Various and Sundry, 8/31/14 + Open Comment Thread

I’m home! For Two days! And so, a couple of things of interest:

One, here’s a power wall of science fictional art, here in my office:

From the left, that’s a black and white sketch of the French cover of Agent to the Stars by Paul Kidby (I also own the final color art), the John Harris art for the paperback versions of Old Man’s War, and the Donato Giancola art for the hardcover of the same title. I recently acquired the Harris art; my wife had it framed and then hung it in the office while I was out on tour. They’re all lovely and look lovely together. My wife also cleaned and organized my office, proving yet again that she is the best person in the world and I clearly do not deserve her, although I will continue to try to.

Two, catching up on some reviews of Lock In that came out this week, for archival purposes and for those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter:

* USA Today: “Lock In cements the award-winning writer as one of the best in today’s sci-fi community”

* NPR: “Once he’s gotten past the tricky part of building a near-future world and putting a dead body in it without getting bogged down in the details of either, the rest is all cake and hand grenades.”

* Toronto Star: “One of the best SF novels of the year, and one with substantial crossover appeal for non-genre fans as well.”

* Winnipeg Free Press: “Scalzi ably employs his usual smart plotting and sarcasm-infused dialogue in the service of the mystery thriller format. Lock In should please veteran whodunit readers and Scalzi fans alike.”

* Bookpage: “John Scalzi’s latest novel, Lock In, interweaves the threads of a number of familiar genre conventions to impressive effect.”

More reviews later as I find them and/or remember where they are in my Twitter queue. The short version is that so far the book is doing pretty well with the reviewers, and I am naturally pleased about that.

Three, for those who are curious, so far the tour is going very, very well. Good crowds at every event, people seem happy to see me and are enjoying the things I’ve been reading on the road, and there have been hardly any ninja attacks. The only real drawbacks so far have been the whole “get up waaaay too early in the morning to catch a flight” thing, and the occasional “you forgot to eat again” thing. I’ve been taking care of the latter with room service. I deserve it!

I’m home today and tomorrow and then I’m off again, starting with Denver, and then Seattle, Mountain View, Petaluma, San Francisco, Pasadena (CA), San Diego, Iowa City, Lake Forest/Gurnee (IL) and Lexington before I get another couple of days off (with an event even then, in Troy, OH). Full tour schedule, in case you’ve somehow missed it all this time, right here. Hope to see you while I’m out there on the road.

Four, because I am off the road until Tuesday, for those of you who need a Whatever commenting fix, the comments here are open and will be for the next couple of days. Comment your brains out! Consider it a mostly open thread, which means you can chat about whatever, although do me a favor and try to keep from being too contentious. I’m mostly tired from travel and prefer to keep things mellow if at all possible. Sound good? Groovy.

61 Comments on “Various and Sundry, 8/31/14 + Open Comment Thread”

  1. I loved Lock In, it is now second only to Old Man’s War in my Scalzi list :) I’d like about 25 more books in that world if you wouldn’t mind.

  2. Lock In was terrific and like Natasha said, some more stories set in the Haden Universe would be swell.

  3. My son says he thinks Lock In is your best book. I will see if I agree with him as soon as I finish Words of Radiance (which, sadly due to my work schedule, may take a while – very glad you don’t write 1000 page tomes!)

  4. Yep; I really, really enjoyed it and I would really, really love more books in the Hadens’ world.

    I read it back to back with the latest Reacher novel, published on the same day here in the UK, and was struck by the similarity of the two books, not least in terms of compulsive page turning, interesting mystery and the desire for more. Two completely different protagonists and very different worlds, yet both fascinating and compelling.

    For me this is your stand out novel; I’ve enjoyed all of your fiction but ‘Lock In’ had me riveted from start to finish. I very much hope that Tor is getting a good return for its full page advert because that way they will force you to accept vast sums of money in exchange for more Hadens’ world books and we will all be happy!

  5. Well, if you’re home and Comments are on, here are some eateries close to the Petaluma, CA bookstore:

    Petaluma Pie Company (707) 766-6743
    Zazzle Café (707) 762-1700
    McNear’s Saloon 707) 765-2121

    Looking forward to seeing you at Copperfield’s and getting you signature on a couple of copies of this fun new book.

  6. Woo hooooooo! I read the book twice in quick succession.

    I am wondering how many people are uh….noticing what else is unusual about this book beyond the lack of semicolons, though. Last I checked a few days ago, I saw that three other female viewers besides me mentioned that in reviews, but that was it. I totally want to discuss that uh…somewhere, darn it!

  7. OK. I have to read it. It was painful deciding I couldn’t read a Scalzi novel in the first place, but the more I hear about it the more it sounds like a don’t-miss. So I will struggle with the dragon of my issues (note: MINE, not the book’s) in order to get the gold which people I’m inclined to trust say is inside.

    This is actually a relief. I can stop feeling bad about it now!

  8. I bet your wife was just waiting for you to vacate so she could get in that office before everything in there spilled into the house. :)

  9. Xopher:

    I think there might be cake in there, too.


    I’m waiting a little bit to tackle that particular topic in full because it may qualify as a spoiler for people.

  10. What jenfullmoon said! I figured you are waiting to talk about it, but I am definitely itching to do so.

    Also the reviewer you linked to the other day said there were no wheelchairs in the book, missing the excellent humor scene in LA with the wheelchair.

  11. (oops, forgot to say that the wheelchair bit was one of my favorite parts, and I too was disappointed that the HuffPo reviewer missed it)

  12. John, that was a reference to a fannish (gamer) meme. I’m sure the cake in your novel is actually true.

  13. Xopher: or alternatively, “It’s time for cake and hand grenades, and I’m all out of cake!”

  14. “I’m either gonna kill him or marry him, and this is Mississippi!”

    (Not a reference to anything in the novel, of course.)

  15. Yay for Wednesday in Seattle. It’ll be nice to see you again with a new book to be signed.
    Oh, and thanks to you and Tor for adding the related novella, Unlocked, to the site. It’s a great addition and really made me even more curious about the book.

    Jeff S.

  16. JS

    I’ve just saved a fairly long response to jenfullmoon, touching on a number of different points as well her starting one.

    Please let us know when it’s not Spoiler territory…

  17. I just finished reading lock In. Really liked it.

    Random thoughts

    1) Great job of getting right to the story without a lot of world building.
    2) I was unable to figure out who did it and why until it was revealed
    3) I was expecting teledildonics at some point
    4) Reminded me (in spirit) of Asimov’s robot mysteries. Also of a Westlake sf short.

  18. Miles Archer, damn you, now I want to see a Battle of the Bands between Cake and Hand Grenades and Expecting Teledildonics.

  19. I finished Lock In a couple of days ago–I enjoyed it very much. I too am itching to talk about it, so I guess I’ll go on over to Making Light.

  20. Really enjoyed your appearance at Book People in Austin. I appreciate your signing a copy of Lock In for my brother, and I’m going to start reading my Kindle copy as soon as my 5 to 9 job turns back into a 9 to 5 job.


  21. What! No semicolons? I love semicolons. Commas that can’t make up their minds to be a pause or a full stop. Grammar Police will be visiting. Got my copy. Now I just have to finish up Clinton’s Hard Choices, and I can then get right to it.

  22. Hmmm, if Scalzi’s bragging about the reviews for his works, I’m gonna list all the reviews for MY works!

    (looks on Amazon to see if anyone’s reviewed his published stuff yet)

    (keeps waiting for one to pop up…)

  23. Can’t wait to see you in Seattle. My son can’t come because it’s a 6 hour drive 1 way and I won’t let him miss 2 days of the first week of school. So, we’re hoping that you will be OK with signing a red shirt for him since Redshirts is one of his favourite books.
    I haven’t read LockIn, I’m waiting to get my signed copy which is waiting for me at the University Bookstore!

  24. One other thought that I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere. The discussion of curing Haydens reminded me of the discussion of deaf culture and cochlear implants.

  25. Yes please go to making light for detailed plot discussions. Some of us in San Diego won’t get our copy until the 8th of September. WheelchaiBLABLABLA I CAN”T HEAR YOU!
    JS Maybe you could post a no spoilerific comment request. At least until the tour is done.

  26. Bought my hardback today from Amazon…..i dont get out much… i could do…..hoping you crack every top ten list all year long……

  27. Pasadena: back at Vroman’s, where I’ve seen you speak before, and where you’ve autographed books for me and my son (only one I know who was a professor at age 22 after a JD at twenty)? When?

  28. thanks for the thread because i’ve been trying to figure out how to say thanks for the book, which i read twice in two days. i loved it. yes, more Haden world books please.

  29. Yeah. I opened the otherwise tedious NYT Magazine and suddenly, “Whoa!” I had to call my wife in to check out the full page color ad for Lock In. Way to go.

    PS – Will be reading the book today.

  30. Two things, one on each of the bits bracketing this thread.

    Obviously you are moving books for your publisher, that ad could not have been cheap so they have a pretty good feeling that you will more than pay for it – thats good for both of you.

    Spoilers: If a story depends solely on some twist or surprise to entertain its not much of a story. Sure, knowing the twist to”The Sting” would have taken some of the punch out of it but really its the journey that make the story. The trip to the ending has to be entertaining in spite of not because of any big reveal. Its a mistake suspense writers make too often.

  31. I’ve read about 6 chapters of Lock In and so far I’m enjoying it immensely. One question for John, if he has time: was Asimov’s Caves of Steel in any way an inspiration? I find the parallels between people driving the “threeps” and robots interesting.

  32. Milo Polaris:

    It’s a very indirect influence, in that I read it many years ago and it’s in my brain as part of my science fiction knowledge base. Not a direct influence, however.

  33. @Xopher – I’m in the same situation as you re: reading the book (in terms of dragons – obviously we don’t know the specifics of why each other was reluctant to read it). It’s a hared situation to be in; think I’ll read it anyway (and threw in an honorary semi-colon in this sentence).

  34. I’m sure you realize that fans in every city along the rest of your tour are planning ninja attacks at your readings.

  35. Hey,

    Congrats on that big Ad in the NT Times – was it Magazine? or Book Review section?

    I forget already. I’ll be trying to pick up a Sunday Times while out running a few errands today, that’ll help me remember it better. Maybe the book itself, also, too.

    Anyways, Congratulations, you know you’ve hit the big time when you get a full-page spread like that!!!


  36. mgwa, I got your meaning, but not until I’d visualized a hared situation. “GET THESE BUNNIES OUT OF MY CARROT PATCH!!!”

    On an unrelated note, I first heard of the mngwa (that was the spelling they used) in, I blush to admit, a GURPS monster book. I ran a small group with that name (about hidden things, silence, and darkness) at Twilight Covening for a couple of years.

  37. Another thanks from a Chapel Hill resident for your visit there — it was a lot of fun.

    I feel a little bad about using the book signing time to talk Helprin and Mieville with you, but your comments on them during the q&a so exactly dovetailed with my feelings that I couldn’t resist.

    I hope you come back to Chapel Hill for future book tours — I know for a fact there are a LOT of Scalzi fans here.

    (And hello to JR in WV above, who I think is a fellow Balloon Juice community member.)

  38. @Xopher – ooh! I’d never heard of the mngwa before – think I need to slightly change my user name!

  39. *twich* Any reason your power wall isn’t hung with the same line for the bottom (or top) of all the works.

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