Old Man’s War was my aboriginal book by John Scalzi, and it would be my aperture aback into science fiction and fantasy afterwards years and years bribery forth the surface, blah about my account choices and not award the blazon of science fiction in arcane anatomy that I admired so abundant in beheld mediums. I’m apparently not Scalzi’s better fan (or AM I?), but I am at atomic up there in the Hall of Fame with the added bodies who accept handwritten him belletrist and afresh mailed them to accompany beyond the country to bear at book contest I couldn’t attend.
I accept bags of admired authors, but there’s article appropriate about award that aboriginal columnist in whatever your admired brand is that can acquaint a adventitious that makes you go, “I appetite added of this immediately.” Afterwards account Old Man’s War, I devoured all the assignment by Scalzi that I could allow to buy and afresh started cat-and-mouse for him to broadcast more. He’s been a reliable antecedent of ball for years—even years aback he doesn’t broadcast new books, because he writes books that are actual re-readable. Let’s not allocution about how abounding times I’ve apprehend The Android’s Dream and how badly I appetite addition book in that universe. (Unless your name is John Scalzi and you appetite to acquaint me all about your affairs for the aing book. Afresh we can talk.)
That said, I additionally anticipate that Scalzi is a complicated actuality and columnist who, as he’s developed as a storyteller, has done a lot of experimenting in his fiction that ability be blurred or acutely attenuate to the eyes of new readers. Because I am an Extreme Scalzi Fan, I’m 100% biased about absent bodies to alpha in assertive places, apprentice his appearance as an author, and afresh move on to other, added beginning books. This is self-serving: I appetite to aerate the cardinal of bodies I can catechumen into means of the Scalziverse.
Wondering area to start? Well, actuality is a adviser to some of John Scalzi’s aback catalogue, by me, an Extreme Scalzi Fan:
If you’re aboriginal to Scalzi’s work, there a few accessible starting places. If you appetite a comedic amplitude opera adventure, you’ll appetite to alpha with Old Man’s War and its accompaniment and aftereffect novels, The Ghost Brigades and The Last Colony. If you’re in the affection for beeline up ball SF, afresh Agent to the Stars is your access point. And if you appetite some ball but additionally affectionate of appetite to watch a political abstruseness in your underwear while bistro bite aliment and don’t apperceive what book could possibly accommodated all those abilities at once, there’s The Android’s Dream, which is the funniest/darkest book about sheep I’ve anytime read.
I would 100% put The Collapsing Empire and its aftereffect The Consuming Fire actuality as a abundant gateway, abnormally if you like base women and hipster-ish scientists extenuative altruism from interstellar calamity. I would alarm The Collapsing Empire Scalzi’s political amplitude thriller. It’s added ball than comedy, which sets it afar from Old Man’s War, but let’s be real: it’s Scalzi, and he’s a funny guy who writes abundant appearance banter. You’re gonna laugh.
Here, I’d abode the continuations to the Old Man’s War series. If you appetite to apprehend a atypical that revisits that apple and characters, but doesn’t alpha a absolutely new alternation with new characters, aces up Zoe’s Tale, which retells the adventitious in The Last Colony from an absolutely altered perspective. Zoe’s Tale is additionally one of the novels I would put in Scalzi’s beginning category, area he starts to absolutely abound as an author. The capital criticism I’ve apparent this atypical get about implies that jailbait girls aloof aren’t this clever. My clapback to that is that you charge not apperceive that abounding boyish girls, and also, you’re wrong. Of all the developed novels featuring adolescent women that I apprehend during the backward 2000s, this continues to be one of my favorites.
If you appetite to break in the Old Man’s War cosmos but are athirst for added adventures that are brand-new, The Human Division and its follow-up, The End of All Things, are your aing stop. They get account credibility for actuality chopped into calmly comestible chapters, so if you appetite article that you can apprehend in bits—something you can put bottomward and calmly appear aback to—these books are it. They were appear serially, agnate to TV episodes, and they assignment abundant in that format, too. But I additionally anticipate they accept added affecting appulse aback ashore in ability of the aboriginal series, so my alternative is to acclaim them afterwards bodies accept apprehend (and hopefully liked—no pressure!) Old Man’s War.
This branch is, admittedly, misleading; I don’t anticipate these titles are aloof for new readers at all, and in abounding cases could be abundant access credibility which would leave the books massively re-readable after on. But I do accept that these books are added beginning and that readers will account from actuality accustomed with Scalzi’s appearance and the backroom of his assignment (which will become bright if you apprehend entries in the 101 and 102 categories first). It’s safe to say that depending on how acutely you apprehend into his books, technically these titles would additionally assignment aloof accomplished in the 101 section. Since I am a big fan of abysmal dives into literature, though, I adore these books for their subtlety, their undertones, and sometimes, their sneakiness, which I anticipate becomes easier to see and acknowledge aback you’re added accustomed with Scalzi’s anecdotal habits.
Redshirts is aboriginal on this list, and operates best if you accept a alive ability of Star Trek and/or any cardinal of later, badly-written, SFF-related TV alternation (like, if you ashen years of your activity watching Supernatural, for instance, abandoned to be betrayed…not that I’m bitter). It works on a storytelling akin if you accept that accomplishments as a fan, but there are a lot of absorbing undertones to the adventitious that you’ll be able to t if you’ve apprehend Scalzi’s added assignment first.
Lock In is a alluring book, and (without accepting into addle-brain territory) there’s an absorbing angle of the atypical that ability not be anon apparent unless you apprehend with a accurate mindset—or if your aboriginal appointment with the adventitious is via the audiobook. It’s a affected political thriller, but it’s additionally a anecdotal about disability. Plus, it challenges clairvoyant assumptions. So while I apperceive this would assignment able-bodied in the 101 area based on its adventitious alone, I afresh anticipate that activity into it with a close compassionate of Scalzi’s antecedent assignment enriches the account of Lock In and its sequel, Head On.
Fuzzy Nation is to H. Beam Piper’s Little Fuzzy as the Star Trek reboots are to the aboriginal Star Trek. It’s a book that could go in the Advanced Scalzi section, but it’s additionally so abundant its own affair that it feels array of awe-inspiring to agglomeration it into any specific category. It’s a science fiction adventitious atypical that builds on long-existing characters and worldbuilding by addition author, so really, Fuzzy Nation can be apprehend at any point for a solid addition to Scalzi’s anecdotal style.
Obviously, this account doesn’t alike awning best of John Scalzi’s work; he’s done audio-first assignment with The Dispatcher, he’s appear a lot of added agreeable to absolute series, affluence of nonfiction, as able-bodied as standalone assignment with Subterranean Press, such as Miniatures. His aback archive is all-embracing and rich, and if you like science fiction, there’s a acceptable adventitious he’s done article you ability like if you adore annihilation from the selections above.
Of course, my approximate classifications are abundance alone—they’re how I access the action of introducing Scalzi’s assignment to my accompany and acquaintances (calibrated to accomplish Maximum Conversion, always!). You may accept a altered approach—what was the aboriginal book by Scalzi you read? Would you alpha by advising that book to addition new to Scalzi or SF, or would you go with a altered one? Let us apperceive your appropriate account adjustment for Scalzi’s ever-growing anatomy of work!
Orignally appear in March 2017.
Renay Williams stumbled into online fandom, fanfiction, and media criticism via Sailor Moon in 1994. Since then, she’s become an editor at Lady Business and a co-host of Fangirl Happy Hour. She can be begin accepting affections over the lives of fabulous characters on Twitter @renay.
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