The Tormentor and I
So youíve read Old Manís War and Whatever, maybe even picked up The Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies just to prove youíre a real fan. But donít get the idea that you know John Scalzi just because youíve read what he claims to be his literary outpourings. You canít really know him unless you live with him. And I do.
No, Iím not his wife, nor his daughter, both of whom are amazingly fantastic people and you have to wonder how they put up with the massive furball of ego that is John Scalzi. Iím Ghlaghghee, John Scalziís long-suffering feline master, and it is now time to clear the air once and for all and reveal the truth about John Scalzi.
First of all, what youíve read on Whatever, or in any of those books, or even on his film column over at AMC or Film CriticÖ I wrote those (and believe me, typing with claws ainít easyÖit doesnít take long to scratch those letters off the keyboard. And purr-recognition software just hasnít come far enough). Donít get me wrong, the Tormentor does have a role in the creative process. In the morning, heíll come into my lair and loudly muse about what ďheĒ plans on ďwritingĒ on any given day. Once I have my assignment for the day, he drinks himself into a Coke Zero® stupor, only coming out of it when the sun sets and he looks over my immortal prose.
Why do I put up with this, you ask? Letís just say the last time I failed to meet the Tormentorís quota, he discovered that you can do more with smoked breakfast meats than simply eat them (although why you would waste such a delicacy is beyond me).
So, what more is there to say about the Tormentor?
Heís a loving father and husband who lives in the wilds of Ohio on a vast estate that allows for plenty of mousing.
Heís curious, especially about those things that have an influence on him. When he was elected President of SFWA, the first thing he did was e-mail every single person who did anything for the organization to find out what they were doing and what they were planning. Once he was convinced they knew what they were doing, and that he knew what the organization was involved with, he became much easier to live with.
Heís got opinions, too. And while some people might try to pigeon hole him, if you actually read his opinions (well, my description of his opinions, since weíve already determined that I write everything you think the Tormentor has written), youíll find them much more nuanced, even thoughtful, or at least as thoughtful as you can be when your brain is being supplied by a steady stream of Coke Zero® instead of blood.
The Tormentor is also a fan. Heís read science fiction and has even committed fan fiction, although he managed to convince the original authorís estate to let him release the book professionally, so look for Fuzzy Nation, a reimagining of H. Beam Piperís Fuzzy stories, at a bookstore near you in May. (And yes, while the Tormentorís agent gets a cut, Iíll be lucky to just get an extra serving of Fancy Feast®.)
Perhaps the greatest service he has done for science fiction fandom has been the Hugo Nominee packets. When my novel The Last Colony was nominated for the Hugo in 2008, he put together an electronic packet of four of the novels for the voters to read (it just happened that the non-included novel won). The following year, when my follow-up novel Zoeís Tale was nominated as well as my collection of Whatever articles, Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded was nominated (and won), the packet was expanded to include practically all the nominated works from the professional categories to the fan categories (and the Tormentor has one of those fan writer Hugos, too).
In fact, one of the other nominees in the fan writer category once commented that John Scalzi was so successful at so many things, he wanted to hate him, but Scalzi was just too nice. Of course, he didnít know that I write everything that appears under Scalziís name. And, as far as I know, Scalzi has never tried to tape bacon to him.
For this one weekend in February, I have the run of Chateau Scalzi and you have the Tormentor in your grasp. Do with him as you like. Ply him with Coke Zero® and electronics. Make him dance the puppetís dance of joy. Get to know the real John Scalzi, not the one who hides behind the sharped paws of Ghlaghghee.
Originally published in the Program book of Capricon in 2011. Reprinted for Chicon 7 in 2012, where John Scalzi was Toastmaster.