Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Old Man's War - John Scalzi

Old Man's War
John Scalzi
Tor Books
Copyright: 2005

Back cover blurb:
John Perry did two things on his seventy-fifth birthday. First he visited his wife's grave. Then he joined the army.

The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad new is that planets fit to live on are scarce - and alien races willing to fight us for them are common. So we fight. To defend Earth, and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has been going on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.

Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity's resources are inthe hands of the Colonial Defense Forces. What's known to everybody is that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don't want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of dacades of living. You'll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You'll serve two years at the front. And if you survive, you'll be given a generous homestead stake of your own on one of our hard-won colony planets.

John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea of what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine - and what he will become is far stranger.
I read Old Man's War for the first time back in January (my original review is here) and absolutely loved it then. My feelings haven't really changed since. The book is the first in a series, and it introduces the world very well.

The idea of making an army out of senior citizens is a new one to me. I don't know of any other authors who've done that, but it works, especially with the methods Scalzi has chosen to use in this book. He's also thrown in twist after twist to the story - some of which come from what appear to be jokes and throwaway lines in the story. Only later do they take on their true importance. Not to mention all of the main characters. All of them are very "real" in their interests and actions and you really do get to feel for them as the story progresses.

Old Man's War has some interesting philosophical discussions mixed in with the story as well, which is nice. They're there, they make you think, but they're not done in such a way as to overpower the story. In the last few books I've read, I find that I rather enjoy that.

I've said it before, but I still find that this book reminds me of some of the Robert Heinlein novels such as Starship Troopers. So, a good read if you like classic style science fiction, but with believable science. Or at least fictional science backed up by discussions of physics etc.

Now I just have to find my copy of The Ghost Brigades.


Lorin said...

Your review makes me want to re-read it too. I love Scalzi's books. And his blog, too.

Unknown said...

I've started checking his blog every day or so too. Funniest post I've seen yet was the manipulated Judy Blume cover.


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