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The deeply moving human drama of Gravity meets the nail-biting suspense of Alien in this riveting science fiction debut.
As is expected with Scalzi, this book was an addictive page-turner filled with action, humor, and a deceptively large amount of bigger picture ideas. Starting the novel with a new character in an unusual predicament (he's a brain in a box - yet he's in the middle of hatching an escape plan - all while subverting a mysterious and menacing foe!) was a gripping and interesting start. At the very end of the novel, Scalzi included an earlier draft of that chapter from a different perspective ... let's just say he wisely chose which version to include in the final novel. We move on to the perspective of Hafte Sorvalh, General Gau's right-hand confidant, a likable character from earlier books. One of the most interesting aspects of this series is that in many cases the "aliens" are more likable than the humans, individually and institutionally. It is in this part, as we see the political wranglings and factions within the Conclave, that the long-time reader is amazed at how far this series has come: from a tightly-woven military thriller in the tradition of Heinlein, to a sprawling *political* space opera. After an unexpected and emotional event, Sorvalh finds herself in a difficult predicament. A predicament that is solved largely through sheer will-power, which sounds nice, yet is the first of many moments to follow that seem to solve incredibly tricky situations by getting the principal actors in the room, basically deciding through sheer force of will, personality, and insight what needs to be done, and making it happen because they're all basically good people with the same vision who want to do what's best for the greater good. In other words, pretty much the complete opposite of how politics really happens. As with all John Scalzi stories, I am still thinking about this one days after I finished reading it.