Thursday, April 29, 2010

Old Man's War by John Scalzi

I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday. I visited my wife's grave. Then I joined the army. - Scalzi 9
These are the opening words to Old Man’s War by John Scalzi, a science-fiction novel wherein humans compete with extra terrestrials for inhabitable planets. If you like action and adventure you’ll get it here since colonizing the universe incurs a lot of conflict. The colonizing officials find it expedient to recruit earth’s elderly, with life experience to draw from and nothing left to lose, and transform them into battle-ready soldiers. These recruits have no idea what they’re in for, literally, as earth is under an information quarantine. John Perry is one such recruit and this novel tells his native-earthling-turned-super-space-soldier story.

Scalzi has an abundant sense of sarcasm which is injected into John’s Perry’s first-person narration that I found amusing. The humor kept an otherwise serious colonial commentary feeling lighthearted and fun to read. The characters were great, especially some of the minor ones. There’s sort of a love story here but it’s secondary to the main plot. Speaking of which, it took awhile before the main conflict is revealed but it wasn’t a drawback for me. I was so engrossed in Perry’s transformation and his training that I didn’t get bored wondering what it was all pushing towards. I saw the end “twist” coming but it was still a great ending and was not disappointing for having figured how things would end. Scalzi’s descriptions of planets, aliens and technology were sufficient and enjoyable for me. If things get real technical I tend to get lost and bored. This was not the case with Old Man’s War. Overall, this was a fast and fun read. If you’ve never visited Scalzi’s blog check it out here: If you’re not into science-fiction you’ll find he posts on a lot of topics, book-ish and more.
Publisher: Tor, 2005     Pages: 320     Source: IC Public Library
Rating: 3.5 Stars           Recommended Age: 17 and up for language and sexuality

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