The Last Colony by John Scalzi

The Last Colony

AuthorJohn Scalzi

Pages: 336 pages
Publisher: Tor Science Fiction
Release Date: April 17th, 2007
ISBN-10: 076535618X
ISBN-13: 978-0765356185

After being blown away by Old Man’s War, a worthy homage to The Forever War and Starship Troopers, and loving The Ghost Brigades, its psuedo-sequel, I was ready to admit to being a slavering John Scalzi fanboy. The only problem? I’m running out of ways to write reviews of John Scalzi novels.

I’ve run out of superlatives. I’ve run out of ways to convince you to buy the novels. I’m at my wits end to come up with an original way to say, “John Scalzi is just that damn good.”

But, well… he is that damn good.

The Last Colony, the third novel in the loose trilogy, may not be Scalzi’s best novel (that would still be Old Man’s War), but it’s easily his best rounded. From characterization to pacing, from the action scenes and the politics driving the plot, Scalzi’s spot on.

The pacing in particular is just as pitch perfect as his previous efforts; what starts off as a rather small story, seemingly focused around Perry and his family’s attempts at settling down after life in the military, steadily evolves into an epic cavalcade of action, politics and galaxywide mayhem. This progression never feels forced and before you know it Perry (and the reader) are in the middle of a shitstorm.

Scalzi’s greatest strength is his ability to craft charmingly human characters and The Last Colony is no exception. Part of the hook of Old Man’s War was that John Perry was an old man, enlisted in the army. That schtick is, with the exception of a particular scene near the end of the novel, basically moot. In The Last Colony, he’s no different than any other soldier. Still, despite this seemingly wasted opportunity, Perry continues to be a sly, engaging narrator and Jane Sagan, his wife, continues her growth as one of the most compellingly diffictult characters in the saga. A welcome return to the first-person narrative of Old Man’s War brings the reader close to the heart of the situation, thrusting them into the desperate fray alongside Perry and his supporting cast of colonists.

The Last Colony expands greatly upon concepts touched upon in Old Man’s War and The Ghost Brigades, hinting at the potential for the universe to explode from the relative simplicity of Military Science Fiction to a full blown Space Opera. The Last Colony doesn’t rely on ethical dilemmas the way that its predecessors did, but that frees Scalzi up to weave a darn good yarn. A rollercoaster from start to finish, The Last Colony takes every element that mades Scalzi’s other novels a success – fun, balls-to-the-wall action; (maybe too) witty characters; fantastic dialogue; not a wasted word in the novel – and refines it down to a science.

With The Last Colony, Scalzi continues to show why he’s one of the best at injecting a dash of humanity into the often clinical world of Science Fiction. It would be nice to see Scalzi test himself a bit more in future novels (like, say, writing a character who isn’t incredibly witty, able to talk themselves out of any situations), but it’s hard to complain when what he’s writing is so damn good. I can’t recommend him enough.

  • SQT August 30, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    I have to go get this series.

  • Peta September 2, 2008 at 2:27 am

    I’ve just finished reading Old Man’s War and The Ghost Brigades and am itching to get started on this one next. They’re well written and just so much fun!