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March 18, 2007

TAD in the Winston-Salem Journal

I've just read what has got to be the nicest negative review I've ever gotten. While book ultimately isn't the reviewer's cup of tea, he also writes things like "John Scalzi is a writer of crystalline clarity and wit," and "there is no ambiguity in Scalzi's talent " and so on and so forth. It's like a paramour telling you they just want be friends and then buying you a new car to ease the breakup.

Posted by john at March 18, 2007 11:36 AM

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Nathan | March 18, 2007 12:20 PM

That's one of the strangest reviews of anything I've ever read. The reviewer writes much less about the merits of the book than he does about his qualifications (or lack thereof) to judge it.

Sort of like a restaurant critic writing, "I don't particularly like clams, but this chef has a bunch of awards, so they must be good, even though I gagged".

Nice that you liked the warm and fuzzy parts, though.

Ron Hogan | March 18, 2007 12:24 PM

The funny thing is that the LAST type of novel I would identify Android's Dream as is "Philip K. Dick homage." Except maybe by way of (the better aspects of) Total Recall.

John Scalzi | March 18, 2007 12:25 PM

Yeah, it pretty much has nothing to do with PKD outside the title.

Gwen | March 18, 2007 12:38 PM

I read it recently. Very nice. It reminded me most of Alan Dean Foster's The Light-Years Beneath My Feet, and I have no idea why.
Also read Old Man's War. I love the library hold system; even if it takes me a few weeks to actually get the book I request, I still get the book I request.

Joe Sherry | March 18, 2007 12:58 PM

That was a very pleasant review and it might actually make some readers of that paper go out and read / buy TAD.

John Scalzi | March 18, 2007 01:00 PM

I agree -- this is one of the negative reviews you hope for, if you must have negative reviews.

Mary Kay | March 18, 2007 01:14 PM

Hmm. I recognize that. That's, "Everybody likes this Scalzi guy's books except me. What's wrong with me?" I've done that number about several well respected sf writers myself, though not our host. (Well, ok, Connie Willis, Gene Wolfe, and Jonathan Lethem if you must know.) Then I realized that sometimes, you're just tone deaf in the register they're writing in and there's nothing to be done except quit trying and read some stuff you do enjoy.


John Scalzi | March 18, 2007 01:19 PM


Yup. One of the things one hopes to learn is to recognize when something when something is done well, but it's just not for you.

TCO | March 18, 2007 02:16 PM

The other possibility is that everyone likes it cause it is trendy, but it is really not that good in a intrinsic sense. Sorta like Enron or the dotcoms.

John H | March 18, 2007 02:19 PM

I would second his comment that TAD would make an excellent movie. But then I'd say that's characteristic of all your novels so far - a fairly straightforward, linear progression and just enough description to let the reader's imagination paint the scene without getting bogged down by the details. The qualities that make your books such fun to read (tight, well-paced stories with engaging plots) also make them ideal candidates for the big screen.

TCO | March 18, 2007 02:29 PM

What did you think of that book by the liberal Australian guy that made fun of affinity marketing programs?

Lugo | March 18, 2007 03:10 PM

I confess I have never read The Einsteinian Intersection (and have never been a big Samuel R. Delany fan). How does it compare to TAD?

John Scalzi | March 18, 2007 03:15 PM

Dunno. Haven't read it myself.

Tom Nixon | March 18, 2007 05:27 PM

A negative review that is so positive that it could result in book sales. How can you argue with that?

John Scalzi | March 18, 2007 05:29 PM

Exactly. I wish all my negative reviews were so positive!

Jon | March 18, 2007 06:11 PM

He wants a more flippant tone? How is that possible? Isn't death by fart flippant enough?

John Scalzi | March 18, 2007 06:12 PM

Well, to be fair, the rest of the book isn't quite as gonzo.

PixelFish | March 18, 2007 08:26 PM

I don't think anything can be as gonzo as death by fart. I think the rest of the book balances the witty with the tension fairly well....there's just one spot where I'd quibble about the dark nature of a scene compared to the rest of the book, and while I twitched a little, it didn't dampen my appreciation for the rest of the book.

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