're running a contest in which they're giving away a signed, limited edition of "The Sagan Diary." I don't mind if you click through for the loot rather than my musings. But you have to enter by 9:59 on March 1. So get to it.

Posted by john at 10:55 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Under My Roof


Nick Mamatas, whose birthday it is today, was kind enough to slip me a copy of his latest, Under My Roof, when we saw each other at Boskone. I'm reading it now and I have to say so far it's cracking me the hell up. Yes, I know, there have been a lot of entries in the "suburban household arms itself with a nuclear-capable garden gnome and declares independence" genre of storytelling recently. But this one really does stand out, funny and smart and funny again. And it's a short, quick read, which for me these days is a good thing. Anyway: Lots of fun. Check it out.

Remember also that Nick's previous novel Move Under Ground is currently available as a Creative Commons download (as well as in traditional book form) and that his short story "Who Put the Bomp?" is available right here at Whatever, and that I want you to nominate it for a Hugo because it's a good story and so I can see the Whatever listed as the publication in which it appeared.

Happy Birthday, Nick!

Posted by john at 01:17 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

The New Comprehensible, or, This is Not a Literary Manifesto, Thank God

SFBC Editor Andrew Wheeler, in his post on Boskone, noted a Sunday afternoon panel he was on about hot writers and trends, and brought up my name:

I forget all that we talked about -- though I'm sure it was utterly brilliant and provided a model for all future fantastic literature -- though I did get to unload another one of my attempts to invent some skiffy terminology. (I aspire to be the Boy Clute.) I said that John Scalzi -- who had already left the con and wasn't around to protest his name being used in vain -- should continue on his entry-level SF kick and produce a real manifesto, throwing people out of the movement and creating a posse of "in" writers. In fact, I already have a name for his movement, should he want it: the New Comprehensible.

For accuracy's sake, I would note that I was actually still at Boskone when he was talking about me (I was having my tag-team literary beer with Toby Buckell). Also, I'm generally of the opinion that people who issue manifestos about writing should be sentenced to having their pointy pretentious heads literally shoved up their own asses, so their physical state can match their intellectual one. Inasmuch as I am in no rush to goatse my noggin, I will refrain from issuing any manifestos today. Moreover I would hope, if I were ever to issue a literary manifesto in the future, that you would do the sensible thing, which would be to point and laugh at the silly pompous man I had become. I thank you in advance for your willingness to do so.

Having said that, I am delighted to have been anointed by the estimable Mr. Wheeler as the leader of my very own literary movement, The New Comprehensible. I feel shiny. I may make T-shirts. Moreover, I think the New Comprehensible is a fine literary movement to have, particularly for science fiction -- I'm all for bringing new readers into the genre whenever possible, and a good way to do it is to write SF that's inviting to the uninitiated.

Now, let's say that at this point, some writer out there is saying "Hey, I want to be part of this New Comprehensible movement in science fiction that I've heard so much about in the last four paragraphs," and wanted advice on how he or she might go about doing it. What advice should this person be given? Well, manifestos are not my thing, but basic, practical advice? I can do that. Here's what I would suggest, and it's really rather simple:

1. Think of an actual person you know, of reasonable intelligence, who likes to read but does not read science fiction.

2. Write with that person in mind.

That's all you do.

My person is my mother-in-law, as I've mentioned here before. She's your pretty much the average American in all respects and downs Nora Roberts and Julie Garwood books like they're going out of style. I write my novels so that when she sits down to read them she's able to follow what's going on and doesn't feel like she's missing scads of context. My mother-in-law is not my primary audience; I'm not writing for her. But by keeping her in mind when I write, I don't exclude her, and by extension I don't exclude lots of other readers like her.

I don't necessarily suggest you write with my mother-in-law in mind; you don't know her, after all. But you probably do know someone like her: Pretty normal, likes to read, doesn't read science fiction. Your dad or mom or brother-in-law or friend from college or office mate or whomever. When you're writing, ask yourself "Will dad/mom/brother-in-law/friend/workmate/whomever follow this?" And if the answer is no, try, try again.

(This is why, incidentally, I specify that you need to have a real person in mind; if you try to imagine some Platonic version of the Reasonably Intelligent Non-Science Fiction Reader, you'll inevitably start crediting him or her with more geek savvy than a real reasonably intelligent non-SF reader would have, because writers are lazy and delusional and in love with their own writing and don't really want to change things for other people, particularly when they don't actually exist. Oh, don't look at me like that. You know it's true.)

One caveat for writers who think this New Comprehensible thing is an invitation to be hacktastically lazy: I think it's harder to write good science fiction with non-SF readers in mind than it is to write purely to an audience steeped in the genre. As just one example, you can't necessarily use all the shortcuts that have been trod into the ground by generations of SF writers, because your non-SF readers won't get all of them -- and at the same time you have to make sure your genre-steeped readers aren't rolling their eyes as you set the scene for the newbies. You have to make them both happy, and doing that is like serving a meal to a group that includes hardcore vegans and committed carnivores. Yeah, it's tricky; no one ever said being part of the New Comprehensible was going to be easy, and not just because at this point only two people have ever used the term at all.

Now, if this were a manifesto, somewhere along the way I'd have intimated that all science fiction henceforth should be part of the New Comprehensible, and all those who choose not to follow its strictures are poopy poopyheads who must be crushed when the revolution comes, or whatever. But remember: people who issue literary manifestos should be thrown into jet engines, and also, why on Earth would any sane fan of science fiction want all SF to be of just one sort or the other? I think there should be science fiction my mother-in-law can follow; I think it's fine that there's science fiction that my mother-in-law would go "WTF?" to. Variety is fun; let's have more, not less.

(To be clear, my mother-in-law would not actually say "WTF?" Although it would be kind of funny if she did.)

I'd also note that the steps to writing the New Comprehensible science fiction work equally well for any sort of genre; with replace the words "science fiction" with the name of whatever genre you like. Want to write New Comprehensible romance? Think of a reasonably intelligent non-romance reader you know and write with him in mind. New Comprehensible horror? Reasonably intelligent non-horror reader you know. New Comprehensible lit fic? Reasonably intelligent non-lit fic reader, blah blah blah. You get it by now, right? Okay, then. The New Comprehensible is both multi-disciplinary and interstitial, contingent on creator impetus; or to put it in less pompous terms, any sort of writing can be made accessible to most folks if the writer wants to make it happen.

So, there you go: The New Comprehensible, perhaps the world's first 100% manifesto-free literary movement. It's simple but not easy. Try it out. See if it works for you. Let me know how it goes.

Posted by john at 10:11 AM | Comments (67) | TrackBack

February 19, 2007

Hitting the Target

The Gender Genie is a Web site which purports to be able to guess from a text (preferably of more than 500 words) whether the writer of the text is male or female (some algorithm is involved). Well, I was curious how "The Sagan Diary," which is "written" by a woman, reads to this algorithm, so I fed in the text. The response:

The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: female!

Just to be sure to it doesn't think I'm natively girly, however, I also fed it the first chapter of The Android's Dream, in which, as you know, someone farts someone else to death. The result: The algorithm believes the author of that passage is male.

I'm authorially hermaphroditic! Cool.

Posted by john at 04:18 PM | Comments (47) | TrackBack

Boskone 2007 Recap


The object that Athena is regarding with such protean terror is not Donald Trump's hairpiece but a tribble, which I bought at Boskone, the guest of honor this year at which was David Gerrold, who wrote the Star Trek episode "The Trouble With Tribbles" from which these little fuzzy things were born. David Gerrold, incidentally, must have been 13 when he wrote the episode, since he does not look nearly old enough to have written something 40 years ago (he was apparently actually a college student when he wrote the episode).

Speaking of Boskone, herein follows my comments on the convention.

* First off, I had a lot of fun, as I did last year, and Boskone is on my A-list of conventions to attend (and indeed Boston seems like a hot bed of SF convention goodness, as I really liked Readercon as well, although I won't be able to attend it this year because I'll be at the Heinlein Centennial). What really impresses me about Boskone is that NESFA, which organizes and holds the convention, seems incredibly well-organized and competent when it comes to con-running. It makes a real difference in the overall quality of one's con experience. For those folks who might ever want to run a science fiction convention, first, you're probably crazy, and second, I suspect you could do a lot worse than to pick the brains of the NESFAns on how they do it.

* The convention was at what I understand was a new hotel, the Westin Waterfront, which is in South Boston. The hotel itself is brand-spankin' new and very modern and clad in muted wintery earth tones. I thought it was a very nice hotel with a pretty good layout for all the conventioneering that went on. I'm not entirely sure about the location, however, since there appears to be a whole lot of not much around it, and I suspect most people ended up confining themselves to the hotel whether they wanted to or not. The hotel had a Starbucks and a more-expensive-than-it-needed-to-be restaurant, and the con suite was amply packed with snackables, so there was no worries about actually starving. But it would have been nice to have more stuff within walking distance. The hotel Boskone was at in 2006 had its plus and minuses but one of the pluses was it was attached to a mall and it was downtown, so there were ample places to eat that were not at hotel-hostage prices.

* I had seven programming events (including an autographing and a literary beer) and I wanted to spend a little time catching up with friends, so I didn't actually manage to get to panels I wasn't on, which was a little sad for me. The panels I was on however, were more than sufficiently interesting, particularly one on consciousness and AI that featured world famous AI researcher Marvin Minsky. I was the moderator on that one, and as we got started, I said "Welcome to the panel on consciousness and artificial intelligence, or as I like to call it, 'We're all going to shut up now and listen to Marvin Minsky.'" Minsky indeed was brilliant and fascinating, although to be fair the other members of the panel (Karl Schroeder, Matt Jarpe and Jeffrey Carver) were rather more than spectators on the panel.

I do have one piece of advice for con programmers, which that I think it's well past time to kill either kill or drastically rethink panels on blogging. Blogs are no longer anything close to a novelty and SF con audiences in particular, I think, have heard most usable permutations of the "what does blogging mean for SF" question by now. We got through this year's "Blogging and SF" panel by more or less attacking the premise of the panel, kicking it in the face a few times, and then tossing it out the window and celebrating when it went splat on the pavement (with panelists like Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Kathryn Cramer and Jim MacDonald, you can pull this off). But, seriously, con programmers: Unless you can come up with something new to do with blogging panels, consider not putting them on the programs here on out.

I will say I was very pleasantly surprised to see so many people at my literary beer; my kaffeeklatch last year had two people at it. Two quality people, to be sure (Hi Lanna and CKD!), but just two nonetheless. This year we had, uh, more than two. I personally credit Toby Buckell, my co-Literary Beer person. I'm not entirely sure we were supposed to combine forces for one co-hosted literary beer, but we did anyway and I think it worked well for everyone involved. Thank you to everyone who came to see us blather on the Sunday afternoon of a con (i.e., when most sane people have already left) -- you guys rock. I hope you had a good time, because I know Toby and I did.

* One of the nice things about Boskone is that lots of folks I really like show up to it, so I got to geek out and spend some time with lots of friends and colleagues like Allen Steele, the Nielsen Haydens, Elizabeth Bear, Lou Anders, Chad Orzel and Kate Nepveu, Shara Zoll, Karl Schroeder, the aforementioned Toby Buckell, Nick Mamatas, Meg McCarron, James Cambias, and lots of other people whose names I am blanking on at the moment because clearly I am both evil and lame. Sorry, folks, you know I love you. A special treat for me was meeting Joe Hill and his wife Leanora for the first time; we've been friendly online for some time now, so it was very cool to catch up with him in the flesh and spend some time chatting face-to-face. Not only is Joe a fabulous writer, he's also one cool dude, and his wife is even cooler.

So, in all: another excellent Boskone. I recommend going.

Posted by john at 02:39 PM | Comments (31) | TrackBack

TSD Review on SFReviews.net

SFReviews.net weighs in on "The Sagan Diary," liking some parts more than others but ending up generally positive in the end:

Quibbles about style aside, The Sagan Diary reinforces the humanism of Scalzi's earlier books, and leaves you with a simple message. This is your life. Live it.

Indeed. The review is here. Also, thanks to the last line of the review, I have this song running around in my brain. Ah, the early 90s.

Posted by john at 01:54 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

The Gutenberg OS

While I'm catching up on a weekend's worth of e-mail and other stuff, here's something to amuse you folks who both read and use computers (which, almost by definition, includes nearly everyone who visits here). Enjoy.

Thanks to my pal Deven for passing this on.

Posted by john at 12:29 PM | Comments (32) | TrackBack

February 18, 2007


Back from Boskone. Wonderful time; more details later.

How was your weekend?

Posted by john at 11:38 PM | Comments (38) | TrackBack

February 16, 2007

"Coffee Shop" -- 20 Copies Left

Yes, I'm checking in from the airport. I'm pathetic, I know.

Be that as it may, those of you who have been on the fence on picking up a copy of You're Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffeeshop: Scalzi on Writing should read the following note by Subterranean Press publisher Bill Schafer, which he left in the comment to a previous thread, but which I am now bumping up to the front page:

We're finishing up shipping pre-ordered copies of YOU'RE NOT FOOLING ANYONE... and only have 20 copies left. If you want one, I suggest you head over to the SubPress site and snag one.

The reason Bill suggests you go to the Sub Press site rather than, say, Amazon, is that orders through the Sub Press site take priority at this point.

In other news: Hey, a book of mine is almost completely sold out even before it goes on sale. I feel shiny. Thank you.

Anyway, if you do want a copy of the book: Hurry.

Update, 5:40pm -- They're all gone now.

Posted by john at 10:40 AM | Comments (41) | TrackBack

Off to Boskone

I'm heading to Boston, there to geek out for the next three days. I'll most likely update between now and Sunday, but then again, I might not. I'm just contrary that way. In the meantime, you kids have fun. I didn't lock the liquor cabinet this time. But that doesn't mean I want to come back and find the place a mess, all right?

Okay, then.

Open thread. Today's topic to get you started, via Justine Larbalestier: Unicorns or Zombies? Please explain your choice and defend it from all comers.

Posted by john at 08:13 AM | Comments (60) | TrackBack

Two Reviews

A couple of quick review links: Steven Bainbridge has nice things to say about "The Sagan Diary" and the Davis Enterprise likes The Android's Dream. I am pleased with the former review because it's really the first one I've seen of "Sagan," and Professor Bainbridge has been an avid reader of the previous work, so I'm happy to see "Sagan" works for him; the latter one I like for this quote: "It takes talent to write a novel in which the world may be saved by a sheep." That's back cover-worthy.

Posted by john at 07:37 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

February 15, 2007

Okay, Just One More


I don't know why I find this so damn funny. I just do.

Posted by john at 02:22 PM | Comments (20) | TrackBack

Im N Ur Snow, Eetin Ur Frozin Extremities


Because he would, you know. So don't let it come to that.

Posted by john at 02:06 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

My Eyes, They Won't Stop Bleeding

It's not that I want to actually promote the new Hugh Grant/Drew Barrymore comedy Music & Lyrics, although it looks cute enough for a mindless romantic comedy. It's just that I find this the most terrifyingly plausible fake 80s video of all time.

Posted by john at 12:26 PM | Comments (45) | TrackBack

Snow Day, Again

School's closed again today, and it'll be closed tomorrow, too (for a scheduled teacher training day or something), and Monday as well for the President's Day holiday. School's been closed more often than not in the last two weeks. Between school closings and illness, Athena's been to school probably about three days in February so far.


Of course, ask Athena if this bothers her.

Posted by john at 10:02 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

February 14, 2007

My Blurb Policy

I have recently been asked to enumerate my policy for blurbing books in advance of their publication. My policy is pretty simple:

1. Yes, I am happy to look at books with an eye toward blurbing them.

2. Those blurb requests should come from the book's editor/publisher, not from the writer him/herself.

For those of you not in the know, a "blurb" is the quote you'll see on a book cover, recommending the book to you. The blurb is often by another author of similar work. For example, Old Man's War has blurbs from Cory Doctorow, Ken MacLeod and Robert Charles Wilson. Their presence on the cover tells fans of those authors they might like this book, too. And it works, or at least it works on me, as I can remember more than one time where I've taken a chance on a book because I liked one of the authors who blurbed the book. I'm at the point now where I'm being asked to blurb books, which tickles me immensely, because it implies there are people who might base some of their buying equation on what I have to say. Whether that's true or not, of course, is another story entirely, but I hope it is true, for the sake of the people who I might blurb.

The reason I want requests for book blurbs to come from editors and publishers is simple: The majority of the books I'm asked to blurb I don't. The reason I don't is usually because I don't love the book enough to have my name attached to it (sometimes it's because I haven't had time to read the book before a blurbing deadline, but that's the rarer explanation). Now: telling an editor or a publisher that a book didn't work well enough for you to blurb it? Not a problem: Editors and publishers know you don't get everyone you want to blurb a book to sign on. Telling an author you don't like a book well enough to blurb it? Well, as long as you're doing that, why not shoot their dog, too? I don't want to be in a position where I have to tell someone, no, I won't lend my name to your book, because it kind of makes me feel like a dick to have to say that. That's why I prefer to have the process go through editors.

Now, maybe some folks see this as cowardice, and I think you can make an argument there. However, I think it would be more cowardly to give a positive blurb to a book I didn't actually like just because I didn't want to upset the author, and the fact is I am willing to be a dick if I need to be. After all, it is my name and my credibility, and I don't want either to be watered down simply to be nice to someone. This is a particularly uncomfortable thing if the book is from someone you know and like -- and whose other writing you might possibly also enjoy -- and you have to tell your friend that, well, actually, you don't want your name in little print on their back cover. That better be a strong friendship.

This is why I personally don't ask anyone for blurbs, particularly writers with whom I am friendly -- I pretty much leave it all up to Patrick Nielsen Hayden, my editor, to handle these things. The first I heard about Cory or Ken or Bob blurbing OMW was when PNH sent me a mock-up cover. It's possible -- nay, almost certain -- that PNH sent the book to other people to blurb as well, and they said "uh, really, no." I don't know who these refuseniks are, and since it wouldn't particularly do me any good to know, Patrick hasn't gone out of his way to tell me who they might have been. I endorse this policy of blurb opacity completely, since I can't be neurotic about what I don't know (well, I suppose I could be, but then in addition to being neurotic I'd also be stupid).

Naturally I endorse the "let your editor handle all the blurb stuff" policy for every writer. If you really feel you must have a specific other author blurb your book, then you should mention it to your editor and then let them handle it and never pester them about it again. If the other author blurbs you, excellent. If not, you can decide that your editor, in his or her wisdom, decided that other writers were more desirable for marketing purposes, and who knows? It might even be true. It's better for your sanity, anyway. Seriously, people, this is one of the few times "ignorance is bliss" actually has some relevance.

(And if you're an editor, for God's sake I hope you don't tell your authors when some other writer has decided not to blurb them. "I asked your favorite writer to blurb your book, but he said reading it was like having a cat drag its claws across his eyeballs. So, yeah, we're not going with that." Send a nice length of rope with that message, why don't you.)

If you're an author and you actually feel strongly that you must ask me personally for a blurb, do so on the assumption that I'm probably going to decide not to blurb your book -- because, as I said earlier, I've declined to blurb more books than I've agreed to blurb. If that's going to bother you -- and really, I don't see why it wouldn't -- you should rethink asking me directly. Foist the job on your editor. That's one of the things editors are for. And this way you won't hate me. And, you know. I prefer people not hate me whenever possible.

Update, 2/15/07, 9:15am: Justine Larbalestier has some further thoughts on blurbing.

Posted by john at 09:22 PM | Comments (39) | TrackBack

Things My Daughter Does As a Child That I Never Did: An Occasional Series

Here's one: Make a snow fort. This is what I get for growing up somewhere where the average February temperature was 68 degrees. Really, what was I thinking.

Also: see that? Most of that's accumulation from the last two days. Yeah, we got snow.

Posted by john at 11:49 AM | Comments (35) | TrackBack

Author Interview: Joe Hill

As promised yesterday, I've got an Author Interview with Joe Hill up over at By The Way, in which many subjects are essayed in detail and a good time is had by all.

If you don't go to read this interview, your pancreas could seize up and you may die. I didn't say it will happen. I said it may happen. It's your call.

Posted by john at 11:16 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The Great Valentine's Day Snow-In of 2007


Usually I trek out and about the day before Valentine's Day to get Krissy a card or some small token (we don't believe in going overboard for Valentine's Day), but yesterday we were pretty much snowed in and today we're definitely so, so I didn't get out of the house. So this morning before she woke up I made her this. And now you know why I'm not a cartoonist. But in this case it was indeed the thought that counted. I hope your Valentine's Day is similarly lovely.

I also want to give a special moment of recognition this Valentine's Day to my sister Heather, who later today is getting married -- in Vegas, even! I wish her all the joy and happiness marriage can bring, today and all the days of the rest of her life. I'm not able to be there in body, but I'll definitely be there in spirit, and also by way of video, as the chapel at which she is getting married has a Web cam set-up. No, I won't tell you which chapel; I don't want you all clogging up the tubes, bringing down the chapel's server and keeping me from watching my sis get hitched. I'm sure you understand.

Posted by john at 08:58 AM | Comments (33) | TrackBack

The Other Other Other Side of My Writing Life

You know, when I'm not writing here, or on By the Way, or working on a novel, or a non-fiction book, or banging out a corporate brochure, or mugging little old ladies for their gerunds, I'm often writing magazine articles. Here's one of them, on a company called MediaDefender, which is a company that tries really hard to make sure your attempt to illegally download that popular song or movie is a truly unpleasant experience. It was the cover story a couple months back for Jungle magazine, a magazine aimed at MBA students and new graduates. I've done work for them before, and, indeed, at the moment I'm writing another article for them, too, this one on the UFC. Interesting stuff.

Posted by john at 07:54 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

February 13, 2007

In the Bleak, etc., etc.


Incidentally, going out to take this picture without wearing gloves? Not the smartest thing I could have done.

Update, 8:30pm: In the comments, someone said the picture looks like a book cover. Pixelfish tests the proposition.

Posted by john at 06:20 PM | Comments (34) | TrackBack

Death is Coming! In Snowy Flakes!


Well, the "heavy snow advisory" that had been on in my area is now off, but only because it's now been changed to a blizzard warning. So now not only will we get all the snow we were already going to get, but we'll also get 40 mph gusts of wind. Joy.

This all couldn't have happened last week, when I had nowhere to go. Hopefully all this crap will be out of the way by Friday, when I travel to Boskone.

Those of you to the east of me: Buckle up, chuckles. It's coming.

Posted by john at 01:02 PM | Comments (39) | TrackBack

Note for Folks Who Ordered "Sagan Diary" From Amazon

I got a note from Subterranean Press saying that there was a little database problem with Amazon concerning The Sagan Diaries, but that copies are going out now. So if your copy hasn't yet arrived, it will soon.

Just want to keep you in the loop with these things.

Posted by john at 11:32 AM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

Heart-Shaped Box is Out, Plus a Pimping Thread


Congratulations to my pal Joe Hill, whose debut novel Heart-Shaped Box officially hits the stores today. HSB is coming out both to a volume and quality of reviews most novelists would give eyeteeth for; not entirely coincidentally, it's also one of the best debut novels to come down the pike in a while. It's creepy, it's scary, and it's delightfully well-written, which just makes it even creepier and scarier. Joe sent me HSB a few months ago and I've been sitting on all my squeeful hearty-heartness of this book since then; now I can let it out in an embarrassing gush. Seriously, folks, it's excellent. If you like to get spooked and admire well-written prose at the same time, this is the book.

I'll be interviewing Joe tomorrow for my Author Interview, so you can learn a little more about him then. Incidentally, other upcoming Author Interviews will include Jon Armstrong (who I am behind on in sending questions), Alma Alexander, Hal Duncan, Justine Larbalestier, and some other fun authors with jealous-making books and skills. Yes, I do these interviews so I can suck the knowledge from their skulls. How do you think I've made it so far?

Having gushed about Joe, I now declare this an Open Pimp Thread. Pimp your friends' work! Pimp your own work! Pimp the work of people you don't know but wish to curry favor with for the dread day when the revolution comes! It's all good. And it doesn't just have to be books: pimp any sort of creative endeavor. I like variety.

Remember comments with links may get bumped into the moderation queue. Don't panic; I'll release them at some point.

Posted by john at 09:23 AM | Comments (50) | TrackBack

February 12, 2007

Just In Case You Think Everybody Loves Me

This quote about me (or at the very least, my writing) that I found out there on Teh Intarweebs:

His writing drips with the unappealing mixture of flop-sweat and legitimate perspiration of someone trying much, much too hard to be clever.

Love it. Putting it in the .sig quote bank as we speak.

Posted by john at 09:26 PM | Comments (26) | TrackBack

Coffee Shop Shows Up; TAD in Analog


The lovely Mrs. Scalzi shows off the author copy of Coffee Shop, which means that for those of you who have pre-ordered the book, your wait will soon be over. w00t!

Also, a nice review of The Android's Dream in Analog (warning: some spoilers). Here's the quote I imagine Tor will use for the paperback: "This is one I stayed up late to finish reading. Not many make me do that any more." That quote makes me feel all fuzzy inside, it does.

Posted by john at 05:48 PM | Comments (26) | TrackBack

The Exisitential Plight of Chester Chipmate


Meet Chester, the mascot for the "ChipMates" line of cookie cereal. Here you can see him doing his thing, opening his arms wide in celebration of the cereal brand which he is exhorting you to enjoy in all its flavorful, vitamin-enriched kidtastic goodness. He is cute and non-threatening, particularly for one who is clearly meant -- by attire and accoutrement -- to be a pirate. As required by the National Code of Cereal Mascots, his eyes are wide and unlidded, his eyebrows arched with pleasure and his mouth ever so slack, showing just a hint of tongue, as if to imply the joy of consuming the cereal is so great that one's brain simply cannot ask one's jaws to clamp down and risk not tasting the powdery, particulate fragments that hover in the air above the bowl, jostled up after the cereal has tumbled the distance from the box to the bowl's concave surface. He is everything a cereal mascot is meant to be.

And yet.

What do we really know of Chester? What is his story? What are his motivations for presenting this bowl of cereal to us? To which of the two great cereal mascot archetypes does he belong? Is he a Taster, one of the lucky mascots, like Tony the Tiger or Toucan Sam, who gets to enjoy the product he is so assiduously pitching? Or is he a Chaser, one of those poor bastards like the Trix Rabbit, doomed to the Sisyphean task of promoting a cereal he himself is never once allowed to enjoy? The pirate garb suggests he is a Chaser; after all, pirates spend their time chasing booty, which they may or may not ever get. But on the other hand, perhaps this pirate already has his treasure -- these dun, chocolate-spotted discs of corn and oats -- in which case, like Lucky the Leprechaun, he would be tasked with keeping said treasure from cute but frighteningly rapacious children who chase him about trying to get it for their own. Which would put him solidly in the Taster camp. Fact is, Chester could swing either way. We don't know.

And we can't know. And that is because Chester is the mascot not for a national brand of cereal, but for a store brand (or, those in the industry call it, a "private label" brand), made for the Krogers supermarket chain here in America's heartland. As a mascot for a private label brand, Chester finds himself in an uncomfortable position. His job performance is hampered, not because of his lack of skill in his job, but by the simple mechanics of private label distribution. None of his efforts, for example, will ever get ChipMates into a Food Lion or a Safeway. They have their own private label cookie cereals, possibly with their own mascots -- an excitable giraffe, perhaps, or maybe a baker out of his mind with cookie-based rapture.

But more than that, as a store brand mascot, Chester is denied the vehicle that would allow his character its narrative: The commercial. Everything we know of all the major cereal mascots comes in 30-second animated snippets; it's how we know Tony the Tiger is an excellent lifestyle coach, or that Snap, Crackle and Pop have virtuoso comic timing, or that the poor Trix Rabbit is in desperate and immediate need of therapy. We will never have these brief windows into Chester's soul; store brands aren't given commercials of their own. At best, they get a picture in an advertising circular or a second or two on a local TV ad, as the camera pans across a collection of private label items and some droning announcer declares the remarkable savings they afford. Two seconds of being panned across is not enough time to develop a coherent backstory. All Chester gets is the cereal box, and a single, ambiguous pose.

And, of course, he's lucky to get even that. Some mascots don't even get a box; think back on the humiliation visited upon Schnoz the Shark or Mane Man as they tried to entice consumers to their cereal in flimsy plastic bags, shelved, as they always were, on the bottom shelf of the cereal aisle. Think also on the extremely high rate of unemployment among cereal mascots. When was the last time Baron Von RedBerry got work? Or Twinkles the Elephant? Or Dandy, Handy 'N Candy? The dirty secret about being a cereal mascot is that if it doesn't work out -- if your cereal flops or management decides to make a mascot change -- you're through. You can't get work again. No other cereal will hire you. The best you can hope for is that somewhere along the way some advertising whiz kid decides to run a nostalgia campaign, and then you get trotted out again, gamely smiling for the camera and pathetically grateful that the income will help you get your meds (cereal mascots are ironically susceptible to several diseases related to vitamin deficiencies). Say what you will about the ignominy of being a store brand cereal mascot, but at least it's steady work. Creating new mascots for a private label brand is money the grocery store companies simply aren't going to pay.

Be that as it may, spare a moment for the existential plight of Chester Chipmate, a mascot without voice or history or personal motivation, an enigma wrapped in a mystery, coated in sugar and fortified with minerals. Who knows what wisdom he might impart to us if he had just one 30-second animated commercial? An exclamation that his wares are chiptastic? A promise that his cereal is good to the last crumb? An admonition that in this life we all have to make choices, and some choices come with their own pains, which we must accept with eyes wide, eyebrows arched, jaw slacked and tongue slightly visible? Perhaps all these things. Let us enjoy a bowl of ChipMates and think on it.

Posted by john at 10:43 AM | Comments (73) | TrackBack

February 11, 2007

Coffee Shop Review at Green Man Review

It has a few caveats (most about the chapter on writers, which strikes the reviewer as catty) but it's largely positive:

...there is a lot of good information in here, particularly on working as a freelancer. It's not the bookkeeping/regular office hours/writing good book proposals sort of information, but more getting across the point that editors for popular science magazines don't have time to deal with your artistic neuroses -- and they don't have to. If you're going to be a professional, then be a professional, which means producing what you've agreed to produce when you've agreed to produce it, without histrionics and of good quality. That's how you get more work so you can actually be a professional writer.

That's a pretty square-on assessment from my view.

And now the book's gotten two more reviews, frankly, than I expected it would get. Nice that the reviews have been generally positive so far.

Posted by john at 07:23 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

My Wikipedia Article is Perfectly Cromulent, Thank You Very Much

Some editor at Wikipedia has posted the following notice up on the Wikipedia article about me:

This article or section needs sources or references that appear in credible, third-party publications. Alone, primary sources and sources affiliated with the subject of the article are not sufficient for an accurate encyclopedia article. Please include more appropriate citations from reliable sources.

As it happens, I can attest that as of 4:28 pm EST, February 11, 2007, every bit of fact in the Wikipedia entry about me is correct. I should know, because I'm me. According to this note, however, I am apparently not a credible source for my own life, which is an assertion that I can't decide whether to be amused or offended by. Bear in mind that the vast majority of third party sources (i.e., those Wikipedia would apparently deem as providing "appropriate citations") get their information about me from me. Referencing third party sources won't make the article any more accurate when those sources are all relying on me for their information.

Maybe, just to confuse Wikipedia, I'll start lying to all my interviewers, while keeping perfectly accurate information here on my personal site. I suspect the heads of certain editors at Wikipedia would pop right off. How do you like your officious love of pointless bureaucracy now?!? Bwa ha ha ha hah ha!

In any event: No, in fact, my Wikipedia article doesn't need additional sources or references. It's accurate. Or was, the moment I wrote this. Someone should put in the "Trivia" section of my article that I find pointlessly fussy Wikipedia editors highly annoying. Because that would be accurate, too.

Posted by john at 04:29 PM | Comments (58) | TrackBack

Dropping Wiscon

I regret to say that due to a combination of family and business commitments, neither Krissy nor I will be attending Wiscon this year. This bums us out because a) Wiscon is awesome, b) A lot of our friends will be there and c) Kelly Link is a guest of honor this year and we wanted to be there for that. But it just doesn't look like it's in the cards. There's always next year.

I'll still be at Penguicon and the Heinlein Centennial. I've nothing scheduled after that convention-wise for 2007, although I expect that will probably change over time.

Posted by john at 02:24 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

The Current Background Picture

In response to a couple of e-mail requests, here's what the current background looks like when you can see the full picture. It's a picture of my house, taken in October of 2005. For a larger version, click on the picture itself.

Isn't Ohio lovely? And cheap, too! You know you want to live here.

Posted by john at 12:40 PM | Comments (44) | TrackBack

A Cheerful Thought

Two months ago, I reported that I was getting about 2,000 comment spam messages a day. Today, the number is closer to 3,000 a day. Ah, the march of progress.

(Note: this is not an appeal for help, or an excuse for another of you WordPress zombies to try to get me to switch. You'll note that you don't see 3k spam messages a day. And honestly, the only real way for me to get rid of comment spam is to get rid of comments. Which I'm not planning to do.)

Posted by john at 10:07 AM | Comments (25) | TrackBack

February 10, 2007

One Day This Cat Will Find Me and Rip Out My Throat

Why? Because every time its owners get another book of mine, they celebrate by humiliating their cat with bacon. To wit:


This follows this previous encounter involving this cat, my books, and bacon. Make no mistake, this cat will have its revenge. I mean, look at its expression. It's all laugh while you can, monkey boy. Sadly for it, even if it were to kill me now, there's already at least one other novel into the publishers, and a total of three new books yet to be released if the owners are truly ambitious.

So, yes, Mr. Cat. Kill me if you must. But know that my bony writing hand will reach out from the grave to drape you with bacon yet again! You might as well let me live.

Posted by john at 05:30 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Today's Quote to Athena, Made That Much More Interesting By Its Utter Lack of Context

It is thus:

"Now, I hope you understand that in fact most problems can't be solved by the judicious use of a crossbow."

Posted by john at 03:10 PM | Comments (34) | TrackBack

February 09, 2007

Because It's Never Too Early to Be Disaffected

Sometimes a t-shirt is almost too perfect, you know?

The t-shirt, incidentally, is from the Penny Arcade collection. It was on sale!

Posted by john at 05:59 PM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

Friday Petblogging

Because, you know. Why not.

Posted by john at 04:32 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Idiot Telemarketers in Action, Part 13,772

(Phone Rings)

Me: Hello?

Idiot Telemarketer: Hello, I'm calling you from the U.S. Navy Veterans Association and --

Me: Let me stop you right there and tell you to call back later, when my wife is at home. She handles all our charitable giving.

Idiot Telemarketer: We'll, I'm sure that you're the better half, and --

Me: You know what? You've just offended me incredibly by suggesting my wife isn't competent to talk to you. Take me off your list and never call me back.

(hangs up)

The organization, once again: The U.S. Navy Veterans Association, whose telemarketers, apparently, are sexist dickwads.

You know, both my father and my wife's father were in the Navy. I'm not disinclined to support charitable organizations related to that branch of the service. However, now, not this particular one.

Posted by john at 03:21 PM | Comments (47) | TrackBack

Sundry Notes, 2/9/07

More little things:

* Happy birthday to one of my favorite people on this or any other planet, Karen Meisner. For those of you who don't know know here, Karen's one big happy package of awesome. Those of you who know her know this already, of course.

* Subterranean Press wants to remind reviewers and/or those with heavily-trafficked blogs that it has advance reader copies available of upcoming books, including ones from Elizabeth Bear, Cherie Priest, Ted Chiang, Connie Willis and Robert Silverberg. Become part of the great SF/F publicity machine! You know you want to. Incidentally, I myself have the ARCs to most of these, and you know what? Most of these are pretty @$#%^! great.

* Anna Nicole Smith: Honestly, people. How did you expect she was going to end up? There was no aspect of her life that didn't point to this, sooner or later.

* I've been vaguely following this John Edwards/blogger thing and it's pretty damn stupid. Political bloggers using intemperate language? Heaven forfend! I am shocked, shocked at the lack of decorum!

Here's a handy guideline for anyone thinking to a hire a blogger for anything: Assume they've written something someone somewhere will get offended about, because that's what bloggers do. I mean, shit. Just the other day, if my e-mail serves, I offended religious homophobes and at least some gay-positive folk in the very same entry. That, my friends, is a skill to have.

Point is, there is hardly a blogger with any sort of traffic who doesn't have something in the archive that will make for tantalizing pullquotes. The only sane response to someone who waves these quotes about is to ask them, quite sincerely, if they're aware that water has a certain quality of wetness about it. Likewise, if you hire a long-time blogger, particularly if you're a political campaign, by God be prepared.

* Re: E-mail -- it was down for some time yesterday, it's been back up for a while, but I'm still going through it. If you've not heard back from me yet, don't panic.

Posted by john at 11:31 AM | Comments (28) | TrackBack

February 08, 2007

For Your Voting Pleasure: The 2007 Locus Poll & Survey

To vote for a Hugo, you have to be a member of that year's Worldcon. To vote for a Nebula, you have to be a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. But to vote for a Locus Award? All you have to be is you. And you're already you! Or were the last time I checked. So you can vote.

Here's how to do it: Go to this site, enter your name and an e-mail address near the top of the form, and choose your selections for the various categories. Locus has drop-down menus so you can choose books from that magazine's "Recommended Reading" list for 2006, or (and this will be important in the next paragraph), you can enter the name of another book and author in the blank line to the right of each drop down box. You can vote for up to five books/people in each category (but for each only once in its category). If I remember correctly, the numbers on the side of each form correspond to an actual ranking, so just in case, put your favorites in the top slots.

Some of you will notice that neither The Ghost Brigades nor The Android's Dream, both published in 2006, got onto Locus' Recommended Reading list in the category of Best SF Novel, so you will find neither in Locus' handy drop-down lists. Yes, I know. I'm sure it was merely a clerical oversight. Twice. Naturally, both books will be at a disadvantage in the general voting because they're not in the handy-dandy drop-down list. Nevertheless, if you feel in your wisdom that one or both (!) books should be considered for Locus' Best SF Novel award, simply enter my last name and the name of the book in one of the blank spaces in that category. Locus' preferred way of writing these out would look like this:

Scalzi, The Ghost Brigades


Scalzi, The Android's Dream

Feel free to cut and paste those if it helps. I'm all about making it easy.

I note with some confusion that Locus also appears not have recommended any stories from Subterranean #4 for their Best Short Story category; another clerical error, I'm sure. Well, you can still nominate up to five of those stories as well, by adding them into the blanks. Here's the pdf of Subterranean #4 to refresh your memory of the authors and titles. And don't forget "Who Put the Bomp?" either!

Be sure to look through all the categories; notwithstanding the inexplicable clerical errors mentioned above, harumph harumph, there are some excellent suggestions in each category. After you're done filling out the various categories, Locus also has a demographic survey at the bottom. Please do fill it out to your level of informational comfort, so that Locus can have a reasonably accurate model of what today's science fiction readers look like.

One poll to a customer; don't try to game the system by filling out multiple surveys. That's just silly.

I think it's pretty cool that Locus opens up this poll and survey to everyone, not just subscribers, so I do hope you take advantage of the opportunity to put in your vote on what's the best SF of 2006. Have fun with it, folks.

Posted by john at 09:10 PM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

French Art, Bulgarian Sales


Not sure that I actually showed off the cover to the French-language version of Old Man's War, so: Here it is. I don't know if this is original art or art snitched from elsewhere; what's going on in the artwork is close enough to an actual scene in the book that may be art done for the book. That would be lovely. Of course, if you recognize it from something else, let me know.

Also, some nice news: We've sold the rights to OMW and The Ghost Brigades in Bulgaria. Bulgaria! This pleases me immensely; I like the idea of the book hanging out in Sofia. I hear it's a lovely city. That's the eighth foreign language sale for OMW and the fifth for TGB. Nifty. Много благодаря, Bulgaria!

Posted by john at 01:14 PM | Comments (25) | TrackBack

Sundry Notes, 2/8/07

Various small things:

* My e-mail appears to well and truly screwed at the moment: no mail coming in or out. It's the mail server. If you've sent me e-mail in the last few hours, I would recommend sending it again... after a few hours. If you're planning to send me e-mail, wait. If you're expecting e-mail from me, manage your expectations. If you've neither sent me e-mail nor are expecting any from me, please, go about your day as usual. This mail interruption seems part of a larger problem my host provider's having; I can't get their Web page to come up either. However, my site is up. So that's all right.

* Happy birthday to the fabulous Mary Robinette Kowal, who is celebrating her birthday by going out for Chinese food with friends. Wish I could be there. Ms. Kowal, as many of you know, did an absolutely excellent job as one of the readers of "The Sagan Diary"; honestly, I can't get through her recording of Chapter Eight without weeping like a child. And that's a good thing.

* Congratulations also to my friend Lawrence Schimel, whose anthology The Future is Queer is on the Lambda Literary Award long list. These lists will be whittled down to finalists in a couple of weeks.

* Justine Larbalestier, whose really excellent book Magic's Child was just sent to me in hardcover, which should make you all jealous because it won't be out for a month, is interviewed on BookSlut. I'm also planning to interview Justine next month; good thing she's a talker.

* This fellow wants non-Americans to boycott "American cultural products," on the rationale that "They are propaganda aimed at turning your children into mindless consumers and your nations into obedient colonies." Damn it, I hate it when my subtext is that obvious! You non-Americans aren't supposed to suspect my hegemony until after you've bought the book!

Honestly, I never know what to make of the frothy types such as this. But just for the record, non-Americans: I prefer you have children with fully-functioning brains, and that you go through life blissfully uncolonized by my country. I know that's dreadfully unhegemonic of me. But, look: Hegemony is just so much damn work. I have other things to do, you know?

Posted by john at 10:41 AM | Comments (27) | TrackBack

February 07, 2007

Something for the Computer Geeks

I'm looking at some of my usage stats, to see what browsers people are using (Mozilla: 39%; IE: 33%; Opera, Netscape, Safari: <4% each) and OS's (Windows: 85%, Mac OS: 9.5%, Linux: 5%), and in the latter category I discover that here in 2007, there has been a single visit from someone running OS/2. OS/2! Man, it's like getting a phone call from 1992 and listening to the guy on the other end of the line talk you about that awesome new grunge music scene. There were also about 100 visits from people using Lynx, which I think is actually kind of cool. Possibly one of those was from the guy running OS/2.

And, hey, if you're the OS/2 guy: Qua, dude, qua. I think you owe us all an explanation.

Posted by john at 07:24 PM | Comments (71) | TrackBack

Small Town Life: One in a Series

So, Athena's school has been canceled every day this week, twice because of cold and once (today) because of snow, and tomorrow and Friday the school day is going to be cut short at one o'clock because staff member at the school passed away and the family asked to have the viewing of the body at the school (which will happen on Thursday) and also the memorial service (which will happen on Friday). I really have no objection regarding either -- I think it's kind of poignant, actually -- but it's interesting that Athena won't have a full day of school in an entire week. Life in a little town in the dead of winter.

Posted by john at 12:28 PM | Comments (28) | TrackBack

Move Under Ground: Now in Convenient Creative Commons Form


Nick Mamatas, who co-wrote the short story "Who Put The Bomp?" which I published here (and which I keep flogging for your Hugo nomination consideration), has decided to take his debut novel, Move Under Ground, and make it available for free under a Creative Commons license. He has his reasons:

The first is simply that I wish my novel to be more widely read. The second is that I am currently a student at Western Connecticut University's MFA program in Professional Writing, and this site is a project for its class on publishing technologies. The third is a bit more mercenary: if you like this book, perhaps you'd like to buy either the hardcover or the trade paperback.

As it happens, I own the hardcover; I think the novel -- which has Jack Kerouac facing off against Cthulhu, you know, like you do -- is pretty damn good, and I'm not the only one, since Booklist called it a "tour de force" and Publishers Weekly said "Though Lovecraft reduxes are common in horror, few show the wit and energy of this original effort." Which is nice praise if you can get it.

In any event, check it out in electronic form; if you like it, buy the physical copy. Simple.

Posted by john at 12:47 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Curing Teh Gayz -- In Just Three Weeks!

There are going to be enough people out there who will point out the fundamental (heh) absurdity of declaring Ted Haggard cured of his taste for jock-seasoned meats that I'm not even going to bother with that. What I will say is that I found the following tidbit from Haggard's recent e-mail to his former flock interesting:

As part of New Life’s efforts to help me, they sent Gayle and me to Phoenix for a three-week psychological intensive that gave us three years worth of analysis and treatment. We all wanted to know why I developed such incongruity in my life.

Really? Three years of therapy in three weeks? This was the Reader's Digest Condensed Gay Cure package, then? How can that work? I mean, come on. That part where you taser a gay man's junk while he watches the films of Cher? That takes up a whole day in itself. You can't just scamper through Mermaids if you want those 50,000 volts of pure haploid-frying Christly love to have their maximum effect. Remember: They must savor 'ere you taser. And then you only have 20 days left for everything else! It's madness, I tell you! Madness.

Those of you who persist in dealing with reality may quite rightly note that inasmuch as curing people of their hunger for smoked pole doesn't work anyway, you might as well take the three-week course, the better to get out in time for prime cruise season. But, see. That's exactly the problem, isn't it? You can't cure people of the same sex slippery, so the only real value of one of these programs is to reassure people who simply don't want to know any better that you've done your time and have had the longing for the huevos con chorizo grande platter well and truly shaken out of you. And, well. Three weeks just isn't enough time for that.

You what a three-week gay cure is like? It's like Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp. You go, you play around with people who are what you kind of fantasize about being, and you have a fine ol' time jumping up and down on stage with your new pals. But when you come home, your friends don't suddenly confuse you with David Bowie. And if you tell them you're going to chuck your job and go on the road, they'll look at you like you're high. That's because the relevant word in the phrase "Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp" is "fantasy".

Now, unlike the rock & roll fantasy camp, the three-week gay cure probably isn't up front about the whole "fantasy" aspect of its product. But, friend. Everybody knows. Which is why, I suspect, when members of Haggard's former flock read about it, at least some of them are going to go "three weeks, eh?" and then start counting the days until the man gets caught once again sampling from the sausage tray. These folks may be misguided in their thoughts on making people "ex-gay," but that doesn't mean they're stupid.

Bottom line: If you want people to buy the lie that you've been de-homofied, you need to put in the tick-tock. Three months, at least. That's like a semester at Julliard, if you know what I mean. At least you've then given the appearance of making an effort. Three weeks? Not even close.

Posted by john at 12:17 AM | Comments (48) | TrackBack

February 06, 2007

Snow! In Winter! Amazing!


The good news is that it's no longer so cold that it can't actually snow. On the other hand, well, we've got snow and lots of it -- the first actual accumulation this winter -- and it doesn't look like it's going to stop anytime soon. We'll have to see if we'll actually be able to leave the house tomorrow morning. Tonight, at least, we don't have to go anywhere. And it is pretty.

Posted by john at 05:06 PM | Comments (30) | TrackBack

On Speaking Aloud

Mary Robinette Kowal, who did such a lovely job performing "The Sagan Diary," writes up a piece about what happens when the words you're reading don't exactly trip off the tongue. And she includes an audio file to make the point. Fun and instructive!

Posted by john at 12:37 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

A Series of Casual Thoughts I Had While I Was Filling Out My Hugo Nomination Ballot and Looking at the Best Fan Writer Category

(Preface Note: The following entry will be all but incomprehensible to non-SF geeks. You've been warned)

Initial Condition: Looking at the Best Fan Writer category on the Hugo Award nomination form
----First Thought: Who besides Dave Langford should get the award this year?
-------(Parenthetical thought: Not that Dave Langford isn't a lovely fellow)

Ameliorative Action: Read eligibility information to see if it jogs some names
----Eligibility Criteria: Category is open to any person who
-------* Writes in a fanzine, or;
-------* Writes in a semiprozine, or;
-------* Writes in generally available electronic media;
-------* In 2006.

Lateral Observation: By this description, I am eligible to be nominated in the Best Fan Writer category
----Check Eligibility Criteria:
-------* Am I a person? Yes
-------* Did I write in a fanzine in 2006? No
-------* Did I write in a semiprozine in 2006? No
-------* Did I write in generally available electronic media in 2006? Yes
---------* "Whatever" is published in the electronic medium;
---------* "Whatever" has readership >20K/Day, i.e generally available;
---------* "Whatever" not written for profit (although this not strictly specified for catgeory);
---------* SF/F-related topics frequently essayed in "Whatever"
-----------Ironic Note: This entry prime example

Secondary Lateral Observation: Not only am I eligible, but many pro SF/F writers are also eligible
----Examples of other pro sf/f writers eligible (not limited to following field)
-------* Elizabeth Bear
-------* Patrick and/or Teresa Nielsen Hayden
-------* Nick Mamatas
-------* Tobias Buckell
-------* Cherie Priest
-------* Hal Duncan
-------* Indeed, anyone with a blog who writes on SF/F themes

Initial Conclusion: Entertain the idea of nominating sf/f pros who are bloggers for Best Fan Writer

Point in Opposition (PiO) #1: Best Fan Writer Hugo meant for fans, not pros
----- Hence the category name: Best Fan Writer

First Rebuttal to PiO #1: WSFS Constitution does not make that distinction for category eligibility
----- Category open to "any" person
------- Pro sf/f writers subset of "any"
-------- Pros also quite frequently come from sf/f fandom; i.e., are fans

Second Rebuttal to Pio #1: 20-time category winner Dave Langford a professional SF writer
----- Langford has written/co-written at least three novels;
----- Langford winner of 2001 Best Short Story Hugo, a "pro" category;
----- Langford nominee for 2006 Best Related Book, a "pro" category

Point in Opposition #2: Opening up category to pros damages character of category
----- There are fan awards and pro awards for a reason; pros shouldn't dip into fan categories

Rebuttal to PiO #2: Other fan categories make allowances for fan/pro movement
----- Fan artist category notes someone nominated for Best Artist category is ineligible that year for Fan Artist, implying fluidity between the categories

Point in Support: Best Fan Writer category desperately moribund
----- Same winner in category since 1989
----- Only four winners in 30 years
----- Nominating well-known pros could make the category more competitive
----- Conversely, it could motivate nominators to look at a wider cross-section of fan writers

Final Conclusion: Definitely entertain the idea of nominating sf/f pros who are bloggers for Best Fan Writer
----- Did I nominate myself? No
----- Did I nominate others? Maybe


Posted by john at 01:58 AM | Comments (61) | TrackBack

February 05, 2007

Holy Crap

At the moment, "The Sagan Diary" is at #262 #207 #194 #179 on Amazon and #12 #11 #9 #8 on its science fiction bestseller list. I guess people like the audio version. But with such truly fabulous readers involved, who can blame them.

Thanks, folks. "Sagan" was a real experiment for me, and I'm really happy that so far people seem to be coming along for the ride. And yet again, thanks to Elizabeth Bear, Mary Robinette Kowal, Ellen Kushner, Karen Meisner, Cherie Priest and Helen Smith. Clearly, I owe them all a kidney. This could be a problem.

Posted by john at 11:47 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Speaking of TSD...


Literally a minute after I uploaded the audio version, the UPS dude showed up at the door with my own copies. This is the limited edition, which is all leathery and and has my signature and stuff, although I'll admit having my own autographed copy of a Scalzi original is possibly less exciting for me than it is for others.

In any event, if I've got mine, that means many of you will be receiving yours soon as well -- if in fact you don't have yours already.

Posted by john at 03:10 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

The Sagan Diary: The Audio Version

I have something special for you today, and something I am extraordinarily proud of. To celebrate the release of "The Sagan Diary," (which you can get through Subterranean's Web site and through Amazon) I and Subterranean Press have arranged for a reading of the book -- the entire novelette -- here on the Whatever. But it's not me who will be reading the book. "The Sagan Diary" is meant to be the thoughts of Jane Sagan, as she looks over her life after the events of The Ghost Brigades and prepares for the life which will be detailed in The Last Colony. I wanted voices closer to hers than my own.

So I asked some friends if they would speak for Jane Sagan: I asked Elizabeth Bear, Mary Robinette Kowal, Ellen Kushner, Karen Meisner, Cherie Priest and Helen Smith. Happily for me (and for you) they said yes. Each of them recorded a chapter (or more, in the case of Mary Robinette Kowal), and took the words I wrote for Jane and gave them extra dimensions -- made more of them than I would be able to make of them myself. If you've wondered what Jane Sagan sounds like, she sounds like this. I was delighted to hear her voice coming through these readings, and deeply humbled by the efforts these women provided in letting Jane speak with them and through them. Without prejudicing your own hearing, let me say that I found myself getting emotional listening to these words given voice. Listen to it; you'll figure out where.

And now it gives me a great deal of pleasure to present you "The Sagan Diary," spoken aloud. The story is broken up into a preface and eight chapters; each chapter is available in low-bandwidth (32kbps mp3) and high-bandwidth (variable rate but usually >300kpbs mp3) versions. The low bandwidth versions are standardized in volume; the high bandwidth versions vary (I figure you know how to use a volume knob). The individual chapters themselves were recorded on everything from MacBooks with built-in microphones to professional sound equipment, so there's some variance there was well; I went in smoothed things out somewhat with my audio equipment, but not too much, because I wanted each of the individual voices to come through.

Here is a table of contents for the audio version, with links to the files.

Preface to "The Sagan Diary" -- This chapter is actually not from the point of view of Jane Sagan; it's from the POV of a military data analyst who has some very pointed grievances concerning the data she has to work with. This chapter will especially be useful for those of you who have not quite gotten through The Ghost Brigades. This chapter is read by Mary Robinette Kowal. (Low | High)

Chapter One: Words -- "These words are my life. Representation of time and counterfeit of emotion, record of loss and celebration of gain." The story now shifts to Jane, where it will remain. Read by Mary Robinette Kowal (Low | High)

Chapter Two: Killing -- "I am not Death. I am killing; I am the verb, I am the action, I am the performance. I am the movement that cuts the spine; I am the mass which pulps the brain. I am the headsnap ejecting consciousness into the air." Read by Elizabeth Bear (Low | High)

Chapter Three: Speaking -- "Let me speak your name... and in doing so affirm you in your tangible skin, with vibration and waves and exhalation" Read by Karen Meisner (Low | High)

Chapter Four: Friendship -- "I rose early the day I killed my friend. I knew that when I killed him I would have to be ready... and for that I needed to prepare myself." Read by Ellen Kushner (Low | High)

Chapter Five: Age -- "When you were born all you could do was cry. When I was born I woke to a whisper, giving me a name and telling me to come away from my cradle." Read by Helen Smith (Low | High)

Chapter Six: Sex -- "I am intent on your face, and the movement of your lips, and the memory of how those lips feel when they are on me." Read by Cherie Priest (Low | High)

Chapter Seven: Fear -- "Fear enters the room and sits down in a chair and with a polite smile asks to open negotiations. Fear is small and hard and patient, and duplicitous, because in asking to negotiate it knows I cannot refuse." Read by Mary Robinette Kowal (Low | High)

Chapter Eight: Endings -- "It is time to come to the end of things and to the beginning." Read by Mary Robinette Kowal (Low | High)

Let me take a moment to thank Ellen, Bear, Karen, Mary, Cherie and Helen for their work on this. This is everything I hoped it would be. I hope you enjoy it too. Feel free to let people know it's here -- I'd like for this to get around.

Posted by john at 02:39 PM | Comments (54) | TrackBack

Whatever Down and Now Back Up

In case you were wondering why the hell the Whatever was down for four and a half hours -- got me. It was a problem on the host provider side, not something I did. It wasn't like I was sticking jam into my computer or anything. I alerted the host provider to the problem and then went to bed, and was pleased to see the problem addressed once I woke up. And I suppose that if one had to have one's site down for four and a half hours, the four and a half hours between 1am and 5:30am would be the ones you would want.

Posted by john at 06:42 AM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

February 04, 2007

The Hugo/Campbell Nomination Thread, 2007 Edition

I filled out my Hugo and Campbell nomination form tonight, which reminded me that it's time to ask you all for your thoughts as to whom you would nominate for a Hugo and/or Campbell this year. But before I open the thread to your recommendations, allow me to share some thoughts and recommendations of my own:

1. If you're a Hugo nominator this year, and you are at a loss in terms of people to nominate in the Best Professional Artist category, allow me to suggest the three fine gentlemen with whom I have worked this year: John Harris, who did the cover to The Ghost Brigades; Shelley Eshkar, who did the cover for The Android's Dream; and Bob Eggleton, who did the cover and inside illustrations for Subterranean magazine issue #4. Now, to be sure, there are many fine artists eligible year, but these are the ones who did stuff for me and I feel obliged to remind you to consider them.

2. Likewise, if you're stuck for someone to nominate in the category of Best Editor, Long Form, may I commend to you Patrick Nielsen Hayden, editor of both The Ghost Brigades and The Android's Dream? Aside from editing these two fine novels, I will remind people that he also edited two of last year's Hugo nominees (Old Man's War and Learning the World) and acquired for Tor the eventual Hugo winner, Spin. Which is to say, he has a record of fine editorship, which is continued on this year; aside from my two books he's also edited Widdershins by Charles de Lint, Farthing by Jo Walton and The Armies of Memory by John Barnes, among others. Not a bad year, I'd say.

3. Also, if you're stuck on what stories you should nominate in the Best Short Story category, please remember that there are many truly excellent short stories in the John Scalzi-edited edition of Subterranean magazine, a free pdf version of which you may download right here. There's damn fine work here from folks like Allen Steele, Elizabeth Bear, Jo Walton, Nick Sagan and about a dozen others. I'm not eligible to be nominated in the Best Editor category (I don't edit enough), but if one of the stories that I picked for the magazine managed to get on the ballot, well, I'd feel shiny.

4. Let me also again note that "Who Put the Bomp"? by Nick Mamatas and Eliani Torres, which appeared right here on Whatever, is eligible for nomination as well. If it were to hit the ballot, I believe it would be the first time that a story that was published on a personal Web site had managed that. And I think that would be cool.

5. As the editor of Subterranean issue #4, it would be remiss of me not to note that Rachel Swirsky, Ann Leckie, Dean Cochrane and David Klecha all had their first pro publications in its pages -- and are therefore eligible to be nominated for The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer this year. Read their stories; I think you'll see they make a good argument. Let me also mention that two members of my Campbell class from last year, Sarah Monette and Brandon Sanderson, are eligible this year as well, and well worth your consideration.

6. Let me take this opportunity to encourage folks who are eligible to nominate for this year's Hugos to indeed nominate, because this year a very large percentage of nominators are likely to be Japanese, and nominating works, editors, artists and fans who are themselves Japanese. Now, I happen to think this is both a natural and laudable consequence of having the Worldcon in Japan -- there ought to be Japanese works, editors, artists and fans nominated this year. But I think it'd be nice if the Western hemisphere gets a shoutout in the various categories as well. So if you can nominate -- nominate!

7. Inasmuch as I've just given a number of suggestions for Hugo nominations above, and I have prodded all y'all to nominate for the Hugo, as promised I declare this the 2007 Hugo and Campbell Nomination Thread, in which I exhort you, the faithful Whatever readers, to offer up the books, stories, fans, artists and editors you feel folks should consider while nominating for the Hugo and the Campbell. Here are the categories; feel free to pimp in as many categories as you like. But there are two rules:

a) Don't pimp yourself or your own work (although you can pimp artists and editors who have worked on your books);

b) Don't pimp the host's work. He's already done that; no need to do it again. Let's hear about others.

Got it? Excellent.

Now: Who/what do you want nominators to remember when they're filling out their Hugo nomination ballots?

Posted by john at 10:58 PM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

Because I Have Not Yet Slathered Myself Thickly Enough Upon The Web...

...I now have a Facebook profile. Because it amuses me to have one, that's why.

Posted by john at 09:13 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

Boskone Schedule

I'll be at Boskone again this year, because there's nothing finer than Boston in February, or apparently so I've been led to believe, and also, the NESFA folks are fine people who have been very kind to me, so I like to return the favor and let them know I appreciate the support. While at Boskone, I will be doing various things, some of which are legal, and some of which are even planned. Here are my currently scheduled panels and appearances:


Not a damn thing. You'll probably find me wandering the halls or at the bar.


10:00am: New and Old Horizons: Great Worlds in SF and Fantasy
Panel Description: There is none. I guess we'll make it up as we go along.
Other Panelists: Stephen C. Fisher, Karl Schroeder
Thoughts: I suspect we'll be geeking out here, talking about the worlds we like in sf/f, discussing world building in a general sense, and perhaps talking a little bit about how we've built up our own universes. I've not been on a panel with Mr. Fisher, but Karl is tons of fun on a panel, and also of course smart as hell, and he's just built a really fabulous world in his Virga series. So this should be interesting. I am the moderator of this panel.

1:00pm: Autographing
Other Autographers: Paul Park, Melissa Scott
Thoughts: Uh, I'm autographing. Bring books.

3:00pm: Blogging and Live Journals in SF
Panel Description: Blogging is having an impact not only on the world at large but on the SF community in particular. Blogs tell us more about the people in the field, the way the field works, and who is who -- and a pace and with a distribution that few if any fanzines could ever match. Blogs influence the directions of our community, can impact awards by making works or their creators better known, and perhaps even influence the works being created. (Or, perhaps the impact is overstated, as the impact of blogs in general may be.) Can writers use blogs to market themselves? Are blogs a way to engage the community (and maybe even potential voters)? The panel looks at blogs within our community and their impact.
Other Panelists: John Joseph Adams, Kathryn Cramer, James D. MacDonald, Teresa Nielsen Hayden
Thoughts: We're going to have to work a bit to make this not be exactly like every other "blogging and SF" panel in the last three years, but with this lineup I think we can manage. Also, I'll be moderating this panel too, so I'll have some leeway in terms of directing the conversation.

4:00pm: Consciousness, AI, and Downloaded Personalities: Separating the possible from the unlikely
Panel Description: Presumably we might already be capable of counting the brain's 100 billion neurons. How long till we're also up to modeling? Storing? Streaming your mind like a 99-cent iTune? Creating it from scratch? What's the latest science on this? What are some practical difficulties? Would this prove there's no soul? How big is the leap from Clarke's HAL 9000 to Banks's Culture Minds?
Other Panelists: Jeffrey A. Carver, Matthew Jarpe, Marvin Minsky, Karl Schroeder
Thoughts: Cool, Marvin Minsky. I am moderating yet again.


10:00am: The Best New Writers: Recent Campbell Award Winners Talk
Panel Description: Fresh winners of our field's Newbie Nobel give a tip of their tiaras to other notable up-and-comers. What are their best new stories? What topics or trends obsess them? What magazines, small presses, websites, or other venues should we be watching to catch the greatest of the latest? And is it easy being green?
Other Panelists: Elizabeth Bear, Wen Spencer
Thoughts: Newbie Nobel? I prefer "Precocious Pulitzer," myself.

1:00pm: Beyond the iPod: Neat New Gadgets Last Year and This
Panel Description: From Blu-ray to Xbox 360 to iPhone, Wii to musical pillows to petcams, the nerdy bling has been piling up lately. What's actually in it for early adopters? What trends look meaningful? What's coming up soon? Bring your shiniest new toy to show off. Extra geekoboo for the first self-parking Lexus!
Other Panelists: Tobias Buckell, Mark L. Olson, Edie Stern
Thoughts: No doubt I will have many exciting Windows Vista tales to tell by that time.

2:00pm: Literary Beer
Thoughts: For those who don't know what this is, this is me hanging out in the bar, talking to people who sign up to chat with me. I think next year I'm going to request that they not schedule my lit beer/kaffeeklatch at the same time as people are trying to get the hell out of the convention because they have flights to catch, because it's likely that this will end up with me and Toby Buckell (who is having his own literary beer at the same time) sitting by ourselves and muttering bitterly. At least I know where he'll be so we can catch a cab to the airport together. On the other hand, if you ever wanted to have quality time with me by yourself, this will probably be an excellent time to have it.

When I am not on a panel, I am likely to be found wandering about, so if you see me don't be hesitant to come up and say hello. I'm not exactly the shy and retiring type.

I'll also note that I will have at least one item in the Mike Ford Auction & Extravaganza. There be may be more than one if I can motivate my lazy ass; no, I won't be more specific than that, except to say that if I mange to rouse myself from laziness and do this other thing for the auction, it damn well better get a pretty high bid. That's all I'm going to say about that.

So, who is going to Boskone this year?

Posted by john at 02:04 PM | Comments (28) | TrackBack

Kung Fu Cleaning -- The Aftermath


And now, here is Krissy, showing off her cleaning handiwork. Despite the unfathomable mess of my office, Krissy was able to clean in just slightly over an hour, which is not so much an indication that my office was not actually all that dirty as it is an indication that she is just that good at chaos management. Reason #17,592 why I have the most awesome wife EVAR.

Posted by john at 12:53 PM | Comments (26) | TrackBack

Super What Now?

Don't care about the Bears, don't care about the Colts, and, more to the point, don't really care much about football. Any really interesting ads will show up on YouTube. Therefore: No Super Bowl watching plans. Will probably get some reading done.


Posted by john at 11:33 AM | Comments (43) | TrackBack

Everybody Was Kung Fu Cleaning


Krissy entered my office with a sweatband made of plastic trashbags and spoke wisdom: "In order to clean a mess, one must first remove the source of the mess," she said. This was her excuse for kicking me out of the room.

Then she closed the door.

Then she started playing ABBA.

I don't suspect my office stands a chance.

I have been exiled to the bedroom, from which I am not allowed to emerge until Krissy is done cleaning. I believe that I mess with her cleaning chi. Fortunately I have been given beverages and a laptop. I may survive. which is more than I can say for the mess in my office.

Posted by john at 11:04 AM | Comments (33) | TrackBack

February 03, 2007

Brain Like a Lumpy Custard

I slept too much today -- which even I find hard to believe -- and now my brain refuses to do more than stagger along, bumping into easily-avoided stationary objects. Help me. Tell me something profound. Anyone who quotes from Buckaroo Banzai will be shot. I thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Posted by john at 01:36 PM | Comments (91) | TrackBack

February 02, 2007

OMW in the UK

Got official word of this, so now I can share it; Old Man's War is now going have an official UK version, which will hit stores there on the first of June. This is opposed to the current situation, in which OMW is available only as a US import.

You ask, "are there going to be any major differences between the two editions"? I'm glad you asked. Here are some of the revisions we are thinking of making.

1. Rather than being green, all the CDF soldiers will be an enchanting paisley.

2. In the scene where the characters are eating together for the first time, the American style breakfast will be replaced with a fry-up.

3. John Perry will now be the spitting image of Hugh Laurie back in the A Bit of Fry and Laurie days. Jane Sagan now looks just like Kate Bush around about the Lionheart era.

4. John Perry is no longer from Ohio; he's from Croydon.

5. There will be a 60% increase in British in-jokes, mostly in snippets of dialogue lifted from Monty Python, Blackadder, Red Dwarf and Little Britain, and snarky bits from record reviews in 1980s editions of Smash Hits. Chief among these is when John Perry, severely wounded, can be heard to utter, "I'm not dead. I think I'll go for a walk." Also, Jane Sagan now weighs the same as a duck.

6. CDF battle unitards replaced with chav-tastic tracksuits and white trainers.

7. The cover of the UK version of Old Man's War will resemble the original hardcover artwork, except in this case, the old man on the cover will be the spitting image of Sir Cliff Richard.

8. The scene featuring the future advertising icon "Willie Wheelie" will have Willie replaced by Denny the Red Devil, a future mascot of Manchester United.

9. At least one alien species in the book previously assumed to be incomprehensible will be discovered to merely have been speaking Glaswegian.

10. While not specifically UK-related, the UK edition will add in a formerly-excised scene in which Jane Sagan is revealed to be both red-headed and John Perry's mother, sent forward in time with the help of her twin male clones. When this is revealed, the nipples of every character in the scene immediately go spung. This scene was removed from the original book by editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden, who noted, "science fiction already has an altogether sufficient number of spunged nipples, thank you very much."

This is all very, very true.

Posted by john at 01:03 PM | Comments (60) | TrackBack

February 01, 2007

The Sagan Diary is Shipping

On the Subterranean Press site I read that "The Sagan Diary" is now out -- w00t! -- and Bill Schafer tells me that preorders are heading into the mail Monday or Tuesday. So those of you who ordered early, your wait is almost over.

If you haven't ordered a copy yet, you can pick it up at Subterranean and at Amazon, and I'm sure that it will be presently available from your favorite book sellers as well -- just ask them for it. I should note that if you're interested in the signed, limited edition you can't get it through Amazon; Amazon has it listed, but that's apparently an error (you can get the standard trade edition, however).

I'll also note to you that next week we're going to have something very special to celebrate the release of "The Sagan Diary" -- I can't tell you yet what it is, but I can tell you I'm so excited about it I think I may just pop. And I think you're going to like it a lot too. Just you wait.

Posted by john at 12:10 PM | Comments (28) | TrackBack

And Now My Incredibly Detailed Review of Windows Vista, Based on Strenuous Examination of Every Nook and Cranny of Microsoft's Revolutionary New Operating System That Will Change the Way You Look At Computing Forever!

Eh. You can wait.

Posted by john at 09:32 AM | Comments (61) | TrackBack