Posts Tagged ‘John Scalzi’

Fuzzy Nation

In Book Reviews on July 27, 2014 at 6:00 am
Tor 2011

Tor 2011

Nutshell blurb: Jack Holloway works as an independent contractor for a company called ZaraCorp. He accidentally found some really valuable jewels which he may only claim if the planet isn’t inhabited by sentient species. But then he meets some little fuzzy creatures and there’s a huge debate about whether or not they are people.

Before I talk about this book, I’d just like to say that this is my 100th post. I can’t believe that I’ve written so many! I feel like I should be celebrating or something. Like, with cake. I really want some cake now…


I’m sure I’ve told you many times how much I love John Scalzi. If you don’t remember, then I’ll say it again. I love John Scalzi!

This book had me hooked in the first few pages where the main character taught his dog, Carl, to detonate some charges that he used in his work as an independent contractor. I love the amount of whimsy that exists within his books and I like that his characters feel like real people. There are times when the banter between the characters seems a bit forced, but it only happens occasionally and I can overlook it because the story is so good. Jack Holloway isn’t the best person in the world. I certainly couldn’t imagine myself being friends with him. I think that I would describe him as a lovable douche-nozzle. He does and says stupid things and he doesn’t really consider other people’s feelings when he makes his life decisions. He’s not loathsome, however, and I think that it takes quite a lot of skill to create a character like that.

There were only a couple of problems I had with this book. I felt like the main character was made out to be cleverer than he actually was. He had a lot of things up his sleeves and there were a couple of times when I had to force myself to suspend my disbelief. One of those times was at an integral turning point in the story.

(Don’t worry; there aren’t any spoilers!)

This turning point was hinted at in an earlier chapter so it didn’t come completely out of right field, but I had a moment when I was jolted out of the story (during a pivotal scene) and I was like ‘wait a minute…wuuut?’.  That’s never a good thing.

However, I was able to shrug it off and go with it. Because I love him so much.

I love the worlds he creates and Zarathustra is no exception. I feel that I have to say here that I’ve never read Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper which is the book that this one was based on. This book is a reboot of Piper’s 1968 novel and I don’t know how much of his world was used in this retelling. It’s quite a scary world as it is inhabited by scary creatures (like dinosaurs) called zararaptors which means that our protagonist lives in a treehouse. And valuable gems were the result of millions of jellyfish-like creatures being crushed under rock for centuries. I like it.

If you’ve never read any of John Scalzi’s work, I would suggest reading a different one first such as Old Man’s War. I really enjoyed this book, but I don’t know if I would be as much of a fan girl if I had read this one before any of his others.


Old Man’s War

In Book Reviews on June 8, 2014 at 6:00 am
Tor 2005

Tor 2005

I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday. I visited my wife’s grave. Then I joined the army.

I love John Scalzi. I really do. This is only the second book of his that I’ve read, but I’m now officially a fan girl. (Here’s a link to my post on Redshirts.)

Nutshell blurb: Mankind has expanded and colonised other planets in outer space. Once people on Earth turn 75, they have the option to join the military to fight aliens and to protect colonists.

It’s quite interesting that a military would want 75 year olds to join its ranks and I certainly won’t spoil anything for you by telling you why. What I will tell you is why I love Mr. Scalzi’s writing so much. He has the power to make me snicker (Out loud. On my morning commute.) and cringe at the same time. He has a brilliant sense of whimsy and he doesn’t mince around his story. He embraces the ridiculous and runs with it. And it works.

There are so many times when I read a sci-fi book and get lost in scientific detail. This certainly has a lot of detail in it, but it’s accessible to those of us who aren’t able to grasp some heavy scientific explanation.

I don’t really feel like I can say much more about it without spoiling it. I will say that I loved it, it was super fun and that I’ll be reading more of his work.

If you don’t already know, he has a blog which is great if you’re a fan of his writing.


In Book Reviews on September 4, 2013 at 6:00 am

RedshirtsGollancz 2012

John Scalzi had me at his dedication to Wil Wheaton.

To Wil Wheaton, whom I heart with all the hearty heartness a heart can heart.

Thus began an entire novel of complete silliness and whimsy. Right up my alley.

As the title suggests, this book follows the plight of the Redshirts. For those of you who haven’t watched any Star Trek at all (shame on you, for one thing), the Redshirts are the throw away characters who accompany the main characters on away missions and always die. You can always tell who it’s going to be. You’ll have the captain, the science officer, maybe the chief engineer and then there’s Ensign Bob Smith and you know right away that Ensign Smith won’t be making it back to the ship.

Actually, Eddie Murphy explains it much better in Boomerang:

You get the idea. And just so we’re clear, this book does not take place in the Star Trek universe.

So the premise of this book is that the demise of Redshirts aboard the Intrepid has gotten out of hand to the point where they start noticing that something is wrong. And then they start comparing notes and realise that assignment on any away mission is a death sentence. A handful of them set out to figure out why and to see what they can do to stop it.

Frankly, I can’t tell you more than that without spoiling it.

I will give you this quote, however, which might be slightly spoilerfic but it’s from the pov of one of the Redshirts so we kind of expect it anyway.

Ensign Davis thought, Screw this, I want to live, and swerved to avoid the landworms. But then he tripped and one of the landworms ate his face and he died anyway.

I literally laughed out loud. Reading it still makes me giggle a bit.

I gave this five out of five stars on Goodreads because of the sheer enjoyment I got from it. It was fast-paced with constant action (always a plus for me) and it didn’t take itself very seriously at all. The dialogue was a bit clunky and some of the characters weren’t well rounded, but I attributed that to the subject matter. These guys are the extras with minimal back-stories and the writing style reflected that.

The one thing that I didn’t really like about this book was the end. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil it for you.) After the main story is a set of three codas which wrap up the stories of some of the characters from the main story. I felt that this book could have stood on its own without the codas. I thought that the ending was really quirky and cool, but was then dragged out by this additional information which I could have survived without.

Overall, I loved it. It satisfied my need for action and had the added bonus of complete and utter silliness. A total win in my book.

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