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Old Man's War (Old Man's War #1)

4.22  ·  Rating Details ·  95,449 Ratings  ·  6,072 Reviews
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 aliens willing to fight for them are common. The universe, it turns out, is a hostile place.

So: we fight. To defend Earth (a target for
Hardcover, 316 pages
Published January 1st 2005 by Tor Books
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Delia Binder There's some sex - when the senior citizen recruits first get their new genetically modified bodies, they're encouraged to "test them out", including…moreThere's some sex - when the senior citizen recruits first get their new genetically modified bodies, they're encouraged to "test them out", including by having casual sex with each other. It's not all that explicit that I remember, but it's definitely there - and I believe characters have physically intimate relationships with one another later on, but again not in any sexually explicit detail.

There's a lot of violence, but I don't remember it being too graphic or gratuitous - they're soldiers, and they're fighting a lot of police actions/brush wars. Language is strong but it's not like everybody curses a blue streak.

I'd live it a 15 (UK) rating, myself, or a soft "R" if you're in the US - if your kid's a teenager s/he's old enough to read it unless you're very conservative.(less)
Scott Baker I am about 60% through this book and call tell you the two are very similar in theme. So similar that at one point I stopped to read a synopsis of The…moreI am about 60% through this book and call tell you the two are very similar in theme. So similar that at one point I stopped to read a synopsis of The Forever War, which I read a few years ago, because I kept asking myself if I had read this before. Still, I am very much enjoying this book and (assuming it ends well) I plan to read other books in the series. (less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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The Holy Terror
There wasn't anything horribly wrong with this book, but I found myself unattached to any of the characters. And even for a science fiction novel I thought a lot of the plot was just unbelievable; the main character seems to excel at and have the answer to everything while his fellow soldiers get killed left and right. The people he meets are little more than cannon fodder and you don't really get a chance to like them so it's not that big a deal when they bite it. Scalzi chooses to barely descr ...more
mark monday
May 20, 2012 mark monday rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: futuristik
sometimes a first novel gets everything right. writing that is clean, clear, and fluid. characterization that is simple, straightforward, and real. a narrative that hurtles forward but does not feel rushed or incomplete. ideas that feel new and that are conveyed with enthusiasm and a brisk, unpretentious freshness. such is Old Man's War.

this is a military science fiction novel and the first of a series. that probably brings up a whole host of automatic preconceptions about what will be happening
Mark Lawrence
Oct 22, 2016 Mark Lawrence rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed Old Man's War and think you should read it. For me it was a 5* first half and a 3* second half (I liked the 2nd half but it wasn't 5* 'amazing'). Scalzi can write! He opens with excellent characterization, touching and real. This skill at bringing the POV character to life, at catching the vibe of a vital individual grown old and isolated, combines with a great plot hook. It's vivid modern almost literary writing unfolding a fascinating take on future earth.

The second half felt
Dan Schwent
John Perry enlists in the Colonial Defense Force on his 75th birthday and gets whisked off to war in a new and improved body, defending Earth's colonies against alien races. Will John be one of the few that survives his first year?

John Scalzi's blog is one of the few I've followed in 2010 and I'm pleased to say that if Old Man's War is any judge, his novels are just as entertaining as his blog.

I've been pretty omnivorous in my reading tastes the last couple of years and I think that's why I like
Jan 31, 2016 Lyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Old Man’s War by John Scalzi has been described as an exciting new take on the work of Robert A. Heinlein.

Scalzi himself acknowledges being inspired by the late grandmaster. Much of the tone and style of the book does seem to not only imitate RAH, but somehow channel his genius into a new voice for a younger generation. Most evident is that Scalzi has recreated Heinlein’s corny but endearing dialogue, espousing an approachable and likable optimism.

A Heinlein fan will compare this most readily t
Jul 22, 2013 Carol. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of soft sci-fi
Definitely an enjoyable read. A nice mix of philosophical and humorous observations, especially in the beginning, manage to capture the tone of an older person looking back on a long life.

The beginning starts with John, the main character, entering a recruiter's office to review and sign his enlistment contract. It is a marvelous device, allowing John's internal commentary and reactions to provide needed background to the current political and technological setting. Scalzi's straightforward writ
This is an odd sort of book. Scalzi has a really neat central premise -- but the story gets lost up against it. The story is told in an oddly clinical fashion that leaves a sort of feeling that you're being given a report on story instead of the story itself. The story moves along briskly enough, but I'm left oddly unmoved by the protagonist's experience.

It doesn't help that while the premise requires that the protagonist excel at warfare etc., he surpasses all expectations -- stuns his drillma
Vagner Stefanello
May 20, 2016 Vagner Stefanello rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, physical
Review in Portuguese from Desbravando Livros:

O que você faria se tivesse a opção de se alistar no exército aos 75 anos e voltar a ser jovem de novo? É uma ideia no mínimo tentadora, correto? E foi pensando nisso que o protagonista de Guerra do Velho, John Perry, decide se juntar às Forças Coloniais de Defesa (FCD) ao chegar nessa idade.

Uma decisão que a princípio parece fácil, já que você terá um corpo novinho em folha, habilidades aprimoradas, entre tantas outras vantagens, mas tudo isso tem um
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Military life in the future, fighting aliens over planets to colonize. The mysterious Colonial Defense Force recruits 75 year old men and women to fight its wars, and many sign up because some sort of second shot at youth is involved, and at this point in their lives they figure there's nothing to lose. But exactly what are they getting themselves into? And how is the CDF going to turn all these old farts into fighting machines?

I was really proud of my deductive reasoning in figuring out that th
David Sven
Jan 16, 2014 David Sven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
I loved this book from start to finish. I loved the premise, loved the action, loved the protagonist, I even loved the aliens. And I'm confident a lot of the aliens would love me back - in a purely culinary kind of way.

Set in the far future, Earth has branched out to colonize as much of the known Universe as possible for the survival and betterment of the human race. Unfortunately, we are not alone among the stars. Every form of intelligent life from here to the end of the space time continuum h
Will M.
Nov 19, 2014 Will M. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, sci-fi, space, war
What would you do if you were given a chance to live longer, and have a new "young" body that is way better than the normal human body? The catch is, you're now a soldier, in a different planet, and you can never go back to Earth.

Old Man's War was a very entertaining read, but it wasn't phenomenal. The main character is an old man, John Perry, yet he talked as if he was 30 years younger. I just didn't seem to connect with him, and all the other characters. It's not that they were all flat and bo
Aug 20, 2012 Michael rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Old Man's War is about old people giving up their lives on earth to join the colonial forces as supersoldiers to help defend humanity. That's a solid premise that I can get behind. Old Man's War is, however, not written well.

This book is bad. As I write this, I'm remembering that I only finished it to provide the most honest review. It was fun in spurts, but, on the whole, this book was, as I said, bad. The writing is pedantic at its best and horrid at its worst. Why do I keep expecting more fro
Feb 27, 2011 Kemper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Getting old sucks but as the old joke says, it‘s better than the alternative. However, what if there was a way to get to be young again? The catch is that if you do it, you’ll probably die in some horribly bloody and spectacular fashion at the hands of aliens on a distant world. Any volunteers?

In this terrific novel, humanity has spread out to the stars only to find that they’re competing with several types of aliens for habitable planets. The Colonial Defense Force has been waging those wars an
Apr 27, 2016 Kaitlin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-sff-faves
So I finnnnnalllyyy got around to reading this, I have been meaning to for a fairly long time now. I'm definitely glad that I did read this too becuase although it's a short book for me, it actually worked super well as a military SF that I enjoyed (not something too common for me to be honest). This story drew me in fast and then kept me interested right the way through by following the character of John Perry, an old man who joins the Space Army in exchange for somehow becoming younger.

I have
Jess McCabe
Apr 24, 2012 Jess McCabe rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Awful. 'I did this cool thing, then I saved some people, then I single handedly rescued the mission, even though I was the least qualified, then I came up with this cool idea and got promoted. I was a green superhuman too.'
We all have regrets and things we wish we could do differently if life would allow it. What would you be willing to do to have an honest chance to live life over again? In Old Man's War that's not a philosophical question it's a real choice and one that many senior citizens take gladly. One such senior citizen is John Perry who on his 75th birthday chose to live his life over again.

In order to get that second chance John joins the army, well the Colonial Defense Force (CDF) to be exact. The CDF
Jun 04, 2007 Trin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, american-lit
The first 100 pages or so of this book are absolutely fantastic. The Colonial Defense Forces recruit citizens of Earth on their 75th birthdays to fight with them against the various alien species threatening the series of colonies Earth needs because of population overflow, war, all the usual ways we’ve fucked up the planet. Senior citizens sign up because the CDF promises to make them young again—if they sign a contract to serve for ten years. And most of them will probably get gruesomely kille ...more
Jan 22, 2014 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, read-2014
5 Five stars.

Old Man's War by John Scalzi has been on my to read list for a very long time. Countless of my friends have recommended this book to me. After long while I finally read it. Wow is all I can say I'm totally blown away. To me and my taste this book is a perfect science-fiction novel. It really has it all. I was already a fan of Scalzi before reading this novel but now I can see him easily among my top favorite.

So many things set this book apart from the competition. First, you do not
Victor Almeida
May 07, 2016 Victor Almeida rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
Eu amo a união de ficção científica e temas militares, e com esse livro não foi diferente. Foi uma leitura muito gostosa, rápida e que me entreteve demais. A história é bem interessante e o universo criado pelo autor é surpreendente — inclusive acredito que seja o ponto mais forte do livro. Toda a ciência, a tecnologia, os planetas e as formas de vidas criadas me interessaram do começo ao fim. John escreve muitíssimo bem e pinta o cenário de forma fantástica.

A primeira coisa que me surpreendeu f
Veronica Morfi
Jan 14, 2015 Veronica Morfi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 5/5

Old Man's War is one of the first adult sci-fi I've ever read (could be the first one too) and it was pure awesomeness. John Scalzi managed to create a setting and characters that really made me get lost in the story.

This is the story of John Perry, a 75-year-old who decides to join the Colonial Defense Force. It seems like people managed to colonize other galaxies but they are not the only ones and in order to protect their colonies and create new ones they need a army of 75-year-ol
Matthew Iden
Oct 23, 2012 Matthew Iden rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: military SF, thoughtfully adventurous readers
Shelves: science-fiction

Actual rating: 3.5 stars

How do you fulfill a promise to tackle a complicated subject like human mortality and aging using believable science fiction tropes, exploring a premise of why septuagenarians would make excellent soldiers in a futuristic space war?

Easy. You don't.

Parallel Universe
Old Man's War is really two books in one: Old Man and War.

Old Man is a well written, thoughtful, and at times emotionally wrenching fictional memoir. It doesn't require a science fiction setting to make the re
Kat  Hooper
Nov 06, 2011 Kat Hooper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

* In this universe, experience counts.
* Guns don’t kill people. The aliens behind the triggers do.

John Perry is 75 years old, his wife is dead, and he has nothing left to live for. It’s a perfect time to join the army, and the Colonial Defense Force is recruiting. They need a lot of loyal human bodies to maintain the universe colonization project, so their preference is to recruit old people, rejuvenate their bodies (nobody on Earth knows exactly how th
May 10, 2008 Brownbetty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not quite what I expected from the cover. In my experience of oil-paintings-of-planets-and-spacecraft covers, you tend to get pretty hard SF to go with them. This was more extra-firm tofu hard. The cover blurbs compared him to Heinlein, which was fair.

The book has a couple of reveals, the first of which I genuinely did not see coming, and the second of which I saw coming for a while, so I'll separate my review into the bits I can talk about without spoiling and the spoilery bits.

John Perry, the
Sep 17, 2013 Bookwraiths rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi, library
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths Reviews

In the future, mankind has finally spread out into the stars. Humans from overpopulated countries around the world taking to the stars routinely to found colonies on numerous worlds. There has been no new “renaissance” from this otherworldly exodus on mother Earth however. No change in the sociopolitical norms. Nothing different in the daily life of an average citizens of the United States or any other industrialized country. Indeed, most pay little atte
Dec 01, 2015 Amar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015, kindle
Moja prva space opera pa sam možda pogrešna osoba da u detalje sudim ovu priču . Zbog toga ću ukratko.

Ja sam veoma zadovoljan . Knjiga pršti finim idejama i po meni je presmiješna priča u nekim dijelovima ( pogotovo Master Sergeant Antonio Ruiz . Zbog njega je suza suzu gonila od smijeha )

Cjelokupno gledajući je prvi dio knjige čista 5* , dok je ostatak nekako u sjeni toj prvog dijela , pa zato od mene samo 3* .

Sve u svemu , lijepa priča , lako se čita i ni trenutak nije dosadna .
Mar 31, 2013 Jon added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jon by: Kristin
Rick Riordan
Nov 08, 2013 Rick Riordan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I love this guy! It's been a long time since I sat down and read some straight-forward science fiction, and Scalzi seems to have a direct feed to the recorded consciousness of the late great Robert Heinlein. Old Man's War introduces us to John Perry, a seventy-something earth man who has nothing to live for after the death of his wife, so he signs up for the army. You see, in the future, you can either die when you get old, or you can join the Colonial Defense Forces, get a new body designed for ...more
4.0 stars. Very impressive debut novel. Reminds one a lot of a Heinlein novel but updated with a political and social voice for the 21st century. Good world-building and am looking forward to reading more by this author.

Nominee: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (2006)
Nominee: Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (2006)
Nominee: Locus Award (Runner-up) for Best First Novel (2006)
What a great book! It owes plenty to classics like Heinlein's Starship Troopers and Haldeman's Forever War, and clearly must have inspired James Cameron's Avatar, but it reads like a fresh military SF adventure with a great conceit (volunteers join the Colonial Defense Force when they reach 75 years of age), the characters have a nice sense of humor, irony, and pathos, without anything feeling forced, and the aliens the soldiers encounter are strange, inventive and fierce. More than anything, I ...more
Dec 15, 2014 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Authors who wish they'd joined the Army, little green army men
This is John Scalzi's signature novel, the one that kicked off his popular military SF series and was supposedly going to be made into a movie.

I have enjoyed a lot of Scalzi's novels, but always found him to be a good writer, an entertaining writer, but never a great writer.

Old Man's War leaves me...underwhelmed.

By his own admission, this book is a Heinlein tribute. Hence the obvious similarities to Heinlein's "signature novel" (I suppose Heinlein purists might argue about this), Starship Troope
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  • Young Miles (Vorkosigan Omnibus, #2)
  • The Honor of the Queen (Honor Harrington, #2)
  • Pump Six and Other Stories
  • Judas Unchained
  • Dreadnaught (The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier, #1)
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  • A Fire Upon the Deep (Zones of Thought, #1)
  • Trading in Danger (Vatta's War, #1)
  • Armor
  • Woken Furies (Takeshi Kovacs, #3)
  • Caliban's War (Expanse, #2)
  • Pirate Cinema
John Scalzi, having declared his absolute boredom with biographies, disappeared in a puff of glitter and lilac scent.

(If you want to contact John, using the mail function here is a really bad way to do it. Go to his site and use the contact information you find there.)
More about John Scalzi...

Other Books in the Series

Old Man's War (7 books)
  • The Ghost Brigades (Old Man's War, #2)
  • The Last Colony (Old Man's War #3)
  • Zoe's Tale (Old Man's War, #4)
  • The Human Division (Old Man's War, #5)
  • The End of All Things (Old Man's War, #6)
  • To Stand or Fall (The End of All Things, #4)

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“For as much as I hate the cemetery, I’ve been grateful it’s here, too. I miss my wife. It’s easier to miss her at a cemetery, where she’s never been anything but dead, than to miss her in all the places where she was alive.” 81 likes
“Now, you may think that this is some sort of generalized hatred that I will carry for the lot of you. Let me assure you that this is not the case. Each of you will fail, but you will fail in your own unique way, and therefore I will dislike each of you on an individual basis.” 60 likes
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