Dec 04 2008

Ghlaghghee Fan Service

Published by John Scalzi at 5:18 pm

Here you go, folks:

No need to thank me, I was just testing out the Storm’s ability to take pictures. And for those of you who prefer alternative animals, the following picture, which screams for a caption:

Yes, these two lie together all the time. This wasn’t just a fluke.

13 responses so far

Dec 04 2008

Suggest Some Books For the Holidays

Published by John Scalzi at 11:01 am

Since I mentioned a couple of entries back that one way you can help the publishing industry pull out of its fiery death spiral is to actually, you know, buy some damn books, I think it’s appropriate at this point to open up a thread and let people suggest books they think people should consider as gifts this holiday season. Suggest books in any genre you like, fiction or non-fiction, or for any audience — what matter is you think they’re good. I would only offer three tips in making your suggestions:

1. Pick recent books (the last year or two is good);

2. If you’re an author, don’t flog your own books, flog someone else’s;

3. Per point two, don’t suggest my books; I figure people here don’t really need to be prompted on that score.

I’m personally suggesting The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway, because it’s meaty wacky crazy involved future apocalyptic reading that people seem to either love or hate but are definitely never bored with, which makes it perfect for people who like to argue both about and with their books, which is most people I know. Also the fuscia-and-green cover certainly makes it stand out, doesn’t it (here’s the somewhat more sedate UK cover).

What do you suggest, book-wise, for this holiday season? Share! Share! We have shoppings to do!

99 responses so far

Dec 04 2008

Religion and Science Fiction Movies

Published by John Scalzi at 8:27 am

My AMC column this week looks at how religion and spirituality is portrayed in science fiction film, because it was an interesting panel topic this last weekend at LosCon, and I thought you might like to play the home version as well. As always, comments are closed here but open over at AMC, so be sure to leave some thoughts there; this one has the potential to be a juicy comment topic.

Also a small note that the column, after several months, is finally revealed to have a name:

This was a title I gave it before it started, but it’s not been used until this week. If you have to ask what the referent is in the column title, I’m sorry to inform you that you must turn in your geek badge now, and never come back. That’s just the way it is, chum.

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Dec 04 2008

Publishing Asks Why It Is In a Rapidly Descending Handbasket

Published by John Scalzi at 12:27 am

Yesterday I received a few solicitous inquiries from friends and/or fans asking if Wednesday’s massive publishing industry torpedoing (chronicled here by Andrew Wheeler) had somehow sucked me into its briny wake. The answer, in brief, is no. I’m fine, my books under contract are fine, and while I’m as concerned as anyone would be about their chosen industry going all explody around them, for various reasons I’m personally well-positioned to get through this stuff reasonably well. So: No worries here. I appreciate the concern.

That said, these are gruesome times for publishing, and a lot of folks are not as well-positioned as I am. Imprints have vaporized, layoffs have begun, and it’s better-than-even odds that a number of authors and books are going to get shaved off of publishing lists. 2009 is also likely to be a singularly lousy time to be an aspiring debut author, as publishing houses consolidate their lists and focus their resources on established avenues (i.e., spend their money on people who are already bestsellers) rather than seeking out new folks. Basically, life’s gonna suck in publishing for the next year or possibly two.

You ask: What can I do to help things suck less? Well, in a larger, overarching sense, there’s not much you can do — publishing isn’t the only industry that’s hurting at the moment, as you might be aware, should you keep track of the news. We’ve all got to get through this crap together. In the smaller, more immediate sense, however, there sure is something you can do: Buy some damn books.

Fortunately, this advice is well-timed: Books are inexpensive yet valued objects, which means that they make lovely gifts for whatever holiday festivities you subscribe to this time of year. Now is a fine time to introduce friends and loved ones to some of your favorite authors — and in doing so, you’re boosting that author’s sales, which will make his or her publisher marginally less liable to dump their shivering ass onto the street. You’re giving a gift a loved one will appreciate, you’re doing your favorite authors a favor, and you’re doing your part to keep editors and publishers from hurling themselves out of high-rise windows. Truly, everybody wins.

So, go: Make this a bookish holiday season. You know you want to anyway. I, my fellow authors and a grateful publishing industry thank you in advance for your cooperation, and for your seasonal purchases.

65 responses so far

Dec 03 2008

Uh, Canada

Published by John Scalzi at 1:35 pm

Been asked a couple times now if I had any thoughts about what’s going on with the political situation up north there in Canada, and I have to say: Honestly, I don’t know what the hell’s going on up there. They had an election, and the Prime Minister said “nyah,” and then the other political parties said, “Oh, no you DIN’T” and then exploding space monkeys swarmed Ottawa and the Queen had to fly over to beat people and monkeys with her scepter and at the end of it all Quebec was put on the block? And traded for a fish? Or something? It’s all really confusing to us simple folks down here in the US, with our uncomplicated election process that never goes wrong, ever. All I know is at the end of it, Canada will still have national health care and we won’t. So there’s that.

73 responses so far

Dec 03 2008

December Whateveresque Registration

Published by John Scalzi at 11:17 am

Today’s the day to register for Whateveresque, the Whatever reader forum for the month of December: Registration is open until 10pm. Remember that you’ll be approved faster if I don’t think you’re a spambot; here’s how to avoid looking like one of those. And be sure to introduce yourself to others in the “All About You” topic thread.

6 responses so far

Dec 03 2008

Zoe Buttons

Published by John Scalzi at 11:00 am

Here’s a cool note from reader Dave Larkins, about the buttons you see on the young lady here:

My wife and I are big fans and are also collaborators with fashion designer Jay McCarroll (he won season one of the Bravo TV series Project Runway).  So, while thinking about a name for these somewhat alienish buttons, Zoe came to mind.  And there you have it!

Well, that’s pretty nifty, I think. Of course, Zoe’s a name that’s cropped up elsewhere in science fiction, so it’s not a bad name for science fictiony buttons in a general sense. But it’s nice my Zoe was the one they thought of.

So if you’re looking for groovy buttons with a tangential relationship to me, well, there you go. I like ‘em.

5 responses so far

Dec 03 2008

Mother & Daughter

Published by John Scalzi at 10:36 am

My two favorite people:

Photos by Doselle Young, via that handy-dandy iPhone thingie.

18 responses so far

Dec 03 2008

LosCon, in Brief

Published by John Scalzi at 10:22 am

Some quick, very loosely organized thoughts on LosCon 35:

* First, the bottom line: One of my best convention experiences ever. And in no small part that is due to the LosCon con committee, which went out of its way to make sure I was happy and taken care of. Now, admittedly, I’m a cheap date — give me Double-Doubles and Coke Zero and I’m a happy boy — but on the other hand, even a cheap date likes to feel special, and the LosCon folks really did an excellent job of that. If you ever get a chance to be a LosCon guest of honor, take them up on the offer. These are good folks.

* The Double-Double thing, incidentally, was a kick. I really was joking when I suggested they provide me with an In-N-Out caddy, but the con folks took the ball and ran with it, not just getting me burgers but incorporating the getting of the burgers into the convention itself, up to and including me theatrically swooning because I was faint from hunger whilst on the panel, followed by a caddy bursting into the room, burgers in a special briefcase, to deliver my food in front of the crowd. And the final burger delivery, courtesy of a very hot woman in a very slinky cat suit — well. Presentation was a factor in my enjoyment.

* That said, I came perilously close to reaching an actual limit on Double-Doubles. By the end of the con, I think I was actually sweating cheese.

* My panels went very well, which I guess shouldn’t be a surprise, but if you go to cons you know how panels can go horribly wrong at the drop of a hat. None of mine did, and all of them were pretty substantive. Good co-panelists helped quite a lot. There was one on which I ended up being the dude that just wouldn’t shut up (the “Movies 2008″ panel, which I was on with Lee Whiteside and Gary Westfahl), but my co-panelists were patient with me, for which I thank them. Note to self: Send Lee Whiteside and Gary Westfahl each a nice fruit basket.

* The best panel, naturally enough, was the Wil and Scalzi Super Happy Fun Hour, in which Wil Wheaton and I basically stood in front of a crowd for an hour and just wouldn’t stop talking. It was a kick, and the best part of it was that Wil brought The Velvet Wesley, which was the first time I had seen it live and in person. We got more than 20 minutes of schtick out of the Velvet Wesley story, but then again, why wouldn’t we get 20 minutes of the Velvet Wesley? That’s what the Velvet Wesley is for. The good news about all of that was that Wil and I didn’t plan anything (other than him bringing the painting, which I didn’t know about), so we didn’t know how it would all come off. But people seemed to enjoy it, and we had fun, in any event.

* One of the great things about conventions is getting to see folks that you might not otherwise get to see, and LosCon was no exception. I met Larry Niven for the first time and had a very nice quick chat with him; I also got to see Jane Espenson again after having briefly met her at the 2006 Worldcon, joked about with David Gerrold (and bought two Tribbles from him, much to my daughter’s delight), congratulated J. Michael Straczynski on his Changling script, and got to spend a little time talking to Tim Powers, who was very cool. I joked about with Chris Garica and his fandom crew, and subscribed to John Hertz’s fanzine. And I spent a bunch of time hanging out with Doselle and Janine Young, Emma Bull and Will Shetterly, Diana Sherman and David Anthony Durham, to name just a few, and here I beg off naming more on the usual excuse that naming everyone would have me here all day. Suffice to say I stocked up on good conversation all weekend long.

* Finally, I still can’t get over the fact that someone actually dressed up as my cat, complete with taped bacon. That’s just crazy. But what’s even crazier is that if my cat actually was a human, I suspect she’s look almost exactly like the person who was dressed up as her. Seriously, when I first saw this young lady, I thought to myself, “huh, she kinda looks like my cat,” and then I saw the bacon scarf and realized she was supposed to be my cat. At which point I realized that I (and, to be fair, my cat) had crossed over into some sort of strange zone of fame that I can’t quite yet comprehend, and am not entirely sure I want to comprehend. That said, yeah, it’s kind of cool. So thank you, Bacon Cat Girl, whoever you are (her badge said “Fluffy,” which I am quite sure is not her real name). You’re adorable.

(Photo of me, Bacon Cat Girl, and Wil Wheaton by Lee Whiteside, who has other LosCon photos here.)

33 responses so far

Dec 02 2008

Twitter Cat is Twittering

Published by John Scalzi at 4:58 pm

Apparently Ghlaghghee’s been busy while I was away. And has learned how to type. And write in English. And so on. And yes, that’s the actual Ghlaghghee, turning away from the incriminating computer screen. Now I know why she’s currently lying on my desk; she’s just waiting for me to get up.

21 responses so far

Dec 02 2008

Context For the Contextually Desirious

Published by John Scalzi at 12:46 pm

Since lots of people are asking about where today’s Whatever subhead comes from:

Neil Finn, eminently quotable.

15 responses so far

Dec 02 2008

A Little Buggy

Published by John Scalzi at 12:25 pm

At the moment that Whatever looks three different ways, depending on which browser I’m using, so if the site’s main page looks a little wonky to you at the moment (particularly if you’re using Firefox), I’m aware of it and looking into it. On the other hand, if it looks fine, then, well, never mind.

9 responses so far

Dec 02 2008

Quick Whateveresque Note

Published by John Scalzi at 11:57 am

I’ll be opening up Whateveresque registration tomorrow — on the first I was traveling and today I’ve got lots of other things to do. So those of you itchin’ to sign up, be there then.

2 responses so far

Dec 02 2008

First Shot

Published by John Scalzi at 10:26 am

The first picture I’ve taken with my brand spankin’ new Blackberry Storm, which arrived while I was in California. Please note this is not my house, which thankfully was still standing after a week of our absence. This was on the road to Greenville, where I was going to pick up Kodi, who was being boarded at a kennel. It’s not a bad shot from a cell phone, I would say.

Some folks here have been clamoring for my thoughts on the Storm. Well, I’ve been playing with it for only a couple of hours, so I can’t say all that much about it yet. My initial impressions are that it’s fairly nifty, but also that you can tell the software for it isn’t fully baked yet; the auto-reframing from portrait to landscape mode is clearly laggy. But the e-mail is very nicely integrated and the camera is nice, and the network seems fast. Also, phone itself is pretty good. Which is, you know, why I have the thing in the first place. So, overall, I’m happy with it so far. I’ll be happier when they update the software. I’ll probably have more to say about it later, I’m sure.

And now, off to catch up on everything.

26 responses so far

Dec 01 2008

And Now This Important News Bulletin

Published by John Scalzi at 10:50 pm

I’m back in Ohio. Alive, even!

That is all. More forthcoming, after sleep and appropriate time to catch up with real life.

24 responses so far

Dec 01 2008

Zoom Zoom

Published by John Scalzi at 1:49 am

Heading back to Ohio. Don’t expect anything else today, okay?

LosCon was super fun. More details later.

13 responses so far

Nov 30 2008

Two Photos of Interest from LosCon

Published by John Scalzi at 12:38 pm

Both once again courtesy of Tom Suter:

Look! It’s Bacon Cat! In anthropomorphic form! You can’t see it well here, but this young lady’s nametag actually says “Fluffy.” I was deepy amused.

And here is Wil Wheaton and me, posing with the infamous “Velvet Wesley,” which as you’ll recall I had commissioned. It was quite literally the centerpiece of our Wil & Scalzi Happy Fun Time Hour, which, I assure you, you are very sad to have missed.

Yes, we are having fun at LosCon. Why do you ask?

Also: When I get back to Ohio, I’m going on a friggin’ diet, because this middle aged pear-shape crap has got to stop. That said, I have at least two more Double-Doubles to get through before that happens. But after that comes the diet. I swear.

58 responses so far

Nov 29 2008

In Case You Were Wondering if That In-N-Out Caddy Thing is Real

Published by John Scalzi at 1:57 pm

I mentioned that LosCon was committed to providing me In-N-Out Double-Doubles on demand, and look! Here’s the nerve center of the “Feed John Scalzi Tasty Burgers” effort. And look! There’s me with a Double-Double! It works! Bwa ha ha hah ha! Life is good.

Having a fine time at LosCon so far, as you can see. Hope your weekend is similarly good.

(Photo courtesy of Tom Suter)

32 responses so far

Nov 28 2008

Off to Work

Published by John Scalzi at 2:36 pm

LosCon is about to start, so now posting will be even more sporadic than it was earlier this week. But, you know. You could always come here and catch the live show.

9 responses so far

Nov 28 2008

The Obligatory Black Friday Commerce Message, or A Reminder About Getting Signed Books

Published by John Scalzi at 9:49 am

Remember, folks, a signed, personalized book from John Scalzi is just the thing to bring happiness to all the people on whom you wish to spend money this holiday season. I mean, they make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Here’s how to get them. Ordering early (like, now) will make sure your signed books arrive to the right people on time. So don’t wait! Spend mad amounts of money! NOW!

We return now to our regularly scheduled programming.

7 responses so far

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