inverarity: (inverarity)
An anti-Heinleinian military SF novel for SF fans who don't actually like the military or Heinlein.


Old Man's War

Tor, 2005, 320 pages




John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife’s grave. Then he joined the army. The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce—and alien races willing to fight us for them are common. So: we fight. To defend Earth, and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has been going on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding. Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity’s resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force. Everybody knows that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don’t want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You’ll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You’ll serve two years at the front. And if you survive, you’ll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets. John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine—and what he will become is far stranger.


Go to strange new planets, meet interesting, exotic aliens, and kill them. (SPOILERS) )

Verdict: A good book, not a great book, I'd have liked Old Man's War more if it was more of what it was, a sci-fi adventure starring a clever Earth dude from Ohio, and less of what it was trying to be, a sci-fi war story in the tradition of Starship Troopers. Scalzi's writing is much of a piece, and there is definitely good story here, so despite being quite annoyed with significant parts of it, I'll probably read the rest of the series. 7/10.

Also by John Scalzi: My reviews of The Android's Dream, The God Engines, Agent to the Stars, Fuzzy Nation, and Redshirts.




My complete list of book reviews.
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This was an entertaining novel-length Star Trek joke, but... a Hugo? Really?


Redshirts

Tor, 2012, 318 pages




Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory. Life couldn’t be better...until Andrew begins to pick up on the facts that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces; (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations; and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy below decks is expended on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues' understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is...and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.


Dude, you wrote a book just to take a shot at Scrivener fanboys? )

Verdict: I liked Redshirts, but it's a novel-length Star Trek joke written by and for nerds of a particular feather, and like a lot of humorous science fiction written as metafictional social commentary, it's not likely to age well.

Also... a Hugo? Really?

Also by John Scalzi: My reviews of The Android's Dream, The God Engines, Agent to the Stars, and Fuzzy Nation.




My complete list of book reviews.
inverarity: (inverarity)
The original classic sci-fi novels and the modern fanfic rewrite "reimagining"

The Fuzzy Papers


Fuzzies predate Furries, thank gawdz. )

Verdict: H. Beam Piper's Fuzzy novels and John Scalzi's rewrite are complementary works. I suppose some might strongly prefer one over the other, but I found them to be equally good, each entertaining in a slightly different way, and worth reading without worrying that one will "spoil" the other. It's not exactly hard SF, but it's got a smattering of science in an optimistic, slightly retro universe. Not deep, but definitely fun reads.

Also by John Scalzi: My reviews of The Android's Dream, The God Engines, and Agent to the Stars.




My complete list of book reviews.
inverarity: (Default)
Aliens decide to make first contact via Hollywood.


Agent to the Stars

Subterranean Press, 2005, ~96,000 words.




The space-faring Yherajk people have come to Earth to begin humanity's first interstellar friendship. There's just one problem: They're hideously ugly and they smell like rotting fish. Gaining humanity's trust isn't easy when you look like a B-movie terror, and the Yherajk need someone who can help them close the deal.

Thomas Stein knows all about closing deals -- he's one of Hollywood's hottest young agents, but he's about to learn it's one thing to sell your client when she's a hot young starlet and another thing entirely when your client is an alien species!


I am not a huge Scalzi fan, but I think this was funnier than Douglas Adams. So sue me. )

Verdict: Scalzi's earliest novel is, in my opinion, one of his most enjoyable. If you want to read some light, feel-good sci-fi with a bit of snappy humor, I recommend it, especially since you can download it for free.

Also by John Scalzi: My reviews of The Android's Dream and The God Engines.




My complete list of book reviews.
inverarity: (Default)
Aliens decide to make first contact via Hollywood.


Agent to the Stars

Subterranean Press, 2005, ~96,000 words.




The space-faring Yherajk people have come to Earth to begin humanity's first interstellar friendship. There's just one problem: They're hideously ugly and they smell like rotting fish. Gaining humanity's trust isn't easy when you look like a B-movie terror, and the Yherajk need someone who can help them close the deal.

Thomas Stein knows all about closing deals -- he's one of Hollywood's hottest young agents, but he's about to learn it's one thing to sell your client when she's a hot young starlet and another thing entirely when your client is an alien species!


I am not a huge Scalzi fan, but I think this was funnier than Douglas Adams. So sue me. )

Verdict: Scalzi's earliest novel is, in my opinion, one of his most enjoyable. If you want to read some light, feel-good sci-fi with a bit of snappy humor, I recommend it, especially since you can download it for free.

Also by John Scalzi: My reviews of The Android's Dream and The God Engines.




My complete list of book reviews.
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A merry interstellar chase that can't decide if it's space opera or satire.


The Android's Dream

Tor, 2006, 397 pages




A human diplomat creates an interstellar incident when he kills an alien diplomat in a most unusual way. To avoid war, Earth's government must find an equally unusual object: A type of sheep ("The Android's Dream"), used in the alien race's coronation ceremony.

To find the sheep, the government turns to Harry Creek, ex-cop, war hero and hacker extraordinaire, who with the help of Brian Javna, a childhood friend turned artificial intelligence, scours the earth looking for the rare creature. And they find it, in the unknowing form of Robin Baker, pet store owner, whose genes contain traces of the sheep DNA. But there are others with plans for the sheep as well: Mercenaries employed by the military. Adherents of a secret religion based on the writings of a 21st century science-fiction author. And alien races, eager to start a revolution on their home world and a war on Earth.

To keep our planet from being enslaved, Harry will have to pull off the greatest diplomatic coup in history, a grand gambit that will take him from the halls of power to the lava-strewn battlefields of alien worlds. There's only one chance to get it right, to save the life of Robin Baker - and to protect the future of humanity.


It's better than you'd expect for a book that opens with a fart joke. )

Verdict: If you like John Scalzi, then you probably know what you're getting. This is a humorous, not-quite-farcical space opera with action and interstellar cruise liners and planet-buster bombs and friendly and not-so-friendly aliens and sudden but inevitable betrayals, all wrapped up in a bow for the good guys with a touch of romance.

Also by John Scalzi: My review of The God Engines.
inverarity: (Default)
A merry interstellar chase that can't decide if it's space opera or satire.


The Android's Dream

Tor, 2006, 397 pages




A human diplomat creates an interstellar incident when he kills an alien diplomat in a most unusual way. To avoid war, Earth's government must find an equally unusual object: A type of sheep ("The Android's Dream"), used in the alien race's coronation ceremony.

To find the sheep, the government turns to Harry Creek, ex-cop, war hero and hacker extraordinaire, who with the help of Brian Javna, a childhood friend turned artificial intelligence, scours the earth looking for the rare creature. And they find it, in the unknowing form of Robin Baker, pet store owner, whose genes contain traces of the sheep DNA. But there are others with plans for the sheep as well: Mercenaries employed by the military. Adherents of a secret religion based on the writings of a 21st century science-fiction author. And alien races, eager to start a revolution on their home world and a war on Earth.

To keep our planet from being enslaved, Harry will have to pull off the greatest diplomatic coup in history, a grand gambit that will take him from the halls of power to the lava-strewn battlefields of alien worlds. There's only one chance to get it right, to save the life of Robin Baker - and to protect the future of humanity.


It's better than you'd expect for a book that opens with a fart joke. )

Verdict: If you like John Scalzi, then you probably know what you're getting. This is a humorous, not-quite-farcical space opera with action and interstellar cruise liners and planet-buster bombs and friendly and not-so-friendly aliens and sudden but inevitable betrayals, all wrapped up in a bow for the good guys with a touch of romance.

Also by John Scalzi: My review of The God Engines.
inverarity: (Default)
One-line summary: Scalzi channels Lovecraft, gets Terry Pratchett & Joss Whedon instead



Reviews:

Amazon: Average: 3.3. Mode: 5 stars.
Goodreads: Average: 3.59. Mode: 4 stars.


Captain Ean Tephe is a man of faith, whose allegiance to his lord and to his ship is uncontested. The Bishopry Militant knows this -- and so, when it needs a ship and crew to undertake a secret, sacred mission to a hidden land, Tephe is the captain to whom the task is given.

Tephe knows from that the start that his mission will be a test of his skill as a leader of men and as a devout follower of his god. It’s what he doesn’t know that matters: to what ends his faith and his ship will ultimately be put -- and that the tests he will face will come not only from his god and the Bishopry Militant, but from another, more malevolent source entirely...

Author John Scalzi has ascended to the top ranks of modern science fiction with the best-selling, Hugo-nominated novels Old Man’s War and Zoe’s Tale. Now he tries his hand at fantasy, with a dark and different novella that takes your expectations of what fantasy is and does, and sends them tumbling.

Say your prayers... and behold The God Engines.


A creepy dark sci-fi novella )

Verdict: A good, brisk story mixing dark fantasy with science fiction. It's quite different from Scalzi's normal work, so not the best sample to see if you like his writing, but for the length and the price, if you find the description moderately interesting, you can't go wrong checking it out.
inverarity: (Default)
One-line summary: Scalzi channels Lovecraft, gets Terry Pratchett & Joss Whedon instead



Reviews:

Amazon: Average: 3.3. Mode: 5 stars.
Goodreads: Average: 3.59. Mode: 4 stars.


Captain Ean Tephe is a man of faith, whose allegiance to his lord and to his ship is uncontested. The Bishopry Militant knows this -- and so, when it needs a ship and crew to undertake a secret, sacred mission to a hidden land, Tephe is the captain to whom the task is given.

Tephe knows from that the start that his mission will be a test of his skill as a leader of men and as a devout follower of his god. It’s what he doesn’t know that matters: to what ends his faith and his ship will ultimately be put -- and that the tests he will face will come not only from his god and the Bishopry Militant, but from another, more malevolent source entirely...

Author John Scalzi has ascended to the top ranks of modern science fiction with the best-selling, Hugo-nominated novels Old Man’s War and Zoe’s Tale. Now he tries his hand at fantasy, with a dark and different novella that takes your expectations of what fantasy is and does, and sends them tumbling.

Say your prayers... and behold The God Engines.


A creepy dark sci-fi novella )

Verdict: A good, brisk story mixing dark fantasy with science fiction. It's quite different from Scalzi's normal work, so not the best sample to see if you like his writing, but for the length and the price, if you find the description moderately interesting, you can't go wrong checking it out.

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