The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe

The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe: John Scalzi (Part One)

Welcome back to The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe, a recurring series here on featuring some of our favorite science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, and others!

Today we’re joined by John Scalzi, one of the most popular and acclaimed SF authors to emerge in the last decade. His massively successful debut Old Man’s War won him science fiction’s John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and Redshirts won 2013’s Hugo Award for Best Novel. Material from his widely read blog The Whatever has also earned him two other Hugo Awards.

Scalzi’s new science fiction thriller, Lock In, is available August 26th from Tor Books! Read the first five chapters here on for free, and listen to audiobook excerpts narrated by Amber Benson and Wil Wheaton!

What dastardly villain lurks in Scalzi’s family tree? Read on to find out!

Here’s a two-parter: If you could go back in time and change one thing in the past, what would it be? And if you could time travel to the future, who or what would you most like to see?

I think I’d probably deflect John Wilkes Booth’s aim; he’s a distant relative of mine so we can chalk it up to a family intervention. For the future, I’d go to the magical time when Fruit Stripe gum doesn’t lose its flavor 30 seconds after you put it into your mouth.

If you could choose your own personal theme music/song to play every time you enter a room, what would you pick?

4’ 33” by John Cage—which in fact does play every time I enter a room. Only eight bars, however, because that’s fair use. PROVE ME WRONG.

John Scalzi Lock InDescribe your favorite place to read or write.

Where there is a book and/or writing implement. Not otherwise notably picky.

What’s your favorite method of procrastination?

I don’t procrastinate. I manage time creatively.

Bad news: You’re about to be marooned alone on a desert island—name the five things you would bring along.

Nothing, because the desert island I’d choose to be marooned on is Australia. THAT’S RIGHT AUSTRALIANS YOUR ISLAND IS MINE GET OUT. Finally all the Tim Tams will be mine.

Do you have a favorite word?


Strangest thing you’ve learned while researching a book?

I’m supposed to research? I’m supposed to learn? THIS WASN’T PART OF THE DEAL

Do you have a favorite unknown author?


If you could name a planet after anyone (other than yourself), who would you choose and why?

I’d name it after my cat, just to see everyone try to figure out how to pronounce the word “Ghlaghghee,” which is in fact my cat’s name.

Please relate one fact about yourself that has never appeared anywhere else in print or on the Internet.

As of 12:29 August 15, 2014, I AM ALIVE. This was a fact not previously known because up until the exact moment I wrote this, it was not verifiably true.

If you could be incarnated as any historical figure, who would you like to be?

None, because they are all dead, and my reincarnated life would consist of being in their coffin going “what the Hell?” until any oxygen in the thing ran out. Unpleasant!

Name your favorite monster from fiction, film, TV, or any other pop culture source.


If you had to choose one band or artist to provide the official soundtrack to your (new/last/latest) book, who would it be?

William Beckett, who, in fact, did.

Would you rather discover the fountain of youth or proof of life on Mars?

If I discovered the fountain of youth then I might live long enough to live on Mars, so.

What D&D character alignment best describes you first thing in the morning?

Chaotic Grumpy.


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