Just say no, Johnny

John Scalzi@scalzi
TFW something designed to antagonize me turns out to be a consistent and profound source of trouble for the person who made it. Karma is apparently real, y’all.

I wonder what this Karma is in response to?

OVERDOSE

Complainant: Scalzi, [REDACTED], [ADDRESS], Bradford, OH 45308
Incident Address: [ADDRESS], Bradford, OH 45308

DETAILS: Report of male subject unresponsive

Perhaps Mr. Scalzi should spend less time snarking and snorting things and more time working on his next literary failure. Anyhow, if you’d like to read the book that all the fuss was about yesterday, it’s called CORROSION and you can pick up the DRM-free ebook at the Arkhaven store.


RIP Whatever

John Scalzi’s decline into irrelevance continues apace:

Every year I post stats on traffic for Whatever, and every year it gets harder to see how it accurately reflects my actual readership, because of the way people read things I post here. Bluntly, relatively few people visit the site directly at this point in time — As of this moment, for 2018, Whatever has had 2.82 million direct visits in 2018, down from last year’s 4.1 million, and substantially down from the 2012 high of 8.16 million.

Strange, because I simply haven’t seen the same sort of decline here at Vox Popoli. As of this moment, for 2018, VP has had 31.85 million PAGEVIEWS, up slightly from last year’s 31.2 million, and substantially up from the 2012 figure of 6.10 million. And Whatever’s reported traffic of 2.82 million is about 25 percent worse than I expected; I had anticipated a decline to 3.75 million in 2018.

Note that Scalzi actually means “pageviews” when he writes “direct visits”. This is the sort of definitional bait-and-switch he has attempted to play in the past, but we know from his past reports that he’s actually talking about pageviews rather than hits or unique visits. Of course, he’s referring to WordPress pageviews, which tend to be a little more generous than Google pageviews, so an apples-to-apples comparison would be 31.85 to 2.69.

But wait, there’s more!

As an aside, there’s a fellow out there who loves when I post these pieces because he like to then say that his own (self-reported, as these are) blog numbers are higher, and this is evidence that he is truly more popular than I am, I am not all that popular, etc. It’s entirely possible at this point he has a larger number of direct visitors to his site than I do. I suspect I may have a larger overall social media footprint than he does, however. For example, I have 158K Twitter followers, and he has none whatsoever, as he was booted off the site for being a terrible person some time ago. I’m not sure he ever talks about the fact that his being a terrible person means his own site is one of the few remaining social media outlets where he is tolerated at all, so if you want his brand of petty shittiness, that’s where you have to go.

Zero. Fucks. Given. So brave. Thank you for this. Actually, Scalzi being willing to post his numbers even when they no longer flatter his self-inflating pretensions is one of the very few things I respect about him. As for my “self-reported” numbers, they are straight out of Blogger and I am reporting them with scrupulous accuracy, as even my worst enemies will usually admit is my wont.

I track my blog stats on an annual basis, so the final figure for VP will be north of 32 million. Thanks to all of you for making this possible, and thanks as well to the Scalzi fan-trolls, who encouraged me to start paying attention to my blog statistics, and from whom we never, ever hear lecturing us about the vital importance of such things anymore.

Do click on the link. Give the poor guy a little traffic for the sake of the good old days.

UPDATE: If you find it hard to grasp the concept of gamma, this should suffice to get it across to you.

lol, it didn’t take the sad little person in question very long to take that particular bait, did it. He’s awfully predictable, and easily manipulatable.

Secret King wins again! Anyhow, as far as relevance goes, the objective metrics are in line with the blog statistics. What is amusing is that if you look at the Google Trend statistics going back to 2004, you can see that he’s really made a meal of that brief period in 2012 when one viral post made him look somewhat more significant than he has ever actually been.

John Scalzi is actually a tragic figure. He could have been considerably more than he turned out to be, had he simply been willing to accept his limitations and work within them rather than focusing all of his energy on convincing the world that he was something he was not and could never be.


A belated discovery

John Scalzi finally realizes that the science fiction community has passed him by.

John Scalzi@scalzi
Just saw my WorldCon schedule.

Single panel and a kaffeeklatsch.

Huh.

They don’t respect Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein anymore. They’re certainly not going to take long to forget about a mediocre, middle-aged white male.

UPDATE: If you can’t win, pretend not to have been playing the game.

John Scalzi@scalzi
It’s a trend. Also, after noting last night I’d be happy to give up my panel slot, this morning I went ahead and withdrew from programming entirely, to open up slots for folks previously excluded from programming, including other Hugo finalists.

Such magnanimity! It almost brings a single tear to my eye.


The jar ran out

He tries so hard to be relevant. To be significant. To matter. But not all the agent- and publisher-pumping in the world can disguise the fact that the grand decade-long attempt to transform a blogger turned midlist writer of color-by-number Heinlein pastiche into a leading author has failed.

John Scalzi@scalzi
Actual thing I just said as I was cleaning my office: “Damn it, *now* where am I going to put this special citation from the Ohio House of Representatives?!?”

(it was under a pile of books before)

Artie Fufkin, Polymer Records@FrmerJoe
Actual thing I thought while reading this tweet: “Scalzi needs everyone to know that he got citations from the Ohio House of Representatives and Senate? How pathetic is that?”

John Scalzi@scalzi
(pats head)

That’s because you’re an asshole, child.

Artie Fufkin, Polymer Records@FrmerJoe
Wow! Killer comeback! I can see why your cutting wit is feared throughout the land.

This naturally raises the question, how would a dumpy little guy like Scalzi pat anyone on the head in the first place? He’s 5’4″ and nearly 200 pounds; he’s little more than a gelatinous blob of SJW, snark, and insecurity. Anyhow, I preferred this response.

Spacebunny Day @Spacebunnyday
Actual thing I said when I was cleaning out my attic: “Damn it, *now* where am I going to put my fifth place ribbon from my jr. high track and field day?!”

The most amusing thing about this exchange is that it’s the consequence of Scalzi’s attempt to address the very uncomfortable fact that VP is now nearly ten times more popular than Whatever by his own chosen metric of importance. IT’S LIKE THE BOUNDLESS HELL OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL ALL OVER AGAIN! IT WASN’T SUPPOSED TO BE THIS WAY! NETFLIX! PARAMOUNT! MOBILE GAMES! SPECIAL FREAKING CITATION!

Well, Scalzi certainly is special, to put it mildly. Whatever happened to that jar of ZFG? It must have run out.


FOUR MILLION PAGEVIEWS

The not-at-all-solipsistic John Scalzi is given cause to suspect that blogs are dead:

As I noted in early July, visitorship to Whatever — as in people actually clicking through to the front page of the site — has undergone a collapse this year. I speculated as to why at the link, so if you’re interested in that, check it out there, but the relevant bit now is that I estimated in July I would end up with about 4 million visits to the site in 2017. As of right this minute (6:18 am, 12/28/17), Whatever’s visitorship for the year is: 4,110,902. Right in line with my expectations.

Am I worried? Well, no. One, four million visits in a year to a personal site is still nothing to sneeze at.

I will note that there is a very high correlation between the most visited pieces on the site this year and my linking to it on other social media, most notably Twitter. Twitter and Facebook are also consistently the top non-search-related sites (by far) for referrals to my site. This strongly suggests something I’ve long suspected, which is that Twitter and Facebook have at this point largely consumed and digested the former blogosphere, enough so that at this point, I wonder if I should even call Whatever a “blog” anymore. The name is beginning to get a fusty smell to it.

Sure, that’s possible, I suppose. On the other hand, the decline from 8 million pageviews in 2012 to 4 million in 2017 – I’m sure we’re all shocked to discover Scalzi is being deceptive again, this time by substituting “visits” for “pageviews” – in addition to the 30,953,348 “visitorship for the year” that VP has as of right this minute tends to suggest that intelligent people who like to read commentary simply aren’t all that interested in Whatever anymore. It appears I am far from the only person who once read Whatever back in the day who no longer does so.

But the posturing is informative, as it demonstrates a classic Gamma perspective. You see, the Gamma doesn’t mind at all that he’s observably in deep decline, so long as the decline is right in line with his expectations.

Secret King wins again!

UPDATE: Scalzi realizes he got caught… again.

John Scalzi@scalzi
TFW someone mewls pathetically and at ridiculous length about a terminology error you made on your site, but he has a point, so you correct the error.

If it was anyone else, I would have assumed it was simply a mistake, but in this case, we’re dealing with someone who blatantly lied to both Lightspeed and The New York Times about his site traffic in the past. So, one can’t reasonably give him the benefit of the doubt.

That being said, good for him for correcting his error. Let’s hope this will lead him to correct his previous “errors”.



He must be jealous

John Scalzi opines, mostly in experienced, but uninformed ignorance about Milo’s bestselling book, which actually made the New York Times bestseller lists on the merits of its own performance.

This is a little bit of publishing inside pool which apparently Yiannopoulos is not aware of (or is trying to fudge), but: You don’t count wholesale orders because wholesalers will eventually return books if they don’t sell them. The publisher has to make them whole for that, either by shifting credit to other books (which in this case Yiannopoulos as a self-publisher of a single book does not have), or by refunding the money. Yiannopoulos may have shipped 105,000 hardcover copies of the book, but that’s not the same as having sold them. I don’t know in this case what “direct orders” mean — it could be sales to individual book buyers (in which case that would be a sale) or to individual booksellers (in which case they are probably returnable, as book stores are loath to stock anything on a non-returnable basis), or to organizations which are making a “bulk buy” for their own reasons, say, a conservative organization who wants to hand out copies to employees or on the street or whatever.

But however you slice it, by Yiannopoulos’ own words (and by his apparent lack of understanding of how bookselling works), he probably has not in fact sold all 100k of the hardcover books. Also, with regard to the wholesalers and other booksellers, I do hope someone in his organization is keeping money in reserve to deal with returns when they (inevitably) happen. I’m also curious as to how he as a self-publisher is dealing with long-term storage and shipping of the books; I really don’t see Yiannopoulos himself handling that. I don’t picture him as a detail-oriented person. Perhaps this will be a job for the interns.

With all of this said, and again with the reminder that I find Yiannopoulos a hot feculent mess of a person, sales of 18,000 hardcovers in one week is pretty darn good. It was enough to land Yiannopoulos at #3 on the USA Today list and at #4 on the New York Times Hardcover Nonfiction list (and #2 on the paper’s print/ebook combined list). He’s a legitimate bestseller. And those 18K sales don’t cover ebook sales, which given his audience demographics I suspect are pretty high. Most authors would be absolutely delighted to have 18k in hardcover sales in their first week. People exercising schadenfreude about all this are thus advised to temper their glee somewhat. The book is not a failure in any manner except in contrast to Yiannopoulos’ industry-specific hype, and also (if the professional reviews are to be believed) as a book worth reading.

Can Yiannopoulos sell 100,000 copies of his book? I suspect so in the long run, especially considering that Yiannopoulos can now have it as a rider for speaking events that whomever is having him speak will be obliged to purchase a certain number of the book in order to have him appear — and speaking events and appearances are the actual bread-and-butter for a creature such as Yiannopoulos, for which this book is mostly advertising.

Has he sold that many in the first week? I doubt it. The actual number, in all formats, across all retailers, is somewhere between 18,000 and 100,000 copies. Which, again, is not at all a bad number of books to sell in the first week. Had Yiannopoulos been smart, he wouldn’t have alleged selling 100K books in his first week at all, he simply would have taken those USA Today and NYT list rankings and waved them about happily, and built PR around those.

But apparently he’s not really that smart. Now most of the stories are about how he only sold 18,000 copies in his first week, rather than the 100,000 copies he alleged.

It’s rather amusing to see Scalzi opining on someone else’s book sales and strategies, in light of how his fans claim that anyone doing the same to Scalzi is doing so out of envy. (For the record, I am not envious of Scalzi’s career nor do I think he is envious of Milo’s.)

Now, I can state, with certainty, that Scalzi has it mostly wrong. I won’t say more than that, because Milo’s secrets are not mine to tell, except to observe that no author publishing through the major publishers really understands how the world of independent publishing works at the top. In fact, even trying to compare unit sales doesn’t even make sense, because Milo will be making somewhere between 3x and 5x more per unit than Scalzi and other mainstream-published authors depending upon whether one is utilizing hardcovers, trade paperbacks, ebooks, or audiobooks as the metric.

Where Scalzi is correct is when he notes that Nielsen Bookscan woefully undercounts book sales, so much so that I pay it absolutely no attention whatsoever. And I am absolutely confident that Milo will sell more than 250,000 copies of Dangerous before the end of 2017; my expectation is that he will sell somewhere between 300k and 350k this calendar year. And that is copies sold to the reader, NOT merely units in the distribution channel

As for permitting the media to spin the story of Milo “only” selling 18,000 copies, that is the statement of a man who is accustomed to the media fawning on him and repeating his lies without question. No matter what Milo did, the media was going to find a way to say something negative. But  his assumptions about Milo’s dishonesty is a timely reminder of the 3rd Law of SJW: SJWs Always Project.


Sargon schools Scalzi

Scalzi, being an SJW, is always one to try to push the false SJW Narrative, in this case the one defending Anita Sarkeesian for harassing someone in the very way she has made a little career decrying. Sargon of Akkad, who was Literally Who 2’s target, sets the record straight.

Typical, though, of the SJW to act as if women who cry about criticism are being harassed, but men who do nothing more than point out that they are being attacked in the very same manner are crybabies.


This is what “Zero Fucks” looks like

John Scalzi goes into great detail explaining that he doesn’t care that people hate him, that only a few dozen people hate him anyhow, that it doesn’t matter that people hate him, and also, it totally doesn’t bother him at all that people hate him:

Specific, embarrassingly devoted hater and his pals:

I don’t have much time for this dude anymore, and I suspect it really bothers him. Cultivating the idea of a feud between us is a cornerstone of his publishing strategy, and asserting equivalency in our careers is how he tries to convince others he’s important. And while it’s nice every now and again to raise lots of money for charitable causes off his obsession with me, in a general sense I’ve been kind of busy. I pretty much don’t think of him unless he’s jumping up and down to get my attention, or trying to make a buck off my name. It’s a lopsided deal — he needs me, but I don’t need him for anything. My real annoyance at this point is that other folks are unintentionally doing this jerk’s desperately attention-seeking work for him, sending me updates on the latest nonsense he’s saying or doing, involving the version of me he peddles to his pals. If all y’all could resist the temptation, I’d be obliged. I don’t actually care about this dude.

“Don’t actually care” is where I mostly am with my haters these days, in fact, and I acknowledge it’s a nice place to be in. I’m blessed with work I like and people in my life I love, and the time I have now is all the time I’ll ever have. I plan to spend as much of it focusing on the things I like and people I love as I can, and rather little of it on the people who get off on hating me. Go on and hate me, dudes. It’s your karma. I have better things to do with my time.

First, SJWs always lie. And John Scalzi lies more than most. Scalzi is an insecure poser, which is why you can be certain that whatever the truth might be, it is not whatever he is saying.

Second, I never paid any attention whatsoever to John Scalzi until he began attacking me in 2005 in order to curry favor with Patrick Nielsen Hayden. I had no idea who he was. If Scalzi disappeared tomorrow, it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest. I don’t need him, I don’t want his attention, and I don’t even hate him. He’s nothing but PNH’s tool; his entire career is entirely dependent upon PNH. PNH and Tor Books are the disease, Scalzi is merely the symptom. I don’t read his blogs. I don’t read his books. I don’t read his Twitter account. I almost certainly pay less attention to him than he does to me; if nothing else, I don’t have the time.

Third, John Scalzi was so indifferent that he took the time to narrate the audiobook of a parody of SJWs Always Lie in 2015. (I found this somewhat remarkable given that I couldn’t be bothered to do the same for my own book.) This uncomfortable fact was completely swept under the table and ignored by those who found it utterly outrageous that Castalia House would dare to publish a parody of his most recent novel. Those who run with the ridiculous “envy” and “obsession” themes always skate over the fact that my responses to Scalzi are just that: responses to his little forays.

Fourth, I will always find the time to hammer John Scalzi. He is a horrible, dishonest little creature, and very nearly Plato’s Form of everything that a man should not be. If he didn’t exist, we’d have to manufacture negative examples.

Fifth, this long post indicates that Mr. Scalzi is rattled by the failure of The Collapsing Empire to break out in a manner justifying his book contract. Tor Books pushed it as hard as they could, but once more, they discovered that while you can call a midlister a “bestselling author” all you want, that’s not going to make his book a hit. The book sucks; even his fans don’t think much of it. Which is why the over/under on the contract being “renegotiated” moves from Book Four to Book Three.

From the comments:

I didn’t mention the name of my specific, embarrassingly devoted hater in the piece because it amuses me not to, but I don’t mind if you name him in the comment thread here. With that said, don’t turn your mentions of him into a two-minute hate, please. We all know he’s an awful person. Let’s not reiterate it endlessly.

So very amusing! See: First Law of SJW. What’s fascinating is the idea that their pretending not to pay attention to me is somehow “infuriating”. I didn’t pay any notice to these weird little losers in high school, what on Earth makes them think I am desperate for their attention now?


BOOK REVIEW: The Collapsing Empire

An established author who wishes to remain anonymous became interested in Scalzi’s latest as a result of the various shenanigans surrounding it and sent me his review of the book for posting here. His opinion of it is modestly more positive than mine, but I post it here, unedited, for the record. I also sent him a copy of Corrosion, so it will be interesting to see his perspective on that if he happens to read and review it.

The Collapsing Empire started its career as a published book with a major disadvantage – it had a great deal of hype.  Depending on who you believe, The Collapsing Empire is either the greatest space opera since Dune and Foundation or a millstone around Tor Books’ collective neck.  John Scalzi, known for Old Man’s War and Redshirts, has the problem that his latest novel will be judged against the hype, instead of being judged on its own merits.  In writing this review, I have done my best to ignore both sides of the ongoing culture wars and judge the book by its own merits.  You can judge for yourself if I have succeeded.

In the far future, interstellar travel is only possible through the Flow – an alternate dimension that allows FTL travel between colonised star systems.  (The science explanation is highly dubious, but I wouldn’t hold that against anyone.)  Humanity is united by the Interdependency, a network of colonies that are (mostly) dependent on each other to survive, and ruled by the Houses, led by the ‘Emperox.’  Unfortunately for the inhabitants of this universe, the Flow is actually changing – it’s either shifting routes (what the bad guys believe) or collapsing completely (what the good guys fear).  Either way, humanity is going to be in for some pretty rough times.  The Interdependency is so interdependent that only one world is habitable without massive tech support.

This sounds like the basis for a great space opera.  Humanity can – humanity must – find a way to survive when the Flow vanishes and all of its scattered star systems suddenly find themselves on their own.  (The tech base described in the book should certainly be up to the task.)  A lone star system can work to survive when the Interdependency vanishes.  Or humanity can find a way to travel FTL without using the Flow, or find a way to bend the Flow to humanity’s will.  Or …

These don’t happen.  Maybe they will in the sequel (the book ends on a cliff-hanger) but they don’t in The Collapsing Empire.  Instead, we get a mixture of local politics, interstellar shipping concerns and interstellar politics.  Some of these blend seamlessly into the story line, others don’t quite make sense.  I think it’s fairly safe to say that the most exciting part of the story is the mutiny in the prologue, which honestly doesn’t make sense (the mutineers are taking a terrible risk) and is completely unnecessary.  I’m happy to enjoy a Game of Thrones-style story about mighty aristocracies battling for supremacy, but that wasn’t what I was promised when I downloaded this book.

The book flows well – I read it in an hour – but it was oddly choppy.  There are aspects that really needed an editor’s touch – the mutiny in the prologue stops long enough for the author to lecture us on his universe, which isn’t necessary as all the main points are covered in CH4 – and others that needed more consideration.  I had problems following the flow – hah – of time within the universe; we are told, on one hand, that it takes months to move from Hub to end, yet Marce leaves Hub (after a largely pointless escape sequence) and in the very next section he’s on Hub.

Cardenia Wu-Patrick is probably the most likable character in the story, although she takes pointless risks and is generally ill-prepared to assume the post of ‘Emperox.’  (Her aide quips that nice people don’t get power, which misses the point that Cardenia inherited her power – she didn’t earn it.)  Marce Claremont is young and overshadowed by his sister, who I felt would have made a more interesting POV character.  And Kiva Lagos is – put bluntly – a potty-mouthed bully and a sexual predator.  Her good aspects are overshadowed by her bad points.

I admit it – I cringed when I read the first section, where it is clear that Kiva has pulled a very junior member of her ship’s crew into sexual congress.  Consent is dubious at the very least – there isn’t even a sense that he’s using her as she’s using him.  And then, she comes on to Marce later in the book in a manner that, if she were a man, would be considered borderline rape.  To call her ‘problematic’ is to understate the case.  This might not be a problem if she was the villain – or the text even acknowledged the issues – but it does not.

There are other issues, deeper issues, that offend my inner critic.  On one hand, Count Claremont – the physicist who first realised that something was wrong with the Flow – makes snarky remarks about the lack of peer review, yet his own work has the same problem.  While this is acknowledged, it makes no sense.  Modern-day governments have no problem finding qualified scientists and putting them to work on secret government projects.  Why can’t the Interdependency do the same?  And on the other, the bad guys – who have also realised that there is something wrong with the Flow – have a plan to take advantage of the crisis, but don’t seem to realise the potential of their own technology.  It suggests, very strongly, that no one takes the crisis completely seriously.

And yet, it is made clear that the Flow has shifted before.  Humanity has lost contact with Earth – in the distant past – and a relatively small colony world in the more recent past – but this does not appear to alarm anyone.  Is Earth really that insignificant?  One may draw a comparison between the Flow’s slow collapse and global warming, but the loss of two entire worlds is a little more significant than anything we’ve seen on Earth.  I would have expected a serious effort to reduce the degree of interdependency since that disaster.  If nothing else, shipping foodstuffs and suchlike between star systems must be an economic nightmare.  (And the ‘lie’ that binds the Interdependency together is obvious from the setting.)

To be honest, the text tries to balance humour with story and fails.  The fact that there is a legal way to mutiny – which no one bothers to follow – make me smile and roll my eyes at the mixture of humour and absurdity.  There are moments of banter that are oddly misplaced or unintentionally ironic.  The ship names sound as though they have come out of Iain M. Banks – Kiva’s ship is called the ‘Yes, Sir, That’s My Baby’ – but they have a very definite air of absurdity.  Banks made it work because the names suited the Culture – they don’t work so well in The Collapsing Empire.  And the very first line in the book is stolen directly from Scooby Doo.

In the end, The Collapsing Empire left me feeling oddly disappointed.  It’s shorter than I expected, given the price, and very little is resolved in the first book – the bad guys have taken a few blows, but the good guys haven’t even started to come to grips with the real problem.  I know that most books are set up as either trilogies or open-ended series these days, but there should be at least some resolution.  (If only because the second book might be delayed, increasing reader frustration.)  Off Armageddon Reef and The Final Empire, both also published by Tor, show how this can be done.

The Collapsing Empire is not the best SF novel of the decade, nor is it the worst.  It has high ideals and grand ambitions, but it doesn’t live up to them (nor the hype).  I probably won’t be picking up the sequel.