Reader Request Week 2009: Get Your Requests In!

Yes, it’s time once again for Reader Request Week, in which I take a week off from thinking up topics to write about here at Whatever and let you folks do all the heavy lifting. Yes! You do it for once! See how hard it is! Ha!

Want to play along? Sure you do. Here’s how it works: Think of a subject/topic you would like me to write about, and put it into the comment thread below. What kind of subject or topic, you ask? Why, whatever you want to know about. No subject is taboo to suggest, no topic too serious or silly. Really, just reel it off. The worst that will happen is that I simply won’t pick it to answer (you can also send a request in e-mail, which people do sometimes). My only suggestions are:

a) That you don’t simply splotz into a list the first eight things that come to your mind — pick quality over quantity;

b) While I’m not opposed to requests about writing, remember I get asked those a lot, so you’ll have to put in a lot of thought to ask me a writing question I haven’t already been asked and have answered. Consider it a challenge.

Once people start putting in requests, I’ll look through the list and pick the subjects that interest me the most, and starting next Monday I’ll start answering them. It’s usually fun for everyone.

To keep from getting repeats, here’s an index for the last five years of Reader Request Weeks. If you see a topic here, assume it’s been asked and answered (although interesting variations of these might be considered):

From 2004:

Reader Request #1: Boys and Girls
Reader Request #2: The Meaning of Life
Reader Request #3: Can Writing Be Taught?
Reader Request #4: Fatherhood and Pie
Reader Request #5: Objective Newspeople
Reader Request Week 2004 Wrapup

From 2005:

Reader Request #1: Creative Commons and FanFic
Reader Request #2: Peak Oil
Reader Request #3: Beatles, Batman and They
Reader Request #4: Pot!
Reader Request #5: Odds and Ends

From 2006:

Reader Request #1: SF Novels and Films
Reader Request #2: 10 Childhood Nuggets
Reader Request #3: Writers and Technology
Reader Request #4: The Nintendo Revolution
Reader Request #5: A Political Judiciary
Reader Request #6: Paranoid Parents
Reader Request #7: Writing About Writing

From 2007:

Reader Request #1: Justifying My Life
Reader Request #2: Coffee, or Lack Thereof
Reader Request #3: BaconCat Fame
Reader Request #4: The Inevitable Blackness That Will Engulf Us All
Reader Request #5: Out of Poverty
Reader Request #6: Short Bits
Reader Request #7: Short Bits II: Electric Boogaloo

From 2008:

Reader Request #1: Homeschooling
Reader Request #2: Technological Gifts
Reader Request #3: Sex and Video Games
Reader Request #4: Where I Am Now
Reader Request #5: Professional Jealousy
Reader Request #6: Author Relations
Reader Request #7: Fame or Lack Thereof
Reader Request #8: Politics and the Olympics
Reader Request #9: Polygamy
Reader Request #10: Meeting Authors (and Me)
Reader Request #11 Athena and Whatever
Reader Request #12: Soldiers and Support
Reader Request #13: Diminishing Returns
Reader Request #14: Quick Hits, Volume I
Reader Request #15: Quick Hits, Volume II

There they are.

Now, then: Topics, please! Put them in the comment thread, and beginning Monday, we’ll get this ball rolling.

219 Comments on “Reader Request Week 2009: Get Your Requests In!”

  1. Request #1: What is the science (or science fiction) experiment that you hope to be asked to assist Athena with for her science class?

  2. If you were making one of your novels into a movie, but could only do one, which one would it be and who would star in it? Assuming it was all up to you.
    Related- same questions but you have to work with China Mieville’s canon.

  3. I’ve been pondering a question for you lately, so I’m glad this has come up when it has. My piece of curiosity is this: what’s your favorite kind or kinds of writing? You seem to play the gamut, from short stories, novellas and novels in fiction, and articles up to entire books in non-fiction (although you don’t mention too much about your non-fiction work, particularly the corporate stuff). Do you like the short pieces? Longer works? Things which require a good deal of research? Things which are more opinion? I imagine you enjoy all of it in some way, but what kinds of writing are you more fond of?

    That’s a lot of question marks, but it’s one question – really! Backup question: is there any secret way to tell which Uncle John’s columns are yours?

  4. Mr. Scalzi:

    How about something on comic-book heroes, taken outside of film? I can think of three possible areas I’d be interested in hearing you discuss:

    * Evolution and adaptation of characters, either in terms of things like alternate interpretations, like with Charlton’s characters becoming “The Watchmen,” or the problems of continuity with 30-year old heroes who have existed for 50 years (Superman’s parents and childhood; Robin starting at age 8, 10, 12; The many lives of Jason Todd, etc., Hank Pym’s dopplegangered life; Iron Man is Stark, Rhodes, Stark …)

    * Four-color ideals vs. Dark Realism. Which is “better,” or which do you prefer. The “Dark Knight,” or the Big Blue Boy Scout; Kingdom Come, Watchmen, and Civil War where the world twists the heroes (tragedies?) vs tales where the heroes restore a more idealized oder (The Nail, Liberty Files, etc.)

    * The future. Your thoughts on where you think the comic book industry is going or will likely go with the issues of the economy, film, costs, etc.




  5. How about religion in modern s/f and fantasy? Of course, you could discuss the historic treatment of religion too.

  6. What gifts do you like to get from fans (besides cases of Coke Zero) and what gifts could you do without (I’m guessing bacon related stuff and possibly sheep)? Or would you rather only get adoration? (No clutter factor there.)

  7. 1. Stem Cell Research: positives, negatives, ethics, science.

    2. Robotics

    3. The Direction of Social Networking (Friendster >> MySpace >> Facebook >> Twitter >> ??)

    4. Prescriptivism vs Descriptivism in Education: how to teach Standard Written English (a formal/non-natural language) to speakers of other English dialects (natural languages) without insulting/demeaning the natural language, but with stressing the importance of the formal language.

  8. Building on Edmund @ # 7 :

    Your thoughts on the pros and cons of the American educational system, particularly as it involved the teaching of English and what you’d do to improve it would be interesting, too.

  9. If you had it to do all over again would you still tape bacon to your cat?

  10. Places you would like to visit that you haven’t, and why they appeal to you, as well as what impressions you have about them from where you have been. Or write a travelogue for a pretend visit.

  11. Have you ever written anything for just your family to read (not a shopping list, but more personal and story length-ish)?
    Do you ever write any stories or novels in longhand first?

  12. I’d be interested to hear more about your consulting work–not the Stargate: Universe work, but the consulting related to online & financial fields which you’ve occasionally alluded to. How did you start doing that work? What does it involve? What would you recommend for someone else who’s a writer who’s interested in consulting on the side?

  13. If you could meet one character from fiction (books, TV, movie) and interview them, what questions would you ask, and what do you think the responses would be?

  14. I obvious haven’t got an original bone in my body, because my first two thoughts were to ask if you have any new thoughts on fatherhood (it’s been 4 years since the last Fatherhood request Q) and to tell you that there’s a donut shop in Columbia, Missouri that sells a bacon donut.

  15. Watch Crest of the Stars and write a review of it! I’d love to see you compare and contrast Japanese science fiction with American science fiction. Unfortunately, I think most Americans’ exposure to Japanese sci-fi is limited to Godzilla movies.

  16. Let’s get more specific about robotics. Bill Gates wrote a short essay for Scientific American magazine where he asserts that the state of robotics today is comparable to the state of computers in the 1970s; today’s industrial and/or military robots are like big mainframe computers, while the robots that the general public plays with are like Heathkit computers. Do you see the field of personal robotics exploding like the field of personal computing did?

  17. I am a creative individual & even though I do not make my primary living with my arts I cannot help but be creative in many many different arenas.
    In what other areas do you see your creative juices flowing?
    music, painting, doodling, cooking, environmental design, gardening etc…?

  18. If we had a First Contact tomorrow…
    Thoughts and reactions from ‘ordinary’ people?
    What would really happen inside the Whitehouse, how would president Obama discuss it with his family?

  19. Hi John,

    What a coincidence: I was considering emailing you with this to see if you had an opinion or if it might be good fodder for the blog- but this looks like a perfect place to ask it.

    I have to preface my question with a story. Recently, I met and spent some time talking to a middle school librarian from Des Moines, IA. Naturally, conversation turned to what books we read when we were that age, as opposed to what ‘tweens are reading now.

    I mentioned that I cut my teeth on the juveniles (now called Young Adult!) of Robert Heinlein, and asked if many kids still ask for those. I got a blank look in response. She didn’t know who I was talking about, and was sure that her library contained no books by said author. Asimov, Clarke, Pohl- same thing. She thought she might have heard of Asimov… I thought I might cry.

    So, John, my question for you is, WTF?

    Do middle school kids not read science fiction any more? Does (this) science fiction have an expiration date? Is it because they’re in a middle school in Des Moines (no offense intended to Midwesterners in general…)? Am I hopelessly out of touch with the youth of today, and should just start yelling at them to get off my lawn?

  20. What are your thoughts on the Emmy’s not recognizing science fiction shows? What shows/performances do you think are deserving of Emmy’s?

  21. @5 Paul Barnes

    I second this one. After having to explain to umpteen people why the BSG Finale wasn’t a “Deus Ex Machina,” and the resulting griping from people who say that the presence of any God/Gods/religion in science fiction is a crutch for bad writing, I would be curious to ask a professional sci-fi person what he thinks – both of the BSG Finale and of the issue of religion in sci-fi.

  22. Have you ever given thought to writing fiction outside the science fiction genre? Say, a mainstream novel, or a mystery?

  23. What’s it like being a creative consultant?

    Do you find that all these Conventions is difficult on your writing schedule? How do you balance that?

  24. I’ll second Katy. Why do the emmy awards always dis SF&F unless –as with the LOTR trilogy — they’re positively forced to acknowledge it? And then, only with much grumbling?

  25. I have an odd feeling you’ve spoken on this before, but I can’t find the entry, so just in case:

    Future of the space program. Where do you see it going? Where do you think our national program should go? What the hell with bits of old abandoned satellites blowing the crap out of new satellites we actually use? (There’s a premise for a great iPhone game in there somewhere.)

  26. Will sitcoms ever come back to network tv? Your thoughts on why they disappeared? Is it because of bad writing, changing viewers tastes, the economics of sitcoms don’t work out anymore, something else…

  27. Aliens and Recent UFO Reports from South America, Are they out there and, if so, are they afraid of us? And if not, why are secret spy planes buzzing Mexico?

  28. The undermining of science instruction wrt evolution by creationism, under the guise of “Intelligent Design.” A very topical topic in my home state of Texas.

  29. One thing I’ve been hoping to see you write on since I started following your blog is your corporate and marketing writing work. You said once that this used to represent the majority of your income. Could you talk a bit about how you got started in this, how one gets such jobs, what’s involved? Basically a primer for someone looking to get started in corporate writing.

  30. In discussing the current state of the economy, I hear the talking heads mention the possibility of the complete collapse of our financial system. What do you think such an event would mean to the average person in the middle of, say Ohio.

  31. OK, here is my beg. Others have doubtless asked about this before, so if you’ve covered this already, my bad.

    What advice can you give new authors — ergo, newly published or have some break-in success — in the SF&F field about self marketing? Seems that unless one is a relentless self promoter, the chances that one’s book see the light of day — in terms of sales — are slim to none, and therefore the numbers will be in the toilet and then your career is done before it’s ever had a chance to get started.

  32. A… bacon donut. Well. I am dumbfounded.

    Anyway I don’t have any topics to suggest, I just wanted to thank you for the links roundup. I’m a relative newcomer to the blog and it appears I’ve missed some interesting posts in the past, so it’s nice to be made aware of those.

    Actually, wait, that does bring something to mind: since it appears you didn’t succeed in your write-in bid to become SFWA president in 2007, but did highlight a number of problems with the organization and draw considerable attention to those, did anybody else succeed in doing anything about them? Two/three years down the line, do you feel SFWA is an organization worth joining for a neopro?

    (Yeah, I’ll freely admit I just want to know the answer to that one for my own benefit. But I do genuinely want to know!)

  33. Sub-Odeon @ 35: Have you checked out JA Konrath’s blog? That’s pretty much what the entire blog is about. It’s very informative and helpful, even if I’d never in a million years have the chutzpah to follow in his footsteps.

  34. Given the history of technology and pop culture over the last decade (or century), how do you think the entertainment industry will look like in 25 years? Will novels decline, hold steady, or what? Movies? Video games?

  35. I’d like to see a post about kids and media and how you and Krissy decide if something is appropriate.This is a huge subject of debate between my friends and I.

  36. if you are not the one making the bacon (physical act of cooking it) what do you do while waiting for its deliciousness to be completed?

  37. Is it okay, when on the internet, to not give a shit about your writing? I mean, should one be taken seriously if their commentary is filled with leet/txtspeak?

  38. Twitter: A revolution in information consumption & dissemination OR I don’t give a fuck what you want for breakfast.

  39. Ove@19 has my vote. I cannot think of a better forum from which to develop a really likely first contact scenario. If commenters and yourself were to treat the topic with all the gravity it deserves (assuming aliens are real, etc.) we could do a better job here than any think tank or secret government organization ever could. Again, we might want to assume there’s not already aliens contacting some Earth government somewhere. Did the US develop crazy-fast spaceships in secret already and go out to meet aliens, etc.

    I could use a little help with defining some basic parameters, regarding first contact with aliens, but I would really enjoy the discussion surrounding the effects on both humans and aliens (assuming aliens are actually not human). We might best be served, if you, John, were to periodically update a set of parameters, based on a free-flowing discussion, requiring any following posts to work within the latest set of parameters.

  40. Compare and contrast the pain, angst, and horror of writing, agenting, selling OMW vs. Zoe.
    Differences in process / time / fear of failure?

  41. Is it bad form to start discussing topics suggested here?
    Keith @ 20: I mentioned that I cut my teeth on the juveniles (now called Young Adult!) of Robert Heinlein, and asked if many kids still ask for those. I got a blank look in response. She didn’t know who I was talking about, and was sure that her library contained no books by said author. Asimov, Clarke, Pohl- same thing. She thought she might have heard of Asimov… I thought I might cry.
    Actually, if I recall correctly, Heinlein called them books for young boys, which is an illustration of how much has changed since then right there. He hoped to get into the books for young girls market also, I don’t think much ever came of it.
    I’ve been thinking the last few years that recommending the Heinlein juveniles may not be a good idea anymore. Yes they are wonderful but the societal divergence point is getting too far back. That is, the cultures they show come from the 1940s and 1950s, not from the 1990s or 2000s.
    And so much has changed. Things like attitudes about race, gender roles, and sexual morality in the social realm. Of course, Heinlein didn’t really have a choice there, as going too far afield in this area would have made his work unpublishable.
    And on the technical side, the development of computers and ubiquitous telecommunications, and more importantly the ways they changed society. Yes, Heinlein did have a few hits there, like the bit in Space Cadet where not only do they have mobile phones, but Tex packs his to evade parental nagging. But he had these things as tending to centralize and homogenize society, while in reality they are shattering into a myriad of overlapping subcultures (or perhaps just making the existence of these subcultures easier to see.
    I’m thinking that the double time travel effect there may make them too hard for most kids to get into.
    (Oh god, I’m discussing Heinlein online again. Someone please shoot me.)
    I’ve given my nephew various old SF, but the only ones he seems to have taken to are Lawrence Watt-Evans’s Ethshar books. Which shouldn’t really count as old, I suppose.

  42. Argh! Sorry for the terrible formatting. Preview does not work for me. Should I repost a fixed version and ask for a delete, or just leave bad enough alone?

  43. If BrainPals existed and were implantable, would you get one?

    Things to see and do when visiting Ohio.

    Were you around for the U Chicago Scavenger Hunt?

  44. Sock status, man! Why you haven’t yet started an RSS feed to keep us updated is beyond me. We deserve to know. We NEED to know.

    OK, seriously now. Military SF cage match: you, Orson Scott Card, John Ringo, David Weber, and an assortment of weaponry.

  45. What places on the globe call out to you? Are there other places you would like to live someday? Or just visit often?

  46. You’re going to be at Worldcon (Anticipation). I’m going to be at Worldcon. A whole bunch of crazy smart fun people will be at Worldcon. What should we DO there?

    I mean, I know the program planning people are imaginative and all, but I’m interested in hearing your ideas for discussions or event or activities that are Not Your Typical Worldcon Activities that you might propose for Anticipation, given, you know, what-all else is going on in the world and the genre and that fertile mind of yourn.

  47. What, if anything, have you read/watched/heard that made you think “Why didn’t I come up with that”?

  48. What is/would be your approach to collaboration (writing, not reading)? Both from the story/experience perspective (Alternating chapters, parallel development of events through different characters, shared worlds, etc.) and the writer’s perspective (electronic vs. face-to-face collaboration, trading short bursts or chapters, or longer excerpts, co-drafting/outlining or working semi-independently).

  49. Would you prefer a school system with only comprehensive schools, where everyone learns together, or do you favour a system where the pupils are sorted into different school types and learn with those on their level?

  50. Most of my friends are convinced that the mainstream media news is too biased to trust. My neo-con friends (yes, I have those) are convinced that CNN is left-biased, that the LA Times is left-biased, and don’t even get them started about NPR or MSNBC. My more progressively minded friends are convinced that Rush, et al are poisoning the minds of Americans, that Fox News is part of a vast right-wing conspiracy, and that, really, only The Daily Show should be trusted.

    Meanwhile, the print media seems to be gasping its last, dying breaths. And Harlan Ellison has said the distinguishing feature of the internet is that it’s taught us not to trust information.

    So where do we go from here?

  51. if you don’t mind, i’ll have another suggestion.
    We have had writing and books for years and years now. Whats next in the evolution? Will we ever replace writing with something better?

  52. What was the latest genre fiction book the you bought (with cold hard cash/plastic) and read cover to cover?

    (I am just jealous here of all the free books you receive … feel free to ignore).

  53. This is a writing topic, but I’ll put it here anyway.

    I got to talk to you for a few minutes at last year’s Dragon*Con, and you said a few interesting things about the supposed requirements of science in SF. I’d like to hear (really, read, obviously) more about your take on SF and the things people feel absolutely *have* to be in it.

  54. Two questions spring to mind that I don’t think I’ve seen an answer to:

    1. What do you think is the coolest thing about living in the here and now?

    2. What’s your take on the role and value of anonymity on the internet? Is it actually a good thing for everyone (including us spoiled Westerners) to have, or did John Gabriel basically peg it with his GIF Theory?

  55. What do you think is the value of a liberal arts education, and of the study of the humanities?

  56. John, if you could answer this hypothetical I would be most pleased. Aliens have invaded Earth. They’ve enslaved humanity, but the alien masters have this weird fetish for good books written by humans. Authors can live out a life of pomp and happiness — travel the universe, visit new worlds, take in exciting cultures etc. — so they can get new ideas for their books. Authors can bring families/a few friends along for the ride. The rest of humanity, however, isn’t so lucky. While authors skip about the universe, we’re doing good old fashioned slave labor. Naturally, we hate authors. Apparently, these aliens really dig Old Man’s War. They approach you with the proposition to join the author class and travel the universe … what do you do?

  57. Would you be willing to talk about why you live in Ohio, and contrast it with your native California? (And if the aliens walk among us, where do you think you have the best chance of chatting them up?)

  58. A while ago I was reading a thing on the blog of regarding female leads in Hollywood (not very common), and recently of course we had the discussion here about People of Colour, and you have written a very good book from the perspective of a sixteen-year-old girl …

    Given that /The High Castle/ will not feature Harry Creek as a protagonist, have you given thought to making the protagonist a woman? Or what about other future novels? I’m pretty sure you could pull it off successfully, and it would be nice to see a competent female protagonist. They seem rarer than male protagonists, probably because more authors are male than female and the gender divide is hard to write across.

  59. Ok, a whole week’s worth of ideas:

    1)In the past timeperiod (week/month/6 months/year), what
    “The World just shifted two inches to the left/ the flesh on the back of my neck is tingling” thoughts/ideas/meme have you encountered, what did you get out of it, and why?
    What “Core Idea” are you most passionate about? (i.e. Truth, Family, Civilization, Love, Hope, Despair, Fear, Life, The Universe, etc.)

    2)”Where did all the _____ go?” FITB with:
    Hippies, Yuppies, Yippies, Weathermen, Black Panthers, Cowboys, etc.)

    “Who is the next _____? (Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson, Harlan Ellison (yes I know he’s still alive, but every generation needs one, where’s Gen Y’s?), MLK, JFK, RFK, etc.)

    3) The Elephant in The Room: The Current “Economic Crisis”/The Grand Bailout/The End of Western Civilization? Your thoughts/ideas, either in a global (“Canned Goods and Shotguns: It’s what’s for dinner!”), local (the state of SF/Fantasy publishing in the next five years: “Hey Aliens, we’re over here! Buy some books!”), governmental (“eBay USA: Senators for Sale, Special Yuan Discount!”) or any other facet of the pressurized carbon rock Wall Street sqeezed out?

    4) Near Future Science Fact: BrainPal, FTL, Cloning, Forced Evolution, etc.; which one do you think will become a real product first? Why or Why not?

    5) and finally… “STOP CLAPPING!!” AND FINALLY… what is the single weirdest thing you have encountered in the past timeperiod (week/month/6 months/year) that has given you hope in the future of mankind? Why?

    Thank you for asking us, and I can’t wait for you to rant at us!

    PS:@ 34 Jon S.: I’m sorry, I just gotta:
    Fake a warp core breach, eject the core, cloak all but the dead/dying from the sensors, let the Klingons board, when enough of them have come to claim their prize, pop out, kill them, use shuttles to board main BoP’s, kill/capture the crew, repair warp drive, go home. (“Why, yes I am re-reading “Dune”, how did you know?”…)

    PPS: 6) RE: The “Loving Mallet of Correction”, when will you be selling us one of our very own? I smell merchandising! (or maybe the sewage treatment plant, I’m not sure…)

  60. I have a lot of ideas churning around at all times like a lot of people who aspire at some point I imagine. The problem I have is that the things I come up with feel derivative of other works and the more I read the worse it gets.

    I know there is the old saying, “There is nothing new under the sun” but do you feel this way when you are starting a new project? If so, what do you do about it? Just suck it up?

    Also, do you you typically have your entire story planned out when you write or do you discover it as you go?


  61. If you had to hit someone on the head with a fish , while wearing a costume and singing a song , who would that person be? what kind of fish would you use ? what costume would you choose ? would it have a blue hat? what song would you sing? would you consider rapping? is no topic too silly ?

  62. So tonight there is a huge television event. No, not Lost or American Idol, or Survivor, or college basketball, but Ian McKellen in King Lear. Airing nationwide on PBS. It is likely that relatively very few people will watch it. I find this very sad for many reasons.

    I am curious on your thoughts concerning the world’s (well, to be honest I am thinking of a North America’s) overarching tastes in television and the future of quality programming.

    Seems to me there is less and less good stuff on the old idiot box. You could also elaborate on “new media” which feels decidedly old.

  63. I think it would be fun to read your answers to the Proust Questionnaire (or the shorter James Lipton version if you are pressed for time). Maybe it could be the Quick Hits or Short Bits type post at the end of the week.

  64. When will the first military action take place on the moon? 50 years? 100 years? never?

    What changes do you imagine the Mayan prophecy of 2012 will bring about? A return of magic? Artificial intelligence? Nuclear war? Melting Ice caps? Skynet activation? Battery technology that enables cheap electric cars? The annual return on investment in the SP500 beats inflation?

    Who is John Galt?

  65. 1. Do you have a tatoo? Would you let Athena get a tatoo?

    2. What part do you think religion will/should have in science fiction set in the far distance future? Do you think man will ever live in a society without some form of religion? Or will technological advances become the new “miracles” of religion?

    3. Were the moon landings real or elaborate hoaxes? Why haven’t we gone back (if they were real)?

  66. John, as a science fiction writer you excel at imagining complex, credible worlds, with intricate relations and nefarious side-effects. I’d like to ask you to use that imagining power for a near-future projection on this particular topic:

    The oil-free society – how the super-capacitor and the cheap fast-charging lithium battery are going to change our world.

  67. 1. Poetry – yay or nay? Why?
    -subquestion – Haiku – yay or nay? Why?
    – sub-subquestion – Zombie Haiku – sample please

    2. Wine, beer or harder stuff? When and where? Powdery/leafy ingested/inhaled things? When and where?

    3. Broke Bad – apocalyptic future in which McCain won or all of us in the next couple of years?

    4. You went on a diet / exercise kick last year… the year before, maybe? Did it work short-term or long-term?

  68. Does disenfranchising felons, both while incarcerated and/or after release, serve a democracy well or ill? Can you think of valid arguements on both sides of this question?

  69. Is the publishing industry so broken that it’s unfixable in its present form? If so, what new form do you think it will take?

    Have you ever had popcorn cooked in bacon grease?

  70. How did you manage to be a productive writer in the first two years of your child’s life?

    Which is to say: what was your work schedule like? How did you manage to produce coherent text when you were exhausted from getting up every three hours to feed the baby? How did you manage to be productive and not let your wife feel like she was having to do everything herself?

    (Why, yes, I have selfish reasons for asking).

  71. What do you think about me?

    And by me, I mean the small subset of whatever readers that posts regularly for no apparent reason other than to see their typing on the web and thinks they are funny.

  72. As I’ve just read your piece about the Hugo packet, how about something on how the Hugos have been effected by the internet and what your views on it are? Is it a good thing to have better access to the works or does it make it more of a popularity contest because the best PR man (or woman) wins?

  73. A few days ago you posted a Tor interview in which you talked about the challenges of portraying a 16-year old girl and writing in third person vs first person.

    And a while before that, there was a hullabaloo about how late George R. R. Martin’s latest novel is. Now, I’m a big fan of the Song of Ice and Fire series, and those two things got me wondering…

    On a scale of 1 to 10, how big a challenge is Mr. Martin taking on there? I mean, he’s got a crazy number of POV characters, which seem pretty diverse and richly portrayed to me, and the whole thing is in the third person.

    I’m not a writer, and to outsiders observing an expert performance in a given profession, the easy things can look hard and the hard things can look easy. But to me, I look at what he’s done in that series and think… damn, that looks hard. (And people need to chill out about how long it is taking…)

    But maybe it’s only a 6 or a 7 or an 8. If so, what would a 10 look like on the difficulty scale? And to be clear, my question is limited to genre fiction…

  74. Your personal top 10 Sci-fi books of all time. (books you have found most influental or your favorite reads not including your own of course)


    What has happened to Commen Sense?

  75. Your personal top 10 Sci-fi books of all time. (books you have found most influental or your favorite reads not including your own of course) and why…..

  76. Who is your favourite Dr Who?

    Or, Old Man’s War: The Anime, which studio would you prefer, Ghibli or Gainax?

  77. Best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten in you life, either directly or indirectly.

  78. Why isn’t your portrait one of my Kindle screen savers? Don’t you have pull at Amazon?

  79. I’m going to second Paul Barnes’ suggestion at #5:

    Religion in Sci/Fi.

    Overview, place, history etc.

    The reason for asking this question is that I’m increasingly starting to notice religious language and references in Sci/fi seem to detract from the story, more than add to it. This may have something to do with my own views on religion and science, but it is getting to to the point where these references make me cringe because they take me out of my suspension of disbelief.

  80. Having recently had some issues with a faceless corporation, I found myself wishing I had a public forum with, I dunno, maybe 30,000 or so unique visitors a day. That would be quite the hammer for increasing my…influence. Yet I’ve never seen you mention an unfair bill from the phone company, or call your readers into action to boycott some vendor that did you wrong.

    I have of course seen you use your bloggy power for non-personal issues (pointing out worthy causes, helping fellow authors) to great effect, but I have to wonder…are you sometimes tempted to use The Whatever as a means of getting your way on a more personal level? And…in the same vein, have you ever used the blog as a threat (“You charge me for that 30 minute late pizza, buddy, and 30,000 people will be reading about it in the morning!”)

  81. According to your Wikipedia entry, this year you start a new decade (40). Planning anything special to celebrate or are you just in denial?

  82. For some reason I have comics-on-the-brain (luckily their size has been reduced in most newspapers such that this isn’t a real burden) at the moment so:

    What is your all-time favorite comic strip and why?

    What comic author would you most like to interview (or would like to have interviewed)? What questions would you have asked them?

    Which comic character/strip/book has been made into the best movie in your opinion?

    Would you ever do a comic strip/book/graphic novel? What would it be about?

    Thanks for asking. Looking forward to the follow-up to Android’s Dream.

  83. Just a few of the burning questions I’ve always wanted answered but have never taken the time to Google for:

    1. David Brin wrote about Dolphins and Primates ‘uplifting’ to sentience. Do you see any possibility that this will become science fact rather than simply science fiction?

    2. If you were forced into a bar-room bet for a years income, and had only two choices, which side would you choose: That dark matter exists or not?

    3. Would you ever wager a year’s salary on a coin flip? If so and if you won, would you go double or nothing?

    4. Will you ever compete for American Idol? What about the other “reality” shows? Survivor, Amazing Race? If you had to pick one you thought you could win, which would it be and why?

    5. Should we clone the wooly mamoth Jurassic Park style? Would you use Frog DNA and risk spontaneous gender bending?

  84. How about a commentary on how there were great advances in technology out of the 60s specifically computer technology, the space shuttle and the SR-71 and there haven’t been any advance of that nature since.

  85. I know you have AMC blog for Sci-Fi movies, and now you have the SG:U gig, so I was wondering what your thoughts were on the state of TV Sci-Fi (not to be confused by SyFy). Lost, the end of Galactica, Heroes, Dollhouse, etc…

  86. I see from an old post that you would consider swapping out the Dramatic Presentation Hugo for a Young Adult Hugo. Your quote is: “I wouldn’t be opposed to a Young Adult Hugo award, either; it can be swapped in for the asinine “dramatic presentation” Hugos, which are a complete waste of time and effort.” (From your 2006: “Writing on Writing”)

    Has your opinion on that changed recently?

  87. I would like to hear what you have to say about the impending death of the print SciFi magazines. I have no first hand knowledge of what’s going on, but I’ve been told that it doesn’t look good for the mags, and that the book publishers may not be far behind.

    Or your reply to #83 about the publishing industry being broken.

  88. The Android’s Dream is an Iraq book: The Americans get snookered (somewhat willingly) into doing something that looks like helping our friends and whipping some bad guys, but which actually puts us in the middle of some very complicated things that our leadership didn’t want to think about in advance. If anyone has advanced this interpretation, Google doesn’t seem to be able to find it. What do you think?

  89. Have you ever learned a foreign language? If you had to move to a non-English speaking country (say, because of severe allergies), which one would you pick?

  90. If you could meet one form of alien species, which would you prefer? Something humanoid with a wrinkly forehead, and a fth’lurgh-human dictionary (assuming they were fth-lurgh in the first place) or a sentient cloud of telepathic gas?

    Also, why?

  91. Since you’ve written some military SF, do you have any experience from an armed force and what is your (overall) opinion on matters military? The latter I can see going down vastly different paths, but some I would find interesting are “military applications driving research”, “compulsory or non-compulsory basic training” and “military and space”.

  92. Well, since my post was mentioned twice, I guess I should expand on it:

    First off, what are your thoughts on the ending of BSG? While I really like religion and I really like science, I thought that the “supernatural” explanation for head Baltar and head Caprica was non-existent, which really disappointed me. Similarly, what was Starbuck?

    Second, there seems to be a lack of science fiction that doesn’t really deal with actual religions well (I will ignore “alien religions”). One of the better ones that I have read is Orsen Scott Card, particularly in his book First Meetings, although that could just be because the two main families were religio-politico dissenters, which just tickles me the right way.

  93. I’ve read in several of your posts that you consider yourself to have a “big fat ego”.
    My question is: Are you afraid of ridicule?
    Can you recall the occasion in which you’ve made the worst fool of yourself?

  94. Do you read and/or enjoy reading Young Adult books? Would you ever write a YA book?

  95. 1. Have you ever considered writing fiction in a different genre? What is your take on authors who write (have written) in more than one genre?

    2. Like a “John Scalzi Creative Sampler” is there a “John Scalzi Science Fiction Sampler/Recommendation” for people who want to read science fiction but have no idea where to start? To put the question another way, what books would you recommend to someone who wants to read science fiction classics as well as the newer works of science fiction (apart from your books of course!)?

  96. How about a post posing these questions: Which 3 comic books would you like to see made into (A) movies (B) tv series or (C) tv miniseries? Why? Why A or B or C?

  97. Now that we have a more progressive president in place, I’d like to hear your thoughts on how this will affect gay marriage over the next 4 years (or possibly even 8, if Obama is re-elected). Will the country move forward and be more accepting of gay marriage? Or will the people who falsely believe that this is a “lifestyle choice”, continue to deny the gay community the same rights that the rest of us enjoy?

    And yes, I know this topic tends to put a bee in your bonnet (mine as well), so that’s why I’d like to hear more.

  98. I’ve read that you’re a consultant on the Stargate MMO. I’m curious at how much you view video games as a storytelling medium. Specifically, what are your thoughts on massively multiplayer online games and storytelling?

  99. If you could do one interview with a living person as a journalist (and I know you do interviews already) who would it be and what do you want to ask them and would you approach that interview with a bias that would influence both what you ask and how you might report or comment on their answer? (And yes, I know it’s nearly impossible to eliminate all bias…but I think you’d have a better shot at it than most — you seem to have far less of yourself invested in being right about an issue, than you do about getting to the heart of it.)

  100. Apparently I failed at reading comprehension, because you’re the consultant on the TV SHOW, not the MMO. I think this was because when I read the announcement, the blood rushed from my head in a moment of fanboyish SQUEE, saw something about an MMO, and finished off the last of my bag of homemade lead paint chips and left my mind somewhat muddled.

    Still, my question stands.

  101. Actually, I’d take @119 a bit farther and have you do a sit-down with President Obama. A lot, most (?) sci fi is about change and it seems that, good, bad, or indifferent, we are beginning some of the most fundamental changes as a country since the great depression. Great, as in the first one not the (probable) one we’re in now. While I’m not saying that this is a sci fi moment, it would be interesting to see and hear a successful sci fi author, you, play off what appears to be a very thoughtful and intellectually curious President (huge change right there).

  102. What is your opinion, as a published author, on the
    protocol/machine/whatever-you-call-it that is
    “authonomy.” I think the website is
    and it appears to be linked to Harper Collins.

    Lauretta, who gets these questions as a bookseller but since she doesn’t publish fiction, has no clue.

  103. Now that you have your foot in the door (SGU), would you consider a miniseries of OMW? Kinda like the Bab-5 series.

  104. A freak accident involving a shopping trolley full of mangoes, Lopsided Cat, and an anteater has resulted in your apotheosis as a new god. As a deity, your edicts will shape the lives of billions of Scalzites for the next few thousand years. What are your commandments?

  105. I am rich and crazy. I want you to write a novel, putting forth your best effort. It will be objectively considered your best work to date. And then I want you to name a flat rate for you to sell it to me. I will have it published under my own name. No one will ever associate it with you. I may even win an award or two. How much?

  106. Your thoughts on the ethics of experimentation on human and/or animal subjects sound interesting to me.

  107. How about daughters vs. sons? Do you every get the “when are you trying for a son” question? (As a parent of three daughters, I find this exasperating)

  108. If you had the chance to be the Lead Writer for a video game, which would you choose as the story?

    1] Use the Old Man’s War trilogy and revise it slightly for more playable action.


    2] Create an entirely new story. If so, what would you do? Sci-fi or another genre?

    Also, do you know Drew Karpyshyn, Author of the SW Darth Bane series and the Mass Effect Novels?

  109. My suggestions:

    “10 Things Slightly Overweight Middle-Aged White Guy Writers Should Know About Writing”

    “10 Things Pre-Language Acquisition Infant Writers Should Know About Writing”

    “10 Things That Big Group of Senior Citizen Writers Hanging Out At McDonald’s Drinking The Cheap Coffee All Morning Should Know About Writing”

    “10 Things Dan Brown Should Know About Writing”

    “10 Things Pretentious Goth Chick Writers Should Know About Writing (Besides Anything To Do With Vampires)”

  110. With some real medical breakthroughs seeming on the horizon, what do you see as the major impact of humans living significantly longer lives? Let’s say that kids of Athena’s age are likely to live to be 100+ and possibly be active, energetic adults well into their 90s. How does that change the world?

  111. Recently, people have started paying more attention to where their food and electricity come from.

    The cost for solar panels and wind turbines for home use may soon be within reach of the average homeowner, CSAs have gotten more and more popular, and even the First Lady is putting in a vegetable garden on the White House lawn.

    Do you think progress in these areas will happen quickly enough, and be widespread enough to limit the impact of an attack on our food supply or power plants?

  112. 1. what types of YA fiction particularly science fiction/fantasy do you feel are overdone? (the current market is flooded with it.)

    2. In current mass-market bookstores the YA / children’s section is often hidden at the back of the store – how do you as a YA author (or at least an occasional YA author) feel about that?

    3. Recommend one modern book for each genre that you feel helps define the following genres; science fiction, fantasy, mystery, adventure, romance.

    4. At the grocery store – do you choose paper, plastic or do you bring your own bags?

  113. How about the awesome strength of an authentic and powerful voice in writing? Specifically how, in spite of often non-existent plot, 2-dimensional characters, the absence of discernible editing and some horrible notions (genetic determinism anyone?), Robert Heinlein’s ideas and personality etched themselves into the minds of an entire generation of sci-fi fans (including me and I am almost certain you).

    It sounds like a Ph.D thesis that Heinlein would have viewed as just the sort of pretentious and useless drivel that got the country into this mess in the first place (whatever that mess happened to be at the time), I know. Still I can’t get over the fact that I reread his books and so many of them (especially the later ones) are so bad but yet they influenced me so much and I still want to reread them, even as an adult.

    Also I have committed the unforgivable sin of posting without reading all the previous posts and your previous entries. If I’ve stepped on somebody’s previous idea my apologies. Still like so many folks out here in internet land I can’t get the old man out of my head and I’d love to hear more about it, so be it.

  114. How about having you ora guest discuss how to find work in a difficult economy. You may have friends who have gone through this or had to do it yourself.

    On a lighter note, can you talk about any hobbies you have that do not require electronics? And reading is off limits since you discuss that relatively often.

  115. 1) Why do British actors get to play the bad guys in Hollywood blockbusters of often (Alan Rickman is the first notable example in Die Hard)? Are they just cheaper? Or does their accent sound evil to the average teenage boy? Of course there are many Brits playing the hero, but Children of Men may suggest it’s a pretty grim kind of erho.

    2) Watchmen, the movie. Faithful adaption and good movie. Or slavish and limited rehash by a director with a fetish for slow-motion violence.

    3) Energy and the future. Which is our last, best hope (TM)? 3rd generation nuclear, clean coal, or the hydrogen economy? Let’s avoid the end of civilization scenario for now. You’ve discussed this before; I’m more interesting in your comments on the technical side than the political will and Manhattan Project like response needed.

    4) Rather than religion and science fiction, immortality and science fiction. To what extent does having immortal characters (cloning, memory implants, whatever) satisfy some primordial need in readers? Are we just satisfying a juvenile wish?

  116. My first post ever here:) Hope I don’t shove my foot down my throat….LOL

    Aside from being a science fiction junkie I am a poker junkie. I play online almost every weekday to relax after work. I go to Foxwoods in Connecticut once a month to play and visit Vegas in June every year to play and watch the World Series Of Poker.

    Do you play poker yourself?
    If you don’t play – why not?
    If you do – what type of games? Holdem? Stud? Anything?
    Online? In casinos? At home with friends?
    Ever watch it on TV?
    If you have – who is your favorite poker pro?
    What is your take on the growth of poker in the past several years?
    What have you learned about people in general by playing?
    Learn anything about yourself?

    That gives you an idea on what I’m looking for. You can take it from there.

    I leave here a few quotes to say why I think poker is important.


    Poker is the game closest to the western conception of life, where life and thought are recognized as intimately combined, where free will prevails over philosophies of fate or of chance, where men are considered moral agents and where – at least in the short run – the important thing is not what happens but what people think happens.
    —John Lukacs from “Poker and the American Character”

    There is no such thing as “social gambling.” Either you are there to cut the other bloke’s heart out and eat it — or you’re a sucker. If you don’t like this choice, don’t gamble.
    — From the Notebooks Of Lazarus Long in “Time Enough for Love” by Robert A. Heinlein

    Whether he likes it or not, a man’s character is stripped bare at the poker table; if the other poker players read him better than he does, he has only himself to blame. Unless he is both able and prepared to see himself as others do, flaws and all, he will be a loser in poker, as in life.
    — Anthony Holden, author of “Big Deal”

  117. My impression as a reader is that earlier SF tended to more commonly protray the future through a lens of US-led success, whereas later SF tends more for a future catalyzed by a U.S. collapse. (Stephenson (Snow Crash)and Stross (multiple), to name 2 who pop to mind without me having to do any actual research for this question)

    1) Agree or disagree?
    2) Does this reflect increased pessimism with the American experiment, or is it more of a stroy-telling convenience, a la killing off or removing the parents so a kid can have an adventure?
    3) Your opinion on the matter?



  118. OK, one more.

    In the Judge Sn scene in TAD, I was struck by the impression of a bit part actor in a play coming on and stealing a scene. Was that planned, or did the character grow in a way that surprised you? From your personal experience, how often are you surprised by what you end up writing compared to what you had planned?



  119. How do you keep the cats away from your computer/keyboard when you are trying to work?

  120. Extraterrestrial life? Intelligent extraterrestrial life? Space fairing intelligent extraterrestrial life? Terrestrial exploration by space fairing intelligent extraterrestrial life?

  121. Big Bang? Yes, no, who cares. Are there other cosmological models proposed in scifi?

  122. 3 cats, one dog. How is life with a house full of critters and why those choices (except for Temp-Cat/Zeuss, whose arrival was chronicled here already.) Ever had or considered any other pets?

  123. Oh wise and wonderous Scalzi, please expound upon the phenomena called Second Life. What do you think of this place as a virtual world experience, as a role playing game, as a place of virtual communication, as an artistic community and as a place of commerce. Discuss the philosophical implications of the virtual community and its impact on the lives of its participants. Discuss the psychological bent of those who frequent such virtual worlds and become addicted to them. And finally, have you ever used Second Life yourself, or contemplated using it as an artistic platform, much as you have used your blog, to further your artistic goals?

  124. *Building on Mia@154’s question: When did you start assembling your passel of critters? Did it start before your marriage, family, and wide open tracts of land? Any advice for the financial side of keeping them healthy and fed, especially earlier in your career?

    *Do you think that all the important battles have been fought and the book has been closed on Creationism and intelligent design?

    *The Official PlayStation Magazine is long gone, but there are plenty of other magazines out there that align with your interests. Would you write articles for them? Unsolicited articles? Putting aside your AMC blog and Stargate duties?

    *As you may know, you don’t have any novels scheduled to come out this year. What’s coming up?

  125. Powered Armor as in Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, Steakley’s Armor and Haldeman’s Forever War.
    Your thoughts on …
    Pros vs. Cons.
    Reality vs. Fiction.
    Plausibilities vs. Implausibilities.
    Please throw in IronMan and Dr. Doom references as

  126. At what point are a person’s standards “too high” or “too low” in relationships regarding friends, girlfriends/boyfriends, and coworkers?

  127. If I stole your idea for BaconCat and did Baconkittens with a litter of newborns involving strapping bacon to multiple kittens and possibly the mother thus making it BaconLitter, would you be upset?

  128. Why do we live in a culture of fear?

    I have noticed that people cling to their fears, even when the reasoning behind them has long since gone.

    *50+ years after Sen. Joe McCarthy made communism evil, even people who agree with the majority of the belief system are still mortally afraid to self-identify or be labeled as such.
    *Every time something terrible happens, the media says things like “This is the worse ___ since ___” and make it out to be the end of the world. Why not say “Luckily, we’ve managed to avoid ___ since ___, and lookithere people, it could be worse.”
    *When an astronomer announces that there’s a small chance an asteroid (or comet or whatever) may hit Earth, people latch onto it for days, hyping it up and getting scared over what is usually a one-in-several-million chance of it ever actually hitting us. Then, when another scientist corrects the math and states that there is actually a zero percent chance of it hitting Earth, people still fear it.

    Could think of more, but they’re getting less and less specific, so I’ll stop!

  129. Which of the following will have the greatest affect on society.

    Gravitational Plating

    The cure for cancer

    Weather Control


  130. In your fiction works (I especially noticed this in TLC) you use direct attributions for almost every line of dialogue: for example, ‘”Something,” John said.’ Why do you prefer this style to indirect attributions, or to leaving attributions off entirely for a few lines, as is often done with dialogue?

    Related topic: why do you use ‘said’ and ‘asked’ almost exclusively, instead of other words for speaking?

  131. John, what do you do when, if ever, you find yourself in a conflict between being a father and being an SF writer? Is there anything that Athena “really, really” wants to read that you both really like on a personal level and are also thoroughly convinced she’s not ready for yet? And what would be the trigger for this conflict?

    In a spirit of disclosure, I did once suggest my daughter wait for a while before buying a sexually explicit romance. She was probably 15 then, and I was aware that she’d probably read such material already, but I wasn’t comfortable spending my money to buy such for her.

  132. (This isn’t a writing question, I swear.)

    I’m a writer of dystopian YA novels, and I’ve recently been leaning more toward science fiction. But I am not a scientist. Where’s a good place to get science news so I can fill my brain with current and relevant concepts? What websites, magazines, and so forth would you recommend?

    What scientific principles do you think are overused in science fiction? What do you hope never to see used again?

  133. Do you find yourself wanting to write differently for your wife and/or daughter? Would you like to try your hand at SF for middle grades, or would you like to do more female protagonists, or do the reading preferences of your loved ones steer you at all?

    I ask, because you’re so clearly crazy about both of them, and I’m always fond of reading about them on your blog. Also, I have a daughter Athena’s age.

  134. Guys, I really do have all the writing-oriented questions I need. Please think of some not related to writing and/or science fiction.

  135. As we’re almost in Holy Week, I’ve been considering the last supper. The bread, the wine, what else? If anyone bothered to write it down, would it have some sort of spiritual explanation?

    So – what you choose as your last meal? Is there any larger significance to your selection?

  136. As a life-long resident of western Ohio (Toledo, Oxford, Cincinnati) I’m wondering what you, as a California native, think of this part of the country now that you’ve been here for a while.

  137. It seems like I read on Whatever at one point that you were working on a sequel to “The Android’s Dream.” Or maybe I heard you say it at a convention where you were a guest. Either way, did you write/say that or am I high?

  138. John, are you a sports fan at all? What are the teams you follow if you are? What are your favorite video games, if any? PS3 vs 360, is it even worth it to argue?

    John, what would you do if you were President of the United States?

  139. About Scalzi’s Rule for Panels: in your view, what should an audience member do if serious misinformation about a topic on which the audience member is knowledgeable, but the panel members are not, is being (probably innocently) bandied about by the panelists?

    I was in the audience at a panel on Religion and Spirituality in F/SF some time back, and some weirdly wrong information about Wicca was being uttered. Not vile slanders or anything, just seriously incorrect. I raised my hand, and when called upon explained where they were incorrect. I was brief and polite. I am Wiccan, and none of the panelists were (IIRC they’d identified their own religious backgrounds).

    I’m reasonably sure that by your lights I should not have done that, but I’m not sure what you think I should have done. Is there anything you feel an audience member can do in a situation like that other than sit there and suck it up? I think asking a pseudo-question like “Where are you getting this nonsense about Wicca?” would have been grossly ruder than what I did, and I assume you will not recommend that.

  140. Thanks, David, but I want John’s answer, not Dale’s. Also I think my comment at 178 was a perfectly polite genuine question, and I’m puzzled why you would direct me to that site.

  141. I have this dread about the economy. Do you think there will actual violence here in the US due to job losses and money issues–I’m sort of thinking of Greece (even though the disturbances seem to have been more about education than finances) and France (the French workers taking the bosses of closing factories hostage). I mean do you think that a dystopian future could be starting here and now and will make everyone’s life terrible in the next couple of years? Do you have any suggestions for a regular person to follow so that there won’t be a societal breakdown? I know this sort of sounds like science fiction, and I totally hope it is fiction, but I’m worried.

  142. I personally would’ve just held my tongue but I understand you didn’t want to. I mean, they are the panel and you are the audience member. However, given the context of the situation you were probably in the right. I guess it all depends on how you phrased your explanation. I would have asked questions in a way that revealed the truth about Wicca without flat-out saying “that is wrong.” You know, they probably feel important being on the panel, so let them save face and keep that importance and use your great knowledge of Wicca to drop questions relating to the real truth.

    I am also interested in hearing John’s answer, I was just trying to give you something just in case he didn’t. Plus, I like the book. If you want, let’s continue this conversation in email?

  143. If we procreate, we doom civilization through overpopulation and depletion of resources. If we don’t procreate, we doom civilization through exacerbating an aging population. What’s a potentially procreative person to do?

  144. I’ld like to second Zephyr’s request at #30.
    I’ve also been very curious what type of corporate work and freelancing you do.

  145. I’m almost ABD for a Ph.D. in Classical Studies. Is this a good idea or a waste of time? I’m not so sure anymore – I just had a student in my mythology class write an essay using Freudian literary analysis to prove that Oedipus was a great example of the Oedipus Complex. I’ve had people ask me if I read Dickens for a living (he is a ‘classic’, ya know). My college roommate thought Caesar was just a salad dressing. My question really is this: Do you think that there is value in studying the literature of Ancient Greece and Rome (or antiquity in general)? Is there an inherent aesthetic value to these texts, or are they useful only insofar as they have influenced later literary traditions? Or is the literature only relevant when it can be shown to have influenced modern political and moral conceptions? What about the fact that much of Western society has been and is still influenced by classical thought? What about ancient ______ (insert non-Western country)? Is this something we want every child to know, or should this kind of study be reserved for only antiquo-philes? Feel free to tie any of this into Battlestar Galactica. ‘All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again’ is basically Thucydides I.23, the final twelve (or is it thirteen?) is basically a re-appropriation of the canon of twelve (sometimes thirteen) Greek/Roman gods, etc. etc.

  146. Alisha says I should ask this one:

    per the contest last week.

    Do you, in fact, have issues with poor balance, as the picture of your foot would suggest?

  147. I am curious for your take on the the whole iUniverse, Lulu, the new Amazon thing etc that is the self publishing. I have looked at some of it and it doesn’t seem to be a predatory perhaps as some of the other vanity press B.S. that I have come across.

  148. Is the name of the Sun really the Sun or is it Sol like in all the SciFi books, same with Earth/Terra, and Moon/Luna?

    If Sun, Earth, Moon, where do you know who came up with Sol, Terra, Luna and how it has stuck?

  149. Using said and ask: They don’t attention to themselves like ‘queried’, ‘enquired/inquired’. Said and asked become nearly invisible.

  150. How do I know that I’m becoming a better person? Given self-interested our day to day actions sometimes become, how do we honestly assess that we have grown, matured or learned to be better from experience?

    – tt

  151. Meant to say: draw attention.

    Ejaculated is a said-bookism. Imagine using it instead of said during a sex scene. Laughs are sure to follow.

  152. Is it true that Harlan Ellison stapled your arm to a pig and shouted, “NOT SO FUNNY NOW, HUH, SCALZI?” And, in general, what’s your reaction to fans making up preposterous stories about celebrities?

  153. Having read the ‘why kids aren’t reading the books we did’ thread, I thought I’d offer you my son’s question. He’s 8, and normally reads rather junky books like Beast Quest (apologies to any of your readers who may be Adam Blade some of the time). However, he absolutely devoured Uglies and its sequels when it was lent to his big sister, reading each of them multiple times. He says “I like books with lots of magic and spells and breaking spells, and loads of adventure and preferably a wizard. Beasts and monsters are great. Vampires are ok but I don’t like all this vampire romance stuff.” We are pushing Diana Wynne Jones but I think he’s really after something a bit more bloodthirsty. Can you or your readers recommend some good adventurous YA fantasy for boys?

  154. Immunizations.
    Do you think parents should have the right not to immunize their kids?
    on one hand there’s freedom of choice and on the other hand there is no scientific proof that immunizations are in any way harmful and the lack of immunizations diminish the “herd immunity” and so may hurt other children (who may be relaying on the herd immunity due to legitimate inability to be immunized).

  155. How will the singularity affect how music is produced and enjoyed? I know, by definition, we’re not supposed to be able to predict what happens after the singularity. But given that you’re a science fiction writer, that part of the definition doesn’t apply to you, of course.

  156. Reading your ‘being poor’ topic and having been under-monetized at points in my past, I’m wondering how you think that effects/should effect a person’s current lifestyle. Could being a packrat be related to that? Habitually looking at the price of everything just another case of OCD? How about being traumetized by the thought of throwing away leftover food?

  157. You mentioned adoption in your latest post, and with all the talk in the media about Madonna adopting another baby from Africa, I was wondering if you had any thoughts on international adoption vs. domestic adoptions, or heck, just adoption in general.

  158. Perhaps not a question for Reader Request Week, BUT I was wondering if you will be participating in National Doodle Day (
    Neil Gaiman, Dom DeLuise, and various other celebrities have doodled in the past – then the “art” is auctioned off to benefit individuals suffering from neurofibromatosis.
    It’s a good cause, and I’d love to see the drawing talents of the Great Scalzi :-)

  159. Have you ever done any acting, or drawing, or any creative endeavour that isn’t writing? I find there tends to be a fair amount of cross-over with most creative types.

  160. You have a degree in philosophy. Philosophy degrees are often joked about in their lack of application in the real world vis a vis money and the making thereof, but lately I’ve been thinking otherwise.

    How did the development of your philosophy degree affect you (what was different before/after about you)? I think you mentioned before that your realization you had enough credits for the BS was accidental. *g*

    What were your best takeaways from your classes/experience, and how did they help form the thoughts of the Scalzi we all know and most of us love today?

    What’s changed about your philosophy since then?

    I’m asking because I’ve been thinking about, well, thinking, because it’s related directly to writing and especially blogging. You have so many readers because you have truly interesting thoughts and pontifications, and don’t seem to have neuroses about sharing them or engaging in discussion (even if you are assertive), even changing your mind.

    When I went through college I took classes that focused on analytical skills in the realms of mathematics (a bit) and computer science and software engineering (the most, although not as practical as I would have liked it in the end). But I wonder if I would be a better writer if I had some philosophical groundings or something. Ways of better understanding the processes of thinking, both from a personal viewpoint and from that of other people.

    I do tend towards meta-thinking about everything, including programming and design (and it’s that kind of thinking that slightly elevates my value in the workplace). I read books that way, too, even your OMW series.

    I’ll find my own resources on that matter of learning such philosophy, but I just wanted to know your experience.

    And also: what do you think philosophy is? That I’m not myself so sure on.

    Meta meta meta meta….

  161. To build on 82’s question about marginalization of fellons:
    As a parent and as a citizen, what are your thoughts on the treatment of youthful offenders? The social and economic factors that have gone into the creation of hard-core juvenile offenders, many of whom emerge from juvenile systems as life-long fellons (contrary to popular opinion, juvenile records aren’t always able to be sealed in many states)? Adult sentencing for juveniles?

    This leads to #2: the seconding of all of the requests to discuss your views on education.

    Totally unrelated #3: When/where does governement intervention in markets tip from useful to harmful (Example: government backing GM and Chrystler car warranties)?

  162. ARG! I’ve clearly become complacent and too used to spell-check catching my stupid spelling errors. Please read “felon” as appropriate in my suggestions.

  163. As of late, I’m becoming a big fan of Subterranean Press and limited special edition books and I was curious, assuming you wish to tell us, how much better a profit margin authors get from such things as opposed to regular editions. I’ve always assumed it’s better, but I have no confirmation. Given I only buy special editions of authors I like, such as you, it would be nice to know how much more I’m helping said author by buying it rather than a regular edition.


  164. Question- if we do get a society where robots can do all our work, even assuming that they don’t revolt, is is more likely that we’ll get a utopian civilization where the masses live in leisure, or a totalitarian aristocracy of robot-owners who– for once for an aristocracy– really don’t have to care whether the masses live or die?

  165. We’ve heard about your preferences at In-And-Out and for Coke Zero… how do you prefer your hot dogs?
    Ohio style (ketchup, mustard, relish) Chicago style (mustard, relish, onions, peppers, sauerkraut, celery salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, pinto beans, a pickle wedge and one Spanish olive) or California style (salsa and sprouts)?

  166. Care to comment on the recent NYT magazine feature on Freeman Dyson and his pretty blithe dismissal of the perils of global warming?

  167. You don’t have to do this for question week, but are you going to respond to the republican budget released today?

  168. Any thoughts on why we have nerves in our teeth? Is there an evolutionary advantage or is it just a physiological fluke?

  169. You’ve mentioned the corporate writing you’ve done as sort of a fallback position should the sales of speculative fiction drop. What exactly does that entail?

  170. Don’t know if it’s too late but I have another idea for a question for you:

    Have you ever wished you could go back and rewrite portions of your published work or that you could change it in some other way to make it “better” in your opinion?

  171. Liberals under Bush fretted and threatened to move to Canada. Conservatives under Obama are constantly talking about open rebellion.

    Why the huge difference in temperament?

    (Specifically, I’ve noted Chuck Norris talk about becoming President of Texas, the perpetually insane Glenn Beck, and Erick Erickson ask “At what point do people revolt?” over DETERGENT.)



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