The Last Colonyby John Scalzi
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
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.
Full of whodunit twists and explosive action, Scalzi's third SF novel lacks the galactic intensity of its two related predecessors, but makes up for it with entertaining storytelling on a very human scale. Several years after the events of The Ghost Brigades(2006), John Perry, the hero of Old Man's War(2005), and Jane Sagan are leading a normal life as administrator and constable on the colonial planet Huckleberry with their adopted daughter, Zoë, when they get conscripted to run a new colony, ominously named Roanoke. When the colonists are dropped onto a different planet than the one they expected, they find themselves caught in a confrontation between the human Colonial Union and the alien confederation called the Conclave. Hugo-finalist Scalzi avoids political allegory, promoting individual compassion and honesty and downplaying patriotic loyalty—except in the case of the inscrutable Obin, hive-mind aliens whose devotion to Zoë will remind fans of the benevolent role Captain Nemo plays in Verne's Mysterious Island. Some readers may find the deus ex machina element a tad heavy-handed, but it helps keep up the momentum. (May)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
“The Last Colony will kick your butt across the galaxy and make you care.” Rick Kleffel, The Agony Column, on The Last Colony
“Scalzi's captivating blend of off-world adventure and political intrigue remains consistently engaging.” Booklist on The Last Colony
“The sequel to Old Man's War combines taut military action with keen insights into the moral issues revolving around developing technologies. Scalzi has a finely tuned sense of balance between personal drama and the 'big picture' ... Highly recommended.” Library Journal (starred review) on The Ghost Brigades
“A mix of Starship Troopers and Universal Soldier, Ghost evokes awakening, betrayal, and combat in the best military sci-fi tradition.” Entertainment Weekly on The Ghost Brigades
“An impressive piece of work.” Philadelphia Inquirer on The Ghost Brigades
“Fast and deep…I like the galaxy this author's playing in, the characters he limns, the situations he's playing with, and I'm glad there's at least one more volume on the way.” San Diego Union-Tribune on The Ghost Brigades
“In Heinleinesque fashion, the book is loaded with scenes of comradeship, isolation, ruthlessness and the protocols, which govern the lives of active-duty soldiers. But this is where Scalzi, famous for his blog ‘The Whatever,' surpasses Heinlein. Scalzi weaves in subtle discussions of humanity's growing fear of aging and our simultaneous attraction and repulsion to the Frankenstein-like creatures we are able to create.” San Antonio Express-News on The Ghost Brigades
“Scalzi is a natural heir to Heinlein, and his second book in this series is a good old-fashioned space opera, which takes time to question the nature of free will.” St. Louis Press-Dispatch on The Ghost Brigades
“Astonishingly proficient.” Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Old Man's War
“Top-notch. His combat scenes are blood-roiling. His dialogue is suitably snappy and profane. And the moral and philosophical issues he raises... insert useful ethical burrs under the military saddle of the story.” The Washington Post on Old Man's War
“Smartly conceived and thoroughly entertaining, Old Man's War is a splendid novel.” Cleveland Plain-Dealer
Read an Excerpt
The Last Colony
By John Scalzi, Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2007 John Scalzi
All rights reserved.
Let me tell you of the worlds I've left behind.
Earth you know; everyone knows it. It's the birthplace of humanity, although at this point not many consider it our "home" planet — Phoenix has had that job since the Colonial Union was created and became the guiding force for expanding and protecting our race in the universe. But you never forget where you come from.
Being from Earth in this universe is like being a small-town kid who gets on the bus, goes to the big city and spends his entire afternoon gawking at all the tall buildings. Then he gets mugged for the crime of marveling at this strange new world, which has such things in it, because the things in it don't have much time or sympathy for the new kid in town, and they're happy to kill him for what he's got in his suitcase. The small-town kid learns this fast, because he can't go home again.
I spent seventy-five years on Earth, living mostly in the same small Ohio town and sharing most of that life with the same woman. She died and stayed behind. I lived and I left.
The next world is metaphorical. The Colonial Defense Forces took me off Earth and kept the parts of me they wanted: my consciousness, and some small part of my DNA. From the latter they built me a new body, which was young and quick and strong and beautiful and only partially human. They stuffed my consciousness inside of it, and gave me not nearly enough time to glory in my second youth. Then they took this beautiful body that was now me and spent the next several years actively trying to get it killed by throwing me at every hostile alien race it could.
There were a lot of those. The universe is vast, but the number of worlds suitable for human life is surprisingly small, and as it happens space is filled with numerous other intelligent species who want the same worlds we do. Very few of these species, it seems, are into the concept of sharing; we're certainly not. We all fight, and the worlds we can inhabit swap back and forth between us until one or another gets a grip on it so tight we can't be pried off. Over a couple of centuries, we humans have managed this trick on several dozen worlds, and failed this trick on dozens more. None of this has made us very many friends.
I spent six years in this world. I fought and I nearly died, more than once. I had friends, most of whom died but some of whom I saved. I met a woman who was achingly like the one I shared my life with on Earth, but who was nevertheless entirely her own person. I defended the Colonial Union, and in doing so I believed I was keeping humanity alive in the universe.
At the end of it the Colonial Defense Forces took the part of me that had always been me and stuffed it into a third and final body. This body was young, but not nearly as quick and strong. It was, after all, only human. But this body would not be asked to fight and die. I missed being as strong as a cartoon superhero. I didn't miss every alien creature I met trying very hard to kill me. It was a fair trade.
The next world is likely unknown to you. Stand again on Earth, our old home, where billions still live and dream of the stars. Look up in the sky, at the constellation Lynx, hard by Ursa Major. There's a star there, yellow like our sun, with six major planets. The third one, appropriately enough, is a counterfeit of Earth: 96 percent of its circumference, but with a slightly larger iron core, so it has 101 percent of its mass (you don't notice that 1 percent much). Two moons: one two-thirds the size of Earth's moon, but closer than Luna, so in the sky it takes up the same amount of real estate. The second moon, a captured asteroid, is much smaller and closer in. It's in an unstable orbit; eventually it will tumble and fall into the planet below. Best estimate is this will happen in about a quarter of a million years. The natives are not terribly concerned at the moment.
This world was found by humans nearly seventy-five years ago; the Ealan had a colony there but the Colonial Defense Forces corrected that. Then the Ealan, shall we say, checked the math on that equation and it was another couple of years before it was all sorted out. When it was, the Colonial Union opened the world to colonists from Earth, mostly from India. They arrived in waves; the first one after the planet was secured from the Ealan, and the second shortly after the Subcontinental War on Earth, when the Occupation-backed probationary government offered the most notable supporters of the Chowdhury regime the choice of colonization or imprisonment. Most went into exile, taking their families with them. These people didn't so much dream of the stars as had them forced upon them.
Given the people who live on the planet, you would think it would have a name that reflects their heritage. You would be wrong. The planet is called Huckleberry, named no doubt by some Twain-loving apparatchik of the Colonial Union. Huckleberry's large moon is Sawyer; the small one is Becky. Its three major continents are Samuel, Langhorne and Clemens; from Clemens there is a long, curling string of volcanic islands known as the Livy Archipelago, set in the Calaveras Ocean. Most of the prominent features were dubbed in various aspects Twainania before the first settlers arrived; they seem to have accepted this with good grace.
Stand on this planet with me now. Look up in the sky, in the direction of the constellation Lotus. In it there is a star, yellow like the one this planet circles, around which I was born, two other lives ago. From here it is so far away as to be invisible to the eye, which is often how I feel about the life I lived there.
My name is John Perry. I am eighty-eight years old. I have lived on this planet for nearly eight years now. It is my home, which I share with my wife and my adopted daughter. Welcome to Huckleberry. In this story, it's the next world I leave behind. But not the final one.
The story of how I left Huckleberry begins — as do all worthy stories — with a goat.
Savitri Guntupalli, my assistant, didn't even look up from her book as I came back from lunch. "There's a goat in your office," she said.
"Hmmmm," I said. "I thought we'd sprayed for those."
This got an upward glance, which counted as a victory as these things go. "It brought the Chengelpet brothers with it," she said.
"Crap," I said. The last pair of brothers who fought as much as the Chengelpet brothers were named Cain and Abel, and at least one of them finally took some direct action. "I thought I told you not to let those two in my office when I wasn't around."
"You said no such thing," Savitri said.
"Let's make it a standing order," I said.
"And even if you had," Savitri continued, setting down her book, "this assumes that either Chengelpet would listen to me, which neither would. Aftab stomped through first with the goat and Nissim followed right after. Neither of them so much as looked in my direction."
"I don't want to have to deal with the Chengelpets," I said. "I just ate."
Savitri reached over to the side of the desk, grabbed her wastebasket and placed it on top of her desk. "By all means, vomit first," she said.
I had met Savitri several years before while I was touring the colonies as a representative of the Colonial Defense Forces, talking it up to the various colonies I was sent to. At the stop in the village of New Goa in the Huckleberry colony, Savitri stood up and called me a tool of the imperial and totalitarian regime of the Colonial Union. I liked her immediately. When I mustered out of the CDF, I decided to settle in New Goa. I was offered the position of village ombudsman, which I took, and was surprised on the first day of work to find Savitri there, telling me that she was going to be my assistant whether I liked it or not.
"Remind me again why you took this job," I said to Savitri, over the wastebasket.
"Sheer perversity," Savitri said. "Are you going to vomit or not?"
"I think I'll keep it in," I said. She grabbed the wastebasket and set it in its former position, and then picked up her book to resume reading.
I had an idea. "Hey, Savitri," I said. "Want my job?"
"Sure," she said, opening her book. "I'll start right after you finish with the Chengelpets."
"Thanks," I said.
Savitri grunted. She had returned to her literary adventures. I steeled myself and walked through the door of my office.
The goat in the middle of the floor was cute. The Chengelpets, sitting in the chairs in front of my desk, were less so.
"Aftab," I said, nodding to the older brother. "Nissim," I said, nodding to the younger. "And friend," I said, nodding to the goat. I took a seat. "What can I do for you this afternoon?"
"You can give me permission to shoot my brother, Ombudsman Perry," Nissim said.
"I'm not sure that's in my job description," I said. "And anyway, it seems a little drastic. Why don't you tell me what's going on."
Nissim pointed to his brother. "This bastard has stolen my seed," he said.
"Pardon?" I said.
"My seed," Nissim said. "Ask him. He cannot deny it."
I blinked and turned toward Aftab. "Stealing your brother's seed, then, is it, Aftab?"
"You must forgive my brother," Aftab said. "He is prone to hysteria, as you know. What he means to say is that one of his goats wandered from his pasture into mine and impregnated this nanny here, and now he claims that I have stolen his goat's sperm."
"It wasn't just any goat," Nissim said. "It was Prabhat, my prizewinner. I stud him out for a very good price, and Aftab didn't want to pay the price. So he stole my seed."
"It's Prabhat's seed, you idiot," Aftab said. "And it's not my fault you take such poor care of your fence that your goat was able to get onto my land."
"Oh, that's rich," Nissim said. "Ombudsman Perry, I'll have you know that fence wire was cut. Prabhat was tempted onto his land."
"You're delusional," Aftab said. "And even if it were true, which it is not, so what? You have your precious Prabhat back."
"But now you have this pregnant goat," Nissim said. "A pregnancy that you did not pay for, and which I did not give permission for. It's theft, pure and simple. And more than that, you're trying to ruin me."
"What are you talking about?" Aftab said.
"You're trying to breed a new stud," Nissim said to me, and pointed at the goat, which was nibbling the back of Aftab's chair. "Don't deny it. This is your best nanny. By breeding it with Prabhat you'll have a buck you can stud out. You're trying to undercut my business. Ask him, Ombudsman Perry. Ask him what his goat is carrying."
I looked back to Aftab. "What is your goat carrying, Aftab?"
"By sheer coincidence, one of the fetuses is male," Aftab said.
"I want it aborted," Nissim said.
"It's not your goat," Aftab said.
"Then I'll take the kid when it's born," Nissim said. "As payment for the seed you stole."
"This again," Aftab said, and looked over to me. "You see what I am dealing with, Ombudsman Perry. He lets his goats run rampant across the countryside, impregnating at will, and then he demands payment for his own shoddy animal husbandry."
Nissim bellowed in outrage and began yelling and gesticulating wildly at his brother; Aftab followed suit. The goat came around the desk and eyed me curiously. I reached into my desk and fed the goat a candy I found there. "You and I don't actually need to be here for this," I said to the goat. The goat didn't respond, but I could tell she agreed with me.
As originally planned, the village ombudsman's job was supposed to be simple: Whenever the New Goa villagers had a problem with the local or district government, they would come to me, and I could help them run through the red tape and get things done. It was, in fact, just the sort of job you give a war hero who is otherwise useless to the daily life of a largely rural colony; he's got just enough notoriety with the higher-ups that when he shows up on the doorstep, they have to pay attention to him.
The thing was that after a couple of months of this, the New Goa villagers started coming to me with their other problems. "Oh, we don't want to bother with the officials," I was told by one of the villagers, after I questioned why I was suddenly the go-to guy for everything from farm equipment advice to frontline marriage counseling. "It's easier and quicker to come to you." Rohit Kulkarni, New Goa's administrator, was delighted with this state of affairs, since I was now handling the problems that used to come to him first. It gave him more time to fish and play dominoes at the tea shop.
Most of the time this new and expanded definition of my ombudsman's duties was perfectly fine. It was nice to help people, and it was also nice that people listened to my advice. On the other hand any public servant is likely to tell you that just a few annoying people in their community will take up the vast majority of their time. In New Goa, those roles were occupied by the Chengelpet brothers.
No one knew why they hated each other so much. I thought it might be something with their parents, but Bhajan and Niral were lovely people who were just as mystified about it as anyone. Some people just don't get along with some other people, and unfortunately, these two people who did not get along happened to be brothers.
It wouldn't have been so bad if in fact they hadn't built farms right next to each other and thus were in each other's faces and business most of the time. At one point early in my tenure I suggested to Aftab, whom I regarded as the slightly more rational Chengelpet, that he might consider checking out a new plot of land that had just been cleared out on the other side of the village, because living away from Nissim might solve the majority of his problems with him. "Oh, he'd like that," Aftab said, in a perfectly reasonable tone of voice. After that I abandoned any hope of rational discourse on the matter and accepted that my karma required me to suffer through the occasional visit from the Outraged Chengelpet Brothers.
"All right," I said, quieting the brothers down from their fratriphobic rantings. "Here's what I think. I don't think it really matters how our lady friend the goat got knocked up, so let's not focus on that. But you both agree that it was Nissim's buck that did the deed."
Both the Chengelpets nodded; the goat stayed modestly quiet. "Fine. Then the two of you are in business together," I said. "Aftab, you can keep the kid after it's born and stud it out if you like. But the first six times you do, Nissim gets the full stud fee, and after that half of your stud fee goes to your brother."
"He'll just stud it out for free the first six times," Nissim said.
"Then let's make the stud fee after those first six times the average of those first six," I said. "So if he tries to screw you he'll end up screwing himself, too. And this is a small village, Nissim. People here won't stud with Aftab if they think the only reason he's hiring out his goat is to mess with your livelihood. There's a fine line between value and being a bad neighbor."
"And what if I don't want to be in business with him?" Aftab said.
"Then you can sell the kid to Nissim," I said. Nissim opened his mouth to protest. "Yes, sell," I said, before he could complain. "Take the kid to Murali and get an appraisal. That'll be the price. Murali doesn't like either of you very much so you'll get a fair estimate. Okay?"
The Chengelpets thought it over, which is to say they racked their brains to see if there was any way either one of them was more unhappy with this state of affairs than the other. Eventually they both seemed to come to the conclusion that they were equally displeased, which in this situation was the optimal result. They both nodded their assent.
"Good," I said. "Now get out of here before there's a mess on my rug."
"My goat wouldn't do that," Aftab said.
"It's not the goat I'm worried about," I said, shooing them out. They left; Savitri appeared in the door.
"You're in my seat," she said, nodding to my chair.
"Screw you," I said, propping up my feet on the desk. "If you're not going to handle the annoying cases, you're not ready for the big chair."
"In that case I will return to my humble role as your assistant and let you know that while you were entertaining the Chengelpets, the constable called," Savitri said.
"What about?" I asked.
"Didn't say," Savitri said. "Hung up. You know the constable. Very abrupt."
Excerpted from The Last Colony by John Scalzi, Patrick Nielsen Hayden. Copyright © 2007 John Scalzi. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
John Scalzi is a prolific journalist, columnist, and non-fiction writer whose books include The Rough Guide to the Universe and The Book of the Dumb. His web journal Whatever is one of the longest-established and most widely-read weblogs on the net. His acclaimed debut SF novel Old Man's War was published by Tor in 2005
William Dufris has been nominated six times as a finalist for the APA's prestigious Audie Awards. He garnered eighteen Golden Earphones Awards through AudioFile magazine, which honored him as one of "The Best Voices At The End Of The Century." Of his work, AudioFile magazine said, "William Dufris commands a dazzling array of voices that bring to life the dozens of audiobooks he's narrated." His other narrations include Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen, Ph.D.'s Days of Infamy and Pearl Harbor, Tom Perrota's Nine Inches, and John Scalzi's The Human Division.
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Scalzi's sharp thought and good humor make this a fun read, but fans of the series will notice a propitious drop in the frequency of action scenes and tactical puzzles. As the overarching problems of the series' universe climax and resolve in this volume, it is necessarilh dominated by strategic maneuvering an dialogue-- with one pretty cool combat scene. Give it a shot, finish the series if you started it, enjoy and establih your foundation for The Human division and Zoe's tale. Don't start the series with this volume though!! Very well concluded and lots of fun, this series is one of the greats of scifi. Review composed on my NOOK Simple Touch; please excuse any errors, typographical or otherwise.
I picked up "Old Man's War" after seeing it displayed in a bookstore and was intrigued. I couldn't put it down. It was very imaginative, well-written and interesting. I went out right away and got "Ghost Brigades" and "The Last Colony". They were all great and moved the story along. "The Last Colony" was a great book and the perfect finish to the "Old Man's War" saga. I have recommended the series to all my friends. I'm not a big sci-fi reader, but this is great and really opens the mind. I look forward to reading more of John Scalzi's works.
I originally found the book old mans war in an airport, i loved it and so i went looking for a sequel. Then i found The Ghosh Brigades, by that point i was hooked on the books, i loved the detail and how i related to the characters. I found The Last Colony 'book' and i remained mesmerized. Eventually i finish the Trilogy and felt that these books were some of the best books i've every read. I encourage anyone who like Scifi action books to read these books.
This was a fitting finish to the trilogy. Exceptionally done in all respects. A thrilling and very enjoyable combination of three stories. Excellent science fiction writing and telling.
“The Last Colony” is another great sci-fi book in the Old Man’s War series. This book takes us out of space and follows the John and Jane as they move from their settled life now that they are both out of the CFD to a new colony (at the title suggests). Due to the story line some of the crazy tech and ideas that are more up front in the other books are missing in this one which is a little disappointing but the story line and new situations popping up in the universe still make it a fun read. The quips by John Perry in this book are as good as any, making him a fun character to follow!
Starship Troopers updated. Space Opera, military sci-fi fans will love this book and the prequels(Old Man's War and Ghost Brigades). Also, check out the author's totally cool blog.
Find out what happens to the young Zoe and her new ex-special forces stepmother as we return to the aged protagonist from Old Man's War. The Conclave has forbidden non-member species from starting any new colonies, but the Colonial Union decides to defy the ban - Scalzi twists and turns follow with an excellent ending!
Not as good as the first two novels, but wraps up the tale nicely if maybe a little too neatly.
I have really enjoyed the Old Man's War series by John Scalzi. In this latest (and apparently last) installment, he includes all the political intrigue of earlier novels. But some of the plots were really left hanging... the colony found a new race, the werewolves. You had high drama about them, and then they suddenly vanished from the plot... There is no mention of them in the last half of the book. It felt to me like Mr. Scalzi set out to write one book, and suddenly changed his mind half way through and decided to write an entirely different book. Either book would have been a good read... but I feel I only got half of two separate stories.
This book also had good miss direction and was able to keep my interest thru the entirety of the story. It was a good read. I hope the author comes up with another story line in the near future. I quick thought, let the daughter¿s story book go, it will take the edge off the prior books.
SPOILER ALERT!!!! The Last Colony is the third installment in the Old Man's War series. John Perry, the main character in Old Man's War (and essentially persona non grata in the 2nd book Ghost Brigades) returns along with his now wife Jane Sagan and their adopted daughter Zoe Boutin from Ghost Brigades. While I enjoyed this book it wasn't quite up to the standards of the first two novels for several reasons. 1) Scalzi never resolves the single deadly encounter the colonists on Roanoke have with an indigenous intelligent species that they call the werewolves (based on their appearance). After the encounter where half a dozen colonists and several werewolves are killed you never hear about them again. 2) The first two books in the series describe a universe where intelligent species are constantly warring with each other over inhabitable planets. The aliens are always merciless in their conquest typically wiping out existing colonies to the last man, woman, and child. One species, the Rreay even consider humans to be quite tasty and butcher them mercilessly for food. So it was rather surprising when Scalzi introduces General Gau, the fairly benevolent leader of the Conclave (a large alliance of alien races aligned against the human Colonial Union). By the end of this book it would seem to make great sense for the Colonial Union to join the Conclave which would end the inter-species warring and possibly allow humans to continue colonizing the galaxy in a controlled fashion. Of course this doesn't happen, probably because it would ruin the plot line of future books. 3) The first two books in the series indicate that once a citizen leaves earth and joins the Colonial Defense Force (which entails getting a new, enhanced body through consciouness transfer) they are never allowed to return to earth, even after they have completed 10 years of compulsory service. At the very end of this book all of that is thrown out the window when the Colonial Union makes no attempt to stop Perry and Sagan from returning to earth.