Zoe's Tale

by John Scalzi
Series: Old Man's War 4
Reviewed date: 2017 Aug 16
Rating: 3
416 pages
cover art

Zoe's Tale is the fourth book in the Old Man's War series, but it's not precisely a sequel. It retells the story of the previous book, The Lost Colony, from a different character's perspective.

Retelling a story is usually a bad idea. It's how you get things like Ender's Shadow and The Lion King 1 ½. This is a little better than those, in that it attempts to fill in the gaps, but not up-end our understanding of the events.

Zoe is a fifteen-year-old girl living a happy, if unfulfilled, life on the bucolic planet Huckleberry. Excitement begins when her parents are chosen to lead a new colony on the planet Roanoke. Unfortunately, once they arrive on Roanoke, it becomes clear that the Colonial Union has set up the colony as bait: the colony's purpose is to draw the attention of the Conclave, a federation of 400 allied races. The CU hopes to draw the Conclave fleet to Roanoke and destroy it. It's a risky gamble that will likely mean the deaths of everyone on Roanoke.

The ruse works, though. A Conclave fleet shows up in orbit and is promptly destroyed. But the strategy fails: instead of fracturing the Conclave and leading to its demise, the Roanoke incident unites the 400 races of the Conclave in a war against all humankind.

It's up to Zoe to save the day. And she does.

It was a fun book. Zoe is far too self-aware and mature for a fifteen-year-old girl. She sounds more like a 35-year-old woman pretending to be fifteen, which is actually pretty good considering the author is a 38-year-old man. Then again, I'm a 36-year-old man, so what do I know about how a fifteen-year-old girl thinks?

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