There’s this guy and he hates science fiction writer John Scalzi. Scalzi is commercially successful as a writer and This Guy* isn’t. This Guy’s politics are different from Scalzi’s, too, and while This Guy writes about that a lot, I can’t believe that’s the sole cause of his problem with Scalzi.
He seems to dislike a lot of things, not just Scalzi. He doesn’t like lesbians, vaccinations, public education or women who don’t agree with him, either.
He flogs his own work – published by specialty presses, indie-press and self-published — on the blog, as well he should. What else is a blog for? He also dedicates some space to his friends’ books, and I hope they return the favor.
The blog is not particularly lively unless he is bashing some writer – usually those who have ovaries or dark skin, or both. He went off on N.K. Jemisin a few years back. In a speech at a science fiction conference, Jemisin called him a bigot, and This Guy responded with a venom-tinged hyperbolic tirade excoriating Jemisin’s race and gender, made on a public business-related comment board. This stunt got him expelled from the Science Fiction Writers of America, and Scalzi was the president of the association at the time, so that could be the germ of This Guy’s hatred, but it appears that it goes back farther than that.
In the best fashion of the weirdly obsessed, This Guy struggles to turn his fixation with Scalzi around, as if Scalzi is somehow after him. He haunts Scalzi’s blog, Twitter feed and probably online interviews to find something to mock or argue.
I read John Scalzi’s blog pretty much every day. I never used to read This Guy’s blog, but I spent some time on it because I was curious about this situation. These figures are anecdotal and approximate, but on This Guy’s blog, he kvetches specifically about Scalzi about 30% of the time. This does not mean the entire post is dedicated to Scalzi, but Scalzi is mentioned in a negative way somewhere in the post. One more disclaimer; I looked through posts in August and September, which is after This Guy didn’t win a Hugo, and Scalzi is on a mega-book tour, so he may have been more bitter than usual.
This Guy shows up, unnamed, in Scalzi’s blog somewhere between 1%-3% of the time. Often, it is not Scalzi who brings him up, but a commenter. Recently, Scalzi brought him up twice, once in the context of a discussion of the Hugos, and later in a discussion of Lock In’s sales.
Perhaps Scalzi savages This Guy on a regular basis over on Twitter, right? Well, I follow Scalzi on Twitter. I’m not seeing the savaging.
To be fair, Scalzi does poke him back. He pokes back, but he does not initiate the encounters. He did engage in a bit of baiting on Twitter after the Hugo winners were announced. Scalzi’s structure was to predict a rash of “I’m glad I didn’t win,” speeches, and it was accurate.
This is not a feud, then. The attention is disproportionate. I keep imagining John Scalzi walking around with a vicious teacup poodle, whose pin-like fangs are sunk deep into the cuff of Scalzi’s pant leg. It’s inconvenient, and the pants are probably ruined, but Scalzi’s mobility, safety and health are unaffected.
But why? Why Scalzi?
At the most cynical and conniving level, I could theorize that This Guy hopes to garner attention by picking a fight with a successful writer. Somehow he thinks that will reflect glory back on him. The attack on Jemisin seems to support the theory that magma-hot, murderous envy is a large part of his motivation.
I think the hatred of Scalzi is personal, though. I think it’s psychological, and I blame the Narrative.
This Guy is the son of a millionaire, the CEO of a corporation, a fundamentalist Christian. Dad was the Conservative White King and This Guy was a prince. Dad got in trouble for income tax evasion, went on the run, threatened the life of a federal judge, and is currently serving an eleven-year sentence. The millions of dollars This Guy surely planned to inherit went away.
Both the King and the prince wrote for World Net Daily, but I do wonder if it was the King’s influence who brought the prince into that fold, rather than his talent for the written word.
John Scalzi is very public about growing up poor. I have not read or heard much about the details of his family life, but in essays and posts he has written about his childhood he talks mostly about his mother. It’s easy to assume that his dad was not a large part of the picture. If I recall correctly, Scalzi got a scholarship to a private college-prep high school. Everything Scalzi has, he worked for. He is a best-selling writer with books optioned for both movies and TV shows. This Guy says that the TV and movies show that Scalzi is not a real speculative fiction writer (because no classic speculative fiction ever gets turned into a movie, right? Except for that Lord of the Rings thing).
This Guy’s Narrative of a Gleaming White Empire, where he is automatically afforded cars, houses, adulation, bowing, scraping and women, didn’t come to pass.
But can’t This Guy see that in most of America’s capitalist mythology, Scalzi is the poor-but-plucky hero, the secret prince who was hidden away to come into his power when the time was right? Dude, it never was you. Do some research.
Perhaps This Guy is the prince who loses his kingdom, goes off into the forest, gathers together a troop of loyal supporters, storms the capital city and wins the day. That isn’t happening either though. He isn’t strong or good enough, and neither are his loyal followers. He could probably manage to run a medium-sized village in the forest, but he will have to be content with that.
So, he’s the Prince of the Fallen, maybe? Dude, I hate to break it to you, but you aren’t even Draco Malfoy. You’re Crabbe.
I think This Guy is pathetic. I would say I feel sorry for him, but I stop short of that, because this Guy is mean. He doesn’t do mean things because he’s insensitive and indifferent; he works at being mean. He could work on developing his story-telling skills and win us over that way, but he has not. He could take some time, get honest, and reflect on his life without blaming others, but he has not done that either. He has chosen Being Mean as a way of getting attention.
Meanwhile, over in Chez Scalzi, his publisher just sent him Lock-In themed cookies since he made the best seller list. Cookies!
Who is winning this spot of asymmetrical warfare? Not This Guy.
*This Guy has a blog and must be on Twitter, but I’m not going to link to his blog or use his name. Most of you know who he is. There will be some citations in Comments.