Old Man’s War, German and French Editions


Someone in one of the comment threads was wondering if there were any German editions of my books, which prompted me to go to Amazon.de and find out if the German translation of Old Man’s War was listed. And indeed it is: Apparently in Germany it’s going by the name Krieg der Klone, which, somewhat loosely translated, means “The Clone War.” Here’s me hoping LucasFilm doesn’t have any German lawyers. OMW (or, more accurately, KdK) will be out in June in the German language; start saving your Euros now.

As long as I was checking the German language version, I thought I’d check the French language version as well, and, to my surprise, its publication date was apparently last Wednesday. In the French language it’s known as Le vieil homme et la guerre, which translates to “The Old Man and the War,” which has a nice Hemingway-esque ring to it, I think. I checked Amazon.ca to see if this version of OMW will be available in Canada; it appears it will be, on February 5th. Should some of you Francophones in the Great White North get hold of the book, you’ll have to let me know how the translation is.

Another Thing I Want To Know…

Who was the idiot who switched my 401(k) last year to a 100% allocation to a managed bond fund? I mean, holy crap. It’s like someone somewhere said, “hmmm, how can we make sure this 401(k) achieves the smallest amount of performance humanly possible? I sure as Hell know I didn’t do this. I suspect whoever did this was the same person who hid my wallet earlier in the week. It’s all of a piece, you know?

(I suspect what happened was that the company administering the 401(k) funds was switched this last year and if we did not express a preference when the switchover happened, the account got knocked into the most conservative option possible. And I can’t remember if I expressed a preference. Bah.)

I called up my 401(k) provider and switched it to the S&P 500 Index fund option, which outperformed the bond fund 3-to-1 in the last year, so that’s taken care now. Now as long as the economy doesn’t entirely stall, I may still be able to retire sometime around age 80. Go, 401(k)! Go!

The John Scalzi Experience — LIVE In YOUR Town!

My publicist says I can mention this now, so: I’ll be doing a book tour this spring, in support of The Last Colony, in late April and early May. We’re still scheduling dates and locations so I can’t give you specifics at the moment, however I can say that we do plan to tour the west coast and the midwest, with a couple of east coast hits thrown in just for fun. Of course, when I have official dates and cities, I’ll share them here for your edification and enjoyment.

Naturally I’m very excited about this. This will actually be my second author tour, the first one being a tour I did back in 2000, when The Rough Guide to Money Online came out. That was a three city tour (DC, NYC and Chicago) that was scheduled for the week after the 2000 elections, on the rationale that, heck, the week after the national elections? What possible sort of news could be happening then? Oh, uh, yeah. Not a great tour. This one will be different. Oh, yes.

Anyway, this constitutes a head’s up: Look out, here I come. I think I’ll make tour T-Shirts.

Update, 1:01 pm: Dan writes in the comments:

Your tour needs a slick title. Something ambiguous yet evocative with its senselessness.

How about: John Scalzi’s Puddle of Heads tour ’07.

See? It doesn’t make a damn bit of sense, but it sure sounds cool.

Well, all right, let’s make it a contest: Whoever comes up with the best tour name — as decided by me, of course — will get the tour title on whatever T-Shirts I make (presuming I make t-shirts), plus a free t-shirt, and a signed copy of The Last Colony when it comes out.

Get to it! Let’s say this contest is open until 11:59:59 on Sunday 1/28.

Spanking — And Not the Fun Kind

Out in California, an Assemblywomn named Sally Lieber has proposed the state outlaw spanking — not between two consenting adults, because how would it be California without a little recreational spanking? — but between adults and children; specifically, the proposed law would make it a misdemeanor to paddle kids under the age of four, with punishments eventually reaching a year in the slammer (and a $1,000 fine, which, frankly, is nothing compared to a year in the slammer). The proposed law doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere, and even if it did it wouldn’t affect me, because I live in Ohio. But it did give me a moment to think about what I think about spanking, which is, ironically, that it is most effective under the age of four, i.e., the age which Ms. Lieber suggests banning it.

I’ll begin by noting that I think as punishment, spanking is pretty damn ineffective. I speak from personal experience, because I got spanked on a regular basis as a kid — at least two or three times a month — and since my mom was not wanton smacker of her children, you can assume I did something egregious enough to warrant a spanking as punishment. But inasmuch as I was averaging a couple three spankings a month, how effective could it have been as punishment? I was still needing to be punished on a regular basis. If this was a punishment for bad behavior, it wasn’t working. It’s for this reason that I can’t recall ever spanking Athena to punish her for bad behavior. I know my daughter well enough to suspect that spanking as a punishment will just make her more stubborn; to a large extent that’s how it worked for me.

If one doesn’t spank as punishment, what does one spank for? In my case, on the rare occasions that I spanked Athena (I can only remember two occasions), it was to use the spanking as a deterrent to a specific sort of dangerous activity. The last time I spanked Athena was when she was two-and-a-half or three, when she developed an unhealthy obsession with something likely to get her all banged up (I want to say wall sockets, but, honestly, I can’t remember specifically), and us warning her away from it wasn’t seeming to work — she just wasn’t old enough to grasp the idea that there would be negative consequences.

So when she did it again, I spanked her — not to punish her but so that she would associate that particular activity with physical pain (although a much lesser physical pain than the one that could occur from the activity itself) . It worked, because she stopped that particular activity. Shortly thereafter, she became old enough to understand the idea that some things really are bad for you and you don’t have to try them out. We haven’t spanked her since. Which goes to my point: Spanking my eight year old daughter now makes no sense, because she’s old enough to understand things. Spanking my two-and-a-half year old daughter then made good sense, because I needed to a way to keep her from dangerous behaviors when she was too young to fully understand the implications of those behaviors.

All of this is not to say that I don’t understand where Lieber is coming from. The last time I went to Chicago, I was stopped at a street light and this woman was coming out of a corner store with a child who could have been no more than two years old in tow. The two year old was crying about something or other, and suddenly the woman wheeled around and smacked the kid hard on the face and started yelling at the kid. It was absolutely appalling, and then someone was honking at me to get my car in gear. That woman wasn’t spanking her child, but I have no doubt that she does, and I have no doubt that those spankings are doing that child rather more harm than good. Be that as it may, I don’t regret spanking my own child when I felt it was was necessary, because I felt it did more good than harm. If I lived in a state where spanking was banned, and I had a young child, I would be very likely to ignore the law and spank my kid if I thought it was what I needed to do. I’m pretty confident I could make a good case for having done so.

Personally, I just feel lucky I have a kid who I only had to spank a couple of times, and haven’t had to spank in years. I suppose I could chalk that all up to wonderful parenting, cough, cough, but I really suspect that’s not the whole story. It’s nice when your kid makes the executive decision in her own little head that you as parents might actually be worth listening to, from time to time. She’s a smarter kid than I was when I was her age, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Androids of the Caribbean; Appearance Re-Cap


Claudia of Ex Patria sends along this lovely photo, of The Android’s Dream sunning itself on a Caribbean cruise. To which I thought: my book gets to go on a Caribbean cruise and I don’t? Bwaaaah. But I do very much like how the blue of the sky — and the clouds — matches the book cover. This was a book made for Caribbean cruising, I would say. Thanks for passing that along, Claudia!

My appearance at the Cincinnati Jospeh-Beth bookstore last night was very cool. The appearance was well-attended, which is what you hope for, and everyone seemed to have a good time. I read from TAD and also from The Sagan Diary, and also regaled the folks with tales of Bacon Cat and the time Krissy almost killed me. And then I signed books — just like it was promised I would — and I think most people came away from it happy.

I was also very impressed by how welcome the Joseph-Beth made me feel for my appearance; there were signs all over the store announcing my signing, and at the signing itself there was this awesomely large banner with the cover of TAD on it. I mean, dude. Banners. They know how to press an author’s ego gratification buttons. And they let me take banner home. I could squee. But I won’t. It wouldn’t be manly.

In any event, all you authors out there, if you have a chance to do a signing in Cincinnati, I really recommend you do it at the Jospeh-Beth. They’re good people and it’s a good shop. I had lots of fun.