The Last Human
By Zack Jordan
- The Last Human
Author: Zack Jordan
- Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
- ISBN: 9781984818621
- Published: March 2020
- Pages: 448
- Format reviewed: Paperback
- Review date: 24/03/2020
- Language: English
Humans always think we are special when it comes to science fiction. Somehow, we are better than the multitude of other alien races out there. How many times has Kirk used “this human emotion called love,” to win the day, or how often has an invading alien army been conquered by “the common cold”? In reality we are not special, just a collection of leaking bodies that inhabit the third rock from the Sun. But perhaps we are different? Different enough to be proclaimed illegal among our alien peers and marked for execution if any of us are spotted.
Sarya is the last of her kind – human. She is not a human as we know her. Brought up by a fierce alien creature she is human in form, but alien by nature. Living a quiet life on a giant space craft no one is aware of her true nature until a Tier 4 intelligence arrives and offers a chance of a lifetime; to be returned to a colony of her own people. In a Universe were super intelligent entities are thinking millennia ahead, can Sarya trust this being?
The Last Human by Zack Jordon is a book that expands throughout. Things start off on a local level. We learn about Sarya’s upbringing and how she has the spirt of a warrior, but the soft leaking body of a human. There is a tenderness between Sarya and her Mother. The opening action hits home and makes you really care for Sarya’s predicament. We then learn even more how the relationship developed as Sarya shares her mother’s mind.
This becomes the first evolution in the book. Several times Sarya develops into something else; mind of her Mother, mind of a collective, mind of a God. The fundamental question is what makes us human. If we have developed from our bodies, does the soul remain human? Jordon takes the reader on an Intergalactic narrative as Sarya tries to find herself and her people.
There is a pleasant ambiguity to The Last Human as we are unsure who is right and wrong. Text at the start of each chapter start to hint that there is a valid reason why humans were outlawed. How can this chaotic and warlike race function within a collective? The other argument is that if there is no freedom of choice within the collective, why would you want to join?
There are some huge concepts told in an epochal manner throughout this book and Sarya is central to them all. The book evolves from the singular to the infinite. Readers of harder, intellectual science fiction will enjoy the adapting nature of the book. In the slower sections, there are more hints of a Douglas Adams like bureaucratic future. Sarya is able to build some relationships including with an AI pretending to be a little simpler than it is.
I felt that these personal stories were lost later in the book as the concepts took over from the characters. The idea of multi-node entities battling throughout several Galaxies is well done, but it lacks the personal touch that makes the first two section so interesting.
Part hard science fiction, part Adams-esque, The Last Human has several elements to recommend it, but never really settles on one voice. Fans of one type of fiction over the other will find some sections hard going. If you step back and view the book as a whole there is some fantastic world building and wonderful character development earlier on. However, some of this is sacrificed in an effort expand the concepts over character.
Written on 24th March 2020 by Sam Tyler .