NYT Review Fallout

There’s been some interesting commentary and discussion following Dave Itzkoff’s NYT Book Review piece on me and my books, so I thought I’d post links to some of them I’ve found, for the edification of Whatever readers. In no particular order:

* Instapundit notes the piece, and has some thoughts on the idea of Starship Troopers being fascist, roping in Spider Robinson to rebut that claim and also making a point about some of the “chickenhawk” rhetoric from earlier in the year. Also commenting on the Heinlein tip are Blue Crab Boulevard and The Colossus of Rhodey.

* Sarah Weinman declares that “Dave Itzkoff makes a good case for reading John Scalzi’s work,” among the other things she notes, and Jenny Rappaport, Toby Buckell and Gwenda Bond congratulate me for showing up in the Times (with Toby and Jenny adding additional thoughts regarding the review itself). Thanks, I wish I could say I did any or the work for that, but I suspect that thanks should go to my ever-fabulous publicist, Dot Lin.

* SF Signal praises me for not attacking Dave Itzkoff when I wrote my response to the review; apparently authors getting bent out of shape with reviews is the new black. Well, here’s the thing. First, of course, the review is generally positive concerning my work, so getting all bent out of shape would just be churlish. As I’ve said before, I’m happy with the review, and pleased Dave Itzkoff took the time to think about the books.

Second, even in the theoretical scenario where I wanted to scoop out a reviewer’s eyes, pour gasoline into his sockets and then light them aflame and chortle as he went howling blindly into the night, it’s just not a good idea. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, and in the long run, we all know if what we’ve written or created is good. I remember once I panned an album by The Cult, which led to lead singer Ian Astbury sending me a scathing e-mail. To which I responded, basically, “Dude, what are you doing? In a month people will forget I wrote the review, and you’ll still be Ian Astbury. The next time you have a groupie on top of you because you wrote ‘Love Removal Machine,’ you’ll look back on this and laugh.” To which Mr. Astbury admitted I had a point.

* Sarah Monette uses the moment to discourse on what reviewers don’t get about science fiction, fantasy and horror, which leads both to a lively discussion in her comment thread, and an amusingly rueful followup post.

* Andrew Wheeler is not impressed with Itzkoff’s review in the slightest, and GalleyCat’s Ron Hogan pretty much declares war on Itzkoff in his commentary. Note to self: Don’t invite Itzkoff and Hogan to the same party. Or, perhaps, do, and make sure the walls have been securely tarped.

That’s what I’ve seen. If you’ve seen other commentary about it, feel free to drop it into the comment thread.


Whatever Best of 2006

We’re now officially in the final week of 2006, which means it’s time for my annual “Best Of” list of Whatever entries, highlighting the entries I think were the most notable of the last calendar year. As it happens, this year’s list seems to be heavy on entries about writing, but all things considered I don’t suppose that’s all that surprising. I do think overall it was a good year for the Whatever, but as BaconCat reminds us above, all Internet dreams of fame — and pretensions of quality — are fleeting.

I suspect I may be doing a couple more end of the year compilation entries over the next week; beats having to think, you know?

Anyway, for your reading edification, in chronological order:

January is National Literary Fraud Month!
There is Always Another Way
The John Scalzi Agent FAQ
Writing Tips for Non-Writers Who Don’t Want to Work at Writing
The Money Entry
Interesting But Unverifiable Facts About the 2006 Campbell Class
Purity Balls
The 2006 Stupidest FanFic Writer Award Gets Retired Early
10 Things Teenage Writers Should Know About Writing
Why There Are No Great Video Game Critics (Yet)
How (And How Not) To Market To Me When I’m in Blogger Mode
The Value of (Long) Fiction Online
A Special Message for Scott “Pluto Hayta” Westerfeld
How I Spent My Summer Vacation
Clearly You People Thought I Was Kidding (The BaconCat Entry)
Thinking About The God Delusion
How to Make a Schadenfreude Pie
On Moral Cowardice
The Lie of Star Wars as Entertainment
The Occam’s Razor Theory of Literary Rejection
On Theocracies
You Can Get This Book For Free. You Should Buy It.
On Carl Sagan
On the New York Times Sunday Book Review Piece

If there’s a Whatever piece from 2006 you’ve enjoyed but I’ve not put on this reading list, by all means give it a shoutout in the comments.



Blindsight 2nd Printing; TAD Review in Flint Journal Review

Congratulations to Peter Watts: His book Blindsight is indeed headed for a second printing, giving more folks an opportunity to check it out. As you may recall, the second printing appeared in some doubt earlier, so I’m glad to see the book has reached that milestone.

Watts has graciously given some credit for this to me and Cory Doctorow and Kathryn Cramer, all of whom had pimped the book enthusiastically, and assures us each that we will receive a third of his first born. I think Peter will have to need to clear that with his first born’s eventual mother, who may be surprised at his plans, and take exception to them. Also, I’m not entirely sure what I would do with a third of a first born, or, also, how to explain how I came in possession of said third to whichever law enforcement official would inevitably question me about said possession. It may be better all the way around if said theoretical first born stay in one piece, and in Peter’s custody. But I appreciate the thought.

As for me, The Android’s Dream has garnered another positive review, this time through the good graces of Gene Mierzejewski of the Flint Journal Review:

This is a zany, exciting and hilarious yarn that spins in more directions than a weather vane in a tornado… “Android’s Dream” is a joy that provides more proof that John Scalzi soon will command a slot among the genre’s best-loved authors.

Shucks. And here I was planning to become one of the genre’s best-loved authors by embedding candy in every book I sell. But I’ve been informed by Tor that the “candy-encrusted pages” plan had to be suspended because caramel wreaks havoc with the printing presses. Clearly we need a new generation of candy-tolerant presses, and I call on engineers everywhere to solve this pressing crisis.

One other bit of book trivia: When I checked my Amazon rankings this morning, as all authors do the first thing they do in the morning, before they shower or shave or even open their eyes (the braille reader is paying off!), I saw that Old Man’s War was ranked at 1,041, and The Ghost Brigades was at 1,042. Sequential Amazon rankings for sequential Scalzi books! I love it when teh Intarweebs line up their tubes like that to amuse me.

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