With profane expressions of delight
May 24, 2015 9:04 PM   Subscribe

MeFi's own John Scalzi, author of numerous popular books and a blog almost as popular as said books, has done okay.
posted by Megami (108 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
 
I eagerly await Beta Rabbit instructions for Phase II.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:09 PM on May 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


Nice work, Scalzi. Now take out the trash.

Seriously, it's great to see a great author and person get his well-deserved rewards. Puppies be damned.
posted by jferg at 9:09 PM on May 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oh fuck, I thought this was an obit at first!
posted by oceanjesse at 9:12 PM on May 24, 2015 [18 favorites]


This news is going to make some puppies very very sadder. Gonna be a lot of computer monitors flecked with spittle as they try and fail to process this.

Congrats to John. This should give him enough funds to commission a second black velvet painting of one Wil Wheaton.
posted by Ber at 9:12 PM on May 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I demand a photo with him and a hat made of money.

Even if it's monopoly money.
posted by nickggully at 9:13 PM on May 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


Bravo, Scalzi! I look forward to buying and reading all 13 of these books over the next 10 years.
posted by Alterscape at 9:14 PM on May 24, 2015


Goodness, that's a lot of money. Congrats John!
posted by ashbury at 9:14 PM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why 13? Is 1.3 per year his average?
posted by Segundus at 9:16 PM on May 24, 2015




I really like how he was branded as "rich" when he showed pictures of a half-acre front lawn that was mowed recently.

Man, if we can funnel Plutocratic Wealth to a science fiction writer in proportion to their awesomeness, jscalzi would be measuring his own private island. Off the coast of New England, as those cost more.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:18 PM on May 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well, next time you come to NYC and you wanna hang, you're buying dude.
posted by jonmc at 9:19 PM on May 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


Man, thirteen books in one agreement sounds like a lot. Is that kind of contract normal in sf, or is this a historic megadeal?
posted by No-sword at 9:21 PM on May 24, 2015


That's only $340,000 a year. I sure hope he lives in a rent controlled apartment!
posted by blue_beetle at 9:23 PM on May 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


Damn, I guess I better read something by this fellow! Any recommendations on a book to start with?
posted by wyndham at 9:28 PM on May 24, 2015


"only" $340,000 a year
posted by mokin at 9:28 PM on May 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


Start at the beginning with Old Man's War, and go from there.

I wonder why there hasn't been a movie of that yet. I'm sure it would've been optioned by the movie optioning people.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:29 PM on May 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


John Scalzi, a best-selling author of science fiction, has signed a $3.4 million, 10-year deal with the publisher Tor Books that will cover his next 13 books.

This news is good.

Three of his works are being developed for television, including “Redshirts” and “Lock In,” a science-inflected medical thriller

This news is also good!

Some of the books will extend the popular “Old Man’s War” series, building on an existing audience, and one will be a sequel to “Lock In.”

This news is excellent. I had really been hoping for a "Lock In" sequel, and here it is.
posted by Pink Frost at 9:31 PM on May 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


Thank you very much turbid dahlia! I will do so. And according to wiki it was optioned in 2011, but I guess nothing ever came of that.
posted by wyndham at 9:34 PM on May 24, 2015


The best thing about it is the actors playing the supertroopers could wear the green bodysuits but then they wouldn't actually need to be CGI'd or anything 'cause they'd already be green.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:36 PM on May 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


I really like how he was branded as "rich" when he showed pictures of a half-acre front lawn that was mowed recently.

I remember that! It's still hilarious to me. Ohio, people. Most of our state is rural, big yards are the norm in ruralia.

So happy for Scalzi and his family! Love it when a fellow Ohioan makes good.
posted by MissySedai at 9:40 PM on May 24, 2015 [9 favorites]


Oh fuck, I thought this was an obit at first!

No kidding. Right up until the word "has" in the FPP text I was thinking the worst.

Good for him, this is great news. It is always a pleasant surprise to see a nice person who writes good books being rewarded for it in such a manner.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:41 PM on May 24, 2015


This is cool and all-- I've read a few of Scalzi's books, sold a lot of 'em when I sold books, and think he's good at writing nonthreatenining 101 social justice stuff-- but god, there's got to be a list as long as my arm of authors who deserve this as much or more than he does and don't have it because they're not hetero white men, and it always kind bums me out when the person who's made to be a primary hero fighting against reactionary misogynists is male.

Maybe he'll be able to help give some steps up to women and POC while he's up there, and I think he does use some of the social capital that he has for that. But I guess I'm just not so excited to see people winning the game when I know they're playing on easy, you know?
posted by NoraReed at 9:44 PM on May 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


Good deal.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:45 PM on May 24, 2015


What's mind-blowing about this isn't the money, it's that he's selling more than 10,000 books a month. Those are crazy numbers. Almost no novels sell 10,000 copies ever. Or so I thought! Forgive me if this is wrong but I didn't even think of Scalzi as one of the very best-selling SF authors. Is SF just way, way, way, way more popular than I have ever imagined? Are there a bunch of authors out there selling 10,000 copies every month?
posted by escabeche at 9:49 PM on May 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


Pretty good for a "Science Fiction Writer" - not Tom Clancy/Stephen King/Dan Brown level, but they're not considered "Science Fiction Writers" [rolls eyes] ◔_◔

But still more $$ than any Rabid Puppy will make in the next 10 years (unless Vox Day can sign Bill O'Reilly to his publishing imprint)... but then, based on what they CLAIM Scalzi's sales REALLY are, that's about $5000 per copy.

I guess I'm just not so excited to see people winning the game when I know they're playing on easy, you know?
...which he acknowledged some time ago.
not bragging, but this straight white male started buying Ursula K. LeGuin and Margaret Atwood books back before ol' Scalz' even started blogging
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:53 PM on May 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


You just know he's gonna spend it all on lawncare.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:39 PM on May 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


[A couple of comments deleted. Before we break into a huge derail and/or flamewar here, I'll ask that we maybe not begin with hyperbole about NoraReed's comment ("not so excited" does not equal "white men can go to hell"), and stick to discussion about the topic rather than making it personal. It's okay if someone is not perfectly thrilled about the news, or if someone else is completely delighted; It's a discussion.]
posted by taz (staff) at 10:43 PM on May 24, 2015 [18 favorites]


Good on ya, jscalzi!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:49 PM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Grats, jscalzi--I look forward to reading every single one of those books.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 10:52 PM on May 24, 2015


I wonder why there hasn't been a movie of that yet. I'm sure it would've been optioned by the movie optioning people.

It was, but the last I heard, it'll be a TV series instead.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 10:59 PM on May 24, 2015


This made me very happy when I heard the news. Good for him, and good for my bookshelf!
posted by rtha at 11:01 PM on May 24, 2015


Fortheloveofjam don't start the post like it's an obit, my heart was sinking! Uh, anyway, congrats!
posted by Zarkonnen at 11:13 PM on May 24, 2015


Well, congratulations to Mr. Scalzi. I think it's not a zero sum game - if one science fiction writer (who turns out to be white, male, etc) does well, that doesn't detract from other SF writers who may be POC, female, etc. It's probably good news for all SF writers - a rising tide lifts all ships(?)

Let me just say though, thirteen books is a LOT of books. I don't know how comfortable most other writers would be, asserting that they have thirteen more books in them waiting to be written.
posted by newdaddy at 11:15 PM on May 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


I don't know how comfortable most other writers would be, asserting that they have thirteen more books in them waiting to be written.

Depends on the writer. Some writers actually find the process of writing pretty painful, or have a very hard time letting a book go. Others would probably consider thirteen books to be about right for the first cycle of the prequel phase for their magnum opus Sword of the Quantum King, not counting the parallel series, Axe of the Quark Queen. The books of Scalzi's that I've read have not been overly long, so I don't think that getting them out will be as difficult as it is for a certain other well-known (and highly-criticized for not being more prolific) SFF author.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:24 PM on May 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ten years... thirteen books... talk about lock in!
posted by smammy at 11:50 PM on May 24, 2015


10,000 copies a month is like Rip Foster.
The Kirkus isn't the easiest to sail with such a good review.
Congrats.
posted by clavdivs at 11:50 PM on May 24, 2015


Daaaamn, now that is a man who is not afraid of commitment.

Well done, jscalzi. Looking forward to this massive pile of books to come.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:59 PM on May 24, 2015


Sincere congratulations on your success and I hope that the new arrangement will prove a boon to your creativity.
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:41 AM on May 25, 2015


They $3.4 million is basically an advance for a multi book commitment isn't it? If they sell well (as they have in the past) he should stand to make more....
posted by cardboard at 12:52 AM on May 25, 2015


An occasion like this calls for schnapps!
posted by Krom Tatman at 1:05 AM on May 25, 2015


Party at jscalzi's house. He's buying the beer.
posted by Justinian at 1:52 AM on May 25, 2015


Having just come from the GoT thread I'm realizing that if GRRM signed a 13 book deal it would be completed in roughly 2128.
posted by Justinian at 1:53 AM on May 25, 2015 [10 favorites]


I liked it when this showed up on my fb feed earlier and I like it now. Go jscalzi, keep doing your thing.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 2:22 AM on May 25, 2015


hyper-caffeinated Internet presence

Heh.
posted by octothorpe at 3:58 AM on May 25, 2015


Is that kind of contract normal in sf, or is this a historic megadeal?

Alastair Reynolds signed a £1million ten book deal in 2009, which is the only other deal of this size I can remember.
posted by penguinliz at 4:02 AM on May 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


REALITY CHECK (from another front-list SF author):

Congratulations are due, but John is not a millionaire. Rather, he's like an academic who just got tenure as a professor—or at least a 10 year contract.

Let me explain how the $3.2M gets divided up:

Firstly, it's for 13 books. That's pretty hardcore: it used to be normal for authors to deliver a book a year, but these days we try to go a bit faster in order to stay visible. So, say it's a ten year deal. (He might be able to do two books a year at first, but it gets harder, says the guy currently working on edits to book 7 of one series and the first draft of book 7 of a different series. Trust me on this.)

John's agent is happy. John's agent nets a 15% commission on the deal.

Tor's marketing people are happy. Tor just made headlines, which is difficult with a $3.2M book deal—consider how many headlines you see about the usual celebrity book (e.g. supermodels, Hollywood stars, footballers, politicians)? (And they often sell for rather more than $3.2M, even though the publisher loses money on them, because they're prestige projects. John is not with Tor because of the prestige, he's there because he makes them money.)

John is happy because, if he delivers the books and if they sell well-enough that Tor don't start looking for the eject handle on the multi-book contract (and trust me, all multi-book contracts come with a clause that enables the publisher to cut loose in emergency) then he can look forward to an income stream of approximately $200,000 per book, averaging $240K/year for a decade.

Now for some small print

Tor are buying world rights including foreign language subrights or I'm a banana. (Often an author might sell only North American rights, selling overseas English rights separately and licensing their own translations. Hint: the rest of the world is a big market. No one chunk of it is as big as the US market, but in aggregate it can make you as much, or even more, money depending how you approach it.)

The deal will be joint accounted or again, I'm a banana. Joint accounting means that the gross advance of $3.2M is applied across all the books. Even if, say, books 1, 2, 3 go best-seller, John won't see a bent nickel of royalties until the entire $3.2M advance has been covered. He could earn $1M from each of those books and still only be seeing $240K a year roll in (until book 4 also goes bestseller at which point, visualize Scrooge McDuck rolling on his mattress stuffed with $100 bills).

Payments will be staged. It is normal to pay book advances in tranches. A first tranche is paid on signing, a second on delivery and acceptance of each book, and a third on publication of each book: usually a third each time. But because of the sum in play here, John's agent is very unlikely to have asked for a $1M on-signing payment followed by $100K for each delivery and publication, because John would get clobbered for income tax up-front. So, realistically, John is likely to be receiving about $100K a year as part of the on-signing, then $100K every time he delivers a book ready for production, and another chunk when it's published. There might be something like a $250K signing-up sweetener, in which case reduce the on-delivery payments accordingly. The books will probably flow on a production line at 10-12 month intervals, so basically he's getting a 4-monthly pay check.

TLDR: John is not an overnight millionaire. Rather, he has received a really valuable asset: job security for a decade or more, with a steady guaranteed income stream and the remote possibility of a gigantic bonus some years down the line if something goes bestseller after the earlier books earn out the gross advance.

Meanwhile, Tor got some really good publicity (as did John's agent) without forking out $3.2M in cold, hard cash.
posted by cstross at 4:37 AM on May 25, 2015 [175 favorites]


penguinliz: A couple of years back my editor at Ace asked me what I'd do if she offered me that sort of deal—huge headline figure, but running over a ten book contract. (This was while we were negotiating about my fifth two-book deal with her.)

I observed that I'd be very flattered, but a ten-book deal is kind of onerous. You're handcuffing yourself to your publisher for a decade. What happens if in five years time you decide you'd much rather be writing mainstream literary novels, or surreal humour? Yes, you get job security—but you're tying your own future hands and thereby avoiding not only risk, but currently unforeseeable opportunities.

I currently run on two-book rolling contracts with my publishers holding a right of first refusal on my next book. (This is a formality: if we can't agree on what I write next, then they decline to offer another contract and I'm free to take it elsewhere.) It's like the difference between buying a mobile phone on contract for 2 years, or running on rolling monthly terms: I've got a lot more flexibility.

Final afterthought: John is 46. I'm 50. There's a psychological difference. For him, that 13 book deal keeps him busy into his mid to late 50s. For me, I'd be staring past the big Six Zero. I think it gets harder to contemplate such a long term plan the older you get (and the closer you come to that final horizon none of us gets to see past).
posted by cstross at 4:48 AM on May 25, 2015 [25 favorites]


On the Internet, nobody knows you're a banana.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 4:49 AM on May 25, 2015 [25 favorites]


The trick is, it's the same book 13 times over, with the character names changed!
posted by blue_beetle at 4:54 AM on May 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm amused that anyone would think that half an acre in Ohio is extravagant.
posted by octothorpe at 5:06 AM on May 25, 2015 [12 favorites]


I so very much want to see how the anti-Scalzi contingent spins this. They'll need to change the argument from "He doesn't sell", but to what?

(I enjoy his books; I've read all of them. I think they are not terribly memorable books, but I think they are exactly the kind of books he is intending to write and they fulfil their goals admirably.)
posted by jeather at 5:13 AM on May 25, 2015


Scalzi's buying the first round.

Congrats, sir! It's always fun to see real talent get the recognition it deserves.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:31 AM on May 25, 2015


blue_beetle: "The trick is, it's the same book 13 times over, with the character names changed!"

Or the same book, told from the viewpoint of a different character, nobody would think of that! Wait...
posted by signal at 6:08 AM on May 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Somebody's "I help fund Metafilter" profile star is getting some platinum and spinning rims...
posted by dr_dank at 6:12 AM on May 25, 2015


There are comments here implying that some people are anti-Scalzi. Who? Why?

To end on a more positive note: I am going to buy "Old Man's War" or something else of his right now. I've not yet read anything by this dude, but now I'm curious.
posted by amtho at 6:26 AM on May 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Who?

MRAs and those people who are totally completely concerned with ethics in game journalism. Also maybe some racists?

Why?

Because he doesn't go out of his way to harass women, has intimated that doing so is bad manners, and has said some arguably unkind things about people who like to harass women.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:40 AM on May 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


Let me explain how the $3.2M gets divided up:

Thanks, Charles. I was coming in here to ask that.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:05 AM on May 25, 2015


Who?
MRAs and those people who are totally completely concerned with ethics in game journalism.


Far more than you need to know on the subject, over 2013/14. Doesn't cover the latest Sad Puppy/Hugo ballot box griefing that's currently underway.
posted by bonehead at 7:20 AM on May 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


I so very much want to see how the anti-Scalzi contingent spins this.

Here you go. Part dissection/speculation of the deal, part disparagement of the man and his books, part kudos for getting the deal, part contempt for not getting a better deal.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:48 AM on May 25, 2015


I'm amused that anyone would think that half an acre in Ohio is extravagant.

He probably had to pay extra to get such a manageable lawn. It's like that old saw: I was planning to write you a short letter but I didn't have time, so I wrote you a long one.
posted by chavenet at 7:50 AM on May 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


part contempt for not getting a better deal

The mind, she boggles.

Your average agented midlist SF/F book advance from a big five publisher is on the order of $10-20,000. So for a 13 book deal, $130K-$250K ... except 13 book deals don't happen to midlist writers.

So they're sneering at John for not getting more than 20 times as much as your average author?
posted by cstross at 7:56 AM on May 25, 2015 [8 favorites]



The trick is, it's the same book 13 times over, with the character names changed!


E. L. James's Crimson Blouses will soon be on best seller lists and in airport bookshops every where.
posted by maryr at 8:07 AM on May 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


If one of the best-known authors in science fiction can only command $260k per book from the biggest science fiction publisher, then conventional publishing does not appear to be long for this world.
I have no idea how much authors earn, but 250k a book seems like a lot for all but the very top echelon. I'm sure JK Rowling and James Patterson get more, but the word "only" seems really misplaced here, and I can't begin to imagine how this means that publishing is about to end.
If [Scalzi] hadn't done something like this, [Tor would] almost certainly have put him on the back burner after his next OMW novel.
Because he . . . forced Tor to do this deal? It was "make a 13 book deal or stop advertising his books"? That doesn't sound like a normal set of options.
posted by jeather at 8:08 AM on May 25, 2015


I don't know why I'm looking for sense at VD's blog, though.
posted by jeather at 8:09 AM on May 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


The Wages of Sin
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:10 AM on May 25, 2015


Scalzi: About That Deal (includes rough outline of the 13 books)
posted by effbot at 8:11 AM on May 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


I don't know why I'm looking for sense at VD's blog, though.

Yeah, please don't copy stuff from there to sane Internet. You can assume that everyone who comments there are well aware of how deeply damaged that guy is, and somehow thinks that's ok, so the odds that anyone there would say anything worth reading are pretty much zero.
posted by effbot at 8:14 AM on May 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


From effbot's link: There are other revenue streams: Audio isn’t covered in this deal, for example. Neither are foreign language sales, or film/TV.

You heard it here first: cstross is a banana!
posted by rtha at 8:17 AM on May 25, 2015 [16 favorites]


Congratulations jscalzi!
posted by tofu_crouton at 8:19 AM on May 25, 2015


Oh, very cool. Stability is definitely not to be sneezed at--and stability with a very decent amount of money is better yet.

Also: it is entirely thanks to MetaFilter (and jscalzi's interactions on this site...um, hi) that when I found myself in Powell's the other month looking for Sharon Shinn's new series and found the John Scalzi section on the way, I picked up Old Man's War.
posted by librarylis at 8:38 AM on May 25, 2015


If one of the best-known authors in science fiction can only command $260k per book from the biggest science fiction publisher, then conventional publishing does not appear to be long for this world.

I'm not sure conventional publishing is as profitable as in the past, but a competent and talented person being paid enough to educate his children and retire well is not going to trouble me for its meagerness. I think success does not really require that one become able to buy a small town.
posted by amtho at 8:39 AM on May 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


When Kirkus Reviews stars your book as "classic crowd-pleasing Scalzi ... Delightful, compulsively readable, and even somewhat nutritious brain candy" and you announce a decade-spanning multi-million dollar book deal in the same week, you know you're doing pretty okay. Congratulations, jscalzi!
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:42 AM on May 25, 2015


I am thoroughly delighted for Scalzi. I love the Old Man's War books sincerely, and for me they stand up for rereading. And I also love Whatever and appreciate all the work he does do promoting other author's work, both when he was working for the SFWA and on his blog. One of my friends published her first book last year (Monica Byrne, The Girl in the Road, you should read it! It's great!), and Scalzi blurbed it, and had her write a Big Idea post on his blog, and mentioned it as a novel to consider for Hugo nominations. I really just think that's something, that he does do all that, when not a lot of folks of his profile do.
posted by hydropsyche at 8:52 AM on May 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


A nice-to-see aspect of Scalzi's blog is that he quite frequently gives space over to talking about other people's books. Either the "big idea" section where an author starts a discussion of their latest, or the ARCs where there's just a pile of books and he lets people rave about what they're happy to see. This doesn't seem to be limited in any way to his friends or people he personally is huge fans of.

It admittedly doesn't cost him much, but always struck me as a generous gesture.
posted by mark k at 8:53 AM on May 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


I love the Old Man's War books sincerely, and for me they stand up for rereading.

They're light and fun with a kind of Heinlein-ey voice but without all that... baggage.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:18 AM on May 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


Starship Troopers -> The Forever War -> Armor -> OMW.

I'll take the $400 box in the future warriors books worth reading category, Alex.
posted by bonehead at 9:22 AM on May 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Don't know if the lesson still applies but Scalzi hooked me early by giving his stuff away for free. Stross too. They are both firmly in the "shut up and take my money" club. Oh, and Watts.
posted by whuppy at 9:32 AM on May 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


As a small, niche publisher I am resolute in my happiness when I see good people getting good deals from major publishers! Congratulations are in order!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:45 AM on May 25, 2015


it always kind bums me out when the person who's made to be a primary hero fighting against reactionary misogynists is male.

To be fair, this is not so much Scalzi's fault as that of his enemies, who seem obsessed by him and lack the worldview to be able to imagine that other people might be interested in social justice without needing a white man to lead them.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:56 AM on May 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


The deal will be joint accounted or again, I'm a banana.

You're, again, a banana.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:59 AM on May 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


I was a banana long before it was popular.

Good on you, John.
posted by mule98J at 10:13 AM on May 25, 2015


* A sequel to Lock In, the title of which I shall now reveal exclusively here — Yes! I am giving myself an exclusive! — as: Head On;

jscalzi, if you don't slip "apply directly to the forehead" somewhere in that novel, I will -
um.
Be very disappointed in you.
posted by Lemurrhea at 10:17 AM on May 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


Since so many writers get a generous promotional boost on his blog, Whatever, I think a rising tide of eyeballs could help lift a lot of boats.
posted by puddledork at 10:30 AM on May 25, 2015


ROU_Xenophobe: I will note that, per Patterson's magisterial Heinlein biography, the guy was notably complex: he had wrinkles on his angles. We see Heinlein today as the curmudgeonly old proto-libertarian white dude he developed into, but studying history is like staring through the wrong end of a telescope: we tend to forget that he was already in his teens by the time the first world war ended. He was born more than a century ago ...

Expecting modern progressive attitudes from a guy of that vintage is a real reach. Nevertheless, he was (prior to his late middle-aged ossification) a free-thinker by the standards of his culture. Even later on in his career he was trying to grapple with subjects in SF that weren't really on the white mainstream culture's radar. In his first 40 years ... well: Free love movement, naturist movement, ran as a candidate for a left-wing party, got black-balled by the USN (hence not getting called up during WW2), hung out with thelemites and rocket scientists, was into bleeding-edge theories of consciousness. Even his time in the Navy wasn't quite normal: he went to Annapolis in the first instance because it was his only way to study astronomy given his background (university was an elite institution back then).

If he'd been born 50 years later (in 1957 rather than 1907) and still found his way into writing SF, I'm seeing him as a shaven-headed, tatooed regular at Burning Man with a background in a successful dot-com (because Silicon Valley is this era's cognate for the rocketry that fascinated Heinlein in the 30s and 40s). Possibly poly, possibly bi, 100% radical. And the puppies would be denouncing him as part of the liberal conspiracy ...
posted by cstross at 10:39 AM on May 25, 2015 [27 favorites]


Was Heinlein really blackballed into getting out of the service? If so, source? Maybe that Patterson biography? (His Wikipedia article has him getting a medical discharge due to tuberculosis; I'd always attributed the politics of Starship Troopers, not to mention his rather intemperate letter to Forrest Ackerman, as the result of his having been indoctrinated into the military mindset at Annapolis, but not having had that mitigated by actual combat experience.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:50 AM on May 25, 2015


Yeah, please don't copy stuff from there to sane Internet

Someone asked, I answered. You don't like the link, don't read it. Others here are clearly having fun with it.
posted by IndigoJones at 10:55 AM on May 25, 2015


Was Heinlein really blackballed into getting out of the service?

Nope. He was invalided out. However, he seems to have been blackballed from being recalled to active service during WW2 after a letter he wrote in 1938. (Source: the Patterson bio, which in turn provides references.)

I read Starship Troopers as a thought experiment in what a nation on a permanent state of war would look like.
posted by cstross at 10:59 AM on May 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm delighted for Scalzi and even more delighted that not all the books are in the same series.
posted by immlass at 11:02 AM on May 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, 13 would probably be too many more Old Man's War books.
posted by hydropsyche at 11:06 AM on May 25, 2015


Agent to the Stars, indeed. This is really good news as far as I'm concerned.
posted by OmieWise at 11:22 AM on May 25, 2015


If he'd been born 50 years later (in 1957 rather than 1907) and still found his way into writing SF, I'm seeing him as a shaven-headed, tatooed regular at Burning Man with a background in a successful dot-com

So you're saying it could be worse!
posted by escabeche at 11:31 AM on May 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


We see Heinlein today as the curmudgeonly old proto-libertarian white dude he developed into

Ironically, I was thinking more of the free love, cross time to shag your own (grand?)parents, I Will Fear No Evil baggage than the conservative-military Starship Troopers baggage.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:42 AM on May 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


So many people complained about Verhoeven's 'Starship Troopers' (and were wrong, it's great). I still hold that the most spiritually accurate adaptation of the original ST text is 'Black Hawk Down'. And that's not a good thing.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:25 PM on May 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yay! More Scalzi books to read!
posted by ocherdraco at 1:27 PM on May 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


13 books in a decade is a pretty hefty load by any measure. And cstross laid out how the deal is more of a realistic "here's the promise of stability contingent upon a hell of a lot of work" - hey, not all that different from many of our jobs! - rather than the "cash in and live the easy life" some might think.

Not that there's any relevant comparison, but Lena Dunham signed a $3.7 million deal for a single, fairly light book - that started showing up in bargain bins just a few months later! Ahh, love it.
posted by naju at 3:21 PM on May 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


posted by IndigoJones at 10:48 AM on May 25

Thanks for going over to Beale's page and checking. (I won't give the Crazy Person the traffic.)

Lots of sour grapes by a very failed human about the success of a much finer example of humanity.

Now I'm wondering if Beale has ever earned his own way in the world. ("His" "publishing company" is actually registered to his mommy, isn't it?)
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 5:21 PM on May 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I so very much want to see how the anti-Scalzi contingent spins this.

Who cares? Let us simply rest in the knowledge that we may drink deep of their delicious rage tears for many years to come.

Each time a new Scalzi book emerges shiny and steaming from the word mines, a new delectable torrent shall gush forth. I promise to use them to make ice for daquiris.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:39 PM on May 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Speaking here as a fledgling genre writer, I'm delighted about Scalzi's deal and about his ongoing success. His revenue allows the Tors of the world enough of an operating cushion to take a chance on writers like me who decidedly don't sell even a thousand books a month now, or maybe ever. For every Scalzi, EL James, Patterson, Rowling, King, there are a hundred other writers who get a chance at a career because of that money. And good books beget more readers! It's seriously win-win-win.
posted by Andrhia at 6:07 PM on May 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


I've been working on my first novel for 25 years now. One. It may well be a novella by the time I'm done with it, because there's not a lot of meat, there.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:45 PM on May 25, 2015


Much as I'm disappointed that Scalzi isn't actually going to dive into a pool of money, I'm very pleased for him otherwise. Also, yay sequels to books I like, and other books I will probably like too!
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:29 PM on May 25, 2015


Divide that total by thirteen and it's not quite so much, but I'm happy that Scalzi has a decent source of income for the foreseeable future.

Also, I'm delighted to hear about an upcoming 'Lock In' sequel.
posted by yellowcandy at 10:53 PM on May 25, 2015


It would be surreal to read people on the internet discussing the details of how much money I make. I understand that John Scalzi is famous and I'm (thankfully) not, but it must be weird. I wouldn't blame him if he doesn't make an appearance in this post because actually engaging with people on the internet to discuss the details of how much money I make would be even weirder.

If and when I ever write my Great American Novel, I'm definitely going the Cecil Adams route.
posted by double block and bleed at 12:37 AM on May 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Guardian: Single page of notes wins SF author John Scalzi $3.4m deal (includes cstross quotes from this thread).
posted by effbot at 5:59 AM on May 26, 2015


I really like how he was branded as "rich" when he showed pictures of a half-acre front lawn that was mowed recently.

Dang, maybe that means I'm rich, too! (I wouldn't have guessed otherwise.)
posted by aught at 6:47 AM on May 26, 2015


The idea of Vox Day sitting at home reading this and taking generous slugs out of a bottle of Pepto-Bismol only makes this news the more sweet.
posted by foldedfish at 7:33 AM on May 26, 2015


Congratulations on getting paid like a medium level lawyer or banker! Shame that you have to be among the best of the world's writers to do so.
posted by benzenedream at 12:06 AM on May 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


More press for The Scalzi Deal from WaPo.

And that half-acre in Ohio... similar yardage within 100 miles of L.A. where he grew up would cost his whole $3.4M. (Here 180 miles up the coast, it's a little less than half that, but still a lot more than he paid in John Boehner's congressional district.)
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:33 PM on May 28, 2015


From that WaPo link:
Were there any particular insights that came out of the experiment with “The Human Division”? Did people who bought it in installments also buy hardcovers? I’d be curious what behavior you observed there.

One of the things that we saw is that it didn’t really have an effect on the sales of the hardcover that we could see. There’s a market of people who are really into digital, and there’s a market of people who are really into print, and there’s some overlap. But by and large it was an opportunity to address two markets in a significant way. There’s a third market as well, which is audio book, which has expanded tremendously, and that’s the same kind of dynamic that’s going on there. Audio people really like the audio book, digital people really like to read in digital, and print people really like to read in print. So what we actually found, we sold hundreds of thousands of individual copies of the episodes of “The Human Division.” And then when the book came out, the book sold exactly in line with previous “Old Man’s War” books. So we didn’t lose any readers. We didn’t cannibalize our readership in any significant way as far as we could see. So that was a really useful insight: There are distinct markets if you take the time to address them.
Really interesting, and not what I would have thought.
posted by rtha at 9:43 PM on May 28, 2015


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