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The Last Colony    by John Scalzi Amazon.com order for
Last Colony
by John Scalzi
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Last Colony follows Old Man's War and The Ghost Brigades as the third in John Scalzi's fast-paced and inventive series. It's set in a future war-torn universe in which the majority of Earth's inhabitants remain oblivious to the desperate competition in which fellow humans of the Colonial Defense Forces are involved with alien races for colonization of habitable planets.

The first book, Old Man's War, revealed a policy of recycling septuagenarians into genetically engineered clones to serve in the Colonial Defense Forces, through the eyes of one of them, John Perry. Perry eventually recognized his wife in a member of the elite CDF Special Forces. These spooky superhumans are engineered from the DNA of the dead, and given special abilities including telepathic communication with their peers via BrainPals. Perry's reborn wife, now known as Jane Sagan, had no recollection of him, and a new relationship developed through the second volume, The Ghost Brigades.

Now, John Perry and Jane Sagan are together - in normal bodies that age naturally - as members of a colony on Huckleberry, a world with two moons - John is the village ombudsman and Jane the constable. They've been there for eight years along with their adopted daughter ZoŽ, now a smart-ass teenager. ZoŽ has an unusual entourage. Two members of the Obin race (ZoŽ calls them Hickory and Dickory) have been assigned by their people (grateful for the great boon her researcher father granted to them) as her guardians and will protect her with their lives.

John and Jane's peaceful, pastoral existence comes to an end with a visit from General Rybicki. He asks them to lead a new seed colony, to be settled by a mix of people from already established colonies (settlers are usually from Earth). They take it on and head to Roanoke, along with ZoŽ, Hickory and Dickory, and John's assistant Savitri, on the Magellan. Politics get tricky even before they arrive and when they do, the plot very quickly solidifies. It turns out that what they were not told about this colony makes its prospects of survival almost nil. They 'have just entered a world of shit.'

On a planet that 'smells like an armpit', John and Jane deal with uncooperative colonists, aggressive and hungry natives, attacks from space, CDF lies and betrayals - and the fact that ZoŽ has a boyfriend. They must use all their wiles, call up every favor owed them, and even commit treason, to assure the colony's survival. They finally come full circle and change the universe. The Last Colony provides a highly satisfying ending to the story of John Perry and Jane Sagan, and leaves me anxious to read whatever John Scalzi write next.

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