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John Scalzi Talks About His Hugo Win

Science fiction author and columnist John Scalzi discusses his Hugo Award win for Best Fan Writer and his Best Novel nomination for The Last Colony.

Q: Congratulations on winning the Fan Writer Hugo. What makes your blog Whatever so popular and recognized?

A: Well, I think it’s a combination of things. It’s been around for many years — September 13 will be the 10-year anniversary of Whatever — so I go back to the Internet’s dinosaur days and have had time to grow an audience. Specifically relating to science fiction I think two things are going on: Before I was even a published science fiction author, I was a science fiction fan. And so I’ve been talking about science fiction for basically as long as Whatever has been around. The other thing is that I am in a unique position that the site does get a lot of visitors, so it’s important to me as to promote the hell out of other peoples’ work.

Q: Your essay “Being Poor” is now synonymous with you and your blog. What would you say is your signature post?

A: “Being Poor” is one of them, absolutely. One of the other posts that is a signature, for better or for worse, is the day I taped bacon to my cat. I put it up on my website, and immediately it went everywhere on the Internet. I’ve been paying for that ever since — I get three e-mails a day of people sending me bacon related stuff. But the whole point that the blog can have something like “Being Poor,” which is a very serious and very personal exploration of what being poor can be, and also can have bacon taped to a cat typifies what the title of the site is.

Q: What’s the difference between what you write on Whatever, and what you write in your weekly column on

A: I think the great thing about what I write for you guys is that you give me permission to be obsessive about one topic. And that’s great because I’m sitting there thinking about films and science fiction, both of which I love. I’ve always been the kind of person who is naturally free-form, so when someone says, “No, just do this,” it gives me some structure and I’m like, “Wow. I think I can work with that.”

Q: The Last Colony lost to Yiddish by a mere nine votes. Does coming so close to winning the Best Novel award give you hope for a movie adaptation of the series?

A: The way that Hollywood works is they’ll option lots and lots of things, and of those lots and lots of things, maybe one thing will make it into pre-production. And of those, maybe one out of many will actually be made into a movie. I think it would be fun — it’s fun to speculate what kind of movie they’d make out of Old Man’s War or The Last Colony, but I don’t worry about it. Every once in a while people will come to us and they’ll say, “We love it! We want to make it into a movie!” I’ll go, “OK. Talk to my agent. When you’re actually serious, you let me know, and I’ll know because it will be a big check that will let me buy a Mustang.”

Q: How will your life change now that you’re a Hugo Award-winning author?

A:  Well, you know, I imagine I will be accosted in the supermarkets. The great thing about science fiction fame is that it’s the appropriate sort of fame. Every once in a while you can go to a science fiction convention and for those three days, you’re really famous. Then you go back into the real world where nobody knows who you are and you still have to pay your bills and take your kid to the Girl Scouts. I don’t know that my life will change too much. I do know that I’ll have to find some place to put the darn thing. This year’s Hugo is so big it’s like they took a Hugo, put another Hugo on it, and then they stuffed it inside a man named Hugo. I had to hike that thing a couple blocks from the ceremony and by the time I was done I said to someone, “My shoulder is sore from carrying my Hugo.” And they’re like, “Oh, poor baby.”

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