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Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Scalzi enters a defense

After minimizing and denigrating the science fiction canon that he has, perhaps more than any other author, personally degraded and defiled, John Scalzi offers a feeble defense:
The dimwitted bigot brigade finally came across my piece about the Science Fiction canon from a couple of weeks ago and had a predictable spasm about it, asserting how it was evidence that (I’m paraphrasing from various sources, here) a) science fiction and fantasy was dying, b) traditional publishing (the sf/f parts of it anyway) is dying too, c) I’m responsible in some measure for a) and b), despite d) the fact that apparently I don’t actually sell and/or only sell through byzantine sleight of hand by the publishing industry for reasons and also e) I suck, f) which is why I don’t want people to read older works because then they would realize that, and while we’re at it g) modern sf/f is infested with terrible work from people who aren’t straight white dudes, h) which I, a straight white dude, am also somehow responsible for, and so in short, i) everything is my fault, and j) I am simultaneously a nobody and also history’s worst monster.

It’s a lot! I think it must be tiring to be a dimwitted bigot, thinking about me.

In fact it’s been a pretty solid year so far for traditionally-published science fiction and fantasy. in terms of sales.
For once, I don't think McRapey is lying, I think he's just ignorant and ill-informed. In publishing terms, "a solid year" means growth of 5 to 10 percent. For example, Publisher's Weekly described general nonfiction as having had a solid year in 2019: "General nonfiction also had a solid year, with print units ahead 8.8%."

Science fiction, not so much.
Print unit sales in adult fiction fell again in 2019, though at a slower rate than in 2018, when units dropped 4.6%.... Science fiction had the largest decline among the adult fiction genres, with units down 19.7%.
A 20 percent decline is not "a solid year" for the genre, it is approaching catastrophe. Now, you might suggest that he's referring to 2020, which would be an interesting trick considering the fact there are no substantive statistics reported on the various market segments yet. And while unit sales of print books in the first half of 2020 were up 2.8% over the same period in 2019, most of that increase appears to be in the children's nonfiction category since parents were having to school their children at home during the lockdown.

Anyhow, by this point it should be clear that while Scalzi is an expert at conning publishers and snowing SJWs, he's not exactly a reliable source on the business of selling books or running a business.

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50 Comments:

Blogger Brick Hardslab September 01, 2020 9:00 AM  

I find myself mostly buying from friends or older books. If it's friends, it's a win-win. If it's older stuff it's usually cheaper and better written as well as being much tighter plotted. I bought wolfen on a whim. Now I had forgotten some of the firearm and police stuff Strieber got wrong but it was still a better book. Why read anything from Scalzi? I haven't yet and probably won't.

Blogger Daniele Grech Pereira September 01, 2020 9:07 AM  

It has been many years since I read DUNE, so last month I bought a nice copy with the intention of enjoying it soon. Thank God for the classics. May they be the seeds planted for new books in the near future.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan September 01, 2020 9:14 AM  

I worked with triple digit IQ "progressive" twinks for decades and I find it hard to believe they are an actual market for books outside of some Oprahesque mush for the females of either sex. It's possible they buy the political books but from my experience triple digit credentialed IQ twinks are the laziest demographic outside of office politics and would put no effort into reading it more than a NYTs synopsis.

FTR from my experience those same lazy twinks would not be caught dead reading any of that crap from the SJW scifi freak show, nothing more status conscious than a smug white liberal.

Blogger Balkan Yankee September 01, 2020 9:15 AM  

Scalzi and Prolixity. Must have been love at first sight.

Blogger Brett baker September 01, 2020 9:19 AM  

SDL, if Scalzi starts peddling a "write like me" book, will Castalia House buy the rights as boon to humanity?
Also, I wonder how much YA SF has declined? A lot of it seems to be humanity is dying from disease, and deserves it.

Blogger basementhomebrewer September 01, 2020 9:21 AM  

He also forgot about the argument that he doesn't want people to read cannon because they will figure out he is stealing his best ideas from it and then executing them poorly.

Blogger thechortling September 01, 2020 9:30 AM  

the palpable butthurt should trigger his fanbois of both sexes like street Nazis on an the didn't-fight-back crowd.

"dimwitted bigot" would be the SJW codewords for "I have no argument but I will never surrender to the truth".

Truth is not a part of their way of life.

Blogger Andy September 01, 2020 9:33 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger MaskettaMan September 01, 2020 9:58 AM  

Great: Sales are approaching "normal"
Pretty good: Disaster imminent
Decent: I'm getting my cardboard box ready

Blogger Azimus September 01, 2020 10:06 AM  

Could it be that Scalzi's entire purpose in life is nothing more than writing sarcastic effeminate garbage to implode a genre that was once a channel to foster scientific curiosity and interest in children? Sort of the Teachers Union strategy applied to Science Fiction? The Teachers Union destroyed the instruments of learning, Scalzi is destroying even the desire to learn...

Blogger Chris Lopes September 01, 2020 10:17 AM  

Most of his list is not mutually exclusive. The parts of it where he sees himself as rather important in the minds of others are pure fantasy.

Blogger Glen Sprigg September 01, 2020 10:35 AM  

He really has an overblown opinion of himself, doesn't he? He assumes that everyone here is spending all their time thinking about him. I don't know about the rest of you, but his name doesn't even cross my mind unless Vox posts about him. I'm too busy reading (and writing) real science fiction and fantasy to bother with him and his delusions of grandeur.

Blogger Ryan September 01, 2020 10:37 AM  

Did anyone else think to themselves how poorly written that paragraph of a run-on sentence was, especially coming from someone who considers themselves a "writer." I'm a little disappointed he used half the alphabet, got to the letter "g", and didn't think to himself "gamma..." and immediately delete the piece in it's entirety.

Blogger Paul M September 01, 2020 10:43 AM  

I stopped buying SF once I realised that the last three books I had bought were almost certainly written by chicks. Chicks' only topic is sex - it's the only thing they write about. Men have porn, but we (here's the important thing) also have other things going on.

Blogger Silly but True September 01, 2020 10:50 AM  

When you're looking to burn down the system, then its 20% decline is decent performance?

I'm reminded of your post that McRapey's large multi-year, multi-book deal destroyed opportunity for much better upandcomers to be published; Scalzi is the face of one sci-fi publisher's sci-fi. As the numbers show: people have just quit buying it.

Blogger Unknown September 01, 2020 10:59 AM  

For all his Gamma prolixity, it's doubtful Scalzi knows the word "emblematic."

As in, "Scalzi is emblematic of sci-fi's decline both in quality and in sales quantity."

Instead, it seems that he thinks he personally is the one being held responsible for everything. It's all about him.

Schopenhauer said the mark of the mental midget is taking everything personally, the congenital absence of an objective attitude.

Blogger Th3 J3st3r September 01, 2020 11:10 AM  

At least he knows his ABC's

Blogger Newscaper312 September 01, 2020 11:13 AM  

Thing is, the men's lowbrow stuff is clearly merely prurient, while the women's version is somehow "literature".

Blogger Chris Lopes September 01, 2020 11:13 AM  

Correction: He WAS the face of one publisher's sci-fi. He's too white cis male to hold that position now.

Blogger Newscaper312 September 01, 2020 11:16 AM  

I credit this blog for motivating me to start reading the Lord of the Rings again, for the first time in 20 years. First bit was a bit slow, but I'm at Frodo and friends leaving the Shire now so picking up. Will confess I still might skip a bit of the blundering to Mordor in the middle, but we'll see.

Blogger Trid September 01, 2020 11:22 AM  

You've done it now Vox, I'm gonna read one of his books. As they say, only a fool learns from his own mistakes, and I am quite the fool.

Blogger Troushers September 01, 2020 11:55 AM  

Scalzi must be a humiliation fetishist. It's the only explanation that makes sense.

Blogger Unknown September 01, 2020 12:00 PM  

17. Th3 J3st3r September 01, 2020 11:10 AM
At least he knows his ABC's



we don't know that, he only got up to 'j'.

also, he hasn't yet figured out that ordered lists should have a carriage return before you begin the next line item.


21. Trid September 01, 2020 11:22 AM
As they say, only a fool learns from his own mistakes, and I am quite the fool.



a fool learns only from his own mistakes.
a wise man learns from the mistakes of others.

your phrasing would render the wise man incapable of learning from personal experience.

Blogger Jack Aubrey September 01, 2020 12:06 PM  

The way Scalzi constructs a sentence makes me think he has a future as Joe Biden's speech writer.

Blogger Silent Draco September 01, 2020 12:12 PM  

Scalzi "catastrophe" must be when you publisher's parent company shuts everything (including servers) down on a Friday afternoon, for no apparent reason, and declines to release backlist rights.

Odd ... autocorrect tried to make me malign a somewhat inoffensive disease, instead.

Blogger Kat September 01, 2020 12:14 PM  

Female, so possibly irrelevant opinion, but on first blush Old Man's War wasn't so bad. This was before I understood the gamma dynamic though - I don't think I could sit through it again.

Blogger Newscaper312 September 01, 2020 12:22 PM  

Old Man's War wasn't bad, clearly riffing on (ripping off?) Starship Troopers and a slice of The Forever War, with one interesting twist of his own. Just don't waste your time on any of the sequels, where he felt freer to chart his own path...which was increasingly lame.

Blogger tdcommenter September 01, 2020 12:23 PM  

Minus 20% is comparable to the economic contraction in the Venezuela during recent years. Then again, Scalzi's analysis may be purely based on social media. The gatekeepers are listening to Twitter SJWs; therefore, sales must be growing. They are also looking forward to their increased chocolate ration.

reference:
https://tradingeconomics.com/venezuela/gdp-growth-annual
(2016 to 2018)

Blogger tdcommenter September 01, 2020 12:24 PM  

@19 is he still cis white? Or was he inspired by a certain ex-Finnish marine to reassign?

Blogger Geir Balderson September 01, 2020 1:05 PM  

Johnny, you throw out 'bigot' a lot.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Blogger Balkan Yankee September 01, 2020 1:09 PM  

@24: Threadwinner.

Blogger Nostromo September 01, 2020 1:19 PM  

The jokes on us. Malthus was right all along.

Blogger Ray - SoCal September 01, 2020 1:22 PM  

Kindle Unlimited probably has had a huge impact on print sales. I have seen my book buying reduced, plus the issue of running out of book cases / space.

Blogger OldFan September 01, 2020 1:25 PM  

For the Left, all of their enemies are evil or stupid, hence the "dim-witted bigot brigade" remark. This position rules out any civilized discussion and leads to the conclusion that destruction of the opposition is the only realistic result.

Blogger Nostromo September 01, 2020 1:40 PM  

I got a good chuckle out of you screen name furor. But you miss the obvious point. Who would want to be a kang in a land of kangz? Better he stay in the snowlands so the snowpeople may worship his superiority.

Blogger Avalanche September 01, 2020 1:48 PM  

@8 " (or maybe not always (but certainly alot(and overusing it))) in a convoluted (!) "


I, Avalanche, hereby declare, attest, and affirm that the above comment was NOT written by me.

Just in case there is any question.

Blogger Avalanche September 01, 2020 1:49 PM  

@11 "parts of it where he sees himself as rather important in the minds of others are pure fantasy."

There, see? He CAN write fantasy. Piss-poor idiotic fantasy, but it's fantasy all the same, no?

Blogger Canadian Warlord September 01, 2020 2:10 PM  

If he's abandoning all previous work in a genre, then by definition, he's starting a genre. Yes, science fiction has had a self-image naming crisis supposedly for decades. But quibbling over hard sf, sci fi, etc. means there are subcategories. Scalzi has thrown out the old, and started with new - he said so himself.

Social Fiction

Fiction from a non-existent past or future that defines struggle through contemporary social theory.

Blogger DanF September 01, 2020 2:16 PM  

@Azimus "a genre that was once a channel to foster scientific curiosity and interest in children"

The unintentional double entendre made me laugh out loud.

Blogger Dark Herald September 01, 2020 2:30 PM  

Chris Lopes wrote:Most of his list is not mutually exclusive. The parts of it where he sees himself as rather important in the minds of others are pure fantasy.

That's mostly Scalzi's sense of entitlement acting out.

I honestly think his entitlement complex is his biggest issue.

This is a guy who really thinks he should have it all. Awards, money and the respect of Worldcon Weirdos.

And the more he gets those things the more unfulfilled he feels.

There are so many people so far ahead of him and he is never going to catch up with them, even though he deserves to be ahead of them.

Nobody loathes John Scalzi as much as John Scalzi.

Blogger Rakshasa September 01, 2020 2:54 PM  

Lately I've been wondering why my kindle is full of various translated works, litRPG or japanese light novels, and I can't really remember the last sci-fi / fantasy book that I felt was worth reading.

Something is dying and I barely notice as there are now other sources of reading material.

Blogger Pseudotsuga September 01, 2020 3:29 PM  

That's all very nice, John, but how's your lawn doing lately? And when was the last time you dusted your Rocket Trophy?

Blogger MrNiceguy September 01, 2020 5:06 PM  

And he hasn't even delivered the books.

Blogger Azimus September 01, 2020 5:29 PM  

39. DanFSeptember 01, 2020 2:16 PM
@Azimus "a genre that was once a channel to foster scientific curiosity and interest in children"

The unintentional double entendre made me laugh out loud.


Good grief I do that stuff all the time... funny... but sad that it should be so...

Blogger SacrificialLamb September 01, 2020 6:04 PM  

I've never read any of Scalzi's work, and I have no personal beef with the man...but his "article" here is one giant convoluted run-on sentence. It's a bit awkward to read. Even worse, his writing "voice" sounds like some tired, whiny, sarcastic, and snarky fat feminist woman. Why does he write like that?

Blogger tublecane September 01, 2020 6:14 PM  

Recently I've been watching a documentary on the notorious "Chris Chan" in bits and pieces because he's too sad and pathetic to take on at once. This piece of writing from Scalzi reminds me of it.

"finally...a couple of weeks ago"

This isn't Twitter, where everything turns ancient in five minutes. Some blogposts are meant to last as long as--I dunno--three weeks. Or even more.


"I suck...which is why I don't want people to read older works because then they would realize that"

You wouldn't merely realize Scalzi sucks, but that any merit he has derives from ripping off certain of those works.

Blogger Unknown September 01, 2020 6:16 PM  

45. SacrificialLamb September 01, 2020 6:04 PM
Why does he write like that?



because he's a tired, whiny, sarcastic, and snarky fat feminist woman
...
with a penis.

Blogger tublecane September 01, 2020 6:32 PM  

@14- I agree, but only if we expand the definition of sex to cover love, courting, romance, and all manner of "foreplay." With womenfolk, sex is not just the mechanical act. It involves the whole interpersonal relationship.

For instance, when you watch the Thorn Birds (I haven't read the book, so I wouldn't know), sex is ever-present. Even when the girl is a child, unfortunately. But much moreso later on, when she is a young woman and the priest who lusts after her is much older. Sex is present like an ever-throbbing neon red light.

That book was from the 70s, though. If you go back farther, women authors are not as sex-mad. Not so obviously, anyway. They write about other things of interest to the female mind. For instance fashion and social hierarchies and dancing. All of which have sexual implications, but much more indirectly.

Blogger Crew September 01, 2020 8:48 PM  

Scalzi will probably be too busy filling out lots of fraudulent mail-in ballots to finish his contracted books!

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8682935/Dem-data-firm-predicts-chaos-postal-votes-revealing-days-election-Biden-victory.html

Blogger Silly but True September 02, 2020 1:52 AM  

To be Joe Biden’s speechwriter means you must have seen someone else’s good speech given before and copied it down.

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