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Metatropolis is Out!

And just in case you needed them: Some reasons why the Metatropolis, the audiobook anthology I edited and which is out today, totally rocks and you should all rush out and get it right now.

1. Because it’s the first and so far only time that Elizabeth Bear, Tobias Buckell, Jay Lake, Karl Schroeder and I have combined forces. Well, except for that one time at a convention where we all, like, went and got dinner. But you weren’t there to enjoy those spicy nachos with us! You can enjoy this! Yes, we have combined forces — like a rock and roll supergroup or a league of super beings — and we have come together for a single goal, which in this case is not to perform half-hour pot-scented prog-rock jams or fight Galctor, Interdimensional Digester of Worlds, but to entertain you. Yes, you. You specifically. We all got together and said, “but most importantly, how will we best entertain [Your Name Here]?” It’s the personal touch that makes it work, really.

2. Because our all-star cast of story readers (Battlestar Galactica’s Michael Hogan, Alessandro Juliani and Kandyse McClure, plus legendary audiobook narrators Scott Brick and Stefan Rudnicki) are actually made of awesome. You think I’m exaggerating, but an international team of top scientists took them all into the lab and took samples, which they then ran through gas chromatography and DNA analysis and that spinny thing that goes fwwwwwwwfffffffffaaaaaa. And here’s what the tests say they’re made of: 3% carbon, 6% water, and 91% awesome. They speculate that the carbon and water exist only to provide a colloidal suspension for all that awesome. Now, I’m not a scientist, but that makes sense to me.

3. Because this collection of stories — of a future in which economic and environmental declines have changed the very nature of what cities are — has a topic which is excruciatingly perfect for the moment, don’t you think? I mean, hey: Economic turmoil, countries on the brink, Iceland selling its children for cash on the barrelhead to buy Purina Viking Chow — who could have predicted? Well, we could have. We did. It’s all right here. And you ask, well, if you predicted it, why didn’t you do anything about it? Well, you know. We’re writers. What are we going to do, prop up the global economy with the change in our pockets? Hey, we need that for the Styrofoam vat of cheap convenience store coffee we use to make it through the day. And anyway, we did do something. We wrote these stories. Everything you need to know to survive the next, oh, 70 years is in this audio anthology. And if it’s not, at the end of those 70 years, you come see me and I’ll personally give you a refund. You’re welcome.

4. The audio nature of this anthology means that you can do other things while you listen, including but not limited to Web surfing, cleaning the house, driving long distances (download the anthology onto your iPod or other player or onto CDs to do this, unless you have a very long extension cord), yoga, ninja yoga, fighting the zombie hordes, blasting across the Bonneville salt flats in a monkey-navigated rocket car, field dressing a yak or emu, performing Lasik surgery, and, of course, hot, sweet, tender lovemaking of the sort you previously thought was only possible between movie stars and/or ecstasy-infused stoats. Oh, yes. Don’t ask me how I know about this last one.

5. The rumors that not listening to Metatropolis will plunge you into the sort of existential malaise not seen since the Carter years are, oh, probably not true. On the other hand, why take that chance? I’ve seen your life, dude. You don’t need any more pain. Also, the rumors to converse — i.e., that listening to Metatropolis makes you smarter and more attractive to the people you want to be more attractive to — have not been substantiated, either. But I have to say that personally and wholly anecdotally, since listening to the anthology, I brain no longer the dumb got have, and no matter how hard I try, I just can’t stop people from wanting to perform hot, sweet, tender lovemaking on me. Really, it’s getting kind of annoying. I have deadlines. Your mileage may vary.

Aside from all the really excellent reasons above, here’s one more: That this anthology features really good stories from really good writers, performed by really good readers, and I think it’s one of the best and most interesting fiction projects I’ve been involved with. I’m honored to be able to present it to you with Bear, Toby, Jay, Karl, all our readers and with Audible, which did such a great job in putting all the elements together.

Welcome to Metatropolis. I hope you enjoy it.

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Zoe’s Tale Podcast

Zoe’s Tale is the subject of the most recent installment of “Tea in Space,” a podcast from Ingram Library Services in which four female fans of science fiction (including my pal Alethea Kontis) talk books and enjoy a hot beverage.

I’m happy to say that by and large they seem to be happy with the book; oh, there were quibbles here and there, to be sure (including about the cover, which, despite the good reasons for it, I suspect I’ll continue to hear about until the end of time), but in the end they’re pretty happy with it. Which makes me happy. What also makes me happy was that each of them was a new reader, so ZT’s standalone-ability was tested by their reading. Did it stand up? You’ll have to tune in to find out.

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A Mildly Risque But Entirely Accurate Assessment of Things in the Scalzi Household

SCENE OPENS on SCALZI HOUSEHOLD. Husband JOHN sets down his eyeglasses. Wife KRISTINE picks them up and puts them on her face.

JOHN
They’re too small. Your head’s too big.

KRISTINE
You’re actually saying that you don’t have the biggest head in the family.

JOHN
Metaphorically, I do. But you’re taller and bigger than I am. Physically speaking, everything’s bigger on you. I have only one thing that’s bigger, because you don’t have one of them.

KRISTINE
You’re talking about your penis there.

JOHN
I am.

KRISTINE
Well, sweetheart. Your penis may indeed be bigger. But I have the bigger set of balls.

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Finally, They’re Cracking Down on Voter Registration Fraud

The GOP was right! It is a problem! And finally someone will pay.

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Proof That Alternate Universes Exist, And We Live in One

Because in this universe, the Phillies and the Rays are going to the World Series.

Come on, admit it. We’re way off the main sequence of possible universes, here. The Rays average 97 losses a year for the first ten years they exist, and then suddenly they win 97 and go to the series? And as for the Phillies, well. Losingest baseball team in the history of losing; took nearly a century to win their first Series, and that was 28 years ago. And the two of them are going to the World Series? At the same time? Madness.

We’re on the other side of the looking glass, people. I hope you enjoy your topsy-turvy freakadoodle world.

Also: Rays in six. Because, hell. If you’re living in an alternate universe, you might as well go all the way.

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On Who is American

There’s quite a lot that Colin Powell said today during his endorsement of Barack Obama that spoke to me, but in particular his mention of the current attempt on the Republican side of things to equate being Muslim with not being American got my attention. On the attempt to suggest Obama is a Muslim — or the tacit acceptance on the GOP side when such a suggestion occurs — Powell said that the right answer was that the suggestion is wrong, and that Obama is a Christian.

But then he said: “The really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being Muslim in America? No, that’s not America.” And then he talked about Specialist Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, Muslim, born in New Jersey, who was killed serving in Iraq, and how he saw a photo of Khan’s mother at her son’s grave, feeling the grief mothers feel when their children are lost at war, and how the grave of Spec. Khan showed not a cross or a star of David but the crescent and star of Islam. Spec. Khan, who had received a bronze star, is buried with full honors at Arlington. “He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he could go serve his country, and he gave his life,” Powell said. “Now, we have got to stop polarizing ourselves in this way.”

Yes.

I had more to say on the matter, and maybe I will say more, later. But for now, a simple “yes” is sufficient.

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The Most Terrifying Thing I’ve Seen Today

Really, there are no words.

Sent to me, apparently, by someone getting me back for the Ultravox video the other day. Yes, well. Talk about a disproportionate response.

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The Robocalls Have Begun

Four times this morning call waiting has announced the someone from a toll-free area code is calling. Thanks, no. We’ll just be letting the answering machine take those. And erase any messages that get saved.

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The By Now Standard E-Mail Note

I’ve finally gone through and responded to all the e-mail I apparently missed in the last two weeks. So, if you sent me an e-mail in the last two weeks (or even before then) and was hoping for a response but didn’t get one, now would be an excellent time to send me another e-mail on the same subject. Thanks.

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Worth Noting

For the first time everever, mind you — the Chicago Tribune endorses a Democrat for president.

Did it help he was from Illinois? Oh, probably. They did also endorse another guy from Illinois for president, too. Even so.

The Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post endorsed Obama today as well, but by any measure, this is the big newspaper endorsement of the day.

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Your Weekend Goodie: Free Metatropolis Story

Next Tuesday will mark the official release of Metatropolis, the audio book anthology featuring stories written by Jay Lake, Tobias Buckell, Elizabeth Bear, Karl Schroeder and yours truly. I know you’re probably just counting the seconds until the release, so to tide you over, the excellent folks at Audible.com have decided to offer up the opening story free for your listening pleasure: Jay Lake’s “In the Forests of the Night.” This is (he said, with absolutely no bias whatsoever) a really excellent story, and its excellent is made into awesomeness by the fact it’s read by Michael Hogan (aka Colonel Tigh on Battlestar Galactica). Check it out and know that the rest of the anthology is just as good.

Other little Metatropolis goodies for you to amuse yourself with can be found at this special promotional page, which, in addition to featuring audio samples of each story, also includes a conversation with me and Toby Buckell about the whole project, and how writing for audio is different than writing for the page. Cool stuff. Go there. You’re welcome.

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Those Damn Activist Judges, At It Again

Surely the fix is in!

The Supreme Court is siding with Ohio’s top elections official in a dispute with the state Republican Party over voter registrations.

The Supreme Court, as we all know, densely packed with Democrats.

The ruling itself, via TalkingPointsMemo.

And just for extra added fun: Former US Attorney calls current ACORN bruhaha “a scare tactic.” Also from TPM, because us Webb Class of ’87 folks gotta stick together.

Discuss amongst yourselves. Politely.

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All This Talk of Dancing —

— reminded me of this particular song from my teenage years:

What amazes me about this song is that it has spawned a number of genuinely awful cover versions, which either bury the tune in overwrought goth metal, or try to make a song about nuclear annihilation sound like a fun time at a rave. Kids these days! No respect, yo.

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Chad Orzel Monkey Dance Update, 10/17

Since we’ve gotten involved in Chad Orzel’s charity drive for DonorsChoose, which helps fund educational projects for needy kids, the amount of money raised has gone from $1,700 to just under $4,200. $2,500 raised is not bad for just under two days work. So thank you.

But that means we’re still $1,800 short of the ultimate goal of $6,000 — and the unspeakable pleasure of watching Chad dance like a monkey, as he has promised to do — as well as record it and post it online — if his goal is reached. Folks, if we can help pour in $2.5k in two days, surely the paltry sum remaining is doable. Even just a couple of dollars will get us closer to the singular thrill of watching a professional scientist ape (ha!) his lesser primate brethren’s rhythmic movements. And if that’s not entertainment, I don’t want to know what entertainment is.

Also, thanks to the particular charity in question, you’ll be helping kids learn about science by funding materials for their school projects. And remember the kid you help learn about science today could become the doctor who saves your sick ass 25 years from now, or the physicist who finally gives up tabletop fusion fueled by kitchen scraps, or the engineer who makes you an even cooler iPhone. Think of it as an investment in your future.

So here’s the link to Chad’s charity page. Look through the proposed science projects and help fund the ones you like. The contribution will accrue to Chad’s credit, and we will all come closer to that glorious day of Monkey Dancination.

And now, to tide you over until that great day: More monkey dancing!

We can assume that Chad’s dance will be both longer, and somewhat more, er, mobile. Here’s Chad’s own latest update on the fund drive, incidentally.

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A Jilted and Angry Ghlaghghee Walks in on Zeus and Kodi in Their Secret Interspecies Love Nest!!!

Zeus tries to explain that it’s not what it looks like. But how could it not be? What else could it be? How can Ghlaghghee ever learn to trust again? Kodi, meanwhile, stares pensively into the distance. She’s the oldest and wisest of the trio. In her heart, she knew that it could never last. But they’ll always have the stairwell. And tonight.

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Archives Imported

With the invaluable assistance of Ryan Boren and the folks at WordPress, I am tickled pink to be able to announce that the full archives of my Whatever Movable Type install, going back to March, 2002, have now been imported and are fully readable and searchable. The only things missing are the only things that weren’t in the MT install to begin with: entries prior to 3/02, and the entries of July/August 2007, which were under a different MT install entirely (i.e., the one that didn’t work (through the fault of my host provider, not MT) and prompted my switch to WordPress in the first place). I’ll bring those entries in, uh, eventually.

This install brings the site up to 3,900 entries and 111,000 comments total. Which is, you know. A lot of words.

Note that in the short run, old links to MT-era pages will still go to those pages. As time goes by, however, I’ll start redirecting most of the frequently visited pages to the new install. I’ve already done that for “Being Poor,” which was good timing because apparently it’s been linked to quite a lot in the last couple of days. More will follow in the next couple of months, so that by the end of the year I’ll have most of the popular pieces fully redirected. Go me!

Anyway, enjoy the archives.

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When Quoting

This has come up a couple of times in the last couple of days, so a quick comment on quoting articles, etc in comments:

Generally speaking, it’s not kosher to cut and paste an entire article from somewhere else and put it into your comment here, and also generally speaking, if you do it and I see it, I’ll probably excise the whole bit. That’s because it’s generally a copyright violation to post the whole of someone else’s work. So: if you’re tempted to just cut and paste a whole article from somewhere else, please don’t.

Instead, do this: Excerpt one to three paragraphs of the work (generally the opening three, but whatever’s directly pertinent is good), and then provide a link back to the whole article. That way, you’re probably not violating a copyright (three graphs of a longer piece pretty easily fits into fair use), and those folks who want to read the whole thing can do it. Everybody wins. 

(If it’s a really short piece — a couple hundred words or less — just excerpt a couple lines.)

Likewise, if you’re quoting a poem or song, usually one stanza/verse and a link should do it.

Exceptions to this are if you know the work is public domain or licensed under Creative Commons, or if you’re engaging in a critical response to the piece (known in Internet circles as “fisking”). But when in doubt: Three graphs and a link. Thanks.

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Ghlaghghee Tires of the Fame

As you can see, Ghlaghghee is less than entirely impressed that she was within the hour the subject of discussion on nationwide radio (that nation being Canada). It’s all become so tiresome to her. Yes, she is famous, and what of it? What has fame ever done for her? Seriously, what has fame ever done for her? It’s not like she accrues any benefit from having been in the New York Times, or on CBC radio. She’s a cat. It’s not like when she goes outside and disembowels a shrew, the shrew thinks, well, at least I got eaten by someone famous. Really, it’s a whole different world down on that level.

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Final (Thank God) Debate Comment Thread

Presidential historians like to note that people who listened to the 1960 Nixon-Kennedy presidential debate on the radio thought Nixon had won it, but the rest of America, who saw it on TV, took a look at the pale and sweaty Nixon next to the handsome and collected Kennedy, and gave it to the Massachusetts senator hands down. This debate was sort of like that. Everyone seems to agree that McCain gave his best debate performance yet, pressing Obama on issues and even getting some good lines — but on the split screen, he looked angry, agitated and a little weird. Whereas Obama did his Obama thing: stayed calm, stayed cool and stayed looking like he wasn’t going to go off on an uncontrollable spasm of anger. The end result: in a whole bunch of snap polls, Obama carried the debate by close to 2-to-1 margins.

The big difference between this debate and the Kennedy-Nixon debate, mind you, is that back in 1960 there was no YouTube, which allows people to make their favorite “angry, unsettled McCain moment” mashups from now until election day. McCain has totally lost control of his image; it’s in the hands not of pundits but of sporky college sophomores, uploading little videos long the merry day. That really is the new wrinkle (so to speak) of this particular presidential cycle.

I’m not going to say “it’s hard to see how McCain comes back from this,” because three weeks is three weeks and who knows what’s going to happen, and I’m superstitious about smugness and hubris and counting one’s chickens not just before they hatch, but before the eggs are laid. There’s still an election to have, and Obama and everyone else has to work for it. I don’t think Obama needs to be told that; I think many of his triumphalist pals might have to be taken aside and to keep their mouths shut and heads down until November 5.

However, I am going to say that I don’t think McCain gets out of the hole from here. Pro pundits say that this last debate didn’t change the dynamic of the race, but when you have one candidate snap polling at a 2-to-1 advantage to the other, that’s an odd thing to say. The dynamic changes, it just changes further to the advantage of Obama and to the Democrats generally. At this point, I don’t think the question is whether Obama’s going to win; the question is how big he’s going to win, and whether his momentum gets him 60 Democratic senators going in.

The comment thread is now open to your thoughts about the last debate; I’m also particularly interested in whether you see a path for McCain out of his particular hole, after this last big chance to make his case to voters. I can’t see one, but maybe I’m missing something. Let me know if you think I am.

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Pick Your Favorite SF B-Movie

I’m doing an audience participation post over at AMC today, asking people to nominate their favorite science fiction B-movies for inclusion into an upcoming “Science Fiction B-Movie Hall of Fame.” I also explain why B-movies are so much fun, even when we know going in they’re probably gonna suck.

You know you want to nominate your favorite science fiction B-movie, so head on over and give a shout out to your favorite. Because when you do, somewhere a b-movie angel gets its wings.

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