Interview in Some Fantastic
Posted on July 24, 2006 Posted by John Scalzi 13 Comments
For those of you who don’t already know what I think about everything, the SF zine Some Fantastic has a pretty long interview with me in its latest edition (note: 2.2 MB pdf download in that last link). In the interview you’ll discover why Old Man’s War protagonist John Perry is not my “Mary Sue” (and which character is), why the war in my books doesn’t map to the wars down here, why I don’t do media tie-ins, and why I work on novels more than short fiction. In sum, lots of interesting yabber yabber. Enjoy.
Well that was interesting.
I read all three of the books you cite as great tie-ins, and I agree wholeheartedly on Ford and Card’s works (although I don’t think Ford’s other ST book, How Much for Just the Planet?, gets enough props — bringing slapstick and Gilbert and Sullivan to the Trek universe was brilliant).
But I have to admit that I read the novelization of E.T. when I was ten, and other than the fact that the novel used M&Ms instead of Reeses Pieces (and I wouldn’t swear to that actually), I can’t remember a bloody thing about it. What made it such a standout tie-in?
If I remember correctly (Its been a long time for me too), it told alot of the background to ET, including that he was something like 10,000 years old. Also, he developed a very creepy crush on Elliot’s mom, resorting to stalking her through the house.
Ah, the crush wasn’t creepy, it was funny.
The reason the ET tie-in was successful was that it had a gentle and humorous expository style.
I don’t blame you for not writing short fiction – the pay rates really are abysmal. I just wish that the market was such that more authors would write short fiction.
I’m of the opinion that a given cool idea has a story length that it’s best suited for; different lengths will either be too rushed or will belabor the point (not all speculative fiction is wrapped around one or more cool ideas but many are.) I’ve read (often only parts of) several mediocre novels that would have made great novellas if they hadn’t been milked and stretched so far.
Short fiction is often more poignant – Asimov was at his best in shorts, Twilight Zone’s short length often made it more intense (yea not a written but generally adapted from SF shorts). I’m not against novels, just wish there was a more balanced market.
I pretty much agree with you, Stan: There no point making a story shorter or longer than it needs to be. The one thing I do hope for electronic distribution of texts is not that they replace books (I doubt they will) but that it’ll give people an economically viable way of distributing things like novellas, which are poorly served by the current book industry.
Nice interview. I liked the talk about your working style. You seem to be very dedicated to your craft and very disciplined.
It’s nice that I seem that way.
Well, all we have is your word for it. (smiley-face thing here) Basically, as a photographer, I’m envious of your ability to produce quality product on time. I can’t do that…
What does it mean for a character to be your “Mary Sue”?
A “Mary Sue” is a thinly-veiled autobiographical character who everybody adores and who is becomes critically essential to the story. Here’s a useful Wikipedia entry on the subject.
Since you don’t have any Open Threads, I wanted to mention here that I finally got OMW, am enjoying it greatly, and that you made me laugh out loud with your nod to Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and Dave McKean (p.167 of the hardcover edition).
Enough time wasted, need to get back to the story.
I finished OMW today and liked it a lot. When I saw in this post that Perry is not your Mary Sue, I thought, “No, because Perry’s a lot more easy going than Scalzi is!” I dismissed it as fannish assumption of knowing an author until I read the article and you said nearly the same thing. I guess you present a pretty accurate version of yourself on this blog. (I think that comes from being accurate with words. I’m often told that I sound “just like” myself in emails. Well, I should hope so!)
I’ve already got GB to read next and “Questions for a Soldier,” which I suppose is what I should actually read next.
I’ll write an email to give my full opinion of the book, but I’ll reiterate that I liked it. My mum, to whom I gave the book as a birthday present, said, “I really, really liked it.
There is something about it’s last chapter. I have read it like three times, just that chapter!” (And now that I’ve pasted that in, I’m going to have to go back and read that chapter again myself.)
Thank you, John, for writing and please continue!