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Old Man's War by John Scalzi

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

by John Scalzi

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6,476317977 (4.06)3 / 436
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. Old Man's War Series #1Old Man's War #2The Ghost Brigades #3The Last Colony #4Zoe's Tale #5The Human Division #6The End of All Things Short fiction: "After the Coup" Other Tor Books The Android's Dream Agent to the Stars Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded Fuzzy Nation Redshirts Lock In The Collapsing Empire (forthcoming)… (more)
Title:Old Man's War
Authors:John Scalzi
Info:Tor Science Fiction (2007), Mass Market Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library

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Old Man's War by John Scalzi (2005)

Recently added byjpustka, Jacksonian, claudinec, private library, Ygraine, adrienne, mike.wallace, kschnewatts
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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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Showing 1-5 of 308 (next | show all)
Eh, didn't care for it. Pretty simple story, felt uninspired to me personally. I don't have any desire to read any of his other books. ( )
  Kalmarv | Dec 31, 2019 |
At the age of seventy-five, John Perry signs up to join the off-planet Colonial Defence Force. Human colonists are settling on other planets, but various other species are also attempting the same. The job of the CDF is to defend the colonists, essentially by wiping out the aliens they come across. In return for his service, Perry will be rejuvenated with the option of becoming a colonist if he survives long enough to retire.

There's mention of friendly/allied aliens (who provided some of the advanced technology the CDF uses) but the only aliens we actually see on page are enemy forces. The purpose of aliens in this story is clearly to be eliminated, and there are a few "monster of the week" chapters covering the various battles. Towards the end, things connected up a (very) little, but I'd have liked to see something more.

I enjoyed the humorous writing style (even though I don't think rejuvenated folk would automatically start behaving like snarky teenagers), but the whole book read very much like a wish-fulfilment fantasy. The first half in particular is like a tour guide to Perry's new life. He gets his young body. He can do fantastic things. He excels at everything he tries. He comes up with ideas that none of his more experienced colleagues has even considered, and everyone thinks he's wonderful for it. Even luck is on his side, with a series of increasingly improbable coincidences. I didn't feel at any stage that he "earned" his successes through eg determination, making difficult choices, overcoming opposition, drawing on past experiences etc.

In summary, an entertaining read that is light on story.
  MHThaung | Dec 20, 2019 |
I got this through the Humble Indie Book Bundle, and thank god I did—I likely never would've stumbled across it on my own. This is a great science fiction novel in the same lineage as [b:Starship Troopers|17214|Starship Troopers|Robert A. Heinlein|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348024291s/17214.jpg|2534973], and my only complaint is that it's a little short at three-hundred-some odd pages, though there's several more books in the series. I haven't finished a book in two days for a while.

Set in humanity's space-faring future, travel to the colonies is tightly restricted by the Colonial Defense Force. To reach the stars, you have to be from the right country--and most Americans don't qualify. There is one way, though, that's accessible to anyone: signing up for the space army. But there's some caveats involved: they only let you do it when you're seventy five, and when you leave, you can never come back. What actually happens once you've been recruited is a mystery, but everyone agrees that they must have some way to reverse the effects of aging, because what use is a bunch of senior citizens in a war?

Recruits sign up at sixty-five, and can opt out whenever they want until they've actually left. John Perry signed up with his wife Kathy, though a stroke kills her well before liftoff. With little left holding him to the planet, Perry finalizes his recruitment and is ferried off to become a supersoldier. The book follows his military career and the relationships he forms with his fellow recruits and squadmates. There's lots of sharp humor, lots of dismemberment, and one satisfying ending.

I will say that some of the background characters blended together a little--everyone has the same sense of humor, it seems, but because it's the kind of humor I enjoy, I'll let that slide. I wish we'd seen a little more from the initial group Perry meets; their bond is talked up a lot, but once they're past basic training, you don't hear much from them, and when you do, you'll maybe wish you hadn't. That dismemberment part, remember.

This isn't some highfalutin fancy-talk novel. Scalzi isn't necessarily trying to impart great wisdom about the universe and humanity's role therein, though because he does a great job with Perry's development, you might still pick something up on the side. What it is is excellent storytelling, and it's well-worth your money. ( )
  prufrockcoat | Dec 3, 2019 |
This was a quick, enjoyable read. While there was no character development, no appreciable theme, and it was weighted down with tedious exposition and extremely unoriginal--I still liked it. Scalzi is a good stylist and the way he presented the story made up for the fact that the story itself was weak. The problem was mostly that I had read enough other novels to notice this one's problems. But I would have loved this book if I were 12.

Since this is the first novel I've had a chance to finish in 6 months, I enjoyed reading a no-brainer. It was relaxing, as if my mind had been temporarily reset to some 12 year old state. Those looking for more substance along the same lines (aka 'Starship Troopers for Grown Ups') should read Joe Haldeman's The Forever War instead. ( )
  ralphpalm | Nov 11, 2019 |
The first and last chapter deserve 5 stars. Everything that comes between them probably only deserves 3 at most.

This is very easy reading. It's also something of a "page turner" - I never found myself bored.

In theory everyone in this book is 75 years old. You wouldn't know that from the way they talk. Everyone sounds like a wise cracking 20 something.

The other main criticism is how great at everything the main character is. I'm not sure if calling him a Mary Sue would be accurate, but it's certainly what came to my mind when reading.

Over all this was an inoffensive, middling sci-fi romp, but that first and last chapter together really do deliver an emotional wallop that elovates the rest of the novel. ( )
  Fardo | Oct 15, 2019 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Scalziprimary authorall editionscalculated
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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With his wife dead and buried, and life nearly over at 75, John Perry takes the only logical course of action left: he joins the army. Now better known as the Colonial Defense Force (CDF), Perry's service-of-choice has extended its reach into interstellar space to pave the way for human colonization of other planets while fending off marauding aliens. The CDF has a trick up its sleeve that makes enlistment especially enticing for seniors: the promise of restoring their youth. After bonding with a group of fellow recruits who dub their clique the Old Farts, Perry finds himself in a new body crafted from his original DNA and upgraded for battle, including a brain-implanted computer. But all too quickly the Old Farts are separated, and Perry must fight for his life on various alien-infested battlegrounds. 'Scalzi's astonishingly proficient first novel reads like an original work by the late grand master, Robert A. Heinlein' Publishers Weekly 'Delivers fast-paced scenes of combat, and pays attention to the science underpinning his premise' San Francisco Chronicle
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