John Perry joins the Colonial Defense forces on his 75th birthday. Recruitment posters offer seniors the chance to visit outer space, and experience action, adventure and a few more years of healthy and vigorous life. Once in space, John’s consciousness is transferred to an enhanced body grown from his DNA. This augmented body is designed to help human soldiers cope with the variety of planetary conditions they will experience -for instance the skin is green because these bodies can use chlorophyll to create energy from sunlight. The body also contains a “Brain Pal” neural implant which allows the soldiers to communicate telepathically. John and his friends take part in battles with aliens or various shapes and sizes over the rights to habitable planets. However, as his combat experiences pile up, John begins to wonder if the killing is justified.
What the Armchair Critics Thought:
While the novel was a fast paced and fun read, we found the language slightly simplistic and observed that character development generally took a back seat to action. However the book generated a good discussion about how authors promote themselves in the internet age. Scalzi serialized this novel on his blog, one chapter a week, and was offered a publication deal when the novel was complete. His blog currently enjoys 45,000 hits per day and is used to highlight his own writing, and also promote the ‘big ideas’ of other authors. TOR Books recently gave away PDF versions of several novels when launching their new science fiction web site. As technology improves and future generations become more comfortable with ebooks, will traditional publishing and bookselling models become as obsolete as record stores?