39 years old today. Now there’s but a single year separating me from middle age! I best get all my youthful indiscretions done before they look like a midlife crisis, then.

Taking the day off from the Internets today. You youngins’ have fun without me. But before I go, here’s some thematically appropriate music for a 39-year-old science fiction writer:

That Brian May. He’s a scientist, you know.

Off now. See you tomorrow.

123 Comments on “39”

  1. Happy Birthday John! But middle age starts at 50 nowadays, so you have another decade in which to misspend your youth. :)

  2. Have a wonderful birthday Scalzi. Congratulations on surviving another year, may you have many more to come.

  3. Jen – wife. mother. knitter. unschooler. band geek. fatass. card-carrying socialist. militant breastfeeder. profane. agnostic. ENFP
    Jen in CT

    Have a wonderful birthday, John! 39 is the new 29 (yay!).

  4. Hey! Happy Birthday!

    My spin on the 39th year ends in a couple of weeks, but looking back, I think you’ll like being thirty-nine. Just remember to cut the red wire in November. Other than that, it’s a freakin’ cakewalk.

  5. 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, imbued with specialness


    I’m 39 and have been for six months. So far so good.

    It only hurts when I’m awake.

  6. Happy Birthday John!

    You still have 26 more years before you need to sign up for the CDF, but mark your calendar!

  7. Many happy returns, you young pup.

    Although, I must say that I figure 90 is a fairly optimistic lifespan estimate, so wouldn’t that make middle age start at 30?

  8. Oh, is it this May already? Happy birthday.

    And, great song pick. I was a Queen nut in high school and this is one of my favorites. NPR interviewed Dr. May this week and posted an excerpt from his new book of popular astronomy, Bang! The Complete History of the Universe.

  9. I’m quite pleased you’re still relatively youthful by today’s standards. It’ll be -years- before ‘crazy old SF author’ sets in :-)

    … still hoping for a cure.

  10. Happy Birthday!

    Eat lots of cake and Schadenfreude Pie!

    And thank you for being a year older than me! It’s always good to have someone else test the waters before you do something!

  11. I just wanted to join in the chorus of “Happy Birthday, John!” Enjoy your day off from the intardwebs, old man.

  12. Kenneth,

    Excluding one who died in infancy, and another who only made it to his 50s, all my grandmother’s siblings have lived to 88 or 90.

    In fact, she’s halfway to 91 and still going strong–she even went to the grocery store with us last night.

    So I don’t think 90 is unrealistic at all.

  13. Happy Birthday!

    And I don’t think 40’s middle aged anymore. I’m pretty sure it’s the new thirty. And now I’m going to go wash my hands with soap because I actually typed the phrase “___ is the new ____” without meaning it ironically.

    Really, though, happy birthday, many happy returns, and all that.

  14. amandageddon – She is a slacker of the highest order, a geek of not so much, went back to school to become an even bigger geek and possibly get paid for it. She loves it when a plan comes together.

    Happy Birthday! I hope you have an awesome one.

  15. Happy Birthday John!

    Only another year before you can start chasing those damn kids off your lawn and telling hippies to get a job!

  16. Happy Birthday! Just think of yourself as 3 people merged into one, each of them 13 years old. You’re a triple-teen. Ideal for writing YA trilogies, I should think.

  17. Happy birthday, Mr. Scalzi. Today happens to be my birthday, too, though you have four years of experience on me.

    I just happen to be reading Old Man’s War right now (which is why I started reading your blog) and am thoroughly enjoying it. Thanks for a great read and happy birthday again.

  18. Happy Birthday!

    You’re exactly 35 years older than Number Two Son, who turns 4 today.

    I don’t think he’ll share his new bike with you, though. Sorry about that.

  19. HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the best little brother in the whole wide world!!!!! I love you John, hope you have a fantastic day!

  20. Happy birthday! I turned 39 in February. I like to think of 50 as middle age. In ten years I’ll probably think 60 is…

  21. spacejock – Simon Haynes is the author of four Hal Spacejock novels, a number of articles on writing and publishing, and several short stories, one of which collected an Aurealis Award in 2001. He divides his time between writing fiction and computer software, with the occasional round of golf thrown in for a laugh. Born in the UK and raised in the south of Spain, Simon emigrated to Australia with his family in 1983. He's a founding member of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, and lives in Perth with his wife and two children.
    Simon Haynes

    I hit 40 just over six months ago. I didn’t collapse in a middle-aged heap.

  22. Happy birthday, John! You’re blazing the trail for my own 39th in a few months, so don’t forget to send back reports on that undiscovered country, eh?

  23. You people depress me. My oldest daughter will be 39 this year! I don’t remember 39.

    Enjoy it while you can!

  24. Happy Birthday John. 39 is not the end of the world, but you can see it from there!

    Wow, Queen and Zep back to back. I’m in heaven now.

  25. With apologies to Frank Sinatra and composer Edwin Drake:

    “When I was 39
    it was a very good year…”

    Happy Brithday!

  26. Well, Happy Birthday, and go listen to Jimmy Buffett (or, go and find Jack Johnson and Dave Matthews live performing it) singing:

    A Pirate Looks At Forty

    It’ll do you some good.

  27. Happy Birthday!
    I turned 37 myself today.
    I visited your blog site on a whim today of all days from a site listing the top Sci-Fi writes of the aughts (http://blog.pmarca.com/2007/06/top_10_science_.html).
    I was all ready a fan having read Old Man’s War and Ghost Brigade in the past. Now I am just waiting for more books to come out in Kindle format.

    Have a great day, spend it with loved ones, family and friends!

  28. Happy birthday, John. I’m about five months behind you on that road to middle age…so clear the path for me!

  29. You can start middle age a year early, John–those of us who are officially already there won’t quibble.

    Happy birthday!

  30. Have a happy day. I hope it’s as gorgeous in Bradford, OH as it is in Pittsburgh right now.
    @Alan #61 –My daughter is 22 years old and I’m 4 years older than John. I don’t feel that but my friends who have watched her grow up do because they only see her occasionally now. Early parenthood isn’t for everyone, but it’s got its advantages.

  31. I meant to mention that today I’m baking cheese balls (sharp cheddar cheese, flour, butter, water) for a beer tasting fundraiser for my church. I can’t think of any better way to celebrate the great Scalzi’s birthday except if I put bacon in those cheese balls. (Which I contemplated but some attendees are vegetarian so I wanted to respect that.)

  32. There sure are a lot of birthday wishes for you from your fans, John, so I’ll add this:


    Of course, it beats the hell out of the alternative, but you still won’t get any sympathy from me. I’m staring 41 in the face. Best returns.

  33. Middle age?

    Sure, you go with that. I’ll be middle aged when I hit 65.

    Yeah, my body may disagree, but I know better.

  34. Before I play that Queen track, just let me note that it’s been listened to exactly 666 times up to this point.

    Happy birthday!

  35. And I’ve heard that the maximum human lifespan is 120 years, so by my calculation, you have another 20 years or so to go before you’re middle-aged.

  36. Whoops, I see Charles saw the same thing. I think the counter’s inaccurate since I’ve since clicked and it still says 666. (Or maybe I have to wait for the song to end before it records the click? Hmm.)

  37. Not middle aged… right.

    At least you aren’t dealing with graduating seniors (who started after you entered grad school) and a new batch of freshman a couple of months later, that would end that right quick. A healthy adjustment to reality is much less depressing than teaching people who can’t remember life before the ipod as if there weren’t this huge gap in life. On the other hand, I know better than to waste life drinking frat-boy quality beer…

    That being said, may you have a year full of grace and serendipity. Happy birthday.

  38. You’re only seven months older than me, so trust me – you’re not becoming middle aged for a while!

    Happy birthday!

  39. Martyn Taylor – Northumberland – A writer exploring what lies beyond our peripheral vision. Published by various small presses and now considered to be nearly a Proper Author. Can be found lurking around the frozen North of England, happily herding a small family of recalcitrant adults who may once have been children and a woman who may very well be the fulcrum upon which the universe turns. Available for hire for very reasonable prices.

    Happy Birthday, Ser Scalzi.

    I remember my 39th birthday, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.

  40. I always thought 35 was middle aged?

    Actually, 35 is pretty old. If you don’t believe me, just ask Athena.

    If you ask me, old age is always 15 years older than I am.

    Happy Birthday!

  41. Happy birthday!

    You got to 39 just three weeks before me. What’s it like?

  42. Happy Birthday,

    I’m closing in on 50 and don’t feel the least bit old yet. I’ll let you know when I get there so you’ll know when it kicks in.

  43. Happy birthday! I’m just two years behind you.

    My birthday gift–I purchased “The Ghost Brigades” today. Don’t spend the buck and a half in royalties all at once. :)

  44. Happy Birthday John! Like Marko @ 88, I also bought a physical copy of one of your books – “The Android’s Dream”. Can’t wait to read it. I hope you enjoyed your day off. (At least off-LINE.)

  45. Just to put celebrity and age 39 in context:

    Ethelbert Nevin, born 1862 in Edgeworth , Pennsylvania.
    Composer, first work at age 13, “Narcissus”, known for song, “The Rosary”, his picture was on 10 cent stamp, died age 39

    In 1997 Michael Kennedy, son of Robert, hit a tree while skiing and died, age 39.

    “I hold a beast, an angel, and a madman in me, and my enquiry is as to their working, and my problem is their subjugation and victory, downthrow and upheaval, and my effort is their self-expression.”
    — Dylan Thomas who died, age 39, following a six-day coma brought on by drinking 18 straight whiskeys in a New York tavern.

    Anna Nicole Smith:
    Born November the 28th 1967 on a Tuesday.
    Her Last birthday fell on a Tuesday.
    She died age 39.

    So, as I said before, Happy Birthday. But be careful!

  46. Wow – I love the fact that Brian May went back and completed is PhD in Physics some 30 years after stopping it for Queen. That’s frackin’ cool.

    Don’t forget: 39 is the new 38.

  47. Happy Birthday!

    My youngest set of twins hit 18 today as well. Damn Tauruses.

  48. I had forgotten that you and my son share a birthday. Only he’s two years older than you.

    Happy birthday.

  49. Happy Birthday

    Hope you spent it doing everything you wanted.

    Wishing you a year of health and happiness :)

  50. Happy Birthday John. May your next 39 be even happier than the first. And unlike the first, may you not have to wear diapers in the second.

  51. Happy Birthday, John, and just remember, as noted by Lehrer, when Mozart was your age, he’d been dead for four years.

    (When he was my age, he’d been dead for seven. Just sayin’.)

  52. Happy birthday. May you live in semi-boring times and not be plagued with interesting times.

    Call me when you hit you mid-fifties. I like to call it the sunny side of sixty but the shadows seem more pronounced.

    Have fun.

  53. Happy Birthday, young’un, I’ve a few years on you yet! (Of course, it’s actually you’re 40th birthday, just the 39th anniversary of it, sorry!!).
    Great times. xxx

  54. Happy birthday, Scalzi. And while you’re at, tell that darn Scalvi not to torch the cake. :)

    Be ye well, and live ye long.

  55. I stay away from Teh Internetz for one day, working on other things and suddenly the Scalzi has a birthday. Well, Happy Birthday a day late, man, looks like it was a good one. Keep your powder, and your cats, dry and your office clean (enough).

    Dr. Phil Soon To Be Closing Out His First Half-Century Later This Year

  56. Hey man!
    One more best wishes to add to the list. Although I do not know you personally enough to give you a present I can offer you this.
    I am currently reading “The Android’s Dream” and the book is extremely well written and your imagination and creativity really shine through in this book.
    I am really enjoying it!!!


  57. I add my belated birthday well-wishes to the queue! Alas, I was not online yesterday and only just now saw this. But rest assured, I did verily gossip about you with your friends — so we were totally thinking of you. :)

  58. Sorry I’m late to the party!

    But congrats just the same. Breaking 40 was no fun, but at least I’m a magical 42 for a few more days.
    Then it is all downhill.

  59. A belated Happy Happy, John. Hope it was a great day. And I say get started early on that mid life crisis, why be a slacker and wait for it to hit you.

  60. Happy belated birthday…and thanks for the reverse present…’39 is my favorite Queen Song, great way for me to start the day.

    The Fact that my favorite Queen song isn’t sung by Freddie is another entirely different discussion.

  61. Kelly Naylor – I read. A lot. And I write, and do art, and sing (but don't dance), and contemplate the great questions of the ages.

    Middle age starts at 40?? CRAP! Why didn’t I get that memo? I just turned 50 and thought I was still pretty young.

    I’m going to assume you’re the delusional one. :)

    Happy belated!

  62. I always figured middle age started around 50, and old age starts around 70. I’m currently 59, so that’s my story and I’m sticking to it (at least until I hit 69).

    Happy Birthday!

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