Because when I look at this picture, what I spend most of my time looking at is whether any of my books are on the shelves.
(Picture possibly NSFW, as it features painted nudity)
P.S.: I found three.
Because when I look at this picture, what I spend most of my time looking at is whether any of my books are on the shelves.
(Picture possibly NSFW, as it features painted nudity)
P.S.: I found three.
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).
Once again, to take you into the weekend, a selection of fine upcoming books and ARCs that have come to the Scalzi Compound. Which ones inspire yearning in your book-loving heart and mind? Share in the comments!
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.
“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.
Dramatic sunset is dramatic.
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).
The remaining July and most of the August Big Idea slots are being parceled out in the next couple of days, so if you’re an author/publicist wondering if your queries are going out into the vapor, a) no, b) you’ll be caught up very soon. Thanks.
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.
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.)
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.
Prepping my playlist for the 80s dance I’ll be DJing at Detcon1 this July. If you’re going to Detcon1 and don’t show up to the dance, I will be quite put out.
This song, for one, will definitely make the playlist.
And what are you doing with your Sunday?
Saturday is traditionally the day here with the lowest number of visits, which means it’s a good day for me to fiddle with the format and design of the blog. I’m probably going to do that today. So if the site suddenly looks vastly different to you, don’t panic. I’m just trying out new things. If I like them, I’ll keep them. If I don’t, then it’ll go back to the way it looks now. Either way, expect the site to look a bit off until I’m done fiddling.
Update: Done with the fiddling for now. Decided for the moment to leave the site pretty much as is, structurally. Because: Lazy!
Not a bad way for spring to say goodbye.
What’s hot and fresh in books and ARCs today, here at the Scalzi Compound. Tell me what you want on your own reading list, down in the comments.
Many years ago, writer Jim Macdonald postulated “Yog’s Law,” a handy rule of thumb for writers about the direction money is meant to flow in publishing:
“Money flows toward the writer.”
This is handy because it will give the writer pause when she has a publisher (or agent, or editor) who says that in order to get published, the author needs to lay out some cash up front, and to that publisher/agent/editor. The author can step back, say, huh, this is not how Yog’s Law says it’s supposed to go, and then surmise, generally correctly, that the publisher/agent/editor in question is a scam artist and that she should run away as fast as her feet will carry her.
But does Yog’s Law apply in an age where many writers — and some even successfully — are self-publishing via digital? In self-publishing, authors are on the financial hook for the editorial services that publishers usually do: Editing, copy-editing, page and cover design and art, marketing, publicity and so on. In this case, unless the author does everything (which is possible but not advised if one want’s a professional-looking product), money is going to have to flow away from the writer, as he hired people to do work for him.
Does this mean Yog’s Law is now dead? Author Harry Connolly, who has published traditionally and also self-publishes, thinks so; a summation of his argument (presented in .jpg form because he did his own screencap of a Facebook comment on his site, and I’m too lazy to retype, although apparently not too lazy to to a screengrab, edit it down and then upload, which probably took even more time) is here:
Connolly is correct that the rise of digital self-publishing puts a new wrinkle on things. I disagree, however, that it means Yog’s Law no longer generally holds. I think it does, but with a corollary for self-publishers:
Yog’s Law: Money flows toward the writer.
Self-Pub Corollary to Yog’s Law: While in the process of self-publishing, money and rights are controlled by the writer.
Which is to say that when the self-published writer pays for editorial services, she’s at the head of the process; she’s employing the editor or copy editor or cover artist or whomever, and she’s calling the shots. If she’s smart she’s listening to them and allowing them to the job she’s paid them for, but at the end of the day the buck stops — literally — with her. This differs from the various scammy publishers, who would take the money and the author’s work, and then would effectively disappear down a dark hole, with the writer entirely out of the loop on what was going on (what as going on: generally, almost nothing).
This corollary, I think, is useful for self-publishers because there are still lots of ways for self-publishers to use their money foolishly, primarily by losing control of how it get spent and by whom. If at any step the self-published author asks, who controls this money I am about to spend? and the answer is not “me,” that’s a flag on the field. Likewise, if control of the work is somehow compromised by the process, that’s another flag.
And of course outside the self-publishing process, i.e., when the work is out there in the world, Yog’s Law continues to apply. It continues to apply however the work is published, actually.
So, Yog’s Law: Still not just a law, but a good idea. The self-publishing corollary to Yog’s Law: Also, I think, a good idea. Let me know what you think.
The news is here.
If you’re an author with either of these two imprints, I would check your contracts for reversion clauses.
Likewise, if I were the folks at Angry Robot, and were putting the books in these imprints into “out of print” status, as it seems likely they are from the announcement, I’d be thinking of immediately reverting the books back to the authors, so they can either find them new homes or self-publish them. Because that seems the decent thing to do after cutting the legs out from the income potential of those books for those authors.
There’s the possibility that the latter of these might be complicated by Angry Robot’s parent company having problems of its own. In which case: This is why you have writers’ organizations, folks.
Turns out he has a few cogent reservations. I would agree with them.
Relatedly, I suspect it would surprise a number of people to know I don’t have a philosophical issue with gun ownership. Own them if you like; please take substantial training with them and learn to operate them responsibly, since they really are designed to kill things, including people. I live in a rural area that has a large amount of gun ownership; on many evenings I can hear my neighbors having target practice. There’s never been a problem. I prefer a bow myself.
Likewise, gun ownership, sensibly practiced, as part of (but not solely comprising) an overall security regimen? Sure. Keep the weapon instructor’s reservations in mind; he has experience on the matter. There are lots of ways that introducing a gun to a self-defense situation can go very wrong.
On the other hand, gun as fetish object? Creeps me out. When I see a picture of some dude hoisting some big damn gun about, often with appallingly poor trigger discipline, the first thing that comes to my mind is not look out, we have a badass on our hands, but, rather, here’s a dude who’s afraid of every fucking thing in the world. The big damn gun is like the eyes on the wings of a butterfly or a pufferfish sucking in seawater — a way to look bigger and maybe not get eaten. By whom? By whomever, man, I don’t know — when you’re afraid of every fucking thing in the world, I guess you spend a lot of time worrying about getting eaten.
So wait, are you calling me a coward? I hear some of these dudes saying, hoisting their guns. No, not a coward. Just afraid.
I’m not afraid! I have a big damn gun! Yes, well. Whatever makes you feel not afraid, chuckles.
You wouldn’t be saying that if I were in front of you, with my big damn gun! Indeed, I probably wouldn’t, because when people who are afraid of every fucking thing in the world wander about with big damn guns, bad things have an increasingly likely chance of happening. I’ll just go have lunch in Chipotle until you wander off, if it’s all the same to you.
Knowledgeable about guns? Sweet. Geeked out about guns in all their varieties? Hey, everyone’s a geek about something, and this is one of your things. Rock on. Wanting to share the joys of responsible ownership and use of guns with others? I am all for positive role models with these particular machines. Please do. Have to display yourself with your guns and/or can’t bear to part with them for a moment? Dude, you’re afraid of every fucking thing in the world.
I’m gonna be thinking that every time I see that picture of you with your big damn gun. I doubt I’ll be the only one.
Worldbuilding is complex enough when you stick to some commonly-accepted fundamentals, like, oh, let’s say, land. What happens when you decide to shake up those fundamentals? M.K. Hutchins decided to make an aquatic change-up in Drift, and the results of that choice surprised even her.
M. K. HUTCHINS:
10,000 B.C.E. was not a good time for the Natufians — or, more specifically, the stands of wild cereal that they utilized for food. A shift towards a drier climate yielded fewer plants. So the Natufian changed, too. Instead of just gathering, they began clearing other plants off the land and scattering the seeds of rye, wheat, and barley. Over time, artificially selecting plants with desirable characteristics led to domestication — the greatest genetic engineering projects humans have ever undertaken — and to an agricultural lifestyle.
Okay, that’s a gross simplification of an exciting time in human history, but it’s a story that still fascinates me. Human culture changed because of the environment, and that environment in turn was drastically altered by human culture. Exploring way culture and environment interact — or cultural ecology — isn’t something I see a lot of in fantasy novels.
Completely reshape the environment — throw in magic, dragons, or some liches — and society still tends to look a lot like pseudo-Medieval Europe. Don’t get me wrong; there are outstanding books written in look-alike Earth analogues from all over the globe. I’m glad I get to enjoy them.
But if physics, if the laws of nature themselves, were different, wouldn’t we expect culture to be radically different, too? Often in worldbuilding it seems there’s an emphasis on physics-building and a dearth of culture-building.
When I first heard a professor talk about how the Maya envisioned the world on the back of a turtle surrounded by a watery hell, I knew I wanted to write a story inspired by that setting. Watery hell sounded fun. And instead of one great turtle, how about a bunch of drifting turtle-islands, all competing with each other?
But physics-building alone didn’t feel right for this story. My mind latched onto cultural ecology. How would this different environment shape culture?
Small islands would need to be fast to avoid larger islands that could conquer them. Heavy populations would slow them. But an agrarian society would need children — especially to care for the current population when it aged.
From here, the culture-building took off. Marriage, children, and romantic love all became stigmatized things of the poor. Married men, especially, were mocked for not being able to support themselves but having to rely, eventually, on their own children for support. Skilled artisans adopted apprentices instead of having children themselves, and the Handlers — those that fought hellish monsters and ruled the islands — set up a tax system to care for their elderly members.
I loved having not just the inherit conflicts of surviving on an island surrounded by monster-infested waters, but abundant social conflict. I loved setting up the three different systems for end-of-life care (farmer, artisan, and Handler). This left me with different classes of people, and different attitudes in those classes. I could have Handlers who were haughty and Handlers who pitied the poor for lacking the magical or mundane talents to become a Handler or artisan, respectively. I created farmers who honorably delayed marriage, and farmers who struggled with the stigma of being from a large family. Into the middle of all this, I threw my protagonist, a young man still deciding who he wants to be as he’s figuring out the way his world works — both physically and socially.
There’s lots of physics-building in my new novel, Drift. But it’s the cultural ecology — the integral way physics and culture interlink — that got me excited about this story.
My niece Ashley unearthed this picture of me (left) and my brother Bob, taken sometime in the 1980s, i.e., when he and I were young and still had hair. Bob was a surprise brother — my mother had him when she was very young and put him up for adoption (as teen mothers often did in the 60s) and so I went through the first twelve years of my life not aware that I actually had a brother at all. But these things have a way of coming out, and so I learned about him, and shortly thereafter Bob found us. As it turned out his mom and mine belonged to the same club, knew each other, and talked about their children to each other. Life, man. It’s a funny thing.
Also, for those who know of my non-alcohol drinking ways: That’s grape juice in that glass.