First things first: The Mallet of Loving Correction, my second collection of Whatever essays and my second book release of 2013, is now officially out and ready for your enjoyment. The limited, signed hardcover edition is available via Subterranean Press and major online retailers (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, Powells), with the ebook edition coming up in the next couple of days (it’s sitting in various approval queues at the moment). This page will include links to the ebook retailers as soon as they clear the queues. I will of course also note it.
Mallet collects up essays between the second half of 2008 and the end of 2012; as noted in the jacket copy, that’s a period of time that “spans two elections, a civil rights revolution, the fall of MySpace and the rise of Twitter and Facebook, and a whole era on the Internet and on the planet Earth.” It’s also when I wrote some of my most well-known pieces, including “Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is,” “Omelas State University,” “Who Gets to Be a Geek? Anyone Who Wants to Be” and “The Lord of the Tweets,” in which I live tweeted the entire Lord of Rings trilogy. Plus lots of pieces on writing, the online world, kids, pets, and, you know. Life.
It’s a massive collection (488 pages) and the hardcover edition is, if I may so, one of the nicest physical versions of any of my books. Nate Taylor’s cover art is perfect, the end papers and interior design are lovely, and personally speaking I’m always thrilled when things I’ve written for the online medium cross the border and are set down onto paper.
Several hundred copies of the print edition have already been sold through pre-orders, and the hardcover edition is limited to a thousand copies, after which no more will be produced. So if you want the hardcover (and you do, trust me), now is a fine to move on that. Don’t be left out. There’s nothing but regret on that path. Regret, I say!
But wait, there’s more! Subterreanean Press is also releasing another work of mine: “Muse of Fire,” a short story (actually, technically a novelette) that was originally released as part of Audible’s Rip-Off! audiobook anthology, in which the writers used the first line of famous works as the basis for their stories. This marks the debut of the story in print form, and it’s available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble for 99 cents.
Here’s the story description:
Ben Patton is a genuis, a mathematician and a man on the verge of a scientific discovery that could change the world—if the math he’s invented for it works. Ben’s secret to his success: A muse, Hestia, who helps him, cares for him and in many ways is the love of his life, as muses so often are for those they inspire.
Hestia is Ben’s secret—but Hestia has secrets of her own. As the two of them race toward the completion of their work, Ben discovers the price of having a muse, and learns that the world can change, in ways he does not expect.
A tale of science and fantasy, from New York Times best-selling author John Scalzi.
This story’s a little different for me; indeed, in many ways it’s unlike any story I’ve written before. So that should be interesting for all y’all.
Also, all author royalties from this particular release will go to The Children’s Burn Foundation (I may choose a different organizations to assign royalties to in the future, but income from this particular story will always go to charity. Because).
Those of you who know anything about book release schedules will note that Friday is an odd day to release a book. But there’s a good reason for it for this particular book: Today is the 15th anniversary of Whatever. On the morning of this day in 1998, I sat down at my computer in my house in Sterling, Virginia and wrote the very first entry. If you’re wondering what that first entry was, here it is; I posted it on the site here for the 10th anniversary, five years ago (duh).
In 1998, my expectations for Whatever were fairly modest; I certainly wouldn’t have imagined that I would be continuing to write this thing fifteen years later. And yet here I am, still writing it and still having it be such a significant part of my writing life. I’ve noted before the ways it’s changed my life, up to and including being the place where I first published Old Man’s War, a fact which set me on the path to where I am now, in terms of my career as a science fiction novelist and as a member of the science fiction community. I have three Hugo Awards: one is for writing on this blog, one is for a book of writing that appeared on this blog, and one is for a novel that I got to write in no small part because I originally put up another novel on this blog. So, yeah: Significant.
What I’m more proud of this site for, however, is how occasionally it is a useful engine for things and causes I care about. It’s helped raise (or get pledged) more than $100,000 for charities and organizations that work for others, and very recently it’s been a place where more than 1,100 members of the science fiction community have taken a stand for our conventions being safe places for everyone who goes to them. It’s also a place where over the last several years I’ve been able to help promote hundreds of other writers and their works with The Big Idea, to help them find new readers and audiences.
All of these things are very cool. They also make me aware that a) Whatever has a reach I never imagined it would have, b) that it also comes with some responsibilities I was not aware I would have and that I suspect (more often than you might imagine) that I am an imperfect vessel for. It would be dumb for me to read too much into it — this is still a site where I do tons of just plain goofy stuff, because I can and because I like it — but at the same time it would be dumb of me to ignore it. This site has an effect. It creates an impact. I have to be mindful of it and still be aware of its limitations and pitfalls — and be aware of my own limitations and ego-driven stupidities. Which, again, is not something I even remotely had in mind fifteen years ago.
One thing I do notice over the course of fifteen years is that Whatever seems to have seasons — there are times when I write a lot about one topic, then that topic goes away; there are other times I write in huge volumes here while other times I’ll post largely to let people know I’m not dead. 2012 was a “volume” season for me; 2013, partly because of travel and partly for other factors, has been a (relatively) calmer year. And yet 2013 definitely has a theme so far: Lots of stuff about inequalities in the groups and communities I’m in, which the corresponding feedback (positive and negative) all over the board. It’s been interesting, to say the least.
One of the very nice things about Whatever is the fact that it doesn’t have a set topic — I can let these “seasons” happen as they will, and when they’re done, move on to whatever else is worth talking about. In this way, Whatever really is a map of what’s in my head, over the course of a decade and a half. Again, not something I would have imagined when I first sat down to write it in 1998.
Where does Whatever go from here? Well, I don’t know. I suppose we’ll find out when we get there. I plan to keep writing it, because I want to find out, and because (as I note in the intro to Mallet) in many ways, and unexpectedly, Whatever has become my life’s work. I’m not inclined to abandon it, although I reserve the right to change my mind about that.
But then, that’s baked into the premise of the site — it exists as long as I want it to. When I don’t want it to, it won’t. At the moment, fifteen years on, I can’t imagine not wanting it to. And so, it continues.
To everyone who reads it: Thank you. Let’s keep going, shall we.