Science fiction pro John Scalzi has a treat for his audience—an audio-only release of his latest novella, The Dispatcher, an urban fantasy that Audible Studios will be bringing out later this year. “I thought it would be fun to do something that was not part of any of the worlds I’ve developed with my other books,” Scalzi says. “I wanted to try something that was original and would be fun for folks to get their first interaction with in an audio format. A novella is a great thing to do in an audiobook format because it will be perfect for exercising or drive time.”
For his latest tale, Scalzi has created a world where it’s almost impossible for people to be murdered. He tells Show Daily what inspired the idea for the story: “It’s always amazing to me that there are things that can happen that seem so momentous at the time they occur, and then five years later, the world adjusts to it and it’s just part of the ‘new normal.’ In The Dispatcher, the new normal is that if someone actively tries to kill someone, like push them in front of a bus, or shoot them with a gun, 999 times out of 1,000, the victim comes back to life. The body disappears from the murder scene, the clothes are left behind, and the person magically reappears at home, naked.” Hence the role of the dispatcher, a legal killer who acts basically to save lives. “If someone goes into surgery and it starts going poorly,” Scalzi says, “rather than have you die on the operating table, a dispatcher who is in the room at the same time dispatches you—shoots you, kills you—and then you wind up back at home so you can have the surgery a second time, and hopefully the next time it’ll go right.”
While Audible will have exclusive rights to The Dispatcher for six months, the novella will then be published in book form by Subterranean Press, which will release it in an electronic and trade version. “I can’t wait for people to listen to it because if they like it, then I want to write a sequel.”
The bestselling author is a frequent visitor to Book Expo. “I really enjoy BEA,” he notes, “partly because it’s just a whole bunch of book people doing book things. But also because it really gives you a snapshot of where the industry is at the moment; it gives you an idea of what things are important, what things are being celebrated, and which people are having their moment.”
You can hear more from Scalzi at the APA Author Tea today, 3:30–4:30 p.m., in Room W183.
This article appeared in the May 13, 2016 edition of PW BEA Show Daily.