Author: John Scalzi
Original language: English
Publisher: Tor Books, New York, 2007
Full of whodunit twists and explosive action, Scalzi’s third SF novel lacks the galactic intensity of its two related predecessors, but makes up for it with entertaining storytelling on a very human scale. Several years after the events of The Ghost Brigades (2006), John Perry, the hero of Old Man’s War (2005), and Jane Sagan are leading a normal life as administrator and constable on the colonial planet Huckleberry with their adopted daughter, Zo?, when they get conscripted to run a new colony, ominously named Roanoke. When the colonists are dropped onto a different planet than the one they expected, they find themselves caught in a confrontation between the human Colonial Union and the alien confederation called the Conclave. Hugo-finalist Scalzi avoids political allegory, promoting individual compassion and honesty and downplaying patriotic loyalty—except in the case of the inscrutable Obin, hive-mind aliens whose devotion to Zo? will remind fans of the benevolent role Captain Nemo plays in Verne’s Mysterious Island. Some readers may find the deus ex machina element a tad heavy-handed, but it helps keep up the momentum.