22 thoughts on “My Interview On Talk of the Nation

  1. I enjoyed the interview. I thought you did a good job conveying the flavor of the book without spoiling it.

  2. You were a lot more interesting than the rehashing of the Penn State scandal that preceded you and got more air time. But I guess that isn’t much of a compliment, is it? In any case, you did a good job for both fans and a general audience who might not know the background of the book. From his comments, i.e., he had read Old Man’s War, I am inferring that Neal Conan is an SF fan? Maybe he could be encouraged to do more interviews like yours.

  3. Well played, sir! I enjoyed how you were able to cover some of the same material as the Wired interview from a slightly different direction. You & Mr. Conan packed a lot of fun into that 20 minutes.

  4. Man does NPR’s site suck! Somebody needs to tell them how to actually embed their audio in, you know, their audio files!

  5. *turns a stunning shade of mauve*
    Note to self: check that speakers are on before firing off a round of nerdrage.

    I enjoyed the interview, John. I have my ebook copy of Redshirts ready for my camping trip this weekend (yes, I have a backup charger for my tablet and a small diesel generator in my truck…you know, roughing it).

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to beat my head against a soft wall :-/

  6. Thanks for the link. My local NPR station decided we should hear about forest fires instead of your interview. They do that sort of thing a lot. But my trusty computer came through.

  7. I always enjoy Talk fo the Nation, and this was a double treat. I agree with CLP above. I really enjoyed the book and am glad it’s getting such good press coverage.

  8. I adored your interview. Made it hard to get to sleep afterwards. Missed the first day of Comic-Con, as had to act as my own private eye, doing an asset search on myself. Some of my original stock certificates, for what’s now GeekNet, and was then VA Linux, had been in the hands of my broker at JD Edwards, which was acquired by Wachovia, which ad merged with Wells Fargo, had vanished. The company had snailmailed to say that they needed the stock certificates to do a reverse 10-for-one stock split, else they’d invoked New York State Law and declare them abandoned property. Took me hours of shoeleather. Remind me to tell you some hair-raising stories of whn I was a PI for law fiirms, which I won’t put in print yet for legal reasons.

    Finally got my mitts on the stock certificates (which have lost over 95% value after the company where I was VP/CIO, “Brave New Worlds, Inc.” was acquired by then-VA Software, converted, and mostly evaporated after the dot com crash anyway) , deposited them with new broker at Wells Fargo, then it started to rain. I’ll be taking the train from LA’s Union Station down to San Diego, and be there this afternoon/evening. I’ll be the guy in the Guest badge muttering: “I am one of those guys who knows more Physics than Mr. Scalzi, and hates Red Matter even more.” Though, to be fair, I’m outranked on Physics as a Science Fiction author by Greg Benford and John Gribbin… Hope to see you there, and thanks for posting your schedule to enable that. Sorry for the first death at this year’s Comic-Con, the gal who ran across the street against a red light and was hit by a car. Gruesomely wondered: she couldn’t see well around her mask?

  9. Thanks for the link to the interview. I was busy building robots with middle schools kids when it aired.

    I think you are misusing the phrase “not even wrong”. As I understand it, “not even wrong” applies to a hypothesis that cannot be tested experimentally to determine if it is right or wrong. String theory currently fits that description.

    The best analogy I can think of to describe the wrongness of your five minutes of Star Trek is a line from Stewart from The Big Bang Theory: “It’s a little wrong to call a tomato a vegetable. It is a lot wrong to call it a suspension bridge.”

    (The real sin of Star Trek was stealing too many ideas from Star Wars. Search your feelings, you know it is true.)

    It was a great interview otherwise. I was hoping they would take calls, so you could answer questions. Responding thoughtfully to your audience is one of the strengths of this blog.

  10. Thanks for posting. I turned it on in the car (the interview, you filthy-minded …) but immediately switched it off because I’m not yet done with the book. I’ll come back to the blog to listen through the interview once I’m finished reading.

  11. “It’s a little wrong to call a tomato a vegetable. It is a lot wrong to say that its color comes from nanoparticles of Red Matter, and is extracted to make Redshirts.”

  12. Now, how to pitch a sequel for Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, at Comic-Con? It would be based on my story “Cytoskeleton in the Closet” and
    Soft Active Matter
    M. C. Marchetti, J.-F. Joanny, S. Ramaswamy, T. B. Liverpool, J. Prost, Madan Rao, R. Aditi Simha
    Comments: 50 pages, 33 figures
    Subjects: Soft Condensed Matter (cond-mat.soft); Other Quantitative Biology (q-bio.OT)

    In this review we summarize theoretical progress in the field of active matter, placing it in the context of recent experiments. Our approach offers a unified framework for the mechanical and statistical properties of living matter: biofilaments and molecular motors in vitro or in vivo, collections of motile microorganisms, animal flocks, and chemical or mechanical imitations. A major goal of the review is to integrate the several approaches proposed in the literature, from semi-microscopic to phenomenological. In particular, we first consider “dry” systems, defined as those where momentum is not conserved due to friction with a substrate or an embedding porous medium, and clarify the differences and similarities between two types of orientationally ordered states, the nematic and the polar. We then consider the active hydrodynamics of a suspension, and relate as well as contrast it with the dry case. We further highlight various large-scale instabilities of these nonequilibrium states of matter. We discuss and connect various semi-microscopic derivations of the continuum theory, highlighting the unifying and generic nature of the continuum model. Throughout the review, we discuss the experimental relevance of these theories for describing bacterial swarms and suspensions, the cytoskeleton of living cells, and vibrated granular materials. We suggest promising extensions towards greater realism in specific contexts from cell biology to ethology, and remark on some exotic active-matter analogues. Lastly, we summarize the outlook for a quantitative understanding of active matter, through the interplay of detailed theory with controlled experiments on simplified systems, with living or artificial constituents.

  13. Ah, but did you get a souvenir tote-bag?

    NB for non Americans: NPR, National Public Radio, is primarily listener-supported and gives gifts such as DVDs and books for subscribers. The archetypal supporter gift is a cloth tote-bag.

  14. John, it was a really good interview. I predict you will soon have quite a reputation as a good interview subject, and people will consult you on anything on which you can be considered remotely competent.

    You answer questions directly, you have great stories to tell (and I’ve been telling that “redshirt walks down the hall” story a lot lately), and you don’t hesitate or stammer…and you talk FAST, so there’s a lot of content in a brief time, a great virtue in radio. More subtly, your intonation is lively, which keeps it interesting. A monotonous drone is soporific even if the actual words are interesting!

    I really, really hope someone wants you to be the primary writer for a TV series. I have a great idea for one, how about you write it and we Maybe writing an ep or two for an existing series would be a good way to start that. I am saying this because the thought of a Scalzi-written episode of Doctor Who brings me to the brink of nerdgasm.

  15. Jonathan Vos Post, above: Wow. Gobsmacked. I’m so impressed. How many of those have you written, anyway? Re the NPR interview: I enjoyed it immensely. It sounded just exactly like I thought it would — like reading the Whatever. And I’ll take Number One Daughter’s word on “Prometheus”. I can’t afford to waste my money to watch people be stupid in a theater that’s too loud anyway. (The last time I went out to see a movie on a big screen, the sound was turned up so damn loud I had a migraine before the movie was over.) Paid twice for “Redshirts”. Ate it in two bites; life got in the way for a few hours. A jolly good read, though it was awfully easy to see the end coming. I suppose that was inevitable, considering the number of novels based on all four series, as well as the fotonovels and movie novelizations, that I own. The codas were just exactly the right way to tie up the story without making the novel too long. Why, yes, I would just about give my left arm to be at Comic-Con right now in San Fucking Perfect Diego with all the other nerds. I’m very jealous of all who are actually there, while I sit here in my book-lined hermit hole. Don’t get me wrong, I like it this way, but the company of other nerds sounds appealing.

  16. re my post above: Insert smiley face after the word “impressed”, if you please. I didn’t mean for that to sound snarky. Thank you.

  17. You know there are already three sequels to Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, right? And that there are 3 slightly different versions of the original?

  18. Hey, John! Great interview. (@Angie, yes, Neal Conan is a major sci-fi/comics fan. But he can rarely find a way to sneak it straight into a national afternoon call-in show. And notice he went on vacation immediately after.)

    Question for John: Did he pronounce your last name “right” (defined “as you pronounce it”)? If so, I’m kicking myself for not realizing it earlier myself.

  19. Yes, I was curious about that too. Is the ‘a’ as in ‘bad’ or as in ‘father’? Or was that just the host’s accent mishandling it?

    I know you’ll probably accept either pronunciation, you being an easygoing type, but which is the one you use?

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