Things You Didn’t Know About John Perry

Persuant to the previous entry, I’ve decided now, in my authorian splendor, to inform you of things you didn’t know about John Perry, the protagonist of Old Man’s War and The Last Colony. These are not in the text! But they’re true. Oh, yes.

1. He’s distantly related to Ike Eisenhower.

2. He once nearly lost a toe climbing over a fence.

3. He never shot a man in Reno just watch him die, but he did once spill a drink on someone in Atlanta just to get him to stop bothering someone else.

4. His favorite Gilbert & Sullivan show? The Mikado.

5. He has a mole on his neck. Well, had; it didn’t carry over either to his CDF body or his new human body.

6. Over the course of his life on earth, owned six dogs, eight cats and a garter snake, which escaped into his lawn a week after he got him.

7. Can make his eyes jiggle back and forth in a truly disturbing fashion.

8. Always voted in presidential elections except for once when he was laid up by flu. The candidate he was going to vote for got creamed anyway, so he didn’t feel too bad about it.

9. Prefers Shakespeares’ comedies to his tragedies, but has a soft spot for Titus Andronicus, because it’s just so damn ridiculous.

10. Allergic to blueberries.

But wait! You say. You said in the acknowledgments to The Last Colony that John Perry and Jane Sagan will no longer be main characters in your books, and you’re clearly tacking these things on after the fact! This is authorial heresy! These are definitely non-canon.

True enough. You got me. I am in fact just pulling these out of my ass at the moment. However, for Zoe’s Tale, both John and Jane make appearances as supporting characters, so it’s possible to learn a little more about them. And now that I think about it, maybe I will take one of the above factiods and just kind of drop it in to the story. For fun. And then it will be canon! Bwa ha ha ha hah ha!

The question is: Which one? I’m open to suggestion.

66 Comments on “Things You Didn’t Know About John Perry”

  1. Do the blueberry one. You can have him appear solely for the purpose of having a reaction, then the little one-inch dudes can roll him away to the juicing machine. It’ll kill, trust me.

  2. For some reason, number 2 made me think “I wonder how that happened?” Number 3 also seems to have a story, but unless you can make it something unpredictable (and I’ve no doubt you can), it will risk being a cliche.

  3. Can make his eyes jiggle back and forth in a truly disturbing fashion.

    That’s interesting. I used to think I could do that too, but my wife (fiance at the time, I guess) informed me that the only thing I was doing was making my eyelids flutter really fast. However, she did confirm that it was disturbing.

    When I later bought a camcorder, I filmed myself doing it because until I actually saw it on the screen, I would have sworn that my eyes were jiggling. I would have been wrong, too.

    Is Jane willing to back that tidbit of information up?

  4. I think any one of those will do fine, as long as you bring the narrative to a crashing halt so that you can insert whichever unweildy bit of exposition you choose.

  5. The blueberry allergy. Just so the experts in the CU can squirm trying to figure out whether its genetic or literally all in the mind. Theoretically, an allergy shouldn’t carry from body to body, right?

    The eye-jiggling thing can be kinda creepy, too.

  6. So much for my toe-fetish fanfic that I was writing. I have a whole series of them. There’s one where Dumbledore almost loses a toe in a gardening accident. One where Frodo slams his toe in a burrow-door and it nearly has to be chopped off. Let’s see…. The one where Moriarty actually does sever Holmes’ toe but it ends up being put on ice in time and Watson cleverly sews it back on so that it’s mostly functional. I have one where Arthur Dent’s toe is stepped on by a very heavy robot, inflaming it. Oh, and one where Han Solo almost shoots his toe off while trying to kill Boba Fett.

    But now my John Perry story is ruined. Utterly ruined. Unless….

    It’s possible he nearly lost a toe during an ice skating accident… you didn’t say otherwise.


  7. I knew a kid in high school who could do the eye jiggling thing. He wore violet contacts, and would do the eye thing at his opponents before fencing matches.

  8. As it happens, both Athena and I can do the eye-jiggling thing (which is why I thought of it, and why I’m not likely to have it be the factoid I’ll drop in). It really freaks people out.

  9. NOOOOO!!!!!

    The John Perry in my head was mole-free. I guess I better not read Zoe’s Tale lest the author, in all of his Zeus like tsunami conjuring ways, informs me of Perry’s moley-ness.

    Does John Perry go to the dermatologist to get his moles checked once a year. Now the one in my head does.

  10. I vote for the blueberry allergy also. It’s so… not a problem on a planet that doesn’t grow them. So it’ll be really interesting to see how you fit it in.

  11. “As you now, Zoe, I’m allergic to blueberries,” said John.

    “But, Dad,” Zoe replied, “if you’re unable to eat Earth’s portion of pie, my entire diplomatic solution to the unstable position of humans in the galatic union will be in jeapordy.”

    “Wezza all gonna die?” asked the Obin.

    Or, something like that.

  12. #9 is very Heinleinesque. You often find a character in a RAH story that is otherwise a very technical person, but then find out they’re into Elizabethan poetry or somesuch. Since you’re known for having a Heinleinesque writing style, I vote for #9.

  13. I vote for blueberries, too. You’ll have to do some tapdancing to get the allergy to transfer to a new (and supposedly allergy-free) body, but that’s not my problem.

  14. One for vote for being allergic to blueberries, *which* fact is discovered when the Creation Museum tries to sell him a snack made from God’s Own Berry ™.

  15. Hard to pick, but my top three are:
    Blueberry allergy
    Disturbing eye-jiggling
    Titus Andronicus

    It would be cool to work in John Perry quoting Titus Andronicus and have everyone look at him as if he were nuts.

    Unless the garter snake somehow found him again…

  16. 4. His favorite Gilbert & Sullivan show? The Mikado.

    I don’t care which you use, because you have ruined the entire series forever!

    Ruined, do you hear me!

    You’ve destroyed the whole central ineffable meaning of the books!

    I hope you’re happy.

  17. “…maybe I will take one of the above factiods and just kind of drop it in to the story.”

    I’d like to see you use the Eisenhower kinship. Something subtle, like a 3-page footnote of lineage?

  18. 6. Over the course of his life on earth, owned six dogs, eight cats and a garter snake, which escaped into his lawn a week after he got him.

    Ah! The books make so much more sense now!

  19. Can make his eyes jiggle back and forth in a truly disturbing fashion.

    What, there’s a way to jiggle one’s eyes in a reassuring and comforting fashion? Eyes plus jiggle equals squick, no matter how you slice it. In fact, throwing slice in there just adds to the squick.

    I think I’ll have a blueberry muffin to calm myself.

  20. Number 6, definitely number 6. Especially the snake part. Because you just know there are garter snakes on whatever planet Zoe’s currently on.

  21. I think you should do the left-handed thing, and see if he stays left handed when green, and when post-green. His brain has been rewired, so does he stay left handed?

  22. Having decided these things post facto, are you subsequently allowed to change your mind about any of them? That is, does the character still belong to you, or does he now take on some sort of permanence in his own right that even you cannot alter?

    I’ve read somewhere that God may have had the same problem with Adam and Eve.

  23. Matt Hughes:

    Well, now you know why I picked largely insignificant things for this list; none of them really mess with anything. Also, to be clear, I don’t actually plan for any of these to be canon, except for the one I’ll drop into the text of the next book.

    In a larger sense, I do think authors have to be mindful of their own continuity when it comes to character. I think it would be difficult for me to, say, have John Perry become gay, or even seriously bisexual; textually speaking he’s pretty clearly hetero, and it would be inauthentic for me to suggest otherwise.

  24. Omar Bradley had a mole on his nose which he had removed. There was a famous Frank Capa photograph of the hideous after-effect. So, you know, John Perry is in good company.

  25. #7, jiggling eyes. If I had a criticism of your work it would be that you don’t have enough characters jiggling their eyes in disturbing ways. Fix that and you’re golden.

  26. I gotta get behind the blueberry campaign here. in space stories no one ever seems to have an allergy so it’d be kinda cool.

  27. I’m curious about 3, but I think “allergic to blueberries” could be most entertaining.

  28. 4. His favorite Gilbert & Sullivan show? The Mikado.

    I think it would be funny if the Obin turned out to be nuts for light opera.

  29. 8. Always voted in presidential elections except for once when he was laid up by flu. The candidate he was going to vote for got creamed anyway, so he didn’t feel too bad about it.

    This seems to me like something he would do, his civic duty, but also his reaction if his guy lost. PLUS, you could work in some old dad homily with this sort of back story.


  30. Titus Andronicus would be sort of cool, I think, simply because noone quotes from it. failing that, the Mikado.

  31. I love extra-canonical information myself. Being a huge fan of Roger Zelazny’s Amber series, I was THRILLED to get copies of The Complete Guide to Castle Amber and The Complete Amber Sourcebook, regardless of whether the information in those books is ‘canonical’ or not.

    I really want to know more about Perry’s toe near-disaster.

  32. *giggles*

    You said Titus Andronicus.

    I completely can’t use that as my Y-chromosome test anymore because they’ll just go out and rent the movie now. And that’s cheating.

  33. Oh, Titus Andronicus, totally.

    You’ve not lived until you’ve seen it performed by a C-class theater troupe in an old, nearly burned-out theater in mid-renovation.

  34. OMFG, now i’m going to *have* to read ALL the book all over again in rapid fire succession and scan them for clues to these mysterious back-story-items and see how extremely they can skew my mental picture of the character.

  35. Aha! I am not alone in the disturbing eye-jiggling talent! Though I believe John Perry has better things to do with his time, as I do, than to use that talent often enough to make it onscreen.

  36. My vote’s for the blueberry allergy. The lost toe might’ve been interesting had he actually lost the toe but now, it’s just a (back) story for a party. If he had lost the toe, you could’ve dealt with interesting questions like: Would he have felt phantom pain even if his original body was changed? Oh well.

  37. Well, the cool thing is that now, he can eat that pie, since his body’s been all fixed up and stuff (if it can get rid of a mole, surely it would repair allergies to non-toxic foods). I would so hate to be allergic to blueberries. If I was allergic, then not allergic, I’d spend days eating them just because I could.

  38. Litmus test for #9: do all the actors line up, then begin (at the signal) hacking at each other with swords, blood bladders spraying high-pressure Max Factor Red #2?

    If not, then not.

    [Apologies to HJV, Sparky, and The Five Minit Bard.]

  39. Re #6:
    >Over the course of his life on earth, owned six dogs, eight cats and a garter snake, which escaped into his lawn a week after he got him.

    Senator Scalzi, could you possibly clarify the pronouns “he” and “him” in your preceding testimony?

  40. The comments got this far with no mention of him taping bacon to any of his pets? Or someone taping bacon to him?

  41. Eye jiggling thing!!!!
    Which reminds me of a “Fractured Fairy Tales” (If anyone remembers that) about a rabbit who has a ear shaking talent and uses this as a gimmick to defeat threats. say you and Athena can do this? Caqn you video it and post it?
    We all want to see!!!!!

  42. I vote for the Mikado! There is much fun to be had weaving the Lord High Everything Else into a story.

  43. Blueberries! Maybe he could have nightmares about that scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with the gum and Violet Beauregard.

  44. I believe the eye-jiggling thing was a minor plot point in the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Donald Sutherland asks one of the other characters to do it to prove she’s still human.

    I can do it too and, yep, it always seems to bother people.

    Can you work in Titus Andronicus, but as a challenge… without a dismemberment reference?

  45. I love for eye-jiggling. I, too, can do it and, like many have reported, it bugs some people.

    s of Friday I will be living with a teen-ager (my baby! so old!) and I am pretty sure that my odd behaviors will become more and more intolerable to him. So Zoe should find the eye-jiggling thing very worthy of a “Daaaad!” moment.

  46. I’ll vote for #3, because I definitely see Perry saying just that when challenged about whether or not he has been a loose cannon all of his life. Plus, we’d get to find out whether Sagan and the Special Forces know about Johnny Cash.

  47. I say you give further evidence of John’s third nipple as referenced the first time he meets Jane. Sure, it’s a subtle reference, but it is in the text so more confirmation might be nice for those not as observant as I.

  48. I am horrified I remember this much detail, but I enjoyed the scene, so:
    Wasn’t “pet owners” on the list of things that Sgt. Ruiz despised in Old Man’s War? If John Perry owned dogs and cats and, briefly, a snake, then he was LYING to his drill sergeant and my image of your protagonist will be irreparably damaged…

  49. Some combination of Eisenhower, presidential voting patterns and the Gilbert and Sullivan thing. I’ll look forward to seeing how you weave those three nuggets of info together.

  50. Can you work in Titus Andronicus, but as a challenge… without a dismemberment reference?

    “Pie, John?”
    “Er… maybe I’ll just have the salad.”