Monday, May 28, 2007

The Last Colony, by John Scalzi

With The Last Colony John Scalzi brings his loose Old Man's War trilogy to a close. This is the story of John Perry and Jane Sagan hoping to do nothing more than continue their lives on the colonial planet of Huckleberry. They have a good quiet life together. Perry is the ombudsman of Huckleberry his wife, Sagan, is the town constable. They have an adopted daughter, Zoe, and two aliens which hold Zoe in great reverence because of who her birth father was. This idyllic life is perfect for John Perry and Jane Sagan, but it would make a fairly crappy science fiction novel.

A representative from the Colonial Union pays a visit to Perry and Sagan to request that they lead a new colony, this one the new colony of Roanoke. Unfortunately for Roanoke, there is a four hundred and twelve member collection of alien races called the Conclave. The Conclave has ordered that there will be no more colonies on any planet unless specified by the Conclave, and then only by Conclave member nations. If the Conclave can find Roanoke, the fledgling colony may be destroyed. With conflict within the colony as it struggles to survive, political maneuvering from the Colonial Union about the future of Roanoke, and the threat of alien destruction, there is quite a bit going on behind the scenes and the very future of humanity is at stake.

There is a very real question on whether or not any human colony would ever be named Roanoke. The lost colony which existed for three years in 1500's Virginia before disappearing utterly. While a government would not necessarily be superstitious, there would be no reason to name a colony after a failed colony, so right from the start Scalzi is telling his readers something about what is going on: it isn't what we first know, and that Scalzi's Roanoke faces the same danger of disappearing as the original Roanoke did.

Rather than an action filled story, like Old Man's War and The Ghost Brigades, The Last Colony is a novel about survival. There is far less action, but still The Last Colony tells a good story about the threats to Roanoke and how Perry and Sagan respond to those threats.

Perhaps the largest trademark of a Scalzi novel is the wise cracking sense of humor each novel is laced with. The bottom line is that a Scalzi novel is fun to read. Pure pleasure. Scalzi novels read quickly with a sense of joy in the storytelling. Even being more of a political novel than the military action of the previous two OMW stories, The Last Colony is chock full of fast paced storytelling and with this volume, the story is closed on John Perry and Jane Sagan. The fan in me wishes that Scalzi would write more OMW stories, but the realist says that this chapter is closed and that the stories have been told. Scalzi leaves his readers wanting more, and that's a major mark in the favor of Scalzi. Scalzi is a talented storyteller and worth spending the time to read.

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