Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Last Colony

The last book in Scalzi's trilogy, this book returns the focus back to John Perry, though in fact is a sequel to The Ghost Brigades. In this one, Perry is now returned to a normal flesh and blood, human body (a sort of modification of the old Roman plot of land in reward of service...this time you get a second life) and has set himself up on some backwater as an administrator, and lives there with his wife and the (now) teenage daughter of the protagonist from the previous book. Suddenly, he's tapped to lead a new colony. But everything is not as it seems...

Again, as a sequel, this book does not live up to the first one. That's not to say its bad, but I felt wanting for a bit more.

Scalzi falls into the trap that other SF writers sometimes get into: too many plot threads. In this one, the new colony world just happens to have its own primitive intelligent life-form...but he doesn't go anywhere with it. In my previous review of Clarke's Songs of a Distant Earth, the author setup a similar situation, in which it was discovered that the colony world has its own emerging intelligent life. Here, though, Clarke had a subtext: that all the assumptions we make may not always be the correct one, and that a lack of evidence does not automatically suggest a lack of existence. In Scalzi's book, I could neither find the point of this addition, nor were we fed with more.

That being said, I find it interesting that the book was a kick at conservativism (perhaps not of the political type, but a kick nonetheless). The premise is that humanity is very, very good at playing the galactic game. But things have to change if there's going to be a galactic civilization for everyone to inherit. In a way, I found it refreshing that humanity is in the wrong on this, and Scalzi does a good job in his trilogy in depicting humanity in a sympathetic vein, but at the same time stating clearly that maybe we were wrong...

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