So This Is a Thing That Actually Just Happened

A tale told in tweets:

So, yes. At some point in the not too distant future (but well after I finish up my current projects, no doubt to the relief of my editors) prepare yourself for 101 Uses For a Spare Goat, by John Scalzi, from Subterranean Press. It will be, and I think I am not being too presumptuous in the coining of this new word, caprilicious.

Also: My life is weird.

128 Comments on “So This Is a Thing That Actually Just Happened”

  1. Use # 1: Buzkashi. It’s like polo. Except instead of a little ball, you play with a headless goat carcass. Quite popular in Afghanistan.

  2. MattMikalatos – United States – I'm the author of a variety of books, most recently THE SUNLIT LANDS, and GOOD NEWS FOR A CHANGE, and SKY LANTERN. I'm also the co-host and co-founder of the StoryMen podcast, and I live near Portland, Oregon.
    Matt Mikalatos

    I am looking forward to this book. I could only think of 56 uses for a spare goat.

  3. If your tweets keep becoming reality, how do you intend to use your new power?

  4. I will totally buy that book, if I get to it in time (doesn’t Subterranean usually do limited runs? Or am I misinformed?), out of pure love of ridiculous whimsy.

  5. Is this one of those cases where if we give you our ideas you can’t use them? Or can you collect the best ones and include them?

    Because it would be interesting either way. You could post at the top that any uses for a spare goat posted here become your property etc. Actually I don’t want to be explicit about the result of the other answer, because of the existence of malicious trolls.

  6. Dave – West Orange, NJ 07052, USA – I'm in a LD relationship, my girlfriend lives in Ontario. I like funny stuff, pics, etc. I also like tech and star trek tos.

    Fascinating.. will it be a sequel to the book about the sheep?;)

  7. The book deal is groovy and all, but I am officially having a relationship with the word “caprilicious”. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  8. I have in my possession, a list of “101 things you can do with a weasel” that I wrote when I was eleven. I will sell it to you for one billion dollars, or just e-mail it to you for free if you want it. ex: #29: Tie it to a tree and throw salmon at it. (I did say I was 11) Cheers!

  9. I hate to burst your bubble, but it has been mathematicallly proven by my ESTEEMED colleagues and peers that there is only, exactly, 99 uses for a spare goat. I could show you the proof but you wouldn’t understand it, dear boy.

  10. I don’t really know what’s better– the Twitter thing or the comments on here.

  11. @alpinmack

    This is exactly the kind of comment that makes me look for an “upvote” or “like” button, though I understand and endorse John’s reasons for not having them. I would love to read your weasel book based on your one example. Maybe John can put in a good word with Subterranean.

  12. I should have said “only, exactly, precisely and no more nor fewer than in a discrete sense 99 uses for a spare goat”.

    Sorry, I’m feeling pedantic today and thought I’d annoy you with it.

  13. A – What joelfinkle said. B – if you do not already have the undivided attention of Capricious, that problem should be rectified posthaste. C – there is no “C.”

  14. Vicki – Webmaster, concert photographer, lapsed physicist. Vicki likes to take pictures of musicians in her copious spare time. She keeps thinking that she should, perhaps, branch out with this thing, but it keeps not happening. It's a sickness. Pity her.

    Admit it, this only happened because you’re such a kick@ss dancer.

  15. You *must* have the book launch at Capricon. (And that might be enough to get me to fly from San Diego to Chicago in February).

  16. Heinlein claims he was giving a speech to a group of librarians about how to identify good SF novels. While discussing the silly lengths some authors go to in trying to form alien names for characters he jokes about a Martian named “Smith”. He claims that is where he started from when he wrote Stranger In a Strange Land”.

    So pasta bless you if you actually got “goats” green lighted – you are one lucky bas . . . er . . . guy congrats!

  17. There is no such thing as a spare goat. Spare them and let them be. Unless they are spare. Then feed them first, please. Or if you want to play headbutt. They all like that game.

  18. As you are awash in a sea of goat-based ideas — maybe the sequel could be called “The Goat Sea”.

    And I have ideas for the illustration too

  19. Bruce Diamond – Flyover Land on the teeming Mississippi River – Despicably proud old man. Text-extruding asshole (thank you, John Scalzi) with a skewed vision on life, pop culture, writing and general assholiness. Not a scholar, not a gentleman, not Martin or Lewis. But still trying to make life fun and funny.
    Bruce Diamond

    This announcement gets my goat.

  20. The Oatmeal would be a fine illustrator for this – his sopa pipa goat was delightful…

  21. DJ Ruby Rhod: K… K… Korben, my man, I have no goats. If I had known there was going to be a test, I wouldn’t have quit smoking.

  22. “101 Uses For a Spare Goat-A Coming Of Age Novel by John Scalzi” Kind of an Almost Famous meets Moonrise Kingdom meets Harvey meets Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants meets the Rutles kind of thing.

  23. It sounds like it has the potential to be hilarious, particularly with you writing it.

  24. We should all be so lucky to have a life as weird as yours. :)

    (Also, @ Nigel – you are a bad, bad man… LOL)

  25. Rachel – Software engineer from Seattle, working on instant messaging for my day job. Also a dressage rider and freelance photographer outside of work, as well as an aspiring writer. Sometimes I even have interesting things to say!

    @Wendy: Wouldn’t that be a “baaaa-d baaaa-d man” there? (I mean, this is a thread about ungulates and all…) ;)

  26. Hm, would one tape bacon to a goat?

    Or tape a goat to a cat?

    Or tape bacon to a cat, and then tape both of them to a goat?

    Or feed the bacon to the cat and tape that to the goat?

    Feed bacon to the goat and tape it to the cat?

    Feed the cat to the goat and tape it to bacon?

  27. You do know this will lead to every goat related link on the internet being sent your way, right?
    In addition to all the bacon links.
    If anyone ever markets goat bacon your server will crash.

  28. MasterThief@2:13 PM,
    That description reminded me of the “game” played in the Rose of the Prophet series to determine who would accompany Khardan to the city. The description of that one sounded more like a cross between polo, rugby, and feeding time at the zoo than plain polo, though. Is it at all similar?

  29. John Scalzi: Just so everyone knows. I am NOT entertaining suggestions for uses for spare goats.

    Aww, please? It could be the deal of the year. Sell the concept in 5 minutes and crowdsource the content. With the money you earn from the sweat of our fingers, you could upgrade the Preview function. ;-)

  30. You could mash this up with your SFnal work and re-name it “101 Uses For A Space Goat”.

    And then adapt it for a TV cartoon.

    Spaaaaaace Goooooaaaaat!

  31. Oddly appropriate goat joke:

    A man in a movie theater notices what looks like a goat sitting next to him.
    “Are you a goat?” asked the man, surprised.
    “What are you doing at the movies?”
    The goat replied, “Well, I liked the book

  32. Dear John:

    So happy to hear you are taking off time from Science Fiction to write a childrens story, unless you publish it in Wyoming, in which case the first rule of spare goats club is – we do NOT talk about spare goats club!

  33. For your entertainment:

    There is a medieval how-to manuscript by Theophilus called On Diverse Arts which, amongst all sorts of good advice on, for example, how to make decent crucibles for melting bronze, also has this very odd passage on how to carve Rock Crystal.

    The above link is to the text of the research paper a re-enactor wrote about trying to re-create Theophilus’s instructions.

  34. just checked Kickstarter….. ‘goat’ or ‘scalzi’ are not there.
    have to wait for the victory shower to be over, i guess.

  35. What, it’s romantic to explain to your wife that you just let a Twitter mob badger you into accepting a book deal on a book about spare goats?

    Besides, what’s this about “spare”? Can’t you consistently bowl strikes when you’re goat-bowling? Come on, man, you’re in Ohio, not Wisconsin.

  36. Get it illustrated by Jon Rosenberg, the webcomic artist whose first epic story was titled “Goats” (only because he learned the domain was available back in ’98). And since his current comic is, I think he’ll gladly include the Old Man’s War universe, the Redshirts universe and the Bacon Cat universe in his multi…

    And like Redshirts, this project needs a song… but don’t let Coulton do it. (Do I have to tell you the currently popular artist who MUST do it?)

  37. It must be satisfying to have built up your reputation for quality work to a point where such a thing can happen. Good on you, Mr. Scalzi.

  38. OK, now I want to read the Suzette Haden Elgin version of “101 Uses For a Spare Goat.” And maybe the Stephen King version.

    Any chance of making this an anthology?

  39. If it’s time for another “Whatever” compilation, liberally sprinkled with tweets, “101 Uses for a Spare Goat” seems like a very logical title…also a cool book :)

  40. Just be careful with the project. As any old time Sysadmin will tell you, the goat one must sacrifice to get a new SCSI chain to work on old-style servers was *not* spare. That’s a *necessary* goat. So, please, don’t ruin the book by making that newbie mistake.

    (What? No, it’s that you replaced one of your bishops with a goat, and could hop pieces, because your opponent thought it was a funky-shaped knight, and you immediately dropped it for a positional advantage before they realized their mistake – hence sacrificing a goat. Chess puns were one of the few things that helped when setting up old SCSI chains. Well, proper termination helped too, but not as much as the chess puns or the goat.)

  41. Wow, now I’m sorry I changed the title of Eel River from an earlier version–Raised by Goats. I could have ridden your coattails to fame and fortune!!

  42. Shawn – Ohio, USA – Early to bed, early or whirlybird or something. Bored now, bye. Don't step on any Lego's 'cause it _Hurts_!
    Shawn T

    “What makes a goat a spare goat?”
    For a certain momma goat named Nanny what made a … a …
    was, uhm, okay. Mom had two goats. A black and white nanny,
    and a “white” billy. The nanny had triplets. Two white* males and
    one black and white female.
    That nanny fed the two white ones, and butted the b & w one
    every chance she got.

    So, what makes a goat a spare goat is it looks like /you/! **

    “Will this involve bacon?”
    Goat belly futures.
    Ick. Not amusing. Was I thinking of something fun. Mehh.

    “is there such a think as too many goats?”
    One goat is to many.
    People who depended on goats created the image of a devil
    as a bipedal goat with hands.
    Given the choice of eating Purina goat chow with carrots and
    apples or killing an apple tree what did jumbo size apples
    what a little kid had saved up for years to get? — Bleah!

    Oh, I feel better know, even without ever having eaten chevon.

    *The kids had white fur, poppa had fur that usedtoabeen
    white, and was yellow where he peed on his legs.
    **This story is in the public domain (or wherever) because
    somebody was either telling me about a different goat set
    or didn’t know that Mom told that story to me more often
    than I would have preferred.

  43. Shawn – Ohio, USA – Early to bed, early or whirlybird or something. Bored now, bye. Don't step on any Lego's 'cause it _Hurts_!
    Shawn T

    Mom (who gardened) suggests that a spare goat is one
    that has eaten all of your asparagus.

  44. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me

    Head in hands. Stumnned.

  45. One of my sisters raised goats growing up, I’ve milked them, cleaned up after them, held them down for veterinary treatment. I have herded them with my collies. I lived in Greece for a while where I ate goat, drank the milk and consumed various products made from various parts of the goat – and I probably own one of the few complete sets of goat bells in this country… So if you would like suggestions, I’m here. And I can distinguish their bones from the very similar bones of the sheep, the roe deer and the gazelle. Just saying’.

  46. Sam: just checked Kickstarter….. ‘goat’ or ‘scalzi’ are not there.

    Silly Sam. He doesn’t need no stinking Kickstarter! He’s got Subterranean Press to fund this madness.

  47. Around this time next year you’ll have a great idea for a world-changing book that just demands to be written. Sadly, you’ll have to write a book about goats instead. That’ll teach you to fire off farcical book précis.

    Sometimes, with great power comes very little responsibility.

  48. Sure, write about the spare goat, but it’s the profligate goats that we need right now to keep our economy afloat.

  49. Wait – is this spare as in extra, or spare as in lean? Or spare as in frugal? The last, I admit, is probably not the case as we all know that goats are notorious spendthrifts. Still, I think the distinction would be useful.

  50. Well, you’ve already dealt in sheep, so… this looks like some kind of -somewhat- logical evolution. (…devolution ?)
    First time commenter here, please, do not mallet.

  51. Just remember that Ringo already covered the obvious one in Choosers of the Slain. Probably the finest goat-related nostalgia combat scene ever written.

  52. Dear gods, does no one have Neal Peart’s contact information? I’m betting he’d be onboard with doing a massive instrumental set to this novel…

  53. So far I have made 3,130 contributions to The On-Line Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences, by web form entry. Many were edited and published in half an hour or less from the moment I submitted. But a 1-page Math document is VERY different from a book-length work of nonfiction, so I am quite impressed by John’s latest accomplishment. Similarly, I’ve submitted a POEM to an anthology by email and had it accepted within a few hours, but a poem is also VERY different from a book-length work of nonfiction,

  54. For example, to ease you into some very exciting (if abstract) breaking news, which I submitted a few hours ago, and is now published:
    … The abc conjecture (or Oesterlé-Masser conjecture) is a conjecture in number theory, first proposed by Joseph Oesterlé and David Masser in 1985, stated in terms of three positive integers, a, b and c (whence the name), which have no common factor and satisfy a + b = c. Quanity q = log(c)/log(rad(a*b*c)) where rad(k) = A007947(k), is the product of the distinct prime factors of k. This is the q > 1 column of the wikipedia table taken from (2011). Goldfeld (1996) described the abc conjecture as “the most important unsolved problem in Diophantine analysis.” Jordan Ellenberg at Quomodocumque reports on a potential breakthrough in number theory, a claimed proof of the abc conjecture by Shin Mochizuki….

  55. You poor, poor dear – it must hurt terribly every time you sit … (… horse shoes). :)

    Great news – and looking forward to seeing this weird idea made real .. funny.

  56. @drachefly – only if one of them is “Use as bait to keep whatever aliens think we’re tasty distracted long enough to drop something heavy on them from orbit.”

  57. This is weird, John. I hope you had an idea before you wantonly tweeted this into the ether. In any case, should be … weirdly interesting. I know you can do it, but man.

  58. Omg that’s awesome.

  59. My copy of 101 Uses for a Dead Cat has been on the back of my toilet for the better part of a couple of decades. It will be fun to finally replace it. (Definitely get a good illustrator. It’s all about the pictures.)

  60. Will the book also be told in Twitter format?

  61. When you said you had sold the book, I did not believe you. When you added that you really had, I still did not believe you. When I saw the confirmation from Schaer, I still did not believe you. At this point, I do not believe you. When I am holding the book in my hands, I still will not believe you.

    All of my life I have practicing denial just for this.

  62. John, your mouth just keeps getting you in trouble when ppl decide to take you seriously. I should advise you to fall silent at once. But I know you’re not going to do that. So I”ll just sit back with the popcorn and watch you.

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