25 Years of Whatever

At the start of the year I had big plans to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Whatever. On the 13th of each month leading to this day, I would write some sort of retrospective piece, or musing about my life or the world, culminating in a capstone piece that would, well, be this particular piece. I even wrote the first of these posts back in January, setting the scene for the rest that would follow.

And then… well. Then I didn’t do the installments for February through August.

What happened? Mostly, life happened, and mostly good things about life, at least for me. There was a lot of travel, a lot of writing, I composed a bunch of music, won some awards (not for music), our church refurbishment finally got finished, and some other things were thrown in there as well.

I got busy, in sum, nor is the busy stopping: As I write this, I’m in the middle of a couple of weeks of spin-up publicity for the release of Starter Villain, followed by two weeks of touring, followed by six weeks of festival/convention appearances. Oh, and I’m writing the next novel, too.

(And on top of all that — which is enough, I assure you — I’ve been this year dealing with what I think could charitably be described as “attention span issues.” I caught COVID last year and while the physical results of that were thankfully mild, it did something to my brain where decades of compensatory strategies for dealing with my probably-undiagnosed-ADHD broke down and no longer work with anything approaching their former efficiency, which was, I assure you, not all that efficient to begin with. Yes, I’m planning to take steps to deal with it, including actually getting a medical consult about it, and also, I keep forgetting to actually schedule the consult, which is, sadly, just more evidence of the issue.)

All of which is to say that for most of 2023, I had not really been thinking about the fact that Whatever’s 25th anniversary was on its way. Right up until last weekend, in fact, I had mostly put it out of my mind, because I was occupied with other things.

But you know who was thinking about Whatever’s 25th anniversary? Krissy. Unbeknownst to me, for most of the last year, she was planning a celebration of the day, wrangling literally dozens of friends to show up and surprise me with a big damn party last Saturday. You might think it would be difficult to sneak dozens of people past me, even if I do spend most of my time in my office staring into a monitor, but, here’s the thing: We own a church now, which is uniquely well-designed to stash a lot of people for an indeterminate amount of time. All Krissy had to do was wrangle me over there on a pretext.

Which, of course, she managed very well. And then suddenly there I was, standing in front a bunch of friends and family, deeply confused about why people I knew from every part of the last 40 years of my life were in the basement of my church. That is, until I saw the banner on the wall, announcing that we were celebrating Whatever’s 25th anniversary. It was a surprise birthday party! For my blog.

Which at first blush, I admit, may seem a little silly. But here’s the thing: Of the dozens of people who were in that room last Saturday, all but a few — family, neighbors, high school friends — I knew because of Whatever. Some I met because of the site, or something I wrote here, had pulled them into my circle of acquaintances and then friends. Others I knew because I became a published novelist, and the way I did that was through Whatever: I serialized Old Man’s War here, and Patrick Nielsen Hayden, my editor, read it here and made an offer on it.

So many of the people who are important to my life now, whose presence in my life I treasure, came into it through my decision just to plop an entire book up on this site. If I hadn’t done that, and hadn’t had Whatever to do it on, it’s correct to say some of the major contours of my life would be different, and as would the population of friends I have and cherish.

So, yeah, when you think about it that way, having a surprise birthday party for my blog makes perfect sense.

Also, as a practical matter, no one expects a surprise party for their blog. So if you’re going to schedule such a party, now you know how to get away with it. Provided your intended surprise party subject has a blog of long standing. Admittedly, there are fewer of us now than there once were.

Also, Krissy is amazing. The party was exquisitely well done, up to and including catering and professional bartending. At the party, friends were talking about what a great party it was, and I confirmed it was all down to her planning abilities. If I had been in charge of the thing, there would have been a bag of chips and a two-liter bottle of room-temperature store brand soda, and no chairs to speak of. Everyone knows who the brain of the Scalzi operation is, and it sure as hell isn’t me. No one wants it to be me. No one wants the room-temperature store soda.

And what about the Birthday Blog? Where does it stand at the end of an entire quarter century? Well, if nothing else, it continues to live up to its name: Whatever. That’s not the “Whatever” of Gen-X-era dismissal, although I certainly am of Generation X, and I can absolutely dismiss with the best of them. It’s the “Whatever” of “whatever I want, whatever I’m thinking about, whatever I want it to be.”

Here at year 25, the eternal “whatever” of the site doesn’t apply just to me; Athena has been writing here for a few years now, and in many ways the site reflects her own interests as much as my own, and is all the better for it. I would not be writing so well about bourbon tastings and problems with IUDs, for sure.

It’s given me immense pride to see her develop her voice and share her interests here, and to have the site become the home of two generations of writers. I checked in with her at our last staff meeting (yes, we have staff meetings) about whether she wanted to keep on with the site. She does have an actual job outside of writing here, and her own friends and interests. As with me, her participation here is strictly voluntary and on her own terms.

She’s said she wants to keep at it. This makes me happier than I think she imagines it does.

And as for me, I also want to keep at it, and I’m also aware that especially in the last year, Whatever really is about whatever. I would have to check, but I think so far this year I’ve posted more music that I’ve put together (original and covers) than I have written about politics here, which if nothing else is a switch. Beyond this, the irony of Whatever eventually leading me to a life where I’m busy enough elsewhere that a non-trivial number of my posts this year are “I’m busy, here’s a picture of a cat” has not escaped me. I think if Whatever were a person, it would be happy for me that I have this life, and also, it likes cats, so being populated with pictures of them would be seen as a plus. Look! Here’s one now!

Mostly, the last year reminds me that, like me and like just about anything, Whatever has a life of its own. It has its own ebbs and flows, and its own meander through the years. It’s not what it was five, ten, fifteen, twenty or twenty-five years ago, but then, what is? How could it be static when I’ve changed, Athena’s changed, and the world has changed? It will be what it will be as it goes along. Like every one and every thing, it’s forever becoming what it is. It’s not burdened by needing to make money or to draw a certain number of eyeballs to advertisements. It can be, well, whatever. I am content to see what that whatever is going to be as it continues on.

Will Whatever last another 25 years? It’s not impossible. I’d be 79 years old, which is old, to be sure. But I’ve been writing since I was fourteen — four decades now — and I can’t imagine I wouldn’t be writing a quarter century from now, provided I still have the mental capability to do so. Both sides of my family live a long time if they take care of themselves (a small but important point) and tend to remain pretty sharp well into their 80s and 90s. I had one great-aunt who lived past 100 and might have lived longer has she not insisted on living in a house with stairs. If I make it to 79, I imagine I will still be writing.

50 years of Whatever is not unreachable. I make no promises; I can’t make any promises like that. But I think about these last 25 years of being here: what they have meant to me, the world that has opened up to me, and the people who I have been able to meet and hold to my heart, all because I did the simple act of writing in the same place, day after day and year after year. Who can say what could happen, who I will yet meet and what it will all mean, if I just keep doing it?

I guess we will find out.

And if I get to 50 years of writing here, we might have another party. Less of a surprise this time. But no less welcome.

Until then: Onward.

— JS

73 Comments on “25 Years of Whatever”

  1. People who can throw a good party are like miracle workers to me. If I threw a party they’d be lucky to get the warm soda. Good on Krissy! Congratulations to you all three of you.

  2. Congrats! I have to say (as a fellow Gen X-er who’s been around on the internet from the early days) that any website still being around after 25 years is pretty remarkable, let alone a personal blog. 25 years in “internet years” has got to be more like 100 actual years right (at least)?

  3. It’s one of the few blogs worth checking in on every day, despite also having an RSS feed for it. Appreciate the moderated comments too. Came here via Marc Andreesen in 2007, have been reading since, and plan to continue.
    Thank you to Krissy for arranging the celebrations, and I’m looking forward to many more blog posts through the years.

  4. Congrats, John! 25 years is a long time to do anything at all, let alone successfully. I enjoy starting my days with you and Athena and hope you both continue to enjoy sharing Whatever for a good long time to come!

  5. Congratulations John, and thank you. Only been following Whatever for about 10 years, but I look forward to every post from you and Athena. Here’s to another 25+!!!🍸

  6. Krissy is wonderful. Sounds like a marvelous get together.

    I do hope you continue for another 25 years. I read everything posted there.

  7. Congratulations on 25 years. I know that when I found you many years ago, it was the first time in my life I encountered someone who thought like I did and it was a revelation!
    I have learned so much from your blog posts.
    Here’s to 25 more🥂

  8. A quarter-century! Well done, all concerned! I’m an unabashed partisan of Spice, surely one of the most regal felines that ever graced the Internet — and such a good sport for stepping up when and as she’s needed.

  9. Congrats!

    “[A] church … is uniquely well-designed to stash a lot of people for an indeterminate amount of time.”

    That sounds like the premise of a horror piece.

  10. I’m 79 and if I had your talent (which I sadly don’t) I’d still be writing great novels, non-fiction, whatever I felt a need to. And I’d be looking at at least 20 more years of doing so (I have a 2 yr old granddaughter whose graduation from high school I intend to attend).

  11. Congrats on the long-lived blog! In the past year or so I’ve gone back to reading various blogs and Whatever has been a welcome addition to the set (and not just because of the cats!)

    When I started my own blog in 2005 they were still kind of a big thing. It’s nice to see blogs making a comeback, however big or small that comeback may be.

  12. Congratulations on your most excellent blog reaching 25 years! If it were a kid, it’d already have graduated from college by now!
    If you keep writing for another 25 years, I’ll keep reaching for another 25 years, God willing. Both my grandmothers lived past 90. By then, your blog might be the only one still in existence!
    I enjoy Athena’s food columns as well. She is going to become a great food critic in time. I love her curiosity (the bourbon blog was such fun to read and I got sooo hungry that if I lived in Ohio, I’d bang down the doors of that place).
    Here’s to Krissy for making the day a real celebration!

  13. Happy blog anniversary. And congratulations on having such a wonderful group of friends and family. You deserve it (IMHO).

  14. Happy 25th blog birthday/anniversary! I am glad it started, still exists, and will continue to exist. I don’t comment much but I very much enjoy reading it (for a decade or so now I just realized! Wow!).

  15. Congratulations! And, of course, congratulations to Krissy for organising the bash, Athena joining in with the torch bearing, and the cats down the years who have deigned to allow us to admire them. I look forward to many more years of Whatever…

  16. Congratulations! And well done Krissy :). I’ve been reading Whatever for about 15 years and it’s very much required reading for me

  17. Congratulations! Twenty five years of ‘Whatever is a non-trivial accomplishment.

    But I have to ask… if you have a staff meeting of two, is that where the bag of chips and the warm two-liter bottle of soda comes in? Or do you at least find some ice? 😉

  18. I’ve been stopping here, pretty much daily, for a long time – started somewhere in the early oughts. I continue to look forward to the visit. I really appreciate this space. Congrats on 25 years here, that’s really quite something. See you tomorrow!

  19. Yeah, Krissy! She never stops surprising. You’re a lucky fella. I doubt many who come here realize how important she’s been to, whatever… Guess you’ll have to keep finding ways to thank her,

  20. Congratulations on 25 years of… well, Whatever…

    I am among the older generation of your readers, one who remembers the Plato system that linked colleges using orange plasma screens. I helped run a local BBS, then participated in and moderated sections on Compuserve, Prodigy, and GEnie.

    Working training and outbound support for a largish Apple dealer, I moved from AppleLink original to Personal Edition to America Online and finally to the wide open spaces of the World Wide Web – the information superhighway. (No one who really used it called it that of course. To those in the know it was a “series of tubes”…)

    The WWW became just “the Web” and eventually just “the Internet” generically. The original group of scientists, personal computing enthusiasts and widespread niche players looking for a home were soon jostled about by the entrance of World Commerce in the endless pursuit of a buck.

    The personal “blog” which was once the hottest ticket in cyberspace has come to be seen as rather quaint. But it was and is the soul of what makes this virtual “place” so special. I’ve watched it all grow and change, and Whatever… is still one of the best tickets to be had in our big electronic town,

    Despite all the money poured into the internet by the most powerful Capitalists, and all the influence it brought them over the exponentially-growing international crowd that practically lives here, it is still possible for one individual with something to say to be heard above the din. Ideas grow here. No matter how much some have tried to control this incredible resource, it refuses to be tamed and brought to heel.

    Even today in the face of the juggernauts like Amazon, the simple one-person blog CAN still thrive and link people together and have a mighty influence, if the blogger is sufficiently interesting, well-spoken, and responsive to those who are attracted to the community the blog creates,

    Whatever… proves that you don’t have to be an ideologue, a purveyor of hate, or a powerful corporation to have a meaningful voice. A blog doesn’t really have to be about just one thing that links a community, unless that “one thing” is the entirety of the Human Experience.

    It takes an extraordinary community to survive and grow like this blog, and it takes an extraordinary person (or in this case an extraordinary family) to keep it shining brighter than ever after 25 years. Thanks to all the Scalzis for being that kind of family. Thanks to you, John, for caring and sharing for so long. Thanks, Athena, for freshness and variety and hitting this blog like an unexpected summer shower that keeps the air fresh and brings out some lovely rainbows. Thanks, Krissy, for the love that sustains this remarkable family that gives us so much. And thanks to all the Scalzi felines for more-or-less patiently allowing all this madness to happen in THEIR space.

    Here’s to the next 25!

  21. Mazel Tov for Whatever’s 25th Anniversary, Scalzi!

    And yes, that’s a very fine picture of a cat….

    Have you asked Krissy to book the appointment for you so you don’t keep forgetting it…?

  22. Congrats. Also, when you bought the church were you thinking “Great surprise party venue” or was that just a happy accident?

  23. 😋🎉🖍️Well, thank you for being here, and thanks for the cats and sunsets… Looking forward to Starter Villain, and Whatever else comes along… Much love and success to you! 😘🙏

  24. Congratulations on the 25th.

    You’re just lucky you’re not related to my wife. Her late father seemed to have a mission in life to ruin every surprise party he knew about by letting the person know in advance that there was a party coming.

  25. Congratulations, John! I’ve read this blog daily from my first year on the web and will continue to do so.

  26. Congratulations!

    I’ve had two surprised birthday parties over the years.
    My wife organized one for my 30th (and I didn’t have a clue.)

    Also, my college roommates had one for me, which was a complete surprise since they’d gotten the month and year switched, so even though I had seen the cake that was hidden in the kitchen, I had no idea it was for me, because it was not, in fact, my birthday :-)

  27. Happy Birthday, Whatever!

    Happy Blogfather Anniversary, John!

    Happy Party Planning Success, Krissy!

    Here’s to many more of these milestones :)

    (It blows my mind how long I’ve been reading this blog. IIRC, I first came here to see a video of 9-year old Athena protesting Pluto’s planetary demotion.)

  28. Congratulations on 25 years of a fun, informative, enlightening, and sometimes downright moving blog. The Big Idea is an excellent feature. The Scalzi pets are icing on the cake. I’m another daily visitor (but infrequent commenter). I will add to the chorus of people stating that Krissy is awesome (yes INDEED), and that our blog-reading lives are truly enhanced by having John and Athena in them.

  29. As someone who’s passed 30 years of blogging and gained a small reputation from it, congratulations! It takes a lot to keep it going and to be the eclectic yet fascinating read it is.

  30. Dear John,


    I would bet you a quarter that with 25 years to plan out a campaign, Krissy and Athena will manage to surprise you with a 50th anniversary party, ‘cept you’d be a fool to take that bet, and I’m pretty sure you ain’t.

    Makes me think… I’ll be hitting the 30th anniversary of my website in a few years. I should think of something…

    pax / Ctein

  31. Happy blog-a-versary, John! I have fond memories of watching you sing karaoke at a Pittsburgh bar, and even fonder memories of downloading Old Man’s War from your website and printing it out so I could take it on a plane. I remember reading it and thinking, oh yeah, people are going to love this.

    This is probably the first time I’ve posted in your blog comments in like, over a decade? Or more? Maybe I never have? I can’t remember. Anyway, I figured I’d roll out of lurkerdom to wish you many happy returns of the day. Your blog, writing ethic, personal philosophy, and cat photos have been an inspiration over the years.

  32. I just want to say how much I appreciate not only your superb content here at the Whatever, but also the fact that yours is about the only site I follow that is not cluttered with ads, and does not require AdBlocker to be on.
    And if in 25 years, you’re still here at age 79, you can run for POTUS. :-D

  33. Congratulations! I think I first found you at a westerncon and then your blog
    Keep on keeping on!

  34. Congratulations on the milestone, and thanks for the many interesting/amusing/thought-provoking reads!

  35. Congrats John,
    I first came to Whatever after I bought and read Old Mans War. The blog URL was inside the back cover under the dashing picture that made everyone believe you were Delta Force or something like that. The first three lines pulled me in, and I popped into the blog thinking that this guy knows what I like to read.
    Having met you a few times and many books purchased later; I stop in here almost every day.

    Glad we are both around this many years later. I’ll try to make the 50th anniversary. I’ll be 90 but I’ll give it my best shot.

  36. Congrats!
    25 years of anything consistently is a quite amazing.
    Thanks for the words, ideas, thoughts and pictures and for allowing and curating comments I sure that this has been a time eating task over the years.
    Now one critique, the cats have done ok but not being a speciest and to keep all things equal I am adding thanks to the dogs and thanks for the dog pics as well and here’s to many more over the years.

  37. Congratulations on 25 years! My copy of “Mallet” is looking at me from my living room bookshelf, and it’s cheering you on as well (even though it’s really light on cat pictures).

    I’ve always preferred the longer, more nuanced writing of blogs over the knee-jerk reactions of “social media” (if there’s an app for it, I’m not on it). “Whatever” has been a fixture in the firmament without becoming stale — I’ve loved your accounts of Athena & Krissy over the years, and it’s wonderful that Athena is contributing her voice here as well.

    Keep up the awesome — we’ll be here reading!

  38. ScalziGPT

    there I said it

    get your entire assemblage of forty-plus years of purple prose processed by an appropriately configured LLM/AI and we’ll be reading Whatever.com well into the 22nd century…

    and oh! such joy! “Old Man’s War” volume 307!

    hey for your next book… “Agent To The Stars” the sequel

    wherein those non-mammalian XTs introduce Hollywood to their starship’s AI and hijinxes ensue! the AI does a pitch to Netflix fo its life story

  39. Well that’s very nice, I’d been wondering what was going on over there, after some vague hints. Didn’t come close.

    Warm congratulations. Always good to have a church on hand when you need one, for whatever reason.

    This place is always worth coming back to, in all its incarnations. Which we cannot say of, say, Twitter.

  40. Congratulations, JS!

    Although I have to say that, as someone who incredibly rarely consumes them, fizzy pop and crisps sound pretty good for a party!

  41. Well that’s just lovely. Happy birthday, O blog. Glad the party was excellent. Been a reader since I had Twitter, just about, so maybe a dozen years? Looking forward to SV and rereading KPS, and to much more of Whatever and you.

  42. Happy Blogiversary!

    I’ve been blogging, I guess, since the late 90’s. Mostly on various group blogs like Slashdot, Kuro5hin, and some follow-ons. There’s a group of people I’ve known for 25 years and mostly never met in person, though we do get together if we’re passing through a town that one or more are living in.

    Remember Blog Rings?

  43. Congratulations, John. I’ve been reading Whatever for maybe eight or ten years now, and it’s a daily part of my life. Thank you . . .

  44. Congratulations on Whatever.
    No matter how much appreciation Krissy gets, she does not get enough appreciation.
    I do not think Spice approves of me.

  45. So, you hoard the Coke Zeros in your private fridge. I am warned. Congrats, anyway. FYI, re vague and mostly untreatable symtoms, there are several brain retraining programs available now, that are effective on things that result from systemic upsets like Covid. I’m doing DNRS, others are doing Gupta, and a friend is even doing Chigong, which is helping. I’ve been reading Whatever probably for 10 years now, or longer, and am one of those daily log-on people. I do treasure the long-distance acquaintance.

  46. About the same time as you, I started a couple of blogs, GeezerwithaGrudge.com and RatsEyeView.com. The first was a way to store ideas for a motorcycle column I had just started writing in ’98 for Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly magazine and the 2nd was going to be a repository for my business ideas associated with a consulting service I was contracting with at the time.

    The Rat’s Eye View never did much and it now fitfully resides at https://theratseyeblog.blogspot.com/, but not much happens there. Mostly, I use it for places to excise my irritation at the Party of Chaos and Destruction (Republicans) and occasional bouts of philosophy. I’m 75 and thought I was old at 50 when I started writing the Geezer with A Grudge column. A few years later, I quit a big bucks medical devices engineering job and dove into freelance anything that would pay money. Music turned out to be the most consistent source for me.

    Congratulations on your 25th and even more congratulations for figuring out how to make a living out of the corporate world early enough in your life to enjoy it.

  47. 25 years, Amazing! Congratulations on the milestone. Indeed, I’m up for 25 more!
    Continued success,

  48. Congratulations on 25 years!

    And remember, while you could have done a bunch of posts leading up to the actual anniversary, you can still do a bunch of posts kicking off with the anniversary and celebrating through the quarter-centennial year along the way.

    Or, just, you know, tell us your stories as you get around to them – we’re here and we’d still love to hear them!

  49. A wise man knows where his joy lies. You are a man with abundant wisdom. May the next 25 years be filled with the joy of writing, music, friends, and your lovely daughter and pretty much perfect wife.


  50. A belated congratulations! I’ve been reading Whatever for….not for 25 years, but since we’ve been in this house so slightly over 20 years. Only started commenting in the last few years, as my social media footprint started dwindling and I was finding more interesting stuff on here. I always appreciate your take on things, and I’ve learned a great deal from other commenters as well. And I adore Athena’s contributions; I always get so excited when I see she has a new post up. Perhaps she could get Whatever to 50 years, if you decide to hang up your hat? Oh, and I also love that I get so many of my new book recommendations from the Big Idea posts!

  51. Congratulations, Team Scalzi. I’ve been reading this blog for years and really appreciate the self-discipline that goes into maintaining this site. Every so often, when I just have to write Another Dang Thing, I remind myself that you’re out here being productive. Onward, All.

  52. Dear John,

    With the amount of traveling you have to do, combined the the sad fact that having one bout of long-haul Covid makes you no less likely to have a second bout…

    Look into buying some Taffix. I’ve been highly skeptical of most of the prophylactics (disappointingly, Covixyl turns out to be not significantly better than a placebo, anecdotal evidence and a very early, badly done study to the contrary) but this seems to be the real deal. At least, according to my reading of the studies and — more significantly — the analysis by my epidemiologist sweetie and her epidemiologist sweetie!

    They’re convinced enough it has value that they immediately ordered some. I’ve done the same.

    eBay has many listing, most shipping from Israel, but there’s one from the US (at a ridiculous price) and one from Canada (at a sensible price). You’d have it inside of two weeks.

    I won’t load this down with pointers to the studies and the order sites — I am sure your Google-fu is better than mine.

    pax / Ctein

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