New Books and ARCs, 8/31/15 + Reminder: Dayton Tour Stop 9/1/15!

First: Look, the last stack of new books/ARCs of August, and there’s some very fine work in here. Tell me which things trip your trigger in the comments.

Second: A reminder that tomorrow, September 1st, I will be at Books & Co in Dayton (the The Greene Shopping Center) for a tour stop. 7pm! Come on by and see me actually rested for an event for once! And Columbus, remember I’ll be visiting you at the OSU Bookstore on the 3rd; more details on that to come.

In Which Marian Call is Remarkably Clear-Eyed and Sensible About Kickstarter Projects

Musician Marian Call, who is currently Kickstarting her upcoming album, has written a long piece on her blog about what it takes to Kickstart a project, and — critically — throws in numbers and figures to back up her thoughts and comments. The result is a genuinely super-useful piece that should be required reading for anyone thinking of crowdfunding a project, no matter the size. Marian is very smart and very on point. Go learn from her.

On a personal note, Marian confirms that the amount of work involved in successfully pulling of a Kickstarter-like crowdfunding project is immense, which is a primary reason I have to date avoided doing anything like it. I can barely get it together to put on pants in the morning. To deal with the sustained effort of everything a successful Kickstarter project entails? Well, damn. I’d curl up in a ball and cry. There’s a reason I’m happy to be working with a publisher.

Also, did I mention that Marian’s most recent Kickstarter is still in play with just under two days to go from the posting of this entry? She’s a pretty awesome singer and songwriter. Maybe you should get in on this action, is what I’m saying. I have.

Reminder: The Audio For “John Scalzi is Not a Popular Author” is Up!

I said I would post the audiobook version today, but we got to our stretch goal of $10,000 so fast I posted it over the weekend to thank people. So for those of you who don’t loiter on the Internet during the weekends, the complete audio, including the downloadable version, is here. Go get it!

I’m also super-pleased to say that as of 7:45 this morning, we raised $10,987.59 for Con or Bust, which funds conventions memberships for people of color. That’s a lot of convention memberships, and I’m really proud that of that accomplishment.

(Also, for those worried about it, an update on Con or Bust’s tax-deduction status; the short version is that it’s pretty likely you’ll be able to take that charitable deduction come tax time. So yay!)

My thanks to Alexandra Erin, who (as Theo Pratt) wrote something that it was a joy to narrate, and to Kate Nepveu, who as the administrator of Con or Bust kept track of incoming donations. I had the easy part; I just had to speak into a microphone. They did all the work.

And thank you, if you were one of the folks who donated to Con or Bust. It’s good to do good. And also, it’s not too late — you can still donate if you like.

A Thing Not to Do When You’re Smart

In the various recent kerfuffles surrounding science fiction and its awards, there have been a couple of people (and their spouses, declaiming about their beloved) who have been slapping down Mensa cards as proof that they (or their spouse) are smart. Let me just say this about that:

Oh, my sweet summer children. Just don’t.

If you want to be in Mensa, that’s fine. Everyone needs hobbies and associations, and if this is the direction you want to go with yours, then you do you. Not my flavor, but then, lots of hobbies and associations aren’t my flavor.

That said:

1. Literally no one outside of Mensa gives a shit about your Mensa card. No one is impressed that you belong to an organization that has among its membership people who believe that because they can ace a test, they are therefore broadly intellectually superior to everyone else.

2. Your Mensa membership does not imply or suggest that you are the smartest person in the room. Leaving aside the point that the intelligence that Mensa values is a narrow and specialized sort, a large number of people who can join Mensa, don’t, for various reasons, including the idea that belonging to a group that glories in its supposed intellectual superiority is more than vaguely obnoxious.

3. Your need to bring up the fact you have a Mensa card suggests nothing other than it’s really really really important to you for people to know you’re smart, and that you believe external accreditation of this supposed top-tier intelligence is more persuasive than, say, the establishment of your intelligence through your actions, demeanor, or personality. Which is to say: It shows you’re insecure.

4. Your Mensa card does not mean you know how to argue. Your Mensa card does not mean you do not make errors or lapses in judgment. Your Mensa card is not a “get out of jail free” card when someone pokes holes in your thesis. Your Mensa card does not mean that you can’t be racist or sexist or otherwise bigoted. You may not say “I have a Mensa card, therefore my logic is irrefutable.” Your Mensa card will not save you from Dunning-Kruger syndrome, and if you think it will, then you are exactly who the Dunning-Kruger syndrome was meant to describe. You Mensa card will not keep you from being called out for acting stupidly, or doing stupid things.

5. Your Mensa card does not immunize you from being a complete, raging asshole.

In short, it’s not actually smart to flash your Mensa card, and if you were smart, you’d know not to do it. If you have to resort to waving your Mensa card around to establish your intelligence, you’re signaling that you have no other way to do it. And you don’t have to be a genius to know what that actually means about you.