Chapter 15 of the audiobook of John Scalzi's Agent to the Stars references 'the most talked about young filmstar death since Heath Ledger sleeped himself out of this world'. This seems to reference Heath Ledger's death in 2008. Audible lists the production copyright as '(p) 2010', so that's coherent.

However, according to scalzi.com, the story was originally written in 1997, and first published online in 1999.

So my questions:

  • Was the story adapted for the audio edition? (the Audible website does not mention anything) Or perhaps already for an earlier print edition?
  • And if so, are there more changes than just this one reference?

I've searched the Scalzi website but could not find any further information there

  • Or, perhaps I just did not understand the Ledger reference
    – dennis_vok
    Commented Jul 13, 2021 at 7:29

2 Answers 2


The book was indeed updated to include more modern references.

The original passage, found in a version of the book published in 2005, refers to the actor River Phoenix who died in 1993:

It was the biggest potential star death since River Phoenix spasmed his life away in front of the Viper Club.

In a 2008 publication of the book John Scalzi writes in the Author's Note And Acknowledgements:

The book you have in your hands is substantially the same book I wrote eleven years ago now, but because the novel takes place in contemporary time, this version of the novel has been revised to update a number of cultural references, to bring it in line with the world as it exists in the latter half of the first decade of the third millennium.

This appears to be the only revision that's been made, and John Scalzi goes on to say that it'll (most likely) be the last revision for the book:

because barring it being made into a film or something (because it just won’t quit), this is the last revision of the book I plan to make.

It wasn't the only change apparently, the Author's Note And Acknowledgements lists an example of an older reference being updated for a more modern audience:

For example, a character who used to have a television show on the United Paramount Network now has it on Comedy Central, because UPN no longer exists.

And another change (which was not just an update for modernity):

The age of a couple of characters has also been juggled to have the story make sense today.

  • Great answer, and fast too! This indeed explains it. I'll wait the customary day or two to mark the accepted answer
    – dennis_vok
    Commented Jul 13, 2021 at 7:40

I've reached out to John Scalzi himself via email (and did not really expect a response, that's why I also posted the question here), but lo and behold: he just replied:

I updated it for the paperback edition in 2010.


The year doesn't match fez's answer, but I can easily chalk that up to Scalzi's memory being fuzzy about the exact date.

(Fez's answer answers my other sub-question too, so that's the accepted one)

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