This Entry is All About Me (As if All the Others Aren’t)

Actually, it’s all about my books and stuff, which means it’s about my output, rather than me directly. But that’s close enough for government work.

* My personal copies of the French version of Old Man’s War have arrived and I’m quite pleased — finally, a foreign-language version that I can sort of, kind of read! Seriously, it’s surprising to me how much of the text I can puzzle out; naturally it helps quite a bit that it’s a translation of my own work, so I always have a vague idea of what’s supposed to be going on anyway. One thing I like is how much nicer stuff sounds in French. The French translation of BrainPal, for example: “Amicerveau.” Excellent. From what I can puzzle out the translation appears pretty good, so thanks to translator Bernadette Emerich for that.

I’m also pleased to find out the cover is in fact original artwork for the book; it’s done by Didier Florentz, who has posted a picture of the whole art on his Web site. It’s inspired by the Special Forces attack on Coral in the last couple of chapters of the book, and you know what? It’s just damn cool. I sent him an e-mail thanking him and asking him if he had a print I could get from him; I hope he reads English.

The French version of the book is available in Canada, incidentally, so you Francophones up there who have a desire to read me in your native tongue now have a way to do it. Have fun with that, you crazy kids!

* Whatever reader Patrick Vera informs me that the Japanese Amazon site has up the cover art for the Japanese version of Old Man’s War, and here it is:

Patrick surmised that this is meant to be taken from the Battle of Coral, and I agree. And look! They’re green! As they’re supposed to be. The Japanese version of the book, so far as I can tell via Babelfish, is supposed to be out on April 30.

* The SFSite has up reviews of not one but two of my books: The Android’s Dream and Coffee Shop. The reviewer for TAD (Peter D. TIllman) is very happy with the book:

This is a pretty near perfect light planetary romance, ending splendidly with all the Bad Biters badly-bit, and the Good Guys (and Girl) well-rewarded. Really a wonderfully entertaining book — definitely a keeper. This is my second John Scalzi novel — I liked Old Man’s War, but that was apprentice work, compared to The Android’s Dream.

The Coffee Shop review is not as glowy — the reviewer (Paul Kincaid) does not agree with all my points — but is generally positive:

What is particularly unusual and refreshing about this book, and about Scalzi’s whole take on writing, is that he does not confine himself to the writing of fiction. This is not a book that follows the old, old pattern of taking us through the various stages of worldbuilding, character creation, dialogue and the like — in fact Scalzi treats all these with a studied disinterest. For him, writing includes journalism, writing for web sites, even advertising, all of which he does or has done. From these skills (normally not even mentioned in such books) he learns very different lessons from those usually passed on to novelists, lessons about meeting the deadline and fitting the brief which infuse this book.

I think it’s interesting that Kincaid notes how little the business end of writing gets discussed in writing books for novelists; I think he’s correct, and I think that while there’s certainly nothing wrong with a focus on the art of writing, a little more about the business of things wouldn’t kill novelists (and aspiring novelists) to read and know.

* Whoops, I missed this when I first posted the entry: The Ghost Brigades anchors SFSite’s Best SF and Fantasy Books of 2006: Readers’ Choice list, in there with books by Vernor Vinge, Charlie Stross, Peter Watts, Naomi Novik and Scott Lynch, whose Lies of Locke Lamora takes the #1 spot. Cool. There’s also the notation at the bottom of the page that suggests that I might have been ranked even higher if I didn’t have more than one book out in the year of contention (The Android’s Dream and Old Man’s War are specified). These are the risks you take, and I’m happy to take them.

* Finally, if you happened to lose your copy of The Android’s Dream on a recent Korean Air Lines flight, I want to thank you, because you helped me pick up a new fan, as this e-mail I received yesterday details:

I was flying back to the U.S. from Hong Kong last week, and had to change planes at Seoul. A copy of your book The Android’s Dream was on the seat next to mine for the trans-pacific leg of the flight. I kept waiting for the owner to show up, but he/she never did. Once they shut the doors I appropriated it, thinking it must be an interview with Phillip K. Dick, and had to be better than reading the Skymall catalog.

Aside from brief pauses to eat I did not put that thing down for 12 hours. That book was exceptional. Robin’s dialogue in particular had me laughing out loud and disturbing people all around me who were trying to sleep.

Unable to thank whoever left the book on the KAL flight I thought I’d thank you. So thank you.

Excellent. Although I’m sorry someone lost their copy of TAD — unless this is part of some joint Tor Books-Korean Air Lines effort to expand the audience for science fiction on trans-Pacific flights. In which case: Mission accomplished, folks. Mission accomplished.

33 Comments on “This Entry is All About Me (As if All the Others Aren’t)”

  1. He’s not my classmate; he was in graduate school when I was in college. But we were pretty good friends back in the day, and I’m always happy to see him on the rare occasion I do. I keep hoping we’ll cross paths at a convention or two.

    I did see the review, and I’m glad he liked it.

  2. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me
    Chang, father of pangolins

    Wow, that artwork is the shit! Really cool! It fits totally with what I imagined the worlds of OMW and TGB to look like.

    I hope that i someday get published and the artwork for my book looks like something out of the book: Uplifted hypersexual koalas uprising against humans so they can uplift tortoises and have sex with them.

    I know, I know, Charlie Stross did it already, but I’m going to make it more American.

  3. Traveller 1: “Did you lose your book?”

    Traveller 2: “Nah. I got almost all the way through the first chapter, and realised that the whole damn thing was just one long fart joke, so I left the stupid book on the plane.”

  4. I love the art as well. When I clicked on the link to Didier’s site, and tried to save as a desktop background, I got the following message:

    Les images de ce site song copyright Didier Florentz, merci de votre comprehension!

    Which I’m assuming translates into: These are copyrighted images on Didier Florentz site, thank you for your understanding.

    If I got that right, I’m amazed that my five years of french has allowed me to understand atleast the gist of things and to say: Ou est le salle de bains (Where is the bathroom), Je suis Kathryn(I am Kathryn), Sacre Fromage (Holy Cheese), and Merde!

    If you can get either of those pieces of art in high rez background images, please let us know.

  5. You had me guffawing in the break room today, John. TAD is great, it takes considerable talent to write good humorous fiction.

  6. like the artwork. leave it to the japanese to give jane sagan hooters like a playboy playmate though; and am i imagining things, or can you see nipples through her body armor?

  7. Regarding the Korean art – I never imagined the OMW universe to be so sexy. It looks as if some aliens are about to be killed and then some sort of playful mounting will take place.

    Can we learn about these other cultures by what artwork they choose to use for OMW? I think Chang should write us up a thesis.

  8. Scalzi:
    You mentioned you are reading the French edition of OMW. Are you finding that anything is getting lost in the translation? A lot of times watching American movies with German subtitles the dialogue is not even remotely close.

  9. AlmaAlexander – I'm a scientist by education, a duchess by historical accident and an author who shares writing tips and glimpses of a writer's life, the mundane and the magic

    Just FYI, I am now the proud possessor of copy#415 of the limited numbered signed edition of the Coffee Shop book – and it’s a delight.

    I don’t plan on leaving it on any airplanes. At all.

  10. Ray:

    I don’t read or speak French with any sort of facility at all, but from what I can see just skimming, it pretty much seems that what I wrote is in there. There are a few changes that i’ve noticed, mostly relating to slang and idiom, which is to be expected in a translation. Overall, it seems fine. Someone who understands French and English both would have to take a look and tell me what they think, however. It’s certain I’m not getting the full picture.


    You’re imagining things.

    However, remember that in the book, all of the soldiers (not withstanding being green) are meant to be very attractive, so it’s not entirely out of line with the text.

  11. “Amicerveau”… (Shivers) I’m not sure if I like it, but I rarely like translated terms like that, which is why I usually don’t bother reading translations. Congratulation for the French translation, anyway! I really like the cover art, as well as the one from the Japanese edition.

    Maybe the book in that Korean Air Line plane was a book from

  12. I just dropped in here after reading Making Light’s offering about the Boston P.D. Bomb Squad blowing up more stuff that wasn’t dangerous.

    Then I get introduced to here.

    I can see this leading to fireworks in Boston.

  13. > If you can get either of those pieces of
    > art in high rez background images, please
    > let us know.

    I second Kate’s request! If Mr. Florentz is kind enough to give you a high rez version, please give us a taste of pixel love too!


    PS – I’d love the Japanese cover art too!

  14. I’ll have you know KAL charged us plenty for that “special placement.”

    It’s a package deal. The empty trans-Pacific airline seats come bundled with empty seats on certain Utah ski lifts, empty pews in selected shrinking Protestant denominations, and empty chairs in several white-collar prison cafeterias.

    Book marketing is more arcane than you can possibly imagine.

  15. Reprints should have the blurb: “… better than reading the SkyMall catalog.” SkyMall is awesome! ;)

  16. Picked up Coffee Shop and enjoying that and looking forward to buying The Android’s Dream. Must finish Coffee Shop first..addicted to books :)

  17. I feel like the Japanese cover is meant to evoke Masamune Shirow – which is fairly appropriate, since Shirow is arguably the Heinlein of manga.

    Given that, compared to Shirow’s art, it’s pretty damn restrained!

  18. Not sure I like the French translation of the title. “The Old Man and the War.” The possessive got lost. Brings to mind sort of a Hemingway pastiche, no?

  19. Whee! Here comes the analysis of the Japanese title! Basically, the translation comes out to, in direct and inelegant literalness, “Old Man and Sky,” except that “sky” is written such that the meaning is “outer space,” but there are phonetic characters written by the word for “outer space” that mean “sky.”

    Yeah, it’s complex. Not a very good new title, but I guess it works. : P

  20. “like the artwork. leave it to the japanese to give jane sagan hooters like a playboy playmate though; and am i imagining things, or can you see nipples through her body armor?”

    Don’t forget what they are wearing is described in TGB as a “unitard” which is composed of nanos which change the properties of said unitard depending on the situation. It isn’t body armor on a 24/7 basis.

    Besides, maybe its real cold on Coral!

    Old Jarhead

  21. John:
    “One thing I like is how much nicer stuff sounds in French.”
    This reminds me of a quote from our fellow O-hi-yan:

    “He’s having all of his books translated into French. They lose something in the original.”
    — James Thurber

    Fortunately yours don’t miss a thing in the original.

  22. I always imagined the Empee to resemble a bullpup configured weapon. Makes it much more handy and compact. And since the Empee is a caseless weapon there is no hot flying brass in the face for left-handed shooters.

    FYI- A bullpup configured weapon is one where the magazine or ammunition feed port of said weapon is located behind the trigger. The main advantage of this it allows for a much more compact weapon while retaining full-length barrels for better accuracy and stopping power.

    The biggest disadvantage of bullpup guns is that the ejection ports tend to be on the right hand side of almost every gun they fling very hot brass. Thus for left handed shooters their face would cover the ejection port.

    Examples of bullpup guns are the Austrian Steyr AUG, the British SA80, the French FAMAS and Belgian F2000 and P90.

  23. Soren – My name is taken from the Latin for 'taste bud'. You might then assume that I like food and I think too much. You would be correct.

    …since Shirow is arguably the Heinlein of manga.

    Complete with the mid-career segue into, well, porn. Or at least a sharp and offputting increase in the ratio of psychosexual weirdness to interesting material.

    I’d take the Japanese cover over what Baen would have used anyday.

  24. empty pews in selected shrinking Protestant denominations

    The Android’s Dream: funnier than the Bible!

  25. pnh: Dangit! Now I need to go out to Alta/Snowbird and the other areas and make sure I ride EVERY SINGLE chair in the state. And just think of all that horrible powder I should pack down while making sure none of the pacement copies of TAD get tossed into the panty trees.

  26. ‘Joe Mason’ (and, actually, ‘Sam Wilkinson’ from July 12th as well) – if the inanity isn’t enough, the garbage characters are the tell…

    Feel free to delete my post as well :-)

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