Daily Archives: February 21, 2007

Movements and Reprehensibility

Two links related to me for you this evening:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Electronic Editions of My Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

There, that should do it.