Savoring this one. It provides tantalizing glimpses of America as a young nation and makes it clear how we became the nation we currently are, all whi...moreSavoring this one. It provides tantalizing glimpses of America as a young nation and makes it clear how we became the nation we currently are, all while being a love letter to the Parisian expatriate experience.(less)
Purchased this after I finally finished Magic Bites last summer. Magic Bites was interesting and I was curious to see if the second book was better, g...morePurchased this after I finally finished Magic Bites last summer. Magic Bites was interesting and I was curious to see if the second book was better, given the popularity of the series. I've been pecking at this one for a year, now, and still can't get enthused.(less)
**spoiler alert** I want to preface this by saying I enjoy Scalzi's work. I liked the books I read in the Old Man's War series and Agent to the Stars....more**spoiler alert** I want to preface this by saying I enjoy Scalzi's work. I liked the books I read in the Old Man's War series and Agent to the Stars. I think he's a good writer, a smart guy, and he's got good things to say about writing. I happily paid $11.99 for the ebook and devoured the story portion quickly.
Thar be spoilers ahead, matey, so don't read anymore if you want to be spoiler free.
(view spoiler)[Scalzi's said this was an homage and it is, in spades. The story is simple, predictable, and much like the beloved if silly plots of favorite scifi TV shows. It sends up the ridiculous 'solutions' of pseudo-science and celebrates the hand wavium genre fans have come to tolerate, even embrace, all while being a fond remembrance of our first, wondering glimpse of these strange new worlds.
Because it is simple and predictable there's not a lot of story. Scalzi keeps it moving at a brisk pace, which I appreciate. A less skilled author would have padded the story with unnecessary and irritating clutter. Scalzi knows a lot of his readers are going to be anticipating the problems and solutions when the red shirts become aware of their predicament.
While the dialogue was witty it was almost impossible to tell who was speaking because there were no distinct voices for the characters with the exception of the Captain, Commander Q'eeng and Kerensky. They all had the same sense of humor and, almost without exception, the same verbal rhythms. I'm not sure if that was on purpose or not.
The not so great: The first coda is the lament of a lot of writers who hit the writer's block wall and some writers might glean useful advice from it. The codas taken as a whole, however, seem to be filler and not necessary to the story. They come across as word count padding.
Perhaps it was an experiment in allowing readers to 'see' what happens after the story ends. Those sorts of day dreams launched fan fiction and I know I've had my share of day dreams post story, written my share of private meanderings in myriad notebooks that will never see the light of day. If that were the case I could think of other characters I was curious about.
Perhaps it was an nascent exploration of different ways for readers to read their fiction. The way we read books is changing at light speed as is the way authors write books and how they interact with their readers on the page and off. Readers of today are looking for ways not only to read but to interact with their fiction that goes beyond reading words on a printed page or on a tablet screen, beyond fan fiction, into interactivity. I'd like that explanation but I'm not sure it was a successful experiment, if that's the case.
Or it could have been word padding with pieces that Scalzi wanted to write and that his editors enjoyed and thought would be fun additions to what was more a novella than a novel.
Whatever the reason, it had limited appeal to me and I skimmed the second coda and never finished the third. (hide spoiler)]
What I am sure of is that Scalzi will keep experimenting with his writing (thank the gods) and I'll be happy to buy his books even if they don't quite live up to my expectations.(less)