Oh, Bah

So, what you have to do to become Time’s Person of the Year is make Friendster, only bigger, more annoying to use, and more contemptuous of the concept of privacy. Good to know.

Yeah, I’m not impressed with this particular selection. And no, I wouldn’t have picked Julian Assange either, although I would have ranked him higher up the chart than Zuckerberg, who wouldn’t have been on my list at all. And in fact Time’s entire list of runners-up strikes me as largely stunt casting.

So who would I pick as person of the year? Off the top of my head, I would submit to you John Boehner is a better pick than Zuckerberg. I didn’t vote for the guy, but I suggest that the man in charge of the House legislative agenda for the next two years, and who will have an immense impact on the legislation and direction of the country through to the next presidential election, is a much better realistic choice for Person of the Year than the guy who decided that when I say “No, I don’t want to friend this person,” I don’t really mean it, so Facebook will just put that down as a maybe. The latter annoys me and make me wonder why Facebook has difficulty with the concept of “No means no,” but the former will actually matter as to how the nation will function. This should be a no-brainer.

But John Boehner isn’t even a finalist this year. He wasn’t stuck down a mine, or the 21st Century version of the Free Silver movement, or the guy embarrassing our government by airing the laundry it was too stupid to keep private. And he certainly isn’t as nerd-sexy as a 26-year-old billionaire who has a movie about him, running a company that has replaced AOL as where your grandmother goes to embarrass you online. Time has magazines to sell and traffic to drive to its site. So: Mark Zuckerberg. Enjoy him, why don’t you.

The God Engines Available in Audio

Today’s the day my Hugo and Nebula nominated novella The God Engines is available in audio format from Brilliance Audio, who is making it available in several formats, including audio CD (several discs), mp3 CD (single disc) and download via Audible (no discs). I linked to Amazon there for the physical discs, but it’s also available via BN.com and will be in bookstores which carry audio — or you can special order it from your local store, which I’m sure they would like. The story is being read by a fellow named Christopher Lane, who does a fine job with all the characters and with the tale. He spooked my mother-in-law as she listened to it, so there you have it. If you like audio, and dark fantasy, then happy holidays, this is for you.

The book is also still available in printed form (I’ve been signing quite a few of them at Jay & Mary’s recently) and in electronic editions in several formats (including this one). Basically, however you want it, we’ve got it for you.

Oh, and remember, if you’re an audio fan, remember also that The Android’s Dream and Agent to the Stars came out in audio last week, read by the fabulous Wil Wheaton, and that link has an audio sample.

Also, buy my books, would you? Otherwise Athena will get dirt for Christmas. And not the loamy kind of dirt you can plant things in, but the crumbly, sandy dirt that made the Okies head for California. And we all know how that turned out.

There, that should be enough guilt.

(Note: Athena not really getting dirt for Christmas. Thank you for your concern.)

The King Reclaims His Throne

Back when Kodi was the canine citizen of the house, Zeus had a pronounced tendency to take over the dog bed, partly because it pleased Zeus to appropriate the dog’s property, as if to say hah! to the larger domestic animal. Then Daisy came along and for a couple of months Zeus stayed out of the dog beds, as if biding his time, waiting for the perfect moment to re-establish his lounging supremacy.

That moment came this week, as once again Zeus began to loaf extravagantly in dog territory. What does the dog think about this? Well, inasmuch as Krissy went a bit overboard and we have four dog beds in the house at the moment, the dog’s reaction seems to be to say eh, whatever, and then to go and occupy one of the other beds in the house. This seems to work for everyone.

ScalziCast 12/14/10

A spontaneous podcast, in which I answer questions about other authors, pizza, the 2012 presidential campaign, who in history I would fight, whether Seanan McGuire can have a cookie and other questions. Roughly 27 minutes (it was almost exactly 30 when I recorded it, but I took out several minutes of “ums” and “uhs”).

If you want to download it for some odd reason, here you go.

This One Goes Out to Everyone Following Me on the RSS Feed

Just a quick reminder that I have a trio of helpful holiday threads for you on the site:

1. A book thread, where authors are telling you about their books in the bookstores;

2. An everything else thread: Crafts, arts, self-pubbed books and more, all for gift-giving;

3. A charity thread: Great places to give this year, suggested by Whatever readers.

Check them out; there’s a pretty good chance you’ll find something you like.

Perhaps a Little Too Wrapped Up in Work

I swear to God this is true: Last night I was having a dream. The details of the dream aren’t particularly important; what is important is that in the middle of the dream it stopped. And this happened:

Excuse me, did you write your Filmcritic.com
column for the week? It’s due tomorrow at nine,
you know.

Why, yes. Yes, I did. I filed it last night.

Oh, terribly sorry, then. Please continue.

And then the dream resumed as if nothing had happened.

I suppose it’s nice that my brain is keeping track of these things. On the other hand, dear real world: I sleep to escape you. Stop trying to get in.

I think I need a nap.


SFWA and Dorchester Publishing

A notice for SFWA members and others interested: SFWA has taken action regarding recent events involving Dorchester Publishing, and the announcement of that is at the SFWA Blog.

Various and Sundry, 12/13/10

I managed to already write pay copy by 9am, go me, so I’ll take a few moments here to catch up on various things passing through my brain at the moment, which people have asked me my thoughts about.

* I was asked why I wasn’t commenting on the various shenanigans going on in Washington these days, and asked about it with a hint of that where’s your hope and change now? schadenfreude some conservative folks are engaging in at the moment, because, well, why shouldn’t they. The answer is I haven’t been commenting on it mostly because I want to see it play out, it in this case being the tax fight. It seems like one of those things that will be better discussed when it’s done.

That said, two current thoughts I’m willing to share are a) I think it’s convenient for the congressional Democrats to grow a spine in December, venting at the President who is the head of their party, instead of having grown it at any other point in the last two years, when the GOP and its media minions were wacking at them like they were pinatas and the Democrats were apologizing for being in the way of the bats, and b) it’s clear that no one in Washington is even trying to pretend anymore that money is anything other than a highly abstract, non-real, fungible agreed-upon social construct. In one sense it’s freeing, I suppose, and I look forward to the planetary jubilee year in which every nation on the planet agrees to make all the debt everyone owes everyone disappear in a puff of glitter. I’m looking rather less forward to what we’ll eventually have to go through in order to get there.

* I was also asked about my thoughts on Wikileaks. My highly superficial list of thoughts on the matter are:

1. Nice to know which US politicians are woefully ignorant about what the definition of “treason” is;

2. Julian Assange strikes me a bit of a preening cock, and you can take that phrase however you like;

3. If a government wants to keep secrets, it probably should have better thumb drive security;

4. I hope we still have the Internet as we currently understand it at the end of 2011.

I do have more and better thoughts on the matter, but they would take time to organize into a coherent structure, so that will wait for another time. I know you’re excited about that.

* On the Columbia professor allegedly having sex with his daughter: Eeeeeeew. Apparently, adult daughter, and allegedly consensual. Don’t care. Still very much eeeeeeew. The professor was charged with a felony count of incest, which in a (no pun intended) academic sense makes me wonder how one makes that stick in the case of adults in a consensual relationship, squick-inducing as it might be. But you know what? I’m going to let someone else make the argument for that one. Because, you know, eeeeeeeew.

And some of you might say, but, John, you’re an admirer of Robert Heinlein and he had entire books mostly about people having sex with their parents or children! Well, folks, I know this may be confusing to some of you, but science fiction books aren’t real life. It’s implicit in that part of the phrase which says “fiction.” In real life, a middle-aged man allegedly sexing up his early-20s daughter is all sorts of creepy. Also, Heinlein having one of his characters travel 2,000 years backwards in time to boink his mom, plus all those other parent/child couplings? That’s his thing, and I’m going to let him have it.

* I have to say I imagine the comment thread for this particular entry is going to be a pain in my ass. But, oh well.

Lopsided Cat is Dubious of the Monkey Thing’s Intentions

As well you might be, were you he. I should note that Lopsided Cat is primarily an outdoor cat, but as today marked the first appreciable snowfall of the year, he decided it would be better to wait out the weather inside, and has decided that the new dog was not in fact intent on eating him, so he could relax with the humans rather than disappearing to his secret lair in the basement.

How does the dog feel about this?

Hardly neurotic at all!

Contemplating Winter and Personal Alternative Histories

Krissy, looking out the window at the snow. We’re not expecting Snowpocalypse levels here, thankfully, but we’ll get several inches between now and tomorrow. I’m laying personal 50/50 odds that school will be canceled tomorrow, a thought which fills the child with joy. As well it should.

Reading about the Snowmageddeon in Minnesota reminds me of a personal inflection point in my life, back in 1993, when I was up for the movie critic position at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and it came down to between me and one other fellow, who I believe was Chris Hewitt, the newspaper’s current critic (I could be wrong about that; it was a long time ago). Not getting the gig turned out all right for me — and for Chris Hewitt, apparently — but I do wonder how different my life would be had I gotten the job. At the time I had only just met Krissy, so at the time I wondered what would have happened to that relationship; I didn’t know at the time that she had decided after our first date that she was going to marry me. I speculate less about that part of things now, obviously.

What I do speculate about is what sort of impact it would have had on my professional life. Would I, for example, have started writing science fiction? I was pretty focused on my journalistic career in the 90s, and had I stayed in a stable newsroom situation, might have been content to keep doing that. Watching movies for a living was fun, you know.

Likewise, if I had started writing science fiction, or at least being more interested in it, would I have met the Minneapolis science fiction/fantasy contingent earlier? In the 90s, unless memory fails me, the Twin Cities SF/F community included Steve Brust, Will Shetterly, Emma Bull, Neil Gaiman and several other writers and creators whom I had long admired, not to mention a number of fans who are now current friends or acquaintances. I know all these folks now, but I wonder what my relationship with them (and with others) would have been in those differing circumstances. Not to mention, of course, how my fiction might have been different. I don’t think there would have been an Old Man’s War, although there might have still been an Agent to the Stars, or something similar to it.

Mind you, I don’t spend a lot of time spinning out alternate personal histories; generally speaking I like the course my life has taken to this point, and when you like your life, you (or at least I) spend your time focusing on it and not what could have been. But every once in a while it’s interesting to look at places in your life where things definitely could have gone another way, and wonder what way it could have gone. The Pioneer Press gig is definitely one of those points. I will say that no matter what, I’m glad to know the folks I know in the twin cities area, even if I don’t live among them. Or am currently experiencing SnowMyGod with them.

Life is Like That

Hey, look: kids do still play board games. It’s not all Wii and lasers and zombies.

And on that note, I’m taking the rest of the day off. And by “taking the day off” you can read to mean “do things offline, like go down to the bookstore and sign over a hundred books people here ordered because you’re awesome.” I may post a picture of that pile when I get there, here or on Twitter. Otherwise, see you all here tomorrow.

‘Tis the Season For Sun Pillars, Fa La La La La

It’s because of the ice crystals in the clouds. Seriously, you can look it up. Makes for pretty (and stretchy) sunsets in any event.

A New Spin on a Holiday Classic From Paul and Storm

This may be the best version EVAR.

Go thank (or curse) them for their efforts here.

A Quick Reminder re: Signed Books For the Holidays

Folks, today is the last day to get in an order for signed, personalized Scalzi books from Jay & Mary’s Book Center in which we can say with certainty that the books you order will arrive before Christmas. So if you were going to get these for yourself or loved ones (or even just liked ones) for that day, you should probably get that order in today. Clicking on that link above will tell you how to do it.

If you’re not worried about delivery date, or just plain like the thrill of uncertainty, I’ll still be signing and personalizing books ordered through the 20th of December. So even after today there will be another 10 days to get an order in.

On another note entirely, to the folks who have ordered books through Jay & Mary’s Book Center this year: Thanks very much, and I mean that with all sincerity. It’s a great little book store with really good folks, and every order that goes through them helps their business keep thriving. I really do appreciate it.

She’s Ready

“What? A strange man is going to come into the house through the chimney? Not on my watch!”

Yes, Daisy is all prepped to thwart Seasonal Home Invasion Man, aka Kris Kringle, aka Santa Claus, aka Nicholas “Saint Nick” Thaumaturgos. And she’s willing to lie on that dog bed all day long, all December long, if she has to. We told her it’s really only one night she has to worry about — that Santa fellow keeps a regular schedule — but what can I say. She’s the suspicious sort. And, well. If Santa does decide to make a December 10 attempt, won’t he be surprised.

And Now, a Charity Promotion Thread

So, in the last week I’ve posted up two promotional threads for authors and other creative sorts to promote their work, so you can go out and get some great gifts for the holidays. But the holidays are also a fine time to be thinking of others outside of your friends and family as well, and for helping others. Many of you already give generously to charity, and have favorite organizations or causes to which you like to give. Some of you would like to give to charity, but maybe don’t know where to start.

That’s where this thread comes in. Folks, in this thread I invite you to promote your favorite charities to the rest of the readers here, so they can learn about the charity and possibly decide to put it on their own giving list for the year. Again, this site gets up to 45,000 readers a day, most of whom, I suspect, are the giving sort, so it’s a good way to bring a little attention to the things you support in your own life.

Here are the posting rules for this thread:

1. Anyone can post, and if you work or are actively involved with a charity, feel free to promote it as well. However —

2. Please promote only registered, non-profit, tax-deductible charities and organizations, with a focus on those doing charitable, educational or humanitarian work. In the US, the most common charitable organization designation is “501(c)(3)“; quite obviously in other countries the designation will be different. The reason to insist on this is a) to avoid any scams or otherwise shady “charitable” organizations, b) because people like being able to claim tax deductions. If I find an organization being promoted here that isn’t a registered, non-profit, tax-deductible charity or organization, I’m likely to delete the comment promoting it. So, if you’re not sure, check before posting, please.

Also: please no political parties, political action committees, 527 groups or their various cognates in other countries. Let’s keep the focus on groups doing charitable, educational and humanitarian work. Again, generally, in the US, look for charities or organizations with a 501(3)(c) status.

3. One post per person, please. You can promote more than one charity if you like, but it’s probably best to focus on one or at most two charities that are important to you. A laundry list of charities will just encourage people to scroll to the next comment.

4. Related to the above, your description of the charity brief (there will be a lot of posts, I’m guessing) and informative. Imagine the person is in front of you as you tell them about the charity and is interested but easily distracted.

5. You may include a link to the charity if you like by using standard HTML link scripting. Be warned that if you include too many links (typically three or more) your post may get sent to the moderating queue. If this happens, don’t panic: I’ll be going in through the day to release moderated posts. Note that posts will occasionally go into the moderation queue semi-randomly; Don’t panic about that either.

6. The comment thread is only for promoting charities; any other extraneous bits will be snipped out.

And there you have it.

Two final quick things:

One, those of you thinking about the charities you see listed here may benefit also from Charity Navigator or Charity Watch, which evaluate different charities on their effectiveness.

Two, a quick reminder for you all that my own charitable thing for the year, the Clash of the Geeks chapbook, is still out there for your delight and as a fund-raiser for the Michigan/Indiana affiliate of the Lupus Alliance of America. Downloading the electronic chapbook is free, but there’s a donation link on the site ($5 suggested), and all donations go directly to the Michigan/Indiana affiliate of the Lupus Alliance of America. If you haven’t checked it out yet, check it out, already!

So: What charities would you like to tell people about today?

My Very Own Christmas Classic

Because people always ask for it this time of year, and don’t bother to use the search function to find it, even though it’s right there in the friggin’ sidebar, people, here’s the link to “The 10 Least Successful Holiday Specials of All Time,” featuring “An Algonquin Round Table Christmas,” “Ayn Rand’s A Selfish Christmas,” and “A Canadian Christmas with David Cronenberg,” among others. Knock yourselves out, folks.

Accurate But Misleading Movie Descriptions – Fantasy Division

As an example of how completely discombobulated I am today, I totally forgot to tell all y’all that my Filmcritic.com column is up now, and this week I’m doing “accurate but misleading” movie descriptions for fantasy films, to complement the set of accurate but misleading science fiction movie descriptions I did a couple of weeks ago. Please go there this instant OR CHRISTMAS WILL BE CANCELLED. Thank you.

John Lennon in My Thoughts

Not because it’s the 30th anniversary of his death, but because (as I noted on Twitter) this is the first year that I’m older than John Lennon was when he died, and that’s kind of a weird feeling. I’ve noted before that Lennon was one of my major Heroes of Youth (the other two being Carl Sagan and H.L. Mencken, and I feel reasonably certain I was the only kid growing up having that particular trio of heroes), and here I am no longer especially young and older than Lennon will ever be.

I don’t have any particular place I’m going with this observation. It’s just something on my mind today.

My Bacony Life

Some of you may recall I recently signed a contract which called for a portion of my compensation to be in bacon. Here is the first installment of that compensation. And it looks delicious, if I may say so.

Hey, did you know my life is kinda weird. I know! Who would have guessed.