The Dispatcher - John Scalzi, Zachary Quinto

Last year, when he was in Boise, I heard John Scalzi read the first chapter of this book and I've been waiting for this ever since.


It's an Urban Fantasy set in a world where natural or accidental death is possible, but if you're murdered there's an almost 100% possibility that you'll come back to life. Huh? Yeah -- heckuva hook, right? There's no explanation for this, it just started -- and it may just end at some point. But in the meantime people are taking full advantage of this.


Tony Valdez is a dispatcher -- insurance companies and individuals have started hiring dispatchers to "dispatch" someone just before they die, so there's a good chance -- a fantastic chance, really -- that they'll survive. One of Tony's coworkers has disappeared and a Chicago police detective has drafted him to help her track down his colleague. To find him, they have to look into the dark side of the dispatcher trade and the desperate lengths some will go through to extend the lives of their loved ones or themselves.


It was a fun book to listen to, a story that drew you in and drug you along to the gripping end. But once it was over, and I started thinking about it, all sorts of questions came to mind, not really plot holes, just things that weren't adequately addressed. I think a lot of it was length, if this had been a novel, some of them wouldn't have come up. The more I thought of it, it was almost like this novella was Scalzi's attempt to prove a point/win a bet that, yes, he can write UF. A strongly written, convincing story that entertained from beginning to end -- but there was just no heart to it, it just seemed like a writing exercise.


Quinto did a bang-up job -- I think I only thought of him as the actor once or twice -- he nailed every bit of this. If that whole movie star thing doesn't work out for him, he could have a future doing this sort of thing. I should probably give this an extra star just for his work.


Very entertaining, a great experience -- just don't think about it too terribly much.