Thursday, April 9, 2015

In Which I Realize that John Scalzi is Not a Very Good Author

Picked up the third book in Scalzi's Old Man's War series: "Last Colony".  It's not good.  I don't mean that in the "it didn't work for me but I can see how others might enjoy it" sense, either.  I mean it in the "wow, this book is not competently structured, paced, or edited" sense.

Example: The book is essentially 3 Acts:
  1. Intro, and develop need for new colony planet.
  2. Colonize planet with some surprises and complications.
  3. Reveal real reason for new colony; resolution and climax.
One of the complications in part 2 is the realization that there is already a sentient species on the planet the newcomers have colonized.  And they are hostile!  And dangerous!  And eat humans!  and have spears!  And move silently! (I don't know if they could Bend Bars and Lift Gates, but I suspect so!)  And they look like...  like... like...

Wait for it...

Werewolves!  Yeah!  Fast, ninja-moving, spear-carrying werewolves that eat people!  And they're right next door!  And they even murder one of the more slightly-interesting secondary characters right in front of us at the end of Act 2!

I'd tell you more, but that's the last time they're ever mentioned in the book, even though a large part of Act 3 takes place on the colony.  I was hoping that they were being deliberately minimalized because there was a way to clumsily shoehorn them into the rather predictable climax at the colony, but no, they were just tossed aside, unresolved and unremarked.

That's just one of the examples, but probably the easiest to describe.  It's a problem that decent writing would not have created and that any competent editor would have redlined, but there it is.

This was my fourth and last Scalzi.  I liked "Old Man's War" and I think I liked the sequel.  I thought "Redshirts" was pretty shitty.  I took a chance on "Last Colony" because I figured his core storyline would be okay.  I was wrong.  I guess Scalzi ended up having one story to tell well.  He wrote it.  I read it.  I liked it.  But now I'm done.


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