Monthly Archives: May 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

One of Life’s Little Ironies

sfbclc.jpg

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.

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.

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.

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.

What I Did With My Memorial Day Weekend

grad07.jpg

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?

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.