Why I’m Disliked: A Ten Point List

(WARNING: Neepery, not directly about Hugos, but somewhat related. Also it is about me observing other people observing me, so there’s a whole lot of me in this post. So: Ego alert. Also, it’s long, because I wanted to get out in one place. Skip it if you just don’t care. I don’t mind! Really!)

Over on Facebook at the moment, and as a subset of a larger discussion, there’s a conversational thread about why so many dudes (and it is largely dudes, and dudes of a certain sort and political persuasion) have such a rabid dislike of me, both as a writer and as a human being.

Naturally, I have thoughts on this, based on years of personal observation, so below you’ll find my hypotheses on why I am so widely disliked by a certain type of dude. These hypotheses are mix and match: Not all will apply to everyone.

1. Because I’m an asshole. Gotta put this one in here, and have to put it up top, because indeed, I like pretty much everyone in the world can be a complete asshole from time to time. Depending on who you are (and my opinion of you), you may see my asshole side more often than others do. I do, for various reasons, some systematic and some relating specifically to me, have the luxury of being able to get away with being an asshole more frequently than some other people can or would. So when the mood strikes me, I often have the ability to go ahead and be one.

Disclaimers, now: I try not to be an asshole nearly all of the time, and the mood doesn’t strike me very much in any event, especially as I get older and the amount of fucks I have to give about this sort of nonsense decreases over time. I particularly try to be sensitive to being an asshole to people I see having less power than I do, structurally speaking (i.e., that whole “punch down” thing). I also try very hard not to lead with the asshole card, or to be the first asshole on the scene.

But I don’t always succeed, and also and independently, from time to time I decide that me being an asshole is a thing I need to do. In that situation, if I’m being an asshole in your direction, you’re perfectly justified in disliking me. I’m okay with you disliking me. I may even want you to dislike me. Because it likely amuses me, and because I think it’s what you rate. Some people deserve a thumb in the eye.

2. Because they’re assholes. Which a significant number of them are, for various reasons, including, apparently, some of them making a calculated decision that being a jerk is a viable marketing tactic. They’ve decided, apparently, to address an untapped “asshole” sales demographic. This is a bold strategy and we’ll have to see how it works out for them. Personally I suspect the number of people enticed by an “all asshole, all the time” public relations strategy is smaller than one might suspect. But it’s not my career, and if it gives them joy, then fine.

In which case disliking me is just part and parcel of being a professional asshole. I’m a nice big target, and there’s apparently an estimation that being seen in opposition to me, or framing one’s self as one of my hopeful nemeses, conveys certain marketing advantages. It’s sort of an unpleasant variation of starfucking. I am also skeptical of this as a viable marketing strategy, in part because generally speaking when I’m aware of it being attempted, I don’t address the starfucker directly anymore. It’s fine if they want to play that game; I don’t have to participate. Which sort of lowers its strategy value, in my opinion. But again, if it gives them joy, well, whatever.

3. Because of my politics. Many of the dudes who dislike me have politics that range from reactionary conservative to bourgeois fascist, accompanied by social positions that range from outdated to bigoted (there’s a strong correlation between those political and social positions, mind you, and probable causation as well). I’m no model liberal or progressive, to be sure, but my positions, social and political, are sufficiently left of their own that a) they see me as a useful foil, b) I am in their estimation a leader of a larger, and further left, social/political movement that they created in their heads as a threat to their own largely reactionary, somewhat bigoted way of life. In this case it helps that I’m a well-off straight white man, since using me as a target means they get to deflect criticism of a bigoted worldview.

It also means that they see me as an affirmative-action beneficiary of the non-existent political and social movement that they’ve created inside their heads, which they also think runs things in the science fiction and fantasy genre, which it does not, because, again, it doesn’t actually exist outside their heads. If it did, in the manner in which they seem to believe it does I, as a well-off straight white man, would be an extraordinarily unlikely candidate for their approbation when it came to sales and awards. The fact that they appear to think I am an excellent candidate for this approbation is a significant tell about their own worldview, i.e., that even an alleged social/political movement celebrating/ordering diversity requires a well-off straight white man as a figurehead.

Related to this:

4. Because I should be with them and I’m not. I’m a well-off straight white man who writes military science fiction (among other things); if you look at the stats, the correlation between these categories and “socially/politically conservative” is pretty high. That I’m not socially or politically conservative is apparently a source of confusion and upset for some. Likewise, I’m a well-off straight white man who is a loudmouth on the Internet and who writes about poverty and inequality and who has been unapologetically for things like same-sex marriage and the right of women to have total reproductive control of their own bodies, and has used his influence in his field to speak against harassment, and for diversity. Which is also apparently not what I should be doing.

That I am doing these things, and that I don’t have the expected politics for my easily-slottable demographic, is confounding — and also, if you’re the sort of person who gets upset about these things, suggests possibly that I am a traitor to well-off-ness, and straightness, and whiteness, and man-ness, all of which have, apparently, very specific conditions of being, of which I may not actually meet. Hold that thought, we’ll get back to it.

5. Because I’m successful: Despite not slotting in how I should socially or politically, and not receiving the imprimatur of the folk who apparently believe they have the ability to decide who and what is really science fiction and what is not, I’ve nevertheless done very well in my field, while others doing similar things (and doing it better, in their opinion), are not doing as well as I am. This clearly isn’t fair or right.

Obviously, the fact that I am doing better than some others despite my inauthentic nature means that I am a beneficiary of manufactured success, either at the hands of the social/political movement they’ve created inside their head which does not actually exist, or by the manipulations of my publisher, who for some reason has decided that tying itself to a writer who doesn’t sell, to the tune of millions of dollars and more than a dozen books, is a valid and solid commercial strategy. Which, of course, just makes the detractors even more annoyed.

All of this combines to the following:

6. Because I’m not a real man. My political and social positions, and my success which must obviously not be real, mean that I’m not an actual man man. I’m not an alpha male. I’m a beta or even a gamma, a submissive tool of women, in cowering awe of real men, and probably gay, because being gay is the worst possible thing for a man to be, and one that is, is hardly deserving to be called a man at all.

Note well the strategy here: When a man who does not meet these fellows’ requirements for manhood nevertheless succeeds — and succeeds in a field they have claimed as their own stomping ground — the play is de-masculinize him (by their silly definition of “masculine”) as much and as quickly as possible. In other words, they try to demote that man. They’re trying to demote me from manhood, because manhood, in this formulation, is really the only thing that matters.

This, unsurprisingly, leads to the next reason they dislike me:

7. Because they can’t actually do anything to me. In point of fact, I can’t be demoted by them, either out of my manhood, or out of any other advantage I have. After all their blathering and whining and conspiracy theories and nasty mean awful snarkings, they have changed precisely nothing. Look, I’ve been on the receiving end of this nonsense literally for years, and none of it — none of it — has ever made a single material difference in how I’ve led my life, how my career has advanced, or how I do my work on a day-to-day basis. Nobody cares. Literally no one cares.

When faced with this sort of general impotence, the response appears to be: Try harder. Well, again: I wish them joy. It won’t matter to me.

8. Because of envy. This one is pretty obvious in some specific cases. I’ve been pretty successful despite being a mewling coward of a gamma, whereas some of them have been notably unsuccessful at nearly everything they’ve done despite being awesome supergeniuses who are always thinking sixteen steps ahead, so tremble when I walk amongst you, puny humans. To which my response is: I’m sorry your life has turned out so poorly for you, but this is not really my problem, and also, I wish you would stop trying to make it my problem.

9. Because I refused to recognize that they were right about something that one time, or several times. This is also specific to a couple of people who thought they were pretty good with that whole arguing thing, and were making points that were clearly self-evidently correct, and were non-plussed when I noted that they were not self-evident, and also, they couldn’t argue their way out of a paper bag. Clearly in these cases the problem was not their positions or their inability to elucidate them in a coherent manner, but that I was mean. Unsurprisingly, people who think they are right about most things more often than not appear to hold long grudges against people who point out they’re often not right, and not right more often than they would like.

10. Because of tribal identification. At this point there’s simply a small cadre of people who have decided that the world is against them — or have decided that it’s a smart career move to convince other people that the world is against them — and moved to hook in a bunch of other like-minded folks to create a tribe. When doing something like this, it’s nice to have something for the tribe to exercise their daily two-minute hate against. For this cadre, at this moment, these things include a non-existent political and social movement they’ve created in their heads, the awards this non-existent political and social movement supposedly control, and me, as a titular icon of this non-existent political and social movement.

If you’ve been convinced to join this tribe, this is great — you’ve been pointed in a particular direction, given your instructions, and now all you have to do is follow the steps. That the steps are silly, based on nonsense and are, in the case of me at the very least, liable to effect nothing, is almost aside the point. The point is: membership. Belonging. And something to hate, or at least dislike.

And again: If it gives these people joy to dislike me, it’s no skin off my nose. I’ll be doing my own thing. I do think it’s sad, however. I hope eventually they decide that they have better things to do. There are, indeed, so many other, better, things to do with one’s life. Let’s hope they figure out what those things might be.


178 Comments on “Why I’m Disliked: A Ten Point List”

  1. Quick notes:

    1. Mallet out, because this would be that kind of thread, wouldn’t it. That said, since the topic here is me, there is a fair amount of leeway in discussing me, my personality, etc. Don’t be, you know, egregiously a jerk to me, but if you have a point to make that might in other contexts be rude, that’s fine. Say it as nicely as possible, please. Also, if you’re new here, read the comment thread policy. Thanks.

    2. This is the part where I note, because it will need to be noted, that not every conservative-ish and/or milSF writer or fan, etc. has it in for me or dislikes me, and vice-versa. Many conservatives/milSF enthusiasts like me, or don’t care about me one way or the other. I feel the same way! Basically, if you have to wonder whether I’m talking about you here, I suspect I am probably not.

    3. Likewise, let it not be said that everyone on the left/progressive side of the political and social spectrum thinks I am awesome. They don’t. Lots of them think I’m problematic to some degree or another. Which is fine. Some of them think I’m an asshole, too. Which again is fine, not in the least because in some (rare) cases I have been an asshole to them, so.

    4. You’ll note I didn’t name any specific names. There is a reason for that. Consider whether you need to name any specific names (aside mine, obviously). I’d be fine with this not turning into a slam session for specific people.

    5. To get ahead of the inevitable “If you don’t care, why did you just write 2,000 words on the subject” snarky query: 1. Slow Sunday around the Scalzi Compound; 2. Obviously, the topic is of interest to me, because among other things it is about me. But do remember that I have a life outside both the Internet and this specific topic, which is to say, that topics discussed on the blog may be less important in the overall scheme of my life than they appear.

  2. For the record, John, I think you are one of the LEAST assholish persons on the web. Along with your other many fine qualities, you are one of the most generous public figures I’ve seen in terms of helping other writers, and in particular those less successful than you.

    I’m sure Voltaire’s prayer has been quoted here many times, but it still pertains…

  3. Hillary Rettig:

    Thanks. As I note, I do try not to be an asshole in nearly all cases. But it does happen from time to time, and I should be the first person to acknowledge that it does.

  4. Dang right I’m jealous of your undeserved success, just because you studied hard, and worked hard, and are well read, and make intelligent financial decisions and…. Er…I forget what my argument was supposed to be there. You seem a decent sort really, you’ve helped provide a roadmap for others who want to get into writing or just general education, you inspire others, and while I’ll never work out your fondness for Coke Zero, that doesn’t seem nearly enough to hang a hate campaign on. Plus you once taped bacon to a cat, that was awesome!

  5. Put me down as one who thinks you’re OK despite writing that military SF, a genre that does seem to attract more than its fair share of reactionary a-holes.

  6. With respect to #3, as a genuine left-leaning Canadian (which means I don’t fall on the US political spectrum at all), I’d peg you as pretty much a centrist on the Canadian political spectrum, Mr. Scalzi. Either a left-leaning Conservative (I hesitate to say Red Tory, since that has a specific meaning and I don’t know enough about your politics) or a right-leaning Liberal (i.e. a Market Liberal). Which is to say you’d straddle what is considered the centre, with a little play to either the left or right at any given time; more likely right than left, frankly.

    Which means you’ve pretty well got a good handle on where you are with respect to “progressiveness” outside of the US political context.

  7. In my heart, you wrote this, and they’re reading it, while Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” plays in the background.

  8. Also, you did that thing with bacon and your cat. In some circles, that’s unforgivable.

    Plus, you seem to be generally happy, which angry, unhappy people can’t stand to be forced to witness.

  9. I tend to agree with (or am amused by) your general views, but I’m afraid that the following statement:” Personally I suspect the number of people enticed by an “all asshole, all the time” public relations strategy is smaller than one might suspect” is unfortunately incorrect. viz: Donald Trump and/or a large proportion of the Republican party.

  10. Pretty much. I love how they attack your manliness because you have succeeded in a genre they identify as manly, which means of course you must be more manly than they are (right?) but somehow you are less manly than they are and it’s all a conspiracy, and that means… They sound insane

  11. Starkis:

    It works to a point, sure. But usually not the point that the person employing it would like, i.e., presidencies or awards. In those cases, you do eventually have to appeal to people who aren’t assholes all the time.

  12. Ego alert indeed! How dare you write about yourself in YOUR blog!
    Oh, wait…

  13. I wholeheartedly agree that you are “a loudmouth on the Internet.” Who could argue with that? However, I do wish you could refrain from emphasizing quite so frequently that you’re straight. For some of us, the second F in SF/F is so important.

  14. It goes up to 11, remember: because some of them are automated postings by bots.
    Never attribute to stupidity that which is adequately explained by automation.

  15. Somehow I missed something very important.
    If I google “scalzi bacon cat”, will I find something wonderful, or some terrifying photographic slash fiction?

  16. I am just a humble twitterly passerby so I’ll be quick

    What exactly is “bourgeois fascist” ?

    Google is not helping and suggests that historically, fascists weren’t all that fond of the bourgeois

  17. In addition to what you’ve written: One reason some folks don’t like you is that you’re relentlessly reasonable, and seem to believe in living and letting live. (They undoubtedly belong to the “if you’re not with us, you’re agin us” school of philosophy, if it can be dignified with a word longer than 5 letters.) You’re almost Canadian, in fact. That kind of moderation just drives some people bugfuck. (Excluding this Canadian, obviously.)

    It doesn’t help that you’ve got a thick skin. Nothing bothers a bully or bigot so much as when you turn the other cheek or don’t even notice the first slap in the cheek. Trolls gonna keep hating.

    It’s said you can tell a man by the quality of his enemies. If so, it speaks very well of you indeed… which won’t come as a surprise to readers of your blog.

  18. I just tuned in because I like the word,”Neepery”
    Otherwise, I have to agree with unnaturallyspeaking above. Some people can’t be happy and see being happy as some sort of conspiracy.

  19. Hugo neepery? I really do not care but this is one of your better (best) posts. It really encapsulates why the rest of them will be on my reading list – thanks JS you sometimes just really make my day

  20. How dare you speak truth to their borrowed power? As someone who lurks your blog, you finally got me to write because I’m in your boat as well.

    The little marketing agency I run is deliberately kept little because of the fucks I give in my fifth decade of proving myself by building organizations, came out several years ago. We turned down a lucrative opportunity with a conservative PAC and told the world we were working for sensible gun legislation, real equality among all people, and helping the environment try to recover.

    People didn’t like it. I lost some friends. I lost one client supposedly for other reasons.

    Remember that brilliant scene in Fried Green Tomatoes when Kathy Bates’ Evelyn hits her breaking point and smashes into the car of a couple of smartasses in a supermarket parking lot? “Face it, girls. I’m older and have more insurance!” ::crash::

    That’s where you and I are, and it’s a good place to be. But I also feel like we celebrate where we are by offering a hand to those who don’t have the good fortune we do yet have the heart and moral compass to guide them. For me, helping empower those people in whatever small way I can is the most fun I’ve had in a long time.

    Keep on keepin’ on.

  21. John, speaking as a motivational psychologist (and executive assessor), there’s a fundamental underpinning to a lot of this. Published writers (and many wannabe writers) have what is technically known as Influence motive or (badly labeled because of negative associations) Power motive. That is, a major source of emotional energy and excitement for them is having an impact on others or the world at large. That’s not just an assertion; I did the research on dozens of writers published in long-form and short form from a host of genres, and found two key and highly consistent components: (1) extremely high motive to influence as opposed to the other two (achievement/improvement and affiliation/interpersonal, average profile is 88th percentile, 20th percentile and 18th percentile respectively), and (2) extremely high “activity inhibition” (AI), which means they can postpone satisfaction in their motives by restraining or channelling their emotional drives. Think of it simply as self-control of emotions.
    This makes sense when you think of mainstream-published writers: they want to have an influence on people, but first they have to sit alone typing for a long time, then wait even longer to get a book published and on the shelf.
    Of course, it DOESN’T require a lot of self-control to post on the Internet, which explains a lot of what is going on — people who want instant gratification in terms of impact on people. The easiest way to do that is to troll and make people angry, because, hey, even negative impact is better than none for some people. (“There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” – Oscar Wilde, a very skilled attention-getter in his day!)
    For those who are not socially or politically skilled AND lack self-awareness, and let’s face it, that describes a lot of people in SF/F, they simply do not understand how the business of writing works, and expect people to simply fall down before their genius, whether said genius is empirically validated or not. Your success at apparently being an Internet presence AND a published writer at multiple lengths clearly pushes their buttons, because these folks think THEY should have your slot, and they don’t understand that the key to this kind of success is a combination of hard, patient work, developed skill, insight into the way things work, and the ability to work well with others. So they scream in order to be noticed somehow. And it’s much easier that way than sitting quietly and writing good stuff.
    Note how the Power motive underpins many of your points: 1 & 2, because assholes by definition get a rise out of people, 3 & 4 because politics are about impact and gathering a power base. 5 because they assume a political movement behind you, 6 because they think “real men” are aggressive and dominant (quite immature and ineffective Power motive, incidentally), 7, oh my God; 8, which you define specifically as their not being able to have impact compared to you, 10, because of power groups in opposition. Even 9 is manageable if I work at it. Not many points really speak to being genuinely better in objective terms, which would be Achievement motive, and one alludes to your being mean, which might be Affiliation motive (that somehow you are not their friend).
    Ignoring them hits them where they hurt most: not having an impact. Picking on a big target makes them feel bigger (again, immature Power motive, “stage III/personalized” for the psych nerds among us).
    As a side note, it explains why so many SF/F stories are about one lone person taking down or taking over a big organization/empire/company/government; it’s about someone with strong desire to impact the world but lacking the political and organizational insight to do so realistically. Nope — it’s easier to smash it up. Even the late, great Robert A. Heinlein had a pretty basic understanding of how leadership works in a complex organization, and frequently reverted to the lone leader. Which isn’t to say it isn’t fun!
    For what it’s worth.

  22. I’ve decided to give up writing military thrillers and focus on science fiction and other speculative stuff. I finally accepted that the preponderance of those with huge success in that field go with the party line of “my country right or wrong” and so does the audience. It is as it is. The fact I can count on one hand, with some fingers remaining, the number of those writers who actually have military experience is curious and focuses on the fact it is called fiction. It’s escapism where the supposed good guys always win and the bad guys are always bad, with no nuance in between.

    I find the world a rather grey place and have the curse of seeing the other side’s point of view, even if I don’t agree with it. One reason people will think someone is an asshole is when they become more successful, as you have noted.

    I’m watching, out of the corner of my eye, an indie-trad fight laced with profanity, name-calling and more than enough immaturity on both sides taking place. I walked away from that a while ago. I’ve found the science fiction community very clannish with a core of rabid fans who like to take sides and munch on controversy. It’s human nature, although it doesn’t have to be everyone’s human nature. I like sitting here with my two dogs writing about whatever.

    Also, remember something: one of the keys to successful marketing is you must have haters. If you have no haters, it means you have no one who is rabidly on your side either. Sort of like a marriage. You’d rather have anger (at times) than apathy.

  23. Don’t you get creeped out by these people being so obsessed with you? I’m just a fan and I just read your books and your blog and your tweets because they entertain me. I have no energy to get involved in any of the silliness. But I am amazed at how much time people devote to writing hateful things about you and I wonder if you get scared or worry about your safety? Because some of these people who don’t like you seem to me to be mentally ill and possibly dangerous. They are scary to me.

  24. The point about running out of fucks to give as you get older….

    That resonates. I’m almost 40 (and sort of feeling it. Apparently my brain thinks ages divisible by 10 are important, as if something magical will happen at 40 that did not at 39 and won’t at 41) and I used to argue voraciously and really care.

    And now I’m just…tired, I suppose. It won’t make a difference. It won’t change minds. It started when I just stopped bothering supplying links or references unless I was asked and morphed gradually into “Just google it for yourself” and finally into “Screw it, they won’t anyways” and I sometimes wonder if that means I’ve just seen the same thing happen so many times I can see the end — or if I’ve fallen into self-reinforcing patterns, gradually shutting myself off from disagreement.

    I worry that’s group think, that I’m enfolding myself into a bubble of agreement. I wonder if getting older is all about a combination of certainty, self-doubt, and a realization that it’s all just really a lot more complex than people like to believe.

    Honestly, playing video games sounds more fun these days. Achievements and trophies may be feeding me pellets in my own Skinner box, but it’s not as squicky as the feeling of “Well, I just really told THAT stranger who was wrong! Even though I don’t know him, he doesn’t care about me, and neither one of us cares about the other’s opinion. We’re just seeking validation of our own.”

    So yeah, I think I’m gonna go play Portal 2 and maybe do some laundry.

  25. It’s important to their reactionary populist narrative to be prosecuted while simultaneously to be representing the majority. It’s not hard for them to find a majority that they can speak for – they’ll just point to the much larger scifi fandom from visual media and claim (without evidence) to represent their interests.

    However – finding Powers oppressing them is very difficult. The list of people in power who are keeping folks like themselves (ostensibly, in their narrative) away from the good china is necessarily very small. Stuff like the one-day boycott of Tor is therefore inevitable, since who else is there?

    So I think you missed 11) you write meta-posts like this and you know they exist. You can find other popular writers doing this, but the list isn’t long. You comment on things going on in the ‘realm’, so you meet the very low bar required to be a Power putting down the Common Man.

  26. I dislike you because you didn’t list the reason for which I dislike you!

    Now pardon me while I go storm off in a paradoxical rage.

  27. A quick note here before continuing reading your blog. There’s also another angle here as one gets older and the ‘no fucks given’ thing increases. As things tend to matter for less than they once did, it can produce moments of brutal candidness. Part of that may be irritation over yet another permutation on a subject seemingly as old as dirt. The other may be due to plain impatience to get on with it and get back to whatever it was that had real importance. Both of these impulses can lead to assholeness. While not all that unique as impulses the degree to which they become applicable widens dramatically with increasing age. Yes, even age is a double-edged sword. It never ends (le sigh).

  28. As a non-famous but otherwise left-leaning white, straight, American male, #4 drives me up a wall. I just have no patience for other people trying to define for me what any of those things should mean, and then using their made up definition to “prove me wrong”.

  29. Matthew Appleton:

    The thread is actually rather civil and lacks drama. Your popcorn needs will not be fulfilled.


    I suspect that’s true.

    Lisa Moore:

    Generally speaking it’s not a problem for me. This again has to so with some things that are systematic, and some things that are just about me.

  30. Yo Scalzi, I hate social justice, children and old people. Does this enrage you?

  31. Perhaps your unabashedly happy family life as documented on this blog fuels the dislike. Some of your detractors seem to get most of their energy from being unhappy.

  32. Matthew:
    Well, I’ve found an air popper to be a really good investment. I mean you have to salt and butter to taste, but if you go light (or skip those) you can have a very healthy treat. We’ve been sort of “de gadgetizing” the kitchen (there’s a lot of really cool gadgets out there that, well, end up taking up more space than they’re worth when you can get it done with a good knife or a little experience with a stove) but the air popper stays. Worth the counter space!

    In fact, I might go make some….

    Can’t help you with the entertainment with your popcorn. :)

  33. I’ve found that in life there are people who are just gonna hate our people for no obvious or realistic reasons. Many times I’ve had the shouter conversation, “dude, how can you hate me, we never met before.” And then I turned 21 and decided I didn’t have enough fucks to be an angry man anymore and just didn’t care. Now I mark it up to pheromones. Something about me just ticked them off, well, they have their own path and have to deal with it themselves. Not my job to help work out their psychology. Of course there were notable exceptions to that rule.

  34. I think you may have missed one…

    From what you’ve written on here, it’s pretty clear that you came from a less-than-affluent background. I’m assuming you either got a scholarship to the University of Chicago, or paid your expenses yourself via student loans, and worked hard to get where you are. Hey, you’re a living, breathing Republican cliche of dragging yourself up by your bootstraps! Foodstamps to millionaire(-ish) in one generation! A true self made man!

    But you don’t think like they do, i.e. “I’ve got mine, so time to kick the ladder out from behind me.” Which seems to be the right wing way (Paul Ryan, anyone)?

    And also those with all the advantages (daddy’s money, paid for college, etc etc) are not selling like you do, so it isn’t fair!!!!!!111!!!!

    Also, at least one of the detractors needs to get a life and stop worrying so much about you. I think you’ll do just fine without the concern trolls.

  35. Yes, I have been pro-Scalzi for a long time (in Internet years anyway). I continue to shake my head at those who think being the Anti-Scalzi is a good career objective. There are a number of other authors and creative types I might have never discovered if not for their being associated with The Scalzi. Those who declare themselves to be Anti-Scalzi generally go off any possible consideration for a purchase, and, in the rare cases where I already have something in my collection, the object usually is removed from it. I still have a couple of books from an author who was nominated for a Nebula the year I chaired them that I no longer want to keep, but I’VE been debating how to dispose of them. Any suggestions?

  36. cmon, man. You didn’t have to post this. it’s incredible egotistical, even if it’s 100% right.

  37. *wordless admiration*

    I can be a bitch when it seems necessary, and I’m no longer apologetic about it…

  38. The bacon thing may be enough reason. Such a beautiful cat, and you taped bacon to her!

    You mistreat your readers like you mistreat your animals. There are two things in Redshirts that are beyond the pale. One is in Chapter 23, where Dahl says “Tell me you’re not about to make the pun I think you are.” What was the pun? The other, well, I’ll let people find it for themselves. Cute, Scalzi.

    (On a more serious note: my cat died near the beginning of the year too. For such small creatures, they leave a big hole in your heart).

  39. I read Old Man’s War without knowing anything about Mr Scalzi. I generally liked it, but I did find myself wondering if the writer was conservative. You know, the idea of making old people useful to society (because apparently they’re a stone around its neck) and the militarism got me in that line of thinking.

    So imagine my surprise when during this Hugo controversy, I learn that Mr Scalzi is apparently some kind of a poster boy for sci-fi liberalism and leftism. Oh boy. Has American perception of political ideology shifted so far to the right that now even people expressing moderately conservative ideas instead of far right tea party line, are being painted as far-left liberals and the destroyers of everything that is good in America?

  40. “They’ve decided, apparently, to address an untapped ‘asshole’ sales demographic.”

    When has the asshole sales demographic *ever*, in the history of sales demographics, been untapped?

    I’m not in marketing, but it seems like the asshole demographic must be an easily-tapped and undrainable aquifer of money.

  41. @John You should get an arch-nemesis. Seriously!

    But not just one run-of-the-mill nemesis. You should choose him/her personally after discreet audition. Then you enter a revenue-sharing with your nemesis. After all, this a post created by you.


    1. Being capable of finishing a 200+ page novel is nothing but a superpower. As wielder of a superpower an arch-nemesis is part of the basic issue.

    2. By choosing an arch-nemesis you can rule out unworthy ones. Look what Anita Sarkeesian got. Getting slandered by someone like Owen/Aurini, that is bad for you image ;-D. Incapable arch-nemeses may damage the brand.

    3. Hate becomes more and more a business model. Look at Vox Day, Glen Beck or Rush Limbaugh. They show that being assholes can pay a lavish rent. Don’t miss out on that revenue stream…

    P.S. Suddenly I have the vision of a bipolar superhero in Brandon Sanderson’s Reckoners series. She is fighting her own despotic rule. Pretty messy. So you should resist filling that position of an arch-nemesis with an alternative ego ;-).

  42. I’m probably the farthest right of center person who regularly posts here and doesn’t get banned. I dont think Id have a problem getting along with John in real life. Seems like a likeable guy, but yeah the guy can be an asshole sometimes. So can I. Ok with me its more than sometimes. Its alot of the time. I admit it. Mature adults can get along. I can’t stand victimization. I dont know what post you are looking at but these Sad Puppies are acting like whiny cry baby liberals. That is probably the worst insult I could throw at them.

    That being said… that post and twitter fight back and forth that John had with Larry Correia was ignorant. I think that is where Larry’s anger toward john comes from. Need to note, no idea if they have had private arguments and just don’t get along. From his perspective its another person piling on when he didn’t really do anything and never did anything to you. I’d be pissed to. As an adult I think its fair for me to say that was ignorant.

    This is going to be weird, but damn that is 2000 words? I haven’t been able to figure out what authors mean when their goal is 2000 words in a day since words are different length. Its some calculation that MS Word does. If that’s all author can do on a good day, damn I can’t figure out how they keep stories straight. 3 weeks later I would completely forget what I was doing in the past. Keeping plot lines organized at that pace? Makes me even more amazed at what Robert Jordan did with all those subplots over all those books.

  43. Hell, even if I didn’t like you for other reasons, I’d like you for the sheer amount of popcorn theater entertainment your comments section has provided to me over the last decade.

    I’ve gotta imagine that, with some of the posts you’ve done, you’re certainly fulfilling your own popcorn quota, and deliberately timing those post to satiate that popcorn craving when it arises….

  44. Guess:

    I saw Larry just a couple of weeks ago at ALA. We were at dinner and had panels together and everything. We got along just fine, I should note. This is your occasional reminder that barbs thrown online do not necessarily equate to pistols at dawn in the real world. As you say, mature adults can get along.

    That said, again, let’s keep from talking about specific people (other than me), please.

  45. Alright Sean, that’s enuff caffein for you today.😄
    I should’ve known someone would get on here and say something similar, but still got laugh surprise.

  46. I think it would be a cause for worry if there WEREN’T a small minority of people who absolutely loathe you. Any hint of celebrity in today’s world pretty much guarantees someone will have that reaction.

  47. One is reminded of the immortal words of Jubal Harshaw: “I am an almost extinct breed, an old-fashioned gentleman, which means I can be a cast-iron son-of-a-bitch when it suits me.”

  48. I will say that, to some extent, your willingness to get involved in feeding the trolls (as evidenced by this very post) seems to be, in itself, at least partially a marketing strategy. As Bob Mayer says above (Hi Bob!) The SF community can be “very clannish with a core of rabid fans who like to take sides and munch on controversy.”: They like to watch (and occasionally join) a good fight and you give them one. This is not criticism, it’s actually smart.

  49. jdrhoads:

    I don’t think every discussion of trolls is the same as feeding them, however. I’ve tended to look at the Hugo-related posts this year that I’ve done more as providing context for things that are going on rather than simply poking to poke (these days I tend to use Twitter more for that).

  50. I dislike you because there’s an anime-style picture in the header of the site and I can’t figure out why.

  51. I dislike you because you got all that money in a book deal and I didn’t even get a lousy t-shirt.

  52. July…
    I had gone to great lengths to convince John Scalzi he was my friend. I even let him drink out of my Coke Zero bottle without wiping the end off first. “Scalzi” I said, “you just stay there and I’ll get you another Coke Zero..(sotto voce) you gunky.” So I went to the freezer and my mother/wife had thrown the Frozen Ball of Scalzi-Hate (TM) away. So I went back online and I spit on him.

  53. So some people dislike you; that is their perogative. What I personally enjoy is when they engage you on Whatever. I mean, taking on professional word smith, on the blog he has full control over. Which reminds me, I really have to read “Your Hate Mail will Be Graded”

    ‘the older I get, the less fucks I have to give’- so very true. Closely related to “it’s amazing how mature wisdom resemble being just too damn tired to care” (obligatory Heinlein reference for the trolls).

    Not that you need my validation John, but I think you are just fine. I am happy to contribute to your lifestyle (but I would like to see a yarn about Jane and John’s second child …)

  54. Well, I like your philosophy and your work, but even if I didn’t, I’m not going to waste time on Facebook being critical of you. I mean, Geez, these guys need to get a life.

  55. Thank you John, for expanding my vocabulary. I’m surprised you didn’t have strange words on your list. It sounds to me like you are simply being honest, if sometimes not tactful. Not that you ever offended me by what you wrote. You do have an integrated philosophy of life, which a lot of ideologists or fundamentalists (both religion and politics) lack. Keep on keeping-on and I hope you don’t run totally out of fucks to give.

  56. Reference the tribe, there was a film whose name I forget with an (American) President in it, in which he made a fairly irritated speech containing, inter alia, the line: “My opponent will tell you just two things: he will tell you what to be afraid of, and he will tell you who to blame.” I’ve always thought that a pretty good summary of a certain sort of group attitude.


  57. I’m happy to stick with analysing Scalzi; I’ve spent six weeks or so analysing people who would love to regard themselves as his arch-nemesis, and it’s really, really dull.

    This is because they are really, really dull people, and the only reason I have had anything to do with them is that I’m a supporting member of Worldcon. I have had to read the garbage written by them, edited by them, published by them, and nominated for Hugos by them since they stuffed the ballot, and they are really, really dull people for whom the phrase ‘get a life’ was invented.

    The world is full of fascinating things to see and do, which is why I’m enjoying some time in an obscure part of Gozo, and why, once I have finalised my votes, I shall be sailing from Istanbul to Venice, which I shall also greatly enjoy.

    The arch-nemesis wannabes don’t seem to have any desire to get out from behind their keyboards and explore the world; I suspect that the more rabid elements think that their small bit of the world is the world. They are wrong, and, unlike the Scalzis, they seem doomed to spend their lives like hamsters on a treadmill, never getting anywhere…

  58. I, too, wanted to despise you for your gamma-maleness and the glitter-booted languor with which you directed the secret cabal of social justice warriors, but you mentioned these things called “churros” in one of your books, and I had to try them. Now I love them and it’s all your fault. Curse you, John Scalzi!

  59. Number seven is a good one. One thing to remember about homophobic / misogynist abuse is that it’s a way of subtly letting the target know that he is out of line and must return to the safety of the fold. It drives certain males up the wall when it doesn’t work. On a large computer BBS I used to frequent in the mid- to late 90s, there was a guy who used to try to debate by insinuating or outright stating that anyone who disagreed with him must be gay (or lesbian), or a soft male — he had a sizable armory of homophobic insults, often misspelled, to deploy. He claimed to identify himself with the mythopoetic men’s movement — what happened to that, by the way? — but had more substantial ties with the Men’s Rights Movement, mainly on Usenet.

    If a woman agreed with him on some point, he would assume she was male, and it took several corrections sometimes to get him to realize his mistake. This may have been partly because he had had several drinks when he sat down at the computer. He wasn’t the only person who behaved this way, but he was the most visible on the system. It really baffled him when he’d accuse someone he knew to be a straight male of being gay, and his target simply wasn’t insulted. He was gratified when he used the tactic on one of his sometime cronies, who responded the way a Manly Man is supposed to react: with fury and an invitation to step outside and settle this like men. But mostly it just didn’t work: he’d say, “You must be gay”, and his target would say, “Why yes, I am, and what is the relevance?” In a way I almost sympathized with him, because he was older (about five years older than me) and if must have been frustrating to find that this time-honored method of social control wasn’t working as it should. I gather that the men you’re talking about are considerably younger than he, but they seem to have his mindset.

  60. Honestly, it’s more you’ve been made the involuntary figurehead for a movement that doesn’t exist.

  61. Sorrykb : If I google “scalzi bacon cat”, will I find something wonderful, or some terrifying photographic slash fiction?

    John Scalzi Sorrykb: It’s safe.

    Until now, that is…

    Off to find a cat, a Scalzi look-alike, some filthy lingerie, and some NSFW-shaped bacon pieces, and test out my google-bombing skills…

  62. Hmm. I wonder how much control has over the issues of the day. Society is fragmenting, because of the internet. It’s like the initial experience of college squared. You know, maybe you went to a tiny high school where you were one of two people that liked D&D or sci-fi or whatever, and then you go to college and there’s dozens. Hundreds. They have conventions. They have meetings where people talk about it.

    You’re not alone. There’s people like you out there. You don’t have to either conform to the mold of your tiny high school or be outcast — you can max out your social connections with people like you. Sure, you’re conforming to a new standard — but it’s at least a rough fit .One you chose, not one you were born into.

    And then comes the internet — wherein you can find an even larger audience a lot like you, max out your social connections with a group that’s an even better fit.

    Which means you have less and less desire to conform to the social norms of others.

    Social pressure isn’t what it used to be — who cares if your town frowns on you when you’ve got two dozen people assuring you you’re fine?

    I wonder if that splintering of control, that dispersion of social pressure (what groups do you conform to now?) has resulted in some of the odder quirks of modern society? The weird feeling of double-reality in some arguments, where you get the impression the person you’re talking lives in some weird, bizarro world that is unlike yours to the point where communication becomes difficult. You don’t react as they expect, and they don’t react as you do — because many of your social pressure points, on both sides, have changed.

  63. Now post a ten point list of why you’re LIKED. Apart from GREAT cat pics. Though Djpaterson is at least partly right.

    And pistols at dawn sounds great. Particularly with a Certain Person who just might bring a flaming sword to a gunfight.

    Shawn, ‘antidisestablishmentarianism’ is the longest real English word. ‘Antidisestablishmentarianistic’ is cheating, as is ‘antidisestablishmentarianistically’. The main reason we Irish disestablished the Church of Ireland in the 1870s was to avoid having to say and write that word.

  64. @Johntshea: if we *hadn’t* disestablished the Church of Ireland, there would never have been that antidisestablishmentarianistical backlash.

  65. >> there was a film whose name I forget with an (American) President in it, in which he made a fairly irritated speech containing, inter alia, the line: “My opponent will tell you just two things: he will tell you what to be afraid of, and he will tell you who to blame.”>>

    That was THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT, written by Aaron Sorkin.

  66. What I like about Scalzi’s persona here is his mallet keeps threads on topic, I can’t think of anything real that I dislike.
    @ johntshea OK, but “antidisestablishmentarianism” is only four and four sixths words while “antidisestablishmentarianistic” is an even six and zero fifths words.

  67. John: I think a lot of what gets some people angry at you is that you present yourself as a person who’s happy and satisfied with his life. I’ve long had a theory that a lot of Internet flame is driven by people who can’t feel happy about anything for very long – they’re stuck with anhedonia thanks to chronic pain, depression, and the like, and lash out because feeling angry sometimes beats feeling numb, and sometimes that’s the choice your brain chemistry allows. Rather than dealing with it, though, some people seek the bitter satisfaction of bringing down happy people they’re jealous of.

  68. @ Matthew Appleton: “Where on Facebook can I find this thread? I have a fresh bag of popcorn and need something to watch while devouring it.”

    If John is referring to the FB thread I assume he means (as it’s from last night), I’m in it, and it is indeed undramatic. In a discussion about the Puppies, I mentioned that the Puppies, both Sad and Rabid, seem obsessed with John, and the reasons seem to be a combination of envy [his success and popularity] and a sense of betrayal [ as a straight white male who broke into the field with military sf, he “should have been” one of them, their sort, like-minded with them, etc.].

    Which led to several other people in the thread (people who, like me, get along with John) adding their thoughts about why the Puppies are obsessed with him.

    That’s all.

  69. People should come up with more entertaining reasons to hate you. Maybe you don’t write enough steampunk, or have too much lawn, or you deliberately mis-tune your ukulele.

  70. Pedantry time! “Erstwhile” (in reason 2), means former, not would-be. Is there someone out there claiming he used to be your arch-nemesis, but isn’t anymore?

  71. @PhoenicianRomans:
    Too late it occurred to me that in mentioning cat-bacon slashfic, I may have inadvertently called it into existence. My apologies, everyone.

    But I did at least get to see the original photo first, and it was wonderful.

  72. John, the first book of yours I read was “Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded”, and then, in the time-honored way, I said to myself “What else has this Scalzi guy written?”. It’s been a lot of fun. Being female, I tend to avoid the places where the people who hate you hang out, because I suspect they would hate me too. I am a straight, white, really, really liberal woman, who happens to like military science fiction. Not just yours, but some by some authors who have expressed the opinion that anyone who likes there stuff must agree with them politically. Me, I haven’t been young in quite a while, and I long since gave up needing to have fictional characters agree with me.

    By the way, I am really looking forward to all those new books you promised TOR. Really. But I will not demean myself by insisting that you write faster. I just keep telling myself that the books will come in due time.

  73. Well, I like you.

    I also envy you, but can’t begrudge you your success. I wish you every happiness of it—I just wish I had some.

    Since cxarli has broken the ice on it, I’ll also admit that I envy Krissy. If I could find a guy exactly like you (except, you know, gay and interested in me), I’d marry him in a New York minute.

    Even if he played the ukulele.

    Sean Eric Fagan: Is that set a member of itself?

    johntshea: Isaac Bonewits once pointed out that the Pope is an archantidisestablishmentarian. (He was speaking of J2P2.)

  74. To be honest, I will admit I tend to think of the job you’re doing by attracting the attention of these nincompoops as being the equivalent of “internet lightning rod”, and hey, better you than me (plus I wish a few more well-off white guys would step up and do it). The internet needs as many lightning rods as it can get, earthing the ones who would be social controllers, and pointing out to others precisely how ridiculous they’re making themselves.

  75. So, it seems someone(s) is whipping up a frenzy and it bothers you? Who cares what they think?

  76. I swear to Odin, I don’t understand this kind of shit. I have come across many people on the Internet whose opinions I disagree with, sometimes violently, hatefully disagree with. I don’t spend hours upon hours of my time telling other people about it. I haven’t made it one of my life goals to hound that person to the ends of the earth. I might make my opinions known (and by might, read, ‘almost certainly will’), but then I move on. And if I really can’t stomach the person in question, I stop looking at things they write. I stop paying attention to them. Who are these people who fixate on someone to this extent? Do they have no lives? I guess that’s somewhat of a rhetorical question…

  77. As usual, when John posts about something like this, there are commenters who say things like, “Why do you let it bother you?” and “Why do you comment about it?” and so on.

    So, out of curiosity and for the sake of clarity, can I request a show of hands? Among those of you who say this to John, how many of you have been the target of years of negative public insults, speculation, commentary, and attacks? Can you describe your own experience with precisely the sort of public, persistent, toxic, long-term vitriol that John deals with, and how you handled it better than you think he handles it? Inquiring minds want to know.

  78. Well, John I have a checkered past with you, even if you have no reason to really know who I am. Way back in 1999, the Dawn of Blogging, I wanted to start a Weblog (the term ‘Blog’ wasn’t even dominant yet), and my first choice for a title was… “Whatever”. That was literally how I discovered you, and realized that you were not only using the title I wanted but you were already getting this sub-genre right, so it definitely damaged my self-esteem. Then, using my nom-de-plume of Wendell Wittler, I thought I could set myself apart as the blogger with the initials “WW”. Then Wil Wheaton came along. I finally settled on the spooneristic “OneSwellFoop” only to discover there was an indie band using that name – fortunately they had a less promising future than you or Wil.

    But I read your blog and made some suggestions for your reader-driven “Whatever Salutes the Outgoing Millennium” series, one of which you did use, although you included a slightly denigrating comment about it being one of the “less significant” millennial things you were writing.

    IN SPITE OF ALL THAT, I kept reading your blog. I noted that you followed me to MetaFilter (where, as ‘wendell’, I had a three-digit unsernumber). And I bought a couple of your pre-sci-fi non-fiction books and your self-published “Agent to the Stars” which I faint-praised as “almost as funny as the short-lived Buck Henry sci-fi sitcom ‘Quark'”. Things were going well until “Old Man’s War”, which I acquired during a low point in my life when I had to move in with my retired father, a real WWII veteran, who took one look at the title and threatened to throw me out into the street. But then, I took pride in finding ways to annoy the old coot, so that wasn’t really a strike against you. My faint-praise for OMW was “okay for military sci-fi, which I do NOT like, but so obviously a rebuttal to the children-as-warriors “Ender’s Game” which I DEEPLY HATED, I have to give it a thumbs up”.

    As another member of the “Lowest Difficulty Demographic” who still was relatively unaccomplished (although partly for NOT taking advantage of my Privilege at certain pivotal occasions), and who has only achieved a level of happiness since becoming Officially Disabled and living alone on a small fixed income in a tiny apartment in one of California’s most underrated semi-rural areas, I have gone from ‘slightly left-of-Scalzi’ to ‘slightly left-of-Guy-Fawkes’.

    In spite of ALL that, I do not hate you, but then as a life-long dog lover, I DESPISE whoever came up with the self-label “Sad Puppies” for people are actually “Worse Than Garfield”. That said, keep up the Good Fight, even if that is only requires shooting Rabid Fish in a barrel. (And yes, I am wearing my “Gamma Rabbit” t-shirt and only regret that it did not come in Redshirts red. Hey, how about a “Rabid Gamma Rabbit” design?)

  79. @ Paul Little– yeah, that’s what I wonder, too. In particular, with the various Puppies drawing so much focus in sf/f this year, so that the obsession some of them have with Scalzi is regularly on display, I’m always really puzzled by it. If they loathe and resent him that much… why keep following his blog, thinking about him, talking about him, analyzing his deals, his essays, what they imagine his book sales are, what they imagine other people think about him, etc.?

    It’s not as if John has any effect on their lives or careers, or any power TO affect those things. (Well, since he’s got a big megaphone via the internet, I suppose he could TRY to discourage readers from buying some of their books, but I doubt it would have much effect–and might even have the opposite effect.) He’s not in charge of whether or not they sell books to publishers, or have good sales, or do well at self-publishing, or find agents, or get invited to conventions, or get nominations or awards, or have happy marriages, or lose weight, or learn to write better, or have equal civil rights with others in society, or look good in a kilt, or are popular online, etc., etc. He cannot and does not shut down government, make binding US trade deals with foreign powers, or change their voting districts.

    So of ALL the things to be so obsessed with (even to the extent of Puppying, which is very time-consuming–and it’s certainly my impression from their own rhetoric that their resentment toward or hatred for Scalzi was a motivator in that mess)… why choose a writer whose like, work, and career have nothing to do with you and no effect on your whatsoever? I still find it puzzling. If someone hates him, fine, each to his own, etc.–but the obsession part puzzles me.

  80. I find part of this funny because at least one of the persons you are referring to (in my view in any case) is the other side of your coin (If that even makes sense.)

    I (and this is just my opinion) find both of you to be overtly political in your blogs (the ones i have read in any case), fairly assholeish online (again, to the best of my view, I do not frequent either’s online presence because of this reason), Good decent people in real life (at least form third-hand accounts and watching you on Tabletop) and very talented writers. The only real difference IS the politics in which you believe. (Though this other person does have more of a tendency to shoehorn their beliefs into their work, sadly to it’s detriment.)

    As one who stands at the cusp of total apolticism, I find this quality equally annoying in both of you and the main thing that bothers me about the entire Hugo mess.

    And worse yet, I’m sadly drawn to anything involving it….I need a good kick to the head. Preferably by a mule.

    In any case, I think the main driving force is just the politics, success and online behavior for those you don’t know you personally.

    Beyond that, Keep up the good work with your writing, take care and enjoy life.

  81. Not having read any comments yet, I’d just like to add that I’m a fairly right-leaning libertarian type and I absolutely love reading your site and your books. We probably agree as often as we disagree on a political spectrum, but who cares? You can’t tell me what to do, I can’t tell you what to do, I am highly entertained by your words, and your wallet grows a tiny bit more with my purchases. Seems a fair trade to me.

  82. John Scalzi is a great guy, a great writer and a great blogger, and his oversized personality, warts and all, is perfectly acceptable and quite fun to read about. Over the years, his rise as a mega-blogging, cat-taping, self-pimping, award-winning author did raise a few eyebrows and possibly a few valid concerns about whether he and others had participated in the leading of that particular charge in what may not have been the most healthy direction for one particular hallowed genre fan award. That he pulled back on the reins is commendable. Having a gripe with the publishing business or parts of a genre fan community and then making it out like it is about Scalzi personally is stupid.

  83. If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.
    Proverbs 25:21-22

  84. You may write MilSF but Old Man’s War is one of the most nuanced critiques/discussions of colonialism I’ve ever read. I wish I could send a full set to my ‘History of Spanish Colonialism’ professor – I think he’d wind up discussing it in his classes. I got the Audible editions as well and really, it is the kind of series that looks at military policy from a heavily critiquing position, whereas a lot of your detractors seem to prefer MilSF of the ‘Space America, Fark Yeah!’ view.

    If I were an academic in lit and not livestock nutrition, I could probably have a fun semester teaching a course on ‘Postcolonialist Critiques in Literature’ featuring OMW, the Imperial Radch series, and Aliette de Bodard’s Xuya stories. As it was, I do need to email Dr. Matibag and suggest he read it. I did buy a full set and send it to a friend of mine who had to move to a town that has no library within an hour’s drive (and he’s legally blind so even if he had access to a car, he couldn’t drive). He has thoroughly enjoyed it so far!

  85. Meh, i don’t care what they think. I think you’re pretty cool, even if I’m a little envious of the whole successful writer aspect.

  86. Geek hyena

    Edmund Hamilton, the prolific and popular author in a number of genres, published in 1932 ‘The Conquest of Two Worlds’; the worlds were in our solar system, had sentient inhabitants, and those were taken from them because human beings thought they were wasting all those resources, and thus was re-enacted the way in which the U.S. came into existence, reservations, massive death tolls, destruction of habitats and all.

    Hamilton was writing stories about colonialism not being a good thing long, long before Scalzi tackled it; perhaps you could pass that reference to your colleague as well. Those suffering the delusion that SF has always been the way the Puppies imagine it are simply ignorant of the history of SF…

  87. To be perfectly honest about it, I only know you through your blog (I think going on a couple of years). Don’t quite remember how I got here originally (did a lot of blog surfing and clicking on referral links from other writer’s blogs over the years, so it’s quite possible that’s how I got here), but to each their own.

    I just started following your page on Facebook and don’t do Twitter at the moment (still value my job right now), so like I said, I only know you from here. I have no qualms with you as a person or as a writer. I do find you to be a relatively straightforward person (in my view, a rare trait for those who swing left of center politically, as I haven’t met too many of those).

    Some people are going to hate you no matter what you do, simply because you don’t tolerate stupid. Sadly, tolerating stupid is a necessity in the workplace and to swim against the grain is usually detrimental to one’s career.

    But, I find you quite refreshing and original, and even though I sometimes disagree with some of your viewpoints, the fact that you stand up for what you believe in and have taken body shots for those views, is something to appreciate and respect.

  88. Personally I suspect the number of people enticed by an “all asshole, all the time” public relations strategy is smaller than one might suspect.

    Well, a lot of companies seem to be thriving on it, e.g. Nestlé, Comcast, TalkTalk (a UK comms company), so perhaps it’s better than you think. Just sayin’.

  89. Never seen the abbreviation MilSF for Military SciF before.

    Is Military Fantasy a thing?

  90. @oneswellfoop:

    I have gone from ‘slightly left-of-Scalzi’ to ‘slightly left-of-Guy-Fawkes’.

    I’m really not sure what you intend by that? Fawkes was no left-winger: he wanted to blow up the King for the unforgiveable crime of not-being-Catholic.

    As for the Sad Puppies, I believe they coined their own name, so despise away, if you can be bothered.

  91. Never seen the abbreviation MilSF for Military SciF before.

    Is Military Fantasy a thing?

    There’s probably more military fantasy than any other sort, really. You could view “Lord of the Rings” as MilFan, as much as it’s anything. There has to be some sort of conflict to drive the plot, otherwise it’s just a Fairyland tourist brochure. And more often than not, there are swords involved.

    Even the fantasy that’s not explicitly military fantasy is often full of battles, just that they’re magical ones. A better question might be: “How much non-military fantasy is there?”

  92. Which a significant number of them are, for various reasons, including, apparently, some of them making a calculated decision that being a jerk is a viable marketing tactic.

    This is a pretty good explanation of Donald Trump’s entire persona, up to and including his current “Presidential candidate” scam.

  93. “6. Because I’m not a real man.”

    Now I’m just an ignorant, weak-willed woman, devoid of intellect and reason, but this one routinely frosts my ass. Many arguments identify your approval of wifely and daughterly badassery as evidence your Y chromosome don’t work right. But to my mind, a man who celebrates the strength of the women in his life proves is own by doing so.

  94. This thread covers many topics that can help people growing up with the internet and other one sided communications (I used to get trolled in college by fake letters slid under my dorm door).

    Why do others’ dislike me? Why do I spend so much time reading their posts? Why is the answer so complex?.

    I like that you share your thought process, many of which appear to be the result of you formal education, successes, failures and growth. Knowledge can be gained, risks can be rewarded, failures can be survived and not everything is set in stone.

  95. With regard to point 6 and the discussion thereof: the purpose of homophobia isn’t to keep gay and bi people in line, it’s to keep the rest of you in line. Every time someone like you says “I’m not gay, but what if I was?” and goes calmly about their day–as well as when someone like me says “yes, I am, and?”–it weakens that weapon of social control. And at least some of the Scalzi-haters are reacting as if they reached into their bags, pulled out a gun, and a flag popped out and said “bang!” because they haven’t got much besides that cannon-turned-joke.

  96. Re: Lawn Envy…

    Having spent a good part of my teenage years mowing our 1.5 acre lawn (it was done mostly with a riding lawnmower but in pre-walkman days), I don’t envy that big lawn. It does look neat, though.

  97. [Deleted because I already mentioned I didn’t want to make this a thread about specific people. If you want to recast this more generally, Guess, go ahead — JS]

  98. Laura Resnick — This nicely done video essay series, if you haven’t seen it, explains the thinking of about 90% of them: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLJA_jUddXvY62dhVThbeegLPpvQlR4CjF

    Basically, two thirds feel Scalzi invalidates the arguments they are making about the nature of the world, making them face doubts about the world that would harm their self-identities. And worse, he’s a straight white man well known in certain circles they consider their turf or interest, so it’s harder to invalidate him or things he says. So it’s a constant attempt to invalidate and throw the doubts he’s raised in disrepute. It doesn’t matter if it’s a nonsense argument, like that he doesn’t actually sell books. It’s simply trying to flood opposition to hope that it will stick, at least with certain groups. He produces cognitive dissonance and attacking him is how they try to dissipate that dissonance.

    The other third see Scalzi as a handy target for the same reasons to present as the opposition to send the other two thirds after. This results in attention and money for them in the right circles. Half of the Puppy efforts seem to have been an attempt to get in with the right wing media sweet, sweet pundit money.

  99. “none of it — has ever made a single material difference in how I’ve led my life, how my career has advanced, or how I do my work on a day-to-day basis”

    I don’t know. I originally found your blog when someone pointed out your excellent explanation of privilege and again with your contribution to the Hines cover contortions but it was your hilarious sparkly booted rampaging that made me decide your books must be well worth reading. I’m sure some of the controversy has introduced you to an audience that would normally avoid Mil Sci-Fi if it was the last unread book in the SF section of the library.

    I think in their heart of hearts, your detractors know they could never carry off an empire line dress with as much aplomb.

  100. ” There has to be some sort of conflict to drive the plot, otherwise it’s just a Fairyland tourist brochure. And more often than not, there are swords involved.

    Even the fantasy that’s not explicitly military fantasy is often full of battles, just that they’re magical ones. A better question might be: “How much non-military fantasy is there?”

    Ah, but there’s the other form of conflict, which is inter-personal. And a battle between two characters isn’t military fantasy unless they’ve got armies behind them. So much of the original form of urban fantasy, i.e., fantasy set in cities (DeLint, Bull, Kushner, Windling, Brust, etc.) is non-military. And over the last 20 years, Martha Wells has been writing great great fantasy novels which are more often than not non-military. Even when there are armies involved, they tend to be peripheral to the main characters and plot-lines.

  101. I learned a while back that there are always some people that I really don’t need their approval. And, some people that if they approve of me, I am definitely doing something wrong. so, I guess you are doing a lot of somethings right! Remember, when Heinlein wrote “Stranger in a Strange Land”, he became a hero to a lot of the flower-power generation, although that was not what he wanted.

  102. (Late to the discussion) THE GOBLIN EMPEROR by Katherine Addison is a good example of a fantasy with interpersonal, personal and political conflict that is not military.

  103. @GaryG
    “Never seen the abbreviation MilSF for Military SciF before.

    Is Military Fantasy a thing?”

    It actually is, though it tends to be a much grittier, darker genre than the rest of Fantasy, and is usually shortened to MilF (as opposed to MilSF) and is usually referred to as “hardcore” in order to set it apart from your more run of the mill Fantasy faire.

    I highly recommend doing a google search for “hardcore MilF”, you really can’t go wrong.

  104. For those who have popcorn, the most usual of all suspects has already responded to this at length. The blissfully-self-unaware entertainment is there in force; after referring to our host as McRapey according to his custom, and suggesting that the list stems from a depressive mood swing, he vehemently denies that he himself is an asshole. (In the immortal words of Loki, “are you ever going to NOT fall for that?”) His rebuttal goes on, but I was kind of bored by that point.

  105. I think you’re over looking another major cause of dislike: perceived betrayal. Namely, someone reading your books might make the conclusion that you’re conservative just based on the probability of the majority of authors of military science fiction being conservative. Finding out that you’re not, in fact, one of them is probably a nasty shock.

  106. Well, I like Scalzi’s blog more than I like his books! In it I find pictures of crayfish in temporary rivers on his lawn along with displays of mordant wit that give me a nice chuckle (and a nice chuckle is a fine thing). In fact, I only buy Scalzi’s books to support his blogging. They all lay unread on my shelf, taking up space. That’s why I dislike Scalzi: his unread books taking up space on my bookshelf. (On a side note: when is your next book coming out? I need time to make space for it on my bookshelf.)

  107. The ‘depressive’ line particularly struck me because if I were picking out a character flaw for your public persona, it would be that your usual good cheer can give the impression of smugness. I attribute that to a combination of actual good cheer (lots to be cheerful about) and the ability to self-edit. It’s amazing how many people — and I don’t even mean puppies specifically — miss the fact that if they feel vicious or bitter or something else unflattering to themselves, they don’t have to post it.

  108. Stringmonkey : Now I’m just an ignorant, weak-willed woman, devoid of intellect and reason, but this one routinely frosts my ass. Many arguments identify your approval of wifely and daughterly badassery as evidence your Y chromosome don’t work right. But to my mind, a man who celebrates the strength of the women in his life proves is own by doing so.

    That’s because they’re engaged in a desperate attempt to prop up their own concept of “manhood” by rigidly drawing boundaries around it and denigrating that which is outside it. Their view is if they fit themselves into a rigid box of what they think a “man” is and loudly scream about everyone outside that box, no-one will question their man credentials.

    If women are strong, their view of a man is diminished, because it threatens those boundaries. If the women in our lives are strong, our view of ourselves as men (or, perhaps better, mensch) is strengthened, because we must be doing something right in supporting them.

  109. @mjfgates: “you deliberately mis-tune your ukulele.” Maybe his dog doesn’t have fleas?

  110. Phoenician: “If women are strong, their view of a man is diminished”

    And yet these are people who claim to worship at the altar of Heinlein.

  111. “9. Because I refused to recognize that they were right about something that one time, or several times. ”

    I fall into this category, because I am still mad that John Scalzi didn’t list Jodi Foster’s character from Contact as an example of a strong female lead from sci-fi films. It’s my favorite movie! How can he ignore it? he must be gay and from that other tribe.


  112. @louann – what a surprise the usual suspect has a wall o’text.

    If John is occasionally an asshole on the internet,the usual suspect is pretty much all goatse, all the time (if you don’t know, for the sake of all that is holy, do not google. Especially at work) .

  113. @Bruce Baugh I’ve had anhedonia before, when I had possible postpartum depression after a miscarriage (and also was experiencing incapacitating physical pain for a couple days a month for a while). These people are still pretty incomprehensible to me. Granted, anhedonia for a few months is different than anhedonia for years, but still, their choice of happy target says something about them.

  114. >> If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.>>

    …and if your enemy is neither hungry nor thirsty, go straight to the hot coals. The LORD has no coupons for that, but if you do it entertainingly, you might get a high-five.

  115. As for what fantasy isn’t military…I’d say there’s plenty, from LUD-IN-THE-MIST to THE BORROWERS and beyond. Most of Discworld isn’t military, for instance.

    Even the Conan stories by Robert E. Howard, while they contain some military stuff, is mostly non-military. “The Frost-Giant’s Daughter” happens right after a military engagement, but isn’t concerned with military stuff. “The God In The Bowl” is a heist story gone wrong. “The Tower of the Elephant” is a heist story that becomes a revenge story. “Rogues in the House” is a killing-for-hire. “Shadows in the Moonlight” is a monster encounter, “Black Colossus” is clearly military fantasy, “Queen of the Black Coast” is pirate adventure, and so on.

  116. Scalzi would totally ruin Othello: Essay Question (2000 words): Why did Iago hate John Scalzi?

    Answer: Scalzi gives all ten reasons why Iago hated him right here at this link. Do I have to cut, paste and paraphrase? Or can I just have my A?

    Grade: B minus. You could have summarized Scalzi’s stated arguments and then explored their likely veracity and/or how they applied specifically to Iago in the context of their historical relationship.

  117. Let me reword this without names and try to keep the context broad. I think one of the main reasons that fans of different political views fight is because they identify with authors that share their views. Then they see them fighting on the internet and it gets people riled up. I think alot of the hatred towards you comes from fights that you have with other authors. I always thought most of these fights are silly.

    If you guys are really friends whats the point of having a public on the internet feud? I don’t get it. I know that blogs are used for publicity and its part of your jobs. The fights seem to get far more responses that posts about authors books.

    Anyone else find this odd?

    Is this vague enough? I get why you don’t want names. You don’t want to start a fight.

  118. Guess:

    Being civil and polite with people when you are in physical proximity does not necessarily imply friendship, however. Conversely, pointed and heated discussions online do not necessarily imply hatred, either. People like drama in part because to some extent we’re fictional characters to them and our arguments online are entertainment. As a result they are likely to assign more consequence to interaction than may be there.

    I don’t think it should be surprising that people who throw elbows online may be more civil to each other in person; context matters and the dynamic is different. I can be perfectly amiable to a large range of people; likewise people may be amiable to me as well even if they don’t particularly like me. I think this is something to be commended, rather than criticized, personally.

    With regard to riling up people, I’ll note I neither ask nor want people to get riled up on my behalf; I’m a big kid, I can handle myself. I’ll also note that by and large most (most) people who I have gotten into it online with also neither ask nor want people riled up; and those who do, and then point those people at me, I tend to respond in a way they would not prefer, i.e., amusement.

  119. I don’t dislike you, after all, I read your blog and much of your published work. But I am careful when I post here, which you might consider a feature, not a bug. I am aware of not wanting to attract your ire.

  120. Guess – I have never in my adult life, had an in-person heated argument with somebody. Not even my spouse (No, I am not young. Been married 23 years.). But I am far from being friends with everyone I meet, and indeed, actively dislike some of the people I never fight with. I’m actually more likely to publicly disagree with someone I like, because I trust both of us not to descend from disagreement to argument to fighting.

    On-line, I argue with people with some regularity. Neither liking nor disliking is implied, since I tend to disagree more with people I dislike, but my in-person habit of being more willing to stand up for my opinion with people I like and trust still holds, if to a lesser degree.

    tl;dr – fighting with someone on-line can have little-to-no bearing on how you feel about them personally. The same goes for being civil to people in person.

  121. I agree with pretty much everything Laura Resnick says, which I should probably have a macro for. Which is why she’s the pro writer and I’m just a housewife on the intarwebs. Also Kat G.

    The dislikers simply are overwhelmed with cognitive dissonance (Why isn’t John a bourgeois fascist?! great phrase BTW) and living in extreme fear of people stepping outside the narrow categories/boxes they live in. The insides of their heads are very scary places, and as John says, they need the Two Minute Hate target to drain out some of the scary.

    Plus: they’s just jellis. 2 Hugos and $3M jellis. Giant lawn and hawt wife jellis.

    @Lee Whiteside: tear off the hardcovers and put the pages into your recycling bin, that they may have another life as something more useful, like toilet paper. Also, recycling is such a gamma leftie thing to do! REAL ‘Muricns overflow landfills and always buy brand new paper to support those Koch boys.

    @scalzi: Do not underestimate the lawn envy from residents of your native land. We’d give anything to have that much green even if it meant the occasional giant lawn crawdad.

    Also, the direct correlation between age and lack of fucks given is so, so true — but the few that ARE given are a whole lot more important.

    Also also, I miss Ghlaghghee.

  122. John wrote: “Being civil and polite with people when you are in physical proximity does not necessarily imply friendship, however. ”

    Indeed. The functioning of society at macro and micro levels pretty much depends on us all being civil and polite most of the time to people we don’t like, people we loathe, people we don’t know, and people to whom we are completely indifferent.

    (Just has having civil real-world contact with someone doesn’t imply friendship, having online contact with them also doesn’t imply friendship. I’ve noticed that many people refers to others as “friends” because they met them once or twice, or because they’ve exchanged comments with them on social media.)

  123. I know this is way down, but this study seems like something you’d enjoy reading. It is probably germane both to “those people”, and more directly the whole gamergate crowd.

    As if you needed actual data to back your positions…

  124. I appreciate your comments on why you are so disliked as a writer/man/lawn whore, but what I fail to understand is why you feel the need to respond to these critics at all. Taking a line from an old Star Trek movie, “Let them eat static…”

  125. biohodge:

    “lawn whore”? I prefer “lawn courtesan” myself.

    In this particular case I’m not responding to those “critics”; I’m responding to a conversation on Facebook, in which none of those folks was a participant. And as to why I did that: As noted above, slow Sunday.

  126. John: “Personally I suspect the number of people enticed by an “all asshole, all the time” public relations strategy is smaller than one might suspect. But it’s not my career, and if it gives them joy, then fine.”

    I (with disappointment in the human race) believe that you’re wrong, here. I’ve noticed no bottom in that market.

  127. As the most libertarian lurker/periodic interlocutor here….and like Canada, I don’t appear on the left/right continuum that so many use….I have enjoyed ~95% of your work that I read and enjoy most of what you post here. Even when I disagree, you usually cause me to think about an issue differently.

    At the same time, I see the rhetorical version of two mirrors placed in direct opposition; reflecting the same thing in both directions to infinity with no real exchange of ideas or information. The continuing trend of reflexively dismissing that with contrary opinions is slowly eroding our country. That perspective is reinforced by reading the comments.

    I blame the socialists.*


    *It’s a joke, folks. Laugh a little.

  128. I really like how this BUILDS. John shows his professional chops here by building a solid structure of thoughts and words that add up and reinforce each other. A pleasure to read.

    Thanks, Scalzi! ::said in a 1930’s NY cabbie voice::

  129. but what I fail to understand is why you feel the need to respond to these critics at all. Taking a line from an old Star Trek movie, “Let them eat static…

    Josh Marshall has something he calls the “Bitch Slap Theory of Electoral Politics.” Ignoring the impolitic name and that it may be more applicable to politics than life, it’s that having your opponents attack and not responding is perceived as weakness and is thus damaging.


  130. @Norwood32: “As one who stands at the cusp of total apolticism, I find this quality equally annoying in both of you….”

    I think we’ve stumbled across a Reason #11.

    When someone (like Norwood32) says “I’m totally apolitical, and it annoys me that you’re not and won’t pretend to be,” this is how I translate it:

    “I’m so very privileged by the status quo that I can afford to totally ignore the politics and injustices that support the status quo. Look, I didn’t work so hard to become this privileged just to have you throw the politics of marginalization and injustice in my face all the time! Shut up already!”

    Some of us can’t afford to be “apolitical” because other people’s politics affect us intimately. Other people’s politics threaten our health, our lives, and our families. Scalzi is in the privileged position of being able to chose apoliticism–that is, he could, if he liked, simply ignore many of the politics that women can’t, that LGBT people can’t, that people of color can’t ignore. He chooses to give a damn about whether other people experience injustice, and he chooses to throw some of his positional power toward the cause of reducing injustice. For people who’d rather just unthinkingly enjoy the luxury of not having to worry about that shit, reading Scalzi’s blog sometimes destroys the “unthinkingly” part of that privileged passtime. And thinking about it makes them uncomfortable. So they lash out at the person who made them think about it.

    That’s my theory, anyway.

  131. @Stevie Oh, certainly! It’s just interesting to have more recent lit too, especially since one of his major themes was “and they’re still pulling these scams IRL, just under different names”. Thanks for the rec!

  132. @madeline robins: all my love for the 1776 reference. Scalzi’s taller, though.

    @Frankly: I always suspected that, but it’s nice to have empirical data. Now if we can just get this meme spread further: “He’s sexist/racist/whatever? Must be a real loser.” I mean, they’d still be thinking those things, but maybe they wouldn’t SAY them so much, which would be pleasant.

  133. I must be reading the wrong interwebs. When I look for ‘John Scalzi criticism’, all I get is your blog, and a couple of hits that basically say, huh? He’s right, but is it right he’s expressing his opinion?’

    So, did you mean to post this on Reddit?

  134. Nearly missed this….but SO glad I didn’t. You tell them !! Mr Scalzi !! I’m behind you (o_O) every time :)

  135. Late to this, but I think the “lowest difficulty setting post” could have something to do with it.

    Now, I think it’s wonderful, but I sent it to a friend who was enraged by it, because as a straight white man, he felt he was being attacked by it, that his problems were being diminished by it. This was before the discussions about “not all men” on the internets etc, and he used to respond to a lot of things like that. We had a conversations over the next months, and it was really interesting unpicking his visceral reaction to it. It was this really interesting discussion where we learned a lot about each other, and once he was over that rage, it was a really useful tool for him.

    BUT I think if people can’t get past this initial rage, it’s going to keep burning, right?

  136. Slightly late to this party but you seemed mostly okay that one time you signed a book for me in Melbourne a few months ago. Of course it’s a sample size of one, so who knows whether we’d become mortal enemies with more exposure…

  137. @JustaJoe “I must be reading the wrong interwebs. When I look for ‘John Scalzi criticism’, all I get is your blog, and a couple of hits…”

    Heh. Now I’m curious (but not curious enough to bother) what you’ll find if you Google “John Scalzi” without the “criticism” part. People don’t always tag their vitriol so conveniently… For that matter, you *might* have more success if you Google “John Scalzi hate” or “John Scalzi vitriol.” At the least you might find someone linking to the relevant posts…

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