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The Last Colony (Old Man's War) Mass Market Paperback – July 29, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
What the Colonial Union is up to and why becomes the critical question for Perry. Until he figures it out, after which stewing on a response becomes even more critical.
Scalzi has written passionately about the need for science fiction to become less insular:
"... if you look at the significant SF books of the last several years, there aren't very many you could give to the uninitiated reader; they all pretty much implicitly or explicitly assume you've been keeping up with the genre, because the writers themselves have. The SF literary community is like a boarding school; we're all up to our armpits in each other's business, literary and otherwise (and then there's the sodomy. But let's not go there)."
"... Fantasy literature has numerous open doors for the casual reader. How many does SF literature have? More importantly, how many is SF perceived to have? Any honest follower of the genre has to admit the answers are "few" and "even fewer than that," respectively. The most accessible SF we have today is stuff that was written decades ago by people who are now dead.Read more ›
John Perry has been a soldier and an officer of the human army tasked with defending humanity's colonies from a very nasty universe. Now he is retired and living with the wife and child he loves, He is surprised when he is selected to go with his wife to manage a new colony but packs up the family and takes the job. No sooner does he arrive when he and all the other colonists learn that they have been hoodwinked by the bureaucracy. They are pawns in an ongoing stellar war and in the attempts of the bureaucracy to maintain power over all humans.
John manages to hack off just about everyone when he manages to keep his colony from being wiped out. He saves his people and then embarks upon a grand scheme to see that such things cannot happen again. It is very surprising.
It is entertaining and very quick to read. I wish there would be more.
If in "Old man's war" Scalzi introduced us to a harsh universe where humanity has to fight, and fight hard, for every palm of space it wants to colonize, and in "The ghost brigades" he masterfully blended big strategy and personal conflict down to its resolution by superhero Dirac (who in the end convincingly exemplifies the victory of mind -or spirit- over matter), in "The last colony" his characters feel like over-powered cast members of a weekly SciFi show, surrounded by red-shirts with no other role in the plot but to die, more concerned with their happy little family than with interstellar affairs. The big strategy still works, to a point, the exploration of the logic of the imperialistic state starts promisingly and John Perry's banter with friend and foe still mostly shines, but in the end everything falls flat, into cliches, either half done or disappointingly unnuanced.
Cartoonish invulnerable characters, never wrong or in real danger? Check. Empowered mommy who always knows best and can kill an army with a fingernail? Check. (She reads minds too!) Pinocchio complex? Check. Twice for good measure. Deus (i.e., Consu) ex machina? Check!! The villains are also really good people, inter-racial brotherly love is the latest coolest newest thing and for some unexplained reason even the werewolves disappear halfway thru the book as soon as a little bit of sunlight shines on them. Somehow the "harsh" universe evolved into this bland experience of cotton candy, unicorns and pregnancies ...
Too bad Scalzi fell in love with his characters to the point he coudn't bear to kill any of them (or even their pets or their secretaries), or at least put them through pain or conflict anymore. Inevitably, by the last line of the last page everybody is deliriously happy --except the reader!
Scalzi up to this point has an established issue with detail; I don't know if this is conscious on his part for some reason, or whether he's just not good at focusing on the minutia that can make a story really POP. But this short-coming was always overshadowed with a captivating story. And while he also tended to leap things forward in somewhat startling chunks of time, things still felt coherent. I regret to say that "The Last Colony" does not manage to tell either a truly captivating story nor make up for the lack of details in anyway.
First, the good. This IS an interesting story, and really delves into the concept of galactic politics. Where "Old Man's War" was a story of a soldier thrust into the unknown, and "The Ghost Brigades" was about someone trying to find themselves and discover what it is to be human, "The Last Colony" is mostly about politics, but also told from a pawn's perspective. This also makes the narrative someone at odds with the theme, at times, since it's told primarily in 1st person by John Perry, the hero from "Old Man's War", but several times it goes into a quasi third person omnipresent past-tense narration. However, this is never really a PROBLEM, per se. There's a bit of mystery, there's struggle, there's talk about ethics, and in all, as before, it's a pretty intelligent book.
Where things fall apart, though, is that this is supposed to be a NOVEL, as in, telling a clear, finite story. This is fiction.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was great. Awesome story, strong character, and solid sci-fi elements. Being the 3rd book in the series, Scalzi's personal writing voice begins to overshadow character... Read morePublished 2 days ago by jamison proctor
Fantastic book! I'm still reading the series and love every book so far.Published 5 days ago by Rockerchic
Everyone complaining that there isn't enough action or it's too political needs to lighten up. It's his story, he's telling it how he wants and I think it's fantastic for what it... Read morePublished 9 days ago by Patrick
Scalzi creates interesting and intelligent characters struggling with multidimensional adversaries. His writing is fast-paced, and leaves me satisfied and wanting the story to... Read morePublished 20 days ago by John Senn