Apropos to Absolutely Nothing at All
Posted on May 24, 2010 Posted by John Scalzi 37 Comments
It occurs to me that with the exception of Agent to the Stars, The Rough Guide to Money Online and two short stories, every one of my books and all of my short fiction has been to date created in my little office here in Bradford, Ohio. That’s a dozen books, fiction and non-fiction and about the same number of short stories. Not to mention, of course, literally thousands of articles, essays, reviews and blog posts. It’s strange to think of so much of my creative life is bounded by a 12×10 room with easy views of two agricultural fields, three barns and a grain silo, in a town with more people who are Amish than have Masters’ degrees. On the other hand, as I think I’ve noted before, it also amuses me to have so much science fiction come out of a rural Ohio town. Dichotomies are fun.
My Grandfather worked with Nasa engineering the rebreather pack for the moon mission and he lived in Newark, Ohio :D Which is where I live now.
Woo hoo! Yay for rural Ohio towns producing awesome SF :-)
“”If you have to have your head in the air professionally you certainly have to have both feet on the ground,” Terry Pratchett.
A rural setting seems to be the perfect spot to create SF novels.
Could be a magical island inhabited by a polar bear and a Smoke Monster in the South Pacific instead. Be grateful.
I have to admit it is a bit counterintuitive but it just proves that the mind is not bounded by physical location. Than again those Amish get around to the strangest places…
Why am I fixating on the hand sanitizer?
@bm: So am I. I guess SF is a dirty business?
I was trying to read what was on the screen to no avail.
You forgot one thing — your creative life is also bounded by the Internet…
Surely Amish-to-Masters’-degrees is the new Wallmart-to-Starbucks ratio.
I’m drawn to the ibuprofen – guessing the arm still hurts.
You know, when you’re too “asleep” to be able to move off an aching arm, the ER has a special name for that. It’s called “Saturday Night Palsy”. I had a manager at a pizza place who walked around limp-wristed for 2 weeks because of it. Tough guy, lots of tattoos. Hilarious to see.
I suspect he earned his in more… pharmaceutical ways.
Actually that’s not ibuprofen — it’s (depending on which container you’re looking at) gum or multivitamins.
It’s probably easier to create sci-fi in a small town. When you look out the window and see fields you’re also staring at a blank slate. You can build whatever you want on it. Your location clears the mind visually.
Though you’d probably do just as well in a city…
I was more impressed by how clean the desk is, and wondering if the rest of the office is managing to stay neat, as well. (And wondering whether or not the bookshelves have been built, because I lust after handmade shelves like that. I’ve settled for a room full of IKEA shelves on all four walls, but it’s not the SAME, man.)
And the little widget between the Coke Zero and the gum? Laser pointer for teasing cats?
I thought I saw a bottle of white-out =) lol j/k.
Delicious Hand Sanitizer? For what? When the cats demand that your hands are clean before petting?
I can’t wait to read Mary Robinette Kowal’s first novel. In the back of my head, I’ll be thinking about how she wrote it whilst moving across the country!
I just passed through that lovely part of Ohio with my Mom last week on our way back from the Northern Indiana Amish Country to London, Ohio. Mom and I love to travel the backroads so we can admire the small town houses and county courthouses. Greenville actually rates a by-pass so we missed Darke County’s courthouse. But I did see the turn off for Harris Creek Road!
Are there cows? Cattle have played an important role in sf, you know.
@Tobias & Scalzi: There’s certainly something sinister about the Ohio Science Fiction Cabal… ;) Y’all are WAY too nice, for starters.
Rural Ohio Towns have produced quite a lot of science fiction.
Jeffrey @1 — weird to read that. I was born and raised in Newark. As were my parents and grandparents.
My great grand parents and their parents were from Delaware, Ohio. Note I haven’t produced any sci-fi novels but it’s got to be in my Ohio DNA somewhere.
Aw, come on. Captain Kirk comes from Iowa. ^_^
Hey, your desk isn’t piled with crap. Yet.
I think it’s funny that your keys are sitting there next to your keyboard.
I thought the hand sanitiser was some kind of lotion at first, I was concerned that my fave author of military sci fi damaged his macho cred with the repeated application of hand lotion!
Then I realised it was hand sanitiser which is not so bad, but still ribbable.
don’t know why people are surprised that creativity is not relegated to only New York and LA. I mean, midwesterners have to do something with our time, we can’t cow tip and go to ice cream socials all the time. Although part of me wishes we could. Hope there are cows in your vistas, cows are awesome….please don’t tip them.
Despite urban legend, cows are actually awfully hard to sneak up on and tip. Trust me on this one.
An interesting dichotomy; Amish and having a master’s degree. When the zombies come, who will be more prepared?
I too am an Ohioan and I too love Sci-Fi! I think it has to do with the fact that there’s not much to do in Ohio if you’re not a football star or into cow tipping… ST:TNG and X-Files were my kind of fun. My mom and I actually ended up bonding over our love of science fiction so it’s no wonder I still love it today! : )
Your bookshelves up yet? And were they costum made for the room? You live in the Shire, Amish folk being the hobbits, the major publishing companies in New York Suraman or Sauron, Harlequin the latter, and trolls like me.
John, if you’re drinking Coke Zero out of 12-oz cans, you still have yet to develop and refine your addiction to truly professional levels. 20-oz bottles, my friend!
Thomas @32, it’s harder to shotgun 20 oz. bottles.
Mr. Scalzi, if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it. I don’t know why scenic rural vistas inspire you to think about green-skinned killing machines, but ya know, there ya go.
Being familiar with Bradford, having whipped them in basketball repeatedly throughout my illustrious career as a Blackhawk point guard, I was amazed that an author, let alone a science fiction author, lived there.
It’s why I came to Whatever initially, and it’s why I come everyday; I’m trying to figure you the hell out.
I’m right with you there. I’m working on my first SF novel this summer while I’m not teaching, and I live in a rural town in Tennessee that’s known for two things above all else: a large Amish community and a Hippie Commune.
I’ve never really thought too much about the dichotomy of what I get up each morning to work on creating and the community just outside my door, but now that you have, I think I like it, too.
Hooray for rural SF!
Didn’t you write that authors should live some place cheap since they can work form anywhere? I am willing to bet that most of your sci-fi friends live in rural areas like you.
That’s a bet you would probably lose. Most of the SF/F writers I know live in urban/suburban settings. That said, you can live fairly inexpensively in urban/suburban settings if you’re not living in NYC/LA/SF (and sometimes even when you are, if you’re on the periphery).