This is my “and so it begins” book for CBR bingo, which is slightly improbable as after finishing Redshirts I wasn’t sure I’d read another John Scalzi book again. CBR changed my mind; enough people enjoyed Head On that I picked it up, not having remembered that I had in fact read something by the author before.
I enjoyed Head On enough that when I was looking for reading material on an international trip I actively sought out Scalzi. I needed something light, something fun, and a mass market paperback for space. This fit the bill. Sold.
You buy Scalzi for likeability, and a surprising wealth of intriguing premises, but not for characters. This was his first novel as I understand it, so that’s all doubly true here. Our protagonist is fleshed out; all of the ancillary characters save the drill sergeant could have been interchanged without any noticeable effect. But, given that the book was essentially a bunch of “what if’s” strung along what is admittedly an excellent prompt, who cares?
We follow John Perry as he sheds his old life on earth to enlist in the colonial defense forces, an opportunity afforded to citizens at the age of 75 to become essentially young again in exchange for 2-10 years of service in intergalactic/inter dimensional war. Scalzi has a lot of fun exploring sci-fi tropes – what aliens would actually be like, assumptions humans would make in space based on a lifetime on earth, dropping classic sci-fi references left and right – so it’s impossible not to have fun right along with him.
Great choice for a travel read, excited to read the rest of these.