Announcing The Human Division

We’ve been sitting on this one for a while now, but it’s time to announce it to the world: My next project from Tor is called The Human Division. It takes place in the “Old Man’s War” universe, after the events of The Last Colony and Zoe’s Tale. It is not, strictly speaking, a novel.

Here’s the official announcement at Tor.com. And now, my take:

What does “not strictly a novel” mean here? Well, The Human Division is probably best described as an “episodic narrative” — it’s a collection of individual episodes that each tell a complete story, arranged chronologically, so that if you read them all in sequence you get a larger narrative arc. The closest analogy would be a season of a television show, and indeed The Human Division is arranged into thirteen “episodes,” including a double-length “pilot episode,” entitled “The ‘B’ Team.”

How are we going to manage this? Basically we’ll be putting out each episode of The Human Division in eBook format, complete with its own artwork by the fantastic John Harris. The episodes will come out weekly, probably starting in December and running through February. We’ll also be collecting the entire run into a hardcover book, which will be available probably in May.

(To answer some immediate and obvious questions preliminarily and provisionally: Yes, as far as I know the episodes will be released DRM free; yes, they should be available in your favorite eBook store; and, as Tor has retained worldwide English distribution rights, yes, they should be available in English everywhere in the world at the same time. All other publishing-related questions you might have at the moment, my answer is “I don’t know.”)

So that’s what we’re doing. As for the why

As will surprise almost none of you, I get a lot of questions about when I would return to the “Old Man’s War” universe. My answer was always the same: I’d return to it when I had something new to say in it. I don’t see any point in going into the OMW universe just to grind out novel after novel; I like the universe too much to make it into a soulless ATM of a franchise. So I went away from it, wrote other things that I enjoyed and I think the rest of you had fun with, and let the repercussions of how I ended the OMW series of novels sink into my head and arrange themselves. And finally, after about four years (i.e., in 2011), I knew what I wanted to do next in the universe.

The only problem is, the story I wanted to tell wouldn’t exactly work in straight-ahead novel format. Or more accurately, it could work as a novel, but it would better as episodes. While I was thinking this, the folks at Tor happened also to be thinking of trying new ways to work with storytelling, to take better advantage of the potential of the electronic medium. So in one of those nice coincidences that’s really probably not a coincidence at all, I wanted to do something different at the same time Tor wanted to see if doing something different would work. It’s nice when that happens.

So what we have here is a bit of an experiment. It’s not a serialized novel, as each episode will stand on its own, story-wise. It’s not a typical short story collection, because each of the episodes features the same characters and builds an overall narrative arc. It’s not a “fix-up” novel, because each story is purpose-built for The Human Divison. It’s not the first time episodic story telling has been done online (see the estimable Shadow Unit for another example), but it may be the first time it’s being done by a major publishing house. Essentially, we get to see how this works, and whether it can work, on a large scale.

I’m excited because it means I get to tell a new story in the OMW universe, the way I think it should be told. I’m still writing it; I’m having a hell of a lot of fun writing it. I think you’re all going to have a hell of a lot of fun reading it.

Yes, yes, you say, but what is it about? Well, I’m not going to go into a whole lot of detail about that right now, because I want you folks to enjoy exploring the new adventures in the OMW universe without me spoiling too much for you. That said, I will be talking about it more elsewhere as we go along. I will say that this story might be useful as a backgrounder. I will also say that if you’re coming to ComicCon, you should stop by the Tor booth. You’ll find cool stuff there.

So now you know!

Update: The Mad Hatter has some info as well.

Update 2: For those of you who saw me on the tour, yes, the bit I read you came from “The ‘B’ Team.” You can tell your friends about it now.

131 thoughts on “Announcing The Human Division

  1. So it’s sort of the same idea as Kim Stanley Robinson’s “Years of Rice and Salt” idea then. I liked that, I shall be keen to give this a go I think.

  2. what about us known e-reader types? Will there be any kind of paper release with each episode? or just wait until May?

  3. This bit: “available in English everywhere in the world at the same time” makes me happy.

  4. gosh dang nab it…. “what about us non e-reader types…” how that auto-corrected, no idea.

  5. This sounds fantastic. Will the episodic pricing break down into a roughly novel-priced way? As in, will purchasing each individual packet as they come out cost more than purchasing the whole once/if it’s available?

    I’m happy to do either (or, let’s be honest, both) to help support the awesome idea and an author I like, but out of curiosity!

  6. “The ‘B’ Team.”

    “Grin”, the confidence man. “Turbine”, the maybe-crazy-maybe-not pilot. “Mohawk”, the biggest brick you’ve ever seen. And “Octavius”, their leader who loves it when a plan meets its measurables on schedule. a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the B-Team.

    Dah duhn duh dAAAH….. Daaaah dah daaaahhhh…..

  7. Weill there be a subscription model, so you can easily get the stories as they come out? Will there be some way for readers to get the total e-package free in May if they by the stories individually?

  8. “Will the episodic pricing break down into a roughly novel-priced way? As in, will purchasing each individual packet as they come out cost more than purchasing the whole once/if it’s available?”

    We’re trying to make it work so that the cost of buying the individual episodes won’t differ more than trivially from the cost of, later on, buying the full e-book.

  9. This sounds great, with one giant caveat: “There may be some small extra material in the full-length book, because we’re LIKE THAT.” (from the Tor announcement).

    So, Tor’s asking for readers to buy the episodes and then pay for the “extended edition” when it comes out a month later (the episodes are due to end in February 2013, with the full version “late spring or early summer 2013″; okay, maybe 3 months later)? What’s the advantage for buying early and often?

  10. Firstly, Thank you.

    Secondly, darn you, you’re going to make my buy an e-reader. I’m not a huge fan of reading at length on my computer or phone. On the Nexus 7 however …

    P.S. If possible, try to have the book released by the Nebula awards weekend.

    P.P.S. Thanks again, I can’t wait!

  11. Was the [redacted] that you read at your signings part of this? In other words, can I now tell my husband what the [redacted] was, or is it still [redacted]?

  12. Episodic fiction coming out in e-reader form, later to be collected in hard copy. Catalog librarians: stockpile Excedrin now. You’re gonna need it.

  13. This is fantastic news, John, and I am far from the only fan who just came that close to wetting him/herself with joy. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    And on a side note, thank you also for reminding me of Shadow Unit. I’d been wracking my brain trying to remember the title.

  14. As much as I enjoyed the OMW novels, I am glad that the ground has been left fallow for awhile until there was a story worth telling again. Really looking forward to getting my hand on this one. Intrigued by ‘After the Coup’ being connected. I liked ATC more than Zoe’s Tale and wouldn’t mind seeing the same humor.

  15. You know what would be cool is to sell advanced subscriptions for roughly the price of the whole e-book ($13 or roughly $0.99 per episode) then charge $2.99 for the individual episodes for those who don’t want to commit to the subscription or who come on board later.

  16. Sounds like a cool idea, and it should be interesting to see how it pans out. I’ve always been a fan of anthologies, and this sounds like a very focused example of one while at the same time satisfying those who like a longer overall narrative It might end up being very similar to the first Gotrek and Felix book.

  17. Oooh, it’s like being in a spy novel with all the [redacted]‘s in here. I wonder who’s the double agent in th-

    [mallet]

    gurgle…

    [mallet] [mallet]

    (drag…) (drag…) (drag…)

    [boot]

  18. Added to the “Questions that probably nobody knows the answer to yet’ pile:
    What are the audiobook plans? Episodic releases, or one standard novel-sized with the traditional hardcover?

  19. At first glance, I thought this was a Big Idea post for a new Jack McDevitt book; apparently Mr. Harris does his covers too.

    Then – wow – this is even better news!!

    I don’t have an e-reader, but since it’ll be DRM-free, it should be easy enough to read on a PC.

    Will there be audio versions of each story, maybe sold via iTunes? (I’m thinking those who attended Redshirts events were treated to a pre-emptive audio of story #1…)

  20. This format sounds like a neat idea. Good for you for trying something different. Sounds like it is a little similiar to World War Z. Instead of interviews, you have a series of stories that inter-relate. I have only read the first OMW book. However, I will probably check this out (I may wait for them all to come out in one book though), because this sounds a little different.

    It has to be nice to be at a point in your career where you can take risks like this. I have read a number of author blogs and the writing business sounds incredibly difficult. Good luck with this John.

  21. Looking forward to this.

    Here’s another question that I’ll bet can’t be answered yet: will the dead-tree format book have all of the cover art as plates within the book (like The Hobbit and Stephen King’s Gunslinger books?)

    That would be really cool.

  22. I was extremely excited at first, but I have to say I am a little let down now. Putting it out in multiple parts seems that I as a consumer will ultimately end up paying more getting it piecemeal as opposed to if it was all bundled as a novel. As you say it could have been put out in a novel, even if episodic. I cant help but feel that Tor is simply trying to find a way to get people to pay more for the same experience. Now, if the total cost of all the episodes is equal to or less than a standard full length novel then I am wrong. But, I bet that will not be the case. Just saying.

  23. @rallychild Already answered in the thread, per PNH:

    “We’re trying to make it work so that the cost of buying the individual episodes won’t differ more than trivially from the cost of, later on, buying the full e-book.”

  24. @David – and who is the PNH? I usually only read comments from people in authority (ie Scalzi) on this blog? PNH means nothing to me?

  25. I tells ya, the man works as a creative consultant on one television show, and all of a sudden we get episodes instead of novels…

    (And yes, I will buy them)

  26. There was a Shadowrun novel that used the same idea a couple decades ago. A bunch of stand-alone stories, each working perfectly on their own, but combined they formed a larger narrative arc. It was one of the coolest things I’d ever read, just because the format was really interesting. It was the perfect way to tell that story, and if you think it’s the best way to tell your new story, then I’m happy to believe you. :-)

  27. So the format is going to be akin to “World War Z” where the narrator “collects” a bunch of individual stories that tell the bigger story. Normally I don’t care for short stories, but that format worked quite well in my opinion. I look forward to it.

  28. Oh thuis sounds good. Gonna buy the episodes and then the hardcover for my bookshelf.
    rallychild – really? Patrick Nielson Hayden, John’s editor at Tor is PNH.

  29. rallychild: I think you’re looking at it the wrong way. Let’s say the first post John made today was about his new novel THE HUMAN DIVISION coming in May 2013. We’d all think ‘Yay I’ll totally buy that when it comes out and pay standard hardcover/ebook prices for it.’

    But then in a second post he talked about a super duper offer to get the book early in serialized format. Would people be willing to pay a premium for that? I think they would. I know I would.

    It sounds like Tor will keep the prices close to the total cost of the ebook, but even if they don’t the ability to get the book early is worth an added cost I think.

  30. This news made me smile BEFORE my first cup of coffee this morning. Thanks Mr S ! Can’t wait for the release.

  31. @rallychild PNH is Patrick Nielsen Hayden, John’s editor at Tor. I think we can consider what he says as coming from a reliable and offical source. Either way, if you don’t want to pay for each episode then dont; wait for the full ebook release or wait for the hardcover like I intend to.

  32. rallychild, PNH is Patrick Nielsen Hayden, John’s editor at Tor, Manager of SF at Tor, co-author of Making Light, and Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s better half. In matters which seem to concern you at the moment, he likely knows more than John at any given moment.

  33. and who is the PNH? I usually only read comments from people in authority (ie Scalzi) on this blog? PNH means nothing to me

    Here’s a hint: it’s written as if the person has some kind of authority, and John didn’t squelch. Here’s another hint: if you looked for and found the post I was quoting, you’d be able to click on a link that would explain who pnh is.

  34. Nobody has mentioned Charles Dickens, who published most of his books this way. (In monthly installments, not as ebooks.)

  35. @David – ok put away your ass-hat, you sound foolish. Anyway, thanks from the nice people who helped clarfiy who PNH is.
    Even though others have pointed out that this has been done before in publishing it does sound interesting. If they are coming out weekly it could be fun and keep you on your toes.

  36. Proof that no matter how great the announcement is, someone’s gonna whine about it.
    There, now that that’s out of the way…why do I have to wait until Decemberrrrr? waaahhh!

  37. Jeff Lanham:

    It’s not been mentioned because it’s not precisely on point. As noted, this isn’t a traditional serialized novel, as Dickens’ works were. It’s slightly different. Likewise, other comparisons noted here have also been a little bit off. What we’re doing here is sufficiently different, either in type or scale, that it’s notable in itself. Mind you, I would think that.

  38. So… you’re saying this is not actually your Joy Division/Human League fanfic?

    Oh. Well. I’m sure this will be good too. (Just kidding; I can’t wait!)

  39. Aaaaaand that’s why it’s a good idea to refresh before clicking “Post”.

    Does anyone have a copy of any of the volumes of King’s “The Green Mile”? I can’t seem to find the original list prices of the serialized version.

    BTW: is this “The Spankening”? Or should I just hold my horses and keep my finger on the “Refresh” button?

  40. Ah, the return of Harry. Nice to see you again old friend.
    Ready and willing to purchase when available.

  41. @Bruce – LOL, really?

    Anyway, it does sound exciting. While I did enjoy Zoe’s Tale I was longing for something in the same universe but from a different and unrelated to the people etc that came before. This certainly sounds like it will be along those lines. Very exciting!

  42. In terms of literary classification, I’d go with “Short Story Cycle”, an art form which is apparently more common and characteristic of Canadian literature, if my CanLit profs are to be believed ;) Examples would be Stephen Leacock’s “Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town” (totally worth a read, it’s hilarious) and Margaret Laurence’s “A Bird in the House” – maybe more the latter one – along with, more recently, Atwood’s “Moral Disorder”.

    /nerd.

    The best science fiction example I can think of is “I, Robot”, though Asimov’s not a Canuck.

    Here’s to the day when I get to use “The Human Division” in a really nerdy internet comment!

  43. As short-hand, PNH is probably not the best. Especially if Mr. Hayden’s biz model for the episodal release isn’t fully defined. Just a thought.

  44. Having just completed a re-read of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles I feel I have a sense for where you may be coming from. Bring it!

  45. The “B” team? You mean, the guys in the Old Man’s War universe that wear red shirts?

  46. I would really encourage a subscription model that includes both episodic access and a copy of the compiled e-book later on (as well as available episode by episode of course). Not only does this mean that I don’t have to fret between quick access and having the full e-book that contains extras (or pay double, which is not preferred obviously, and any sort of discount would be complicated), but it means that I can have the best of both worlds: episodic access, but not stuck with thirteen ebooks in my library, which would really be annoying if this catches on. Kindle library is hard enough to navigate without 500 entries per author.

  47. Ahem.

    *SQUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE*

  48. Chris: There was a Shadowrun novel that used the same idea a couple decades ago.

    You wouldn’t happen to remember the title of that book, would you?

  49. This is great news. I’m so glad that you left the OMW universe alone for awhile so that when you returned it would be your decision, not publisher pressure. I now have something to look forward to from you next year (since I, like Kilroy and a few others, am definitely NOT an e-book person.)

  50. One of my very favorite things about ebooks is that they are, for me and hopefully others, breathing new life into my love of short fiction. There seems to be a lot more opportunity for writers to get their work out there. From online magazines, to sites like Tor.com and Orbit Short fiction, to lots of authors just publishing them themselves. I’ve gobbled up a lot of short fiction thes last few months. This seems like it will be a perfect part of that.

  51. W00t! Scalzi is the man! Also Dickens would be proud of your experiment with Tor, and good on them also. Excellent news, I’m more excited by this news than the olympics (and fyi I live in london).my money will be flowing your way! Yay! Also W00t! (again)

  52. Cool, and good luck.

    Sould we read anything more into the fact that:

    “The closest analogy would be a season of a television show, and indeed The Human Division is arranged into thirteen “episodes,” including a double-length “pilot episode,”?

    Seems kinda user friendly for adaptation.

  53. First off the obligatory WOOT!
    Then a question, am I the only one who read this “So what we have here is a” and went straight to “a failure to comunicate”

  54. Dear John,

    As excited add I am for more stories from you in general and stories in the OMW universe in specific (which, by the way, SQUEEEEEE!) Neither are the most exciting thing for me.

    Thank you and thank Tor for breaking out of the regular ebook mold. The poorly edited, more expensive than paperback, laden with DRM, much delayed to not cannibalize hardback sales ebook mold.

    You and Tor are trying new things in an industry well known for hating new things.

    Thanks.

    P.S. SQUEEE!

  55. I like that you have a Nigerian character. Nigeria is currently the #7 nation by population, yet severely under-represented in American Fiction. District 9 doesn’t count. From my notes on Demographic Transition backgrounding my Science Fiction set in 2020 AD and 2030 AD:
    Globalization 2.0 ~1800-~2000 MAINFRAMES
    [interrupted by The Great Depression, World War I, World War II]
    Multinational corporate globalization fulfills impetus of Industrial Revolution.
    Companies need to think globally to thrive and survive
    Phase 2 Demographic: Conditions improve, boom begins as death rate declines, as today in Angola, Uganda, Nigeria.
    The changes leading to this stage in Europe were initiated in the Agricultural Revolution of the 18th century and were initially quite slow. In the 20th century, the falls in death rates in developing countries tended to be substantially faster. Countries in this stage include Yemen, Afghanistan, the Palestinian territories, Bhutan, and Laos, and much of Sub-Saharan Africa (but do not include South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia, Kenya, and Ghana, which have begun to move into stage 3)

  56. So … there’s an OMW film in the works and here we have an “episodic” story arc being announced. Hmm.

    Oh, and also … SQUEEEE!

  57. I am very SQUEEE about getting more from the OMW universe…. and yeah – I’ll probably buy both the episodes and the eventual hardcover because I’m like that.

  58. For some reason, the first thing I thought of on hearing this title was Joy Division. That, of course, led to “Love Will Tear Us Apart” getting stuck in my head on repeat without even hearing it. (NTTAWT. It’s a damn fine song.)

    So thanks, John. :)

  59. I think it’s kinda funny that some folks seem to be in a bit of a hurry to classify this project somehow, based on a brief description.

    Personally, in terms of literary classification, I’d go with “here, take my money”.

  60. Huh. Funny. For the past few months I’ve been thinking that it would be really neat if someone were to write a novel where each chapter were a self-contained story but the whole thing was tied together by a larger story arc. I was even thinking of it in terms of a season of a television show.

    And now you’re doing it.

    So. Hey. I’m *really* looking forward to this. Not only to be able to read the thing for itself, but also to see if this format works.

  61. Hey Scalzi, I really appreciate you mentioning Shadow Unit in the post. I love the series and it was the first thing I thought of when you began describing what this project looks like; I hope some folks will follow the link and it will get some very well-deserved new readers.

    Also obviously this is intensely exciting and I’m really looking forward to seeing how the experiment with form works out.

  62. Thank you * 1e06, Messrs. Scalzi and Nielsen Hayden.  This news is truly w00t-squee-tastic!

    For the record, I wish to predict that should Tor produce a trailer for the book, that trailer will rock more than all the rocky asteroids and moons in our solar system. 

  63. This is COOOOOL.

    One, because this is an interesting innovation in publishing, fitting into my tastes.

    Two, it’s by SCALZI, also fitting into my tastes.

  64. Awesome. I hope your next series is called “The (Human) Joy Division”, where our heroes spend most of their time moping about, making space music.

  65. Ok, I have a nerdy type of question forJS. Are all the episodes written yet or in various stages of writing, editing, etc? Or is that stuff you are working on this summer and fall? Just curious

  66. Someone above mentioned Dickens’ serialized novels, but this sounds much more like Silverberg’s The World Inside, which (although it’s sometimes called a fix-up novel) consists of a string of stories, each self-contained but fitting into a not-too-rigid chronological arc. However, in that case the individual titles were stripped from the stories, which had all appeared in the sf magazines and in original-story anthologies such as Nova I edited by Harry Harrison (which included the first, scene-setting story, “A Happy Day in 2381″). This is a good way to explore a universe, and I don’t know why it hasn’t been done more often.

  67. “It’s always interesting to observe the growth and development of jargon — a kind of insiders’ language, a code people can use to impress strangers. Today, I’m particularly interested in the idea of a fix-up novel — one that has been created from a group of short stories. In the days of the pulps, authors would throw off as many stories as possible to keep the dollars coming in. Some never caught the imagination. Others spawned related stories or sequels. Given a growing accumulation of such stories, authors would then edit then for consistency and, more often than not, write new connecting material to create a novel. Whether apocryphally or not, the neologism is attributed to A. E. van Vogt, one of my favourite authors of the so-called Golden Age. The best example of a fix-up is The Voyage of the Space Beagle, later plagiarised in part as the film, Alien (and its sequels).”
    http://opionator.wordpress.com/tag/fix-up-novel/

  68. I’m seriously excited about this! And love the idea of being able to get it weekly. However, the spectre of additional content in the collected version is a slight buzzkill. Perhaps PNH could assure serial buyers that if added content ends up in the collection (even if it’s just an intro, afterword, etc.), it will be available packaged for ebook purchasers to optionally buy to “complete the set” and know they’re not missing anything?

  69. Please tell me the same guy will read the audiobook as read “Old Man’s War”, etc. He’s great. He read Cyrptonomicon and Anathem too (and I think maybe Reamde). Please, please, please.

  70. What’s your problem with ATMs? I rather like them, at least as long as they’re feeding me $$$….

  71. “Perhaps PNH could assure serial buyers that if added content ends up in the collection (even if it’s just an intro, afterword, etc.), it will be available packaged for ebook purchasers to optionally buy to “complete the set” and know they’re not missing anything?”

    Or, you know, people could just accept the tradeoff, as a consumer, between instant gratification and waiting for the omnibus edition.

    As long as any hypothetical “bonus materials” don’t fundamentally alter the narrative such that the ONLY way you can fully appreciate the story is to have read the book, I don’t see that readers who opted to get the episodes as they’re released have any reason to feel cheated. You don’t go to see a movie in the theater and then complain that the DVD has behind-the-scenes features, do you? If you buy your comics as they come out, are you offended that the “graphic novel” trade edition has extra art or other stuff bundled with it?

    (That said, if we’re looking at “bonus materials” as some sort of reward for buying the content in a particular format, I think there’s a good argument to be made for rewarding the subscribers who bought into the story from the beginning with something that ISN’T available to people who buy the hardcover collection. What would such a reward look like? Good question.)

  72. Good news! The full book of stories in the same universe, one I enjoy reading about very much, does appeal to me… very much. It reminds me of the Berserkers books. I’m excited!

  73. For those of you e-readers who are thanking Tor, that’s great, I thank Tor too, especially for attempting to get Amazon to stop with the drm, but you really should see what Baen’s been up to. When I bought Cryoburn by Bujold I got a dvd with the whole run of the Vorkosigan saga, the companion book and a bunch of other stuff of hers, travelogues, speeches, etc, on it. And just a couple weeks ago they started selling an e-arc of her book that’s coming out this fall, for $15, which is actually about what you used to buy them for back in the day, pre-ebay. And for those of us who can’t wait… well, it’s cheaper than the hardback :)

  74. My wife is pretty sure at this point I am insane. She just stared when I started dancing and chanting “Yeah, baby!” when I read this announcement.

  75. “As long as any hypothetical “bonus materials” don’t fundamentally alter the narrative such that the ONLY way you can fully appreciate the story is to have read the book, I don’t see that readers who opted to get the episodes as they’re released have any reason to feel cheated. You don’t go to see a movie in the theater and then complain that the DVD has behind-the-scenes features, do you? If you buy your comics as they come out, are you offended that the “graphic novel” trade edition has extra art or other stuff bundled with it?”

    No, I don’t feel cheated at the movies when I expect there’s going to be a DVD release with bonus material on it. I know it’s likely (and more so with each passing release). There are a lot of trade-offs between the Theatrical experience and the Home Theater experience (though, again, they seem to be converging with time). However, that argument is why I’m shifting towards waiting for Trades instead of buying issues.

    When I feel somewhat cheated is when I buy the DVD on release day and see an ad for the Ultimate Edition DVD when I get home.

    … selling for the same price.

    … coming out tomorrow.

    Though, honestly, “cheated” isn’t the right word; “frustrated” is better.

    Here, I think “confused” is the right word, actually. The initial press release is basically saying “we’re trying this new thing: we’re releasing a book in much the way a TV series releases an arc; when we’re done, the special edition is coming out a month later. Please buy the serial release, ’cause it’ll be a cool way to release a book, then buy the special edition because it’ll have other cool stuff!” The release can easily be read as this book being less an experiment in alternative novel structures than an experiment in getting paid twice for the same work.

    “Or, you know, people could just accept the tradeoff, as a consumer, between instant gratification and waiting for the omnibus edition.”

    Having just (in the past week or so) read almost all of the existing OMW stories I know of (I’ve just started Zoe’s Tale), I’ll definitely be picking this new book up. But, given what I know today, I’ll be waiting for the Omnibus Edition.

  76. This seems like a very clever way to maximize one’s income from short stories. As I understand it, short stories by themselves don’t pay well and short story collections (by single authors) seem to be hard to get in print, probably for the same reasons. These will apparently be priced reasonably and I suspect will do very well in both formats. This is NOT a gripe, just an observation, as I like good sf short stories and the “best of” compilations seem very hit-or-miss to me these days.

  77. John, that is the second-best publishing announcement I’ve heard all year, the first being Lord Vorpatril’s Alliance.

  78. Here, I think “confused” is the right word, actually. The initial press release is basically saying “we’re trying this new thing: we’re releasing a book in much the way a TV series releases an arc; when we’re done, the special edition is coming out a month later. Please buy the serial release, ’cause it’ll be a cool way to release a book, then buy the special edition because it’ll have other cool stuff!” The release can easily be read as this book being less an experiment in alternative novel structures than an experiment in getting paid twice for the same work.

    You’ve really just decided to put the most negative possible spin on this, haven’t you?

  79. I was extremely excited at first, but I have to say I am a little let down now. Putting it out in multiple parts seems that I as a consumer will ultimately end up paying more getting it piecemeal as opposed to if it was all bundled as a novel.

    I don’t know if that’s the case, Rallychild, but I’m also not sure what you larger point is. If I pay full list for a hardback I’m probably going to pay more than if I wait for the paperback. If I get a popular novel from a public library I don’t pay anything (directly), but the opportunity cost is potentially ending up at the tail of a very long waiting list. Life — it’s all about trade offs and opportunity costs.

  80. Pardon me while I SQUEEE! Because, yay, I get more OMW universe stories.
    But the initial squee was because the FIRST thing I thought of when you mentioned that it would be like READING a TV show was Shadow Unit. And then you actually mentioned Shadow Unit! I love that “show” so much! I read through the first two seasons so quickly, then found myself agonizingly waiting for more!

  81. “The Human Division” — sounds like the notion that you might explore using unmodified humans, or at least “more human” humans in the Colonial Defense Forces. Wasn’t that something you alluded to at the end of The Last Colony?

  82. My usual reaction when you announce a new book:
    1. Drop/Forget everything and anything I am doing
    2. Go to amazon.com and search for the new book
    3. Scream at amazon for not delivering it already

    This should be pretty awesome, and I’m warming up my Kindle in gleeful anticipation. I plan to be ready!

    BTW, it’s really fun how your publisher seems to get as excited over your work as the rest of your fan base.

  83. I’d be keen to sign up for a “subscription” to the series, as long as the total cost isn’t greater than any ebook collection of the stories to be published later. I intend to buy it regardless because, hey…new Scalzi stories (and in the OMW universe, too :)

  84. well, now its started…. and although i like the first episode i bought , the total cost is more than i’d pay for a kindle ebook (given the license issues with amazon…) . Guess i’ll wait for the full book to be available in paperback pricing….
    shame, coz the episode type release is something i like a lot (I think the classic user of this technique is of course a certain Mr Dickens, no?)

  85. I feel like I was back when I was waiting for the weekly issue of Perry Rhodan. Hustle to the store, GET IT! Hustle home, and by 10pm I was done reading… darn. Another week to wait.

    But I love it! Keep at it!

    Cheers from Germany!

  86. John, as excited as I am about this spinoff ‘series’, and as big a fan of OMW as I am, I still cannot buy this. Reason being, I only read my ebooks in ePub format & WILL NOT support any other proprietary/DRM filthware with my hard earned money. I’ve bought all the others in your fantastic OMW series in paperback, but since then moved all my reading to my droid. I simply cannot support kindle/crApple/AdobeDRM/NookDRM or any other formats trying to rob YOU of your hard earned dollar, or me of my rights to read a book on any damn device I want once I’ve paid for it! This decision makes me very sad…pls tell me you will be releasing the full THD novel in ePub, or at the very least, in non-DRMed mobi or PDF so I can convert it myself…?

  87. Nostromo, didn’t you read what John wrote right up there at the top of the page? “Yes, as far as I know the episodes will be released DRM free”. And, indeed, it turns out that they are being sold without DRM. So why the rant?

  88. Cally, as others have already identified, several resellers are embedding their DRM in John’s ebooks anyway. How are we to know now which are safe & which are not, until we’ve already paid for them & it’s too late? I would pull the book from those sites & look at legal options if I was John. This is why I only support open formats like ePub with my money these days. And what’s wrong with a good rant? Clearly it wasn’t directed at John or anyone else here…

  89. Nostromo:

    In nearly all the cases where DRM was attached; it was accidental and once Tor notified the retailer of the problem, it was fixed and the user allowed to re-download without DRM. So the solution is to let Tor know. In the meantime, if you can’t wait for the non-DRM’d version, if you were sold a DRM’d version of any of my work that was supposed to be sold without it, go ahead and strip it out.

  90. Thanks muchly John, will take your word for it & look at available formats I can at least convert to ePub.
    I would still rather be giving you the lion’s share than ‘big content’ – any plans to self-publish & distribute directly or via p2p online perhaps?

    Btw, I’m curious as to who your favourite fantasy writer is, assuming you’re into the genre & have perhaps drawn some inspiration from it…? ;)

  91. Nostromo:

    “I would still rather be giving you the lion’s share than ‘big content’”

    Well, the ‘big content’ you speak of in this case is Patrick Nielsen Hayden, my editor, who makes the book better with his advice and suggestions; Irene Gallo, the art director, who makes sure the work appeals from first sight; John Harris, the artist, who is creating some awesome visuals that again help bring people to the work; Alexis Saarela, my publicist, who helps me get the word out — not to mention the copy editor, page designer, marketing and distribution folks whose names escape me at the moment but who still do incredibly important things for the success of the book. Not to mention Ethan Ellenberg and Evan Gregory, my agents, who got me a very good contract for the work and who have been busy selling it in other markets around the world.

    Personally speaking, I am delighted to give ‘big content’ a share of the money the work brings in because the people above all do work I don’t want to do or am not competent to do — and they do a very good job of it. Why shouldn’t they get paid for their work as well? Likewise, Tor and Macmillan, Tor’s corporate parent, have done a fine job marketing the series and taking care of all sorts of backend issues that leave me free to do what I want to do, which is write.

    Which is to say, please don’t assume that Tor (the “big content” entity in question here) is a parasitic leech sucking from me money it didn’t earn. I worked with Tor on this by choice because I knew they would help me make it good before it came out — and would help make it a success when it did come out. It earns its share of the money that’s being made here. And for the record, I’m making a nice enough sum of money, too.

  92. Experiencing the process, I’d cast another vote for the subscription/periodical model here. It would be nice to buy once and download weekly.

  93. Just finished Ep. 13 on Audible. AWESOME series!! Love OMW universe! When do we get more??

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