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A fine gesture by a fine writer

John Scalzi, a science fiction writer whom I admire and learned about via the blogs, is giving free copies of his books to servicemen and women in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, leaving aside what one thinks of either military campaign, I think this is a grand idea, and I hope and trust that authors, film-makers and musicians do the same. These armed forces personnel are risking their lives and deserve a bit of comfort and support, particularly now when so many people, even “moulting hawks” like me, are doubting the wisdom of military intervention in the Middle East. We put them there, God help us.

Scalzi’s first book, Old Man’s War, is definitely worth a read, and the successor, The Ghost Brigades, is also pretty good. If you like Robert Heinlein or Peter Hamilton, for example, you will like Scalzi. I hope he is around for a long time to come. He writes hard science fiction with characters you believe in, can like and admire, warts and all.

(Thanks to Alex Knapp for the tip).

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14 comments to A fine gesture by a fine writer

  • Mary Any Rand

    Jolly good!

    Perhaps if the soldiers have something to read, they won’t getting up to kind of rubbish.

    Way to win the “hearts and minds”, idiots!

  • Just to note that Scalzi is almost certainly influenced by SF publisher Baen books. Baen has been doing this sort of thing for a few years now.

    If you want to help with the Baen effort (some Baen fans help by baking cakes and cookies too) see this post for more information

  • MarkE

    Off topic but related; I’m no fan of Jim Davidson as a comedian, but I have huge respect for him as a man, because he not only puts a lot of time into entertaining troops, but he is perfectly happy to go where they are to entertain them. Much more than can be said for their critics, who find it harder to leave their comfy armchairs.

  • spruance

    Just bought his two books…

  • Nick M

    Well, it’s a great marketting campaign as well. If the old adage about war being 99% crushing boredom and 1% utter terror has any truth in it then the troops will be very glad of a book, any book. And which of them won’t recommend that book.

    I’m not being cynical. I think it’s a grand thing for the publishers to do just as an act of charity to people who undoubtedly deserve better than they’re getting from official sources.

  • xj

    Scalzi’s first book, Old Man’s War

    The first one he sold. The first one he wrote is available free online, here(Link)

  • RAB

    They will probably end up wearing them rather than reading them, given our shortage of body armour.

  • Mary Contrary

    “moulting hawks” like me

    What a wonderful expression!

  • Mary Ayn Rand

    Off topic but related; I’m no fan of Jim Davidson as a comedian, but I have huge respect for him as a man, because he not only puts a lot of time into entertaining troops, but he is perfectly happy to go where they are to entertain them. Much more than can be said for their critics, who find it harder to leave their comfy armchairs.

    Then you must also certainly applaud and support the Air America radio personality/comedian Al Franken. He’s been doing the same thing since Gulf War 1.

    He’s leaving for his next USO tour on December 8.

    Limbaugh, O’Rielly, and the rest of the chickenhawks, not so much.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Mary Ann Rand, do you honestly think a bunch of soldiers want to listen to a blowhard like Limbaugh? These guys are not comedians. Al Franken? riiiight, I am sure that’ll cheer the fellas up.

    I would hope folk like Robin Williams or Dennis Leary get involved. Leary’s irreverent views and lack of political correctness would go down a storm. I liked his Rescue Me series about New York firefighters after 9/11.

    The great example I recall is the late Bob Hope, who got a lot of undeserved heat for entertaining the troops in Vietnam, including in places where things were pretty dangerous.

  • Mary Ayn Rand

    Mr. Pearce, Franken’s been doing USO tours since Gulf War 1. If he wasn’t popular, they wouldn’t be asking him back to tour, year after year after year.

    You know, one CAN be patriotic, liberal, adamantly against the Iraq fiasco, openly contemptuous of the Fratboy Coward, and yet show genuine respect and admiration for the active duty service members by doing the USO tours in Iraq.

    Actual supporting the troops by the administration of the Fratboy Coward? Eh. Not so much. (vide VA budget cuts, termination of traumatic brain damage research funding, cutting veteran benefits, cutting death benefits to survivors, et al, ad nauseum by Fratboy Coward and his toadies in Congress.)

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Actual supporting the troops by the administration of the Fratboy Coward? Eh. Not so much. (vide VA budget cuts, termination of traumatic brain damage research funding, cutting veteran benefits, cutting death benefits to survivors, et al, ad nauseum by Fratboy Coward and his toadies in Congress.)

    Well, I dunno about those claims of yours but your cheap shots about the “Fratboy Coward” make me doubt the accuracy of your charges. Defence spending, and other forms of spending, have ballooned massively under this administration. A more serious point would be to point out how bad that has become.

    You sound like a female version of Michael Moore, although I am sure you are better looking.

  • Mary Ayn Rand

    Well, I dunno about those claims of yours but your cheap shots about the “Fratboy Coward” make me doubt the accuracy of your charges.

    You do know how to use Google, don’t you?

    here

    here

    here

    here

    And as Bush is demonstrably a member of Skull and Bones, and is demonstably a coward, vide his curiously swift rise to the top of the list to join the TANG. leapfrogging quite a few less well connected young men, to avoid service in Viet-Nam, he, therefore is, without a doubt, a Fratboy and a Coward.

    If the shoe fits…