Sunday, October 07, 2007

Victor Milan adds his two cents

Victor Milán, a libertarian comrade and science fiction novelist of considerable talent (his The Cybernetic Samurai remains one of my favorites) has posted a comment to my recent review of John Scalzi’s The Last Colony. And y’know what? I like Victor’s analysis of the book a lot better than my own! Just in case you never check back for comments to past posts, I’ll re-post his comment right here:

I agree Last Colony’s an excellent book, and stands on its own.

I also think that it’s even more worthwhile to read as the third volume of a trilogy, since it changes the apparent thrust of the first two books.

Old Man’s War and Ghost Brigades were fine SF novels in their own right. But, to me at least, they carried an implicit message: shut up and soldier. That conscience and judgment are fine things for individuals, but of no consequence compared to the will of the State. Don’t you know there’s a war on? Follow your orders.

Pretty much the same as Heinlein’s paean to Bolshevism, Starship Troopers, in other words.

Last Colony reverses the spin. The war is no longer all-encompassing justification but at best a mistake, at worst a scam, and in either case likely to result in the suicide of the human species. Our hero and heroine follow their consciences, do not shut up and soldier, they disobey orders; and they save humanity.

While I wouldn’t call them perfect from a freedom perspective (Scalzi still indulges a bit much in leader-worship) the concluding volume turns the whole trilogy into a sort of extended debate upon the conflict between individual and state — and comes down squarely for the individual.

Thanks for this insight, Victor.

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