Daily Archives: April 14, 2009

Gothlette

Athena’s been in a bit of a gothy mood recently, as the above picture well illustrates. This is something I do not discourage; between this and, say, Hannah Montana, I know which I prefer her be into. That said, I’ve told her that in this house, we don’t do goth by half-measures; if you’re going to talk the talk, you have to walk the walk. Thus commenced an evening of Old School Goth Listening, featuring Bauhaus, Siouxsie and some choice selections from the early Cure oeuvre. Yes, yes, I know: When am I going to introduce her to Clan of Xymox and Fields of the Nephilim? To which I say: Hey. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

Mind you, this isn’t the first time Athena’s indulged in goth leanings; it comes and goes around these parts. And I suspect that this too shall pass, since at the end of an hour of swirly goth moodiness, she asked if I wouldn’t mind playing her “All Star” from Smashmouth. As, I suspect, something of a palate cleanser. Which of course I did. She’s ten; she’s allowed extreme tonal shifts. And anyway, goth will be waiting for her, lurking, when she wants it. Because isn’t that what goth does? Lurk? Moodily? With lip piercings? Yes, indeed.

Tea Bagging For Fun and Profit

A question in e-mail from Edward:

I realize you are busy, what with the death avoidance thing and all, but I would love your take on the “Tea Parties” that Fox news and Glenn Beck are putting together.

I think it’s nice these folks are out getting some exercise rather than spending all their time flicking spittle onto their computer screens. Really, outside of that I find I don’t really have much to say about them one way or another. No one really cares, they’re not hurting anyone, and the tea companies are getting paid as these silly people buy Earl Grey by the case. Let them have their fun.

As for Glenn Beck, at this point I pretty much see him as the conservanerd equivalent of professional wrestling: an overwrought scripted work feigning spontaneity and pathos to an audience who is probably smart enough to know it’s fake but doesn’t really care. I don’t have to watch him, and I don’t.

The thing about it all for me, personally, is that these people don’t seem to get that every time they declare themselves a “tea bagger,” the rest of us can’t stop giggling about it (here’s why, if you don’t know, but be warned — you won’t be able to unlearn this bit of information). But, you know. If it makes them happy.

Quick Scalzi/Twitter FAQ

While (vaguely) on the subject of Twitter, a very quick FAQ on my presence on that service, since people have been peppering me with questions about it, and it’ll be good to have something to refer folks to later.

1. Are you on Twitter?

Yes.

2.How often do you Twitter?

A couple of times a day, usually; sometimes more, sometimes less.

3. Can I follow you on Twitter?

Sure. Also, you don’t have to ask.

4. Why are you following only one person on Twitter?

Because she was the person who sent me the invite and I never got around to following other folks. Then I got written up in the Wall Street Journal on the subject of Twitter and the fact I followed only one person became news of a sort, and now I kind of feel obliged. That said, I cheat a bit since I follow a few hundred Twitter feeds via Twitter’s list function. Adding the Twitter feeds there was the most convenient way to do it.

5. It’s rude not to follow the people following you on Twitter.

Oh well.

Update, 10/28/11: I decided it’s time to let go of following just one person and have moved the people on the list I read the most into the “follow” column.

Cool, will you follow me?

Generally speaking, I follow people I know in real life. Do I know you in real life? If so, then possibly. If not, then probably not.

6. Do you respond to responses from your Twitter followers?

I respond to some but not all. I get a fair number of responses.

7. Do you mind if I ReTweet something you twittered?

Not at all; please do.

8. Do you twitter from your browser or do you use special software?

I tend to use TweetDeck, since it has a lot of features I like. On my Blackberry I use the Twitter mobile web interface; I’m aware there are standalone Twitter programs for the phone but I haven’t liked them so far.

9. Do you have any deep thoughts about Twitter as a communication medium?

Sure; they’re here.

10. Hey, did you know your cat is on Twitter?

Yes, and no, I don’t write that Twitter feed. I have no idea who does. Pretty sure it’s not the actual cat.

Any additional Scalzi/Twitter questions, leave them in the comment thread and I’ll get around to answering them.

AmazonFail Followup

AmazonFail seems to have been squared away reasonably well, with, as I understand it, most of the blame going to someone toggling something in a database somewhere and 50,000+ books losing their sales ranking all of a sudden. The company’s fixing that, which is nice, and I have to say I’m not entirely surprised to discover that it had more to do with a technical screwup than an otherwise generally tolerant corporation experiencing an atavistic twitch of homophobia or whatever.

As for people getting worked up and demanding explanations and threatening boycotts on an Easter Sunday, well, you know, look. People really do need to accept that while outrage happens at the speed of someone banging out 140 characters on Twitter, fixing corporate-level problems is going to be slower, especially on a weekend, especially on a holiday weekend, and especially if the people trying to respond to outrage want to actually find out what the hell happened, so as to possibly a) give a coherent explanation to people demanding the same, b) avoid having the same or similar screw-up from happening again. All of which is to say that people leaping straight to a boycott because a large corporation has not answered to their satisfaction questions on a complex and confusing issue late on the most holy day in Christendom may possibly have unrealistic expectations.

That said, I don’t think there’s any question that Twitter having a fit on the matter certainly gave Amazon a goose to address the issue, so I wouldn’t say the AmazonFail uproar was all bad. It wasn’t. If only there were a way to have to have thousands of people on Twitter go “Hey this looks bad; you might want to explain that” instead of FOAMY FOAMY FAIL FAIL BOYCOTT GAAAH. But people rarely freak out in a moderate sort of way.

This also brings up a point which I think it worth airing, which is that I and at least a couple of authors I know got e-mails about AmazonFail — not the “did you hear about this?” e-mails, which are fine, but the “you need to speak out about this now” ones, which are pretty much not. First, of course, I don’t need to do anything about anything, other than what I decide I need to do. Random people e-mailing me about what I need to do have a grave misunderstanding about their powers of persuasion regarding me. Second, even when I’m inclined to do something, at this point, what I’m inclined to do first is make sure I have an understanding of what’s actually going on, and to use my own judgment regarding whether I need to know more before making a substantive comment.

In the case of the Amazon thing, for example, I recognized that something was going down on a holiday weekend, and that I wanted to hear what the Amazon brass had to say about it. Which is essentially what I said in an earlier post on the matter. As it turns out, the situation seems largely what I expected it to be, i.e., technical foul-up, and since Amazon seems to be busily rectifying it, the various shifting excuses laid out for the sake of PR are largely immaterial. In short, I’m happy to have been a moderate on this one.

Updates on BigIdeaAuthors.com and Hugo Voter Packet

A quick update on these two projects, since I’m getting mail about both:

BigIdeaAuthors.com: The development side of this is going along swimmingly — Web guru Tony Geer is helping us whomp up a site design we really like and that we think is going to work very well, and everything else is proceeding apace. That said, we’re going to blow right past our original planned debut date of April 20 (i.e., next week), mostly because things are taking time, and here at BIA we long ago made the executive decision that it’s better to launch when everything’s right, and not simply to make a deadline. You only get the chance to debut once, after all.

In the meantime, of course, I’ll be continuing to post Big Idea pieces here at Whatever, so you won’t be missing out on any of those. And I’ll keep everyone in the loop about when BigIdeaAuthors.com will debut.

Hugo Voter Packet: It’s assembled and ready to go and now we’re just waiting on the green light from the Anticipation Web site tech folks. Patience; it won’t be long now.

Now, About That Novella

Since people seem to be curious about it, here’s what’s up with the novella I just finished.

First: It’s called The God Engines. If the title seems vaguely familiar to fans/stalkers/others, it would be because last year Locus suggested in one of its upcoming title features that I would have a novella with that title for sale in April ’09 (i.e., right now). That information was a result of a miscommunication; nobody’s fault, it just happens.

Second: It’s fantasy. Why fantasy? Well, because I’d never written fantasy before, and I thought it would be interesting to try, and writing something novella-length seemed a whole lot less pressure that writing something novel length. And it was; aside from the usual procrastination issues of me being distracted by shiny objects, this one moved along nicely in the writing. It’s also dark fantasy, because I thought, hell, as long as I’m doing something different, might as well exercise a whole bunch of different writing muscles. Which brings us to our third point:

Third: It’s a lot different than what I usually write. Not just in subject matter but in tone and style and such. It’s always good to try new things to see if you can do them. And again, novella-length was a good length to try this stuff out in. I don’t doubt it’ll confuse some readers — I had that happen with “The Sagan Diary” as well, which was another short work drastically different from what I’d done before — but hey, that’s what happens from time to time.

Fourth: I’m pretty happy with it. Which is nice, because I hate working on something for a while just to figure out I don’t want anyone else on the planet to see it. This one was fun to write, as noted, but I also think it’ll be fun for people to read, and it’ll be interesting to see the reactions to it (as again, it was interesting to see the reactions to “The Sagan Diary” when people read that).

Fifth: TGE will be published by Subterranean Press as a standalone book, in the usual excellent and special-nifty Subterranean Press style, and will most likely show up either late this year or early next year. We’re still figuring out all that stuff. Quite clearly I’ll let you all know the details when I know them.

And that’s where things are with that.