All posts by John Scalzi

About John Scalzi

I enjoy pie.

Amazon, Hachette, Publishing, Etc — It’s Not a Football Game, People

And now, some thoughts on subjects pertaining to publishing. I’ll use myself as an example for much of this.

1. I am in business with Amazon, though its Audible.com subsidiary. As you might be able to tell by my post yesterday, I am deeply happy with my experience working with Audible (and thus, by extension, Amazon). They’ve been a very good business partner to me.

2. I am also in business with Hachette, via its Gollancz imprint in the UK. I think what Amazon’s doing to US Hachette authors at the moment well and truly sucks. I heartily remind people that just because Amazon has been screwing these authors by making it impossible to buy their books there, doesn’t mean you can’t get those books — pretty much immediately — from all sorts of other retailers, including local bookstores. This might also be a fine time to install a Kobo or Nook or iBook app on your tablet or smartphone and diversify your eBook retailers.

3. I am in business with Random House, through its Heyne imprint in Germany. I have had an excellent business relationship with Heyne and think very highly of the people who work there. You may also recall that last year, when Random House attempted egregious bullshit with the contracts for their digital imprints Hydra and Alibi, I was happy to punch them in the throat for it, because they were trying to screw authors, no two ways about it.

4. I am in business with Macmillan, through Tor Books. As most of you know, I have been very happy with Tor, who treats me very well and who is very supportive of my career; I have the career I have because Tor has done well by me. What most of you may not know is that one major reason there was a three-year gap between Zoe’s Tale and Fuzzy Nation was because Tor and I had a substantial business disagreement, and I chose not to write new work for Tor for a while. The details of that disagreement are not important now — water under the bridge — but it was significant enough that I walked away from the company and worked on other things. Then it was done, we came to an understanding, and now we are working together again, quite happily.

What’s the point to all of the above?

Publishing is a business. As a writer, you are enaging in business with others, sometimes including large corporations. It’s not a team sport. It’s not an arena where there are “sides.” There’s no “either/or” choice one has to make, either with the businesses one works with or how one publishes one’s work. Anyone who simplifies it down to that sort of construct either doesn’t understand the business or is actively disingenuous, and isn’t doing you any favors regardless. The “side” you should be on is your own (and, if you choose, that of other authors).

These businesses and corporations are not your friends. They will seek to extract the maximum benefit from you that they can, and from others with whom they engage in business, consistent with their current set of business goals. This does not make them evil — it makes them business entities (they might also be evil, or might not be, but that’s a different thing). If you’re treating these businesses as friends, you’re likely to get screwed.

(And for God’s sake, don’t confuse being friends with people at those businesses with being friends with the business. I have very good friends at Tor. It didn’t stop me from having a substantial business disagreement with the company. Businesses aren’t your friends, even when they employ friends.)

Sometimes the goals of these businesses will align with yours. Sometimes they will not. And often a company that you’ve found yourself in alignment with previously will tack off on a different course, leaving you behind. Maybe you’ll realign at some later point. Maybe you won’t. If you’re under the impression that any business will always align with your own set of business goals, you are likely missing something. Expecting businesses that are not your own to act in a manner other than their own self-interest is likely to end in disappointment for you.

You’re allowed to think more than one thing about a company at the same time. I like what Amazon’s doing in the audiobook space, especially as it involves me. I think what it’s doing to Hachette authors sucks, in no small part because it happened to me, a few years back, when Amazon had a similar fight with Macmillan. Amazon has helped my career; it’s also made it clear to me that it doesn’t give a shit about my career when its interests are elsewhere. Amazon isn’t the only business partner I have that I can say that about. It’s clarifying, I will say.

Your business relationships are allowed to be complex, entangled and even contradictory. How do I feel about being in business with Hachette and Amazon? I feel fine about it, obviously. Likewise, I feel fine about being in business with, for example, Macmillan and Subterranean Press, both of whom have published the same work of mine, in different formats. I’m in business with a lot of businesses. I’m going to keep doing that, because I like to eat and I know where my ethical lines are. You can do this too. The person to decide what limits you choose to place on your business should be you.

Publishing is a business. I said that already. Guess what? I’m saying it again. If you’re not approaching it as a business, with the same eye toward your own business goals as those you’re in business with undoubtedly have on theirs, then when you find yourself completely at a loss and utterly dependent on the business choices of a company that fundamentally doesn’t care about you outside of a ledger entry, the amount of sympathy you’ll get — from me, anyway, and I suspect from other authors who tend to the business of their writing — will be smaller than you might hope.

Update, 7/10/14: An event relevant to this entry and discussion.

The Big Idea: Tobias S. Buckell

As the first named hurricane of the season wanders along off the east coast of the US, it’s perhaps fitting that today’s Big Idea book is Hurricane Fever, by Tobias Buckell. But the hurricanes of this novel take place further south, in the Caribbean — and that’s where its hero comes from, too. Buckell explains why the latter point is especially important.

TOBIAS S. BUCKELL: 

When I was teenager my grandfather and I spent a couple months slowly going through and watching the entire James Bond series on VHS tape. At the time I lived on a boat at anchor off St. Thomas, in the US Virgin Islands. My grandfather’s boat, Seven Seas, lay not too far away from us. Every night I’d hop in a dinghy and motor over to my grandfather’s and watch a movie after dinner.

We watched one movie exactly because the 12-volt car batteries linked up in series to make a bank would have been charging all day via a wind generator mounted on the main mast. Any more than one movie, and that bank of batteries would run out of charge for the day. There was another bank that we could switch over to, but that was held in reserve to start the motor only. If it had been a low-wind day, we’d often have to fire up the boat’s engine near the end of the film (which used up costly diesel fuel). My grandfather always kept an eye on the voltmeter during the final third of a movie.

It was a strange thing to watch Bond in action sometimes. Because Bond often came to the sorts of places we were in at that moment, watching the movie. When Bond came to any islands, or any places in the developing world, he was a force of nature. He blew things up, slept with ALL the women, and raced around in boats (that exploded even more). I began to realize that, for the people making, filming, and in some ways writing about areas like my homeland, it was an exotic destination and no more.

I realized that people there didn’t get to have the same adventures. They never got to stand up to the enemies who had penetrated their settings. In many cases, the villain was often of the developing world. So we were a place to visit, a playground, the thing to sleep with (or exploit) and the enemy.

But the islands I grew up on were so much more. I knew that. The islands were a place of beauty and a destination. Sure. There’s a reason tourism is so huge. But damn it, there were scientists and science being done. There were corporations being built. There were cities being forged, culture and food and…

…There were heroes as well.

And there should be fictional heroes as well. Because we should all get to see ourselves out there as heroes.

When the the black-hats get on a megayacht and sail off to aquamarine waters to cause trouble, why shouldn’t a local agent get curious about the mayhem and start digging around?

That is how Prudence James came to be born: my asking that question. Roo, as he prefers, appeared in Arctic Rising, lending a hand to the main character of that novel as she navigated an increasingly hostile ice-free Arctic.

Roo is my answer to the question: where are the Caribbean agents? What about the people who live there? What do they think about all this?

Because, at anchor, enjoying the explosions on a tiny screen all those years ago, I felt an emptiness that I couldn’t put a finger on. I wanted to see stories that included and featured people like my friends and me. Bi-racial people. Caribbean people. Caribbean people at large in the future. I wanted to add to the experience, I wanted to deepen the pool that was the mythology of the secret agent.

Getting to do so in Hurricane Fever was finishing a promise I made a very long time ago.

—-

Hurricane Fever: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

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

San Diego Update

So, a quick update about my presence at San Diego Comic-con this year, in the form of a dialogue:

Hey, Scalzi, are you going to be at San Diego Comic-con this year?

Sort of.

Define “sort of.”

I’ll be at various off-site events, including a reading at the Grand Horton Theater on Thursday afternoon (July 24, 1:30pm to 2:30pm). I will not be at the San Diego Convention Center or participating on panels.

Why is that?

Short version: SDCC’s public-facing harassment policy is not all it could be, which I should have checked when Tor asked me to go. I didn’t (the request came though Tor, not the convention, so I spaced, basically), so when it came up later I was all, “well, fuck.” I mentioned this to Tor, and Tor worked it so I’ll be doing things off-campus, at events surrounding the convention. Tor is awesome.

There’s a longer version than this (much longer), but I’ll save that for later.

So no SDCC for you.

No being on the convention floor or wandering the corridors or loitering outside of Hall H looking for movie stars, no. I’ll be signing books for Tor to give away at their booth; I’ll be signing those in my hotel room, most likely. Now, note: My reading is off campus but is affiliated with the convention, as I understand it. But in that case, if someone acts like a harassing asshole at my event, I can have them bounced and reported.

What else will you be doing? 

We’re still in the process of locking down other appearances and events; when I have the full schedule I’ll update. Trust me, even without steeping foot into the convention proper, I won’t be hard to find in San Diego.

The Lock In Audiobook: Two Versions, Two Narrators. Pre-Order and Get Both

I noted a while back that there would be an audio edition of Lock In, from Audible. What I had not noted, until this very second, is that Audible was planning to do something pretty neat with the audiobook: Namely, that it was recording two complete versions of the book, one narrated by Amber Benson, and the other by Wil Wheaton, and offering both for sale.

Why two versions? Because it’s a cool idea for this particular novel, for all sorts of reasons that I will leave for you to discover. I’m delighted that Audible has created both versions, and I’m especially happy that Amber and Wil are the ones bringing the book to audio life — I’m fans of each of them, both as performers and as writers. I’m about as excited as I can get to hear both editions.

Now, at this point you may be saying to yourself: You mean I have to choose between the Wil Wheaton version and the Amber Benson version? That’s too hard! They’re both too awesome! Don’t make me choose!

Okay, we won’t. Here’s what we’ll do: Pre-order either audio version of Lock In between now and August 22nd, and Audible will throw in the other version, free. Order Wil’s, get Amber’s. Order Amber’s, get Wil’s. You’ll get two fantastic interpretations of the novel for the price of one. Compare and contrast! Alternate chapters! Mix and match! Really, there’s no way to go wrong on this one.

Remember, however: If you want in on this — and if you’re a fan of audiobooks, you so very much doYou need to preorder from Audible by 11:59pm (Eastern) on August 22nd. Don’t wait! Don’t live your life in unfathomable regret!

I’m super geeked out about this. My thanks to the folks at Audible for doing this, and to Amber and Wil for being the voices of Lock In. This is really special. I can’t wait for you folks to hear them both.

(Note: US only for the time being. I know, I know. Sorry, the rest of the universe.)

The Big Idea: Marcus Sakey

Maybe you don’t lie awake at night, wondering what it would take to break the world, but that just means you’re not Marcus Sakey. His new novel A Better World (the sequel to Brilliance, which is itself headed to the big screen) explores what it takes to grind things to a halt, and to throw life quickly out of balance. And what does it take? Well, as Sakey explains, the real question isn’t what does it take… but how little.

MARCUS SAKEY:

What would you do if there was no milk on the shelves?

Take a moment and honestly ponder it. If you run out of something, you go to the store and replace it. That’s part of the modern social contract. You need bacon? Diapers? Medicine? Get in your car, swipe some plastic, and those things are yours.

But what if out of the clear blue sky you could no longer depend on that?

That’s one of the central questions I wanted to explore in A Better World. The book is the sequel to last year’s Brilliance, a novel about an alternate present in which, since 1980, one percent of people are born savants. At first the ‘brilliants’ are a curiosity; then a concern; and finally, as they exceed the rest of us in every field, a source of incredible social tension. One percent of the world is now objectively better than the rest—but they are outnumbered 99-to-1.

The first book set up the looming conflict, the cliff on the horizon. With the sequel, I wanted to walk up to—and maybe over—the precipice. But that walk was the point. See, most dystopian novels begin after the apocalypse, when the world has already changed in fundamental ways. I love those books, but I wanted to write one about society falling apart; an exploration of how small failings can splinter the larger whole.

First, I had to figure out how it would happen. I love this kind of research—it’s one of the reasons I write. To make sure my details are accurate, I’ve shadowed gang cops, trained with snipers, gone diving for pirate treasure, held a human brain, and even been pepper sprayed on television. (Seriously: check it out).

In this case, I went to the crazies. Sorry—the survival enthusiasts. There are a surprising number of people who spend time preparing for just this kind of scenario. Googling the end of the world is actually a really interesting rabbit hole to lose yourself down.

Anyway, it turns out it’s a lot more plausible than you’d think. Despite the advancements of modern life, our world is extremely fragile. In fact, those advancements are part of the problem.

It used to be that grocery stores had storage space for all kinds of goods. So when the beans were running low, someone went to the back, grabbed another case, and put them on the shelf.

Not anymore. You know the scanner at checkout? It plugs into a database that tracks inventory and automatically reorders products as needed. There are no back-up supplies. It’s not just grocery stores, either. Pharmacies, manufacturers large and small, even gas stations all work this way. The system is called ‘Just In Time Inventory’, and it’s far more efficient, allowing companies to reduce their overhead expenses and avoid waste.

The problem is that it’s very intricate, and the more intricate the system, the more vulnerable. Break any single gear, and the whole thing grinds to a halt.

Okay, fine. But how do you break that gear? After all, stores are supplied by a vast network from all over the country. There are multiple redundancies, and the nature of the free market means that if one company fails, another is quick to eat its lunch.

The answer, it turned out, was to exploit the complexities of another system. In A Better World, a small group of terrorists hijacks trucks in three cities, and kills the drivers.  (Actually, they burn them alive, because they want to make the strongest possible statement, and they’re, you know, intense.)

As a result, insurance carriers for trucking in those cities immediately suspend coverage. They can’t cover that kind of liability. This would really happen—think of all the flood coverage suspended post-hurricane.

But without insurance coverage, trucks can’t leave the depots. In one night, a group of determined individuals can break the intricate chain that puts milk on your supermarket shelves.

In my case, because I recently had a daughter, and because I really wanted to gut punch my readers, milk isn’t the real problem—baby formula is. The first time you meet one of my protagonists, he’s staring at the empty shelf where the food for his three-month-old daughter normally rests.

He’s staring at it, and he’s wondering what the hell he’s supposed to do now.

And if I got it right, hopefully that’s a question you’ll ask yourself.

—-

A Better World: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s Web site. Follow him on Twitter.

The 2014 Lock In Tour + How to Get Signed Books (Even If You Can’t Make the Tour)

And here are the places, dates and times:

Tuesday, August 26th (7:00 PM)
Brazos Bookstore
Houston, TX

Wednesday, August 27th (7:00 PM)
BookPeople
Austin, TX

Thursday, August 28th (7:30 PM)
Quail Ridge Books & Music
Raleigh, NC

Friday, August 29th (7:00 PM)
Flyleaf Books
Chapel Hill, NC

Saturday, August 30th and Sunday, August 31st
Decatur Book Festival
Decatur, GA

Tuesday, September 2nd (7:00 PM)
Tattered Cover
Denver, CO

Wednesday, September 3rd (7:00 PM)
University Bookstore
Seattle, WA

Thursday, September 4th (7:00 PM)
Books, Inc.
Mountain View, CA

Friday, September 5th (7:00 PM)
Copperfield’s
Petaluma, CA

Saturday, September 6th (3:00 PM)
Borderlands
San Francisco, CA

Sunday, September 7th (5:00 PM)
Vroman’s
Pasadena, CA

Monday, September 8th (7:00 PM)
Mysterious Galaxy
San Diego, CA

Tuesday, September 9th (7:00 PM)
Prairie Lights
Iowa City, IA

Wednesday, September 10th (7:00 PM)
Lake Forest Bookstore
To be held at Warren-Newport Library
Gurnee, IL

Thursday, September 11th (7:00 PM)
Joseph-Beth Booksellers
Lexington, KY

Saturday, September 13th (Time TBA)
Jay and Mary’s Book Center
Troy, OH

Monday, September 15th (7:00 PM)
Brookline Booksmith
Brookline, MA

Tuesday, September 16th (7:00 PM)
Gibson’s Bookstore
Concord, NH

Wednesday, September 17th (7:00 PM)
Northshire Bookstore
Saratoga Springs, NY

Thursday, September 18th (7:00 PM)
Word
Brooklyn, NY

Friday, September 19th (7:00 PM)
Barnes and Noble
Philadelphia, PA

Saturday, October 11th
Books by the Bank Festival
Cincinnati, OH

Tuesday, October 21st (6pm)
The Seminary Co-op
Chicago, IL

Note: The Tor.com version of this listing originally had Troy, OH on 9/12. It’s the 13th.

So, 23 dates, (mostly) over four weeks of touring. That’s a lot. In fact, I think it’s my longest tour yet. I’m very excited to go out on the road. Expect me to sleep for a week when I get home.

Also, I’m very seriously thinking of making tour t-shirts.

And now, your anticipated comments and/or needs:

You’re not coming to my town! Sorry. 23 dates and four weeks is a lot. Good news: The Human Division Part 2 comes out next year and I’ll likely tour then, and try to get to towns that I’m not visiting this time around. So you might see me then.

If I’m coming to your town and you want a signed copy of Lock In: Come to the tour stop and I’ll sign your book! I’d appreciate it if you bought the book from that store. You don’t have to wait until I show up, mind you; you can pre-order from them or buy the book when it comes out. But either way please support the booksellers who are supporting me on this tour. It’s a great way to make them and me happy. I will also sign any remaining stock of my books at that store, so even if you miss the tour date, the store will still have signed copies of my books available.

Also, if I’m coming to your town, and you can’t make the tour stop but you still want to support your local bookseller: Order the book from the store and ask them to have me sign it when I’m there for the tour. I will happily do that, even if you are not physically present.

If I’m not coming to your town and you want a signed copy of Lock In: My friends at Subterranean Press will take your pre-order for Lock In. Before I go on tour, I will go and sign every single pre-order they get. When your copy arrives on your doorstep, it will have my signature in it. Easy!

(They will probably also have a few available after the book is out too, but if you want to be sure to get a signed copy, and you’re not at one of my tour stops, pre-ordering is wise.)

Short version: If you want to get a signed copy of Lock In, you’re totally covered.

If you have questions, let me know in the comment thread!

The Animal I Was Thinking Of Yesterday (and, Who Won the Lock In ARC)

It was the Thylacine, aka the Tasmanian Tiger. They are, alas, extinct (almost certainly, though every once in a while an alleged sighting happens).

My daughter didn’t think anyone would get this one, but I was reasonably certain someone would, and I was not wrong: Bryce got it about 14 minutes after I first posted.

So, Bryce: Send me an email from the address you post under (i.e., the email address you used to fill out the comment form), which contains your shipping address and the name you want the ARC personalized to (if any) and I will get it in the mail to you. And congratulations!

Everyone else: There’s always next time (and yes, there will be a next time. Probably).

Hey, I Think I Will Give Away an ARC of Lock In

Tor has sent along to me seven ARCs of Lock In. Six of them are already claimed by various people I need to send a copy along to. One of them isn’t. So, I’ll give it away here, now. Here’s how to get it:

I’m thinking of an animal right now. Tell me which one it is. 

I’m looking for a specific species. Just saying (for example) “bear” will not help you.

The first person to correctly identify the animal I am thinking of wins the ARC. I will also sign, personalize and ship the ARC to anywhere on the planet.

Any hints about the animal? Yes! It’s a chordate. Any non-fictional chordate, alive or extinct, is within the realm of possibility.

How long do we have to guess? Until 11:59:59pm Eastern time today, June 27, 2014.

How do we know you won’t lie about which animal you’re thinking about? Because I told the animal to my daughter just before I posted this, and she’d let you all know if I lied to you. Also, after telling her the animal, she said “no one’s going to get that.” But she doesn’t know you like I do, oh Whatever readers.

What happens if no one gets the right animal? Then I will randomly select a winner. So no matter what someone’s getting out of here with an ARC.

So: What animal am I thinking of right now? Give your best guess in the comments.

Lock In Gets a Starred Review From Kirkus

Hooray! That’s two starred reviews for the book now, including the one from Publishers Weekly. The Kirkus review in full is here, but here’s a nice pull quote:

“This SF thriller provides yet more evidence that Scalzi is a master at creating appealing commercial fiction.”

Indeed, making commercial fiction is my job. I’m glad Kirkus thinks I’m doing it well. This time, anyway (it’s not always the case).

Also, the release date of Lock In: exactly two months from now. I’m beginning to get excited.

Various & Sundry, 6/25/14

Because I want to hit several subjects in a very quick fashion:

1. Yay! Warrants for cell phones! I’m not always 100% pleased with the Supreme Court these days, but this decision — unanimous — is spot on. It’s already been noted that requiring a warrant these days means very little when warrants are dispensed like Pez (and that the NSA doesn’t give a crap about warrants anyway), but you know what, I’m going to take victories where they come. Plus the kicker at the end of the decision is pretty sweet.

2. Yay! Same sex marriages begin in Indiana and the 10th Circuit Court punts Utah’s ban as unconstitutional, a decision that as I understand it has implications for all the states in the circuit! I’m not gonna lie, I like being on the right side of history on this one, and it’s all happening much quicker than I would have suspected — which means still too slow but even so. In the meantime, congratulations Indiana, and as for Utah and the 10th Circuit, which is on hold pending appeals, here’s hoping that appeals basically, say, yes, that ruling was totally correct.

3. Over on Metafilter there’s a discussion of whether writers not taking coffee with aspiring writers (or alternately charging them for their time) constitutes an abdication of the concept of mentoring, with this article being the ground zero for the discussion. I think I’m a little confused, since I don’t take an invitation for coffee in exchange for a brain picking to be a request for “mentoring,” just a bit of brain picking. “Mentoring,” to my mind, involves a more or less continual (informal or otherwise) relationship with the person you’re giving advice to, over a certain amount of time.

For the record, I’ve been asked for one-time advice a lot of times (over coffee or just in e-mail, and lots of things inbetween) and my usual deciding factor as to whether I offer it or not is whether I have enough time at the moment. If I do, then sure. If I don’t, then no. Mind you, most of the time I just link to something that I’ve already written and posted here, so it may be easier for me to do than other writers. I think the suggestion that asking for money for your time in this specific instance is a little weird; just learn to say “thanks, no,” for God’s sake.

4. Today’s hot new trend I’m pretty sure I will never ever see the point of: Smart watches. Google’s officially announcing their version today, and I as I have been before, I’m underwhelmed. One, they’re all kind of ugly at this point; maybe other people like the 1977 Casio esthetic, but it’s not for me. Two, I don’t wear watches in any event. I stopped wearing them when I realized that if I didn’t take one off before I started typing, I’d end up with carpal tunnel. That was roughly 20 years ago. Before the advent of smartphones, if I ever needed to know the time, I’d just ask someone with a watch. These days I look at my smartphone. Three, I’m so used to simply looking at my smartphone at this point I’m not sure what the advantage in readjusting my brainflow to look at a watch instead will do.

Basically: Meh. Just don’t see the point. Tell me I’m not alone on this (or, you know, all gang up on me and point and laugh because I am so behind the times in an old-man-yelling-at-clouds sort of way).

How Not to Talk About Your Money, Very Rich Edition

Hillary Clinton: Likely to be the next president of the United States, I suspect, but in the last several days, apparently clueless about how to talk about her money, of which there is a lot, and for which her ability to get more is pretty much assured until she shuffles off this mortal coil. Complaining that she and Bill were dead broke when they left the White House was at the least slightly overdramatic, considering all the apparatus, from book contracts to speeches, that exist to allow ex-presidents and first ladies to quickly pad out their bank accounts. It’s like complaining about your Ivy League law school debt when you already have a job lined up at a white shoe law firm and a clear path to partnership. Yes, you have debt; no, you’re not going to have any sort of problem getting rid of it.

Likewise, noting that you pay income tax like a common troll, unlike so many other rich people, is not a great call. One, you don’t get a pat on the back for paying your taxes like you’re supposed to be doing. Two, if you’re noting that you pay taxes on income, while other rich people pay taxes on capital gains, and that those two rates are different, a) it’s not quite kosher to imply that other people are skirting their taxes if they’re actually paying what the law requires and b) you’re Hillary Clinton, I’m not sure how much you want to advertise that fact considering President Clinton reduced capital gains taxes while in office. Three, even if you paid full freight on your taxes, if your household net worth is reportedly upward of $100 million, I expect the best you can hope for from a statement like that is a bit of eyerolling.

Very rich people, please note: In this world of Internets and Twitters and informations at fingertips, everyone knows that you are very rich. Trying to assure everyone that you’re different from all the other very rich people — and that your vast fortune is not quite like every other very rich person’s vast fortune — is probably not the winning stategy you think it is. There also comes a certain point at which “working hard” is not a reasonably complete explanation for the millions one accrues in life, at least not to the millions of people who are also working hard and paying the same full freight on taxes and somehow lack the millions of dollars in income and net worth to show for it.

It’s nice to be in the rare air where one can make six figures for showing up to give a speech. Don’t confuse that place in the world with one that is available merely through simple “hard work.” There’s a lot more that goes into it than that, much of it not directly owing to one’s own planning or exertions. Context, as always, matters.

If I had a net worth of nine figures or more, any time I was asked for comment about it, the short version of it would be “I have been very fortunate, and I know it.” Hell, that’s my standard response now, and I am nowhere near worth that much.

I Have Voted for the Hugos

Having caught myself up to my satisfaction with the nominees in all the categories, I went to the Loncon3 site and voted, taking care to place each nominee with the ranking I thought it or they deserved. I look forward to seeing how my own votes match the overall final choices.

If you are planning to vote this year for the Hugos, a couple of notes: First, please do try to vote in as many categories as you can. There are a lot of potential voters this year — it’s going to be the largest Worldcon by attendance in decades, it appears —  and each category (as I understand it) has to garner votes equalling at least 25% of the overall voter tally in order to be verified. Do your reading and watching, and make the effort to be a good voting citizen. Two, if you’re curious about how the “no award” vote works with regard to the Hugos, for whatever reason, here’s a pretty good run down on what it is and how to use it effectively. Remember also that the Hugo vote is a preferential ballot – you rank the nominees, not merely just vote for one.

Also, don’t worry if you haven’t voted yet; you have until July 31st. I’m just voting slightly ahead of the curve this year. That said, don’t put it off until the very last minute, either — there’s nothing like hundreds of people trying to get their votes in at 11:50 on July 31 to make Loncon3′s servers cry. Read up, note your preferences, rank the nominees in each category, and then — vote!

(And yes, I will remind you a couple more times before voting closes. I’m helpful like that.)

On the 25th Anniversary of Tim Burton’s Batman Movie, a Personal Ranking of All the Batman Films

Because this article on Tor.com reminded me that today is the day.

In order from best to so not best:

1. The Dark Knight

2. Batman (1989)

3. The LEGO Movie

4. Batman Begins

5. Batman Forever

6. The Dark Knight Rises

7. Batman Returns

8. Batman: The Movie (1966)

9. Batman and Robin

Not ranked: Any of the direct-to-video DC-branded animated Batman movies, as I’ve not seen them, although I know a lot of people who swear by them.

Your ranking?