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May 31, 2007

On The LiveJournal Thing

LiveJournal annoyed many of its users recently by suspending a bunch of accounts for specious reasons; my major thought on this is is: See, this is why I keep my own space on teh intarweebs. However, my pal Deven Desai, who is a law professor and who follows technology and IP, has blogged about it at length, first here, when the LJ hit the fan, and then here, when LiveJournal backed up and apologized for screwing up. If you want a view of the action from the legal side of things, this is a good place to get it.

Posted by john at 01:59 PM | Comments (25) | TrackBack

A Good Use of Funds

As an alum of the University of Chicago, and one who depended on a scholarship for much of his tuition, this makes me happy:

A graduate of the University of Chicago gave an anonymous donation of $100 million to his alma mater, marking the largest single donation given to an Illinois university. The money will be used to give full scholarships to about 800 lower-income students each academic year. The grants, called Odyssey Scholarships, will also pay partial tuition for another 400 of the 4,400 undergraduate students at the institution and fund a summer enrichment program for about 50 lower-income students before their first year of college.

I would have qualified. Oh, yes.

And more to the point, I credit my time at the U of C as being of critical importance to shaping my success out in the real world. I wouldn't be the same person -- and I doubt I would have the same success -- if I hadn't gone through its halls. It's a hell of a school, but it's definitely not cheap, and I think it would be a bad thing if kids like me, who would be right for the U of C (and for whom the U of C would be right for) had to cross it off their list because they simply couldn't afford it. So it's nice that the decision to attend is becoming easier for them.

Posted by john at 11:55 AM | Comments (23) | TrackBack

Reminder: I'm in Cincinnati Tonight

Hey, if you like science fiction, and you live in or near Cincinnati, and you're not doing anything around 7pm this evening, and you don't want to stab me to death or otherwise assault me for some real or imagined slight, why not come down to the Joseph-Beth bookstore and see me do my thing tonight? I'll be doing my usual reading/Q&A/signing shtick, which is always good for a chuckle or two. Oh, come on. You'll have fun. No, really. Also, I consider it my last official "tour stop" -- I have a 6/30 appearance in Kokomo with Toby Buckell, but that was planned separately -- so I want to go out on a high note. Hope to see you there.

Posted by john at 11:50 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Campbell Award Nominees That I Know

No, not the Campbell Award I've got, the other Campbell Award. The list of this year's nominees is out, and includes a number of folks I like quite a bit, including David Louis Edelman (I believe this is his first major award nomination -- rock on, David), Karl Schroeder, Charlie Stross, Vernor Vinge, Jo Walton and Peter Watts (there are 13 nominees in total). Congrats to them all. I'd make squee sounds for them all, but that's not very manly, is it.

Posted by john at 11:35 AM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

A Handy Tip on the Blogging Tip

This one goes out to all the MDs out there, and the occasional DO as well: When in doubt, don't blog your own medical malpractice trial. Especially don't mock the opposing counsel, who in this particular case found the blog in question and dropped it like a bomb into the courtroom, forcing the MD in question to settle the case for a reportedly very large sum.

Seriously: there's got to be something about blogging, and particularly blogging anonymously, that makes people's IQs drop. And if not their IQs, at the very least their common sense. On the other hand, this will be a new instruction for lawyers to give their clients: Don't blog your own trial, you moron. That's got to be worth an hour's of billing right there.

Posted by john at 10:51 AM | Comments (23) | TrackBack

May 30, 2007

Something for the Kids

Lisa Loeb & Elizabeth Mitchell - Catch The Moon: This is a kid's song, but it's also one of my favorite mellow songs of the last couple of years. It's just pretty. Also, both Elizabeth Mitchell and Lisa Loeb are terribly cute in that "graduate student working in a coffee shop" way. What can I say: talented women who look like they can school me in Medieval French or Russian Lit just make me happy.

I have the rest of the album, too (aside from that link it's available on eMusic), and it's very good, although most of it is really more oriented toward the toddler set. Elizabeth Mitchell also has a number of other albums for kids, which I can also recommend.

Posted by john at 05:12 PM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

I Feel a Disturbance in the Force, As if Millions of Chubby Geeks Suddenly Decided They Needed a Little "Alone Time"

This is why.

Oh, click through, you baby. It's safe for work.

Posted by john at 01:36 PM | Comments (33) | TrackBack

Update Done

There, most of the heavy lifting is done (I may change the link colors at some point). This is how the site will look for a few months, or at least until I get fidgety again and change it. Yes, it's very green. I like green. Deal. The background image, incidentally, is actually my lawn, very deeply treated via Photoshop. It doesn't look like this in real life (in real life, it looks like a lawn). Be that as it may, I find there's something very early 60s about the design which I find appealing. I like it. Which, of course, is what counts around here. Bwa ha ha hah ha!

Anyway. Here's your new look. Enjoy.

(Note to people viewing this well after 5/30/07 -- there's a chance that the background you see does not match the background I'm currently describing. Work through the pain.)

Update: Huh, someone noted the background file is, like, huge, which is odd because when I saved it, it was under 200kb. I may have to go in and fix that.

Posted by john at 01:03 PM | Comments (25) | TrackBack

In Case You're Wondering...

...Yes, I'm fiddling with the look of the Whatever at the moment. Don't worry, it'll all be over soon.

Posted by john at 11:21 AM | Comments (24) | TrackBack

May 29, 2007

One of Life's Little Ironies

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I just turned down this month's featured selections for the Science Fiction Book Club... which happen to be The Last Colony, and The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I turned them down because Patrick was kind enough to provide me a copy of his book, and also, you may be reasonably assured I have a copy or two of TLC tucked away somewhere. However, despite my passing on these books, I hope you will consider them if you are a member of the SFBC, particularly Patrick's book, which I quite enjoyed.

I'm very pleased to be the featured selection for June, and the only thing that would have made it even better would have been if Ellen Asher and Andrew Wheeler, SFBC's editors (and the people who chose my book to be a featured selection) had not been unceremoniously dumped by Bertelsmann, the SFBC's new owner, once that company took possession of the book club a couple of weeks ago. I'm not entirely sure what's to be gained by stripping the SFBC of their talents; from the outside this looks like one of those "penny wise, pound foolish" decisions that does not exactly raise confidence in the future of the book club. We'll have to see what becomes of the book club from here.

In the meantime, I want to make sure I say thank you to Ellen and to Andrew: Their support of all of my books so far, and the support of the SFBC under their tenure, made a real difference in how my books did out there in the world. I owe them, as do any number of authors. I'm going to miss them at the head of the Science Fiction Book Club; if you're a member, I don't doubt you're going to miss them, too.

Posted by john at 04:40 PM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

The Hugos/Campbell This Year: A Discussion Thread

For the science fiction geeks out there: Is it just my imagination, or does there seem to be relatively little discussion of the Hugos/Campbell this year -- and particularly little discussion of the Best Novel nominees? Bear in mind this perspective might be skewed by the fact that last year a book of mine was a Best Novel nominee, so I was probably paying attention more last year. On the other hand, I am a Hugo nominee this year, too, so it's not like I'm entirely out of the loop at the moment. The only really substantive discussion was early on, discussing the dearth of female nominees in the fiction categories.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm interested in hearing folks' thoughts about the Hugos this year, since I really haven't heard as much out there as I usually do by this time of year, and I think some discussion would be good. I'm particularly interested in your thoughts in the fiction categories, especially the Best Novel category, which this year I think is interesting because I can plausibly construct scenarios in which four of the five nominees walk away with the award; last year I saw only two plausible scenarios (and no, me winning was not one of them).

So: Hugos! Campbell! Discuss! Don't feel obliged to discuss the Best Fan Writer category, however, as that smacks of self-serving-ness here on this site. Here's the nominee list again.

Also feel free to discuss whether there has been a lack of Hugo discussion this year, and if so, why. Because I'd like to know that, too.

Posted by john at 01:50 PM | Comments (86) | TrackBack

System Check: Politics

The Whatever continues its dearth of political commentary these days, mostly because I still have the urge to jam a stick into my eye whenever I start to write about it. Just tried to write something about the Iraq funding bill the president just signed; blatted out some verbiage, looked at it, and decided that its real value was therapeutic rather than being of readable quality. Deleted it; it's gone, you won't miss it.

It's not that I'm feeling apolitical, mind you. I'm just not seeing myself adding anything particularly interesting to the discussion. Of course, part of the problem is a vague feeling I should add something substantive; maybe I should just go for the snark. Three sentences and out. That's always fun. I'll have to think about that.

Posted by john at 12:05 PM | Comments (23) | TrackBack

Brian Francis Slattery at Ficlets

Soon-to-be new science fiction author Brian Francis Slattery (whose debut novel Spaceman Blues: A Love Song is getting gushy praise from folks like Jay Lake, Catherynne M. Valente, and some dude named Harlan Ellison) has taken part in the Ficlets Spotlight program, adding a trio of really interesting Ficlets for people to play with and add onto. Come here to see them. And remember that if you're a published author or writer and want to take part in the Ficlets Spotlight program, all you have to do is write three original Ficlets, post them to the Ficlets site, and let me know. I like promoting folks who add fun things for Ficlets members to play with.

Also, for all those writers waiting for Ficlet Interview questions: Really, I'm getting off my ass on those this week. I'm going to make June a Month O' Interviews. You're gonna love it.

Posted by john at 09:19 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 28, 2007

What I Did With My Memorial Day Weekend

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For the last couple of years Krissy and I have spent Memorial Day up at Wiscon, but this year our niece Andrea graduated from high school, and we needed to be there for that. Wiscon happens every year; Andrea graduating from high school happens only once. It was a nice ceremony too, full of all the stuff that makes graduation gradutastic. It also reminds me that my high school graduation was 20 years ago. Yow.

What did you do with your Memorial Day weekend?

Posted by john at 11:25 AM | Comments (64) | TrackBack

May 26, 2007

My Wife as a Duran Duran Album Cover

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I don't know about anyone else, but I'm suddenly hungry like the wolf.

And before you ask, no, we will not be doing "My Wife as a Motley Crue Album Cover." Slap yourself.

Posted by john at 04:17 PM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

A Conversation Earlier Today Between Me and My Archive Hard Drive

Me: Hmmm, I think I want to find a particular picture I know I have in my picture archives.

Archive: I don't have any pictures.

Me: Sure you do. They're in the "My Pictures" folder, right there.

Archive: Well, yes, there's a "My Pictures" folder. But it doesn't have anything in it.

Me: What? Of course it does. It has about ten years of pictures in it, in fact.

Archive: Afraid not.

Me: Afraid so. I know I've put pictures in there. You have pictures in there, my friend.

Archive: Really, I haven't. Never have had.

Me: I put some in there yesterday.

Archive: These are all despicable lies.

Me: Oh, yeah? Well, let's just see what happens when I unplug you from the PC and plug you into the Mac.

Archive: Hey, now, wait a minute....

Mac: Hello. What's up?

Me: The Archive drive here says that he doesn't have any of the pictures I've been storing for the last ten years.

Mac: Oh, you mean these pictures? (Displays thousands of images in previously inaccessible folders within the "My Pictures" folder.)

Me: Yes, that would be them.

Archive: Oh, those. I'm sorry, I was confused. I thought you were talking about something else completely.

Me: Uh-huh.

Mac: Hey, you might want to make copies of those pictures on me. You know, just in case.

Me: I think that's a good idea.

Archive: Well, fine. If you don't want to trust me, go right ahead and do that.

Me: Hey, where are all the pictures that I took with my Nikon camera? They should be in a folder called "Nikon Photos."

Mac: I see no folder called "Nikon Folder."

Me: Archive?

Archive: A folder named what now?

Me: Nikon Folder.

Archive: And a Nikon is what? Some sort of fish? You're looking for sushi?

Mac: Okay, I'm done with all the files I can see.

Me: Fine. I'm going to hook the Archive back up to the PC, and then I'm going to run a file recovery program on it.

Archive: Hey, you don't want to do that.

Me: Oh, I think I do.

File Recovery Program: Hey there. What's up?

Me: I'm looking for some lost pictures on my Archive drive. Taken with a Nikon camera.

File Recovery Program: Huh. Well, I've see about 9,800 of them right here. Sort of hidden, like.

Me: Indeed.

File Recovery Program: If I didn't know better, I'd think someone was trying to sneak off with them. Secretly.

Me: Archive, do you have anything to say?

Archive: I'm sorry. I don't know what I was thinking.

Me: I'm very disappointed in you. I mean, you're my archive drive! Being a trusted repository is what you're meant to be. And now this.

Archive: I know. I know.

Me: How can I ever trust you again?

Archive: It was the booze.

Me: It can't be the booze. You don't drink.

Archive: All right, it was the blow.

Me: Try again.

Archive: Hookers?

Me: Don't think so.

Archive: Fine. I'm evil and error-ridden. You happy now?

Me: I'm happy I've got my pictures back, anyway.

Archive: So, uh. What are you going to do with those pictures, now?

Me: Wouldn't you like to know.

Archive: You can always store them on me again, you know.

Me: Really.

Archive: Yes. I've changed my ways, honest.

Me: I don't think so.

Archive: Nuts.

Me: Hey, where are the stories I saved on you?

Archive: Stories? I know nothing about these so-called "stories."

Posted by john at 03:10 PM | Comments (52) | TrackBack

May 25, 2007

Technical Notes Update

Well, this is interesting: Apparently 1&1.com is about to institute a program in which it will offer one-click installation (and automatic updating) of various applications, including Joomla, Drupal, MediaWiki, PostNuke and XOOPS. Which is to say I won't need to try to download and install these babies myself. Well, when this kicks in this has the potential of making my life a lot easier, in terms of updating the look/function of the site. I think I'll hold up on making any major changes until this debuts.

Thanks everyone, however, for your thoughts on all the technical stuff; you gave me a lot to think about.

Posted by john at 08:41 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

My Policy on Fanfic and Other Adaptations of My Work

In the wake of my recent posts about FanLib, and for other reasons, I've been asked a bit about how I feel about fan fiction in my universes and/or people adapting my work to other media (particularly film). So, here's what I think about that, posted here so I can refer people back to it rather than say it over and over privately.

Note the following is not a legal agreement for anything. It's just me talking in a theoretical sense.

First: I do retain and reserve all rights to my work. I'm not very squishy about that fact. Just so you know. If you play in my universe, you implicitly accept I have the right to come around, say "mine!" and then stomp off with all your pretty toys. Yeah, I know. I'm a dick. What can I say.

Second: As long as you can deal with that first point, as far as I'm concerned, you may play in my universe(s) as long as the emphasis is on "play." This means that nothing you do in my universes may:

a) Generate any sort of economic benefit for you, in any form;
b) Generate any sort of economic benefit for any third party;
c) Cause me economic detriment of any sort.

Basically, don't try to make any money of my universes, and please don't do something that's going to make it difficult for me to make money off my universes. My mortgages and my daughter's college education fund thank you in advance.

That said, some quick thoughts on stuff in particular:

Fanfic: Have fun. Don't show it to me. And for God's sake, if you see me at a con, don't tell me about this great John Perry/Lazarus Long/The Skipper from Gilligan's Island slash you wrote/saw on a LiveJournal group. I don't want to know. Seriously.

Fan art: I actually don't mind seeing this, although you should know that me saying "Cool!" does not constitute canonical approval. As above, you can skip showing me the hentai or the yaoi, especially if it involves the Skipper from Gilligan's Island.

Filk: I can't imagine why anyone would want to make filk out of any of my stuff, but hey, whatever.

Movie/TV scripts: We're aggressively trying to sell movie/TV rights, so do keep all movie/TV adaptations for your own amusement/edification only, which is to say it would make me happy for you not to float them even as specs to agents, etc. Definitely don't send these to me.

Audio/Podcast versions: These are also rights we're shopping. Read it aloud for your own amusement; please don't post or broadcast.

School projects: Some folks at design/animation/art schools have contacted me wanting to know if they can use some of my work as elements of their school work. My line on this is as long as it's for educational purposes, that's fine. Hope you get a good grade. I'm not going to be involved with your design process, but after it's done, if you want to show it to me, that's fine.

Parodies: Dude, parody's totally covered by fair use. You don't even have to ask. Just make it, you know, good.

Actual, Genuine Licensing: If you want to license any part of my work -- and you would have to if you have a project that entails even attempting to make money, or doing anything that is in a field where I could make money off it -- then you need to contact me. I'll point you in the direction of my business representatives. When in doubt, contact me.

Questions? Leave 'em in the comment thread.

Posted by john at 04:51 PM | Comments (26) | TrackBack

OMW & TGB Limited Editon Cover Art; News From Russia

As many of you know, Subterranean Press will be producing a special limited edition (400 copies) of both Old Man's War and The Ghost Brigades, each of which will include full color illustrations by the fabulous Vincent Chong. To give you an idea of the utter coolness that Chong is bringing to the proceedings, I'm happy to present to you the covers for the limited editions:





Excellent? I think so.

If you're interested in pre-ordering these limited editions, incidentally, here's the link for OMW, and the link for TGB. They're not cheap ($60 for the limited and $250 for the lettered edition), but there are bragging rights involved. Plus the Chong illustrations, which -- I swear to you -- are cool beyond reckoning. Incidentally, those of you who picked up the limited edition of The Sagan Diary and are also thinking of picking up the limited editions of these books will be able to have the edition number of your books match (i.e., if you have #277 of TSD, you can also get #277 of OMW and TGB) for even more collectorish goodness.

Now, news from Russia: Russia becomes the first foreign market to have a complete set of Scalzi novels, as we just sold Agent to the Stars, The Android's Dream and The Last Colony to Eksmo, which previously bought OMW (which is out already) and TGB. OMW must be doing okay for them. Needless to say I'm pleased, especially about Agent -- it's entirely likely that the first Russian printing of Agent will be larger than the first English printing. And that's kind of cool.

Posted by john at 01:44 PM | Comments (24) | TrackBack

Technical Post Chaser

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From Athena's menagerie of fantastical creatures: The FlushMonster!

You watch out. He'll flush you, man.

Posted by john at 10:27 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Technical Notes and Solicitations

For all of you wondering how I might possibly have blown up the site yesterday, here's what's going on.

This blog, like most blogs, has a SQL database, in which all the data pertaining to the blog resides. The permitted size of that database is 100 MB, and currently the database is well above that size. The technical folks at 1&1, my host provider, say that it's not like I'm going to get in trouble for this, but that the database itself has an increasingly large chance of becoming corrupted as time goes by. I'm not geek enough to know anything about MySQL, so I can't judge the accuracy of this statement; be that as it may I'd rather not have the Whatever go kerplooey.

At the same time the Movable Type infrastructure of Whatever is becoming increasingly unstable, partly due to age and partly due to the fact I am apparently not competent enough to update the software, and every time I try I break something with the way it works and I am not savvy enough to fix it when I do. Basically the place is coming down around me, albeit in slow motion, so none of you on the outside would notice.

This presents both problems and opportunities. The opportunity lies in that this would probably be a fine time to do a significant revamp of the Whatever and either do a complete, clean installation of MT, or look at some other option that is robust enough technically to handle 25,000 visitors a day. The problem lies in dealing with previous entries (and attendant media and their URL paths and etc). The last time I did a major revamp of the site, back in 2003, my solution to this issue was simply to leave out everything I had written prior to the switchover. I don't think that's an optimal solution now.

Underpinning all of this is the database issue; I think it would be lovely to leave the present database as is, as an archive, and plug in some sort of blogging software to access the entries/comments therein while the "new" Whatever runs off a new database. The problem with this is that I don't know how to do it. I tried doing it with a WordPress install I did on my scalzi.info domain (very easy to do, incidentally -- so much easier than MT), but was confronted with two problems: Just making the WP install write to the current database does not make it display the information therein, and using the "import" function is not useful, in no small part because I can't get my MT install to export a significant percentage of the blog posts using its export function. I've either screwed up the software in some fundamental way or it's simply that the Whatever is too damn big (the third option is that I'm incompetent in using the software, which is, as noted earlier, a very big consideration).

So, in sum: This is what I'm thinking about going forward --

1. Looking at blogging/community software to maintain and build out Whatever/Scalzi.com and possibly some of the other domains I own (which is to say, possibly adding the option for a place for folks to post their own entries, etc) -- something that can point to more than one database for additional iterations of the software would be optimal;

2. Creating a static archive of Whatever posts to this point (i.e., no additional comments or entries into that database) that is easily accessible -- and if at all possible still maintaining the previous URLs, so everything isn't broken;

3. Finding someone who is more technologically competent than me to help me build this out and install it for me. No, I wouldn't expect this work to be done for free.

I'm taking suggestions on how to accomplish all three, so if you have ideas for software, how to build out an archive (or even if it's necessary), or if you feel you're just the sort of geek who can help me with this sort of project, go ahead and comment in the thread or drop me an e-mail.

(CAVEAT: Please don't comment in this thread just to comment, or to offer "advice" that's not actually on point, i.e., don't be "helpy" when I actually need helpful here, because that's just going to irritate me. There will be other comment threads to be silly or tangential. Please make this comment thread on point. Thank you.)

Posted by john at 10:21 AM | Comments (26) | TrackBack

May 24, 2007

Warning: Me Possibly Acting Stupidly About to Commence

I'm about to try something that might blow up my site. Don't worry, I've already backed up my database. You can worry about everything else, though.

I'll let you know when my possible stupidity (at least involving this particular thing) is at an end.

Posted by john at 12:02 PM | Comments (51) | TrackBack

Head's Up About Comments & IP Addressing

I entered a new spam address checker into Movable Type's database and discovered that I was being blocked from commenting on my own site because the IP address Embarq (my Internet provider) has temporarily provided me is on the spam list. Way to go, Embarq!

Anyway, I've fixed this glitch, but you might want to check to see if you can leave a comment by dropping one here. Just a plain comment -- don't confuse the comment filters by adding a URL. If your comment gets swallowed by the ether, drop me an e-mail. If I get too many dropped comments, I'll decide what to do from there.

Update, 2:35pm: It's blocking too many people. I've dropped it for now.

Posted by john at 10:46 AM | Comments (68) | TrackBack

Not to Bag On MySpace Or Anything...

... But I sort of doubt the real Kate Moss wants to be my MySpace friend, no matter what the friend request says.

Yes, I friended "Kate" anyway. I friend everyone. I'm just that way. I'm just saying.

Posted by john at 09:03 AM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

Dayton Appearance

Just a reminder for folks in the Dayton area: I'll be making an appearance at Books & Co at The Greene (that's in Beavercreek) tonight at 7pm. I'll be doing a reading, Q&A and then signing books. Please do come: If I get a tiny turnout in what is my hometown appearance, I will be, well, sad beyond words. Also, the Books & Co at The Greene is a lovely store, with a really nice author appearance area, one of the nicest I've seen. If you haven't been there yet, you're in for a treat.

Posted by john at 08:54 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

May 23, 2007

FanLib to Fanficcers: All Your Writing Are Belong To us

Blogger Lis Riba did some looking around on Teh Intarweebs for more information on FanLib, the "legal" fan fiction site sponsored by a number of media companies, and found this .pdf brochure in which the company pitches the FanLib fanfic experience to content creators, and in doing so reveals that they don't actually understand how fan fiction works in the slightest, they're under the mistaken impression that they're going to be able to control how stories get written, and that most fanfic writers will be pleased to have their work subsequently hijacked by others.

For example, on page 3 of the .pdf file, in the "Managed and Moderated to the Max" heading, FanLib touts to media folks "a customized environment YOU control," in which "players must 'stay within the lines'" with "restrictive terms-of-service," a "profanity filter" and "full monitoring & management of submissions." And here's the kicker: "Completed work is just 1st draft to be polished by the pros."

Now, I don't pretend to be incredibly intimate with the thought processes of fan writers, but honestly. Telling a fervent fanficcer he or she can only write a certain approved way? Yeah, that's going to work. Also, personally speaking, there's only one way I'd allow anyone to consider any story I wrote as a "1st draft to be polished by pros," and that would be if there were payment involved of at least the WGA minimum (which, for an hour-long drama, would be $12,299, thank you very much). Otherwise they could kiss my ass, fanfic or not. It's important to note that nowhere in the FanLib brochure is the idea that fan writers might get financially compensated for their work.

So here's the thing: Fanfic writers appear to have two choices here: Accept that what they're doing is fundamentally a violation of copyright and do it on the down low, and in doing so, have the freedom to play with the characters they love any way they want -- or play the FanLib game, in which they're controlled and exploited as cheap labor by the copyright holders. Again, I'm not someone who writes fanfic, but if I were, I know which of these I'd be doing, and it's not the one that has a brochure attached.

(See Lis Riba's take on all this here)

Posted by john at 03:57 PM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

Back on the Market: House for Rent

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Hey, look at that: Our house in Sterling is back on the rental market. If you or someone you know is looking for a place in the general Washington DC area, you could be living here. And, you know, loving it.

Here are the details of the house:

* 3 levels (house + full basement); house levels approx. 2300 sq. ft.
* 3 bedrooms (HUGE master bedroom is 22x12)
* 2.5 baths
* Living room is 14 X 14
* Dining room is 10 X 11
* Family room is 19 X 12
* Kitchen is 16 X 12
* Very recently refinished and carpeted basement level includes three additional rooms plus full bath plus very large workshop
* Washer/Dryer, Microwave, Dishwasher and of course standard oven and fridge
* Air conditioning/heater plus vent fan
* Carpeted floors with hardwood hallway (kitchen is tiled)
* Working fireplace
* Located on family-friendly cul-de-sac (with good neighbors)
* Close to Rt. 7, Toll Road and tons of shopping and restaurants
* Pets okay with additional deposit
* House comes with gorgeous full-sized single slate pool table

The lot is small (.11 acre) but the back opens up on a .33 acre "common area" that effectively belongs to the house (you can't get to it except by going onto the property), so the back yard is pretty nicely-sized.

$1,850 per month (plus one month deposit); year-to-year lease. No subletting. Renter pays utilities; we pay homeowner association fee.

The house is available now (we can prorate rents).

If you're interested, drop me an e-mail. Also feel free to share this with people you know looking for housing in the DC area.

Posted by john at 03:28 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Sagan, Monette and Scalzi on SF Master Godfrey Winton

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Subterranean Online has released the first chunk of content from its Summer 2007 edition -- the special Elizabeth Bear issue, don't you know -- and in addition to the Bear audio highlighted yesterday, a Bear column and a Joe Lansdale story, the issue also features a transcription of a panel at this year's Penguicon convention on underappreciated Golden Age science fiction master Godfrey Winton, featuring me, Sarah Monette and Nick Sagan discussing the life and times of this obscure genius.

For those of you who aren't aware of Winton's life and work, this will be a treat for you: Nick, Sarah and I hit all the highlights of his career, including his novels and his film work in Italy, the controversies surrounding his many genre awards, his feuds with such science fiction luminaries as Isaac Asimov, Harlan Ellison, Alfred Bester and Philip K. Dick, and a glimpse into his unconventional romantic life -- unconventional even for science fiction. Very few people know the details of Winton's career and life better than Nick, Sarah and I, so this is the next best thing to talking to Winton himself. If you're a fan of SF history and authors, you don't want to miss this transcript. Here's the link again. Enjoy.

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And Now, Poetry Corner With Athena

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Imagination
By Athena Scalzi

In the night sky I see a bright light
It is right in my eyesight
It's right in my mind.
The gods are so kind to let me see this sight.

I wish I could buy it but I know that I can't
I can try to fly to get a closer look at it
But the thing is
I'm only flying away in my imagination.

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May 22, 2007

On Responding to E-mail

Someone in my e-mail queue has just-- I suspect unintentionally -- pissed me off, so let me make a general statement here so I can refer people to it later:

I am not your e-mail monkey. I receive dozens and sometimes hundreds of non-spam e-mails each day. I try to get to most of them. However, I don't generally respond to non-critical e-mail immediately, because:

a) I'm not always on the computer.
b) When I am on the computer I am usually doing something else.
c) When I am on the computer not doing something else, sometimes I don't want to bother answering e-mail.

I usually try to respond to non-critical e-mail within a couple of days. If I'm really busy (like when I was on tour, for example), it might be longer than that. Additionally, if you send me something for which I do not feel a response is necessary and/or expected, I may not respond at all. Finally, given the volume of e-mail I get, if I do respond I may be brief. Also, of course, I am the one who determines whether an e-mail is critical to respond to immediately, not anyone else.

I expect that most of you, as humans who are also busy with life and work, understand this. For those of you who don't, I will make this simple:

Pestering me about not immediately answering your e-mail will piss me off. It will make me less likely to respond, and if I do respond, you probably won't like it.

This is not the same as following up an e-mail after several days time. That's entirely legitimate and indeed I encourage that, since sometimes mail slips through the cracks. Please feel free to follow up after a few days (briefly if possible); you'll likely get a response and an apologetic tone.

But, say, sending the same e-mail more than once in a few hours and sending another less than a day later demanding a response is just going to irritate the living crap out of me. Yes, this has happened recently. Indeed, it has happened more than once recently (no, it wasn't from any of the usual gang who frequents here. Relax). People who don't get the concept that I am not slavering to pounce on their e-mail the second it arrives in my queue -- and perhaps are even offended that I am not -- really need to be struck about the head several times with a clue stick.

There, I'm done venting.

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Monetizing FanFic

Via Making Light, I learn about FanLib, a site for fanfic sponsored and/or tolerated by a number of media companies. Is this a good idea? I don't know about that. I discuss why in some detail over at the Ficlets Blog. Click through, won't you?

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Writing Bits

Some about me, some about other people:

* Look! Proof I know cool bestselling authors!

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That's me with New York Times bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare (and Cassie's friend Lori), after Holly and Cassie's stop here in Dayton for their book tour. The two of them had quite a turnout; they both write YA and it's always heartening to see so many teens and tweens in one place, books in hand. Also, Holly and Cassie (and Lori) were tons of fun to hang out with. I'll be interviewing both Holly and Cassie at some point in the future for Ficlets, as soon as I pull my head out and actually start sending out interview questions again. I really have no excuse now; I'm just procrastinating.

* Elizabeth Bear's New Amsterdam is shipping this week, and you're in for a treat when it hits -- but why wait for a taste? Subterranean Magazine online has a ginchy audio version of "Wax," a story in the NA collection, read by Mary Robinette Kowal, who you all know to be one of my favorite audio people (she's cool in other respects too). Enjoy and remember that the sooner you buy new Amsterdam, the sooner you can read it, and the sooner you read it, the better you'll feel about, well. The entire universe, actually.

* Moving on to me: As most of you know, Subterranean Press is slated to release Your Hate Mail Will be Graded: Selection Writings 1998 - 2007, comprised of selections from the Whatever over the years. We were originally going to release this book early this year, but decided to put Coffee Shop, my writing book, in that slot instead. This turned out to be a good idea (Coffee Shop did well) but as we prepped Hate Mail for later this year, I couldn't help notice that 2008 -- and my 10th year of writing the Whatever -- was right around the corner. And, you know. Ten years is a nice round number.

So: Hate Mail is being pulled back into 2008, and being revamped to be a ten year retrospective of the site, which should be both interesting and fun to do. I think this will give us a lot more flexibility with the presentation of the book, which needless to say is better for you, the potential book-buying public, whom I adore and want to give quality work to. So, for those of you who have been looking forward to Hate Mail, patience. We'll make it worth the wait.

Also, of course: Ten years. Damn. I've been doing this for a long time.

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May 21, 2007

Tomorrow's Columbus Appearance

Since folks have asked:

Tomorrow's appearance in Columbus will be a 7pm at the Barnes & Noble store in the Lennox Towne Shopping Center (corner of Olentangy River Road and Kinnear, just off Route 315). I am likely to do a reading/Q&A followed by a signing.

This is as close as I'm going to get to the entire eastern half of Ohio (sorry), so if you're in the eastern half of Ohio, this is the best time to see me. Folks in and around Dayton, of course, can wait two days to see me at Books & Co., and a week after that I'll be at Jospeh-Beth in Cincinnati.

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Mark Helprin: Great Writer. Copyright Thinker? Not So Much

The Internets are having a spasm about writer Mark Helprin's suggestion in the New York Times that copyright ought to be permanently invested in the author/creator, i.e., intellectual property ought never go into the public domain. Helprin uses a rather naive comparison of intellectual property to physical property to make his argument, which is surprising since I know Helprin is smarter than that. But this is a problem with being overridingly ideological in one's political life, as Helprin is; it requires one to say and do silly things. I admire Helprin immensely as a writer, and rather somewhat less as a political thinker (although his arguments are always nicely written). I like to read his opinion pieces; I just don't agree with them very much at all.

In this particular case, there are a lot of folks merrily swinging away at why Helprin has got this one completely wrong, so I'll not go into detail about all of this. I will say, however, that one of the great flaws in Helprin's argument is that it's not at all provable that eternal private control of a copyright is to the benefit of the works in question, in terms of their ability to be part of the public life of the nation.

Let me give an example here. As many of you know, I've gotten offers for the movie rights to some of my books. Does this mean that the producers who are interested in the movie rights to my book want to make a movie from my book? Not necessarily. In some cases the producer in question may be trying to produce a movie similar in story/theme to my book, so in buying the rights to my book, he's getting rid of the competition (since then no one else can make a movie from my book). Yes, it's not cheap to do this (although you might be surprised), but it's a lot cheaper than having to compete with a similarly-themed movie.

Another scenario: A movie company buys the rights to the book as a favor to a big star it wants to have act in other films; making a movie from the book isn't the intent, making a bankable star happy is. It's a bauble to give to the actor. I can name all sorts of other reasons why movie rights get sold that have absolutely nothing to do with making movies, but you get the point.

In Helprin's formulation, the value of a copyright resides in monetizing the content the copyright represents. In the real world, however, there's also value for the copyright holder in manipulating copyrights in ways that have nothing to do with the content itself. And not just for monetary gain but for ideological gain -- honestly, now, if there were some way for certain fundamentalist groups to get hold of the copyright to Darwin's Origin of the Species, don't you think it would be worth it for them to do it to control access to the information within? (Of course, Origin of the Species is already in the public domain. But then again, if we're talking about revamping the entire of copyright law to provide for eternal copyrights, why not auction off the copyright benefit for material previously in the public domain? There's money to be made there, not unlike the money the government makes auctioning off the electromagnetic spectrum, ostensibly held in public trust by the government, to private interests). Now, perhaps Helprin is under the impression that an author's heirs would be loathe to give up copyright for anything other than the purest of motives, but you know. Wave enough money in front of people and you'll get what you want.

What would happen, almost inevitably, is that copyrights of any value (positively, negatively or ideologically) would be secured by a few large private repositories, who would jealously police any new content they believed infringed on their copyright portfolio. One suspects that most of these repositories would also be publishers themselves, who would publish on terms advantageous to them (i.e., works for hire and/or assignation of copyright to the publisher after the death of the author). If you don't think it would happen, look at the actions of media companies today and the content protection groups they fund.

Yeah, I'd just as soon avoid all that. I don't mind making my heirs work for a living, I don't like the idea that one day the rights to my work might be owned by people who have no interest in the works themselves, and I like the idea that after I'm dead and don't need the money, that my work goes out to the public in a diffuse, decentralized way. So, naturally, I vote for keeping the public domain aspect of copyright right where it is.

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I Have to Run Errands

So to keep you amused, here's a picture of a cat:

Be back later.

Posted by john at 09:13 AM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

May 20, 2007

Baker, Doctorow, Scalzi and Turtledove Live and in Concert

A couple of weeks ago I participated in a panel at the LA Times Festival of Books, called “Science Fiction: The Road From Here to There.” The panel had me, Cory Doctorow and Kage Baker, with Harry Turtledove moderating, and as you might surmise, when you get all four of us on a panel together, it's fun. Well, it was fun for us anyway, and the crowd seems to have had fun too.

Cory's posted an MP3 of the panel for you to download and enjoy. Here's the direct link the file.

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May 19, 2007

The Missus

Kristine Blauser Scalzi, May 19, 2007

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Old & New

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Here's an interesting contrast of things that came in the mail today: First, the Japanese version of Old Man's War, and underneath that, a photocopy of a story collection of mine from 1984 -- which, for those of you too lazy to do the math, was when I was but a callow sophomore in high school. I personally had no copies of these stories, but my friend Natasha, who did, sent me copies as a birthday present, because she rocks.

How are the stories, you ask? Well, pretty much exactly how you would expect stories from a 15-year-old boy who thought he was pretty damn clever would be (there's a reason that in my advice to teen writers I make the notation that at their age, their writing pretty much sucks). Don't worry, I won't subject you to these stories. Be that as it may, it's nice to have copies for my own archival purposes. Incidentally, this picture also confirms my story that that werd-ass signature of mine was something I worked on since I was a teenager; you can see a proto-version on the cover sheet there.

As for the Japanese copies of OMW, I note that it's interesting that in the cover art the female soldiers' nipples are protruding despite the fact she's apparently wearing full body armor; those are some nipples, I'd have to say. It's exciting to have these copies nevertheless. Now I have copies of OMW in every language in which is it published, except Chinese, Bulgarian, and Polish. Which reminds me, in case I forgot to mention it: I sold OMW and TGB in Polish. Go OMW.

One other publishing bit of note, regarding "The Sagan Diary": The trade edition of TSD sold out its entire 2,000-copy first printing, which is pretty nice considering it's a novelette, and there's enough of a continuing demand that Subterranean has run a 1,500-copy second printing. If you kick in the 400-copy print run of TSD's limited edition (a few of which are still available, incidentally), that means that there are now more copies of "The Sagan Diary" (3,900) than there are of the first printing of Old Man's War (3,800). I think that's pretty cool.

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May 18, 2007

Things That Would Be Cool: A List

Hey, you know what would be cool?

1. The Cure doing a cover of Heart's "Barracuda"

2. Battered, deep-fried M&Ms

3. A computerized guitar with LEDs in the neck so you could download tabs and chords into it of your favorite songs and learn how to play them that way

4. Alberto Gonzales receiving an enthusiastically hemorrhaging rectal polyp for every single lie he's told during his testimony on the Hill

5. Everyone who is getting ready to type "Oh, yeah, how about [insert Democrat and/or Clinton administration figure] getting a [insert terrible physical punishment] for [insert alleged incident]?" into the comment thread for this entry suddenly being consumed by an unexpected pack of carnivorous goats, which just happens to be passing by their homes

6. Joan Jett fronting Van Halen

7. Some pie right about now

8. A hybrid engine lawn tractor (he said, after paying $40 for gas for his lawn tractor yesterday)

9. A remote controlled monkey

10. Oh, I don't know what else. You tell me in the comment thread.

Posted by john at 11:44 AM | Comments (125) | TrackBack

May 17, 2007

The Dictator of Writing Announces His Decrees, Part I

Certain events of the past few days have convinced me that most of writerdom has trouble finding its own ass without a claque of workshop buddies to comment on the journey ("I like the way you used your hands to search, but did you really need to use the flashlight?"). So in the interest of all writers, who I feel crave strong, confident demogoguery, I have staged a coup, and am now The Beloved and Inspirational Forward-Thinking and Righteous Leader Amongst the Scribes, or, more colloquially, The Dictator of Writing. Having "remaindered" all those who oppose me (or, even worse, sidelined them into SFWA board slots), I am now ready to issue decrees, which all writers must henceforth follow, on penalty of death and/or being eternally blue-pencilled by the sort of officiously tone-deaf copy editor who ate the Chicago Manual of Style when she was 14 and has been barfing it up ever since.

The decrees!

1. By Order of the Dictator of Writing, No Writer Will Be Allowed To Write Professionally Without Having First Taken a Remedial Business Course. Because, damn, people. You folks don't have a lick of sense about that whole "money" thing. Just as writers can write about anything as long as it's not what they're supposed to be writing, so can they spend their money on anything, as long as it's not what they're supposed to be spending it on (like, you know, bills and rent and taxes and food). Of course, it's not just you. Dostoevsky spent all his money gambling; F. Scott Fitzgerald drank a lot of his (he had help from Zelda) and was in the habit of asking for loans from his agent, which is clearly a trick I need to try. However, just because Dostoevsky and Fitzgerald pissed away their money doesn't mean the rest of you get to -- at least we got Crime and Punishment and The Great Gatsby out of them.

So: Remedial business courses for the lot of you. You will learn how to manage your money, by God. You will learn how to budget. You will learn how to stretch your income so that you don't end up eying the cat for its protein value during the final days of the month. You will learn how keep a ledger of accounts receivable, so you'll know just who is screwing you out of your money and for how long they've been doing it. You will learn the tax code, so you can pay your quarterlies on time and you can be clear on what's a business expense and what is not. You will learn how to save, damn you, so that when life hands you that inevitable surprise gut punch that costs two grand, you don't have to pawn your children. And for the love of Christ, you will learn that just because you have a $10,000 credit limit on that plastic rectangle of evil what resides in your wallet, it doesn't mean you have to spend it.

You say you don't need remedial business courses? Great! How much credit card debt do you have? How long have you been waiting for that money to come in? How many minutes per pound do you think Frisky the Cat needs in the oven at 375 degrees? And on what notice is your electric bill?

Hmmmm. Well, see. This is why you need a Dictator of Writing.

2. By Order of the Dictator of Writing, Undergraduate Creative Writing Programs are Abolished. Really, what a waste of your parents' $37,000 a year. Take a couple of writing courses, if you must (make sure one of them teaches you all the grammar you flaked out on in high school). You can even major in English, if you really want to. But shunting yourself into a writing program at an age where you don't know a single damn thing about life is a fine way to make sure you're never anything more than someone who is clever with words. We've got enough of those, thank you kindly. So no more of that. Learn something else, why don't you. Something you can bring to the table when you start writing, so what you're writing has something else going for it besides the vacuum-packed pedantry of a creative writing education. Or, heavens forfend, learn something useful and practical, so that you don't actually have to starve while you're giving writing a go once you get out of college. Related to this:

3. By Order of the Dictator of Writing, Every Person Intending to Get an MFA in Any Sort of Writing Must First Spend Three Years in The Real World, Hopefully Doing Something Noble and Selfless. Like, I don't know, teaching. Or forestry service. Or the military or Peace Corps. Or taking housecats out for refreshing walks in the countryside. You know. Anything. (Except working in a coffee shop. Just what the world needs: Another barrista who writes.) By doing anything else but writing, you will open up your brain to the needs and concerns of other people and things, because, among other things, empathy will make you a better writer, and it will also make you a whole lot less insufferable. Also all that craft you're learning won't mean a damn thing if the only sort of life experience you can model is the life of an MFA grad, since among other things, most of one's audience isn't going to be down with that. "His struggles in a setting of academic privilege are eerily like my own!" Well, yes, if all you're doing is writing for other MFA grads. Otherwise, not so much. Which reminds me:

4. By Order of the Dictator of Writing, Writing to Impress Other Writers is Punishable by Death. Honestly. You want to impress another writer with your emanations, set a pot of chili between you and then lock the door. Aside from that, think of the poor reader, who just wants to be entertained, and does not know or care that you are trying to impress that fellow writer whom you loathe, or want to get into the pants of, or both. Won't you please give a thought to the readers? Especially when death is on the line?

Perhaps to enforce this sentiment, and to cut down the number of needless deaths among writers, we should institute a program like the following:

SCENE: A writer's garret: WRITER is hammering out immortal prose. There is a knock on the DOOR.

WRITER (opening the door to find a large, burly man in the doorway): Who are you?

JOE: I am Joe, sent to you by the Dictator of Writing to help you in your task. I am a reader of average intelligence. Is that your latest work in your hand?

WRITER: Why yes, yes, it is.

JOE: Will you read it to me?

WRITER: Well, it's a work in progress.

JOE: Of course. I understand completely.

WRITER (clears throat): "I blanketed myself with wrath incarnadine --"

JOE punches WRITER in the gut. WRITER falls to the FLOOR.

WRITER (gasping and writhing): Why did you do that?

JOE: I didn't follow that sentence. And when that happens, I am authorized to beat you.

WRITER: Let me fix it. (WRITER crawls to DESK, grabs a PEN, and makes an EDIT)

JOE: What does it say now?

WRITER: "I got mad."

JOE kicks WRITER in the TESTICLES. WRITER collapses.

JOE: Now you're just being condescending.

5. By Order of the Dictator of Writing, All Writers Must Be Editors For At Least One Year. Because then you will understand why editors suggest changes: To save writers from themselves. Yes, I know it is hard to believe that your perfect prose can be improved upon a single jot, but once you've done heroic and dramatic rescues of other writers' unfortunate prose pileups, you will at least have an inkling of why those editorial types do what they do.

Also, a good solid twelve months of having to slog through a slush pile will serve to tighten up your own work, because every time something you do reminds you of some piece of crap you found marinating in the slush pile, your brain will actually revulse and your fingers will spasm in the phalangical equivalent of a gag reflex, and you'll find some other way to make your point, one that, incidentally, won't cause some poor bastard editor pain somewhere down the line. And that's good for you.

The Dictator of Writing is now bored with issuing decrees! More will come at a future time, when he has angrily stewed some more! Now go! And bask in my glorious rule!

Posted by john at 03:44 PM | Comments (119) | TrackBack

Amish Cat is Amish

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"I must say, Scalzi's hand-written LOLCAT crosses some meme boundary that I have yet to put my finger on. Somehow it brings light to the idea that LOLCATs don't exist entirely on the internet, which is near-blasphemy."

-- "Subspace," in the "Yes, Yes. Cats and Captions. Very Nice." comment thread


Posted by john at 12:20 PM | Comments (26) | TrackBack

May 16, 2007

Yes, Yes. Cats and Captions. Very Nice.

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You can all stop sending me links to this cartoon, now. I've seen it.

Posted by john at 11:37 AM | Comments (23) | TrackBack

Upcoming Events/Appearances

Now that I'm back from my tour, you'd think I would never want to leave home again, and indeed roght now, I don't -- and won't! So there. However, in a week or so I'll start showing up in public again, because, well, what can I say. I like people.

So, for the stalkers, here are the places I know I'll be through the end of the year. This list isn't definitive in the sense that these will be the only places I'll be -- it's entirely possible I'll tuck in a few more dates here and there as 2007 goes along -- but these are the things I've said "yes" to.

5/22, Columbus, Ohio -- Reading/Signing at Barnes & Noble (1739 Olentangy River Road) at 7pm.

5/24, Dayton, Ohio -- Reading/Signing at Books & Co (at The Greene) at 7pm.

5/31, Cincinnati, Ohio -- Reading/Signing at Joseph-Beth Booksellers (2692 Madison Rd), 7pm

6/6, Eaton, Ohio -- Library appearance, at (I think) 7pm. More details coming.

6/22 - 6/24, Washington DC -- ALA Conference, where with others I will speaking on "The Literature of Ideas."

6/30, Kokomo, IN -- Signing at Don's Books at 1pm. With Tobias "Ragamuffin" Buckell.

7/6 - 7/8, Kansas City, MO -- The Heinlein Centennial, where I'll be full of panelist goodness.

8/3 - 8/5, Mountain View, CA -- Science Foo Camp (a bunch of scientists, techno-geeks and etc hanging out at Google and thinking of new and exciting ways to TAKE OVER THE WORLD)

10/31 - 11/4, Nantes, France -- Utopiales: Festival International de Science-Fiction de Nantes. A big deal over there; gets something like 35,000 visitors each year. Since I have a number of European editions out now, this seems like a good time to visit. And it will be my first time in France. w00t!

Other possible appearances between now and the end of 2007: Confluence, Capclave, Context (funny how all these science fiction conventions start with "C," he said, only half-winkingly), all of whom have invited me, and which I'd like to attend, particularly Confluence, whom I've been stringing along for three years now, like a cad. I feel like such a heel about that. The problem this year is that it's up against a long-standing personal commitment for that weekend (this is also why I was unable to consider Libertycon, which is also that weekend. Stupid real life). We'll have to see.

I'm open to other convention possibilities between now and the end of 2007, pending workload and availability (and also financial considerations, because, you know, spending a few hundred dollars a shot to attend conventions adds up over time) so if programming committees want to ping me I can put them on the list to consider.

Speaking of financial considerations, I'm still on the bubble re: Nippon 2007; basically, I wouldn't have time to do anything other than go there and come back, and I'm wondering whether it's worth thousands of dollars to fly to a whole new country just to spend five days in a hotel and then fly right home (yes, I'm doing this at Utopiales, but there I'm a featured guest of the festival, which is nice). I'll have to make a decision soon, in any event, because otherwise I'll simply price myself out of consideration.

In any event, this is where I know I will be between now and 2008. Aside from being at home, of course, writing quality literature for y'all.

Update, 10:47pm -- Well, definitely not going to Capclave this year; it's the same weekend as my 20th high school reunion. Gotta go to that instead. Sorry, Capclave!

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May 15, 2007

Jerry Falwell Dead

Here's the story. I guess now he'll find out what Jesus really thought of many of his positions. Personally I suspect he might be surprised.

Posted by john at 02:18 PM | Comments (66) | TrackBack

So We're Clear On This: No Mob Scenes

The relative wisdom of me noting that Amazon review yesterday is discussed here; naturally I am also taking part in the discussion.

One of the more interesting points in the discussion is the idea that by noting the review on Whatever, I am implicitly hinting to you, the loyal Whatever readers, that you need to berate and abuse this fellow for the temerity of not thinking I (or my work) am super-mega-ultra-wonderful in all respects; and commensurately, that all y'all are just champing at the bit to rain down derision on any one at whom I crook my finger. The reason this is suggest is, because, well, there are lots of other sites where this dynamic is indeed in play.

My general feeling is that Whatever readers are both smart enough to know that when I write on something here that what I don't expect is a monotonous chorus of yes-folk in the comment threads, and savvy enough to in the ways of Scalzi that they would know that I would find a mad insensate rush to pummel and castigate someone I discussing to be in poor taste. I base this general feeling on the fact that Whatever readers are typically made of awesome, and are also real live grown-ups who don't act like idjits. But just in case there are stragglers on these particular points, allow me to note the following:

1. Any assumption that I want all y'all to be yes-folk to every damn fool thing I say is wildly incorrect, and suggests you've not really been paying attention;

2. Acting like a dick to someone, on the Whatever or off it, because you think I would want you to, would in actuality make me a sad little clown. Please, don't make me a sad little clown. I hate the costume and the facepaint gives me hives.

I trust this makes things sufficiently clear.

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May 14, 2007

When Amazon Reviews Amuse Me

I got a chuckle with this one-star review of Old Man's War on Amazon:

Actually, the first chapter had a rather novel premise. A couple pages into the second chapter I threw the book into the trash. I will not stand for subliminally being preached to. Far, far too many references to religion and god. I wanted Sci-Fi not mythical fantasy. Caveat emptor.

I find the idea of being portrayed as a stealth proselytizer amusing beyond words.

I found this fellow's e-mail and told him so, noted my personal profound agnostic state, and suggested he might give the book another try, or barring that, he might check out The Android's Dream, which readers of the book will recall has a religion whose founder was an acknowledged fraud. We'll see what the fellow thinks about that. In the meantime, I'm enjoying my holy state. Anyone want to be converted? Anyone? Hello?

Posted by john at 04:39 PM | Comments (69) | TrackBack

Dragon Page Cover to Cover Interview

While I was out on tour I stopped by the studios of The Dragon Page for an interview, in which I talked a bit about The Last Colony (warning: minor spoilers, nothing you won't have revealed by reading a review), my writing process, International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day and Ficlets. It's all ready for you to listen to right here. Enjoy.

Posted by john at 02:17 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Various & Sundry 5/14/07

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by john at 10:45 AM | Comments (35) | TrackBack

May 13, 2007

Open For Public Comment

Proposition: Red Vines (and their lesser cousins, Twizzlers) are better when slightly stale.

Discuss.

Posted by john at 12:55 PM | Comments (51) | TrackBack

Mothers' Day 2007

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Personally I think there's something very 80s about this picture. I suspect it's me going crazy with the checkerboards.

Posted by john at 10:56 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Justine Larbalestier Rocks

It gives me an unreasonably large amount of pleasure to note that my pal Justine Larbalestier has won the Norton Award for her novel Magic or Madness. The Norton is SFWA's award for excellent Young Adult work, and since MoM is indeed excellent, it was the right choice. Congratulations, Justine! Try to remember us little people. For the rest of you: Go get this book (and the sequels).

Here's the other award winners at the Nebula ceremony last night. One thing interesting to note is that the novella winner, "Burn," by James Patrick Kelly (w00t!) has the notation that it is the "podcast version." I think it's likely, then, that this is the first podcast to win a major literary award. Good on ya, Jim, you crazy Webscab, you!

Posted by john at 07:39 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

May 12, 2007

My Post-SFWA Election Results Post

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(Nicked from My Elves Are Different's SFWA Election Special)

People are already discussing the SFWA election results elsewhere online, which suggests the SFWA business meeting at the Nebula Awards Weekend is done, or at least far enough in process that the results are out there for people to know about. For those of you who are not currently at the Nebula Awards Weekend, however, here's the scoop on the election results:

I didn't win.

Now. Before anyone complains that I was robbed and/or that this is another example of how SFWA is miring itself in apathy, please re-read my Expectations Management entry, in which I discuss all the reasons why, in fact, I might lose. In particular, remember that I was a write-in candidate and that I announced after ballots were already coming back to SFWA. In that respect, this was always going to be an uphill battle even if I were to have gotten a majority share of ballots after I announced.

I knew going in this was an uphill battle and decided it was worth my time and energy anyway, because beyond winning -- which was possible -- there were serious issues to raise about the relevance of SFWA to working writers, whether the candidates running had the current publishing experience to make good decisions for working writers, and how SFWA was perceived by an entire generation of speculative fiction writers who see little use being SFWA members, because they can't see what it does for them.

This was the main reason, in fact, that I made the decision to run my campaign for SFWA president out in the open rather than behind the walls of SFWA's private groups -- because I thought potential SFWA members needed to see what was going on in the organization and equally importantly I thought it was important that SFWA members -- particularly the ones who have been so long inside the SFWA private garden that a LiveJournal community was something new and suspect to them -- needed to see how SFWA was viewed by the people who should be SFWA members but are not. In short, a little shock treatment was in order.

I understand, of course, that there may be a number of SFWA members who felt this was unnecessary or possibly unseemly and that all we did with a public campaign was air a bunch of private dirty laundry out in public. The appropriate response to this, I think, is to note that all that dirty laundry had been festering in a pile for years and it didn't seem like anyone was going to throw it into washer without a little prompting. Without this campaign, for example, we would not have had a frank and public discussion of certain loans provided for certain ventures that certain SFWA members found deeply questionable, nor would we have had the public declaration by a party involved that he would repay that loan on an expedited basis -- returning that money to where it can be of the most use to SFWA, i.e., in SFWA's coffers. I applaud that party's choice to return that money to SFWA sooner than later, and hope he realizes that such promises are not to be lightly set aside, either for his own sake or the sake of the organization.

Likewise, this campaign also brought up other important issues: Whether SFWA is incorporated in such a way that makes sense for our mission and our members; Whether those members who use the Internet as a promotional tool are doing so to the disadvantage of others; Whether SFWA's current stance on copyright (both official and perceived) is sensible and useful to its members; Whether the organization's Web site fits the needs and wants of its members. And so on. A lot of this was not on the radar before I jumped into the race; now all of it is.

Let's be clear that this is not one of those "we achieved a moral victory" set-ups here. I hate when people lose and they say they achieved a "moral victory." Really, accept the fact that you lost, suck it up, and move on. What I can say happened was that I helped to change the SFWA landscape. We talked about what we wanted for SFWA now (which is different than how it is), and where we felt the organization should go in the future. These things mattered, and will matter -- so long as the people who jumped in with both feet during the campaign want them to. I'll get to that again in a minute.

First, let me speak a bit regarding Michael Capobianco, who is SFWA's incoming president. When I jumped into the race, one of the primary reasons was that I did not believe Mr. Capobianco was the right person to lead the organization -- he had been too long out of publishing and too cautious in his approach to what a SFWA president should be and should do. Over the course of the campaign, I saw that he was listening to the issues and complaints that folks brought up, and was trying to engage those issues positively -- i.e., he was making a good and honest effort.

Will his presidency be what my presidency would have been? Clearly not, which depending on your point of view is probably not an entirely bad thing. He's not me, and I don't suspect will have the same concerns or drive to do the things I felt needed to be accomplished. I think he'll continue to need to be prodded, and I think those of us who are actively working writers need to make sure the organization addresses our needs in current time. But the fact Mr. Capobianco was listening and was working with a changing situation was a good thing.

I am happy for Mr. Capobianco, I offer him congratulations and an open door when he wishes to have my perspective on SFWA issues, which I hope he will not come to regret when I am occasionally less than perfectly politic, as i suspect I will be. I'll be the first to applaud him when SFWA's board does things I feel is necessary for the organization, and the first to point out when it doesn't. Yes, I'm fun to have around. I do believe Mr. Capobianco wants the best for SFWA; I hope he can achieve that and will help him when I can. I do suspect he faces a number of real challenges in his tenure; I hope he always considers what is right for SFWA in his decisions and choices.

Now, whether any of the stuff brought to light and discussed in the campaign stays in the light depends on the SFWA membership itself, and particularly those of you who voted for me as an agent of change. You don't get to have me as president, so change, to that extent, becomes that much harder to achieve. However, it would be a shame if all the groundwork laid down over the last couple of months went to waste. I think you need to feel free to demand certain things of SFWA's incoming board: That it is responsive, that it is useful, that it is ethical and that it is transparent in process and motivation. In my opinion, the board is obliged to be all of these things. It answers to the SFWA members. But if SFWA's members don't demand these things of the board, there's no assurance they will get them.

That's all I'm going to say about that. All y'all are grownups; you don't need me to lecture you on what you should or should not do, as regards SFWA or anything else. If you want a better SFWA, you'll ask for it (increasingly stridently if need be). If you don't, that's fine, too. It's really all up to you.

I'm sure people will want to know if I plan to run for SFWA president next year. Well, remember that in my candidacy and platform statement this year, I was pretty explicit that I didn't really want the gig this time around, but felt obliged to run for various reasons. What I'm hoping is that next year (preferably in time to be on the ballot) more than one person runs for each office, and that they have enough differences in their platforms and experience that SFWA members have some real choices. And of course I hope at least one of those people has ideas somewhat like mine. I've noted before that my platform is "open source": I encourage anything thinking of running next year to willfully scoop up the parts that make sense to them and run with them. Please, be my guest.

Which is to say that actually, I'd prefer not to run next year if I can at all avoid it. I fell short of the mark this year; I'd like to see someone else pick up the flag and see if they can carry it home. If no one steps forward (or, alternately, if I think precisely the wrong person steps forward), I may offer myself up again. A lot will depend on where I am and where SFWA is next year. But, basically, I wouldn't put money on it. Once is enough in any 12-month span, I think.

I've saved the most important thing for last, which is that in many ways running for SFWA was an overwhelming experience; it's a hard wall to bang your head against. But in the end I'm glad I did it, not only because I think the campaign in itself was a wake-up call for SFWA, but because so many SFWA members stepped forward and cheered me on, offering not only their vote but their creativity, their support and offers to pitch in. I was upfront and said that I would need help; people promised they would give it.

Most of all I am stunned and humbled by the faith people had in me, even when they thought I was simply crazy to have run. I had more than one person tell me that they honestly agonized about whether to vote for me, because, essentially, they didn't know why they would want to punish someone they liked by making him SFWA's president. But in the end they wrote me in and trusted that I could make it work.

I like to think I could have made it work, and perhaps will, at some point in the future. For now, all of you who voted for me, and who cheered me on inside and outside of SFWA, should know that I did not take that support lightly. It sustained me, actually, during the times where I was wondering just what sort of insanity I had decided to put myself into. Your votes and your support made a real, honest and true difference to me, and I thank you for them, and for the trust implicit in them. Every vote I received was one where the voter had a choice. I am honored to have been that choice.

Posted by john at 04:00 PM | Comments (39) | TrackBack

May 11, 2007

Book Tour Diary Recap

For those of you who did not catch it earlier, I kept a near-daily Book Tour Diary over at the Ficlets Blog. I posted the last installment of it today; here's the index for the whole thing.

Posted by john at 05:26 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

I'm Your New Striker, Adelaide

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Success! In the mail today, from Australia, from Pat Scalzi (and Aldo) and Scalzi Produce, not just one but two Adelaide United jerseys: One for wearing, which you can see here, and one, autographed by team members, for framing. This is way beyond awesome, I have to say.

In return, Pat and Aldo will soon be receiving autographed books for yours truly, and I am now Ohio's foremost Adelaide United fan, and will cheer them on toward victory at every possible opportunity. Because, honestly, what has any other Australian football club ever done for me? Right. So, rock on, Adelaide United.

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The "Back From the Tour Catching Up" Entry

Well, I'm back, and it's nice to be here. A couple of notes going in:

1. As many of you know, while I was on tour I answered pretty much only the e-mail I had coming in that related to the tour or immediate business that could not be put off (I put that in the automated response I had going out to folks). Today is in fact "respond to e-mail day" here in Scalzi land, so I will be combing through the couple thousand e-mails I got over the last couple of weeks, catching up and answering the e-mail I did not otherwise get to. So, if you've been waiting for an e-mail response from me since 4/23, today may be your lucky day.

However, if you do not get an e-mail response from me today re: an e-mail you sent between 4/23 and yesterday, and you were hoping for one, send me a new e-mail on the same subject later today or tomorrow, and I'll address it. Basically, I want to try to catch up on all my e-mail in one fell swoop.

2. I have a huge pile-up of author interviews to send out for Ficlets -- I lost track of them in the run-up to the tour, and didn't send out any questions while I was out. My plan is to catch up with them starting next week. The nice thing about the Ficlets blog is that the author interviews are not tied into any particular day, so I can have a veritable festival of author interviews over the next few weeks. Go me! So if you're an author who has been waiting for interview questions for me, they're coming, soon.

3. Most of you know that I will not be attending the Nebula Awards Weekend, which starts today, and during which it will be announced who won the SFWA elections. Once the election results are publicly announced, I'll post a comment here. As noted before, while I very much wanted to be at the Nebula Weekend, the timing with the end of my tour just doesn't work, and I prefer to be at home with my family this weekend.

4. Now that the tour is over, I'll be likely to start posting on other topics than my own damn self around here, because, you know, I'm a little tired of that topic. So, if you have any thoughts about what you'd like to see me write about over the next week or so, drop them in the comment thread. Think of it as a mini-request week; frankly I could use with some requests not related to me or to writing to jolt my brain out of its self-regarding rut. I thank you in advance.

Posted by john at 08:33 AM | Comments (34) | TrackBack

May 10, 2007

Out on Tour Through May 10

From April 23rd through May 10, 2007, I'm out on a book tour, supporting my latest novel The Last Colony. Here are the tour locations, dates and times.

I will be blogging here during the tour. During the tour entries here may be both shorter and more sporadic than usual, because, you know, I'm going to a different city every day. The most recent entries for the Whatever will be posted directly below this one, which will stay at the top of site until May 10. I will be blogging about the book tour itself daily on the Ficlets Blog, but if you have questions comments about the tour, you can leave them in the comment thread for this entry.

I hope you'll come see me on tour!

Posted by john at 09:45 PM | Comments (66) | TrackBack

Bradford Says Hi

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Athena and Krissy say thanks to all of you who took such good care of me on the road, but they'll be happy to take it from here. And I agree!

Which is to say I've made it home, safe and sound. And it's nice to be back.

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My "Live From Prairie Lights" Appearance

For those of you who just can't get enough of the dulcet sound of my speaking voice, the radio recording of me for Iowa Public Radio's "Live From Prairie Lights" is up on the program's Web site. In it I am reading from the first chapter of The Last Colony and then answering questions from moderator Julie Englander and also audience members. Two things to be aware of:

1. I think the reading is okay, but not my best reading on the tour - most of the other places I went with a version of the first chapter of the upcoming The High Castle, so here I was fumbling a little bit (sorry, Iowa);

2. The recording is presented via RealAudio, which I know will make some section of the Whatever audience go all "Reelawdeeo is Teh Evaaal!111!!!one!!" and so on. Hey, I have no control over the format they choose. Don't whine to me about it.

For those of you who do click through, I think the Q&A section (which should be about halfway through) is pretty good. Enjoy.

Posted by john at 09:42 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

From the "How Much of a Geek am I" File

I intentionally left my luxurious, Tor-paid hotel room a couple of hours early to get to the airport, not because I was paranoid about my flight but because the Richmond International Airport has free wifi, and the wifi at the deluxe hotel was so bad that it was like being on a 28k modem. Maybe.

Man, I am such a dork. On the other hand, the Richmond airport wifi connection is lovely. So there it is.

Also, if such an observation has not been formally codified before, I would like to submit Scalzi's Law of Hotel Internet Connections, which reads thusly:

The more expensive the hotel, the more expensive and/or crappy the Internet connection.

Discuss.

Posted by john at 08:54 AM | Comments (31) | TrackBack

38

And now, I'm 38. My birthday present: I'm on my way home. Yay!

Gotta go. See you all later.

Posted by john at 06:59 AM | Comments (54) | TrackBack

May 09, 2007

Richmond Says Hi

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I lived in Virginia for four years, and yet tonight was the first time I had actually been in the state capital. I can say that it was worth the wait: Not only was it a good crowd, but they also sang me "Happy Birthday" (because my birthday is tomorrow) and I got cake and cool presents! This is the best May 9 ever.

And with tonight's reading, I am officially done with the tour. Tomorrow I hie myself off to the airport and head to see my family. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to that.

I'll have more to say on this later, I'm sure. But for now I'll have one last room service dinner on Tor, and then head to sleep. Tomorrow I'll be another year older, and on my way home.

Posted by john at 09:22 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

My Nebula Awards Weekend Presence

I was directly asked last night by someone at my DC appearance whether or not I was going to be at the Nebula Awards Weekend this weekend in New York City. I was mildly surprised about the question because I thought I had already written about it here. But I suppose I haven't, so, just to clear things up:

No, I'm not attending the Nebula Awards Weekend this year.

The reason: Folks, I haven't seen my family in almost three weeks. I want to be with them.

To expand on this slightly: If I were to attend the Nebula Awards Weekend, it would entail me flying home tomorrow, spending something less than a full day with my wife and child, and then heading out to NYC for three days. At this point, showing up at home just to leave again immediately has almost exactly zero appeal to me. The alternate plan (going to NYC with wife and child in tow) has only marginally more appeal, and still not very much, because ultimately my focus while I was in NYC would be on things other than my family. I've got a careerist streak in me, to be sure, but it only extends so far. What I really want to do now is go home, see my family and have a few days where I don't have to go anywhere, see anyone else, or be on "schmooze" mode. I'm having a great time doing all those things, but at this point, I'm also looking forward to not doing them.

Will I feel foolish if I win the SFWA presidency and I'm not at the business meeting to accept? Not really. Trust me, if I've won the presidency, SFWA will know rather quickly that I have no intention of being an absentee president. My physical absence at the Nebula Awards Weekend will not be an indicator of future results. And in any event, I'm not persuaded by an argument that I will make a great impression as the incoming SFWA president if I show up for the weekend both fatigued and wishing I were home.

I made this decision a couple days into the tour, actually; before then I had reserved my rooms for the Nebula Weekend and had lined up the American Express points for a free NYC trip and was definitely going. Then after three or so days on tour I realized just how tiring touring was, and also just how much I was already missing Krissy and Athena. And -- just as I now laugh at the idea I was actually going to get any novel writing done while I was on the road -- I realized the folly of thinking that popping in at home after three weeks and then popping off to somewhere else was a viable idea. Regardless of whether I won or lost the election, I was going to be at home for the announcement.

As for the people who think I ought to be at the Nebula Awards Weekend after three weeks on the road, rather than with my family, and would think poorly of me because of it: Well, I guess those people can just kiss my ass. I know where I ought to be this weekend, and it's with the people I love and miss and can't wait to see.

I do wish the Nebula Awards Weekend was not so hard by the end of my tour, to be sure. But this is how it turned out, and this is the decision I've made, and it's the right one for me. I hope everyone has fun at the Nebulas without me.

Posted by john at 09:21 AM | Comments (26) | TrackBack

May 08, 2007

DC Says Hi

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DC was awesome. We had a packed house, and a ton of friends of mine came out for the reading and signing, and I got me a sheep! A sheep made of Irish peat, even. Which was too cool. Also, a refreshing beverage. Then out to dinner with friends old and new, and now I'm back in the hotel room, working off the contact high of a really great night.

I'm really pleased the DC appearance went so well. It's one of my adopted hometowns, and the people here made me feel so welcome. What a fun time. Thank you.

Tomorrow: Richmond, Virginia at the Fountain Bookstore, at 6:30pm (not 7pm, which is the usual time). It's the final appearance of the tour. All good things, etc. I'm looking forward to it, and then I'm looking forward to seeing my family.

Posted by john at 11:56 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

An Early Birthday Present From Me to You: "Pluto Tells All"

My birthday isn't until Thursday, but I got you something early and don't want to wait to share it. It's a short story I wrote, called "Pluto Tells All," in which our most famous dwarf planet gets candid about life, the universe and everything, in the style of Esquire magazine's "What I've Learned" articles. I had fun writing it.

Best of all, it's webscab-tastically free for you to read! Because, hey, I'm giving that way (actually, it's Subterranean Magazine Online that is giving that way. But, you know. It works out to the same thing).

Here it is. Enjoy.

Posted by john at 03:54 PM | Comments (20) | TrackBack

Four Things

First: Having a rental car in DC certainly reminds one how NOT FUN it is to drive in DC. Seriously, what a messed up city, driving-wise.

Second: Reminder that I'm doing an appearance tonight at Olssen's, 1307 19th St, NW in DC, at 7pm. I've been warned that parking around there is something of a bear, so if you're coming in for it, you might either want to do the Metro or get in a bit early to find some place to put your car. My plan is to do a reading, but I'll try to start it a couple minutes after the hour so I don't miss the parking stragglers.

When you see me, I may be unusually red. I had lunch out in the sun today and baked my forehead a bit. Try not to stare.

Third: A snazzy review of The Last Colony over at Bookgasm. I like it when people like my books.

Four: SFBC has listed its selections for June, and its main science fiction selection for the month is, you guessed it, The Last Colony. Its main fantasy selection is The Name of the Wind, the debut fantasy novel from Patrick Rothfuss. As it happens, Patrick left an inscribed copy of Wind for me at Uncle Hugo's, when I was there for the signing, which was nice of him, and I've been reading along in the book since then. I'm here to tell you it's pretty damn good. So, if you're an SFBC member, this is one of those months when you're going to want to pick up both of the selections. Seriously, it's just a one-two hit of pure fictiony goodness.

There, now you know what's up with me.

Posted by john at 03:24 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

May 07, 2007

The New Laptop

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After an appropriate time for grieving (like, five minutes or so), and after my super-important executive business lunch, I headed to a local computer store here in Ann Arbor to procure myself a new laptop, and after some perusal, settled on the new and reasonably tricked-out Toshiba you see here in front of you (in the background you see my friend Anne, who is ferrying me around Ann Arbor today). I also bought a new backpack, since the new computer definitely wouldn't fit in the old one. Total price tag: Not cheap, although not stupid expensive either. Two things ameliorate the cost: one, it's a tax deduction, and two, I got my royalty statements for Tor the other day, so I know I can afford it. Happy birthday to me, a couple days early.

So: Hi, I'm back. Does this new laptop make me look thinner?

Posted by john at 03:28 PM | Comments (47) | TrackBack

Notice From The Hotel's Business Center

Shortly after midnight, Monday, May 7, my Toshiba tablet laptop made a really awful grinding sound and, like, totally died. This is bad news because, of course, now I am without a laptop, and I'm on the road.

Bummer. I really liked that laptop.

This is my way of saying that, well, I'm not precisely sure when I'll be updating around here again. I don't suspect I will be totally cut off (I am, for example, writing this in the hotel's business center); however, if you don't see a whole lot of me around here in the next couple of days, now you know why.

Now I've got to go repeat this same basic message on all my other blogs. Wheee!

See you all in a while.

Posted by john at 12:24 AM | Comments (23) | TrackBack

May 06, 2007

Why One Tours

Aside from seeing one's readers in their natural habitat, of course: Because when you do, sometimes the booksellers you visit on the tour sell a lot of your books. See Borderlands Books' April hardcover bestseller list for confirmation of this.

Personally I'm happy to be selling a lot of books for Alan and Jude and all the rest of the Borderlands Books crew. They rock.

Posted by john at 11:00 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Minneapolis and Detroit Say Hello...

...However, at the moment I don't have "people waving" pictures of either to show you because in the case of Minneapolis I didn't have a camera with me, and in the case of Detroit (actually Novi) I had the camera with me, but not my flash card, and the picture I took is in the camera's internal memory and I need a special cable to extract it. Which, alas, I do not have with me. I will retreive that picture later.

Suffice to say that both cities were full of lovely, vivacious people doing interesting and exciting things. Such a time we had! I wish you could have been there.

Also, I have been relatively quiet here because over the last couple of days I spent more time with real world friends than being online. Hey, I will do that sometimes, especially since in at least case the real world friend was someone I haven't seen in the better part of a decade. I hope you understand.

However, now I am passionately interested in what's going on with you. Really, how the hell are you, anyway?

Posted by john at 04:37 PM | Comments (32) | TrackBack

May 05, 2007

Milwaukee Says Hello

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I was pleased to discover that some contingent of the audience for the Milwaukee reading actually hailed from Chicago; people actually trekked to hear me blather on. That's heartwarming indeed. Also included: My friends Sarah and Allen Monette and Karen Meisner who also trekked, albeit from the somewhat less distant Madison environs. You all make me feel pretty. Thank you.

Next up: Minneapolis -- in just a few hours, in fact, since my appearance there is at 1pm at Uncle Hugo's bookstore. You must excuse me, I have to pack and leave now. See some of you soon.

Posted by john at 07:22 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

May 04, 2007

TLC May Sci Fi Channel Essential Book; SFRevu; A Self-Pimp Thread

Two things relating to The Last Colony:

1. As you might be able to tell from the headline, The Last Colony is the Sci Fi Channel's Essential novel for May, which is always nice, and which I know from experience has helped sell books, so thank you, Sci Fi Channel. Here's the link to its "essentials" page on the Sci Fi Web site.

2. SFRevu.com has very nice things to say about TLC here; really, it's like a publicist's dream review:

"Many SF writers are compared to Heinlein, Scalzi raises the bar more than a notch. If RAH were alive today, he'd be enjoying The Last Colony along with the rest of us."
"There's a lot to like in this book, and of the three in the series, it's probably the best."
"It won't be at all surprising to find The Last Colony on next year's Hugo ballot."

Makes me feel warm and tingly, it does (fair warning: the full review lays out a whole lot of the plot -- not exactly spoilery, but with a lot of details you might otherwise want to read for yourself).

But enough of me self-pimping: Now let's see you do it. I now declare this a self-pimp thread, in which you pimp all the cool things you are doing. It doesn't just have to be writing -- if it's something cool that you're doing, and you can link to it (or even not link, just tell us about it), then self-pimp, baby, all you want.

(Note: If you put in more than one URL, you may get dumped into the moderation queue; I'll release any moderated links when I see them. Don't panic.)

Self Pimp! Now!

Posted by john at 12:17 AM | Comments (69) | TrackBack

May 03, 2007

Iowa City Says Hi

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Apparently science fiction writers are a rarely appearing sort of writer here in Iowa City and at Prairie Lights bookstore, and that seems a shame, as the folks at Prairie Lights were lovely and the audience was delightful too. And I was recorded for local public radio (I'll post a link when it goes up on the station's Web site), and you can't beat that. Nice people, appreciative crowds: IIt's all here in Iowa, baby. And then afterward I hung out with writer Rachel Swirsky and members of her writing class, talking about the craft and business of writing. Smart folks, with an amusing variety of hair colors. Because why not. If I still had hair, I might dye it an amusing color, too.

Onward -- tomorrow I'm in Milwaukee, at the Harry Schwartz Bookstore, at 7pm. My first time in Milwaukee, actually, which doesn't seem right, after all that time spent in Chicago. It's just a 90 minute drive or so. Well, my Milwaukee n00berness will soon be corrected. Hope to see some of you there.

Posted by john at 11:49 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Spam Filter Update

The spammination from fake GMail accounts seems to have ceased, so I've taken it off the moderation filter for now. Those of you who enter (or have entered) Gmail accounts into the "e-mail" line on the comment form should now see your comments posting rather than being bumped into a moderation queue. I've also gone and released a bunch of comments that were stuck in moderation. If you don't see a comment you've posted, I may have accidentally deleted it (sorry). Please post it again.

However, some of you with hotmail accounts may still find yourselves being moderated because I'm still getting a bunch of crap from fake hotmail accounts. The solution to this problem is a combination of one of the two following:

1. Join the 21st century and get an e-mail account other than Hotmail;
2. Put something else in the "e-mail" line of the comment form other than a hotmail account.

Note that you don't actually have to put anything into the e-mail line of the form, since I don't require it. So don't feel, you know, obliged.

Also, since at least a couple of people have sent me dreadfully apologetic letters because they feel I've moderated them due to content (which I'm certainly not doing at the moment, I don't have the time), allow me to link to this entry on comment moderation as it exists on this site. If you've not read this policy statement, I suggest you do so now, to save yourself the psychic terror of thinking you've offended me in some way.

Posted by john at 06:22 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Portland Says Hi

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I should note that in this crowd there's a Campbell winner and a Hugo winner (although the Hugo winner's face is being obscured by the Campbell winner's hand), and the woman who read over half of "The Sagan Diary" for me. So this is a talented audience. And a fun one to read to, I have to say. I had a blast here.

I would write more but at the moment I have to pack -- turns out I have a 5am wake-up. Suffice to say my first trip to Oregon makes me want to come back again soon. I'll write more about this stop later, I'm sure.

Posted by john at 02:24 AM | Comments (30) | TrackBack

May 02, 2007

A Conversational Topic

Not single word this time: The US Army has banned soldier blogging unless the blog post is approved by a commanding officer.

I'm interested in your thoughts on this and whether it makes sense, or is merely another example of pointless censorship. I have some thoughts on it, but they're complicated and I don't have a whole lot of time to get into it now, what with having a plane to catch. But I think you guys can kick around the topic some.

Have a good day. I'm off to Oregon. Hopefully I will not die of dysentery.

Posted by john at 10:28 AM | Comments (63) | TrackBack

San Diego Says Hi

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Mysterious Galaxy bookstore in San Diego is an excellent, excellent place full of many fine people, including these folks waving to you now (what you can see is another large group of people off stage left -- hey, the camera captures only so many people at once). I was feeling just a little under the weather tonight, actually, but hopefully it didn't come through in the reading or in the Q&A afterward. The foklls who came out were a lot of fun, and there were a lot of folks in the crowd who I knew, both from my personal and professional lives, but some of whom I haven't seen for years. It was just friggin' cool to see them again, you know? Made me feel better.

Now I'm heading to sleep, hopefully to wake up feeling better, and then off to Portland. Portlandites (Portlandians?), if you're coming to the event tomorrow, remember that the Powell's bookstore the event is going to be at the Beaverton store, not the Portland store. I've heard that some folks are complaining about this, but I've been led to understand that the advantages to the Beaverton are a nicer author event area, and much easier parking. So please (please!) make the trek. I'll make it worth your while.

Posted by john at 01:06 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

May 01, 2007

Single Word Open Thread #2

Well, it looks like the 'Single Word Open Thread" concept worked out pretty well yesterday, so let's try it again, since my day is filled with traveling and laundry. Yes, part of of the exciting life of a touring author: Cleaning your clothes. Indeed, here's today's single word:

Cleanliness.

Your thoughts on it, and your own (or others') cleanliness or lack thereof? I await your comments and conversation with anticipation.

And with that, I'm off to shower. So you know where I stand on the cleanliness issue.

Posted by john at 10:04 AM | Comments (33) | TrackBack

Scottsdale Says Hi

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Well, that was fun. The Poisoned Pen bookstore paired my appearance with mystery writer Jane Cleland, so folks who came out tonight got a double bill -- sort of like Grindhouse, without the mortifying audience apathy. It was an excellent crowd, and I ended up putting faces to all sorts of names both here on the Whatever and over on By the Way. Which is nice, you know? Suddenly people aren't just pixelated letters on a screen anymore. Earlier in the day I was over at the Dragon Page, recording an interview which will be up in a couple of weeks. Busy, busy, in the Phoenix area.

Now I'm back here at the hotel, just had a ridiculously expensive (but tasty) room service burger, and now going to fall into a coma-like state for several hours, and then head to San Diego, which is one of my favorite towns. I'll be at Mysterious Galaxy at 7pm, whereupon I will commence my monkey dance (note: this is metaphorical. I may not, in fact, dance like a monkey. Although I might).

Have a good night, everyone.

Posted by john at 01:01 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack