Book 46/50 The Last Colony

The Last Colony   John Scalzi          fiftyfiftyme category: Other

The third book in the Old Man’s War series, this was intended to be the last in a trilogy. It brings back John Perry, the central character of Old Man’s War and Jane, the Special Forces soldier he ended up marrying. The book tells the story of their involvement in setting up a new colony on a planet called Roanoke.

This was the most straightforwardly narrative story of the three so far. While the first two books examined issues related to the ethicality of genetic engineering and how much of such engineering can be done before someone is no longer human, this was a simple story of politics and pragmatism. I really enjoyed it because it reminded me of my favourite science fiction TV series, Babylon 5.

In Babylon 5  the eponymous space station and its crew find themselves caught up in an eons old struggle between  two races trying to prove whose form of governance is most effective. The series charts the efforts of the station’s commander(s) to find a third way, to strike an independent path without siding with either of the two rivals. It’s a masterpiece, and if anyone who likes science fiction has not watched Babylon 5, the only possible question is, “why in Valen’s name not?”

The scenario in The Last Colony is quite similar. The Perrys and their fellow colonists find out that they are really just pawns in a power struggle between two competing forces, neither of which actually gives a load of foetid dingo’s kidneys about them. The story details their efforts to find a way to get out of the game alive, for them and the colony.

The strength of the book was its realistic depiction of politics, the military, and military politics. As with Babylon 5, the  hats are neither black nor white,  merely different  shades of grey. The manoeuvrings and manipulations involved are well-plotted and well-written, with one notable exception. That exception involves the appearance of a race indigenous to the new planet, and the resolution of that situation seemed a bit facile and contrived to many readers. More on that in another post.

That problem aside, The Last Colony was a satisfactory conclusion to the trilogy, and together with  Old Man’s War, and Ghost Brigades makes for a very enjoyable series. I recommend the series to anyone who enjoys “space operas”, and, in order to get the most out of this review, I conclude with this important rule for having a happy, successful and meaningful life: Watch Babylon 5!

 

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