Review – The Dispatcher

Posted April 30, 2017 by Nicky in Reviews / 8 Comments

Cover of The Dispatcher by John ScalziThe Dispatcher, John Scalzi

Received to review via Netgalley; publication date 21st April 2017

I pounced to request this as soon as I saw it. John Scalzi reliably writes solid, entertaining stories, and I usually enjoy his central idea. I didn’t actually read the blurb on this one, so it took me a little while to get settled into exactly what was going on — I think I actually preferred it that way, because it made the opening of the story a little more confusing but in the way where you can start to work it out if you’re interested.

I don’t love the main character; while I like seeing grey areas in fiction, I felt like his character wasn’t explored enough for me to understand why he worked within grey areas and how he felt about it. With a little more of that context, I’d probably have enjoyed the whole story more — I tend to connect to characters before clever ideas, however clever the ideas are. Still, I found the story enjoyable, and though the idea is weird and you don’t know how it could possibly work, it’s a fun intellectual exercise to posit these constraints and then write a mystery story within them. Don’t worry too much about the how and why of the Dispatchers and what they do, because that aspect isn’t what the story is interested in.

My only quibble would be that some of the dialogue wasn’t really signposted well enough. Without knowing the characters extremely well, it’s hard to tell which is speaking, and there were long stretches here where it was just a back and forth of dialogue. Sometimes it worked, but not always.

Definitely enjoyable, pretty much as I’d expect from Scalzi.

Rating: 4/5

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8 responses to “Review – The Dispatcher

    • Hmm, you know, I’m not sure if it’d be your thing or not. There’s aspects I think you might enjoy, but… Hmmm! Scalzi’s always a fun writer though.

      • Robert Eggleton

        I certainly meant no disrespect. Scalzi is famous and the President of the SFWA. I read and enjoy his stuff, like so many others do as well, but it always seems to be missing a little something for me. This book has been out for two weeks and already has 42 reviews on Amazon. Hundreds, if not thousands, of reviews of Scalzi books are available tons of places, as well as, paid for book reviews and advertising spots on all of the book related mags and big blogs. He owns one of the biggest blogs in the world, himself. For anybody who is even slightly interested in science fiction, and for many who appreciate reading outside of that genre, Scalzi is a little hard to miss. Personally, I don’t write reviews of his books to post on Amazon because I don’t see how my critique could possibly contribute, but that’s just me. Take care.

        • Oh, I didn’t take it as disrespect. I just find Scalzi’s books satisfying as-is, for me, and don’t really look for more.

          In any case, I review everything I read, as much for myself as anyone else, so whether my review is useful or not in the world of Scalzi, I don’t much care, haha. (Besides, you’d think he’s ubiquitous, but neither my SF/F fan sibling or mother have picked up his books — nor my wife, come to that.)

  1. Robert Eggleton

    Seems like Scalzi always comes close but never quite pulls it off, even with Old Man’s War, his closest to producing something really good, IMO. Of course, reviewing his work is pretty much meaningless anyway. From the author perspective, he’s locked in a multi-million dollar contract, somehow. And, from a fan perspective, they will read whatever he puts out no matter what reviews find, and talk about whatever on Facebook. But, similar could be said for much mainstream stuff available thru Netgalley.

    • I quite enjoy his work and I don’t think it’s meaningless to review, in that it can help other people figure out if they’re interested or not, particularly with people who haven’t read his work before. I think you have a rather different view of Scalzi than I do — I find his work solidly entertaining; that’s what I expect from it and that’s what I get, heh.

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