The Last Colony by John Scalzi
**** ½ 324 pages Tor
The best and fastest Science Fiction read of the 21st century in my opinion is Old Man’s War. It literally kicked my ass. I read it almost entirely on two flights and a shuttle between Portland Oregon and Bloomington Indiana. Near perfect modern military Science Fiction that not only compares to Heinlein’s Starship Troopers and Handleman’s Forever War, it out did them. Something I thought was impossible.
I was a bit worried when I read Ghost brigades the high concept sequel, it more than delivered on the promise auggested in the first book. A special forces unit made out of genetically enhanced clones grown from the DNA of the dead. Oh yeah Ghost Brigades was great, it also widened the scope of the future human colonialism and it’s problems. So it was with great excitement that I dove into the final chapter in the trilogy. The Last Colony is a good ending to the series although I could see how some readers would be disappointed, but not me.
Sure the Last Colony is not as gonzo as the first novel which was poignant as it was funny. It was not as strange or twisted (plot wise) as the second but Last Colony came full circle and commented seriously the nature of colonialism and an out of touch government. Scalzi managed to do this without preaching or finger pointing and that to me was a strength of the novel.
I am pretty sure I commented on this when I reviewed the first book, but it bears repeating. Scalzi manages to break one of the most often preached rules in Sci-fi writing. “Beware the info Dump.” Scalzi embraces the info-dump and in turn breaks a fundamental rule in all writing. “Show don’t tell.” Well Scalzi tells not shows a lot, He dumps info in huge clumps and the novels still rock and work super well. What bastard. Just kidding, can’t help a fellow writer for being jealous. Seriously though I think the ideas are so rich, and the humor subtle but effective enough to help this author work through all the rule breaking. Authors can learn a lot from this guy who just seems to be a natural story teller.
Most Sci-fi writers would have told this story over twice the page count in a bloated epic. Entire battles, months of story pass in a first person account that give a feeling of a story told by a war vet sitting on the front porch in a rocking chair.
The plot…Well I think you’re better off going in blind, but let me say this. The Last Colony is probably the weakest of the three novels in the trilogy, but it is still a great and strong read. It has a perfect ending, and considering how short all three are, why not read them back to back.