John Scalzi Biography & Facts
John Michael Scalzi II (born May 10, 1969) is an American science fiction author and former president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. He is best known for his Old Man's War series, three novels of which have been nominated for the Hugo Award, and for his blog Whatever, where he has written on a number of topics since 1998. He won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2008 based predominantly on that blog, which he has also used for several charity drives. His novel Redshirts won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel. He has written non-fiction books and columns on diverse topics such as finance, video games, films, astronomy, writing and politics, and served as a creative consultant for the TV series Stargate Universe.
Early life, education, and early career
Scalzi was born in Fairfield, California, on May 10, 1969. One of three children to a single mother, he grew up in the Los Angeles suburbs of Covina, Glendora, Azusa, and San Dimas. He is of Italian descent; his grandfather immigrated from Italy to the United States as a young child.
Scalzi grew up reading science fiction and mystery, which inspired him to become a science fiction writer—a decision made randomly. As he recalled in an interview with the Dayton Daily News:When I decided to start writing novels, I wanted to write in a genre I already knew and loved as a reader. So, it was either going to be science fiction or mystery. I decided to flip a coin. Heads was science fiction. Tails was mystery. The coin came up heads.Scalzi's childhood was spent in poverty, an experience that inspired him to write his most famous essay, "Being Poor." He attended the Webb School of California, a boarding school in Claremont, on a scholarship. One of his classmates was blogger and journalist Josh Marshall.Scalzi earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy at the University of Chicago, graduating in 1991. Scalzi's thesis advisor, for a brief time, was Saul Bellow. Scalzi abandoned his course of study with Bellow after he was elected Student Ombudsman of the University. Ted Cohen, a philosophy professor, became his next thesis advisor, but Scalzi graduated without completing his thesis project. During his 1989–1990 school year, Scalzi was the editor-in-chief of The Chicago Maroon. He began writing professionally in 1990, while a college student, working freelance for the Chicago Sun-Times.After graduating, Scalzi became a corporate consultant and wrote opinion columns and film reviews for the Fresno Bee. His experience as a film critic influenced his writing, particularly his humorous works, as films were meant to be an accessible form of storytelling. In 1996, he and his family moved to the Washington, D.C. area after he was hired as the in-house writer and editor at AOL. He was laid off in 1998, and since then he has been a full-time freelance writer and author.Scalzi was first elected president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 2010. He was the only nominee on the ballot. He had previously run as a write-in candidate in 2007, challenging the sole ballot nominee that year, but was not successful. He left office when his third term expired on June 30, 2013, having not sought reelection to a fourth term.He garnered significant media attention by taping raw bacon to his cat "Ghlaghghee" in September 2006. As a result of the coverage, Scalzi began maintaining a web repository for links to "All Things Bacon" on the Whatever site.
Scalzi's books are known for their humor. His style of writing has been influenced by Robert Heinlein, Orson Scott Card, and Joe Haldeman.Scalzi's first novel, Agent to the Stars, was written in 1997 and published free to read on his website in 1999. He asked readers to donate money to him if they enjoyed the novel, and earned around $4,000 over a period of five years. Subterranean Press released a limited-edition hardcover version in July 2005, featuring cover art from Penny Arcade artist Mike Krahulik; the novel was later released in trade and mass-market paperback by Tor and audiobook by Audible. A first-contact story, it is about a young Hollywood agent hired by a space alien to make their species more appealing to humans. It received mixed reviews; Booklist called it "absurd, funny, and satirically perceptive," while Publishers Weekly criticized the plot as predictable.Scalzi's first traditionally-published novel was Old Man's War, a military science fiction novel about a 75-year-old man who is recruited to fight a centuries-long war for human colonization of space. It was inspired by the works of Robert Heinlein, especially Starship Troopers. Scalzi intended to sell the book commercially, so he chose the genre of military science fiction because he felt it would be the most marketable. Like Agent to the Stars, it was first published on Whatever; Scalzi serialized a chapter a day in December 2002. Tor Books executive editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden offered to buy the novel, and it was published by Tor in January 2005. In 2006, Scalzi won a nomination for the Hugo Award for Best Novel for Old Man's War.The Ghost Brigades was released in 2006. While a direct sequel to Old Man's War, it focuses not on John Perry, the protagonist of Old Man's War, but on the special forces units. The Ghost Brigades television rights was purchased by Syfy in 2014. 2006 also saw the release of The Android's Dream. A satire, it was well received by Publishers Weekly, which called it an "effervescent but intelligent romp"; it was criticized by Dave Itzkoff of The New York Times, who said it was "merely sarcastic when it should be satirical."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 by Subterranean Press. Scalzi has commented that he originally wrote the book as free verse poetry, then converted it into prose format. An audio reading of "The Sagan Diary" was offered through Scalzi's website in February 2007, featuring the voices of fellow science fiction authors Elizabeth Bear, Mary Robinette Kowal, Ellen Kushner, Cherie Priest, Karen Meisner and Helen Smith. In November of the same year, Subterranean Press also made "The Sagan Diary" text freely available online. In April 2008 Audible Frontiers produced an audiobook of the novelette, read by Stephanie Wolfe.
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.Zoe's Tale, the fourth Old Man's War novel, presenting a different view of the events covered in The Last Colony, was published in August 2008. Zoe's Tale was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2009.
Also in 2008, Audible.com released the audiobook anthology METAtropolis, edited by Scalzi and featuring short fiction in a shared world created by Scalzi, Eli.... Discover the John Scalzi popular books. Find the top 100 most popular John Scalzi books.