Category Archives: Wil Wheaton

New Publication: Clash of the Geeks.

When The Name of the Wind came out back in 2007, something strange started to happen. Occasionally someone invited me to write something, usually a story for an anthology.

It was a new experience for me. But despite the fact that I was flattered, I turned all the invitations down saying, “I don’t really write many short stories. Besides, I really have to work on getting my second book out.”

I didn’t meet that first deadline for book two for various reasons. But still, I felt like turning down those offers was the responsible thing to do. I was trying to behave like a grown-up, you see.

In 2008 the paperback came out and I hit the New York Times Bestseller list. Because of that I got even more attention. Offers to write comic books, video games,  and more invitations to anthologies.

Again, I turned them down, saying, “I don’t have much experience writing short stories. Besides, I really need to focus on book two.”

A lot of these offers were for really cool anthologies, mind you. It was hard to turn down the chance to be published alongside some other big-name authors. Still, I felt morally obliged to refuse and focus on book two. I was trying hard to be a professional.

I continued along these lines until early this year when Suvudu held their cage match. They paired up various fantasy characters in head-to-head fights. I was flattered that Kvothe was included, but looking at the brackets, I saw that if Kvothe made it to the second round, he’d have to go up against Aslan.

That’s not an easy fight to win, and I kept thinking about how the scene would play out. How exactly, I wondered, would Kvothe win that fight?

Then the folks at Suvudu asked if I’d like to write up my version of the scene. So I did.

And you know what? It was fun. It was amazingly, delightfully fun. I’d actually forgotten how nice it was to write something just for pure shits and giggles. It didn’t eat up my precious writing time as I’d been fearing. Instead, it reminded me how much fun writing could be.

I thought to myself, “Fuck being a grown-up. I started writing to have fun. Now that I’m published, I should be doing fun things…”

And you know what? As soon as I gave up trying to be all professional and responsible (things that don’t come naturally to me, as a rule) my writing immediately improved. I wrote faster, and better, and I had more fun doing it.

Fast forward to earlier this year. I get an e-mail from John Scalzi. He sends me an e-mail that says (This is a paraphrase, mind you.)

Question: Would you have space on your schedule for a short (about 2K) story? It would be for a short (silly) story collection designed to raise money for the Lupus foundation. Deadline end of July-ish. Story doesn’t necessarily have to be “good” in a classic sense; in fact, it might be better if it’s not.

I think to myself. This sounds fun. It’s for charity. It’s short (I can do 2000 words standing on my head.) And he’s pretty much said it’s okay if my story ends up sucking. He’s practically encouraging me to suck.

So I e-mailed Scalzi back, and our e-mail exchange went roughly like this.

ME: Okay, I’m interested. What are the details?

HIM: Write a story about the events leading up to, and culminating in, the attached picture (which is a rough sketch; final picture to come).

(Click to embiggen)

ME: WTF?

HIM: For the sake of clarity, the person at the top is Wil Wheaton; the person at the bottom is me.

ME: Merciful Buddha…. Can you give me any context? Some framework I can use to cage this madness?

HIM: No. No context. Just write something. No slash. Otherwise, knock yourself out.

So there I am, utterly confusticated and bebothered. This is the first piece of short fiction I’ve agreed to write, and all I can think is, “What the fuck can I possibly write about this?”

This question spins around in my head for a couple days. I think, “Can I write a story about Scalzi and Wheaton playing D&D? Is that too geeky?  A holodeck adventure? Too cheap? Do I dare write the absolutely forbidden, ‘It was all just a dream’ story?”

Then it occurs to me that I’m approaching this from the wrong direction. I shouldn’t be trying to turn this picture into a joke. I shouldn’t try to be cute or gimmicky.

No. The events taking place in this picture are obviously epic. My story needs to be epic. And since it can’t be epic in length, it has to be epic in form….

So that’s how I ended up writing a poetic edda. For those of you who aren’t complete geeks, an edda is an old alliterative poem. Like Beowulf. Or the old Norse legends Tolkien ripped off when he was writing the Lord of the Rings.

Once I knew how to handle the story, I ended up having a ton of fun with it. I even brought in a certain celebrity in a cameo role…

Of course poetic edda aren’t supposed to be written in modern English, so I ended up spending a ridiculous amount of time trying to get the meter right. But you know my motto: if it’s worth writing, it’s worth obsessively revising.

And now, months later, I’m finally able to present you with the finished project:

(Beware, lest the awesome blind you…)

Check it out. I get third billing. How cool is that shit?

You can download the anthology for free, but I’d like to politely ask y’all to keep in mind that we’re trying to raise money for the Lupus foundation. For all intents and purposes, these stories are brought to you by the Lupus Foundation.

That means if you can afford it, donating to the cause would be a terribly kind thing to do. I know you have it in you. Make me proud.

You can download the anthology and revel in its majesty over here.

Share and enjoy,

pat

Also posted in being awesome, book covers, calling on the legions, cool news, side projects | By Pat80 Responses

Fanmail Q & A: Coolness

It’s been a while since I answered an e-mail from a reader. How about we do that?

Pat,

I just wanted to say I’ve loved The Name of the Wind for over a year now, but I just recently found your website. Your blog has kept me laughing for almost two solid weeks as I go back and read the archives. That’s something I’ve never done with a blog before.

Even better, your fundraiser was seriously amazing this year.

Seriously, how cool are you?

Jake

Jake,

You strike on a topic I’ve been curious about for some time. How cool am I?

As I’ve mentioned before in the blog, growing up, I wasn’t one of the cool kids. But things change, and these days geek is chic. I’m willing to admit to the fact that these days, I might actually be a little cool.

Your letter poses an interesting problem though. If you’d simply asked, “Are you cool?” I could have gotten away with answering “maybe” or “kinda.” But you’ve asked for a _degree_ of coolness. What’s more, you’ve requested that I *seriously* consider the problem.

That means we need to use science and shit. We need quantifiable units of coolness that we can plug into formulas. We need to be rigorous.

Unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, the BIPM hasn’t established a standard unit by which we can measure coolness. I can’t just tell you that I’m say, 85 pascals of cool. Or 158 newtons. Or whatever.

That means if we want to determine how cool I am, we have to measure me against some sort of universally accepted standard of cool. We need to develop our own yardstick, as it were.

So, let’s pick two people who are undeniably cool. The king and queen of geek cool: Felicia Day and Neil Gaiman.

Now we need some numbers. While popularity isn’t quite the same thing as cool, you have to admit they’re closely related. Since I don’t have access to things like book sales or website hits, we’ll have to go to the lowest common denominator: Facebook.

(Yes, I know. Technically, Myspace would be the lowest common denominator. But there’s only so low I’m willing to go, even for science.)

A quick search of fan pages reveals the following stats.

Felicia: 192,000 fans.

Neil: 90,000 fans.

Me: 10,000 fans.

Now we could stop here and say, that I’m about .05 as cool as Felicia. Or that I’m roughly .11 of a Gaiman. Or something like that.

But drawing data from only one source strikes me as slipshod. To round things out, why don’t we take a look at Goodreads rankings?

Here’s a screenshot of their list of most-followed people.

[Edit: Yes, I know these numbers have changed since I took the screenshot. I’m not redoing the math.]
(Click to Embiggen)

As a side note, you can see that according to Goodreads, I’m ever-so slightly cooler than Wil Wheaton. I like how it looks like his little Lego man is pissed at me for being above him.

“Curse you, Rothfuss,” Lego-Wheaton says. “How dare you get between me and Felicia day?”

“Takest not that tone with me,” Russian-dictator-looking-Rothfuss glowers from above. “Lest I crush you with my manly, blue-lit beard.”

“Bring it Hagrid,” he replies. “I’ll beat you like a redheaded stepchild.”

“What are you going to use?” I say. “Your kung-fu grip? Hell, you don’t even have any elbows!”

Wait… Sorry, what was I talking about again?

Oh. Right. Coolness. I guess I lost a few points just there.

Anyway, as you can see things stand like this:

Me: 383 friends, 308 people following my reviews.

Felicia: 2,710 friends, 380 people following her reviews.

Not pictured above, Neil Gaiman sits at #1 on this list. Topping the chart on a mountain of cool with 5,175 friends and 3,133 people following his reviews.

Let’s just combine these for simplicity’s sake:

Gaiman: 8308

Felicia: 3090

Me: 691

Because the Facebook numbers are really high compared to Goodreads, we have to normalize them by multiplying by .045. (Don’t ask how I got there. It’s boring. If you understand statistics, you know how it works.) That gives us:

Gaiman: 4050

Felicia: 8550

Me: 450

So we add these together and apply the bonus multipliers.

Gaimain:
Medium Bonus – Novels, Comics, Movies, Audiobooks: *1.4

Association Bonus – Engaged to Amanda Palmer *1.5

Flair Bonus – Accent *1.4

Appearance Bonus: Sexy *1.5

12358 *1.4 *1.5 *1.4 *1.5 = 54499

Felicia:
Medium Bonus – Television, Webisodes, Comics: *1.3
(The Guild comic is coming out soon, in case you didn’t know.)

Association Bonus – Works with Joss Whedon *1.6

Flair Bonus – Smells like flowers and PS3 *1.3

Appearance Bonus: Sexy *1.5

11640 *1.3 *1.6 *1.2 *1.5 = 47212

Me:
Flair Bonus: Beard *1.2

Penalty: Engaging in imaginary smack talk with Lego-Wheaton. *.09

1141 *1.2 *0.9 = 1232

You still with me? Now we have to create our yardstick for the measurement of geek-coolness. Imagine if Neil Gaiman and Felicia Day were somehow alchemically combined into one creature. Some ubercool, sexy, hermaphroditic, webisode-creating, rockstar, gamer, author thing.

I think it’s safe to say that godlike creature would be the ultimate amalgam of geek cool.

So if we add together the scores of Neil Gaiman and Felicia Day, we get roughly 100,000 units. These I hereby term Gaiman-Day units. They will hereafter be used to determine how cool someone is. 100,000 Gaiman-Day units is the coolest you can be without collapsing into some manner of singularity.

So there we go. Now we have a way to quantify how cool I am, Jake. I am exactly 1232 Gaiman-Day units of cool. Only about one percent as cool as it’s possible to be.

I hope this answers your question, Jake.

pat

Also posted in facebook, Fanmail Q + A, Felicia Day, Goodreads, Neil Gaiman, Science | By Pat113 Responses
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