Announcing Virtue Signaling and Other Heresies: Selected Writings From Whatever 2013 – 2018

Today, on the 20th anniversary of Whatever, I am absolutely thrilled to announce the upcoming publication of Virtue Signaling and Other Heresies: Selected Writings From Whatever, 2013-2018. This new collection from Subterranean Press collects some of the best writing from Whatever from the last half decade, with my words and thoughts on politics, personalities, social issues and life in general — on whatever, appropriately enough.

Virtue Signaling will be available from Subterranean Press as a limited edition signed hardcover (featuring fabulous cover art from Nate Taylor, pictured above) and in ebook format. The current scheduled publication date is December 31, 2018. You can preorder the hardcover now through Subterranean Press, which is the best way to assure you get a copy.

And now that I’ve covered the basics, let me talk just a little more about the book, using the Q&A format:

What’s covered in this book and how is it different from Don’t Live For Your Obituary, the Whatever collection you released last year?

Don’t Live for Your Obituary specifically covered pieces about writing and the writing life, published over the last decade; Virtue Signaling covers every other topic I wrote about, between 2013 and 2018 (well, through about May of this year, anyway). So while there is some overlap in time frame between the two books, the content of each is otherwise mostly independent.

The collection’s time frame includes the 2016 election cycle and the first year and a half of the Trump administration, so that’s covered some — but there’s also discussion about other world events, personal observations on the nature of life, reviews and commentary on film, theater and other events, and of course, lots and lots of snark. Lots and lots of snark should not be surprising at this point, I think.

Why did you call this collection Virtue Signaling? 

Because it amused me. Also, as I wrote in the book’s introduction (and I’m condensing here a bit from the actual intro):

“Virtue Signaling” is a phrase the dim and bigoted use when they want to discount other people expressing the idea that it would be nice if we could all be essentially and fundamentally decent to each other. I don’t believe I am notably more virtuous than your average person; nevertheless I also think we can and should be better, to each other and as a nation. Occasionally I write about it. I am delighted to signal in the direction of virtue.

I personally get accused of “virtue signaling” a lot, because of what I write here and in other places, usually by the sort of dude I think wouldn’t know what virtue actually was if it came and bit him on the ass. I didn’t title this collection Virtue Signaling just to annoy that sort of moral CHUD, but I’m not going to deny that it’s a nice bonus, either.

Is… is that supposed to be you on the cover? 

It certainly is! In my social justice warrior garb! Once again, Nate Taylor, who also illustrated the covers of The Mallet of Loving Correction and Don’t Live For Your Obituary, has done a fine job of making a cartoon version of me. I genuinely love this illustration, and think Nate Taylor is brilliant. Please hire him for all of your illustration needs.

Tell me more about the signed, limited hardcover edition and why I need to pre-order it right now.

Well, it’s signed because my signature is in each and every copy, so you won’t need to hunt me down later at a convention or tour event to get it inscribed. It’s limited because once this run of the hardcover is sold through, that’s it; no more will be made. It’s hardcover because that’s what Subterranean Press specializes in — amazing hardcover editions of books that look and feel great and add real class to your bookshelf and, indeed, to your life in general. And you need to pre-order it right now because my signed, limited hardcover Subterranean Press editions have a tendency to sell out, so if you want to be sure you get one, pre-ordering sooner than later is the way to go.

I will not be hardcover-shamed into preordering! Ebooks all the way!

Well, fine, you do you, and there will in fact be an ebook version, which will be cheaper to boot, although not as pretty and shiny as the hardcover. That version should be available at your favorite ebook retailer for pre-order in the reasonably near future.

And before you ask, both the hardcover and ebook editions will be available worldwide (for the hardcover, you will need to pay shipping). The ebook is also DRM-free, because, yeah.

Anything else you want us to know about Virtue Signaling?

Mostly that I’m really happy with this collection, and I think everyone at Subterranean Press has done a truly fabulous job putting it together. I think you’re going to be happy to have it on your shelf. And also, I’m totally going to dress up like the cover at some convention in the future. Just you wait.

By John Scalzi

I enjoy pie.

31 replies on “Announcing Virtue Signaling and Other Heresies: Selected Writings From Whatever 2013 – 2018”

Much like “SJWs”, the vast majority of people who use the term ‘virtue signaling’ as an unironic derogatory (and boy, do those two categories overlap) turn out to believe the very concepts of ‘social justice’ of ‘virtue’ are laughable delusions and anyone who pretends to espouse them is only doing so to score points with ‘the libs’ or women.

(That’s also why they so often try to mock people they dismiss as SJWs by suggesting they’ll never get laid.)

Bare outdid himself on this one. And if you do plan to dress up this way, please give us a heads up so we can make our travel plans early – that’s not to be missed, I suspect.

John, do I get a prize for my correctly guessing/predicting back on Sep. 1 that your “special announcement” would be a new “Whatever”-based book? (see my reply to your Sep. 1 blog “1998/2018: Whatever 20/20 Introduction” here: )

OK, I agree in advance that the astonishing clairvoyance of my prediction is somewhat dampened by my ignorance in not realizing that it would not be the first sequel to “Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded.”

…consequently, a wonderfully appropriate prize for my correct prediction would be an autographed copy of “The Mallet of Loving Correction” or “Don’t Live for Your Obituary!” ;)

I call BS on the whole thing. Why? Look at that boat. It’s charging through the water kicking up a big bow wave, but there’s no sail on the mast. And the flags are flying aft. Obviously there’s a hidden outboard motor. Virtue signalling indeed!

This morning after seeing this announcement

Me: Honey, Scalzi’s got a new collection of essays coming out – do you want it?
Wife: Yes.

Me: (rapid typing indicating ordering in progress)

Christmas shopping well begun.

Ok, I have probably read all the posts in the book, but that cover has made me chuckle every time I think about it, so I preordered a copy. I heard your were struggling and Tor was basically taking you on as a welfare case, so i fugure i could throw a buck or two your way. Get a chuckle, help the poor. Win/win.

Clearly some convention needs to ask our host to help judge the costume contest — at least at the cons I go to, it’s normal for the judges to show up in costume.


“Much like “SJWs”, the vast majority of people who use the term ‘virtue signaling’ as an unironic derogatory (and boy, do those two categories overlap) turn out to believe the very concepts of ‘social justice’ of ‘virtue’ are laughable delusions and anyone who pretends to espouse them is only doing so to score points with ‘the libs’ or women.”

Agreed – it’s just like whenever you see the phrase “political correctness gone mad/too far” – how can treating other people as people who deserve respect go too far?

John is virtuous as a means to an end: a better world.

Others virtue signal as an end in itself, to make themselves look good without considering the cost-benefit ratio of their signal. Canada’s prime minister would be an example of the latter.

To name just one example: The man refuses to reimburse provincial governments for the costs he is causing with his signal, let alone cancel his signal, let alone admit that he is causing entire families to buy jet tickets to cross the ocean and then hopscotch through the U.S. to cross the border illegally into Canada, while pretending to be impoverished political refugees.

I wish honest immigrants, who can barely afford a greyhound bus, could be helped by Canadian embassies with a jet ticket. Won’t happen, because that would be a diffuse government program: there’s no signal in that.

the idea that it would be nice if we could all be essentially and fundamentally decent to each other.

Triggered by odaiwai, it occurs to me that “virtue signaling” and “political correctness” are close to synonymous when used by the dim and bigoted. It is, after all, a virtue to refrain from insulting or hurting someone else with your words, and that’s the essence of political correctness.

On the attempt to hardcover-shame us, you underestimate our abilities with Photoshop and computer graphics. I’ll make that cover POP from my bright 4K display and dance around, better than anything possible in the real world. Of course, that means I can only read it on the desktop or a Kindle Fire; it’s beyond my capacity to make an e-ink display exciting.

I submitted my pre-order this morning, and am looking forward to receiving the book. Sub Press is pretty awesome – anything purchased from them is money well spent.

The only thing that would make the cartoon you any better would be if Smudge was perched on your shoulder. I look forward to pictures of you dressed as your cartoon!

Hoping that this collection will include those great essays on being poor and why being white is the lowest difficulty setting in life.

BTW, if Subterranean Press ever decided to put out a book collecting pictures of the Scalzi cats and dogs, would people buy it?

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