It has been suggested on a number of occasions that I do some sort of top 10 SciFi authors list. However, I don’t think I could easily rank my favorite authors, so instead I’ll simply do a series of articles about them and their stories. I’ll start with John Scalzi.
Many people have suggested that Scalzi must be either the reincarnation of Robert A. Heinlein, or guided by his ghost. While there are certainly many positive similarities between Scalzi and Heinlein, Scalzi has a much more accessible sense of humor than Heinlein ever did. The humor and personalities he infuses into his stories and his characters is what really makes me love them. However, the action and adventure is very reminiscent of my most favorite Heinlein novels. The combination of styles that I call ‘Scalzeinlein’ has yet to produce something that I haven’t absolutely loved…
Scalzi’s most popular works to date are by far those set in the Old Man’s Waruniverse. It’s hard to call them a series or a trilogy as each book stands on it’s own even if the characters overlap. However, like many other wonderfully crafted alternative or future realities, there are many stories that can be told here before readers will get bored. In the OMW series humanity is placed in a universe heavily populated with other sentient races. Emigrants from Earth must fiercely compete for the scarce planetary real estate which is suitable for sustaining life. I can’t get into too many details without ruining the first story, but Scalzi changed it up by having a military that recruits for experience instead of brute strength — by taking exclusively 75 year olds.
“How well can you take a punch?” asked Deputy Ambassador Schmidt.
Lieutenant Harry Wilson blinked and set down his drink. “You know, there are a number of places a conversation can go after a question like that,” he said. “None of them end well.”
“Hmm. Anyway, yes,” Schmidt said. “The mission isn’t going well. The Korba haven’t been nearly as receptive to our negotiations as we thought they might be. We want to try something new. A new direction. A new diplomatic tack.”
“A new tack that is somehow focused on me getting punched,” Harry said, setting his drink back down.
“Maybe,” Schmidt said.
“Once or repeatedly?” Harry asked.
“I think that would depend on your definition,” Schmidt said.
“Of ‘once’?” Harry asked.
“Of ‘punched,’ actually,” Schmidt said.
“I already have very deep reservations about this plan,” Harry said.
“Well, let me give you some context,” Schmidt said.
“Please do,” Harry said.
In another short fiction work Scalzi envisions a number of alternative universes that might occur if Hitler were killed on August 13, 1908. He considers what the effects on history would be if Hitler were killed by suffocation when inexplicably encased in an enormous block of unflavored gelatin or more plausibly mugged by an opium junkie looking for money.
Lastly, there is the fact that Scalzi is one of the first bloggers on the internet, with his blog Whatever still strong after 10 years. He has some really good articles and stories from time to time (with lots of silly fun and ranting in between). It’s the top feed in my RSS reader. Here’s a sample of my favorites so far:
- A Shareware Short Story: ‘How I Proposed to My Wife: An Alien Sex Story”
- Your Creation Museum Report
- The infamous Bacon Cat
- The Child on the Train
You might ask why I have yet to review the OMW series of books? Well, it probably has something to do with the fact that I read them before I started this blog and I simply haven’t gotten to it yet. However, with the impending release (August 19) of the fourth book in the universe — Zoe — I think I’ll hold off until my pre-ordered copy arrives and do them all at once. For now I’m reading The Android’s Dream and still looking for a used copy of the original Agent to the Stars since I’m not sure I can wait for the October 28th updated re-release.
Verdict: 5/5 – Must Read. Of all the people who have read any of the Scalzi on my shelf, I have yet to hear a single negative comment other than “It’s not really very literary.. but it certainly is fun.” I couldn’t agree more!