John Scalzi does not have to die

When I finished reading the ultimate chapter of The Human Division this morning, I was…upset. Not that I hadn’t enjoyed the ride so far—it made Tuesdays quite a fun thing to look forward to, in fact. But dammnit, that was a resolution that was no resolution at all.

I figured John would know enough to realize that to not announce that there was going to be at least one more novel in the Old Man’s War series would be to put himself in mortal danger.

So I am very pleased to see that he’s announced that there will be a Season Two.

Redshirts by John Scalzi

If the title carries meaning for you, you are, arguably, the intended audience.

I found the main story to be a fun little meta-fictive romp, and not a lot else. In tone it very much reminded me of his earlier novel, Agent to the Stars–deeply aware of, if only to have fun with, genre conventions. As utterly unconcerned with the “science” part of “science fiction” as its purported source material.

There are certainly far worse ways to spend a few hours, though there are many better ones as well.

I was intrigued, though, by the three “codas”. Obviously, John felt it necessary to write a little apologia for it. And I was doubly intrigued when a review I read of the book a couple of days before I got to it myself suggested that the codas were a waste of time.

In fact, I think the codas–specifically, the second coda–are the best part.

Now my gut reaction to writing in the second person is something in the general neighborhood of derision. Tell me you’re doing it, and I will suggest you are making a mistake. Tell me you’ve already done it, and I will make a note to avoid your book. Admittedly, if you get me to read your book anyway, and I might actually like it (thank you, Mr. Palahniuk), but my default assumption is that it is going to be annoying and precious.

But I can’t imagine the second coda to Redshirts working as well from any other point of view. To ask the reader–especially one who has some idea what might be coming–to empathise with the weirdness of the situation the character finds himself in pretty much demands something as jarring and weird and annoying as second person narration. So I think it not only worked, but was the only way it could work. So I actually found myself more satisfied after the codas than before.

I’ll note, just because I’ve started paying a little more attention to this in my fictional choices, that I believe the book fails the Bechdel Test. I think there are only two female characters in the whole thing, and they never talk that I remember. Just so you know.

The God Engines

I guess you could say this was my “rebound book” after the heavy commitment of King’s Dark Tower books. As it is a novella, I suppose it really just constitutes a fling, which seems about right.

John Scalzi goes all omniscient-third-person–which is a departure from the “Old Man’s War” series, which is basically everything of his that I’ve read– on this tale of betrayal. It’s a fun, fairly light read. You can infer all sorts of Deep Thought About Religion if you so choose, but I think that might be going a little far.

And that’s the end of my current spate of library books, though I have two more waiting for me to go pick up. Perhaps this afternoon.