John Scalzi on the ups and downs of book tours


Originally published at:


A big down side of book tours includes things like the time that I saw Mr. Scalzi at a bookstore autograph event, then realized that I didn’t want anything to do with him, and stopped buying his books. (Hint: Never meet your idols.)


that’s like refusing to listen to Wagner, or refusing to recognize Brady’s skill (because of his Trump-love). You need to separate the output from the producer.


I’m not sure about that. Novelists in particular ask for a lot of space in your head, and I don’t see why you should be obliged to give that space to someone who grosses you out. I came to feel that way about Martin Amis, Brian Herbert, Tom Clancy (et most of al) and Ayn Rand for example.

That said, I came to those conclusions from reading their books, not from off-page third-party smearage. Though, given the finite length of life, if some author were described as “the plain-speaking Ayn Rand of traditional family values” I’d probably decline to give them a try.

I never had the experience of meeting, say, Robert Anton Wilson or Iain Banks and finding out they were jerks in real life, so I don’t know how I’d respond to that. I don’t think I’d stop enjoying their work, but I guess I’d die a little inside, and if they were really awful I might make a point of shoplifting their books in future.

Anyway, I’m curious to know what’s so evil about John Scalzi. I tried one of his books (Old Man’s War) and wasn’t really into it, but I don’t remember picking up any gross vibes.


Also: Never idolize people who are entertainers.

(eta missing word)


That’s the only one that I’ve read as well. It seemed like one idea with a yarn wrapped around it.
Not bad, but not for me.[quote=“marence, post:5, topic:99638”]
Also: Never idolize people who are entertainers.

If I remember correctly he was on the Quinnian side of the HUGO (is that how it’s spelled, all caps?) wars. That goes a ways for me. I don’t know, he seems alright, but I’ve never met him, nor do I idolize him

Why, may I ask?


Having had a couple of creepy stalkers in normal everyday life, I can’t even fathom what the famous put up with on a day-to-day basis. Strangers in your house, not to mention the worry over being killed.


This is why I gave up on Piers Anthony forever. Yeeks.

I did meet Ray Bradbury 4 or 5 times; he was always doing book signings around Southern California. I never got out more than an embarrassed squeak, though, so I can’t really say I’ve conversed with him.

I also met Nichelle Nichols at comicon and she was a lovely woman who let me give her a hug.


My late father was a writer and poet and he was frequently on tour especially later in life. I can confirm many of those things in the article are true based on things he told me. Especially #9. Even when he would tour my neck of the woods I rarely was able to see him - he was basically in and out. When I was able to see him, it was like a different person from the fatigue and stress of the whole thing. The treadmill is definitely truthful.


I also met her once… can confirm. Also, Ted Raimi is a hella-cool dude.


Martin Amis is an ass.


Never idolize anyone.


He was. One of the people behind the sad/angry puppies has essentially declared Scalzi to be his nemesis. My brain can’t seem to be bothered to remember the idiot’s name right now, however.


At a con, Scalzi referred to his tour/talk personality as “performing monkey mode.” I thought that really nailed it. He’s a funny guy when he wants/needs to be.

I just finished “The Collapsing Empire.” I really enjoyed it, and look forward to more (it clearly is just the beginning). It resonated with the Foundation series, which are some of my favorites books. In particular, certain scenes seemed to really pay homage, in a good way.


The Old Man’s War series gets a bit winded, but good ideas; Lock In is a solid sci-fi whodunit; Redshirts is worthy of “required reading” status. And his blog is good stuff, unless you hate any writerly navel-gazing. And we all owe him a debt for standing at the gates of the whole Shitty Puppies/Vox Day uprising. Plenty of good charity work and side jobs (including consulting on Stargate:Universe, and surviving the presidency of SWFA).

But damn! How could he – and Tor – have been so clueless about not making noise that The Collapsing Empire (the most-recent tour book) was the first part of a trilogy! FFS, $26 for a cliff-hangered, not-satisfying-in-itself mess of snappy dialog that makes readers wait over a year for the next installment (which will maybe, actually, advance the story)? I get that Tor has to come up with $3.4M to give him over the coming years, but keeping the multi-part nature of this series out of sight* has put me off in a big way. Expected better – much better – from the guy whose Being Poor essay won him so many accolades. (C’mon John, it’s not like your fan base is made out of $26 bills.) I try to buy new release hardcovers in support of work or authors I enjoy, but Scalzi just got his last nickel out of me.

* If you follow the trade, you would have perhaps gotten the message on Empire. But the hardcover edition itself makes no mention of the series’ structure. Maybe Tor needed to recoup some cash due to the book being late?

(To salvage a vestige of topicality, I completely applaud John’s example of Cory to illustrate his 5th thing – “Many authors are also working while they tour.” Holy shit, Cory works harder than a Canadian collier’s pit pony when he’s on tour. The last time I saw him flogging a book, there was the tour itself…and blogging for BB, and prepping a Humble Bundle, and working on some EFF dox, and being a long-distance dad for Posey, and doing a bit of his own writing. Whew!)




Np, don’t look behind the curtain and you’ll avoid disillusionment. Focus on the message, not the messenger.


I met Banks a few times and I liked him. A witty and amusing man. But you never know what other people will like or object to. A friend of mine won’t read his books because he thinks Banks was too clever and full of himself.


I don’t got to any cons and rarely to book events, but a Very Famous Science Fiction Writer was really engaging and pleasant to me when I met him in person and sort of went out of his way to write me a kind of dickish response to a pretty innocuous email. Some years have gone by and I try not to read too much into either thing. Still, you necessarily think well of authors you like and reality is always a bit grittier than that.