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Monday, December 1, 2008

Old Man's War

Old Man's War by John Scalzi
Reason for Reading: The Hell of It
Rating: 4.5/5

As I mentioned previously, Old Man's War is a great way to procrastinate while attempting to tap out a nanonovel. I started it one evening and finished it by the next morning. Not many books these days make me stay up late and miss my precious sleep, but I literally couldn't stop turning pages.

I was first introduced to John Scalzi via his random and hilarious blog, Whatever. After following it for an embarassingly long time, I realized I might actually enjoy his books.

Old Man's War is set in a future where humans are finally out colonizing space, but the competition for real estate is fierce (location, location, location, baby). Turns out there are plenty of other alien species willing to fight for prime property. The Colonial Defense Forces, which controls colonization, has kept Earth ignorant of much of what is occurring, but they do recruit soldiers. The only catch? You have to be 75 to join.

So on his seventy-fifth birthday, John Perry does two things. First he visits his wife's grave and then he joins the army, without a clear idea of where the next few years would take him, except that he'll be cut-off from returning to or contacting earth. Permanently. If he can survive his term, he'll be given a homestead on one of the colony worlds. The important words being if he can survive.

One of the blurbs on the back cover described this as "Starship Troopers without the lectures... The Forever War with better sex." I second that opinion. Old Man's War is quick paced, action-packed, and still manages to be thoughtful amidst the explosions. I was hooked in immediately by the question of how, exactly, seventy-five-year-olds were going to be soldiers. John Perry doesn't know exactly (at all really) what he's getting into, so we follow along as he learns quickly what a CDF soldier is all about.

The book isn't without it's flaws. Some of the secondary characters blurred into one another, all spouting clever witticisms that started to sound alike. But since when has science fiction been about characterization? This is old school sci fi, where we care about action and ideas. Neither of which are lacking here. Battle scenes are quick and hard-hitting. The technology is beyond cool and the weird mystery that John stumbles upon will keep you reading, like me, until the middle of the night.

Highly recommended, especially if you are a Heinlein fan.

Other reviews:
Stainless Steel Droppings, Renay


Anonymous said...

This book sounds good. I haven't touched sci-fi since Cherryh's PRIDE OF CHANUR. So, I will have a look (maybe actually BUY it), as a reward.

And bravo on the best line ever looking back at nano: standing on "Mount-I-Wrote-A-Novel-This-Month-What-Did-You-Do-Oh-Yeah-Nothing."


Nanowrimo, the organization, should offer cleaning services, though. But it's not too bad around here as long as you don't put your glasses on ... hahaha.

sharonanne said...

I read this one when it first came out. I'm a Heinlein fan and I loved it.