In Which Tor.com Reveals a Thing I Did With Lock In + Lock In Spoiler Thread

And it involves the book’s protagonist, Chris Shane. 

What is it?

1. It may be a spoiler for those of you who have not read the novel already, so don’t click the link below unless you’ve read the book and/or don’t car if the book is spoiled in a sense (note the information does not spoil the plot, just something about Chris).

2. To find out what it is, follow this link.

And yes, it was fully intentional.

I’ll talk more about it in the comment thread here, which will serve as the spoiler-laden discussion of the book. So obviously, don’t read any further unless you’ve read the book and/or don’t mind it being spoiled for you.

The Case of the Missing Cat Who Wasn’t

When I came back from the book tour, I was greeted with hugs and kisses, which was very nice, but also with some potentially bad news, which was that Lopsided Cat, the Scalzi Compound’s most senior cat, had gone missing for two whole days, and that when last he was seen, he was wandering toward the treeline with a limp.

This was naturally cause for concern, because Lopsided Cat is not young — he was at least a couple of years old when he came to us, and that was a dozen years ago — and also because we live in rural America, which has things like coyotes in it. As a mostly-outdoor, working cat (we have agricultural fields on three sides, and in the fall and winter the rodents that live in the fields occasionally attempt to move into the house, so all three cats guard against those incursions) there is a decent chance that one day Lopsided Cat would leave the house and just not come back. Krissy and Athena had walked the treeline and checked the basement and the hedges thoroughly, but Lopsided Cat was nowhere to be found. Krissy thought it important to let me know the current state of the cat’s whereabouts or lack thereof. We all prepared to be sad for the possible end of our excellent cat.

Which why when Lopsided Cat actually showed up later in the evening, still limping a bit but otherwise perfectly fine, he was annoyed and surprised by the sudden amount of attention his appearance garnered — lots of happy yelling and petting and being picked up and squeezed. His expression at the time clearly communicated What the hell? but he tolerated the attention, then ate some food and went to sleep in the basement, as is his custom. And then in the morning he went back out again, because, well. That’s his thing. As is, for that matter, occasionally disappearing for a couple of days.

So, crisis averted for now. It’s still entirely possible one day Lopsided Cat will wander off and then just not come back, because, again: outdoor cat in a rural area, used to his independence. But today is not that day. He’s still around, and we’re happy to have him, for as long as we do.

Ruining Science Fiction With Glitter: The Scalzi Chronicles

Further Comments On Comments

While I was on tour with Lock In, I turned off the comments here at Whatever, opening them for Big Idea posts and the occasional post when I was able to spend a little time babysitting the thread. Among other things I was curious to see what, if any, effect turning the comment off would have on visits to the site.

The answer seems to be not a whole lot. Traffic to Whatever overall was down in the last four weeks, but I expected it to be down, because it always goes down when I’m on book tour — I’m not posting as much and what I do post tends to be short bits about where I am on tour. Turning off the comments doesn’t really appear to have dropped viewership lower, as a percentage, than any other time I’ve been tour — or if it had it was negligible enough that I don’t see it.

In one sense this is not too terribly surprising. As I’ve noted before, Whatever gets thousands of visits and visitors daily, but only (generally) a few dozen commentors on any given day. As a percentage, the commenting class here — as it is pretty much everywhere — is small compared to the overall readership. The inability to comment is not a huge thing when you don’t comment at all. Likewise, I suspect that most of the commenters were cool with the comments being off for a bit if I couldn’t sit on them like I usually do. So overall: Not a huge surprise, although it’s still interesting to me.

It doesn’t mean that I’ll be keeping comments off, mind you. The commenting class here may be small relative to overall readership, but it is of high quality, if I may say so myself, and for those folks to who do read for the comments (and I’m one of them), I would hate to deprive them of that enjoyment. So comments are back on. Comment away, you crazy kids!

That said, I am going to make one major change: After 14 days, comments threads will automatically close. I’m doing this for two reasons. One, in nearly all cases, the conversation in any comment thread is done two weeks out, and the only non-spam comments the comment threads accrue are from people who generally don’t have anything new or useful to say — indeed, late hits in my experience are generally some form of trolling. They won’t be missed.

Two, I turned comments back on here and less than a half hour later had more than 200 fresh comments in my spam queue. The good news is that WordPress’ spam catcher caught nearly all of them, but on the other hand, it was a reminder that I get a couple thousand attempted spam messages a day here. The site has close to nine thousand entries, many of which still have (had) open comment threads. If you’re a spammer, that’s a lot of shots on goal. Limiting the spam opportunities to just a few dozen active threads will make my site maintenance a lot easier, and these days I don’t have as much time to moderate as I used to.

So if you have anything to say on a comment thread, say it in the first couple of weeks, or forever hold your peace, at least here on the blog.

Here’s another change I’m going to make. From time to time while I was traveling (or otherwise busy), I’ve wanted to comment on some contentious topic or another but held off because I simply didn’t have the time to sit on the comment thread. As a result, and because I am rather more busy with travel and work these days than I was before, I find myself not writing up those pieces. I think Whatever’s range of topics has suffered a bit because of it recently.

So, here’s the plan: If I find I want to write something on a contentious topic but I don’t have time to moderate a comment thread, I’m just gonna write the thing and not turn on comments, or wait to turn on the comments until I have time to moderate. Simple! So simple, in fact, that I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t think about it before (In fact, there have been times when I’ve done that, but it never occured to be to think to myself “hey, you know, this is a thing you could do whenever you needed to.” Because I’m an idiot, you see).

When I have the comments off (or delayed), how will you comment? Well, of course, there is Twitter and Facebook and your own blogs and even (gasp!) email, which is how people used to comment to me before comments were on here at all. Who knows, it may even lead to an increase in hate mail, which, to be honest, I hardly get anymore (this is not an actual complaint).

In any event, that’s where I am on comments.

 

German Heritage Days in Fort Loramie: A Photo Set

Fort Loramie, a town just up the road from me, celebrates its German Heritage Days (on pretty much the same days as traditional Oktoberfest begins, incidentally) with a big tent, ruben bites (think a ruben sandwich, in nugget form), and of course, lots of beer. We went last night, and I took photos. If you’re interested, here’s the photo set. Click on any photo there for a bigger version of the photo.

Housekeeping Regarding Comments and Email

A quick post for a couple of technical matters.

One, as I have returned from the tour, full commenting has returned to Whatever: Comments are turned on by default, and all posts whose comment threads are not otherwise turned off are now open. I’ll have more thoughts a bit later on what I learned about having the comments off while I toured.

Two, I’ve turned off my email autoresponder, so if you’ve been holding off to send me email, go ahead and do it. Also, if you sent me e-mail anytime in the last month and wanted a response and didn’t get it (because I wasn’t responding to most email while on tour), go ahead and resend (Note: you don’t have to do this for Big Idea for October and November: I’ll be getting to those all by the end of the month).

(Not the) View From the Hotel Window, 9/20/14: Bradford, OH

And now I am home again.

Save for a couple of one-off events in October, the Lock In tour has come to a close. It was a lovely time and it was lovely seeing so many of you out there on the road, but it’s nice to be able to come back home and not have any place that I need to be for a little while, other than here with the family.

It’s been a great four weeks. If you were a part of it, thank you for being part of it.

I think I’ll go take a nap now.

Cover Reveal: The End of All Things

I saw this popping up the Twitters and the webs last night as I was heading back to the hotel, so I might as well give it a proper debut here on Whatever: The title and cover of the book formerly known as The Human Division 2: The Divisioning, taken, I assume, from the Tor catalogue for next year that just got sent out.

Pretty fantastic-looking, I gotta say. Once again, John Harris nails the cover image. But then he always does. And there are likely to be more cover illustrations, since as with The Human Division, we will likely do some form of episodic digital releases. Can’t wait to see those covers, too.

As for the title, and what it means for the Old Man’s War universe, I will say this only that the book will continue (and complete) the story that was begun in The Human Division, and that things will come to an interesting place for everyone involved. It does not mean the end of my interest in the OMW universe, just to get ahead of any concerns or incipient rumors, although I do suspect that after TEoAT, I’ll take time off from the world, just like I did after Zoe’s Tale.

So: the end of one OMW universe story arc, not the end of all possible OMW universe novels. Don’t panic.

The End of All Things will be out next year, and, uh, I’m still writing it. Don’t worry. I don’t miss deadlines.

(Not the) View From the Hotel Window, 9/18/14: New York

My hotel room wasn’t ready, and my schedule is such that I won’t be getting back there until after my event tonight, so here: Madison Square Park, for your delight. Right to the left of me, some dudes are having an al fresco meeting about television advertising. I feel like I’m getting the full New York experience.

Tonight: Brooklyn! Word Bookstore! 7pm! It’s going to be a hell of a lot of fun, and you should totally come, and bring everyone you know.

Tomorrow: The last event of the tour! In Philadelphia! At the Rittenhouse Square B&N, at 7pm. Let’s go out with a bang, folks.

Hey, Did You Know I Was Going To Be at New York Comic Con?

Well, I am, on the Thursday and Friday of the convention (that would be the 9th and 10th of October). I’ll be having a signing on Thursday at the Tor booth and on Friday I’ll be on at least one panel, and I’ll be doing a couple of fun things off campus as well. I’ll provide a more detailed schedule later (i.e., when I’m not on tour), but for the three of you who were on the bubble about going to NYCC, and for whom my presence will tip you over into the “going” column, there you are. Here’s the link to the convention’s Web site.

Somewhat related: NYCC’s new, updated anti-harrassment policy. Right on.

View From the Hotel Window, 9/17/14: Saratoga Springs

The hotel is lovely, and at this very moment I am eating watermelon-tomato gazpacho and the restaurant radio is playing “Come On Eileen.” Life is good.

Tonight: Northshire Bookstore, here in Saratoga Springs, at 7pm. This is the first time I’ve ever been Saratoga Springs. So please come! And bring everyone you have ever met.

Tomorrow: I’m in Brooklyn, the borough where they keep the writers, for an event at Word Bookstore, also at 7pm. RSVPs at the event’s Facebook page are encouraged, but not required. Let them know you are coming (and bringing everyone you know, of course).

The Lock In TV Deal Kermit Flail

Last night I wrote the following on the Twitters, regarding the Lock In TV deal, and the fact that it means I have three TV development deals at one time:

So tonight at the Concord event, I was asked if I was going to do the Kermit Flail. And so I did. Here it is.

A thing of beauty, it is.

A slightly longer version, with added context, is available here.

Credit for both to BoffoYuxDudes.

Update: Addendum:

Quiet dignity, man.

View From the Hotel Window, 9/16/14: Concord, NH

The hotel is very bed and breakfasty. I’m on the ground floor, which will make it easy if I have to evacuate in case of fire. I don not intend to set any fires. I feel it’s important to make that point clear.

Tonight: I do my thing at 7pm at Gibson’s Bookstore, here in Concord, NH. I have never been to Concord before so I am very much looking forward to the event and to seeing folks here. Please, as always, come and bring along everyone you have ever met. It will be totally worth your time. Promise!

Tomorrow: Saratoga Springs, NY, and Northshire Bookstore, also at 7pm. It will also be my first time in Saratoga Springs. Very much looking forward to that.

And Now, Because It Might Be Useful to Everyone, Including Me, a Quick Reality Check

And here it is:

Yes, I have three TV shows in development at the moment, which is very cool and wonderful for me and which means I’m having a totally giggly moment over here.

BUT:

Hey, remember that there was supposed to be an Old Man’s War movie? That was optioned for five years and never made it to the big screen. Same thing could happen with Old Man’s War, the TV series. Or Redshirts, the TV series. Or Lock In, the TV series. Lots of things are optioned and put into development, rather somewhat fewer of them get the greenlight to go to screen. Even shows that get greenlit can be pulled before they air. And then once a show gets on the air, it may not survive past the first season, or even the first few episodes. In film and television, nothing is ever assured.

So, it’s possible that everything I have in development makes it to series. On each of these potential series, I’m working with super smart people, all of whom have sold things in film and TV before, and each of whom has been successful in LA in a way I find tremendously encouraging — it’s why I decided to let them adapt what I’m writing. But is it probable that everything I have in development makes it onto the screen? Well. We will see. It is a long journey, full of detours, potholes and opportunities to run off the road and over a cliff. Not just for me but for anyone.

This is just my way of reminding everyone that the very good news I got for Lock In is the start of a process, not an assurance of a series and success. The same goes for OMW and Redshirts. Everyone involved, including me, are working hard to make it happen. And at the very least I personally am having a fair amount of fun as it goes along.

I’m enjoying the moment — I really am. But I’m aware it is a moment. Now the real work begins. Maybe we’ll get to screen and maybe we won’t. But just like I’m enjoying the moment now, I’m going to try to enjoy the journey, too, wherever it leads. No matter what, the books exist, and that will never change.

So let’s see what happens next.

(comments open for a couple of days)

The Big Idea: David Barnett

There’s the saying that “Freedom isn’t free” — but how to express that concept in a way that makes it more than just a bumper sticker platitude, and fold in some steampunk aweseomeness to boot? With Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon, author David Barnett may have just the ticket. Here he is to explain how it all comes together.

DAVID BARNETT:

America is screaming.

At least, that’s what it sounds like to The Nameless. He isn’t really called The Nameless, of course, but he can’t remember his name. As he tells one character in Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon:

“They call me many things. The Indians call me Spirit, in more ways than I can remember. The witches of New Orleans like to call me Fantôme. The Mormons in New Jerusalem think I’m Satan, and the civilized folk of New York don’t believe in me at all!”

The Nameless is a weird mash-up of Natty Bumpo from Last of the Mohicans and Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name, criss-crossing the America of 1890 in search for… well, he doesn’t really know. All he knows for sure is that he woke up on April 18, 1775 with no idea who he was. All he was really sure about was that America was screaming, and somehow he had to put that right.

April 18, 1775 is an important date in the calendar in Gideon Smith’s world. It’s when the British put down a nascent American rebellion and ensured that the country – or at least most of the Eastern seaboard – remained in British control. The Spanish still hold much of what we know as Mexico – New Spain, to them. But their constant war with the French back in Europe means their tentative forays north of the border have had to be scaled back, to the point where they didn’t put up much of a fight in 1868 when a breakaway Japanese faction fetched up in San Francisco, took over and rechristened it Nyu Edo, capital of the newly-established Californian Meiji.

There are other factions and independent settlements in North America, of course – the French nominally hold Louisiana, there’s a Free Florida which is a safe haven for runaway slaves from the Confederacy, and Texas is dotted with fiefdoms run by mostly tyrannical former British governors who decided they were too far away from New York and Boston – and a world away from London – to pay too much heed to what they wanted.

This fractured America is, I suppose, one of the big ideas in this, the second Gideon Smith novel. But though he’s not often on-stage, The Nameless is another big idea, linked closely to this. America, he feels, should not be this patchwork of territories controlled by proxy from far away. And that sort of gave rise to what’s the real Big Idea in Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl – the one that we’re all shackled to something, even if we don’t know it. And that freedom can be achieved, though often at a price.

The British governors in New York and Boston are chained to the whims and fancies of London, thousands of miles away. They can barely keep their cities running with the taxes that have to be paid back to Britain, and they certainly can’t expand into the wide open territories to points west without the resources they need. The Governor of New York, Edward Lyle, knows that his city is in thrall to the coal that keeps the lights on and the traffic moving, and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep that happening.

Haruki Serizawa is a scientist working on a top secret project for the Californian Meiji. He and his wife Akiko hoped America would be a new world for them and their daughter Michi, but he is frustrated that the new settlement cannot fully cut its ties to the old country.

Inez Batiste Palomo is the daughter of the Spanish governor of Uvalde, a border town all but forgotten by Ciudad Cortes (Mexico City, to you and me). Her father cleaves tightly to tradition and expects her to do the same, but she’s a modern woman in a world that’s changing fast.

And Gideon Smith is the boy from nowhere, the fisherman appointed to be the Hero of the Empire by Queen Victoria herself. Gideon is shackled to Victorian mores which despise the different, which make it difficult to be anything other than rich, white and male. Yet here he is, in love with a mechanical girl. His society, the one that made his dreams come true, just doesn’t hold with the freedom to love who he wants.

And, I suppose, the book, the whole Gideon Smith series, in fact, is perhaps my own attempt to break free of the constraints – real or perceived – that some feel the “steampunk” genre imposes. I wanted to write a working class hero who didn’t have a double-barrelled name, one who dragged himself up by his boot-straps and demanded the world take him on his merits. One who – once he knows how the world works – has severe misgivings about it. I wanted to create a steampunk world where diversity was celebrated, differences discussed, and expectations challenged, if not overturned.

I’m not sure, as a white male with a roof over his head and a steady job, whether I’ve succeeded in that. But as the characters in Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon find out to varying degrees, freedom rarely comes without some effort.

—-

Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s Web site. Follow him on Twitter.

Lock In Acquired for Television by Legendary TV

Here are the basics of the deal, via Variety.

To get ahead of some questions that might arise — it’s very very early days on this (I mean, obviously, since the book hasn’t even been out three weeks as I write this up), so I don’t have a whole lot of answers for folks about how it’s all going to shake out. What I can say is that I’m happy with the deal, I’ll be well involved, and I think Legendary is a very good place for Lock In to be. Aside from that, the answer I’m currently going to be able to give to you about just about anything is: “Interesting question! We’ll see.” I’m not trying to be evasive. Just: Early days.

I will say this, however: Holy crap, my life these days. Lock In is the third book of mine currently in development for a TV series at the moment (following Old Man’s War and Redshirts), a fact which is amazing and exciting and also kind of absolutely ridiculous if you think about it for three seconds straight. And in each case I am getting to work with fantastically talented people who know what they’re doing. And this is on top of the books, and the amazing people I get to work with doing those, and the video game, which again gets me working with just the best people you can imagine.

To repeat: Holy crap, my life these days.

More details, of course, when I have more details to give. For now, just know that I am happy. And thank you to all of you who are wishing or have wished me success. I think it’s working at the moment.

New Books and ARCs, 9/15/14

Unpacked some of the books and ARCs that arrived while I was on the second leg of the tour; here they are for your delight and perusal. Of particular interest, I think, are Ancillary Sword, the sequel to the multiple award-winning Ancillary Justice, and Last Plane to Heaven, the official final story collection of Jay Lake.

What do you find interesting in this collection of works? Share in the comments.