Four Weeks In

Original photo by Michael Vadon, used under Creative Commons license. To see original, click on photo.

Once more in a Q&A format. Here we go:

Hey, what about that GOP elector from Texas who says he’s not gonna vote for Trump because he’s unqualified to be president?

Good for him for voting his conscience. So that’s one down. You’ll need, I think, 38 more to deny Trump the White House via the Electoral College.

Think it’ll happen?

No.

But it could happen, right?

Sure. But there’s a lot of air between could and will. I think you should at least make contingency plans for if it doesn’t.

So you’re saying there’s a chance.

Yes. There is also a chance you will win the lottery when you buy a ticket. You shouldn’t have “win the lottery” as your retirement plan.

Also remember that even if the Electoral College chooses not to elect Trump (unlikely) and doesn’t give it to Clinton (they won’t), then it goes to the House. If you think the House won’t give it to Trump, you think more of the House than I do.

Hey, Trump voter here.

Oh, hello.

What you think of the polls that say that something like 60% of Americans are optimistic about a Trump administration?

Good for them. I hope their optimism is not misplaced.

What I mean to say is, maybe you and your pals are all moody and depressed and doom doomy doom-laden for no good reason.

You know, it’s not outside the range of possibility that despite all indications, Trump’s administration will not be the horrifying shit-show that appears it is going to be. In which case, great! At this point I would personally settle for “not a horrifying shit-show.” With that said, it’s easy for me to settle, financially-secure straight white man that I am. Bear in mind that even in the best-case scenario, I think the Trump years will be harder for a lot more people than the Clinton years would have been, both economically and otherwise. “Not a shit-show” is speaking generally. Specifically, a lot of people are going to be in the shit. Some of them will have voted for Trump.

You could be wrong!

I’ve been wrong before, certainly.

Any thoughts on Al Gore meeting with Trump?

If it helps us from baking in our own juices any sooner than absolutely necessary, I’m okay with that.

You heard that Ivanka was in on that meeting, right?

I did.

And?

I’m not Ivanka’s biggest fan, and I find the basic trend of Trump installing his children (and children-in-law) into (unofficial) positions of power appalling. With that said, a) Ivanka is clearly the smart one in that family, b) She’s possibly the only one that isn’t 100% an opportunistic grifter, c) she’s possibly the only one who is both vaguely liberal and capable of long-term thought. In the nepotistic shit-show that will be Trump White House, if she’s the voice of sanity that will keep Trump from pissing all over the Paris Accords and otherwise hastening our global climate mess, well, work with what you’ve got.

What happened to resisting Trump by any means necessary?

I’ve talked about the issues of pragmatic governance in the age of Trump before, and at the moment I’m no closer to a good answer about it than I was then. I can’t imagine there won’t be policies and practices of the Trump administration that should be met with anything other than pure and righteous defiance. But, look: If Al Gore (or anyone else) can get into the Trump White House to talk into the ear of, or to talk to Trump under the aegis of, the woman who Trump clearly trusts and loves and will take advice from more than any other, and the possible result is fewer policies and practices that should be met with defiance, I’m willing to not to castigate the person who realpoliticks that one out.

And yes, it sucks. It’s not how it should work. Welcome to the Trump years.

What about Trump picking fights with China?

I don’t know enough about the politics involved with that to make any competent statements about it. I will say that taunting China without cause seems a dumb thing to do.

Hey, Ben Carson. 

Yes, what about him?

Picked for HUD because, like, he’s black, yes?

I do expect that’s part of it. But remember last week, when I said that the criteria for Trump’s cabinet picks is that they are “rich, loyal and fundamentally disagree with the mission of the governmental department they will soon be in charge of”? There you go. That Carson is also fundamentally unqualified for the position is kind of a bonus (for the administration, not anyone dealing with HUD).

So it’s basically been a month since the election, yes?

Four weeks to the day, indeed. A couple more days until the full month. But close enough.

Still pissed off? Depressed? Annoyed?

Yes, although most of those are tempered at this point, because a month is a long time. I find it largely embarrassing at this point that Trump is going to be president. Also at this point I think I’ve got him pegged: Thin-skinned, crass, easily-persuadable, corrupt and contemptuous, all of which are confirmed on a daily basis by his personal actions and administrative choices. I’m not happy about a Trump presidency, but I think I’ve got most of the dance steps down.

There’s still huge uncertainty, of course — not in how Trump will react to things (horribly, because he’s horrible), but what things will be out there for him to react to. Friend and foe have the man marked, the same as I do, and soon we will find out how they play him, and by extension, play the US. Whee!

How else has the incoming Trump administration affected you?

On a practical level, not too much. As noted before, I finished most of my substantial work for the year prior to the election, and much of the work I had left was technical (i.e., editing, etc) which didn’t require creative muscles. Which is good, as I’m still unfocused on that front. I had a couple creative opportunities I had to pass on just because I couldn’t get my brain to buckle in. I strongly suspect that when I start in on the next novel (that will be in January, in case you were wondering), I’ll really have to enforce the “no social media until the day’s work is done” rule, because otherwise I’ll never get anything done. The election already dragged out the writing of The Collapsing Empire and contributed to me turning it in late (which I’ve made up for — slightly — by expediting edits), and I don’t want to make a thing of it.

On a planning level, it’s made a difference. I had a meeting with my financial adviser last week about where to put this year’s investments, a meeting which I had put off until after the election in part to see what happened to the markets (spoiler: They haven’t tanked (yet)). It also makes a difference in terms of what we’re planning for spending around the home and with family. We know we have a pretty large expenditure coming up — Athena’s college(!) — although how much that will be will depend on where she goes. That’s gonna get paid regardless, but everything else is up for discussion.

Mind you, don’t cry for us. Again, thanks to my extended book contract and our general financial policy of “save all the monies,” we’re gonna be fine, unless things get so bad for everyone everywhere that we’re dragged into the mess. I’ve mentioned before that we’re likely to be some of the people affected “last and least” by any Trump administration misadventures; that still stands.

Hey, Scalzi, anything else you wanted to say on the subject of “last and least”?

Ooooh, thanks for reminding me, fictional person asking the questions! In fact, I do. I’ve gotten some thanks over the last few weeks of writing these pieces on Trump, for being general calm and “sensible” (if swear-y). And while I appreciate that — I like being thought of as sensible! — remember also who I am, which is: financially-secure straight white dude. It’s easy for me to be calm and “sensible.” With respect to the incoming Trump administration, you really need to also be reading and hearing the folks who are not financially-secure straight white dudes, not all of whom are “calm” and “sensible,” and for very good reason, i.e., because the bigots inside and outside of the Trump administration have been emboldened to make life miserable for them. For starters.

Which is to say: Thanks for reading my thoughts about Trump and his party pals. I think I’m an okay starting place for such reading. But if your reading on it stops with me (or is otherwise limited to the folks who look/love/earn suspiciously like me), you’re not doing it right. Please get out there and read and listen more, and especially read and listen to the people for whom the incoming administration feels like a clear and present danger.

Are you going to keep doing these weekly wrap-ups of Trump?

No, actually I think this is the last one of these I have planned.

You’re not going to write about him anymore?

I didn’t say that. Merely that I’ll write about him and his pals when I have something specific to say about some foolishness they’re up to, and not necessarily in Q&A format.

But I like the Q&A format!

Well, of course you would, fictional question-asking person. You’re out of a job, I’m afraid.

The Trump economy claims its first victim!

Yes, I suppose it does. Sorry.

The Big Idea: Ruth Vincent

Revenge: Is it all that it’s cracked up to be? Author Ruth Vincent asks this question, in relation to her new novel Unveiled, and also in a larger sense. What’s the answer? Read on.

RUTH VINCENT:

It’s often said that the role of the protagonist in a fantasy novel is to be the person we, the reader, wish we could be. But given how bloodthirsty this genre is, I’m not sure what that says about us.  It makes sense that our escapist literature is often about vengeance.  Speculative fiction is the genre of us “nerds,” and it sells us a feel-good fantasy of finally getting revenge on a realm’s too-mighty “cool kids.” We never tire of watching the scrappy hobbit/farmer/orphan defeat the slick, glib, arrogant monarch/mage/authoritarian; we cheer as they run this villain through with their sword, or shoot them with lasers, or light them up with fireballs, and we don’t stop to think about how horrifying we’d find these “heroes” if they were that quick to murder in real life.

Without giving away any spoilers for my novel, Unveiled, let’s just say that a bad thing happens to my heroine, Mabily Jones. In the end, she’s given the opportunity to kill the villain who wronged her. Because the bad thing occurred in the fairy realm, she will face no consequences for her action; the law of the land will be on her side, and she’ll probably be hailed as a hero for killing this character. But does that mean she should do it?

This was a soul-searching question, not only for my heroine, Mab, but also for me as an author. First, I had to examine if revenge would be consistent with her character? Mab is not at all prone to violence, but she’s been emotionally devastated, and revenge appeals to the emotions. What almost pushes her over the edge though, is that she won’t be held responsible for her deed. I’ve recently been riveted by the HBO drama “West World,” whose premise asks the question, who do we, as human beings, become when we think that our actions have no consequence? “The park shows you who you really are,” as one character put it, and the disturbing implication is that most of us are murderers, rapists, and generally horrible people if we’re given the chance.

The “Changeling P.I.” series exists partly in a realistic New York and partly in a parallel supernatural world. It’s an interesting thought exercise to realize that Mab probably wouldn’t have felt tempted to kill the villain if the crime had taken place in the “real world;” her temptation to violence is much stronger in the “other” world, especially since the would-be victim is nonhuman. Mab recognizes the primal pull of vengeance in herself, but is disturbed by what this says about her:

“I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that this power, the power to hold someone’s life in my hand like the most delicate egg, didn’t secretly elate me.  But I stopped myself. If I killed him […. ] what did that make me?

It makes her no better than the villain, she realizes, whose own actions were primarily motivated by revenge. She knows if she crosses that line, she’ll no longer be the same person. She’ll be a killer, and no matter how justified, even heroic the other characters will view her action, it will forever change the way she relates to herself.

However, as a writer, I was afraid that if Mab didn’t kill the villain, even if he was satisfyingly punished in other ways, readers would look at my heroine as being weak for letting him live. Creating a “strong female character,” is often narrowly and superficially viewed as making a female character violent, as if that’s the only way to show strength. If I chose this path, so that I could make my heroine look like more of a badass, was that a tacit approval of an over simplified moral system where every “bad guy” must be given the death penalty? If I didn’t believe in that in the real world, why would I make those the rules for my fictional universe?

I won’t say whether or not there’s an alternative ending of Unveiled on my hard drive, where my heroine gets sweet, gory revenge upon the villain, but ultimately Mab and I both chose to forebear. This doesn’t mean I had my villain and heroine holding hands and singing Kumbaya at the end. While I’ve always striven to create empathetic antagonists in this series, some characters cannot be redeemed. Mab ensures through her actions that the villain’s evil is contained, that he faces justice for his crimes, and that he is prevented from harming anyone else. But she steers clears of the vigilantism that’s fashionable in urban fantasy.

The reason I chose to write urban fantasy was the genre’s potential for realism, even if that potential isn’t always utilized. After all, in urban fantasy, one doesn’t have to travel to other realms or universes to find magic; these stories take place in our world. It’s accessible, relatable speculative fiction. But the thing about the real world is we rarely get the opportunity to take revenge on those who’ve done us wrong. Even if we do get the chance to give those jerks their just deserts, it doesn’t mean we should. It might feel good to fantasize about, but if we’re grownups, we understand that it won’t change the past, it won’t even make us feel better once the moment of sweet satisfaction is passed, and the act could cause rippling harm to ourselves as well as victims unintended. Because in the fantasy of revenge the act of justice always occurs in a vacuum, and that’s seldom the case in real life.

Once the villain is no longer able to harm others, Mab knows she must walk away from vengeance, turning her focus to her own healing and moving on. It’s doesn’t give her the satisfying snick of closure she’s emotionally seeking, but it’s the adult decision. To some genre critics, her choice may make her look weak. To me, it makes her strength believable.

—-

Unveiled: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Google Play|iBooks

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s blog. Follow her on Twitter.

I Was Going To Write Something Thoughtful and Meaningful Today But Then I Thought, Screw It, I’ll Just Put Up a Picture of a Cat, Really, It’s All The Same, Isn’t It

So here you go. Merry December 3!

New Books and ARCs, 12/2/16

Whoa. It’s December, folks. How did that happen?

(Yes, I know. Go to November and keep heading on through.)

Here’s this week’s new books and ARCs. Anything here look tempting to you? Tell everyone in the comments!

Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide 2016, Day Five: Charities

For the last four days, the Whatever Shopping Guide 2016 has been about helping you find the perfect gifts for friends and loved ones. But today I’d like to remind folks that the season is also about helping those in need. So this final day is for charities. If you’re looking for a place to make a donation — or know of a charitable organization that would gladly accept a donation — this is the place for it.

How to contribute to this thread:

1. Anyone can contribute. If you are associated with or work for a charity, tell us about the charity. If there’s a charity you regularly contribute to or like for philosophical reasons, share with the crowd. This is open to everyone.

2. Focus on non-political charities, please. Which is to say, charities whose primary mission is not political — so, for example, an advocacy group whose primary thrust is education but who also lobbies lawmakers would be fine, but a candidate or political party or political action committee is not. The idea here is charities that exist to help people and/or make the world a better place for all of us.

3. It’s okay to note personal fundraising (Indiegogo and GoFundMe campaigns, etc) for people in need. Also, other informal charities and fundraisers are fine, but please do your part to make sure you’re pointing people to a legitimate fundraiser and not a scam. I would suggest only suggesting campaigns that you can vouch for personally.

3. One post per person. In that post, you can list whatever charities you like, and more than one charity. Note also that the majority of Whatever’s readership is in the US/Canada, so I suggest focusing on charities available in North America.

4. Keep your description of the charity brief (there will be a lot of posts, I’m guessing) and entertaining. Imagine the person is in front of you as you tell them about the charity and is interested but easily distracted.

5. You may include a link to a charity site if you like by using standard HTML link scripting. Be warned that if you include too many links (typically three or more) your post may get sent to the moderating queue. If this happens, don’t panic: I’ll be going in through the day to release moderated posts. Note that posts will occasionally go into the moderation queue semi-randomly; Don’t panic about that either.

6. Comment posts that are not about people promoting charities they like will be deleted, in order to keep the comment thread useful for people looking to find charities to contribute to.

All right, then: It’s the season of giving. Tell us where to give to make this a better place.

Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide 2016, Day Four: Fan Favorites

For the first three days of the Whatever Shopping Guide 2016, I’ve let authors and creators tell you about their work. Today is different: Today is Fan Favorites day, in which fans, admirers and satisfied customers share with you a few of their favorite things — and you can share some of your favorite things as well. This is a way to discover some cool stuff from folks like you, and to spread the word about some of the things you love.

Fans: Here’s how to post in this thread. Please follow these directions!

1. Fans only: That means that authors and creators may not post about their own work in this thread (they may post about other people’s work, if they are fans). There are already existing threads for traditionally-published authorsnon-traditionally published authors, and for other creators. Those are the places to post about your own work, not here.

2. Individually created and completed works only, please. Which is to say, don’t promote things like a piece of hardware you can find at Home Depot, shoes from Foot Locker, or a TV you got at Wal-Mart. Focus on things created by one person or a small group: Music CDs, books, crafts and such. Things that you’ve discovered and think other people should know about, basically. Do not post about works in progress, even if they’re posted publicly elsewhere. Remember that this is supposed to be a gift guide, and that these are things meant to be given to other people. So focus on things that are completed and able to be sold of shared.

3. One post per fan. In that post, you can list whatever creations you like, from more than one person if you like, but allow me to suggest you focus on newer stuff. Note also that the majority of Whatever’s readership is in the US/Canada, so I suggest focusing on things available in North America.

4. Keep your description of the work brief (there will be a lot of posts, I’m guessing) and entertaining. Imagine the person is in front of you as you tell them about the work and is interested but easily distracted.

5. You may include a link to a sales site if you like by using standard HTML link scripting. Be warned that if you include too many links (typically three or more) your post may get sent to the moderating queue. If this happens, don’t panic: I’ll be going in through the day to release moderated posts. Note that posts will occasionally go into the moderation queue semi-randomly; Don’t panic about that either.

6. Comment posts that are not about fans promoting work they like will be deleted, in order to keep the comment thread useful for people looking to find interesting gifts.

Got it? Excellent. Now: Geek out and tell us about cool stuff you love — and where we can get it too.

Hey, Looks Like It’s Time Once Again For Me to Talk About Writing On Politics

Because of the election and all, I’ve gotten a few people griping to me about the fact I write about politics here and in other places. It’s been a while since I talked extensively about me writing about politics, and also, about the more general topic of entertainers and creative people who talk about politics, and the people who tell them to shut up about it. So let’s talk about these things, shall we.

For ease of discussion, I’ve broken this up into ten points. The first five are about me specifically, and are short. The second five are more general, and rather longer. Ready? Let’s get to it.

I. The Short Points About Me Writing On Politics

1. If you tell me you’re tired of me talking about politics, or tell me to shut up about them, I’ll tell you to kiss my ass. I’ll write about what I want, when I want, where I want, which in this case happens to be about politics, now, here.

2. If you don’t want to read me opining on politics, you are presumably a grown human being with free will and the ability not to read things. Skip over the piece or stop reading the site entirely.

3. If you complain to me about my expressing political opinions in areas under my own control that you are not actually being forced to read, there’s a very good chance I’m going to be rude to you. This is actually covered in the site disclaimer, which has been up for years, on every page of the blog.

4. I don’t give a shit if you become unhappy with me for being rude to you.

5. Likewise, I don’t care if your dislike of my writing about politics and/or your being upset that I was rude to you when you complained about it means you no longer choose to read my books. Stop reading my books, then.

II. The Longer Points About Creators and Entertainers, Including Me, Opining On Politics

6. For the occasional jackass who opines that entertainers like myself should stick to entertaining and not write about politics or anything else that might possibly offend someone, a) fuck you, b) you’re wrong, c) independent of either of those points, long before I was an author I got paid to write about politics, and still do from time to time (as recently as last month, in fact, in one of the largest newspapers in the nation). So, yeah, actually, writing about politics is a thing I do professionally, thanks so much for asking.

Now, here’s a hot take for you: “Entertainers” are fully-dimensional human beings who don’t exist solely to entertain you, writers in particular write professionally and/or critically about many things over the course of their career, and you suggesting that people not express themselves about politics (or anything else) because they are an “entertainer” makes you the asshole in that scenario, not them. So maybe don’t be shocked when they tell you to sod off.

7. Likewise, this blog existed before I was a published author, and before I was a published novelist. I’ve been writing about politics here literally since the very first week it was up (that week I also wrote about baseball, journalism, my pets, tech stuff and sending out invoices. The site lived up to its name even then). The blog isn’t here to sell my books, although it’s done that incidentally, which makes me happy. It’s here for me to write about whatever I want to write about, when I feel like writing about it, and has been since 1998. Sometimes I will write about politics! And sometimes I won’t — there are entire years (see: 2014) where I pretty much didn’t, because I didn’t want to.

Which again is the point of the blog: It’s about me, writing about what interests me, when it interests me. It’s not about you, or what you want me to write about, or to not write about. Likewise, my Twitter feed, or anything else I control that I put my words out on. If you’re confused about the vector of impetus and control regarding these outlets, for any reason, you’re likely to have a bad time. Especially if you complain to me about it. Other entertainers and creative people may feel similarly about their own spaces, which is a thing you should consider as well.

8. With that said, if my politics make you itchy, then actually, you should probably consider skipping out on the next four years here. I can’t imagine I’m not going to write about politics on a regular basis. I mean, come on: whatever one thinks about Trump, that asshole isn’t boring. Nor are American politics or social issues going to be anything but a bumpy ride the next few years. I’m not going to say it’s going to be fun. But it’s not going to be something I’m likely to take a pass on as a writing topic. If you want a spoiler alert on the matter, this is it. Don’t expect me not to go off on politics, folks. And don’t expect other creative/entertaining folks to be quiet about politics either, the next four years. That’s just not gonna happen.

9. Why, yes, I’m cranky on the subject of people trying to tell me — or other writers, creators and entertainers — to stop expressing opinions on politics and other social issues. People have been trying to do this for my entire professional writing life, which is 26 years now, and much of which has consisted of me being paid to have a goddamned opinion on things. I imagine it will continue, as people with fragile worldviews and/or monstrous senses of entitlement and/or a wildly misplaced sense of my desire for their input and/or simple, virulent passive-aggressiveness decide they need to tell me what and how and when to write, or not write.

And, folks. One: Are you my spouse or my editor? No? Then feel free to fuck right off. Two: You may have noticed I’m doing pretty well for myself with this whole writing thing. One secret to that is not listening to various randos telling me what to do, or what not to do, with my writing career. Three: Do you understand how boring and exasperating it is for me — or any writer, creator or entertainer — to have to deal with various randos telling us what to do or not to do? It’s really goddamn boring and exasperating! And maybe other folks who have to deal with this bullshit choose to be patient or quiet about this because they’re earlier along in their career, or they’re still under the impression that their career can be hurt by some rando telling them to shut up or else, or because they’re nicer than me, or because they’re not, like me, a well-off straight white dude so they actually have to worry about their randos being terrifying stalkery bigot assholes, especially now, when actual fucking Nazis are cracking off salutes like it’s 1933. All of those are fine reasons for them to be quiet about this shit.

But I am not them, so I’m pretty comfortable saying the following: Piss off, rando yutz, you’re boring me. After 26 years, you’re not going to find a way to tell me to shut up that I haven’t heard before and haven’t already offered a middle finger to. And after 26 years, I’ve run out of fucks to give on the matter. Tell me to stop writing about politics? Fuck you. Suggest that I shouldn’t write about politics? Fuck you again. Whine to me that you’re tired about me writing about politics? Fuck you a third time. There’s the door. Go.

10. Seriously, people, what do you think you’re doing when you tell a writer (or musician, or actor, or whomever) that they shouldn’t talk about politics, or social issues, or whatever? Do you believe they will genuinely think, “My god, this random person I don’t know has entirely changed my mind about expressing an opinion in public! I am so grateful”? I can’t speak for all creators everywhere, but anecdotally speaking, I can tell you that most of the creators I know do not think oh wow, this random person is so right. They think, what an asshole.

And maybe you are an asshole! Certainly there are any number of people who send me notes along the line lol shut up dude no one cares what you think, which aren’t meant to persuade, but just to try to insult or belittle me, and, well. That’s adorable. But if you didn’t intend to be an asshole, maybe consider a different strategy.

For example, a couple of years ago there was a Scottish entertainer I admired, so I followed their Twitter account, which turned out to be nothing but blathering about Scottish independence. Did I tell this entertainer to oh my God will you just stop talking about Scottish independence I don’t even care? No, I just stopped following their Twitter account. Because you can do that! There are whole swaths of creators and entertainers whose work I admire who I don’t follow on social media, or read their blogs, or otherwise track their lives because I know they care about things I don’t, or that I disagree with. There are other swaths of entertainers who I do follow, but when they get a bug up their ass about something I don’t care about, I skip over those topics. A writer I admire has gone on for years about vaping. I couldn’t give a shit about vaping; I think it’s a dumb thing to invest any brain cycles on. But they disagree! Good for them. I skip over the vaping rants. It’s really just that simple.

It’s okay to disagree, sometimes vehemently, with people whose work you admire. It’s all right to think they spend too much time on things you don’t care about. It’s fine to think to yourself or to tell others ugh why can’t they just get over that dumb thing I don’t care about. But the minute you go out of your way to tell them to shut up, no matter how “politely” you put it, you’re the asshole. Yes you are. And some of the people you’ve told to shut up will treat you like the asshole you’ve become.

I will, in any event. Fair warning.

Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide 2016, Day Three: Arts, Crafts, Music and More

The Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide 2016 continues, and today we move away from books and focus on other gifts and crafts — which you can take to mean just about any other sort of thing a creative person might make: Music, art, knitting, jewelry, artisan foodstuffs and so on. These can be great, unique gifts for special folks in your life, and things you can’t just get down at the mall. I hope you see some cool stuff here.

Please note that the comment thread today is only for creators to post about their gifts for sale; please do not leave other comments, as they will be snipped out to keep the thread from getting cluttered. Thanks!

Creators: Here’s how to post in this thread. Please follow these directions!

1. Creators (of things other than books) only. This is an intentionally expansive category, so if you’ve made something and have it available for the public to try or buy, you can probably post about in this thread. The exception to this is books (including comics and graphic novels), which have two previously existing threads, one for traditionally-published works and one for non-traditionally published works (Note: if you are an author and also create other stuff, you may promote that other stuff today). Don’t post if you are not the creator of the thing you want to promote, please.

2. Personally-created and completed works only. This thread is specifically for artists and creators who are making their own unique works. Mass-producible things like CDs, buttons or T-shirts are acceptable if you’ve personally created what’s on it. But please don’t use this thread for things that were created by others, which you happen to sell. Likewise, do not post about works in progress, even if you’re posting them publicly elsewhere. Remember that this is supposed to be a gift guide, and that these are things meant to be given to other people. Also, don’t just promote yourself unless you have something to sell or provide, that others may give as a gift.

3. One post per creator. In that post, you can list whatever creations of yours you like, but allow me to suggest you focus on your most recent creation. Note also that the majority of Whatever’s readership is in the US/Canada, so I suggest focusing on things available in North America.

4. Keep your description of your work brief (there will be a lot of posts, I’m guessing) and entertaining. Imagine the person is in front of you as you tell them about your work and is interested but easily distracted.

5. You may include a link to a sales site if you like by using standard HTML link scripting. Be warned that if you include too many links (typically three or more) your post may get sent to the moderating queue. If this happens, don’t panic: I’ll be going in through the day to release moderated posts. Note that posts will occasionally go into the moderation queue semi-randomly; Don’t panic about that either.

6. As noted above, comment posts that are not from creators promoting their work as specified above will be deleted, in order to keep the comment thread useful for people looking to find interesting work.

Now: Tell us about your stuff!

Three Weeks In

Original photo by Marc Nozell, used via Creative Commons license. Click on photo for original.

Once again presented in Q&A format, as it will contain actual questions that people have asked me. Let’s get to it:

Ugh. I can’t even anymore.

And yet again we start with a comment, not a question. Also, sorry, you have to even, just like the rest of us, and get this: He’s not even president yet. We still have two months of transition to go.

Did you see he’s tweeting again?

I did, in fact.

Why the hell don’t they pry his phone from his hands? 

Who is “they”? And why would they? He won the presidency. They don’t need to worry about him losing votes anymore. There’s no downside to letting him rant his ass off, and certainly Trump doesn’t want to stop doing what’s worked for him so far. I mean, look at the shit he tweeted while he was running. And yet he’s president. There is essentially no risk for him tweeting at this point.

But he lies in every goddamn tweet!

Yes, and? At this point everyone should simply assume, to paraphrase a famous snark, that every word Trump tweets is a lie, including “and” and “the.” This is part and parcel with assuming basically everything Trump says is a lie, since Politifact and every other fact-checking group out there notes that he lied more than any other candidate in the 2016 campaign.

Again, why should he change? It’s worked out so far for him. You should have it as a baseline assumption that Trump will lie as much as he possibly can, when it suits him, which is always. Trump lies. It’s who he is. It’s who he will be. It’s what his administration will be, too.

Did I mention that I can’t even anymore?

Yes you did. I sympathize. Even so.

What do you think about the idea that Trump tweets stupid and/or outrageous things to distract from the other horrible things he’s doing? 

Aside from the point that anytime I see someone yelling at me on Twitter about how Trump is trying to distract us from this other thing over here, I immediate think fuck you, pal, my brain has the ability to follow more than one thing at a fucking time, I think it gives him too much credit, since there is nothing that we’ve seen of him to suggest that he’s anything other than a wailing id with poor impulse control. I think he tweets what he wants to tweet when he wants to tweet it, and simultaneously, his incoming administration is so horrifyingly bad and has such awful plans that it gives the appearance that Trump must be blathering nonsense to hide the horribleness that those things represent. The thing is, that horribleness isn’t actually hidden; it’s being industriously reported on. All that horribleness is out there, standing straight and tall. These aren’t actually sneaky people. They are openly and unapologetically horrible. And why wouldn’t they be? Trump won the election.

But he lost the popular vote! He has no mandate!

Oh, my sweet summer child. I think it’s adorable that you think this fact will in any way impede Trump, his horrible lackeys, or the GOP majority in congress in any way. “No mandate” means shit when you have clear paths to legislative and executive power. And no, to repeat from last week, the recounts and audits probably won’t change that; indeed, when they’re done and Trump is still president-elect, he and his party pals will take it as even more confirmation that they should do whatever the hell they want.

What do you think of the idea that when Trump tweeted about having won the popular vote if you discount illegal voting, he was signalling that he intends to ratchet up voting restrictions?

I think that’s a stretch, and also I fully expect voting restrictions to ratchet up.

Follow: Trump is a thin-skinned narcissist and sexist who can’t possibly conceive of having lost the popular vote to a girl, and he lives in the GOP bubble where vote fraud is happening every day and is largely defined as “brown people voting,” and considers Alex Jones a credible purveyor of facts, because he’s a fucking ignoramus. So that tweet just came barreling out of him. With that said, given that the GOP’s modus operandi is to suppress voting by making it difficult for minorities to vote, and the fact that Trump is a racist whose racist chief adviser thinks not letting black people vote isn’t a bad idea (except for the ones he knows personally, that’s different, they’re family, so good news, minorities! You just have to have a white man vouch for you to vote!), if you don’t think more voting restrictions aren’t about to come down the pike, you’re a fool. Not for me, mind you; I’m a white male landowner. But for everyone not like me.

The tweets weren’t a signal, or more accurately, are only a signal if you weren’t already paying attention. Trump is racist, sexist, selfish, tauntable and deluded, all of which was already known. His tweets certainly reflect that, but they’re not really revealing anything we didn’t already know. Trump has been in the media eye for decades now. We know who he is. None of this is surprising. And he’s a 70 year old man who hasn’t ever been penalized for being exactly who he is. Anyone still expecting him to change — to “pivot” — is delusional.

Basically: If you’re tea-reading his tweets for policy hints, you know, maybe read the decades of available journalism on him instead.

Any thoughts on his cabinet picks? Besides “horrible”?

No, not really. Trump appears to be picking people for positions primarily with three criteria in mind: That they’re rich, loyal and that they fundamentally disagree with the mission of the governmental department they will soon be in charge of. They’re basically your standard modern-day GOP cabinet picks with the knob twisted all the way over to 11. To be clear, I don’t think many of Trump’s cabinet picks should be confirmed — I’m particularly thinking of the proposed Secretary of Education, who appears to despise the concept of public education, and also appears to be entirely on board with the concept of “pay to play” when it comes to public officials — but I also expect them to be confirmed, as again, these choices are in line with current GOP thinking about government, which is that it exists to give tax cuts to rich people and not much else.

I should also be clear that I expect this to be the most overtly and unapologetically incompetent and corrupt administration in modern history because a) Trump doesn’t seem to know anyone who doesn’t appear to be corrupt and incompetent, b) the GOP at this point doesn’t appear to have much interest in stopping the Trump administration from being corrupt and incompetent, I suspect because fundamentally it being so will aid in the modern GOP vision of government as noted above. I also expect it to pursue unabashedly racist, sexist and homophobic policies, which the GOP will also support because it works for that vision of government, and also caters to the GOP base of both latently and actively racist and homophobic voters. So, you know. Buckle in, kids, it’s gonna be a long four years.

You don’t like the GOP much, do you, Scalzi?

Nope. I should note that I am grateful that at least some Republicans and/or conservatives appear to have drawn a line in the ethical and philosophical sand with regard to the Trump administration, regardless of how I might disagree with them politically; John Kasich, Evan McMullin and Ana Navarro are three notable examples, although there are more out there. The question is whether there are any of these philosophical line-drawers in congress, or, if there are, if there are enough of them to counter a Trump administration’s worst excesses. At this point, I doubt it.

And again, make no mistake that the GOP wants the ACA thrown out, would be happy to dismantle or “privatize” (i.e., render into a cash cow for pals) Medicare and Social Security, and generally turn women, minorities and queer and poor folks back second-class citizens who have fewer rights than well-off straight white men. Why? Well, because fuck you is why; any rigorous (although still in my opinion incorrect) philosophical rationale for any of this was tossed overboard years ago. I can’t even say I disagree with the tenets of the modern Republican party anymore because it doesn’t have any. What it has now is Trump, his passel of grifters and bigots, and its own lack of moral center. That’s it. What’s to like?

Give us hope, man!

Ugh, fine: One, the filibuster may survive, giving Democrats in the senate the ability to check some of the worst of the Trump administration/GOP’s excesses; Two, 2018 is coming and it’s possible the Trump administration will be so awful so fast that the mid-terms will give the Democrats control of at least one of the chambers (note however, that the 2018 senate map is challenging for the Dems); Three, the courts may overturn some of the worst of any new laws.

Hey, think Obama will appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court because the senate refused to advise and consent?

No.

But he totally could!

And monkeys might fly out of my butt, but that’s also extremely unlikely to happen. You know, folks, Obama’s a reasonably smart dude. I do think he understands that the power of the Supreme Court vests entirely in the fact that everyone agrees that it has any power at all, going back to when John Marshall pulled Marbury v. Madison out of his ass and everyone went yeah, okay, fine.

So, question for you: Do you think Donald Trump, a fatuous ignoramus of a man who clearly has no interest in the actual democratic structures of the United States government, will feel obliged to give any credence to a Supreme Court that he, not to mention the entire GOP, which I will remind you currently holds the senate, believes has a philosophical majority that was achieved through underhanded means? Go ahead, take your time here, there’s no rush.

Obama may yet surprise me and place Garland on the Supreme Court. But I think it’s more likely that Trump will appoint the next justice, the GOP-led senate will confirm whoever that is, and having done so, both will at least theoretically be more resistant to ignoring the court entirely if they do not get their way, thus avoiding an actual collapse of a functioning “checks and balances” government, plunging us headlong into possible, actual autocracy.

Uh, I didn’t think of that.

I think a lot of anti-Trump folks are still in the “bargaining” stage, and are still casting about for the magic bullet that will stop Trump from being Trump. And again, while I sympathize, I cannot recommend doing anything other than working from the assumption that Trump will be president come January 20th, and that a lot of what has to be done at this point is fucking child-proofing the government so that the damage is minimized. I suspect Obama is doing a lot of that at the moment, within the scope of his abilities.

Do you think we’re actually heading into an autocracy?

Honestly, no. Our system of government has survived 240 years and some crises rather more substantial than Trump (see: Civil War). And remember that Trump is still riding his victory wave, as much as someone who is as unpopular as he is has one; he hasn’t had to do anything, and he’s had no repercussions for his policies or actions. He’s won the presidency, but being president is another thing entirely. No matter how much of the actual governance he farms out to Mike Pence, it’s still his administration. I think if and when he begins to fail, he’s going to find himself constrained, especially if the GOP, as feckless as it is in its current iteration, no longer sees an advantage in hanging with him.

This is not to suggest complacency, mind you. Trump can do (and one may suggest already has done) a lot of damage to the system simply by being Trump, and remember that he has no particular love or respect for the democratic processes. Nor can his top advisers be relied upon to remind him of constraints, nor in the very short run, at least, will the GOP rein in his most autocratic tendencies. I don’t think we’re heading into an autocracy, but then I didn’t think Trump would be president, so, you know. Maybe don’t be reassured by me on this matter.

Also, be aware that our enemies have been given a huge gift to enable Trump’s autocratic drive, and that Trump’s party pals will be happy to exploit the shit out of it when the time comes.

Wait, what?

Let me put it this way: If I were a person or business who owned or leased space in a Trump owned/operated/branded building? Yeah, I would get out of that lease, like, yesterday, because those things are huge fucking targets now. Shit, I wouldn’t even book a room at Trump hotel (not that I would anyway at this point, and no, rebranding them as “Scion” won’t matter a bit). There isn’t a terrorist organization out there that doesn’t realize that Trump, being Trump, would consider an attack on a building bearing his name the same as someone coming up and punching him directly in the dick. If you wanted to goad our future president into doing something stupid, and/or manufacture an excuse to curtail civil rights here in this country down to a nub, well, there you are.

Jesus, don’t tell them that!

Guys, I don’t know how to break this to you, but both the terrorists and the “I am so ready to introduce actual fascism!” cadre of Trump lieutenants are already waaaaaay ahead of all of the rest of us on this one.

But even if we don’t get there — even if by some miracle a Trump property isn’t reduced to a pile of girders or shot up like Swiss cheese, and to be very clear, I hope neither ever happens — the Trump administration and its enablers are going to make a mad gallop out of the gate to do a whole bunch of awful things, to overwhelm you with sheer volume right at the outset. You need to prepare, and plan, and (among many other things) tell your elected representatives to grow a spine. Remember that Trump was not the choice of most people who voted. It doesn’t mean he’s not president, and it doesn’t mean he cares about “mandates.” But it’s not chopped liver, either, and you should remind your elected officials of that.

Well, this wasn’t a very cheerful entry, was it?

Sorry. But I hope I’ve made the point that we don’t have to go all the way to actual autocracy for things to get very bad. And that “at least some kind of awful” is the best we can expect out of Trump and his party pals at this point.

He could get impeached, maybe?

Dude, time to get out of the “bargaining” phase.

But I already told you that I can’t even.

You have to even. We need you to even, out there with all the rest of us.

Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide 2016, Day Two: Non-Traditionally Published Books

Today is Day Two of the Whatever Shopping Guide 2016, and today the focus is on Non-Traditionally Published Books: Self-published works, electronically-exclusive books, books from micro presses, books released outside the usual environs of the publishing world, and so on. Hey, I put my first novel up on this very Web site years ago and told people to send me a dollar if they liked it. Look where it got me. I hope you find some good stuff today.

Please note that the comment thread today is only for non-traditional authors and editors to post about their books; please do not leave other comments, as they will be snipped out to keep the thread from getting cluttered. Thanks!

Authors/editors: Here’s how to post in this thread. Please follow these directions!

1. Authors and editors of non-traditionally published books only. This includes comics and graphic novels, as well as non-fiction books and audiobooks. If your book has been traditionally published — available in bookstores on a returnable basis — post about your book in the thread that went up yesterday (if you are in doubt, assume you are non-traditionally published and post here). If you are a creator in another form or medium, your thread is coming tomorrow. Don’t post if you are not the author or editor, please.

2. Completed works only. Do not post about works in progress, even if you’re posting them publicly. Remember that this is supposed to be a gift guide, and that these are things meant to be given to other people. Likewise, don’t just promote yourself unless you have something to sell or provide, that others may give as a gift.

3. One post per author. In that post, you can list whatever books of yours you like, but allow me to suggest you focus on your most recent book. Note also that the majority of Whatever’s readership is in the US/Canada, so I suggest focusing on books available in North America.

4. Keep your description of your book brief (there will be a lot of posts, I’m guessing) and entertaining. Imagine the person is in front of you as you tell them about your book and is interested but easily distracted.

5. You may include a link to a bookseller if you like by using standard HTML link scripting. Be warned that if you include too many links (typically three or more) your post may get sent to the moderating queue. If this happens, don’t panic: I’ll be going in through the day to release moderated posts. Note that posts will occasionally go into the moderation queue semi-randomly; Don’t panic about that either.

6. As noted above, comment posts that are not from authors/editors promoting their books as specified above will be deleted, in order to keep the comment thread useful for people looking to find interesting books.

Now: Tell us about your book!

Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide 2016, Day One: Traditionally Published Books

Welcome to the first day of the Whatever Shopping Guide 2016 — My way of helping you folks learn about cool creative gifts for the holidays, straight from the folks who have created them.

Today’s featured products are traditionally published books (including graphic novels and audiobooks); that is, books put out by publishers who ship books to stores on a returnable basis. In the comment thread below, authors and editors of these books will tell you a little bit about their latest and/or greatest books so that you will be enticed to get that book for yourself or loved ones this holiday season. Because, hey: Books are spectacular gifts, if I do say so myself. Enjoy your browsing, and I hope you find the perfect book!

Please note that the comment thread today is only for authors and editors to post about their books; please do not leave other comments, as they will be snipped out to keep the thread from getting cluttered. Thanks!

Authors/editors: Here’s how to post in this thread. Please follow these directions!

1. Authors and editors only, books only (including audiobooks). There will be other threads for other stuff, later in the week. Any type of book is fine: Fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, etc. If you are not the author/editor of the book you’re posting about, don’t post. This is for authors and editors only.

2. For printed books, they must be currently in print (i.e., published before 12/31/16) and available on a returnable basis at bookstores and at the following three online bookstores: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s. This is so people can find your book when they go looking for it. For audiobooks, they must be professionally published (no self-produced, self-published audiobooks) and at least available through Amazon/Audible. If your book isn’t available as described, or if you’re not sure, wait for the shopping guide for non-traditional books, which will go up tomorrow. 

3. One post per author. In that post, you can list whatever books of yours you like (as long as it meets the criteria in point 2), but allow me to suggest you focus on your most recent book. Note also that the majority of Whatever’s readership is in the US/Canada, so I suggest focusing on books currently available in North America.

4. Keep your description of your book brief (there will be a lot of posts, I’m guessing) and entertaining. Imagine the person is in front of you as you tell them about your book and is interested but easily distracted.

5. You may include a link to a bookseller if you like by using standard HTML link scripting. Be warned that if you include too many links (typically three or more) your post may get sent to the moderating queue. If this happens, don’t panic: I’ll be going in through the day to release moderated posts. Note that posts will occasionally go into the moderation queue semi-randomly; Don’t panic about that either.

6. As noted above, comment posts that are not from authors/editors promoting their books as specified above will be deleted, in order to keep the comment thread useful for people looking to find interesting books.

Got it? Excellent. Then tell the folks about your book! And tell your author friends about this thread so they can come around as well.

New Books and ARCs, 11/25/16

Here’s your Black Friday edition of the new books and ARCs that have come in to the Scalzi Compound. Anything here you’d put on your wish list? Tell us about it in the comments!

Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide 2016 Starts Monday!

Every year as the holiday season begins I run a shopping guide for the holidays, and over the years it’s been quite successful: Lots of people have found out about excellent books and crafts and charities and what have you, making for excellent gift-giving opportunities during the holiday season. I’ve decided to do it again this year.

So: Starting Monday, November 28, the Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide Returns! If you’re a writer or other creator, this will be an excellent time to promote your work on a site which gets tens of thousands of viewers daily, almost all of whom will be interested in stuff for the holidays. If you’re someone looking to give gifts, you’ll see lots of excellent ideas. And you’ll also have a day to suggest stuff to other folks too. Everybody wins!

To give you all time to prepare, here’s the schedule of what will be promoted on which days:

Monday, November 28: Traditionally Published Authors — If your work is being published by a publisher a) who is not you and b) gets your books into actual, physical bookstores on a returnable basis, this is your day to tell people about your books. This includes comics/graphic novels.

Tuesday, November 29: Non-Traditionally Published Authors — Self-published? Electronically published? Or other? This is your day. This also includes comics/graphic novels.

Wednesday, November 30: Other Creators — Artists, knitters, jewelers, musicians, and anyone who has cool stuff to sell this holiday season, this will be the day to show off your creations.

Thursday, December 1: Fan Favorite Day — Not an author/artist/musician/other creator but know about some really cool stuff you think people will want to know about for the holidays? Share! Share with the crowd!

Friday, December 2: Charities — If you are involved in a charity, or have a favorite charity you’d like to let people know about, this is the day to do it.

If you have questions about how all of this will work, go ahead and ask them in the comment thread (Don’t start promoting your stuff today — it’s not time yet), although I will note that specific instructions for each day will appear on that day. Don’t worry, it’ll be pretty easy. Thanks and feel free to share this post with creative folks who will have things to sell this holiday season.

Thanksgiving, 2016

Putting these here for permanence.

How to Get Signed and Personalized Scalzi Books for the Holidays, 2016

It’s that time of the year again, and once again I am teaming up with Jay & Mary’s Book Center, my local independent bookseller, to offer signed and personalized books for gift-giving. It’s a great way to get a unique gift for someone you love (even yourself!) while at the same time supporting a great local business that does a fantastic job in its community (and also currently employs my kid, how cool is that).

So: How do you get signed and personalized books from me this year? It’s simple:

1. Call Jay & Mary’s at their 800 number (800 842 1604) and let them know you’d like to order signed copies of my books. Please call rather than send e-mail; they find it easier to keep track of things that way.

2. Tell them which books you would like (For example, The End of All Things), and what, if any, names you would like the book signed to. If there’s something specific you’d like written in the books let them know but for their sake and mine, please keep it short. Also, if you’re ordering the book as a gift, make sure you’re clear about whose name the book is being signed to. If this is unclear, I will avoid using a specific name.

3. Order any other books you might think you’d like, written by other people, because hey, you’ve already called a bookstore for books, and helping local independent bookstores is a good thing. I won’t sign these, unless for some perverse reason you want me to, in which case, sure, why not.

4. Give them your mailing address and billing information, etc.

5. And that’s it! Shortly thereafter I will go to the store and sign your books for you.

If you want the books shipped for Christmas, the deadline for that is December 11. (That’s a Sunday this year.) That way we can make sure everything ships to you on time. After December 11, all Scalzi stock will still be signed and available, but I will likely not be able to personalize, and we can’t 100% guarantee Christmastime delivery.

Ordering early is encouraged — it makes sure we will absolutely be able to order your book and have it to you on time.

Also, this is open to US residents only. Sorry, rest of the world. It’s a cost of shipping thing.

What books are available?

CURRENT HARDCOVER: I didn’t release a new novel this year, but there are probably hardcovers of The End of All Things still available if you ask. Likewise The Mallet of Loving Correction can probably still be special-ordered (these are already signed, but I’ll personalize).

(Miniatures, my collection of very short stories, will be available for the holidays, but only via pre-order at the Subterranean Press site, so if you’re looking for that, you’ll need go order from there. These copies of Miniatures will be signed but I won’t be able to personalize them. )

CURRENT TRADE PAPERBACK: Redshirts (the 2013 Hugo Award winner!), Twenty-First Century Science Fiction (which features a story of mine), Metatropolis (which I edited and contribute a novella to). There may be hardcovers of these still around if you ask. But each are definitely in trade paperback.

CURRENT MASS MARKET PAPERBACK: The End of All ThingsLock InThe Human DivisionFuzzy Nation, Old Man’s War, The Ghost Brigades, The Last Colony, Zoe’s Tale, The Android’s Dream, Agent to the Stars, The New Space Opera 2. You can also purchase the Old Man’s War boxed set (which features the first three books in the series), BUT if you want that signed you’ll have to agree to let me take the shrinkwrap off. In return I’ll sign each of the books in the box.

CURRENT NON-FICTION: Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded (essay collection, Hugo winner), Book of the Dumb, Book of the Dumb 2 (both humor books) are all still in print.

AUDIOBOOKS: The End of All Things, Lock InThe Human Division, Redshirts, Fuzzy Nation, The God Engines, Metatropolis and Agent to the Stars are all available on CD and/or MP3 CD, and Jay & Mary’s should be able to special order them for you.

Two things regarding audiobooks: First, if you want these, you should probably call to order these ASAP. Second, and this is important, because the audiobooks come shrinkwrapped, I will have to remove the shrinkwrap in order to sign the cover. You ordering a signed audiobook means you’re okay with me doing that and with Jay & Mary’s shipping it to you out of its shrinkwrap.

If you have any other questions, drop them in the comment thread and I’ll try to answer them!

Dig the Cover to the French Edition of The End of All Things

That’s pretty damn nifty, if I do say so myself. The art is by David Demaret, who has clearly read the book. If you read French, it’s coming out on the 23rd of February in 2017. Look for it then.

Now, a Scamperbeasts Break!

Nothing like a pair of adorable sistercats to help you unwind after a long day. Enjoy, and have a good rest of your Tuesday.

Two Weeks In

Original Photo by Gage Skidmore, used under Creative Commons license. Click on the photo for original.

Two weeks since election day. Let’s get to it. Again, in the format of a Q and A, as this piece will contain questions I have been asked by others. Ready? Let’s begin.

Fucking Nazis, man!

That’s not really a question, though, is it.

Where are these fucking Nazis coming from?

If you mean the “alt-right” people, they’re coming from the Internet, and they’re under the impression that now that Trump is president-elect and Steve Bannon will be in the White House whispering in his ear, it’s their time to emerge from the Breitbart comment threads and go wandering around pretending it’s become cool to be a racist little shit in public. They’re pushing really hard to get people to believe that casual acceptance of their bigotry is the “new normal.” I suspect they’re going to be surprised by, and fundamentally unequipped to deal with, the response from the large majority of people for whom open racism and other bigotries are in fact repulsive and horrible.

There are also the actual KKK and actual “just call us Nazis” Nazis, who are delighted that the alt-right children are now venturing into the real world, the better to act as soft and easily thumped-upon shock troops while they do their thing in the background, as they have for a while now. The “alt-right” are basically those assholes from your college dorm who were always “just playing devil’s advocate” about the topics of slavery and women’s rights. The KKK and Nazis are the ones cooking meth and beating the shit out of people they don’t like. I’m guessing the latter groups are happy the former is out there being useful idiots for their ideology. I’m also guessing the latter would be happy to curbstomp the former if they ever got in their way.

But we’re clear that the “alt-right” really are fucking Nazis, yes?

Yup. I mean, let’s also be clear that the alt-right nonsense isn’t merely confined to the anti-Semitism that we typically (and erroneously) solely ascribe to the Nazis. They’re also broadly racist, sexist and homophobic, and before someone trots out the fact that one of the alt-right’s biggest celebrities is a gay man, let’s grant that every movement of bigots has its quislings and Röhms, or more charitably, those who believe that they’ve got a tiger by the tail rather than being in its teeth. But no matter how you define it, the alt-right are bigots and white supremacists and assholes, the whole lot of them. Call them “Nazis,” it’s shorter.

However, I wouldn’t worry about the phrase “alt-right” being a cover for these little turds’ white supremacist stylings. I think it’s becoming pretty clear what “alt-right” means, and quickly. It’s not actually fooling anyone.

Can I take a moment here to complain about the complicity of the press in normalizing these alt-right assholes by calling them “stylish” and “dapper” and also not just calling them fucking Nazis?

You may, and I would like to add that personally I’ve found that the bar for “stylish” and “dapper” is being placed pretty low here. A shitty bigoted youngish white dude puts on a pair of sunglasses and leans up against a wall, and suddenly he’s “dapper?” Reporters, please take a consult from your paper’s fashion staff, if such still exist. The one argument I can see for calling these assholes “stylish” is that typically bigots here in the US are not very fashion-forward; the bigot look has been locked into “skinhead punk” or “rural flannel” for a while now, with occasional forays into Ed Hardy t-shirts. Relative to that very low baseline, the ability to pop the collar on your Men’s Warehouse camelhair sports coat looks like the height of urbanity.

With that said, let me point out something less than entirely popular in some circles, which is that reporting on the alt-right (and the fact they don’t appear to entirely dress out of a dumpster) is not exactly the same thing as “normalizing” them. Look, these assholes are emerging out their collective basements to loiter in public places. They are under the impression they have the ear of the incoming administration and that their interests will be heard in the halls of power. And — acknowledge it, please — they’ve made not insignificant headway in attracting young white assholes and cultivating them, in no small part because they don’t look like Oxycontin cowboys or skinheads with swastikas tatted onto their foreheads, the universal symbol of “I will never have a white collar job.”

Their “dapperness,” relatively speaking, is part of their story. It doesn’t not make them assholes, or bigots, or Nazis. Reporting on it is not normalizing it. Writing a story along the lines of “Sure they’re bigots, but who can hold it against them when they look so great!” would be, not in the least because they don’t actually look great, they just look like they aren’t dressed like extras from Road House.

What about that fucking CNN chyron yesterday?

You mean this one?

Yes, I mean that one. How is that not normalizing fascism and anti-Semitism?

Well, a couple things here. First, Matt Viser, the fellow pictured in this image, is a reporter and not the “alt-right founder” noted in the chyron, so please don’t be angry at him (when this picture started going around Viser felt compelled to put up a tweet to clarify). Second, should CNN not note that this alt-right asshole, in a speech given to his followers in DC, following the election of a racist president who is appointing anti-Semitic and bigoted people to his administration and who has a noted homophobe as his VP, “wondered” if Jews were actually people, as opposed to “soulless golems”? I don’t know, that actually does seem to be the very definition of news to me. It doesn’t appear that CNN is endorsing the view, simply by reporting it. It’s not even putting it into a horrible question format (“Are Jews people?”). That asshole alt-right dude did question whether Jews are people. I’d rather have CNN covering that than not.

Again: Reporting is not the same thing as normalization, and I think folks need to have a conversation about this, because it’s going to get in the way if they don’t. The fact of the matter is, Trump’s been elected. He’s a bigot, he’s grifter, and he’s emotionally twelve, he surrounds himself with bottom-shelf bigots and hangers-on, and he got himself elected in no small part by appealing to both the active and latent bigotries of white people, and all of that is a fact, too. Whether you like it or not, what he does, and what his people do, and what the people who elected him into office do, is news. And I think people need to ask themselves which is more normalizing: Reporting on this stuff, or not.*

But the mainstream press has been generally terrible!

That’s painting with a wide brush, but I’ll allow it because it’s not wrong. The press, no less so than most of the rest of us, got complacent to a greater or lesser extent. It’s also had the compounded issue that the last decade has been horrible for it, economically speaking, and this election cycle, primarily thanks to Trump, has been a financial windfall for them. Make no mistake that Trump’s election has also been good for the mainstream media’s bottom line, in no small part because people in a panic have suddenly realized that a robust adversarial press is something this nation might actually need in the next four years, and rushed to get subscriptions. So, you know, that’s good for them.

Now the press, no less than anyone else, has to pay the piper. It’s time for the press to genuinely be adversarial. What we’ve already seen about the incoming administration is that it is likely to be opaque and mercurial and hostile to the press. Well, fine. That should make the question of whether to be adversarial an academic one. But even as it (hopefully) takes an adversarial stance, be aware that the press, which is not nearly the monolith you may think it is, is still going to disappoint you. This will be a combination of its needing to work hard to exercise flabby muscles, having to do more with less because of its economic realities, having to choose what things to prioritize, needing to do long-term strategy for access and reporting, and so on. You will likely never be happy with the press, and that’s fair, and it’s fair to criticize and complain. We need them anyway. This incoming administration is going to test this nation in ways it’s not been tested in a while. We need them, and we need them to be better.

It’s also fair to say we need to be better, too, in what we read as news and in calling out the fake news when it happens. It’s easy to think of the fake news sites as being part of a larger propaganda apparatus — and some of it is! You’re not wrong! — but a lot of it is also a bunch of people realizing they could get money by making shit up and getting credulous people to click. Yes, blame Facebook all you like for not catching up with the fake news sites until after the election (i.e., after they’d made a bundle). Again, you’re not wrong. But as long as the economic and/or political desire is there, the fake news isn’t going away. It’s up to each of us to do a better job of evaluating what we read that asserts to be news, even if it makes us happy, or gloriously angry. Especially if it makes us these two things.

Do you have any additional thoughts on Trump right now?

Not on Trump, precisely, because the only thing he’s done in the last week is to confirm what we already knew about him, i.e., he’s a thin-skinned narcissist who probably didn’t actually want to win the presidency (or more accurately, wanted to win the presidency but didn’t want to have to be president), easily swayable by flattery and distracted by slights, deeply incurious, and planning to leave the actual running of the country to others while he does other things. The only new thing, really, is I think it’s finally sinking in for him that he’s not going to be loved and adored, and it’s pissing him off.

I am still amazed that anyone was under the impression that Trump would be anything other than what it’s clear he’s been for decades now. Reading online, apparently people were still believing that there was a “pivot” in there somewhere. There’s not. I’m not blaming Trump for that one; that’s on those folks. I do think that if anyone is still waiting for the pivot now, or is hoping that Trump all of a sudden has a personality replacement, they’re a fool. Believe Trump is Trump, motherfuckers. Because he is. All his little party pals are exactly who they are too. None of the people who loiter in Trump’s wake are hard to figure out; they’re precisely as awful as they appear to be. The same can be said about his most ardent fans, i.e., the racists, the homophobes and the Nazis. Plan accordingly.

I blame the Democrats.

This is also not a question, but, okay. And?

Well, I have many theories about why they should have won!

This is where I once again remind folks that Clinton’s popular vote tally is significantly higher than Trump’s; indeed, she got more votes as president than any white man ever, including Donald Trump. If your theories are predicated on points that do not include the weirdness of the electoral college system, perhaps consider that first.

Also, look: The majority of Americans who voted were on board with Democratic policies and plans. I don’t think they are the problem. I think the Democrats do have problems, but their general message isn’t one of them. Its effective distribution may be. This may also be related to the fact that Democrats seem to have gotten complacent about state and local elections, which is why the large majority of state houses in the US are Republican-owned at the moment.

Do you think the electors are going to dump Trump?

No.

Do you think audits of voting in battleground states should happen and will they show evidence of fraud?

Sure, and no.

What about —

You know, any scheme that involves Trump somehow not actually making it into the White House on a technicality I’m pretty sure isn’t going to happen. I think you need to reconcile yourself to that reality, or at the very least just plan for it.

But the whole point of the electoral college was to keep people like Trump out!

It didn’t keep out Buchanan or Grant or Harding or any other number of less than impressive presidents. I don’t think you or I disagree on the subject of whether Trump should be president. He shouldn’t. But if the electoral college decided that he shouldn’t be president, I would indulge in about ten seconds of maniacal laughter before I headed down to the basement to hide from a level of sustained white person rioting unseen since the days of Fort Sumter. The sort of person who can be swayed by fake news sites created by Macedonian stoner kids is not going to understand or accept the intricacies of the voting privileges of the electoral college.

You could be wrong.

I could be. I don’t think we’ll be in a position to find out. It’s my official position that Trump will be in the White House on January 20, 2017 and that everyone should plan accordingly.

What about that emolument clause?

Did you know what the “emolument clause” was before a couple of days ago?

What does that have to do with anything? 

Probably nothing. But again, I wouldn’t get my hopes up. This article from yesterday’s Washington Post explains why.

Gaaaaaaaaah I just hate Trump sooooooo much.

You’re not alone. But he’s going to be president, so you should work with that.

Do you think he’ll last all four years?

I think it’s prudent to assume he will. Alternate scenarios are possible, but you should plan on him having at least one full term.

But —

Seriously, you’re just going to make yourself unhappy — well, unhappier — hoping for a deus ex machina to take Trump out of commission. As much as I hate to say it, I have to say it: It’s time to get over it. He’s been elected. Assume four years. If it makes it any better, know that the next four years are likely to be the most miserable of Trump’s life. So at least you have that going for you.

Anything else?

Fucking Nazis, man.

Again, not a question. But yes.

* Update: Some folks have said to me via Twitter that the alt-right asshole was wondering if reporters were not people, not all Jews per se. I personally read the criticism as pertaining to Jews, both specifically and generally, so I continue to think the chyron was fair, but I also think there’s room for interpretation on that score, so if one finds the Chyron was off, it’s fair to ding CNN for it. But even without that, inasmuch as the alt-right asshole was also maintaining that the reporters were protecting Jewish interests and using Jewish-related terms to negatively portray the reporters (many of whom are known to be Jewish!), there’s still a whole lot of anti-Semitism going on in there, and that’s still worth being reported on.

New Books and ARCs, 11/21/16

Time to catch up on the latest books and ARCs that have come to the Scalzi Compound! What in this stack looks particularly appealing to you? Tell us in the comments!