JUDGE SN GOES GOLFING
by John Scalzi
Reviewed by Steven H Silver
Judge Sn Goes Golfing is a short story by John Scalzi which essentially gives away the entire plot of the story in the title. However, Scalzi relates Sn's golf outing with a wit and style that even those who have no interest in the game of golf will find themselves intriguing by Sn's activities on the dilapidated Dulles Woods Golf Course.
Judge Sn is a selfish antihero, not overly concerned with anyone else and, during the course of the story, focused almost entirely on his game of golf. Banned from the majority of the area golf courses, Sn finds himself forced to play on the poorly-designed, dilapidated course built on the site of the former Dulles Airport. Sn does take some solace in knowing that, while only the dregs play at Dulles Woods, he is not the lowest of the low. However, Sn is also aware enough to know that, no matter how much he loves the game, he is not the worst, even on this course.
The game Sn plays on the day in question could easily have been inspired by Bishop Pickering (Henry Wilcoxon) in the film Caddyshack. And just as Sn slowly realizes he's playing the best game of his life, he comes upon the eighteenth hole of the golf course, the most notorious hole on the worst course in the country. By this time, the reader may well have forgotten the first line of Scalzi's story, but Scalzi does refer back to it, providing the ending for the story.
The details of a golf game are generally only of interest to the person who is describing the event. However, Scalzi's wit in describing Judge Sn, his game, and the circumstances around his presence on Earth are humorous enough to keep even a golfophobe reading until the end of the story. Scalzi's easy prose demonstrates why he has a large following of fans. His story of an alien judge trying to have a peaceful (if self-centered) afternoon is entertaining and doesn't overstay its welcome.
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