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jcunningham

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Ermahgerd. Berks.

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Caliban's War
James S.A. Corey
You
The Shining Girls

Redshirts

Redshirts - I was going to write a review for this one, but then I realized I could basically just cut and paste my review of Agent to the Stars, changing relevant details like "plot" and "character names" and just keeping everything else exactly the same. Because this book, like all of Scalzi's books except maybe Old Man's War and the two Old Man's War books I didn't read because I didn't really like the second book, suffers (or maybe benefits, I don't know, apparently people love this dude) from being written by John Scalzi. More specifically, John Scalzi, Popular Blogger and Honorary President of Internet Nerds. The plusses of being a book written by John Scalzi: you probably have a good premise, you can be read in about three hours, and you are probably going to sell pretty well. The negatives: you won't be as funny as you think you are, the cleverness of your premise will be worn thin even at a three-hour reading length, and all of your characters will sound exactly the same as not only each other, but all of the characters in all of John Scalzi's novels (more specifically, they will sound like a blog post by John Scalzi). Oh, also on the downside, Wil Wheaton will narrate you as an audiobook, which is bad news not only because you don't work very well as an audiobook (unless your listeners like it when every single line of dialogue is attributed, even during long, quippy back-and-forths, though I guess you could argue it is necessary since everyone sounds the same), but because Wil Wheaton is kind of shockingly terrible as a reader of audiobooks (though he does make all the characters sound the same, so maybe that's intentionally meta).Speaking of meta: this book is very in love with itself, especially the second half, and especially especially the three codas, which are kind of infuriating, if only because they reveal how lazy of a writer Scalzi is: he hints that there is this deeper level beyond his story, one worth exploring, even though he didn't bother writing a story interesting enough to make me care to do it.Because Scalzi is kind of lazy. I mean, the incredibly hard-working kind of lazy, where you get everything done, but you get it done just enough, and you think it doesn't matter because your boss didn't notice, or your teacher doesn't grade very hard and you got an A anyway, or you are a really nice guy and your fans are going to praise everything you do regardless of quality (hi, Joss Whedon!).I mean, consider: all the problems in this book, from the samey characters to the limp plot to the unearned sentimentality to the not-very-funny funny dialogue, could probably have been cleared up with, I don't know, another draft or two. But Scalzi is very busy being Scalzi, so he wrote this one in five weeks (because NaNoWriMo just isn't enough time to do a thorough job), sent it off to his editor, and proceded to write 11 blogs posts and attend five comic book conventions before finally dropping into bed, exhausted, but confident that his teacher was probably still going to give him that A, because he's a really nice guy and always makes funny comments in class.And, judging by his NYT best-seller status, he got that A! But not from me.