Zoe’s Tale at The Agony Column

Rick Kleffel of The Agony Column gives an early shout-out to Zoe’s Tale, in which he talks about the book as one of three science fiction books aimed at teens but worth reading if one’s an adult (the other two: Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow, and Have Spacesuit, Will Travel by Robert Heinlein). You can read the text version, or hear it in audio; my understanding is that the audio will also play on NPR at some point in the near future (as part of its “Three Books” series). Here’s a nice quote about the book:

As Scalzi sets up the targets, Zoë takes them out with the ruthless vigor of a motivated teenaged girl. She truly comes to life – and readers will feel invigorated as well.

Naturally I’m happy that Zoë is coming across well so far. Because, you know, I like her.

7 Comments on “Zoe’s Tale at The Agony Column”

  1. 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, betwixt demons.

    So cool!

    I am excited to read this. Just finished Singularity’s Ring which was YA masquerading as SF. Very good read!

    Did you do any field research by running things by Krissy and or Athena?

  2. I really liked [i]Have Spacesuit, Will Travel[/i]. And I find it very re-readable. Heinlein is especially good at that kind of stuff…

    I have [i]Little Brother[/i] in my laptop bag to read. And later today I’m going to go dumpster diving at the editorial offices and hope for an ARC of [i]Zoe’s Tale[/i]. :)

  3. Okay, so was Peewee deliberately neglected in Kleffel’s brief description of Have Space Suit–Will Travel so as to avoid comparisons to Zoe, or was she edited out for space/time reasons? Either way, it’s an unfortunate omission for readers unfamiliar with the book. It’s misleading to say that Kip “finds out that he’s able to communicate with aliens” without his first contacting Peewee, without whom he’d have had no adventure at all (and would still be traipsing around in his air-conditioned space suit, calling “Junebug to Peewee”).

  4. Does Zoe have an umlaut (sp?) or not? The cover shows without an umlaut, but you write it both with and without.

    Just curious.

  5. I think Citizen of the Galaxy, by Heinlein, also falls under the ‘YA that adults can/should read’ column, personally.

  6. Absolutely, Citizen and Space Suit (both of which I first read at age 12, when they were only available in school libraries; the well-known Ballantine-DelRey paperbacks didn’t appear until 1977 or so) are equally representative of Heinlein at his best. But I do wonder whether a present-day 12-year-old like my older daughter can get into them as readily as I did when the books themselves were only 10 years old or so.

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