How do you tell your part in the biggest tale in history?
I ask because it's what I have to do. I'm Zoe Boutin Perry: A colonist stranded on a deadly pioneer world. Holy icon to a race of aliens. A player (and a pawn) in a interstellar chess match to save humanity, or to see it fall. Witness to history. Friend. Daughter. Human. Seventeen years old.
Everyone on Earth knows the tale I am part of. But you don't know my tale: How I did what I did how I did what I had to do not just to stay alive but to keep you alive, too. All of you. I'm going to tell it to you now, the only way I know how: not straight but true, the whole thing, to try to make you feel what I felt: the joy and terror and uncertainty, panic and wonder, despair and hope. Everything that happened, bringing us to Earth, and Earth out of its captivity. All through my eyes.
It's a story you know. But you don't know it all.
Old Man's War Series
#1 Old Man’s War
#2 The Ghost Brigades
#3 The Last Colony
#4 Zoe’s Tale
#5 The Human Division
#6 The End of All Things
Short fiction: “After the Coup”
Other Tor Books
The Android’s Dream
Agent to the Stars
Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded
The Collapsing Empire (forthcoming)
About the Author
John Scalzi won the 2006 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and his debut novel Old Man's War was a finalist for science fiction's Hugo Award. His other books include The Ghost Brigades, The Android's Dream and The Last Colony. He has won the Hugo Award, the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for science-fiction, the Seiun, The Kurd Lasswitz and the Geffen awards. His weblog, Whatever, is one of the most widely-read web sites in modern SF. Born and raised in California, Scalzi studied at the University of Chicago. He lives in southern Ohio with his wife and daughter.
Read an Excerpt
I lifted up my dad’s PDA and counted off the seconds with the two thousand other people in the room.
"Five! Four! Three! Two! One!"
And then there was no noise, because everyone’s attention—and I mean everyone’s—was glued to the monitors peppered around the Magellan’s common area. The screens, which had held starry skies in them, were blank and black, and everyone was holding their breath, waiting for what came next.
A world appeared, green and blue.
And we all went insane.
Because it was our world. It was Roanoke, our new home. We would be the first people to land there, the first people to settle there, the first people to live our lives there. And we celebrated seeing it for that first time, we two thousand settlers of Roanoke, all crammed into that common area, hugging and kissing and singing "Auld Lang Syne," because, well, what else do you sing when you come to a new world? A new world, new beginnings, a new year, a new life. New everything. I hugged my best friend Gretchen and we hollered into the microphone I had been using to count down the seconds, and hopped up and down like idiots.
When we stopped hopping, a whisper in my ear. "So beautiful," Enzo said.
I turned to look at him, at this gorgeous, beautiful boy who I was seriously considering making my boyfriend. He was a perfect combination: heart-flutteringly pretty and apparently entirely ignorant of the fact, because he’d been spending the last week trying to charm me with his words, of all things. Words! Like he didn’t get the teenage boy manual on how to be completely inarticulate around girls.
I appreciated the effort. And I appreciated the fact that when he whispered his words, he was looking at me and not the planet. I glanced over at my parents about six meters away, kissing to celebrate the arrival. That seemed like a good idea. I reached my hand behind Enzo’s head to draw him to me and planted one right on his lips. Our first kiss. New world, new life, new boyfriend.
What can I say. I was caught up in the moment.
Enzo didn’t complain. " ‘O brave new world, that has such people in it,’ " he said, after I let him breathe again.
I smiled at him, my arms still around his neck. "You’ve been saving that up," I said.
"Maybe," he admitted. "I wanted you to have a quality first kiss moment."
See. Most sixteen-year-old boys would have used a kiss as an excuse to dive straight for the boobs. He used it as an excuse for Shakespeare. A girl could do worse.
"You’re adorable," I said, kissed him again, then gave him a playful push and launched myself into my parents, breaking up their canoodling and demanding their attention. The two of them were our colony’s leaders, and soon enough they would barely have time to breathe. It was best I get in some quality time while I could. We hugged and laughed and then Gretchen yanked me back toward her.
"Look what I have," she said, and thrust her PDA in my face. It showed a vidcap of me and Enzo kissing.
"You evil little thing," I said.
"It’s amazing," Gretchen said. "It actually looks like you’re trying to swallow his entire face."
"Stop it," I said.
"See? Look," Gretchen tapped a button, and the vidcap played in slow motion. "Right there. You’re mauling him. Like his lips were made of chocolate."
I was trying very hard not to laugh, because she was actually right about that. "Wench," I said. "Give me that." I snatched the PDA from her with one hand, erased the .le, and handed it back. "There. Thank you."
"Oh, no," Gretchen said, mildly, taking the PDA.
"Learned your lesson about violating the privacy of others?" I said.
"Oh, yes," Gretchen said.
"Good," I said. "Of course, you already forwarded it to everyone we know before you showed it to me, didn’t you?"
"Maybe," Gretchen said, and put her hand to her mouth, eyes wide.
"Evil," I said, admiringly.
"Thank you," Gretchen said, and curtsied.
"Just remember I know where you live," I said.
"For the rest of our lives," Gretchen said, and then we did embarrassingly girly squeals and had another hug. Living the rest of your life with the same two thousand people ran the risk of being dead-bang boring, but not with Gretchen around.
We unhugged and then I looked around to see who else I wanted to celebrate with. Enzo was hovering in the background, but he was smart enough to know that I’d get back to
him. I looked over and saw Savitri Guntupalli, my parents’ assistant, conferring with my dad very seriously about something. Savitri: She was smart and capable and could be wicked funny, but she was always working. I got between her and Dad and demanded a hug. Yes, I was all about the hugs. But, you know, look: You only get to see your new world for the first time once.
"Zoë," Dad said, "can I have my PDA back?"
I had taken Dad’s PDA because he’d set the exact time the Magellan would skip from the Phoenix system to Roanoke, and used it to count off the last few minutes before the jump. I had my own PDA, of course; it was in my pocket. No doubt the vidcap of me smooching Enzo was waiting for me in my in-box, just like it was in the in-boxes of all our friends. I made a note to myself to plot revenge against Gretchen. Sweet, merciless revenge. Involving witnesses. And farm animals. But for now I gave Dad back his PDA, gave him a peck on his cheek, and found my way back to Enzo.
"So," Enzo said, and smiled. God, he was even charming when monosyllabic. The rational part of my brain was lecturing me about how infatuation makes everything seem better than it is; the irrational part (meaning, most of me) was telling the rational part to get well and truly stuffed.
"So," I said back, not nearly as charmingly, but Enzo didn’t seem to notice.
"I was talking to Magdy," Enzo said.
"Uh-oh," I said.
"Magdy’s not so bad," Enzo said.
"Sure, for certain values of ‘not so bad,’ meaning ‘bad,’ " I said.
"And he said that he was talking to some of the Magellan crew," Enzo said, forging along (charmingly). "They told him about an observation lounge on the crew level that’s usually empty. He says we could get a great view of the planet there."
I glanced over Enzo’s shoulder, where Magdy was talking animatedly to Gretchen (or at her, depending on one’s point of view). "I don’t think the planet is what he’s hoping to view," I said.
Enzo glanced back. "Maybe not," he said. "Although to be fair to Magdy, certain people aren’t exactly trying hard not to be viewed."
I crooked an eyebrow at that; it was true enough, although I knew Gretchen was more into the flirting than anything else.
"And what about you?" I said. "What are you hoping to see?"
Enzo smiled and held up his hands, disarmingly. "Zoë," he said. "I just got to kiss you. I think I want to work on that a little more before moving on to anything else."
"Ooh, nicely said," I said. "Do these lines work on all the girls?"
"You’re the first girl I’ve tried them on," Enzo said. "So you’ll have to let me know."
I actually blushed, and gave him a hug. "So far, so good," I said.
"Good," Enzo said. "Also, you know. I’ve seen your bodyguards. I don’t think I want them to use me for target practice."
"What?" I said, mock-shocked. "You’re not frightened of Hickory and Dickory, are you? They’re not even here." Actually, Enzo has a perfectly good reason to be utterly terrified of Hickory and Dickory, who were already vaguely suspicious of him and would happily cycle him out an airlock if he did anything stupid with me. But there was no reason to let him know that yet. Good rule of thumb: When your relationship is minutes old, don’t freak out the new squeeze.
And anyway, Hickory and Dickory were sitting out this celebration. They were aware they made most of the humans nervous.
"I was actually thinking of your parents," Enzo said. "Although they seem to be missing, too." Enzo motioned with his head to where John and Jane had been standing a few minutes before; now neither of them were there. I saw Savitri leaving the common area as well, as if she suddenly had someplace to be.
"I wonder where they went," I said, mostly to myself.
"They’re the colony leaders," Enzo said. "Maybe now they have to start working."
"Maybe," I said. It was unusual for either John or Jane to disappear without telling me where they were going; it was just a common courtesy. I fought back the urge to message them on my PDA.
"So, the observation lounge," Enzo said, getting himself back to the topic at hand. "You want to check it out?"
"It’s on the crew deck," I said. "You think we might get in trouble?"
"Maybe," Enzo said. "But what can they do? Make us walk the plank? At worst they’ll just tell us to get lost. And until then we’ll have a heck of a view."
"All right," I said. "But if Magdy turns into all tentacles, I’m leaving. There are some things I don’t need to see."
Enzo laughed. "Fair enough," he said, and I snuggled into him a little. This new boyfriend thing was turning out just fine.
We spent some more time celebrating with our friends and their families. Then, after things had settled down enough, we followed Magdy and Gretchen through the Magellan and toward the crew observation lounge. I thought sneaking into the crew area might be a problem; not only was it easy, but a crew member coming out of an entrance held it open for us.
"Security is not a huge issue here on the Magellan," Gretchen said, back to me and Enzo, then looked down at our clasped hands and smiled at me. She was evil, sure, but she was also happy for me.
The observation lounge was where it was advertised to be, but alas for Magdy’s nefarious plans, it was not empty as promised; four Magellan crew members sat at a table, intent in a conversation. I glanced over to Magdy, who looked like he had just swallowed a fork. I found this rather amusing myself. Poor, poor Magdy. Frustration became him.
"Look," Enzo said, and still holding my hand, guided me to a huge observation window. Roanoke filled the view, gorgeously green, fully illuminated with her sun behind us, more breathtaking in person than she was on the monitors. Seeing something with your own eyes makes a difference.
It was the most beautiful thing I think I’d ever seen. Roanoke. Our world.
"Wrong place," I heard, barely, from the conversation at the table to the left of me.
I glanced over at the table. The four Magellan crew there were so engaged in their conversation and so closed in to each other that it looked like most of their bodies were actually on the table rather than in their seats. One of the crew was sitting with his back to me, but I could see the other three, two men and a woman. The expression on their faces was grim.
I have a habit of listening in to other people’s conversations. It’s not a bad habit unless you get caught. The way not to get caught is to make sure it looks like your attention is somewhere else. I dropped my hand from Enzo’s and took a step toward the observation lounge window. This got me closer to the table while at the same time keeping Enzo from whispering sweet nothings in my ear. I kept myself visually intent on Roanoke.
"You don’t just miss," one of the crew members was saying. "And the captain sure as hell doesn’t. He could put the Magellan in orbit around a pebble if he wanted to."
The crew member with his back to me said something low, which I couldn’t hear.
"That’s crap," said the first crew member. "How many ships have actually gone missing in the last twenty years? In the last fifty? No one gets lost anymore."
"What are you thinking?"
I jumped, which made Enzo jump. "Sorry," he said, as I turned to give him an exasperated look. I put a finger to my lips to shush him, and then motioned with my eyes at the table now behind me. Enzo glanced behind me and saw the table. What? he mouthed. I shook my head a tiny bit to tell him he shouldn’t distract me anymore. He gave me a strange look. I took his hand again to let him know I wasn’t upset with him, but then focused my attention back to the table.
"—calm. We don’t know anything yet," said another voice, this one belonging (I think) to the woman. "Who else knows about this?"
Another mutter from the crew member facing away from me.
"Good. We need to keep it that way," she said. "I’ll clamp down on things in my department if I hear anything, but it only works if we all do it."
"It won’t stop the crew from talking," said someone else.
"No, but it’ll slow down the rumors, and that’s good enough until we know what’s really happened," the woman said.
Yet another mutter.
"Well, if it’s true, then we have bigger problems, don’t we?" said the woman, and all the strain she was experiencing was suddenly clear in her voice. I shuddered a little; Enzo felt it through my hand and looked at me, concerned. I gave him a serious hug. It meant losing the rest of the conversational thread, but at the moment, it’s what I wanted. Priorities change.
There was the sound of chairs pushing back. I turned and the crew members—it was pretty clear they were actually officers—were already heading toward the door. I broke away from Enzo to get the attention of the one closest to me, the one who had had his back to me earlier. I tapped him on the shoulder; he turned and seemed very surprised to see me.
"Who are you?" he said.
"Has something happened to the Magellan?" I asked. The best way to learn stuff is not to get distracted, for example, by questions relating to one’s identity.
The man actually scowled, which is something I’d read about but had never actually seen someone do, until now. "You were listening to our conversation."
"Is the ship lost?" I asked. "Do we know where we are? Is something wrong with the ship?"
He took a step back, like the questions were actually hitting him. I should have taken a step forward and pressed him.
I didn’t. He regained his footing and looked past me to Enzo and Gretchen and Magdy, who were all looking at us. Then he realized who we were, and straightened up. "You kids aren’t supposed to be here. Get out, or I’ll have ship’s security throw you out. Get back to your families." He turned to go.
I reached toward him again. "Sir, wait," I said. He ignored me and walked out of the lounge.
"What’s going on?" Magdy asked me, from across the room. "I don’t want to get in trouble because you’ve pissed off some random crew member."
I shot Magdy a look, and turned to look out the window again. Roanoke still hung there, blue and green. But suddenly not as beautiful. Suddenly unfamiliar. Suddenly threatening.
Enzo put his hand on my shoulder. "What is it, Zoë?" he said.
I kept staring out the window. "I think we’re lost," I said.
"Why?" Gretchen asked. She had come up beside me. "What were they talking about?"
"I couldn’t hear it all," I said. "But it sounded like they were saying we’re not where we’re supposed to be." I pointed to the planet. "That this isn’t Roanoke."
"That’s crazy," Magdy said.
"Of course it’s crazy," I said. "Doesn’t mean it might not be true." I pulled out my PDA from my pocket and tried to connect with Dad. No answer. I tried connecting to Mom.
"Gretchen," I said. "Would you try calling your dad?" Gretchen’s dad was on the colonial council my parents headed up.
"He’s not answering," she said, after a minute.
"It doesn’t mean anything bad," Enzo said. "We did just skip to a new planet. Maybe they’re busy with that."
"Maybe they’re still celebrating," Magdy said.
Gretchen smacked him upside the head. "You really are childish, Magdy," she said. Magdy rubbed the side of his head and shut up. This evening was not going anything like he had planned. Gretchen turned to me. "What do you think we should do?"
"I don’t know," I said. "They were talking about keeping the crew from talking. It means some of them might know what’s going on. It won’t take long to get to the colonists."
"It’s already gotten to the colonists," Enzo said. "We’re colonists."
"We might want to tell someone," Gretchen said. "I think your parents and my dad need to know, at least."
I glanced down at her PDA. "I think they might know already," I said.
"We should make sure," she said. So we left the observation lounge and went looking for our parents.
We didn’t find them; they were in a council meeting. I did find Hickory and Dickory, or rather, they found me.
"I think I should go," Enzo said, after they’d stared at him, unblinking, for a minute. It wasn’t meant as intimidation; they don’t blink at all. I gave him a peck on the cheek. He and Magdy left.
"I’m going to listen around," Gretchen said. "See what people are saying."
"All right," I said. "Me too." I held up my PDA. "Let me know what you hear." She left.
I turned to Hickory and Dickory. "You two," I said. "You were in your room earlier."
"We came looking for you," Hickory said. It was the talker of the two. Dickory could talk, but it was always a surprise when it happened.
"Why?" I said. "I was perfectly safe before. I’ve been perfectly safe since we left Phoenix Station. The Magellan is entirely threat-free. The only thing you’ve been good for this entire trip is scaring the crap out of Enzo. Why are you looking for me now?"
"Things have changed," Hickory said.
"What do you mean?" I asked, but then my PDA vibrated. It was Gretchen.
"That was fast," I said.
"I just ran into Mika," she said. "You won’t believe what she said a crew member just told her brother."
The adult colonists may have been either clueless or tightlipped, but the Roanoke teenage rumor mill was in full swing. In the next hour, this is what we "learned":
That during the skip to Roanoke, the Magellan had wandered too close to a star and had been thrown out of the galaxy.
That there was a mutiny and the first officer had relieved Captain Zane of command because of incompetence.
That Captain Zane shot his own traitorous first officer right there on the bridge and said he’d shoot anyone who tried to help him.
That the computer systems had failed just before the skip, and we didn’t know where we were.
That aliens had attacked the ship and were floating out there, deciding whether to finish us off.
That Roanoke was poisonous to human life and if we landed there we’d die.
That there was a core breach in the engine room, whatever that meant, and that the Magellan was this close to blowing up.
That ecoterrorists had hacked into the Magellan’s computer systems and sent us off in another direction so that we couldn’t ruin another planet.
No, wait, it was wildcat colonists-turned-pirates who hacked in, and they were planning to steal our colony supplies because their own were running low.
No, wait, it was mutinous crew members who were going to steal our supplies and leave us stranded on the planet.
No, wait, it wasn’t thieving crew, wildcat pirates or ecoterrorists, it was just some idiot programmer who messed up the code, and now we don’t know where we are.
No, wait, nothing’s wrong, this is just the standard operating procedure. There’s not a thing wrong, now stop bothering the crew and let us work, damn it.
I want to be clear about something: We knew most of this was crap and nonsense. But what was underneath all the crap and nonsense was just as important: Confusion and unease had spread through the crew of the Magellan, and from them, to us. It moved fast. It told any number of lies—not to lie but to try to make sense of something. Something that happened. Something that shouldn’t have happened.
Through all of this, nothing from Mom or Dad, or Gretchen’s dad, or any of the colony council, all the members of which had suddenly found themselves called into a meeting.
The common room, previously deserted after the new world celebrations, began to fill up again. This time people weren’t celebrating. They looked confused, and concerned and tense, and some of them were beginning to look angry.
"This isn’t going to turn out well," Gretchen said to me when we reunited.
"How are you doing?" I said.
She shrugged. "Something’s happening, that’s for sure. Everyone’s on edge. It’s putting me on edge."
"Don’t go crazy on me," I said. "Then there won’t be anyone to hold me back when I lose it."
"Oh, well, for your sake then," Gretchen said, and rolled her eyes dramatically. "Well. At least now I’m not having to fight off Magdy."
"I like how you can see the bright side of any situation," I said.
"Thanks," she said. "How are you?"
"Honestly?" I asked. She nodded. "Scared as hell."
"Thank God," she said. "It’s not only me." She held up her thumb and finger and marked the tiny space between them.
"For the last half hour I’ve been this close to peeing myself."
I took a step back. Gretchen laughed.
The ship’s intercom kicked on. "This is Captain Zane," a man’s voice said. "This is a general message for passengers and crew. All crew will assemble in their respective department conference rooms in ten minutes, 2330 ship time. All passengers will assemble in the passenger common area in ten minutes, 2330 ship time. Passengers, this is a mandatory assembly. You will be addressed by your colony leaders." The intercom went dead.
"Come on," I said to Gretchen, and pointed to the platform where, earlier in the evening, she and I counted down the seconds until we were at our new world. "We should get a good place."
"It’s going to get crowded in here," she said.
I pointed to Hickory and Dickory. "They’ll be with us. You know how everyone gives them all the space they want." Gretchen looked up at the two of them, and I realized that she wasn’t terribly fond of them either.
Minutes later the council came streaming in from one of the common area side doors and made their way to the platform. Gretchen and I stood in the front, Hickory and Dickory behind us, and at least five feet on every side. Alien bodyguards create their own buffer zone.
A whisper in my ear. "Hey," Enzo said.
I looked over to him and smiled. "I wondered if you were going to be here," I said.
"It’s an all-colonist meeting," he said.
"Not here, in general," I said. "Here."
"Oh," Enzo said. "I took a chance that your bodyguards wouldn’t stab me."
"I’m glad you did," I said. I took his hand.
On the platform, John Perry, the colony leader, my dad, came forward and picked up the microphone that still lay there from earlier in the evening. His eyes met mine as he reached down to pick it up.
Here’s the thing to know about my dad. He’s smart, he’s good at what he does, and almost all the time, his eyes look like he’s about to start laughing. He finds most things funny. He makes most things funny.
When he looked at me as he picked up the microphone, his eyes were dark, and heavy, and as serious as I had ever seen them. When I saw them I was reminded, no matter how young he looked, how old he really was. For as much as he could make light of things, he was a man who had seen trouble more than once in his life.
And he was seeing it again. Now, with us. For all of us.
Everyone else would know it as soon as he opened his mouth to tell them, but right then was when I knew—when I saw the truth of our situation.
We were lost.
Excerpted from Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi
Copyright@ 2008 by John Scalzi
Published in 2008 by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I picked this ebook up thinking it would tell a new story set sometime after The Last Colony. Unfortunately, this is a complete retelling of The Last Colony, only from Zoe's viewpoint. And it was boring. There are significant plot points to The Last Colony, and having presented that story once, Scalzi obviously can't relate it in such detail again. So instead Scalzi gives a synopsis of each critical plot point when the book gets there, essentially skimming over all the action and drama. This makes the book very weak. In fact, there is only two completely new scenes: the first to address some criticism he received about introducing and then dropping the "werewolves"; and the second the story of what happens when Zoe enters Conclave territory to deliver John's message to General Gau. By themselves, not worth buying this book for. To be fair, the voice Scalzi creates for Zoe is believable, and the dialogue mostly entertaining. Scalzi does have a way with sarcastic dialogue. But this is the only redeeming feature of the book. Overall, the constant narration of the same story weakens Zoe's character quite a bit. She would have been stronger in an original story. Or, if Scalzi could have woven Zoe's Tale into The Last Colony, it would have made that book even better than it is now. But simply retelling the one book from a different character's viewpoint just didn't work. I won't say not to buy this book. But if you do so, be aware of what you are paying for.
This was such a disappointment. Don't get me wrong. I love the Old Man's War series, and John Scalzi is a pretty good story teller with a rich SF universe. I bought this simply because Scalzi had written it, figuring that even a "bad" book by him would be good. Nope. I grabbed Zoe's Tale without bothering to read any reviews. Stupid, I know. I have paid the price. This is Last Colony told from Zoe's point of view. Sadly it adds little to even understanding the Last Colony. Also I have teenage daughters. I know entirely too much about teenage girl behavior. I don't need to grab a book expecting Sci-Fi swashbuckling and get the FaceBook version of my daughters' last sleep over. That being said, I am still heading back to the bookstore to find another Scalzi book because I need my fix.
I wish I read some reviews before I bought this book! John Scalzi must be under a contract to write X amount of books because this "Zoe's Tale" proves that he is suffering from writers block. I feel dupped & quite honestly I don't think I will continue with this series because I don't trust him now.
The same story but from another characters perspective, I mean come on! That's pathetic!
Funny how lengthy and well written the good reviews are here. The bad reviews tell the story here. No point revisiting the same story. This must have been a horendously boring book to be forced to write. Loved the series though. Couldn't put those first three down and read all three in about a week.
Agree with DrewGuy's review. While the book reflects Scalzi's writing skill, it does not have enough new plot-material to be satisfying for those of us who've read the other books in the "Old Man's War" series. Avoid disappointment (and make time for the rest of your reading stack) by just reading Chapters 16-17 and 22-25.
I made an old man all misty. I hope he writes another in this series.
Zoe's Tale is a fun novel that ended up to be young adult, though it started out as an adult novel (from what I understand). It is written from the point of view of a 17 year old girl. First person 17 year old girl. There are also characters from Old Man's War and The Ghost Brigade featured here. Not having read other books from that series, I don't know if there are others...John Perry (Old Man's War) and Jane Sagan (The Ghost Brigades) are now married and have adopted Zoe. They've been living on a planet - colonized. They're given a chance to head up a new planet colonization. For some strange reason (that seems to be tempting fate) the new planet is to be called Roanoke. (remember the missing colony in early America?) Only something goes wrong during the skip and they end up on a different colony - one that actually kind of stinks.Making the best of things, they begin their colony. The first few months are endured by Zoe and her new friends. Suddenly, Zoe's bodyguards (take a look at the cover mentioned, under the link), rock her world by telling her she needs to learn self defense. They proceed to teach her - painfully. This is good, because it does become necessary....I liked this novel. Zoe's voice was interesting, she was snarky just like my favorite teenagers. She is also smart, and very teen like as well as being a bit wiser than your average teen. She has quite history, before she was adopted by John and Jane. And the two bodyguards happen to be two beings from another planet - beings who know a heck of a lot about war.Scalzi wrote an interesting novel with a few twists and turns. I loved the ending. Enjoyed the narration style with Zoe's voice and teenisms. Because I liked Zoe's Tale, I ended up buying Old Man's War. I liked Zoe's Tale more - but both are good reads.
This book is a worthy finale to Scalzi's Old Man's War series. Although Zoe seems a little too witty to be real (more like what a typical teenage girl wishes she were), she is a worthy protagonist. Zoe's (long) speech to the Obin near the end moved me to tears. If you've read The Last Colony, do read this one, because Scalzi ties up loose ends here (e.g., whatever happened to the werewolves? how does Zoe manage to get the sapper?)
I can say without a doubt that this is one the best books I've read all year.Having never read any of the other books in the series, this book can absolutely stand on its own. I couldn't put it down - I found myself laughing out loud, smiling, and eventually, holding back tears. It was a poignant tale with a pacing that seemed very suitable to a young adult readership. And while Scalzi may certainly not be a teenaged girl, I think he gave her a voice that was spot on. She was the kind of girl I wish I had been growing up.It reminded me quite a bit of The Giver in the smooth and even way the story unfolded, and in the very accessible manner in which it was told. I loved it.
Although this book pretty much covers the same events as the book, _The Last Colony_, it tells the tale of the Roanoak Colony from the point of view of Zoe, John Perry's adopted daughter and her fellow teenagers. Again, this could have been a disaster - whatever else he may be, John Scalzi isn't a teenaged girl.However, it was a surprisingly moving version of the tale, especially in the way that Zoe's feelings were described, first in the discovery of her true love and then her feelings of loss after his death (on the other hand I'm even less a female teen than Mr Scalzi...) and it does add a few additional events that expand on the original story. Highly recommended
Surprisingly well written. Zoe's point of view was fresh and refreshing and really makes this book worth reading. Its a slow moving book without too much action, but what action there is is entertaining. A good book for people who like interesting characters.
This was a book that reminded me of the teenager I think I was. After twenty years I realize my memories are a bit subjective, but the narrator of this book felt much more real than most and much more appealing that others I have tried to read (4 book series beginning with T.) The plot is a standard science fiction one but the honesty of s an almost child telling the story was compelling and wonderful.
Since Zoe's Tale is essentially a re-telling of events from some of the other books, primarily The Last Colony, isn't it kind of repetitive, and more to the point, why would I give it one more star than The Last Colony?Repetitive? Maybe a little. But Scalzi tells a very different story this time. It is the tale of Zoe and secondarily of Hickory and Dickory. And in the afterword Scalzi notes that one of the things he wanted to do was fix some of the problems people noted in The Last Colony, particularly the Deus Ex Machina salvation of the colony and the appearance and disappearance of the Roanoke natives. When I looked back at my review of The Last Colony I discovered I was one of the folks complaining about just that.I think the story telling on Zoe is more consistent, better paced, and has fewer holes than The Last Colony did. If I'd read this one first I might not think that though. It is certainly meant to be read in conjunction with The Last Colony. Certainly I can't say that it suffers from a predictable ending since the ending is a foregone conclusion. Should they be read in publication order? Probably. Certainly you could start with Zoe's Tale, but I think it assumes a lot of familiarity with the events of The Last Colony.
Not bad even if you've just finished 'The Last Colony' as I just did. Possibly worse if you haven't, not a good introduction to the universe, and no idea in my mind how it would stand alone as the YA book it is
John Scalzi is an amazing writer. I can't remember reading an author who so consistently fuses humor, adventure and great storytelling with wonderfully warm and deep characters. "Zoe's Tale" is a sequel to a sequel set in a world Scalzi launched with "Old Man's War". It retells Scalzi's "The Last Colony" from the perspective of Zoe, the teenage daughter of the couple who lead a new human colony based on an unsettled planet in the far reaches of space.This book stands alone and stands out. "The Last Colony" was terrific. "Zoe's Tale" is even better.Scalzi's dialogue throughout his books seems to be the drivers of his stories. The banter between Zoe and her friends is quick, witty, warm and natural. Likewise, her inner monologue reads smoothly and very genuine. Scalzi references the difficulty in writing a book like this, specifically capturing the appropriate tone of a teenage girl. Well, he seems to have nailed it pretty well.While the story contains adventure, action, aliens and some cool space "stuff", what really makes this "Zoe" successful is Zoe herself. This wonderful science fiction novel wins because Zoe is such an engaging character and Scalzi is so incredibly deft at developing her character and her relationships. I'm a 39-year old man, and I'm willing to admit that I teared up at a key plot point towards the end of the book (I won't give away the details).I'm asking my 13-year-old daughter to read this book. She isn't particularly interested in science fiction, but this book transcends that categorization. It's that good.I couldn't recommend this book more highly.
A fantastic way to revisit The Last Colony. I am glad I let time expire between reading the two books though as I could not recall how the story ended; this allowed Zoe's Tale to be an incredible page-turner.
Summary: Zoe's Tale is a companion novel to (or a retelling of) The Last Colony. While The Last Colony told the tale of the colonization of the planet Roanoke from John Perry's point of view, Zoe's Tale is narrated by his adopted teenage daughter, Zoe. The Last Colony focused more on the political, tactical, and military-technological aspects of the colonization, while Zoe's Tale is a lot more concerned with the personal, and the familial. Because Zoe is girl with a lot of family: apart from her adoptive parents, John and Jane, she also has the Obin - an entire race of aliens that regard her biological father, Charles Boutin, as their savior, and thus revere his daughter. Zoe's always accepted the Obin's presence in her life, but as she grows up, she's starting to become tired of being a symbol, and when her human family is put in danger, she has to decide who she really is, and how much she's willing to risk to save the ones she love.Review: This book was wonderful. It must be incredibly difficult to re-write one of your own novels from a different point of view while simultaneously staying true to the perspective of your character and not getting repetitive, but Scalzi pulls it off with flair. I don't know if I'd consider Zoe's Tale a novel that's complete in and of itself - because of the lack of repetitiveness, there are a lot of plot points that are glossed over pretty quickly, under the assumption that readers have already read The Last Colony. But, on the other hand, Zoe's Tale fills in the gaps of a lot of things that The Lost Colony glossed over (at the top of the list: what happened with the fantie-hunters, and what happened to Zoe during the time she left the planet), so the result is that they complement each other perfectly, each book picking up where the other left off.Another thing that Scalzi does wonderfully is Zoe's voice. I've commented before on his range when it comes to protagonist voices, but he absolutely nails the POV of an intelligent, good-natured, snarky, but basically still teenaged girl. Even for events in the story where both Zoe and John are present, and are therefore in both books, Zoe's got her own unique take on things, and she never feels like less than a 100% authentic, real teenager. As a result both of how real Zoe felt, and of her unique relationships, Zoe's Tale had me getting sniffly multiple times over the course of the book. That's mostly a good thing: I didn't feel like the story was being emotionally manipulative, but was rather genuinely affecting, and all of its drama was well-earned. However, having to wipe away tears every fifty pages or so is decidedly inconvenient when one is reading this in company after Thanksgiving dinner. Hopefully everyone else was so absorbed in the football game that they didn't notice how absorbed I was in this book. 4.5 out of 5 stars.Recommendation: I don't know how well this book would stand alone; it's so bound up with The Last Colony that I can't say whether it would work separately from the rest of the series. But it's a great book, and the series as a whole has been hugely enjoyable, so definitely recommended.
A retelling of the previous book in the Old Man's war series, Lost Colony. This is told from the point of view of Zoe, the daughter of the colony leaders. The plot is the same but Zoe has a different perspective and some different things happen to her, so the book feels fresh and the perspective is interesting. I do find the infinitely smart-ass teenager wearing a bit after a while, it makes Zoe a bit unbelievable at times, as she has an answer for everything. Still a good book.
Good story though adolescent eyes. Pretty good humor mixed in.
Here¿s the meat of it for me: Zoe is, without a doubt, the singular most impressively rendered character I have read in the last five, maybe even ten years, regardless of genre. She¿s smart, witty, and sarcastic to a fault. She¿s filled with love and angst, desire and rebellion. She¿s coming of age in a new world she loathes and loves with adoptive parents she both adores and, at times, wants nothing to do with. Oh, and she¿s the messiah for an alien species who have sworn to protect her from harm, even if it means destroying the rest of the human settlement. Most of all, though, Zoe is both charming and compelling, and her story went by far, far to quickly.
A fun read, with a lighthearted, YA feel, thanks to the narrator. This is not to say that the book doesn't have emotional depth, because it actually made me cry. Scalzi does such a great job capturing a teen girl voice that I'm planning on passing this along to my 11yo daughter to see if I can break her out of Twilight mode.
This is a parallel novel with The Last Colony. It's okay, and I do like Zoe as a narrator. But it did suffer a bit for being a parallel novel. Sometimes the scenes copied from the previous book (and they are copied, complete with errors) seem a little forced. Zoe goes to great pains to explain why she said what she said. As if Scalzi wasn't quite sure she'd still say that now that he knows her better.All in all, my favorite book of his is still the first one I read and the first one in this series, Old Man's War.
Scalzi does good work here. Although the story is a retelling of The Last Colony, as seen by Zoe, the compelling characterization makes it worth the read, and living the story again through her perspective gives the narrative a deeper emotional punch than that in the original telling.
Although enjoyable, as Scalzi always is, Zoe's Tale is one of his less successful books, as books go. It suffers from being a parallel tale. The parallel tale can be made to work well, but there's not much new here, and reading it directly after The Last Colony was almost tedious in places. A parallel tale should delve into hidden parts of the previous story or illuminate old characters and events in a new light - this doesn't really manage to do either until the very tale end of the book, and even then I wasn't all that impressed. Worst, though, is Zoe's voice. I'm a reader of his blog, so I'm aware that he's aware that hitting the teenage girl voice was struggle and that he took it as a challenge to himself. Unfortunately, I could feel that struggle through every inch of Zoe. She's simply a character who /tries/ too hard. She's too pithy, too witty, too brilliant, too unengaging. She has none of the pathos that often attracts me to YA books (one of my favorite genres). Her ups and downs and struggles (what there are of them - Zoe soars right past many an obstacle with a cursory brush to their obstacleness) failed to move me almost entirely, save for one notable exception. I get what Scalzi was trying to do here - there are moments when this book hits the 'who you are' and 'what you are' points very nicely. I suspect it would resonate with teen girls who are encouraged rather than distracted by a heroine who's smarter and wise-cracking-er than the majority of actual teen girls. And I suppose that's really what YA fiction is all about. I can't say I didn't enjoy this book - I did, while it was going. But Scalzi can and has done better, and the weight of the 'very little new territory' re-tell combined with the protagonist keeps me from doing much more than simply 'enjoying' it. From Scalzi, that's disappointing.
Although not John Scalzi's best work, Zoe's Tale still contains the elements I appreciate in his writing -- most notably the liberal use of sarcasm. The first half of the book drags a bit, probably because it's a rehashing of previous novels, but once Sclazi begins to add new elements and flesh out the events of The Lost Colony that were puzzling, it held my interest until the end. It might be best not to read it immediately after The Lost Colony.