Old Man's War by John Scalzi
Old Man's War by John Scalzi is the first book in a series of sci-fi novels set in the far future exploring humanity’s first steps towards joining a galactic community. It has action, adventure, unique science, very unique aliens, politics, witty dialogue, and all with just a touch of romance / lust.
The story follows John Perry, 75 year old Earthling and brand new Colonial Defence Force recruit. His wife has been dead for a while now, he has said goodbye to the rest of his family and friends, and he is ready to leave Earth to go fight aliens on the other side of the universe. There is a lot speculation as to why the CDF only recruits people who reach 75 years of age; do they refurbish your body so that your experienced brain can make better use of it, is it population and resource control, or will you just be cannon fodder? Well... its probably a combination of the three, and in short time John and his new friends are undergoing intensive infantry training in preparation for skirmishes with bold aliens all over the universe.
One of the things I think Scalzi communicates well in this story is the sense of scale. This universe feels enormous, the beanstalk is impressive, the space stations seem enormous, and the space battles feel so panoramic. The science is also made to seem very impressive and out of reach, with Scalzi being deliberately vague as to the specifics of how things work, but very detailed in how valuable the outputs of these sciency things are. In contrast to that, Scalzi is able to zoom in tightly on characters for ground skirmishes, making everything seems very small and close with little room to move.
John Perry is a good guy, an every man, a born fighter and a natural leader. He makes friends easily, he commands respect wherever he goes, and his tactical nous on the battlefield is very strong. We get to share the surprises and wonders in the story with him, we share in his losses through the story, and we most definitely share in his wins through the story. That said, John seems to be just a little too perfect, just a little too quick with the answer to a deadly problem, and just a little too natural a leader. He always makes the right decisions, he always overcomes improbably odds, and he is always left standing at the end whilst people are dying around him. I liked him, but I just wish he was a little more fallible.
The strength of any Scalzi novel, for me, is the dialogue, and Old Man's War is no different. Scalzi puts a lot of time and effort into crafting personalities, and the banter between personalities is quick, witty, and often time profound. Whether its talking about calorie-laden breakfasts or trying to be diplomatic with an aggressive alien species, the dialogue is never in the backseat position and I think that's a good thing. I know I laughed out loud on more than one occasion.
Old Man's War is a lot of fun, a science fiction novel that doesn't require you to think too hard about the science. This is probably a weak point for those who prefer their science fiction to be very accurate and specific, but for those looking to get into the genre I think this would be a very good starter book.
This Old Man's War book review was written by Ryan Lawler
Have you read Old Man's War?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Old Man's War reader reviews
8.9/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet
When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn't expecting much. The Wayfarer, a patched-up ship that's seen better days, offers her everything she co...
Marjorie B Kellogg
Set in the future on a distant world, Lear’s Daughters tackles the issues of global warming, pollution, exploitation of resources, and disastrous climate change. Long...
Iain M Banks
It begins in the realm of the Real, where matter still matters. It begins with a murder. And it will not end until the Culture has gone to war with death itself. Lededje Y&...
The burgeoning new economies in near-Earth space are fuelled by a steady stream of comets, steered back home by huge nuclear-powered mining ships like Bella Lind’s Ro...
The Naked God
Peter F Hamilton
The Confederation is starting to collapse politically and economically, allowing the 'possessed' to infiltrate more worlds. Quinn Dexter is loose on Earth, destroyi...
The very far future: The Galaxy is a drifting wreck of black holes, neutron stars, chill white dwarfs. The age of star formation is long past. Yet there is life here, feedi...
When Streaker - the first starship designed and crewed by dolphins - discovers a derelict ancient armada with evidence of the first sentient species ever, she sets off a wa...
James SA Corey
Humanity has colonized the solar system - Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond - but the stars are still out of our reach. Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making r...
An Ancient Peace
The centuries-long war between the Confederation and The Others, a group of violent alien species, is over. Intergalactic peace is finally restored. Torin Kerr and her crew...
During all recorded history, the Moon has hovered above our heads, a timeless symbol for lovers' ecstasy. Goddesses & Gibson Girls have tripped the light fantastic ...
James SA Corey
On Ganymede, breadbasket of the outer planets, a Martian marine watches as her platoon is slaughtered by a monstrous supersoldier. On Earth, a high-level politician struggl...
The Uplift War
As galactic armadas clash in quest of the ancient fleet of the Progenitors, a brutal alien race seizes the dying planet of Garth. The various uplifted inhabitants must batt...
The Dreaming Void
Peter F Hamilton
The year is 3589, fifteen hundred years after Commonwealth forces barely staved off human extinction in a war against the alien Prime. Now an even greater danger has surfac...
Khesh City floats above the surface of the uninhabitable planet of Vellern. Topside, it's extravagant, opulent, luxurious; the Undertow is dark, twisted and dangerous. ...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
As the roar of the guns subsides and the smoke of battle clears, the country of Vordan is offered a fragile peace... After their shattering defeats at the hands of brilliant General Janus bet Vhalnich, the opposing powers have called all sides to the negotiating table in hopes of securing an end to the war. Queen Raesinia of Vordan is anxious to...
At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth....
Events are coming to a climax in the Banished Lands, as the war reaches new heights. King Nathair has taken control of the fortress at Drassil and three of the Seven Treasu...
For Kivrin Engle, preparing an on-site study of one of the deadliest eras in humanity's history was as simple as receiving inoculations against the diseases of the four...
The Banished Lands are engulfed in war and chaos. The cunning Queen Rhin has conquered the west and High King Nathair has the cauldron, most powerful of the seven treasures...
The Creeping Shadow
Lucy has left Lockwood & Co. A freelance operative, she is hiring herself out to other agencies – agencies that might value her ever-improving skills. But now Loc...