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John Michael Scalzi II (born May 10, 1969) is an author and online writer, best known for his Hugo Award-nominated science fiction novel Old Man's War, released by Tor Books in January 2005, and for his blog Whatever, at which he has written daily on a number of topics since 1998. He has also written a number of non-fiction books.


Scalzi was born in Californiamarker and spent his childhood there, primarily in the Los Angelesmarker suburbs of Covinamarker, Glendoramarker and Claremontmarker. Scalzi went to high school with noted blogger Josh Marshall; both were members of the class of 1987. After his stint at The Webb Schools of California, Scalzi attended The University of Chicagomarker, 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.

After graduating 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, Virginiamarker, 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. In 2001 Scalzi, his wife, and their daughter, Athena Marie, who was born in 1998, moved to Bradford, Ohiomarker, to be closer to family.

Scalzi is distantly related to John Wilkes Booth.

On 15 March 2007, Scalzi announced himself as a write-in candidate for president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, citing disagreement with the only ballot-listed candidate's vision for the future of the organization. He was not elected.



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 noted the book's similarities to Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers by thanking Heinlein in the acknowledgments of the book. 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 March 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). 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 February 2006, The Ghost Brigades, the sequel to Old Man's War, was released. Another science fiction novel, The Android's Dream, was released on October 31, 2006.

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

In February 2007 a novelette set in the Old Man's War universe, called "The Sagan Diary", was published as a hardcover.

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 and Scalzi narrowly missed winning the award by only 9 votes.

Zoe's Tale, the fourth Old Man's War novel, presenting a different view of the events covered in The Last Colony, was announced in September 2007 after Tor's art director posted the cover art to her blog, and published on August 2008. Zoe's Tale was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in March 2009.


While Scalzi is best known for his fiction, he 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. 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.

Online and other writing

John Scalzi is known to amuse himself by altering photos of his own likeness.
(uploaded by John Scalzi)
Scalzi registered the domain name in 1998 and in that year also began writing the " Whatever," a more-or-less daily blog. The name suggests the wide range of topics Scalzi writes about there, although many of Scalzi's more memorable 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 of 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.

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.

In September, 2006, Scalzi created a brief internet sensation when he taped bacon to his cat.

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. 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.

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.

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 US 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 upcoming science-fiction television show Stargate Universe.



Old Man's War universe

The Android's Dream universe

Stand-alone novels

Novellas and Novelettes

Short fiction

  • "Alien Animal Encounters" Strange Horizons (online), 15 October 2001 [125385]
  • "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")
  • "Questions for a Soldier" (chapbook, Subterranean Press, December 2005, ISBN 1-59606-048-4)
  • "The Sagan Diary" (novelette, Subterranean Press, February 2007, ISBN 1-59606-102-2)
  • "Alternate History Search Results" (Subterranean Magazine, online edition), February 2007 [125386]
  • "How I Proposed to My Wife: An Alien Sex Story" (chapbook, Subterranean Press, 2007)
  • "Pluto Tells All" (Subterranean Magazine, online edition), May 2007 [125387]
  • "After the Coup" (, 2008) [125388]
  • "The Tale of the Wicked" (The New Space Opera 2 anthology, June 2009)
  • "Judge Sn Goes Golfing" (chapbook, Subterranean Press, December 2009)

Non-fiction books

  • The Rough Guide to Money Online (October 2000, Rough Guide Books)
  • The Rough Guide to the Universe (May 2003, Rough Guide Books, ISBN 1-85828-939-4)
  • The Book of the Dumb (November 2003, Portable Press, ISBN 1-59223-149-7)
  • The Book of the Dumb 2 (November 2004, Portable Press, ISBN 1-59223-269-8)
  • The Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies (October 2005, Rough Guide Books, ISBN 1-84353-520-3)
  • You're Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop: Scalzi on Writing (2007, Subterranean Press, ISBN 1-59606-063-0)
  • Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: Selected Writing, 1998–2008 (Subterranean Press, 2008).




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. There are also characters whose names are based on Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. [125389]


  1. "The Family Assassin", post on Scalzi's blog "Whatever", May 17, 2005
  2. "SFWA President: I'm a Write-In Candidate", post on Scalzi's blog "Whatever", May 17, 2005
  3. SFWA Officer Election Results, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America website, posted May 12, 2007
  4. John W. Campbell Best New Writer Award Eligibility & Author Profiles,
  5. 2008 Hugo Award Winners List, Denvention 3 (The 66th World Science Fiction Convention) website, posted August 9, 2008
  6. Zoe's Tale: Yes, It's True
  7. Two New Covers from John Harris
  8. Subterranean #4, 2006
  9. A Shareware Short Story: “How I Proposed to My Wife: An Alien Sex Story"
  10. Whatever: A Lesson on Teh Intarweebs
  11. Hugo nominees, Nippon 2007 site
  12. An Important Announcement. By the Way, 12/7/07
  13. One of My Big Announcements for January, 1/14/09
  14. Scalzi's compilation "Your Hate Mail Will be Graded" delayed to 2008, SFScope

External links


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