The End of All Things by John Scalzi
Reviewed by John Kosmic
This novel is about an interstellar war wrapped up in an apocalypse. At first glance it almost seems to be a serious novel. But if taken seriously then a lot of the satire and nuance is lost. But it works up to a point if taken as a satire or possibly just a parody. But even then the novel suffers from a number of defects. First there is just too much dialogue and the characters talk and talk endlessly. But where's the action and excitement? Just when you would expect some there's mostly just narration and exposition. True there is some suspense mostly about Rafe Daquin and whether he gets his body back or not. His brain has been stolen by the bad guys and used to pilot a star ship. While it's okay to use old themes like the "brain in the box" and the problems it would have it isn't used in a new or novel manner in this story. It seems to be just a plot device.
But is there anyone who doubts Rafe Daquin will get his body back? If he doesn't then the novel is no longer a satire or a parody. But the character is three dimensional and likeable although a bit stereotyped. And the same is true of some of the other characters.
They exist in a universe ruled by mad politicians and insane aliens who are bent on destroying each other or the human race or both. One wonders how or where do these 'governments" get the resources to remain in business let alone the consent of their citizens? It's almost as if there aren't any real people in "The Old Man's War Universe" and that makes the story more difficult to believe. Or if there are any real people in this universe they aren't acting like it. Instead they act more like slaves or maybe just slaves to war. But there are some revolts so maybe not everyone is one.
Does the novel life up to its name? Is this really the end of all things? In a word no. At the end life goes on but that makes sense if you're writing an installment in a successful series and the fans want it to continue but what does that have to do with the series itself? There seems to be a cross over here between fantasy and the writing of said fantasy. But all things considered here this is a minor point.
Finally, would I recommend this novel. Yes, but only just barely and only if you're a John Scalzi fan. Despite the defects he is a good writer. But did I like this book? No, not really. War stories, even if they are souped up like this one, just aren't my cup of tea.