Mr. Scalzi said he hoped books like “Lock In” could draw more readers toward science fiction, since many, he said, are still “gun-shy” about the genre.
By JOHN SCHWARTZ
John Scalzi, a best-selling author of science fiction, has signed a $3.4 million, 10-year deal with the publisher Tor Books that will cover his next 13 books.
Mr. Scalzi’s works include a series known as the “Old Man’s War” and the more recent “Redshirts,” a Hugo-award-winning sendup of the luckless lives of nonfeatured characters on shows like the original “Star Trek.” Three of his works are being developed for television, including “Redshirts” and “Lock In,” a science-inflected medical thriller that evokes Michael Crichton. Mr. Scalzi’s hyper-caffeinated Internet presence through his blog, Whatever, has made him an online celebrity as well.
Mr. Scalzi approached Tor Books, his longtime publisher, with proposals for 10 adult novels and three young adult novels over 10 years. Some of the books will extend the popular “Old Man’s War” series, building on an existing audience, and one will be a sequel to “Lock In.” Mr. Scalzi said he hoped books like “Lock In” could draw more readers toward science fiction, since many, he said, are still “gun-shy” about the genre.
Patrick Nielsen Hayden, the executive editor for Tor, said the decision was an easy one. While Mr. Scalzi has never had a “No. 1 best seller,” he said, “he backlists like crazy.”
“One of the reactions of people reading a John Scalzi novel is that people go out and buy all the other Scalzi novels,” Mr. Nielsen Hayden said.
He said Mr. Scalzi sells “a healthy five-figure number of his books every month,” and that he “hasn’t even begun to reach his full potential audience.”
Science fiction films like “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Star Wars” have been considered popular classics for decades, “but there’s a lot of work to be done,” Mr. Scalzi said, in bringing readers to the genre. He said the long-term contract would allow him to continue experimenting with different forms of publishing, including online serialization, a technique he has tried with some success.
Mr. Scalzi, who lives in Ohio, said he was still trying to come to grips with the size and scope of the deal. He said his wife, Kristine, had kept his ego from going supernova.
“My celebration, personally, has just been standing around,” exclaiming with profane expressions of delight, he said. “And my wife saying, ‘Yes, now go take out the trash.’ ”