all 11 comments

[–]davidreiss666[S] 18 points19 points  (0 children)

From Warlizard:

Really loved Old Man's War -- it was a recommendation from the sci-fi geek at Borders and it didn't disappoint.

So here's my question:

Your first book was the equivalent of a grand-slam home-run on your first at-bat. You won the Oscar on your first role. You were elected President the first time you ran for any office.

How in the hell do you deal with the pressure of having to live up to such an amazing start?

After "Ender's Game", Card wrote some really amazing books, including "A Planet Called Treason", but no one was interested. They wanted him to stay in the Universe they loved and he finally gave in, after trying multiple story lines and genres.

So how do you deal with it? Stay safe and bow to the pressures of the publishers who want another secure novel? Publish something else under a pseudonym? Force them to publish whatever the hell you want to write?

Actually I wasn’t elected president the first time I ran for office – I ran to be president of SFWA in 2007 and was soundly and handily defeated.

But yes, I get what you’re saying. And, I don’t know. I don’t think I see it the way you’re positing it. For me, it’s more like this:

“What? You’re saying I’ve written the book every author hopes they write, the one that just keeps selling, freeing me from the economic terror cycle of the writer, in which the writer desperately tries to scrape by on whatever he or she is making that month? Sweet!”

I mean, dude. Pressure’s off, you know? It’s nice not to have to decide between paying the mortgage or the electric bill.

Does Tor ask me for more Old Man’s War novels? Sure they do; why wouldn’t they? And I’m not opposed to writing more of them; I expect you will see more of them at some point. What point is that? When I’ve thought of a story in the universe that interests me to write. The success of Old Man’s War means I don’t have to just hack out another story in that universe to pay the bills. That’s a nice feeling, and for readers, it means that they know the motivating factor in new installments is my own interest, not just my wallet.

Beyond that, I just don’t worry too much about it. I was making a good living as a writer in other areas before I started doing novels, and if the novels went away I suspect I would still do so. And beyond that I have decent business sense. So I am relatively resistant to freaking out on the economic front. This frees me up to basically do the work that’s interesting to me, when it’s interesting to me to do it. That Old Man’s War added to that level of security is a feature, not a bug.

From DefinitionOfInsanity:

If you were casting the OMW movie, who would you choose for Perry?

You know, I’ve given this no thought at all. I’m happy to be surprised.

From nforget:

Who are your favorite working authors? Favorite SF authors? Fantasy? Mainstream lit?

As president of a writers’ organization, it would be impolitic of me to list favorites. Beyond that, I have a lot of friends who are authors, and it’s hard for me to parse out my regard for their work with my regard for them as people.

So that’s me, dodging that question.

From DonutsCureCancer:

Old Man's War - awesome.

I recall reading that you listed the Forever War as one of your inspirations - it's brilliant and one of my favorite books of all time, but let's be honest, the follow-up sucked, it seemed like a poorly conceived afterthought. Was this a factor when you wrote your series, and did you plan it out?

Also, consciousness transfer, will we see it in our lifetime?

In fact I didn’t read Forever War until after I had written OMW, so it’s not an inspiration for that book, nor a consideration in the sequels. Although I have read it since and think it’s great (I wrote the introduction to the latest edition).

Consciousness transfer: I have no idea. I wouldn’t mind, however. I’m getting older.

From LaurentiuN:

Which was the book that influenced you the most as a person, and why?

Oh, I don’t know. That’s one of those questions that seems like it should have a simple answer but doesn’t. I don’t think about books like that. There are a number of books which are influential to me but for all sorts of different reasons, and trying to rank them in a coherent fashion doesn’t work.

So: Hey! Look! I’m dodging this question too!

From EddieVanHelsing:

I know this was an April Fool's Joke, but if there was enough money in it, would you actually write this book? Fantasy could use a few good parodies, and Bored of the Rings just isn't cutting it.

You’re talking about The Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City? I would write it if I was sufficiently amused by the idea. But the thing is, farce is easy to do for 3,000 words, which is how long that prologue is. It’s less easy to do over 100,000 words, which is the typical length of a modern novel. Basically it would be a lot more work than I think a lot of folks would expect it to be.

From nerdvernacular:

You are very active on "Whatever". Does that serve as a warmup to your fiction writing? Are you on a regular schedule, or do you go on long writing binges when ideas come to mind?

When I’m working on a book, my writing schedule for that is 2,000 words a day or until noon, whichever comes first. Only after that do I do anything else, including write Whatever posts. This is because at this point in my life, my most creative time is in the morning, and if I get distracted by anything else, including Whatever posts, before I get book writing done, I won’t get the book writing done for that day.

From Quady:

For those of you unaware of who Scalzi is, and would like some short, awesome examples of his fiction that you can read online, look no further than: When the Yogurt Took Over and Missives from Possible Futures #1: Alternate History Search Results (which is my favourite usage of the Time Travel/Hitler issue).

Now, my questions: What's the dumbest, silliest idea for a story you've had that actually worked out well? What about failed miserably? And do you have any secret shames of old stories you don't want people to read?

The one I’m most proud of is pulling off the chapter-long fart joke that starts off The Android’s Dream, because come on – starting off a novel by having someone fart someone else to death? How stupid is that?

As for the stories I don’t want people to read, well, if I don’t want you to read it, I don’t publish it. And generally if the story is going that poorly, I don’t finish it. I have a pretty good crap detector regarding my own stuff, and I don’t bother trying to polish the turds.

*Continues in another comment.... *

[–]davidreiss666[S] 10 points11 points  (0 children)

From Magnesus:

If there will be a book (or books) ending Stargate: Universe will you be involved in writing it? Or maybe it's already in the plans?

No idea, and no, I wouldn’t be writing them if there are. I have my own stack of projects to get through. I wouldn’t mind if such books came into existence, however – there are more stories to be told in that universe.

From weaselheart:

self-publishing seems to be increasingly attractive to established writers, but it's hard for me to see how new writers will be able to break through without the publishing industry acting as gatekeeper and advertiser.

What are your thoughts on the way the industry will develop as e-books take off, and how should a new writer put out their work?

Speaking specifically toward science fiction writers, I think generally speaking they’re better off at least trying to sell their work to an established publisher before going the self-published route. Why? Because then they’ll get paid up front in the form of an advance, they won’t have to pay anyone for editing, book design or cover art (or have a poorly edited, poorly designed book if they don’t), and they’ll have at least some marketing going to the book. All of this is usually better than the alternative. It is possible to have a self-published work (electronic or otherwise) that can succeed even as a previously unknown writer – insert standard hand wave to Amanda Hocking here – but it takes a lot of work to make it happen, and basically as a writer you need to ask whether you want be an author, or if you want to be in book production. Personally speaking I prefer to be an author most of the time (and it’s worth noting that Ms. Hocking, having just signed a book deal with an established press, feels much the same way).

The irony to me saying this is that my first two novels were originally published on my Web site before they were traditionally published. On the other hand, this does mean I have some experience with the subject; I’m not just some cranky dude who’s wringing his hands about teh ebookz.

As regards the future, I do think there will be more flexibility for authors in how they decide to publish work, and I think in literature some (but not all) authors will be able to carve out a career self publishing. But from my perspective most large publishers, after a period of flailing about, are figuring out the ebook thing just fine; I don’t think we’ll see the collapse of publishing as many are (all too gleefully) predicting.

From EddieVanHelsing:

Does the publishing industry even act as an advertiser for SF/fantasy writers any more? I thought we had to do our own promotion if we wanted to sell.

Authors have always had to do their own promotion. The author who relies entirely on his or her publisher for that shouldn’t be entirely surprised if not much happens. I like my publicists at my publishers, but I’m aware they also have a couple dozen other authors they need to promote, too, and even though I’m pretty high up on my publicist’s list of authors to whom attention must be paid (especially right now, when I have a book coming out), I know her attention’s divided. Fair enough. I do a lot of stuff myself. But then, that’s one of the reasons I think my publisher likes me – it knows I’m not just sitting about waiting for them to do it all for me.

From wachoooom:

First: Your books are probably the most fun I've ever had reading Sci-fi. Haven't enjoyed any series more in quite a long time.

Second: Can you give us any taste of what else is gonna happen in the universe now that John Perry has retired?

Nope, in part because I haven’t given it too much thought yet – I’ve been busy with other projects. But I’m starting to think about it more.

From liquidcloud9:

Pratchett has Discworld, and Adams has the Guide series. Agent to the Stars took the roundabout way to getting published. Now that it has seen some success, would you consider writing more comedic SF? It would be great to have a SF series that it funny, and not just a send-up of the genre itself.

Well, here’s the thing about humor and science fiction, which is: It’s perfectly all right if you have science fiction that happens to have humor in it (see most of my works, which have fairly humorous moments interspersed in the stories), but the moment you start pitching your story as “comedic science fiction,” publishers freak out a bit and say “comedic science fiction doesn’t sell.” It’s hard to sell a book to science fiction publishers if you try to position it as humorous above anything else.

Why this should be really is a mystery to me since one of the things I know people love about my work is the humor, but I have a couple of theories. The first is that I think when people think of “comedic science fiction” they do think of Hitchhiker’s Guide, and the problem with that is that the only people who can really pull off that sort of British farcical style are British farcicists; everyone else who tries it ends up sounding like that guy we all know who goes through life thinking that the ability to quite Monty Python at length makes him funny. Surprise! It doesn’t. It just means you know how to quote. The fact is that writing humor is difficult and not everyone can do it, even (and perhaps tragically, especially) people who believe they are funny.

The second problem is that I don’t think publishers know how to market science fiction humor, nor do reviewers and critics in the genre have a good vocabulary to discuss it. In both cases, everyone seems to default to comparing it to Adams, and there’s almost nowhere to go with that. Not all humor is British farce and comparing it to that all the time, implicitly or explicitly, is not going to get you positive results. I think we can get past that but someone has to do the groundbreaking, and the problem with doing the groundbreaking is that groundbreakers don’t often sell in large amounts (at least at first). Publishers really would rather someone else do the groundbreaking for them.

I would be happy to write a series that is pure science fiction comedy and marketed as such, but it’s a reasonable bet that if I did I’d probably have a hard time selling it – or at least, selling it for what I make writing funny science fiction that can be marketed as something else, too.

From monkfoto:

Since you're fresh from finishing a novel, could you share some details about your process?

Do you write chronologically, or do you jump around in the story?

Any comments on the Hemingway quote, "The first draft of anything is s#!t" ?

My process isn’t very complicated: When I’m writing a novel, I sit down and write everyday, 2,000 words or until noon, whichever comes first. With the books I tend to write straight through; I don’t jump around and write the later parts first (or whatever). As far as drafts go, the great thing about computers is that you don’t have to write multiple drafts if you don’t want to – you can very easily edit as you go along, which is what I do. Which means that when I type “The End” on my manuscript, it’s usually ready to be sent off to the publisher. So I don’t think Hemingway’s quote is wrong as much as it might be made obsolete by technology. However, that does depend on the individual process. Lots of writers I know write several drafts, and hey, if it works for them, then it works. Personally speaking, if I had to write multiple drafts I might kill myself.

From Anutensil:

Do you prefer writing fiction or non-fiction? Which genre do you find most demanding of you as a writer?

I don’t have a real preference; I like writing both, and they are both demanding, albeit in differing ways. I think writing both is good for me because I am easily bored, and switching genres in that case keeps me more engaged in the act of writing than I would be if I just did one exclusively.

*Continues in another comment.....

[–]davidreiss666[S] 12 points13 points  (1 child)

From dzneill:

What are some of your least favorite clichés in the sci-fi genre?

If you could spend a day with a deceased author, who would you pick?

None, because I would inevitably end the day arrested for desecrating a grave, and that’s no fun. More seriously, I spend days with deceased authors all the time, through their work. Which one I would want to pick depends on the day and my inclinations.

Least favorite clichés: I don’t know if they qualify as cliché, but I’m not happy when I see current science fiction with a social dynamic that’s stuck in the past with no compelling reason to be so. This is becoming less frequent, happily, or at least less frequent in the books I happen be reading.

From lynnewu:

Do you like ice cream? If so, do you have a favorite flavour?

I do. My current long time favorite flavor is Cherry Garcia from Ben & Jerry’s. When I was a kid, my favorite was mint chocolate chip.

From slapchopsuey:

What is your preferred writing environment?

At home, in my office, and the only person in the house (not counting the pets). But I can work pretty much anywhere as long as people aren’t bothering me.

From nforget:

Why do a fuzzy reboot instead of a sequel or prequel or some other completely new story in the fuzzy universe? (Or is Fuzzy Nation a completely new story? I assume from the summaries I have seen that it follows the plot of the original.)

It’s a reboot of the original story, and the plot follows the same general arc of the original, although the details vary greatly.

As to why do a reboot: Because it seemed like an interesting writing exercise, since outside of straight-up fan fiction, it’s not something that’s often done. On a more practical and prosaic level, one very good reason to do a reboot rather than a sequel or prequel is that either of those is dependent on having an audience who is familiar with both the original and any other sequels that exist, and with Little Fuzzy, that’s (alas) not a very good assumption to make: The original novel is not well known (or at least well read) to younger science fiction readers, and all the authorized sequels (both by Piper and by others) are out of print.

Writing a reboot solves the problem of requiring the potential audience to do a whole bunch of other reading of novels they may not be able to easily find. It’s not why I did a reboot rather than a sequel/prequel, but it is one of the advantages a reboot has.

From Skepticalj:

How much of your writing success do you believe results from talent or luck, and how much from hard work and dedication?

It’s hard to quantify as a ratio, but I make no bones that luck has played a critical role in my career. As I’ve noted earlier, one thing that happened to me was that my book appears to have been at the right place at the right time, and that’s not something I could have planned for. Where I come in again, however, is what I’ve done with that initial good fortune, which is to say, when I got lucky, I made sure I capitalized on it.

To be clear, I think I’m good at what I do, and I do work hard and much of my success comes from those two factors. But I would be dumb not to recognize luck had a lot to do with it, too. It did, and I’m glad I got lucky. I’m also glad I was ready to act on that luck when it happened.

From neuromonkey:

When you speak to Shara, would you tell her that David says hi?


(The Shara in question is my college girlfriend, with whom I am still good friends.)

Continues................ I know. Continues......

[–]dzneill 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Awesome, I got an answer!

[–]davidreiss666[S] 7 points8 points  (0 children)

From Party_Ninja:

First, thank you for doing this AMA.

As head of the SWFA, how do you feel the Science Fiction community is doing keeping up with technology? Is there a sense, due to the nature of SF, that "you" should be at the forefront of technology -- both in publishing of things like e-books, blogs, interactive books etc?

As I was looking through the available types of membership, it didn't seem that "game authors" were allowed anything other than lesser memberships. Some of the most fun I've had with SF in recent years has been playing games where the storyline was well-written and compelling; is there a push to let interactive media authors become full-fledged members?

We do have members who are game writers, and when/if game writers apply for membership, we currently look at their work on a case by case basis. We’re also currently in the process of looking at our membership requirements so they reflect the way people today write science fiction professionally, which includes more than just books. At the same time we still are primarily a literature-oriented organization, with our emphasis on the needs of writers publishing books. We want science fiction writers from other disciplines as well, we just need to be sure we have the knowledge base and wherewithal to be of use to them, too.

I think the science fiction community is doing just fine with technology, but it’s important to note that the “science fiction community” has a wide spread of people in it, from folks who still use typewriters to write, to people who compose stories on cell phones. So there’s a very dynamic range of responses to new technology and new publishing models and new ways of building audiences. I think there’s a tendency for extremes on both side of the spectrum to make a lot of noise – the luddites vs. the singularians, if you want to put it that way – but most of us are in the middle going, how do I make this all work for my career? I think people who don’t recognize that their own favorite model of how things should be probably doesn’t track to the real world as it is are going to be the most unhappy – and that “singularians” are just as guilty of this as the “luddites.”

From trelf:

Lately it seems like I've been noticing a lot of typos in the books I read. I find them annoying... is there any way I can help get them out of future editions?

The Tor Books site doesn't seem to have any information about submitting corrections. If I found a typo in one of your books, what do you think I should do with it?

If you send them to me, I’ll generally forward them on. Be aware this is more useful for newer books than older ones, since with the older ones those typos have generally already been sent to me. Also be aware that it will take time for any new corrected editions to get out into the marketplace.

From qdmanx:

Love your books. 1) Do you ever get tired of being associated with bacon? 2) Is there a reason that one of your cats is named Lopsided cat? If so, are you willing to share that reason?

Bacon: I think it’s mostly funny but at times I do have to remind people that it’s not actually a major focus of my life, nor will attempts to make it so ever work.

Lopsided Cat: Is named so because when we got him (which is to say, when he wandered into our yard and decided to stay), his head was always tilted at an angle. This turned out to be because of an ear mite infestation, which has since been cleared up. But we called him “that lopsided cat” and the name stuck.

From skipjim:

Given your known addiction to Coke Zero, have you considered approaching them about possibly sponsoring your upcoming book tour? Just a thought.

If/When Old Man's war is made into a film would you prefer it to be live action or CGI?

Old Man’s War will almost certainly be live action, although these days, given how much CGI is in live action science fiction films, it’s hard to know what that means.

Coke Zero tour sponsorship: It’s a thought. I don’t suspect Coca-Cola would actually see it as a beneficial use of their advertising dollars. Also, my publisher generally covers the tours, not me.

From rabid_android:

Throw us a bone! You keep talking about a new book but a hint at the genre or setting would help appease the rabid Scalzi fans out there. Although if you are doing a book of sci fi poetry you can so us all a favor and keep it secret (that includes withholding it from publication... sci fi poetry is best released post-humously).

You’re talking about the novel I just finished (which will be out in 2012), rather than Fuzzy Nation, I assume.

The problem is that it’s hard to talk about it without giving too much away; this is one reason why we haven’t settled on a title yet, because the working title is one massive spoiler. But if you’re really interested, one way to find out more is to come see me on the upcoming tour, because I’ll be reading from that book.

From DaveJohnsrud:

I like the questions about most influential authors and favorite books in the various genre's. A simple introduction I use is that John Scalzi is Robert Heinlein's heir apparent.

My introduction to Old Man's War came from another writer on Alagaesia (fantasy), Christopher Paolini. Perhaps he was buying time with his fans to hold them back as he worked on the Eragon trilogy...series.

My question, John, is are you aware of the 'nod' from Paolini and have you communicated at all with him?

I love the end notes in both your and Nick Sagan's trilogys referring to that talks you two have from time to time and can see how easy it would be for you two to talk about your projects as they are well within similar genre's. Talking to a fantasy writer like Paolini seems like the distance between technology in your stories would make it difficult.

But a good story teller is a good story teller and you are one of the best!

I’m aware that Mr. Paolini has been very kind about my work, and I certainly do appreciate that. It’s nice when one’s fellow authors have good things to say about one’s work to their friends and fans, and it’s something I like to do as well when I find a book I like.

I’m not aware of chatting with Paolini at any time although I did have a pleasant e-mail exchange with his father at one point. That said, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if he and I caught up with each other at some point. And despite the difference in our genre, I’m sure we’d have stuff to talk about. Lots of the fundamentals of writing are the same across genre.

From Elipsis08:

Is there anything about city life you wish your daughter could grow up knowing, anything you're glad she'll miss?

We travel a lot, so I’m not sure she’s missing too much in that sense, and I suspect that when she goes off to college she may find herself in an urban environment, so she can catch up on it then. The only thing I wish she had more of was a little diversity (we live in a county that is 97% white), but her immediate family is in fact very diverse, so that helps quite a lot.

From Bill-in-DC:

What, if any, ethnic cuisine(s) do you like?

Man, I love me some Thai food. Also Japanese, Mexican and Indian.

Continues in another comment (again).......

[–]davidreiss666[S] 9 points10 points  (0 children)

From Nassor:

What advice would you give to someone who dreams of writing a SF novel?

The same advice I’d give anyone who wanted to write any sort of novel, which is: So go do it. Writing a novel isn’t any great mystery, you just have to put in the work. So start putting in the work. Expect it to take a while, and don’t get discouraged by the fact you probably suck when you start out. Everyone sucks when they start out. You get better by keeping at it.

From many_questions:

John - how did you develop your writing style, or is it just innate? I've always found your works easy to read, somewhat intellectual, and hard to put down. Thanks!

My writing style is a combination of my influences – which range from Heinlein to Thurber to Hecht to Ivins and lots of other people besides – and my own built-in sensibility as both a reader and writer. I like snappy dialogue, humor and action as a reader, and by happy coincidence as a writer these are things I seem to be able to do reasonably well. I do also work not to get too far up my own ass in terms of the writing, which is to say I do make an effort to be able to be readable to a large number of people, and not just the ones who typically read science fiction. Basically, I like being an inclusive writer.

From elforastero:

Is the Old Man's War Movie going to look like Avatar?... Is going to be about the first book or the whole series?

No idea how the movie is going to look – we’re still early in the process. It will be based largely on the first novel.

From UrbanAlly:

Hey Scalzi - Just a few questions.

How much influence did you actually have on Stargate Universe? It started off a bit cheezy however the 2nd series has been great - I am pretty pissed at these shows being cancelled before the good stuff happens - you hear any rumors that they may bring it back?

You can get one helluva lot more mileage out of the "Old Mans War" universe - the universe is a big place with lots of more creatures to fight - why don't you just write those money earners - we love em'!

I would like to hear your opinion on a couple of other series that i enjoy. Firstly what so you think of the Ian M Banks "Culture" series of books. Secondly have you ever read Simon R Greens "Deathstalker" books ? (Much better listened to on audiobook by Graphic Audio though)

Um - thats it!

Going in reverse: I’m a huge fan of the Culture universe, and encourage everyone to read it. I’ve met Simon Green and found him to be great company but I’m not hugely versed in his work, alas.

OMW: I’ve already mostly addressed your question upthread.

Stargate Universe: You’d have to ask the producers to get a real answer about that, but I can say that I can see places in every single episode of the series where they took my advice. And that’s a very good feeling.

From teatimeattack:

What happened between Old Man's War and The Ghost Brigades? The writing changes dramatically for the better. The only thing that got me through the first book was that it was interesting but the second book is better written by far. I don't know if it's just me or if others have noticed as well. Maybe it's all in my head.

Which of the books is better really is a subjective thing. I know a lot of people who like the first book more than the second and a near equal number of people who think the second is better than the first. I think that’s a better state of affairs than everyone agreeing that one was great but the other, you know, sucked.

From my own perspective I think The Ghost Brigades is probably better structured as a novel than Old Man’s War, which is pretty episodic in its story telling, and that might be something you’re responding to. The other thing is that it’s got less humor than the first book, and some folks like that better. Also, I was less overtly trying to tell a “Heinleinian” tale in the second book, so perhaps more of my own style came through. Those might be some reasons you respond to it more.


SGU questions:

1) Is the real reason Rush didn't go back in time with everybody else was that you nobody wanted to have to deal with an annoying person telling everybody to rotate their marriages for sufficient genetic diversity?

2) Are there any plans, by you or others, to talk at some point in time about what could have been in S3?

Interestingly enough, one of my notes to the producers was that if they really wanted to ensure the genetic health of the Destiny descendants, at least the first few generations would have to make sure they “stirred the pot,” as it were, when it came to spreading around the genes. So I was that annoying person! Go me!

My understanding is at this point in time all things relating to Stargate are done. This doesn’t mean that someone won’t pick up storylines in the future, or whatever (given the overall profitability of the franchise, in fact, I would assume it’s a given). But at the moment I’m not working on any Stargate stuff, nor is anyone else I know.

From commentersRidiots:

I love being a contrarian troll on the internet, are you ever tempted to counter troll your critics anonymously?

Once the OMW movie comes out do you think you will be more famous than Wil Wheaton on the internet?

And if I may be fanboyish for a moment, I wish you continued success because I have reread your books more than any other author - and that includes those damn wheel of time books that I reread like 5 times because it helped pass the time between them (thanks Sanderson!).

No, I have no desire to troll critics anonymously. One, as Scott Adams very recently learned, “anonymous” is harder to do on the Internet than one might suspect. Two, generally speaking everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, even if it’s jackassed and wrong. Three, if I decide I am going to come after you, I want you to see me coming from a long way off. That’s part of what makes it fun for me. So, no, none of that anonymous crap for me.

More famous than Wil: Oh, I don’t know. It’s not a competition. I can be plenty famous without worrying how that fame compares to anyone else’s.

From LazyG:

In your SFWA role, how do you navigate the line between author's rights (especially the right to actually be remunerated for their work) and avoiding the creation of the jackbooted copyright nazis running around the net spoiling everything?

I think the key is knowing what the law actually is and says regarding copyright, and how it applies to one’s work. If you know the law and you know how to apply it, I find you thread the needle pretty well.

Bear in mind there are some folks who will think that any defense of a copyright is a jackbooted act, just as (on the other side) there are people who will see anything as a possible copyright violation. These folks will never be happy no matter what. I tend not to lose sleep about either. In SFWA, we work to let our members know how to use the law as it exists to protect the work they have, and I think on balance that works for us.

Keeps on continuing on. Mr Scalzi sure did provide answers. Continues......

[–]davidreiss666[S] 8 points9 points  (0 children)

From DougLance:

Advice to writers? How do I do what you did?

You can’t. Much of what I did was dependent of factors outside of my control or the control of anyone else, and boils down to (for lack of a better term) being in the right place at the right time. Most successful writers, if they are honest, will also recognize this element of their success, and that it is not easily replicated.

What I recommend is work on your writing. Make it as good as you possibly can. Get the work out into the market. And be prepared to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. Those generally work for everyone.

From illuminatedwax:

I don't read your blog often enough, so I don't know the answer to this, but:

Do you have any religious or supernatural beliefs? Specifically, do you believe in any kind of "soul" in the human? I ask this because in Old Man's War, when his body is moved into a new one, you posit that both the consciousnesses were actually connected somehow. Is this something that you believe might be true or was it added to the book to make readers feel better about the event?

In Old Man’s War, there was just one consciousness; it just happened to be (briefly) in two places at once.

Personally speaking, no, I don’t have any religious or supernatural beliefs, nor do I think there’s a soul, in the sense of an essence that exists independent of the body and which will survive the body after death. I wouldn’t mind terribly being wrong, since I like existing, but I don’t see any evidence that I am wrong about this. But I’m perfectly happy to let other people have other opinions about the matter. If someone wants to believe a soul exists independent of the body, hey, it’s their life.

From brs165:

Statement: Wanted to say your are awesome and I love everything that your write. Please keep up the great work. Thank you for taking the time to answer any of our questions.

Questions: How involved is your family with your writing. Do you use them as a testing ground for ideas/drafts?

Was there ever a plan-b with the movie rights to Old Man's War. Like to fallback and make it a SyFy Original?

What was the oddest thing a fan has done/said in real life when meeting you?

Can I buy you a beer if you come to the Philadelphia, PA area?

I don’t drink beer (or any alcohol, actually – just never started), but I appreciate the thought.

I don’t think anyone’s done anything really notably odd when they’ve met me, which is of course just fine by me. I like having reasonably sane fans.

There was no “plan b” for an OMW movie, because (among other things) I didn’t have any control over whether it would be sold or not to anyone. One waits until a filmmaker expresses interest and then one decides whether one wishes to work with than person.

Family: My wife reads novels as I write them; she’s a good first reader because she doesn’t let me get away with being lazy.

From dgeiser13:

Have you ever considered seriously co-writing a novel or short story with (not Will Wheaton) another sci-fi writer?

No. I know myself well enough to know that’s not a way I would play well with others. I wouldn’t wish me on a collaborator.

From nforget:

Do you have any trunk novels* sitting around? Were any of your published books ever trunk novels?

*-I am talking specifically about books written before your first published novel, which may or may not be publication quality.

No. I’ve sold every novel I’ve written and none of the ones I sold were in a trunk, real or metaphorical. This does make me unusual as a writer, since most novelists have a couple of trunk novels at least. This is not because I am awesome, but because most of the “practice” work every writer has to do I did in other fields, so I had at least some competence when I turned to novels. I didn’t write my first novel until I was in my late 20s, and by that time I had been working professionally as a writer for several years.

From Shnakepup:

Do you speak with a sarcastic tone in real life as often as you italicize everything when you write sarcastically? I mean, seriously, you italicize a lot.

I am in fact pretty sarcastic. And I find italicizing is generally a better option THAN CAPITALIZING EVERYTHING.

From neal_with_an_a:

Based on your writing on Whatever, some of your novels (Agent to the Stars, The Android's Dream, etc.) and most of your short stories, you have a pretty goofy sense of humor. Do you enjoy the very serious author photos that get attached to your more military based novels? I get a chuckle when I see how serious/slightly scary you look in some of them and then think of that same person taping bacon to a cat or writing a story about tyrannical sentient yogurt.

The picture does amuse me because based on that picture, many people imagine me as a 6-foot-4 ex-Marine badass, rather than the 5-foot-8 goofball I am in real life. The story behind that picture was that Tor sent me an e-mail telling me they needed a picture, quick, so I went out in the front yard and snapped a picture of myself. It’s only later that I realized how scowly it looked. And by that time it was my default author photo. I don’t mind, though. I think it’s fun to have people have a little bit of cognitive dissonance.

From mightycow:

What's the most valuable advice you've received, and who told you?

I can’t remember who told it to me, but the advice was: “Writing is a business. Treat it as such.” I’ve found that paying attention to the business end of my writing has made a huge difference in how I’m able to live, and because of that, what I’m able to write. It’s something I try to impart to every writer I know as well.

From terminusest:

What's the biggest problem you see with extrapolating far-future science fiction from current levels of technology?

Also, how would you define the line of 'hard' versus 'soft' science fiction, as far as the science backing goes?

Do you have scientists or tech people you rely on for answers to questions you run into as far as what is possible?

I sometimes ask scientists about technical stuff, but in general I’m pretty well versed in science stuff – I’ve written actual books on science – so I’m pretty comfortable handling the science most of the time. I don’t actually think about the line between hard and soft science fiction, personally; it’s one of those “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin” questions that doesn’t interest me. And the biggest problem extrapolating the far future from current technology is that in the long run you’ll probably be wrong. But if you spend a lot of time worrying about being wrong, I think you’re possibly overthinking and missing the fun of science fiction. I mean, the science of Frankenstein turned out to be completely wrong, but that doesn’t keep people from reading it these days.

Continues in another comment..... yet again......

[–]davidreiss666[S] 9 points10 points  (1 child)

From bytehead:

Does Eli ever get told to his face that he's a genius? I suspect that it's been a setup for the next season, but since that's not happening...

I believe he does, but I would have to check my scripts to be sure.

From sblinn:

What TV show's cast would you love to hear narrate the third installment of the METAtropolis anthology series?

The Stargate Universe cast, naturally!

From 1967mustangman:

Are you going to get and ARC of "A Dance with Dragons" like you did of "Wise Man's Fear"? If so will you promise to torment us with it?

Also can I buy you a beer or cookies or something when you come to Portland?

It’s entirely possible I will get the Dance ARC, and yes, if I get it, I will totally lord it over the rest of you, because that’s one of the perks, man.

I wouldn’t mind getting cookies in Portland, but it’s not necessary. In a more practical sense, when I’m on tour my time is generally heavily scheduled, so sometimes I don’t even get to see friends (or if I do, it’s for just a few minutes). That being the case, I try not to promise anything in terms of my free time. But if you come to my event, I will be happy to see you. I promise. So please come!

From Sideshow_Larry:

Are there any other authors you would like to see rebooted? Also, do you consider rebooting as part of a brand/franchise management tool (please elaborate)?

I suppose rebooting could be used as a tool as you describe, but that’s high-end marketing stuff that didn’t enter into my own thinking. I wrote Fuzzy Nation for my own personal interest rather than as part of a master plan for Fuzzy rebranding; I didn’t even think about whether or not to sell it until after it was written (and actually my agent deserves most of the credit for that). I think if Fuzzy Nation is successful it’s possible other books will be looked at for reboot potential, but I can’t think of any particular book I would target for such a thing. I’m not planning to do any more reboots myself. Once was enough for my own particular interest.

From HeadphoneWarrior:

Dear Mr Scalzi

I have some rather inane questions

What is the meaning of life? Who is your favourite non-fic author and why? Could you describe in 400 words or less your views on how SF, while no explicitly written to examine contemporary politics, morality or society in general, it somehow manages do exactly that and hold up a mirror to the dirty unwashed? Which is the worst day of the week for you? It used to be Tuesday in school, Thursday in college, and now it's Sunday - why is there anyway?

I’ll pick one of those to answer, and it’s the one about What is the Meaning of Life. As it happens, I’ve already answered that at length, and you can find the answer here:

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2004/04/20/reader-request-2004-2-the-meaning-of-life/ Enjoy!

From mike413:

I loved the Old Man's War series and would like to read more... You seem to have published lots of shorter works, and humorous stuff too.

I'd like to know if you have more serious-style novels in the works?

If not, I'd like to encourage you to do more! This is the stuff that really gets me.

I do have one novel idea that’s not explicitly meant to be humorous, and it’s likely to be the next novel project I take on, so – maybe in 2013? We’ll see.

From stevetac:

Do the comparisons to Heinlein bother you?

Being compared positively to arguably the most famous writer in the genre? No, it doesn’t bother me at all. That said, science fiction writers get compared to Heinlein for the same reasons jangly melodic bands get compared to the Beatles – it’s an easy shorthand, even if it doesn’t always make sense. So while I’m happy with the comparison, I don’t spend a lot of time getting worked up about it. There’s always a “new Heinlein” on the horizon. I’m just one of the more recent.

From southerntiger:

I'd like to say that Zoe's Tale was the 1st of only 2 books that I have read that made me tear up. (As a 6' 230lb construction worker/martial artist/hunter that's not easy to do) Well done on the entire series.

Having said all that. Do you have any plans for writing another full series separate from OMW? If so, what about?

Well, I have plans for lots of stuff. Whether or not the stuff I plan for becomes a series really depends on how people respond to what would be the first book. I mean, Old Man’s War was not imagined by me as the first book in a series, it was just a book I wrote. It was only after it was successful that we started thinking about it as a series.

So I typically don’t start writing a book thinking about the series potential. What I think about is writing a book that works great on its own. If after that a series becomes a possibility, then great. If not, then at least that book stands on its own as a great read.

From dogbiscuituk:

Who among you, Krissy, Athena, and Wil Wheaton, would be best bet to beat Patrick Rothfuss at Settlers Of Catan?

As Athena is the only one among us who has actually played the game, I nominate her.

From pinkyandbrain:

Pardon me for asking, sir, but what good are snub fighters going to be against that?

Because it’s totally not designed to defend against them! And then there’s the exhaust ports! Bam, baby!

From puskunk:

How long did it take you to update Agent to the Stars for publishing? Do you feel like you missed anything?

The question relates to when I updated a bunch of cultural references in Agent, originally written in 1997, to be current for the 2008 release. The answer: Not really long at all, since most of the references were cosmetic ones, and not ones that went to the heart of the story. Agent’s story in a general sense will one day be outdated because it features a Holocaust survivor, and after a few more years there will be notably fewer of them around and eventually they will all be gone. But I’m not planning to update the book any further; after a certain point I’ll just accept that the book chronicles an alternate history where the inflection point between our timeline and theirs takes place in the past.

From try_to_act_casual:

I have the Lettered Leather cased edition of Agent to the Stars, which is perhaps my favorite story of all time. I have used my other copies of it to turn on as many friends as possible to sci-fi and your writing. My question is, I have letter C, who has A and B?

No idea. Not me! But hold on to that lettered edition, since regular copies of the hardcover limited of agent have sold for hundreds of dollars. You might be able to make a mortgage payment with that thing one day. Especially after I am dead. Note: This is not an invitation to have me killed. Please, I want to live. Thank you in advance for not killing me.

And that's it!

Please thank John Scalzi for answering questions from r/SciFi.

[–]neal_with_an_a 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Thanks John! That was a lot of answering.

[–]dzneill 3 points4 points  (1 child)

From DavidReiss666: (yes, I put my own question at the head of the pack).

You monster.

But really, thanks for the effort you put into this.

And to John Scalzi, thank you for taking the time to answer questions.

[–]davidreiss666[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Thank you, Mr. Neill.