ColeenDK’s #CBR5 Review #02: Redshirts by John Scalzi

51GMwpNlpqL__SL500_AA300_The review in which I find out that Redshirts is not the book I wanted it to be but that it involves enough pantslessness to still be an enjoyable readSpoilers below…

My thoughts prior to reading this book were as follows:

“It’s like Star Trek the Original Series but told by a non-essential character, ohlala!’  “In the last 5 minutes, I have read 50 post on my favourite websites sites about how this book brings a whole new light to an tired genre!”  “Oh and turns out Will Wheaton does the auto book!!  I should total cheat and just listen to that and not read the book at all!”  (5 minutes later) “Ah goddam guilt, I can’t do that.”  “Ah hell, the book covers super pretty, and red, and shiny!  I’ll just buy it and just read it. Let’s get-er-done!”

What is clear about my thoughts prior to actually reading the book is that the number of exclamation points was directly associated to how many spoonful’s of raw cookies dough I ate during that conversation with myself.  Clearly decisions fueled by sugar are made quick and with little forethought.  What is also clear is that covers are still super important when it comes to choosing books to read.  And lastly, it is clear that this book was pretty hyped up on the internet.  But the question is, should it have been?

Short and simple: probably not.

Don’t get me wrong, I though the book was fun.  In the second half of the book, during a little time travel escapade into the past vis-à-vis Star trek IV The Voyage Home//The One With The Whales, the characters get in those classic sticky situations that brings about the most fun the book has with any of the characters, including, but not limited to: repetitive pantlessness and implied sexual encounters with a characters doppelganger.  However, overall the book is pretty one-dimensional.  The characters never really develop past those preliminary explanations of who they are, where they came from, and why they are presently here right now.

My other problem was that this book was conversation heavy.  There would be entire chapters that were just dialogue, which was, in my mind, a failure because of the opportunity to really world-build and give the reader a clear picture of the grander of the 22nd century.

Of course, the thing is the book explains away the lack of character and world-building by going meta.  Hardcore meta.  Because this book isn’t just about a story taking place that is only happening because the characters are being controlled by people in another time and place (who just think they are writing a bad sci-fi show) but it’s actually a story about that story, i.e., the authors writes himself into the story and has the main character figure out that he’s actually in that authors story.  It’s sort of like a fanfiction Inception.  Fanception.

Which is the crux of the problem with the book, the whole book gave me a fanfiction vibe throughout.  The author was trying to be clever by bringing up the questions the audience would ask but instead of answering them he would just explain them away with rational like “the show is badly written science fiction that’s why it doesn’t make sense!”  I felt that this book had the opportunity to be better than original Star Trek show.  I wanted the book to have an extra dimension of character, to world-build, and to have human ties that could actually draw the audience into the story but it never quite got there.  That could have just been my fault for wanting more.

If you are looking for what I was, this is probably not the book for you.  If you are looking for the type of read that is easy and at times pretty fun, then this book may be exactly what you need.   Whatever choice you make, try not to make it after binging on raw sugar-filled cookie dough.

Fofo’s #CBR5 Review #3: Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

Old Man's WarTarget: John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War

Profile: Science Fiction, Space Opera, Military

I’ve resisted reading this book for a very long time.  The reviews were just too universally good, and I’ve been burned that way before.  But after hearing Scalzi interviewed on NPR about his new book, Red Shirts, I finally started wondering what all the fuss was about.  And for once, I wasn’t disappointed.  Old Man’s War is a tremendous novel in an understated package that handles the horrors of war and the wonders of the final frontier with equal aplomb.  It approaches its subject matter with the correct mix of humility, awe and confidence to tie the reader to the plight of the cast, and even this fictional version of the human race.

Old Man’s War is narrated in first person perspective by John Perry, an aging ad copy writer.  He and his wife Kathy decided to get a second lease on life by joining the Colonial Defense Force.  But Kathy died before their number was up, so John is on his own as he enlists and becomes a part of humanity’s first line of defense.  Scalzi’s vision of the future has humanity expanding colonially into the stars, while Earth remains isolated.  But the galaxy is not empty and many other species desire the same resources we need.  Competition for planets and systems is fierce and humanity isn’t the big kid on the block.

Read the rest of the review…