The new edition of Locus came out yesterday and features a review of The End of All Things — a space opera/milSF book, genres which, you may recall, the magazine has been lately accused of never reviewing — and I found the opening graf interesting:
Just for a moment, let us put a pin in all that Scalzi has done and has come to represent – all of the multi-million dollar contract, all of the SJW hooha, all of the hanging out with Hollywood geeks – and pile all of that baggage someplace else for just a few minutes. Can Scalzi still tell a good story?
Ha! Well, it’s a fair question.
The good news is, at least for this reviewer (Adrienne Martini), the answer is yes; review is positive, and the novel is found to be “perhaps, the most Heinlein-esque of Scalzi’s novels.” It’s never a bad day for me when a science fiction book of mine is (positively) compared to Heinlein’s work.
I don’t think it will surprise anyone that I agree with the reviewer about what’s actually important here. At the end of the day, the salient question for a potential reader for my work is whether I tell a story worth their time — and also, their money. As long as I’m doing that the rest is sideshow. Now, of course, personal tastes come into play, and people will like my work or not, depending. But on this end of the computer screen, at least, I’m always writing something I would want to read. And I like a good story. I think that helps.
Also, you know. I’m not stupid. The foundation to my success as a novelist — and the reason for the contracts, and the Hollywood stuff, and the obvious envy of some very silly people manifesting as the equally very silly assertion that not being an actively bigoted jackhole is somehow a contemptible way to live — is the fact I’m pretty good at this storytelling thing. Without the storytelling thing, all the positive stuff is at a high risk of going away. So, yes. I’m going to stay focused on the storytelling thing, as long as I am able. On my end of things, at least, this is not a particularly complicated question.
Tangentially related to storytelling, and success, the voting for the Hugos this year has officially closed, and people are pinging me, wondering how I voted. I’ll say this much: I voted my conscience, which I encouraged everyone to do. In my case this means a) that in at least one category, all the Puppy nominees finished above “No Award,” b) there is at least one category where my ballot was “No Award” up top and everything else left off the ballot, c) I don’t think there’s ever been a year where I haven’t left something off the ballot and/or below “No Award,” so in that respect this year was not in the least bit exceptional.
It does seem to me that the all the Puppy bullshit ran down and out of steam there at the end; at a certain point there was nothing left to say, there was just the voting, and you voted or didn’t. The last bit of nonsense I saw from the Puppy environs was some of their nominees rage-quitting the Hugos and deciding to “No Award” themselves, and at least one of them saying that was the plan all along, because apparently when you have no idea what you’re doing, every outcome, no matter what it is, is a victory condition. At which point you just roll your eyes, pity the sad and meaningless sort of existence where being the turd in the punch bowl is a legitimate life goal for a presumably adult human, and move on.
In any event, the award ceremony is three weeks out; we’ll see what happens then.