Well, one other tale, really.
After reading Fuzzy Nation on narfna’s suggestion, I quickly delved into the other Scalzi books that I had access to. The first, The Collapsing Empire, was just recently released and is the first in a trilogy (and his first book under a 10 year, 13 book contract that includes a sequel to Lock In and a new book in the Old Man’s War series). The second, Agent to the Stars, is his first novel, self published on his website in 1999.
The Collapsing Empire (4.5 stars; reviewed once before, given 4 stars)
Humanity has reached beyond the bounds of our Solar System, expanding to the furthest reaches of our galaxy – but at the cost of abandoning earth altogether. The disparate human colonies are connected via the Flow, an inter-dimensional pathway that allows travelers to cover vast interstellar distances in weeks or months. The colonies are bonded to a nexus planet called the Hub, where the Emperox resides. This vast network of colonies is called the Interdependency, and it is entirely reliant upon the stability of the Flow….which is showing signs of imminent collapse.
This book feels like it’s two-thirds set-up for the second and third installments. So much of the book exists to built the narrative and get you comfortable with the world (universe) that’s been created. And it’s some fascinating world building on Scalzi’s part, highly detailed and well thought out. But while I did find that actual story engaging, there were times when I just felt like what I was reading was less important to the plot than it was staging for future events.
Be that as it may, it was an entertaining read that left me wanting more, and it really begins to pick up steam towards the end of the book….where you’re left itching for a conclusion that won’t happen for a couple years. Scalzi may not write as fast as Brandon Sanderson, but he’s no George RR Martin, either. If you’re the kind of person who hates waiting for the next installment, maybe move this down your TBR list. It’s good – but you’ll just end up frustrated at the interlude.
Agent to the Stars (4.5 stars; reviewed once before, given 5 stars)
What do the Holocaust, first contact, and film culture have in common? Hell if I know, but John Scalzi found a way to connect those dots.
Maybe it’s because this was his first novel, but this felt pretty different from his other books. It’s funny, but less droll than his other, more recent efforts. The humor seemed closer to Christopher Moore, actually. With a bit of the absurdity of David Wong. None of this is a complaint, mind, but Scalzi’s voice isn’t fully developed here. If anything, it’s more rapid-fire than the stuff the stuff he’s doing now.
Agent to the Stars follows Tom Stein, a young Hollywood agent working for one of the most powerful people in the business: Carl Lupo. Carl has been contacted by an alien race looking to find a way of being introduced to humanity in a way that doesn’t freak everyone out. Carl gives the job to Tom.
There’s nothing particularly earth shattering, here, but I found this book to be very different from the other Scalzi books I’ve read (almost all of them at this point). It’s maybe a bit lighter on the science fiction, and more heavily focused on the comedy, but it all works in its own way. If you like John Scalzi and haven’t read this, I strongly encourage you to read it. If you’ve never read John Scalzi, but like comedic novels, this might be the perfect introduction to his work.