Reader Request Week 2023: Get Your Requests In!

John Scalzi

It turns out that next week is the first week in a while where I am not traveling and/or am slammed by work, so you know what that means: It’s an excellent time to do the annual Reader Request Week, in which you pick the topics, and I write about them! No topic is too big or too small, too controversial or too mundane — if it’s something you always wanted to see me expound upon, this is your chance to get me to do it. Go ahead! Make me dance for your entertainment! Just post your suggested topics in the comment thread here, and I will start writing them up on Monday, May 1st.

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 topics 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. 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 social media, 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 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

From 2019:

Reader Request Week 2019 #1: Strange Experiences
Reader Request Week 2019 #2: The War Between the Generations
Reader Request Week 2019 #3: Blogging With Extreme Confidence
Reader Request Week 2019 #4: The Things You Outgrow
Reader Request Week 2019 #5: Civility
Reader Request Week 2019 #6: Being Entertained as an Artist
Reader Request Week 2019 #7: How My Wife Can Stand Me
Reader Request Week 2019 #8: 13-Year-Old Me
Reader Request Week 2019 #9: Writing Short Bits
Reader Request Week 2019 #10: Short Bits

From 2020:

Reader Request Week 2020 #1: Being Politically Persuaded
Reader Request Week 2020 #2: The Hellish Swill I Consume
Reader Request Week 2020 #3: Becoming More Ourselves
Reader Request Week 2020 #4: What It’s Like To Be a Cis Straight Man
Reader Request Week 2020 #5: Me and Sports
Reader Request Week 2020 #6: Pulling Punches in Criticism
Reader Request Week 2020 #7: Cover Songs
Reader Request Week 2020 #8: What It Means to Be Dead
Reader Request Week 2020 #9: Writing Short Bits
Reader Request Week 2020 #10: Short Bits

From 2021:

Reader Request Week 2021 #1: Creative Kids in a Computer Age
Reader Request Week 2021 #2: Book Numbers
Reader Request Week 2021 #3: Teaching “The Classics”
Reader Request Week 2021 #4: Living on a Boat
Reader Request Week 2021 #5: American Fascism
Reader Request Week 2021 #6: Krissy and Dogs
Reader Request Week 2021 #7: Does Money Satisfy?
Reader Request Week 2021 #8: Local Favorites
Reader Request Week 2021 #9: Short Writery Bits
Reader Request Week 2021 #10: Short Bits

From 2022:

Reader Request Week 2022 #1: My “Man-Cred”
Reader Request Week 2022 #2: How to Be Pretty Happy
Reader Request Week 2022 #3: Travel in the New Age
Reader Request Week 2022 #4: Rogue One
Reader Request Week 2022 #5: The Clawback of Rights in the USA
Reader Request Week 2022 #6: High School Reunions
Reader Request Week 2022 #7: Space Exploration
Reader Request Week 2022 #8: Whatever, Changing
Reader Request Week 2022 #9: Short Bits, Part One
Reader Request Week 2022 #10: Short Bits, Part Two

So: What do you want me to write about? Let me know in the comments!

— JS

121 Comments on “Reader Request Week 2023: Get Your Requests In!”

  1. Oh, and two things:

    One, the comment thread is for making a topic request only, any comments that try to engage other comments will be deleted;

    Two, if I think your “topic request” is actually an attempt to troll, I’ll just vaporize it.

    With those two things noted, fire away!

  2. I really, truly need Krissy to tell me her hair secrets. Her hair is always amazing. I’m making my silver journey (goodbye Red Headed Hope) and I need to know what voodoo Krissy does to keep herself looking amazing. I’m being serious, here, Scalzi.

  3. People’s right to be trans should not be up for discussion. Should trans people have the automatic right to compete in all sports? Is it fair to ciswomen to be obliged to compete against transwomen whose different anatomy and physiology give them an advantage?

  4. As your career has advanced, I assume you’ve accumulated the usual portfolio of professional contractors to take care of the various specialty tasks that business endeavors require—accounting, legal, etc. (E.g., I’m pretty sure you mentioned how you have an amazing accountant in a recent post; too lazy to go looking and find.)

    I’m curious about your experience of the process of searching for, engaging, testing, and finally selecting-for-the-long-term the individuals you trust these various super-important-but-gawd-do-I-not-want-to-do-them-myself tasks.

    How many accountants, lawyers, portfolio managers, real estate agents, etc. did you work with before settling in for the long haul with the ones you have now? How hard was it? How long did it take? Words of advice? Pitfalls to watch out for?


  5. Could you talk a bit about your plans for your music? Any plans to do more than dabble? Any plans to try to make money off it, or will it always just be a hobby for you (and Krissy!)?

  6. What are your (current) thoughts on liking problematic things, and/or learning that things you like are problematic? There’s more than one author whose stuff I [used to] like, but after learning about their personal beliefs/behaviors, I can’t read them without noticing indicators of those things in their work. Where’s the line between “this is just the way people were back then” and “this isn’t okay and never really was”?

  7. You have this giant lawn. I don’t get the sense you do much more than mow it (or rather, Krissy mows it). What do you use your giant yard for? Throwing balls for the dog, I’m sure, and taking photographs of yourself in dresses, but do you ever picnic in your yard? Did Athena have camp-outs? What does one do with a giant lawn?

  8. I’d love to see your thoughts about human intelligence – vs AI, chatGPT and the like. Seems to me chatGPT is all about faking a good conversation, lol. So there.

  9. I’d like to hear your thoughts on independent publishing. Not necessarily Amazon in particular, but they are obviously the giant elephant in the room. They provide a way for authors to skip the gauntlet of agents and publishers and get their work out into the world. This naturally means a lot of garbage gets published, but a lot of good work that never would have seen the light of day as well.

  10. Knowing you live out in there in the farmlands, I wonder about your take on the farmland vs. solar farms controversy, which could be expanded to include wind farms.

  11. Stained Glass
    Does the Stained Glass in your church have a story?
    For example in one church dad served in, he asked if the windows were insured. They looked into it. They found that a famed glassmaker had designed and made them just after the civil war.

  12. Certain SF authors I enjoy, self-publish and manage to produce a full-blown novel every six months. These tend to be in a series. I like them. I also like what you write.

    I have not noticed a particular drop in quality from these self-published authors. [a minor edit may help to be honest]

    If you started again, would you maintain the process of agent, publisher, editor, release timing, review copy distribution; or would you prefer the economies of scale of going it alone.

  13. What’s your music recording/production workflow? How do you go from idea to published recording? What order do you do things in, what tools do you use, what works well, what do you wish worked better, how do you want to improve your art?

  14. This is along the lines of Karen A. Wyle’s request. I hear noise in the political arena about changes to Social Security. You may be someone who’s not dependent on Social Security for a retirement revenue stream. As such, I wonder if you’d share your thoughts on the talk about making major changes to Social Security’s revenue stream, benefit age, and or Medicare.

  15. Now that you have a few mysteries under your belt, how do you think your career arc might have gone if the coin toss had fallen the other way, and you’d set out to write a mystery? Also, what sort of mystery would you have set out to write? I think gritty police procedurals and serial killers were what was selling at the time, though there were a few historicals and PIs with odd jobs too. I can kind of see you fitting into a Donald Westlake/Lawrence Block (on his lighter side) sort of niche.

  16. Blago beat me to it asking your thoughts on AI (like ChatGPT), but I want to be more specific in asking: do you think AI programs will be a detriment or a useful tool when it comes to writing or other creative professions? Would it ever replace our jobs completely? I’m going into UX/UI design and I can’t help but think about this a lot.

  17. Would like to get your perspective on how screwed we (as Democrats or non- Rs) are with Joe Biden running again? Actually like him (or rather like NOT having a fascist in office) but very concerned about 2024.


  18. When I was reading Travel By Bullet, I noticed that characters mentioned “the pandemic” but nobody actually said “COVID” or “coronavirus,” etc. Was there a specific reason for that? (I know some websites are circumspect for SEO purposes and to avoid getting flagged when their articles are shared on social media, but I’m not sure if anything like that would apply to published fiction.)

  19. This sort of goes along with a couple questions above. You’ve lived in both urban and rural settings. If I am not mistaken, you guys live in where you live due to having family in the area. Over the years that I have been reading your posts, I have formed the impression that you have the soul of an urbanite rather than that of a ruralite which is probably not a word. I am curious to know what your perspective is on rural living from the point of view of someone who might be more comfortable in an urban setting.

  20. John… This is a variation of a question The Beloved(tm) and I ask of museum guards around the globe: (Ghu Forbid) Imagine the Scalzi Compound is going to disappear in a puff of smoke. You get to carry ONE thing out. You have super-human powers. You can take something teensy-tiny or as big as an elephant. Note: shiny gold coins and family members are excluded from the Take One objects. What’s that object?

  21. Maybe a couple:

    1) Book banning by the RWNJs – has the movement got legs? Though obviously the legs will need to be covered to below the ankles and wearing sensible shoes.

    2) AI ChatGPT etc – is this the new blockchain obsession, a technology few understand but many hype, that will eventually fade away like the digital magic beans/cryptocurrency? It’s so far off from any semblance of intelligence that I don’t understand the hype – many articles have been generated by rules for ages, such as baseball game reports (from box scores) and financial earnings release. Or am I missing something and need to welcome our new robot overlords?

  22. I’m curious about your thoughts on the future of social media, beyond the current doom-spiral of Twitter and the struggle to figure out a replacement for that.

    I keep thinking of all the ways social media has been used in the past, particularly in countries where speech is more limited, and lament the loss of the digital public square that Twitter used to represent for so many. Yet I don’t believe that the fall of Twitter necessarily means the death of that public square.

    So what do you think is likely to take on that roll? Another social media platform? Or something else altogether?

  23. I’m considerably older than you are (turning 70 this year) so my education was probably different from yours. And it is certainly different from what kids in school learn now. I was away for the month of March exploring what Texas had to offer. While I was away 3 grandnephews and 1 grandniece had birthdays. I thought they might enjoy getting a physical card in the mail with a US postage stamp on it (I’m Canadian) so at least a week before their actual birthday I wrote out a card and mailed it. When I say wrote I mean cursive writing; I never even considered printing because these kids are all at least 10 years old. Turns out at least 2 of them could not read cursive and their mom had to read it to them. We had a discussion over Easter Dinner about this and most of the people of the next generation didn’t think there was any need for people to read or write in cursive. I’m interested in what you think of this curriculum change. Personally, I think it’s a shame. How are future historians going to do research into anything from before the 21st century if they can’t read handwriting?

  24. It could be argued we’ve reached (or even surpassed) Peak Streaming. For television and limited series, I’ve noticed more streamers going to the HBO model of release (new eps released on a weekly schedule) rather than the Netflix “dump the entire season all at once” model. Personally, I abhor the one episode a week release model, and stubbornly refuse to watch a new season of a show until all episodes are available. Do you have a preference in release models, or are you a normal person?

  25. What’s your favorite show on Netflix, and why? If you don’t have Netflix, but do have another streamer, sub a different company.

    I’m mainly interested in why you enjoy the things you do.

  26. I’ve noticed a fair amount of fuss over “the right to repair,” not just for farm equipment, but stuff like printers (open ink) and soft ice cream machines (why the one at the fast food place is always broken). How would you like to give us your take?

  27. I’m British, and I’m curious what you (Americans in general, but obviously you in particular) make of the way we determine our head of state?

    With the death of the Queen last year, the great wheels of tradition in our unwritten constitution turned. It is weird but I think it somehow works in maintaining stability (wry nod to the events around the USA changing its head of state in recent years – although of course we’ve had our share of political chaos in the UK thanks to other parts of our system).

    Just as an amusing underscoring of the weirdness, here’s a 2016 photo of your head of state meeting two guys who are now scheduled to be our next two heads of state:

  28. I’d like to read your thoughts on how useful ( if at all ) it would be for there to be a sane centre-right political party in the US, and if it could be successful.

  29. I had a really good question a while back but I forgot to write it down. (Remembering the actual question was never an option.)
    So how’s YOUR memory holding up?

  30. If you become a grandparent, do you plan on shamelessly spoiling the little angel(s), filling them with sugar and self-esteem? More generally, do you feel that kids would benefit from a more intergenerational familial upbringing than is typical in the USA?

  31. Much of the current angst over developments in AI have to do with what AI may do to us, but I’m also curious about what we do to ourselves when effective artificial general intelligence (AGI) is sooner or later developed. AGI being AI that can functionally replace a human in a very wide range of generalized tasks — effectively becoming a replacement for human labor.
    Given past examples of “bread and circuses” and the lifestyles of the idle rich, I’m curious what you suppose people will do and how will they choose to live — post-AGI/singularity disruptions and our presumed/hoped for survival — when “work” becomes an entirely optional activity for an entire society?

  32. Two Questions:
    1) With the renewed popularity of Table Top Role Playing Games (TTRPG) is there a game that you have played and if so what is your favorite type of character to play (ex. Dwarf warrior or Failed Jedi)? Bigger scope – why haven’t we seen the moral police attacking TTRPGs like they did back in the 80’s.

    2) Do you have a favorite place to visit in the Mid-West / Great Lakes region not linked to a Convention? If so why?

  33. Something that occurred to me to wonder about, a while ago: as someone who grew up poor, how do you feel about your daughter’s attitude towards money? I’ve seen posts from her where she talks in a fairly casual way about spending what to me (also upper middle class! pretty close to your age!) seem like eye-watering amounts. (There’s a post I recall in particular where she talked about going to a local craft market, though I can’t find it in a quick search.) And she’s posted about buying lots of stuff that she doesn’t use, here and here.

    I realize this is a bit of a personal question, and if too much so then I apologize. If you’d rather not answer, you can always just…not. And that’s cool.

  34. Following up on the question regarding old favorites that we now see as problematic, do you have any thoughts on modern historical novels whose characters do and say things that might be realistic for the time the novel is set in (and for the specific characters) but would be problematic in the present. I’ve been pondering this for the past six months or so, since I read Cloud Atlas. I almost put it down part way through the first section, due to overt racism, and then again part way through the second section, due to overt anti-Semitism. It was fairly clear what the author was doing, but still hard to read.

  35. Tired of stories about the multiverse? I’m beginning to get weary especially since I am beginning to recognize tropes in the various movies/novels on the topic.

    Have you considered writing a novel or story about the multiverse?

  36. Lately I find that every time I notice something beautiful from nature, a fat bee looking for pollen, say, all I can think is in 10 years this bee will be so screwed. Particularly think these thoughts about bees, birds, butterflies and various other wild things in flora and fauna. I am a pessimist by nature, but I’m curious how you envision the future in terms of losing birds and butterflies. Of course, the world changes always in many ways, but I still feel sad to think that in 10-15 yrs a child likely won’t be able to go outside and see the butterflies or birds I grew up with. Present the optimist point of view please and tell me how wrong I am.

  37. What are your thoughts on Fermi’s Paradox? Do you believe there is intelligent life/civilizations on other worlds? If so, why have we not noticed them, or why have they not contacted us. I know this also factors into whether or not there is faster-than-light travel, feel free to riff in whatever detail you wish.

  38. Given your experience in various creative endeavors, how do you think advancements in technology will influence the way artists collaborate and create new forms of art (including music and any form of art generally).

  39. I’m with the folks who want to hear more weird lore about your church building. Are there ghosts or other stories about its previous life, or how it was built or what with?

  40. Re: Russia’s misinformation firehose and the reduced belief in Russia about factual information being available and trustable, and the right-wing misinformation firehose already causing me some strain to check whether someone said something or not and we’re likely to get more of it because of AI: Do you have any tips for staying sane and not just mobbing? Do you have any tips for engaging constructively with people who have been convinced that no truth is accessible outside their leaders? (who often contradict themselves over the course of a month, but you don’t notice that when the fear and hate stream is rapid enough to disallow reflective thought, and even when it’s pointed out, “mistakes” seem to generally be perceived as less of a problem than the fake “problems” that they’re fighting)

    What can we do about this as individuals? How do we maintain mental health in a red state?

  41. I have one question and one meta-question.

    Question: There are a number of Big Things that have large groups of people concerned they could potentially end Life As We Know It (or just plain Life) on this planet. Unchecked global warming is one example, it draws a lot of attention. Is there anything smaller-scale that’s flying mostly under the radar that you’re concerned could, if left unchecked, have a similar scale impact on the world? What’s the “Spanish Inquisition” threat that we should really watch out for?

    Meta-question: John, are you going to answer all the questions you select for Reader Request Week 2023 or would you offer to let Athena weigh in on some of them that interest her? I know the two of you may have very different perspectives on some of the topics already asked in this comment thread.

  42. Lots of authors talk about how lucky they are to have good readers. What makes someone a “good” reader? How does one become a “good” reader? I’m specifically interested in quality over quantity. I also don’t mean being able to read for work, or in a professional context, but reading for entertainment or pleasure.

  43. Given the current attacks on libraries and librarians, what do you think the future of school and public libraries looks like going forward?

  44. [Deleted because as noted above, comments replying to other comments will be parsed out — JS]

  45. I’d like to know about your thoughts on the book ban crusade some regressives are currently pursuing.
    Do you think it will be/has been successful in suppressing discussion of certain topics, or the reverse?
    Is it affecting or likely to affect the way publishers choose and edit their books?
    It has been discussed that the big publishers themselves have been reluctant to weigh in on the subject. Is that likely to change?

  46. What do you read when the choice is purely yours? Science fiction or fantasy for pleasure or “homework”? Non-sf/f for a break? Non-fiction as research for the book you are writing now or will be writing next?

  47. Are you interested in any organized sports, professional or not? Which ones?

  48. Writing from Australia, the elephant that’s always in the room when it comes to the USA is … guns!
    Is it me, or is it bleeding obvious that the more of these things you have around, the more they’re going to get used for what they’re designed to do? Most of my American friends agree with this of course – but then many of them have guns as well (laugh emoji).
    Your opinion Mr S?

  49. ChatGPT (and others) and copyright.
    Should anyone be able to claim copyright for something produced by ChatGPT?
    I’m sure Disney & co would insist they hold copyright for any product that has used ChatGPT, but would an author want to even admit they used it to get over, say, writer’s block.
    At the other end, liability. If a copyrighted ChatGPT product were to “accidently” plagiarize should the author be liable as if they had written it themselves?

  50. I often look back on a year and wonder: what would George Carlin think of what happened THIS year? My reception of his ideas always exist in a dichotomy: an appreciation for the way he used and talked about language to uncover truths on humanity, butted against just how “objective” (and therefore often insensitive) towards people he could be to arrive at those truths.

    The dichotomy makes this yearly game fun. Anyway, what are a couple topics from the past twelve months that you think he would be bringing up if he were alive and ready to deliver a 2023 HBO special?

  51. How’s the Big Damn Contract going? Hard to believe it’s been 8 years.

    Not that any of this is our business of course, but since you’ve talked about it a fair amount, your avid readers are curious.

    Are you satisfied with the deal you got? From Tors perspective are they satisfied with what they are getting? How is the schedule for the 13 books?

    (Yes. This reader has enjoyed the ones you’ve delivered so far).

  52. Architecture and interior design.

    I have a guest room that goes unused for all but 4 days a year and want to change it into something useful. Thing is, I also want my parents to be comfortable when/if they stay.

    I’ve also been diving into VR games lately and have been making space in the living room for it. I don’t know if new houses have changed the design of game rooms and theaters to accommodate, but it’s an idea!

    What are your general thoughts on house layouts as well as single v multifamily buildings?

  53. Since you’ve had a child in high school relatively recently, and generally seem to be somebody who thinks about education and quality of education, what are your opinions on the AP program? Worth it? Not worth it?

  54. I’ve met a lot of young(er) people who aren’t planning on having kids because the future’s so dim, they need IR goggles. And yet, science keeps on making amazing advances.

    It does seem that our species is plausibly both doomed to crash and burn AND about to reach for the planets, if not the stars (yet). Since it can’t (probably) do both, what’s your optimism level on the Mad Max/Star Trek scale?


  55. If you could rewrite your “Being Poor” essay with the title “Being Rich” how would it go

  56. Wow, I’ve been reading your blog for the past few years and this is the first year a topic immediately jumped into my mind.

    Quick sum up: What are your thoughts about your family, specifically your wife and daughter, remaining in Ohio for the long term due to its strict limits on abortion and the spillover from this into other aspects of women’s healthcare?

    Specifically, I’m thinking about news stories of women being denied access to desperately needed arthritis medication because that medicine could be considered an abortifacient and they “might” get pregnant while on the medication. Or of a woman who had already gone through menopause having to have her doctor wrangle the pharmacy to dispense pills she needed for some urgent uterine issue, because the pharmacy claimed she couldn’t “prove” that she couldn’t get pregnant and therefore wasn’t using the pills for a secret abortion.

    As a ciswoman who lives in another state with a strict ban, I’ve been spending some time lately thinking about whether I can remain in my home or if I need to think about leaving the state for my long term health needs as I accumulate age related health issues. I love my house, I like my job, and the odds of me needing an abortion are extremely low (and I am fortunate enough to have the means I could travel and take care of it) (this is not to discount the issue for all the people who don’t have these resources). I am also disabled in a way that makes it exhausting to think about moving and starting over somewhere else. But it’s scary to think about the fallout from not having access to medical care due to that care tangentially, potentially being related to abortion in any way. I’m waiting a few years before making a decision to see where the “safe” states are going to end up being, but I’m curious if this is an issue you, Krissy, and Athena have considered for yourselves.

  57. I am a deeply religious person (orthodox Judaism) who gets a great deal of enjoyment out of being religious. When humanity does start exploring the stars, settling other planets (or space stations) how do you see that affecting religious practice and belief of the religions people currently practice here on earth today? Thanks, long time fan of your work!

  58. Cult TV shows.

    (I can think of multiple angles on this topic, but am curious to see which angle you take.)

  59. I’ve been thinking a lot about hope lately. Recently, I left a 12-year stint in teaching because I was beginning to feel burnt-out. Thinking about it further, I’ve realised that feeling was connected to me losing the feeling that the future will be better. At a core level, I simply no longer believe that.

    I still find meaning in everyday interactions and do not have a moment to moment motivational problem, but in the longer perspective, I have lost hope that things will improve broadly for the world.

    In your professional work, hope seems ambiguous. Although the “good guys” often prevail in your plots, your worlds are more often than not deeply cynical places, where irony is the default way of engaging successfully with the world on a personality level.

    In your personal life, you engage deeply in your community, are of course a parent – which pretty much requires some hope – and present a pretty optimistic outlook. It seems more hopeful than what is depicted in your work.

    What is your relationship with hope and do you have any advice for someone who has found themselves having somewhat lost it? Professional or personal advice is both welcome.

  60. So: if you feel (as I do) that the country is in a more-than-its-usual-solid-state-mess–how does it get better? I’m less looking for a prescription (or even a prediction) here than I am for a story about how the US reeled itself back from the edge. Because in my own writer’s head, I can write the stuff that comes fifty years from now, but I keep bogging down in the chapters that get from here to there.

  61. I was recently asked in a political survey what I thought the biggest problem facing my state was. How would you answer such a question, and would your answer change if the question was changed to “facing the country” or “facing the world”? How do you prioritize problems outside of your direct control?

  62. With the current sharp brake on globalization and the resurgence of nationalisms, what do you see beyond the near horizon and slightly farther? On the global scenario and-or, in particular, related to the peculiar multiethnic and multicultural nature of the USA, and of course the counter to that represented by the eclectic and ever shifting flavors of American nationalism.

  63. J.K. Rowling. You’ve touched on it briefly before, but I wonder if you have fuller thoughts now. I really really loved the books and would still be rereading them, but I don’t think I can now. I’m so bewildered and saddened by the tone she is taking. And I always feel like I’m interacting with the author when I read, so I don’t think I can separate my feelings about the author from the books.

  64. Given that you used to be a film critic/reviewer, I’m curious how streaming services have changed your movie viewing habits.

    For example, do you tend to watch certain types of movies in a theatre and others at home?

    Also, thanks very much for your books and blog. I very much find them a enjoyable experience, especially in current times.

  65. Having finally gotten the chance to stream through Stargate Universe: The show really seemed to take off in the back half of its second and final season with the ongoing plot around the automated attack ships before being curtailed the last couple of episodes in order to wrap things up. How much of that plotline, if any, was yours, and how did trying to weave in a complicated novel-length SF concept like that into a weekly serial play out?

  66. Maybe not your favorite book (that’s just cruel) but one of your absolute favorite books, at the age of a) 10; b) 20; c) 30; d) 40 .

  67. In The Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies, you presented a canon of the 50 most important films of that genre. In the 17+ years since that book was released, have there been any films released which you would consider worthy of inclusion in the canon? If so, which ones? And a related question, would you remove some films to maintain the list at 50 films, or simply expand it to 52 or 55 or some other number? If you would remove films, which ones?

  68. How does a citizen of the United States think about the so-called “Global South”? How does that shows in your writing, if at all?

    I’m from Argentina, FWIW: my interest isn’t just theoretical.

  69. It’s been a while, I think, since you gave your opinion on current genre cinema, so… the Marvel films. In light of disappointing reactions to the recent phase, what do you think the future holds for the Marvel cinematic universe?

  70. Do you think we (humans) will ever have, given an infinite timeline, a real “world government”?

  71. How about an update of your 2010 “Some Whatever Stats Geekery For You”.

    And also, “How to get the site to STOP sending me notifications of new comments”.
    ( I thought that posting a new comment with the box un-checked would work.)

  72. I’ve been following your posts about the Old Church with interest, and would love to hear more about it. Could we have a progress update, please? How will having this space support your current activities, and how do you see it being used in the future?

    (This question has a wider background, in that I read that piece by Jason Kehe about Brandon Sanderson–whose work I heard about through your blog–and became interested in how writers create, manage, and sustain a business based on their work.)

    Thanks in advance for answering questions, looking forward to reading the Reader Response Week posts.

  73. Sometimes in your Twitter feed you would mention that the Internet had sent you some treat. The internet never sends me anything unless I order it. Promotional items, due to your fame? A cute way of saying you treated yourself? Trivial, yet I wondered.

  74. Heya John,

    Kind of silly, but I keep thinking about the new bluechecks on Twitter and a comedy bit about how they’re like redshirts.

  75. How to overcome the lack of funding for dolphin acoustic communication research?

  76. Lock In is one of my favorites. And since the pandemic, it really seems prescient. I think you have probably moved on from that series any way, but I am curious if you think it is even possible to continue it in the wake of the actual pandemic. It would be challenging to balance that universe with what we now know about a 21st century pandemic.

  77. Starting from now, if every person aged 40 and under voted in all elections (including primaries) would the future be more utopian or dystopian?

  78. I was going to ask something similar to Stephen K Stan ford.

    Do you think that Americans can ever reach a compromise between the desire for gun ownership and curtailing the high number of gun deaths and mass shootings?

    To the rest of the world, where gun ownership is restricted and gun deaths are so rare they make headlines, the situation in America is puzzling at best.

  79. If IP wasn’t an issue, what book or series would you write from another writers work? What would be the general plot line and why would you choose that? Another Conan book, IA, Tolkien etc.

  80. Let’s chat genres. I think how we divide books up is sometimes fascinating. For instance are the Dispatcher series and Locked In series more properly considered mystery or science fiction? What are key elements that make something science fiction vs fantasy? Would you say Star Wars has more elements of fantasy than science fiction? What about Dune?What are your favorite example of books that refuse to fit into genres and what’s a genre you’d like to try someday? (Epic fantasy by John Scalzi?) Discuss!

  81. Steven Pinker has written many words (with supporting data and graphs) arguing that Things Are Getting Better, both generally and specifically. He admits that this is not a monotonic trend, and that it’s not evenly distributed. So is what we’re seeing now in the US the beginning of a long-term reverse, or the last gasp of a dying reactionary movement, or something else?

  82. Where do you lean on the “nature vs nurture” spectrum for how parents raise kids? How much of a child’s successes and failures are accredible to the parents, their environment, and themselves?

  83. I have a friend who is a friend of a fantasy writer I adore… My only issue is that a current series of hers is set in the San Francisco Bay Area but is aggressively not multiethnic. As a writer, how do you introduce plausible characters and is it important that they match real world diversity?

  84. You once made the following comment about reddit and I wonder if this is the year you decide to expand on it:

    We could have an entirely different discussion about how Reddit embodies the Walmart-ization of online communities — migrating communities which used to exist disconnectively online under a single roof — and what that’s meant for the dynamics of online discourse, but it’s a big topic and I don’t want to get distracted. Nevertheless, put a pin in that concept. It’s worth thinking about.

  85. As a Brit, the only feel I have for your country is from the newspapers and TV coverage of its problems. I get the distinct feeling from some of these sources that it’s well on the way to physically tearing itself apart, with a very real chance of secession along blue/red lines.
    Do you think this is impossible/unlikely/possible/probable/certain? Can the USA heal the apparently unrepairable breaches in its psyche?

  86. How do you write humor?
    Not just writing things that are funny, but balancing it well. Not too jokey, not too dark, avoiding endless banter, etc.
    Do you have to do a “humor check” editing pass? Do you often adjust?

  87. One I suspect for Thursday, May the Fourth be with you …
    If you were in charge of the Star Wars projects (TV and movies) at Disney where would you take it from here?
    You have written in the past about your ranking of the movies and we now have an entire swathe of TV series each taking a different part of the whole and expanding on it. So we have had Andor, The Mandalorian, Kenobi, The Book of Boba Fett to say nothing about the multitude of animated shows.
    What does the Star Wars universe need to keep it fresh and interesting?

  88. Will unions reemerge as a force in the private sector in the foreseeable future? There have been fits and starts in massive corporations (Starbucks, Amazon, et al.), but the victories can feel like marginalia — incremental gains that do nothing to change the corporation’s relationship to its workers, and might not even provide many long-term gains to those who manage to unionize. Where is the labor movement headed?

  89. For many people, the future seems dark and bleak. And for some, it truly is dark and bleak. Do you think writers have a role to play in seeing us through the ‘dark times’?
    On the whole, I am an optimist. I believe that for most people, our quality of life is improving. Some of the topics where we have strife and conflict seem to be an excuse to have strife and conflict, rather than adequately representing actual conflicts. It seems that the large numbers on the conservative AND the liberal side of arguments are just following what they ‘default into’ rather than thinking through what the actual (factual) topic of discussion means. Have we gotten to a point in society where people have forgotten what it means to compromise and work together? Or is that just what politicians want us to believe so that we will continue to fearfully support one side or the other?
    What does the world look like to you, if you take away to political hyperbole? Will we continue to see improvements despite the hyperbole?

  90. I think you said that you still have a landline. What does your phone bill look like with taxes and such? how much does a phone call cost you if you do it from a landline these days?

  91. I find that my taste in storie as a consumer is a lot broader than the types of stories that I think of making. What’s your favourite kind of story that you wouldnt try to tackle yourself as a writer?

  92. As a doctor, your books meant the world to me during the pandemic. I truly thank you for keeping me sane in that time. Your book series Lock in, especially the prequel felt very real to me in terms of what we experienced. How did you come up with that?

  93. Let’s admit that the output of ChatGPT currently resembles that of a clever but very lazy, plagiarizing high school student. Do you expect to be astonished by the 2030 version? Could you ever consider such a program to be “intelligent”?

  94. In a recently previous Reader Request question, you were asked about how good/bad your memory was. Have you ever had an encounter with a fan that was particularly good/bad, that just stuck with you?

  95. I second Will Glass’ question — I’d love to know about the contract (any good gossip?) and future work. I’m guessing that you’re about done with Old Man’s War (big clue – a series with “the end” in the title) but I figure most everything else is wide open and who knows, maybe you’ll get all frustrated or something and unexpectedly pull another Kaiju Preservation Society out of your, um, er, imagination ;-)

  96. I’ve noticed that compared to authors of previous eras, bestselling authors these days don’t tend to write a lot of short fiction – whereas (for example) the Big 3 of the mid-20th Century SF had multiple short story collections. There is the odd author who has a lot of short stories, but they seem to be the exception, not the rule. Why do you think this is?

  97. I assume you support the WGA strike. Are you a member? Any thoughts on the strike or how it will effect any pending film or television adaptations of your work?

  98. I have a few questions and maybe they can wind up as part of the short answers post(s).

    1 – I noticed that you have mentioned driving Krissy to work and other similar topics over the last couple of years and I wondered if y’all had any thoughts about her being able to quit her job after you signed the Big Damn Contract? Or to make her role as CEO of the Scalzi Foundation her full-time gig? Or is there just not enough actual work to do yet to make that feasible for her?

    2 – I want to hear more about the church!!

    3 – Any chance of Athena answering some of the questions you don’t? Or providing counter-point to some of your answers? Or doing her own “Reader Questions” series? (Not so subtle way of saying that I’d love to see more of her writing. I really enjoy her posts!)

  99. With the current writer’s strike, I seem to recall that — during the last writer’s strike — you publicly refused to watch Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog because too many people were insisting you watch it.

    Did you ever get around to it? And what did you think?

  100. What are your thoughts on serialised webnovels as a genre, both for the reader and the writer?

    It’s a very different genre, publishing smaller chapters multiple times a week – is that something your writing style would work for?

  101. Everyone else here is being so thoughtful, and here I am with complete fluff! I would love to see you rate some unusual musical instruments for suitability in your band. Theorbo? Theremin? Hurdy-gurdy? Duduk and tar?

  102. What would it cost to buy one copy (presumaby from the publisher) of your entire output? And have you ever thought of a big bndle at a discount price?

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