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Old Man's War (Old Man's War, #1)
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Monthly Read: Random > May Random Read: Old Man's War by John Scalzi

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message 1: by mark, personal space invader (new) - rated it 3 stars

mark monday (happyendoftheworid) | 1000 comments Mod
This month's Random Read is Old Man's War by John Scalzi.

Old Man's war is the first novel in a series (4 have been published so far). It was nominated as Best Novel for the Hugo in 2006. According to my best friend, Wikipedia, film rights were optioned by Paramount in 2011.

I just bought this one and am excited to dive into it!


Jenny (JennyK89) I read this book earlier in the year and absolutely loved it. I plan on reading the rest of the series. I hope everyone enjoys it and I look forward to the discussion!


message 3: by Teddy (last edited May 02, 2012 11:45AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Teddy Marcantel | 8 comments Yea I picked this up at the end of last year and read it, was a fantastic read. There are some really interesting concepts involved, most notably how Earth has decided that they will recruit for their Colonial Defense Force from people only 75 and older. I won't give much away with how that happens but it's pretty mind blowing, or at least it was for me. The tech that the humans use after being enlisted is also bad ass, the BrainPal, it's almost like a computer that is interfaced directly into the brain and networks with those nearby.

Some of the alien races and battles with them are also very intriguing, especially with the Consu race who it almost seems are so far advanced technologically than any other race that they've created their own culture of honor, in order to create "fair" battles with the other races by giving out snippets of tech or removing their own tech to be on equal terms with their opponents.


Megan Baxter | 256 comments Mod
I just finished this and enjoyed it thoroughly!

I was grappling with some of why I enjoyed it in my review, and I think there's lots to talk about, but I guess to start I'll throw out a question about what people thought about the way the book explored but didn't definitively answer questions surrounding where identity and consciousness lie.


message 5: by Maggie, space cruisin' for a bruisin' (new) - rated it 4 stars

Maggie K | 963 comments Mod
I read it last year and really enjoyed it. I think Scalzi kept the science simple enough I didnt have to tax my brain, yet imaginative enough to have a good story!


Paul Yep, I just finished The Ghost Brigade, the 2nd book in the series. I really enjoyed Old Mans War. As other posters have mentioned here the speculative science is interesting, believable and fun. Something I really liked was the humour exhibited by the characters. I got to like them alot and was dissapointed when Scalzi switched to a different set of characters in the 2nd book. I'm finishing off a few other books now but I'm looking forward to getting into the third book soon. I didnt know there was a fourth one. Thanks for the info.


message 7: by Maggie, space cruisin' for a bruisin' (new) - rated it 4 stars

Maggie K | 963 comments Mod
Yup-Zoe's Tale is part of the series


message 8: by Tad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tad (tottman) | 40 comments I read this book when it first came out and it is one of my all-time favorites. I love the writing and I love the concepts. It hooked me from the start with the very first sentence. In fact, I think that goes down as one of the best first lines in any novel. I remember reading that and thinking, ok, this is going to be interesting. This is what I like best about science fiction. It takes ideas and turns them on their head. What if you could marry the experience of years with the physicality of youth? I thought he did a great job of presenting several ideas while not neglecting characters that you really care about. I've read all the books and loved them, but nothing can compare to the experience of that first time. I envy those who are just now reading this book.


Marjorie Friday Baldwin (marjoriefbaldwin) | 93 comments Oops I think I just altered the group shelf of the book (eep) I'm sorry. I keep forgetting my "dangerous" Librarian powers.

I read this book just after it first came out (just as the second book, The Ghost Brigades, was making the scene). I can definitely give this month's read an unqualified 5 stars. I can totally see what Scalzi won awards for it. I can totally see why James Cameron stole the story to make a movie from it ((grin))

The writing quality and calibre is top-notch but it's not just that. His characterizations and world-building are supremely better than your average fare. Just the humanity of the opening sequences (not just first line) had me and I got so teary-eyed from the realism of it. He really set the stage for the "Old Man" part of the book's title. I was totally inside the heads of the people in the first group of characters. Of course, that was the point because next, we get possibly the best gadgetry to come along since Robert J. Sawyer's "Companion" in the Neanderthal Parallax (my all-time favorite Sawyer is that triology).

Scalzi's BrainPal(tm) had me ROFLMAO through all of the sequences with it--in this book and the others. The way he really works with the gadget as a part of the world and an integral facet of the plotting and story development--instead of as some kewel shiny toy like a movie's flashing lights--is just superb. It's one of the things Cameron wasn't able to come close to emulating in his ripoff movie version (Avatar was stolen from this book in case anyone hadn't noticed or didnt' know--I liked Avatar but this book is 20 times better, story-wise and character-wise, not to mention BrainPal(tm) wise ;-))))

I've read the entire series more than once but the first book (this month's read) is such a higher calibre of book than the rest of the series. One problem, however, as I read OMW, I kept eagerly anticipating Ghost Brigades. I almost wish I hadn't known another book was coming. It distracted me from really digging into OMW at some points (like when the Ghost Brigades are first mentioned early on in this book). Plus, when I finally got to Book 2, I held Ghost Brigades up to a high standard, one that might've been unfair. Even with that said, I really enjoyed Ghost Brigades but then got super disappointed when I got to Books 3 and 4.

Scalzi has me a little confused as to which one he actually wanted to write. He put some discussion/explantions into the backs of The Ghost Brigades and The Last Colony that make it sound like what he really wanted to write was Zoe's Tale. I think I liked Zoe's Tale better than Last Colony but they are two sides of the same story with addendums in each--different addendums so not completely the same story (not like OSC's version of Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow both of which I loved and especially loved together because they are the same story from two different POV characters' minds).

I haven't yet read the The Secret History of The Last Colony so I don't know if that's an explanation of what "went wrong" with the last two books but something definitely DID. Given how incredibly enjoyable a read Old Man's War is, it's pretty obvious something went "wrong" later. I had to struggle through Last Colony and even though Zoe's Tale was easier to read, it was still a grave disappointment compared to OMW.

Don't get me wrong, I've still read the series twice and Old Man's War alone 3 times. Loved it all 3 times. Could probably read it a 4th time--if I had time to read for sheer pleasure right now (hahahahahaha *wipes eyes at the sheer lunacy of the suggestion of that much time in reailty*)

I look forward to hearing more of what you "Aficionados" think of this "new classic" by the "new Heinlein." Scalzi isn't really Heinlein-ian (or not more so than I am, myself) but he's right up there, like we can all hope to be one day.

-Friday
@phoenicianbooks

Author of Conditioned Response, now available at eTailers worldwide!


Megan Baxter | 256 comments Mod
It's true that he's not specifically Heinleinian, but I was finding that his writing was reminding me of two other authors who publicly acknowledge huge debts to and love of Heinlein (as Scalzi does in his acknowledgements.)

I don't know what it is, but there seems to be something in Heinlein that was absorbed by a few writers as young people, which is then expressed in a vaguely similar style.


message 11: by Ric (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ric (ricaustria) | 20 comments Just discovered this recently and posted a review. But am interested in what other readers think about it, its ideas and story.


message 12: by mark, personal space invader (last edited May 12, 2012 10:55AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

mark monday (happyendoftheworid) | 1000 comments Mod
i started reading this this morning... fantastic so far! that first chapter was really moving (and wry). my impression of the novel before reading was that it would be straight-up military scifi, so i did not expect such a tender opening chapter. was this Scalzi's first book? if so, it doesn't read like a typical first novel at all. feels very accomplished. very happily surprised. subsequent chapters have been pretty intriguing.


Suzanne | 66 comments I enjoyed this book a lot. There was humor and action - it was a lot of fun. But even more than that, I loved the ideas about consciousness. It is good to read in this thread about the follow-up books to this - I'll need to check them out.


message 14: by Marjorie (last edited May 13, 2012 02:23PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marjorie Friday Baldwin (marjoriefbaldwin) | 93 comments mark wrote: "i started reading this this morning... fantastic so far! that first chapter was really moving (and wry). my impression of the novel before reading was that it would be straight-up military scifi, s..."

Isn't that one of the best novel openers ever ?? The book changes dramatically after that but wow, that opener really grabbed me. I think this was his first novel, wasn't it? That's WHY it's so good :)

As they say in publishing circles, the first thing you sell/get published will be the best thing you've ever written. To that point. :)

I loved Scalzi's humor but his "Whatever" Blog made him famous for his humor. If you haven't read his blog, subscribe now :) He can be preachy at times but his snark is soooo worth waiting for in between the lectures.

@Suzanne doesn't he have a great way to discuss consciousness. It's a lot like the way I visulized it in my books, which is weird because no one else has come close to that kind of imagery or concept. The more popular ideas are along the lines of what Robert J. Sawyer does in his various books on the subject. I like Sawyer's ideas on consciousness (a lot!) but they're definitely not like this. It's kewel how so many of us ponder this very idea and come up with such very different answers, isn't it? :)

-Friday
@phoenicianbooks

Author of Conditioned Response A SciFi Thriller to Remember--If You Can!


Traci Loudin (traciloudin) | 10 comments Definitely agree with something Megan mentioned in her review:

Megan wrote: "This is one of the strengths of the book - the willingness to not lay down a definitive answer, when the exploration of the idea is so much more interesting."

I hadn't been able to put my finger on it until you mentioned that! Excellent point. I read this book about a month ago, so I can't wait until May 31st so we can talk more about the book without worrying about spoiling it for anyone. I assume that's how this book club works, anyway! This is my first post here. :)

If any of you find yourselves struggling through the middle of this book, keep reading! I felt like it was bogged down a little in the middle, but some interesting things happen and the end pulls various threads of the story together in a neat way.


Marjorie Friday Baldwin (marjoriefbaldwin) | 93 comments Oooh, hey, Traci, I recently learned about something that might help you dish about your favorite books before the spoilers are moot. Here on Goodreads there's a special HTML-like tag called a SPOILER tag that you can use. It's a less than symbol (<) then the word spoiler then a greater than symbol (>) and then you type the secret stuff. To stop hiding the spoilered stuff you just use the tag again but put a slash (/) before the word spoiler. It works like this. (view spoiler)

Click that and see what happens LOL I feel like I just said "Pull my finger" hahahaha I swear, nothing bad happens :)

-Friday


Traci Loudin (traciloudin) | 10 comments Oh neat! I've visited Goodreads on and off, and this is my first time posting in a group. I hadn't heard of the spoiler tags--thanks for taking the time to explain them. Does it work in your actual reviews too? Goodreads is so awesome. Thanks again, Marjorie.


message 18: by mark, personal space invader (last edited May 20, 2012 12:17AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

mark monday (happyendoftheworid) | 1000 comments Mod
to start the spoiler: <> with the word "spoiler" in between the < & >

to end the spoiler: same thing, just put / before "spoiler".


message 19: by mark, personal space invader (new) - rated it 3 stars

mark monday (happyendoftheworid) | 1000 comments Mod
oops, don't know why i missed how Marjorie just explained how to do it. well, now it's been explained two times!


message 20: by Marjorie (last edited May 20, 2012 03:15AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marjorie Friday Baldwin (marjoriefbaldwin) | 93 comments Traci wrote: "Oh neat! I've visited Goodreads on and off, and this is my first time posting in a group. I hadn't heard of the spoiler tags--thanks for taking the time to explain them. Does it work in your actual reviews too? Goodreads is so awesome. Thanks again, Marjorie. "

Honestly, I don't know if it works in reviews (now I gotta try it!!) but you're not alone in not knowing about it. I've been here a year and I just learned about it when I saw someone do it in my SciFi Romance group and asked them to explain it. I'm glad to be able to "pay it forward" and tell you, too.

In case you ever forget how it works, click on the "(some html is ok)" link and a list comes up that shows all the Goodreads-specific tags.

And you're welcome. This is what I love about Goodreads: community where people actually talk to and help each other. At least, some of us (sez the Indie Author who certainly does promote but does more than just promote because the sale-pitches have to be balanced by actual participation in the community that is Goodreads)

-Friday
@phoenicianbooks


Marjorie Friday Baldwin (marjoriefbaldwin) | 93 comments mark wrote: "oops, don't know why i missed how Marjorie just explained how to do it. well, now it's been explained two times!"

It takes a village, mark :) It takes a village!


message 22: by mark, personal space invader (new) - rated it 3 stars

mark monday (happyendoftheworid) | 1000 comments Mod
ha!


message 23: by mark, personal space invader (new) - rated it 3 stars

mark monday (happyendoftheworid) | 1000 comments Mod
i just realized i never mentioned anything after finishing up Old Man's War last weekend.

overall i definitely liked it. very enjoyable, brisk pace, interesting aliens, completely fascinating backdrop, intriguing technology. the writing and characterization didn't exactly wow me, but i had no complaints. i will read more of this series.

what really stood out for me was that wonderful first chapter, and then much later the dialogue between John Perry & Jane. so unexpectedly moving! i loved all of that surprising sweetness and melancholy.


Jeffery Moulton (jefferymoulton) | 15 comments I really enjoyed the book and thought it was a lot of fun—Easy 4 stars from me.

One question: Did anyone else feel like the original concept (of old people being drafted to the army) kind of got lost somewhere in the middle? It didn't seem to make a difference that they were old people other than a few throw away comments. They were just another army blowing things up with big guns. The last part kind of fixed that with Jane, but for some reason I wished there been more to it. Maybe it was just me.


Marjorie Friday Baldwin (marjoriefbaldwin) | 93 comments Jeff wrote: "I really enjoyed the book and thought it was a lot of fun—Easy 4 stars from me.

One question: Did anyone else feel like the original concept (of old people being drafted to the army) kind of got lost somewhere in the middle? It didn't seem to make a difference that they were old people other than a few throw away comments."


Hey, Jeff, it's interesting you thought that - yes, I did, too and even more so in the second book (The Ghost Brigades) than in Old Man's War. In fact, (view spoiler)

In OMW, I felt like the "lifetime of knowledge and experience" could and should have been more present in John's motivations or choices, as a character. As it was, he was just a soldier, as you say.

Still an awesome book and exceedingly well-written IMO :)

-Friday
@phoenicianbooks


message 26: by mark, personal space invader (new) - rated it 3 stars

mark monday (happyendoftheworid) | 1000 comments Mod
Jeff wrote: "I really enjoyed the book and thought it was a lot of fun—Easy 4 stars from me.

One question: Did anyone else feel like the original concept (of old people being drafted to the army) kind of got ..."


yes, i felt the same way.


Jeffery Moulton (jefferymoulton) | 15 comments I'm glad it wasn't just me. Don't get me wrong, I really liked the book. It was tons of fun and I have the sequel on hold at the library. I just wished it had done a bit more with that concept.


Derek (derek_broughton) Jeff wrote: "Did anyone else feel like the original concept (of old people being drafted to the army) kind of got lost somewhere in the middle?"

Yeah. Is this Scalzi's idea of future social security? I expected they were using old(er) people for their accumulated wisdom, but they turned out to be older versions of contemporary grunts.

It's the best military SF since The Forever War, to which it owes a significant debt without being in any way plagiarizing, but I really felt he skimped on the the "Old Man's" part (though calling the book "War" might have failed to have the intended effect).


W.R.R. Munro (wrrmunro) | 2 comments I can see I'm a bit behind here. Great fun read. Good, dry humour, military space opera, reminiscent of Heinlein and Haldeman. I wish Scalzi had played more with the conflicts inherent in an old man's mind finding itself caught up in the drives of a young body, though. Neuroscience has a lot to say about our emotions and judgement being driven as much by hormones and endorphins as they are by the neuronal connections that encapsulate our memories and personality, and surely the 'heat of war' would be a great background for exploring this. To me, that could have lifted the book from fun read to great novel. I'm definitely going to read Ghost Brigades though.


George (Wegason) | 33 comments Just started this so haven't read through the thread. Am interested to see how the concept works out, the first three chapters were interesting, and the inter-play between the CDF and Earth has me wondering. Looking forward to the unravelling as it goes on.


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Books mentioned in this topic

Old Man's War (other topics)
Zoe's Tale (other topics)
The Ghost Brigades (other topics)
The Last Colony (other topics)
The Secret History of The Last Colony (other topics)
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Authors mentioned in this topic

John Scalzi (other topics)