We said the we wanted to get a better feel for John Scalzi, so what better opportunity than with his upcoming novel, “Head On”? Listen in to see if Sandra and Scott’s opinion of the acclaimed science fiction author has changed!
This review is based on a pre-release copy of Head On, provided by Tor/Forge. Official publish date is April 17, 2018.
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That is incredible! You had me and Sandra scrambling through the book to specific chapters where we were sure Scalzi referred to Chris in the masculine or described facial hair – and we came up empty.
I will posit that to two cis-gendered people such as ourselves, Scalzi’s literary choice with Chris was not obvious until your comment. But I will say that I am floored with how cool that is!
I’m guessing that’s part of why Scalzi spent so much time talking about the sexual possibilities and gender-fluidity of threeps. What came across as possibly “kink-shaming” was a way to tweak the reader into thinking about gender and sex.
You should give Lock In a read, too. As in Head On, Scalzi doesn’t make Chris’ gender-ambiguity a big deal, but he does throw in a few Easter eggs. For instance, the reader doesn’t find out that Chris’ Dad is black until about two-thirds of the way through the book. It was around that moment—suddenly having to rethink my mental image of Chris—that I realized there were a lot of things I hadn’t picked up on about the protagonist…
If you re-read Head On with this is mind, there are all kinds of other subtleties. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the corporations in the book are themselves pretty fluid in their identity. Amelie’s companies appear to be separate entities, but each one is destined to be folded back into Labram.
What is real? Is the NAHL a real sports league or just an international money-laundering scheme? Who has the real relationship with Kaufmann, Fowler-as-Integrator hosting a Haden or Fowler-as-herself who is also Kaufmann’s lover…
I enjoyed your review and I’m glad you gave Scalzi another go. But I think you missed a key aspect of Head On: the protagonist, Chris Shane, is never identified as a man or a woman.
Scalzi wanted to play with readers’ preconceptions. He deliberately requested that the audiobooks of Head On and Lock In (the first Chris Shane book) be released in versions read by a female actor and a male actor, for example.