The Things I Write

Welcome! Here you'll find information on the books I've written, including decriptions, review links, and links to buy the books on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Powell's (although, of course, you can and should ask for them at your local bookstore). The most recent releases are at the top.

The Android's Dream


Publishing Date: October 2006 (Tor Books)

10 Words or Less: Man solves diplomatic crisis through action scenes and snappy dialogue.

Cover Blurbage: A human diplomat kills his alien counterpart. Earth is on the verge of war with a vastly superior alien race. A lone man races against time and a host of enemies to find the one object that can save our planet and our people from alien enslavement...

A sheep.

That's right, a sheep. And if you think that's the most surprising thing about this book, wait until you read Chapter One. Welcome to The Android's Dream.

For Harry Creek, it's quickly becoming a nightmare. All he wants is to do his uncomplicated mid-level diplomatic job with Earth's State Department. But his past training and skills get him tapped to save the planet--and to protect pet store owner Robin Baker, whose own past holds the key to the whereabouts of that lost sheep. Doing both will take him from lava-strewn battlefields to alien halls of power. All in a day's work. Maybe it's time for a raise.

Throw in two-timing freelance mercenaries, political lobbyists with megalomaniac tendencies, aliens on a religious quest, and an artificial intelligence with unusual backstory, and you've got more than just your usual science fiction adventure story. You've got The Android's Dream.

Reviews: "Scalzi's hilarious political thriller, filled with war heroes, hackers, religious cults, and AI, is so absurd that it becomes believable. His best book yet." -- Noah Robischon, Entertainment Weekly

"Scalzi’s third ingenious novel in less than two years speeds his transition from rising star to major player in the sf community... Scalzi uses the talent for military sf on view in the Heinleinesque Old Man’s War (2005) and The Ghost Brigades (2006) for laughs this time, though there is also plenty of action and technological gimmickry to satisfy fans of both sober sf, too." -- Carl Hays, Booklist

"[A] swashbuckling satire of interstellar diplomacy... With plenty of alien gore to satisfy fans of military SF and inventive jabs at pretend patriotism and self-serving civil service, Scalzi delivers an effervescent but intelligent romp." -- Publisher's Weekly

"An uproarious comedy about an imminent interplanetary war between mankind and a race of manipulative reptilian humanoids that proves once and for all that while Scalzi may have a multitude of bats in his belfry, he is an incomparable storytelling genius... a satirical tour de force." -- Paul Goat Allen, Barnes & Noble Explorations

"The Android's Dream is a galloping caper that is very funny and very satisfying. Often caper books fall apart at the end, the plot flying apart from the stress of all of its complications. Thankfully, The Android's Dream avoids ending with a whimper. Watching all of the plot threads wind back together into an integrated whole is delightful. By combining a tight ending with sympathetic characters and sharp, funny writing, The Android's Dream delivers top-notch entertainment." -- Stephen Granade,

"The Android's Dream reads something like an SFnal James Bond spoof by way of South Park. Scalzi isn't exploring anything particularly deep thematically here; the name of the game is satire, and he does some of the most spot-on political wit this side of the old British sitcom Yes, Minister... [it's] just the right gene-splicing of fast action and furious comedy SF has been needing for ages." -- Martin Wagner,

"What I liked about The Android's Dream, apart from the engaging characters and action that are a hallmark of the author's work, was the way it all built up to its punchline... I'm convinced that this book was written from the punch line backwards to the beginning, which is the only way all the disparate elements could have tied together so well at the end." -- Ernest Lilley,

"The Android's Dream might be what you'd find in an Elmore Leonard novel if he were to write a science fiction story with Keith Laumer in Reteif mode - which is to say that it is equal parts crime story, diplomatic drama, political intrigue and science fiction adventure... This is one of those books that makes science fiction fun." -- John DeNardo,

"This book is very sharp and very funny. Scalzi is a fantastic new voice in speculative fiction." -- Jason Kennedy, Book Sense

Awards, etc: Featured Selection, the Science Fiction Book Club, November 2006; Book Sense Pick, December 2006

Personal Notes: I call this my "popcorn movie" book: No particularly deep themes, just lots of action and adventure and fun. I had a ball writing this one.

Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

The Ghost Brigades

Publishing Date: February 2006 (Tor Books)

10 Words or Less: Sequel to Old Man's War; reads like a stand-alone.

Cover Blurbage: The Ghost Brigades are the Special Forces of the Colonial Defense Forces, elite troops created from the DNA of the dead and turned into the perfect soldiers for the CDF's toughest operations. They’re young, they’re fast and strong, and they’re totally without normal human qualms.

The universe is a dangerous place for humanity—and it's about to become far more dangerous. Three races that humans have clashed with before have allied to halt our expansion into space. Their linchpin: the turncoat military scientist Charles Boutin, who knows the CDF’s biggest military secrets. To prevail, the CDF must find out why Boutin did what he did.

Jared Dirac is the only human who can provide answers -- a superhuman hybrid, created from Boutin's DNA, Jared’s brain should be able to access Boutin's electronic memories. But when the memory transplant appears to fail, Jared is given to the Ghost Brigades.

At first, Jared is a perfect soldier, but as Boutin’s memories slowly surface, Jared begins to intuit the reason’s for Boutin’s betrayal. As Jared desperately hunts for his "father," he must also come to grips with his own choices. Time is running out: The alliance is preparing its offensive, and some of them plan worse things than humanity’s mere military defeat…

Reviews: "The sequel to Old Man's War combines taut military action with keen insights into the moral issues revolving around developing technologies. Scalzi has a finely tuned sense of balance between personal drama and the 'big picture' ... Highly recommended." -- Library Journal (starred review)

"A mix of Starship Troopers and Universal Soldier, Ghost evokes awakening, betrayal, and combat in the best military sci-fi tradition." -- Entertainment Weekly

"Like Old Man's War, The Ghost Brigades is thinking fans' space opera. And for all that Scalzi gives you to chew on intellectually, he doesn't skimp on the blow-shit-up factor. The book opens with a fantastic action scene that ends with a brilliant narrative bait-and-switch I didn't see coming, and climaxes with an even better one... The Ghost Brigades maintains Scalzi's standing as one of SF's most rewarding purveyors of thrilling, gut-wrenching, and thoughtful space opera." -- T.M. Wagner,

"Scalzi has lost none of his flair for spare, evocative prose: the opening scene—in which a raid on a planetary installation turns out to be somewhat different than expected—is brilliant, and the scene that closes the first part of the book—another raid, this time on one of the enemy's home planets—is both gripping and poignant. But this book—like the first—is more than a fine war novel: it is also a meditation on why we fight, the nature of loyalty, the meaning of consciousness, and the moral significance of free will... An outstanding new work from an emergent author: highly recommended." -- David Hecht,

"Scalzi has been compared to science fiction legend Robert A. Heinlein for good reason: his smooth blend of hard science fiction, military sci-fi and space opera is addictively readable and his breakneck pacing and surprisingly deep character development makes his novels practically impossible to put down. Old Man's War, The Ghost Brigades and subsequent installments in this loosely-knit saga could very well be the early 21st century's answer to Asimov's Foundation series - it's that good." -- Paul Goat Allen, Barnes & Noble Explorations

"The premise of the schizophrenic soldier allows Scalzi to explore the essence of consciousness and the ways in which it is shaped and influenced by memory, experience and the individual's intrinsic personality. Combine that with good battle scenes, clever storytelling and the ability to juggle abstruse scientific principles without breaking a sweat, and it makes for an impressive piece of work." -- David Hiltbrand, Philadelphia Inquirer

"It's a fast and deep stream, military machinations mixed with gorgeous technical notions, and cut through by the arc of Dirac's life. I like the galaxy this author's playing in, the characters he limns, the situations he's playing with, and I'm glad there's at least one more volume on the way." -- Jim Hopper, San Diego Union-Tribune

"In Heinleinesque fashion, the book is loaded with scenes of comradeship, isolation, ruthlessness and the protocols, which govern the lives of active-duty soldiers. But this is where Scalzi, famous for his blog "The Whatever," surpasses Heinlein. Scalzi weaves in subtle discussions of humanity's growing fear of aging and our simultaneous attraction and repulsion to the Frankensteinlike creatures we are able to create." -- Aïssatou Sidimé, San Antonio Express-News

"Scalzi is a natural heir to Heinlein, and his second book in this series is a good old-fashioned space opera, which takes time to question the nature of free will." -- Dorman T. Shindler, St. Louis Press-Dispatch

Awards, etc: Featured Selection, the Science Fiction Book Club, March 2006; A "Sci-Fi Essential" Book, January 2006, Featured Selection, Barnes and Noble Explorations, March 2006

Foreign Language Sales: Russian, German, Chinese, French

Personal Notes: Somewhat darker than Old Man's War, but it was fun for me to delve into the lives of the Ghost Brigades after only sketching them in the first book. Also, I'm very pleased with the character of Jane Sagan in this book and I think readers will be, too.

Buy: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powell's

Questions for a Soldier -- an Old Man's War Tale

Publishing Date: December 2005 (Subterranean Press)

10 Words or Less: Short story set in the Old Man's War universe

Cover Blurbage: This short story, sold in limited edition chapbook form, offers a glimpse into the life of Old Man's War protagonist John Perry, after the events of that book. The story takes the form of a question and answer session between Perry and a group of colonials, and offers details on Perry's life in the service and further thoughts on the nature of the universe Perry, the settlers and the Colonial Union inhabit. Limited to 574 standard copies and 26 deluxe lettered editions. Illustrated by Hugo-winning artist Bob Eggleton.

Personal Notes: Because John Perry doesn't pop up in the official sequel to Old Man's War (The Ghost Brigades), it was a lot of fun to be able to bring him back here. Be aware that this isn't a full novel; it's a short story chapbook, specifically designed for collectors in mind. Bob Eggleton's illustrations for this, incidentally, are insanely great (that's one you see above).

Buy: Subterranean Press | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powell's

The Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies

Publishing Date: October 2005 (Rough Guides Reference)

10 Words or Less: A Century of Science Fiction Film, Explained

Cover Blurbage: he Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies is a comprehensive companion to the 'final frontier' of film. It explores cinema's fascination with space exploration, time travel and fantastical worlds, and tells the stories behind the movies that have been expanding our universe since film began. Features include:

* The origins: How everything from the philosophy of Plato to classic Victorian tales and cult comic books has helped to create sci-fi as we know it.

* The canon: 50 essential science fiction movies, including Metropolis, Star Wars, Blade Runner, 2001, Alien and The Planet of the Apes -- with dozens more films reviewed in each chapter.

* The locations: The places we know -- decimated by invading alien hordes -- and those we don't, from the moons of Jupiter to the barren wastes of Tatooine.

* The icons: Filmmakers such as George Lucas and Stanley Kubrick; characters like Ming the Merciless and Ellen Ripley; and not forgetting the spaceships, robots and creatures that defined a genre.

* Global sci-fi: The classic and the weird from Mexico, Russia, India and beyond, with special attention paid to the anime and kaiju eiga traditions of Japan.

* And everything else you need to know: The technology, the fans, conventions, magazines and websites.

Reviews: "Yields many guilty pleasures. Among the most interesting tidbits are the numerous sidebars that reveal unexpectedly fascinating data on the given subject." -- Library Journal

Personal Notes: I'm pretty pleased with this book, since it's a very easy read, but at the same time packs in quite a lot of information about the history of science fiction film (and science fiction in general); I think most people will come away knowing more about science fiction than they did coming in. Also, I had a blast writing the reviews for The Canon, and I think it shows.

Buy: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powell's

Agent to the Stars

Publishing Date: July 2005 (Subterranean Press)

10 Words or Less: Aliens get Hollywood agent for first contact. Funny.

Cover Blurbage: The space-faring Yherajk people have come to Earth to meet us and to begin humanity's first interstellar friendship. There's just one problem: They're hideously ugly and they smell like rotting fish. Gaining humanity's trust isn't easy when you look like a B-movie terror. The Yherajk need someone who can help them close the deal.

Thomas Stein knows all about closing deals -- he's one of Hollywood's hottest young agents ,who’s just closed the biggest deal of his career. But it's one thing to sell your client when she's a hot young starlet. It's another thing entirely when your client is an entire alien species, depending on you to pull off the greatest introduction in this history of man. Stein's going to need all his smarts, all his skills, and all his wits to earn his percentage -- and his place in history.

Agent to the Stars is a gleeful mash-up of science fiction and Hollywood satire from acclaimed novelist John Scalzi (Old Man's War), a film critic since 1991 and author of The Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies. It's a whole new look at alien encounters -- and a view of Tinseltown you've never seen before.

Reviews: "With a plot that starts out as the rough life of a young agent in Hollywood and rapidly metamorphoses into B-movie territory as a remarkably intelligent first-contact yarn, this book is absurd, funny, and satirically perceptive." -- Booklist

"Like Old Man's War, the story has brilliant pacing -- often I'd sneak a chapter on the tube, and when I reached my stop I'd get off and keep reading, shuffling along the platform rather than stuffing it back in my bag.... It's the perfect book to cuddle up with during a relaxing holiday." -- Cory Doctorow,

Personal Notes: This was the very first novel I wrote, which I wrote more or less to see if I could write a novel. It appears so. This edition of the book is a special limited signed collector's edition, designed for the folks who sampled the novel online and decided they wanted to have it in genuine book form. The novel is still available to read online for free. Another reason to get this: The cover is by Mike Krahulik (of Penny Arcade) and it's the first book cover he's done for anyone else.

Buy: Subterranean Press | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powell's

Old Man's War

Publishing Date: January 2005 (Tor Books)

10 Words or Less: Old people get new bodies and fight nasty aliens.

Cover Blurbage: John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife's grave. Then he joined the army. The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce - and aliens willing to fight for them are common. The universe, it turns out, is a hostile place.

So: we fight. To defend Earth (a target for our new enemies, should we let them get close enough) and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has gone on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding." "Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity's resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force, which shields the home planet from too much knowledge of the situation. What's known to everybody is that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don't want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You'll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You'll serve your time at the front. And if you survive, you'll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets.

John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine - and what he will become is far stranger.

Reviews: "Though a lot of SF writers are more or less efficiently continuing the tradition of Robert A. Heinlein, Scalzi's astonishingly proficient first novel reads like an original work by the late grand master... but Scalzi is not just recycling classic Heinlein. He's working out new twists, variations that startle even as they satisfy. This virtuoso debut pays tribute to SF's past while showing that well-worn tropes still can have real zip when they're approached with ingenuity." -- Publisher's Weekly (starred review)

"Scalzi's imagined interstellar arena is coherently and compellingly delineated... His speculative elements are top-notch. His combat scenes are blood-roiling. His dialogue is suitably snappy and profane. And the moral and philosophical issues he raises... insert useful ethical burrs under the military saddle of the story." -- Paul Di Filippo, Washington Post

"This book made me laugh out loud several times; it made me smile, it made me wince in recognition, and in the end, I left it feeling happier for the experience. I wanted it to be longer. I really did." -- Michelle Sagara, Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine

"This is the way I think it happened. Like most of us, John Scalzi read Heinlein's Starship Troopers and enjoyed it. Like some of us, though, he thought he could do it better. Like nobody else, he has actually done so." -- Robert R. Chase, (rated 10 out of 10).

"Scalzi's execution is superb. His characters inhabit bodies that are barely human, but they talk, think and respond in familiar and appealing ways. His writing is graceful and clever, with descriptions of aliens, equipment and military encounters that are flat-out terrific. Smartly conceived and thoroughly entertaining, 'Old Man's War' is a splendid novel." -- Cleveland Plain-Dealer

"A tremendous, confident SF debut" -- T.M. Wagner,

"A clever, charming and joyously fun story." -- Neil Walsh,

Awards, etc: Nominee, Hugo Award for Best Novel, 2006; Finalist, 2006 Locus Award for Best First Novel; Featured selection, The Science Fiction Book Club (Winter 2005); Featured selection, Barnes & Noble Explorations (December 2005); A "Sci Fi Essential" book (January 2006)

Foreign Language Sales: Russian, French, Chinese, German, Japanese, Hebrew, Spanish

Personal Notes: My debut novel, and it would be hard to imagine a better reception than this one has had. I had quite a bit of fun writing this and seeing how it's fared out there in the world.

Buy: Trade Paperback : Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powell's