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AuthorI am John Scalzi, Hugo-winning author, whose book Old Man's War is being developed by Netflix as a movie. Ask me anything!

Dec 20th 2017 by scalzi • 7 Questions • 155 Points

The conditions are horrible, the atmosphere is one of despair and desperation, basic necessities are difficult to come by and art supplies almost impossible to find.

People are often held here for years, sometimes for more than a decade, cut off from their families, from their jobs, from the world. It's especially hard during the holiday season with so many being kept from their familes, often with young kids who don't understand why daddy isn't at home.

I'm also the artist behind "Flowers For Bicutan", a fundraiser trying to supply food, medicine and legal aid to the detainees held in a third world detention center. I'll be donating artwork in exchange for donations.

Ask me about living here, about being an artist under these conditions, about the affects of "indefinite temporary detention" etc. Ask me anything.

Proof of location: https://truepic.com/search/?id=xz7ld6nn

Please note that I cannot reveal my identity as Immigration staff forbid us from using social media.

Q:

What's it like, being History's Greatest Monster (Burrito Category)?

anyway, my partner has been using the Human Godzilla section of Old Man's War in her English class for the Monsters and Others unit for the last few years, so they say thank you!

A:

Hello,

I thought the video was very strong, thank you guys for sharing!

But I also heard in some media that in this case, gobal warming was not what caused this. Can you elaborate on this?

I know that global warming is an issue for polar bears, but I just wondered what's the true story in this case.


Q:

What do you think is the Number 1 threat to endangered or at-risk cats?

How can a normal person help their cause?

A:

Haha we were just there yesterday. I guess simple question, what are some good secrets of the park? Any interesting tips about it?


Q:

You mentioned that your Christmas movies are

on tv non-fucking-stop right now.

What do you feel about how in-your-face Christmas movies/music/etc. are this time of year?

A:

With the ban on social media, how are you able to access Reddit? And that would be the repercussions if they were to find out you’re doing this AMA?


Q:

Not gonna lie, being a burrito monster is pretty great. All the infamy you want, and you get fed.

And tell your partner thank you!

A:

Hello; we were completely surprised by how much opposition there is to the idea that climate change is upon us. I suppose many people would not want to change their lifestyles or see their profits (from whatever activities that contribute to climate change or the exploitation of nature) changed. Fear is also a common response to an enormous threat, so people would naturally prefer to deny it than confront it. The vast majority of viewers and comments, however, were positive. I am very proud of the work we are doing with SeaLegacy because if we don't, biodiversity will die in darkness, with no one there to document it. Our job is to shine a light on issues regular reporters are not documenting and to bring those stories to the court of pubic opinion. It is not always positive and there is a tendency to shoot the messenger. We are happy to take the brunt of the criticism as long as we are moving the conversation forward. CM


Q:

How can a normal person help? VOTE!!! laws for protections come from the Congress on up. VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A:

Personally, find the old abandoned stuff interesting. Where the construction by the games are, there used to be a monorail station from like the 70s. Also the gazebo looking thing right in front of jet stream is what remains of a really old ride called the dragon ride. Pretty cool stuff.

As far as tips, the best food imo is at Chop Six by X2 and Viper. Stuff's just yummy


Q:

I think all the hate that reddit/Facebook/twitter gives to Christmas culture is kinda dumb. I like all of it when I'm in the mood for it. When I'm not in the mood for it, I can listen to or watch something else. It's a fairly easy adjustment!

That being said, Santa shouldn't appear until the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I think it's dumb to start the Christmas stuff the day after Halloween. Going to the Macy's parade however? OVERRATED.

A:

The ban isnt a ban per se. Nothing written, no clear directive. But.. for example if you post something derogatory towards the Immigration officials on facebook, they confiscate your phone. We had one guy whose x-wife put him here. He posted his story and it got thousands of followers. She complained to Immigration. They confiscated his phone. I expect they will confiscate my phone tomorrow or later this week. Only one artist here. Your phone is your lifeline. Its communication with the outside world, family, wife or girlfriend if you have one, friends, work, attorney, bank.... Its more than that. Its our mental escape. Its movies, games whatever you need to take your mind somewhere else. For me its music, art and ebooks. We have a few paperbacks. Ive read them. Numerous times. The Koreans and Taiwanese own mp3 soundsystems so we get a half dozen compilations of their music playing. Again and again and again... There is a tv which is sometimes on for a few hours, but the guards have the controls so not useful if you dont enjoy beauty contests or local soaps. It makes a world of difference to slip on a pair of earphones, close your eyes and escape into music. Its sanity. Its a very thin thread which can help you hold on to sanity. Without a phone this place is hell.


Q:

Regarding your "burritos:"

Why do you hate America, freedom, and all things that are good and beautiful?

Asking for a friend.

A:

Thanks for the answer, I also hope that people will change their view as soon as possible, and believe that the work of people like you can really make a difference!


Q:

What is the closest you’ve come to being eaten?

A:

MONORAIL!!


Q:

I wish the christmas movie of yours that was stuck on rotation was The Ultimate Christmas Present instead. Also, when am I going to see a dark comedy starring you and Michael Cera as brothers?

A:

Are you able to share anymore photos documenting the conditions you are in? Before they come for your phone. ;-) Stay safe brother!


Q:

MY BURRITOS FEATURE AMERICAN CHEESE, PAUL, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL, FREE, PATRIOTIC CHEESE THERE IS.

A:

Thank you. We were very clear from the very first post on our own social media channels that we don't know why this bear was dying. We stated that if we don't do something to reverse climate change, we will see more images like this as polar bears struggle to find food. PN


Q:

every story there is a moment of face to face fear - - which might lead to being on the dinner menu - but I have not been attacked directly in 25 years

A:

Aren't we all waiting on that


Q:

I haven't seen that movie in forever. I wonder if they're playing it this year. I had the quintessential 90's little boy haircut in that.

As for your question, I don't know. Michael, are you out there? It's me Spencer. We don't know each other but u/mrmightymyth wants us to make a movie. Let's do it. It could be a fucked up "Freaky Friday" type of thing. One of us swaps bodies with Jamie Lee Curtis and the other swaps with Ms. Lohan. Let's do this shit.

A:

We have some photos posted at flowersforbicutan.jimdo.com and there are a lot more out there. Just google Bicutan Immigration Detention Center and some of those sites have a lot of pics. To be honest, Im only allowed to use my phone a few hours a day(international law says I get unlimited access. Local office of the Ombudsman says I get unlimited access. Local Commission on Human Rights says I get unlimited access. I dont get unlimited access). Im borrowing a phone from a Korean. We recently had about 60 Koreans deported, all organized crime, all of whom had been paying bribes to avoid deportation because they have criminal charges back home. The way it works is you pay a bribe to the administration office( the admin staff are nicknamed "how-much-E" by the Koreans because they can be bribed to do ANYTHING) and you get your phone inside, its done monthly just like a utility fee. So some Koreans were deported and there are extra phones inside that other Koreans inherited. Im borrowing one, but if they see me with it taking pictures I'll lose this one. I cant use my phone for this, the admin staff go through your phone pretty often while its in the office. Another detainee here who is a real reddit addict tried to post some pics in a comment here today but the mods seem to have barred it. But there are tons of pics online. Just do a google search.


Q:

Which genres outside of SF do you enjoy to read the most? What are some books you've enjoyed reading this last year or so?

A:

How hard was it seeing some of the extremely hard comments on instagram/Facebook that accused you guys of being killers and just standing there? We all know nothing could be done, but seeing all of that when you’re just doing your job must have been tough.


Q:

Hi Steve! As a aspiring photographer I have a question about wildlife photography in general. What are your suggestions for safely photographing large animals like moose or bears?

A:

Nah, Teen Titans Tower Pizza is pretty swell. It's greasy, but great!


Q:

When will we see a sequel to Disney’s The Kid?

A:

If you're the only artist there then logically, they already know who you are just by your making this post.


Q:

This is going to be a not useful answer because I am really a small "c" catholic reader: I'll pretty much read anything if it's in front of me. So: Humor, mysteries, lit fic, non-fiction, trivia, etc. It's easier to say what I read relatively little of, which at the moment is westerns and romance -- although I do try to read in romance, seeing as it is actually the largest literary genre out there, and it seems foolish as a working writer not to know what the writers there are up to.

As to what I really enjoyed in the last year: I've been praising NK Jemisin's Broken Earth series to everyone and will do so here, too; otherwise I could make a whole list BUT I need to get to other AMA questions....

A:

Thank you. It was difficult to read those comments. Just the way war photographers who take a beating for not rescuing a starving child or for not getting in the middle of a battle, we were being accused of not saving the bear. After the trash can, the bear swam out of sight. We were left there standing numb and saddened. We vowed to share this footage with the world to spark a global debate so it was worth all of the hurtful comments. PN


Q:

there is a safe distance and time of year to photograph bears - I did it when the salmon were spawning so the bears were laser focused on their food - and not me - but you need to keep a safe distance at all times - as they both can run very fast over short distances - people that are experts in the area these species live can give you the best options. good luck!

A:

My problem with teen Titans is that you can find that pizza and waterfront too. I like chop six because they've got the most diverse menu


Q:

When I finally become "The Man."

A:

Correct. I expect they will seize my phone this week. It might take them a bit longer, it's the holiday season and not many government employees are doing much by way of work. It's a question of how motivated they are to punish me, and how much bad press punishing me will get them. Being European, they are unlikely to send me to the solitary cells for this. Not for very long anyway. If I were from an African country for example the repercussions could be vastly worse for me.


Q:

I love your writing!

Just recently started reading your books. So far Old Man's War is my favorite, but it's just the beginning, for me.

Do you think Netflix is going to actually do a good job with this one? I find it hard to get excited, these days, for Netflix adaptations...

A:

It is hard to watch. I saw the back leg dragging and the article said it was likely due to muscle atrophy. Was the leg broken or recovering from an injury?


Q:

Why not?

A:

Why do some ride operators need to repeat the safety message every single ride, rather than just having a pre-recorded message to play?


Q:

Well now I’m curious.

What exactly is your hottest take on Rampart?

A:

If you don't mind me asking,

1.) what got you jailed? 2.) how long have you been there? 3.) what actions can you take to secure your release? 4.) could you contact your family? 5.) would you be able to get a public lawyer? 6.) is it near impossible to secure your release once there?


Q:

Well, I'm going to be an Executive Producer on the Netflix project, so if it's terrible, it will be at least partially my own fault.

But as I noted above, I'm working with people I like and who I think are smart. I feel pretty good about our chances.

A:

We really do know. I asked a scientist and he said that it was likely from atrophied muscles due to starvation. Muscles eventually stop working. It could have been an injury from countless things. There have been a lot of guesses. My one wish is that a vet will return to the area to perform a necropsy. PN


Q:

I saw the bad that all the ayahuasca healing lodges have done around Iquitos - selling of jaguar parts - though the chinese are buying the canines. Tourist involved in the "healing" are buying jag skin wrist bands - jaguar teeth necklaces - etc. Where do you think these items come from - jaguars are now being killed way too often and this needs to be stopped. My job is to tell the story visually, about jaguars. Chip the writer was able to write a better story taking it - but we went to a real jaguar shaman - many are fueling the trade - are not locals with connections to the cat and culture.

A:

It wouldn't a real theme park if you can't understand the safety instructions because they're talking fast and the mic quality is bad. A prerecorded message would take all that away.


Q:

Let Woody be Woody!

A:

I over stayed my visa. My fault, I admit it. Ive been here for several years and since the people who reported me and then stole everything I owned upon my arrest have no doubt made a complaint against me, I cannot be released. This is the beauty of it, if you are charged with a crime you get a trial, right? You have your chance to tell your side of the story. But a complaint goes to Immigration, not through any part of the legal/judiciary system. You do NOT get to tell your side of the story without an attorney. Hard to hire an attorney when everything you own has been stolen by the people that put you here. There are public attorneys. Once a year they come here, put up a big banner, sit with a few detainees and have their pictures taken. We do not hear from them again. Various human rights groups do the same. Unfortunately Amnesty International doesnt cover "detention camps", I dont know why. I dont have any family but others do and they have limited phone access and laptop access(international law says we get unlimited access. We dont.) to contact them. We get visitors a few days a week(international law says 7 days a week. Isnt applied to us). Getting released or deported varies for every individual. Getting released requires paying bribes. Very large bribes. With no guarentee you will actually be released. We have one guy here, already spent €50k to get bail, hes "out" on bail in a criminal case. He's still here. Its a good game. Getting released if you have criminal charges against you in your own country or an influential country like the U.S. is pretty much impossible. Ive seen it done, but we're talking bribes in the €100k+ ballpark, and even then... For the rest of us getting released is a question of money. Deported may be easier. You see, they dont like to release you once youve been here, you might file charges against them. We file charges against them from inside but we arent taken to the hearings so the charges get dismissed. Another good game.


Q:

Well, good for you! I hope this proves to be a great adaptation and a lucrative deal for you.

Please just don't give up on writing like 'others' seem to have, if you get all the money from this deal.

A:

Oh my god shut the fuck up you fucking twat.


Q:

These galleries are gorgeous! Your shots show a relationship with these animals that must have taken some time and mutual respect to build.

To keep my question on topic, what is your favorite big cat story to tell at social functions?

What I really came here to ask is this: As an aspiring travel photographer, how would you suggest getting in with a big name like National Geographic? Do they accept applications for apprenticeships from amateur photographers, or will they review portfolios submitted by those with virtually no internet presence? I hear that many photography jobs now necessitate a pretty large online following, and that seems tough to garner given the sheer volume of images already out there.

Thanks for taking the time to do an AMA, Steve!

A:

X2 or Tatsu?


Q:

WHY in the hell did they film You Wish! in New Zealand??

A:

Damn. I can't imagine how it must be like.

It's really shitty that you're pretty much like one step higher from how actual criminals get treated just for overstaying.

I'm guessing the reason why they don't want anyone knowing anything is because what they're doing is borderline illegal and their abuse of authority would be put into question if people knew more about the situation.

Hope things get better. If it wouldn't be too risky, getting some evidence as to the conditions there could probably serve as a trump card in the future.


Q:

I mean, I'm kinda already set for life. I'm still writing.

A:

Great question. Our original posts were well received and then yes, everyone, including National Geographic altered or embellished our story which started the backlash from other media outlets. Many journalistic organizations do not allow us to proofread before they post. We have to trust their integrity and unfortunately, things get misconstrued. That started the backlash. As a biologist, I am very careful in how I word my captions. PN


Q:

Look below at my answer to another question about finding your own vision. Spending time with your subject - etc. emotion - good luck! Also animal stories that 8-10 weeks just to get close to your subject - learn the behavior and landscape to be able to bring back unique images

A:

Tatsu, I love x2 but damn does it hurt my legs


Q:

Cause it’s beautiful! Tax incentives too.

A:

We have it in spades. Doesnt make a difference. Without an Embassy to back you up, you cant get anywhere from within the system. We had a guy was locked up in solitary for months. His x-gf put him here and she told the officials he had TB, HIV, a host of diseases. They locked him in solitary as a protective measure, to keep us from getting infected. Until he payed for a medical examination which proved he didnt have any of those diseases. The first 4 days he was there they forgot to feed him. A rat bit him on the foot and he got no medical attention. This guys story was a nightmare. He joined my complaint to the Commission on Human Rights. They didnt want to touch it. His Embassy(U.S.) said "we cant get involved". He was here with no criminal charges, just a complaint from his x-girlfriend who was jealous that he found a new girl. They got him out after about half a year, thats fast. No Western embassy will touch this place. Unless you include the Israeli embassy. Their citizens dont stay here 24 hours, because their embassy informs the locals that after 24 hours the Israelis will get their citizen out and any dead bodies left behind are not their concern. I wish I was Israeli.


Q:

What's your favorite non-writing thing to do?

A:

My question is a little too generic: How do the wildlife photographers ensure their safety while being around an unknown ecosystem?

I would like to thank you guys for highlighting the intensity of this issue.


Q:

These galleries are gorgeous! Your shots show a relationship with these animals that must have taken some time and mutual respect to build.

To keep my question on topic, what is your favorite big cat story to tell at social functions?

What I really came here to ask is this: As an aspiring travel photographer, how would you suggest getting in with a big name like National Geographic? Do they accept applications for apprenticeships from amateur photographers, or will they review portfolios submitted by those with virtually no internet presence? I hear that many photography jobs now necessitate a pretty large online following, and that seems tough to garner given the sheer volume of images already out there.

Thanks for taking the time to do an AMA, Steve!

A:

Are there any rides that the staff agrees are more entertaining to operate?


Q:

what is the perfect taco container, hard shell or soft wrap?

A:

As an NBI (like FBI) officer said to me..."you have no rights unless we choose to give them to you".

None of the embassies get involved unless their citizen is close to death. The usual response is "we cannot interfere in judicial matters or the internal affairs of another country".

In fact...sometimes it's the embassies that keep people here. People like Art Benjamin who is dying from multiple stage 3/4 cancers and probably has less than 4 months to live. Immigration wanted to grant him bail so that he could die with dignity in his home with his wife. But the US Embassy objected as he is facing duplicate charges in the US...charges that will go nowhere as he will be dead long before he touches US soul again.

So now he's stuck in an isolation cell, dying alone with no family to comfort or help him. He's in isolation to protect him as his immune system is weakened so severely.


Q:

Sleep, shooting Nazis in video games, spending time with family and friends, reading, watching movies, fantasizing about inherently fair and just political systems. Not necessarily in that order.

A:

Good question. We research our subject widely and proceed with caution. Animals are constantly communicating their level of comfort and fear and if you pay attention and remain respectful, it generally creates less tension. As a photographer, if you allow animals to dictate the encounter and if you move slowly, animals tend to relax and if you are lucky, they allow you into their world. CM


Q:

Everyday - domestic cats came from wild cats - the domestic cats supposedly came from the African Wild cat. I have seen a 10 foot tiger using a tree as a scratching post - it looks like a domestic cat - as that is what we are used to seeing in our everyday lives.

A:

Easiest to operate would be Justice League. You just need to hit the dispatch button. The tricky part happens when it pops up with an error and you need to know how to handle it. I'm not sure about the most entertaining, but it would probably be one of the launch rollercoasters (Superman or full throttle)


Q:

A soft corn tortilla does the trick every time.

A:

It isn't legal. No, there is little criticism of our host country as most Western countries have agreements with them that allow them to work around the lack of an extradition treaty. In exchange for co-operation on law and order and security issues, the Western countries turn a blind eye to this place. When you complain to your embassy about your illegal detention you inevitably hear "we can't get involved".


Q:

Does the idea of a large interconnected mega-series like Brandon Sanderson's Cosmere appeal to you? (I'm interested to hear your opinion both as an author theoretically creating your own and as a reader experiencing one someone else has created.)

A:

Thank you both for your vital conservation work, and for the poignant, haunting, and beautiful (sometimes all at once) visual content that you create.

I know many people who deny the influence or even existence of man-made climate change. When I've referred them to this story to demonstrate the adverse effects of warming poles, they invariably demand to know how we can definitively prove that this particular bear's demise was the result of human activity. How do you typically respond in such debates? Do you think that these people genuinely believe AGW is a political hoax, or that they simply can't come to terms with the fact that our activity on Earth has created such tragic scenes as the one you've captured here? And in the interest of fairness, what can we "climate hawks" learn from people who are skeptical of the mainstream consensus?


Q:

What are your top 5 personal favourite coasters at the park?

A:

Who is your man-crush?


Q:

We get them occasionally but I don't know where they come from.

A:

I mean, the Old Man's War spans many years and multiple POV characters and six books, so I kind of already do that? I just don't make the books the size of small trucks.

(Which is not banging on Brandon, who is my friend and who is awesome. But it is a general difference between SF and Fantasy series -- SF books tend to be shorter.)


Q:

Great question. You simply stick to the science and the math. Predictions (scientists often under-predict) are that 30 percent of polar bears are going to disappear by 2050 and could become extinct by 2150. Show them the nasa graph of carbon and the warming Earth. They just can't come to terms. It is must less painful to deny than to have to deal with AGW. I wish it wasn't real either but it is and we must all join in efforts to protect our one home. PN

A:

1) Tatsu

2) Twisted Collosus

3) Goliath

4) X2

5) Superman


Q:

Iggy Pop.

A:

Umm... Right.......


Q:

I'm very excited to hear that Old Man's War will be coming to Netflix! Will the green skin make it to the screen?

A:

Have you read the commentary from the local Inuit bear watchers? They have a very different narrative than the articles I have read.

http://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-monday-edition-1.4442887/viral-video-of-emaciated-polar-bear-may-not-be-what-it-seems-nunavut-bear-monitor-says-1.4442892


Q:

Seen anyone throw up?

A:

What kind of restrictions and rules are put on your animation team and the movie in general and, what kind of splitting up do you do with your budget?


Q:

We'll see. There are practical issues to making dozens of cast members green, so it's something we have to look at. Also, the question of whether you can make someone look green without it just looking like makeup. As much as I love Zoe Saldana in Guardians of the Galaxy, it doesn't look like she has green skin; it looks like she spends several hours in the makeup trailer every day.

A:

I have read it. You can read my comments about it in a previous response. CM


Q:

I haven't seen anyone throwup, but I've seen the aftermath. Not. Fun.

A:

I have zero idea. I just know that the bulk of the budget does not go to me. I do know however that animators work their asses off and deserve lots of money.


Q:

Big fan of your writing here. Which character or characters that you've written do you think would be a good writer?

A:

How do we get Canada to change their legislation on being able to feed polar bears? Obviously there is a risk but we also have a duty to help them considering that we're destroying their habitats.


Q:

What ride do you operate, and what do you want to operate? Also, do you know the average number of trains/riders per hour TC on normal op days/any explanation on why it never really gets to duel?

A:

What is the best thing that has happened to you this year?


Q:

Well, John Perry was a writer -- albeit in advertising -- and he was good at it. So I think he's the obvious answer. I think Zoe Perry will eventually become a really good one too.

A:

We are trying to change legislation so their habitat is protected so they can find their own food. If we are at the point of feeding polar bears then most of the Arctic ecosystem will be collapsing. Most species in the Arctic require ice. From copepods (lifecycle is tied to ice) to bowhead whales (which feed on copepods) all involve sea ice. If we lose ice, we stand to lose an entire ecosystem. PN


Q:

I mainly operate Justice League, but I think it would be fun to do Superman or one of those launch rides. Idk qbout twisted though, never worked there. My guess is that they want to launch the trains asap

A:

I got to marry the love of my life! She’s a brilliant artist from Tasmania, and a total babe.


Q:

How long did it take you to get the courage to submit your writing to publishing houses? Did you get an agent, or submit yourself? What advice would you have for writers who haven't submitted anything yet?

A:

What are your sources? The OP has proof she is who she says she is, but who are you and how do you know about the place where the Polar Bear died?


Q:

Do you scream "OOOOOOOOWOPP" when rides dispatch or is that just a Great Adventure thing?

A:

Well two heads are better than one. Your wife will hate that joke but being from Tasmania she will get it. Best wishes to you both!


Q:

I don't tend to think of it as courage; I tend to think of it simply as trying to engage in business. I think that's because I did a stint in freelance journalism, where you're always pitching story ideas and you know only a small fraction are going to be taken up. So the idea I might submit something, and the person I was submitting to might say "no," was not something I took into my ego. It was just the nature of the business.

I think it's helpful to approach it that way.

A:
  1. We didn't see the polar bear again after he swam away. He looked more at ease in the water.
  2. Thank you. We need more people to realize the facts. We were clear from the very beginning, when this story first came out, that we don't know why this particular bear was starving. It is, for us, a very strong foreshadowing of what is to come for future generations of polar bears if we don't reverse the effects of climate change. - PN

Q:

Oh yeah, as often as I can

A:

Those are only the Tasmanians who prefer Boag's over Cascade.


Q:

Which up and coming writers should we be paying attention to?

A:

Hi, could you share how you plan your photography work based on your conservation efforts? Wondering what factors go into what you decide to cover and when. Thanks for your work.


Q:

I've only been there twice. Once during my 6th grade graduation and another time when I was 23. I live 5 minutes away.

When is the least busiest time to visit the park? And are there any rides that just constantly have no line?

A:

Isn't that civil war talk down there?

By the way, have enjoyed your movies, always made us laugh. All the best!


Q:

WHY DON'T YOU ASK ME WHICH OF MY CHILDREN I LIKE THE BEST

A:

Hi, we always rely on the advice of scientists and conservation experts who work on issues at a more local level. It is very important to have local players that will continue pushing for policies after we finish documenting. We work in places and issues where there is a strong policy process or a campaign underway, so that we can inject the kind of momentum that helps tip the scales. We also prefer to work in places where our added value is urgently needed and/or where no one else is working. CM


Q:

Least: Tuesdays or Wednesday in general. Specifically on Superbowl Sunday or Christmas eve are the least busy days.

Most: Summer Saturdays, Sundays are generally a little less busy, but still packed. This is kinda obvious but never go on bring a friend free days or three day weekends (like labor day)

A:

Thanks!


Q:

I've read several of your books and enjoyed them, but haven't kept up with your other pursuits.

Is there an FAQ? Any columns or blog posts that shouldn't be missed?

A:

How do we defeat people like the evil koch brothers from ruining our planet? I’m very worried


Q:

is there such thing as homemade snakes or are they all just mass produced in a factory? these are questions of doctors everywhere

A:

What is your honest opinion of Santa Clause 3? Do you think there would ever be a 4th movie?


Q:

Annually on Christmas Eve I post on my web site a list of my favorite essays I've written in the year, so come by then!

A:

I recently read about something called the "Overtron window". In short, that is the window of political discourse that the public is willing to accept. It appears that in the past couple of decades, certain individuals and organizations, like the ones you mention, who clearly have special interests, have invested millions of dollars to move that window to the extreme right. We are now in a public discourse place where it is ok for the US government to dismantle monuments, overthrow protections, etc. Our job, as communicators and as an educated public is to move that window to the center again. We do that by debating, discussing and being rational. The more we talk about the kind of policies that we find acceptable, the better. CM


Q:

Well who's to say that a factory isn't a home

A:

I actually rewatched it a couple of weeks ago, as my wife likes to do instagram stories panning back and forth between Little Me on the TV and Current Me sitting on the couch drinking bourbon. Honestly as far as kids movies go I've seen way worse. None of us thought it'd be the next Citizen Kane. It's super cool as a parent getting to show the movie to my (nearly) four year old and to see other young kids getting enjoyment out of it. To quote The Hold Steady, "the kids at their shows, they'll have kids of their own."


Q:
  1. I really enjoyed Collapsing Empire especially the colourful language used by Kiva. Which is something you don't see that often in books. "real" people using "real" language. Was there an inspiration for Kiva's vocabulary?

  2. Would you ever consider teaming up with another writer for a style book where each writes a viewpoint (e.g. the Expanse).

A:

Oh perfect! Thanks very much.


Q:

Rides are designed so the seatbelt isn't even necessary. You could ride without the seatbelt and still be perfectly safe. That's how lapbars are designed.

A:

Thanks for being a part of my childhood. What was it like working on the cat in the hat and the santa clause?


Q:
  1. No specific inspiration, although I myself do swear. Like, a LOT.

  2. Over time I've learned I'm not the world's best collaborator, so I think it's unlikely I'll collaborate with anyone on something as long as a novel -- BUT having said that, I should say "never say never," because who knows? Maybe one day I'll change my mind.

A:

Thanks for correcting....Overtron it is! CM


Q:

I'd think at most a front of the line pass, mainly because you didn't get hurt, but that's something a lead or supervisor would decide

A:

I had a really good time and am grateful for those experiences. I was 10 when I made "Cat In The Hat" and "SC2" and I don't think the enormity of those projects between budgets, cultural impact, or whatever really hit me at the time. Looking back I just think about how fucking huge and cool it is that I got to do that at that age.


Q:

So I was at your Dallas reading for a sample of your upcoming book -- has anything about your approach to the fictional sport depicted in it changed since... uh... everything that's happened in the real-world since? Kaepernick, et al.

A:

What are some other species we should be paying closer attention to as far as our impact on their habitats?


Q:

Well, the book in general definitely shows marks of having been written in 2017, that's for sure. Nothing stupidly soap-boxy -- I'm writing a different time than the one we live in -- but certainly what's going on now has weighed on my brain as I was writing and plotting.

A:

The polar regions are being affected greatly, and penguins in Antarctica have experienced a couple of mass mortality events. Coral reefs are also under great stress and last year we lost 30% of all reefs. Plastic and pollutants in our oceans are having a very serious impact on whales and other marine mammals and then there is the trade of ivory. Not only elephants and rhinos being greatly impacted, other ivory-bearing wildlife, like narwhals are also being killed for their tusks in the Arctic. The list goes on and on. One that we can have an immediate and positive impact on is wild fish. Tuna, wild salmon, and sharks should be at the top of our list of concerns. CM


Q:

Hey John, loving your books and your twitter presence and opinions.

Is there any other genre you have ideas for or want to take a stab at outside of science fiction? Fantasy, horror, urban fantasy, etc, whatever floats your giblets?

A:

Hey guys.. thanks for bringing this powerful footage to light to showcase the issues climate change is having on the north.

My question is a little different, but I was just curious as to what kind of camera gear you used to capture this footage? Thanks.


Q:

I regularly write non-fiction, so I'm often writing out of genre. And I have also written fantasy: See The Dispatcher and The God Engines.

A:

The video was shot on a RED 8K. The stills were shot on a Sony A-9. Long lenses were the Canon 600mm. PN


Q:

Do you often set out to write a book to be a series? Or do some of them just insist that you write more in that universe?

A:

Cristina, as you responded to media on the controversy surrounding the footage you suggested Inuit were denying climate change and are doing so to protect their sport hunts of the polar bear. Can you provide more insight ? Are Inuit really making a lot of money?


Q:

Only once: The Collapsing Empire, which we knew was the first installment of a series. Everything else was written standalone, and became series in when they sold well and the publisher asked for more.

A:

Thanks for this question; What people don't know is that as a mix-raced Mexican, with indigenous heritage, and as someone who has worked my entire life to protect and promote the rights of indigenous people, that accusation is truly hurtful. The accusation was made after I pointed out that 600 bears are killed every year for subsistence and for trophy. I think their response was made to protect their right to hunt, which, trust me, I don't question. Let's ask ourselves this question: If polar bears were indeed being affected by climate change, would that change the number of bears that are allowed to be hunted? Would the government allow fewer hunting tags? I don't know but I think that is where I stepped on some toes. In my mind, the Inuit are as much victims of climate change as the bears and they deserve a right to hunt and support themselves. Denying that climate change is having an effect on polar bears, however, when 99% of scientists are telling us the entire ecosystem is being affected, is something we cannot ignore. I hope the Inuit will forgive my comment and accept my apology. My intention was never to hurt their livelihoods. I am absolutely not against subsistence hunting and I am certainly not an enemy of the Inuit but I am 100% for conserving an intact Arctic and for polar bears. CM


Q:

You mentioned in a blog post that people asking you to read their books for feedback, for free, is rude and disrespectful of your time- and I agree! How much do you think is a fair amount to charge/pay to have someone read your book?

A:

What were your thoughts when you left the area where the polar bear was struggling? I personally would have felt dreadful, like i could have done something, despite there really being nothing I could do. I understand you couldn't legally help the poor thing, but being that close, experiencing its struggle, then leaving it must have been hard.

And thank you for doing this. It's truly an eye-opening bit of footage.


Q:

It depends on the person and whether they are doing it professionally (i.e., as an editor) or as a pal. Most people who ask me to read their books, I don't know.

A:

It did feel dreadful....watching him swim away and knowing he was suffering was one of the worst experiences of our lives. Watching the effects of climate change on Arctic wildlife is like watching a tsunami in slow motion. It is difficult to elicit an emotional connection to a data point on a graph. What we wanted was for this bear's suffering not to be in vain. We don't know why he was starving but we do know that as the Arctic continues to warm (twice as fast as anywhere else on Earth) many more bears, and other Arctic wildlife that depends on sea ice, like walrus and seals, will also suffer. That is what we are trying to prevent. CM


Q:

Thanks for taking the time to do this, and congratulations on finishing up Head On!

Here's a question: on social media, you've repeatedly made comments to the effect of "the novel is done, all that's left is the typing." Could you elaborate on what exactly you mean by that?

A:

That means that I've plotted the whole thing out and know what everyone is going to do and how it all ends. So the story writing and plotting is done; now it's just getting it all down into a document.


Q:

Hey John! Love your books, any chance you have a book/signing tour planned in the future?

A:

Yup, there will be one in conjunction for Head On when it comes out in April.


Q:

What is the least awkward way for someone to approach you at a con to tell you they're a fan?

A:

"Hi! I'm a fan!" is usually a good way to do it.


Q:

Hi John!

You're trapped on a deserted island with three books. Knowing that you will be reading them over and over and over again, what three do you bring?

A:

"How to escape from a deserted island" is definitely one of them. Also, "This book is actually a satellite phone with GPS" is a great one, too.


Q:

Huge fan of OMW, and excited to hear that it's hitting Netflix.

I'm also very fond of Agent to the Stars - has there been any interest in adapting it to the screen?

Do you have any plans to revisit Cascadiopolis? I really enjoyed the possible futures presented there, and would love to read more about them.

What are your favorite pizza toppings?

Thanks for taking the time to do this!

A:

Cascadiopolis:

No plans at the moment, but there were two "Metatropolis" sequels I was not involved with, available on Audible.


Q:

What is the best and/or most authentic way to communicate electronically with an audience?
I used to read whatever religiously, but have switched to follow mostly on twitter and facebook. The current state of social media makes me loathe to communicate almost anywhere, given the inverse proportional effect of free time and sociopathy that seems to exist on the internet. What's your prediction of the best way to communicate what's happening to potentially interested parties?

A:

For me, I just write what I want, and then take advantage of filtering/moderating tools if people decide to be jerks. I'm also aware that some people are simply determined to be jerks regardless, so I don't really feel bad punting them. I also don't believe that "free speech" means I'm obliged to tolerate jerks.


Q:

Hi Mr. Scalzi. Reading Old Man's War got me back into reading science fiction after having to take a break from any fun reading in college. I've since read all your books and made my mom listen to The Collapsing Empire on a road trip and now she is hooked too!

So for my question, what books, movies, shows, or other media inspired you to write science fiction?

A:

Uuuuuuuh, that's a list that would take hours. But suffice to say the inspiration comes from every possible medium, and everything goes into the creative maw.


Q:

Do you do any of your own marketing for your books, and what seems to be the most effective? My wife has written 8 books but never published/submitted them, and I was thinking of trying to get them out there for her. Also, I love you so much and we have every copy of your books in both paper and audiobook versions. :D

A:

I am fortunate to a have a publisher who handles most publicity/marketing, and aside from that have a large enough online footprint (and have for 20 years) that getting the word out has never been difficult.

I'd be wary of submitting/publishing anything without her permission, not because it's not a nice gesture, but because it really is her work and she should have the final say about ti.


Q:

Not trying to step on John's toes. Putting here in case he can't get to all these good questions: https://whatever.scalzi.com/2017/12/15/spoiler-free-observations-on-the-last-jedi/ [there may be spoilers in comments though]

A:

Yup, that's the link!


Q:

Hi. How is Head On going? Hope those twitter breaks helped.

A:

IT IS DONE THANK GOD NOW I CAN SLEEP


Q:

Writing has always seemed such a solitary endeavor that it's kinda turned me off it, that and the constant revision/editing process seems painful. Hopefully you enjoy it a lot more, but can you talk a little about the things you enjoy/miss while writing? It seems burritos feature heavily in the "enjoy" column for you, but it can't all be burritos, right?

A:

EVERYTHING IS BURRITOS MY FRIEND

Enjoy: I mean, I like writing, you know? Watching my thoughts take form, doing the craft (which includes revision/editing) and all of that is pleasurable. It's like doing a puzzle with words, making it all fit.

Miss: I can't think of anything I really miss. I'm essentially an introvert, so I like a bit of alone time anyway. Sometimes I don't want to write and just want to play video games or snark on Twitter, but that's not really "missing," that's work avoidance.


Q:

Why have you decided to declare war on all good and decent burritos?

On a more serious note, thanks for your continued support of Jay and Mary’s and the Bradford Public Library. As a resident of the area, I always appreciate your promotion of these great institutions.

A:

THE BURRITOS KNOW WHY.

And I'm always happy to support my local libraries and bookstores.


Q:

I really enjoyed Old mans war, still one of my favorite books, and I most recently read The Collapsing Empire, which I enjoyed as well.

With those two as contrast, how do you balance the amount of "fun" in books? Is your editor on alert to make sure it doesn't become too silly, or do you just go with what feels natural?

A:

I don't really have a specific formula. I just go by feel. I don't think Patrick (my editor) is on the lookout for the specific percentage of fun in a book. But he might be! I'll have to ask him.


Q:

Do you think up creative names for your burrito combinations? Or is it just "Burrito with cheetos and candy canes"?

E.g. I eat burritos with taco fillings and call it a Burraco. Yes, very boring, I know.

A:

They're usually in my stomach by the time I think of a name for them. The exception was the "Wilicious" burrito, which I named as I was making it because I love Wil Wheaton so much.


Q:

I love your books. Which of the technologies from your books do you think we'll see in the real world in the next 5-10 years?

A:

If I knew that, I'd be rich from investing!


Q:

Hello John!

I met you at a signing a few years ago (my very first book event) and loved your insight and witty commentary. I also follow your cats on twitter, and love seeing them on my feed. My question is, how to hell do you organize everything when you're writing? I always have ideas bouncing around, and they aren't necessarily in chronological order. Thank you! :D

A:

Organize?


Q:

Will we ever seen the Perry family in the OMWverse again?

A:

John and Jane, probably not. Other Perrys? We'll see.


Q:

What is your favorite pie? Who is going to star in this movie? I'm excited to see this movie, I loved those books.

A:

Pecan and don't know yet!


Q:

What is your favourite and least favourite social media, that you use, and why? Loved Old mans war, can't wait to see it on netflix! :D

A:

Aside my own blog, Twitter is clearly my favorite -- it's suits for my snarkiness. I wouldn't say Snapchat was my least favorite, but I can say I don't understand it at all.


Q:

I loved The Collapsing Empire. Were the ship names in tribute to the late, great Iain M. Banks?

A:

Indeed they were!