Taos Toolbox, Redshirts French Cover, My Anthology Availability

Three things science fictional and fantastical, and lumped into a single post because of it:

1. Walter Jon Williams is once again heading up Taos Toolbox, a “graduate-level” writing workshop for science fiction and fantasy, and it’s application time once more for the program. WJW tells me in a note, “We want to concentrate on giving talented, burgeoning writers the information necessary to become professionals within the science fiction and fantasy field. Though short fiction will be enthusiastically received, there will be an emphasis at Taos Toolbox on the craft of the novel, with attention given to such vital topics as plotting, pacing, and selling full-length works.” I know a lot of satisfied graduates of the toolbox, so if this sounds cool to you, hit up that link above for more details.

2. Behold! The cover to the French edition of Redshirts:

It’s very groovy in a late-60s sort of way, and of course clearly plays up the Star Trek association in the typography and iconography. The subtitle is “in defiance of danger” (or so Google Translate — our era’s very own universal translator! — tells me), and that’s fairly accurate in terms of the story, I suppose. Anyway, very cool.

Additionally, if you want a copy of your own, it’ll be out February 21.

3. As I contributed a story to’s Rip-Off! anthology, in apparent contradiction to my policy of not contributing to anthologies, I have other editors pinging me about the possibility contributing to their anthologies as well.

Sorry, guys, no. Rip-Off! was a very specific project, to which I contributed for a specific, almost certainly not repeatable purpose. Generally speaking I am still not planning to contribute to anthologies for two main reasons: One, no time for it with the other projects I have planned; Two, I have discovered that I am really really really bad at writing specific-themed short stories to a deadline, and dislike being the dude editors have to badger for a story. It’s annoying for them and annoying for me. So rather than develop a reputation for always being late and kind of a dick, I just sit out anthologies entirely.

So if you’re thinking of inviting me to contribute to your anthology: Thank you, no.



Scam Attempt Warning for SF/F Writers

Short version: If you’re a science fiction/fantasy writer who got an invitation to speak from Bexley College in the UK, someone’s trying to scam you.

Longer version:

Here’s an e-mail in my box today:

Greetings John Scalzi,

I am Prof. Arthur Peterson from Bexley College (Holly Hill Campus) here in London UK. We are officially writing to invite you and confirm your booking as our guest Speaker at this Year Bexley college Seminar which will take place here at the campus ground.

Bexley College (Holly Hill Campus).

The Venue as follows:
VENUE: Upper Holly Hill Road Belvedere, Kent
London, United Kingdom
Expected audience: 450 people(mainly students & invited guest). Duration of speech per speaker: 1 Hour
Name of Organization: Bexley College Campus.
Topic: ”Mystery of Life and Death”
Date: 18th February 2013

We reached your profile at http:// and we say it’s up to standard. The College will be so glad to have such an outstanding personality as you in our midst for these overwhelming gathering. Arrangements to welcome you here will be discussed as soon as you honor our invitation. If you have any more publicity material you wish to share with us, please do not hesitate to contact me.

An Official Formal Letter of invitation and Contract agreement would be sent to you from the College as soon as you honor our Invitation. The College have also promised to be taking care of all your travel and Hotel Accommodation expenses including your Speaking Fee.
If you are  available for this date, include your speaking fees in your reply for it to be included in the DOCUMENTATIONS.

Stay Blessed
Prof. Arthur Peterson
Bexley College (Holly Hill Campus).

Tel: + 44 702 xxx xxx

The reason I know this is a scam:

1. The grammar and composition of this letter OH DEAR LORD.

2. Bexley College is a general further education college (i.e., a vocational school), not a university, and while a school that teaches people to be hair dressers and to work in construction probably might want the occasional speaker, those speakers are not likely to be science fiction authors from the United States, speaking on the subject of the mysteries of life and death.

3. The e-mail came from a GMail account, not an e-mail account using the school’s address (I’ve already reported it to Google as a phishing attempt).

4. The phone number attached to the letter not only does not match the numbers for Bexley College on the Web site, but I learn that UK numbers that start with “+44 70” are very often used for scam attempts (scroll down a bit for the info).

5. “Prof. Arthur Peterson” doesn’t exist, at least not in the context of Bexley College.

And so on.

Clearly the plan is to get me to call the phone number or to respond to the e-mail, grab some pertinent information about me from my own excitable self, and then go from there. Nice try, but no.

The fact the letter mentions my speaker listing at AboutSF suggests that whoever is doing it has copied out that site’s speaker list contact information and is probably contacting other folks listed there. So this is to raise a general alarm. Note that I suspect most science fiction/fantasy writers are smart enough to recognize a scam with they see one, but on the other hand better safe than sorry.

Bear in mind this particular letter uses Bexley College but it’s entirely possible the scammers will change it up and use other educational institutions. They’re crafty, these scammers.

So: Science fiction and fantasy writers: Beware.

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