Zoe at

T.M. Wagner of weighs in on Zoe’s Tale and has some really nice things to say, among them:

Zoe’s Tale comes the closest any writer has come to writing an honest-to-God Heinlein juvenile. Scalzi’s Heinlein influence has been made much of before. But here, the fidelity to the aesthetic of those classic books is so tangible you can be excused for wondering if Scalzi has perfected some kind of occult ritual to allow the spirit of the late Grand Master to possess his body.

I have. It involves a buxom redhead who is good with math and guns. More I should not say (but, oh, you can imagine).

And this is kind of neat: a review of ZT at the interestingly named, at which actual teenagers review books aimed at them. The 14-year-old who reviewed it gave the book a 10 out of 10. Which, you know, seems positive. And look! I get this ginchy graphic now:

More importantly, given that we’re hoping teens might try out the book, it’s nice that an actual 14-year-old read it and seems to think highly of it.

Now, I’m still hoping adults read it too, mind you. Pretty sure people over the age of 18 will like it as well. One can hope.

By John Scalzi

I enjoy pie.

19 replies on “Zoe at”

I have. It involves a buxom redhead who is good with math and guns. More I should not say (but, oh, you can imagine).

Given that is Heinlein, wouldn’t you be spousally disemboweled for such a ritual? And she conveniently has the cover of claiming that she was helping you recreate one of those lovely scenes from Startship Troopers to aid you in channeling the full power of RAH.

So when will this and other books, “Ghost Brigades”, “Last Colony” be available as eBooks, please? Only “Old Man’s War” is up at Fictionwise, and Baen Books has proven above all doubt that having all the books in a series available boosts sales all around.

These days if I can’t stuff it into my Palm, it just don’t get bought or read.

Thank you for OMW, by the way.

I wonder if the whole thing Tor’s rolling out in a couple of weeks will have anything to do with e-editions? Since Scalzi said he was going to have something to do with them, it would almost have to be either that, or maybe hosting some forum on the various sf-related uses of bacon.

Can one assume that Athena knows the dangerous end from the non dangerous and how to use it???

I date myself but as a boy scout, firearms training and a merit badge were available to us.

in high school in the late 70’s, we had an honest to god rifle team, the kind that went bang, not the kind they twirl with the marching band.

Oh for the good old days and yes, RAH was very influential to this once young man. I cant wait for my copy of Zoe’s tale to arrive.

For those of you that haven’t yet had the chance, check out Spider Robinson/RAH Variable Star!!

From the Easton review –
‘(why the title omits the kewl umlaut in her name is one of those arcane editorial mysteries that often manifest themselves in publishing)’

There is no arcane mystery here, even if Scalzi’s own marketing team wasn’t involved.

How many people know how to produce an umlaut on an American standard keyboard? What impact would this lack of skill have on the book’s sales/google placement if the title included ‘ë’ (which should be a neat test itself – anybody not seeing an umlaut over the ‘e’ is a datapoint).

Add to that various cataloging/referencing systems, and the decision to refer to a title character without bothering to accurately spell her name is not an arcane editorial mystery, it is a quantitatively derived decision to capture more sales by ensuring that those interested in her tale can find it, without having to get over the hurdle of spelling the title character’s name accurately.

What will be interesting is to see how many of the translations of the work will accurately reflect the character’s name within the title. And that too would be an interesting datapoint, though what it may prove isn’t exactly surprising – that is, America tends to be an insular society generally interested in money making without regard to the hobgoblins of accuracy or consistency.

Somehow, I doubt Scalzi was even bothered in the slightest that the names vary – which is why marketing teams are so valuable to the bottom line.

Is there any chance I could get the directions for that? I’m mostly writing fantasy these day rather than science fiction, but I happen to be married to a buxom redhead who’s good with math and guns (physics prof, no less) and I’d be willing to branch out if it’d up my book sales.

#10: Actually, that wasn’t Easton’s review, it was mine. John in fact explained to me why there was no umlaut in the title (having to do with computer cataloguing and the inability of some systems to recognize certain characters), but still, come on. There’s no reason why “Zoe” couldn’t have read “Zoë” on the physical book cover, just for aesthetic (as well as accuracy) purposes, and yet still been entered into the world’s bookseller databases and search engines as “Zoe.” After all, how many CDs have Mötley Crüe or Blue Öyster Cult sold? I just typed in their names, sans umlauts, to Amazon’s search engine, and called up their entire discographies with no problem.

It’s not like any of this is a big deal, or anything, to the overall success of the book. I’m just making an observation.

No database worth its salt has problems with accents anyway.

Indeed, Amazon, at least, has no problem. I searched for “Zoë’s Tale” and “Zoe’s Tale” and got the same # of hits and, I suspect, the same results (I didn’t look past result #1–the book in question).


“No database worth its salt has problems with accents anyway.”

And yet apparently enough do in the publishing industry that it’s an actual consideration, which is why there is no diaeresis in the title, as far as I’m lead to understand. So apparently, lots of unsalted databases out there, and it’s easier to modify a single title than overhaul untold numbers of databases in equally untold numbers of bookstores that don’t have the word “Amazon” in their title.

John: Hey, I’m not complaining about the title; I understand the reason.

I’m just dissing software with lame limitations, and (a wink at Wagner’s mention of Amazon) used Amazon as an example that at least some companies use software that isn’t confused by accents….

Brillig scrobe Kendall sagely:
@16: No database worth its salt has problems with accents anyway.

@18: I’m just dissing software with lame limitations[…] at least some companies use software that isn’t confused by accents….

Preach it, Kendall! All software sucks, but SWLL (software with lame limitations) deserves its high Ll rating.¹ On the one hand, most of the issues of multiple alphabets, codesets, collation sequences etc. are solvable — nay, solved — problems, with which even semicompetent database implementations can cope. On the other hand, the explosion of representable characters and character forms adds a huge overhead to what began as fairly simple DB functionality.

On the gripping hand, middleware and meatware can and will confound any perfectly designed and -implemented system or collection of systems, thanks to imprecise conversion among representations², introduction of pointless and/or pernicious middleware³ between one system and another, and regrettably sloppy habits of lusersclients who might (for example) view the character ë in printed form but perceive the letter ? ? instead.?

[1] See item 3.3 of this guide for definition of the unit Ll.

[2] E.g., numeric rounding or inability to preserve meaning between incompatible formats.

[3] See also: Babel effect; “too many cooks”; connector conspiracy.

[4] The first character is U+00EB (Latin Small Letter E With Diaresis); the second is U+0451 (Cyrillic Small Letter Io), pronounced “yo” as in Pot?mkin.

[5] Equally probable results after a hypothetical chain of such conversions might be “a hovercraft full of eels” or the cryptic jotting 20€ STALE.
(And who’d want to pay for that? :-)

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