The Last Colony is a pretty fun read in the “crowded galaxy with humans jostling for position” subgenre of the space opera subgenre. It’s kind of hard for me to evaluate it objectively, because it kept hitting all these SF tropes I know and love. Look! A colony lands on a new planet, and yeah, that thing that happens quite often in colonizing novels happens. Hey, there’s a wide-ranging alliance among semi-hostile races. And… wait, no powered armor.
This isn’t a bad thing at all; it’s all done quite well, albeit there’s no payoff to the thing that always happens in colonizing novels. It’s just the kind of thing that suits me perfectly, and I can’t say if it’d make someone who isn’t steeped in the field quite as happy.
The politics is fun. I really like the way Scalzi writes politics; you get a good range of motivations, bad guys don’t always agree, and it’s complex but believable. People get lucky a lot, but I suspect that’s a world law of the Scalziverse.
Hm. Yeah, it definitely is. “Hey, we managed to lay our hands on this MacGuffin here for reasons which will go completely unexplained, but it’s what you need, yep.” OK, so his characters are remarkably lucky as a class.
Quibbles: there’s a big expository lump or two in the middle of the book, and a couple of characters who exist largely to feed our protagonist expository lumps. See also Scalzi’s remarks on the Fermi Paradox. It might have been a slightly better book if he hadn’t given into the temptation to answer those particular critics via lumpage, but eh, it’s a pretty small lump.
So fun reading. I really like coherent straight-forward heroic space opera. (I also like Iain Banks, mind you.) This is that.