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A Month of The Kaiju Preservation Society

The Hungarian Cover of The Kaiju Preservation Society

It’s now been a month (and change) of The Kaiju Preservation Society being out in the world, so I thought this would be a nice moment to catch up with the book and answer some questions I’ve been asked about it, and also talk (very briefly) about what’s next for me. Because that’s what having a personal site is all about, yes?

So how did Kaiju do commercially in its first month? Pretty well, and honestly, better than I had hoped for. The book is a light romp, and I’d not put out a novel in 2021 (Kaiju was originally slotted for October ’21 and then Tor moved it, sensibly as it turned out, due to Omicron and paper shortages), and other publishers put out a number of heavy-hitting titles in the week of, and in the weeks immediately previous to, its release. I would have been content with it just being out in the world and selling to the usual crowd (hello!). So having it chart on two separate New York Times Best Seller lists (Combined Print/eBook; Audio Fiction), as well as a healthy number of other national and regional bestseller lists, was gratifying. The book has also hung in there through the month in terms of sales (doing the book tour helped), and the raw number of sales in this first month across all formats is encouraging in terms of the book having “legs” from here on out.

In short, it outperformed my expectations, and has made my publishers pretty happy. Hooray!

Okay, but how did it do with readers? Also pretty well as far as I can tell. I’ve gotten more fan mail about Kaiju than I’ve gotten for any of my books since Redshirts, so as an anecdotal barometer, that’s pretty encouraging. In terms of both the press and regular readers leaving reviews, it seems like the sort out has been 85%-90% positive and 10%-15% less so. The ones that have been positive have generally bought into the idea of Kaiju being a “pop song” of a book, i.e., light and fast moving and leaving you with a smile on your face and a spring in your step; the negative reviews seem to be of two varieties, with some overlap: Irritation with the tone and style of the book, and annoyance that a book that takes place during the height of the COVID pandemic might have a bit of contemporary political/social commentary to it.

Valid criticisms? Sure, for the person for whom these things are an annoyance. No one likes everything! My personal thought toward both these criticisms is: fine, this book isn’t for you, and that’s okay. Also, given your specific criticisms, you might skip the rest of my books, because, as Mike Wazowski might say, these are the jokes, kid. I like my schtick, and also it does well for me financially, so I’m inclined to continue it, for both personal and professional reasons. It’s not for everyone! However, clearly, it’s for enough people that I’m going to keep at it.

Can you talk about the thing you did with your protagonist? What thing?

You know, the thing. I’m sure I have no idea what you’re talking about.

(Exasperated sigh) Jamie doesn’t have an obvious gender! I mean, sometimes people don’t have obvious genders.

But you know, right? I don’t! Also, I think it’s fine for people to decide for themselves what gender if any Jaime is; what they decide brings an interesting and personal spin to the book, and I like that. It’s also fun for people to interrogate their own defaults and what they mean for them as a reader and human. As a caveat, I’ll note that since the audiobook is read by Wil Wheaton, people encountering the book in audio may assume Jaime is the same gender as Wil; I would only remind them that Wil also narrated my Interdependency series of audiobooks, where two of the three main characters were women (as was the primary antagonist). Audible pairs Wil with me because, from a sales point of view, people seem to like the match; it’s not a hand tip to the character’s gender.

You also have clearly trans and/or non-binary characters in Kaiju. Yup, because I know trans and non-binary people, so I’m reflecting the world I know. Also, given the context of the characters — theater folks, academics, scientists — it makes sense to me for there to be trans and non-binary folks in the story, and for the cis people they know and work with to consider their presence non-controversial and commonplace.

Not everyone is cool with trans and/or non-binary folks. They wouldn’t last long in the Kaiju Preservation Society, then. Nor would any other type of obvious bigot, as KPS is clearly a diverse, international organization with no time for that sort of bullshit. It’s my world, I get to write it the way I want it.

Kaiju seems thinner than your other novels. It doesn’t just seem thinner, it is thinner! It’s 280ish pages where my novels are usually 300+ pages. And yet, the book has the same number of words, more or less, as the last several of my books. The thing is, there’s been a worldwide printing paper shortage, so Tor made the decision to design the pages to have the same number of words on slightly fewer pages. This is how the global supply chain issues of the last couple of years affected this particular book. I assure you, however, you have not lost word count. I am as wordy as I have ever been.

What’s the current status of the Kaiju TV option? It’s active and I’m happy with the choices that are being made so far, and other than that I can’t say anything, partly because it’s not the time or place, and partly because there’s not all that much to say at this point. I’m optimistic! But then, I always am.

Have you given any thought to a Kaiju sequel? Not at the moment, because I have other things I’m working on, and also, a sequel is not accounted for in my current contract. Which is not to say that a sequel is impossible, if there’s reader interest and if Tor wants another. I never say never about this stuff. But I’m also happy if this is a “one and done.” Standalones are fun too, you know?

What are you writing next, then? The thing I am currently writing is a) another standalone, b) not dissimilar to Kaiju in tone and feel and the fact that it’s a “high concept” idea whose gist will be easily grasped by the title alone. So if you liked Kaiju, you’ll hopefully like the one I’m working on now. That’s tentatively scheduled for next year (assuming I finish it in the next couple of months, which I am supposed to).

What else do we get from you in 2022? Well, has it happens, the third volume of Love Death & Robots was announced just yesterday. It will be on Netflix on May 20, and it’s already been long established that a sequel episode of “Three Robots” is part of that line-up, so: that’s one thing. Also, Dispatcher 3 has been written for a while, so depending on other factors a 2022 release is possible. You’ll know when I know. Beyond that, well. We’ll all just have to wait, won’t we?

Final thoughts (for this piece) on Kaiju?

First, at this point what’s really going to keep the book finding new readers is word of mouth, so if you liked Kaiju, please consider suggesting it to friends who are looking for new, fun things to read. I would very much appreciate it.

Second, and as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, Kaiju has a special place in my heart. It was such an unexpected book, coming out of the wreckage of a difficult year and writing process. It was a joy to write, and reminded me why I like being a writer. Is it a great book? Probably not, but is a really good book, and the book I needed to write for myself. So to see it succeed and become a joy to others is something that has brought me contentment in the last month. This book has my affection in a real and specific way. I’m grateful it has earned affection from others, too. Thank you for that, folks.

— JS

By John Scalzi

I enjoy pie.

70 replies on “A Month of The Kaiju Preservation Society”

I’m all for the not-obvious-gender thing. I did see one review of the book in which Jamie was clearly labeled female, but most of them seem to be male. I figured you were doing it indeterminate this time, given the name, though!

I do admit that if Jamie was hired for carrying things, it does sound more likely to be male, though. (Kinda felt the same on Chris being a BMX biker as a kid, because I don’t know any female BMX bikers.)

Jennifer:

The other heavy lifter is a woman named Val, who is based after my friend Val, who is a competitive weightlifter, so I wouldn’t be in a rush to gender assign based on that particular role.

(Also I knew girls with BMX bikes as a kid! Maybe it was an 80s/California thing)

My question is: did you ever work out the details of how/why the Kaiju’s internal reactors go boom or is that an exercise for the reader? I’m perfectly happy fan-wanking about it but it would be neat if there was an “official” answer, too.

Loved this book.

“Also, I think it’s fine for people to decide for themselves what gender if any Jaime is…” – thus we have (at least partially) a choose-your-own-whatever-interactive novel, where we get to decide where the light shines brightest, based on who we know and who we are. The only downside is for folks who aren’t happy unless they know that the characters are just like them (the reader)… Oh, well…

I had to consciously slow my reading pace first time with it. (Savor, damn you!) After reading a couple other books and returning, I can say it holds up well to a second reading. I expected this and it delivers.

I would enjoy a sequel, and the last scene does set up a potential new point-of-view for one. (“What the fuck did Jamie get me into?!?!”)

i absolutely adored KPS, and it was exactly as you described – popcorn. And oh how i needed that. Wil’s reading it was the cherry on top for me, honestly. He’s the absolutely perfect voice for it and i couldn’t dream of anyone else for it. i never EVER listen to audiobooks – but this one? This one i could, somehow. Somehow i was able to sit through, a few chapters at a time each day, with the ebook checked out from the library to glance at here and there, and thoroughly enjoy this gem of a book. It was the perfect length – and yet i crave a thousand more chapters, just one more, just a follow-up just another peek into the life and times of kaiju earth. But, i am content with what i have and oh i’m very excited for whatever comes next.♡

PS, like Chris Shane, I just go with ‘Jamie is male’ because I am and the character works that way for me. But if ‘she’ were so revealed at some point my world would not blink out of existence. If you can’t enjoy the ride unless you’re in your own car, oh well.

Curiously it never occurred to me that Jaimie’s gender might be anything other than male. Partly (I guess) because that’s what I am and I kind of identified with a first person viewpoint, but also because all the Jaimes I know IRL are male.
Maybe it’s a transatlantic thing. Is it more of a gender neutral name Over There?

‘Chris,’ of course is as adaptable here as there.

FWIW- I loved that Kaiju was set during the pandemic. I found it a meaningful choice. Popular culture largely ignored it and we seem to have already moved to the don’t remember/it didn’t happen phase. For the millions still suffering and grieving that can be devastating.
Also, for some reason I always “hear” non-gendered characters as male (I am female). And not only with male authors. I “think” it is because of my perceptions. Murderbot and Justice- male because of necessary muscle mass. Chris (Lock In) male because I know males (including my brother) who go by Chris but females I know are Chrissy, Kristi, etc. And, sorry, but I see the name Jaime and immediately think of Mythbusters. 😉

One other point on the non-gendered thing.

When you put out Lock In and Head On you had Wil Wheaton and Amber Benson narrating those books. I purchased both versions of each and it was amazing how a female narrator made it obvious Chris Shane was female and a male narrator made it just as obvious Chris Shane was male. I found that an interesting experiment on your part. (and you got two extra sales from me, so good on you :) )

Love your writing. Although I must admit I hope some day to read a follow up to Androids Dream. My favorite of your novels.

And yes, I know I am in the minority.

Have a great day, and good travels.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and wanted to re-read it immediately, but I had a robotics competition to take a bunch of teens to, so I haven’t gotten around to the re-read yet. Maybe after school’s out next month.

I did notice that the font size was very tiny for my older eyes. I actually also purchased the e-book and read it in my kindle app with the font set to “large print edition”. I don’t mind purchasing the physical book and an e-book because your books are usually very good.

One thing I didn’t notice was the gender neutral characters. Slipped right by me. Seemed natural to me.

Keep on writing fun books!

I completely failed to notice Jamie’s gender was unspecified. His inner monologue sounded male to me, so that’s how I pictured him. Good job not calling attention to this in the text; I couldn’t even make it through this comment without using gender-specific pronouns.

I absolutely loved the scene with the uranium pellets. I just couldn’t stop laughing.

The primary thing I couldn’t suspend disbelief about had nothing to do with the science. It was food delivery people having conversations with their customers. They have to stay busy to stay afloat.

I was able to read this right after it was available because my library had it on the “New Fiction” shelves immediately after it was made public (assuming they preordered). It was what I expected and why I plucked off the shelves as soon as I saw it. By now, having read almost all, if not all, of your books, I realized that what I look forward to is the dialogue and the plot twists, especially the dialogue. The jokes and politics (which I agree with as I’m to the left of you) are the extra toppings. Sad to say , though, is that I’ve had a boss (or boss’s boss) justice the villain. You captured that mindset quite well. I was very pleased by his well deserved fate.

I loved KPS. I preordered the print version then bought the audiobook. I still hear Jamie as female in my head, even with Wil reading it. I loved it. Thanks for a great read!

I assumed Jamie was male because none of the male characters were ever creepy at them or feigned interest/tolerance in an attempt to sex them up. Not that such crud behavior is typical in a Scalzi novel but it’s what my brain presumes will be part of a portrayal of a woman’s experience in a professional setting.

This has given me food for thought, since I unconsciously identified Jamie as male.

As has become my habit, a short while after finishing the book I listened to the audio book. I love the way Wil Wheaton’s narration complements your work, giving it that much more depth and accessibility.

No, not near my favorite Scalzi book, but yes, perfect for what it was and is. And a lot of fun. I noticed all the names, followed by a later qualifying “he” or “she” (or “they”) but I must admit I never considered Jaime as anything but male. Maybe it was the roommates. Or the lifting. Or just me. I have several friends who have read it and all enjoyed it too, but then we were all fans already so maybe that isn’t defining…

Happy to hear that the next book is going to be fun too! Fun Scalzi is my favorite.

I noticed the Jaime thing– and I thought, ah, a throw-back to Locked In! (There were some other things that reminded me of Redshirts and of Old Man’s War as well– similar situations with a bunch of new recruit protagonists exploring the universe together with the reader.)

I don’t have a very strong conception of gender so it was easy for me to have Jaime’s continue to be ambiguous. As I’ve said before, Scalzi books make characters (even minor ones) people first which means gender isn’t doing any heavy lifting for characterization. Gender is an important aspect of some Scalzi characters, but not a necessary one for most of them.

I have the physical book but haven’t read it yet. I find most of my reading these days is in ebook form so I’ll probably buy the ebook and read that. But I wanted to have the physical book on my shelf.

I was happy to see KPS on activist librarian Jessamyn West’s reading list and with a very positive review. http://jessamyn.info/booklist/book/1677

I loved the book, the whole setting during Covid and your election and Wil’s narration just added the same sort of emotional expression I would have if I had to deal with massively large nuclear powered wildlife (and their merely terribly large parasites) as part of my new job.

As always, thanks for the comments that provide insight into the mechanics of being a working novelist. I have this inner naive person who’s always going “What? He planned that — he didn’t just start writing and make it up as he went? He wrote a book that’s just sitting there because of supply chain BS?”

The description of your fan mail was enjoyable. I’m in that 85% category. I loved the book precisely because it was a light, easy read, pure fluff and fun. I live in a world that is full of love, joy, family and good things but also hatred, voter suppression, war and growing darker all the time.

I’m still in awe that you were able to start the book with an attitude of saucy banter and then maintain that all the way through. On gender, I read the book envisioning Jamie as male but then did a double-take when I read a reviewer who asserted that “she” did this or that. And THANK YOU for including openly gay, trans, and gender-ambiguous characters because they are part of my family. And yes, I do have a gay agenda which is the same as my racial agenda which is to cherish all people and protect them from prejudice and bigotry as my White privilege has protected me. I love being able to recommend your books knowing that some people may feel especially validated.

Now this is running on and starting to get rantish so let me close by shouting WHERE IS THE KAIJU PRESERVATION SOCIETY MERCHANDISE!? I need a new hat and a T-Shirt, maybe a coffee mug. The world is a scary place and these things help me face the day.

I finished the audiobook last week and really enjoyed it. (My current audiobook is “Still Just a Geek,” so, apparently, it’s “Wil Wheaton Lives In My Car” month.) I will say that I laughed very hard at many of the jokes, and you clearly had far too much fun with the vaccine side effects in Chapter 3.

I loved the book! I am a doctor in a resource-poor developing country and the pandemic was emotionally exhausting. This was the most I laughed in a very long time. Thank you for this. I am ordering this book for all my colleagues.

“Tor made the decision to design the pages to have the same number of words on slightly fewer pages. ”

HA!

That’s similar to the reason I use Garamond instead of Times Roman on NSF grant applications. There is a hard 15 page limit usually. The kerning on Garamond is slightly more efficient, to the point that I get the equivalent of an additional half page to pour forth my wisdom. It looks close enough to Times that, in a pdf, reviewers don’t know the difference.

I find it interesting that so many commenters assumed Jaime is male. I’d assumed female based on the excerpts that Tor published in advance of the release date. It made me go “Wait, what?” when I heard Wil was doing the narration for the audiobook, because usually books with female protagonists are read by women. I didn’t consider that Jaime might be male until that point.

In other news, nice to hear that Dispatcher 3 is completed, and hoping Audible decides to release it sometime this year; I love that series.

Just a compliment. You’ve never left a loaded gun on the mantle that didn’t go off, you have a knack for making me really care about your heroes and really hate your villains, and I’ve never regretted picking up one of your books. I’ve also never put one in the DNF pile.

Funny, I noticed Jamie’s gender nonspecificity and basically flipped a coin and it came up male…whereas when reading Lock In my mind deliberately left Chris Shane in the Schrödinger state, neither/both male/female. Maybe because Chris-the-character doesn’t really “inhabit” their body in the way that Jamie does.

Clearly, Jamie’s gender is left undefined to give the potential director maximum flexibility on casting the role :) .

Seriously, I’m with Don in that the lack of creepy behavior, or even a mention of Jamie carrying pepper spray while deliverating, had me assuming male. That said, the book reads just as well if I shift gears to a female Jamie.

I love the Hungarian cover art, and count one more vote for KPS merchandise. (I have the laptop sticker for pre-ordering, but a mug to go beside the laptop would be nice.)

I never picked up at all on Jaime not having any assigned gender. Just like I never noticed it with Chris Shane. It never even occurred to me to be worried about it. The story sucked me in and kept me laughing too much to nitpick that detail.

@Dana. I would 1000% buy and wear a KPS member T-shirt! I hope John makes it happen!

I’ve got 4 cousins on my Dad’s side. Robin, Chris, Dana, and Mike. All women. (Mike did later change her name to something a bit more feminine for Professional Reasons.)

Funny thing is, Uncle was extremely conservative even by Hanford California standards.

Huh. Thought Jamie was female, starting with an excerpt read by JS (pre-publication). But I’d say the dominant affect was young. I am neither of those things, myself.

Huh. I just read Jamie as male, given the name, tech-bro adjacency, and bring a delivery person. I’m not a particularly careful reader, so I didn’t notice that there was anything to be noticed!

I’m fine with trans/non-binary characters, but given your reluctance to write descriptions, as you yourself have said, Niamh just comes across as surly and not much else. I hope the real trans and non-binary people you know have more personality!

The book is fine, by the way, exactly the sort of light, enjoyable romp you wanted it to be.

I totally missed Jamie not having a stated gender!

I remember that coming up at your book signing for Lock In in Seattle, as it was like the first or second question and most of the audience hadn’t read the book yet so there may have been some hissing at the person who asked the question “Why didn’t you specify Chris’ gender?”

I assumed Jamie to be a guy, because when I think startups, I think dudes. I can’t wait until my husband finishes and ask him how he sees Jamie!

My wife and I very much enjoyed KPS. We got two copies for your appearance in Chapel Hill. One’s on a shelf in our personal library. The other we gave to our public library, in hopes that it will be enjoyed again and again.

I didn’t even noticed we never had any description of Jaime or gender identification clues. Being an old white man, I naturally read it as a male character. It was only reading other comments about it that I saw what he had done, to which I say, Well Done :) There was no awkwardness at all in the story because of this, so it’s a nice subtle attempt to open up the possibilities of a character.

As I said on Twitter, I found myself just stopping several times and smiling. It’s that kind of a feel good book. For me, OMW will always be my favorite, but this is certainly the funnest book since Redshirts, and considering what we went through in 2019 and 2020, just what we needed.

Tor made the decision to design the pages to
have the same number of words on slightly
fewer pages.

true story: while reading the dead tree edition of this book, I discovered that I really did need reading glasses.

That I was going to need reading glasses (someday) was not a surprise, as I am the last in my family not to need glasses. But this particular dead tree edition was the thing which forced me to realize: “my brain is working way too hard” on this…. I now need glasses….

I listen to audiobooks on my commute (about 35 minutes), and I’ve been enjoying a Scalzi-a-thon for the last couple of months.

I bought the audio version of KPS the day it came out. I laughed out loud listening to it. I got to end and immediately went back to the beginning. Then did that again. And again. I just finished my fourth time through, and jumped over to listen to Redshirts.

Thank you for KPS. I needed a pop song, and this hit the spot perfectly.

Also – I’m totally with the folks requesting merchandise.

Whelp I am #47 on hold at my library, so it’ll be a few more weeks.

Absent a described gender for the POV character (and sometimes with descriptions; I am not the most careful of readers), I (a cis women) read the character as having the gender of the author. Whether I am picking up on some subtle, unintended language usage, or it’s a protective holdover from when scifi could not write women, I do not know.

As a side note, Murderbot very clearly genders itself as it, though I do have an unfortunate habit of referring to it as “they”. Pesky English.

Loved KPS

( I also love physics and chemistry due to my primary education and hobby of model rocketry but it is evident early on – removing likely not clever joke from here – that Saturday Morning Live Action Power Ranger Physics are present, lampshaded, then gotten drunk at the neighborhood drinking place )

After reading the above people’s comments, in my personal head cannon, Jamie is androgynous and aromantic, and looks suspiciously like my friend that is both ( helps that my friend is tall, loves SciFi, a world traveler, went to the equivalent of MIT, speaks multiple languages, and has a very high solitude index )

I find it strange that you seem so focused on frequently telling us all that Kaiju is supposed to be a lighter work.

Maybe it has more to do with your own writing process or something to do with the publishing/PR side of things – in which case making such a distinction would make perfect sense.

To me it reads like a Scalzi novel. And sure, some of them are more overtly “fun” than others – nobody is likely to confuse Redshirts with and of the Old Man’s War books, but for me the essential Scalziness is always there. The serious books have light moments, the lighter books have serious moments. And there’s usually a serious element of “fish out of water” or “normal person thrust into unusual situation” to it somewhere.

And of course I can tell when you’re intentionally skewing toward the inherent comedy and when you’re intentionally skewing toward the more serious.

I didn’t see Kaiju as light and fluffy, or a potato chip of a novel. I saw it as just damn good writing.

From the first page I assumed Jaime was a woman, and I wouldn’t have said anything on the matter, but so many people on this page have said they saw Jaime as male and I struggle to say why I don’t. If I had time to go back through the book I’d find a few examples of passages that gave me the impression but it’s not like it’s that important.

I was reading reviews of Michael Connally’s latest book and there were whiners there complaining about setting the book in the covid era and that he was forcing his pro vaccine propaganda on the readers. Bunch of snowflakes

I also as an older white guy read Jamie as male, it did not even occur to me that it was open for interpretation. I think in a few weeks I will reread it with Jamie as female it will be interesting if it changes other perspectives in the book.

I’ve listened to the audiobook twice and never noticed the ambiguity of Jamie. I just assumed male and probably because it wasn’t specified and partly because it was Wil Wheaton narrating (he does great female voices, too, though). Now I’m going to listen to it again and imagine Jamie as female, just for fun.

I NEVER thought of Chris Shane as anything but male, but I haven’t listened to the female narrator’s version yet. Now I must go find that!

Back in 1956 Rose Macaulay published The Towers of Trebizond, with a narrating character who only revealed gender at the end, so it’s been done, and that’s OK. Like most people I tend to assign gender, though in youth I thought being androgynous was the way to go. Then I noticed that I wanted to know, when I saw someone who wasn’t instantly identifiable, so I thought it was only fair to signal it. So I do. Anyhow, I thought Jaime sometimes came off as female and sometimes as male. I like to lift things myself, just that is not definitive. I am content to remain undecided on Jaime, since it doesn’t matter. I also liked that Covid was part of the story. Network TV shows seem to not have been able to cope with reality there (not that I watch that many), so I was glad to see it take its place. I also thought the delivery conversations seemed a little leisurely for real life, not that I ever order that. However, the book is on the shelf, ready for whenever it seems right to read again. Thanks for that.

my only complaint about KPS is too few words… another volume or two… please… alternatively setting it up as a shared universe and accepting short stories from others would make for an expanding universe… my first choice would be writing about a third timeline… someone finds KPS timeline and decides “heck, great place to dump radioactive waste”… and complications ensue…

gender issues? = shrug = …much as every other expansion of ‘citizen franchise’ this is a matter of outliving the bigots and enduring legal challenges until legislation catches up… so yeah non-binary & trans-gender make us uncomfortable, our right to disagree but not our right to interfere… we each decide what filters in (or out) potential friends…

as to the visuals… yeah… better teevee mini-series with 13 episodes with character development than a 90 minute big screen mess…

I’m another who had Jamie down as almost certainly male. As a woman’s name on this side of the pond, it makes hen’s teeth seem plentiful by comparison; a Kim, Kay, Chris or even a Charlie would probably have made me think a bit more. Also, even when living in London (albeit pre-pandemic), I’ve quite literally never had my takeaway delivered by a woman.

It’s funny. I noticed from the beginning that Jamie’s gender was unspecified (grew up reading too many mystery novels where the narrator’s gender was concealed), but I always envisioned her as female. I’ve tried reading her as male, but it doesn’t work for me. A female Jamie is just more interesting to me.
Non-binary is another fine option, as the KPS clearly has no issue with diversity.

Noted the gender ambiguity about two thirds of way in, and wasn’t sure if the spoiler window had closed (so i didn’t ask about it) but I could see Jaime’s gender going either way. I’ve known both male and female Jaime’s. As has been stated above, the other box carrier was proudly female, so that was OK.

I loved Kaiju Preservation Society! I didn’t even notice Jaime’s non-gender, although as a parent of a transgender teen, I deeply appreciated the inclusion of nonbinary and queer characters. I read Jaime as male, solely because the occupational arc from ridiculous start-up to delivery person to “hired for lifting” read as very male to me (almost certainly because this is a similar career arc to several male people I know IRL). Interestingly enough, I read Murderbot as female although I couldn’t tell you why exactly. It was a lovely novel, and as others have said, I appreciate your willingness to grapple with some of the ramifications of Covid in a world that would like to forget it ever happened. I suspect time and generational perspective will bring Covid back into fictional reality, as today’s young people grow up and remember these very strange years.

by a barely functioning robot, whose repeating line was “whatever you say Tor”

@ cupertino jay: That would be Joan Vinge’s absolutely fantastic The Snow Queen, with the `barely functioning’ part also being a bit ambiguous, if not in quite the same way as Jamie’s gender.

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