"A must for any fan of Trek!"
Being a life long fan of the Trekverse i thought i was probably was either going to love or hate this fun little read from an author I'd never tried before. As it happened i was torn in two on it.
I should clarify that i had the audio-book version which was decently read by Wil Wheaton who at best was an excellent meta choice because of his place in the Trekverse and all things geek but on the negative side, although his reading is strong and clear, he really doesn't have the range of 'voices' that the best audio actors employ to bring their readings alive.
Scalzi had great fun here cannibalizing the absurdity of badly written sc-fi TV and even those of us who love the genre, both good and bad will chuckle and guffaw our way through a novel and plot which pokes holes in all of the tropes we, the army of geeks, eat up time and time again. There is also quite an interesting examination on the nature of free will similar to that aired in the excellent 'Stranger than Fiction' starring Will Farrell and Emma Thompson, which extends beyond the main story and into the epilogue and codas.
On the negative side does Scalzi really feel it necessary to use the word 'said' before or after every statement made by every character at every stage of the book? This was particularly annoying in the frequent snappy backwards and forwards between the key characters.
I used the phrase 'meta' earlier and this applies not only to the genre aspects but in that Scalazi uses this to examine the art of writing. This becomes especially apparent with the 'epilogue' and the 'codas' written after the main action narrative has concluded which seems to be an examination of plot, character, general quality of written drama and the reasons for/difficulty of overcoming, writers block.
In summary great premise, interesting thoughts on the art of writing let down by an annoying writers tic and a slightly one dimensional reading.
"poor concept, but well performed"
the concept was very frustrating, and it did not work for me
disappointed, as the plot was basically a single concept
"A delight for a snarky sci fi fan"
The concept of this novel is just as delightful as you're probably imagining it. It works well as a satirical love-in for whatever space opera holds a place in your heart (Stargate Atlantis, for me, but it hardly limited itself to a single show, as most of the concepts and conceits were universal to the genre). The lead characters are fun, but its the secondary characters who really make this awesome - they're the dumber substitutes for Shatner and co, and it MAKES SO MUCH SENSE. With some intimations of self-love including body doubles, which is pretty much everything the internet has ever laughed about in clones and Mirror Universe episodes.
The execution was occasionally slightly confused. Aside from the main plot line, the three codas (taking up a surprising chunk of the whole novel) are probably not going to suit everyone. One or two moments resonated with me, but there were long philosophies of the writing process (not Scalzi's process), and writers writing about writing is not everyone's favourite thing. There is a surprising happily ever after I didn't expect, so the codas aren't worth avoiding, just a little odd.
The narrator has a mellow, sarcastic way of speaking, which was for the most part awesome and added to the experience. The combination of speed and snark meant that dialogue stretches of, 'he said, she said, Dahl said' were occasionally confusing, and hard to follow who was saying what (though this usually didn't matter much). This gripe wasn't hugely annoying, however, and probably was neat in print form.
"Great narration, writer skill let it down overall"
Having a better editor, or the author listening to his editor. Even pre-warned by other reviews, the dialogue is monotonous with the 'he said' repeated ad nauseum. There are also other instances where the poor writing skill of the author lets down what is otherwise an excellent story.
Writing skill of the author. Phrases/grammar just gratingly bad (and that's leaving aside the constant 'he said' after every line of speech by a character) in places. This distracts and detracts from the storyline.
No I've not listened to any other performances so can't compare, but given the material he had to work with, he made a very good job out of what must have been a frustrating performance to give.
Amusement, annoyance, frustration, disappointment.
This book is *probably* worth persisting with despite the writing flaws. The story is good, it is a tongue in cheek caper through all things star trek, and I enjoyed it for that, but it's definitely not one for those easily annoyed by repetitive words.
"Two good books tacked together"
In hindsight I would say yes, it was a good idea, with some very interesting angles, and therefore I can think back on it and draw some good memories of it.
However, the writing of it was painful lazy and a massive surprise after the excellence of Old Mans War.
Yes, but with warnings. I think people who enjoy the Star Trek Universe will get a kick out of it, and it is a good concept for Sci-fi in general, but it is terribly written.
Sorry Wil, but he didn't bring anything extra to improve the book - but he did a good job. Wesley Crusher telling a story is about all I can say.
I could see this being a 1 hour special on Sci-fi if they drop the last third of the book.
Seriously disappointing, yet still I'm pleased I read it - a contradiction but one I can live with.
"A quick witted parody of a distopian Star Trek"
Don't wear Red
The story quickly dismantles a Star Trek-like distopian universe into a funny, if slightly silly, fantasy. It asks the age old questions, "what do the redshirts think about their survival chances and what can they do to improve them?"
"Entertaining story with well matched naration"
The tone suited me and I enjoyed the meta-story
A great story that drags a little with the extra codas - they become a little too meta - but an entertaining story that suits Wheaton's drawl.
"What's not to like?"
Haven't read the dead-tree version but I've read an awful lot of Scalzi and I end up feeling ever-so-slightly disappointed sometimes at the end of his books. Still not managed to finish Fuzzy Nation and I really want to...
The Ghost in the Machine... or was he the narrator? I'm not sure as I got all twisted up in the narrative.
I guess the hero was the best. Though they were all pretty entertaining.
Like trying to eat Spaghetti with your ears!
Well worth a listen!
"Enjoyable story, masterfull narration"
While the story is more than ok, Wil Wheaton does a superb job telling it. I enjoyed this very much, allthough the book itself falls short sometimes. The premise for this book is funny and clever, but it could do with some editing. It is far to long and drawn out at some points, but unlike many other reviewers, the "he said, she said" etc style of writning didnt bother me. To me, it feels like it is written as a script, and fits the book very well.
Bottom line; If Wil Wheaton had'nt narrated this, I might not have enjoyed it so much. As it is, I recommend this to all science fiction fans, and trekkies in particular.
"This was not so bad after all"
I downloaded this in a hurry - looking for some reasonable SF and tried this. I noticed someone mentioned the excess 'he said - she said' and I soon found the dialogue was really not suitable for listening. When you read dialogue heavy fiction - the he said - etc. bit is kind of filtered out, but on audiobook, however decent the reader is, and Wheaton is pretty good, the said bit gets really tedious. I nearly aborted this listen after 1/2 hour, but I was on a long journey, so kept going. In the end it was a pleasant light listen, with some clever twists. I will probably not bother with another Scalzi, but the experience was not bad. I tend to like the more cerebral SF, but am running out of authors! Help!