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Part three of the four parts making up the full-length novel, The End of All Things.

They signed up to defend humans from hostile aliens, but this group of Colonial Union soldiers finds themselves, instead, repeatedly sent to squelch rebellious human colonies that want to leave the CU. It's not a sustainable situation. Something has to give. The End of All Things is John Scalzi's conclusion to the Old Man's War tale that began with The Human Division.

62 pages, Kindle Edition

First published June 23, 2015

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About the author

John Scalzi

154 books22.6k followers
John Scalzi, having declared his absolute boredom with biographies, disappeared in a puff of glitter and lilac scent.

(If you want to contact John, using the mail function here is a really bad way to do it. Go to his site and use the contact information you find there.)

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 39 reviews
Profile Image for Kevin Kelsey.
411 reviews2,223 followers
July 5, 2017
I loved this one. The structure of it is so good, and I genuinely connected to the characters and their banter about Pizza Mon/Taco Weds. Reminds me of my experience reading Old Man's War for the first time.
Profile Image for Mike.
502 reviews378 followers
June 25, 2015
A fascinating side effect of Scalzi's decision to release "The End of All Things" is he has the flexibility to concentrate on completely different characters in each installment, much like he did in The Human Division. In this installment we leave the world of high politics and policy to inhabit the life of the boots on the ground. In this case Colonial forces that are now dashing around the galaxy putting down independence movements on Colonial Union planets. This decision worked well on two levels.

On the first level we get to experience the life of a grunt. What happens to them the 99% of the time they aren't fighting. Just like any other group of people that spend long amounts of time together, they can get into some pretty banal conversations:
"Yeah, it's Tuesday. Ask me how I know."
"Because of your BrainPal?"
"No. Because yesterday was Pizza Day in the Tubingen mess. Pizza Day is always Monday. Therefore: It's Tuesday."
"That messes me up."
"That it's Tuesday?"
"No, that Monday is Pizza Day. Back on Earth I was a custodian at an elementary school. Pizza Day was always on a Friday. The teachers used it to keep the kids in line. 'Behave yourself or you don't get pizza on Friday.' Having Monday Pizza Day subverts the natural order of things."
Scalzi does an excellent job fleshing out the four soldiers in a particular platoon. You get a feel for the sort of stuff they have to put up with and their relationship with each other quite quickly.

On the second level Scalzi has a nice canvas to work with to pontificate on the nature of government. When, if at all, is it permissible to secede? How should it be done? Who should bear the burden of it? Given that there are both hostile aliens in this galaxy and a shadowy conspiracy operating to subvert the Colonial Union, are these independence movements legitimate? Through the eyes of the platoon members we see how these movements are being dealt with.
What you may not have expected is that it [voting for independence] would cost all these things [death] as quickly as it will. But these are not the days of the American Revolution, and the Colonial Union is not the British Empire, an ocean and several months away. We are here now. It's time to find out who among you is willing to make the sacrifice for independence... Did you now think there would be a struggle to follow? Did you know believe the words you said? Or did you believe the repercussions of your actions would be shouldered by others - by the citizens who will be pressed into service to defend the so-called independence you wish to give them?
It is a fascinating subject matter given all the dynamics in place and we see what the result of Colonial Union policy is on the ground. Scalzi does a wonderful job playing this out with his cast of characters.
"You're doing that thing where you think you're thinking about long term implications again, aren't you, Lambert?"
"I'm pointing out flattening the building might be unsubtle and not the best course of action."
"I prefer to think of it as a Gordian Knot type solution."
"The Gordian Knot wasn't twelve stories high with lots of people living in it... We seem to be sending a lot of messages recently. I'm not sure the message we're sending is the message they're receiving."
It sure is ugly seeing the sausage made (or, in some cases, unmade).

I think what works best about this installment is how well Scalzi humanizes all sides of the story. We become emotionally invested in these characters and there is no clear villain (save for perhaps the shadowy conspiracy). Both sides have excellent points int their favor and there is plenty of room to debate the various merits of them. This book doesn't make a judgement about who is right, but let's the characters naturally make choices based on their experiences and outlooks. While this story does not, perhaps, deliver an extensive amount of plot development, it has a lot of heart and provokes a lot of interesting debates on the nature of duty, responsibility, and government.
Profile Image for Ron.
Author 1 book141 followers
June 24, 2015
This is how it’s done: under the surface of a shoot-em up space opera, Scalzi develops a intimate tale of personal crisis. Without telling the reader, he just lets it unfold. The ending is a surprise that’s no surprise; it seems inevitable even though it’s a shock.

(Rounded down for unnecessary language. Scalzi can build world or an emotional, he needn't stoop to cheap vocabulary band-aids.)

Good job! Can’t wait for the last episode, though if the name of the book means anything … .
Profile Image for Scott.
1,186 reviews106 followers
September 13, 2015
Third novella in the serialized Novel by John Scalzi.

Yet another POV and another main character - we follow a Lt. in the CU as she and her platoon put down one after another of the planets trying to gain independence while the Equilibrium is getting bolder.

This is good, real good.

Still haven't quite figured out everything Scalzi is trying to do in this novel but I have faith that he'll bring it all together in the last 100 pages or so.
Profile Image for Stephan van Velzen.
449 reviews13 followers
June 26, 2015
As Scalzi's Old Man's War short fiction goes, this one did very little to me. I usually adore his novellas and short stories, and especially The End of All Things has been exceptionally great so far, with creative viewpoints and well-fleshed-out stories. This third novella not so much. There was nothing to care for in the main characters. They were just sorta there, no fleshing out of their characters, just a bunch of dialogue without explicit voices to the characters.

Sure, I can definitely see the point of this story, and the political impact Scalzi was trying to convene, but from the eyes of the characters, it had very little impact. As such, the protagonist's decision at the end made little sense and got zero emotional reaction from me.
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,275 reviews228 followers
July 15, 2015
This is an amazing little novella. The B-plot follows the main plot-line of the book, but the A-plot following a squad of colonial marines as they go from one rebellion suppression operation to another and another. The squad conversations are hilarious in the manner of a group of friends who have known each other for a long time, but also thought-provoking. The discussions around root cause and expediency go to the heart of this part of the Old Man's War series.

I would love to see more of both Heather and Ilse in future books.
Profile Image for Kevin.
659 reviews20 followers
May 18, 2023
A group of Colonial Union soldiers are sent on various missions to quell rebellions on various CU planets with varying success. These stories show the progress of mental strain on the leader and those under her command. Definitely recommended
Profile Image for Darren Douglas.
Author 4 books5 followers
June 1, 2019
I'm out of words describing the brilliance of this series. Fair play!
Profile Image for Michelle.
758 reviews2 followers
November 30, 2020
I liked that this was from Lieutenant Heather Lee's pov, she's another favorite character of mine from this series. It was a nice look at what can go wrong when people get tired of government bs.
Profile Image for Tomasz.
427 reviews23 followers
March 20, 2023
Step three, body count increases, the centre cannot hold.
Profile Image for Shannon Appelcline.
Author 22 books141 followers
July 16, 2016
So the first point of this short story seems to be that the Colonial Union is a big bunch of fascists. Whatever. I'm not thrilled with the new idea of the Union as the evil villains of the piece, but that's the direction Scalzi has been going in since The Human Division.

The second point seems to be that the colonies are utter and total morons who have no idea that they'd be absolutely destroyed if they went at it alone ... and that I have big problems with. It harms my ability to disbelieve because no one could be that stupid in the Old Man's War universe. But everyone apparently are.

Unfortunately, Scalzi opts to shows us these points by the same technique that he (mis)used in The Human Division. He shows us the same ideas in different missions. Again and again. Thankfully it's just a short story here, instead of a full novel. Still, it quickly gets dull, until we at least get a little excitement in the fourth section.

(Oh, and the third point, right at the end, is that the Union is falling apart. It takes a long time to get there, and it really shows how these shorts have failed as a larger piece: we shouldn't have to read 70 pages of digression to get the salient plot point in the last two.)
Profile Image for Erin (PT).
564 reviews93 followers
June 29, 2015
This was my least favorite (so far) of this set of serials. On the one hand, I see both what Scalzi was trying to say/accomplish and how function sort of dictates form on this one (and I'm at a loss to come up with any real way Scalzi could have done it better) but at the same time, the very nature of the story--the tedium, the lack of connectivity, the impersonality of it all--doesn't necessarily make for good reading.

It took me the longest to finish this section because it was kind of tedious and not all that engaging. But, as I said, I can see where it fits into the overall picture and it's possible that, if not read as a standalone chapter of a serial novel, but of a piece of a complete work, it might be different. I don't know.
224 reviews
June 25, 2015
I can't wait until the final novella comes out, to tie at least some of the separate story lines together. "Can Long Endure" returns to human space, revolving entirely around the struggles of a wounded and struggling Colonial Union to prevent a final, fatal split with the colonies it's protected and controlled for so long. On one side is the very real threat of the many alien species that would like to sweep in and destroy any colonies that leave the CU. The colonies are now weighing this against the resentment they feel against the CU, who have been manipulating the colonies for its own purposes. Will the union of mankind survive, or will it fragment and be wiped out in the fierce, unforgiving universe?
Profile Image for Fiona.
182 reviews12 followers
August 14, 2015
This instalment of end of all things tells a very different side to the rest of the story, here we get the human aspect, the day to day goings on in the CDF. It's a welcome view, from previous books we are used to the CDF being the protectors while here they are set the task of quelling rebellions on humanities own colonies, a job the characters don't relish.

As per usual scalzi's characterisation is fantastic, even with such a short story you get to know the ins and outs of the people, their pasts and their personalities. Again I love this universe he has created and love the small instalments, perfect size for my weekly train journeys.
Profile Image for Mayank Agarwal.
857 reviews29 followers
September 2, 2015
The main story continues, this time around we get to see what’s happening to Colonial Union Worlds in the aftermaths of its disaster decisions. Initially i was not enjoying the story as they keep shifting from colony to colony, but as the larger picture came in focus, I got the beauty of it.The story is from the point of view of a platoon of soldiers travelling to different worlds, stamping up the unrest in each of them. The challenges they face are unique to each of the world, all boiling down to How long can the people endure the Colonial Union. Unexpected ending, It does look like the end of all things.
Profile Image for Marco.
1,137 reviews48 followers
October 27, 2015
This is the third installment of the serialization of The End of all Things, the latest book set in the Old Man War universe.
The story progresses, and it is now being told from a third distinct point of view: the one of the Colonial Union soldiers: they signed up to defend humans from hostile aliens, but this group finds themselves, instead, repeatedly sent to squelch rebellious human colonies that want to leave the CU. It's not a sustainable situation. Something has to give. Things seems to be building up for a big explosive finale.
1,672 reviews
July 2, 2015
John Scalzi makes a break in the storytelling with this third installment. He steps away from the high intensity politics and the work trying to uncover Equilibrium's objective. To basically tell the story of CDF just doin' their job, a grunts life if you will. And, after my initial surprise (this is part 3 of a 4 part story, isn't the action suppose to be ramping up?) I thoughly enjoyed this novella... I don't know how he's going to wrap it all together in one more segment but I trust that I will love it too...
52 reviews3 followers
July 7, 2015
This one did not quite stick the landing. The characters were great, the action was fairly good, but the over all arc of the plot just didn't seem substantial enough if you considered it as a stand alone novella, and downright anti-climatic if considered as the third part of novel which should be ratcheting tension up to a fever pitch for the last quarter of the story.

Honestly, I think the whole novel might have been better served by making This Hollow Union the third part of the novel rather than this one.
Profile Image for Josh.
888 reviews31 followers
August 31, 2015
This was, in my opinion, the weakest of the novellas in the book, as it jumps around too much and doesn't offer a whole lot in terms of building the overall story. It's a decent short story in and of itself, but set within the limited amount of space in the novel, this one just didn't hold my interest so much. I found my mind wandering and wanting this one to be over. It wasn't crazy about the narrator, either.
Profile Image for Ross.
181 reviews
June 24, 2015
Getting back on track

Getting back on track, again while this isn't the greatest volume of this much larger story. It cannot truly be judged until all volumes are read in its entirety. With that said, I enjoyed this volume as it spoke to larger world of the human colonies and the colonial soldiers as they 'put out fire's.
Profile Image for Dakeyras.
239 reviews2 followers
July 7, 2015
This installment really clicked well with me. The characters were all excellent as they were sent on multiple missions and slowly came to their own conclusions about the Colonial Union, Conclave, Equilibrium & the war in general. Every thing leads up to a mission that (naturally) doesn't go according to plan and is more than it seems.
Profile Image for Dan.
1,565 reviews26 followers
July 2, 2015
Can Long Endure is my favorite of the novellas making up The End of All Things so far! I really loved his characters in this story, a squad of soldiers tasked with putting down rebellions among various Colonial Union colony planets. But, what happens when some of the soldiers start questioning why they are using their skills and weapons against humans instead of against aliens?
Profile Image for Conal.
316 reviews10 followers
August 9, 2016
We are introduced to new characters in this episode as the author builds to the conclusion of this story. The CDF battles fires brewing all over the CU and we see the effect it has on the individual soldiers. Really looking forward to next week's episode.
Profile Image for Stanley.
246 reviews4 followers
December 20, 2020

Well, the ending of this tale surprised me. As soon as I have finished this short review, I am off to read #4 of this series. By the way, I liked this #3 book and the surprise ending.
Profile Image for juice.
247 reviews12 followers
July 27, 2015
TBH, I read all four of these and it was hard work to grind through them. I LOVED the series prior to these four, but these felt like a band recording a CD to clear a contract - yes, it exists, but not, not compelling at all.
Profile Image for John.
485 reviews14 followers
August 2, 2015
This is my least favourite of the four novellas. It's still good, but the exploration of the moral grey area in which the Colonial Union lies was rather heavy handed and obvious compared to previous instalments, so it isn't quite as good. (Still really rather good, though!)
Profile Image for Jon Sung.
62 reviews5 followers
July 20, 2015
As if you were gonna stop reading The End of All Things at part three of four. What the hell's wrong with you?
Profile Image for Patrick.
2,122 reviews19 followers
June 26, 2015
Ah, Lt. Heather Lee.

Finally some perspective from the CDF. I think I'm going to really enjoy the closing piece next week.
Profile Image for Pedro L. Fragoso.
644 reviews53 followers
June 23, 2015
Space opera variations. Good, but not really my thing, except the Heileinian bits (there are a few).
Displaying 1 - 30 of 39 reviews

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