Broken-Hearted Books

Michael Berry, who reviewed Old Man’s War and The Ghost Brigades for the San Francisco Chronicle (and who put TGB on his holiday recommendations list), explains on his blog why he’s not reviewing The Android’s Dream for the Chron. Basically it comes down to the fact he can’t review every single thing I write if he wants to cover a wide range of authors and books in his reviews.

This is a perfectly reasonable explanation, of course. But try explaining that to a neurotic book:

Me: TAD, I’ve got some bad news. Seems you won’t be getting a review in the San Francisco Chronicle.

TAD: But… why not? They reviewed your other books.

Me: Well, that’s just it, TAD. Since the guy’s reviewed the other books, he kinda feels that he has to pass you up in order to be fair to other authors and books.

TAD: It’s because of the sheep, isn’t it?

Me: Come on, TAD. Let’s not do this again.

TAD: “Don’t put sheep on the cover,” I said. “People get nervous around sheep.” But you said it would be fine. Now look. I’m being ignored. Over livestock.

Me: Don’t be like that. People love the cover. And you’re getting tons of reviews. You even got written up in the New York Times.

TAD: Don’t talk to me about the New York Times review. Stupid Dave Itzkoff.

Me: Hey, now. I had lunch with Dave. He’s a nice guy.

TAD: He thought I was crap! He should be slashed with tetanus-laden razor blades and then dropped into a pool of iodine. And then fed to cats. Feral ones.

Me: I liked Dave.

TAD: Sure, because he liked your other books. The ones without the farm animals. You know what it is. I’m too fat.

Me: What?

TAD: Look at me! I’m 400 pages!

Me: That’s not fat.

TAD: People look at me and wonder if I’m the new Robert Jordan book.

Me: They do not.

TAD: I’m fat and I’ve got sheep on my cover. You might as well just set me on the remainder table right now.

Me: You don’t think you might be being a little overdramatic about this.

TAD: Don’t patronize me, Mr. Campbell-Cheese-Board-Award.

The Ghost Brigades (entering the room): Hey, John, I have a question —

TAD: Oh, look. One of the favored children. The Chronicle reviewed him.

TGB: Uh… Did I come in at a bad time?

Me: We’re having a moment.

TGB: Again?

TAD: I heard that!

TGB: You know, I think I’ll come back later.

TAD: That’s right! Run from me. Like everyone else. Bastard.

TGB: Yeah, okay. I’m just gonna go.


TAD: (yelling after TGB) I hope you fall off the Hugo ballot and break your neck!

Me: Now you’re just being mean.

TAD: (sniffles) I just feel vulnerable, you know? I think it’s because I’m a stand-alone. Ghost Brigades has Old Man’s War. I’ve got no one.

Me: Well, I’m writing a followup to you now.

TAD: Really?

Me: Really. That should make you feel better.

TAD: (sniffles again) It does. I mean, maybe a little.

Me: You know what would make you feel even better?

TAD: Ice cream?

Me: Ice cream.

TAD: (claps) Yay! Ice cream!

We do this every day. Sometimes twice. So for all you book reviewers, if you don’t want to review The Android’s Dream, that’s totally your call. Just remember what I have to do on this end when you don’t. The ice cream bills alone are killing me.

45 Comments on “Broken-Hearted Books”

  1. Your posts about bacon cats were sane compared to this.

    Hey, hey, hey! I have conversations with items lying around the house all the time. And I don’t even drink cough syrup!

    Wait – is that bad?

  2. TAD, get a grip, gawdammit. Seriously. Look at those other guys. All serious … dead spouses, imperiled children, ‘splosions and whatnot. They’re not even really trying. You’re a comedy, dude. That’s hard work. You know that “dying is easy, comedy is hard” saying? They’re talking about you, buddy.
    Yeah, before you say it, I know ATTS was a comedy, too, but it was for “practice.” Pish. It’s like his condom broke or something.
    TAD, we love you for you. Be strong. It’s San Francisco’s loss.

  3. Monty:

    “I was wondering if you have any thoughts on this story:”

    I’m currently doing work for AMS, so it would be inappropriate for me to comment publicly at this time.

  4. Perhaps TAD will feel a little better:

    I bought two copies of TAD to give to friends as Christmas presents this year. Just heard from one of them.

    Scali’s novel is also much appreciated. On a side note, I went to renew my subscription to SFBC and paging through their premiums I found THREE of his books on their site. I admit that I did not order the other two but certainly may do so once I finish the one you’ve kindly provided. Feel free to tell Scali that they are worth every penny of the seventeen cents SFBC is demanding for them. ;-)

    So TAD was worth it to buy at retail price, the others are apparently worth it at 17 cents plus S&H. (grin)

    Dr. Phil

  5. Um, John, time to stop main lining the maple syrup. Or at least cut it with pancakes.

    and Anonymous Regular, you take th eTV, I’ll take the wicked phone.

    But on the other hand, Ice Cream! Yumm.

    “Daddy, why is all the ice cream gone?”

    “Well, Hunny, it’s like this…”

  6. Steve: Well, yeah. But details are still unspooling. The identity of the carrier will be the deal maker/breaker at the outset. And besides, you nevernevernevernever do ver. 1.0. Never.

  7. Scalzi:
    “I’m currently doing work for AMS, so it would be inappropriate for me to comment publicly at this time.”

    Oh. Well, darn, I should’ve figured on that. Are your other personalities able to comment? Sigh. Probably not. Well, thanks for trying.

  8. It would be funnier if TAD said “I hope you fall off the Hugo ballot and break your spine!

    Just sayin’

  9. Uh, John, you might want to go outside and get some air. It’s okay if WE’RE crazy, but YOU’RE supposed to be the sane adult here. When you can no longer tell the crazy people from the doctors, it might time to go outside and shovel snow. Also, you might want to limit your exposure to New York, rural Midwesterners just don’t have the right antibodies – two days and you’re seeing giant rodents and now your books are talking to you? I’m just saying…

  10. Damnz… Mr. Microphone beat me to it.

    Don’t worry TAD. I like you. In fact, right now, on my bookshelf, you’re the yummy cream filling in a Gabriel Garcia Marquez-John Updike love cookie.

  11. Jim, if you’ve got snow for us in Ohio to shovel, send it over.

    I’m having my spring allergy attack in January. If it doesn’t snow here soon, I’m moving to Colorado.

  12. Cassie, oh I’ve got snow, about 6 feet of it, nearly lost the 10 year old in it yesterday. And it was -32F this morning here in the Matsu when I was out filling the bird feeders before work. How do you want it delivered? FEDEX? You can have as much as you want, but I warn you S&H down the ALCAN is a bit much.

  13. This explains a lot.

    When I got home yesterday, TAD was on the top shelf (not where I’d put it). I heard muffled giggling.

    TGB was face down on the floor.

    And Heris Serrano was cowering in a corner.

    TAD…..the scary, yappy lap-dog of Science Fiction. Don’t mess with it!

  14. I about fell out of my chair laughing at the ‘new Robert Jordan book’ remark, but isn’t TAD more like half of a Robert Jordan book?

  15. I little angel asked me to tell TAD it will be reviewed in the next ish of Some Fantastic. Unfortunately, that’s another month away — for the first time in the history of the ‘zine, an issue will be late (but don’t tell TAD that, I don’t want TAD thinking it’s somehow to blame).

  16. Too lazy to read, Chad?

    (added later: This is a sarcastic comment. Chad is a fabulous reader)

  17. I thought sheep got nervous around people. In Wyoming at least. Where men are men and sheep are scared.

  18. Hmmm… don’t tell TAD, but I think you should pay for the ice cream from his profits.

  19. Scalzi,
    I think you’ve been writing a bit too much. Take a day off. And, please, spend it doing something other than talking to inanimate objects.

    By the way (the phrase, not the blog), as of tomorrow, ONLY 100 DAYS UNTIL PENGUICON! Which will be my first con. I’ll be glad to see you there.

  20. See, and I thought books only talked to authors during the writing and editing process. How long does this conversation keep going?

    Although, I too thought the video of TAD turing sideways and saying the line, “People look at me and wonder if I’m the new Robert Jordan book,” would be classic cinema.

  21. Too lazy to read, Chad?

    I’m just jaded, I guess. I mean, once you’ve crossed over into video, there’s just not that much excitement left in text.

    We demand more, always more, from our blogging authors. Once you’ve taped bacon to a cat, you can’t drop back to balancing biscuits on the nose of a poodle– you need to move forward, to, I don’t know, sticking sheep to an elephant with Velcro. Otherwise, we’re liable to get bored.

  22. Nathan – Heris Serrano cowering in a corner!?!? I’m sorry, but she’d kick TAD’s ass! (Actually, if she were real she’d kick BOTH our asses halfway to Pluto.)

    Mister Scalzi Sir – I worry about you. :-)

  23. Dear TAD: You’re not fat, you’re delightfully curvy! And many people not only do not fear sheep, but they love ’em (e.g. the Scottish and their haggis*). So get over your electric blues and be happy.

  24. Don’t listen to the people telling you to take a breath of sanity! That was the funniest blog post I’ve read for ages. Makes perfect sense to me.

    Give TAD a kiss from me. Or, y’know, the manly equivalent.

  25. I’m sorry, TAD. It’s not all good news, but at least I’m being honest.

    Very vague spoilers follow.

    At first, I had serious problems with certain important plot elements. But then I realized it all made sense when one realizes the full grand scale of the assholery of a certain crowd of people. This left me with a nasty taste.

    The final confrontation felt way too easy.

    And the shoes… those shoes are… they do not fit milieu. If that stuff is available, lesser forms would be possessed by flunkies; or at least they would be aware of the concept.

  26. A belated addition to the thread I know but, what is it about people who want snow? I mean, I have fourteen feet of it here – feel free to help yourselves!!

    And as for TAD – that becomes the “book that needs no introduction…”

  27. Well, I’m certainly not going to criticise Mr. Berry for candour – and considering the ghetto treatment genre fiction tends to get in already anorexic MSM book coverage, I guess somethings got to give somewhere.

    Still, I look forward to the day a prolific A-list ‘mainstream’ author like gets a e-mail along the same lines. “Sorry, Mr. Updike, but we’re going to pass on your latest because you’ve had a good run and we’d like to free up the space for… well, someone else.” Not that’s a literary bitch-a-rama I’d pay to see. :)

  28. ROFL! (Yes, I’m using the dreaded and so dated abbreviation because it fits, in this instance.)

    Was just catching up on your blog, and this post made me smile. A lot. Thanks.

  29. My earlier review was written in a rush; I did not adequately convey that the flaws I was pointing out were far from fatal. I a lot of the individual pages were great, the overall shape was good.
    The fight scene, shoes aside, was well written (I remember you saying it was hard; your effort paid off).

    So that makes about one and a half scenes I didn’t like (thought the whole scene I didn’t like happened to be the coronation, which was kind of pivotal. But it ends better than almost anything by Neal Stephenson), and a serious loathing for a not entirely sympathetic set of characters.

    So, in the end, do I like it? If I were to go back in time to advise my past self whether to buy the book, I would not recommend… waiting for the paperback.

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