Category Archives: Uncategorized

If This is Thursday, It Must Be Cleveland

And it is Thursday, at least here, and so here I am, in Cleveland, or more accurately its nearby neighbor Twinsburg, to talk to librarians. As I am a big fan of librarians as a general class, this is not exactly an onerous assignment. And then I drive home! Which is on the other side of the state. And then I see my family for the first time in several days! So, uh, yeah. This is probably the last you’ll see of me here until tomorrow, is what I’m saying. Have fun on the Internets without me until then.

Checking In

At the moment, taking a little breather on the Fox lot, on a bench underneath a shady tree. And then off to lunch with my agent, because one should always have lunch with one’s agent. It’s a nice if weird life. Hope yours is going well today, too.

Mostly Out For the Next Few Days

I’m getting up very early tomorrow morning to go to the airport for a trip that takes me first to Los Angeles, where I have two very solid days of business meetings, and then to Cleveland, where I am delivering a breakfast keynote to a conference of Ohio librarians. All of which is to say that between going to sleep tonight and waking up on Friday, I am not likely to have much time to moderate comment threads here, particularly ones in which GamerGate, etc are discussed.

So when I hit the hay tonight (Saturday), I’m turning off comments until (probably) Friday, when I am back home and have had a good night’s sleep (The exception will be this week’s Big Idea piece, which will have comments on). Likewise you should expect posting here to continue but to be relatively minimal during the week, on account of meetings, plane trips and desire to sleep when possible.

The good news for me is, after this trip is complete, I do not have to go anywhere else for the rest of the year. Given how packed with travel this year has been for me, this is kind of amazing. And it’s good for you, too, since I have to finish The End of All Things by the end of the year, and I find it difficult to write while traveling. No travel means focusing on the book, which means you’ll have a new novel next year. We all win!

So: If you’re commenting somewhere on the site, you have, uh, a couple of hours to wrap things up. Get to it, and comments will be open again on Friday.

Yes, Fine, I’ll (Ugh) Talk Some Politics For This Year

And here’s what I think of politics here in 2014: Nnnnnnnnggggggggghhh. Or, to put in perhaps more contemporary terms, 2014: The Year I Literally Just Could Not Even.

Which is not to say that I’m not voting. I am voting. What I mean to say is that this year I don’t really feel anything other than complete fatigue at the whole political process. Broadly speaking, the Republicans are frothing ideologues, the Democrats are incompetent, and it appears that in general the relevant voting public will prefer frothing to incompetent, since FiveThirtyEight thinks there’s a better than 60% chance the Senate majority will go to the GOP in the election — although not by a lot, so, yay, I guess?

What that will mean in real-world terms is a lot of parliamentary blockage and/or presidential vetoes of Republican legislative initiatives for the next two years, which I’m fine with (see my opinion of the general state of the GOP above), but which means another two years of high-level stupid on the federal level. But inasmuch as we will get that even if the Democrats do, in fact, barely manage to keep the Senate: Meh. And, yes, I know it’s rather more complicated than that, but I’m telling you how I feel about it all. This is how I feel.

(Mind you, if the GOP takes the Senate, I think there’s a reasonable chance of the GOP in the House finally voting to impeach Obama for the heinous crime of being Obama, although I’m sure they’ll find something else to pretend it will be about. And then Obama will be acquitted in the Senate trial and we’ll establish the hard fact that the modern GOP, when given the opportunity, will try to oust sitting Democratic presidents via the impeachment process just because. Also, I think Obama would love for the GOP to impeach him. There is pretty much no downside for him if a bunch of a white male GOPers impeach a sitting black president on what will amount to complete bullshit charges. Dear House GOP: Don’t be giving Obama one more rope-a-dope.)

I should note that the federal elections are largely outside of my purview this time around. The only federal-level election I need to vote on is for my House representative, who is now and will continue to be John Boehner, who in his entire OH-8 electoral history has never gotten less than 61% of the vote, and isn’t about to blow that streak this year. I’m not voting for Boehner, but doesn’t mean he won’t win. I am as always comfortably resigned to the fact. There are no Senate races in Ohio this year.

On the state level, it’s almost certain sitting Ohio Governor John Kasich is going to win in a walk, not because the people of Ohio love him (general feeling: meh), but because his opponent Edward FitzGerald is better known for parking with a woman who was not his wife than for any of his policy points. I’m not voting for Kasich, but as I don’t like to reward abject incompetence, I don’t think I’m voting for FitzGerald either. I might vote for the Green Party candidate, just to see what it feels like. To be honest, the only state office race I’m really worked up for is Secretary of State, because incumbent John Husted is a tool who went out of his way to make it harder to vote in Ohio. Fuck you, Husted. I’m voting for your Democratic opponent, Nina Turner (although, again, Husted sits on a comfortable margin and will likely win).

Indeed, because of where I live in Ohio, and because of the general trends in the state and in the national races, it looks like a good(ish) year for GOP in general. I’m not a fan of the current iteration of the GOP, which is putting it mildly, so this does not please me intellectually. But speaking as a straight white man of comfortable income, the GOP isn’t going to do me any harm, personally. It’s everyone else who might eventually feel the pinch. This is where I remind all y’all that folks like me already get a ton of advantages; you don’t have to keep giving us more through the political process.

And I think this is why I find it very difficult to get worked up about this particular election one way or another. It’s basically a status quo election. Things might change, but not by much, and at the end of the day the essential problems of our political classes will not be fixed to any degree. This isn’t an epochal election, it’s just killing time until 2016.

Now, I could be wrong: I’m the first to say that my personal political crystal ball has been notably cloudy in the past. But this election doesn’t feel like there’s much there there. I’ll be voting. But this the least enthusiastic I’ve felt about it since I’ve been able to vote. Maybe that means something. We’ll see.

How to Boycott Me, I Mean, REALLY Boycott Me

So a few days ago, it was suggested to a faction of the hot, pathetic misogynist mess known as GamerGate that launching a boycott of Tor Books was a possible “action op” for them. This was quickly shot down, no doubt in part because the person suggesting it was Theodore Beale, and no one at this point actually gives a crap what he thinks about anything. However, last night I went on another Twitter tear on the subject of GamerGate, and I woke up this morning to a few chuckleheads bleating to Tor about what a terrible person I am, in order to, I don’t know, get Tor to talk to me sternly about having opinions on the Internet, because apparently Tor is my dad. So maybe this push to boycott Tor because of me has legs after all! Hooray!

That said, my takeaway from these furtive attempts to make me shut up about the fact that GamerGate is basically a bunch of terrible human beings being shitty to women, up to and including threatening them and publishing their personal information online in an obvious attempt to silence them is to be just a little bit sad. Not because a few of these human-shaped pieces of ambulatory refuse are trying to do it, but because they’re thinking too small about it.

I mean, seriously, boycotting just Tor Books? Why limit yourself? Sure, it’s the largest publisher of science fiction and fantasy books in North America and possibly the world, but it’s just one imprint of Tom Doherty Associates. There are several other imprints, including Forge, Starscape, Tor Teen and Seven Seas. You should boycott those, too. That’ll show me!

But even then, you’d be thinking too small. Tom Doherty Associates is itself just one appendage of the publishing giant known as Macmillan, with offices in 41 countries! It publishes thousands of books a year! What a target! You should boycott all of Macmillan. Man, I’m quaking in my boots just thinking about it. But even then, it’s small potatoes, for Macmillan is just one part of the mighty Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, with annual sales in the billions of euros. Boycott it all! No doubt all of Stuttgart shall fall into a shambles at the thought.

But even then you are not done, boycotters! For you see, I am crafty and have diversified my revenue stream. I have many publishers and many people I work with. You must punish them all for having me in their midst. All of them. And not just the tiny imprint or sub-company that works with me directly. That’s what a coward would do. And are you a coward? Well, yes, probably, because the tactics of GamerGate have been astoundingly cowardly right from the start. But still! Think big, my friends. Your boycott must not just take out a few targets, it must nuke them all from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

With that in mind, here are your other boycott targets:

In the UK I am published by Gollancz, which is part of Orion Publishing Group, which is in itself part of Hachette, which is part of Lagardère Group. Crush them!

In Germany I am published by Heyne, which is part of Random House, which is itself owned by Penguin Random House, which is jointly owned by Pearson and Bertlesmann. Squish them!

In audio, I am published by Audible, which is owned by Amazon. Surely it is worth giving up your sweet Amazon Prime subscriptions to make Jeff Bezos shake in his chinos!

But wait! We’re still not done. Because as you may know I have TV deals! One is with FX, which is owned by the Fox Entertainment Group, which is part of 21st Century Fox (yes, it’s 21st Century Fox now. Look it up). You will need to boycott it all. Yes, even Fox News. Be strong! It’s for the cause!

Another is with Syfy and Universal Cable Productions, which is part of NBCUniversal, which is itself part of Comcast. So for this one, some of you will have to give up cable, and possibly your Internet connection. Keep your eye on the prize! It will be worth it!

My third TV deal is with Legendary TV, which is part of Legendary Pictures. And you’re thinking, whew, at least they aren’t part of a multinational corporation! True, but they make films that are distributed through a number of film studios, including Warner Bros (basically, all the DC Comics movies) and Universal. They also own both Geek & Sundry and Nerdist Industries. Noooooo! You can’t get your nerd on anymore! Stay focused! Your pain will make victory that much sweeter!

So, in short, in order to effectively punish my business partners for me having thoughts you don’t like, all you need to do is boycott three of the five major US publishers, two of the five major film/television studios (plus selected product of one of the other ones), and the largest single online retailer in the world. Which, well. It will keep you busy, at least.

Which, to be clear, I am fine with. While you are off whining to these corporations about me, perhaps you will be too busy to, you know, threaten death, rape and assault against women who also dare to express thoughts you don’t like. And you know what? I think that’s a fair trade.

So please: If you’re going to boycott a company because of me, at least do it right. Do it big. There are all your targets, laid out for you. Go get ‘em! I’ll be rooting for you, kids!

And in the meantime, just remember this:

Still true, people. Still true.

I’m Travelling to Chicago Today, So Please Enjoy This Fan Art of The Last Colony

It’s the scene with John Perry and General Gau, I expect. It’s by DeviantArt user “Sharksden,” whose art (including this) you can find here.

And that’s it from me here today, because as noted I am traveling to Chicago, where I will be doing my very last official Lock In tour stop, at the Seminary Co-op in Hyde Park, Chicago — literally just a couple hundred feet from my old dorm at the University of Chicago (which is no longer there — replaced by the business school. It’s a trade up, I think). If you’re in the area, I’ll be doing my thing at 6pm. Come on by and let’s close out this tour in style. Here are all the details.

It’s All Beautiful and Nothing Lasts

“It’s all beautiful and nothing lasts.” It’s a phrase that showed up in a dream of mine last night, as something I said to my wife as we were crossing a street in a big city. The street was where her father’s family’s farm used to be, in the dream — something that had some resonance in the real world, as her father’s family’s farm is now part of the Dayton International Airport. The dream me made the comment not about the farm in particular, but about life in general, prompted by the farm turned city street.

And it’s a true statement. All of it is beautiful, and it doesn’t last. I’m old enough now to be at the point where I see the movement of life, and me through it, to see people I like and love pass away and to see people I like and love grow up and become who they are. People move, stay and move again; houses become homes, and homes become vacant houses once more. Strangers become friends and sometimes become strangers again. Life happens and it’s a gorgeous thing — all of it, even the annoying parts — and it doesn’t last. It’s all temporary and doesn’t stay.

Before you ask: I’m fine. Everyone around me is fine. Even my pets are fine. Indeed, generally speaking, life is very good. If I had to peg a predicate cause for any of this, it would be going to a memorial service of a distant relative yesterday, who I knew only from family reunions, and coming across a comment in a discussion thread from my friend Jay Lake, which because it was part of a back and forth with several other people, momentarily gave the illusion that he was still with us, alive and engaged. But I think it’s just simply more that I’m now aware that life moves, and I do too.

One thing I think is worth noting is how my brain phrased the statement: “It’s all beautiful and nothing lasts.” This is a qualitatively different statement than it would have been if the dream version of me had said “it’s beautiful but nothing lasts.” That to me feels defeatist — what’s the point of acknowledging the beauty of life if it just goes away. That fact that it doesn’t last is why you should acknowledge it: it won’t stay, it will be gone and you will be gone, too. But while you live, that beauty exists and it is there for you to love and cherish, and to be a part of and to add to if you can.

It won’t last. Nothing lasts. But it’s here, and you should be here for it, and in it.

Thank you for being part of it, in this moment. I appreciate it, and the moment we’re sharing. I hope you do too.

The Doubleclicks Tell You How to Do Kickstarter

And they’ve done an unsurprisingly thorough job of it. If you’ve ever wanted to do your own Kickstarter/crowdfunded project, you’re going to want to read this. What I particularly like is that it emphasizes the fact that Kickstarting a project is a tremendous amount of work, which is a thing I think a lot of people gloss over to wallow in the idea of Kickstarter/crowdfunding as this sort of cosmic ATM that just shoots free money at people. Doesn’t quite work that way, folks. Trust the Doubleclicks on this one.

Reminder: I’m in Chicago Next Tuesday, 10/21, at the Seminary Co-op in Hyde Park, 6pm

Yes, if you’re in or around the University of Chicago — my alma mater — or, heck, just in the city of Chicago in general, come on down and see me. This is the very last official stop of the Lock In tour, and after this I have no more scheduled public appearances until 2015. So if you want to see me this year, this is the time and the place.

Here are all the details. See you there!

One Song, Two Takes: “Kiteflyer’s Hill”

My pal (and musician and songwriter) Mark Nevin wrote a song called “Kiteflyer’s Hill” for Eddi Reader, with whom he had been in the band Fairground Attraction, for her solo album Angels and Electricity. He’s recently also done a version of it for his own solo album Beautiful Guitars, which will be out in the next week or so. I have the album, and it’s well worth getting if you’re a fan of genuinely lovely songwriting, and why wouldn’t you be.

“Kiteflyer’s Hill” is simply one of my favorite songs ever — it’s beautiful and wistful and gorgeous and captures what it’s like to remember a love of long ago — and I thought it would be fun to share the song done both by Mark and by Eddi, as a way to contrast how two takes of the same song can have an effect on the feel of the thing. I like them both: Mark’s is low-key, comfortable and lived-in, while Eddi’s soars up like, well, a kite, as it would with her matchless set of pipes. I hope you enjoy both.

First Mark’s version:

And now Eddi’s (note: video is slightly out of sync):

Our New Toy

We’ve been having a pretty good year here at the Scalzi Compound, and we decided to go ahead and splurge on something that Krissy has wanted for a while now. And here it is: A big ol’ hot tub that seats six, and a big ol’ gazebo to cover it. And thus we have become Hot Tub People, who will now have to give ourselves over to the hot tub lifestyle, complete with hot tub friends and hot tub parties, and, I don’t know, possibly hot tub sous vide six course meals (note: probably not that last one).

I’ve not a huge hot tub person myself, but you know what, I’m not going to lie: it’s pretty nice to soak in this baby after a long day of, well, whatever it is I do these days. I suppose there are worse things than become Hot Tub People.

No, don’t just invite yourself over. Wait for the invite, people.

Quick Procedural Note re: Comments and Embeds

Recently WordPress changed something on the backend relating to how comments are handled (not just here, but globally) and as a result urls for images now embed in comments. Well, I’m not a fan of that; images have the potential to send things off the rails pretty quickly. I’m talking to WordPress about pulling it from the site (they’ve been very helpful), but in the meantime I’m taking the precaution of sending comments with image urls into moderation. If you post one, it’ll get held up until I approve it. I don’t imagine this will be a problem for the vast majority of you.

Mind you, if you try to post an image that annoys me, it won’t make it out of moderation, and if you keep it up, you’ll find yourself in moderation. But, again, I don’t really expect this will be an issue with most of you. Most of you are lovely people.

The Scalzi Gender

First some tweets, and then some commentary.

There’s something both telling and sad about the sort of dude who literally thinks that a) impugning my masculinity is the worst possible thing they can say about me, b) that it’ll somehow lessen me if they do. On the former, meh. Given the ridiculous ideas that they have regarding masculinity, I’m happy not to meet their definition. On the latter, whatever. They’re idiots. I’m not inclined to care, outside of the opportunities it provides for pointing and laughing.

But I do think it’s useful to publicly mock their stupidity on such subjects, for the amusement and edification of others. I also think it’s particularly useful to mock their definition of masculinity and gender, and their baseline assertion that being male is the apotheosis of the human condition. It’s not; it’s merely one way to be. I’m okay with gender being more than binary; I’m okay with people having a gender other than mine; I’m okay with people shifting their idea of what their gender is over time. Because I don’t think one’s essential value is rooted in gender, and someone else’s gender is nearly always not my business anyway. I am for people being who they are, not who anyone else wants them to be, or demands them to be for their own selfish reasons. I’m for letting the world know that I think such a position is the most correct one to have. I’m for calling out people who try to make difficult for those who don’t conform to their own, usually bigoted, expectations.

Want to declare that because I don’t meet your pointless and stupid definition of “masculinity,” I should identify as another gender entirely? Awesome. I get to create a gender that doesn’t have your jackassedness riddling it front to back. The folks in my gender won’t be focused on being a “real man” or a “real woman” but on being “really me.” My gender will have all the best parties because we can do what we want, free of gender expectations! Because there are no gender expectations! My gender gets to love whoever they want! My gender gets to be whoever they want! My gender doesn’t care what you think my gender should be! My gender rocks. And it doesn’t need you, or care what you think of it.

If only it were as easy for people of every gender to be as free in theirs as I am in mine. Because of course that’s the thing: Even when these idiots declare me “not a real man,” it doesn’t change that I am always seen to be a “real man,” and that I get all the benefits that accrue to me for being biologically male, identifying as a man, and conforming to social standards for what both of those mean. The worst these dudes can do is be mean to me on the Internet. It doesn’t change anything about what I get from the world. And while I can mock them for it and proclaim the new Scalzi Gender in all its awesomeness, let’s just say that I know that it’s easy for me to do so, because in the end society has my back. Not everyone else gets to say the same. We need to be working on that.

My Annual Plug and Appreciation for WordPress VIP

I was traveling on October 8, the official anniversary date, but today works just as well for this:

Hey, I’ve been using WordPress’ VIP service to host Whatever for six years now, and it has been consistently great during all that time: The site never goes down, never buckles under traffic or spikes, and on the very rare occasions when I do have a concern or issue, it’s addressed quickly, efficiently and by people who are awesome and easy to work with. Which is to say WordPress VIP takes the aggravation out of having a site and allows me to focus here on what I do best, which is write.

As I do every year, I unreservedly recommend WordPress VIP for folks hoping to run their sites with minimum possible levels of aggravation. It is the best hosting solution I’ve ever had. Likewise, for those folks who just want a corner of the Web to call their own, I can also recommend the standard WordPress offerings.

And, also once again, thanks to the people at WordPress VIP who have helped Whatever be a rock solid presence on the Web for the last six years. You folks are the best.