Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sam Sykes on John Scalzi's FUZZY NATION

Before we go any further, I should preface this with a few things.

Author John Scalzi
First of all, John Scalzi is a friend of mine. Not the kind of professional author friend for whom the term “chum” means I would hesitate a moment before shoving him off a cliff if it meant furthering my career. No, John is a friend. The kind of friend for whom I would travel back in time, murder his current best friend and quietly subsume said comrade’s role over the years so that I would some day be the best man at John’s wedding. We are chronologically-altered-assisted-homicide buddies. And that is intense.

Secondly, I have never read a science fiction book. I mean, not even a soft science, chemistry-as-magic, laser-beams-everywhere, everyone-is-attractive-and-wears-gold-spandex-because-this-is-the-freaking-future-yo science fiction book.  They’ve just never appealed to me and, frankly, I always assumed that fantasy and science fiction authors wanting anything to do with each other was one of those things that would only happen when a terrorist takeover occurred and only the logical mind of a science fiction writer and the whimsical instincts of a fantasy writer could save us all.

In the movie, I am played by Jean-Claude Van Damme. John is played by Steven Seagal. It grosses $13.
Suffice to say, and it pains me to my very core to say it, I picked up Fuzzy Nation more out of a sense of duty than anything else. I was kind of hoping that I’d be able just to smile whimsically and write this review with the same tone my grandmother uses when I’m trying to describe the works of Robert E. Howard. I had intended to use the words “gracious,” “heavens,” and “well, I don’t understand that, but I’m sure it’s very good.”

I was ready for that.
I was prepared for that.

And then Scalzi had to come along and ruin everything by writing a good book.
And I mean a good book. As in, the story is very good and it’s written very well. Scalzi writes with something that I was almost certain was anathema to scifi: passion. It’s a certain je ne sais quois of writing, impossible to define, but you know it when you see it. And I saw it from page one.

It’s something in the phrasing, I think, maybe in the dialogue. But it’s there: Scalzi isn’t writing something cold and sterile and settling back on his porcupine-like haunches, waiting for you to figure out just what he’s trying to say so he can smirk and nod his head. He’s writing something he loves. Every page drips with it, every line of dialogue leaks it, but John Scalzi is writing something genuinely fun to read.

John Scalzi at The Poisoned Pen 5/28 (Left) To his right
are authors Cherie Priest, Diana Gabaldon and Sam Sykes. 
I have no idea if it’s a good science fiction book. I honestly don’t. Maybe he’s violating some cardinal rule (or prime directive, whatever it is you scifi nerds love to say) and this isn’t true science fiction or whatever else.
I ain’t give a crap.
I ain’t give a crap that that sentence was grammatically incorrect, either.
I do give a crap about Fuzzy Nation, though. And I suggest you do, too.

Watch live streaming video from poisonedpenauthorevent at

Both authors are very active on the internet, so do stop by their websites and poke around.

Signed titles from John Scalzi
The Sagan DiaryFuzzy NationAgent to the Stars
Fuzzy Nation ($24.99)

Signed titles from Sam Sykes
Tome of the Undergates (The Aeons' Gate, Book 1)Black Halo (The Aeons' Gate, Book 2)
Tome of The Undergates (UK Hardcover $30 / Trade Paper $17)
Black Halo ($16 Trade Paper) For the upcoming UK Hardcover edition email

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