Reader Request Week 2019: Get Your Questions In!

It’s rather later in the year than when I usually do this (I usually get to it in March or April, and I just got busy this year), but nevertheless: It’s time for the annual Reader Request Week, in which you pick the topics I write about for the next week here at Whatever. Always wanted to ask me a question? Want to see me opine on a topic of your choosing? See me dance like a monkey for your unalloyed pleasure? This is the time and place for it!

You can ask any question on any topic — politics, social topics, personal queries, silly nonsense, it’s all up for grabs. Post your question in the comment thread, and I will go through the thread and pick the topics I’ll respond to, starting on Monday, November 18th, and going through the entire week.

While any topic is up for request, I do have a couple of suggestions for you, when you’re making your topic selections.

1. Quality, not quantity. Rather than thinking of a bunch of general topic for me to address, which isn’t very interesting to me, and which is also like hogging the buffet, pick one very specific topic that you’re actually interested about — something you’ve thought about, and taken time to craft a question that will be interesting to me. I’m much more likely to pick that than look through a menu of very general topics.

2. Writing questions are given a lower priority. Me writing about writing is not unusual here, so for this week, writing topics are a secondary concern. But if you really want to ask a question about writing, go ahead, just remember that point one above will apply more to your question than most. It’ll have to be a pretty good question to stand out.

3. Don’t request topics I’ve recently written about. I’ve included the last five years of Reader Request topics below so you can see which ones are probably not going to be answered again. That said, if you want to ask a follow-up to any of the topics below, that’s perfectly acceptable as a topic. Also, for those of you wondering how to make a request, each of the posts features the request in it, so you can see what’s worked before.

How do you submit requests? The simplest way to do it (and the way I prefer, incidentally) is to put them in the comment thread attached to this entry. But if you have a reason not to want to have your request out in public, the other option is to send me e-mail (put “Reader Request Week” in the subject head so I don’t have to hunt for it).

Please don’t send requests via Twitter or Facebook, since I don’t always see those. I credit those whose topics I write on, but feel free to use a pseudonym if you’re asking something you’d prefer not to have attached to your real name.

Here are topics from the last few years:

From 2014:

Reader Request Week 2014 #1: Travel and Me
Reader Request Week 2014 #2: Writerly Self-Doubt, Out Loud
Reader Request Week 2014 #3: How I Stay Happy
Reader Request Week 2014 #4: How I See You, Dear Reader
Reader Request Week 2014 #5: Hitting the Lottery
Reader Request Week 2014 #6: Enjoying Problematic Things
Reader Request Week 2014 #7: Editorial Independence
Reader Request Week 2014 #8: What Writing Lurks In the Shadows?
Reader Request Week 2014 #9: Short Writery Bits
Reader Request Week 2014 #10: Short Bits

From 2015: 

Reader Request Week 2015 #1: Free Speech Or Not
Reader Request Week 2015 #2: Ego Searching Redux
Reader Request Week 2015 #3: Raising Strong Women
Reader Request Week 2015 #4: Bullies and Me
Reader Request Week 2015 #5: A Boy Named John
Reader Request Week 2015 #6: Me and Republicans
Reader Request Week 2015 #7: My Dream Retirement
Reader Request Week 2015 #8: On Being an Egotistical Jackass
Reader Request Week 2015 #9: Writing Related Short Bits
Reader Request Week 2015 #10: Short Bits

From 2016:

Reader Request Week 2016 #1: Living Where I Do
Reader Request Week 2016 #2: Will Humans Survive?
Reader Request Week 2016 #3: How, and If, I Will Be Remembered
Reader Request Week 2016 #4: Autonomous Cars
Reader Request Week 2016 #5: Pronouns
Reader Request Week 2016 #6: Why I Don’t Drink or Use Drugs
Reader Request Week 2016 #7: Writers and Ego
Reader Request Week 2016 #8: STEM and STEAM
Reader Request Week 2016 #9: Short Bits on Writing
Reader Request Week 2016 #10: Small Bits

From 2017:

Reader Request Week 2017 #1: Punching Nazis
Reader Request Week 2017 #2: Those Darn Millennials
Reader Request Week 2017 #3: Utopias
Reader Request Week 2017 #4: Haters and How I Deal With Them
Reader Request Week 2017 #5: Remembering Dreams
Reader Request Week 2017 #6: Reading as Performance
Reader Request Week 2017 #7: Parents, Their Age, and Their Kids
Reader Request Week 2017 #8: The Path to Publication
Reader Request Week 2017 #9: Writery Short Bits
Reader Request Week 2017 #10: Short Bits

From 2018:

Reader Request Week 2018 #1: Incels and Other Misogynists
Reader Request Week 2018 #2: Our Pets and How We Treat Them
Reader Request Week 2018 #3: The Reputational Reset, or Not
Reader Request Week 2018 #4: Far-Left(?) Scalzi
Reader Request Week 2018 #5: Who’s Cool and Who’s Not
Reader Request Week 2018 #6: The Fall(?!?!?!) of Heinlein
Reader Request Week 2018 #7: Mortality
Reader Request Week 2018 #8: Public Speaking
Reader Request Week 2018 #9: Writing Short Bits
Reader Request Week 2018 #10: Short Bits

Got it? Good. Then: Hit me with your questions! I crave your queries!

158 thoughts on “Reader Request Week 2019: Get Your Questions In!

  1. Note:

    This comment thread is for the asking of questions to me only — please do not comment on or respond to other people asking questions (the one limited exception is if you have a particular follow-up question to someone else’s question, but even then, please don’t offer commentary on their particular question). Also, please avoid comments that are general comments rather than specific questions to me. In all cases where there is not a specific question to me, I am liable to snip out the comment.

    (Also, of course, I reserve the right to Mallet questions I believe are merely trolling, so if you’re inspired in that direction, fellows, please uninspire yourselves quickly. Note I can generally tell the difference between trolls and people asking difficult questions. Trolls are pretty obvious, no matter how clever they think they are. It’s one of the things that makes them trolls.)

    Thanks.

  2. Now that you’ve got a bunch of ongoing series, I was wondering how you feel about reader requests. Specifically open-ended things like “I hope we see more of character X” or “Could we see how people in this universe do Y?”

    Do you enjoy getting that kind of question/request and do you take them into account when writing future books?

  3. Sci-Fi things! What thing (that hasn’t happened yet) do you really want to see/experience? What (generally regarded as positive) thing do you not want to experience, no way, no how? What (non-existent) thing do you thing would be the best for, or most widely adopted, in the future?

    Please disregard how likely a thing is. Please tell us how monkey’s-paw you think a thing could end up being.

  4. Top 5 countries you have yet to visit, and why? (That is, what about the country in question draws your attention/interest?)

    I keep trying to bribe the cats to ship me an advance copy of The Last Emperox. No luck yet, but hope springs eternal.

  5. Do you, being at least as sensible as the people in charge of such things, have any thoughts or suggestions on why we incarcerate such a huge chunk of our populace and what can be done about it, other than revolution?

  6. How do you want people to remember you after your life is over? Is it about leaving a literary legacy of great books or something deeper?

  7. What do you think about large companies working with possibly morally/ethically wrong government agencies? e.g. Unnamed Tech Co providing facial recognition for ICE. (The tech could be used to stop human trafficking: good; or profiling: bad.)

    I’m on the fence on this one. I don’t want the companies to provide technology that can be abused and I understand the employees of said company protesting / walking out. But on the other hand, there IS going to be a different company who’ll do it – most likely with less ethical goals in mind. At least with a major company that has employees protesting we’d know that they might strive to ensure their product isn’t abused.(Sure they could appoint one of them to supervise, even.)

  8. Being entertained as an artist:

    I’ve often wondered if it is possible for a writer or other artist to look at work in their medium or a related medium (film and plays are still storytelling, for instance) as mere entertainment.

    Is there such a thing as entertainment for an artist, or is picking apart the technique or artistic choices of another artist, even while being entertained?

    Does “seeing the strings” another artist is pulling detract from or enhance your appreciation for another artwork or artist?

  9. What is the differance betwean Science Fiction and Fantasy, and why are they often mixed together in lists and book stores?

  10. What do you do with all the advance reader books you receive? Do you keep them all? Does your local library have the best science fiction section in the state?

  11. What’s up with the name “Chad”?

    Several of your more generally asshole-ish or unintelligent characters are named Chad (the Chad in Dispatcher is kind of an ass, and the hapless WallBall salesdude in Android’s Dream is named “Chet”). I mean, I know you use a random name generator and all, but I swear I see “Chad” a lot! Do you have a friend named Chad who thinks its hilarious to get picked on? Or maybe a childhood enemy you can now destroy?

  12. You’ve lived in various places in the USA. How do you cope with places that have “seasons” and “weather” and stuff after growing up in SoCal (I believe)? We’re now in the season of golden evening light,and slightly lower temperatures also know as “fall” for those in other areas of the USA.

    Did you ever have desire to live outside the US? Would you ever think about it?

  13. Regarding Retail Internet vs Retail Brick & Mortar. What do you see as a reason for Brick & Mortar to still exist and even thrive for some consumer product categories? Customer personal connection, able to touch & feel before purchase? Where should Brick & Mortar stores focus on to maintain and even grow their business?

  14. From the celebrity department: We’re headed to JoCo in 2019, for the first time. You know you’ll be their, and so will N.K. Jemisin, Wil Wheaton, and a bunch other celebrities. I’m excited, and have this growing anxiety surrounding meeting ya’ll folk.

    I’ve never done well around even quasi-celebrities. If I see Wheaton, I’m likely to be unable to speak. Same with you. I’d be unsurprising if I could be much more eloquent than to say “you write pretty, me read you words. Sign my kindle ppls?”. Part of that is simply not knowing what topics are best discussed, and which are best left alone.

    So: Both specific to your preferences and, as best as you know about other nerd celebrities (many of whom probably do not consider themselves celebrities) — what sort of interaction do you want when you meet fans at a place like JoCo? Is that different than a book tour?

  15. Snow tires. (Just had a license plate kiss, so somewhat sensitive to driving in weather).

    And thanks for the list! I can well remember pursing my lips at my grandfather’s beer, so your drink and drugs article brought back memories (not that good). But if you had a half glass of champagne at your wedding then I can well understand your aversion. Hate the stuff.

  16. Death. I’m curious as to your thoughts about death. If there’s no afterlife, what you think happens to consciousness as we die? Do all our neurons fire in one final blast? Do we live a life in our minds in that second? If there is something, thoughts on what that might be. Also, how does being someone who’s widely published and will be certainly remembered after your death affect your views of your personal demise? Does it give you some comfort or does it not matter to you? Is it something you just accept or are you more of a “Do not go gentle into that good night” kind of guy?

  17. In 2024 autonomous air taxis will begin testing in various cities around the world. Would you feel safe flying from point A to point B at an altitude of say 700 feet above ground level in an autonomous drone?

  18. In recent history, restrictive parents would try preventing their child from dating someone who is a different race, or the same gender, etc., against their child’s wishes. Thankfully, love usually wins out, cultural opinions start to shift, and restrictive laws get abolished. Do you think we will experience a similar cycle in the future with AI and androids? Or do you the line will get drawn somewhere?

  19. I’m still curious whether you write certain phrases solely to hear Wil Wheaton say those things, narrating the audio book. Both in Red Shirts and Android’s Dream, there are phrases that make me think this way.

  20. In the past, you have written about how factors beyond a person’s control can affect their circumstances and the choices they make. I’m thinking of pieces like this one (https://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/07/23/a-self-made-man-looks-at-how-he-made-it/) and this one
    (https://whatever.scalzi.com/2017/05/25/the-poverty-state-of-mind/). Given this opinion, where do you think the line is (if it even exists) between things that an individual is responsible for and things that are out of that person’s control?

    For the record, this isn’t me trying to catch you out or anything. It’s just something I’ve been mulling over for a while now, and I like hearing other people’s opinions.

  21. Are there other pets than cats you would like to have? What about some more exotic ones if living conditions (for everybody) were not a concern? Snakes, penguins, dolphin, …?
    (A friend of a friend has capybara.)

  22. Inequality. Is it bad, is it good? What level of equality should we be aiming for? Specifically I’m thinking about a society that has both billionaires and people who can’t afford to feed their children. Or companies where a CEO earns hundreds to thousands of times the median employee salary.

  23. Your 2017 LA Times article, Double Bubble Trouble, was very relatable to me, and I periodically reread it to feel less alone as things feel more and more polarized – my own political views are in the same ballpark as yours, and I also have disparate circles of family, friends and colleagues who represent very different demographics and sets of political views. Do you have any new thoughts or things you’d like to add as a follow up to that article, in light of everything that has unfolded in the 2.5 years since you wrote it?

  24. What do you do with all the ARC’s you receive each week. You must need a separate house just to store them.

  25. Geography & Writing Space.
    (this is a navel gazing question, but whatever)

    You have lived and written in a bunch of different locations and living spaces. I was looking through the Self Made Man post linked above, and I can see
    – LA, up and through high school
    – U Chicago dorm life
    – Fresno
    – DC
    – rural-ish Ohio

    It strikes me that you have been a different kind of writer in many of those places, or at least a different kind of writing (journalism, opinion, fiction, etc.) has been to the forefront. Do you see any causation or correlation between geography and those changes? Do you think any of those kind of places would have suited the other kinds of writing you have done? For example, do you think staying in Fresno and working for the Bee would have made you more or less likely (or capable!) of being a SF novelist?

    All counter factual, I know. But I was a different kind of writer when I wrote in NYC, CHI, Florida, and now St Louis. Some of that is life stage and different jobs, but I know some of it is geography.

  26. If you could, would you want to transfer your consciousness to a younger cloned body as you write about in Old Man’s War? If you suddenly found yourself young and vital again, what would you do first?

  27. Where do you see our current technology going? How do you come up with/create the future technologies you use in your fiction?

  28. This is oddly specific, but here we go:

    As someone who has expressed noted opinions on U2 and their musical contemporaries on Whatever in the past, how do you feel about Songs of Experience, their discography in general in the year 2019, and even more broadly whether they have any relevance or urgency left as a band nowadays? (Not that relevance or urgency is required to enjoy a band’s music, but U2 seems to thrive on being relevant and urgent.)

  29. I’ve been curious about this for a long time, but your post on 11/14 brought it to top-of-mind.

    You, and lots of other authors, thank lots of people in your books. And good for you!

    But what do they do? I know they make the book better, and save you from doing things you’re not that good at. But, as they say, god is in the details.

    I think I know what a copy editor does, and a cover artist, but what does a page designer do for you — presumably more than figure out margin width? Or an art director — I get it if you were doing a film or graphic novel… but for a regular book with regular pages? Chapter heading styles (I just checked and you’ve got a vertical chapter heading style going in the ‘old mans’ universe, and a horizontal one in ‘interdependency’ — is that due to art direction, or page design? For that matter, what does an editor do for you… with the way you describe your work style it sounds like it could be they say ‘sounds promising’ when they hear the idea, and ‘great job’ when you send in the final manuscript… but I suspect there’s more.

    And how much do you interact with them through the process — do you just send in the manuscript and review the proofs and give a thumbs up? Do you discuss cover concepts? Chapter headings? Fight about Oxford commas?

    I guess the details of this could be deadly boring (even if you skip marketing and distribution which is fine with me, I’m just curious about the thing I hold in my hands), but maybe not.

  30. Okeydoke. We know an observer has to exist for quantum.
    We know the hundred monkeys could, given time, Shakespeare.
    We know (wild ass guess) the size of the universe.
    We know quantum foam happens, stuff just appears and disappears.
    We know the universe started off with a bang and expanded.
    So existence comprised an expanding bubble filled with quantum foam for a while

    Now given all that, what are the odds that at some moment after the big bang, the quantum foam bubbled up containing an arrangement of stuff in the form of a preassembled self-aware observer, which will look around, locking in the previously evanescent physical universe?

    Deus ex Ikea, more or less. Some assembly required.

  31. Extreme Medical intervention. How much is too much? How many millions of dollars should be spent, and by whom? How much recovery is enough to justify the unfathomable amounts that could be spent? Should that amount be spent on every person who could potentially benefit, or only certain people? Who gets to decide?

  32. One noteworthy aspect of your blogging style is your extreme confidence. If you have an opinion to offer, you may caveat it in various ways, but usually not in ways that indicate any uncertainty. For instance, you rarely prefix statements with “I think that” or “Probably” or other indications that while this is your view you acknowledge that you could be wrong.

    To what extent is that conscious? Waffling on opinions doesn’t necessarily make for compelling blogging, even if it might be good epistemology. Do you aim directly for “authoritative and confident” as your blogging voice, or is that just how it comes out?

    Here are a few examples where another writer might have chosen to soften things:

    “The reason there’s a cottage industry in attacking me as “far left” is rather more simple and rather a bit more sad than that, which is that there was a small(ish) clutch of writers and fans whose politics ranged from stock conservative to reactionary to white nationalist and who, for various reasons, disliked me and the fact I have a successful writing career.”

    “I am, to put it bluntly, not cool.”

    “For the last few decades we’ve been making it more difficult for people to get ahead economically — the choices are to go to college, and get saddled with tens of thousands of dollars of non-dischargable debt right out of the gate, or not go to college, and then mostly never have a job that makes more than $30k a year. ”

    (This isn’t meant as an attack and I hope it doesn’t read as one.)

  33. Real Science, what do you always get intrigued by when it comes across your vision?
    For me it’s the latest look at asteroids and mining them. My son and I spent an afternoon discussing issues the process would introduce.

  34. “We Were Promised Jetpacks” (actually a band name!)- do you think SF/F has kept up with the amazing things foretold in decades past, or is being dreadfully SLOW, according to the timelines in those stories? Jetpacks just being just one of them…

  35. Why do publishers put out paperbacks in the sizes they do? In addition to the classic mass-market and the trade editions, there is the newer mixed-sized, mass-market width and trade height. What behind-the-scenes calculations are going on? Why do publishers change them around?

    This is the question. What follows is a bit of a rant, giving context. (If you, JS, consider this part against the rules, delete it, no hard feelings.)

    I ask this for a few personal reasons—I have no idea if these issues apply to any other readers. I physically cannot read the mixed-sized books. After decades with the other two sizes, their feel and look is somewhere in my personal uncanny valley. And I almost never read fiction in library books, or e-books. I have to own my books and then some. And as I have a personal library of perhaps 10000 books, I must keep them shelved as efficiently as possible. This means that for most authors, I buy them in one size only, so that they all fit together with minimal fuss.

    As a result, I no longer read many authors. I read all their books up to the point the publishers change their physical sizes. In mystery, I haven’t read any Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, or Donna Leon in perhaps a decade. In science fiction, I gave up reading Kim Stanley Robinson and Neal Stephenson long ago. More recently, it seems I’ve given up Charles Stross and now John Scalzi. Sorry.

    On the one hand, it certainly is a big loss for me. On the other hand, I have absolutely no trouble finding other authors to fill in my reading time. Dropping somebody from my buy-and-read list was probably how Scalzi got on it, and now it looks like other authors are filling my Scalzi void.

  36. Mars? Stars?

    Do you think people will actually travel to Mars? When? Who (US, Chinese, Elon Musk, some random or future affiliation, etc.)?

    Same question for traveling to the stars.

  37. John, I’d like to see you update or write an addendum to your “Lowest difficulty setting” essay in light of what we now know about the Kaiser Permanente/CDC ACE scores study, their effect on health and coping performance later in life, and please also talk a little bit about how a higher difficulty setting affects feeling “other than?” And how being a member of a close-knit sci-fi fan community can help?

  38. Opinion about Writers that have turned into franchises.Those that hire MFAs to write their books.

  39. What do you think is our moral obligation around accommodating people with less common self-identities or lived experiences? For example, you’ve made it clear in previous Reader Request Weeks that you are in favour of trigger warnings and using people’s preferred pronouns, considering them both forms of common courtesy; I would tend to agree.

    However, this seems to open up to a huge set of obligations that effectively can’t be met. There’s no way for me to catalog all of the possible sources of trauma in the world and provide appropriate trigger warnings for each one. Or perhaps you meet somebody who refuses to go by any common pronoun and instead requests a hard-to-remember polysyllabic form of address.

    Is there a line somewhere where the cost of accommodation outweighs the value of treating people as human beings?

  40. Cats – I am fascinated by your feline family members. What is the pecking order? Who is top cat, who is the perennial butt of everyone else’s mischief? Does Zeus still play and act kittenish? Have the youngsters settled down any? Can you leave people food out unattended when the cats are in the house? Which cat is most bonded with you? With Krissy? With Athena? Do you ever wake up to discover that you are buried under 40-odd pounds of purring, furry critters? You’ve mentioned more than once being awakened by a cat butt – whose, and what exactly does he or she do to wake you up, and have you been able to figure out why they feel the need to roust you in such an undignified manner?

    I have to say that there are two photos in your rotating website banner that just never fail to elicit a grin from me, regardless of how many times I’ve seen them. One is of that scamp Smudge lying in the laundry basket, and the other – my all-time favorite – is of Zeus leaping after an impertinent Scamperbeast (Spice, I believe?). So I would love to read any comments or stories or anything at all you’d like to share about the beasties.

  41. Your relationship with Kristy (or at least said relationship from your perspective as shared here and on twitter) is strong and wonderful after many years of marriage. It brings me joy every time you write about her and your adoration for her. It makes me curious to know what the challenging parts of your marriage are. I get that it’s something you may not want to make public. I’m curious about even the little pet peeves that irritate either of you about the other one.

  42. Global Warming. Do you see it where you live? Any plans to include it in a book? I really like Kim Stanley Robinson’s series on it, and would like to see more writers address it as how will society adapt. And while I would gladly buy a series of books from you addressing this topic I really really would like a new series in the OMW universe.

  43. Things you fall out of love with as you age. Example: Heinlein was super relevant to 22 year old me in 1997. He was enjoyable to 33 year old me in 2008 in a nostalgic sort of way. He basically isn’t relevant to my interests anymore at 44 years old in 2019. Do you find yourself letting go of things that you’ve… I don’t know if “outgrown” is the right word, but let’s say outgrown, that once were very important to you but now aren’t part of your life, or do you hold on to those older interests?

  44. To what extent do you think engagement in communities contribute to individual overall well-being? Can online communities fulfill the roles of more traditional communities? How do your interactions with the online communities you are a part of differ from your interactions with offline communities?

  45. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the world I’d like to live in.

    When you think about the world you’d like to live in, what do you see? And do you have any thoughts on ways to get closer to that world?

  46. How do we view our enemies? I think you showed John Perry changing his views through the OMW series. I have been thinking–(I am 16 years older than you) When I was growing up during the Cold War, the communists were “the enemy” who wanted to conquer us, take over our country and make us slaves. Today, we are told that the “enemy” wants to kill us – to basically obliterate us. I have no idea to what extent either of these viewpoints has been influences/propagated by our leaders or just exactly what that means to our world view. To what extent is it important to understand our enemies?

  47. Comparing today to the same day 100 years ago, daily life is obviously meaningfully very different. How different do you think a-day-in-the-life will be 100 years from today? What will stay the same? What will be viewed as quaint?

  48. You have mentioned that your college degree was in philosophy. Of the philosophers you studied, has studying any of them in particular had an impact on your approach to your life and to your work?

  49. What really-good-but-overlooked movies make you want to grab the uninitiated, sit them in a chair and say ‘Watch this! Now!’

  50. Sometimes when I’m looking at one thing on the web, I’m lead to something else, and then something else again. And it’s good stuff! A new movie, or band, music etc. that I may never have found otherwise.

    How has serendipity treated you lately?

  51. At the end of the Last Colony, Jane Sagan, a functional superwoman, is pregnant. Writing about a “super child” certainly been done – but how would you write such a novel?

  52. Charities …

    You highlighted a medical debt relief charity recently. Can you discuss 5 or so charities doing outstanding work on targeted issues whose work you value similarly at present?

    And do your priorities for charitable giving shift much from one year to the next, either in response to external developments or your own development and interests?

  53. I have had a number of discussions with my more liberal/progressive/socially conscious/culturally activist friends and family concerning the topic of cultural appropriation. I feel very uncomfortable with the idea they tend to advance regarding this topic in that I am of the opinion that as an artist, it is ridiculous to try to limit creativity by excluding inspiration. What is your view vis a vis the limit of an artist on drawing inspiration from other cultures?

  54. Riffing off of @jessnevins but broadening the scope a bit:

    American society is growing increasingly polarized – or maybe the silent majority is staying ESPECIALLY silent right now out of fear for attacks from both ends of the political bell curve. I know there are topics I refuse to discuss with some friends and family for fear of sundering the ties of affection. How can we relearn the art of disagreement without rancor, even with someone who holds some views we abhor (but who presumably has enough other redeeming qualities to make it worth the effort)?

  55. On a couple occasions there have been big announcements about film or tv adaptations of your work, but it seems like there’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip. Can you talk about the process of adapting a book for the screen? Why do so many books that get film rights purchased never make it to production?

  56. Two related questions, so pick one. The first is similar to one above. The world has changed dramatically over the past 20 years…What will be the biggest change in the next 20? The related variant: the current generation of teenagers shows a deep commitment to changing the world….what will they achieve?

  57. Recently, a few political scientists have advanced the thesis that hard-right populism is most effectively checked by a strong center-right party that a) has substantial representation in government, and b) articulates a politics that is more or less in line with what their base actually wants. There will likely always be a large conservative presence in the United States, and if we accept these premises that means they should have at least rough proportional representation in Washington.

    So I’m curious: what, in your view, would a healthy, viable center-right GOP (or a replacement) actually look like? What sort of platform might it advance?

  58. What do you think about GPT-2, an AI system that generates text matching its input in subject and tone. For example, when fed the first sentence of George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four it produces plausible futuristic fiction set in China ?

  59. I have a writing question. You have said several times that you don’t outline and that you pretty much write your novels start to finish in one pass, editing as you go. At the same time, in talking about how long it takes to write a novel, you’ve talked about the up front planning/plotting/world-building phase.

    I’m curious about the planning phase and how you record it and/or hold it all in your head, in particular for mystery-heavy stories like Lock In etc. where you need to plant clues for future payoff.

  60. So, as a former professional film reviewer and unashamed nerd, do you have any thoughts you’d like to share regarding the assorted speculative fiction movies we’ve gotten over the past few years/decade?

    I’m thinking mostly about the non-franchise ones, but I’d definitely be interested in hearing any thoughts you may have about the various franchises as well if you feel like it.

  61. Since you posted Alexandra Rowland’s Big Idea (Sept 10, 2019) I’ve been wondering about changing the rules of economics. In my class on “Ethics in the Media” which includes a historical introduction to the development of our liberal capitalist free market economy (Adam Smith, John Locke, R H Tawney, Bauman) some students have expressed the idea that the freedoms of speech and belief are inextricably linked to a free market.

    Do you think we could change the economy to create and enforce equitable distribution of resources and labor without losing freedoms of speech and belief and what might that economy look like?

  62. Two questions, one frivolous and one serious. Serious first:
    Q: How do you tackle political burnout? By that I mean that it seems a lot of people just feel burned out by the constant parade of nonsense from politicians, and the constant parade of “wedge” issues designed to stoke hate, fear, and division for political gain, and constantly dealing with that and firefighting that is exhausting. How can we all keep up? What to do when it just gets too much to keep going? There comes a point when it is just simply repeatedly saying “he’s lying to you” and getting “but I like the lies” is just so disheartening. How do we deal with that?

    Q2, frivolous one: What do you think of the idea that New Zealand is now supposed to be its own continent? Is that mad, or what?

  63. Are there people you’d like to know that you’ve not gotten a chance to meet yet?

    You’ve written about consciousness transfer a number of times, would you take the opportunity to transfer your consciousness if it was offered? What would be the parameters that would make you accept versus decline?

  64. How should one respond to someone when they make an extremely bigotted statement? And they are close family members?

    “gays will burn in hell for all eternity”, “muslims are terrorists”, “immigrants are criminals”, “blacks get shot more by police because they’re more likely to be criminals”, followed by “thats not racist, thats just fact”.

    One recent in-person conversation included the statement “need to get rid of the blacks”. I was too shocked to say anything in the moment and walked away shortly after.

    Its all very isolating and depressing.

  65. You have mentioned on any number of occasions an admiration for H. L. Mencken’s writing, but as far as I can find, you have not written about him here at any length greater than a paragraph or so. I’d be interested in seeing a longer piece about Mencken’s writing and significance.

  66. Burrito gastronomy: do you carefully choose your ingredients, or just throw whatever in there? More generally/seriously, how would you (a middle aged dude working from home) characterize your approach to food, cooking, and eating–and how has it changed since you embarked on your weight loss quest?

  67. You talked about pronouns back in 2016 so this is partly rehashing old ground. But one thing I’ve wondered about, if you’re ‘they’ and other forms of normally plural pronouns as singular, shouldn’t you also conjugate them with singular verbs? “They is running”, when you’re talking about one person. It sounds awkward but to my simple mind it’s less confusing than using a plural verb for a single person.

  68. Here’s a kind of a touchy-feely question, but here we go… Folks sometimes talk a lot about community–that group of people who are not family who we nonetheless chose to associate with (in person or, I suppose, facilitated by online.) What does community look like to you, what does it do for you, and, if your community is important to you, why?

  69. I’d be curious to know, if you’re comfortable talking about it, whether you’ve ever had a “strange”, or for lack of a better term, what we might call “paranormal” experience. Anonymous data collecting seems to show that most people have, but are afraid to talk about it. I have had one experience that was very strange, and so have most of the people that I know. JF Martel on the podcast “Weird Studies” said that if everyone spoke freely about these events, we would be forced as a culture to include such phenomena in any attempt to form a coherent worldview. And probably also learn something about the nature of reality that we don’t understand now.

  70. Hope I’m not violating any rules by posting a second question, but I would also be very interested in hearing what kind of philosophy you find appealing or convincing and why. Also how you feel about nihilism and anti-natalism, in particular the philosophical works of Thomas Ligotti.

  71. How much do you tell your wife/family when they ask about your writing? My wife sometimes asks what I’m working on and I’m hesitant to tell her because A) I’m afraid I might spoil her for future reading B) it seems bad luck to comment on something that’s not finished yet

  72. If you feel like doing a political post, there’s currently some uproar about Ohio HB 164, the “Ohio Student Religious Liberties Act of 2019”. On a quick glance it has good bits and novel bits, but the good bits aren’t novel (i.e. are already in the body of laws) and the novel bits aren’t good. I’m uncertain as to how bad the implications are, but it’s being seen in some quarters as an anti-science bill..

    (“ACLU of Ohio Chief Lobbyist Gary Daniels called HB 164 a mixed bag.”)

  73. You’ve written a bit about apologizing, and I’ve found that informative and useful, so thanks for that.

    Do you have any advice on how to apologize to people whom you have wronged on social media and have blocked you? Or, should you manage such a feat, if they doubt your sincerity?

    Whether someone receives your apology or not, whether they believe you or not, if you’re really sorry, you should of course still do the work to change and get better and not further wrong other people in the same way. Do you have any further advice on not focussing further on your error, not letting it ring in your head at odd moments, beyond what you originally wrote? I think my best course is change, get better, and *move on*, but that has proven somewhat difficult.

    Thank you for your advice, your books, and your time!

  74. You’re just back from a road trip. Can you tell us some road trip stories? (This trip or earlier trips, anything particularly memorable that’s happened on a road trip?)

  75. How many of the imaginary foods have you brought or seen brought to life and how did they work out? Do you have to make and taste them, or do you or someone you know is right have the ability to “taste” them in your head? Thinking about a dinner that starts with Fish Cinnamon Boulliabase, followed by Beet Loaf, and wrapped up with the interesting snack cake dessert burrito [its Proper name escapes me] specifically.

    I first came across the idea of someone who remembers what things taste like as their job in Moving Mars and likely also The Giver, but didn’t realize until a year or three ago that not everyone can summon and taste things in their head.

  76. I like both Sci-Fi and Fantasy media. There are lots of greats in each genre for books, games, and while I have my preferences, they tend to come out pretty close to each other in terms of quality. Except in TV/Movies. Off the top of my head, I can think of ten times as many great sci-fi shows and movies than I can for fantasy…Why do you think this is?

  77. As a former SFWA President, what do you think of the idea of a pair of volumes – one for science fiction, the other for fantasy – listing/reviewing the “100 greatest novels” in each area, as voted upon by the SFWA membership? I have similar book-length lists from the Mystery Writers of America and the (British-based) Crime Writers Association in mind as models, where the voters listed favorite/greatest mystery novels in a variety of sub-genres (e.g. “espionage”, “hard-boiled detective”, “psychological thriller”) instead of just straight-up all-time greats. The SFWA volumes could both include “humorous” and “classic” top 10’s, but each volume would also have lists specific to each genre (such as “hard sf” and “time travel/alternate history” for sf, “quest fantasy” and “supernatural horror” for fantasy). (I have other possible top 10’s in mind, but don’t want to clog the question here.)

    If you like the idea, what can I do/whom can I contact to try to set the project in motion?

  78. Science in science fiction. Some authors relish explaining how their science works in great detail; and sometimes this detail is necessary and central to the story. Some present their science as a given with little or no explanation and focus on their main story, which of course is usually less dependent on the scientific details. Your stories are more in the latter category (or not?); why do you choose this, do you resist the urge to get persnickety with details or do you just don’t feel like going there, etc. And would you comment on criticism that demands “hard science”?
    Thanks!

  79. What do you feel is the most historically signifiant event that has happened in your lifetime, and why?

    Follow on, is there a historical event/period (not necessarily from your lifetime) that you think is fascinating, and why?

    Thanks

  80. We know you have TV/movie things you can talk about and TV/movie things you can’t talk about. I’m mostly interested in your place in the process of making them. You write a book, it’s a huge success, then what happens? Do “their people” contact “your people” or is it the other way around? And how much can you weigh in on the final product?

  81. Manipulating the public’s fears has unfortunately nowadays become a frequently used political tool (e.g. 90% of the GOP’s platform). But those fears have led the American public to make incredibly bone-headed decisions such as putting the venal and spectacularly unqualified Orange Skull into the White House. I know people can’t be stopped from feeling afraid. But what can be done to get people to work past their fears and take the leap to bring about big changes (e.g. electing the first female president, having a medical system that guarantees all Americans at least a basic level of care)?

  82. In ancient Greece during their Democratic phase they had Examiners who reviewed the performance of their officials each year (they only served one year terms). These examiners looked in detail at their performance and financial accounts. This examination resulted in recommendations of punishment ranging from fines, through exile, to death. Then “The People” voted on this recommendation.

    I know it would be turkeys voting for Thanksgiving if politicians were to establish a modern version of this, but what if (small d) democracies were to have a Citizen’s Jury that did a similar thing at the end of each electoral period. Choose a selection of officials, examine their performance and recommend a penalty, if any. A ‘well done’ is obviously an option.

    How many politicians would now avoid politics because they knew they were in it for the wrong reasons and didn’t fancy being exiled to live their next twenty years in [insert place you think is a shithole here].

    If I may reply to crypticmirror’s frivolous question about New Zealand being a continent. We are the Pluto of planets – it’s all about the definition.

  83. You’ve spoken before about how majoring in philosophy was valuable to you — see, for example, https://whatever.scalzi.com/2015/09/05/my-college-degree-not-so-useless-after-all/, in which you said “I learned how to learn, and I also learned how to argue and to evaluate arguments, and in particular I learned how language works and how people use it.” As a fellow philosophy major, I would love to hear you elaborate on this! What fields of philosophy did you study? How did philosophy help you learn how to learn? In hindsight, are you glad you majored in philosophy?

  84. One of my students asked me a question the other day: What would 13 year old you think of your life now? It really got me thinking about the unexpected path my life has taken, and some things that 13 year old me would have been heartbroken about, but adult me is more than okay with (my eyes betraying my dreams of becoming a fighter pilot, for example). I have been asking this of my close friends, and learned a lot about them in the process. So now, I pose the question to you. What would 13 year old John Scalzi think of 2019 John Scalzi’s life?

  85. I know this question faces a higher hurdle than most, but I do have a question about writing.

    It baffles me how to make a plot. I’ve written a few things and my response to this bafflement has been to create a type of story that doesn’t need one. It is somewhere in the purgatory between short story and personal essay. I guess that’s something, but it isn’t something that can extend to novel length.

    So I’m curious — what is your process for working out a plot? Walk us through a specific example, maybe the book you just finished.

    Thanks!

  86. If you’re aware of the Twitter dustup involving Sarah Dessen and a university student who criticized her work, what’s your take on it? Who behaved okay, who should have behaved differently, and why?

  87. This is frivolous but has been bugging me. I’m just getting around to reading Lock In. I’m listening to Wil’s version. Every time the word ‘Agora’ is mentioned it’s clearly been re-recorded. My question is this: Did Wil pronounce the word incorrectly in the original recording or was the name of the Agora changed late in the editing process?

  88. You’ve mentioned in older posts about the division of responsibilities between you and Krissy. Can you explain how you both decided who did what in the relationship? Did each just naturally gravitate to what each did best, or were there discussions and agreements about who would do what? And what about parenting, how did the two of you decide on your parenting style?

  89. You spend your days in front of a screen. You have had weight gain, and loss! What is your work out routine and diet? Do you take a 2 mile walk outside or on a treadmill. Do you have a stretching routine, yoga, etc. Does your family join you in these activities?

  90. I’m trans (non-binary trans feminine), and I have tried — and failed — to explain to my cis friends and family what it feels like, or even why it matters to me so much.

    So: you being a writer, and as an SF writer, someone who writes about things that your readers will never have experienced, and maybe about people (very broadly defined!) whose way of experiencing the world are unlike anything your readers or you have experienced —

    How do you make understandable things that are (apparently) beyond anything they’ve experienced or can relate to?

  91. Thoughts about really long books? There seem to be more and more. Do they need to be that long? Are editors being soft?

  92. I’ve been reading a lot during a post surgery recovery time, and you and NK Jemisin are at the top of the list. One thing that fascinates is is your understanding of power – the hierarchy, the institution, the personal, colonialism, etc etc. It seems so real to me, especially after my corporate career. I feel like you are writing to equals – I don’t sense mansplaining, over simplifying, or linear conclusions.

    How do you learn and explore about power? Talking, reading, something else?
    Does your research consciously include minority, women, and marginalized POV?
    Are you friends with NK?
    Will you consider running for office in Ohio?
    Do you give off the record advice to candidates you like? Write political opeds?
    What would be your first acts as a senator, governor, president?

    Thank you!

  93. I was thinking about “Lock In” with a protagonist who’s disabled but rich. I was wondering if you knew anyone well who’s disabled but poor. If you weren’t poor to begin with being disabled tends to make you that way. I work with a lot of people in electric wheelchairs.

  94. How did you come to like #cats? I have 4 cats all accidental rescues: Found them abandoned as kittens so I kept them. 3 had to be bottle fed. When came time to find them homes I could not part with them.

  95. We are now in a constantly evolving social media landscape with kids interacting in ways online that we didn’t have to navigate at that age. Do you have any suggestions for parents with young children growing up in this environment? How do you think it has impacted families and, if you would be willing to share, how has your online presence affected your immediate family interactions?

  96. You said something in your post today about living a life that struck me: “I don’t count reading as a hobby; for me that’s like saying breathing is a hobby.” So, I’m curious. What is it you read and do you ever have to force yourself to put something down in order to get your own writing done? Do you feel what you read influences any part of your writing? As a fanfic writer, maybe that’s too obvious an answer, but I’ve never heard anybody describe reading the way you did, and that’s how I’ve always felt about reading; like I’m a woman dying of thirst and no amount of words will quench it. Reading isn’t a hobby. It’s how I survive.

  97. Science keeps finding breadcrumbs leading toward longevity, most recently an article about really old people possess an excess of cytotoxic CD4 T cells. As someone just a few years younger than me, how hard will you be trying to reach the centenarian mark (or higher) … and why?

  98. I’d like your thoughts on US and UK politics and their connection to Russia, but written as if it were a whimsical children’s book with the main characters represented as farmyard animals

    Go nuts with it

  99. How does your wife stand you? Being a writer/engineer myself, I require a lot of ‘alone time’ to do my thing. My wife tends to alternate between “Why are you bothering me?” and “Why aren’t you paying attention to me?” How do you work out that balance or do you? Failure is an option.

  100. I asked, a few years ago, about people voting for Trump because they wanted to watch the world burned. You did not agree with this assessment at that time. Do you now believe differently as regards his supporters? Do you think that the world will burn regardless of their wishes? And who will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes (after the marketers, of course)?

  101. What do we do of there is a genuine constitutional crisis on the next election, and factions within the government refuse to agree on who won/lost?

  102. There was a rather ugly pile-on of a college student by a group of authors, primarily but not exclusively Young Adult authors, kicked off by Sarah Dessen. Given that there’s a lot of overlap on things you’ve written about before – inadequate apologies, haters, college students having opinions, authors responding to unfavourable reviews – what lessons would you draw from the incident, or, more broadly, what advice would you give the student who’s had to remove herself from the internet? (I appreciate you might not want to talk directly about it, because you might know some of the people who participated in the pile-on.)

    On a related note, how should people deal with the possibility that someone might be using their disadvantage or marginalisation as an excuse to act out?

    And a different topic: it seems like a lot of the Golden Age of sci-fi captured the public imagination. Personal communicators, jetpacks, flying cars, robots. There’s been no shortage of incredible science-fiction since then, but it doesn’t seem to capture the public imagination as much, unless you count the hoverboard. People are still impatiently waiting for their flying cars and jetpacks but you don’t hear a lot of chatter about, say, alien languages that decouple the speaker from linear time. Would you agree that newer science fiction isn’t as… iconic? as the golden age? If so, why do you think that is, and if not, what from recent years do you think people are going to assume is in their future?

  103. What subjects do you feel you can reliably write on? What non fiction articles would you redo? Looking back, what was your best or worst piece of writing in your twenties.

  104. If a new unified Physics theory emerges by next year, because of a new detailed Aether concept that explains most unknowns (Inertia, charge, mass, isotope decay and zero point energy), how soon will s/f writers adapt and extrapolate from the new norm?
    Hint: paired Monoploes

  105. In the interview with Hillary Rettig (thanks for posting the link to that, Hillary) in the response to the question about mistakes/regrets you answered:

    ” I think the only thing I would change, really, is that I wouldn’t have run for president of SFWA in 2007; I should have run for VP instead. This is a complicated story, too long to get into here. ”

    Would you please elaborate on this?

  106. How has living in rural Ohio changed you, if it has? You live where hunting is probably a big sport/way of life, and deer season begins shortly, as an example. Ohio State is making a run at the college football championship, which is probably a big deal where you live. And yet I don’t think, from what you post, that either of those impact you. But how about the local school–PTA, football, VFW/American Legion pig roasts?etc? Other communitye vents–annual county fair, harvest festivals, etc? How have you adaptd to a local culture that’s remarkably different from any other place you’ve lived, when you know that your neighbors are going to be your enighbors for a looong, loong, loong time?

    (I married into a rural farm family, and after I got out of the AIr Force we moved back to her family farm and built a house not much more than a hundred yards from my wife’s parents. While I commuted to the nearest metro area for my job–a long, 90 minute dirve on a good day–I found that there was a substantial cultural difference between myself and my neighbors. They were good people, but also different people from me. I found myself making a lot of cultural adaptions/changes.)

  107. What’s your take on the generational conflicts of our time, currently manifesting in the “Ok Boomer” saying?

  108. Now that you and Krissy are empty nesters, your productivity must be sky high! How do your editors process so much work? (Or does this make Trump your new child?)

  109. How many people (and who, specifically) would you be willing to donate a kidney to? (Not asking for me, just hypothetical. I know someone who recently gave a kidney to a stranger and I’m sort of ashamed to realize I would never, ever do that.)

  110. Athena’s off at college! How are you coping with the change in the household atmosphere? How are the cats coping? (I know I’m going to be an utter wreck when my youngest goes off to school next fall.)

  111. I’ve been reading your blog for more than a decade – it’s one of my go to visits every day or so. I think that’s mostly because we share a pretty common world view. We’re of a similar age and outlook and I enjoy your self deprecating writing style. But I’m fully aware that I’m creating my own filter bubble, reinforcing my world view by looking to those who share it. But at this point in my life I have pretty strong opinions that I am comfortable with. I’m not interested in raising my blood pressure by listening to someone explain to me all the good that the current president has done for America.

    So I guess my question is, how bad are filter bubbles really? And if we assume that they aren’t great (at least in all circumstances), how do we break out of them in a way that is actually workable?

  112. What are your thoughts on the Fermi Paradox? You’ve set books both in a teeming universe and in universes where we’re apparently alone (or mostly alone until we notice the Fuzzies), but in the real world we’re still asking, “Where is everybody?” What do think is up?

    I love your reader requests weeks, always a highlight of the Whatever year!

  113. As a lover of all things burrito I have a tortilla related question. What is your favorite/go to tortilla when making a burrito? Being in the midwest are you limited in your tortilla choices? Have you ever had the opportunity to have real tortillas from the southwest for your burritos? As an AZ resident I, as most, have very strong opinions on all things tortilla related, and specifically the fact that all grocery store tortillas in fact suck. So longwinded made short, what are your thoughts on tortillas, the one thing that links all burritos together, no matter what their contents.

  114. Flat Earthers. Why do they exist, and why can’t they sail off the edge, or at least hit an iceberg.

  115. Is there a genre in fiction you absolutely would not write? I don’t mean the distasteful (and maybe illegal) kind (pr0n, snuff fiction and whatever unsavory stuff that is out there). I mean the accepted kind (western, romance, etc). Heck, if this were the 1930’s would you be willing to write pulp fiction?

  116. My question is about what should or shouldn’t be considered in choosing a presidential candidate.

    As democrats enter 2020, they will be selecting their presidential nominee, and recurring questions on the table is that of “electability.” Specifically, democrats must acknowledge very real fact that Trump’s success is fueled significantly by white male resentment. Would Joe Biden have beaten Trump? Maybe, maybe not — but there are smart people who think that Trump’s racist and sexist appeals wouldn’t have gotten as much traction against a straight white male nominee.

    Other smart, principled people say that the nominee needs to represent the values of the party, and that to consider a candidate’s race / gender / sexual orientation is a surrender to the very worst part of our politics. The counter-argument is that, “Well, great, but losers don’t legislate. We need to win, and if we need to hold our nose to do so, then so be it.” The comeback to that is that a compelling candidate who can present sound policies that capture the public’s mood, and do so in a charismatic way, is the person you need, and that race / gender / sexual orientation will not ultimately matter. Whether that is true or not is an open question, but it’s a fair point.

    And so the question: how much should democrats consider a candidate’s race / gender / sexual orientation / (age, maybe?) in deciding who to run against Trump?

  117. This will probably be on your quick answers but I have read you complain about your slow internet for years. You are, relative to most of us, very wealthy, you could actually afford to have a T3 installed at the house. Have you considered a hardwired connection or are you waiting on moving to a new house in a few years?

  118. How do you pick which next book to read? What does your book queue (of books to read, not write) look like?

  119. How do you keep hope? Looking at the environmental issues, politics, endless wars. Of course you can stop reading the news, but that is just putting your head in the sand. (Like ostriches are supposed to do. Does this expression exist in English?)

  120. Now that it has become relatively easy to fake images, audio (specifically people’s voices), and video, what are we going to use for evidence? How is this going to affect the courts and politics; are we doomed to an eternity of he said/she said? And how will this ability tie into “truth decay” in general? I mean, my mom already says that literally all media other than Fox News and her friends on Facebook are lying.

  121. Where do you stand on human clone rights?

    Does it differ if the clone is raised from cell to baby to child vs the SF/Calvin&Hobbes version where they spring into existence as a exact duplicate of the original — memories/thoughts/etc?

  122. For a while, the “do what you love and the money will follow” idea was getting a lot of attention, and recently, there has been a backlash, with some very visible authors arguing that choosing a career because you love it is a terrible idea, and it’s better to choose your first jobs for learning, or where they will lead, or what you can do, and then learn to find the lovable aspects of your work as you gain skill in it. Any thoughts?

  123. Was it psychologically challenging the first time you spent a substantial amount of money on a vacation or something similarly non-essential? How did you work through your feelings?

  124. How do you stay healthy, especially regarding arthritis and the like?

    You and I are roughly the same age both spend a lot of time at a keyboard. My wild keyboarding days are catching up with me. :(

  125. Please advise on the impact of your philosophy degree on your worldview and the world-building parts of your career efforts. I am compelled to share with you that I have personally known only two philosophy majors in my life and that both, hand-to-heart, are in the computer network industry, one in high-level design and the other in support.

  126. You’ve written countless science fiction novels based on the idea of humans exploring other planets, meeting other alien species, and generally speak to an optimistic (if imperfect) view of humanity’s future.

    Do you believe that what you’ve written will (in broad strokes) actually happen in the future? In other words, do you think mankind will eventually reach to the stars, unlock faster than light travel (or some sort of wormhole based travel tech), create generational ships that allow us to colonize other solar systems, meet alien species, etc.?

  127. I am very interested in your take on the climate catastrophe. I have been reading things like Jem Bendell’s paper and subsequent work on trying to get people together so that we basically don’t kill each other over the limited resources, land, food, etc. or let eco-fascists run the planet.

  128. I’m always curious about whenever you post pics of all those books that enter into your humble abode and ask, “What sticks out to you?” for a read. What exactly sticks out to you in those various piles of books that you share with everyone?

  129. I’d like your thoughts on the top ten (or whatever) sci-fi books we probably haven’t read, but definitely should. I’m not asking about the so-called scifi “foundational” books, but the gems (in your opinion) that were unaccountably overlooked.

  130. Why are cats amazing? Which is to say, what is it about them that make us all lose our collective minds when we see a cute cat video or photo? I suppose this goes for other animals too, but they seem like the most prevalent example.

    Semi-related: What are the benefits they bring to your life in particular?

  131. How are you feeling about your ongoing contract with Tor these days? What I mean is, now that you’ve been in the midst of fulfilling that contract for a number of years, what do you find is working for you? Are there things that, knowing what you know now, you might have changed at the beginning? Does the contract allow you enough space to pursue other creative avenues, or do you sometimes feel constricted because the next book is due?

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