The Books That Arrived While I Was Away

I’ve taken to showing the books that show up at the Scalzi Compound over on Twitter, but I didn’t do that while I was on tour, because, duh, I was on tour. So by way of catching up, here’s what showed up in June. I’m running the picture a little larger than usual, but you can also see a much larger version of the picture here. There are some excellent books in this picture, most of which are either out now, or will be out in the near future.


Calling the Undecideds

I’m not gonna lie to you folks: I’m am less likely to be voting for Mitt Romney come November than I am to be leaving my wife to shack up with a wise-cracking turtle named Laverne (and I’m really not gonna do that). I don’t imagine this will come as a surprise. Likewise, I know some of you are less likely to vote for President Obama than you are to get hit by lightning the same moment you win the lottery. For us, the presidential election might as well happen today.

But rumor has it there are some people who are genuinely still undecided about who they will vote for come November — whether to cast their vote for Obama, Romney or some other candidate still hustling about on the political periphery.

If you are one of these folks — I mean, really one of these folks, not just affecting a pose of being undecided at this point so you can pretend to be soberly impartial about the presidential candidates while espousing a political agenda that leaves no actual doubt as to how you will vote (and yes, everyone else can tell, because none of us are stupid) — would you mind sounding off in the comment thread?

Specifically I’m interested in knowing why it is you find yourself undecided at this point and what you are hoping to find out, either about the candidates or the nation (or both) before you make your final choice for Romney, Obama or someone else. I am genuinely curious, and I think it would be instructive for those of us who already have a strong opinion regarding our presidential choices (or at the very least, who we are not going to vote for among the two major candidates) why you are still mulling your choices. Please share with us your thoughts.

Incidentally, this means that the comment thread to this entry is only for people who are currently and genuinely undecided at this point — please don’t comment otherwise, including to argue with these undecided folks for the reasons that they are undecided and/or to try to sway them to your favorite candidate, whomever that may be. This isn’t a debating thread, it’s a place for folks to share where they are at in terms of their choices.

(And again, don’t post if you’re just pretending to not know who you’re going to vote for in order to read off a bunch of talking point cue cards. This will be obvious to the rest of us, embarrassing for you, and of course liable for Malleting.)

So: Who is undecided, president-wise?


Yes, I’ve Seen This Red Shirt-Related Macro + B&N Review Take on Redshirts

The graphic above has only been forwarded to me about 40,000 times (I was first referred to it here). Yes, I’ve seen it. Yes, it’s funny. One suspects that the folks at Independent Health are sweetly oblivious to the cognitive dissonance their chosen shirt color provides us geeks.

While we’re at least tangentially on the subject of Redshirts, here’s Paul Di Fillipo’s review of the novel at Barnes & Noble Review. It has a couple things I consider spoilers, but in the main it’s an excellent review, not just because it’s positive but because the estimable Di Fillipo gets what’s going on with the book. Also, he favorably compares it to Voltaire’s work (in a glancing way, mind you) and this is the first time I’ve been compared to that lovely fellow, so I am tickled pink.


It’s Okay Not to Read Me

I noted this briefly on Twitter last night but I think it’s worth expanding just a little bit. Last night I read a mostly vaguely negative review of Redshirts on a personal blog in which the reviewer basically admitted, in somewhat different words, that they’re just not an enthusiast of most of my books. This is of course perfectly fine, because I’m like that too — there are many writers out there for whom I am not the perfect audience, including some for whom it would seem I should be the perfect reader. People are quirky and don’t always work the way they’re supposed to. Likewise, I have no beef with the (mostly vaguely) negative review; as I’ve said before, a good (i.e., well thought-out) negative review can be better and more interesting than a positive review, and anyway I’m generally of the opinion that the books I write are good enough to release. So there’s that.

What the review made me feel, paradoxically enough, was a bit of sympathy for the reviewer, who (I imagine), once confronted with yet another of my books, sighed heavily and then set themself down to the mostly unpleasant task of reading an author they have regularly found unsatisfactory. And along with that sympathy, a bit of befuddlement, because, well. They’re reading that author (namely: me) why, exactly? This particular reviewer was not assigned the book for a gig; they were reading it on their own recognizance. So I suppose that my own thought on the matter is, why would you do that to yourself? Life is often unpleasant enough without choosing to fill your recreational hours pursuing a book from an author with whom ample previous readings have shown you have little rapport.

Here’s my thing about my own writing, which I’ve noted before: I write to make my books to be generally accessible, and generally enjoyable, for just about anyone. I cast a wide net, as it were. But within that general intention for a general audience, there will always be particular people who will discover I am not their ideal writer. For whatever reason: Perhaps they don’t like how I write dialogue, or plot the stories, or feel like I should be writing the book differently from how I am actually writing, or so on. Yes, it’s sad, for both of us; I like to sell books, and I assume these particular readers like to read books. When a writer and a reader find their respective books and tastes don’t match, there’s always a sad little moue of the mind, a wistful wish for what could have been. But then you both go on with your lives. For the writer, there are other readers. For the reader, there are other writers. That’s how it works.

As a writer, I’d like readers to give me my work a fair shake — to try what I write to see if we’re a good fit. But if they try it and after a couple of fair-minded attempts they decide I’m just not the writer for them, then from my point of view the obvious solution is to acknowledge the fact and thereby avoid the task of grimly tromping through my future books. Because clearly I am not making them happy, and I have to admit that as a writer I don’t enjoy the idea of someone joylessly hauling themselves through my prose for whatever reason they determine that they absolutely must. I really don’t write books to be joyless slogs. Unless it’s your job (or, in the highly specialized case of awards like the Hugos and Nebulas, you’re reading a slate to determine your voting), there’s probably not a good enough reason to do that to yourself.

I mean, if you’ve determined I’m not the writer for you, it’s okay to check in every three or four books and see if I’m still not working for you. Who knows? Maybe I’ll have changed my writing and/or something about you will have changed, and then suddenly what I write will work for you. Groovy. But otherwise I really would suggest taking the time you’re using to unenthusiastically trudge one of my books and devote it instead either to writers you know you love or (even better!) in the pursuit of newer authors who are looking for their audiences. You could be that audience! It’s worth giving them a fair shake, rather than looking at one of my books and thinking to yourself, oh, crap, another Scalzi book. Here we go.

Don’t go. You don’t have to go. If you don’t really enjoy what I write, stop reading it. Read something else, from someone else. If for some reason you need my permission and blessing to do so, here it is. I sincerely hope you find another writer whose work you like better.

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