Welcome back to The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe, a recurring series here on Tor.com featuring some of our favorite science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, and others!
We’re joined once again 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 Tor.com for free, and listen to audiobook excerpts narrated by Amber Benson and Wil Wheaton!
Check out the first part of Scalzi’s pop quiz, then read on!
Two roads diverge in a yellow wood: one leads toward a mysterious laboratory in which a mad scientist is currently ensconced. The other winds its way toward a tower inhabited by a powerful wizard. You could really use a snack, and it would be nice to have somewhere to crash for the night—which road do you choose?
Mad scientists are usually tainted by the chemicals they use. The wizard is probably the safer choice. This is not the way I would have chosen to come out as a cannibal, however.
Choose your preferred fictional vacation spot: Narnia or Middle-earth (or some other fictional realm)…
Canada. OH COME ON NO ONE BELIEVES IT EXISTS. They just deploy people from Minnesota to fool us.
What was your gateway to SF/Fantasy, as a child or young adult?
The doorway to the Covina Public Library.
What would your Patronus/familiar be?
A Coke Zero. This should be obvious.
What’s the most embarrassing guilty pleasure you’ll admit to? (music, movies, pop culture, food, drink, etc…all fair game!)
Everything I like is awesome because I only like awesome things, and if someone else does not appreciate that awesomeness IT IS THEY WHO SHOULD FEEL GUILTY NOT ME.
Heroes vs. Villains—which are more fun to write?
It’s more fun to write the sardonic sidekicks of either group.
What kind of apocalypse (zombie, robot, environmental, etc.) is most compatible with your survival skills? And what kind of apocalypse would you like to avoid at all costs?
I think I would like a catpocalypse, because my scritching skills are not in dispute. I would like to avoid the guanopocalypse.
Cast the main characters of your new novel (in other words, choose your dream cast for a Hollywood adaptation of your book).
I would like every part to be played by Vin Diesel. MoCap and Autotune can make this happen.
If you were secretly going to write fanfic (or, even better, slashfic) about any two characters, who would they be?
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Those two needed to get a room. I could call my story “The Alien and Submission Acts.”
If you, as a ghost, could regularly haunt one celebrity, author, or literary figure, who would it be?
Patrick Rothfuss. HE KNOWS WHY.
List three things you’d like our readers to know about you and your work.
One: I have opposable thumbs. Two: My work, so far as I know, does not have opposable thumbs. Three: If you see that my work has suddenly sprouted opposable thumbs, you should probably run.
If you could find one previously undiscovered book by a non-living author, who would it be? Why?
Something by Joe Hill. What, he’s still alive? Excuse me (picks up knife, walks out).
Which language, real or fictional, would you like the ability to speak fluently? Who would you talk to?
I would like to speak cat. It would not matter which cat I spoke to as they would just ignore me anyway.
What is your preferred robot noise? A) Beep, B) Boop.
The lack of acknowledgement of “ping” as a valid robot noise SICKENS ME.
What’s your favorite fairy tale, or fairy tale retelling?
Anything that ends with terrible things happening to everyone. Which if you know your fairy tales, is pretty much all of them.