The Official “Win a Copy of Coffee Shop” Contest: Your Scathing Book Review

Last week, as you’ll recall, I ran a contest to see what contest I would have to give away a copy of Coffee Shop. And now – at last! — the time has come for that contest to be run.

So: Want a free copy of my sold-out-before-publication book, You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop To a Coffee Shop: Scalzi on Writing? Here’s what you do:

1. Imagine I have released a book in the year 2009.

2. Imagine you really really really hate it.

3. Write a review that expresses the full extent of your loathing. Post it in the comment thread to this entry.

4. Extra points for being mercilessly and gratuitously cruel. Even more extra points if you quote excerpts, and even more extra points if the excerpts actually read like me.

5. Post the review here by 11:59:59 Eastern, Thursday, March 8, 2007.

I will read the “reviews” and pick my favorite; that person shall win the coveted copy of Coffee Shop. I’ll announce the winner by next Monday.

Now, two things:

* One scathing review per participant. So make it good.

* Remember that this scathing review is for a book I have not written. Please do not post scathing reviews of books I have written, even if, in fact, you think those books actually kinda suck. Among other things, reviews of books I have actually written will be disqualified from consideration for the prize. I may also delete them simply to keep the thread on topic.

Now, you may ask: What sort of horrible book have I written that you will hate so damn much? Well, I leave that up to you; I am sure you all, in your fertile imaginations, can imagine any number of ways in which I could well and truly suck. Frankly, I can’t imagine you folks will need any help working on that one. I’m a pretty big target after all. So fire away.

I can’t wait.

74 Comments on “The Official “Win a Copy of Coffee Shop” Contest: Your Scathing Book Review”

  1. Ok, here goes nothing… I tried to pretend I was writing for a progressive college newspaper. Man, it just flowed

    A Reader’s Nightmare

    I have just finished John Scalzi’s latest novel in the Android’s Dream universe, The Return of the Lamb of The Android’s Dream. Right now I feel like scooping my eyeballs out with a spoon and cleansing the sockets with bleach. A more insipid, joyless novel I’ve never come across. Well, perhaps it’s not quite as bad as a work by Dan Brown, but that’s like saying wading though three feet of fecal matter is not quite as bad as doing the same through four feet of the stuff. After five novels in the Android’s Dream universe and ten (ten!) in the Old Man’s War universe, we get it John Scalzi. You’ve run out of ideas, but can recycle old one’s at a prodigious pace. Unfortunately, the end product is the Ipecac of literature, except less pleasant.
    As usual, Sclazi seems unable to resist injecting his neocon, Heinleinesque philosophy into his science fiction. He revels in the use of violence as a problem solving tool throughout this novel. It’s the same tired plot he’s used over and over. Assassinations, murder, gun fights, you name it; these atrocities appear with frightening regularity. And when violence won’t turn the trick, base blackmail saves the day. All to forward the policies of a future US still on the reprehensible course of imperialism.

    Yes, unfortunately in this particular future the US still exists. Although there is mention of a world-wide government, presumably run by the UN, the preeminent power on Earth is still the United States. He never explicitly spells it out, but it’s easy to infer his glorifying of US hegemony in the subtext. There’s lip service given to diplomacy, but it’s mostly used to further the insular interests of the United States, regardless of the effect policy may have on other species or cultures. In other words, the same old same old.

    And let us not forget the shadowy religion pulling strings behind the scenes. He just can’t let go of his Church of Evolved Lamb as a literary device; this is the fourth novel in which they appear. While the surface similarities seem to draw parallels to Scientology, this church is nowhere near as benign. Manipulating political and economic policies over large periods of time to achieve its own insular, near-sighted goals… Hm, sound familiar? Yes, it is more Roman Catholic than the positive, life affirming religion he poorly attempts to lampoon. The Evolved Lamb is just a fancy way of saying they want a docile, compliant population. Easily controlled by those who currently hold the reins of power. Way to perpetuate the tenets of a decrepit, decaying theological framework.

    Now, if Scalzi had taken a different direction, perhaps if he had painted a bleak, stark dystopian vision of the future that incorporated these elements, he may have actually created a story worth reading. Instead he takes the easy way out by dumping his repugnant vision of how the world of tomorrow will be if the neocons have their way. Murder, violence, deception and religious domination.

    I seriously cannot recommend this book to anyone. If you do end up buying this trash, I suggest you take it along when camping. Just in case you forget to pack toilet paper.

  2. Choose Your Own Adventure is dead. Someone forgot to tell John Scalzi.

    The opening scene of Platypussy belongs scrawled on the back of a junior high bathroom stall. If you, the dashing computer nerd agent / blogger trying to save the world from the giant lesbian Platypussies, choose to face the malefic multi-pouched marsupials by cramming the bong-like object up your rear and farting the alphabet until they drift to sleep in order to bring harmony to the universe, turn to page 57.

    If you, a grown adult who spent $45 on the collector’s edition so you could have your name listed as one of the unlucky villagers who were squashed during the Mating Season, choose to spend an afternoon expanding your mind, put down the book. Sit on your hand. Fart. Lift hand to nose. Breathe in.

  3. Perhaps when Scalzi penned You’re Only Fooling Your Mother When You Take Your Laptop To a Laundromat: Scalzi on Even More Writing, he was only trying to fool his mother. Anyone else who takes even a cursory glance at this tome will not be fooled that has has anything worthwhile to say about writing.

    Not that Scalzi has much to say at all. Half of this book is filled with examples drawn from his own pathetic attempts at fiction, such as last year’s Sheep Brigades, (as if they were the epitomy of fine literature). To almost completely remove the need for fresh content, each of the brief chapters starts with either a lengthy quote from his daughter or comments from his “Whatever” blog.

    It is truly unfortunate that his publishers didn’t realize that his previous highly successful book on writing did not require a sequel.

  4. Review of: AYN RAND’S DREAM
    By: John Scalzi

    When John Scalzi published his much-acclaimed THE ANDROID’S DREAM in 2007, little did we know that he had used up his last original ideas in its writing, and would base an entire series on the concept that made that book famous: THE WIZARD’S DREAM, THE CAT-LOVING SLEUTH’S DREAM, CHOOSE YOUR OWN DREAM, and now, his most recent work, AYN RAND’S DREAM.

    The beginning of this book does nothing to disguise the author’s dependence on the much-overused gag that defines the series:

    “Ayn Rand didn’t know if she could fart her way into an extremely influential philosophical movement. But she was ready to find out.”

    CHOOSE YOUR OWN DREAM was by far the worst-reviewed of the series to date, exhorting readers, as it did, to choose the meal which immediately preceded the opening gaseous jest. I think, however, AYN RAND will surpass CHOOSE YOUR OWN as the rock bottom of this increasingly feeble-minded series, even as it skyrockets onto the New York Times bestseller list.

    Mr. Scalzi, ballooning sales numbers to the contrary, beginning each of your books with a chapter-long fart joke is not the way to win fans. It worked once, to be sure, but I think I speak on behalf of all of your readers when I say, Let it go already.

  5. One Minute Reviews:

    Keepers of the Moon God – John Scalzi
    What has 341 pages and reads like the aborted love-child of Heinlein and Dick? Why, the world’s most overpriced window prop, of course!

  6. Sneak Preview of “A (Secret) Agent to the Stars”

    Just when I thought that science fiction literature had begun to reach a new zenith in the works of John Ringo, David Weber, and the like, compelling evidence to the contrary comes along. John Scalzi, who is almost certainly better remembered for such compelling novels as Old Man’s War and The Android’s Dream has really and truly Lost It. Attempting to speculate what Mr. Scalzi’s thought processes were when he wrote A(S)AttS is nigh-upon impossible, unless you have recently had a full frontal lobotomy.

    The story revolves around the character of a genetically engineered, cybernetically augmented feline in the service of the Royal Dauphine, Magnesia. I think that’s supposed to be funny, but it’s quite possible that the book is intended as torture; it’s not very clear which it is. In case the utter vapidity of the book is not quite clear, let’s just say that it defies physics and probability by getting worse from there. To wit:

    Dauphine: “Oh, my dear agent! You’ve been hurt! Your bacon armor has been torn apart!”
    Agent Perryneal: “IM WAS PWNED IN UR YARD!”

    Mr. Scalzi seems to think that because his (what used to be called) blog called “Whatever” was successful in both generating story ideas and sales that he doesn’t need to exert effort to write anymore, a disappointment when looking at his past body of work. In addition, he has the misguided notion that both he and his blog’s audience are both relevant and interesting. Maybe I’ll visit there and leave a picture in a language suitable for his consumption: “UR TEH SUX!”

    –C. Felix Garfield, The New York Times Book Review, 24 April 2009

  7. [This is out of love and/or envy and/or because you literally asked for it.]

    What happened to the Young Lion of the Spaceways? For the last two years, speculative fiction fans have been shaking their heads over the mysterious implosion of the award-winning author once called John Scalzi. His sudden appearance and…whatever happened…on the literary stage redefined (or perhaps clarified) the term “meteoric”: it was a streak of radiance snuffed out by an increasingly abrasive atmosphere. Somewhere at the bottom of the gravity well, kinetic energy is inflicting a kilocrapload of damage.

    Most former fans agree that his line of batshit loopyswirls was crossed last year. Several online forums still debate whether the trigger was geometric prolificacy or the personal tragedy that, out of respect, I will not recap here. (Everybody reading this already knows about his daughter’s trial, anyway. But seriously, little girls should not be allowed to build jet packs, or arm them with homemade explosives. Baaad parenting!) Anyway, he sucked ever since. When Scalzi legally dropped his first name in August of 2008, he had finished his third sequel to The Last Colony. Scalzi was still calling TLC “the last book in the Old Man’s War universe.” Young Man At Peace was critically panned and commercially ignored. By November, he had finished his fourth crossover novel (One Sheep, Two Sheep, Old Man, Blue Sheep) awkwardly connecting the so-called Perryverse and Sheeptrices. “I wanted to see if I could write a novel in the second person, and you better believe you still got it!” Scalzi wrote on his long-running personal web page. By this point, Scalzi’s publishers were passing on his manuscripts. His John W. Campbell award was rescinded, which was an unprecedented censure by the science fiction community.

    His latest disappointment, Uncle Ruff’s Guide To Sci Fi Movie Money, is available in e-book form from, a hitherto unknown publishing company. Please remember to update your antivirus software. The only way to enjoy this book is not to read it. Don’t even pirate it. Out of a grim sense of duty and guilt, I did both.

    The Uncle Ruff’s Guide To Sci Fi Movie Money collects the poorly edited ravings of a necrotic brain. Look, I adore the works of Faulkner. I reread the “retard caveman” sequence in Alan Moore’s A Voice in the Fire every two or three months, and fall in love with that poor kid every time. Last October I got about twenty pages into Finnegan’s Wake. I can recognize when an avant–garde text requires a bit of work to decipher; the reward is well worth it. This nonsense isn’t even close. Passages like, “Ground 4 reel to reel malc Matrix Reloaded beleaguered Jedi’s Return 300 kajillion times!!!!” ensure that– Well, I was going to say “Scalzi won’t be getting the Nobel Prize in Literature any time soon,” but that would be a cheap shot. I just hope he finds the help he needs.

    The title seems to refer to his non-fiction roots, but discerning any kind of thematic underpinning is nigh impossible. There are repeated collections of words which might describe a character, inconsistently referred to as John, Malcolm, or Steve Timberlake, as he navigates badly formatted Excel spreadsheets depicting Hollywood blockbuster earnings. I think. A good third of the e-book’s 1400 pages consist of those charts! The numbers, of course, are pure fantasy. Garishly colored sidebars push deep into the body of the text, offering non sequiturs such as, “blad (sic) zippers Mothra back drop another million yen.”

    The Timberlake “character” appears to have a loosely defined arc. The initial sets of movie titles and what could be financial figures are accompanied by Timberlake’s comments, which could very well be connected. For example, “Solaris 46 mill when Criterion Lem has Clooney space dove. John Timberlake said, ‘Number too low, revise revise!’ said malcolm Stever-T.” Near the end of the text, the Timberlake character gives a long and stately monologue about alien creatures in a ritual knife fight. It’s by far the highlight of the entire novel, if only because it uses complete sentences. [Editor’s note: This sequence appears to be a chapter cut and pasted from Scalzi’s first major novel, Old Man’s War.] Adjunct English professors from the world of tomorrow have the only chance of gleaning any meaning from this rubbish. Scalzi, seriously, what the hell?

    Djscman’s review blurb for Uncle Ruff’s Guide To Sci Fi Movie Money: Pure Fantasy!

    Nicholas Bear for, online in the January 2010 archive section

    Ever since he increased his output from one or two books a year and three to four blog posts a day to five-six novels a year and twenty to thirty posts on his Whatever blog, I have lost interest in reading John Scalzi (TM)’s works of an ever decreasing lamentable quality. Something I read last week on DoingDoing (more specifically, the discovery of one of his ghost writers’ name, one Robert Anson Lovecraft) made go online at (the recenntly google-refurbished online bookstore that took’s place in the buyers’ hearts) and order his latest tree-killer, YOUNG MAN’S WAR. DoingDoing speculated that this book might be the work of R. A. Lovecraft, based on the fact that it was about a young man and it had an asylum in it. I had previously read a couple of R. A. Lovecraft juveniles, liked them moderately and decided to see if, not like the other presumed ghost writers employed by John Scalzi (TM), he might have given a much-needed CPR to this dying (to me, at least) brandname.
    Unfortunately, such was not the case. And I can affirm with 99,9% certitude that this particular novel, YOUNG MAN’S WAR, is not R.A.L.’s work, or, if it is, he’s managed a terrific job of sounding exactly like the guy he’s writing for.
    The plot is an over-complicated rehash of Scalzi (TM)’s debut novel, OLD MAN’S WAR. But, instead of an old man seeking purpose and rejuvenation by joining the army, YMW features a young man who’s seeking for a way to contract progeria, so he might accelerate his aging, so that he will qualify for the rejuvenation process that comes with joining the army, hoping that this will help him start over a life that he has irremediably fucked up (and down and sideways). As a patented loser, our hero fails getting admitted in the army and ends in an asylum. The last 500 of the book’s (too many!) 890 pages tell of his repeated attempts to escape and try to redeem himself. In the spirit of all the post-Bush American military science fiction, there’s a happy ending: the hero escapes the asylum, finally manages to join the army, is rejuvenated and becomes a happy five-year-old trainee sent to Battle Academy.
    There’s hint for a sequel, as our hero meets at Battle Academy two familiar characters from another overlong literary franchise. Can you guess? Naaah, I won’t make you buy the book just to find this out: the familiary characters’ names are Ender and Bean. Does that ring any bell?
    Phew! That was hard, and it really made my compulsory need to finish each book, no matter how stupid, an even less pleasant one. It also decided me to start an online campaign to collect funds much needed to support the victims of acute Scalzi(TM)-phobia. You’ll find more about this campaign at

    Editor’s note: Nicholas Bear is a writer, columnist and reviewer for and other online literary gossip zines. His latest essays collection, WHY SHOULD I CUT YOUR BALLS WHEN I COULD JUST SUCK THEM is available from Golden Unicorn Press, and has received rave reviews from the likes of David Louis Edelman, Jeff VanderMeer, KJ Bishop and others.

  9. “Global Warming is a Big Fat Lie, and Anyone Who Says Otherwise Is a Filthy Child Molester” by John Scalzi

    Ohio is a giant flood plain. This is not entirely a bad thing.

    — Parno Hicks, Critic

  10. Award-winning copywriter John Scalzi, best known for his “Mutton: It’s the leg of a lamb” campaign, has made another tired attempt to revive his flagging reputation as a fiction writer with his new book, “It’s Wool Will Keep My Dreaming Warm”.

    If Scalzi can’t escape his regrettable addiction to writing about himself, this time the tedium is diluted by his inexplicable choice to make his alter ego — actually ego would be more accurate — a woman, Scalza. Naturally, her sidekick is an intelligent sheep, Mutt. And he’s carried the limits on his imaginative powers to their logical conclusion by dropping Mutt and the aging Scalza onto the planet Ohi. Any subtle differences between this snowy planet and his native Ohio are, I’m afraid, beyond the discrimination of this reviewer.

    Scalzi is well known for championing clarity in advertising — he’s one of the founders of “The New Comprehensible” movement. But however laudable the goals of this pompous group might be in the commercial realm, readers are ill-served here. If the dialog starts to sound like Madison Avenue tag lines after the first few dozen pages, readers will be encouraged that it rapidly dwindles, to be replaced by descriptions of “snowy glades barely warmed by the distant suns” and “the crunch of hoverboots skating over the icy lake”. The best thing you can say about Scalzi’s prose style is that it’s as clear as his ad copy.

    Which is not something you can say about the plot. When the gravity fails on Ohi, Scalza and Mutt are as surprised as the author, resulting in a tedious parade of Scalzi’s signature gun battles, the two heroes battling it out with ever more improbable enemies. If I have to read one more explanation of how mass and velocity determine the arc of a bullet in zero gravity, I think I’ll hurl, something that Mutt seems to do all too frequently in response to any impact, fall or wound. The only saving grace is that Mutt soon dies — that’s not a spoiler, Scalzi always kills off the sheep — and won’t be available to pollute the inevitable sequelae. Or for that matter, turn our dreams into nightmares.

  11. Review of “In The Garden of Delights” by John Scalzi

    There is the last book by John Scalzi. Or at least the rest of the civilized world desperately hopes so.

    After his apparent conversion to radical Islam in the spring of 2009 after the election of Jenna Bush to the Presidency, with Barbara Bush as Vice President, the first women ever elected to such national office, which seems to have pushed him over the brink – like so many Americans – and the mysterious disappearance of his wife and daughter (there are rumors of wife-beating and torture, but that’s probably the result of his wife reading the galleys to this book), John Scalzi – known by his new name as Mohammed Lackanookie, but who continues to publish under his infidel name – apparently decided to inflict his pain and suffering on the world.

    To describe “The Gardens of Delight” is as difficult a task as understanding the run-on sentence in that last paragraph. The book – which runs to more than 800 pages – is as confused and difficult to understand as a Thomas Pynchon novel, if Pynchon wrote romantic comedies. But even this description is misleading: the book is difficult to understand, but not because the reader must keep track of so many characters – the last reviewer who tried to keep track is responding to medication quite well, thanks for the get-well wishes! – but because the book reads like a series of sentences simply thrown into a cuisinart and put onto hi-speed blend.

    Perhaps not even sentences: the forward from the publisher, Bob Guccione, apologizes to the reader for inflicting the book on anyone besides trained Jesuit priests, but everyone understood the reasons that the book was published (we understand that almost half of the body parts have been recovered and that a ceremony can be held in the near future for at least 300 of the victims).

    What is, exactly, then, “The Garden of Delights”?

    It is, at best, the product of a deranged mind, a hateful mind, Hannibal Lector on a really bad hair day. “The Garden of Delights” celebrates torture, would make the Marquis de Sade jealous in its tales of sexual perversities (this reviewer will never look at iguanas and donkeys without becoming physically ill again), is incoherent in its political rambling and calls for death and destruction. It is not so much the call for death and destruction, but much more the incoherence that charachterizes this hopefully last work of Scalzi.

    Yet the author describes it as “a utopian adventure and romantic comedy”.

    There is still public debate about the novel and the events leading up to it. Why, we are not certain. Perhaps the fact that John Scalzi is still out there somewhere, a free man, after inflicting so much pain and misery upon the world in order to get this novel published. There are those who insist that the novel be confiscated and destroyed, so that no other aspiring writer follows in his footsteps.

    The academic world, however, does not agree, and this is perhaps the only group that actually refers to Scalzi by his wrting name and not as he is usually known, “The Butcher of Bakersfield”.

    Let us try, though, to give sense to the novel. “The Garden of Delight” starts off badly enough, with a hair-raising tale of death and mutilation of children by the protaganist, Mr. Peeps. The sickness of the portrayal – Mr. Salzi’s knowledge of human anatomy is quite detailed – and the sheer terror of having children serially tortured is nightmarish at best and horribly appalling in any case.

    The hate that percolates through the book is as palpable as the hate that Mr. Scalzi apparently succumbed to after the collapse of the Clinton/Obama campaign in the days leading up to the election. His wife, before her disappearance, spoke darkly of drinking and the development of unhealthy appetites for things stolen from cemetaries. The disappearance of children from the neighborhood and the finding of their gnawed bones gives credence to her desperate calls to 911 and makes the inaction of the police even stranger.

    This is not merely the hate of a political opportunist or political hack: this is the hate of someone who became the Bakersfield Butcher, and only by reading the novel can you really understand that.

    Once you have been introduced to Mr. Peeps, the novel springs back and forth between the past, the future and the present. Scalzi fails utterly to make any sense of time at all, leading the reader to try to dicipher such sentences as:

    “She will be twisted under the pain of the broken leg, having remembered the events of the next ten days, and will be coming to understand the misery that she had inflicted on Mr. Peeps when he would visit her in three weeks’ time.”

    More we shall not say. There are more than 800 pages of this style, and we recognize that only the threats and terror acts that Mr. Scalzi inflicted on Bakerfield can explain that it was published anywhere. The novel is the work of a truly deranged mind, and the copycat killings in Canton, Ohio and Moscow, Idaho underscore the noxious effects of the novel on the feeble-minded and weak-willed.

    The critical reader will ask why the new Bush administration is considering banning the book: we can only tell that critical reader that in this case, the Bush Administration is right.

    The terror inflicted and the human cost alone are more than adequate reasons to ban this work. This reviewer would go one step further and recommend that all works by John Scalzi be burned, that no one, even in criminology, should teach using the works of John Scalzi, and that the name John Scalzi be forgotten entirely and that his ashes, when he is caught and brought to justice, be strewn upon a public urinal.

    We feel deeply for the parents and relatives of the victims of Mr. Scalzi. Take a stand in this day of ambiguity and do not buy this book: we know that he will, in all likelihood, kill the remaining children if his book doesn’t sell.

    It’s worth it. Our heartfelt apologies to the parents and relatives of this sacrifice, but the world deserves to be cleansed of this writer.

    There are only two redeeming things that can be truly said about this work: that the sheer hideousness is definite proof that, for this atheist, the devil is among us, and secondly that we shall await the second volume of the trilogy with great interest.

    (Our publisher made us put that in, as his daughter went missing at Bakersfield and is reported to be 12th on the list of victims.)

  12. It is this reviewer’s sad duty to acknowledge a new low in the spiraling descent of the new American sci-fi meta-humor alternate-history genre. NewAm-SciFi-MetHum-AltHist was once a thriving force in modern writing, but thanks to the diligent

    efforts of word kiddies like John Scalzi and his blogging counterparts we have arrived at today’s tour de Farce, Scalzi’s “Corner

    Booth.” The aptly named Subterranean Press continues to dig itself deeper, publishing this pap in a limited edition, (each copy

    signed and prayed over by the author), made to look like a playbill from the Ford Theater.

    In a fit of self-obssessed geneaological vanity, Scalzi has composed a 450 page opus in which a supposedly successful and

    internet-famous sci-fi author uses his peculiar combination of moderate wealth and mediocre Photoshop skills to build a time

    machine which allows him to go back in time and right a terrible wrong. I’ll let Scalzi’s level of talent speak for itself, on

    page 195 we read:

    John stood in the alley behind the theater, waiting anxiously for the actors to come out. The machine had worked
    perfectly, it was 6 months before the planned assassination, and now was his chance to set his ancestor straight.
    As John paced the alley he couldn’t stop thinking about what waited for him back home. “This will make the best
    post since that last picture of the dog! I might even have to start a whole subsite devoted to this
    trip. I’ll call it Lincoln Blogs!” Finally, Booth skipped out of the back door, humming slightly to himself.
    John approached him confidently and delivered the line he had prepared, “You don’t know me, but let me tell
    you, your plan sucks!” Booth looked in his general direction, eyes a bit glazed from the post-show drinks,
    and swung wildly, a slow haymaker. John, panicking about the ontological paradox involved in beating up his
    own ancestor, turned and ran, shouting behind him, “Really, jumping from the box, that’s your plan!?” Booth
    looked after him bemusedly, and went to find a bottle and an easy woman.

    As you can see, Scalzi has produced a work worthy of the intellectual love child of Spider Robinson and Bizzaro Heinlein

    (you know, the Heinlein from the alternate universe where he writes talentlessly about alternate universes and time travel). Puns

    and paradox, anachronistic dialog and a ridiculous plot combine in what can only be called a crap romp. In case you’re wondering,

    our hero convinces Booth to poison Lincoln in his sleep, twenty years later, and only after a fifteen page monologue about how much

    he admires him, but how the inflexibility of the space-time continuum requires that he, Booth, be his killer.

    From his promising early days when he only wrote chapter-length fart jokes, Scalzi has dragged us all, kicking and

    screaming, and unwillingly humming Booth’s theme song, “Jack the Knife” (alternate lyrics cruelly provided by Subterranean in the

    end notes), into a world where an atrocity like “Corner Booth” can be published with impunity. If Scalzi dares set one more word

    to paper, limited vellum edition or no, this reviewer may well understand the temptation of the assassin. For now, scraping the

    lingering soil of “Corner Booth” from our brains, we shall live by Scalzi’s motto, “Let’s Hope it Doesn’t Come to That.”

    A Journey Through The Fetid Precincts of the Publishing Industry

    By John Scalzi.

    982 pp. PublishAmerica. $68.
    Readers’ Opinions
    Forum: Book News and Reviews

    In early 2007, John Scalzi announced the dawn of “The New Comprehensible”. And with the publication of “Into The Lion’s Den”, he has clearly abandoned his pet movement. The dust jacket describes the book as a “caustic expose’ of the cesspit that is the modern publishing industry”. Mr. Scalzi wishes to join a growing number of writers, filmmakers and recording artists who appear on the scene, garner well-earned praise (and sales), and then go on to avenge themselves on their benefactors by charging them with abandoning art and truth (except, perhaps, in their decision to have brought the artists’ works to the public, which we’re left to infer was their last enlightened act before they gave themselves over to full decline).

    All of this might be an entertaining jaunt (at 1/3rd the word count), but he does not remotely succeed at his stated mission. Consider the first paragraph of Chapter Three: Practices in Printing.

    “Contaminated wipes may be regulated as hazardous waste and can be a source of regulatory problems. Also, significant VOC emissions and personnel exposure are associated with press cleaning operations. If the shop towels are laundered, make certain that the towels are being handled properly. Dry cleaning may also be an option for used shop towels. An annual visit to the laundry facility should be part of the waste management program in order to review the handling procedure for your wipes. The printer may need guidance from a technical assistance person on what to ask and how to interpret the answers. Check with the local POTW (publicly owned treatment works) that services the laundry to determine if the laundry is complying with sewerage discharge limits. A written description of how the printer’s towels are handled should be requested from the laundry and kept on file. Note that the regulations about shop towels have been changing in recent years. Check with the proper regulatory authorities for the latest statutes.”

    Does Mr. Scalzi truly think his readers are interested in this arcane subject matter? And though I applaud experimentation with forms of structure and presentation, what possible justification can he offer for subjecting us to a work that contains four chapters consisting solely of haiku in transliterated Sumerian? Is there really an audience champing at the bit for page after page of binary code? And while it may have been cute, in previous volumes to see fictional characters named after his friends and fellow authors, the 38-page chapter “People I’ve Heard Of” is clearly a useless exercise in name-dropping.

    The only thing made clear by this book is that Mr. Scalzi has made enough money and has no intention of ever earning any more.

  14. All About Sam by John Scalzi
    Just what the hell happened here?

    You may have known John Scalzi as a prolific writer of science fiction (2005’s Old Man’s War), high fantasy (2008’s A Dragon Awakening) and low humor (the perennial Book of the Dumb series, incorporating Book of the Dumb 1 and 2, Book of the Dumber, Book of the Spectacularly Dumb, and last years Look People, You’re All a Bunch of F***ing Idiots, Stop Making My Job So Easy.

    I say “may have known” because while All About Sam is attributed to the previously well-regarded John Scalzi, it reads like the deranged scribblings of an inbred, half-witted mouthbreather with a personal vendetta against God, country, and you, the reader.

    This fourth installment in the Android’s Dream universe focuses on a bit character from the first book: the excruciatingly gender-neutral Sam. It was a fun trick the first time around, where Scalzi carefully tiptoed around the issue of Sam’s gender. Each of Sam’s scenes was crafted in such a way as to give the reader no clues as to Sam’s personal equipment, leaving the reader to wonder whether key characters were gay, straight, or into smooth-crotched androgynes of the future.

    Like I say, a fun trick. If the reader had any experience with Scalzi’s nonfiction, particularly his daily (or when on deadline, thrice-daily) blog, “The Whatever,” it was clear Scalzi was making a subtle, winking statement about gay rights. But hanging an entire sf book around the concept is…well, I’ll put it this way: In the continuum of bad ideas, All About Sam‘s premise ranks somewhere between polyester underwear and the Third Reich.

    By the end of the third page, we get the joke. Yes, you’re not telling us Sam’s gender. Clever Scalzi, here’s a cookie. By the end of the fourth page, we’re already wondering how long he can possibly keep it up. By the six hundred and seventeenth page, we’re fantasizing about tracking Scalzi down, backing him into a corner, and beating him about the head and neck with this overlong, overwrought waste of paper until he both confirms Sam’s gender and swears by all the gods he believes in never to write again.

    It’s not that Sam is completely worthless. There are high points; one memorable scene features freelance policewoman Cherie Doctorow squaring off against international terrorist China Gaiman in a particularly well-crafted fight scene, peppered with dialogue displaying Scalzi’s familiar blend of sharp wit and scatological humor. Another clever scene involves physicist Tobias Nielsen Hayden, a room full of radioactive scorpions, and a case of Easy Cheese. (I won’t get into specifics, as I don’t want to spoil it for you should you ever decide, against my warnings and the will of all that is holy, to purchase this book.)

    So yes, there are moments where you won’t want to drive a fountain pen deep into your ear. But all the good (or at least, tolerable) scenes in this profoundly flawed work share one thing in common: The main character is not in them. When Scalzi lets Sam wander off to be excruciatingly asexual offstage, we see glimmers of his (at this point, we must assume former) skill as a writer and storyteller.

    The problem is, Scalzi is so in love with his own cleverness that, in the entire course of this almost impressively awful work, he gives the reader a reprieve from Sam exactly four times. Of the six hundred or so pages, I counted exactly twenty-three that did not star the titular hero. (Heroine? Ah Christ, my head!) To be fair, though, I may have miscounted, as the tears of agony made it difficult to read the page numbers from time to time.

    In case I haven’t been clear enough in relating how I feel about this book, allow me to sum up:

    The fact that this book actually managed to make it to market without imploding from its own foul weight is compelling proof that there is no God.

    Now excuse me while I go wash.


    Review of: The Defiled Warrior by John Scalzi

    Campbell Award-winning author John Scalzi has, in the past, admitted the difficulty in writing love scenes for his work. One might suggest that given this acknowledged weakness, he would avoid filling his latest tome, The Defiled Warrior, with enough sexual content to make even the most jaded internet-porn auteur blush.

    Then again, no one ever accused Mr. Scalzi of being a great decision-maker. He does choose to live in Ohio, after all. Yet to call his new work “tripe” would be an insult to the first, second, and third stomachs of ruminants worldwide. The Defiled Warrior is best described as sub-tripe; perhaps originating from the abomasum or duodenum regions.

    The hubris with which Scalzi hoists his nonsense upon what has (until now but undoubtedly never again will be) been a dedicated, loyal audience, is patently offensive and makes one question whether he has taken up smoking opium. Consider this ludicrous offering from the book’s exposition:

    Cpl. Yorke’s exoskeleton unfolded into what seemed to Jennie a hundred segments. His taupe skin radiated a firm but exotic beauty, reminding her of the sun that warmed her skin on the ore ranch upon which she spent her childhood. As his

    I apologize to the reader. My fingers will not cooperate to transcribe from my preview copy any further, as Mr. Scalzi’s prose is simply too disagreeable for them. One hopes The Defiled Warrior is never translated into Braille, as it would surely render any reader to become immediately illiterate.

    The repetition by which Mr. Scalzi emphasizes key qualities of his characters resonates like a jackhammer upon the reader’s skull, or much like the series of television spots for recently-disgraced analgesic “Head-On” did for viewers several years ago. It is enough to mention the size of Colonel Kryx’s phlebmotes once, or at most twice; the repeated use of “gargantuan” and “prodigious” demonstrates no writing skill other than that of consulting a thick thesaurus, which is to say no writing skill at all.

    It is unfortunate that Mr. Scalzi took it upon himself to shove several flathead screwdrivers into his skull mere hours after President Huckabee’s election this past November. His loyal readers will, inevitably, wish he had at least waited until the final revision of The Defiled Warrior was finished before undertaking his fateful self-lobotomy. Alas, we are left to consider the loss of his writing skill more collateral damage of that sad, fateful day.

    1/2 of 5

  16. I’m sorry I have to comment because I am laughing myself to tears…
    PLEASE STOP! Let me wallow in my horrible day. No funniness allowed! Bitte..BITTE!
    I will not interrupt the thread again.

  17. John Scalzi, the Campbell Award-winning author once heralded as the crossover artist that science fiction had been waiting for, has managed to the impossible with his new novel, The Lawn of Youth. Not only is the book banned in every library and bookstore across America (even San Francisco has held a “Scald Scalzi Day” where people brought copies of Lawn to Golden Gate Park to hurl them into cauldrons of boiling oil, all done on the city’s dime), but it has alienated every stratum of science fiction fandom with its incomprehensible mixture of pop culture references, big explosions, hackneyed plot devices, and…

    And the squid scenes. God help me, but my editor made me read those parts, just to see if they’re as bad as everyone’s said. No, they’re not that bad. They’re worse. Whatever has cracked Scalzi’s brain to create scenes of anthropomorphic depravity (I mean…squid? What kind of freak writes cephalopod erotica?), it’s enough to warrant a new entry in the DSM-V.

    Writers have been known for displaying contempt for their audiences (for instance, Orson Scott Card’s new collection of essays, Why You’re Always Wrong, and David Brin’s Why I’m Always Right), but Scalzi’s raw loathing for his readers leaps out like one Central Park flasher after another. The worst part about this constant assault is that, somehow, the reader does not become inured. In fact, Scalzi’s bile just seems more personal the farther the reader gets, like he’s daring them to put down the book but knows the reader won’t because then Scalzi will think the reader is a pussy (in fact, there is a chapter entitled “John Scalzi Thinks You’re A Pussy,” right before the tentacles come out in a mind-scarring passage that decency and federal hate crime law prohibits this publication from reprinting. Thank God).

    Take, for instance, this scene where the supposed hero, diplomat/war veteran/celebrity chef Archimedes Singh (whose job, assigned from the kind of shadowy super-governmental agency that seems to exist just to give hacks like Scalzi an excuse to write, is to find a lawn covered by a species of alien grass that brings immortality and potency, a theme that pops up with uncomfortable regularity in Lawn) engages in clumsy foreplay with Marjorie Dew, a horticulturist with an unquenchable desire for sex (yeah, like we’ve all seen that before):

    “You are out of your mind,” said Marjorie, her eyes damp from the onions.

    “That’s what everyone said about me,” said Archimedes, throwing the mirepoix in the sizzling pan. The oil spat at him, like it was trying to burn his cock. Just like everyone else, he thought, stirring the onions and wishing he’d gotten dressed before he’d started cooking. “It doesn’t matter if it’s my boss or my parents or those fucking losers on the Internet who keep saying I don’t know my way around a kitchen, they all think I’m nuts.” He banged the pan, his head reeling from the heady aromas of sauteed vegetables and Marjorie’s sex, which stared at him as she perched on the counter.

    She reached out and threw the pan aside, spattering the onions and oil against the wall. “I’ll show you nuts,” she said, and she mounted him.

    “Fuck you fanboys,” grunted Archimedes as he reached for the pepper mill. “I’m gonna get mine.”

    …and so on, for six hundred execrable pages. That this swill ever made it to print is yet another example of the decline of literacy in the Web 3.0 world. You’d have a more enlightened evening watching PooTube or Googling yourself. No matter how much you love books, The Lawn of Youth will make you curse the day you learned to read. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

  18. Rolling Stone
    August 2009

    “Fear and Loathing in Ohio”
    Christopher W. Shipley

    We were somewhere outside Columbus when the drugs began to kick in…two bags of pot and a suitcase full of coke and crystal meth. I don’t know how I ended up out here in the asshole of America, all I wanted was an interview with Scalzi so I could make the editors happy, and here I am in his cherry-red convertible caddy, doing ninety down I-70. He’s wearing this stupid “Scalzi Produce” soccer shirt that some Australian fan sent him years ago, biting down on a cigarette as he leans over the steering wheel. His eyes are wild and he takes his eyes off the road for far too long when he looks at me.
    “You don’t understand the fucking Scalziverse, man, no one understands it!”
    I’ve never seen someone smoke this much meth without his or her head exploding, yet this maniac is driving a car and raving about his latest book, “Old Man’s War: Episode II”, a piece of crap even by teenage crack whore standards, but Scalzi thinks it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.
    “It’s the mythology, man, the fucking mythology! That’s what’s so goddamned important about my books! Nobody gets it! They all want to be entertained!
    Between rants about cats and bacon I try to get a word in edgewise, but it’s useless; that 8-ball we did back in his dilapidated house is making my brain mush and I can’t formulate the questions I need to ask. His ex-wife gave me a short telephone interview back in LA before I flew out here, and she told me their marriage ended because of the mythology issue. “He was a talented writer, before he became obsessed with the mythology. Something happened after ‘The Last Colony’ was released. This whole storyline evolved with the twin children of Jane Sagan and John Perry, and John starts wearing a black, armored suit…”
    I spent a week struggling through “OMW: Episode II” and I won’t suggest anyone else try it. As if we haven’t seen enough of this “Scalziverse” already: between the “Dream” franchise and the belabored “OMW” series, he now adds a new dimension of garbage with “Episode II”: a rebellion amidst the CDF galactic empire, an old race of “knights” resurrected by Liam Sagan-Perry and a space princess called Lee that Liam is lusting after. Haven’t we seen this before?
    Scalzi’s ex-wife laments the loss of his talents, as do we all. She told me, “He was a visionary before this madness took control, and his vision of the world of tomorrow was incredible.” Well, if “Episode II” is the world of tomorrow, I’ll take the world of yesterday, thank you. Now, if only the goddamned bats would go away…

  19. “There comes a time when necrophilia begins to look not just bad but tacky, and John Scalzi, with Perry’s Aliens, his annual humping-Heinlein exercise in techno-fetishism and military hagiography, has reached it. Many readers rightly questioned Scalzi’s agenda with his Writing Outside a Garret Means You’re a Poseur, and those concerns have, unfortunately, been justified in Scalzi’s latest literary excretion.

    “Bad enough readers are treated to yet another vampiric attempt suck the talent from Heinlein’s corpse–c’mon, John, he’s been dead for thirty years, there’s no juice left in the body!–but the transformation of John Perry into a Jubal Harshaw-like character, complete with his new first name “Lazarus,” can only convince the discerning reader that whatever meager charms Scalzi’s initial books had have long since departed him.

    “Libel laws forbid us from raising the issue of Athena Scalzi’s contributions to Scalzi’s work. We can only speculate that, that she writes her own novels, the fabulously successful ‘Snow Days on Pluto’ series, she probably has little time to contribute to Scalzi’s novels, and so no hypothetical ghost-writing could be taking place.

    “It’s true that Perry’s Aliens isn’t as bad as Scalzi’s last ‘humor’ book, Animals You Can Tape Bacon To, Part #37. But neither is a root canal as bad as a spinal tap.

    “Scalzi makes much of the snow which cuts off his Xanadu-like compound from the rest of the world nine months of the year. We can only hope it will cut off his communication with his publisher twelve months of the year.”

  20. Scalizi’s new romance novel answers with a resounding “no” the question can a writer can creatively bounce back from a year of heroin and horse tranquilizer abuse. His surprising downward spiral started after the coup and unanimous reelection of President-For-All-Time Bush. Not long after the election he could be seen on street corners in small towns in Ohio with hypodermic needles dangling from both eyeballs holding a sign that read, “Will blow for smack.”

    It’s admirable when someone has fallen so far makes a triumphant return to his chosen field. Last year Bill Clinton recovered finally from his eight years as president and returned to prostitution (his first true love, he admitted) and this year Rush Limbaugh also returned to fellating strangers in alleys. Scalzi though, is not so lucky.

    The first sign that something is really amiss is the title of the book, “Greasepaint on my Scrotum.” The text of the book surprisingly, not only has no clowns, it also makes no mention of the male nut sack. Fans of slapstick teabagging will have to wait for some other book to fill their needs. What this book does have is suicidal teenagers (six before I stopped counting), potty mouthed senior citizens (picture four Alan Arkins from Little Miss Sunshine without the amazing dialogue), a talking dog and cat, a super hero-like character that is based on either Superman or Batman or he could be their autistic son and a half-naked Indian that seems to have been lifted straight out of the “Wayne’s World 2” movie. He attempts to weave these myriad characters into a fast paced romantic comedy but the story never really gets off the ground. You do end up hoping the story resolves itself in the style of a Shakespearean tragedy. What can you say about a book written so badly that you wish everyone in it was dead?

    The writing is atrocious. Picture Christopher Moore with all the punch lines blacked out, Elmore Leonard with no dialogue or Danielle Steel without using the letter ‘E.’ Here’s an example of an exchange between the talking dog, Horass and one of the foul mouthed grandfathers:

    “What have I got in my pocket?” asked Horass.
    “You don’t have a godd*mn motherf*cking pocket.” said Bill.
    “Go ahead, guess.”
    “You don’t have a godd*mn motherf*cking pocket!” screamed Bill.
    “Suppose I had a pocket. What would I keep in it?”
    “You don’t have a motherf*cking godd*mn pocket!” roared Bill.
    On the balcony above Joanne leaned over to Samantha and said, “If I was dead would you love me more?”
    “Yes,” Samantha whispered into Joanne’s fake ear.

    I could go on but I don’t want to crack open this embarrassing novel ever again. I would warn everyone to steer clear of this book in your favorite bookstore but it really is so bad that the chance that your bookstore will stock it for more than four hours the first day it hits the street are pretty slim. Landfills across America are going to fill up with this book in such huge numbers that thousands of years for now when archeologists dig up our dumps they will think a well known author named John Scalzi declared himself more popular than Allah. In reality, he just wrote the shittiest book of the early 21sty century.

  21. It Was Free and We want Our Money Back
    The AI’s Fitful Night’s Rest by John Scalzi

    We here at Scathing Reviews got our grubby mitts on a ARC of His Holiness John Scalzi’s latest ramblings in ink, The AI’s Fitful Night’s Rest, the long awaited sequel to his run away hit screed, The Android’s Dream.

    The second book of what Mr. Scalzi has threatened to be his magnum opus trilogy of five books, started with an alien being insulted to death by flatulence. After reading this pile of paper, I now have a new won sympathy for that maligned alien.

    While the story continues the missions of our hero, Harry Creek, and his efforts to reunite a shattered AI personality, this really isn’t anything more than a blatant stealing of Gibson’s Neuromancer, poorly shoe-horned into John’s existing universe. While it is nice to see some favorite characters from the author’s previous works reappear, most are only making stage calls. I would say these old friends didn’t advance the plot, but to see if that was true I would first have to find the plot, which John Scalzi seems to have forgotten to put into this book.

    To say this bound paper stack was specifically targeted to brain-dead, prepubescent 6th graders would be an insult to the demographic that really expect more from the bathroom humor in this book. Although we feel that this is the market John was aiming for.

    At this point in the review we typically spoil the plot and what few surprises the author may have cooked up in their twisted little minds by giving tantalizing clues and quoting important passages. We at SR feel the less said about the contents of this book the better, reversing a two-decade long established tradition. Alas, for this book there is not a plot to spoil, although the book already has a spoiled smell about it. Instead your humble reviewer decided it was better to sleep on the issues, and see if daylight would either shine light on the subject, or at least provide an imaginative antiseptic to the festering wounds this book left in my mind.

    So, having retired to my bed, I fell into my own fitful sleep, disturbed by the numerous times I awoke to go dry-heave into the sink from the after effects of the stilted prose. And in those moments of rest I was visited by three ghosts. First up was Robert Heinlein who asked, “What Navy did this puke ship out with, Bolivia’s Salt Water Fleet? It’s nonsensical given his history that he could write about these subjects.” Robert then put a goonie hat on his head and disappeared. Next, I was confronted by a jovial Philip K. Dick, munching on a tofurkey leg. He said, “My cup runs over, but you better stop this guy before he rips off my Man in the High Castle or I’ll send him some of my dreams.” He then opened his robe to show me two AI’s trapped in child-like automata, he said one was named Colossus, the other was Wintermute. “Beware of them, for written on their brow are the words ‘I/O Error.'” When asked what this meant, he said, “Figure it out for yourself,” and then he disappeared. Then, the most fearsome of the apparitions appeared. Douglas Adams in a black robe towered over me and I feared him more than the others. Mr. Adams, who spoke not a word, let me know by complex hand signals and nose tweaking that he was so highly upset about the many jokes John had ripped off and the constant allusions to his works that he had temporarily forsaken his “radical atheism” to appear to me in this dream. I asked him what he thought of the latest book and Mr. Adams responded by saying something about it not being worth a pair of Dingo’s kidneys and wouldn’t I just look at this dead body, which was the ARC lying on a stripped bed. Mr. Adams was banished by the sudden appearance of Harlan Ellison who stormed out of my Anxiety Closet, grabbed the ARC, and continued to berate John Scalzi saying that this mound of putrescence masquerading as a book was exactly what he was talking about two years ago when he first entered John’s dreams. He said this while consuming the pages of the ARC. When I finally was able to explain to this Dream Ellison that I wasn’t John. Harlan then hit me up for some maple syrup, Grade C, to get the taste of John’s book out of his mouth. Then he asked for directions to Darke County.

    There is nothing redeemable about this novel, except for the price you’d get per pound of paper from a recycler. Without a doubt, because of this stinkeroo, Mr. Scalzi will be forced to continue abusing us with his writing through Publish America. It’s questionable that even they will accept it, their publishing schedule already full with books of higher quality from Travis Tea and Seymour Knutts. Our only real hope is that John’s large intestine, in an effort to save humanity and the world of tomorrow, leaps through his abdominal wall to throttle him before he can inflict us with any more of this black-hole-of-the-imagination style of scribbling.

    In conclusion, the reviewer suggests that if the reader is given the option of poking their eyes out with hot pokers or poke through this poke of a book, a turn of phrase slightly higher in quality than what you would find in between the covers of this book, buy a red tipped white cane and learn to appreciate Helen Keller jokes. Could the reader do worse than subjecting themselves to The AI’s Fitful Night’s Rest? Only with the use of power tools and a nunnery of sadistic school teachers. The editorial staff here at SR sincerely hope that John Scalzi will find a day job and stop writing. We suggest something with a paper hat. What else can we say except that Tom Doherty must be spinning in his grave, and he isn’t dead, yet. This book might change that, but only if he reads it.

    The AI’s Fitful Night’s Rest by John Sclazi
    No rating, we didn’t want to soil our star system by doing so.

  22. In one of John Scalzi’s earlier works, a character is farted to death. After reading Scalzi’s latest, I know how the poor bastard feels.
    Scalzi’s newest effort, You Suckers Will Buy It Regardless, reads less like he typed it and more like he passed gas in the general direction of the monitor, relying on some sort of sensor to parse his airborne fecal matter into something resembling a book.
    Silent but deadly, indeed.
    Here’s how bad it is: the title is actually the least insulting part of the book.
    My first reaction to reading this steaming pile of wasted atoms was to double-check the author credit and make sure it didn’t actually read “By Athena Scalzi, John’s 10-year-old daughter.” Actually, what I was looking for was “By Athena Scalzi, John’s 10-year-old daughter, after she was abducted by aliens and had her brain replaced with a Honey Bun.” Because this “book” certainly reads like it was written by a 10-year-old girl whose central nervous system is controlled by a glazed pastry.
    You doubt it can be that bad? Consider: In successive chapters, we’re introduced to a unicorn, a princess and a unicorn princess. None of whom, of course, possess even the slightest ability to speak in anything other than prose so dry that next to it, sawdust poses a drowning hazard.
    Scalzi is not practicing writing here; he’s committing it. His writing is inept, the plot is absolutely absurd, the characters could be called parodies _ except parodies are, as a general rule, humorous _ and I don’t even like the font. It looks like Times New Roman threw up on a page.
    And don’t get me started on the author picture. C’mon John. Lighting a cigar with a burning copy of one of Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars books? Classy, fella.
    This may seem like less of a book review and more of an unfounded personal attack. Which is true, except it’s very well-founded. If you don’t believe me, I will allow you to judge for yourself with the following excerpt:

    The unicorn, the princess and the unicorn princess all looked at me expectantly, like they were expecting me to say something. So I did.
    “Hi. I’m Eric Hendrix,” I said, smirking internally at my skillful defusing of the awkward situation. After all, I am 817 years old. This isn’t my first trip around the sun.
    “Janis Baez,” said the princess. “I’m the illegitimate child of Robert Heinlein and Ayn Rand.”
    “Great,” I thought to myself. “A libertarian.”
    “Joan Joplin,” said the unicorn princess.
    “And I’m Jimi Clapton,” the unicorn added. “Now why are we on this spaceship? And why am I green? And what the heck is this thing in my head? It keeps saying that I’ve got an appointment with a large bug re: the eating of my intestines.”
    “Oh, that,” I said, wondering how the unicorn princess would be in the sack. “It’s a thing that gives you information. And it controls your gun. Neato, huh?”

    I would continue quoting from the book, but quite frankly, I’m already reflexively reaching for my revolver. Which is what Scalzi’s editor should have done when he was presented with this sucking chest wound of a book. There’s not a jury in the world that would have convicted the man that stopped this crime against humanity.
    Instead, this is the legacy that we leave the world of tomorrow. I weep for the poor child that, when faced with a choice between this work and Battlefield Earth, picks up this one. At least the Scientologists offer massages.

  23. Something is seriously wrong with John Scalzi.

    I’ve been a little concerned about him since reading The Android’s Dream, and its sequel, A Vision in Wool showed even more worrying signs that his genial exterior hides a deeply warped soul. He has removed all doubt of his illness, however, with his is most recent book, the third and (please, God) final book in the trilogy, I Like to Fuck Sheep.

    Some might argue that his isolated life in rural Ohio has driven him mad. While the insanity is self-evident (e.g. the transparently made-up family he attempts to foist on the readers of his weblog; does he really expect us to believe that a bald dweeb like him can attract a wife as smart, capable, and attractive as “Krissy,” or that any real kid is as precocious as “Athena?”), I cannot help but think that a mind this warped and twisted can only be born, not made.

    This is a demented brick of a book, 773 pages of highly readable prose that describing the most repulsive acts humanly imaginable in loving detail. The plot, such as it is, centers around the efforts of its Mary Sue protagonist, Jack Scalia, to amass, and subsequently violate, an enormous collection of sheep and human-sheep hybrids. If you want a thrilling plot full of interplanetary intrigue, or likable, well-drawn characters, look elsewhere; if you ever wanted an excruciatingly detailed description of how to have intercourse with a barnyard animal in zero gravity, well, then you’re covered.

    Keeping with Scalzi’s desire to have each book stand on its own, it is completely unnecessary to read the previous books in the series in order to “appreciate” the current one. In fact, given the unrelenting repulsiveness of Dream-protagonist Robin Baker’s cameo, it might be better that you not have any prior affection for the character.

    At this point in a review, it might be traditional to quote a segment of the book, so as to give you, gentle reader, a flavor for it. As the family-friendly nature of this publication barely allows me to print the title of this abomination, much less any of its text, I would instead suggest imagining burying oneself in fresh sheep dung and attempting to masturbate. In addition to reenacting one if its early scenes, the resulting experience is likely to be far more pleasant than reading this novel.

  24. I woke up at 4am with the beginnings of a review whirling around in my head.

    “John Scalzi has managed to do it again. I just finished his latest piece of tripe and promptly vomited. At least this time, I managed to have better aim — his work now sits exactly where it belongs: a pile of puke in a pile of puke.”

    It went on from there, but just as I started to fall asleep again, I realized I could compact the whole thing to 17 syllables. So, here is my review:

    His puke is sitting
    in a pile of my puke —
    Right where it belongs.

  25. Considering the staggering commercial and critical success of Spike Jonze’s adaptation of THE ANDROID’S DREAM, last year’s Academy Awards darling and more recently championed by everyone from David Eggars to Saul Bellow, anyone can be forgiven for trying to write like John Scalzi…except perhaps Mr. Scalzi himself.

    Sadly, FABLES OF THE RECONSTRUCTION, Scalzi’s game new effort to match that previous novel’s energy and panache might well have been scrawled out by one of his army of imitators, rather than the man himself. As always, Scalzi may be forgiven for thinking of himself as the cleverest man in the room, but his only partially coherent narrative describing succession of increasingly miniaturized nesting “small worlds” (Scalzi never shies away from using the Disneyworld theme here), leaves the reader in a kind of stunned, tongue-swollen torpor, as if he’d just devoured an entire bag of heavily salted generic snacks followed up with a bag of sand.

    In Scalzi’s worldview, the Intelligent Designers, a freewheeling crew of germplasm graffiti artists and x-ray crystallographers, have miniaturized our failing world into a series of matryoska-doll landscapes of itself, at the center of which the greatest thinkers of our time have been imprisoned as talking babies. Among them is Little Stephen “Look Who’s” Hawking, the reconstructed miniature of the famous astrophysicist, who “stands a scant eighteen inches tall, perfectly infantilized as a polystyrene simulacrum of his namesake, right down to a tiny motorized chair” and smells “vaguely of the synthetic Swedish colostrum marketed as Brest.”

    By his third act Scalzi has dispatched his usual bevy of “wacky” bureaucrats and sarcastic robots to liberate the trapped geniuses but by this time the reader is, if not thoroughly confused, at least interminably exhausted. Like being seduced or tickled by an incompetent lover, Scalzi’s newest effort leaves one with the manhandled sensation of one who overcompensates with lack of finesse by lustily barking enthusiasm.

  26. Scalzi’s latest book, The Logic of Conscience, is a train wreck of mixed metaphors and extemporaneous philosophy. The author obviously has delusions of his latest work achieving the quasi-sacred status of a science fiction epic.

    The thinly plotted story focuses on Candace Gilbert, a young astronomer who is tragically injured during the routine maintenance of a radio telescope. Mangled beyond the repair of even futuristic surgical techniques, she has her consciousness downloaded into a teaching robot (laudably called an Academibot) that is charged with teaching introductory Astronomy to Freshmen College students. Rather than being grateful for a second chance at life, she sinks into a dark depression in which she questions the meaning of existence.

    This is a typical fish-out-of-water story, but Scalzi completely mishandles the potentially bittersweet plot with cheap bathroom humor and melodramatic writing. What was intended to be a deep exploration of the mechanics of thought is a juvenile foray into the repressed sexuality of a female mind trapped in a silicon body. This novel is the geeky fourteen year old male’s dream of masturbatory fodder–science wrapped in a thin veneer of smut. Candace builds elaborate fantasy worlds for herself in the midst of depression that combine the surrealism of a Salvador Dali painting with the perversion of erotic vampire fiction.

    The author attempts to imitate the past grand masters of science fiction by using prose that is not only deriviative, but reeks of narcissism and hubris. Character development is mainly narrative, comprised of a series of internal monologues and poorly contrived interactions with college Freshmen. Moments that could have lent a moment of brevity are instead driven home with the ham fisted technique of an author who barely writes about an eighth grade level.

    This novel would succeed better as a warning to other authors about what happens when ideas are taken too seriously by a mind not capable of embracing the complexity of their truth. The truth of existence is not found through the exploration of fart humor. Do yourselves a favor and leave this book on the shelf.

  27. [B]Old Woman’s TekWar[/B]
    [I]”William Shatner”[/I] & [I]”John Scalzi”[/I]
    Tor Books (June, 2009) 198 pp.

    The ghost-writing duo of Athena and Krissy Scalzi have teamed up with William Shatner’s ghost-writers to produce this latest entry in two interminable series — “Shatner”‘s [i]Tek War[/i] and “Scalzi”‘s [i]Old Man’s War[/i]. Fans of these series will need no explanation, while others will want no reminders.

    Last year’s revelation that all of Scalzi’s work to date had actually been written by his daughter and wife, caused consternation in SF circles for those who had not realized that “John Scalzi” was simply a front for the talented duo. Athena admitted, before an audience at a science-fiction convention last October, that she was also the true author of Scalzi’s weblog, [i]The Whatever[/i]. The team simply use John as the public face for their writing, and disclosed that he actually had very little to do with the books or the web site, “apart from silly ideas like that bacon cat”, as Krissy put it.

    Questioned about why they decided to join with another team for this latest effort, Athene rolled her eyes and pointed to her mother, while Krissy said, “We originally hoped for “John Norman”, but it’s always been a recurring nightmare of mine to write a book with Shatner. I hoped to get a chance to hit him, too.”. The team admitted that putting Scalzi and Shatner together got them both out of the team’s hair in order to do the serious writing “while the boys played computer games”, according to Athena.

    When the project was announced, critics questioned the benefits of bringing the two “universes” of Tek War and John Perry together, but the Scalzis insist that the result speaks for itself: none whatsoever. The team say that they were strongly inspired by Sylvester Stallone’s example, to produce another book in both series.

    I attempted to contact the book’s editor, Patrick Neilsen Hayden at Tor books, but could only reach his wife, Theresa. Queried about the company’s strategy in publishing yet another book in the series, she replied, “Patrick and John have so much fun dressing up like Klingons when they get together, and we thought they’d earned a treat. Besides, it’s the only way to get Patrick out of his office long enough to sweep out the slush.

    Whether that strategy will pay off remains to be seen, but early Amazon rankings are surprisingly high. Much of this is attributed to the crossover attraction for the audiences of both series. “They’ll read anything”, comments Krissy. “If it worked once, it’ll work again”, confided Athena.

    I asked about how they reconciled the very different literary styles of the two series. “Style!”, said Krissy, “That’s a good one!” “Could I have some of whatever you’re drinking?” asked Athena, but her mother firmly vetoed the idea. They explained that the whole team worked from an outline, which Athena wrote in crayon. “They did 100 pages or so, and we did 100 pages, then we shuffled them together. I drew a bunny rabbit on the cover, and we sent the whole thing off to Patrick. He liked the bunny. Daddy wanted a kitten, but we know our market.”

    Early readers have awarded guarded praise for the joint effort, which one reader said, “combines the non-stop action of Plato’s [i]Dialogues[/i] with the thoughtful introspection of John Ringo’s Posleen.” And while I agree with that assessment, I doubt that the book will truly appeal to fans of either. It may find its own unique audience, but perhaps its most lasting legacy may be found in Krissy Scalzi’s trenchant observation, “Hey, the advance check cleared.”

  28. It was funny the first time. Yet, John Scalzi has found a way to convince TOR to release his new novel that can only be summed up as “The first chapter of The Androids Dream, only 300 pages long.”

    John Scalzi’s “aliens that speak in odors” idea first popped up in his “not meant for mass consumption” novel Agent to the Stars. It worked then. It was new and it wasn’t the driving force behind the story. Then, in The Androids Dream, another alien race has the similar way of communicating. This leads to an assassination, with the assassin using a device in his rectum and farts his enemy to death. Again, this was only a fraction of the story. Both of these novels have great characters and are great reads. Not because of the flatulence, but because they were written before John ran out of ideas.

    Now all we are left with is The Putrid Crater. A heart-warming tale of an alien race that finds their fecal matter to be a thing of worship. This species is also looking to the stars for the first signs of intelligent life. While sending out a “sniff rover” to every plant they come across, the Clowiuin aliens happen upon a red planet that has no intelligent life and broken rolling objects. The aliens quickly learn that they belong to a blue planet that happens to be in the neighborhood. Before the aliens decide to make them selves know to the “half-haired” creatures, they watch.

    They notice that the humans don’t save their poo. As a matter of fact they evacuate it from their homes as soon as it arrives. Fortunately for the humans, the Clowiuin’s are a race of tolerance, and they want to teach the humans how to properly deal with the holy goods. All I am going to say is that when humans get married they save a piece of cake for their first anniversary. Well, in The Putrid Crater, the humans adopt a new wedding tradition that is similar only in that they save something for a year, what that something is and what they do with it I will spare you from.

    This book covers about every way a person could misuse human excrement. After the first three chapters I realized that John Scalzi has given up on coming up with anything new. I hope I am wrong, but it seems that gone are the days of books like Old Man’s War and The Androids Dream. Now all we have to look forward to are retellings of Beavis and Butt-head stories set in an already explored Sci-Fi universe.

  29. No Gold at the End of Puberty’s Rainbow

    It was with high expectations that this reviewer received an advanced copy of Puberty’s Rainbow, the new novel from Hugo award-winning author John Scalzi. Recently named an SFWA Grand Master, Scalzi is one of the premier writers of contemporary science fiction and reluctant founder of the ‘New Comprehensible’ movement, a response to the so-called ‘Hard SF’ that dominated the genre for much of the 90’s. Scalzi’s classic, Old Man’s War, is currently being made into a movie directed by and starring Clint Eastwood.
    So given Scalzi’s credentials, imagine my shock and dismay at reading through the first few pages of his new book and realizing I was holding a work of young adult fiction, and a romance to boot.
    Puberty’s Rainbow follows the adolescent adventures of Jason Gregorian, a 17-year old boy genius with a head for astrophysics and a stunted leg. The girl of his dreams is Jessica, a sophomore cheerleader who’s ecstatic that her ‘Daddy’ recently gave her a Visa platinum card for her birthday and endlessly frets over the interior colors for the new BMW she has on order. The story meanders back and forth between Jason’s preparation for his school’s annual Science Fair and his futile efforts to bed the shopaholic Jessica. Without revealing the story’s climax, I can only tell you that I was shocked, not at the ending itself, but that I was able to force myself to read that far.
    Unfortunately, Scalzi’s gift for character development seems to have left him. Jason is a sniveling little twerp, angry at the world for his unusually large brain, his problem skin and withered limb. The bum leg initially elicited my sympathies but as the story unfolded and Jason’s complaints grow more annoying and hackneyed, I found myself hoping someone would come along and shove the little whiner down a flight of stairs. Despite the monumental discovery he makes at the end (okay, here’s the spoiler: he figures out how to fold space), I’m sure humanity would have willingly forsaken it in exchange for having never met this kid.
    Jessica is your typical overindulged mall-rat, shallow, superficial and obsessed with her appearance. I wasn’t sure why Mr. Scalzi had Jessica constantly refreshing her hair spray throughout the story. At first I thought it was an attempt at humor but then I began to think that perhaps he, like me, secretly hoped someone would come by with a lighter and set this cheerleader aflame, mid-spray. Alas, here too, Scalzi failed me as Jessica survives the book unscathed and manages to assemble an entirely new wardrobe.
    The only redeeming character is Molly, a plain girl with poor credit who vies for Jason’s affections while emerging as his chief rival for the school’s Science prize. Though at times I found myself drawn to the unpretentious Molly, her feelings for Jason are completely baffling. I actually found myself rooting for her to join up with the carnival that inexplicably passes through town near the end of the story.
    As far as the writing itself, someone must have mixed a cephalotropic drug in with Scalzi’s Viagra. Nothing else can explain his new-found loquacity. Gone are the sparse style, realistic dialogue and subtle humor that characterized earlier works such as Ghost Brigades and The Last Colony. Puberty’s Rainbow is replete with such eye-gouging sentences as the following: Incredibly, momentously, Jason’s love for Jessica actually grew, despite the surprisingly mocking tone she used when talking about his leg brace.
    Later, when Jason is on the verge of connecting black holes and string theory, we are witness to this offense: Though the answer was there before him, he just needed to divide again by ‘y,’ Jason felt that his success was depressingly, remarkably unsatisfying without Jessica there to share it.
    Have mercy.
    One might wonder what drove an accomplished man of letters like Scalzi to pen such a work. Might J.K. Rowling’s recent mega-seller, A Hogwart’s Wedding, have anything to do with it? With the huge success of his earlier works, did he begin to have delusions of writing the Great American (Young Adult Romance) Novel? Certainly better men than Scalzi have succumbed to greed and hubris. Of course, we’ll never entirely know his motives, though I’m sure the $4 million advance he reportedly received from Subterranean Press to write this and his upcoming novel (due in May 2011) was probably impossible to refuse.
    For those of you with hamster cages in need of fresh lining, please, by all means, add Puberty’s Rainbow to your shopping cart. For the rest of us, let’s hope that Mr. Scalzi’s latest effort is merely a minor detour in an otherwise illustrious career and that his doctors will modify his prescriptions accordingly before allowing him back near his word processor.

  30. In the Valley of the Joyless

    The Littlest War by John Scalzi

    Perhaps stung by criticism of his one-inch-tall Covandu in reviews of his novel Old Man’s War, John Scalzi attempts to elucidate these diminutive creations in his new novel, The Littlest War.

    Set in the Old Man’s War universe, this annoying new novel tells the tale of Colonial Defense Forces soldier Nigel St. Hubbins, who deserts the CDF and escapes to the planet Covand where he attempts to assuage his conscience over the millions of Covandu who have died beneath his boots during his years of military service. It is a situation rife for yet another Gulliver’s Travels rehash. Thankfully, Scalzi avoids this form of cheap drivel. Unfortunately, the cheap drivel he does offer up is even worse. Think less Gulliver and more Jolly Green Giant. At one point in the novel, after his CDF uniform has frayed to rags, St. Hubbins denudes an entire Covandian forest to make himself a leafy-green tunic.

    St. Hubbins is an unconvincing character whose utter joy at killing slowly wanes as his fellow soldiers die one-by-one in contrived combat situations (told in highly maudlin flashbacks) that leave the reader wondering if perhaps there isn’t a drinking game lurking somewhere in the repetitive, teen-slasher-film-like scenes of the deaths of the members of St. Hubbins unit. The reader certainly ceases to care about these green-skinned red-shirts early on and perhaps a shot of single malt each time one of the cardboard cannon fodder meets his or her predictable end would make the remainder of the novel more interesting. It can’t be any worse drunk than it is sober.

    In between the flashback carnage are scenes of genuine boredom as St. Hubbins attempts to find redemption through acts of kindness. He builds hospitals out of twigs and papier-mâché; he hikes for literally minutes between cities, carrying much-needed food and water to stricken urban locales. In what is easily the novel’s least-convincing scene, St. Hubbins carries a young Covandu with a twisted leg, obligatorily named Tim, to a distant university research hospital where he receives experimental gene therapy and, miraculously, is healed and walks again. And, yes, Tim does riff on the Famous Line.

    There is perhaps little point in presenting an excerpt from the novel, but here it is anyway:

    Winter had turned particularly bitter with the new year and my dried, crumbling tunic afforded me little protection. Goosebumps like frozen peas broke out across my skin. The muffler the Covandu had spent all summer knitting for me would not quite wrap around my neck. My conscience was as dry and brittle and green as my clothes–as ill-fitting as the gift the Covandu had spent so much time and effort creating. My BrainPal laughed at me.

    In an ending that is perhaps meant to be ironic, perhaps touching and perhaps simply the point at which Scalzi really stopped caring, St. Hubbins is gunned down by Whaidians as he attempts to defend his miniscule charges from the alien invasion. In the “heart-wrenching” final scene, St. Hubbins’ bullet-riddled body crumples to the ground and squashes thousands of innocent Covandu to jelly.

    His final, Kurtz-like utterance, “Ho, ho, ho…” fails utterly to elicit the emotional resonance Scazli was surely going for.

    Perhaps Scalzi takes his position as vanguard for the New Comprehensible a bit too seriously in offering up this icon of advertising kitsch as the entryway into his OMW universe. On the other hand, he may simply be burned out and the bag of frozen peas he stumbled across during a depression-driven 1 a.m. refrigerator raid was the first inkling of “inspiration” he could glom onto as the deadline loomed ever closer. Whatever the case, one wishes that he had found the cold pizza instead, or perhaps the Chinese takeout left over from the night before. Anything, really, that would spare the book-buying public this work of Joyless Green Garbage.

  31. Title: A Bear in the Woods: 30 years of Squatlogging, 1979-2009
    Author: John Scalzi
    Publisher: U.S.News & World Report, L.P.
    Date of Publication: August, 2009
    Page Count: 363
    ISBN: 978-1-59606-063-0

    The world-wide book-buying public has been anxiously awaiting the latest from Scalzi, and unfortunately, it’s here. Twenty-five journalists were privileged to have been given an advance copy of ‘ABITW’; my copy arrived two days before publication and I finished it within five hours of snatching it from the UPS delivery man’s hands. Now I have the thankless task of reviewing what everyone is expecting to be yet another masterpiece from the writer who, in only five short years finally knocked Stephen King from his lofty perch atop the literary world. It is my sorry duty to report that the title is entirely accurate, describing perfectly the contents of the book, and also describing perfectly the prose contained on the pages of the book.

    The less said about the contents, the better, in my opinion. Each chapter represents a year in Scalzi’s life, and each chapter has approximately 365 paragraphs. Thankfully, most are only a sentence or two in duration, but some stretch on and on and on. For these interminable entries, it becomes something akin to driving by a hideous car wreck – you know you should look away because you might see something you’ll want to forever purge from your memory, but at the same time you can’t bring yourself to turn your head because you might miss something more hideous than you can imagine. Some of Scalzi’s entries invoke that same feeling, especially when his discussion goes into loving detail concerning textures, colors, and coatings. The August 21st, 2007, entry will be forever seared in my brain; the early in-depth descriptions, immediately followed by an overflow due to pipe blockage and subsequently compounded by the involvement of two cats, the dog who will eat anything, and the surprised, disgusted, and prone-to-fainting-in-the-worst-possible-place mother-in-law will haunt me until my dying day. If I’m particularly unlucky, I’ll still remember it after I’m dead.

    In retrospect, warning signs were obvious that this would be a book that should never have been written. The title was taken from a 2005 entry in Scalzi’s world-famous blog ‘The Whatever’ about writers who could publish anything, no matter how bad, but everyone assumed the title was meant as an in-joke. Would that it were so! More flags should have gone up when Scalzi’s ubiquitous editor, Hayden at Tor Books, refused to purchase ‘ABITW’ for Tor, and subsequently would not discuss the book when queried. After a fierce bidding war, U.S.News & World Report L.P., the company responsible for the newspaper of the same name, won the rights to the book, apparently sight-unseen, as it was reported at the time that Scalzi refused to provide a synopsis or plot outline of any kind. The payment that Scalzi received for the rights to ‘ABITW’ is rumored to be the largest ever offered, more than doubling the previous record set by Stephen King’s blockbuster ‘Bloody Carrie’, the sequel to both ‘Carrie’ and ‘Salem’s Lot’.

    Scalzi’s writing is well-known for its frequent digressions into ‘body humor’, as his legions of fans have proclaimed it. From one sentence mentions in ‘Old Man’s War’ and ‘The Ghost Brigades’, Scalzi progressed to a chapter-long fart joke with ‘The Android’s Dream’. Subsequent books featured other interludes, the most famous (or infamous) of which involved a cat, two pounds of bacon, a poo-flinging monkey, three constantly-sneezing sheep with out-of-control sinus infections, and a shampoo bottle full of smegma. To young adults raised on the adventures of Captain Underpants, Scalzi is a cultural hero. ‘A Bear in the Woods’ might appeal to these readers, but I expect that the rest of the reading public will react with horror and disgust rather than laughter. However, Scalzi himself will be laughing all the way to the bank, as pre-orders on ‘ABITW’ have been astronomical. The film rights that were sold to Fox are likely to be worthless; only the unfortunately deceased Adam Sandler might have been able to film this book.

    To summarize, this book is about Scalzi’s ‘dumps’, but in writing it, he’s also ‘dumped’ all over the pages, ‘dumped’ all over his expectant and faithful readers, and left us all ‘down in the dumps’. Truly a shitty book in every possible way a book could be shitty.

  32. John Scalzi shouldn’t drink. That much is made clear — by Scalzi himself, no less — in the introduction to his latest book, I Can’t Believe You’re Still Buying This Shit: Scalzi on Scalzi.

    In its forward, Scalzi tells the tale of how this regrettable volume came to be: the bar bet he should never have agreed to and couldn’t have won, his brief bout with remorse, his subsequent acceptance of the situation, and — in the course of fulfilling his side of the Faustian bargain — the twisted exhilaration of exhuming his previously aborted work. All of it. To be precise, one thousand seven hundred fifty-two pages of it.

    In his seminal screed, You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop, Scalzi admits “throwing away” his first six efforts to write the first chapter of The Ghost Brigades. Of these, two were burned by his wife. A third was torn into small pieces and eaten by his agent. The remaining three — together with elaborate and self-aggrandizing commentary and footnotes — comprise chapters four, five and six of Scalzi on Scalzi. More’s the pity John’s agent vomited so soon.

    We’re treated, too, to never before seen drafts of the as-yet-unpublished, Old Man’s Peace:

    “I did three things on my eighty-fifth birthday. I resigned my commission in the Colonial Defense Forces. I surrendered my New Body, receiving my Old Body in return. And I wet myself. It sucks to be old. Again.”

    The rest reads as so much Vogon poetry.

    I note that Scalzi on Scalzi is offered only in an exclusive, limited edition from publisher Subterranean Press. I admit to finding the volume’s dust-jacket — hand-colored by Scalzi’s delightful daughter — to be entirely charming. Further, I appreciate the unusual inscription penned by the author’s wife, which reads, “For God’s sake, don’t encourage him!” Mostly, though, I’m grateful there will ever only be 100 copies of this fetid pile of rancid prose loosed on the world. For if ever there were a book that should not be judged by its cover, this is it.

  33. From the pen of prolific science fiction author, John Scalzi, leaks his latest novel ‘Old Man’s Peace’ (Tor Books, ¥1,500). Incontinence and old-old age has finally caught up with Scalzi’s hard man of advertising, John Perry. The former writer, soldier and pro-wrestler now lives, in diapers, at the Home for Retired Rejuvenated Geriatrics on the colony planet of Pee Wee-5. (The original retirement colonies of Pee Wee 1 through 4, having been lost due to clerical errors and Alzheimer’s disease.)

    While dull, the less than exotic background is still more interesting than the next hundred pages, as Perry delves into the memoirs of his life. If you can survive the interminable flashbacks into Perry’s conquests – and not just the military ones – then you may be able to stomach the rest of the book. Long winded passages are dedicated to his grand children, his stamp collection and bitter tirades against his resurrected gender redefined ex-husband John Sagan.

    “Blast you Sagan. You can take my pension, you can take my bladder control but you can’t take my WWF champion belt”, wheezed Perry, menacing Sagan with his hydro-powered cane. “And I want my false leg back too.”
    “If you weren’t so damned old, you’d realize this is the only way to defeat the Rraey!” Sagan shouted back, “No one takes the Ghost Brigade’s table at Denny’s without a fight.”

    The end climax as the two are reunited, is as lifeless as the love scene that follows. Let this be a warning to all of Scalzi’s fans: ‘Old Man’s Peace’ is a limp read. You are better off buying the more intellectually stimulating ‘Ten Reasons Why I Love Shopping’ by Paris Hilton (see last week’s article). Or better yet using ‘Old Man’s Peace’ as litter tray filling, as this columnist has done. Mr Peebles, the office gerbil, has given a far more honest and copious critique of Mr Scalzi’s work than is possible here.

  34. Wow, 33 entries already. Well, here’s mine. I haven’t read any of the other submissions yet, in case some points are similar.

    I received John Scalzi’s latest book three days ago and hacked my way through it. I write “hack” because you got to feel the need to see the last page to get through this book. I first read a book byScalzi three years ago. Since then, I’ve become a fan of his work. I met him last year when he was the guest of honor of the New Comprehensible convention in Washington.Scalzi’s latest book, “The Elven Smell”, is his first shot at writing fantasy, but honestly, he should have stayed away from the genre. Some people likeScalzi’s books because he writes complex stories with living characters. If this is what you enjoy in his books, stay away from “The Elven Smell.” One’s ability to adapt fart jokes to science-fiction does not mean he is able to repeat the feat in fantasy, especially not with elves. The Elven Smell is the largest ofScalzi’s fiction books with well over 600 pages. 600 pages you have to painfully get through. His humor is becoming more and more grotesque as youdig into the book. There are many inside jokes most readers would not understand if they have not been following John Scalzi’s blog, The Whatever, for a long while. For example main character’s pet is a cat named Bacon.
    The Elven Smell is the story of Mirdor, an elf from a decadent realm. But Mirdor is not as every other elves, as he can _smell_ magic. When a dark plague hit the citizens of the realm, the young elf seems to be the only one who can save his people. Disgusting scenes quickly become repetitive as people die all around the hero. Scalzi often fall for the genre’s clichés, his characters are victims and not in control of their destiny. A few elements are unbelievable. For example, traveling between the major cities happen so fast you are wondering what kind of horses the elves have. Or maybe the realm is very, very small, but the descriptions Scalzi makes tend to paint it as a big place. This is just one example but there are many others that make you want to put the book down, pages after pages.
    By the time you reached the sixth chapter, you have a good idea about how the books might end and, sadly, you won’t go Oh! because of any big twist near the ending. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I was very disappointed. The book seems to have been rushed to the press, just in time to be eligible for this year’s Hugo, maybe hoping his army of fans would be able to influence the vote. I don’t think this is a good strategy, but it worked last year for his book “Mr. Thomas was an Alien”.

  35. This is not a contest entry, it’s a fannish post to give you a break from all those imaginary bad reviews. I stuck it in here because I didn’t know where one properly goes all fannish on John Scalzi. :-)

    I finished reading “Old Man’s War” last week and not only could I not put it down, I was also forced to have a deeply profound self revelation: I’ve been saying for years that I do not like military-ish science fiction. Books with soldiers in space have gotten nothing but disinterested looks from me for years. Outgrew that genre in 5th grade, I told myself.

    I’m such a liar. I liked Elizabeth Bear’s Jenny Casey books and I really enjoyed “Old Man’s War” too. Well crap. Another self perpetuated myth down the drain. Hell I even went to Heinlein panels at a con this past weekend and put some of his books on my must-read-again list.

    You know, it was just that I didn’t like BAD soldiers in space books. Thanks for writing a terrific one. I really enjoyed it and plan to pick up more of your books.

  36. John Scalzi is the worst writer of his generation.

    This is not to say that Scalzi generates the most execrable prose imaginable, as measured against the absolute scale of the slush pile. Scalzi can, after a fashion, string English words together into sentences, and occasionally into paragraphs. Still, when you think of the dregs of the slush — the manuscripts that arrive in ALL CAPS WITH NO PUNCTUATION along with a note from a social worker, “Thank you for taking a look at this, I think this is all very therapeutic for my client,” — you are not far off the mark. This sort of work and Scalzi’s recent Perry Uber Alles are spiritual cousins, except the latter has managed to acquire a PVA glue binding.

    After the disastrous reception of 2008’s The Will, The Triumph, one might expect Scalzi to reconsider his decision to take his universe in a different direction. Perhaps a reboot? It was all a dream? As we can see from the opening lines of Perry Uber Alles, the answer is, sadly, no:

    It is a dark time; the evil John Perry rules with a titanium fist.

    And it’s basically downhill from there. Consider this scene with Zara, Zoe’s cybernetically-enhanced clone-daughter:

    “I won’t let you go on this mission,” Colonel Sampson said, gripping her by the arm. “It’s too dangerous.”

    “You don’t understand,” Zara snapped. “The remnants of the Colonial forces are faltering. Perry’s legions of Impal-o-bots are loose, slaughtering at will. If there’s one chance to stop my insane undead adoptive clone-grandfather, I’m taking it.” She turned and looked out at the stars. “I’m coming for you, God-Emperor John Perry! And Hell’s coming with me!!”

    Clearly a few Daddy issues there. The rest of the novel consists of fifty-page philosophical diatribes interspersed with energetic sex scenes between Zara and her Rraey husband, Gar-Gar. (Thanks to flashback and dream sequences, these scenes persist well after Gar-Gar’s exsanguination in Chapter 13 — perhaps the only high point of the novel).

    Finally, even Scalzi’s interest flags. To his credit, he ends the story in the only way possible:

    And then without any warning, an asteroid crashed into the planet, killing everybody.


    But wait, there’s more!


    All seemed quiet. But then, a black mailed fist punched up through the rubble.

    John Perry… lives!

    Rather than being disappointed by this ending, I have to confess that a tiny part of me felt relieved, even happy. After all, anyone who would unleash legions of Impal-o-bots on this particular universe can’t be all bad.

    Perhaps in the end, that is John Scalzi’s point.

  37. Book Report: The Faerie Queene’s Warre

    Actually, I quite liked it.

    I mean, no, it’s not a great book by any means, but let’s be clear: most of the crap this book has taken has nothing to do with the merits of the book itself. It’s about John Scalzi, and it’s about the State of the Genre, and it’s about the situation in the world, but it’s not about the book. It’s Dylan going electric. Well, it’s Miles and Bitches Brew, with the people he left behind feeling, rightly, that their one-time hero had just called them fans of a dead art form. But Miles, we liked the earlier, funnier jazz! Well, screw you, said Mr. Davis, he did, and screw you says Mr. Scalzi, and I understand that most of the reviews are just saying ‘no, screw you.’ Which is fine, but has nothing to do with the book.

    Look, he always said that when he sat down to get a novel published, he looked at what was selling, and picked military sf as the most congenial bit of what was popular. Mr. Scalzi isn’t responsible for the fact that military sf stopped selling, and the same reasoning that made him write Old Man’s War naturally made him stop writing in a dead subgenre. Why is it dead? Honestly, I think we have to thank (or blame) Secretary Jolie. While we were in a military ferment over the supposed Clash of Civilizations, military sf had just the right mix of escapism and topicality, particularly when treated light-heartedly. Now that the Jolie Plan has defused world tensions, it’s less appealing. Sure, some of us still like it. Some of us still listen to our Charlie Parker records. On vinyl. What does that have to do with a working writer?

    No, if you are going to trash this book, you ought to do it on the merits of the book itself, not on the perceived (or actual) insult to his former fanbase. And how is the book itself? Well, as I said, I quite liked it. Yes, the scansion isn’t perfect. The rhymes are … fair. There are a handful of cute ones, and a handful of truly clunky ones. The characters are bland, but then they are always pretty bland in this sort of thing. And for people who like plot, well, the plot is the same plot it always is in this sort of thing. So, you know, if you don’t like Spencerian epic, then you are not going to like this sort of thing, and that’s all there is to it.

    What does it have? Well, it has the merits of the form. A certain serenity. A kind of pastoral peacefulness. An attention to rococo detail. Is that dull? Sure, compared to people getting shot by aliens, it’s dull. Heck, compared to almost anything, it’s dull. That’s the point. We have entered into a dull age, and the hyperactive century of science fiction has given way to a more contemplative form. For that you can blame—what? Peace? Prosperity? The disappearance of the climate change threat? The systematic introduction of mood-altering drugs into our water supply? However you want to slice it, the fact remains that when you visit a text supply location to register for your required literature allotment, there may be one or two h’rng’habacks of military sf, but there will be a whole glarkfull of Spencerian poetry. Because that’s what the R’peuphids want, and that’s how the market works.

    Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,-Vardibidian.

  38. HarperCollins Children’s Books
    Att: Susan Foster, Editor
    1350 Avenue of the Americas
    New York, New York 10019

    Dear Ms. Foster –

    My husband I are good Christians, and we are appalled at the filthy trash coming out of your publishing company, especially the so called “Children’s Book” division. Your recently published author John Scalzi is a sinner, and shouldn’t be allowed to write anything, much less children’s books.

    Our daughter Savannah came home from school with a book entitled:

    “Ghlaghghee And Gwedif’s Colonoscopy Adventure”

    At first this seemingly innocent children’s book appears to be educational, and covers the delicate subject of colo-rectal health. Little did we know our daughter would be seeing pictures of some blobby alien sticking a tentacle up into a cat’s behind!

    It was OBSCENE to show what was obviously a HOMOSEXUAL alien defiling a household pet, and I am now worried that my daughter will become GAY. We are seeking counseling from our pastor to ensure that your sickening book hasn’t ruined my daughter for life!

    Sincerely Yours,

    Mrs. Polly Hasternack
    Farmsville, Oklahoma

  39. Review: Ewe Turn, by John Scalzi

    With the “esteemed” New York Times stating flatly that his early work was better and the Springfield Republican asking rhetorically, “Why are we reading this bald man? He can’t even grow hair!” I had to read it myself to make up my own mind.

    And I have to say:

    This is the most fantastic book ever written. Seriously, you owe it to yourself to buy two copies to send to every friend you have. I’m buying six!

    Amazon Rating: Five Stars
    Username: JonahGoldberg

  40. John Scalzi’s latest release “Deus ex machina” the long awaited and inevitable sequel to “The Androids Dream” is a true feat to behold. There are few authors who are able to wedge so much derogatory cyber sex, rehashed material, and un-imaginative garbage between two book ends. Much as the parable of the little boy and the ocean deprived starfish, if I can save just one person from reading this book it will have been worth the electrons it takes to make this ensuing article.

    Scalzi’s decision to simultaneously release the book on both paper and The Times Smart Paper™ has done nothing to detract from the refuse that is this novella. His apparent rise to Sci-Fi fame will undoubtedly end with this farce of a tale the same way Orson Scott Card petered with “Xenocide”. The story begins with the continual dare I say perpetual existence of Brian Javna as the semi godlike computer intelligence in the Nidu (a cookie cutter lizard race) uber-network. Brian’s story is apparently an attempt to show the dangers of an all powerful machine in a connected universe. Instead his tragedy reads more like Monty Python’s Life of Brian. All this story needs is a sappy and catchy song at the end of the book that plays like a greeting card.

    Excerpt from “Deus ex machina” :

    “Brian’s first attempt to interface with the Common Confederation’s core framework was less like the integration he was expecting and more like fucking with your clothes on. Not that Brian had any clothes, but that’s what it felt like. By adding more queries to the register Brian was able to take stock of what he had found. It was huge, phenomenally huge, and spread out to far more worlds than any CC census ever indicated. Brian was tempted to tell The N.E.L. about the list but decided to wait until he had a better understanding of what exactly lay behind the layers of security setup on the framework.”

  41. “Deep Six this Deep Disappointment”
    – Reviewie McReviewerson

    I suppose I should blame myself for setting my expectations too high. John Scalzi’s first published novel, Old Man’s War, was good enough to give his readers a glimpse into his seemingly brilliant future as a writer. What heights would this newcomer accomplish? The Campbell Award he won in 2006 seemed to say — “Just wait!”

    We waited. TOR published several more of his books courtesy of a multi-book contract. Critical acclaim and a growing fan base appeared to support his early fans’ expectations. To be honest, this reviewer felt the works had an uneven quality that were tell-tale signs of a writer stretched to his limits. Skeptical readers may disagree, but the indications were there.

    It would be self-aggrandizing for this reviewer to claim to be the innocent’s voice from the crowd that reveals the Emperor to be buck-naked, but the analogy is apt. John Scalzi’s latest book, _Zoe’s Farm_, (TOR, 2009) is the final book in TOR’s contract, and even if the public has not realized the well is dry, this reviewer is quite sure Patrick Nielsen Hayden has. TOR has not yet signed another contract with Mr. Scalzi.

    The plot is simple. After the dramatic conclusion of _The Last Colony_, Zoe Boutin and Sameer Desai elope and head off to Eyeskewb, a frozen colony planet. (It seems Scalzi opens National Geographic Magazine to a random page to find the planet-wide ecology of his latest setting.) In his blog, Whatever, he admits to eliminating Sameer Desai from TLC (Sept. 20, 2006). If only he had held with his original design. Zoe dies in childbirth early in the book so that Sameer, resurrected from the oblivion of discarded characters, dominates the remainder of the book’s one-note setting with singular blandness. The prose reads like a stripped down version of _The Bridges of Madison County_. The following is an excerpt:

    “Sameer visited his dead wife’s grave every day. It was the only place he felt at peace. The icy winds blew over the clear ice lid, keeping it clear of snow so he might see her dear frozen face always.”

    Had this reviewer actually paid for this book, rather than receiving an ARC, it might have been found burning merrily in the grate. It certainly would have provided more entertainment there. Unfortunately, in order to write this review in good concience, it was required that the entire book be read.

    It would have been preferable to find this book to be amusingly bad. The fart jokes of _Android’s Dream_ were juvenile, but at least it was an attempt at humor. If only the book were derivative in some way, allowing for some mental stimulation in finding the not-so-cleverly-hidden “tributes.” _Zoe’s Farm_ provided no such entertainment. It is mind-numbingly boring. The plot resembles the endless snow fields that surround the igloo homestead within the book. Its hero deserves to be interred in a block of ice next to his wife and still-born child.

    This reviewer has been reading John Scalzi since early in his career. His writing seemed so promising. It may be this history that makes this latest book to be so disappointing. He raised our hopes for a New Comprehensible science fiction. He talked a good talk. Pity he couldn’t walk a good walk as well. His latest book is the ultimate betrayal for an early fan. _Zoe’s Farm_ takes the definition of banal to a new low and its author has been revealed as disappointly ordinary.

    In a nutshell: Buy this book for only two reasons: as an example of how *not* to write, or as an over-the-counter sleep aid.

  42. Award winning author, John Scalzi teams up with publicist and guy-pal Robert Eggleton for the latest in his assortment of not so subtle ego trips wrapped a limited edition, signed hardcover. This time, unfortunately, “hardcover” is merely card stock, as John self-publishes this title in the ol’ Xerox and stapler fashion. Once you read the first few pages, you’ll understand why even the vanity press publishers wouldn’t touch this one.

    While the title, Scalzi on Scalzi may carry the hint of a sordid sex scene or two, that disturbing image is quickly extinguished and replaced with the unfortunate realization that a disturbing sex scene would actually be more enjoyable to read than the 13 chapters of narcissistic prattling that makes this “book” what it is.

    Any endearing feelings you might have for this, the author of Old Man’s War, and it’s subsequent books, will quickly turn to a slight taste of vomit in the back of your throat. John, who writes this autobiography in 3rd person, quite quickly makes you hate not only him, but pretty much every character he’s ever written. He yammers on and on about his characters, as if we are all too stupid to understand John Perry struggled with the moral implications of war. Scalzi relishes on the Heinlein comparisons so much in fact, that after chapter 2, he begins referring to himself as “Little Heiny.” Sadly, he doesn’t see the play on words, and truly makes a big “Heiny” out of himself. Do us all a favor, John, and use some of that coveted sci-fi war prose to craftily lobotomize yourself. We’d all appreciate the improvement it would make to your writing, and people might actually pay to read about it.

    Back to the review though, the unending litany on the success of his first book would bore a comatose sloth to suicide. Ironically, John never mentions his decision in 2008 to pledge all the royalty checks he receives from Tor to support the lesbian koala plight. Not so proud of that one, eh John? This reviewer, however, will go so far as to say that gender confused marsupials are more interesting than the entirety of the first 5 chapters. It’s chapter 6, however, that stands out as the most absurd bit of garbage ever to be called writing. For 35, count ’em, 35 pages, John describes the things to which he’s taped bacon. Here’s a bit from the Scazi Xerox Press I received:

    Little Heiny is well known for his incredulous taping of bacon to a cat. Few of his fans actually realize the number of bacon tapings that actually took place in that short stretch of genius in 2005. He taped bacon to a car. He taped bacon to a horse. He taped bacon to a mailman. He taped bacon to a pig. Yes. A. Pig. He taped bacon to an Audi. He taped bacon to the ceiling. He taped bac…

    You get the idea. The only reason a person should read this drivel, is if they truly want to see how bad a has-been author can really get. Even at that, I suggest stopping after the first few pages, because trust me – it never gets better, and it couldn’t be worse.

    Let’s hope the koalas aren’t depending on your sales with this book, John, because whether you tape bacon to it or not — it stinks.

  43. Award-winning author John Scalzi’s new book ‘The’ was released last week amid a great deal fanfare and public spectacle. Despite promising first-week sales, however, it appears Scalzi’s fans have finally thrown in the towel and called it quits on the author. Millions of readers flocked to book-stores across the world last week to pickup ‘The’. And, according to a recent study concluded by the New York Times, 98% of those same fans returned to the same book stores this week and demanded a refund. Thirty-seven of his ex-fans went so far as to file lawsuits against the once-popular Mr. Scalzi, stating they needed monetary compensation to help replace the wasted hours spent reading ‘The’. Finally, two other Scalzians even personally offered to give the publisher money if the house would pull the book off the shelves immediately.

    Scalzi’s latest book chronicles the life and trials of an avocado named Slick who shares a refrigerator shelf with a gallon of spoiled milk named Stink-o and set of misplaced car-keys aptly named Jingles. Slick, Stink-o, and Jingles spend 388 pages discussing life, dodging late-night snackers, and attempting to escape their chilly prison.

    The character name-cliches are only a small sampling of the awful literature that lies within the pages of ‘The’. There are plot twists where no action is occuring in the story-line, unknown characters that appear and disappear with no explanations as to who they are or what they’re doing, seventeem different characters named Roy, and even an interlude in the middle of the book that is nothing but a plagerism from ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.’

    Has John Scalzi lost his mind?

    Most of his readers think so. ‘The’ is by far the most God-awful book ever printed, ranking even worse than Tobias Buckell’s ‘Crystal Rain II: A Shower of Purple Rain’. If Mr. Scalzi has truely not gone crazy, perhaps he should think about convincing people he has. An insanity plea would be the only sane way to promote this pathetic piece of work.

  44. The Quantum Phoenix
    John Scalzi
    367 pages, Tor Books

    There are several times where I’ve been ashamed to be a University of Chicago graduate. I was ashamed when the University refused to divest from Sudan in light of the genocide in the Darfur region. I was ashamed when Paul Wolfowitz admitted before a federal grand jury that he had ordered Defense officials to falsify evidence of an Iraqi nuclear program. I’ve been ashamed every time I’m reminded of the existence of Tucker Max. But never have I been so ashamed to be a graduate of the University of Chicago as after reading the latest work from John Scalzi, The Quantum Phoenix.

    The self-described “futuristic novella” takes place during June of 2193, when physicist Ian Fawkes proves the particulate nature of time. This is an intriguing premise for a novel; unfortunately, Scalzi focuses little on this aspect. Instead, he concentrates on the dating trials of Ian’s transsexual ex-husband, Matilda (formerly Matthew). Matilda is quite possibly the most vapid protagonist of the decade; most Lifetime movie heroines have more depth. When Matilda goes to (coastal) Cincinnati for a weekend with Oobylonix, a shape-shifting Vegan (not vegan) reminiscent of characters in Scalzi’s Agent to the Stars, I expected the heroine to reflect upon the difficulties in her own shifting of shape as compared to her date’s effortless transitions from quadrupedal human-lion hybrid to dolphin. Instead, she thinks:

    How smooth his skin was. How gray and shiny, like an interstellar radiation shield with oil spilled on it.

    That is the most reflection we get—a reflection that asks more questions than it answers. Why would Matilda, described by Ian as “my ex-husband-turned-floozy”, think of an image that suggests starship crash rather than “Star”? What is there in her past? We don’t know, and Scalzi doesn’t tell us. Instead, we get a litany of tired stereotypes in twenty-second century dress, from “Tonio”, the self-absorbed “ansiblar phone” salesman, to “Omar”, the “sentinenia rights” lawyer too concerned with the labor conditions at Chez Latifa to realize Matilda’s condition of boredom. Apparently Homo asininus was unaffected by global warming.

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that in all chick lit novels, the protagonist either finds a suitable mate or realizes that she is happy alone; in this alone, The Quantum Phoenix does not disappoint (although it would have frankly been more interesting if it did). I’ve been tempted to burn books after I’ve read them—Kingsolver’s Pigs in Heaven, Preston and Child’s Lady Maskalene’s Fan, Geiger’s Love in the Time of Anthrax. I wasn’t tempted to burn this one; that would take too much effort. The only use for The Quantum Phoenix is as a teaching device—as an example of what not to write, the book may be the finest pedagogical achievement a Chicago graduate has yet achieved. Perhaps my earlier feelings of shame should be replaced with a feeling of perverse pride, as it takes a truly special writer to deliver such horrid work.

    (Maureen Craig is the author of A Field Guide to Vatican Conspiracies.)

  45. Once in a lifetime a book comes along that grabs you by the throat, looks deep into your eyes, and shakes you to the roots of your moral fiber. Such a book leaves a lasting impression on your soul, and if it weren’t for the fact that you loved every minute reading it you’d say it left a scar: a spiritual wound that might heal somewhat over time and appear whole but is never really the same. It leaves a lasting impression, never to be forgotten.
    I read that book last week. This week I read “Old Man’s Sheep” by John Scalzi. Upon finishing the final page I was so enraged I’d have strangled a lamb with my bare hands, given the opportunity. As it is I’ve had to answer a lot of embarrassing questions about a neighbor’s missing alpacka.
    “Old Man’s Sheep” picks up where “The Android’s Dream” left off: between paycheck cycles. The author, desperate for cash, apparently sat down one day in the middle of writing a car stereo installation manual and scribbled a yarn that was slightly less riveting. Revisiting the world he created in “Old Man’s War,” we’re introduced to the imaginatively named Liam Chop, a senior citizen whose DNA is 80% human and 20% sheep. (We find out which 20% in a very disturbing scene that’s not so much about love as it is about kebab.) In a desperate bid to prolong his life, 75-year-old Liam opts to venture off-world to serve time in the Colonial Defense forces. He is quickly snapped up by a little known branch of the military that specifically recruits genetic mutants. Thanks to a prequel released in 2006, Scalzi has an excuse to populate his universe with a large number of these man/sheep abominations, and as such word combinations tend to attract more than the usual number of visitors when mentioned on a web site, that’s exactly what he did.
    With character names like “Mintz Celle” and an organization tantalizingly entitled “The Au Gratin Brigades” one can’t help but think the author wasn’t entirely serious when he took up his pen, deemed it mightier than the sword, and took a swipe at the collective intelligence of the human race. One also can’t avoid the sense that the author was a bit distracted at the time: chapter nine, on the installation of a Pioneer 12-speaker sound system into a 2008 Mazda sedan, seemed a tad out of place, although I was halfway through before I realized that the story had gone astray. It didn’t help that a character named “Neutral Ground” reappeared in a subsequent chapter, seemingly out of nowhere and looking for a place called “The Great Negative Terminal.”
    Major Lettdown grabbed Liam’s arm and pointed. “That’s where you’ll end up if you’re not careful,” he said, gesturing at the hydroponic fields. “It’s where your ancestors have gone since the dawn of humanity: right between the carrots and the potatoes. The choice is yours.”
    Liam knew he was right. Military force or main course.
    “Slather me in gravy, sir,” he said. “As the shepherd said to the prettiest lamb–I’m going in.”
    Liam and friends eventually realize that they are “a breed apart” and rebel against human control. The final battle between mutants and humans, fought on a planet circling dangerously close to an unstable red dwarf, can only be described as “hot man-on-sheep action.” I’m sure I’m not the first to use those words in a review but I pray that I am the last. Surely the number of soldiers left in the Falkland Isles don’t amount to enough readers to make this kind of prose financially worthwhile.
    Past reviewers have compared Scalzi to the late Robert Heinlein. I, too, find several striking similarities between both authors: both were of average height, wrote in English, and won awards for their work–although Scalzi is the only author I know of who’s fellows rigged an awards ceremony just so they could hand him a trophy with the words “Philip K.” rubbed out.
    He’s also the latest author to distinguish himself by receiving the L. Ron Hubbard “Most Flammable” award for new fiction. Liberal collectors are buying copies of “Old Man’s Sheep” by the hundreds, saving them for the day when they can give Ann Coulter the surprise Viking funeral she surely deserves.
    It is my sincere hope that John Scalzi will take his laptop to a coffee shop and GET LAID. If ever a science fiction author needed such a thing, it is he.

  46. The Jarhead’s Jottings
    A Review of John Scalzi’s Sheep Lie

    When John Scalzi burst out of richly deserved anonymity onto the publishing scene he was often compared favorably to Robert (Whirling Bob) Heinlein who now spins in his grave at any such mention. Spewing novels, short stories, commentary, blog entries, and various commercial projects from his pen in a paroxysm of literary projectile vomiting, he attained modest commercial success with The Android’s Dream and the first three books in the universe of The Old Man’s War (OMW). Scalzi’s ascendant star was snuffed out when the 3rd book in the OMW universe, The Last Colony, was recalled from distribution when rumors about its bizarre focus on interspecies felching started to spread.

    That brings us to this risible attempt by Scalzi to recover his readership, reputation, and ability. In this at-bat he has gone 0 for 3 despite the festering zits, baldness, and psychotic rage symptomatic of his reliance on literary steroids. This rage has reduced the readership of his blog “Whatever” from a high of 25,000 to 73, perhaps because every single responsive post he sends consists of the same message “F*** You, Strong Post to Follow”.

    In The Android’s Dream the heroine has about 20% sheep DNA scattered through her genes which has no apparent affect on her humanity. Scalzi (as he prefers to be called – an affectation which undoubtedly presages the adoption of the royal third person) apparently has his 20% sheep DNA concentrated in his brain which has resulted in this baaaaaaaaad novel – and a complete absence of humanity.

    The title of Sheep Lie is taken from an old joke involving interracial and interspecies miscegenation and that is appropriate because an old joke is what Scalzi’s career has become. He repeats the communication-by-scent plot device used in both Agent to the Stars and The Android’s Dream until he has thrashed every bit of puckish humor out of a simple fart joke. A writer who can make a fart joke unfunny must be stopped and the word on the street is that the Farrelly brothers have a contract out on him.

    Before reading Sheep Lie I was sure that David Weber held the title for most shameless reuse of plot (See Heirs of Empire v Off Armageddon Reef) but now that Scalzi has used this one three times I would expect that at any future Con instead of shaking hands, those writers and fans meeting Scalzi will simply be asked to “Pull my finger”. Unearned accolades from the multitudes will be met with a bemused smile and rolling up on one cheek to communicate his deep appreciation for the plaudits and kudos.

    The “plot” of Sheep Lie appears to involve the attempt by the Nidu, a race thoroughly humiliated by Harris Creek, the hero of The Android’s Dream, to take their revenge and conquer the earth by modifying the human genome to force humans to communicate by smell, on the assumption that the Nidu – having centuries more experience in such communication than humans – would then be able to hornswoggle the humans out of their eyeteeth, their planet, and their sheep. Creek suspects the truth and confronts the Nidu leader (Fehen) in his (its?) palace on Nidu. Creek is escorted by a brace of Space Marines for protection when he meets the restored Fehen because his old friend Brian Javna, the personification of the Nidu computer network, has decided that spending his cycles making wild muskrat love with his cyber-love Andrea Hayter-Ross is far more satisfying than being the omniscient butt-buddy of Creek. The meeting does not go well:

    “Surely you do not expect that those puny Marines will protect you from my power as Fehen? Gharg-auf-Getag’s sneer was proof positive that he had formed an unnatural affection for Flash Gordon movies and the performances of Emperor Ming of Mongo.

    “I do believe that they will suffice for that purpose,” Creek responded with a hint of his own former certitude, “And don’t call me Shirley!”

    Auf-Getag sneered again. “You underestimate the Nidu this time Mr. Creek. We started our project a little earlier than you may have expected and there are quite a number of humans who have attained the ability to speak in the most holy Nidu tongue. Your “protectors” have been in full communication with me ever since you entered the room.

    “Sergeant Heisenberg? Corporal Newton? Is he…..?” Creek blurted out.

    “You know what they say about Marines sir” Heisenberg said with a smile. “The Few, the Proud, the Flatulent”

    As hard as it may be to imagine, Sheep Lie goes downhill from there.

    Sclazi’s former fans have already run screaming from the building. Introducing an innocent and unsuspecting reader to Scalzi’s writing with Sheep Lie would be like introducing young boys to John Wayne Gacy.

    Be afraid. Be very afraid.

    The Old Jarhead

  47. There have been some great works of speculative fiction in the last ten years. Dan Simmons’ Ilium and Olympos, Tad Williams’ Shadowmarch, George R.R. Martin’s A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, and Neil Gaiman’s American Gods all spring instantly to mind.

    Until the publication of his latest book, Orbital Potholes, I would have considered John Scalzi one of the authors contributing to the recent boom in quality science-fiction and fantasy novels.

    In fact, after his Hugo Award nominated Old Man’s War four years ago and two excellent follow-up works The Ghost Brigades and The Android’s Dream, I was eagerly awaiting this latest publication (from Tor, $29.95). However, halfway through this bloated novel of 500+ pages, I was ready to claw my eyes out and run screaming away from the speculative fiction genre forever.

    Orbital Potholes follows the story of an urchin, Joshua, who runs away from his orphanage and finds himself in the middle of an interstellar conflict between two alien races. This sounds like an interesting concept and condensed down to a single sentence it’s hard to imagine how Scalzi managed to turn this premise into a novel that is useless for anything other than lining birdcages.

    I knew something was wrong when the novel started off with seventeen pages of densely packed and overly verbose prose that never introduced either a setting or a character. The plot doesn’t start until the aliens are introduced on page ninety-one and the vast majority of that plot is resolved twenty-two pages later when the leaders of the two of the alien races (the Su-Hordan and the Adreadini) decide that they’ll share what they want from Joshua.

    The rest of the novel revolves around the “mysterious” secret about why the aliens want Joshua. Perhaps Scalzi could have retained some of the tension by not telling us what secret was back in the second chapter, but in the end it doesn’t matter because there is absolutely no resolution of this plot point. The aliens aren’t even mentioned in the last hundred pages.

    Aside from the infantile plot, the characterization was the absolute worst that I’ve ever seen in a published novel. Joshua’s background is never fully explored, and his status as an orphan seems to be a deliberate attempt to get out of writing any background for his character. What should be a deeply emotional scene as he confronts the head of the orphanage is less than a page long and consists mainly of dialogue such as:

    “I see you,” Joshua said intimately, running his hand through her hair.

    She started, smiled, and took a deep breath, her black attire straining and heaving.

    “I see you too,” Mrs. Madeline gasped. “I’ve always been there for you, Joshua.”

    Let me remind you that Joshua is supposed to be an eight year old boy, and Mrs. Madeline is described as a deeply religious older woman with gray hair (although which religion she belongs to is never mentioned).

    Speaking of gray, ninety percent of the novel occurs in what Scalzi describes as “a featureless gray room,” and most of the other locations are only seen in flashbacks. One of Joshua’s many jarring and pointless recollections actually flashes back to the same featureless gray room.

    I don’t know what else to say about this bitterly miserable bit of flotsam. Scalzi obviously stopped trying after his Hugo Award nomination; perhaps under the mistaken impression that once you’ve written something well received you never have to do any real work again to be successful. Honestly, I can’t imagine what evil demon possessed the editors at Tor when this novel was approved for publication but I can only hope that this is some deeply disturbed attempt to see if the speculative fiction community is paying attention.

    If I could give this novel a negative rating I would, but unfortunately I’m limited to giving it a zero out of ten. If you’ve already purchased or advance-ordered a copy of this book I hope you can find your receipt. I only wish that I had enough pull with Tom Doherty to demand that this book be recalled and force Tor to issue an apology.

  48. Like many others I have been eagerly awaiting the release John Scalzi’s newest book, “Through the Window, Orion.” Due out nearly nine months ago, the publisher has twice pushed back the release date, so I was doubly glad to receive my ARC in the mail a full month before it will be available to the public.

    I sat down to read it feeling almost giddy, like a child at Christmas. However, after more than a page, I began to feel a sinking unease. As I finished the first chapter I was dismayed. Where was the Scalzi I had come to know and love?

    Sadly, things did not improve as the tangled mess of a story continued to limp along. By the time I was midway through the book, my fondest desire was to drive an iron nail through the thing and bury it at a crossroads, and my opinion of the work steadily declined from there.

    In closing, let me say this. If you are considering buying this book, let me suggest an alternative course of action. Take twenty dollars out of your wallet, burn it, then slam your genitalia in a car door several times. This will re-create the same general experience while saving you a lengthy trip to the store.

  49. What, exactly, are we to make of John Scalzi’s latest, Le Freak, C’est Chic: A Comedy of Bureaucracy (Farrar Straus Giroux, 167 pp. plus 12 color plates, $35.95)? I can’t fault a creative artist for striking out in a hitherto unexplored direction, but whether Scalzi is indeed a creative artist any longer is, unfortunately, now open to dispute.
    In the 16 months since the Internet went down for good, the author seems to have done nothing but reread the works of Robert Heinlein along with various other American authors of the last century, mashing up their books as he sees fit. One long section of Le Freak, for example, consists entirely of dialogue among unnamed characters (as in Philip Roth’s 1990 novel “Deception); moreover, as this reviewer has regrettably noted, the dialogue is entirely verbatim Heinlein:

    “Hummph! Can’t you be rude occasionally?”
    “Harrumph! That might be more than I could manage, even with a marriage license.”
    Hrrrmph! One more remark like that…”
    “Humph! You have no feelings. Never did.”
    “Mrrrmph! You said you were rusty.”
    “Hrrmph! That much is true.”
    “Hummph! Had it been, you would have been told.”
    “Humph! ‘You’ll go when the wagon comes.’ ”
    “Harrumph! Does it involve blood? Or broken bones?”
    “Hrrumph! You’re getting old, Son.”
    “Humph. That’s not an answer, so don’t bother to lie.”
    “Hummph right back at you.”
    “Uh—” she said, and stopped.
    “ ‘Uh,’ ” he repeated. “Exactly ‘uh.’ ”
    “Eh? Yes. Surely! Mrrph!”
    “Mrrph. Very well, sir.”

    Thirty-two pages of this we get. The Beatles’ “Revolution 9” had more narrative coherence than this, I daresay.
    Elsewhere we are provided with even more bizarre mashups that I can’t even bring myself to think about, much less quote here, such as between Heinlein’s “The Green Hills of Earth” and Mark Leyner’s My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist. Not one of these experiments pans out: The best of them makes Brundlefly seem graceful and sylphlike. The 12 unnumbered color plates, which appear without explanation after page 63, seem to consist of cat pawprints on sections of Maurice Ravel and Scott Joplin piano scores.
    I can only suggest that Scalzi snake out his occluded neural pathways and start over. A week of 24-hour headphone exposure to an endless loop of Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music: The Amine Beta Ring will do the trick. I should know.

  50. You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop And Type While Shivering Under A Blanket In A Garrett On The Left Bank In Paris, Even If You Drink Absinthe And Become Consumptive And Then Spam Teh Intart00bs – John Scalzi and Robert ‘Bob’ Eggleton – Shrubterranean Press, 2009.

    This book sucks. No, really. In fact, Scalzi had to invent a whole new form of Teh Suck just for this book.

    Following the success of 2007’s You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop To A Coffee Shop: Scalzi on Writing, Ohio writer John Scalzi apparently failed to follow his own advice, and dragged his laptop into a series of the sort of seedy disintegrating coffee shops that litter the American landscape now that Starbuck’s has formed its own country.

    First, there is no new material in this book other than the title and the addition of a coauthor, Robert ‘Bob (Bob – buy my book)’ Eggleton III, best known for his writings on self-promotion and modesty. The collaboration has not improved Scalzi’s prose. A close reading of the book will reveal that Scalzi probably wore out that special italics key that Dell (or was it Apple? I lose track sometimes) engineered for him. Eggleton appears to have contributed little beside his name, which is one of the few good things I can say about this book.

    This, I realize, is damning the book with faint praise. Scalzi, instead of writing new material for this book, has recycled columns from his blog Whatever, some of which were recycled from previous books, which were in turn recycled from previous iterations of the Whatever, which came from previous books, and… well, you get the idea. I found columns that originated in You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop To The Optometrists And Pretend, Like, Oh, I’m A Writer And My Eyes Are Shot Because I’m Like, Writing SOOO Much, and even a few that were originally published in paper form in You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop To Spain And Type While At A Bullfight Or In That Picturesque Little Square In Madrid.

    Scalzi’s laziness goes further. At the risk of violating fair use laws, I include an entire column from his book (Chapter 13: Why You Shouldn’t):

    10 Whenever you think you can break the rules, don’t do it.
    20 Why? Because you shouldn’t.
    30 GOTO 20

    This is bad enough, but Scalzi goes further yet. Not content with merely recycling material, or recycling recycled material, or writing chapters that recycle themselves, Scalzi has actually included a segment of this book that violates the laws of physics! The final chapter has no actual beginning, no origin. Scalzi has somehow managed to create a chapter that sprung into existence as its own ancestor, a sort of literary Mobius Strip.

    Such casual pissing about with fundamental laws of nature has consequences, and Scalzi in his arrogance appears to have ignored these. The final chapter, once opened, appears to enter some sort of cycle of infinite semi-literary recursion. Within the first few minutes, it generated enough suction to clean my desk of considerable clutter.

    It has now grown to the size of a large dog, and has just consumed the toaster. Oh, damn. There goes the cat. I liked that cat.

    Oh hell. Here it comes. A brief summary: this books sucks so much it might well be the end of the universe as we know it.

  51. Am I in time? Review follows.


    It’s been nearly twelve months now, enough time for the dust to start to settle and the air to clear, and I think that we all now have enough perspective on events to make possible an even-handed review of John Scalzi’s long-awaited and hotly controversial The Coffee Shop Apologies. And as much as I wish that that perspective led to my seeing virtues in the work that weren’t apparent before, the sad truth is that what will probably be Scalzi’s final published work is as weak as it was on first reading. Rambling, poorly-argued, frequently hysterical, the most charitable take on this work is as a cautionary tale about the collapse of a talent and career once considered stellar. Unfortunately Scalzi’s relentless self-pity and refusal to deal honestly with his subject rob it of even that.

    The book’s title is a misnomer, since in the opening chapters Scalzi makes it clear he intends to apologise for nothing. On the pretext of providing “a full and fair context” for the events of October 15, 2008 (a date he insists on setting out in full throughout the book, despite the fact that no genre reader who hasn’t lived under a rock for the last year could possibly be ignorant of it), he spends nearly two hundred pages on glowing self-promotion. His successes with Old Man’s War, The Android’s Dream, My Other Spaceship Is Also A Porsche and the rest are presented as though this is the first time anyone had ever heard of them, and although his blow-by-blow accounts of convention appearances are accurate as far as this reviewer has been able to confirm, his continual editorialising to emphasise his popularity and reputation during these years smacks of desperation. Paradoxically, the overall effect is turgid and devoid of the sparkle of his old work, or of the blog he took down at the end of 2008 when he went into hiding. Even his retelling of the famous Worldcon “New Comprehensible” debate with Charles Stross and David Brin seems curiously passionless, as if Scalzi has to struggle to inspire himself.

    Scalzi’s autohagiography up to this point is simply tiresome, but what is unforgivable is his outright refusal to face up to the events at the end of that con. If he has really been misrepresented to the degree that he claims, here was the perfect opportunity to set the record straight on everything from his phobic reaction to the Spotted Japanese Lobster-Moth (which he claimed at the time was what triggered the actions that led to his arrest at the Yokohama Jockey Club), and his cryptic claims of a broader conspiracy behind the Harlan Ellison crotch-grabbing incident (something Ellison himself has denied at length in his article “Scalzi: His Junk In My Hand”, which at time of writing is into the fourth print run of its chapbook edition).

    Patrick Nielsen Hayden has never revealed what passed between the two men after he talked Scalzi in off the window-ledge of the Flatiron Building after the so-called “Vegemite Christmas” incident in December 2007. He has, however, debunked the popular theory that Scalzi’s decline began with his own daughter beating him to the coveted Jon Stewart guest-host spot. Scalzi’s own chapter on this period is difficult to follow at best and actively contradictory at worst, at times seeming to consist of multiple drafts of the same passage pasted end-to-end. In fairness, Scalzi cannot be blamed for the missing passage about his detention by Homeland Security on his return from Japan, since these records are subject to suppression orders and have yet to be declassified and released. However, he also cannot be excused for breaking his promise to reveal the real reasons behind the string of ram-raids that he, Tim Powers and Robert Eggleton staged on florists’ shops across the Pacific northwest in early 2008, not to mention where his wife acquired the three armoured cars full of mint-condition Susan B. Anthony dollars with which she met his bail.

    Scalzi’s account of his own movements in the winter of 2008 is a little smoother, although obviously heavily drawn from David Langford’s coverage of his flight from the authorities in the series of special Ansible editions during that period. The book does reveal that the masked figure in the series of video addresses emailed to Langford during this period was indeed Scalzi himself, but this comes as no surprise to anyone who saw the speeches in question: the only new information in this account is confirmation that the Bon Jovi tattoo on Scalzi’s torso was indeed fake, thus finally resolving the celebrated bet that reportedly caused the Langford/Gaiman knife-fight the week before Scalzi’s recapture.

    The last part of the book commits the same sins as the first, filling page after page with unconvincing claims about the triumphs he was poised to achieve before the final SWAT raid and scrupulously avoiding any of the questions levelled at him since. For example, the joint vegetable-fetish site run by and Australia’s Scalzi Produce is known to have been in planning well before Scalzi claims he approached both companies with the idea, and the DNA sample that was the subject of controversial perjury charges during the Gardner Dozois trial has been conclusively shown not to be Scalzi’s despite his claims. As throughout, however, Scalzi’s only reply is to repeat vague accusations of victimhood, as evidence citing Margaret Atwood’s internet campaign and the admittedly vindictive July 2008 editorial about him in the Journal of Forensic Archaeology. In the end, though, it is not enough to convince.

    The book ends with the now-famous picture of Scalzi in the coffee shop he attempted to open in Quezon City just before his disappearance, standing with arms outspread in front of the espresso bar and the rows of laptop carrels in a pose he admitted at the time was meant to recall the final shot of Kubrick’s The Shining. In the picture Scalzi is smiling broadly, but I would suggest that this narcissistic and dishonest attempt at what could have been a vindicating memoir gives him precious little reason to be happy. If the rumours as to his eventual destination are true, then we can only hope that the ashrams of northern India can help him to a better perspective than he displays in the pitiable final effort of his writing career.

  52. It has been suggested that a if a monkey were to randomly hit the keys of a typewriter for long enough, it would eventually produce the entire works of Shakespeare.

    The first draft of the monkey’s output would be vastly superior to the latest offering by Campbell Award Winning author, John Scalzi. Scalzi has been touted as the new Heinlein, and to be honest, in the past, he has lived up to that distinction.

    His newest book, “Regan’s Colony”, is an attempt to create a spinoff of the incredibly successful “Last Colony”. I won’t say that it made me sick; I had been forewarned to take massive doses of Dramamine to prevent nausea. It did, however, leave a very bad taste in my mouth, much like bile rising and being swallowed.

    The book begins with a recruiting commercial for a new colony that would be terraforming a hostile world. John and Jane’s neighbors sign up, excited to have a part in this adventure. After they arrive, they find intelligent life living in massive caverns below the surface. This story is their struggle to survive until they can get a ship to come back to remove them and the colony.

    I keep watching CNN to see if there’s a late breaking news story informing us that aliens have abducted Scalzi, leaving a drooling, slack jawed creature in his place. This puerile drivel reads like a six year old took oversized crayons and a Big Chief Pad to write a story for his friends. Action figures roam the pages with their friendly Transformers keeping them company. The story is disjointed, the plot is nonexistent, and the character development is about what you’d expect from a six year old. The climax of the book has a bang that makes a soap bubble popping sound deafening.

    Wait… what’s that noise??? It sounds like a jet engine makes warming up; the turbines turning faster and faster.

    Is it an Alien Spacecraft coming back to bring Scalzi back? Don’t be silly. There are no such things as aliens or drooling slack jawed creatures impersonating successful writers. Scalzi must consider himself a legend in his own mind to have tried to pass off this pulsing pile of pusillanimous pablum he passed on to his public.

    The sound? That’s Robert Heinlein, spinning in his grave.

  53. Ok – here goes.


    Do Electric Sheep Dream of Androids
    by John Scalzi
    Reviewed by Jeff Closs for

    Scalzi’s “Do Electric Sheep Dream of Androids” reads even worse than its title suggests, if that is even possible.

    I picked up this book expecting perhaps a Parody of Phillip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”. If that is what it was intended to be, Mr. Scalzi has lost his touch, if indeed he ever had it.

    Right from page one we are subjected to an overly large collection of mindless drivel. Fart jokes abound as Scalzi seems to have found a need for them regularly. The pure volume of gaseous humour could lead me to recommend this volume, if Scalzi hadn’t skimped on the quality. He seems to have made the assumption that his readers have a memory of only a chapter, and continually re-uses his short list of references to anal acoustics. It should also be noted that the majority of these fart jokes would be more at home on a grade school playground than in a serious science fiction novel.

    Scalzi apes Dick’s writing stylistically, and I’d rather believe this is a failed attempt at parody, rather than a unbelievably poor act of plagiarism. However, instead of expounding on Dick’s reference to racial prejudice we are treated to page upon page of exposition on the importance of negotiation and diplomacy.

    As mentioned previously part of the problem are the constant flatulism references, however, we are also treated to unbearably long descriptions of green skinned warriors (a ‘la Old Man’s War, again.) and bacon wrapped feline burgers.

    Earlier Scalzi criticisms also stand true. Obscene amounts of sex, with no rhyme or reason. Jokes that pummel you with vapid attempts at witticism, and gratuitous references to the “regulars” on Scalzi’s on-line blog, “The Whatever”.

    If John Scalzi ever had it, he’s lost it. His earlier works were hyped as “heinlenesque”. I think we all see now what a tired hack he is, and has been, copying works from the established masters. If you were considering purchasing this book I’d recommend seeing the latest Disney movie “Cinderella 7 – Evil Slippers and Glass Stepmothers” – it has at least ten times the originality and wit of Scalzi’s latest non-effort.

  54. I really hope someone else hasn’t covered this ground already. Here goes (and now I can read the other entries…)

    Culled from a dozen years of posts on his personal website, John Scalzi’s most recent book, “The Rough Guide to Darke County — Scalzi on His Backyard”, hits new lows not in publishing but rather re-publishing. Providing no discernable new content, Backyard is a lazy mishmash of photoshopped pictures of anything which enters his limited orbit (family members, pets, lawn, UPS delivery drivers…) and rants on a surprisingly limited number of topics given the events which occurred during the timeframe the book covers (in fact, the last year seems not to have occurred at all.) Follow his ravings from a proposed amendment on flag burning to the confederate flag and back to flag burning, all complete with the original misspellings.

    Perhaps most astonishing was his ability to find a publisher for his sad, re-told tale. This once promising writer appears to have permanently fallen into a narcissistic trance from whose event horizon he cannot escape. The author’s photo has migrated from the back of the book to the front cover, where he wears the team shirt for an Australian soccer team tracked down solely because the sponsor shares his name (“Apparently Scalzi Produce is going to be the front of shirt sponsor for the team in an upcoming series of home stands, and I’ve decided I pretty much need to have the jersey for my own, or I may die.”). The penultimate chapter is of a compilation of his ubiquitous “self pimping” threads (easily replaceable in Scalzi’s ARC with a single sheet of foil, shiny side out) while the final chapter consists entirely of quotes from post comments such as “Congratulations Scalzi!” and “MOAR!”.

    Based on the timing, I assume Scalzi’s descent into his own navel was driven by the 2008 election cycle. Scalzi’s inability to acknowledge the repeal of the 22nd amendment, re-election of George W. Bush to his third term as US president (the second WPE! by Scalzi’s estimation), institution of the draft and finally the creation of the “Children’s Brigade” (into which Scalzi’s daughter was one of millions drafted for the ability of their nimble young fingers to assemble today’s microweapons) has led him to retreat to the literary Groundhog Day of his own Backyard.

  55. John Scalzi’s latest work has dire consequences for the Global War on Terrorism!

    Rummie’s “I don’t do book reviews” Review of John Scalzi’s The Android’s Wet Dream
    By Donald Rumsfeld, New New Conservative Republican Pentagon Press
    Petulantly issued under the Freedom of Information Act

    As you know, you go to into a book review with the book you have, not the book you might want or wish to have at a later time. It was not necessary for me to actually read Scalzi’s latest “effort,” a team of analysts at the CIA and NSA reviewed the document and produced a joint report. Now, that report is classified TOP SECRET – GOP PARTY WAG EYES ONLY! But, my personal Intelligence Staff reviewed the report and analyzed it for signs of bleeding-heart liberalism and Al Qaeda connections – of which, no indicators where immediately obvious. However here’s another way to phrase that and that is that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. It is basically saying the same thing in a different way. Simply because you do not have evidence that something does exist does not mean that you have evidence that it doesn’t exist. I want to be clear on that up front.

    The Android’s Wet Dream is a so called sequel to Scalzi’s previous work which I can’t name at this time because the CIA has determined that the book constitutes a threat to National Security. However, I can tell you that according to the joint CIA/NSA report, the “plot” of the Android’s Wet Dream possibly involves one Hassan Creek who is probably at an undetermined safe house on some “planet” possibly attempting to obtain an unspecified “material.” Possibly assisting in this undetermined effort, is Creek’s Lieutenant Robin Bakr, who may be genetically engineered domestic livestock. Now as you all know, I don’t do details, but it should be obvious to any true Goodgodfearingamericanpatriot that Scalzi and the New York Times have crossed the line with this stinker. I don’t know what the facts are but somebody’s certainly going to sit down with him and find out what he knows that they may not know, and make sure he knows what they know that he may not know. However, what we do know is that Scalzi makes repeated references to genetic engineering, which as you know is based on stem cell research and the administration is completely against that because it is against God’s will and because we’re not into that “science” stuff. Even more disturbing is the implication of the protagonist’s sexual involvement with the Bakr character, who according to detailed analysis by the CIA is an ungodly hybrid between man and sheep. With this filth, Scalzi’s unabashedly and unrepentantly displays his disgusting Midwestern preference for bestially. According to pre-war intelligence, the Hassan character is a thinly disguised stand-in for Osama Bin Laden, and I can tell you that the FBI is looking into how Scalzi obtained classified material that the “character development” is so obviously based on. There are some connections being investigated, and I’m not saying that Scalzi’s wife had anything to do with it even if she does work for the CIA (which I’m not saying she does). Scalzi’s repeated references to gay marriage and Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation are obvious swipes at the Vice President, and being Vice President is difficult. Don’t make it tougher. Scalzi’s work couldn’t be any less patriotic. People say, ‘Well, where’s the smoking gun?’ Well, we don’t want to see a smoking gun from a weapon of mass publication. I suspect Scalzi’s work will be a big seller at the next Democratic National Convention (DemoCON), but it sure isn’t anything I’d want my grandkids reading. Now, I went into this review with a good plan for it. Currently the administration is working on a snappy wrap-up to get us out, but it is unknowable how long this review will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months. In the mean time, you should read a copy of my latest book: Known Knowns, Known Unknowns, and Unknown Unknowns And The Unknowing Unknowns Who Don’t Know They Know Them.

  56. No Victory for Galactic Champions

    Clearly John Scalzi’s recent episodes and his “sabbatical” in the Ohio State Asylum after the wild success of Faxes from the Future (winter 2008) has had a dramatic, but not for the better, impact on his writing. His latest book, Galactic Champions, falls flat of anything that has come before. In his previous novels (Old Man’s War, The Android’s Dream, etc.) are rife with humor, alive with a compelling pace, and demonstrate a great empathy for the main characters. Galactic Champions has some humorous moments, but they are quickly lost in the flat descriptions and restless ramblings of the main character Thomas DeVilbiss. In an attempt to draw readers in, Scalzi recycles elements from some of his other works, perhaps to keep the readers interested in a story that is truly sub par.

    The story centers around Thomas DeVilbiss, a man of great athletic prowess but who is at the same time a ‘nice guy’. It doesn’t take much for the clichés to start flowing in this book. DeVilbiss plays the future sport, Draxball, a strange combination of football and various extreme sports, for the Willie Wheelie Riders. Their slogan is, not surprisingly, “Sometimes You Just Gotta Hit the Field.” As the story progresses, after several truly mind-numbing chapters detailing the main character’s exploits, the government receives a communication from Jacob, descendent of Joshua of the Yherajk (who appeared in Scalzi’s first completed novel Agent to the Stars), that a race of hostile aliens, the Grastonarks, are on their way to earth to pose a challenge. The Yherajk have had dealings with the ruthless Grastonarks before and give the government of earth a clue as to what the challenge will be, an intergalactic game not too far off from Draxball. The stakes of the game will be domination of the planet Earth.

    The government, at the urging of the Yherajk, quickly assembles a team of the planet’s greatest athletes to take on this threat. Meanwhile, the Yherajk assemble a group of their own to aid the human players. Their plan is to take dual possession of the players’ bodies and add their own abilities to ensure the success of the Earth team. Later in the book, when this union finally occurs, the only insight we get from DeVilbiss is the quote; “This has got to be the weirdest fucking thing I’ve ever felt.” When the evil aliens finally arrive, they are simply described as “grotesque aberrations with insectile bodies and a pair of mouths with gnashing teeth.” Much of the book’s description focuses on the game, leaving the characters to be filled in by the reader’s imagination. This reader has better things to do than fill in the blanks for the author’s shortcomings.

    During the games, the book reads like a transcript of a John Madden commentary, with plenty of mention of “Multiversity, America’s leading Alternate History Research Firm,” which sponsors the broadcast of the game across the globe and throughout Earth’s colonies in the universe. Completely on the back burner to the main story is a tacked on story about the main character’s clumsy, and often painful to read, love affair with Tonya Rodard, his long-time teammate. Rodard, who also shares a body with a Yherajk for the duration of the game says the experience is “like inviting a long-time friend in to share the deepest of secrets.” Alas, the relationship is not meant to be, when Rodard loses her head to a Grastonark mandible and her body collapses on the field.

    In the end, the human/Yherajk hybrids win by a narrow margin, but instead of the Grastonark, it is the reader who is the real loser. The flat descriptions, throwaway characters and laughable alien threat combine into what is more the novelization of a B sci-fi/horror movie than Scalzi’s usual standards. Somewhere along the road to success he lost the humor and deep understanding of his characters that made his earlier books such successes. Hopefully, Descendents of the Last Colony, slated for a 2010 release will meet the level of writing that Scalzi’s regular readers have come to expect. As for Galactic Champions, I don’t hear rock group Queen’s ode to victory playing for this faux pas (although in a rather cheesey scene in the book, the member’s of Earth’s team pump themselves up before the final game by singing this famous sports anthem in the locker room).

  57. Never have so many been so disappointed by so Scalzi. Not since the infamous last paragraph of the final Harry Potter book two years ago (you remember, when Harry awakes in his cupboard under the stairs and exclaims, “It was all a dream!”) have readers been so crushed.

    And Scalzi’s new novel was so eagerly anticipated, coming on the heels of last year’s Hugo-, Nebula- and National Book Award-winning Whither Europa. I think we all remember the week when both the Pope and co-Presidents Obama and Clinton quoted from that classic – the heart-breaking passage where the fawn gently licks the dew from the pod-baby’s claws.

    But lo, how the Scalzi have fallen. The awkwardly-titled A Curious Affair of Sucking: In Which a Well-Appointed Sitting Room and Its Unfortunate Occupants Are Drawn Into the Maw of a Black Hole is an utterly pretentious and unfunny “comedy of manners.” It is, simply, a steam-punk train wreck.

    We’d all heard of Scalzi’s recent bad behavior at conventions (“the fez incident” at the Marriott) and complaining on his blog about the stench “here in the sci fi ghetto,” but this embarrassing attempt at literary fiction, well, sucks.

    Stick to the future, Mr. Scalzi…if you still have one.


    Perry Dice Regained: An Old Man Dreams of the Ghosts of Tomorrow

    by John Scalzi

    Subterran Press Limited Editions, LLC (not affiliated with Subterranean Press).
    August, 2009. 614 pp.

    EDITOR’S NOTE: Rather than waste our readers’ time attempting to review this work of fiction, the Editorial Staff is instead reprinting, as a public service and in its entirety as set forth below, a letter to John Scalzi from the legal counsel for Subterranean Press (which is not affiliated with Subterran Press Limited Editions, LLC, the vanity press set up by Mr. Scalzi to self-publish his odious tripe). The letter, hand-delivered to Mr. Scalzi by process server earlier this week, was copied and forwarded, along with Subterranean’s apologies, to all recipients of the “advance review copies” of Mr. Scalzi’s latest work, “Perry Dice Regained: An Old Man Dreams of the Ghosts of Tomorrow.” The Editorial Staff wholeheartedly concurs in Subterranean’s view of the work, as expressed below:

    Dear Mr. Scalzi:

    Please find enclosed and served upon you a Complaint for Damages which was filed in U.S. District Court earlier today. As you know, Subterranean Press (hereafter sometimes “Subterranean”) has repeatedly requested that you cease and desist from distributing your most recent work, “Perry Dice Regained: An Old Man Dreams of the Ghosts of Tomorrow” (hereafter sometimes “PDR”), under the deceptive and misleading imprint of Subterran Press Limited Editions, LLC, your print-on-demand vanity press. Because of your failure or refusal to comply, Subterranean has no choice but to bring this suit.

    As you know, Subterranean diligently worked with you, in good faith, to redeem and render marketable the work it commissioned to be authored by you to conclude the twelve (12) volume “Old Man’s War/Android’s Dream” Series. (And, honestly, who would have ever thought that the series, after being acquired by Subterranean, would last this long following the ludicrous merger of the two in Vol. 6, “The Lost Empire of the Bloviating Nano-Bovines”?) In spite of these efforts, you refused Subterranean’s assistance and pleas, intentionally, willfully, and wantonly violating your contract, including, but not limited to, the following misconduct:

    1. Your contract expressly forbade you from including in PDR any plot lines using the “androids-having-group-sex-with-mutant-cats-wearing-bacon” trope, which, as you know, cost the company several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of lost sales (not to mention the costs of defending the obscenity prosecutions), after its inclusion in Vol. 7 of the series: “Perry Docks With the Cats Who Walk Through Bacon.” Despite this clear prohibition, PDR, has not one but six such scenes.

    2. Insofar as PDR was expressly contemplated to conclude the twelve (12) volume series, and was, in fact, marketed as the climactic finale to the story, Subterranean is at a complete loss as to why, approximately half-way through the book, you would start Chapter 12 with the lines: “When John Perry awoke from his troubled sleep, he realized that it must have been the undercooked squash, or perhaps the deviled eggs, that his wife, Jane, prepared the night before that gave him the flatulence which awoke him and the wacky dreams that he was some kind of outer space hero.” The subsequent three hundred twenty-five (325) pages consist of nothing more than the character’s ruminations on what he ate that could have caused the dreams, what the dreams meaning on a philosophical level, what exactly he should have for breakfast that would not upset his stomach, and the ultimate fate of the hot pink fuzzy dice (the “Perry Dice” in the title) that he mistakenly sold with his last car, a 1985 Renault Alliance.

    3. Following the October 31, 2008, melee arising at Subterranean corporate offices (which resulted in, inter alia, the restraining order prohibiting you from physically coming within five hundred (500) feet of any Subterranean employee or in any way simultaneously possessing more than one (1) cat, one (1) pound of bacon, and one (1) gallon of ketchup or any other condiment at any time), your contracts with Subterranean expressly provided that any and all contacts between you and Subterranean be in writing and directed to the editorial department via fax transmission only. (NB: The white powder you enclosed in the envelope with your last submission was not amusing to the staff). Nevertheless, Mr. Scalzi, we at Subterranean know that it was you who placed the condoms filled with Heinz ketchup over the exhaust pipes of not fewer than eight (8) Subterranean employees. You may have, in fact already been contacted by counsel for these employees. This conduct violated your restraining order as well as your contract with Subterranean.

    In light of the above-described contractual violations, Subterranean terminated its relationship with you by letter to you dated November 1, 2008 (copy enclosed). In response to this termination, you chose to launch your vanity press and distribute the very book Subterranean purchased. As you are aware, Subterranean even went so far as to tender you a kill fee to prevent this literary abomination from ever seeing the light of day or in any way being connected to Subterranean’s good corporate name.

    We at Subterranean fail to see the humor in your efforts and will utilize every legal means at our disposal to remedy the situation you have caused. Be advised that further misconduct by you will result in additional legal action.

    Govern yourself accordingly.


    H. Hampton Finkleberg, IV, Esq.

  59. “Fryday On His Mind”

    It seems flash-in-the-pan SF writer from the first half of this decade John “I Won The Campbell Award And You Didn’t Naanaananananaa” Scalzi has gone to the Heinleinean well one time too many and has given his readers (a female contortionist who perfoms at a dive bar in St. Paul; a guy who lives in his pickup in Amarillo; some surfer dude in Hawaii; a dwarf who plays Dumbo at Disney World Orlando; and me) a new “novel” called Funky Electric Chickens On Mars. That he thinks cloned chickens is in the least interesting or cutting edge (I mean, come on, why clone something there’s already too many of?) when we’re now doing humans is a bafflement, although I hear the Amarillo reader thinks it’s “a swell idear.”

    Scalzi’s explanation for the existence of the Funky Electric Chickens (FECs); “a big cloud of space dust somehow made them funky and electric and — as a bonus — defacto rulers of the human race” is just lazy plotting. And his characterization is confusing: all the FECs are exactly the same, so that Ruler FEC is pretty much indistinguishable from the FEC that cleans out the humancoops. You would think Scalzi could at least make them different colors or something, but no. And while in his previous work (The Android’s Dream, Old Man’s War) at least similar characters had a modicum of distinguishing characteristics, here the reader truly feels that “you’ve met one chicken, you’ve met them all.”

    (Spoiler Alert!) I did enjoy the conceit that humans gained their freedom from living under the overbearing wings of the FEC by the appearance of a God who’s a dead ringer for Colonel Sanders and who makes the birds spontaneously deep fat fry when the deity appears and triggers horrific racial memory.

    And it’s nice to see Scalzi dealing with the earlier stages of eating and digestion, rather than the emission and evacuation of said items, post digestion, that he has become known for, to the extent that his fans (all five of them) refer to him as I. Sick Assmuff.

    But that a fleet of NASA space shuttles loaded full of potato salad, coleslaw, rigid paper plates and sporks appear at just the ultimate frying moment on the Mars colony chicken farm in FECOM is rather a hard pill to swallow. (Even the slacker surfer dude thinks that part is lame, Mr Scalzi.)

    It has been reported by gossip-mongers that Scalzi based his plot on a shred of paper he found while rooting around in the Heinlein Estate’s garbage. Although he believed it to be from the master’s notebooks it turns out that it was actually a menu from a writer’s group dinner that Heinlein attended back in 1956. So is it any wonder that this latest from Scalzi reads more like a cookbook than a novel?

    J.D. Finch
    Grover’s Mill Gazette

    **NOTE — As I was writing this review I received an email from PR Wire Reports that states, in part: “The Scalzi novel Funky Electric Chickens On Mars has been picked up by the newly created KFC reading group. As part of a company promotion random sample chapters will be given out with two and three piece meals; Fifty Cent is recording a new video called Doing The Funky Electric (Chicken On Mars, Yo); and Samuel Delaney will be teaching a course at the University Of Pennsylvania called “Angry Red Chickens: Fowl Distopia, Or Food For Thought?”)

    I stand by my original take on the book, the attentions of cultural buzz people not withstanding. And so that even the most common of any of Scalzi’s denominators out there might understand, I ask that you read my fingers: THIS BOOK SUCKS.

    But my final word on this is an anti-blurb for out-of-date and out-of-ideas Mr. Scalzi: If hope is the thing with feathers, sir, then you are the thing there is no hope for. Unless you’re hiding your feathers somewhere. Which I doubt

  60. John Scalzi showed early promise in the New Comprehensible Movement with his fiction, but he has

    apparently abandoned his real strength. Instead of exciting novels featuring space battles and flatulence in the

    world of tomorrow, he is creating books– nay, doorstops– advising readers on how to be like him. If the advice

    were good, or pertinent, this might be a worthwhile effort. It is neither, nor is it amusing. The first of these advice

    opuses, You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop: Scalzi on Writing,

    was a great success and contained a fair amount of very useful information. It sold out almost instantly, leading

    him to believe that he had found the path to true fame. His effort to repeat this success led to the sorry state of his

    current career.
    You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Wear a Sports Shirt With Your Name On It: Scalzi on

    Dressing is the unoriginal and ambivalent title of his latest work– is it about a southern side dish, or about

    fashion? A quick glance at pictures of Mr. Scalzi online suggests that perhaps he is not the best person to write

    about style and clothing (and he does look like he may partake of southern side dishes), but the ugly truth is that

    he is attempting to write about fashion. A quick glance at the chapters does little to invite one to read the book.

    There are chapters on Clothing for Ohio Winters, Clothing for Ohio Springs, Clothing for Ohio Autumns,

    Clothing for a Morning Book Signing, Clothing for an Afternoon Book Signing, and Clothing for an Evening Book

    Signing (riveting so far, is it not?). Then there seems to be a little variety– Clothing for Taping Bacon to a Cat,

    The Proper Way to Wear a Tiara, and Accessories that Make You Look So Hot.
    Unfortunately, a reviewer must do more than give quick glances. The chapters themselves are

    filled with pointless detail and what Mr. Scalzi thinks of as wit. His advice is largely nothing we have not all heard

    before. Does he really need to echo our mothers and tell us, in each chapter, that we should wear clean

    underwear? Do we really need to be told that, if there is snow on the ground, we should put on sturdy

    footwear? Then there is the chapter on the tiara, which he begins by harking back to a popular, thoughtful piece

    he did some years ago: “Being poor means you never wear a tiara, receive the applause of many professionals,

    and get a nifty little cheeseboard to take home.” He manages to ramble on for twenty-three pages about the tiara

    and the suit that he wore with it. He does finally offer one piece of real advice that might help some of his

    readers: He includes tips on how to minimize the shine of a bald head in photographs.
    The chapter on accessories is certainly different than I expected. What does Mr. Scalzi consider

    a perfect accessory? His first choice is “a hot wife on your arm,” and his second is “a really cute kid.” One hopes

    that someone convinced his wife that a bald geeky goofball on her arm is a good accessory, or Mr. Scalzi may

    be lacking in the accessory department.
    Do not buy this book, even if you are bald and want to know how to minimize the shine on your

    head in photographs. Email me and I will be happy to tell you how. This book is almost entirely a waste of far

    too many trees. Thankfully, it will serve one purpose. Along with You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You

    Tape Bacon to a Cat: Scalzi on Blogging, You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Spam My Comment Thread:

    Scalzi on Self-Promotion, and You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Carry a Baseball Bat But Can’t

    Make the Drunk Back Down: Scalzi on Self-Defense, I can now raise my desk to a better height. It is a small

    consolation, but it is better than nothing.

  61. My hopes were high for John Scalzi’s book, Scalziloquies. His previous works were some of the most enjoyable books I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Unlike his previous work, Mr. Scalzi took quite a bit of time to write Scalziloquies. Two years he spent focused on this one project.

    Divorced and living in squalor in Dubuque, his beloved book his only companion, Scalzi worked tirelessly. He had forsaken his blogs. His domain name had been snatched up by a soccer team. Former corporate clients tell stories of feverish conversations in which Scalzi berated them for interrupting his magnum opus. In his own words he “…poured (his) very soul into Scalziloquies. It is the very essence of Scalzi!”

    This reviewer wishes Scalzi had left his soul where he found it. It seems his soul was long and boring. Forty-two chapter’s worth of long and boring. The shortest chapter weighed in at one hundred and twenty-seven pages. Including the extensive appendices, and the ninety-seven page long forward, the book comes in at 7214 pages.

    Within Scalziloquies are forty-two interlinked short stories, each a conversation between his character from Old Man’s War, John Perry, and, well, an Android Shep. That is not a typo. The second character is a mechanical Stooge. Why a military android was made in the image of a stooge is left unexplained.

    Perry pontificates at great length on the merits of writing for a living. Android Shep follows Perry dutifully and nods approvingly. All the while, the two are in a seemingly endless interstellar war.

    Apparently with his eye on a movie deal, the entire book is written in screenplay form. Many authors have pulled off suspenseful, exciting and engrossing in this form. This mess is none of those things.

    J. Perry walks across the meadow. A. Shep follows. Both are wearing Nanotechnology Powered Empire Battle Armor, Class Three A (NPEBC-3A) in blue with green piping.

    J. Perry: You know, marrying up is the only way to go.

    A. Shep looks a J. Perry inquisitively.

    A. Shep: How’s that?

    J. Perry looks at A. Shep sheepishly. His green skin shines in the moonlight.

    J. Perry: Marrying up. Marry a beautiful woman who can clean your office. That is the only way to go. A clean office is worth her weight in royalties.

    A. Shep puts his finger in the air and nods approvingly.

    A. Shep: Ahhhh!

    A whistling sound. The glow of explosions far off in the distance. An immense space ship moves slowly across the horizon. Behind our heroes, the forest burns.

    J. Perry turns to A. Shep and looks at him concernedly.

    J. Perry: We should get under cover. The Munificengies are shelling our position.

    A. Shep turns to the horizon and scans it solemnly. After scratching his nose he turns to J. Perry

    A. Shep: Yes. Yes they are.

    J. Perry turns to the horizon and smiles. Then he turns to A. Shep and hefts his Multicycle Nanotechnology Ion Calcification Carbine.

    J. Perry: Then again, we are wearing our Nepebkathree Armor. Maybe we should go give ‘em hell?

    A. Shep’s arms click and whirr. The android’s hands become Class Five Lethal Plasma Laser Weapons of Medium Nanotechnology Destruction. A. Shep grins.

    A. Shep: I’ll follow you anywhere, sir!

    This reviewer could find no better excerpt. An entire staff of interns spent weeks trying to find a more interesting excerpt. The closest they came was a passage called “Nanotechnology!! Is there anything it can’t do?” The only reason it was considered was due to the extraordinary number of times the word nanotechnology was used.

    Which begs the question, Mr. Scalzi, was there anything to which you might have considered not applying nanotechnology? A few examples to illustrate the point:

    * Nanotechnology Enhanced Space Marine Bath Beads
    * Particle Generating Nanotechnology Belt Buckle
    * Self Sharpening Nanotechnology Toe Nail Clippers
    * Nanotechnology Cheat-Proof Playing Cards
    * Self Cleaning Jock Strap: Enhanced with Odor Eating Nanotechnology

    Unless you are concerned that your complete set of Scalzi’s works will be incomplete without this book, don’t buy it. If you must buy it, for the love of all that is good, don’t read it.

    Update: It seems the film version of Scalziloquies is in production. Slated to be released in Summer 2010. Keanu Reaves will play John Perry. Will Wheaton is the voice of a CGI Android Shep. The film is directed by Uwe Boll.

  62. John Scalzi, best known for his successful homage to Robert Heinlein in Old Man’s War, has attempted bring his unique brand of mimicry as adulation to author Philip K. Dick. His new book Future Warrior: Killer, Poet, Prophet, God is an insidious, inelegant, and reality distorting piece of detritus.
    A man as obviously obsessed with himself as Scalzi appears, based on his narcissistic website, has such confidence in his version of reality that any attempt to second guess himself, as Dick did so masterfully, seems grotesquely contrived.
    The hero of this overpriced paperweight is one Hamlet Johansen, a pot smoking slacker with a genius for strategy as displayed by his status as a former chess prodigy. Johansen is abducted by the military industrial complex where his consciousness is transferred into an intergalactic war game computer. The military believes it can harness the intellect of Hamlet for its own nefarious ends, but the hero experiences such identity withdrawal that he ceases to be himself. Hamlet uses the vast computer resources at his disposal to contrive multiple virtual realities, and the book attempts to leave us wondering which, if any, is real.
    The result of this attempt is a farcical load of odious prose and disastrously contrived realities. The reader cannot decide which reality is real because Scalzi manages to alienate us to the point where we wish only for the demise of our reality where we spent money on this piece of dead tree masquerading as a book.
    Dick, noted for his tenuous grasp on reality, left us confused, interested, and a little suspicious. Scalzi, boring, sane, and depressingly middle class leaves us begging for anything resembling an original idea or even a well written bad one. The most glaring faux pas is Scalzi’s inability to forego his characteristic locker room banter in the face of real danger, as in the following exchange.

    Hamlet looked at his digital apparition. “Hey sweet cheeks, are you real?”
    “Real enough for you,” she said with a grin.
    “What’d you mean by that?” he asked with feigned confusion.
    “Oh, I think you know,” she answered with a long glance in the vicinity of his crotch.

    This version of reality, meant to invoke paranoia and dread only invokes a sharp nausea at the childish view of the glamorous world of mental instability.
    Scalzi, normally a writer of solid if not spectacular skill, has chosen a style monumentally outside his skill level.
    Future Warrior: Killer, Poet, Prophet, God is at best a sad attempt at flattery and at worse an offensive piece of drivel written by a man that should know better.
    Had Scalzi not written previous books that were better, then one might wonder if his existence isn’t just cosmic gratuitous excess.

  63. “Fantastic Voyage, The Suppository Gambit” is perhaps John Scalzi’s most completely realized work in what has been a long career of science fiction mediocrity and misses. From the first page, his mastery of scifi/scifact creates a feeling that hits you where it most counts, filling your insides with a rumbling of greatness to come. This action-adventurer in the superior rectal arterial vein style of his previous work, forces you to find a throne, sit heavily and grunt in joyful anticipation of blasting away at alien polyps, evil hemorrhoids, and mucusy, blood tinged floaters that snake in and out of the brave crews’ lives and challenge them to all sorts of flagitious adventures in a place where even most doctors fear to tread.

    I am aware that other reviewers vehemently loath this even more than Scalzi’s other work. To them I say, put those reviews where the sun don’t shine – you’re just flat-out wrong on this one. I can see Scalzi’s aim here and it’s not “below the belt” as one particularly sad and uniformed reviewer put it – no, this is a work of seminal social satire in the tradition of “A Cockwork Orange”. (Editor’s note: we are pretty sure that Mark meant Clockwork Orange but we are contractually obligated not to alter Mr. Sevi’s reviews – no matter how we might wish to. Back to the, uh…review).

    I so admired Scalzi’s use of meta-metaphor. This is much more than “scifi toilet paper”, an appellation that has been applied, rightfully, of Scalzi’s other word. I truly do understand where he was aiming when he sent his fictional crew up that dark channel and into an area that most men would rather not acknowledge let alone experience through Scalzi’s expert digital manipulation – mainly our own inborn fear of being caught in the grip of society’s random maelstrom, powerless like a “turd in a sewer”, as Scalzi so eloquently had his main character declaim. To the genius that is Scalzi I say: Bravo, sir, for finally bringing this dark and dirty subject to light. We *depend* on your brave insights and you’ve delivered on what is a brumous and malodorous subject.

    The ending hits you like the force of a projectile expulsion of raw sewage in the face. While not giving away how the crew finally manages their harrowing return home, two hints:“Soylent Green is people!” and “It’s a cook book!” may give you some insight into the clever way Scalzi brings the story full circle, straight down the Hershey Highway, so to speak, as the brave crew of the “Fibroid” come squirting home to safely.

    I can honestly say that I’ve rarely read any novel more compelling, and everyone should have a copy in a place of honor in their bathroom – my own favorite place to read. The announced sequel, “Fantastic Voyage: The Catheter Injection” already has me squirming excitedly in my seat.

  64. “Fantastic Voyage, The Suppository Gambit” is perhaps John Scalzi’s most completely realized work in what has been a long career of science fiction mediocrity and misses. From the first page, his mastery of scifi/scifact creates a feeling that hits you where it most counts, filling your insides with a rumbling of greatness to come. This action-adventurer in the superior rectal arterial veiney style of his previous work, forces you to find a throne, sit heavily and grunt in joyful anticipation of blasting away at alien polyps, evil hemorrhoids, and mucusy, blood tinged floaters that snake in and out of the brave crews’ lives and challenge them to all sorts of flagitious adventures in a place where even most doctors fear to tread.

    I am aware that other reviewers vehemently loath this even more than Scalzi’s other work. To them I say, put those reviews where the sun don’t shine – you’re just flat-out wrong on this one. I can see Scalzi’s aim here and it’s not “below the belt” as one particularly sad and uniformed reviewer put it – no, this is a work of seminal social satire in the tradition of “A Cockwork Orange”. (Editor’s note: we are pretty sure that Mark meant Clockwork Orange but we are contractually obligated not to alter Mr. Sevi’s reviews – no matter how we might wish to. Back to the, uh…review).

    I so admired Scalzi’s use of meta-metaphor. This is much more than “scifi toilet paper”, an appellation that has been applied, rightfully, of Scalzi’s other word. I truly do understand where he was aiming when he sent his fictional crew up that dark channel and into an area that most men would rather not acknowledge let alone experience through Scalzi’s expert digital manipulation – mainly our own inborn fear of being caught in the grip of society’s random maelstrom, powerless like a “turd in a sewer”, as Scalzi so eloquently had his main character declaim. To the genius that is Scalzi I say: Bravo, sir, for finally bringing this dark and dirty subject to light. We *depend* on your brave insights and you’ve delivered on what is a brumous and malodorous subject.

    The ending hits you like the force of a projectile expulsion of raw sewage in the face. While not giving away how the crew finally manages their harrowing return home, two hints:“Soylent Green is people!” and “It’s a cook book!” may give you some insight into the clever way Scalzi brings the story full circle, straight down the Hershey Highway, so to speak, as the brave crew of the “Fibroid” come squirting home to safely.

    I can honestly say that I’ve rarely read any novel more compelling, and everyone should have a copy in a place of honor in their bathroom – my own favorite place to read. The announced sequel, “Fantastic Voyage: The Catheter Injection” already has me squirming excitedly in my seat.

  65. I tried to send my submission 2x and didn’t see it posted – but there it is now twice. Sorry. And I guess I missed the deadline because of the problems with getting this sent. Oh, well. it was fun anyway.

  66. I know I am late, but couldn’t resist:

    John Scalzi’s latest novel, A Mote in God’s Pants, leaves its readers with more questions than answers. But these are not, as one might expect, philosophical, plot-driven, or character related questions. I did not close the book contemplating the implications of Mr. Scalzi’s enthusiastically presented new cosmology, which he refers to variously as “post-totalitarian priapism” or “being a real dick, but in a good way.” Nor did I wonder what his characters would do next. Presumably they will wander about fecklessly, react one-dimensionally to stimuli, and spout douche-commercial-level dialogue, as they did in the course of the book.

    Rather, Mr. Scalizi’s book raises perplexing questions about what very, very bad things happened to him to make him write like that, and why they were permitted to happen in a civilized society. Are there no child welfare organizations? Are there no euthanasia supporters within walking distance of whatever blighted heath vomited him forth? Where was the fourth-grade teacher who, upon reading little Johnny’s first ominous efforts, could have snapped his tender fingers like twigs and changed history and the course of modern literature immeasurably for the better?

    These questions, like the conundrum of why a merciful God permits evil, I must leave for the philosophers. Merely contemplating them is more punishment than I deserve for all the sins I have ever imagined – and I’m a lawyer. I love English, the language of Shakespeare and Dickens and Twain. Just as I cannot imagine my own mother guilty of hideous deeds, I cannot imagine what my mother tongue could have done to John Scalzi to deserve the cold-hearted revenge he takes against her in this book. English is the new fish to John Scalzi’s hardened lifer cellmate, the classic oratory to his George Bush, the extra tube sock to his teenaged boy. It’s clear that he believes he has his own style, his own voice. Indeed he does. Regrettably, it’s a style and voice apparently developed by listening to goth eighth-graders discuss the B-plot on “Charmed” and reading AOL chat room transcripts.

  67. OK, so I missed the deadline. Still, I can’t resist.
    My review:

    I like the periods in this novel, but they were too far apart.

  68. I wrote my entry early then forgot to enter it last week. Oops, I’m totally blonde! Here it is anyway:

    I think John Scalzi’s new novel is the stupidest book we had to read all year. It takes place in outer space. It was good in the beginning then Britney Smithson raised her hand and said she read the book already over winter break, which everybody knows is a lie because she spent the whole time getting a hickey from Leonardo Coleman even though they weren’t even going out. She was trying to make Leonardo think she is smart because he likes the smart girls and everyone knows I’m the fastest reader but he asked her to the dance after I told her I was going to ask him. I hated this book. It was 253 pages long.

  69. Old Bastard’s Revenge: A Prequel
    by John Scalzi.

    One must wonder what the author was possibly imagining when he conceived the notion that readers would have any interest the rest home exploits of a ribald crew of septugenarians. And none of these characters even made it into “Old Man’s War.” Even worse, the prose reads like a fifth grade creative writing exercise. And to call the dialogue insipid would be flattery. A sample:

    “I know she’s gonnna come in here any second now,” said Bob lustily. “She always washes her pussy every day at this time.”

    “You got any extra meds?” asked Phil inquisitively.

    “Shut the fuck up!” Bob retorted.

    “How ’bout I just fuck you instead?” replied Phil.

    This kind of garbage rambles on for 423 teeth-grinding pages as debilitated old men roam the hallways of Aunt Betty’s Convalescent Home in an endless quest for viagra, codine and nookie.

    So long John, we hardly knew ye.

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