Monthly Archives: January 2009

Where I’m At

The view from my chair:

You can tell it’s a swanky hotel because the plants aren’t plastic (yes, I just checked). I’ve actually stayed here before, although the last time was back in the early 90s, for a Disney movie press junket. That was the junket where I got to see the sets for The Nightmare Before Christmas and saw Danny Elfman sing “Jack’s Lament” live while a rough cut of the scene from the movie unspooled behind him. Danny Elfman’s not here this time, drat the luck. I’ll have to find something else to do with my time, I suppose.

Anyway, I’m waiting for my room to be available. This is what I get for taking a morning flight. What are you up to?

The Nebula Awards: Less Logrolling, More Relevance

This will be of interest only to hardcore SF geeks, but that’s me, so: The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) have revised the rules for their Nebula Awards, and I have to say I approve. First, it gets rid of the “rolling eligibility” rule (in which a Nebula could be won by a novel or story released two calendar years earlier, thus crushing any use the award has for relevance) with a far more sane calendar year system, and it also adds other new innovations to streamline the process and basically make nominating and voting easier and smarter, thus encouraging SFWA members to actually nominate.

This is all welcome news, since for the past several years the Nebula has been marinating in irrelevance; a shame both for the award, and for the authors who have won it and who had hoped to see some benefit from it in their careers. It’s going to take more than rule changes to restore the Nebula to equal footing with the Hugo, to be clear — but the rules changes had to be made as a first step. That first step is taken; now on to the next steps.

When SF TV Series Become Movies, And Fail

Thursday is AMC SF movie column day, and this week I’m looking at science fiction TV series which — unlike Star Trek, above — tried to make the transition to film and did a nice fat faceplant instead. What did they do wrong? Well, I’ll tell you. Warning, Browncoats: Serenity is in there. Oh, don’t look at me like that. You know I like Serenity. Lots. It doesn’t mean it wasn’t a flop, though. But of course you can register your howls of outrage over on the AMC site. The comment thread is just waiting for you there.

More on the Creative Consultant Thing

Joe Mallozzi of Stargate has updated his blog with more information about me joining the Stargate: Universe production as Creative Consultant, what the gig is all about, and what we had for dinner last night, including his most unusual dessert. It’s all pretty accurate, except for the part explaining in what form of money I’d be paid. Although when he commented that I was going to be paid in World of Warcraft currency, my immediate thought was, “oh, so that’s what they’re calling Canadian money these days.”

A casual glance through teh IntarWeebs and the science fiction and Stargate fan sites suggests that by and large people seem positive about this news, which is always nice, so thanks, folks, and I hope I help the show live up to or exceed your expectations. That said, there are always skeptics, and at least one skeptic out there suggests, regarding my participation, that “the only conclusion I can draw is that Scalzi needs some money.” To which my response is: Really, no. It wasn’t a “I need me some cash” thing, it was a “will this be fun, and can I be useful” thing. I’m hoping I will and that I can. Although, to be clear, I’ll take the money, too. I’m not precious about it.

One of My Big Announcements for January

First, to everyone who looked at the picture in the last entry and said to yourself, “why, John Scalzi is in Vancouver, Canada, of course,” give yourself a pony. A pretty pony. Indeed that’s where I am at the moment. For those who additionally tried to guess at which hotel and specific floor of said hotel I’m on: Dude, stop stalking me.

The reason I’m in Vancouver, aside from having dinner at Fuel last night with Joseph Mallozzi, can now be revealed: I have a new gig as Creative Consultant for the upcoming Stargate: Universe television series. I’ve been talking to the SGU folks about it informally for some  time and flew out to meet the producers and writers, and talk about the ideas and directions of the new series. I also got the tour of the sets, which are still under construction, and which look pretty damn nifty so far. It all went very well, and I liked what they were doing with the show and the people involved, and equally importantly they seemed to like me too. So I was happy to say yes when they invited me onboard.

To answer questions that immediately come to mind: What “creative consultant” means in this case is to assist the producers and directors in shaping the direction of the series, to offer technical writing suggestions and advice, and basically to be useful when they want another point of view on something; it’s a background rather than foreground sort of job. No, I won’t be writing for the series at this point; hey, I just got the one gig, let me do that first. Yes, I’ve seen scripts and now know all sorts of stuff about the series you don’t, yet. No, I won’t tell you anything more than what’s already out there; my title is “creative consultant,” not “dude who leaks stuff.” Yes, the producers and writers are very smart folks who have a definite idea of what they want SGU to be, and I think it’s a good and intriguing idea with lots of interesting possibilities, which is why I signed on. No, I won’t be moving to Vancouver, though it’s a lovely town. Yes, dinner last night was spectacular, and I’m currently filled with crispy duck and other delights. I know for a fact Joe Mallozzi will be blogging about it, with lots of pictures of our dishes. Foodies, prepare to go insane.

The main reason I’m talking this job is that it looks like it’s going to be a hell of a lot of fun; as you may recall,  I noted earlier this year that one of the first questions I was going to ask about any potential gig this year was whether I would actually enjoy myself doing it, because life’s too short, you know? SGU indeed looks like fun to me, and it’s neat to be asked to get in on the ground floor of a television series and help to make it something all of you would want to watch. So that’s what I’m doing, and why I’m in lovely Vancouver, Canada today.

Travel Day Audience Participation Question, 1/13/09

I travel all morning and when I land I go straight into meetings. Seems likely I’ll post here again today late if I post at all.

To keep yourselves amused in my absence, a question:

Name a movie that made you laugh so hard you almost peed yourself. Not just a chuckle. Not just a hearty guffaw. But laughing so much that losing a bodily function or two was a distinct possibility.

Mine: A Fish Called Wanda. Specifically, the dog assassinations. At the last one I really was laughing so much that I was absolutely certain I would let fly all over the floor. The 32 ounces of soda I’d been downing over the course of the movie didn’t help matters much. I’m happy to say I managed to hold it in. Barely. But it was a close, close thing. The rest of the film was pretty darn amusing, too.

Below please to find a clip of the dog assassinations. Note that while amusing in themselves, for full-bore hilarity you really need to see them in the context of the whole film. YouTube is good for some things, but building up to bladder-testing comedy moments isn’t one of them.

Your turn: What movie made you laugh so hard you almost lost it? Tell me. I could use a good laugh.

Announcements, 1/12/09

Hey, you like announcements.

1. Posting may be light through the 26th or so, because I am doing what is technically called “a metric buttload” of travel, basically traveling the width and breadth of this great continent of ours, doing whatever it is that I do when you guys aren’t looking (and what do I do when you’re not looking? Oh, my, friends. I do so very many things). So for part of that time I will be away, and when I’m not away, I’m likely to be home sleeping, since travel takes it out of me these days. All of which suggests that posting here might be lighter than usual. But, hey. Who knows. Maybe travel madness will strike and I’ll post every fifteen minutes. You never know. Especially now that I have my netbook and smartphone.

2. Where am I going and what will I be doing? Well, you’ll likely find out sooner or later. On the other hand you know for sure I’m going to be in San Francisco on January 16th, on account that I’m doing a reading with Mary Robinette Kowal that evening at 7pm, at Borderlands Books. If you’re in the Bay Area and would like to see me, that would be a lovely place and time, hint, hint.

3. Also, those of you attending this year’s ConFusion convention may also see me, since I’ll be there. I should note, however, that I’m not doing any programming this year; I’m going strictly as a civilian. Why, you ask? Well, one, because I’ll have just done a metric buttload of travel, doing all the things I do when you people aren’t looking, and I’m likely to be fairly burnt, and just looking to relax rather than hopping from panel to panel. And two, you know what, I’ve never actually been to a convention where I wasn’t working, and I thought it might be nice to see how it might be to try a convention from the other side. Anyway, rumor is I have a Hugo for being a fan. Maybe I should try being one, for once. And since ConFusion’s guests this year include Cat Rambo, Cory Doctorow, Kelly Armstrong, and other big name writers whose names start with a “k” sound, it’s a good year for me to try that (that said, yes, I’ll be happy to sign books and etc). In any event, if you’re looking for me at ConFusion, the bar’s a smart place to look. Come say hello.

4. There’s a lovely review of Agent to the Stars from the Sunday St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which gives the book points for being funny but also notes that “between the comic moments, there is a well-conceived, first-rate novel about expectations and the power of perception.” Well, shucks. I do try.

5. Finally, yes, everyone, I’ve seen the “Bacon Explosion.” Y’all can stop sending it now. Also, a reminder: Your passionate need to tell me about every single bacon-related thing on the Internet is why I created the Canonical Bacon Page. Use it! Love it! Live it.

Viable Paradise 2009

Last year I taught at Viable Paradise, the one-week speculative fiction writing workshop in scenic Martha’s Vineyard, and I had such a good time that I thought a second helping would be groovy. And even better, the folks running the joint invited me back. So, I’ll be teaching at Viable Paradise again this year, from October 4th through the 10th. Indeed, the entire teaching line-up from last year is repeating: Me, Elizabeth Bear, Jim Macdonald and Debra Doyle, Laura Mixon and Steven Gould, and Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden. That’s quite a lot of quality speculative fiction knowledge for you, all under one New England roof.

I mention this to you now because, as it happens, the application season for Viable Paradise 2009 has newly opened, and if you want to vie for one of the maximum of 28 slots open this year, it’s time to get cracking.  The links above have all the information you need to get your application together. Selection is always competitive, and for good reason (see: teacher line-up above; also see VP alumni sales track record), so send along your best stuff. Good luck!

Like Being Big in Japan, Only More Teutonic

Hey, look what’s the #1 science fiction novel at Amazon Germany right this very second:

That would be the German version of The Android’s Dream, in case you were wondering. Which makes me sehr glücklich (that’s “very happy”), if you must know. I love TAD to little bits, but it’s had a tendency to be overshadowed by the Old Man’s War books. It’s nice to see it getting its moment in the sun, even if it had to go overseas for it.

Yeah, Like There Will Be Anything Else Going on in San Francisco on a Friday Night

Citizens of San Francisco and the greater “Bay Area”! A reminder to you that in precisely one week, I and the lovely and talented Mary Robinette Kowal will descend upon your town, as if from a cloud of rose petals and gum, and land at Borderlands Books, whereupon those among you lucky and brave enough to attend will experience a wonderous thing your grandchildren will tell their grandchildren about: Us!

Yes, that’s right, Mary and I will regale you with selections of our short work, causing you to convulse uncontrollably with laughter and other amusing seizures! It is very literally possible that you will vomit yourselves with joy. And gentlemen in San Francisco then a-bed (or whatever other things might they do there on a Friday night) shall think themselves accursed they were not there, and hold their manhoods cheap whilst any speaks that saw us roxxor their soxxors upon that January 16! And the women won’t feel that great either! So:

January 16! 7pm! Borderlands Books! San Francisco!

You know what you must do, people.

See you there. Bring your friends. Bring your friends’ friends. Bring random people who you’ve never met before! It’s all good.

You Facebooky types can RSVP here. Everyone else, you can drop a note in the comments. Facebooky people can, too. I mean, if they want. We’re all about the options, people.

The Printed Metatropolis

It’s been a busy day for updates about Metatropolis, and here’s the biggest update of all, which is also one of my big January announcements:

I’m pleased to announce that Subterranean Press is taking pre-orders for the printed, hardcover version of the Metatropolis anthology, which will ship this August. It includes all the stories in the audio version of the anthology, now in handy-dandy printed form. You know, for those of you who prefer the voices inside your head, the not the ones brought in from the outside.

This version comes in two flavors: the standard hardcover edition, and the special, signed limited, which will feature the signatures of all the authors (Elizabeth Bear, Tobias Buckell, Jay Lake, Karl Schroeder, and me). There will be only 200 copies of the signed, limited edition, so if you want it, the time to get it is pretty much now.

I’m really excited to have this version of Metatropolis coming up, because while I’m obviously biased, I think the anthology well and truly rocks, and I’m happy it’ll be available in both print and audio. Also, having seen the layout and design of the printed version, I can tell you that this is one pretty book. You’re going to want to hold and pet it and give it a special name. Trust me on this one.

Shame On Me

While I was on my two week semi-hiatus, I got a phone call that went like this:

Me (picking up the phone): Hello.

Some random dude: You should be ashamed of yourself.

Me: Well, okay.

(Dude hangs up)

I thought this phone call was pretty rude, not because this fellow told me I should be ashamed — because, oh, I should be — but because this fellow didn’t specify, particularly, what I needed to be ashamed about. Which leaves me at loose ends, you know? There so many shameful things I do. It’s like a hobby. But I don’t want to be ashamed about the wrong thing; that’s just wasted effort. But it’s just so hard for me to choose. So I’m going to let you choose for me. Thus:

Let me know. I thank you in advance for your assistance, and will start being ashamed right away.

Metatropolis Reviews; Award Pimp Addendum

Two new reviews of Metatropolis in the last week. The first, over at Green Man Review, is ecstatic (“METAtropolis will win a Hugo if there’s any justice in the universe. Yes, it’s that good”); the second, at Strange Horizons, is somewhat more tempered. It’s nice to see people still talking about our little project in any event.

Also, and related, when I did my Award Pimpage 2009 post earlier in the week, I left off my Metatropolis novella “Utere Nihil Non Extra Quiritationem Suis,” because I wasn’t sure whether being read as an audio production qualified as “publication” for the purposes of the Hugos and other relevant awards. I have since been assured by people who would know that, indeed, audio presentation qualifies as publication, so I’ve added it as something for folks to consider when they’re considering their nominations.

That said, if you are considering my novella here, I hope you will strongly consider the other stories in the collection as well, since (putting on my editor hat), of the five stories in it, mine is the least impressive. Mind you, I think my story is perfectly good. I just think the others are better. Also remember that for the Hugos you can consider the whole audio project for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form. Which would be a kick, and would keep you from filling in that last Dramatic Presentation, Long Form slot with Space Chimps. Which would be its own reward, I’d say.

Since at Least One Person Has Asked

The reason I’m not writing much about politics at the moment is mostly because I’ve decided I’m on a politics vacation until the first of two following things occurs:

1. I finish the novella I’m working on;

2. The new guy gets sworn in.

Mind you, I reserve the right to change my mind about this, like the capricious font of snark and bile that I am. But I suspect I won’t; there’s other stuff to write about, and also, I don’t mind having some time off on the subject. Also, going back to the novella, at the moment what I don’t need is to be distracted by a long, involved comment thread, either in my capacity as a site moderator or my capacity as someone teeing off on someone else’s head because they’re wrong wrong wrong.

I hope this doesn’t come as a major disappointment to you, and if it does, well, you can survive for 11 days, I think. And in the meantime, there’ll be bacon and cats and Wiis and writing stuff and probably some other things to keep you busy and/or amused. Try to keep your enthusiasm to a dull roar.