The Last Colony by John Scalzi

the-last-colony-by John-ScalziThe Last Colony by John Scalzi
Series: Old Man’s War #3
Genre: Science Fiction
Published by Tor, 2007
E-book, purchased
320 pages
Grade: A-
Synopsis: Retired from his fighting days, John Perry is now village ombudsman for a human colony on distant Huckleberry. With his wife, former Special Forces warrior Jane Sagan, he farms several acres, adjudicates local disputes, and enjoys watching his adopted daughter grow up.

That is, until his and Jane’s past reaches out to bring them back into the game–as leaders of a new human colony, to be peopled by settlers from all the major human worlds, for a deep political purpose that will put Perry and Sagan back in the thick of interstellar politics, betrayal, and war.

. . .the number one cause of abandoned human colonies is not territorial disputes with other species; it’s native bugs killing off the settlers. Other intelligent species we can fight off; that’s a battle we understand. Battling an entire ecosystem that’s trying to kill you is an altogether trickier proposition.

and

“I seem to be good at speaking the politicians’ language,” Szilard said. “Apparently there’s an advantage around here to being mildly socially retarded, and that’s the Special Forces for sure.”

Cheers

  • I like this book so much! The first part of the book opens with John Perry, Jane Sagan and their adopted daughter Zoë happily retired on a human farming planet called Huckleberry. (As an aside . . . the naming of planets in the book is very sly and funny.)
  • Such a fun book to read. Makes me happy!
  • Then they’re recruited to leave Huckleberry where they’re content to once more serve all humanity. They don’t want to do this, but they feel obligated. And again, they’re in the middle of politics, war and possibly betrayal.
  • Perry and Sagan are tapped to head up a new colony–called Roanoke(!)–a little foreshadowing there maybe?!? This will be the first colony to include people from the planets colonized by Earthlings. Prior to this the colonies were colonized only by people from Earth. This is a tremendous change and very political.
  • I am so happy to get to read about John Perry again as well as Jane Sagan. They are a great couple. And I really like their relationship with their adopted daughter Zoë. They’re honest with her and she’s a smart, well-adjusted girl.
  • There are many interesting characters in this book and I like hearing more from Szilard in this book.
  • I really like the mix of adventure, combat and politics in all these books.
  • In this book we finally see the Colonial Union–not as the savior of humankind, but perhaps as a blind bureaucracy with a vested interest in war–which is hinted at in the last book.

Jeers

  • Perhaps a little less action than the first two books, but still so fun to read.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • This is the end of original trilogy in The Old Man’s War series. Since then John Scalzi has written three more books in the series.
  • I love this series and am so happy Scalzi has written more books in the series. I plan to read them soon!

Awards

  • Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novel (2008)
  • Seiun Award for Best Foreign Novel (2010)

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • (from Wikipedia): John Michael Scalzi II (born May 10, 1969) is an American science fiction author, online writer, and former president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. He is best known for his Old Man’s War series, three novels of which have been nominated for the Hugo Award, and for his blog Whatever, at which he has written frequently on a number of topics since 1998. He won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2008 based predominantly on that blog, which he has also used for several prominent charity drives. His novel Redshirts won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel. He has written non-fiction books and columns on diverse topics such as finance, video games, films, astronomy, and writing, and served as a creative consultant for the TV series Stargate Universe.

Reading Challenges

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge

Review: The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi

the-ghost-brigadesThe Ghost Brigades
by John Scalzi
Series: Old Man’s War #2
Genre: Military Science Fiction
Published by Tor Books, 2007
E-book, purchased
356 pages
Grade: A
Synopsis: The Ghost Brigades are the Special Forces of the Colonial Defense Forces, elite troops created from the DNA of the dead and turned into the perfect soldiers for the CDF’s toughest operations. They’re young, they’re fast and strong, and they’re totally without normal human qualms.

For the universe is a dangerous place for humanity – and it’s about to become far more dangerous. Three races that humans have clashed with before have allied to halt our expansion into space. Their linchpin: the turncoat military scientist Charles Boutin, who knows the CDF’s biggest military secrets. To prevail, the CDF most find out why Boutin did what he did.

Jared Dirac is the only human who can provide answers – a superhuman hybrid, created from Boutin’s DNA, whose brain is uniquely able to access Boutin’s electronic memories. But when the memory transplant appears to fail, Jared is given over to the Ghost Brigades.

Jared begins as one of these perfect soldiers, but as memories begin to surface, he begins to intuit the reason’s for Boutin’s betrayal.

As Jared desperately hunts for his “father”, he must also come to grips with his own choices. Time is running out: the alliance is preparing its offensive, and some of them plan worse things than humanity’s mere military defeat.

Not for the first time, Cainen reflected that evolution didn’t do this particular species any great favors, physically speaking.

It just made them aggressive, dangerous and damned hard to scrape off a planet surface. A problem, that.

. . .

“Fucking humans,” he said.

and

…to the extent that Special Forces had any reputation at all beyond its military prowess, it was that its members were profoundly lacking in tact and patience. Being three-year-old killing machines didn’t leave much time for social graces.

Cheers

  • I like how this book starts out from an alien’s point of view.
  • Oh, I like this series! The world Scalzi has created is interesting, detailed and dangerous to humans.
  • Humans have made it off Earth and have colonized a number of planets, but they’ve had to fight for every scrap. The universe is full of other races and they don’t really like humans.
  • John Perry who was the protagonist in the first book isn’t in this book and I missed him, but Jane Sagan whom we met briefly in the first book is in this book as well as a great cast of other characters.
  • I really like the way Scalzi shows the human response to the threat humans face: Taking older humans off Earth to re-make them into young, green bodies to fight wars is inspired. And to create special forces from the DNA of the dead and then have them born adults who very quickly become fighting and killing machines even though they would be considered babies by the “Realborn” as the Ghost Brigades call the humans actually born as babies.
  • The way the Ghost Brigades–special forces–are created is very interesting. It’s interesting to read about their creation, training, thoughts and purpose.
  • The Ghost Brigades and other humans must figure out why one of their scientists faked his own death and now is helping the enemy. What made him turn into a traitor?
  • I like that they give the special forces the last names of famous scientists.
  • This book (especially the early part) explores what it means to be human. Reminds me of Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
  • This is science fiction which explores ideas, but is also very human and entertaining.

Jeers

  • None

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I began reading John Scalzi’s books in 2014 and since then he has become one of my favorite authors.
  • I’ve already read the third book in the series and hope to read the fourth book soon!

Awards

  • Prometheus Award for Best Novel ( Nominee 2007)

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • (From Wikipedia): John Michael Scalzi II (born May 10, 1969) is an American science fiction author, online writer, and former president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. He is best known for his Old Man’s War series, three novels of which have been nominated for the Hugo Award, and for his blog Whatever, at which he has written frequently on a number of topics since 1998. He won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2008 based predominantly on that blog, which he has also used for several prominent charity drives. His novel Redshirts won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel. He has written non-fiction books and columns on diverse topics such as finance, video games, films, astronomy, and writing, and served as a creative consultant for the TV series Stargate Universe.

Reading Challenges

Review: Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

This book is part of the Literary Escapism blog’s 2014 New Author Challenge, Anne & Kristilyn’s Book Bingo Challenge as well as the Bookish blog’s TBR Pile Challenge.

This is the first book I’ve read this year for my new author challenge!

old-mans-warOld Man’s War
by John Scalzi
Series: Old Man’s War series, Book 1
Genre: Military Science Fiction, Space Opera
Published by Tor, 2007
E-book, Purchased
362 pages
Grade: B
Synopsis: John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife’s grave. Then he joined the army.

The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce– and alien races willing to fight us for them are common. So: we fight. To defend Earth, and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has been going on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.

Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity’s resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force. Everybody knows that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don’t want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You’ll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You’ll serve two years at the front. And if you survive, you’ll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets.

John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine–and what he will become is far stranger.

 “…Part of what makes us human is what we mean to other people, and what people mean to us. I miss meaning something to someone, having that part of being human. That’s what I miss about marriage.”

What worked for me:

  • Lots of action
  • The concept is interesting–taking humans off Earth when they’re 75 years old to turn them into soldiers…the fact that the life you’ve led, your life learning are useful to an army. On the other hand, your preconceived notions just might get you killed very quickly!
  • The 75 year olds take a leap of faith that their life is going to be better in the colonies.
  • What keeps people human? John Perry asks that question during the book. I like the things he thinks about, the things he asks.
  • The battles the army fights are brutal and sometimes seem unnecessary. The politics, the battles, morality of war, the individual soldiers are all part of what makes this book a good read for me.
  • The book is realistic about how many people die in a war.
  • The book has been compared to Heinlein’s Starship Troopers which I can understand.

What didn’t work:

  • Part one is a little slow
  • I feel removed from most of the characters except John Perry. This is partly because the book is written in first person and we spend a lot of time in John’s head.

My thoughts:

I liked the book a lot and bought the second book in the series–The Ghost Brigade. Even though there are things which didn’t work for me I look forward to the next book and I hope I relate more to characters besides John.

Have you read this book or something else by John Scalzi? Do you enjoy military science fiction?