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Old Man's War by John Scalzi

Old Man's War (original 2004; edition 2007)

by John Scalzi

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4,5102211,074 (4.1)1 / 312
Title:Old Man's War
Authors:John Scalzi
Info:Tor Science Fiction (2007), Mass Market Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Old Man's War by John Scalzi (2004)

Recently added bylucabol, private library, BrianDorseyGateway, kpevjen, mdhunt
  1. 152
    Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein (goodiegoodie, jlynno84)
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    The Forever War by Joe Haldeman (JulesJones)
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  5. 30
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    JulesJones: The obvious Heinlein influence on Scalzi's "Old Man's War" is "Starship Troopers", but this also covers some of the same ground as Heinlein's YA "Space Cadet".
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    tottman: 47 Echo lacks the depth (and the universe-spanning scope) of Old Man's War, but the story and the fighting are both quite enjoyable. I won't say it's nearly as good as Old Man's War, but it is a quick, fun enjoyable read. And there's a lot of potential from this author I hope to see come out in future books.… (more)
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English (216)  Croatian (1)  Swedish (1)  Catalan (1)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (221)
Showing 1-5 of 216 (next | show all)
Just as good on the re-read. Second time through, after having read a lot more Scalzi, I picked up on ethical nuanced missed the first time around. There are shades of collective responsibility in this book. Scalzi and his characters don't embrace or love war like Heinlein or Haldeman (Military Sci-fi innovators who clearly influenced this series.) Instead Scalzi embraces human choice in context. It is the idealogues who fare worst, not the pragmatists. People make choices and find ways to live with them. Those who reject the reality shared by the group in favor of idealism come off far worse than those who don't manage to question their orders at all. Applied to contemporary or historical conflicts, this makes things like Vietnam or the Balkan wars seem more human and less black/white.

Anyway, there is some master storytelling going on here. I'm looking forward to The Human Division, rumored to be out soon. ( )
  nnschiller | Sep 18, 2014 |
At the spry age of 75, John Perry signs his life away to conscript in the Colonial Defense Force, an army to fight for humanity's colonization of other planets.

I was fairly intrigued for the most part of the book. The characters are interesting and I liked exploring the new world and new bodies, just like the Old Farts. New shiny things are interesting, just like green, chlorophyll-filled skin, cat-eyes, and a computer in the brain. It's all part of the deal, yesiree. The army training scenes were reminiscent of other war books I've read, so nothing new - but still fun to read.

My biggest quibble was with the plot. I just felt like there was no true climax to this book, not real direction. It was more like an introduction of the world and characters rather than an entire novel in and of itself. The whole thing with the different universes was a bit unnecessary because it didn't truly explain anything (or offer anything new in the typical space opera genre).

Also this is a little strange, but I never felt personal worry for the main character. Since the only thing against them was death (and I knew the MC wouldn't die), I couldn't help but never be completely engaged in the action.

So yep. 2.5 rounded down because of the lack of real climax and plot. ( )
  NineLarks | Sep 15, 2014 |
Old Man’s War

First Impressions: An old man joins the Colonial Defense Forces, a secretive organization with technology above and beyond Man on Earth. Most people who reach their 75th birthday want to be rejuvenated, or so they think.

John Perry laments the passing of his wife and with nothing to live for decides to activate his CDF contract. Scalzi paints a heartwarming picture of husband and wife (now deceased) and cutting off forever a former life for the future.

We’re led by the author to believe there’s a rejuvenation technique but that’s not it at all. You get a new body cloned from your old one and you’re off to fight a war of expansion with Man against alien.
Scalzi treads heavily on the horrors of war, the purpose of it, and the morality. As Perry stomps on a planet of aliens one-inch tall, he realizes the horror of what he’s doing. His command says to not worry, everyone goes through tghat. Really?

Enjoyed what the Ghost Brigades were, how this affected his deceased wife June, and what follows is amazing.

Especially loved the “Old Farts Club” and how they would stick it out through thick and thin. Well, they almost made it.

Very enjoyable first book. Can’t wait for more.

( )
  jmourgos | Sep 12, 2014 |
I read Old Man's War after I recommended Scalzi's Redshirts to a friend, and she, in turn, recommended Old Man's War to me.

Scalzi makes science fiction fun. In this, John Perry, a 75 year old man, joins the military, where he is transported off Earth to fight for humanity in the in the Colonial Defense Force. Why do they want old people in the military? What kinds of battles will they be fighting? Perry narrates. He has a good sense of humor and a sarcastic manner, which make his telling all the more fun.

A fun read! ( )
  lisalangford | Sep 12, 2014 |
Multiple friends have read this book and loved it, and of course I found the idea intriguing, who wouldn’t? So when a friend offered to loan me his copy, I took him up on it right away. I was not disappointed in the world Scalzi has created, it is endlessly fascinating, but the main character’s arc failed to be quite so interesting to me.

I can’t imagine how anyone would not find the basic premise of this book interesting. Outer space colonies that are kept a mystery from Earth. Only certain countries allowed to colonize (primarily those suffering from population overload). Top it off with a colonial army made entirely up of old people who supposedly get to be young again? Completely. Fascinating. And Scalzi really comes through on the science of all of this, the politics, and manages to have some surprises in there, in spite of the what seems to be very straight-forward book summary. And the world beyond the soldiers and the colonists is utterly fascinating as well. The aliens are incredibly creatively imagined, not just in their looks but in their cultures. They feel real. And that extends to the battles and spaceships as well. The worldbuilding here is phenomenal. It is an example of how scifi worlds should be built.

The main character, though, as well as his character development arc, fail to live up to the incredible worldbuilding. John Perry, from early on, is talented at war, in spite of having only been an advertising slogan writer for his whole life. He has no real life experience that would make one think he would be good at war. Additionally, even when he is doing battle, he’s kind of flat on the page. He doesn’t jump off as the leader he supposedly is supposed to naturally be. Other characters feel that way, but not John. In fact, I frequently found myself far more interested in the secondary characters around John than in John himself. I was willing to give this a bit of a pass since, well, the character has to live for us to continue to see the wars he’s fighting, and maybe Scalzi has a thing for unlikely heroes. But his character arc takes an odd turn at the end that really bothered me.

John meets a special forces woman who is in his dead wife’s body. Basically, his dead wife’s DNA was used as a base to build a genetically enhanced body. Ok, I’m fine with that, even if it seems unnecessary. But then John becomes obsessed with her, and she with him, even though she is very clearly NOT his wife. Then at the end, he asks her to move to a colonial farm with him when they retire. And she says yes. Whaaaaat?! This isn’t romance; this is gross! The special forces woman has as much in common with John’s wife as her sister would at this point, since they have messed with the DNA so much. This is like John pursuing his dead wife’s sister, who is emotionally only 6, since she was put into a fully adult body 6 years ago and had no life prior to that. It’s gross. It is not romantic. And I really think the reader is supposed to see it as romantic, when instead it squicked me out far more than any of the aliens in the book, including the ones with slimy appendages or the ones who eat humans.

Overall, this is an utterly fascinating scifi world with a bit of a ho-hum main character. The ending may disappoint some readers, and Scalzi’s politics can come through a bit obviously sometimes. However, those at all intrigued by the plot summary or interested in high quality scifi world building should check it out.

Check out my full review: http://wp.me/pp7vL-19J ( )
  gaialover | Sep 12, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Scalziprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chong, VincentCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dufris, WilliamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Giancola, DonatoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harris, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hayden, Patrick NielsenEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Regan Avery, first reader extraordinaire, And always to Kristine and Athena.
First words
I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday.
There has never been a military in the entire history of the human race that has gone to war equipped with more than the least that it needs to fight its enemy. War is expensive. It costs money and it costs lives and no civilization has an infinite amount of either. So when you fight, you conserve. You use and equip only as much as you have to, never more.
The reason we use force...is that force is the easiest thing to use. It's fast, it's straightforward, and compared to the complexities of diplomacy, it's simple. You either hold a piece of land or you don't. As opposed to diplomacy, which is intellectually a much more difficult enterprise.

. . . "There has never been a military in the entire history of the human race that has gone to war equipped with more than the least that it needs to fight its enemy. War is expensive. It costs money and it costs lives and no civilization has an infinite amount of either. So when you fight, you conserve. You use and equip only as much as you have to, never more."

He stared at us grimly. "Is any of this getting through? Do any of you understand what I'm trying to tell you? You don't have these shiny new bodies and pretty new weapons because we want to give you an unfair advantage. You have these bodies and weapons because they are the absolute minimum that will allow you to fight and survive out there. We don't want to give you these bodies, you dipshits. It's just that if we didn't, the human race would already be extinct."

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765348276, Mass Market Paperback)

John Perry did two things on his 75th 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 news 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 in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force. Everybody knows 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 decades 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 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:02:50 -0400)

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"Though a lot of SF writers are more or less efficiently continuing the tradition of Robert A. Heinlein, Scalzi's astonishingly proficient first novel reads like an original work by the late grand master."--"Publishers Weekly," starred review. A Hugo Award finalist.… (more)

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