May 02, Mayim de Vries rated it it was ok It is an interesting thing to be both critical and expendable to humanitys effort to populate the stars. After old people" part one and special forces second volume , in the third instalment, Mr Scalzi focuses on the colonists and colonial life in general. The main characters are our old friends, John Perry and Jane Sagan. In a sense, this book finalises the stories of these two.
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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.
Some readers may find the deus ex machina element a tad heavy-handed, but it helps keep up the momentum. Earth you know; everyone knows it. But you never forget where you come from. Being from Earth in this universe is like being a small-town kid who gets on the bus, goes to the big city and spends his entire afternoon gawking at all the tall buildings. I spent seventy-five years on Earth, living mostly in the same small Ohio town and sharing most of that life with the same woman.
She died and stayed behind. I lived and I left. The next world is metaphorical. From the latter they built me a new body, which was young and quick and strong and beautiful and only partially human. They stuffed my consciousness inside of it, and gave me not nearly enough time to glory in my second youth. Then they took this beautiful body that was now me and spent the next several years actively trying to get it killed by throwing me at every hostile alien race it could.
There were a lot of those. The universe is vast, but the number of worlds suitable for human life is surprisingly small, and as it happens space is filled with numerous other intelligent species who want the same worlds we do. Over a couple of centuries, we humans have managed this trick on several dozen worlds, and failed this trick on dozens more.
None of this has made us very many friends. I spent six years in this world. I fought and I nearly died, more than once. I had friends, most of whom died but some of whom I saved.
I met a woman who was achingly like the one I shared my life with on Earth, but who was nevertheless entirely her own person. I defended the Colonial Union, and in doing so I believed I was keeping humanity alive in the universe.
At the end of it the Colonial Defense Forces took the part of me that had always been me and stuffed it into a third and final body. This body was young, but not nearly as quick and strong. It was, after all, only human. But this body would not be asked to fight and die. I missed being as strong as a cartoon superhero. It was a fair trade. The next world is likely unknown to you. Stand again on Earth, our old home, where billions still live and dream of the stars.
Look up in the sky, at the constellation Lynx, hard by Ursa Major. The second moon, a captured asteroid, is much smaller and closer in. Best estimate is this will happen in about a quarter of a million years.
The natives are not terribly concerned at the moment. This world was found by humans nearly seventy-five years ago; the Ealan had a colony there but the Colonial Defense Forces corrected that. Then the Ealan, shall we say, checked the math on that equation and it was another couple of years before it was all sorted out.
When it was, the Colonial Union opened the world to colonists from Earth, mostly from India. They arrived in waves; the first one after the planet was secured from the Ealan, and the second shortly after the Subcontinental War on Earth, when the Occupation-backed probationary government offered the most notable supporters of the Chowdhury regime the choice of colonization or imprisonment. Most went into exile, taking their families with them.
Given the people who live on the planet, you would think it would have a name that reflects their heritage. You would be wrong. The planet is called Huckleberry, named no doubt by some Twain-loving apparatchik of the Colonial Union.
Its three major continents are Samuel, Langhorne and Clemens; from Clemens there is a long, curling string of volcanic islands known as the Livy Archipelago, set in the Calaveras Ocean. Most of the prominent features were dubbed in various aspects Twainania before the first settlers arrived; they seem to have accepted this with good grace. Stand on this planet with me now. Look up in the sky, in the direction of the constellation Lotus. In it there is a star, yellow like the one this planet circles, around which I was born, two other lives ago.
From here it is so far away as to be invisible to the eye, which is often how I feel about the life I lived there. My name is John Perry. I am eighty-eight years old. I have lived on this planet for nearly eight years now. It is my home, which I share with my wife and my adopted daughter. Welcome to Huckleberry.
But not the final one. The story of how I left Huckleberry begins—as do all worthy stories—with a goat. The last pair of brothers who fought as much as the Chengelpet brothers were named Cain and Abel, and at least one of them finally took some direct action. Aftab stomped through first with the goat and Nissim followed right after. Neither of them so much as looked in my direction.
I had met Savitri several years before while I was touring the colonies as a representative of the Colonial Defense Forces, talking it up to the various colonies I was sent to. I liked her immediately.
I was offered the? She grabbed the wastebasket and set it in its former position, and then picked up her book to resume reading. I had an idea. Savitri grunted. She had returned to her literary adventures. I steeled myself and walked through the door of my office.
The goat in the middle of the floor was cute. The Chengelpets, sitting in the chairs in front of my desk, were less so. I took a seat.
He cannot deny it. So he stole my seed. Prabhat was tempted onto his land. You have your precious Prabhat back. This is your best nanny. Ask him, Ombudsman Perry. Ask him what his goat is carrying.
He lets his goats run rampant across the countryside, impregnating at will, and then he demands payment for his own shoddy animal husbandry. The goat came around the desk and eyed me curiously. I reached into my desk and fed the goat a candy I found there. The thing was that after a couple of months of this, the New Goa villagers started coming to me with their other problems. It gave him more time to fish and play dominoes at the tea shop. It was nice to help people, and it was also nice that people listened to my advice.
On the other hand any public servant is likely to tell you that just a few annoying people in their community will take up the vast majority of their time. In New Goa, those roles were occupied by the Chengelpet brothers. No one knew why they hated each other so much. I thought it might be something with their parents, but Bhajan and Niral were lovely people who were just as mystified about it as anyone. At one point early in my tenure I suggested to Aftab, whom I regarded as the slightly more rational Chengelpet, that he might consider checking out a new plot of land that had just been cleared out on the other side of the village, because living away from Nissim might solve the majority of his problems with him.
After that I abandoned any hope of rational discourse on the matter and accepted that my karma required me to suffer through the occasional visit from the Outraged Chengelpet Brothers. Then the two of you are in business together," I said. But the first six times you do, Nissim gets the full stud fee, and after that half of your stud fee goes to your brother. And this is a small village, Nissim. Nissim opened his mouth to protest.
Eventually they both seemed to come to the conclusion that they were equally displeased, which in this situation was the optimal result. They both nodded their assent. They left; Savitri appeared in the door. You know the constable. Very abrupt. With all the paperwork done and all the problems of the village solved, I did what anyone in my position would do: I took a nap. Welcome to the rough and tumble world of colonial village ombudsmanning.
I woke up in time to see Savitiri closing up the office for the day.
The Last Colony by John Scalzi
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. Some readers may find the deus ex machina element a tad heavy-handed, but it helps keep up the momentum. Earth you know; everyone knows it. But you never forget where you come from.
The Last Colony
Earth you know; everyone knows it. But you never forget where you come from. Being from Earth in this universe is like being a small-town kid who gets on the bus, goes to the big city and spends his entire afternoon gawking at all the tall buildings. I spent seventy-five years on Earth, living mostly in the same small Ohio town and sharing most of that life with the same woman. She died and stayed behind. I lived and I left. The next world is metaphorical.