My Books

Thumbnail image of Alice and the Green Man cover

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My Go-To Sci-Fi Guy

In a word, John Scalzi.

Red to be read.

Okay, that’s two words. Whatever.

That, btw, is the name of his profoundly engaging and continually amusing blog. Not being a strictly sci-fi fan, I was unaware of Scalzi until I came across a short piece about him in Writers Digest in which he described how, when he was first trying to get started, collecting rejection letters the way most aspiring authors do, he eventually decided to put out his first novel in serial form on his blog site.

That novel, Agent to the Stars, is an outrageous satire of movie fame and human nature, so outlandish that you can easily imagine why timid agents and editors might have hesitated about trying to get it published in the traditional way.

But on the internet, where a lively fandom exists hungry for fresh and funny writing, Agent to the Stars took off, became a phenomenon, and eventually was picked up by a conventional publisher.

Since then everything Scalzi has written has been hailed by critics and readers. In 2005 his first “official” book, Old Man’s War dealt with aging, love, gender issues, and aliens. I  just finished reading the follow-up in the series, Ghost Brigades, and it was a thrill ride from start to finish, with some genuine emotional backspin. I am sooo hooked.

But I have to admit, the first Scalzi book I read was The Android’s Dream, which I nearly stopped reading after the first chapter because the raunchy inciting incident was so…how can I put this?…so ‘not something we talk about at the dinner table’, as my father would have said. Yet there was no denying it was hilarious. I kept reading, and boy am I glad I did. The plot kept thickening, the humor turned more subtle, and the payoff at the end was brilliant.

I’ve since become a regular reader of Scalzi’s blog, whatever.scalzi.com, one feature of which is “The Big Idea,” a recurring forum for authors to discuss the “big ideas” behind their books. For an established author to use his own blog to provide support for others is something special.

So, there you have have it. John Scalzi. Someone special.

His new book Redshirts will be coming out in just a couple of weeks. Early reviewers have called it a dark satire with echoes of StarTrek. I can’t wait.

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