Zoe’s Tale Excerpt
Posted on December 19, 2008 Posted by John Scalzi 7 Comments
Hey, did you know that the entire prologue chapter to Zoe’s Tale is available for you to read over at the Tor/Forge site? I completely forgot about it, myself, because I guess I’m an idjit that way. If you haven’t picked up ZT yet — ahem, ahem — then this is a good way to make your introductions.
I’ve had folks ask me why I put in a prologue chapter for ZT, rather than starting at Chapter One, as I’ve done with other books. The answer actually had to do with the nature of the novel itself — it’s meant to be a standalone novel for folks who have not had previous contact with the universe (i.e., younger readers) and a continuation novel for those who have (i.e., the adult readers of the series). The new readers needed introductions to some of the major characters from the previous books (John, Jane, Savitri, Hickory and Dickory, etc), but I didn’t want the previous readers to get bored when these characters that they already knew came onto page.
The best way to solve both problems: A prologue, which both gets the new folks up to speed on all the major characters while at the same time serving notice to the previous readers that this story, while covering the same timeframe as The Last Colony, was still a wholly new view of events, and that the book will be focused on characters (Zoë, Gretchen, Enzo and Magdy) they hadn’t spent time with before. These are the things you think about when you’re putting together a book that’s supposed to do and be different things for different audiences.
And, of course, if I pulled it off, none of this will be obvious, since you’ll simply be enjoying reading the words and getting to know the characters, and getting sucked into the story. Except now I just told you. Well, hopefully you’ll still get caught up with the reading anyway.
This was a nice reassurance that ordering a signed copy of ZT for my going-on-12-year-old daughter was a good move, and I’m awfully excited about seeing her open it on Christmas. Thanks.
Prologues are definitely a good idea to bring readers up to speed. I have only read “Old Man’s War” so far – please don’t hunt me down and threaten me with bodily harm; I’m allergic to pain, you see – thus it would definitely help somebody like me if I jumped ahead in this milieu to “Zoe’s Tale.” Your comment about dealing with two sets of audiences at the same time – those familiar with and unfamiliar with characters/setting/background info – certainly describes a problem in working with a novel in a series, or a shared universe. Maintaining consistency between books and making additional novels stand alone definitely sounds like a difficult talk. Even so, I am looking forward to reading your other books in this series, btw.
Besides, I’ve even written a prologue for the novel I’ve begun; from my limited writer’s point of view, it gives me a reference point, or at least a precipice to to fall from and see how the story lands. Of course, with my luck, it will face plant on the rocks. I need to work on this during the holiday break. Once classes start up again (January 20th) time will once again be at a premium.
I’m going to read Ghost Brigades over the holidays, but this prologue is a nice tale of what’s awaiting further into the series. Thanks for posting!
I have to add ZT to my list of novels that I like where the same tale is told twice from two different view points.
Previously it was just Modesitt’s Magic Engineer/Colors of Chaos-The White Order.
Hi John, is this going to be heading Tor Macmillan way sometime soon? Having read and enjoyed Old Man’s War, Ghost Brigades and now delving into The Last Colony, I’m not sure I need to read a prologue. Keep ’em coming.
Yup, I think the plan is to publish it this summer or thereabouts.
Excellent, I’ll be grabbing that when it appears, then. Cheers Mr Scalzi!