John Scalzi

American science fiction writer

John Michael Scalzi II (born May 10, 1969) is an American science fiction author and online writer.

John Scalzi in 2018


  • (T)he idealized world Ayn Rand has created to facilitate her wishful theorizing has no more logical connection to our real one than a world in which an author has imagined humanity ruled by intelligent cups of yogurt. This is most obviously revealed by the fact that in Ayn Rand’s world, a man who self-righteously instigates the collapse of society, thereby inevitably killing millions if not billions of people, is portrayed as a messiah figure rather than as a genocidal prick, which is what he’d be anywhere else.
  • Many people believe geekdom is defined by a love of a thing, but I think - and my experience of geekdom bears on this thinking - that the true sign of a geek is a delight in sharing a thing. It's the major difference between a geek and a hipster, you know: When a hipster sees someone else grooving on the thing they love, their reaction is to say "Oh, crap, now the wrong people like the thing I love." When a geek sees someone else grooving on the thing they love, their reaction is to say "ZOMG YOU LOVE WHAT I LOVE COME WITH ME AND LET US LOVE IT TOGETHER."

All page numbers from the mass market edition published by Tor Books
  • The problem with aging is not that it’s one damn thing after another—it’s every damn thing, all at once, all the time.
    You can’t stop aging. Gene therapies and replacement organs and plastic surgery give it a good fight. But it catches up with you anyway. Get a new lung, and your heart blows a valve. Get a new heart, and your liver swells up to the size of an inflatable kiddie pool. Change out your liver, a stroke gives you a whack. That’s aging’s trump card; they still can’t replace brains.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 14)
  • I had never seen so many old people in one place at one time. Neither had Harry. “It’s like Wednesday morning at the world’s biggest Denny’s,” he said.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 41)
  • What’s the point of being in charge if you can’t indulge in pointless favoritism.
    • Chapter 7 (p. 124)
  • The recruit was Sam McCain; in one of our lunch sessions I recalled Sarah O’Connell describing him as more mouth than brain. Unsurprisingly, he’d been in sales most of his life.
    • Chapter 8 (p. 136)
  • In this universe, experience counts.
    • Chapter 8 (p. 142)
  • I’m not sure I like their plan for converting us to their religion, seeing as it involves dying and all.
    • Chapter 9 (p. 159)
  • “Obviously, the Rraey have some way to predict, with a high degree of accuracy, where our ships are going to skip. How do they do that?”
    “I don’t think you’re supposed to be able to,” I said.
    “That’s exactly right. But they do anyway. So, quite obviously, our model of how skipping works is wrong. Theory gets thrown out the window when observation proves it isn’t so. The question now is what is really going on.”
    • Chapter 13 (p. 224)
  • “I’m not insane, sir,” I said. “I have a finely calibrated sense of acceptable risk.”
    • Chapter 17 (p. 305)
All page numbers from the mass market edition published by Tor Books
  • “It’s Charlie’s soul,” he repeated. “Or more accurately, it’s a holographic representation of the dynamic electrical system that embodies the consciousness of Charles Boutin.”
    • Chapter 2 (p. 39)
  • Human technology was good, and weapon to weapon humans were as well-equipped as the vast majority of their adversaries. But the weapon that ultimately matters is the one behind the trigger.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 51)
  • Those people you saw—the realborn—are born without a plan. They’re born because biology tells humans to make more humans; but it doesn’t consider what to do with them after that. Realborn go for years without the slightest clue what they’re going to do with themselves. From what I understand, some of them never actually figure it out. They just walk through life in a daze and then fall into their graves at the end of it. Sad. And inefficient.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 86)
  • Rationality is not one of humanity’s strong points.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 88)
  • Jared, allow me to share with you my philosophy of human beings. It can be summed up in four words: I like good people.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 113)
  • “I didn’t say that,” Szilard said, in a tone that implied that perhaps he had.
    • Chapter 6 (p. 118)
  • When power is within reach, few will wait patiently for it.
    • Chapter 7 (p. 169)
  • No, it's not fair. You're in the wrong universe for fair.
    • page 238
  • That’s physicists for you. Not exactly brimming over with poetry.
    • Chapter 12 (p. 271)
  • “Harry!” Boutin said. “Nice guy. Didn’t know he was that smart. He hid it well.”
    • Chapter 12 (p. 275)
  • You are sufficiently like me to officially be interesting.
    • Chapter 12 (p. 277)
  • “Every creature has fear,” Jared said. “Even the non-conscious ones.”
    “No,” Boutin said. “Every creature has a survival instinct. It looks like fear but it’s not the same thing. Fear isn’t the desire to avoid death or pain. Fear is rooted in the knowledge that what you recognize as yourself can cease to exist. Fear is existential.
    • Chapter 13 (p. 286)
  • Imagine if every species named itself after its greatest flaw. We could name our species arrogance.
    • Chapter 13 (p. 288)
  • She was temptable—which, if you believe in an all-powerful God, means God intentionally put temptation into Eve. Which seems like a dirty trick, if you ask me.
    • Chapter 13 (p. 288)
  • Harvey was not especially introspective, but this didn’t mean he was stupid. He was moral, within his lights; he understood the value of subtlety even if he wasn’t much for it himself, and one of the reasons he could get away with being loud and obnoxious was that he was a fair stick at strategy and logistics. Give him a job and he’d do it, usually in the most entropy-producing way possible, yes, but also in a way that achieved exactly the aim it was supposed to. One of Harvey’s guiding lights in terms of strategies was simplicity; all things being equal, Harvey preferred the course of action that let him get into the middle of things and then just buckle down. When asked about it, Harvey called it his Occam’s razor theory of combat: The simplest way of kicking someone’s ass was usually the correct one.
    • Chapter 14 (p. 315)
  • “Speaking of secrets, how are your negotiations with the Obin going?”
    Both Mattson and Robbins looked at Szilard warily. “There are no negotiations with the Obin,” Robbins said.
    “Of course not,” Szilard said. “You’re not negotiating with the Obin to continue Boutin’s consciousness program for them. And the Obin are not negotiating with us to knock down whichever of the Rraey or Eneshans is still left standing after their upcoming little war. No one’s negotiating with anyone about anything. And how are these non-negotiations not going?”
    Robbins looked at Mattson, who nodded. “They’re not going surprisingly well,” Robbins said. “We probably won’t reach an agreement in the next couple of days.”
    “How not wonderful,” Szilard said.
    • Chapter 15 (pp. 335-336)
All page numbers from the mass market edition published by Tor Books
  • “You and I don’t actually need to be here for this,” I said to the goat. The goat didn’t respond, but I could tell she agreed with me.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 8)
  • Some people are just no good at not being in charge.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 57)
  • Teenagers can be idiotic and stupid, but teenagers also model their behavior from the signals they get from adults.
    • Chapter 4 (p. 72)
  • When you control communication, you can hide anything you want.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 97)
  • “I don’t appreciate the suggestion that I’m acting irrationally,” he said.
    “Then don’t act irrationally,” Jane said, “because there will be consequences.”
    • Chapter 7 (p. 136)
  • Empires of conquest don’t last, Administrator Perry. They hollow out from within, from the greed of rulers and the endless appetite for war.
    • Chapter 10 (p. 195)
  • “That’s a nice speech, Trujillo,” Rybicki said. “It doesn’t make it true.”
    “General, at the moment, I wouldn’t place you as an authority on truth.”
    • Chapter 14 (p. 274)
  • “Look,” I said. “Something that needs your attention. Over there. Away from here.”
    • Chapter 15 (p. 306)
All page numbers from the mass market edition published by Tor Books
  • “This is Major Perry’s house?”
    “I hope so,” I said. “All his stuff is here.”
    • Chapter 1 (p. 23)
  • When you’re a kid, a rural, agriculturally-based colony town is a lot of fun to grow up in. It’s life on a farm, with goats and chickens and fields of wheat and sorghum, harvest celebrations and winter festivals. There’s not an eight- or nine-year-old kid who’s been invented who doesn’t find all of that unspeakably fun. But then you become a teenager and you start thinking about everything you might possibly want to do with your life, and you look at the options available to you. And then all farms, goats and chickens—and all the same people you’ve known all your life and will know all your life—begin to look a little less than optimal for a total life experience. It’s all the same, of course. That’s the point. It’s you who’s changed.
    • Chapter 1 (pp. 27-28)
  • Eight-year-olds can switch into acquisition mode pretty quickly.
    • Chapter 4 (p. 53)
  • Sometimes I don’t know if my life is complicated, or if it’s that I just think too much about things.
    • Chapter 7 (p. 76)
  • I guess I was just hoping there might be a way to do things other than the way that ends up with everyone getting killed.
    • Chapter 21 (p. 302)
All page numbers from the hardcover first edition published by Tor Books
  • “I have drinks,” Hanson said, coming up behind Duvall.
    “Why, Jimmy,” Duvall said. “That makes you my new favorite person.”
    • Chapter 1 (p. 23)
  • Who are you and what medications aren’t you taking?
    • Chapter 3 (p. 49)
  • “I have no idea what that means, Nick,” Paulson said. “Talk normal human to me.”
    • Chapter 20 (p. 200)
  • “I don’t think it would actually make you happier to be told you were right about this,” he said finally.
    “I don’t want to be happy,” Dahl said. “I just want to know.”
    • Chapter 23 (p. 229)
  • You don’t win by getting through all your life not having done anything.
    • Coda II: Second Person (p. 292)
All page numbers from the hardcover first edition published by Tor Books
  • “Why ‘threep’? Why ‘clank’? Slang happens.”
    • Chapter 2 (p. 28)
  • Unlike Agents Vann and Shane here, who are being wholly disingenuous, you might be speaking out of genuine ignorance and not just your usual levels of casual obstructionism.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 40)
  • “Do you believe that?” I asked.
    “It doesn’t matter whether I believe it or not,” Redhouse said.
    • Chapter 10 (p. 135)
  • I was pretty certain my dad was not up to no good, running for senator notwithstanding.
    • Chapter 12 (p. 167)
  • “I don’t know,” Davidson said. “Maybe it’s not about politics. Maybe these guys are just assholes.”
    “Seems the simplest explanation,” I said.
    • Chapter 14 (p. 181)
  • You are better at small talk than I am. That is not always a compliment.
    • Chapter 22 (p. 296)
  • He’s almost certainly planned for the contingency of being caught. He’s rich and he’s got more lawyers than some countries have people.
    • Chapter 22 (p. 301)
Wikipedia has an article about:
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: