John's Reviews > Old Man's War

Old Man's War by John Scalzi
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Apr 03, 12

bookshelves: books-i-own, science-fiction
Read from March 13 to 15, 2012

A Breathtakingly Fresh Take on Military Space Opera Science Fiction

John Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War” is indeed a “Starship Troopers” for our time, but one replete with echoes from the 1960s New Wave and 1980s cyberpunk literary movements in Anglo-American science fiction. While it isn’t great science fiction literature comparable with the best from Ursula Le Guin, Samuel Delany, J. G. Ballard, William Gibson, Michael Swanwick, Iain M. Banks, and China Mieville, among others, it is nonetheless a surprisingly original example of the genre pioneered by Murray Leinster, E. E.“Doc” Smith, and Robert Heinlein. Though Scalzi’s vivid prose doesn’t match Heinlein’s – I would say that it surpasses it – there is indeed a very strong emotional and artistic resonance to such classic works by Heinlein as “Starship Troopers” and “Methuselah’s Children”. Scalzi’s debut novel is an exhilarating, captivating tale about a plausible future for humanity, set in a universe far more fascinating and dangerous than Heinlein’s grim alien “bug” war depicted in “Starship Troopers”. It is also a compelling exploration on the nature of humanity as seen through the eyes of Scalzi’s protagonist John Perry who will question his decision to enlist in humanity’s Colonial Defense Forces, serving in one bloody conflict after another against relentless alien foes challenging humanity’s right to colonize the relatively few habitable worlds orbiting nearby stars. Without question, Scalzi demonstrates that he is among the better literary stylists and a most distinctive new voice working within the old-fashioned, yet still honorable, traditions of military space opera science fiction.
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