John Scalzi

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John Scalzi
John Scalzi
Scalzi in 2004
Born (1969-05-10) May 10, 1969 (age 48)
Fairfield, California, United States
Occupation Writer
Nationality American
Period 1991–present
Genre Science fiction, Criticism, Humor
Subject Finance, Astronomy, Writing, Film, Video Games

John Michael Scalzi II (born May 10, 1969) is an American science fiction author, online writer, and former president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. He is best known for his Old Man's War series, three novels of which have been nominated for the Hugo Award, and for his blog Whatever, at which he has written frequently on a number of topics since 1998. He won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2008 based predominantly on that blog, which he has also used for several prominent charity drives. His novel Redshirts won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel. He has written non-fiction books and columns on diverse topics such as finance, video games, films, astronomy, and writing, and served as a creative consultant for the TV series Stargate Universe.


Scalzi was born in California and spent his childhood there, primarily in the Los Angeles suburbs of Covina, Glendora and Claremont. Scalzi went to high school with noted blogger Josh Marshall; both were members of the class of 1987. After attending The Webb Schools of California, Scalzi attended The University of Chicago, where he was a classmate of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Auburn. Scalzi's thesis advisor, for a brief time, was Saul Bellow. Scalzi abandoned his course of study with Bellow when he became Student Ombudsman for the University. During his 1989–1990 school year, Scalzi was also the editor-in-chief of The Chicago Maroon.[1]

After graduating with a degree in philosophy in 1991, Scalzi took a job as the film critic for the Fresno Bee newspaper, eventually also becoming a humor columnist. In 1996 he was hired as the in-house writer and editor at America Online and moved to Sterling, Virginia, with his wife, Kristine Ann Blauser, whom he had married in 1995. He was laid off in 1998, and since then he has been a full-time freelance writer and author.

Scalzi was elected president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 2010.[2] He was the only nominee on the ballot. He had previously run as a write-in candidate in 2007, challenging the sole ballot nominee that year, but was not successful.[3][4] After his term ended in 2013 he did not run for reelection.

He lives in Ohio with his wife, daughter, and several pets. He garnered significant media attention by taping raw bacon to his cat "Ghlaghghee" in September 2006.[5] As a result of the coverage, Scalzi began maintaining a web repository for links to "All Things Bacon" on the Whatever site.[6]



Scalzi's first published novel was Old Man's War, in which 75-year-old citizens of Earth are recruited to join the defense forces of human colonies in space. Scalzi's post-published editions noted the book's unintentional similarities to Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers by thanking Heinlein in the acknowledgments of the book.[7] Old Man's War came to publication after debuting online: Scalzi serialized the book on his web site in December 2002, which resulted in an offer for the book by Tor Books Senior Editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden. The hardcover edition of the book was published in January 2005. Old Man's War was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2006.

Scalzi's second published novel was Agent to the Stars. This novel was actually written prior to Old Man's War (it was written in 1997), and was placed online in 1999 as a "shareware novel" by Scalzi, who encouraged readers to send him a dollar if they liked the story (he re-released the book as "freeware" in 2004).[8] The novel became available as a signed, limited-edition hardcover from Subterranean Press in July 2005, and featured cover art from popular Penny Arcade artist Mike Krahulik; Tor Books published it in paperback for the first time in October 2008.

In 2006, The Ghost Brigades, the sequel to Old Man's War, and The Android's Dream were released.[7] "The Android's Dream" did not sell as well as his Old Man's War series, but is noted by some critics for an opening heavily dependent on flatulence jokes.[7]

In August 2006, Scalzi was awarded the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer for best new science fiction writer of 2005.[9]

In February 2007, a novelette set in the Old Man's War universe, called "The Sagan Diary", was published as a hardcover by Subterranean Press. Scalzi has commented that he originally wrote the book as free verse poetry, then converted it into prose format.[10] An audio reading of "The Sagan Diary" was offered through Scalzi's website in February 2007, featuring the voices of fellow science fiction authors Elizabeth Bear, Mary Robinette Kowal, Ellen Kushner, Cherie Priest, Karen Meisner and Helen Smith.[11] In November of the same year, Subterranean Press also made "The Sagan Diary" text freely available online. In April 2008 Audible Frontiers produced an audiobook of the novelette, read by Stephanie Wolfe.

The third novel set in the same universe, The Last Colony, was released in April 2007. It was nominated for the 2008 Hugo Award for Best Novel.[12]

Zoe's Tale, the fourth Old Man's War novel, presenting a different view of the events covered in The Last Colony, was published in August 2008. Zoe's Tale was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2009.

Also in 2008, released the audiobook anthology METAtropolis, edited by Scalzi and featuring short fiction in a shared world created by Scalzi, Elizabeth Bear, Tobias Buckell, Jay Lake, and Karl Schroeder. METAtropolis was planned from the beginning to be released as an audio anthology prior to any print edition. The audiobook featured the voices of Battlestar Galactica actors Michael Hogan, Alessandro Juliani and Kandyse McClure and was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form in 2009. A sequel audiobook, METAtropolis: Cascadia, edited by Jay Lake, came out in 2010. In 2009 Subterranean Press released a limited edition print run of METAtropolis, which was subsequently published by Tor in a standard hardcover edition, in 2010.

On April 7, 2010, Scalzi announced the pending release of a reboot of H. Beam Piper's Little Fuzzy, authorized by the Piper estate, with the prospective title Fuzzy Nation.[13] This was sold to Tor books,[14] and was published May 10, 2011.

Scalzi has not written many short stories, but "After the Coup," featured as the first short story published originally on, was a finalist for the 2009 Locus Award for best short story.[15] Tor released it as an e-book in 2009.[16]

On July 6, 2012, Tor announced[17] that the fifth Old Man's War novel, The Human Division, would be released serialized as several e-books from January 2013 through April 2013 and as a printed book in May 2013; the printed version had exclusive content not found in the individual e-books.

His 2012 book Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel.[18]

On September 19, 2014, Scalzi announced another book taking place in the Old Man's War universe,[19] entitled The End of All Things, to be released in 2015. The book was released in a serialized format.[20] On April 8, 2015, Tor announced four serialized The End of All Things ebooks would be released throughout June 2015, with a compiled book to be released in August 2015.[21]

On May 24, 2015, Tor announced that it had agreed to a $3.4M deal with Scalzi spanning 10 years and 13 books: 10 adult books and three young adult books.[22] Among the books included in this deal is another book within his Old Man's War universe, the sequel to Lock In entitled Head On, a new space opera series and several standalone books.[23] The deal was finalized on November 25, 2015.[24]


Though best known for his science fiction works,[25] Scalzi has written several non-fiction books as well, including a trio for London publisher Rough Guides' reference line of books. The first of these was The Rough Guide to Money Online, released in late October 2000. This reference book featured tips on using online financial tools.[26] According to Scalzi, it did less-than-expected business, possibly due to the collapse of the Internet bubble at about the same time the book was released. Scalzi's next non-fiction book was The Rough Guide to the Universe, an astronomy book designed for novice-to-intermediate stargazers, released in May 2003. Scalzi's third book for Rough Guides, The Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies, was released in October 2005. This book covered the history of science fiction and science fiction film, and listed a "canon" of 50 significant science fiction films.

Scalzi is also the author of the "Book of the Dumb" series of books from Portable Press. These books chronicle people doing stupid things. The first book in the series was released in October 2003 with a second following a year later.

In November 2005, Scalzi announced that entries from the run of the Whatever, his blog, would be compiled into a book from Subterranean Press. The book, You're Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop: Scalzi on Writing; was released by Subterranean Press in February 2007. A second collection of entries from Whatever, entitled Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever 1998 - 2008 was released in September 2008. It subsequently won the Hugo Award for Best Related Book in 2009. A third collection, The Mallet of Loving Correction, was released in 2013 and named after his nickname for moderating activities on his blog.

Online and other writing

Scalzi writes an online blog called "Whatever". The name suggests the wide range of topics Scalzi writes about there, although many of Scalzi's postings center on the topics of politics and writing. While Scalzi maintains he started Whatever to keep in practice for "pro" writing, a number of writings originally posted there have gone on to be published in traditional media, including his "I Hate Your Politics" and "Being Poor" entries, the latter of which was published in the op-ed pages of the Chicago Tribune in September 2005.

Scalzi also used the Whatever as a way to solicit fiction and non-fiction submissions on the theme of Science Fiction Clichés in 2005 for issue #4 of Subterranean Magazine, which he guest edited (published in 2006 by Subterranean Press). The original solicitation was posted in March 2005 with the unique requirements that submissions would only be accepted electronically in plain text, and ONLY during the period between 10/1/05 and 11/1/05 instead of before a traditional deadline. After the print run sold out, the issue was made available online as a free download.[27]

Scalzi's own short story, How I Proposed to My Wife: An Alien Sex Story, was not printed in the magazine itself but only in a separated chapbook reserved to the people who bought the hardcover limited edition. In April 2008 Scalzi released the story as a "shareware short story" on his website.[28]

On March 29, 2007, it was announced that Scalzi had again been nominated for a Hugo Award, this time in the category "Best Fan Writer", for his online writing about the science fiction field.[29] He was the first Campbell Award winner to receive a nomination in this category. In 2008, he was again nominated for the Best Fan Writer Hugo, this time winning the award, becoming the first person to be nominated for that category and the Best Novel Hugo award at the same time since 1970.

Scalzi also uses the Whatever to help raise money for organizations and causes he supports. Notably, in June 2007 he raised over $5000 in 6 days for Americans United for the Separation of Church and State after fellow writer Joe Hill challenged him[30] to go visit the Creation Museum that had just opened near Cincinnati, not far from Scalzi's Ohio home, if Hill paid for the ticket, offering to match the cost with a donation to the charity of Scalzi's choice after he filed a comprehensive report on the trip online. Scalzi extended the deal to all Whatever readers, raised 256 times the admission price, and posted his critical report on the Creation Museum on November 12, 2007. In September 2010 he joined with Subterranean Press and authors Wil Wheaton, Patrick Rothfuss, Catherynne M. Valente, Rachel Swirsky and others to create a chapbook story collection called Clash of the Geeks, offered online in exchange for donations to the Michigan/Indiana affiliate of the Lupus Alliance of America. Some of the stories were selected from a competition run on Whatever to write a story to explain a painting Scalzi had commissioned from Jeff Zugale, that featured Scalzi as an orc and Wheaton riding a unicorn pegasus kitten.[31]

In addition to his personal site, Scalzi was a professional blogger for America Online's AOL Journals and AIM Blogs service from August 2003 through December 2007. In this role he created participatory entries (most notably the Weekend Assignment and Monday Photo Shoot), answered questions about blogging from AOL members, and posted interesting links for readers. Readers of both Scalzi's personal site and his AOL Journal "By the Way" noted distinct differences in tone at each site. Scalzi has acknowledged this tonal difference, based on the different missions of each site. Scalzi also blogged professionally for AOL's Ficlets site beginning in March 2007, writing about literature and other related topics. On December 7, 2007, Scalzi announced that by mutual agreement, his contract with AOL would not be renewed at the end of the year, in part so that he would have more time to devote to writing books.[32]

In 2008, Scalzi began writing a weekly column on science fiction/fantasy films for, the Web site of cable television network AMC.

For traditional media, Scalzi wrote a DVD review column and an opinion column for the Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine from 2000 through 2006, wrote an additional DVD review column for the Dayton Daily News through 2006, and writes for other magazines and newspapers on an occasional basis. He also works as a consultant for businesses, primarily in the online and financial fields.

On January 14, 2009, Scalzi announced he would be a creative consultant on science-fiction television show Stargate Universe.[33] He was credited as such for 39 episodes.

On April 1, 2011, Tor Books collaborated with Scalzi on an April Fool's prank, with Tor claiming "Tor Books is proud to announce the launch of John Scalzi’s new fantasy trilogy, The Shadow War of the Night Dragons, which kicks off with book one: The Dead City." This excerpt from an imaginary novel took on a life of its own, being nominated for, and winning, the 2011 Readers’ Choice Awards for short fiction. It is also nominated for the 2012 Hugo awards in the Best Short Story category.[34] This was followed up on April 1, 2013 by an "announcement" about a musical production based on the series.[35]

In December 2012, Scalzi announced his first video game project, Morning Star. Under development by Industrial Toys, the renamed Midnight Star is targeted directly at mobile devices, first released for iOS devices, instead of being adapted from a desktop or game console version.[36] Scalzi wrote the story for the prequel to the game, in a graphic novel called Midnight Rises.[37]

Personal views

Scalzi has declared himself a feminist.[38] He supports same-sex marriage.[39]


Feud with Vox Day

Since 2005, Scalzi has engaged in an exchange of online criticism with science fiction writer Vox Day. The conflict began with Scalzi's attack on one of Day's syndicated columns blaming the lack of woman hard SF writers on poor science education in universities.[40][41]

In 2013, Scalzi attracted media attention by pledging to donate $5 to various charities and advocacy groups every time he was referred to in any way, including a derogatory nickname, by Day; after others echoed this pledge, over $50,000 was raised in under a week.[42] He also threatened to stop paying his dues to SFWA if the SFWA Board did not vote to expel Day, which it subsequently did. The day after the SFWA Board announced its vote to expel an unnamed member, Scalzi publicly announced that he had paid his dues.

In 2015 Day released a book about social justice warriors titled, SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police[43] The book was positively reviewed by the conservative online magazine American Thinker[44] and contained a chapter demonstrating that John Scalzi had repeatedly lied about his popularity and his claimed site traffic of two million pageviews per month. The book was the #1 bestseller in the Political Philosophy category on Amazon for 13 months.

Progressive writer Alexandra Erin then wrote a short parody of the book titled, John Scalzi Is Not A Very Popular Author And I Myself Am Quite Popular: How SJWs Always Lie About Our Comparative Popularity Levels. Supporters of Vox Day released their own parody book on Amazon in response, titled, John Scalzi Is A Rapist: Why SJWs Always Lie In Bed Waiting For His Gentle Touch; A Pretty, Pretty Girl Dreams of Her Beloved One While Pondering Gender Identity, Social Justice, and Body Dysmorphia. The parody became the top seller in the “parodies” section of the Kindle store, two places ahead of Erin’s book.[43] At one point, SJWs Always Lie, the parody of the parody, and the parody were the top three sellers in Amazon's Political Philosophy category.

After Scalzi complained to Amazon about the title of John Scalzi Is A Rapist: Why SJWs Always Lie In Bed Waiting For His Gentle Touch; A Pretty, Pretty Girl Dreams of Her Beloved One While Pondering Gender Identity, Social Justice, and Body Dysmorphia , the title was removed from Amazon. The book was subsequently renamed John Scalzi Banned This Book But He Can Never Ban My Burning Love: A Pretty, Pretty Girl Dreams of Her Beloved While Pondering Gender Identity, Social Justice, and Body Dysmorphia. In September 2015, another parody entitled John Scalzi is Not a Rapist: A Respected Grand Master of Science Fiction Refutes Certain Allegations Made by a Devoted but Mistaken Fan was also published on Amazon.


Series fiction

Old Man's War universe

The Android's Dream universe

Lock-In universe

Stand-alone fiction

Stand-alone novels

Stand-alone novellas and novelettes

Stand-alone short fiction

  • "Alien Animal Encounters" (Strange Horizons (online), 15 October 2001)
  • "New Directives for Employee - Manxtse Relations" (published in Chapbook titled "Sketches of Daily Life: Two Missives From Possible Futures" by Subterranean Press, 2005. Chapbook also reprinted "Alien Animal Encounters")
  • "Missives from Possible Futures #1: Alternate History Search Results" (Subterranean Magazine, online edition, February 2007)
  • "How I Proposed to My Wife: An Alien Sex Story" (chapbook, Subterranean Press, 2007; available as shareware in April 2008)
  • "Pluto Tells All" (Subterranean Magazine, online edition), May 2007
  • "Utere nihil non extra quiritationem suis" (METAtropolis,, 2008, Subterranean Press 2009, Tor Books 2010)[47]
  • "Denise Jones, Super Booker" (Subterranean Magazine, online edition), September 2008)
  • "The Tale of the Wicked" ('The New Space Opera 2 anthology, June 2009)
  • "The President's Brain is Missing" (, July 2010)
  • "An Election" (Subterranean Magazine presented story on Scalzi's blog, online edition), November 2010
  • "The Other Large Thing" (Short story first published on Tweetdeck's "Deck.Ly" reprinted on Scalzi's blog), August 2011
  • "Muse of Fire" (Subterranean Press, September 9, 2013)

Non-fiction books


Awards and nominations


The name of the main character from Old Man's War, John Perry, comes from the first name of the keyboardist of Journey, and the last name of the vocalist. Similarly, the character Steve Cain has the first name of the vocalist and the last name of the keyboardist. Gabriel Brahe from The Ghost Brigades was named after two Penny Arcade protagonists, and lieutenant Stross was named after fellow writer Charles Stross. There are also characters whose names are based on Neil Gaiman, Scott Sigler, JC Hutchins, E.J. Fischer[54] and Dave McKean.[55] Chief Medical Officer Hartnell from Redshirts is a nod to original Doctor Who lead William Hartnell.

The name of the main character of Android's Dream is taken from the name of the street on which Scalzi lived at the time of writing.[1]


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External links

  1. 1.0 1.1 Scalzi, John (October 20, 2013). "Confirming Two Things for Wikipedia". Retrieved October 20, 2013. 
  2. Quick Updates for 2010-05-16, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America website, posted May 16, 2010
  3. "SFWA President: I'm a Write-In Candidate", post on Scalzi's blog "Whatever", May 17, 2005
  4. SFWA Officer Election Results, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America website, posted May 12, 2007
  5. Sorry, Fido, It’s Just a Guy Thing, by Abby Ellin. The New York Times, October 3, 2008. Retrieved April 1, 2013
  6. "The Canonical Bacon Page". John Scalzi. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Dave Itzkoff (2006-12-24). "Wars of the Worlds". The New York Times. 
  8. "Agent". 
  9. John W. Campbell Best New Writer Award Eligibility & Author Profiles,
  10. In Which I Now Reveal a Secret retrieved 12-13-2010
  11. The Sagan Diary: The Audio Version retrieved 12-13-2010
  13. "The Super Secret Thing That I Cannot Tell You About, Revealed: Introducing Fuzzy Nation", post on Scalzi's blog "Whatever", April 7, 2010
  14. "Fuzzy Nation Sold". 2010-04-13. Retrieved 2011-12-13. 
  15. 2009 Locus Award Finalists, Locus Online, retrieved 12-13-2010
  16. Feed Your Reader Revisited,, retrieved 12-13-2010
  17. Patrick Nielsen Hayden. "A Note from John Scalzi’s Editor About His Next SF Book: The Human Division". Tor Books. 
  18. "2013 Hugo Awards". The Hugo Awards. Retrieved March 31, 2013. 
  21. "Cover Art and Release Schedule for John Scalzi's The End of All Things Novellas". Retrieved 2015-05-25. 
  22. "Tor Books Announces a Decade of John Scalzi". Retrieved 2015-05-25. 
  23. "About That Deal | Whatever". Retrieved 2015-05-25. 
  24. "The Deal Is Done | Whatever". Retrieved 2015-11-25. 
  25. Science Fiction and Fantasy 101: Thinking Academically About Genre
  26. Scalzi, John (2000). Rough Guide to Money Online. Rough Guides. ISBN 9781858286761. 
  27. "Subterranean Issue" (PDF). 
  28. "A Shareware Short Story: "How I Proposed to My Wife: An Alien Sex Story"". 2008-04-16. Retrieved 2011-12-13. 
  29. "Hugo nominees, Nippon 2007 site". Retrieved 2011-12-13. 
  30. "All Right, Fine, I Will Go to The Creation Museum... IF". Retrieved 2012-07-13. 
  31. "Clash of the Geeks". 2010-09-20. Retrieved 2011-12-13. 
  32. "An Important Announcement. By the Way, 12/7/07". Retrieved 2011-12-13. 
  33. "One of My Big Announcements for January, 1/14/09". 2009-01-14. Retrieved 2011-12-13. 
  35. The Shadow War of the Night Dragons Musical: Is It On Its Way? Retrieved April 1, 2014
  36. John Scalzi’s Video Game Project Morning Star is a First Person Shooter With a Twist., December 11, 2012. Retrieved April 1, 2013.
  37. Kotaku - Morning Star Alpha is No Ordinary Comic Book Game Tie-In | 0213 | Tuesday, February, 2013
  38. "Hell Yes, I’m a Feminist - Whatever". 
  39. "Whatever: I Am Married". 
  40. D'Addario, Daniel. "Sci-fi writer makes $50,000 for charity off of his "troll"". Retrieved February 8, 2013. 
  41. "Why women can't think". WND. 21 Feb 2005. Retrieved 21 Jan 2016. 
  42. D'Addario, Daniel. "Sci-fi writer makes $50,000 for charity off of his "troll"". Retrieved 8 February 2013. 
  43. 43.0 43.1 Bokhari, Allum (2 September 2015). "Vox Day book turns Amazon Kindle store into battleground". Retrieved 15 Jan 2016. 
  44. Chantrill, Christopher (1 September 2015). "Fighting Back Against the SJWs". American Thinker. Retrieved 15 Jan 2016. 
  45. A Small Thing You May Wish to Know About My Upcoming Novel, Author's personal blog
  46. ""The Dispatcher" — DONE! | Whatever". Retrieved 2015-08-09. 
  47. Subterranean Press. "METAtropilis limited edition details, Subterranean Press". Retrieved 2011-12-13. 
  48. Scalzi's compilation "Your Hate Mail Will be Graded" delayed to 2008, SFScope
  49. "2006 Locus Awards Finalists". 2006-04-24. Retrieved 2011-12-13. 
  50. Sidewise Awards: Past Winners and Finalists, retrieved 12-13-2010
  51. Romantic Times 2008 nominees Retrieved December 13, 2010.
  52. 2009 Locus Award Finalists, retrieved 12-13-2010
  53. "The 2010 Hugo and John W. Campbell Award Nominees". AussieCon 4. April 4, 2010. Retrieved April 4, 2010. 
  54. "Gaaaah, I Can’t Choose The Haiku Contest Finalists Because There Are Too Many Good Ones, So Here’s Just The Winner – Whatever". 2011-01-20. Retrieved 2011-12-13. 
  55. "Whatever: A Review in the Chicago Maroon!". Retrieved 2011-12-13.