Thursday, March 06, 2008

There is a future in Scalzi's dreaming

One thing fantasy writers need to pick up from science fiction writers is universe creation. Fantasy writers are great world creators, but they tend to focus on a single over-arching story line before moving to an entirely different world.

Science fiction writers have a long tradition, an early example of which is Heinlein's Future History, of creating a universe in which to set many sometimes related, sometimes unrelated stories. Iain M Banks has been writing Culture novels for decades, and just published a new one, called Matter. The insanely prolific CJ Cherryh developed a fascinating future history in her Alliance- Union books. Alastair Reynolds, Neal Asher and others continue to develop interesting future universes in their books.

At the end of the Last Colony, John Scalzi appeared to be putting aside his fascinating Colonial Union universe. In this universe, the galactic arm is jam packed with species competing for a handful of planets. Humanity has a number of tricks up its sleeve including taking bored retired people and turning them into bad-asses, hence the first book's title, Old Man's War. Like its two predecessors, Last Colony is excellent Heinleinesque fun that leaves you wanting to learn more about this universe.

In an afterword to Last Colony, Scalzi said he was putting the universe aside. Apparently he changed his mind, as he has another book called Zoe's tale coming this summer. He writes extensively about the book here. I hope he writes more.

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