View From a Hotel Window, 3/22/17: Raleigh!

Ahhhhh, there we go. Parking lot excellence.

If you’re in or around Raleigh tonight, I’ll be a Quail Ridge Books at 7pm, in its spiffy new location. Come on down!

In the Research Triangle but can’t make it tonight? I’ll be at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill tomorrow. See me then!

For everyone else not in the area, two interviews with me, talking about The Collapsing Empire and other topics: One at The Verge, and the other at The Chicago Review of Books. Get inside my head! Mind the low beams.

View From a Hotel Window 3/21/17: Lexington!

And it’s not of a parking lot! I take that as a good sign.

Tonight I’m in Lexington, Kentucky, one of my favorite places, at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, which is one of my favorite stores. The event starts at 7pm and this audience gets to be to guinea pig, because I’m reading everything here for the first time ever (uh, except one thing, which I’ve only read once before). If you’re near Lexington, come on by.

Tomorrow: Raleigh, North Carolina! Thursday: Chapel Hill! Yes, a North Carolina twofer. See you soon!

The Collapsing Empire is Here!

Hey! It’s out! The Collapsing Empire, my twelfth novel, is here and available at your favorite bookstore and/or online retailer (in the US/Canada; in the UK it’s out in two days). It’s the first book in the new space opera series (called “The Interdependency”) and introduces some of my favorite characters ever in a universe I think you’re going to love.

The reviews have been pretty darn good, too:

“Fans of Game of Thrones and Dune will enjoy this bawdy, brutal, and brilliant political adventure” —Booklist

“Political plotting, plenty of snark, puzzle-solving, and a healthy dose of action…Scalzi continues to be almost insufferably good at his brand of fun but think-y sci-fi adventure.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Scalzi has constructed a thrilling novel so in tune with the flow of politics that it would feel relevant at almost any time.” — Entertainment Weekly

Pick it up at your local bookstore, or get it online here:
Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Google Play|iBooks|Indiebound|Kobo|Powell’s

You can also get signed copies!

It’s also out in audio, with narration by Wil Wheaton, from Audible.

Plus, I am on tour, starting today, beginning in Lexington, Ky. The full itinerary is here. Come see me! I’ll be reading new material plus other stuff, and as always will torture you with a song if someone brings a ukulele (and someone almost always does).

This book means a lot to me, folks. This is the first book in that 13-book contract I signed with Tor a couple of years back; this book is significant not only for itself, but for being a launch project that that particular long journey with my publisher. I wanted to start it off with something new and fun and good, and I really think I have. I can’t wait for you read it.

How to Get a Signed Copy of The Collapsing Empire

Hey there! Wanting to have me deface a copy of my upcoming book The Collapsing Empire (or other books of mine), with my signature, and possibly a personalization? Here are all the ways you can make this happen in the next few weeks!

1. Come see me on tour between March 21st and April 29: Yes, it’s a long tour, with two dozen stops over five weeks. Which means there’s a reasonable chance I will be (somewhat) near you. Why not come see in person? I will be reading from the upcoming book (Head On, the sequel to Lock In) and will have other entertaining bits going on as well. And I will sign your copy of TCE while you are there! And other things you might bring. Here’s the tour schedule. Note that some events are ticketed; go through the links for details.

2. Pre-order the book from the stores on my tour: If you can’t make it to one of my events but feel like supporting the stores I’m visiting, call them up, order the book from them, and ask them to have me sign it when I’m there for the event (important note: ask for that before the date I arrive for the event, not after). They will generally be happy to take your order, have me sign it, and then ship it to you, for their usual shipping fee. I will also generally be signing remaining Scalzi book stock on the tour, so even if you call after I’ve gone, they still may have signed stock.

3. Call Jay and Mary’s Book Center in Troy, Ohio: I am signing their entire Scalzi stock today before I go on book tour, so you can call and they’ll set you up. Additionally, even if they run out of signed copies immediately, if you’re willing to wait to have me sign your book until I’m back in town (which during the tour happens March 30 – April 2, and April 9 – 16), you can still order from them and I will both sign and personalize your copy.

4. Check with Barnes & Noble: I signed a whole bunch of signature sheets for them earlier this year, which were put into copies of the book. So your local B&N might have them on the shelf. They’re also selling them online.

5. Try an airport bookstore: As I’m slogging through the airports of this great nation of ours whilst on tour, when time permits I’ll pop into their bookstores and sign stock (with their permission). When that happens, I’ll probably note it on Twitter. But otherwise, particularly in a hub airport, just check out the bookstore (which you should do anyway). There might be a signed book!

And there you go — signed copies of The Collapsing Empire. Go get ’em.

Baja California Sunset

The sunsets around the Scalzi Compound have been a bit uninspiring recently, so let me offer you this one, from Baja California, on March 8. I think it’ll do quite nicely, don’t you?

The Double Bubble

For those of you thinking to yourself “Huh, I wonder if Scalzi is going to talk politics ever again,” today is your lucky day, because over at the Los Angeles Times site I talk politics! Namely, about the fact that I simultaneously live in rural conservative America and liberal cosmopolitan America, and what that fact means for what I think about both, and how I approach my neighbors in both communities.

This was a difficult piece for me to write, one, because it’s a complicated subject, and two, because one thing I really wanted to avoid was that “hey, both sides are equally correct here” fence-sitting nonsense that so many pieces like this have. I’m really not on a fence — Trump and his administration are terrible for the US, certainly for people who are not white and straight, but even for them, too. I mean, shit, look at Trump’s proposed budget today, and the “replacement” health plan. There’s little there that’s not going to be terrible for everyone except defense contractors. For all that, I know my neighbors pretty well and I have empathy for them, even as I disagree with them politically and feel like they really screwed themselves as much as if not more than Trump is going to screw with liberals.

Did I manage to convey what I was hoping to convey? Maybe? I think this piece has a lot of places where I can be criticized, including for omissions and elisions — it’s a piece to be published in a print outlet, so it has a hard limit in terms of words — and I think it’ll be fair to point them out. Over on Twitter, someone’s already noted I might have pointed out that my ability to more-or-less-comfortable live in both bubbles is in no small part due to the fact I’m a straight white cis male, which I think is perfectly correct (I’m well-off, too, which doesn’t hurt). There will be other places to pick at the piece. This is fine. Pick away! In the comments! Er, politely, please. Standard Malleting protocols apply.

Moving aside slightly to the subject of frequency of political posts here at Whatever in the immediate past and the near future, I’ll note a) I was on vacation, b) have been prepping for a book release and long book tour, c) start said long book tour on Tuesday, at which time my focus will be on touring, and less on politics. So expect probably fewer political posts than usual through April, simply because my attention will be elsewhere.

Also, I mean, frankly? There’s only so many ways I can say “Jesus, but Trump’s an ignorant bigot” without getting exasperated with myself. The snarky bits are better formatted for Twitter; here at Whatever is where I will do deeper dives from time to time, when time and scheduling allow. Here or on at the LA Times, which has, delightfully, given me a fine mainstream venue to discourse at, a fact which I appreciate immensely.

In any event, I think the LA Times piece I’ve written is a good one and I hope you find it thought provoking. Enjoy.

Athena Gets Into College

Specifically Miami University, down the road in Oxford, OH (to head off any comments on this score, the Miami in Florida is named after the Miami Valley of Ohio, which is where we live, and Miami University was actually founded before Florida became a state). We’re super-thrilled about this; Miami was one of Athena’s two top choices for college and it has an excellent reputation for undergraduate education — among national universities, in fact, it ranks #2 in the nation for undergraduate teaching (#1: Princeton; #3: Yale; my own University of Chicago isn’t even in top 20, alas). And it’s one of the “public ivies.” So I feel pretty sure she’ll get, you know, a decent education. Krissy is happy it’s not too far away — it’s about an hour down the road — so we have a decent chance of seeing our kid on more than just the occasional holiday. And Athena is happy, because now she knows she’s going to college. In all, a happy day.

One thing different now than in the past: Athena found out her status by checking in online (they posted acceptances at midnight), so she didn’t have to wait for either the happy big package or depressing thin slip in the mail, like I did 30 years ago. I figure this is actually a positive step forward. It seems slightly less stressful in any event.

So: Yay! My kid’s going to college! If you would like to congratulate her in the comments, I would not look askance upon it.

New Books and ARCs, 3/14/17

A couple dozen books came to the Scalzi Compound whilst we were on the cruise — here’s the first stack of them. See anything you like? Tell us which ones in the comments!

Still Life With Author Copies and Cat, Plus Audiobook News

While I was on the JoCo Cruise, the US and UK editions of The Collapsing Empire arrived at the Scalzi Compound. Here they are, with cat for scale.

Also, there’s this tweet from last night:

And if you’re asking, “Gee, isn’t the audiobook out next week?” the answer is indeed it is! Wil would have done the narration last week, but he was on the JoCo Cruise too, with me, and on which we discussed the book while lounging on the Lido deck, as one would. Which is to say we knew this well ahead of time and scheduled everything to move quickly this week. Don’t panic, we meant to do this.

Also, it’s eight days before release date here in the US, ten days in the UK. Still enough time to pre-order your copy (via your favorite local or online retailers) so you can have your copy on the day it comes out.

Also remember that I’ll soon be on tour, with Lexington, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Richmond, Nashville, Austin, Houston, Dallas and Chicago on the first leg. If you live in one of those towns, you should come see me! I’ll be reading new stuff that no one else gets to see or hear probably for a year or so. Lots of bragging rights going on there. Plus I’ll sign your books and stuff. You know, like you do. Or at least, like I do.

Eight days! I’m really excited.

The JoCo Cruise 2017 Final Concert Photoset

How I spent my first post-JoCo Cruise Sunday afternoon: One, weaving slightly, because I still do not have my land legs back, and two, going through the roughly one thousand photos I took of the JoCo Cruise 2017 final concert to bring you all a curated selection of highlights and portraits of the performers as they did their thing. If you were there, you can relive the moment. If you weren’t there, well, I think it’s an argument for why you should consider going on the JoCo Cruise next year.

Here’s the link to the Flickr album. Enjoy!

Back From JoCo Cruise

And we had a lovely time. Probably a longer write-up later, and definitely more pictures, but for now please enjoy this picture of Krissy having a windy day moment. She seems to be okay with it.

Outta Here

About to get on a plane to go to where I will get on a boat to be with a couple thousand other nerds. Not planning to be on the Internet whilst at sea. Definitely not reading the news. Please don’t blow up the planet while I’m away. Most times I’ve said that before it was a joke. Less of a joke this year, alas.

There’s a Big Idea piece scheduled for next week, but otherwise it’ll be pretty sparse here; at most I’ll post taunting pictures of gorgeous Pacific sunsets or such. Fortunately there’s the whole rest of the Internet for you to see! Go see it! Otherwise, be back in the real world in about a week.

Later!

New Books and ARCs

I’ve got a super-sized stack of new books and ARCs for today, because apparently March is like that. There’s some fabulous stuff in here — what grabs you? Tell us in the comments!

Asus c302ca Update

You’ll recall that last week I got a new laptop, the Asus c302ca, a 2-in-1 Chromebook; some of you wanted an update from me to let you know whether I thought it was a good investment.

My answer: Yes, I think so. With the caveat that it’s a $500 Chromebook and not $1000+ Windows or Mac rig, and thus one’s expectations should be set accordingly, I’ve been very happy with it. I’ve used it primarily for browsing and writing and within the scope of those two activities it’s done everything I’ve asked it to do without complaint; its processor (an Intel m3) would be pokey on a more intensive rig but zooms along here. The touchscreen is sharp and pretty and perfectly responsive in tablet mode, and the keyboard is, to me, very nice, with the layout the right size and the keys with just about the right amount of travel. This is a very comfortable machine for me.

I’ll note there are things I haven’t tried to do with this machine, in particular photoediting, which is a thing I do on my desktop. I’ll also note that I didn’t get this laptop for photoediting, and if I had I would have been silly. Again: Chromebook, and be aware of the limitations there. But within those limitations, it’s pretty great. I have no hesitation taking this along when I travel, which is a good thing as I have a pretty serious book tour coming up in a couple of weeks.

So, yes, if you’re in the market for a light-to-medium duty laptop for not a whole lot of money, then this is a pretty sharp choice, and I can recommend it.

March/April Big Idea Housekeeping Notes

Which are:

March Big Idea slots have been filled. If you asked for a March Big Idea slot and have not heard from me, sorry, full up.

April Big Idea slots will be filled probably in the week of March 12. If you’re waiting on a response for an April Big Idea slot, don’t panic! Wait a couple of weeks. Thanks.

Chuck, I Am Your Father: Another Bit of Twitter Nonsense Featuring Me and Chuck Wendig

Previously (featuring baby seal burritos).

Also Chuck’s new book Thunderbird is out, maybe go buy it or something, whatever, I’m not your dad.

My Brain is Apparently a Fallow Field Today, So Here, Have a Chvrches Video

It’s animated! I know you like animated stuff.

Today in Portraiture

Today I decided I was going to make an actual effort to get some mileage out of the prime lens (50mm 1.8f) I got with my dSLR. So I did a little portraiture. Here are the results.

Result: Acceptable!

New Books and ARCs, 2/24/17

Already the last weekend of February — yikes! Fortunately here is a fine stack of new books and ARCs to help ease us into March. What here would you want to read next? Tell us in the comments!

The New Laptop, February 2017 Edition

A couple of months ago I realized I was going to need a new laptop; the Dell XPS 12 I have, while still working perfectly well while plugged in, will only last for a couple of hours on battery — this is what happens to old laptops. I have a Chromebook Flip, which I actually really like, but it’s tiny (a 10-inch screen and a smaller-than-usual keyboard), and while it’s fine for short trips where I don’t have to do much writing, if I do have to write anything longer than an email or a short blog post, my hands get cramped quickly. What I really wanted was a another Chromebook Flip, just slightly larger.

Well, and that’s exactly what I ended up getting. The new laptop is the Asus Chromebook Flip c302, which has a 12.5 inch 1080p screen, a full-sized, backlit keyboard (which is actually hugely important to me), a relatively hefty processor for a Chromebook, good battery life and the ability to fold back into tablet format, all for $500. Like all Chromebooks, it’s largely dependent on one having a full-time connection to the Internet, but the one thing I really always need — a word processing program, here represented by Google Docs — is available offline too, so that’s fine. Also it like its smaller predecessor has the ability to run Android apps, many of which can also be used offline at this point. In short, it’s going to be able to do what I need it to do, nearly all of the time.

I did for a fair amount of time agonize between getting this or the new Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, which is roughly the same size as this and also has a tablet mode, but also has a more substantial processor and of course the ability to run Windows programs, including Word and Photoshop, both of which I use quite a lot. The deciding factors for me were twofold: One, the way I use my laptops typically doesn’t run toward using heavy-duty programs anyway (if I’m not using Photoshop, for example, I’m editing my photos on my phone, not my laptop), and two, this is two to three times cheaper, depending on which XPS configuration I got. I like that, not only because I’m cheap but because, having once had lost a fairly expensive laptop at the airport, and then (once I recovered it) having it stolen from me at another airport, I’m more comfortable traveling with a computer that I can afford to lose, or accidentally drop, or have eaten by bears, or whatever.

The Chromebook’s general need to be always connected was a drawback five years ago but honestly isn’t much of an issue now. My phone has a mobile hotspot so as long as I’m in the US it’s not like I ever don’t have a connection, and wifi is ubiquitous enough that you really have to go out of your way not to have it (and anyway, as noted above, the one thing I always need has an offline mode). In short, this is a computer that makes sense for how I work today.

Having now had it for a few hours, my general impression of it is pretty positive: The screen is pretty and bright (and 1080p is honestly perfectly acceptable in a screen this size), the keyboard is sufficiently large and easy to type on, and I’ve written pay copy on it, so it’s literally already paid for itself. If you’re a Chromebook fan, I can definitely recommend it (I’ll note I was considering between the c302 and the new Samsung Chromebook Plus, which spec-wise is very close to this computer, at around the same price. But the Samsung apparently doesn’t have a backlit keyboard, and that was the dealbreaker for me).

So, look! My new computer. If you see me on tour next month, you’ll see it too. Be sure to say hello to it.