Promising to do to Science Fiction What Gawker Did to Celebrity

There’s a new blog out today called io9, edited by Annalee Newitz, from the same folks who brought you Gawker, Defamer and Valleywag, and which will, presumably, write about science fiction and its creators in the same way as the those previously mentioned blogs write about New York celebrities, LA movie stars, and socialtarded Silicon Valley millionaires. I’m not entirely sure the world is ready for breathless tidbits about how people spotted such-and-such science fiction writer at such-and-such convention (“ZOMG! [X] was at the hotel bar! He was pudgy, had a beard and wore a Chthulu t-shirt! He was polyamourlicious!”), but perhaps some good will come of it.

(And look, they covered the Creation Museum report during their beta-testing. The writer is disappointed that I made up the fact that Rodan came from the ancient continent Rodinia. Hey, it’s no less true than most other scientific facts in that particular museum.)

Just as a warning to Newitz, et al: The moment you start thinking you’re too clever for the room is the moment we set the hounds on you. And by “the hounds” I mean the folks at Fandom Wank. Oh yes. They are so very ready.

39 thoughts on “Promising to do to Science Fiction What Gawker Did to Celebrity

  1. Doesn’t exactly sound like all that great of an idea to me, unless, of course, they expect to have some sci-fi authors work as guest bloggers.

    I mean, sci-fi authors aren’t freakin’ mutants who act any differently than anyone else.

    So, all-in-all, I think it’s safe to say this will be a huge waste of time.

  2. So I click the link, and my work’s netnanny SmartFilter automatically blocked the site for… ::Drumroll:::

    Pornography!

    Suddenly my mind warped with ‘polyamourlicious’ and ‘Cthulu’ in a whole new, squick-worthy direction.

    Thanks John.

  3. Cool site! I like it already! Good tone and attitude – and the picture of the robots with topless chicks in the 1930′s is a crowd pleaser (probably what tripped Maeg’s netnanny!)

    It’s also one of the few places where the Chang user name is already taken.

    Which one of you coasters took my identity?

  4. I’m not entirely sure the world is ready for breathless tidbits about how people spotted such-and-such science fiction writer at such-and-such convention

    Not a big Locus reader, then?

  5. I think the site could end up being a lot of fun. For now it’s going on my daily read list. Of course, part of the reason for that is it looks like a site that could easily bring the wank. And the hounds are always ready.

  6. A place where science fiction is treated with the vapidity usually reserved for Entertainment Tonight. Just what the universe needs. If Whatever is the zenith of SF blogs, this is surely the nadir.

  7. Dude, they left you out of the 10 most eagerly awaited books of ’08 and you want to give them a couple of weeks?

    Haven’t you learned anything from the Neverending Political Campaign of [Insert Least Favorite Candidate Here]? Begin discrediting them immediately, lest they leave you off the ’09 list as well. Nice guys finish last, Scalzi. (Except in alternate universes like Iowa.)

  8. Wow. Someone actually *wants* to be the Hedy Lamarr of skiffy? We’ve already got John Clute, Dave Langford, our esteemed hosts, and lots of others. We’ve got people with a deep understanding of the business, contacts in it, and who’re engaged in it. I’m not sure Newitz’s model will work. I hope it gets traction outside of the F/SF community, but I don’t see it as really being interesting inside of it. Perhaps I’ll be proved wrong.

    I am impressed that Newitz was able to get a gig out of it, but it looks like Gawker is trying to be closer to Federated Media. I think they’re better off concentrating on strengths, not expanding into a markey already heavy with talent, and trying to fit in a gossip sheet patterned on gawker/defamer.

    Lifehacker is pretty cool though.

  9. Brett L:

    “Dude, they left you out of the 10 most eagerly awaited books of ‘08 and you want to give them a couple of weeks?”

    Well, you know. There’s no accounting for taste. Also, I’m looking forward to some of those books myself.

  10. Pass. When they feel it’s necessary to identify Carl Sagan as “Carl ‘billions of stars’ Sagan,” my intelligence feels like it’s coming down with whatever Athena has.

    But, yes, the topless robot priestesses do score them a few points.

    Oh, and Maeg: The site has the word “porn” in one of its main categories (“Space Porn”), and the parent company, Gawker, publishes a site for pornography industry news which is linked to right there in the footer.

  11. Dude, they left you out of the 10 most eagerly awaited books of ‘08 and you want to give them a couple of weeks?

    It’s worse than that: not only is there no Scalzi but they are looking forward to the next James P. Hogan and not because they want a laugh or because they are curious to see when (like Hogan’s Velikovski-ism) Hogan’s admiration for people like David Irving, Arthur Butz and Mark Weber will leak into his fiction.

  12. Actually, as anyone can tell by actually looking at io9.com, it’s not particularly full of celebrity snarkishness. It’s a little mischievous, but by and large the tone is one of sincere geeky enthusiasm.

    But it’s interesting to see which of your commenters simply picked up on your spin (“Promising To Do To Science Fiction What Gawker Did To Celebrity”) and waxed outraged, without actually looking for themselves. I believe you should note the names and IP addresses of these notably suggestible and, dare I say, compliant individuals, and we should sell them patent medicines, adjustable-rate mortgages, and timeshares on the Brooklyn Bridge.

  13. PNH:

    “Actually, as anyone can tell by actually looking at io9.com, it’s not particularly full of celebrity snarkishness. It’s a little mischievous, but by and large the tone is one of sincere geeky enthusiasm.”

    Well, you know. Let’s wait until the conventions start to roll and see what happens then. Masquerade upskirts for everyone!

    (More seriously, of course, I hope they do a good job and have fun. And avoid masquerade upskirts as a general rule.)

  14. Oh, great, now I’m going to have to figure out who I’m wearing. Just a minute. [scuffle, contortions, small tearing sound, pant -pant.]

    There! K-Mart! Bring on the papparazi!

  15. Jeff @ 12:

    What’s interesting is that I’m a follower of several of the Gawker sites, one of which being my guilty pleasure Jezebel– far more likely to post items that are NSFW, including ads!with!boobies! and yet not blocked by SmartFilter.

    Then again, this is the same netnanny that blocks BoingBoing for being ‘porn’ too, so… feh on them. I’ll have to grab the ATOM/RSS link, and feed it in to GoogleReader to see if the fuss is worth it.

  16. Broad poking fun at the Gawker family of sites/blogs isn’t really fair – you should really check out Deadspin, even if you’re not a sports fan. It’s incredibly well written and funny.

  17. I just pimped “Zoe’s Tale” in the comment thread of that one post. So, there ya go.

    I, too, am addicted to Jezebel and Consumerist…and I love Gawker’s coverage of book publishing. I suck, film at eleven.

    Oh, and I’m completely swiping “polyamourlicious.” Is that OK?

  18. John S:

    “Broad poking fun at the Gawker family of sites/blogs isn’t really fair -”

    Do I need to remind people about my policy regarding “fair”? Also, you know. If the Gawker family of blogs can’t handle a little poking of fun when that’s generally how they make their ad impressions, fuck ‘em. But as it happens I would expect they can handle it just fine. Ms. Newitz and crew are grown-ups.

    Chryss:

    Feel free to snag it!

  19. I don’t see what the fuss is– it looks pretty witty and fun to me. I like their particular brand of funny.

    If anyone wants to pick it up on their livejournal friends page, I just lj-fied the rss feed. You can find it here.

  20. I went to the space porn section and was seriously disapppointed. Not one single nekkid alien, no zero-G orgy scenes.

    Clearly I must lower my standards, though I’m not quite sure it’s possible.

  21. I was a more than a little unimpressed. It’s awful brave of them to be upfront about their willingness to take on Superman and Star Trek: nobody’s ever done that before, but it goes along with their bold endorsement of fringe SF like Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica and Joss Whedon’s Firefly, two properties that have been mysteriously overlooked by SF fans.

    (Please imagine my eyeballs making a grating noise in my skull as they roll around while I type this. Thank you.)

    Don’t get me wrong: I love BSG and Firefly and have taken my share of cheap shots at Superman and Trek over the course of thirty-plus years of geekiness. But we’re talking about low-hanging fruit here.

    Earth is full of people who want to sell you cheap ways of seeing the future. They tell you tomorrow will be more of the same, with shinier toys. Or that work as we know it is about to end. io9 is the visionary watchdog who calls those charlatans on their shit.

    …says their manifesto. And here I was, thinking Harlan Ellison already has a website.

  22. PNH –

    Actually, as anyone can tell by actually looking at io9.com, it’s not particularly full of celebrity snarkishness. It’s a little mischievous, but by and large the tone is one of sincere geeky enthusiasm.

    Celebrity snarkishness aside, check out the titles of the last 3 posts (as of 1:22 EST, 01/02/2007):

    Doctor Who: Revolutionary Or Tool Of The Man?

    Semen Can Control Women’s Sexual Urges

    Sexy Recruitment Posters For The Empire

    So, um yeah. It’s certainly aiming to be controversial. But it’s a surface level controversial so far. Nothing really deep to it. Which is gawker style.

  23. Oooh, An Eric, if they got into a slap fight with Ellison, they’d really generate some traffic. Perhaps someone could claim to have been groped or something.

    Manifestos aside, this is all about selling ad space, right?

  24. I spoke too soon. The newest post was about The actors portraying Peter Petrelli and Claire Bennet are dating.

    Celebrity snarkishness FTW!

  25. Scalzi: You know, I wrote a Locus joke, but I thought it was too inside.

    Hey, man, that’s what I’m here for. I’m always ready to take time away from digitally editing pet photos^W^W^W^W working on my book to make jokes that other people won’t make…

    I got your back.

  26. Hey, Gawker also brought you Lifehacker, Kotaku, Gizmodo and a ton of other non-gossip blogs. Posts like the Heroes-stars-dating thing will be few and far between on the site, FWIW. And we’re big fans of yours, so the “John Scalzi” tag will get plenty of use.

  27. The site has already justified its existence by mentioning the mid-’80s movie Cherry 2000, the topmost item I saw there.

  28. Am I the only one who is just tremendously turned off by the typical layout of most sites in the Gawker Media family? I can’t really quantify it–I just see the fonts and layouts and such, and become unhappy.

    Anyway, 30-post-a-day, all-but-kitchen-sink blogs aren’t my thing. But hopefully it will be a good thing for the people it can become a good thing for.

    (looks at last sentence) Is it too late for me to enter the Iowa caucus?

  29. Robert Hutchinson (#36): Probably not too late to enter the caucus, though the oratory of one Mr. A. Lincoln might prove a formidable obstacle to your further advancement.

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