Halo: The Flood

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The reviews online for this book aren’t great, and frankly they’re right. The plot is predictable, and there isn’t much character development. Just lots and lots of blow-by-blow combat. It gets wearing after a while, and I found this book at bit of a slog. Not recommended.

The Flood Book Cover The Flood
Fiction
Del Rey
2003
341

Fleeing the destruction of the planet Reach, the Master Chief and a few human survivors crash-land on Halo, where they race to unravel its secrets in order to gain control of a great source of power before the alien occupiers do.

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Halo: The Fall of Reach

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As someone who doesn’t play computer games and has never played a Halo game, I find myself in the strange position of having read a Halo book. This book is the first in the chronological lineage, and explains the history of the Spartan program which produced the Master Chief. I decided to read this after accidentally watching a Halo mini-movie on Netflix with a sick baby, and deciding it wasn’t totally terrible.

The book is actually ok to my surprise. Its competently written, and on par with much of the other combat fiction I’ve read. It certainly doesn’t feel like its a tie in to a game. I would have liked this book to cover more of the moral issues around the back story to the Spartan program, but those were only briefly considered. Then again, I like a good shoot ’em up as much as the next guy and perhaps that would have been too boring. Overall I enjoyed it and think I might have to read more in this universe.

Halo: The Fall of Reach Book Cover Halo: The Fall of Reach
Eric Nylund
Fiction
St. Martin's Press
June 28, 2011
448

Before the Human-Covenant War engulfed Halo, the planet-colony Reach came under attack by the Covenant, and Earth's specially trained and augmented warriors, code-named SPARTANs, stood alone to fight for humanity's survival.

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The End of All Things

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I don’t read as much as I should these days, but one author I always make time for is John Scalzi. This is the next book in the Old Man’s War universe, and it continues from where The Human Division ended on a cliff hanger. So, let’s get that out of the way — ending a book on a cliff hanger is a dick move and John is a bad bad man. Then again I really enjoyed The Human Division, so I will probably forgive him.

I don’t think this book is as good as The Human Division, but its a solid book. I enjoyed reading it and it wasn’t a chore like some books this far into a universe can be (I’m looking at you, Asimov share cropped books). The conclusion to the story arc is sensible, and not something I would have predicted, so overall I’m going to put this book on my mental list of the very many non-terrible Scalzi books.

The End of All Things Book Cover The End of All Things
John Scalzi
Human-alien encounters
Pan Macmillan
August 13, 2015
378

Our fate is in their hands. . . The Colonial Union's Defence Force was formed to save humanity when aggressive alien species targeted our worlds. Now Lieutenant Harry Wilson has an urgent new mission, as a hostile universe becomes ever more dangerous. He must investigate a sinister group, which lurks in the darkness of space playing different factions against one another. They'll target both humans and aliens, and their motives are unfathomable.The Defence Force itself is weakening as its soldiers fall - without recruits to replace them. Relations with Earth have broken down and it will send no more troops, even as human colonies become increasingly vulnerable to alien attack.Lieutenant Wilson and Colonial Union diplomats must race to keep the peace, seek reconciliation with an enraged Earth, and maintain humanity's unity at all costs. If they don't, it will mean oblivion, extinction and the end of all things.

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The Human Division

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I originally read this as a series of short stories released on the kindle, but the paperback collation of those has been out for a while and deserved a read. These stories are classic Scalzi, and read well. If you like the Old Man’s War universe you will like this book. The chapters of the book are free standing because of how they were originally written, and that makes the book a bit disjointed. The cliff hanger at the end is also pretty annoying given the next book hasn’t been released.

So, an interesting experiment that perhaps isn’t perfect, but is well worth the read.

The Human Division Book Cover The Human Division
John Scalzi
Fiction
Tor Science Fiction
February 25, 2014
512

Following the events of The Last Colony, John Scalzi tells the story of the fight to maintain the unity of the human race. The people of Earth now know that the human Colonial Union has kept them ignorant of the dangerous universe around them. For generations the CU had defended humanity against hostile aliens, deliberately keeping Earth an ignorant backwater and a source of military recruits. Now the CU's secrets are known to all. Other alien races have come on the scene and formed a new alliance—an alliance against the Colonial Union. And they've invited the people of Earth to join them. For a shaken and betrayed Earth, the choice isn't obvious or easy. Against such possibilities, managing the survival of the Colonial Union won't be easy, either. It will take diplomatic finesse, political cunning...and a brilliant "B Team," centered on the resourceful Lieutenant Harry Wilson, that can be deployed to deal with the unpredictable and unexpected things the universe throws at you when you're struggling to preserve the unity of the human race. Being published online from January to April 2013 as a three-month digital serial, The Human Division will appear as a full-length novel of the Old Man's War universe, plus—for the first time in print—the first tale of Lieutenant Harry Wilson, and a coda that wasn't part of the digital serialization.

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The Ghost Brigades (2)

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The second time around I think my opinion has changed a little. I found the plot a little hard to believe (perhaps I am scarred by other book’s twee explorations of the motivations of alien species), and overall the book not as good as Old Man’s War. Then again, its far from the worst book I have read this year.

Original post about this book.

[award: nominee prometheus 2007]
[isbn: 0765354063]

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Old Man’s War (2)

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I’ve been in a rut recently where I haven’t really been enjoying the books I’ve been reading. The number of books I read has also dropped off a lot since I moved back to Australia. Some of the drop off is associated with living in a house instead of an apartment — there is constant maintenance work to be done, and I might never finish painting this place. However, I was worried that perhaps I simply wasn’t as into reading as I was a couple of years ago. So, I decided to go back and read a book I enjoyed before, and see if I still liked it. This was that book.

The answer is hells yes. This book is still fantastic, and I really enjoyed it. I also knocked it over in a time similar to when I was in the US. So, its not me that’s broken — its the books I’m reading. I need to find more books to be enthused about, instead of letting reading be a chore.

Original post about this book.

[awards: nominee hugo 2006]
[isbn: 0765348276]

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Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

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I sympathize with the other LibraryThing reviewer who had trouble finding characters to like in this novel. This book isn’t very long, but took me ages to read because the main character is so whiney. The whole story seems to revolve around how he’s never happy, and that didn’t work for me. I think the underlying ideas are interesting, but I just hated Julius so much that I didn’t enjoy the book.

There is an interesting reference to Snow Crash on page 97 though.

[award: nominee nebula 2004]
[isbn: 076530953x]

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The Last Colony

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All of the Old Men’s War books (Old Man’s War and The Ghost Brigades) have started slowly and built up to a climax. That’s been good because its given some time for background which makes the second phase of the book all the more fully formed. This book is the same, although I think the introduction is more long winded than previously, and the whole thing gets wrapped up surprisingly quickly. Overall a good book, but not as good as the previous two.

[award: nominee hugo 2008]
[isbn: 0765316978]

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The Ghost Brigades

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This book is a really good sequel, and just as good as Old Man’s War. While some of the characters reappear, the story stands on its own and is quite entertaining. I enjoyed this book a lot. There’s something about bright green genetically engineered super soldiers killing aliens that makes me happy.

[award: nominee prometheus 2007]
[isbn: 0765354063]

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Old Man’s War

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I’ve owned this book for a while, and now really regret not reading it the second it hit my shelves. Its amazingly good for a first book, and is definitely as good as The Forever War and Forever Peace, and better than Starship Troopers. I’m very very impressed with it. An excellent book if you’re into combat scifi.

[awards: nominee hugo 2006]
[isbn: 0765348276]

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