The End of All Things (2015)
(Old Man’s War #6)
by John Scalzi
The direct sequel to 2013’s The Human Division
Humans expanded into space…only to find a universe populated with multiple alien species bent on their destruction. Thus was the Colonial Union formed, to help protect us from a hostile universe. The Colonial Union used the Earth and its excess population for colonists and soldiers. It was a good arrangement…for the Colonial Union. Then the Earth said: no more.
Now the Colonial Union is living on borrowed time—a couple of decades at most, before the ranks of the Colonial Defense Forces are depleted and the struggling human colonies are vulnerable to the alien species who have been waiting for the first sign of weakness, to drive humanity to ruin. And there’s another problem: A group, lurking in the darkness of space, playing human and alien against each other—and against their own kind —for their own unknown reasons.
Here is the problem: John Scalzi is a great author. He is often compared to Robert Heinlein. I would argue he is better. This ‘book’ is actually four novellas strung together. They tell the same story from a different perspective. The trouble is that once into, and invested in the characters of the first novella, it just stops and you get another set of characters you have to place and work out who they are. The principle character is Rafe Daquin, a pilot who gets abducted and his brain is detached and used to operate a space ship (shades of Anne McCaffrey’s ‘The Ship who Sang’). He starts the story, is there when it ends and is by far the most interesting character. If the story had been told from his POV, it could have been more interesting. And it could have missed the second more political and slower second novella.
However it’s still Scalzi at his best and an entertaining read, although I did skip his ‘alternative’ ending.