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Old Man's War by John Scalzi

Old Man's War (original 2005; edition 2007)

by John Scalzi

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,030248899 (4.09)3 / 349
Title:Old Man's War
Authors:John Scalzi
Info:Tor Science Fiction (2007), Mass Market Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Science Fiction

Work details

Old Man's War by John Scalzi (2005)

  1. 152
    Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein (goodiegoodie, jlynno84)
  2. 143
    Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (ohdio, jlynno84)
    ohdio: This book contains a lot of action, while still maintaining a nice human element.
  3. 100
    The Forever War by Joe Haldeman (JulesJones)
    JulesJones: Two books which examine in different ways what happens to the recruits in an interstellar war who by the very nature of their service can never go back to their home culture.
  4. 80
    Young Miles by Lois McMaster Bujold (jlynno84)
  5. 30
    The Last Colony by John Scalzi (Karlstar)
    Karlstar: John Scalzi introduces the universe of the Colonial Union in this book. Similar in feel to Starship Troopers, in many ways.
  6. 20
    Dauntless by Jack Campbell (goodiegoodie, BruderBane)
  7. 31
    Armor by John Steakley (goodiegoodie)
  8. 10
    Future War by Jack Dann (TomWaitsTables)
    TomWaitsTables: An anthology of stories in this vein.
  9. 10
    Space Cadet by Robert A. Heinlein (JulesJones)
    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".
  10. 10
    Containment by Christian Cantrell (freddlerabbit)
  11. 00
    Expendable by James Alan Gardner (PhoenixFalls)
  12. 00
    Cobra by Timothy Zahn (PhoenixFalls)
  13. 00
    47 Echo by Shawn Kupfer (tottman)
    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)
  14. 00
    Grease Monkey by Tim Eldred (goodiegoodie)
  15. 00
    Crystal Rain by Tobias S. Buckell (tcgardner)

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English (240)  Swedish (1)  Croatian (1)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  Hungarian (1)  Italian (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (247)
Showing 1-5 of 240 (next | show all)
Let me just start by saying that I have a strong tendency to avoid all things to do with war. I hate war movies, war shows, history of war, etc. Just totally not my thing (I think it's the almost complete lack of female perspective inherent therein). Having said that, I really really enjoyed this book. Part of it was that it had the whole SF setting, which is more my comfort zone anyway.

On his 75th birthday, John Perry, like so many of his peers, signs up for the Colonial Defense Force. He agrees to a minimum of 2 years of service - which can be extended up to 10 and agrees that he will never, ever return to earth - and in exchange, at the end of his service he will be set up on a new colony planet with a home and livelihood. Oh and some kind of life extension, but since Earth is under quarantine, no one knows any of the details and the CDF are not forthcoming.

There is plenty of mystery, bizarre aliens, friendship, humor and humanity in this book. I really enjoyed it. And apparently there is at least one sequel, so I'm off to request it from the library. ( )
  chessakat | Feb 5, 2016 |
Interesting ideas mixed with good story telling. ( )
  arning | Jan 20, 2016 |
(Re-posted from http://theturnedbrain.blogspot.com)

There’s a saying about war that gets floated around a lot, something about how it’s made up of long periods of boredom interrupted by short periods of terror. So it’s probably fitting then that the pacing of Old Man’s War seemed to stretch and contract in much the same way. Not that the book was ever boring, mind you. Scalzi does an excellent job of keeping the reader interested, his prose is so clear and lively it practically reads itself. But sometimes it took several chapters to cover a few weeks, and then suddenly months were gone in the space of a few sentences. Chapters were devoted to Perry's first few days off earth, but barely a quarter of that to his first alien encounter, for example. Was this a bad thing? Perhaps not. The lack of pages devoted to all the battles and such Perry was involved in made it seem as though they were insignificant, or at least not noteworthy enough to devote the same level of attention that Perry’s first few wonder filled days in space received. One of the main debates that runs through the book is whether or not the powers that be wage war too lightly, and the way numerous battles zip by support this idea.

Still, I think I would have liked to novel to have been a bit longer. It never felt rushed, exactly, but the quick pace did hinder my ability to really connect with any of the characters outside of Perry. This works against Scalzi, because he tries to pull off what I like to think of as the “Harry Potter Heartbreak” technique. Think back to last Harry Potter book, if you’ve read it (and if not maybe skip a few lines here…) In the final epic battle of epic battley-ness a number of characters die. It happens without fuss, often offscreen, and in a few cases I didn’t even realise such and such was dead until I read closer. At first it made me furious, not because they had died but because their deaths were treated so carelessly. But then I came to realise that it was a comment on how careless war is of life and etc. Because I loved those character so much their offhandedly mentioned deaths gutted me, but also made me really consider what war is. I think Scalzi was going for the same feeling. Characters die left and right in this book, sometimes heroically, sometimes absurdly and sometimes for no reason. But the problem is Scalzi hasn’t given you a chance to really connect with any of them, so each death is met with a shrug. It lacks any kind of emotional punch and is therefore not that effective.

Of course, no matter how many characters get eaten by killer mold or decapitated, there is never any doubt that Perry will be fine. Not because the book is told in the first person, but because Perry is kinda perfect. He solves problems before anyone else, he survives when no one else does, and saves lives when no one else could, he gets promoted like every second page and everyone likes him. He forces grudging smiles from the hardest men, and even though all the green bodied newly young people are physically beautiful, (this is actually very well explained) it is the mostest beautifullest one that wants to bone Perry. He’s one pet lion away from being Ayla from Clan of the Cave Bears.

But still, despite these complaints, Old Man’s War is incredibly easy and fun to read. The prose is clear, and the speculative concepts Scalzi introduces are so easy to grasp that you don’t first realise how complicated these ideas really are. If I read the next part’s of this series (and I suspect I will) it will be to see these ideas and the universe(s) Scalzi houses them in explored more fully, but it wont be for the characters. And that’s what makes this a book I liked instead of a book I really liked. For me characters are the most important thing in a book, and it’s the area where it seems Scalzi is weakest. But if you don’t place as much importance on characters as I do then you’ll probably love this book a hell of a lot more than I did.
( )
  MeganDawn | Jan 18, 2016 |
Scalzi can't write characters. In fact, he can't write period. Even years later, the passage where the drill instructor promotes the main character to platoon leader because the main character had come up with the instructor's favorite advertising slogan has stuck in my mind as one of the stupidest things I've ever read. God knows that Haldeman can't write either, but at least he had an iota of originality and a modicum of substance behind his books. Old Man's War has no substance, only style, and the style is crap. ( )
  BayardUS | Jan 10, 2016 |
Would you give up everything you were familiar with to become a supersoldier, killing aliens on other planets? Old Man’s War is a soldier’s story, a love story, and a story of friendship.
On a future Earth people are given the opportunity at age 75 to leave the planet and become a soldier in the Colonial Defense Forces (CDF). Their job is to protect human colonies on other planets. But they can never come back. Enlistees aren’t told how they will become supersoldiers, so there are only rumors. Will they get a new body? Some kind of body enhancement? The enlistment agreement is vague:

“Paragraph four: I understand that by volunteering for the Colonial Defense Forces, I consent to whatsoever medical, surgical or therapeutic regimens or procedures are deemed necessary by the Colonial Defense Forces to enhance combat readiness.”

Not many people stick around long, as they either die or get shipped off to other places. That’s the life of a member of the CDF. There isn’t a lot of time to get to know each other unless you’re lucky.
John Perry turns out to be a really good soldier and moves quickly up the ranks. He is still very much in love with his wife, who passed away eight years before he joined the CDF. He thinks of her often and still wears his wedding ring. The new friends he makes have good camaraderie between them.

“Well, I miss my wife, you know,” I said, “But I also miss the feeling of, I don’t know, comfort. The sense you’re where you’re supposed to be, with someone you’re supposed to be with…That’s what I miss about marriage.”

There are interesting scientific ideas regarding interstellar travel and great alien creatures – I won’t spoil it here. Its always nice to read reasonable descriptions of science theories and have believable aliens in science fiction stories. That’s something I really appreciate and that increases my reading enjoyment.
This was a quick, fun read but I felt the ending was a little rushed. It’s a good thing that there is a sequel because this book is too short! Old Man’s War is the first John Scalzi book that I’ve read and it reminded me a little of Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet series, except this has more realistic emotional value.
I’m guessing this is as good a place as any for jumping into Scalzi’s work, so go for it!
( )
  BooksOn23rd | Nov 25, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Scalziprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chong, VincentCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dufris, WilliamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Emerich, BernadetteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Giancola, DonatoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harris, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hayden, Patrick NielsenEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kempen, BernhardTranslatorsecondary 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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:21 -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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