Posts Tagged: John Scalzi


A Chinese artist, known online as Shark’s Den, is producing some of today’s most incredible science fiction and fantasy book covers. Colourful and frenetic, hyper-detailed and lovingly bold, it’s as easy to get lost in the illustrations as it is in the novels themselves. From John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War to George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, The Legend of Korra and Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, Shark’s Den has created incredible covers and artwork for some of SFF’s most beloved authors and series.

More of Shark’s Den’s work is available in his DeviantArt Gallery.

Lock In by John Scalzi

Say one thing for John Scalzi, he gets some damn fine covers from his publisher. Scalzi describes the book as ‘a near-future thriller involving a disease that causes people to be “locked in” inside their own bodies,’ and indicates that he feels the cover captures this essence. Irene Gallo, Art Director at Tor Books, describes the creation of the cover, ‘You can often describe an art director’s job as being a match-maker for author and designer and the John/Peter pairing has been a good for us. […] Peter [Lutjen] created a cover that expressed both their isolation and connectivity by painting tiny train model people.’ has the first official synopsis of the novel:

Fifteen years from now, a new virus sweeps the globe. 95% of those afflicted experience nothing worse than fever and headaches. Four per cent suffer acute meningitis, creating the largest medical crisis in history. And one percent find themselves “locked in”—fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to Stimulus.

One per cent doesn’t seem like a lot. But in the United States, that’s 1.7 million people “locked in” …including the President’s wife and daughter. Spurred by grief and the sheer magnitude of the suffering, America undertakes a massive scientific initiative. Nothing can restore to the “locked in” the ability to control their own bodies. But two new technologies emerge. One is a virtual reality environment, “The Agora,” in which the locked-in can interact with other humans, both locked-in and not. The other is the discovery that a few rare individuals have brains that are receptive to being controlled by others, meaning that from time to time, those who are locked in can “ride” these people and use their bodies as if they were their own.

This skill is quickly regulated, licensed, bonded, and controlled. Nothing can go wrong. Certainly nobody would be tempted to misuse it, for murder, for political power, or worse…

Lock In, which Scalzi is in the processing of completing at the time this cover was revealed, is due for publication on August 26th, 2014.

Redshirts by John Scalzi

Publisher: Tor Books - Pages: 320 - Buy: Book/eBook
REDSHIRTS by John Scalzi

Like many twenty-something Science Fiction fans, I grew up with a love of Star Trek and Star Wars (yeah, both of ‘em. Come at me!) gifted to me by a family member. Star Trek, in particular, was a shared interest between me and my mom. I couldn’t match her, who read every novel published, and watched every episode of every series, in her enthusiasm, but I hold a fond spot in my heart for Geordi La Forge, Data and Quark, and even before-my-time Sulu and Kirk. That love in mind, Redshirts was of particular interest to me in its attempt to deconstruct the lazy narrative ambitions of network television and the Science Fiction genre as a whole.

The main narrative in Redshirts is told through a tight third-person voice, following Ensign Dahl, who, in very un-Scalzi-like fashion, is plain. Yeah, he’s also likable, like all of Scalzi’s other protagonists, but lacks the acidic tongue and wit that usually marks Scalzi’s other stars. This plain personality is even discussed at one point, when two characters examine his place in the overall narrative. They eventually peg as the everyman protagonist — which, of course, he is. The rest of the cast, however, more than makes up for this plainness, and Scalzi’s trademark humour and mile-a-minute dialogue hums along as expected. Read More »

Morningstar, developed by Industrial Toys

Set 120 years in the future, the premise revolves around a plausible future Earth, one that has developed near space flight, but nothing much faster. The story opens with Earth discovering a signal from an alien life. This discovery kicks off something called the Morning Star protocol, an agreement that outlines what to do if alien intelligence is discovered. The research vessel MSRV-Joplin is outfitted with military weapons and sent to Saturn, where the signal is coming from, to explore.

It’s not so much an announcement, as knowledge of Scalzi’s involvement with the creation of a videogame has been floating around for a while, but this is the first concrete information about the title. Scalzi reports on the project:

As most of you know, for the last year or so I’ve been working on a video game with Industrial Toys, the new video game studio formed by former Bungie founder Alex Seropian. We’ve been quietly chugging along in the background putting the game together; my job has been working with them to create an overall game concept as well as the narrative that fits into that concept. It’s been a hell of a lot of fun, in no small part because my co-workers at Industrial Toys are some of the smartest and most creative people in the video game business.


As the trailer notes, the video game is a first-person shooter, but with a bit of a twist: It’s designed specifically for mobile gaming on tablets, which means that everything — gameplay, controls, story — was put together incorporating both the physical layout of tablets and the gameplay dynamic of mobile gaming. It’s not a port from another video game medium, in other words: It’s at home in mobile. Which is also very exciting.

Read More »

Wolfenstein 3D difficulty settings

John Scalzi published an article today on his blog titled “Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is.” I felt the need to pass it along, without much in the way of comment. It’s not exactly related to the usual topics covered here on A Dribble of Ink, but it’s interesting, important and Scalzi’s a prominent figure in our community. Gender is a hot-topic issue in the SFF community these days (see here, and here, and here) and Scalzi, as he traditionally does, tackles the subject of gender- and race-privilege with an even hand. The “fun” really begins in the comments section, as is wont to happen on the Internet.

Dudes. Imagine life here in the US — or indeed, pretty much anywhere in the Western world — is a massive role playing game, like World of Warcraft except appallingly mundane, where most quests involve the acquisition of money, cell phones and donuts, although not always at the same time. Let’s call it The Real World. You have installed The Real World on your computer and are about to start playing, but first you go to the settings tab to bind your keys, fiddle with your defaults, and choose the difficulty setting for the game. Got it?


Now, once you’ve selected the “Straight White Male” difficulty setting, you still have to create a character, and how many points you get to start — and how they are apportioned — will make a difference. Initially the computer will tell you how many points you get and how they are divided up. If you start with 25 points, and your dump stat is wealth, well, then you may be kind of screwed. If you start with 250 points and your dump stat is charisma, well, then you’re probably fine. Be aware the computer makes it difficult to start with more than 30 points; people on higher difficulty settings generally start with even fewer than that.


You can lose playing on the lowest difficulty setting. The lowest difficulty setting is still the easiest setting to win on. The player who plays on the “Gay Minority Female” setting? Hardcore.

Please, read it and let me know what you think.