Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Sagan Diary by John Scalzi (unabridged audio book read by The Jane Sagan Players)

What a fascinating little book this is, a novella set in the same world as author John Scalzi's other works (Old Man's War and its sequels). Having not read those, I did not know what to expect when I downloaded the free audio version (from Scalzi's website) of The Sagan Diary.

Presented as the journal of Jane Sagan (ostensibly a character in the aforementioned series), The Sagan Diary is written in a very stream-of-consciousness form, which makes it difficult to follow at first, but ends up making the character very engaging, as we get to see Jane Sagan with all of her vulnerabilities and with her guard down. I imagine Scalzi's regular readers will see a side of her they never expected.

Chapters are divided into concepts such as Words, Killing, Speaking, Friendship, Age, Sex, Fear, and (appropriately) Endings. It was a stroke of brilliance to have the audio read by different women — namely Mary Robinette Kowal (Preface, Words, Fear, Endings), Elizabeth Bear (Killing), Karen Meisner (Speaking), Ellen Kushner (Friendship), Helen Smith (Age), and Cherie Priest (Sex) — so that each part of Jane Sagan's mind has its own distinct voice. I don't think I would have enjoyed the book nearly as much if these ladies hadn't added their own individual touches, but then I'm rather partial to audiobooks these days anyway.

Scalzi has written that The Sagan Diary was written as a personal challenge: basically to see if he could successfully write something diametrically opposed to his usual work. I would have to say he has succeeded, at least in the sense that it is still very enjoyable. And in having a free copy available for sample, Scalzi has succeeded in a much more important way: he's made me curious to pick up more of his work.

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