Zoe’s Tale, Now Out

Hey, did you know that I have a new book out today? It’s called Zoe’s Tale. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it here before. You know me. All subtle like that. Nevertheless, it’s officially out in the world today, so if you happen to be near a bookstore, either in the real world or online, you should be able to find it and buy it and read it and hopefully enjoy it.

Lord knows, previous paragraph notwithstanding, that I’ve blathered enough here about the book here, so I won’t repeat myself here too much, except to say once more that I’m really proud of Zoë as a character; I think she’s one of the best I’ve ever written. I also think that that in many ways Zoe’s Tale is the best book in the entire Old Man’s War sequence, which is saying something, considering it’s the fourth book in the universe, and two of them have got Hugo nods. But there it is: The amount of work I had to do to get Zoë right is also reflected in the rest of the book as well. It’s good.

I’m also happy to say that the goal of making this a standalone novel seems to have been achieved: I’ve heard back from folks who have read the book cold, without having read the other books in the sequence, and it’s worked for them. This is good news because, as most of you know, Zoe’s Tale was written with an eye toward opening up this universe to younger readers who might have missed the other books; it’s the book I can point to when someone asks if they can give a book of mine to their daughter or nephew or whomever.

Adults aren’t going to feel excluded (everyone who I’ve heard from about the book is an adult; they all liked it just fine), it’s that I wanted to put another door into the world for a new group of folks. Hopefully they’ll walk through and explore. I have some hope that some of the folks who have been along for the ride so far will do some proselytizing, and that’s as far down the avenue of openly begging all y’all to drop the book into the hands of the teens you know as I’m going to go.

Standalone or no, it’s kind of weird to reflect on the fact that this is the fourth book in the OMW universe; we’ve covered a lot of ground (and space) in pretty short amount of time. I’ve been humbled by the number of people who have read the books so far and have asked for more. I don’t know where else I’ll be going in the OMW universe or when (as it happens, at the moment there are no additional OMW books under contract) but so far the journey has been one I have been honored to take with each of you. Thank you for taking it with me, and with John, and Jane, and now with Zoë as well.

48 thoughts on “Zoe’s Tale, Now Out

  1. Well, thank you for building that universe for our imaginations to play in. I’ve yet to meet anything that repays it’s investment as well as a good book.

  2. Congratulations, John! The Barnes & Noble I frequent always has your novels prominently displayed as soon as they’re released, so I’ll be on the lookout for it.

  3. Hi John,
    The Old Man’s War universe is believeable, doesn’t play ignorant with many of the laws of physics and all three I’ve read so far have been damn fine books.

    I was wondering if you had any plans (medium or long term) to allow others to write / publish stories in the same universe.

  4. Got my copy @ Armadillocon dealer’s room (the LAST copy) and sat in the Lobby to begin reading it. Looked up and you were standing at the table.
    Thank you for signing it.
    I have been rationing myself to one chapter at a sitting, trying to stretch the experience. So far, I have to agree that it is the best one yet.
    The insight into her family from her point of view is refreshing and gives us a interesting view of John Perry and Jane Sagan.
    Really enjoy the interplay between Zoe and Hickory/Dickory. Her exasperation with and love for them literally drips from the pages!

  5. Richard:

    For various reasons, this is doubtful.

    Martin English:

    There are no plans for official OMW universe books or short stories not written by me. If people want to write fanfic in the universe, I have no problem with that, although I’m not interested in seeing it, for various reasons. here’s my fanfic policy.

  6. I’m pleased to say that thanks to all that blathering I am the #1 person on the hold list at the Seattle Public Library. So I will be the very first person to read a copy from them. Its a treat I’m looking forward to.

  7. I’m actually about to get the kids strapped into their car seats and drive out into civilization to get a copy of ZT at the Borders in town.

    And if you have any idea of the hassle involved in taking a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old shopping without the convenience of a double stroller, you’ll appreciate the Seal of Endorsement this act constitutes…

  8. Happy release day! Actually I saw it on display at the local Borders last Friday. There’s now a copy on my dining room table, ready for action. Good luck with the launch!

  9. Amazon says they’ll have it at my door today. And its about damn time. I haven’t seen something this overhyped since ‘Journey’ went back on tour. I swear if I have to read one more post about how good Zoe’s Tale is without being able to read it myself… I’ll just have to make a louder ‘Squee!’ when I actually get hold of it.

  10. Like others, Happy Release Day! I found mine last Wednesday at Borders and finished within a day. A great book! Thanks for your hard work – it is very much appreciated.

  11. The borders here in downtown cleveland doesnt have it. I miss living in a big city (i.e. NYC) where all the bookstores are just too big to not have any authers works.

  12. My copy of the book was in the mailbox when I returned on Sunday from my trip (thank you overstock.com). I am enjoying the book a little at a time — as it would be very easy to rip through it.

    So far it is as enjoyable of a read as I had hoped and I am looking forward to her time on and off Roanoke. As far as this middle-aged man is concerned, John is ‘spot-on’ as a teenaged girl.

  13. John, thanks so much for linking to my review! I really, really loved Zoe’s Tale (I gave it 5 stars on LibraryThing, and I’m off to post my review on Amazon, which I only do for books I really love or really hate).

    You’re definitely doing your job as an author, because Zoe’s Tale has encouraged me to perhaps dip farther into a new (to me) genre – starting with your other “Old Man’s War” books, of course!

  14. John, any idea when Zoe’s Tale — and The Last Colony for that matter — may come out in audiobook format (specifically at Audible.com)? I listed to the first to OMW books that way and enjoyed it thoroughly, was hoping for the “set.”

  15. Good book – I picked up a copy Saturday and finished it last night.

    I enjoyed it a lot, and I didn’t have any trouble believing Zoe as a teenaged girl (of course, like Mr. Scalzi, I’ve never been one of those either).

    My only gripe is that one of the ways Zoe sounds like a teenaged girl is that she sounds EXACTLY like a 2008 teenaged girl, down to using the same expressions.

    But I guess that’s not uncommon – it was just a bit more noticeable with Zoe than usual.

    Congrats on release day!

  16. On my way to the bookstore to pick it up. We leave tomorrow for our family trip, and I’ll have to fight my sons for a chance to read it this week.

  17. Mike G: No, actually she’s using the teenage slang of her own time. John has just helpfully translated it into 2008 terms, because otherwise you wouldn’t understand a word she said!

    Not that adults understanding teenagers’ expressions is that easy, even in the same time period—that is, after all, the whole point of teenage slang—but at least this way you have a shot, and can even ask a teenager of your acquaintance if you have a question.

  18. Went and grabbed the last copy in the store. The clerk said they had half a dozen out this morning, but they were all gone when they rang up my order at 10:30am.

    I’m going to go ahead and predict that the sales figures are going to be tolerable.

  19. Congratulations John. I’m about 3/4 of the way through TGB and I’m looking at TLC and TAD as I type this; greedily I might add. Zoe’s Tale will have to wait for logistical reasons, but as they say here in India, “The fruit at the end of the waiting is sweet.” (Possible loss of packets during translation.)

  20. ‘Hopefully they’ll walk through and explore.’

    With the proper marketing team, they’ll do something even more important – they’ll pay for it.

  21. I finished my copy last night, and was both impressed and saddened by it. Frankly, this is some of your best writing ever, and so impressive. Saddened, because it really does (as you note in the Afterwords) complete and fix the story told in tLC. And that makes me sad, because I think if it hadn’t come as a seperate book, you would have won that second Hugo for sure.

    On the other hand, you would have needed a pack mule to lug two of those monsters around, so…

    Congrats on another excellent book, anyway!

  22. Skwid:

    “I think if it hadn’t come as a seperate book, you would have won that second Hugo for sure.”

    Well, I’m not so sure about that — Tor wouldn’t release a book as long as TLC and ZT together; they probably would have split them up into two separate books. In which case we’d be in the same situation we’re in now. Also, you know. Yiddish would have been a challenge no matter what.

  23. Based on what I’ve read so far, I definitely think that Zoë’s Tale will be a Hugo contender at Montreal (I’m up to Part III right now), though even in the category of YA (or YAish) books, you’ll have some competition from Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother.

    OT, I find it amusing that my local Borders (which has their YA stuff separated, one set of shelves for “SciFi/Fantasy/Horror” and another for general “mainstream” fiction) has Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies books on the SF/F/H shelves, while Little Brother is shelved as “mainstream.” Scary thought, when you think about it.

  24. “Also, you know. Yiddish would have been a challenge no matter what.”

    I didn’t know you wrote ZT in Yiddish. Did you translate it back into English for publication?

  25. Yeah, I heard the original title was Zoe’s Dertseylung, but somebody at Tor seemed to think it didn’t roll off the tongue as well.

  26. Congrats on the book coming out. I’m overseas so will pick it up the second I get back.

    Thanks for writing, we appreciate it a lot. Every book you write is a winner.

  27. Just wanted to say “Congrats”. I have read all of your other books and loved them all. However, I just finished Zoe’s Tale and I must say it blows away everything else. I bow to you in literary appreciation. It is simply amazing!

  28. I’m off work this week, so this book was to be an important part of my staycation. That, plus drywalling the ceiling of my kitchen, getting my pickup inspected, turning out my closet, taking a trunkload of donations to the Salvation Army store, collecting papers for our upcoming construction loan, obtaining building permits, vetting my paperback collection and cleaning out my office. Plus some other things I hope I’ve written down somewhere else because I told my wife I’d do them regardless. SHE won’t forget.

    So far, it’s Tuesday, and all I’ve accomplished is, obtaining and reading the book. Period. Unfortunately, I’m like that with books, and should know better. Next time, the book will not be purchased until AFTER any three of the above are done. Two, at the very least.

    Loved it, by the way. One question though: I remember quite clearly you’d promised lots of sex. As Zoe is still just as clearly jailbait, I’m quite glad you didn’t. But, hey, YOU brought it up, so what gives?

    (Or did I imagine reading that, making me a bigger perv than I think I am?)

  29. John, I am impressed.

    By hitting what seems like the teenage girl “voice” on the nose? No. Other older male authors have done that, and you have a daughter and wife to provide corrective guidance on that point. Worthy, and it works well. But not truly impressive.

    I am impressed by by your restraint.

    You went 9 whole chapters, 90.9 or so pages bacon-free.

    I congratulate you!

    (back to reading story)

  30. Congratulations, John! I raced through “Old Man’s War” earlier this year, and will read “The Ghost Brigades” and “The Sagan Diary” next. I heard you read the first chapter of “The Last Colony” on “Live at Prairie Lights,” which was when I first started reading this blog regularly, after I realized I had missed a chance to see you in person.
    So I gotta get through the other three first.

  31. OK, I bit and ordered a copy from Amazon. As a 50 (mumble) SciFi fan since grade school, I wonder how much I’ll relate to the teen female viewpoint, but I’ve enjoyed the rest of the OMW works, so we’ll see..

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