A bit of a strange one this, I’m not sure I should be reviewing a part of a book, but this is how this one is coming. Scalzi is delivering a serialised novel, a chapter at a time. Regularly released to a number of e-book platforms (69p each in the UK, and there are 13 of them which brings it in about the price of a normal book) I guess the idea is to hook you in and keep you turning on the Kindle for the next episode to land.
I’m a Scalzi fan, really, I follow his blog, think he is great on Twitter, so he can do no wrong for me. He’s even addressed recently on his blog whether his popularist science fiction makes him a ‘sell out’.
If you’ve not read Scalzi’s work before (in this particular Universe, a series which started with the excellent ‘Old Man’s War’) then the best thing to do is imagine Starship Troopers (the first film) and then commit that in book form (yes pedants, I know there is already a book on which the film was based!). Militaristic, gung-ho genetically engineered and amped up humans fight to save the colony worlds from alien doom-mongers.
The thing is Scalzi writes with great humour and all his stuff is page-turningly enjoyable. This chapter – well double length opener – gives us the lead in to what I hope will be another cracking book. A diplomatic mission, which should have been top secret, goes very wrong. Against a turbulent time in the history of humanity and the outlook for our race looking like it might be getting a lot worse a lot more quickly than imagined, our ‘B team’ end up subbing for the missing diplomats, mixing treaty making, with the less endearing prospect of finding out what happened to the ship that should have been there to make the deal…
5 stars, and why not.
Oh dear, dare I even mention that I read this book?
Actually I nearly didn’t. Not because of the content, or the fact it probably isn’t aimed at me, not because I’m sniffy as it’s a fanfic derivative. I nearly didn’t read it because I read the first few chapters and the writing is, with the best will in the world, dreadful.
Actually if there was one thing that summed it up it’s the sheer frequency of the ‘Oh My!’ refrain, which drove me to utter distraction. I ended up reading it to my fiancee because it seemed much more hilarious to read it out aloud.
I had no intention of finishing it until running out of things to do on a trans-Atlantic flight. And I read it until the end. And I will have to read the next one now. Actually I couldn’t care less for the story of Anastasias sexual awakening, nor the BDSM aspects of it, I read ‘The Story of O’ at a very tender age which is both more graphic, more eye-opening and much more engagingly written.
There’s so much that infuriates me about the book, from Anastasia’s unlikely ‘never been touched’ status, to Christian Grey’s equally unlikely billionaire status, but perhaps what bugs me the most is the amount of concessions he makes to Anastasia. I wonder if this is why the book is so incredibly popular, the fact that it is this naive woman who gets this controlling man to toss many of his requirements aside on the basis that he is somehow more drawn to her than the other women he has been ‘contracted’ to.
But actually I am interested in Christian. Lots of hints about how he has become the way he has, from early days as a submissive at the hands of an older woman, and having never had a relationship that wasn’t based on a BDSM agreement. I want to know his backstory, and the only way I’m going to get that is by reading the next book.
3 stars. Probably deserves less. And I still don’t get what all the fuss is about!
This is a perfect reissue from the Bodleian Library, the kind of thing that I wish more often would come my way. It’s fascinating to look back on what is effectively the forerunner of the self-help book today, the “do’s and do not’s” for a successful relationship with a focus on your duties as a husband.
This was always going to tickle my fancy, I do have a streak that yearns for days when men were gentlemen, women were ladies and the way to impress was to look smart and engage with the world from behind a veil of the most perfect manners. If this kind of thing interests you then I really wholeheartedly recommend the fantastic magazine “The Chap” (http://thechapmagazine.co.uk).
Of course the book itself, being from the era it is from, has a wonderful line between showing deference for your wife’s pleasures, and the ingrained sexism of keeping her at home in the first place (although note that you are encouraged to teach your wife to drive!). Covering issues such as home life, socialising, hobbies and managing your work life, nothing is left unturned in the search for marital perfection.
In all honesty this is a brisk read, you will rip through it in an hour. Perhaps it is most useful as a lesson for what has changed between the 1930′s and now. And more importantly, what has remained the same.
Men, be a very good husband to your wife – and remember every day the joys and pleasures that made you marry her in the first place.