The Last Colony Review at The Agony Column

And it’s a nice one, playing off the fact that The Last Colony is a Sci-Fi Channel Essential book for May:

I deem this book essential not just because every other star in the science fiction universe says it’s great (it is), but rather because I think essential is a good description of the reason Scalzi is so much fun to read. His prose it and his story are stripped clean, smoothed down to the essentials. He packs more action into a 300 something page novel than some writers manage to get in a 3,000 page trilogy. Everything is crystal clear. The universe may be complicated and the aliens jockeying for the limited resources in that universe may be complicated, heck, even the politics of the human race are complicated, but in Scalzi’s precise vision, all you get are the essentials you need as a reader to plug yourself into the story and set yourself loose at light speed. Scalzi is an essential writer to read because he offers readers only the essentials they need to get out there in his universe and have one hell of a good time.

Well, shucks. I do try.

Coincidentally, or perhaps not, I had an interview with Rick Kleffel (who writes at The Agony Column) today, over at KQED, and what I’m really proud of was that I think it’s the first interview I’ve done where I may not have muttered a single “uuuuuuuh.” We’ll have to wait until it’s released, of course, to see if I’m correct.

17 Comments on “The Last Colony Review at The Agony Column”

  1. I just got the email telling me my award copy of the book went out FedEx today. Now, I’m even more excited.

    Essential? Hot Damn!

  2. Essential. Yes. I literally wore the cover off of OMW – snarky Alan had me in tears. (If you’re like Harry, as you claim, I might like you, too.) If TLC (my copy is currently in transit – that Super Saver option at Amazon is the bane of the impatient) is as good, I think essential is apt.

    I want the podcast, too. You said in an earlier blog that we may (if we asked politely) get what we ask for. May I have a podcast?

    I didn’t ask for a pony.

  3. Christopher Hamilton – Edinburgh, Scotland – Writer and photographer based in Edinburgh, Scotland. You can find me online at http://christopherhamilton.net or on twitter as @chrishamilton
    Chris

    I just got an email from Amazon saying my copy was being shipped today.

    Excited. Me. Never.

    Just because I let out a loud whoop, and danced around like a crazy person. It means nothing I tell you, nothing.

  4. Jeff Hentosz, I bow before thy mighty google-fu. I looked at KQED (they have a great selection of podcasts, but I would need to know the name of the show). I did a search for Rick Kleffel and got somethings on trashotron.com, but that list is excellent. Mucho gracias (or something like that).

  5. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me
    Chang, for rizzle.

    ESSENTIAL

    Yeah, that fricking nails it. I sometimes wish you did more chracter description (especially of the aliens because I love aliens!) but then I realize it’s in my head anyway and I remake it in my mind. And then that dude Stowe draws awesome pictures of it.

    Yeah. Essential. I ‘ll try to write like that sometime.

  6. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me
    Chang, for rizzle.

    And damn your essential writing, because my wife won’t read my one chapter submission for VP because of your damn essential writing in TGB.

    C

    U

    R

    S

    E

    Y

    O

    U

  7. Finished up TLC about 3 hours ago, just before a thesis defense started. Very nice. On the promotional front, I’ve managed to get my dad hooked, and my husband passed on OMW and TGB to a co-worker, who is now hooked.

    Hopefully we’re building up that college fund.

  8. TLC finally arrived today! I’m one chapter into it now (reading between calls, you see) and I’m already thrilled with it.

    Oh, yeah! That’s the Good Stuff!

  9. TLC finally arrived today! I’m one chapter into it now (reading between calls, you see) and I’m already thrilled with it.

    Oh, yeah! That’s the Good Stuff!

  10. Wow, great review. If people keep praising you like that, your head may not fit on the plane as carry on…

    Great job. I can’t wait to get my copy.

  11. I finished TLC last night, and loved it. I’d have to agree that there’s a lot of story packed into the book, though part of me feels 3,000 pages would have been nice. I was sad to have it end so soon.

    I wish I could make it down to Berkeley tonight!

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