I have some minor reservations about the book ( actually, two: 1. recreational sex in the co-ed military has no effect on unit cohesion, and all recruits indulge in the general orgy without thought, scruple, hesitation and without any personal attachments being formed 2. the technology of mind-transfer, immortality, and mind-creation has no impact on society. When a character breaks a leg, they don't just switch him into a new body, and no nonhuman bodies are used: no fish-bodies donned for aquatic campaigns, for example), but my reservations would be pertinent only if one takes the book more seriously than I think the writer meant it. One reservation was that the plot threads were not wrapped up neatly: but since there is a sequel to the book out, THE GHOST BRIGADES, I may have to look at that to see if my reservations hold water. The book was good enough to make me want to read the sequel, so I am willing to give it a Harriet Klausner level of praise—four stars out of five.
Mr. Scalzi’s non-literary manifesto boils down to the idea of writing to allow novices ease of comprehension, what we economists call a low entry cost. It is an idea I think every writer should follow.
In that same spirit, I would like to announce my own literary movement and literary manifesto: THE NEW SPACE PRINCESS MOVEMENT.
The literary movement will follow two basic principles: first, science fiction stories should have space-princesses in them who are absurdly good looking. Second, The space princesses must be half-clad (if you are a pessimist. The optimist sees the space princess as half-naked). Third, dinosaurs are also way cool, as are ninjas. Dinosaur ninjas are best of all.
So you are probably wondering at this point: what about Space Princesses? Good question. The first thing to remember, in writing a scene with a space princess, is not to show her actually ordering her marine guards to drub the uppity peasants with the butts of their space-rifles. In fact, avoid mentioning that she is a monarchist at all. She can express concern for the common people to indicate her warmheartedness. Have her engaged in a political marriage to the odious Prince Blackworm of planet Doomshadow IV (or insert your own space-name here), but when she breaks off the engagement to wed and bed the hero, by no means have the space-kingdom lose the peace treaty on which the marriage, and all the hopes of her whole planet, depended. Indeed, no state marriage or alliance should ever be shown having any purpose or any consequences whatever. If the queen of Sparta runs off with Paris to the city of Troy, she is just being true to her own inner self: what possible bad consequences could come of it?
This is what science fiction is actually all about. Let no one tell you differently.