Friday, August 15, 2008

John Scalzi Answers Questions Five

John Scalzi has quickly risen to become one of the most popular science fiction writers out there right now. This has lead to nomination for several high-profile awards, including wins for the John C. Campbell Award and most recently, the Hugo for Best Fan Writer – he missed winning Best Novel for The Last Colony (US, UK, Canada) by less than 10 votes. He is best known for his series of books that starts with Old Man’s War (US, UK, Canada), with his latest, Zoë’s Tale (US, UK, Canada, my review), a stand-alone set within the Old Man’s War universe. However, Scalzi is possibly even better known for his blogging at Whatever, which he has been doing since 1998.

I thank John for taking the time to participate in Questions Five.

YA – Why or why not?

JS: Seriously? I think getting kids to enjoy reading is a pretty necessary step, and also essential for genre, which lives or dies on its ability to hook readers on its product before they're old enough to be convinced by a bunch of illiterate teenage popularity mongers that reading genre isn't cool. So we really need to lay the table for young readers. Not every SF/F writer can or should write YA, but we need to make sure that those who do write YA in SF/F are really good writers.

What advice do you have to give to men in their late 30s pretending to be teenage girls?

JS: Trying to hang around actual teenage girls (say, in the mall), will get arrested and/or having you collect those delightful documents known as restraining orders. Instead, rely on those women you know who are closer to your age, and have them use their own memories of being a teenager to check your character voice. No restraining orders or arrests (unless, you know, you're just that sort of loser), and your own level of self esteem will be considerably higher, because unlike teenage girls, these female friends of yours will not look at you with an expression of vague disgust.

Fill in the blank: Kids today just don’t appreciate the value of ___. How does Zoë’s Tale reflect this?

JS: Kids these days don't appreciate the value of my mortgage, and Zoë’s Tale gives them an opportunity to correct this by sending me money. Hopefully, many of them shall do just that.

More seriously, I'm pretty sure kids today have the same level of appreciation for the value of (x) as they did in my day, which is, not much unless it's directly some aspect of their lives that they need to focus on RIGHT NOW. Being a teenager is an inherently selfish process, because being a teenager is about defining one's self. You stop being a teenager (or more accurately an adolescent) when you start seeing others and their needs on the same level of consideration as you see yourself and your needs.

Why should Zoë’s Tale be the next book that everyone reads?

JS: It doesn't have to be; I'd be happy with it simply being the next book everyone buys (and then, you know, reads at their leisure). But I do hope they read it because I'm very happy with the character of Zoë; I think in fact that she's one of the best characters I've ever written. Also, the title really does reflect the book -- it really is her story, and how, to go back to a previous question, she moves out of adolescence and toward adulthood. Plus, there's snarky dialogue, and how can you not like that.

What peculiar qualities of Ragamuffin should readers be aware of?*

JS: They should be aware that this Nebula-nominated tale of action and adventure is fully and comprehensively made of win. Is this a peculiar quality? Well, as one of only five novels nominated for the Nebula last year, it is certainly rare, at the very least.

*Astute readers will quickly realize that Ragamuffin (US, UK, Canada) was written by Tobias Buckell and not John Scalzi. This is a rather embarrassing error on my part and clear example of the trouble cutting and pasting can get you into when you don’t take the time to review. Thankfully, John was a real sport about it and we agreed to leave it as is since pimping Toby is fine thing in and of itself. It is worth mentioning that the same day Zoë’s Tale is released (August 19, 2008), Sly Mongoose (US, UK, Canada) by Tobias Buckell is also being released. Since both authors live in Ohio, some people have begun referring to August 19, 2008 as “Ohio is Coming To Kick Your Ass With Science Fiction” Day – originally declared (of course) by John Scalzi.


Aidan Moher said...

Good work, guys!

A Dribble of Ink

kendall said...

Great to have John Scalzi answer Questions Five! And the final Q&A amused me greatly. ;-)

Carl V. said...

Very fun interview, so glad you got the chance to do it. I've been sneaking glances at my local bookstore, hoping they would somehow get it in early but no such luck. Can't wait until the 19th!!!

Carl V. said...

And lo and behold I went to a Border's today and guess what was on the New Releases shelf! Quantum Solace, the new James Bond short story collection...oh, and of course Zoe's Tale! Yay!!! I know what I'll be reading tonight and tomorrow!

Neth said...


I'm glad that you managed to get your hands on a copy a few days early. I think you'll enjoy it.


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