Voting is Done

Now comes the hard part, which is a hell of a thing to say about Iraq, considering how hard everything has been for Iraqis for so long. Good luck to the Iraqis. They’re going to need it, and I don’t mean that in the dismissive sarcastic sense in which it’s usually meant. They’re actually going to need some good luck; there are a lot of people who want the idea of democracy in Iraq to fail, and not just the terrorists.

It’s an understatement to say that I’ve not been a fan of how the Iraqi occupation has been handled by the Bush administration, nor does it appear very likely that I’m going to suddenly change my opinion on that score. But these elections count as a success, and one that the Bush folks can rightly feel proud about. I’m not at all sanguine about the potential of the Bushies to snatch failure out of the slavering jaws of success, but that’s not the same as hoping for it. Far from it — I’m hoping this ends up a nice fat foreign policy coup for Bush, because the end result would be new functioning democracy in the Middle East, which is not exactly riddled with them, and democracy, as we all know, is the worst kind of government there is except every other kind.

What would be really interesting (and, to be clear, which I absolutely don’t expect to happen) would be if the newly-elected national government of Iraq thanked the US for its service and politely asked it to take all its people and go. That would indeed be a test of US intentions; I’m sure the families of US servicepeople wouldn’t mind. But it is, of course, a mere hypothetical. We’ll be there for a while yet, and I don’t imagine things are going to get better quickly.

But again — it’s the first step. And it was a test of faith that Iraqis passed with flying colors. People were out and about trying to kill Iraqis to keep them from voting (and killed four dozen), but the turnout appears to be in the 55% of registered voters range, which is in the same neighborhood as the 2004 US election. It takes more than a small amount of courage to vote when the suicide bombers are out and about. Another test of faith will be to see how all the Iraqis fare under the new government — the Sunnis, who held power with Saddam, largely boycotted the election, and I’m interested to see what that means for the new government.

As I said: Now comes the hard part. But it’s good to have gotten to the hard part at all. Iraq and the US could have (and in the case of the US, should have) arrived at it with more grace. But it would be foolish not to be thankful Iraq is there. I’m not that foolish.


SF Chronicle Appearance, and Men’s Packages (Largely Unrelated Topics)

Ooh, look, a review in today’s San Francisco Chronicle:

Scalzi skillfully upends Robert A. Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers,” creating a cadre of old souls in young bodies who must learn to become killing machines. He sidesteps most of the clichés of military science fiction, delivers fast-paced scenes of combat and pays attention to the science underpinning his premise. All in all, “Old Man’s War” is a solid, somewhat old-fashioned adventure story, with just enough touches of humor and genuine feeling to make it stand out from the pack.

Neat. The review also mentions that I am a “popular Web blogger,” which is the first time I’ve heard it put that way — usually it’s “Weblogger” or “blogger.” Is this the birth of a new if slightly etymologically redundant neologism? Stay tuned! Also reviewed: Charlie Stross’s The Family Trade (“Stross brings to fantasy the same kind of sly humor and clear-eyed extrapolation that he previously brought to space opera and horror”), Steven Gould’s Reflex (“After a satisfying conclusion, though, the door is left open for further sequels, and many readers will gladly welcome Davy and Millie back for a third or fourth adventure”) and Jeff Smith’s Bone graphic novel omnibus (“‘Bone’ is one of the rare recent comics suited to the widest possible range of ages”). Good company, and I’ll note that OMW, Family Trade and Reflex are all Tor books, so rock on, Tor’s publicity department!

Many thanks to Mythago for the link. Also, in an entirely unrelated development, guys, you’ll want to check out her recent commentary, in which she unloads the real truth about what women want when it comes to the size of a guy’s package, followed by reader commentary.

I have my own opinions on the matter, which may or may not be relevant, coming as they do from a fellow who has been happily and heterosexually married for nearly ten years. However, one thing I think is true is that there’d be a lot more happy women out there if men spent as much time working on various ways to please their partners as they do obsessing on whether they’ve got a Vienna Sausage or a Dodger Dog. This is my philosophy, anyway. Women, please let me know if I’m on the wrong track here.


Interview and Signing/Appearance

One: Here’s an interview with me at the Fresno Bee, the newspaper at which some of you will recall I started my full-time professional writing career — they hired me as their film critic in 1991, when I was 22, and young-looking enough that I would get carded going into R-rated films. No joke. It’s much less of a problem now. Anyway, I had a great time in Fresno (among other things, while I was there I met my wife), so if any of you ever make Fresno jokes in my presence, I’m gonna have to have Krissy come over and kick your ass. I’m just saying, is all. And I’m glad I am still remembered there. If you follow the link, note that whoever coded that page did a really terrible job — it’s sometimes difficult to see where the questions end and the answers begin, and there are a couple of funny line breaks. But overall it’s readable.

Two: If you ever wanted to see me live — you know, to get a clean shot — I’ll be doing a chat/signing at the Dayton Barnes and Noble on Saturday, February 19 between 6:30 and 8:30 (pm) to promote… Book of the Dumb 2, which you may or may not recall is also in the stores at this moment. I haven’t been self-promoting this little gen of humor with the same embarrassing fervor that I’ve been using to flog Old Man’s War, but that’s not to say a) that it’s not a fine, fine book, or b) that it’s not doing well. In fact, from what I know of the early sales figures, it’d already sold twice the print run of Old Man’s War by the end of 2004, without much in the way of promotion. It’s an interesting illustration of the difference between genre fiction and mass-market, general interest non-fiction, and also why I’ll continue to write general non-fiction for the foreseeable future.

(This is not to say that OMW is not doing well — from what I understand, it’s doing fabulously for a hardcover from a first-time unknown science fiction author. It’s just a matter of differing definitions of success, according to genre.)

At the speaking/signing I’ll be reading from Book of the Dumb 2, talking a bit about the nature of human stupidity, taking questions and also, of course, signing books. I’ll be focusing on BotD2, but I’ll be happy to chat about and sign any other of my books you might bring with you and/or buy at the store. Hint: if you haven’t picked up BotD2 yet, it would be a great time to do so.

So: 2/19, 6:30 – 8:30, the Dayton Barnes and Noble. Be there, or be somewhere else.

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