Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"The Last Centurion"

What do you get when you mix a world-wide flu pandemic, epidemology, global climate change, agriculture, nationalization of essential industries, politics, media, and military tatics into an action-packed novel set in the near-future? You get The Last Centurion by John Ringo. Fantastic!

I loved this novel, and not just because it was written by one of my favorite military science fiction authors. (Yes, I love military science fiction. David Weber and the whole "Honorverse" epic is another favorite.) Anyway, The Last Centurion is different. Way different. It's written as if it were a personal blog of an American Army officer who is faced with helping the US survive and rebuild after the world is hit with both a pandemic and a mini-ice age. It's wonderful! The main character, "Bandit Six," is my new hero!

Bandit Six explains that the centurions were the guardians of Rome, and that they were educated when many were illiterate, that they were required to be in peak physical shape, and that they had to be able to perform every task required of a Roman soldier. "Becoming a Centurion required intense physical ability, courage beyond the norm, years of sacrifice and a total devotion to the philosophy which was Rome." Rome fell, in part, because Rome had less than 500 qualified centurians, because no one was willing to make the sacrifice necessary to become a centurian. Bandit Six is unwilling to let America fall, despite all the challenges facing her in this hypothetical near future. As Bandit Six so eloquently puts it,

If we cannot remember who we are, if we cannot comprehend what it means to be this shining light on the hill, this country of wonder and riches, this . . . America, then we shall surely slip into the long dark night that the enemies of our freedoms so richly desire.

We are told, always, that there is no black and white. that there are only shades of gray. This is a picture that is held up to us. But it is only a picture and it is false. Each day, each of us makes countless choices, and each of those choices is black and white. If we choose, over and over again, as we have for so long, to choose the black choices because they are easier, to choose "me" over "us," to choose division and strife over assimilation and trust, then we slowly slip into that black night.

I do not so choose. I am your Centurion. This America Shall Not Fall!"


pmt said...

You and science fiction. Things don't change, same genre, but different flavor.

James said...

There's a problem with science fiction?

Btw, Lela, Julie still owes you signed copies of _Cally's War_ and _Sister Time_...

lela said...

There's absolutely no problem with science fiction, at least in my view!