At the end of The Last Colony and Zoe’s Tale, the third and fourth books respectively, of John Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War” series, the Colonial Union (CU), the human political/military force that had been farming the Earth for more than two centuries for humans to utilize as soldiers and colonists, is suddenly, and seemingly irreconcilably, cut off from the Earth. This is a blow of nearly unimaginable proportions to the CU. Something that they have been trying to prevent, by restricting industrial, technological and economic growth, so that there would always be a steady supply of human “resources” at their disposal. And they never saw it coming. . .
Suddenly faced with attempting to exist without the earth’s plentiful resources, the CU, and the Colonial Defense Force (CDF), are forced to rely upon diplomacy, rather than military might, to resolve the many and varied issues that come from being part of the larger cosmic community. In The Human Division, readers were allowed to follow some previously established minor characters from the "Old Man’s War" series, as well as some new ones, as they make their way
through the mine-laden arena of galactic politics. At the end of that novel, the CU once again was left in the midst of a situation that threatened not only its existence, but the existence of the Earth and The Conclave, the CU’s primary challenger in terms of intergalactic governments.
When readers pick up The End of All Things, Scalzi’s latest installment in the “Old Man’s War” series, events will pick up shortly after the occurrences that ended The Human Division. While the previous novel ended with a cliffhanger, answers and motivations are revealed early in the new novel. The remainder of the novel allows readers to follow these now familiar characters as they attempt to prevent the book’s title from coming to pass. The stakes are high and the existence of four political movements/governments are at stake. All of them will not survive to the end of the novel. The question this time is which government(s) will survive and how will they manage?
The End of All Things is another enjoyable and satisfying chapter in the “Old Man’s War” saga. While still incorporating some elements of space opera and buddy adventure/comedy, the novel is primarily a galactic thriller, exploring political hows, whys and what ifs on a galactic scale. Scalzi should be commended for questioning the political force he created at the beginning of the series. While it made this series possible, it has also seemed to frequent the shadows and often be on questionable ethical ground with its actions and motivations. The End of All Things addresses questions many readers have expressed over the years.
Like its predecessor, The Human Division, The End of All Things was initially released in a serialized format as four e-novellas during June, 2015. Now the stories have been collected into a single volume. As before, each story stands nicely on its own as an individual episode in a larger, very satisfying story.
Surprisingly, The End of All Things also ends on a positive and optimistic note. While there is certainly room for another entry in the “Old Man’s War” saga, this is the first book in the series that does not end on a “cliffhanger,” but instead ends with a sense of accomplishment and resolution. This does not mean that there aren’t questions left unanswered, but the largest, most pressing ones have been addressed. Even so, this reader was left wanting to know more about what happens next more than in the last several novels!! Here’s hoping Mr. Scalzi will someday return to this universe so we will know how things develop!