Tag Archives: John Scalzi

Redshirts by John Scalzi – Review (Mild spoilers)

Redshirts – “A character in a science fiction or adventure story whose sole dramatic purpose is to get killed by the story’s villain and/or intinerant monster. ” – Urban Dictionary 

I just want to preface this review, by saying I am really getting frustrated with myself; the lack of content I am putting on this blog and just the lack of writing I have been doing in general. Hell it has been quite a long time since there has been regular content on here. I know I keep saying it in every new post I do, but I do want to post more… but I am not. So with this post please expect it to be a little rusty on the language front, also don’t expect it to be that long of a review. I am just trying to get back into the swing of things.

Redshirts is the latest book by Sci-fi novelist extraordinaire, John Scalzi. The book is not out in the UK yet, after hearing the news it was to be delayed here,  I had believed I would be able to patiently wait for the book to come out in my corner of the world….. I couldn’t. So I ended up playing more money to get it shipped over. As soon as the book came, I guilty rushed the book I was reading at the time, while enviously looking up to Redshirts – waiting to be able pick it up. Last Saturday, it came the day when I finally allowed myself to crack open the cover (I didn’t allow myself that as I read my other book). The first pleasant surprise came in the dedication section; where Brad Wright and Joseph Mallozzi were thanked for taking Scalzi to the stars. If you are not a stargate fan, this probably would mean fuck all to you. However I had a little nerdgasm, the type only one can get when two of their favourite sci-fi elements (is that the right word?) are combined, even for the shortest amount of time.

The cover, simplistic, obvious and a little bit boring

Into the book I didn’t have to wait long for a second nerdgasm, with a prologue which was infused with elements from one my favourite sci-fi books. Already from the book title, and the prologue there was the forming of a very interesting and odd story. As soon as got into the main meat of  the book , it moved at a very brisk pace, with Scalzi lead character full of the same smarts, and a little bit of snark that you see from of all his leads. The book unlike some sci-fi out there is pretty much accessibly to anyone. (as long as you can read English- that is a requirement (until it comes out in a language that you can read, then you’re fine) (obviously if can’t read English you won’t be reading this blog, so all this was kind of pointless.)) Scalzi writes a prose which is easy to read, and makes sure the book moves at a lively speed throughout.

The once the main of idea of the book is revealed, you see it is something that has been done a number of times before, and none of these times did I think it was good or well done.  So it is a real credit to Scalzi writing that he has managed to create a great novel from this premise. The book it self take a massive turn toward the end, not in terms of the story, but in the format – I shan’t say more, but I really enjoyed what he did with it. I managed to devour the book in one night (not something I usually do) and it wasn’t the story that kept me turning the pages. It was the classic Scalzi humour and dialogue that is prevalent throughout; this let me drive through the book in ways few books can.

In its self the book was great little read, but I couldn’t help but be left feeling a little cold toward the story – something that has not happened to me in a any of his previous books. I think I will give the 7.5 out of 10. Pretty arbitrary number I suppose but it feels about right. This book hasn’t dampened my appreciation for Scalzi and the fact I think it is worst of his books so far, make me even more excited for whatever he writes next.

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A 2011 interview with me

Since I know no one interesting or famous enough (not that they would agree to do one either) to warrant an interview. So like the arrogant fucker I am, I thought i’d put my 2011 memories in the form of an interview.

1) Best place you visited?
In between my large period of being a hermit writer, I have managed to see some very nice places, I went to London twice. I saw Wembley stadium for the second time but this time with my team leeds rhinos playing. But the best place has to be when I spent the week in Rome, a place I have always wanted to visit. We spent a exhausting 5 days making sure we saw all the sites.

See more of my photos of Rome from my 5 days there here (https://joelhopkins.wordpress.com/extras-rome-photos/)

2. Best book you read?
According my goodsreads account, I read 25 new book last year (plus 2 re reads of books). Not a huge amount, but I managed to fit in a number very good books in there. I managed to finally read all 3 of the Lord of the rings books. The new John Scalzi novel Fuzzy Nation was a great book, I read the 4th dune book. Other book I really enjoyed was flashfoward and the forever series of books.  I read number of other sci-fi, post apocalyptic, fantasy and the odd thriller book in the year. But my favourite would probably have to be Neil Gaiman American Gods, different to anything else I read this year and it is partly the inspiration for the story (more credit should be given to lord of light however) I am currently writing.

3. Best film?
For me it has been a pretty poor year for films, and I would have really struggled coming up with my best film year before last week. I ordered Rise of the planet of apes on sky box office. I really enjoyed the prequel/remake, perhaps I have seen a better a film, but I really can’t think of any off the top of my head.

4. Best TV show?
There has been a few contender’s for this, starting with the last ever episodes of Stargate Universe and in turn the Stargate franchise. However, that is tinged with so much sadness I can’t put it as my best TV show of last year. Walking Dead season 2 (part 1) also aired which carried on from an excellent first series. There was Game of thrones which pretty amazing and the Borgias which I enjoyed as well. The show I enjoyed the most would be the first series of Sherlock, the second series just recently started and it reminded me just how good the show is, and how great those first episode were.

5. Best Game?
Mass effects 2 (see http://wp.me/psL0a-jo)

6. Best Album?
Another thing that I really haven’t kept up with all that much. I got the new Foo Fighters album, along with the long awaited (for me) new Kaiser Chiefs album which I thought was great. However, I found a new group that I really like The Dresden Dolls, and while none of their albums were released this year. I found all their albums were available on the website, for a pay-what-you-like price. So I manage to get 3 albums and a live album for a cheekily cheap sum. The songs have been played over and over again on my I pod and computer so one of their album would probably be the best.

7. Best Moment?
Without a doubt seeing Leeds Rhinos win their 5th grand final in 8 years, from the fifth position.Which was the lowest ever position for a team to win it from, they shocked almost everyone (including me) by winning it, and showed the world that they are true team of champions. I have been lucky enough to see all 5 of those grand finals they won, in them I have seen some magnificent tries. But the two tries that Rob Burrow scored and made were pretty amazing, and will stick in my memory for a long time to come, like the Scot Donald try in 2007.

Best moment

8. Best Gig?
I’ve seen a few good bands this year, Hurts in February was amazing and so was seeing Muse for the second time at Leeds Festival. Though the best gig I went to was seeing Arcade fire for the second time too. They are a interesting band to watch, because they are so many of them. Your eyes move all around, not being sure what to look at next. I give credit to my sister for getting me into them, they have a unique style. And they put on great show.

9. Most important thing that happen you in 2011?
I guess having an almost full time job, while it was only for a little over 6 months, it was an interesting experience living life of almost full time working. It was not my ideal job, and not at all stimulating, but then again I did say I got the experience of a full time job, so what did I expect? Hopefully, a new job will rear its head soon in 2012.

10. What are you looking forward to most in 2012?
Quite a few things, there might be a holiday to American in the making which would be very, very good. I will be going to Italy to see my sister, who is now living there for next 6 months. But most of all I look forward to reading plenty more books, playing more games and getting a lot more writing done this year, a lot more than I did last year. Oh and the new Keane album and tour!

Done.

Top 5 twitter follows

A day late but it’s still here….. the top 5 has missed a month but there will be 2 this month.

This month it’s 5 interesting twitter follows, you will hopefully find these people either as interesting or funny as i do.

5) James Dudley

Follow @MrJamesDudley – A friend yes, but he is crude, rude and sometimes funny. He is good person to follow if you want some cheep laugh, he is an aspiring writer like myself so he maybe famous one day. Also for you woman out there he will also most likely flirt with you, so you have that to look forward to.

4) Charlie Sheen

Follow @charliesheen – Need i say anything? He is either crazy or has a great PR guy, whatever it is sometimes his tweets are as crazy as himself. Though lately they have been more self promoting things, so unless things start to pick up from the loon, a swift unfollow maybe in order.

3) Opta Sports (Jim)

Follow @OptaJim – This is the OPTA sport twitter account for sports other than football. OPTA is basically a company that collects stats for sports, some of these stats are very interesting. While i find the lack of Rugby League stats disturbing, the cricket stats are very interesting.

2) Hideo Kojima

Follow  @HIDEO_KOJIMA_EN – My favorite Game designer. The mastermind behind the Metal Gear Solid series. His main account is in Japanese, so this is a translated account, but you still get little tidbits of news on his games and on Metal Gear Solid. He however does not reply to any question you may have.

1) John Scalzi

Follow @Scalzi – My favorite author, he can be funny and interesting and he has a bad ass profile pic (from one of his books). He also replies  (if he can) to questions.

Well there is my top 5 follows, but really my number 1 follow is myself, because i’m funnier and more interesting than any of these people. So follow @JoelHopkins

A fuzzy review

Reboots are common thing in films and TV, less so in books. As someone who….. let’s say does a little more than dabble in to the old science fiction genre, i’m a little ashamed to say i have never heard of H. Beam Piper; who wrote a book called “Little Fuzzy”. So it was not until my favorite author John Scalzi announced that he was to be remaking the book that it came on to my radar. I hope that one day soon i will be able to read H. Beam Piper original book, but for now i’m going to talk about the remake (boot?) itself. So giving for the fact that i have not read the original I have no idea which is the better version, or how much it differs……………

So here is the boring part, if you are not interested in finding out the story; I always find it much better not knowing;  i’d skip this next paragraph.

A disbarred lawyer, takes up a mining contractor job…. why? who knows. This is a sci-fi (syfy Not) book so it is of course on another planet. Due to some things happening (my lazy writings back),  involving letting a dog blow up a cliff, our main character discovers a huge amount of a rare material, only found on the planet. It basically makes him the richest contractor in the universe. That day he makes another discovery though, in his tree top cabin, he finds that it  has been broke in to, not by a person but by a cute cat like creature; enter the fuzzys. Our character Holloway has never seen this animal before, but he takes and instant liking to them. Through his study and the study of his ex-girlfriend/biologist, he notices how much smarter they are than just a normal animal, they make his well trained dog look like…… well a dog. More evidence is found, that show that maybe these animals, are more than just animals. The book quickly turns in to a court room drama, with at one point 3 cases going on at once.

If you did not read the above paragraph, i will just say that the story is great, and while there is not so much plot twist as gentle bends, you will be engrossed throughout.

Scalzi has a unique way of blending hardcore science fiction with comedy, while this is not his funnest work (That award goes to Agent to the stars) it has a few laugh loud moments, and more than enough chuckles to help the pages tick over. Most of these come from the main character with his dry sense of humor and sarcasm. Sarcasm is a common theme in all of Scalzi main characters, from all his novels, and by reading his blog whatever (http://whatever.scalzi.com/)  you can see he is not short of that either. Some may even call them all smartarses.

Typicaly i’m not one to swayed by seeing cuteness or a description of it, my dog being the only thing i want go “awwwwwwwww” at, but i have to admit the idea of this little fuzzy family did bring a little one out of me.  The fuzzy’s them self play an integral role, misconceptions that Holloway makes are proven wrong, which goes along way to prove just how alien the world is.

I said before that this book goes in to a court room drama. It’s not all that common for a Sci-fi book to go in this area and when it started i was slightly skeptical. The Author does it well, i in my misguided way have had a problem with law story’s, thinking they would be boring, turns out the’re not (at least not this one). I now know that the trick is in the dialogue, it makes the characters believable in their own extreme ways, and the book flows with an even pace because of it.

Now on the pace of the book; one of my few disappointed was how quick i read it. It is Scalzi’s first full book in two years while i’m not expecting him to do a James Patterson and create a factory that spews out 15 books a year, but i felt there was still areas that could have been explained in this book. Suppose that some say the key to a good book though it leaves you wanting more, though i don’t really agree with that, anything that makes me vauguly frustrated, is not a good thing.

While i hate to compare, if you do, which i hate to do, to Scalzis other books it fits more on the more lighter end of  his literary spectrum. While it’s not the bright pink that was agent of the stars, it was defiantly a light blue. Looking at what Scalzis last commercial release was The gods engine, which clearly was a Dark bloody red on the spectrum, i think  it’s safe to that Fuzzy Nation is nowhere near that colour. I think this is an allegory has gone as far as it will now. Though there is something to say for the colour green and old mans war.

I’m not expecting any sequels to this book (even though the original spawned a few) but it would be a nice surprise if this story does make a comeback. All in all very good book, something i was expecting and while i may be ever so slightly biased toward him (my favorite author who happens to be creative consultant on Stargate) i still know a good book when i read one. This is one. I thinks it’s safe to say i’v bummed the author and the book enough for you to know that it will be a high score.

So with out further ado it’s a:

9/10

Whatever Scalzi does next i will be there (hopefully) to cheer him on and read it, whether this will be a sequel to a previus book, a brand new one or even more novellas. He has not yet has a miss yet, in this hit and miss industry; which is a rare thing indeed.

What i’m looking forward to for 2011

I should have really done this earlier in the year but it’s been a busy  few weeks.

What album(s) are you most looking forward to in this next year?
Well it looks like Keane will release a new album, also if Kaiser Chiefs release bring  out a new album I will be a very happy person.

What Television show are you most looking forward to in this next year?
Has to be the new Sci-Fi show falling skies anything with aliens in it make me excited. Stephen Spielberg is involved so it has that going for it.
Watch the trailer for it below

What film are you most looking forward to seeing next year?
None unless on the rare chance that either a SGU, SG1 or a SGA film get’s released nothing takes my interest.  Actualy if a new batman film gets release this year, then that would be very good.

What book are you most looking forward to reading in this next yeat?
Fuzzy nation by John Scalzi

First contact with Ewoks

What game are you most looking forward to playing in this next year?
Meat gear solid rising, while it does not have the iconic legend that is snake or while it is not made by the also Iconic Hideo Kojima. It is still a metal gear game which means it will be amazing, or at least will mean i think it will be amazing.
Also mass effect 2 coming  out on ps3 soon that should be good.
Ohhh and also uncharted 3 and elder scrolls 5

That is all. For that.

News of any note
I have the new white lies album, i’m playing it now, not bad I prefer there first album but I still have 4 more song to listen too. So much thinking has been done in the last few days. Nothing learned but a few more question I will need to have answered soon.

While busy the last few weeks, I have been a strange journey, that I am not sure I quite understand fully. I once heard you have to think about something 70% of your waking time to be classed as obsessed. I’m fine then because I at least have 2 things i think of for 45% of the time.

New Blog for a new month

Well September is over and so is any sort of decent weather. No don’t worry I am not going to start bloging (Blogging?) about weather, that’s next month. Just wanted to say, I feel I have not been blogging (Bloging?) as much as I should be. I think when I started this Blog I set my standards to high. I think the reason for this was that at the time I only read the two blogs first Mr Joseph Mallozi (A stargate writer and producer) who can be found here http://josephmallozzi.wordpress.com/. Now Mallozzi has Bloged (Blogged?) every day for since November 24th  2006 now that my friend is dedication. The other Blog that I read regular is  http://whatever.scalzi.com/ This is John Scalzi, Blog an incredible talent writer and reading his blog is equally entertaining. He is another Blogger (a Bloggie?) that blog’s nearly. Those two people have interesting life’s, and are both professional writer.  Not saying I don’t have a interesting life (i have few interesting story’s)  just that I am not talented (Bothered?) enough to write one everyday. So don’t expect it you greedy bunch…. oh wait you weren’t, never mind then.

Today I had a trip in to my old school, Outwood Grange Academy. They now have a full proof security gate to keep the nasty people away. It is so secure that me a stranger, had to buzz the gate and say “can I come in please” hey-presto the gate opened. At the time I had no business clothes on (the clothes that sixth form students MUST ware) and had a hood over my head. I don’t see many flaws in their plan. Nice to see some friends again.