A Month of Writers, Day Nine: Scott Westerfeld

Speaking as a recent “New Heinlein,” allow me to express the opinion that if anyone should be called the “New Heinlein,” it’s Scott Westerfeld. Not because Scott writes like Heinlein, but because he’s filling a critical ecological niche Heinlein used to fill: Writing superior (and ridiculously well-selling) science fiction for young readers, some of whom will become a new generation of writers.

I always have this sneaking suspicion that Scott’s influence on an entire generation of SF readers and futures is occurring below the radar of most adult science fiction fans, which is why 20 years from now, when Scott’s work is being continually listed as a major influence by new writers, all those fans will be scratching their head and wondering how that happened. Here’s how: because Scott got to them first and best, just like Heinlein did, back in the day.

There, now I’ve told you. You can’t say you weren’t warned.

Scott’s latest is Extras, a continuation in the universe of his incredibly popular “Uglies” trilogy, all of which you’re going to want to get for a young SF reader you know.  For his Month of Writers appearance, Scott tells you why New York City is like no other city in the world. And for the record, what he relates here is true: I was there when it happened.


Here’s one the things I love about New York:

Even when a building in your neighborhood suddenly up and decides to crumble into pieces . . .

And the authorities haven’t even figured out yet who’s in charge of making sure it doesn’t crumble more and kill a bunch of people . . .

And there’s firefighters climbing around inside this crumbling building, in the rain that’s making the crumbling rooftop heavier, tying the crumbling bits with, like, rope . . .

And the boss is there checking their work, all, “Yeah, that’s the way I would have tied that,” like it’s no big thang hanging out on a crumbling building . . .

And even with all this, there’s still some dudes carrying a couch underneath the building. The crumbling building. In the rain. Because carrying that couch was just what they’d planned on doing that day, I guess.

Yay, firefighting and couch-carrying New Yorkers. You make me glad that I live in NYC, that I have lots of windows, and that I have a new camera.

You are just all that cool.

(original post, with comments, is here)

19 Comments on “A Month of Writers, Day Nine: Scott Westerfeld”

  1. What’s interesting about RAH’s influence on the young is, at least for me, thanks to my school library, he became my primary influence in life even in the late 70s, long after RAH’s young adult books had come out. I started reading novels at age 10 after seeing Star Wars (when it was first released!), and going, “Okay, wow. That’s worth thinking about.” The first novel I picked up in the school library after that was Heinlein’s “Space Cadet,” and I quickly breezed through all the rest they had. 3 years later I had to start buying my own books because the school library was rather limiting in the sci-fi/fantasy area.

    If Scott can keep his books in the library, his influence can be felt for a lot longer than people might think. Needs to have all his stuff in hardback, though.

  2. I’ve quite enjoyed Scott’s Uglies trilogy (now quartet). :) My favourite part is the hoverboards. Hoverboards. Hoverboards. Hoverboards. Mmmmm. Did I mention the hoverboards?

    I also like that his teenagers seem like teenagers without me wanting to strangle them. I’ve read other series with “realistic teenagers” that I personally don’t want to have anything to do with. But Scott handles it well…and fairly realistically. I often think that I would do something differently than the main chars, but I also remember that 15 years ago, it’d be a different story.

  3. Even though its target audience is teens or young adults, Scott’s “Peeps” is one of the finest vampire novels I have ever read. I recommend it to all readers, regardless of age.

  4. Ah, indeed, I didn’t mention “Peeps” – that was an awesome book, and would make a pretty great movie, too. I’m surprised it hasn’t been picked up, because think of the demographics on that one! C’mon, with a young cast like that, it’d be like the vampire version of The O.C. :)

    I was hoping for more of a direct sequel in the second book, but I still liked it as basically a standalone.

  5. Kidlet spotted the book in the bookstore, squeed, and then used the big pleading eyes on me. She said she wouldn’t read it until she finished the big 10-page paper she needed to write, but she cheated. I don’t mind, because the sooner she finishes it, the sooner I get to read it. I think of it as a nice way to balance out her taste for watching shows like The Hills.

  6. My nephew seems to be obsessed with this series, and I remembered your recommendation of it before, so I’ve gotten him the ones he asked for for Christmas.

    His twin sister? Started loving Neil Gaiman.

    I couldn’t be a prouder uncle.

  7. The real question is: “Is it worthwhile for us ‘old farts’ to read Scott’s work?” (I’m rapidly approaching the big 40. ;) If so, I’ll be more than glad to pester the local book store for his work.


  8. Brad,
    The short answer is “yes.” The long answer involves modern mythmaking, cultural analysis, parasitology, and vintage Fender Stratocasters.

  9. Brad, I just hit the big four-oh, and I think his Uglies series is great, and Peeps is really great. If you can’t identify with a character, no matter their age or circumstance, it’s the fault of the writer, and that’s not a problem that Scott has.

  10. You’re carrying a couch down the sidewalk and come across a scene of chaos. Do you abandon the couch mid-chaos? Or keep carrying it? Seems like the only reasonable option (unless you count watching the scene from a comfy sidewalk-sofa reasonable).

    Based on the lane markings in the first and last pics, they’re across the street from the crumbling building, not under it.

  11. DP Wally:

    Alternately, you could carry the couch one block over and not get in the way of a crumbling building and a whole bunch of fire department crew, cars and equipment. Which I think was to Scott’s point.

  12. I LOVED Scott’s Uglies books and just bought Peeps. They are so well-written that I have trouble coming back to the normal world after reading. I keep wanting to use the silly but catchy language and the neat nicknames for everything, and I keep relating everyday life to the books.

    Good stuff. I am surprised, the covers would lead me to expect something more teenybopper but the books were great.


  14. I love Westerfelds book and have been trying for the past hour to figure out what the last book in the Peeps and The Last Days trilogy is if any of you can help i would be so happy! Also, I thought that extras wasn’t the best of his work, my personal favorite book by him was Pretties. It is seriously awesome-making! :) My friend’s mom dated Scott, cool right? In high school and she is most likely going to get us(me and my friend) a little afternoon brunch sweet right?

%d bloggers like this: