Word Choices

The new GOP buzzword: Fascism

President Bush in recent days has recast the global war on terror into a “war against Islamic fascism.” Fascism, in fact, seems to be the new buzz word for Republicans in an election season dominated by an unpopular war in Iraq.

Bush used the term earlier this month in talking about the arrest of suspected terrorists in Britain, and spoke of “Islamic fascists” in a later speech in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Spokesman Tony Snow has used variations on the phrase at White House press briefings…

White House aides and outside Republican strategists said the new description is an attempt to more clearly identify the ideology that motivates many organized terrorist groups, representing a shift in emphasis from the general to the specific.

Leaving aside the fact that this administration’s own irritatingly authoritarian tendencies continually need to be kept in check by the judiciary, allow me to say that I wish my president and his brain trust had a better plan to combat our enemies than just attempting to rebrand them. Perhaps if they had a plan, we could call them what they are: Terrorists. But they apparently don’t. And here we are.

The Scalzi Award


Here I am with fellow Campbell nominee Brandon Sanderson (whose excellent Elantris and Mistborn you ought to go buy, like, now), who clutches the first (and probably only) Scalzi award. And what is the Scalzi award? Well, I’ll tell you. During the Worldcon, I was chatting with the folks at Larry Smith booksellers, when a couple of guys came up to me and asked me if I wouldn’t mind signing a triangular-shaped piece of LEGO for them. Well, it’s not actually the most unusual autograph request I’ve ever had, so, okay. As I was signing we chatted; one of them mentioned he worked for a bookstore in Utah, and that recently they had a signing for Brandon, at which more than 200 people turned out. I think I said I wished I had turnout like that.

Fast forward to the party after the Hugo award, and finally all is revealed: The guys I was chatting with were good friends of Brandon’s, and with my signature as a guide, they crafted their writer pal the Scalzi award, a consolatory prize for losing the Campbell to me. Apparently Brandon had adopted me as his nemesis, as you can see in the following revealing photo, in which he pre-emptively curses me for winning the award which should rightfully be his (this one is good, too, because it comes complete with fist-shaking action). In my hand, incidentally, is the great pen Scalzibane, to be driven into my heart on the day Brandon defeats me in literary competition, or in mortal battle, or, perhaps, in the race to the last muffin in the green room.

All of which, I must say, endears Brandon to me immensely. I wish I were a more suitable nemesis, but I just find all of this damn funny. Brandon was the other first-year nominee on the Campbell ballot this year, so he’s got another year to make that award his. Based on his books — and the imminent threat of Scalzibane — he’s got one of my Campbell nomination slots for 2007. Get ready for sushi, Brandon.

Update: Isaac Stewart, architect of the Scalzi Award, tells his story here.

“Where Has All the Science Fiction Gone?”

A couple of weeks ago, I did a talk at the Kenton Country Library on the topic “Where Has All the Science Fiction Gone?” — it was the overall theme of a larger symposium, so I applied myself toward it. As it happens, the Cincinnati public television station sent someone to make a recording of my blatherations, and now they’ve put the entire talk — 74 minutes — online, in streaming Microsoft video format.

Here’s the page that will pop up a standalone video player (I’m currently the top feature, but I imagine that will slide down over time)

Here’s the page that will run in a browser window.

In addition to the general talk, I also read from two works: The first part of the first chapter of Old Man’s War, around about the 48-minute mark, and also “New Directives for Employee – Manxtse Relations,” a short-short story which I suspect almost none of you know about, at about the 1:04 mark. I also name drop a lot of folks, including Charlie Stross, China Mieville, Hal Duncan, David Louis Edelman and other current writing notables during the course of the talk, and make some general points about the state of science fiction today. And of course you’ll get to see me blather on for an hour and a quarter, apparently without drawing breath. It’s a skill.

Those of you who have never seen me in action are, heh, well, in for a treat, I suppose. One of the things about this video is that I stand and pace during the talk, which means that the poor cameraman always had to pan to keep up with me; sometimes I walk right out of frame and it takes him a second to catch up. It’s me, not him. Also, you’ll see that Ian McDonald’s description of me as “fidgety as a whippet” is not really exaggeration. I got tired just watching me. Also, clearly, I need to watch the “uhhhhhh” and “you know” moments. But by and large I think it’s an interesting piece, and if nothing else shows that I can extemporize at great length — which is to say I had no idea what I was going to say about anything until I opened my mouth and began to speak.

One thing: Patrick doesn’t actually call me every day. But I feel his presence. Yes I do.