The End of All Things

I don’t read as much as I should these days, but one author I always make time for is John Scalzi. This is the next book in the Old Man’s War universe, and it continues from where The Human Division ended on a cliff hanger. So, let’s get that out of the way — ending a book on a cliff hanger is a dick move and John is a bad bad man. Then again I really enjoyed The Human Division, so I will probably forgive him.

I don’t think this book is as good as The Human Division, but its a solid book. I enjoyed reading it and it wasn’t a chore like some books this far into a universe can be (I’m looking at you, Asimov share cropped books). The conclusion to the story arc is sensible, and not something I would have predicted, so overall I’m going to put this book on my mental list of the very many non-terrible Scalzi books.

The End of All Things Book Cover The End of All Things
John Scalzi
Human-alien encounters
Pan Macmillan
August 13, 2015

Our fate is in their hands. . . The Colonial Union's Defence Force was formed to save humanity when aggressive alien species targeted our worlds. Now Lieutenant Harry Wilson has an urgent new mission, as a hostile universe becomes ever more dangerous. He must investigate a sinister group, which lurks in the darkness of space playing different factions against one another. They'll target both humans and aliens, and their motives are unfathomable.The Defence Force itself is weakening as its soldiers fall - without recruits to replace them. Relations with Earth have broken down and it will send no more troops, even as human colonies become increasingly vulnerable to alien attack.Lieutenant Wilson and Colonial Union diplomats must race to keep the peace, seek reconciliation with an enraged Earth, and maintain humanity's unity at all costs. If they don't, it will mean oblivion, extinction and the end of all things.

The Human Division

I originally read this as a series of short stories released on the kindle, but the paperback collation of those has been out for a while and deserved a read. These stories are classic Scalzi, and read well. If you like the Old Man’s War universe you will like this book. The chapters of the book are free standing because of how they were originally written, and that makes the book a bit disjointed. The cliff hanger at the end is also pretty annoying given the next book hasn’t been released.

So, an interesting experiment that perhaps isn’t perfect, but is well worth the read.

The Human Division Book Cover The Human Division
John Scalzi
Tor Science Fiction
February 25, 2014

Following the events of The Last Colony, John Scalzi tells the story of the fight to maintain the unity of the human race. The people of Earth now know that the human Colonial Union has kept them ignorant of the dangerous universe around them. For generations the CU had defended humanity against hostile aliens, deliberately keeping Earth an ignorant backwater and a source of military recruits. Now the CU's secrets are known to all. Other alien races have come on the scene and formed a new alliance—an alliance against the Colonial Union. And they've invited the people of Earth to join them. For a shaken and betrayed Earth, the choice isn't obvious or easy. Against such possibilities, managing the survival of the Colonial Union won't be easy, either. It will take diplomatic finesse, political cunning...and a brilliant "B Team," centered on the resourceful Lieutenant Harry Wilson, that can be deployed to deal with the unpredictable and unexpected things the universe throws at you when you're struggling to preserve the unity of the human race. Being published online from January to April 2013 as a three-month digital serial, The Human Division will appear as a full-length novel of the Old Man's War universe, plus—for the first time in print—the first tale of Lieutenant Harry Wilson, and a coda that wasn't part of the digital serialization.

The Ghost Brigades (2)

The second time around I think my opinion has changed a little. I found the plot a little hard to believe (perhaps I am scarred by other book’s twee explorations of the motivations of alien species), and overall the book not as good as Old Man’s War. Then again, its far from the worst book I have read this year.

Original post about this book.

[award: nominee prometheus 2007]
[isbn: 0765354063]

Old Man’s War (2)

I’ve been in a rut recently where I haven’t really been enjoying the books I’ve been reading. The number of books I read has also dropped off a lot since I moved back to Australia. Some of the drop off is associated with living in a house instead of an apartment — there is constant maintenance work to be done, and I might never finish painting this place. However, I was worried that perhaps I simply wasn’t as into reading as I was a couple of years ago. So, I decided to go back and read a book I enjoyed before, and see if I still liked it. This was that book.

The answer is hells yes. This book is still fantastic, and I really enjoyed it. I also knocked it over in a time similar to when I was in the US. So, its not me that’s broken — its the books I’m reading. I need to find more books to be enthused about, instead of letting reading be a chore.

Original post about this book.

[awards: nominee hugo 2006]
[isbn: 0765348276]

Woken Furies

This is the third book in the Takeshi Kovaks series. It is similar to the second book, and follows on more strongly from that one that the first book. This is consistent with the overall arc if the series, so it doesn’t bother me that it is different from the first book. Overall I liked this book, and read it fairly quickly. I think the end is good and was largely unexpected.

[isbn: 0575081279]

Buying Time

This book isn’t Haldeman’s best work (checkout The Forever War, The Forever Peace, or Marsbound for examples of his really good stuff). I found the characters largely unsympathetic, and the plot quite slow. The book is also odd in that it was written in 1989, but is full of stuff you’d expect to see from a Heinlein novel like The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress — global conspiracies, Russian space colonies with vigilante law, that sort of thing.

Interestingly, the plot twist is much more smoothly done than many other Haldeman novels, which is nice.

[award: nominee prometheus 1990]
[isbn: 0380704390]

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

I sympathize with the other LibraryThing reviewer who had trouble finding characters to like in this novel. This book isn’t very long, but took me ages to read because the main character is so whiney. The whole story seems to revolve around how he’s never happy, and that didn’t work for me. I think the underlying ideas are interesting, but I just hated Julius so much that I didn’t enjoy the book.

There is an interesting reference to Snow Crash on page 97 though.

[award: nominee nebula 2004]
[isbn: 076530953x]

Broken Angels

This book is very different from Altered Carbon, as noted by many other online reviews. I found it very slow going, for a few reasons: it is quite long; it is very different from Altered Carbon in a way that almost feel like a bait and switch (Altered Carbon is a film noir detective novel, this is a hard core combat book with an alien influence); and Morgan has an annoying habit of providing emphasis with. periods. in the middle. of sentences which makes his work sometimes hard to parse. Overall and ok book and I like the alien stuff, but not what I was expecting and not as good as Altered Carbon.

[isbn: 9780575081253;0575081252]

The Last Colony

All of the Old Men’s War books (Old Man’s War and The Ghost Brigades) have started slowly and built up to a climax. That’s been good because its given some time for background which makes the second phase of the book all the more fully formed. This book is the same, although I think the introduction is more long winded than previously, and the whole thing gets wrapped up surprisingly quickly. Overall a good book, but not as good as the previous two.

[award: nominee hugo 2008]
[isbn: 0765316978]

The Ghost Brigades

This book is a really good sequel, and just as good as Old Man’s War. While some of the characters reappear, the story stands on its own and is quite entertaining. I enjoyed this book a lot. There’s something about bright green genetically engineered super soldiers killing aliens that makes me happy.

[award: nominee prometheus 2007]
[isbn: 0765354063]