John Scalzi is one of the hottest sf writers out there. His first novel was published in 2005, but he had already racked up three novel nominations by 2008. He’s also the President-elect of the SFWA. As with most of the writers who hit in the 00s, I hadn’t read any of his work until now.
We focus on one ship, the Righteous, and its captain Tephe. Tephe must navigate the tensions with the priestly class that shares power aboard ship, and he’s in love with one of the Rooks (priestesses/harem girls) that “comfort” the ship’s crew.
It’s a fairly fantastic set-up, but, and maybe this is the result of its length, it’s all set-up. The characters tend to speak in exposition, and spend all of their time telling explaining their world and roles to each other (though they should obviously already know these things). The characters fall a bit flat as well, and they tend to slot into generic roles (heroic officers, incompetent priests, hooker with a heart of gold). The ideas are great though, and I’d consider reading more novels set in this world (though the horror ending doesn’t seem to leave a lot of room open for sequels).