John Scalzi

Discussion in 'Non-WOT - Literature and Fiction' started by Eluial Aldaran, Nov 21, 2013.

  1. Eluial Aldaran

    Eluial Aldaran Aes Sedai Head of the Brown Ajah

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    So, as usual, I am rather late to the party, but I just discovered this guy not too long ago (like... 6 months ago). Since then, I've read all the books in the Old Man's War world, and am almost finished with Red Shirts (which is hilariously brilliant, BTW).

    I like him a lot! I really like his writing style, his "voice," if you will. It's decidedly casual, and sometimes a lot of his characters start to sound the same (they all seem to have the same sarcastic sense of humor, for instance), but I think that it works really well. His stories and ideas are really interesting, too; a combination of tried and true SF tropes, with some of his own creativity and uniqueness built in.

    Also, I can't believe he left such a huge question unanswered at the end of The Human Division
    WHO IS CAUSING ALL THE MAYHEM?! WHOOOOOOO?

    I think my only complaint (other than MORE BOOKS, PL0X), is that he doesn't strive for scientific plausibility and/or accuracy in the way that I've come to expect from the truly brilliant speculative fiction writers. I'm not talking about hyper drives or having things that we, in the real world, believe to be technically impossible. But I was introduced to the world of Sci Fi by the likes of Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke. In other words, guys who really knew their science, and knew how to make even the crazy, futuristic stuff seem not only plausible, but downright possible... if only we had that tiny little bit of missing information. And Scalzi, sadly, does not quite have that.

    And the word "data" is plural, goddamnit.
     
  2. Marivea al'Corriyi

    Marivea al'Corriyi Aes Sedai

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    This man! His books!

    My main complaint isn't the science ('cuz I can ignore that since he at least makes a token effort) but his endless "...blah blah" he said. NO VARIATION. he only uses s/he said! I didn't notice how much this drove me mad till I read Old Man's War & its sequels to my ex out loud.
     
  3. Kassina Tendar

    Kassina Tendar Aes Sedai

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    I love Scalzi! :D I recently listened to Red Shirts via audiobook and I'm now on the 2nd book in the Old Man's War series. Red Shirts was hilarious and I'm loving Old Man's War. ^^ I've been on a sci-fi high lately with Scalzi and James SA Corey's expanse series before that.

    Marivea Sedai, I know exactly what you mean! I don't think I would've noticed it as much if I'd just read the books on my Kindle. I'm reading Old Man's War on my Kindle and it doesn't bother me so much there. I don't really notice it... but it drove me batty in Redshirts! Whenever there was dialogue, every other sentence was "He said" "She said" When I'm reading it, my eyes just scan over it, but when the narrator is constantly breaking up the dialogue like that, it gets into an odd "~ said" rhythm and it started to bother me partway through the book...
     
  4. Eluial Aldaran

    Eluial Aldaran Aes Sedai Head of the Brown Ajah

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    I never noticed that, probably because like Kassina said, when I'm reading I just kind of skip over the "said" parts and focus on the dialog itself. But every time he says something like "this data is..." I cringe inwardly.
     
  5. Marivea al'Corriyi

    Marivea al'Corriyi Aes Sedai

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    I would read a few sentences ahead and stick in my own tags. :p exclaimed, complained... heh. the ex never noticed.

    Has anyone read Fuzzy Nation? It's SO ADORABLE. Plus I think it's one of his better written ones. And it doesn't have much science in it, Eluial.
     
  6. Aran Cherubim

    Aran Cherubim Resident Citizen

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    Perhaps the grammatical usage of data has changed in the future? ;)

    I've read the Old Man's War - and I didn't even know there were sequels!

    I enjoyed the casual and personal tone of the books. The universe is interesting enough, but it's not really fleshed out enough to be a pillar of the series in itself. The main character does feel a bit Mary Sueish, but it's only borderline imho, so I let it pass.

    I can't remember anything about the 's/he said' instances, but then I read it in Norwegian.
     
  7. Eluial Aldaran

    Eluial Aldaran Aes Sedai Head of the Brown Ajah

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    :lol It's changed in the present, really. So many people use it as a singular noun that, even though I still cringe out of habit, I've mostly gotten used to it.

    I'm curious... I could just look it up, but whatevs. When people say a character is "Mary Sue-ish" does that just mean things always work out for that character? As in, they always do the right thing, or their endeavors always seem to succeed? Because that's really how most protagonists are, isn't it? I mean, there are clearly exceptions (like the whole cast of ASoIaF), but it seems like things not working out ok for the protagonist is more the exception than the rule in most fiction.

    But I digress. The world fleshes out a bit more in the sequels. I definitely recommend them if you enjoyed Old Man's War.
     
  8. Kassina Tendar

    Kassina Tendar Aes Sedai

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    If you enjoyed Old Man's War, I'd definitely recommend the rest of the series. I'm on The Last Colony right now and can't stop reading. The 2nd book has different PoV characters (and it's written in 3rd person), but the 3rd book is back to the same character as the 1st (and written in 1st person again). The world really gets fleshed out and the story gets really interesting after the first book. Looking back on it, the first book is great by itself, but it mostly serves to set up the main character, the basics of the world, and humanity's place in the universe before getting into the central story of the series.

    The way I see 'Mary Sue-ish' is that the character themself is perfect, not necessarily that everything works out for them. Mary Sues tend to have tragic backstories that you're reminded of every few seconds and, while everything doesn't work out for them, they respond to everything that happens in a rather unbelievable and 'perfect' way. Everyone loves them and they're incredibly unique and the author won't let you forget how unique and special they are. They don't have any major character flaws. Any flaw they have is really a strength or a way to remind you of their tragic backstory (but it really doesn't actually inhibit them in any way). Stuff like that.
     
  9. Aran Cherubim

    Aran Cherubim Resident Citizen

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    It's a debated term (some also argue that it is misogynistic), but I generally use it to mean that a character lacks believeable flaws, and the flaws they do have turn out to actually be benefits in some fashion. The main character does have flaws as an old man, but they seem to wear off once he gets his new body. There's also his uncanny ability to survive stuff that kills everyone else by sheer dumb luck, or realize things that no one else has ever seen for some reason or another (which might make some people think he's a great character, but also makes all other characters seem a bit dumb - this is known as them holding the idiot ball), which I thought happened a bit too often.

    Basically, I prefer if achievements and skills are spread out across several characters with differentiated personalities. Old Man's War seems to me to be a bit of a throwback to pulp-scifi in this regard, where skills are more focused on a single main character. It might also be because this is military scifi, which is a genre where the team-focused story does extremely well, and it left me a bit conflicted.
     
  10. Eluial Aldaran

    Eluial Aldaran Aes Sedai Head of the Brown Ajah

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    Interesting, thanks you two! And yes, I can see what you mean by that. If you read Zoe's Tale, which is... not exactly a sequel but related to the Old Man's War series, much of the same thing happens, where the protagonist is a lot like that, too. It kind of bugged me a bit more in that book, though, because while I can somewhat believe it of an 80 year old with intense military training and a computer in his brain, and I have a harder time believing it of a 16 year old. Not that kids can't do amazing things, but she's always right, always knows exactly what to do/say, and that just seems off.

    Actually, now that I think about it, it's kind of how all of Scalzi's protagonists are. Same with the guy in Red Shirts. :lol
     
  11. Kassina Tendar

    Kassina Tendar Aes Sedai

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    Yeah, the main character is a bit of a Mary Sue and I can see him making Zoe like that as well, though I haven't read her story yet. I don't think I ever directly thought of Perry as a Mary Sue, but while I don't dislike the character, I know in the book I'm currently reading, I kinda cheered inside when something he did backfired on him. :look Since he does always seem to know exactly what to do when no one else does.

    You're right about the characters in Red Shirt too, Eluial! I hadn't really considered that before! :lol I think it bugged me less in Red Shirts, though, 'cause of the tone of the book. It's kind of a quirky parody book so if the characters are a little too resourceful, it kind of fits with the theme! Besides, I could always explain any inconsistencies with the characters as "Well, that's how just how they're being written for the show!" :lol
     
  12. Leira Galene

    Leira Galene Mafia Admin Aes Sedai Forum Moderator

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    I have only read Old Man's War and I thought it was good, but... not good enough for me to read the sequels :p My boyfriend LOVES him though and has read pretty much everything he's written. He does seem like a pretty cool guy though.