A Scalzi Primer

Article by liz

We're delighted to welcome science fiction master John Scalzi back to Brazos Bookstore for the release of his new novel, LOCK IN, on Tuesday, August 26 at 7PM, after having him here for the release of his Hugo Award-winning novel REDSHIRTS in 2012. Since his last visit to Brazos, Scalzi's certainly been busy: he had great success releasing the newest novel in his OLD MAN'S WAR series, THE HUMAN DIVISION, as episodic ebooks (now available in paperback from Tor), and he has two television series in development, based on his OLD MAN'S WAR series and REDSHIRTS. He's also been a frequent convention guest and emcee, and regularly posts on his website and blog, Whatever, with the same sharp-eyed intelligence and clever phrasing that make his novels so enjoyable. That down-to-earth awareness and sense of humor have made him not only a popular writer, but one of the pillars of the genre fiction community--for just a few examples, he's served as president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, has taught at the Clarion workshop, and sponsors a series of guest posts called "The Big Idea" on Whatever, giving authors a space to explain the "big ideas" behind their latest works.

It's clear from his successes in multi-format work and the popularity of his commentaries and blogs that Scalzi has an eye on the future--fittingly, for a science fiction writer. Some writers who live in the future become bogged down in the technology and worldbuilding of their works, but Scalzi's work always revolves around the humanity of his characters, and the idea of humanity pushed out into worlds unlike our own. If you've never read any Scalzi, you're in luck: his Creative Sampler lists all the work he has available to read free online. Take a look, dip your toes in, and check out some of these favorites in anticipation of LOCK IN and John Scalzi at Brazos Bookstore on August 26. 

Staff Pick Logo
Agent to the Stars Cover Image
ISBN: 9780765357007
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Tor Books - November 30th, 2010

This hilarious novel about a Hollywood agent, hired by aliens to improve their image before making first contact, was the first novel Scalzi ever wrote--and he candidly admits that it didn't sell, at all; publishers weren't willing to take a chance on "humorous science fiction" in the late 1990s. Since his goal was mostly just to prove to himself he could write a book, Scalzi wasn't too bothered, and published it online as a "shareware novel" in 1999, selling for whatever price point readers wanted to give him. Now, years later, the novel's totally free, and the full version is available online. Check it out, and you'll get sucked into an incredibly out-there and bitingly funny look at humanity's own foibles, held up in the mirror of outsiders trying to learn what's appealing to us. If you want a more tactile version, Tor published a paperback in 2010.

Staff Pick Logo
Old Man's War Cover Image
ISBN: 9780765315243
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Tor Books - December 27th, 2005

Scalzi's Heinlein-inspired space opera, OLD MAN'S WAR, was the first novel he published, and quite rightly made his fortune. This tightly-plotted and incredibly diverse universe hails from the oldest school of science fiction: there's gadgetry galore, interstellar politics and battles, and the fates of star systems hanging in the balance--but as its title would imply, OLD MAN'S WAR is more about the people. The titular old man, John Perry, joins the Colonial Defense Forces at age 75, as all recruits do--they're given new bodies, new lives, new everything, and the human concerns of the story hinge on these people in their new lives, trying to connect and reconnect after leaving everything in their world behind. Scalzi announced last week that OLD MAN'S WAR has been picked up as a television series by SyFy, signaling louder than any words that this fascinating, immersive universe appeals to science fiction fans of any experience level, whether they're cracking the spine of speculative fiction for the first time or have been there since Asimov. The five-book series (soon to be six, with a sequel to THE HUMAN DIVISION already in the works) has an incredible amount of supplementary material--check out "After the Coup", a short story set in the universe, available on Tor.com.

Lock in: A Novel of the Near Future Cover Image
ISBN: 9780765375865
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Tor Books - August 26th, 2014

LOCK IN marks a departure from Scalzi's previous work: it's set in the near-future, only a few decades out from present-day. It's also a thriller about a pair of FBI agents investigating murder, mind-hopping, and the very human desire to feel connected in a world where a steadily-growing number of the population is "locked in" to their own minds. With that in mind, you might expect him to struggle with LOCK IN--but you wouldn't be more wrong. LOCK IN is brilliantly paced, with Scalzi's signature zippy dialogue and incredible sense of the ways human life changes as the world moves on around us. Since LOCK IN takes place in a world incredibly altered by the spread of a virulent disease, Scalzi introduced LOCK IN with UNLOCKED, a WORLD WAR Z-style oral history, part medical thriller and part devastatingly human recollection, detailing the outbreak and immediate aftermath of what the world came to call Haden's Syndrome. UNLOCKED is available to read free online at Tor.com, and if you enjoy it, buy the ebook through our store via Kobo, DRM-free and available on any device through Kobo's reading app (Subterranean Press will release a limited edition hardcover in September). And while you wait for August 26, you can read the first five chapters of LOCK IN on Tor.com, then preorder your copy of LOCK IN and get ready to read the rest!

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