Monthly Archives: April 2009

Anticipating Anticipation

Oh, and just to make it official: Yes, I will be at Anticipation this year. I think it should have been assumed by this point, since I said it would be, and also given I’m up for three Hugos I’d look like a bit of a dick if I wasn’t there, wouldn’t I. But I’m still getting people asking. So: Yes. Will be there. And very much looking forward to it. I do still need to register, but I got my hotel room a couple of months ago. Because, you know. They’ll let me register right up to the day. Rooms at the party hotel, on the other hand, are a finite commodity.

In any event: Montreal in August. Be there or be somewhere else. Alone and bored. And away from the cool kids. Totally your choice.

My Penguicon Schedule

What will I be doing while I am at Penguicon this weekend? I’m glad you asked!

FRIDAY:

No a damn thing, apparently. At least I can’t find anything I’m supposed to be on. Guess I’ll just hang about and be hang abouty. I’ll likely be in the lobby and/or bar. Come say hello.

SATURDAY:

11am: Can I Be Your Friend? Bringing Authors and Readers Together
Panelists: John Scalzi, Jim C. Hines, Wil Wheaton, Mary Robinette Kowal, Daniel Hogan, Dr. Philip Kaldon
Where: Ballroom 7

If I remember correctly, this one’s about managing relationships with your readers online and off, but mostly online.

1pm: Atari Competition!
Panelists: Wil Wheaton, Shawn Powers, John Scalzi
Where: Columbia

Will and Shawn are going to go after each other on the Atari 2600; I’m going to be there to mock the crap out of the both of them while they do it.

4pm: What’s so funny?
Panelists:David Crampton, John Scalzi, Jim C. Hines, Dan Hoyt, Daniel Hogan, Brian Briggs
Where: Poolside 1

We’ll be talking about humor on this one. Not that I know anything about THAT.

7pm: Lie to Me!
Panelists: John Scalzi, Mary Robinette Kowal, Sarah Hoyt, Elizabeth Bear
Where: Poolside 1

We’re going to get up there on the panel and just lie our asses off, apparently. No, it’s true.

8pm: Schmoozing 101
Panelists: John Scalzi, Mary Robinette Kowal
Where: Poolside 1

Mary and I will tell you how to mix and mingle without coming across like an overbearing loser.

SUNDAY:

9am: Book signing
Panelists: Catherynne M. Valente, John Scalzi, Jim C. Hines, Wil Wheaton, Sarah Hoyt, Dan Hoyt, Elizabeth Bear, Daniel Hogan, Brian Briggs
Where: Ballrooms 7/8

I’m signing books! And so are these other people.

And that’s what I’ll be doing. See you there.

Meanwhile, On LASER Twitter

Me: Everything is better with LASER in front of it: LASER pizza. LASER gerbil. LASER toothbrush. LASER sigmoidoscopy. Okay, maybe not that.

ElectricPaladin: But everything is also better with KUNG FU. KUNG FU pizza. KUNG FU gerbil. KUNG FU toothbrush. Does this mean that LASER = KUNG FU!?

Me: LASER does not equal KUNG FU, but put them together and it’s even better: KUNG FU LASER Pizza. Who WOULDN’T want that?

Tzinski: adding -tron to the end improves things too. Pizzatron! Gerbiltron!

Me: If you add -tron to the end, you also have to add a number. “Gerbiltron”: Meh. “Gerbiltron 3000″: LASER AWESOME.

Tewha: OMG, I don’t even know what it is but I want a Laser Gerbiltron 3000! With, you know, the preferred options. Whatever they are.

Me: Everyone wants a Gerbiltron 3000. Except the Mac people, who want the iGerbil. Which is prettier but less functional and $500 more.

Tbridge: We really want the MacGerbil Pro.

Me: Yeah, but who can afford the MacGerbil Pro in this economy? Especially with the optional LASERS?

Those Germans and Their Laser Spaceships

Courtesy of a kind German reader, the cover art for the upcoming German edition of Agent to the Stars:

And you ask: Is there, in fact, a laser-shooting spaceship in Agent to the Stars? And the answer is, why, no, no there is not. But apparently at some point it was decided at all my covers in Germany are required to have laser-shooting spaceships, and who am I to argue. That said, this will present a challenge if there’s ever a German edition of my next book, which I am calling Earthbound Laserphobic Pacifists. But that’s a worry for the future, I suppose.

I Answer Mail

Over at the AMC column, I answer reader mail on whether women lusting after Hugh Jackman will affect the Wolverine box office, if I hate Georgle Lucas AND THINK HE SHOULD BE SHOT, and why years from now Speed Racer will be seen as absolutely brilliant. Okay, maybe not brilliant. Maybe just as more than a complete failure. It’s all there, baby. Go on over and read, and feel free to comment there too, if you like.

Obama’s First 100 Days: A Complete and Utter Failure

Why? Well, I’ll tell you.

1. I’m continuing to go bald.

2. I haven’t lost any weight since January 20.

3. I AM STILL AGING.

4. In March, one of my cats (or more — conspiracy!) peed in the corner of my closet.

5. My hot chocolate this morning was distinctly unsatisfactory.

6. Last week, after four years of service, my beloved Vans sneakers — the ones with bats on them — ripped, making them unusable, and Vans doesn’t make them any more.

7. Rosario Dawson has not phoned my wife to get clearance from her for a sanctioned night of Grainy-Sex-Tape-Posted-to-BitTorrent-Worthy Debauchery™ with me.

8. I was not transformed overnight into a ninja spy with mega awesome secret LASER POWERS.

9. I still have to brush my own teeth; no one else will do it for me.

10. I have not been provided a 2010 Mustang. I mean, really. It’s not like I’d hold out for a GT. The V6 Premium package would be just fine. I’m not greedy.

President Obama has had 100 days to address each of these issues of vast national importance. How many of them has he tackled? Not a one. This is the change we can believe in? I don’t think so. I did not vote for Obama just to have ripped sneakers, unsatisfactory beverages and no spousally-approved hot sex with Rosario Dawson in my bitchin’ new muscle car. There’s a word for the emotion I’m feeling right now, Mr. President. And that word is: Betrayal.

Yes, I understand that President Obama has said that sacrifices need to be made by each of us. Fine. In the spirit of this national sacrifice, I will still brush my own teeth. But Mr. President, you have to meet me half way. Where are my ninja powers? And my Mustang? And why are my telomeres still degrading, meaning that every day I look more and more like Ernest Borgnine? This is not the America I want to live in, Mr. President. You have to do your part, too.

And the fact is, he hasn’t. Not a single one of the items above, which Mr. Obama agreed to solve when he and I met in my mind on that hot sunny day last August when I was trapped in a car with the windows uncracked, has been resolved. You can’t tell me I haven’t been patient. The dude has had 100 days with the entire apparatus of the United States government at his disposal. It’s not like he has other things to do. These things should have been dealt with, quickly, forcefully, fully. But they have not. And now look at me. I’m a middle-aged balding man smelling of cat pee. And it’s all Obama’s fault.

For shame, Mr. President. For shame.

And thus, for your first 100 days, Mr, President, you earn a richly-deserved F. But I still have hope that in the next 100 days, you will stop doing whatever distracting things you are doing and finally focus your attention on the things that really matter; specifically, that thing about Rosario Dawson. America needs that one. Yes it does. Desperately. Oh, and the Mustang, too. Thank you.

Zoe’s Tale Out in Paperback

Today’s the day: Zoe’s Tale officially hits the shelves in paperback form. If you’ve been holding off on getting the book until it was presented in this easily transportable and affordable form, wait no longer! Or at the very least, wait no longer than it takes to get dressed, hop into the transport of your choice and enter the bookstore of your preference, find the book and pay for it. And of each of those, I’d put special emphasis on the getting dressed part. I mean, not that I have a problem with you purchasing the book while completely naked. I celebrate your choice. But store employees and taser-happy cops may beg to differ. I’m thinking about you, here.

Moving away from your clothes and toward the book itself, I have to say in many ways Zoe’s Tale has so far been simultaneously one of the most gratifying and frustrating publishing experiences I’ve had. Folks here know that I’m insensibly fond of the character of Zoë Boutin-Perry, in part because I expended so much effort on trying to make her realistically both female and teenage, rather than a convenient teenage girl-shaped version of me. She’s the character I worked the hardest on so far, which makes her special to me (and also, I’m pleased with how she came out, which is not so bad either). I wanted folks to meet her and like her. Beyond this, there was the additional challenge of going back to readers and saying, “so, yeah, remember the last book in the series? Well, this one covers the exact same timeframe. Wanna read it?” Which reasonably might make some readers feel like they’re being taken advantage of. So to have Zoe be both a Hugo nominee and Locus finalist — both science fiction awards voted on by readers — well. It makes me happy, and it makes me feel humbled. And proud of Zoë. I know, I know. Just a character, not a real person. Don’t care.

So that’s the gratifying part. The frustrating part is that one very large chunk of the book’s intended audience — teenagers and in particular teenage girls — have little if any awareness of the book . This is because despite the perception within the science fiction community that Zoe is a YA book, with nearly all the reviews and commentary about the book nodding in that direction, the fact is that the book was marketed as adult SF and shelved there rather than in the YA section. To be clear, this marketing strategy was one I was aware of and which had my approval and involvement, so this isn’t a kvetch about Tor, and I will thank you not to consider it so. They’ve been great with supporting the book. I like they wanted to see if a book like Zoe could help bring YA readers into the adult SF/F area of the bookstore.

The answer seems to be: not so much. Anecdotally, while adult SF/F readers are happy to cross into the YA aisles (note Little Brother and The Graveyard Book, marketed as YA and both also on the Hugo ballot and finalists for the Locus YA novel award), it seems a bit harder to pull off the trick in the other direction. Zoe’s Tale has done just fine in terms of sales and presence within adult science fiction — trust me, I’m not complaining about either of those – but in terms of YA, it’s not even on the radar. This is an interesting datum and a case study for science fiction publishers to consider when they are considering how to lure all the YA readers gobbling up YA-oriented science fiction and fantasy into the adult SF/F section of the bookstore, but it also has consequences for Zoe. I was recently asked what teenage girls had thought of the book; I replied that all three of them who have read it loved it.

Which is, you know, frustrating. I am delighted with and appropriately thankful of Zoe’s success with adult science fiction readers; I would like to see it picked up by younger readers as well. Because — crazy thought! — I think they might enjoy it. We’ll see what happens with the paperback.

That said, allow me to ask you adult readers to consider doing me a favor, which is that if you like Zoe’s Tale, talk up the book to the YA readers you know. Although it ties into the Old Man’s War series, it’s written to stand alone, specifically because we wanted it to be accessible to first-time readers, and younger readers. So if you’d consider talking up the book to YA fans you know, I would appreciate it. Not because it might sell more copies of the book (although that wouldn’t be bad) but because, well. I just think it would be nice for Zoë to make friends with some people her own age.

I know, I know. Just a character, not a real person. Don’t care.

2009 Locus Award Finalist List is Out

And it is here, for those of you who are interested. I’m a finalist in two categories:

Young Adult Novel

Little Brother, Cory Doctorow (Tor);
The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins, Bloomsbury);
Tender Morsels, Margo Lanagan (Knopf);
Nation, Terry Pratchett (Doubleday UK, HarperCollins);
Zoe’s Tale, John Scalzi (Tor)

and

Short Story

“King Pelles the Sure”, Peter S. Beagle (Strange Roads);
“Boojum”, Elizabeth Bear & Sarah Monette (Fast Ships, Black Sails);
“Exhalation”, Ted Chiang (Eclipse Two);
“The Kindness of Strangers”, Nancy Kress (Fast Forward 2);
After the Coup“, John Scalzi (Tor.com 7/08).

In both cases it’s difficult to be anything but pleased with the company I am keeping.

You’ll notice these are “finalists” rather than “nominees.” That’s because the folks at Locus already know who the winners are, they’re just not telling until the Locus Awards Ceremony in Seattle WA during the Science Fiction Awards Weekend, June 26-27, 2009. Because they’re mean like that.

In any event, congrats to all the finalists. It’s an excellent list overall.

May Appearance Reminders

May is going to be a busy month for me in terms of appearances, and then I hide in a hole until the last weekend of July. So if you’re gonna stalk me, May’s your month. Here’s where and when:

May 1 – 3: Penguicon 7.0. I’ll be a “nifty guest” here, which is like an auxiliary GoH; should a GoH fall ill or die, possibly by being pushed from a great height into the liquid nitrogen ice cream maker, one of the nifty guests will fill in. Or something. Wil Wheaton is one of the GoHs this year, and I expect he and I will have lots of crazy, rambunctious fun! If he’s lifted that restraining order from me, that is. No, I don’t want to talk about it. Except to say I thought he would enjoy that badger.

May 8-9: Ohioana Book Festival. Featured Author. Being a “featured author” here means I’ll be doing a library appearance on the 8th, and then a panel and either a reading or a Q&A on the 9th. Plus signing tons of books and generally being available to say “hi” to folks. Ohio folks, the Ohioana Book Festival is free and will have dozens of writers on hand, and you don’t have anything else planned for that weekend. I know, I checked your calendars. Yes, I broke into your house to do it. But that’s not the point. The point is, come down and say hello.

May 22 – 24: ConQuesT 40. I’m the author Guest of Honor. I will be showered in rose petals! Fed KC barbeque at the snap of my fingers! Throw out the first pitch at the Royals game and then be asked to stay on the mound for the next nine innings! Oh, the fun that will be had! By me! Everyone else will have to work. For me. But that’s not my problem, is it? Indeed not. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Related to this, a note from the ConQuest folks, which popped into my mailbox this morning: “You may wish to remind your readers that the next price increase for ConQuest is coming up of Friday. Also, the room block will be released on May 5, 2009.” So if you want the early-bird discount and get the convention room rate, you should book soon. Please book, won’t you? I don’t want to eat my barbeque all alone. Well, all alone, not counting my many minions.

That’s my May, publicly speaking.

Really the Only Thing That Has to Be Said About the YA Thing

Observers of the science fiction field will note the Nebula Award for Best Novel was won this year by a YA book, that the Tiptree Award is co-shared by a YA novel, and that in the Hugo Best Novel category, two and a half of the books nominated are also YA (the “half” in this case being Zoe’s Tale, written to be YA-friendly but shelved with the adult SF). This surge of recognition for YA has caused some consternation and grumbling in certain quarters. Here’s what I have to say about that:

Yes, how horrible it is that some of what’s being hailed as the best science fiction and fantasy written today is in a literary category designed to encourage millions of young people to read for the rest of their natural lives. Because God knows the last thing science fiction and fantasy publishing needs right now is whole generation of new and enthusiastic readers who might actually get hooked into the genre until they die. It’s a goddamn tragedy, it is.

There. Discuss.

Free Anthology; Tiptree Awards

Two quick things:

First, you may recall Mary Anne Mohanraj did me a mitzvah recently and did a thoughtful and very interesting guest entry on racism (two, actually). Some of you mentioned at the time you wondered what her fiction was like. Well, here’s a chance to find out: MAM is a contributor to a new, free speculative fiction anthology called Thoughtcrime Experiments, along with a number of other writers and artists. It’s available in html or pdf form, and soon as a publish on demand book. Happy reading.

Second, in addition to the Nebulas being announced over the weekend, the Tiptree Awards for the year were also unveiled, with the award going to The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness and Filter House by Nisi Shawl. Congratulations to the both of them!

My Drug of Choice

This morning the local convenience store manager looked at me, and asked with neighborly concern if everything was all right. I told her everything was fine, except that the entire plant kingdom was trying to mate in my nose. Which necessitated the Claritin you see above. With luck it’ll keep me from sneezing every seven seconds and looking like I’m watching a telenovela marathon. Let us hope.

2009 Nebula Winners

In case you were wondering:

Novel: Powers - Ursula K. Le Guin (Harcourt, Sept. 2007)

Novella: “The Spacetime Pool” – Catherine Asaro (Analog, March 2008)

Novelette: “Pride and Prometheus” – John Kessel (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Jan. 2008)

Short Story: “Trophy Wives” – Nina Kiriki Hoffman (Fellowship Fantastic, Martin H. Greenberg and Kerrie Hughes, eds., DAW Books, January 2008)

Script: WALL-E – Andrew Stanton & Jim Reardon. Original story by Andrew Stanton & Pete Docter (Pixar, June 2008)

Andre Norton Award: Flora’s Dare: How a Girl of Spirit Gambles All to Expand Her Vocabulary, Confront a Bouncing Boy Terror, and Try to Save Califa from a Shaky Doom (Despite Being Confined to Her Room) - Ysabeau S. Wilce, (Harcourt, Sept. 2008)

Harry Harrison was honored as Damon Knight Grand Master, while M.J. Engh was honored as Author Emerita. Joss Whedon was named recipient of the Bradbury Award for excellence in screenwriting and Victoria Strauss was honored with 2009 SFWA Service Award for her work with Writer Beware. Additionally, SFWA inaugurated the new Solstice Award, bestowed upon individuals who have made a significant impact on the science fiction or fantasy landscape, and is particularly intended for those who have consistently made a major, positive difference within the speculative fiction field. Honorees for 2009 were Kate Wilhelm, Martin H. Greenberg and the late Algis Budrys.

Congrats to the winners and honorees!

Meet the New Roof

Not the same as the old roof:

The new roof is made of dimensional shingles, which my wife tells me are better and more durable than regular shingles (these came with a 30-year warranty in any event). Krissy also got them in green to match the house trim. It looks very nice, I think. Hopefully this will be the end of all roof problems forever, or for at least 30 years, which is also fine.

#BookHaul

So, with the exception of the Stranger in a Strange Land uncut edition and my old copy of Shogun which Athena was looking at, what you see here are some of the books that come to me on a daily basis, some to be considered for The Big Idea, some for potential blurbage, and some just because, you know, people like me. Beyond this pile, there’s an even larger pile at the foot of the desk, and over by the book shelf, and in front of the bookshelf, and out in the hallway. And more come every day. I love my life, man.

But as I noted last week, I’ve fallen behind in telling folks what’s been coming in, which means I’ve failing in two things: one, keeping you informed about the upcoming books you might be interested in, and two, making you jealous about the fact I have these books and you don’t. I was thinking of ways to rectify that when it occured to me: Hey, you know what would be an excellent medium for a short announcement of what new works have arrived in the mail? If you say “why, Twitter, of course!” then you get a gold star. And if you didn’t, well, you can have a gold star anyway. Because I know you tried.

So here’s my plan: Whenever new books come into the house, I’ll note them on Twitter with a #BookHaul tag. My Twitter feed propogates on Twitter and here on Whatever, so it’ll be a great way to address both audiences (all of whom, almost by definition, like to read). And this way I’ll not feel guilty about not keeping you all informed in the manner in which you have become accustomed (or would at least be willing to become accustomed). To start it off, I will this weekend be doing a Great Accounting, in which I will catch up on many of the books on the desk, off the desk, by the bookcase and in the hall. There will be many. Having thus caught up, from thenceforth I will update at the rather more leisurely pace of when they come in.

Don’t worry, I’ll still actually talk about books here on Whatever, and will continue running Big Ideas here until BigIdeaAuthors.com is ready to go. I just see this as a good way of getting out the word on what’s new that’s arrived here at the Scalzi Compound. And it’ll make Twitter feel loved. And that’s important, too.