This is the sixth book in the Old Man’s War series that I’m trying to finish up this year.
Genre: military science fiction
Length: 380 pages
Setting: various location in the Galaxy, far future, soon after the events of The Human Division
Summary: The story is told as a connected set of four novellas. We first meet Rafe Daquin, a pilot of a starship who is currently a brain in a box. He proceeds to tell us how he got into that position. A high-ranking State official in the Colonial Union (CU) joined the Equilibrium movement, which is dedicated to bringing down the CU and the Conclave. Luckily for Rafe, his previous job was as a programmer for the flight simulator software he found himself existing in. He’s able to hack the system and escape as the spaceship The Chandler. We pick up the tale as Tarsem, the deputy to the leader of the Conclave, doing her best to keep General Gau in power. Of course, a significant group within the Conclave is trying to move the Conclave in a different direction. Gau is killed when a bomb explodes in his podium during a speech to the Conclave and Tarsem takes over as leader of the Conclave. Next, we follow a CU squad as they move from planet to planet, trying to put down rebellions. They capture a Rhaey who is high in the Equilibrium hierarchy and learn the purpose of that group. The CU sets a trap for the Equilibrium when they try to attack Earth. The trap requires cooperation between the Conclave and the CU, but the diplomats are able to pull it off.
Final thoughts: I enjoyed this book more than The Human Division, probably because the chapters were longer. We got more of a story arc with each central character, and each of the four stories fir together nicely to move the plot along. I liked the different viewpoints from which we see the action unfolding – a pilot, a high-ranking Conclave bureaucrat, a CU grunt, and a CU diplomat. Scalzi also makes very alien aliens, which I like. My favorite characters from The Human Division (Ambassador Abumwe and Harry Schmidt) did make an appearance.
We see some of the questions from the previous book getting answered, like who’s the third player making brains in a box in a spaceship. Overall, it’s a satisfying addition to the series, but not a starting point for the series. You won’t understand much of what’s going on if you haven’t read the previous books.
Title comes from: The phrase is used several times within the story, usually to imply that if Equilibrium wins, it will result in the end of all things as we know it
Reading challenges fulfilled: book #22 for the year, an E in my Title Reading the Alphabet Challenge (I am impressed that I’m 22 books into the year and have managed to have all of them be part of the Alphabet Challenge! That’s got to be a record!), and #7 in my Finish the Series Challenge
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