Looking Back on 2018, Looking Forward to 2019
Posted on December 27, 2018 Posted by John Scalzi 38 Comments
Hey, remember when The Consuming Fire was supposed to have been titled The Widening Gyre? It turns out that both my US and UK publishers kind of hated that title (not the least because no one could agree on how to pronounce the word “gyre”), so we changed it. I have to say now I much prefer the newer title, in no small part because I was able to slip it into a major character’s big speech, which gave the new title that “hey, we meant to do that all along” vibe. Which I guess is one nice thing about having turned in the manuscript at the very last possible instant. It all worked out pretty well in the end.
“It worked out pretty well in the end” is a theme for me and 2018, I have to say. Once again, it was a year that wasn’t great for the world in general sense, and I am truly sorry about that. But for me, it cruised along pretty nicely. Some of the highlights for the year, both career and personal:
1. Head On was released in April and hit the New York Times bestseller list, which was nice;
2. The Consuming Fire was released in October and also hit the New York Times bestseller list, which was nice too;
3. The Dispatcher, released two years ago, showed up on the inaugural New York Times audio fiction bestseller list as well, so, again: Nice! This means I had three New York Times best sellers in a single calendar year, which, you know. That’s pretty nifty. I’m not going to expect that to be an annual event, but I’m going to enjoy it in the moment. These books also showed up on other bestseller lists too. It’s nice to have evidence people are buying one’s work.
4. Virtue Signaling did not hit a best seller list of any sort, but it did sell out of its entire hardcover print run, before its official release date (which will be, uh, next Monday), and the eBook version seems to be chugging along nicely. Virtue Signaling’s release means it’s a three book year for me — six if you count the limited edition of The Human Division and the paperback releases of The Collapsing Empire and Unlocked, eight if you count my appearances in the Robots vs. Fairies and Resist anthologies — which is a pretty decent number of books out in a calendar year.
5. The Collapsing Empire won the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel, which was pretty great, and was nominated for the Hugo Award as well, coming in second to NK Jemisin’s The Stone Sky, which is also pretty great and I think the correct relative placement of those two particular novels. Head On also made the final round of the Goodread Choice Awards in the science fiction, which was won by VE Schwab this year, which pleases me because she’s pretty great.
6. The various film/TV productions are progressing nicely, some more than others, which is the nature of this particular beast.
7. I got to travel quite a lot this year and see a bunch of friends, which made me happy.
8. I remained married to the most fabulous person in the world, which also made me happy.
9. My kid interned on Whatever, which I really enjoyed, and which I think was useful for her.
10. Once again, I was not consumed either by fire or bears.
So, thanks, 2018! You did well for me. Sorry about all the rest of the year not related to me, but, well. I’ve been working on that, along with lots of other people, and we can hope 2019 will see things improve a bit.
Speaking of 2019, what’s on the professional agenda for that upcoming year?
1. The sequel to The Dispatcher, provided I finish it soon (and it will be finished soon! I swear).
2. Another book, most likely a collection, the details of which are to come later.
3. The paperback releases of Head On and The Consuming Fire.
4. Re-releases of Agent to the Stars, Fuzzy Nation and The Android’s Dream, with nifty new artwork and introductions by me.
5. Appearances in London, Budapest, Aviles (Spain) and Dublin (and suburban Detroit).
6. A short story (with accompanying animation) that will appear in The Verge in January.
These are all the solid things. Beyond the things that are entirely solid I have a bunch of stuff that’s in various stages of negotiation and/or development, which I hope to be able to share with you soon(ish). When I can share them will be in no small part dependent on other parties. But you’ll know when I know.
But what about a novel? I hear you ask. Well, I’m writing one in 2019: The Last Emperox. Provided all the production marks are hit, it’ll be out in the first half of 2020. Oh, don’t give me that look. You got two novels in 2018. And you’ll get The Dispatcher 2 in 2019. You’ll be fine. Other people are writing novels in the meantime. Read some of those while you wait.
Also, I’ll be turning 50 in 2019. That’s a hell of a thing.
So in sum: 2018! Not bad for me! Let’s hope 2019 is even better. Let’s get to it.
Congratulations on all your fine accomplishments! I think you’re maintaining that fine line between “I’m the shits” and “I got lucky” pretty well.
However, pay attention to your health. The year I turned 50 I swear my warrantee ran out and my entire body said, “you can only neglect me so long, take THAT!” Like when you turn 30 and suddenly your metabolism slows into glacial, 50 seems to be a physical watermark year for some reason.
A busy year had, and a busy year to come … And please, let there be an ebook of Agent to the Stars! I love it, but it’s not available on Kindle …
Wow. A rewarding year, I must say. Congratulations and may you have many more. Amen!
Good heavens, I saw that book cover and got excited that it was the cover to the third “Empire” book! The reluctance to put “Gyre” in the title reminds me of something I read about the film “The Abyss,” where they reportedly were reluctant to use the word “Abyss” in the title because they figured that most people don’t know what that word means…with possible negative box-office consequences. And that’s not really an obscure word…at least, not compared to “Gyre.”
Now your publishers are going to insist on renaming The Last Emperox to The Consuming Bear.
Honestly, don’t worry about the turning 50 thing. At MOST it’ll mean you’ll probably celebrate it by doing something REALLY silly on the Internet. I can only imagine :)
I agree with DouginCA, Turning 50 is no big deal, and I think you enjoy life too much to actually NEED a mid-life crisis, besides, you’ve actually done quite a bit.
And you have that ten year contract with Tor (which I’m betting you will probably put out 14 or 15 books before the term is up)
Keep up the good work, man!
[Deleted for being off topic as well as factually incorrect, as the print version is available. See this. Also, don’t follow up here; again, it’s off topic. — JS]
I realized, as a teenager, that I would turn 50, as the Millennium turned (ok now you know how old I am) And I mean as the Millennium turned, I was born Dec. 31, 1950. There was only one thing I could do. I threw a big party and invited everyone I knew. It was a blast. Do something wonderful for your 50th as well.
Funny, Flame Tree press apparently doesn’t have a problem with that title, Michael R Johnson has an SF novel coming out in March titled “The Widening Gyre” according to Publishers Weekly.
^Johnston, not Johnson
I’m glad he doesn’t have to release his book to general market confusion, then!
I did….none of these things, except I did turn 50 in 2018.
Well, I also remained married to the most fabulous person in the world.
A different most fabulous person than yours, just to be clear.
Is The Dispatcher 2 also going to be an audio-only initial release?
Yup. On account that Audible paid for it.
I’ll turn 56 in early 2019. I’d be happy to act out any mid-life crisis for you, in any media, as long as it includes a tiny bit part in Old Man’s War the movie. That’s MY 2019 wish. :)
50? No big deal; I turned 70 at WorldCon this year, and neither bears nor fire have got me yet (although here in California the fires get too damned close sometimes).
Joelfinkle: Funny thing is, after I submitted my book in 2016, I tentatively changed the title, not because of Scalzi’s book, but because a bunch of my friends thought it would be too confusing for readers. But the editor at Flame Tree, like me, preferred the original title, so we kept it.
I somehow missed that The Consuming Fire was originally going to be called The Widening Gyre, or I’d never have thought to use it. When I saw the image at the top of this post, my blood pressure spiked until I recognized the Consuming Fire cover art and read the first lines!
@Michael R. Johnston – wishing the best of success on the book, cool to see the loop close here!
I enjoyed the heck out of the works you released in 2018, and I’m looking forward to those that will emerge in 2019 and beyond. Athena’s summer internship here was a lot of fun to read, and I hope she might make guest appearances on your site again in the future.
I also really appreciate your list of so many positive things about 2018, because I need reminders like that. 2018 definitely brought some wonderful things my way, though there were some rough patches as well, to be sure.
Don’t sweat that upcoming 50th birthday too awfully much. I have always loved my late mother’s attitude toward her 50th; she told everyone that she was embarking on the second half of her first century, and to come back in five decades when she was starting on her second century for the REAL party. While she only made it 18 years into that second half of her first century, I’ve always loved the optimism and excitement that she brought to an occasion that many folks seem to dread.
Thanks for many happy hours of reading, both here and on paper. Health and happiness to you and yours in 2019.
The Last Emperox is a fine title, but I’m a little sad that the third entry in the series won’t be using the “The C-Gerund Noun” naming scheme from the first two books.
I mean, I’ll get over it, but it’s going to nettle my obsessive-compulsive tendencies, alas.
(And if I were that obsessive-compulsive, I’d have known the difference between a gerund and any old present participle *before* posting. *sigh*)
“Appearances in London, Budapest, Aviles (Spain) and Dublin (and suburban Detroit).”
I myself was captured by bears and barbecued, so I got the worst of the bear/fire combo. When did bears discover fire?
Every finger and toe crossed that Zachary Quinto can return for Dispatcher 2. :)
Congratulations on a wonderful year!
So, your agent doesn’t read poetry?
To me, it would be nifty to have Wil Wheaton write one or two of the introductions. I love his renditions of your books in audio, and I also really like his writing style. Incidentally, your books are the only books I bought in print, because I like the look and feel of a well made book, as well as in audio, because Wil totally nailed them!
Also, I look forward to The Dispatcher 2.
Hm. Robert B. Parker published his The Widening Gyre in 1983. I think it did reasonably well, though his Spenser mystery series had been going strong for about a decade at that point. It’s probably not kind of me to accuse your publishers of being silly, though, especially since you like the new title.
Shoot, Affenschmidt beat me to the Robert B. Parker reference. Are you a fan of the poetry of Yeats? I always pronounced Gyre with a hard G and as if it rhymed with briar but it wouldn’t be the first time I was wrong about such things. Congrats on a successful year!
Once again, I was not consumed either by fire or bears.
You should talk to James Davis Nicoll. I’m sure he can give you handy tips – from personal experience! – on how to get either done.
@Occasional Correspondent: When did bears discover fire? Right here.
50? Harumph. Whippersnapper!
I figure ‘gyre’ is the same root of ‘gyroscope’ and I’ve never heard that pronounced with a hard ‘g’. ymmv
I liked the old title. That poem really reasonates with me lately.
Impressively complete list. One might ask what you didn’t get a chance to do that you wanted to do in 2018.
On a personal note, Turning 50 isn’t that bad, at leas it wasn’t for me. I still get that annoying reminder about my age whenever I’m processing a new hire that was born around the time I graduated HS (1983) or a few years afterwards. Or if I have to explain a pop culture reference to anyone in that age bracket that Is older than 10 years.
Erm. Did you say Spain? Because I can get to Spain, and actually probably will, and if I knew when you were there I could schedule my trip so as to attend your event. Not a stalker, I swear. :-)
re G.B. Miller – try explaining the old Jim Croce line, “you can keep the dime” to these kids ;-)
Then again, has anyone under the age of 25 *ever* spoken with an actual live ‘Operator’ ?