The End of All Things, by John Scalzi

The End of All Things, by John Scalzi book coverGenre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Tor
Published: 2015
Reviewer Rating: four stars
Book Review by David L. Felts

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The End of All Things, by John Scalzi, is the sixth book set in his Old Man’s War universe, following The Human Division. Both The Human Division and The End of All Things are in a different story-telling format than their predecessors, in that they are collections of related shorter works that, pieced together, make up the overall novel.

In The Last Colony, we learned about the alien organization called the Conclave. Although invited to join the Conclave, the Colonial Union elected to remain spate– and opposed– to the Conclave’s charter. For the most part, this hasn’t worked out well for the Colonial Union or humans in general. The End of All Things has the human race — both the Colonial Union and the Earth (who are now estranged) — caught in between the Conclave and a shadowy organization known only as Equilibrium.

This book is made up of several longer stories detailing the adventures of various characters caught up in the subterfuge between the Colonial Union, the Conclave and the Equilibrium.

The series of events follows General Tarsem Gau’s (the leader of the Conclave) attempt to save the Conclave and strengthen it under a new leader, the Colonial Defense Force’s less than savory methods of managing civil disobedience, and a conclusion that features many of the characters from previous stories and books trying to save not only the human race (as in Earth and the Colonial Union), but the Conclave as well.

“The Life of the Mind” has a main protagonist who is literally a brain in a box. Kidnapped pilot Rafe Daquin finds himself forced to do the bidding of aliens and fights back the only way he can.

“This Hollow Union” swings back to a character seen before, the alien Hafte Sorvalh, who is the main adviser to General Tarsem Gau, the leader of the conclave. She’s forced to deal with a situation that could tear the Conclave apart.

“Can Long Endure” takes us to the Colonial Defense Force, and specifically to a group of soldiers sent around by the CDF to quell civil uprisings. It does a great job at demonstrating the delta between a huge and faceless administration giving the orders and the soldiers tasked with following them.

“To Stand or To Fall” wraps it all up in a not quite so tidy bow. Several previous characters are brought back as the Conclave, Earth, and the Colonial Union finally face down the shadowy called the Equilibrium, who has been pitting all sides against each other.

Like his previous work, Scalzi’s writes with humor and an easy-to-read style. His characters are well realized and it’s fun to encounter familiar ones again. Although events reach a conclusion here, there’s plenty of ambiguity to allow for more adventures in Scalzi’s universe.

I look forward to them.

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