I thought I’d write more about why I like John Scalzi so much as an author.
First, a note: Scalzi’s novels do not read as the work of a progressive activist unless you’re one of those far-right sphincters that feel facts are liberally biased. So there’s a high chance you’ll enjoy them just as much as I do even if you’re moderate or conservative-leaning.
Scalzi can write a story that pays homage to classic adventure sci-fi without feeling derivative.
His world building always feels fresh and unique, even compared to his own novels.
As someone that exists in a woman’s body, I don’t have to worry about the text making me feel demeaned or less-than.
Ditto for being a member of the LGBT community.
Scalzi can even make his side characters interesting and intriguing. “Can’t wait to read more about these two – oh he’s already dead and she’s just an introductory character for the actual protagonists…”
Scalzi doesn’t make being human seem simple or easy. He shows that humans and human choices and human circumstances and human survival are complicated and nuanced, but that it’s worth it to try and be better than the status quo.
Scalzi can range from comedy to horror to tragedy – often in the same novel. I’ve laughed out loud and had tears in my eyes during more than one of his books.
I shy away from dystopian fiction these days. I never feel an onrushing wave of hopelessness and despair after reading one of Scalzi’s books, though, even if they’re dealing with potentially apocalyptic scenarios that might end in dystopian circumstances.
Related: Scalzi’s sci-fi horror novella The God Engines left me feeling very similar to how I felt after reading Asimov’s short stories The Last Question and Nightfall. (Possibly more impactful for me as someone that grew up soused in religious zealotry, but sure to be an interesting read for anyone.)
And on a last, lighter note: Scalzi can write a character that indulges in an uninhibited sex life without it getting weird, depressing, and taking up way too much time. (I’m looking at you, Stranger in a Strange Land, whose first half did not at all prepare teenage me for the second half.)