John C. Wright Explains Science Fiction For You

“Science Fiction is that genre of cognitive estrangement in a post-Gothic mode, utilizing a willing suspension of disbelief, transcending anthropocentricism and temporal provincialism, where spacemen, raygun in fist, soar through outer space with a glamorous brunette Space-Babes in their brawny arms.

Now I know what I’ve been doing wrong all this time. Note to self: More glamorous brunette Space-Babes. And soaring. And rayguns, now that I think about it. Man, I don’t know what the hell I’m writing anymore.

Guess Which Popular Toys Athena Received Today

Here’s a hint:

Take your time. No rush.

Oddly, we managed to get through nine and a half years of Athena’s childhood without actually getting her any of these. Thinking about that now, that seems damn odd.

The Book Haul, 6/19/08

The books that have arrived at the Scalzi Compound in the last week:

I want you all to appreciate the fact that I nearly killed myself getting this picture for you, on account of I was poorly balanced on a chair while I snapped it. Seriously, I could have broke my neck. The things I do for all y’all. Honestly.

Quick thoughts on selected titles:

Shadow Pavilion, Liz Williams: Nightshade Books has been making quite a full-court press with the Inspector Chen series, which is good, because it’s not the same-old, same-old in terms of fantasy police procedurals (yes, it is a legitimate subgenre; yes, it does have “same-old, same-old” problems). This is the fourth book in the series and will be out in July; those of you following the series wonder where book three is should know it’ll be released simultaneously (or so my press release says).

The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle: This is an anniversary edition, and it’s already out. I think it brings the total number of copies I have of this particular story to three or four. I’ll be giving this one to Athena.

Other Worlds, Better Lives, Howard Waldrop: As it happens, Howard Waldrop is recovering from bypass surgery this week, and would probably appreciate hearing from fans. Here’s one place to send your cards and letters. This collection of selected long fiction will be out in September; put it on your calendar.

Ink and Steel, Elizabeth Bear: I noted this when it was in ARC form; it’ll be out in two weeks. It’s good stuff, which is not at all surprising, coming from Elizabeth Bear. And although this is a bit of inside pool, the painting of Queen Elizabeth on the cover looks like Tor editor Liz Gorinski to me. A very severe Liz Gorinski. Note to self: Do not taunt Liz Gorinski.

Mr. Fooster Traveling on a Whim, Tom Corwin & Craig Frazier: Flying Dolphin Press has been pushing this one hard as a sort of whimsical picture book for adults. Seriously, I think I got a note about it on a weekly basis. So I read it. Eh, it’s cute. And it’s out now.

Victory of Eagles, Naomi Novik: The fantastically-successful Temeraire series was inexplicably not in hardcover until now (unless you count the limited edition of the first books coming out from Subterranean Press); Del Rey is now correcting this error with this book. This book has a starred review from Publishers Weekly and bunches of eager fans and hardly needs me to pimp it; nevertheless, if you didn’t know, it comes out July 8.

The Gone-Away World, Nick Harkaway: Knopf is pushing this September release, and I suspect this is one SF novel that will be reviewed in the mainstream press, because a) it’s handled by a mainstream publisher (note the not-especially-genre-riffic cover art) and b) the author is John le Carre’s son, so there’s a hook there. It’s nice when that happens. I know some folks may dismiss the book out of hand because of a) and b), but inasmuch as I can think of at least one writing scion who recently delivered a kick-ass book, I won’t be one of them.

King’s Shield, Sherwood Smith: Yay, Sherwood Smith! I like her. This comes out July 1.

House and Home, Kathleen McCleary: I like it when mainstream publishers send me stuff that’s not specifically genre work, because, you know. I do have reading interests outside of science fiction and fantasy. I’m interested in this one (which chronicles the travails of a woman divorcing from her scatter-brained husband and on the verge of losing her beloved home) specifically because it features an invention called a “splotch-catching hot dog diaper.” I can’t even imagine what that’s supposed to be; I’m compelled to read to find out.

Sonic Underground, Volume 2: Not a book, but a DVD collection of the animated show about Sega’s favorite Hedgehog. I can’t imagine it’s actually good, but maybe video-game derived animated TV got better since the 80s, when the hideous Pac-Man TV show sapped my will to live.

The Gargoyle, Andrew Davidson: Based on cover art alone, the book Most Likely For My Wife to Show an Interest In. As for me, I opened the book randomly and this was the sentence I saw: “She knew that my penis was gone; she simply had not not seen it yet.” My eyeballs saw that sentence and then my brain sent back a note that it wasn’t planning to get anywhere near it, and that I should move on. I think I will. This book comes out early August.

The Road to Vengeance, Judson Roberts: Hmmm… If I remember correctly, Judson Roberts sent me a Big Idea about this YA series, of which Road is the third volume.


Yup, he sure did. I guess I’ll put that up sometime in the next week, won’t I. I also have Dave Schwarz on the schedule in the next week, too. Yay! Lots of Big Ideas! This makes me happy.

So: what books in this week’s haul are you interested in? Don’t be shy. Share your thoughts. Hey, I almost killed myself taking that picture. I want conversation about these books, damn it.

Nerdgassing Redux

Over at the AMC Web site, my movie column this week revisits the concept of “Nerdgassing” — that is, kvetching about science and/or continuity issues in your science fiction. This time I’m focusing on movies in particular and point out two of my favorite nerdgassing movie moments, which appear in The Matrix and The Phantom Menace. And of course I invite readers to list their own Nerdgassing moments science fiction film. I know many of you did that here when I first introduced the term, but if you feel like repeating yourself (and really, who doesn’t like to nerdgas again and again?), drop a comment or two over there at the AMC site. Have fun, you crazy kids.

Sporkzilla Wants to Be Your Friend

Yes, I downloaded the SPORE Creature Creator and tried it out and created Sporkzilla here, who I think is kind of cute, if you like chicken-legged, stalk-eyed, Homer Simpson-lipped creatures, as apparently I do. I suspect I could lose hundreds of hours of productivity just playing with the Creature Creator and calling it “research” (hey, I do think up alien species for a living). I must be strong and resist.