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Old Man's War

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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.

318 pages, Kindle Edition

First published December 27, 2005

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About the author

John Scalzi

154 books22.6k followers
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.)

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 11,526 reviews
Profile Image for Mark Lawrence.
Author 72 books51.7k followers
September 13, 2023
This is, for me, a pretty short review as the key novel element here is one that it is fun to discover in the book, and not spoiling that severely limits what I can discuss.

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 first half felt modern with a gentle touch on characterization, a fresh idea, diversity, a book of its time. The second half felt more like 60's/70's sci-fi - blasting bad guys in space. EE Doc Smith could have written it. That's by no means a bad thing. I enjoyed it. You may well too. But the transition from a very personal earth-bound story to a space romp didn't quite gell for me.

From the "hard" scifi point of view this also felt old fashioned in a Star Wars sense. Star Wars serves us WWI biplane aerial combat in the guise of space warfare. X-Wing pilots literally look out of their cockpit windows for the enemy. It's enjoyable nonsense. Old Man's War is similar, serving up a mix between WWI and Trojan war combat for infantry, ignoring much of the current and likely future developments in technology that would radically change this, probably make it redundant (and likely make it much more boring). Think Starship Troopers, where they fly across light years to die in droves machine gunning alien bugs.

These minor nits aside, this is a fun, interesting, exciting, funny book. Read it.

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Profile Image for Shannon.
3,096 reviews2,383 followers
August 7, 2011
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 describe the various characters, and when they get their "upgrades," they all are young and beautiful and even harder to tell apart. It also doesn't help that every single character has the same snarky voice; even the women.

Almost a full half of the novel is spent on setup and getting the soldiers ready for battle. A lot of the technology was interesting and also easy to understand, but I felt like too much time was spent on leading up to the main story. And then, when the characters finally enter into battle and start fighting for humanity's right to colonize, each chapter reads like: "this girl died, then that guy died, then this girl got eaten, then that guy got vaporized, now let's go kill some aliens and act like complete dickwads because if we don't kill them first, humanity is DOOMED." I was continuously bored because I didn’t even care if the humans won or if the main character lived to see another day.

The first and last chapters did make me a little teary eyed, and this was mostly due to the relationship the main character had with his wife. Scalzi's focus is never on characterization though, so these brief interludes add only a small amount of charm to an otherwise emotionally bereft story.

I'm hoping that this was just a case of "first book syndrome" since this is the beginning of a series. I've heard it gets better, although I've read his newest book, Fuzzy Nation, and I really think I'll continue to have the same problem. Namely, I feel like he enjoys creating a worst case scenario and devising the cleverest way for them to escape it, and it all ends up feeling too neat and methodical. It's just too bad that I don't really care about his characters, because then these books would be a lot more enjoyable.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,535 reviews9,952 followers
September 7, 2021
9/7/21 - I have this book and the second book in paperback but I’m unhauling them. I don’t feel like rereading and starting the second book or continuing the series right now. I flipped through and it may go down to a 4.5 and maybe not, but for now I’m getting rid of both and I’ll pick them up in a kindle sale or something ….

Do not mourn me, friends
I fall as a shooting star
Into the next life

Holy Mother Of Graham Crackers! This book was awesome 😄

When you're an old person, you can sign up to go out into the galaxy to fight in the alien war. WHAT?

John Perry decided to do this when he turned seventy-five. His wife had been dead for awhile so he had nothing to lose. Or did he?

He went through this process and had to leave the Earth forever. Dead to the Earth.

John found some good friends on the way to their destinations. It took a bit to get there so this group spent some time together. They were upgraded together and so on and so forth. They even gave themselves a name, The Old Farts. 😊

They were separated when they went to combat training. Only two of each went to the same place. But they kept in touch by their brain things. I was sad when some were killed 🙁

Overall I loved the book and the whole creepy concept!

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
805 reviews3,853 followers
March 14, 2021
Making the green hero journey full of humor philosophy chimeras, satirized alien races, military drill, and pimped über soldiers while Heinlein´s screams about why people are making fun of his sophisticated point of view can be heard from wherever. He surely wouldn´t have approved dirty humor, just sick mentalities.

If you haven´t read a ton of Sci-Fi, you will maybe not get the whole picture and see it as one of many Sci-Fi novels, just with jokes, one storyline, and the one or other philosophical implication. But this innuendo spiced trip is much more than that, it presses nostalgic reader buttons and offers so much more than one can see at the first moment. I am not sure if Scalzi has read so much Sci-Fi that all the innuendos are aimed at certain authors or if some of it is coincidence, there is too much great genre literature out there to be sure about that.

In some way, it reminded me of the Martins´ Tuf Voyaging, because the journey and somewhat evolution of a protagonist, filled with humoristic, cynical undertones, and the sense of wonders overkill are pretty similar. I can´t mention it without screaming Why, oh why, Martin didn´t write more or continued, not sure about that, writing Sci-Fi and became a space opera author instead of writing this nice fantasy stuff, as if there wasn´t already enough High Fantasy and far too few sci-fi behemoths out there.

How it´s broken down to an understandable, still fascinating level, letting the characters give easy, cool examples of the more sciency stuff, is enough to satisfy Sci-Fi prone readers and newbies, mixing in so many tropes and archetypes that I got stuck trying to count them. Not just the genre, also the manly macho tropes and relativity of evil tropes are satirized, making it interesting for both character and plot focused readers.

Dealing with life, death, and identity accelerates the plot towards the end, preparing the ground for the coming parts of the series. A still to explore topic for social sci-fi with huge potential are the relationships, friendships, family,… when digital copies, clones, too many digital copies, bodies separated from the mind, collective hive minds, etc. are added to the mix. Some of the most amazing old and new Sci-Fi is using a handful of elements to built new, emotional settings for just one character or whole crews, opening the genre for exponentially more readers by focusing on the human element and not the worldbuilding, action, and sense of wonders many don´t find so appealing or miss the character development arcs if plot and wordbuilding are kings. Thousands of novels to be written, take just for instance love, death, and motherhood and mix it with alien races, ideology, any period of the future, and a neutral, funny, or tragic undertone.

Part of Scalzi´s patented recept is that he, just as Hamilton, is always connecting world and character, that the amalgamation makes it a never boring, always thrilling read, because no unnecessary breaks ad holes can appear when such a technique is perfected. Story is character, character is story, no infodumps, that one just in the case of Scalzi, everything has it´s use, it´s so perfect.

The only, small criticism: With a third person perspective and more protagonists and fractions, this could have had, even more, real Space Opera potential. Kind of like The Orville as a book series, does nobody see the chance of a hybrid of Scalzi Adams humor big space opera including all the ideas of Sci-Fi?

The alien factions make fun of different ideologies and attitudes, making the classical, serious military Sci-Fi fight, because of allegedly necessary for survival arguments, seemingly motivated by very stupid, illogical reasons, greed, and megalomania. Ahem.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Maggie Stiefvater.
Author 81 books168k followers
May 31, 2018
A few weeks ago, I was at one of my children's friend's homes, watching the two of them do a dubious job on a joint project and nattering away about fiction with the friend's father. At the end of the day, he pressed Scalzi's Old Man's War into my hands. He didn't pitch it. He just said I'd like it.

I wasn't sure what to expect. I knew Scalzi — I follow him on Twitter, we've sat on panels together, I could pick him out in a line up with confidence — but none of these things necessarily translates into someone's fiction. Can you tell what my novels will be like after reading my Twitter feed, after shooting the breeze with me over a school project, after seeing me stride across a parking lot? Who knows.

But it turned out that that it did translate. Online, Scalzi is a warm, unflinching, sentimental, humorous shit-stirrer. And Old Man's War is a warm, unflinching, sentimental, humorous shit-stirring sci-fi. It has a good hook — in the future, old folks can sign up to be young again in exchange for fighting in a galactic war — but lots of novels have good hooks. What Old Man's War has is an enormous beating heart powering all the training montages and alien action sequences. The novel is interested in training montages and alien action sequences, but it is also very interested in friendship and in being deeply, madly, truly in love with your wife. The combination is sparkling, whimsical, and infinitely readable.

I read this not too long after reading The Sparrow and quite a long time after reading Ender's Game, and I think they'd be a kind of charming threesome to read altogether — a month of training montages, ethically complex aliens, friends, friends who are actually people you'd like to have carnal knowledge of, linguistics, and light space ship action.

My first Scalzi but not my last.

Profile Image for Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~.
350 reviews942 followers
July 22, 2017
EDIT 07/22/17: It has been brought to my attention that I may not have the proper Science Fiction background to understand what this book's purpose is. It's been said that it's poking fun at the genre (specifically Heinlein's work) in a way I don't have the context for.

I'm often frustrated when I see others misunderstanding The Magicians trilogy in the same way I seem to have misunderstood Scalzi's work. I'm going to leave my original thoughts/rating posted because they are genuinely how I feel, but I wanted to post this disclaimer so that other readers may take my opinion with a grain of salt!

I've been wanting to pick up something by John Scalzi for a very long time now. He's a pretty big name in Science Fiction & Old Man's War seems to be one of the most highly praised of his series, so I figured that would be a promising place to start.

Unfortunately I just didn't like this book.

There's nothing I found glaringly wrong with it but I can't really tell you anything amazing about it either?

I am disappointed because I expected a premise that involves 75-year-old men and women raging an intergalactic war against a multitude of alien species to be wonderful and hilarious.

I imagined arming bitter, old grandparents, who curse loudly at the dinner table & rail on endlessly about the entitlement of the younger generations, with a renewed sense of purpose & enough high-tech firepower to blast E.T. into the next life.

That isn't what I got here.

To say that my expectations were not met is a bit of an understatement.

This is not a tale of Earth sending waves of savage senior citizens into the stars to defend their home planet. I should've realized what I was in for when I came across the following quote inside the book:

"The universe isn't going to be conquered by legions of geriatrics..."

What I did get from this book was some decent humor. And that's about it.

There is a strange juxtaposition between humor and brutality here that didn't necessarily work for me.

I guess when I read a Science Fiction book, I don't expect the most interesting parts to be the multiple, creative ways in which different alien species inflict death upon their enemies.

This, coupled with a rather boring plot & characters I couldn't feel connected to at all left me with little to praise.

Around the 90% mark I felt an overwhelming apathy to see the book through. Painfully, I did finish it. I may give Scalzi another shot later, but I won't be continuing on with the next book in this series.

This review and other reviews of mine can be found on Book Nest!
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
July 9, 2019
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 to Starship Troopers and Scalzi has brought this classic into vogue with some innovative twists. I also think about Spider Robinson’s RAH co-authorship of Variable Star; but where Robinson’s trashy dialogue was a blasphemy of Heinlein’s conservative (though sexist) etiquette, Scalzi’s profane script appears fresh and edgy and absolutely contextually correct. Essentially he has taken the best of Heinlein and modernized it for readers of today.

I enjoyed the book, especially from the perspective of a Heinlein fan and as a veteran; the scene where the new Colonial Defense Forces meet their drill instructor, Master Sergeant Ruiz, is a classic that will make anyone who has ever been to basic training howl when reading. Scalzi, through Ruiz, makes a subtle but distinct twist on the stereotypical humorous drill instructor spiel.

Finally, Scalzi has done a fine job of world building, where even Poul Anderson or Frank Herbert would be proud; the Consu are particularly akin to something Herbert would come up with.

This is simply and enjoyably a very good read.

Profile Image for mark monday.
1,678 reviews5,253 followers
May 20, 2012
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 and how the protagonist - a recruit in the interstellar wars of the future - will be quickly introduced to his new life... initial bonding with his fellow soldiers... training with a tough drill master... the first battle... the first kill... the death of comrades... cynicism... more battles, and the promise of more to come... and somewhere in there, perhaps, a bit of unlikely romance. the template has been around for a while, Starship Troopers et al, and Old Man's War doesn't stray from the tried-and-true.

but as anyone even slightly familiar with the novel's premise knows, this traditional narrative gets a shot of adrenalin by having the hero be a 75-year old man who finds not just a new life, but a new body by joining up with humanity's defenders. actually, "adrenalin" is the exact opposite of the word that should be used. because of new soldier John Perry's past life, the novel has actually been injected with a massive dose of wry introspection and not a little melancholy. and so many of those traditional stops on the military scifi journey are likewise transformed into something different. even the inevitable 'unlikely romance' has become a rather original new thing.

oh how i enjoyed the opening chapter! rather than a youngster fit to jump into conflict and other forms of excitement, we get the calm and thoughtful musings of an old man looking back with fondness and sadness on his rich but quite regular life, and getting ready to start that life anew. a contemplation colored with all of the amused and slightly cantankerous distance that a gentle grandfatherly type would have. and much later in the novel, as John Perry spends time with the unusually intriguing romantic interest, we get another warm and often unsentimental portrait of this past life. all quite moving. i did not expect to be so moved by Old Man's War.

despite everything i've mentioned so far, this is still a tough-minded book that is rooted in classic military tropes. there are a lot of fascinatingly exotic and often horrible aliens. there are battles on the ground and up in space. there is blood and guts and a huge body count. and yet the word that comes to mind after reading the novel is... lovely.
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.8k followers
October 22, 2021
$2.99 Kindle sale. Old Man's War is about 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 this book was an homage to Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers, but then I realized I'm like the umpteenth millionth person to figure that out, and anyway there it is, right in Scalzi's acknowledgements at the end of the book. In any case, it's a lot less didactic and preachy, and much easier to read, than Heinlein's book (for me, anyway), if not as realistic about military life.

There were some philosophical questions about war that I was expecting this book to grapple with in a more meaningful way, but the book kind of breezes past all of them, with just a nod to the question of "Why are we fighting all these aliens anyway?" Seriously, with all these alien races out there, are there no better ways to settle interstellar differences? I wish this had been addressed more deeply, and I'm not certain whether Scalzi just decided this isn't that kind of book, or whether he saved these issues for the sequels. Maybe I'll find out one of these times. Whatever the reason may be, if you hate war, this won't be your kind of book.

So just understand that this is an action-packed, imaginative book with lots of violence, and have fun and roll with it. I started it yesterday, intending to read only a chapter or two, and ended up reading the whole thing, even though I have a shelf full of other books I meant to read first, which says something.

It's kind of a great action movie. Except a book. But all books can't be War and Peace, and I think there will always be a place in my heart for the ones that are sheer fun and adrenaline. Kind of like how The Avengers is one of my favorite movies, even though it's not terribly profound. "Puny god!"


Look!!! He's even green!

Content advisory: Scattered F-bombs (it's the military...), lots of fighting and maiming, and one mildly explicit sex scene.
Profile Image for carol..
1,574 reviews8,228 followers
July 23, 2013
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 writing structure dovetails nicely with the factual tone the narrator originally takes in describing the journey on the recruit ship and the interactions with his shipmates. After undergoing his transformation, John loses a little of his emotional distance, gaining excitement with his new abilities. Scalzi's pseudo-informational promotional material regarding the BrainPal captures the humor of corporate-speak, but it's his scenes with the Master Sergeant that had me laughing out loud. His final words of praise: "Don't let it go to your head, Private. You are still a dipshit. Just not a very big one."

I found the introduction to new races to contain most of what I enjoy in space-roving books. I enjoyed the training segments and initial skirmishes and only wished they could be more fully described. It's always a challenge depicting a character's transformational process; while training can be repetitive, it's hard to believe the transformation into elite status unless details are shown. I felt the one awkwardness in the book was the section with the invasion of the Whaidians and Bender's efforts at diplomacy. Scalzi raises interesting philosophical issues that are somewhat at odds with the rest of the book, and are never really able to be resolved. Why isn't diplomacy pursued to a greater extent?

Nonetheless, the rest of the story is well constructed, and Scalzi surprised me with integrating an emotional thread into the armed services experience. It was a satisfying read, and enough to lead me to his next book.

"They are four words that so inadequately and so perfectly sum up a life."

Cross posted at: http://clsiewert.wordpress.com/2013/0...
Profile Image for Steven Medina.
204 reviews937 followers
June 28, 2022
Este libro representa la esencia de lo que es la ciencia ficción. Buen libro, aunque he leído mejores.

Al igual que Philip K. Dick este autor posee una mente visionaria envidiable; pero, al igual que Philip K. Dick este autor se ha enfocado más en el desarrollo de todo lo relacionado a la ciencia ficción, que en los demás aspectos del libro.

La primera mitad fue conforme a la expectativa: Prosa ligera, un personaje principal a punto de cambiar su vida, geniales elementos de ciencia ficción, explicaciones lógicas del porqué de las situaciones, etc. De verdad que el inicio me gustó muchísimo, por lo que en aquellas páginas logré identificarme con los cientos y miles de seguidores que aman esta historia, todo estaba genial, cero defectos, cero quejas. Sin embargo, pienso que el autor se equivocó al desvelar tan pronto las mejores sorpresas relacionadas a la ciencia ficción. Cuando iba llegando casi a la mitad del libro empecé a comprender que el autor había gastado todos sus recursos, y que muy, pero muy probablemente no encontraría nuevos elementos de ciencia ficción en lo que restaba del libro, y efectivamente, así fue. Por tanto, comencé a sentir que el libro iba de más a menos, fui perdiendo el interés, y ya en la parte final la indiferencia me abordó completamente. No obstante, no es un mal libro; puede que sí, a mí me hubiera gustado encontrar muchas más sorpresas, pero eso no significa que sea un mal libro. Seguramente los amantes de la ciencia ficción encontrarán en este texto una gran compañía para entretenerse y pasar el rato.

Las diferentes batallas que se desarrollan en la obra las sentí como si fueran de un videojuego: disparar, asesinar, colonizar mundos, todo parece inspirado en un juego de primera persona. En mi caso amo los videojuegos, pero no es tan divertido cuando solo te quedas observando como juegan los demás. Hubieron varias batallas, muertos por doquier, peligros, disparos, pero no logré conectarme con la adrenalina que supongo debí sentir con estas escenas. Para mí, cada batalla fue repetitiva, apresurada, como que sentí que le faltó un poco de drama, no sé, como si las batallas fueran escenas de transición, y no lo realmente importante del libro.

Sin embargo, en mi opinión, el punto verdaderamente negativo del libro fue intentar convertir al protagonista en el centro del universo. Si el protagonista nunca había estado en una guerra es completamente ilógico que no cometiera errores, y que todos sus planes le salieran a la perfección al primer intento. El protagonista solo era un novato, pero actuaba como si estuviera sacando a pasear al perro, o cocinando la cena de un día normal. Cada reconocimiento hacia el personaje lo sentí forzado, e irreal, como si mágicamente todo le saliera a la perfección por el poder del guión. Eso fue comprensible cuando compartió con compañeros de su mismo rango, pero fue completamente ilógico cuando combatió junto a sus superiores. Es como si un niño de ocho años, que no es un genio, le resolviera una tarea a su hermano mayor de trigonometría, sin siquiera saber del tema: Completamente absurdo. Al inicio sí me agradó el protagonista. En aquellas páginas fue un personaje normal, sin conocimientos ni experiencia, que intentaba adaptarse a su nueva vida; y su inexperiencia, me otorgó a mí la oportunidad, como lector, de conocer el universo creado por el autor. Pero con el transcurso de las páginas la esencia del personaje ya no fue la misma, y eso me desagradó un montón. De hecho, ningún personaje fue de mi agrado, ni siquiera recuerdo sus nombres. Como el autor presentó tantos personajes en cada escena nueva, y como su lenguaje y estilo eran tan similares, entonces se volvió muy complicado para mí diferenciarlos y recordar sus nombres. Los primeros personajes sí estuvieron muy bien desarrollados, incluso me reí con sus conversaciones, pero después, entre más avanzó el libro, el desarrollo de los personajes fue cada vez más anodino. Tuve tantos problemas con este aspecto, que ni siquiera recuerdo el nombre del protagonista.

Eso sí, reconozco que en cuanto a ciencia ficción el libro ha estado a la altura. He quedado antojado de más, no lo niego, pero creo que cada uno de los tópicos presentados ha sido interesante y bien desarrollado. Además, resultar imaginando tecnologías futuras que nunca habías pensado siempre se agradece: hace de esta lectura algo mucho más agradable. Aquellos libros de ciencia ficción que te producen ese deseo de interactuar con tecnologías hipotéticas son libros que valen la pena leer mucho. Al fin y al cabo, cuando leemos ciencia ficción, lo que anhelamos son ideas extravagantes e inventos visionarios. Esto sí que lo encontrarán en este libro.

Algo interesante para destacar, y que yo siempre disfruto de los libros, es el cambio psicológico que presentan los personajes después de enfrentarse a una situación difícil, en este caso la guerra. La forma como la conciencia y los dilemas morales atacan psicológicamente a los personajes, después de cometer asesinatos, es muy interesante observarla y analizarla. Ellos son conscientes de que «deben» realizarse cierto tipo de misiones porque son súper importantes, pero internamente va en contra de sus principios. Es una clase de suciedad que perfora cualquier escudo y que contamina el alma desde el interior. Eso me gustó mucho de este libro.

Y ya, para terminar, lo que me ha parecido «feo» es la cantidad de palabrotas, insultos, y vocabulario vulgar: Completamente innecesario. Sé que están en una guerra, sé que en un momento de tensión solemos decir vulgaridades automáticamente, pero que prácticamente cada conversación este atiborrada de un lenguaje tan vulgar me parece desagradable. El lenguaje fue muy similar al que usan los gangsters en las películas. Quizás fue mi edición, quizás no, pero leer tanta vulgaridad también se convirtió en un detonador clave para ir perdiendo el interés poco a poco hasta el final.

En resumen, un buen libro que te entretiene, te presenta diferentes clichés relacionados al género, y que te ayuda a pasar el rato. Como el libro es corto puede ser una buena opción para que los exploradores novatos aborden el género de la ciencia ficción, pero si ya tienes experiencia es muy probable que no te sientas forzado a cambiar tu ranking personal de «mis libros favoritos de ciencia ficción». La calificación de tres estrellas me parece una calificación justa, pero no suficiente para motivarme a continuar la saga.
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,324 reviews2,145 followers
May 27, 2018
This was a really fun read! Yes it is science fiction but there is a whole lot more to it than that, so even if you are not a sci fi fan you could still enjoy this book.

Old Man's War tells the story of aging people on Earth who volunteer for an off planet life in the army in return for a 'makeover'. There is a lot of humour and a lot about life, love and relationships. Of course there are also futuristic gadgets and space travel but none of it is too deep or over explained.

I really enjoyed the main character who turned out to have a lot more going for him than anyone was aware of. This is the first book in a series so I hope we come across him again in future books. Altogether it was an entertaining book with an intriguing premise. Definitely worth reading.

Profile Image for Megan Baxter.
985 reviews663 followers
May 19, 2014
I'm about to say something I wasn't sure I'd ever say about a science fiction novel about interstellar war - this book is warmly humanist in its approach. From the first time I sat down to read it, I felt invited and welcomed into the world Scalzi was creating. I enjoyed meeting and spending time with the characters he creates, who are mostly interesting and intelligent people that you'd want to know. I loved the digressions about the morality of following orders, and war as the easy way to deal with conflict.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Profile Image for David Putnam.
Author 18 books1,596 followers
October 24, 2019
This is one of my favorite scifi books of late. It's more of a men's adventure novel set in a space opera. The premise is a wonderful idea, (especially for me with my age and my past career, I'd dearly love a try at another bite of the apple)The writing and character is what carried this book for me. I also loved the second book in the series as well, Ghost Brigade. My only real criticism is that it was far too short.
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
3,005 reviews10.6k followers
February 25, 2011
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 liked Old Man's War so much. While it's a sf book inspired by Heinlein's Starship Troopers, it's also really funny, somewhere between Christopher Moore and Donald Westlake's Dortmunder series. It's narrated in the first person and John Perry is a pretty funny guy.

The Scalz has a lot of great sf concepts packed into Old Man's War; you've got the new bodies the senior citizens are given upon enlisting, the beanstalk, the skip drives, alien species that aren't humanoid, the list goes on and on. While the concept of 75 year old military recruits sounds like comedy fodder, it's actually pretty well explained. Getting a new body, even though it will be repeatedly shot at, would be very tempting at 75.

There were so many things I loved about this book that I can't possibly mention them all without giving away large parts of the plot. Let's just say that this one is definitely in the top 10 of 2010.
Profile Image for Jokoloyo.
449 reviews273 followers
February 10, 2017
If somehow you read my Old Man's War review first before others (yeah, highly improbable), my first advice is: STOP reading this review, just read the book first!

OK, so you want me to elaborate more on this review?
Saying I had a good experience enjoying this book is an understatement:
The beginning is so strong, I was in love with this book.

As Military SF or Space Opera, I agreed that there are deeper stories in market than OMW. But I saw this book as a niche sub-genre in SF: Humorous Military/Space Opera SF (for example Vorkosigan Saga, Phule's Company, Bill, the Galactic Hero, or Willful Child). For this niche sub-genre, OMW is one of the best. Maybe it is the best (Vorkosigan Saga fans, please spare my life by saying this).
Profile Image for Mayim de Vries.
577 reviews884 followers
July 15, 2018
“I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday. I visited my wife's grave. Then I joined the army.”

Without dazzling innovation, but also far from depressing imitation, Mr Scalzi gathers all the best and most interesting features of space opera, constructing a dynamic and captivating story.

In distant future, several hundred years of technological development failed to conquer the greatest enemy of a man - the ageing of his body. The last hope for the pensioners is the Colonial Defence Forces, recruiting soldiers for the army safeguarding human colonies in the universe against hostile aliens. Interestingly, there is one condition - a volunteer must be over 75 years old. Naturally, there are many rumours as to why is the CDF recruiting physically weak old people. The answer seems obvious: the colonial scientists must have unlocked the secret of the rejuvenation of the human body. The vision of being young again encourages many retirees to leave their home planet forever and join the army. One of them is the main protagonist of the book - John Nicholas Perry.

He soon discovers that while there is a grain of truth in the rumours, the reality exceeds his wildest expectations. In the end, he is made into an ideal soldier: rich with 75 years of experience, and at the same time biologically and technologically enhanced. Together with new friends, with whom he establishes the Old Farts Club and makes mutual promises to support each other, he starts a new life in the army. Will the Old Farts manage to survive? Who are the mysterious Ghost Brigades? Is it worth starting a life after life? Answers to these questions (and more!), you will find in this incredible novel.

“That’s one of the reasons the CDF selects old people to become soldiers, you know - it’s not just because you’re all retired and a drag on the economy. It’s also because you’ve lived long enough to know that there is more to life than your own life.”

The book is divided into three parts and each of those has a different style, and different quality. The first is world building, the second a whirlwind of action, the third is a buildup for future instalments. Additionally, the main plot is supplemented by other side stories of secondary and tertiary characters, who are like shooting stars across the universe: they shine and die on the periphery of the main story (my favourite by far was the one featuring Private Bender).

We follow the course of events through the eyes of John Perry, whom you simply have to love for his dry sense of humour, intelligence and general attitude to life (and death). John is a protagonist who immediately evokes sympathy and makes it easy for us to root for him in during all missions. Happily, the Author made sure that there is a lot of opportunities to cheer. The action is fast-paced, and John constantly travels from planet to planet, fighting aliens of all sorts of appearance and custom (from insects to lilliputians, to arachnids, to pterodactyls, to humanoids). “Old Man’s War” is not a book for those who appreciate a thorough world building as in this whole madness of intergalactic war there were hardly any opportunities to get to know the alien races in a manner more than perfunctory.

Nevertheless, Mr Scalzi has created something that engages the reader with the pace of action, humour and a lightness of style. If I were a writer, I’d be jealous! Above all, the language is racy and vivid, which immediately draws the reader in and yet does not interfere with the reception. To the contrary, great dialogues are often accompanied by a decent dose of verbal and situational humour. Simultaneously, the ideas of classical space opera are combined with its military version without tormenting the reader with strategies and battle scenes or technological overload.

“It’s not that I like combat, although I’m strangely good at it. It’s just that in this life, I am a soldier. It was what I agreed to be and to do. I intended to give it up one day, but until then, I wanted to be on the line.”

If I were to be picky, I’d say that the Author also did not use the ‘geriatric motif’ to its full advantage. I was anticipating to read how an old person would process the constant intergalactic war and cope with this kind of struggle. Instead, I have had the impression that from the middle of the book I was reading about the adventures of a twenty-year-old boy as if suddenly almost eight decades of his former life disappeared somewhere. The weight of age, the wealth of previous experience and certain wisdom that comes with time, that did not translate sufficiently into events or John’s internal monologues. Truth to be said, this deficiency was not displayed by John only. Also other characters lacked certain elderly mentality (for the lack of a better phrase). Still, because all of them were nice people, intelligent and a bit ironic, it was fun to read about their adventures.

Also, what made up for the minor flaws in the novel, was the fact that the whole book is a beautiful laudation of marriage. It is a tribute to love transcending time, space and the limitations of a human body. Where the hell did I put the vanilla/ammo clip moment was incredibly touching. The postcard, oh the postcard made my heart swell.

“The only thing I really miss is being married…The sense you’re where you’re supposed to be, with someone you’re supposed to be with…Part of what makes us human is what we mean to other people, and what people mean to us. I miss meaning something to someone, having that part of being human. That’s what I miss about marriage.”

I think that “Old Man’s War” can be called a superb exemplar of light sci-fi. It is not overly demanding (I’m talking about the science density), it draws the reader in and is able to keep his/her interest until the very end. For me, it was a blast. An intergalactic one, to be sure.

Also in the series:

2. The Ghost Brigades ★★★★☆
3. The Last Colony ★★☆☆☆
4. Zoe's Tale ★☆☆☆☆
5. The Human Division ★★☆☆☆
Profile Image for Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller.
737 reviews1,258 followers
July 28, 2017
[4.5 stars] I’m so glad I finally started The Old Man’s War series – it’s every bit as good as I’d hoped it would be. Filled with humor, action, exploration, and a touch of sentimentality, if you’re looking for your next great sci-fi read, this may be it! The book is essentially about John Perry, a 75-year-old man who signs up for the Army to fight an intergalactic war. John’s POV was my favorite element of the book. His “wisened” outlook on life and general mannerisms were a delightful contrast to the hard-assed whippersnappers who usually star in good sci-fi. The POV definitely elevated an already good story to a fantastic one, but lord save me from old-man jokes (okay, fine. I laughed at all of them).

I also really love to the type of science fiction the book was: a perfect blend of technological advancement, alien interactions, and militaristic elements. The best part is, I think Scalzi has only just scratched the surface of it’s potential in this first book. The first half of the novel moved at a significantly slower pace than the second half, which was great because it felt more organic, giving the latter parts of the book higher impact by contrast. So rest assured, if you pick it up and wonder if it actually goes somewhere, the answer is an emphatic yes – and hang onto your seats when you get there. Incidentally, the slower sections were my favorites.

I mentioned a bit of sentimentality at the beginning of the review. There is a, shall we say “softer” element near the end of the book that I didn’t necessarily care for. It’s the only thing that pinged against my rating, even though it really wasn’t a big factor in the whole scheme of things. I liked the idea, but thought it was a bit too heavy-handed. I’m hoping it will smooth out a bit in the second book (which I will definitely be reading ASAP).

Overall, Old Man’s War was one of the most interesting science fiction I’ve read. I think it fits the bill as both a must-read for seasoned sci-fi lovers and a great introductory novel for new readers of the genre. If you loved Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game as a young adult (as I did), Old Man’s War is its perfect evolution.

Via The Obsessive Bookseller at www.NikiHawkes.com and featured on www.suindependent.com

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Profile Image for Overhaul.
317 reviews703 followers
August 14, 2021
"El día que cumplí setenta y cinco años, hice dos cosas. Visité la tumba de mi esposa y me enrolé en el ejército"

🪐¡Cinco estrellas como cinco galaxias!🚀

"La Vieja Guardia". Es una gran aventura espacial que no da tregua. Imaginad que nuestro mundo está sumido en una guerra interestelar entre especies, en la que se cuenta con la tecnología para rejuvenecer el envejecimiento humano, pero solo funciona en el espacio y únicamente se proporciona cuando firmas con tu vida con la FDC (Fuerzas de Defensa Coloniales). Imaginad a todos esos jóvenes recién salidos de la academia militar y reemplázadlos por ancianos que ya no son buenos para la sociedad y están a un paso de la muerte. No son buenos para nadie más que para el ejército que les prometen una nueva oportunidad de vida, siempre y cuando estén dispuestos a luchar del lado del ser humanos contra toda una variedad de alienígenas durante diez años y tienen que prometer no volver nunca a la Tierra, si sobreviven claro. La mayoría de ancianos prefieren probar la guerra y morir jóvenes o en una colonia humana en otro planeta, que simplemente darse por vencidos y dejar que la naturaleza siga su curso. Entonces llegado el momento todos estos ancianos rejuvenecen y aquí inician su trepidante camino a un entrenamiento y una guerra en la que muchos no sobrevivirán.

"Pero vosotros lo sabéis por experiencia. En este universo, la experiencia cuenta"

Me gustó la idea de que las Fuerzas de Defensa Coloniales en este caso prefieren a los ancianos con experiencia de vida exactamente por lo que esa experiencia de vida y la inminente mortalidad le hacen al espíritu y las resoluciones humanas. Tenemos muchísimos momentos citables y para no cargar la reseña con más de ellos, diría que si la ciencia ficción militar con ideas interesantes que logra atraparte y su puntazo de humor están en tu gusto lector, este es un libro para ti. Por no decir que si eres fan de la CF esto es lectura obligatoria. Aquellos que queráis introduciros en este gran género es una lectura muy recomendable.

La idea principal de la historia me parece muy interesante sobretodo si esta desarrollada como es el caso de manera eficaz e integrada perfectamente con la trama, también original, pero aquí no tengo muchos libros a la espalda para valorar si es algo original o ya ha sido usada mucho. Aunque así sea, Scalzi lo logra y de que manera. Una delicia de la CF.

Esperaba un buen libro y una lectura entretenida, pero no tanto. Me enganchó con la primera frase, una que te impacta y capta tu atención desde el primer momento y no paras hasta que lo terminas. Una gran historia con ideas bastante interesantes, humor y unos personajes llamativos y currados.

"No estoy loco... Es que tengo un sentido muy calibrado del riesgo aceptable"

El libro podríamos decir que está dividido en tres partes y cada una tiene un estilo diferente y una calidad diferente. El primero es la construcción del mundo, el segundo es un gran torbellino de acción y el tercero es una preparación para futuras entregas. Además la trama principal se complementa de manera eficaz con otras historias secundarias de personajes secundarios, en las que algunos son como estrellas fugaces, brillan y mueren.

"Si sois lo mejor que la Tierra tiene para ofrecer, es hora de que nos inclinemos y dejemos que nos metan un tentáculo por el culo"

Seguimos el curso de los acontecimientos a través de los ojos de John Perry, a quien sencillamente vas a dejar que te caiga bien y te guste por su sentido del humor, inteligencia y actitud general ante la vida y la muerte. Es un protagonista muy logrado que evoca simpatía y nos facilita mucho el apoyarlo y seguirlo durante todas las misiones. El autor se aseguró de que hubiera muchas oportunidades para el ánimo y el humor. La acción es muy vertiginosa y nuestro protagonista viaja de planeta en planeta constantemente, luchando contra alienígenas con todo tipo de apariencia y costumbres. Eso si, no ha habido muchas oportunidades para conocer a las razas alienígenas de una manera más profunda o detallada sobre ellos.

Scalzi ha creado algo que atrae al lector con el ritmo de la acción, el humor y la ligereza del estilo.  Sobre todo el lenguaje que usa es vívido, lo que atrae inmediatamente al lector con diálogos  que suelen ir acompañados de una buena dosis de humor verbal y situacional. Sin cargar al lector tampoco con mucha estrategia o sobrecarga tecnológica.

"Nunca ha habido un ejército en toda la historia de la humanidad que haya ido a la guerra equipado con más de lo mínimo necesario para combatir al enemigo. La guerra es cara. Cuesta dinero y cuesta vidas, y ninguna civilización tiene una cantidad infinita de ambas cosas. Así que, cuando se lucha, se trata de conservar ambas cosas"

Siendo algo quisquilloso, diría que el autor no aprovechó al máximo esa vejez en el aspecto de la sabiduría o la experiencia. Leer cómo un anciano procesaría esa guerra y como se enfrentaría este tipo de lucha. En cambio, tuve la impresión de que desde la mitad del libro estaba leyendo sobre las aventuras de un chico de veinte años como si de repente casi ocho décadas de su vida anterior desaparecieran. El peso de la edad, la riqueza de la experiencia previa y la sabiduría no la mostró demasiado, carecían un poco de esa mentalidad.

"Parte de lo que nos hace humanos es lo que significamos para otras personas, y lo que esas personas significan para nosotros"

Una combinación perfecta de avance tecnológico, interacciones con razas alienígenas y elementos militares. Lo mejor de todo es que creo que Scalzi solo acaba de arañar la superficie de su potencial en este primer libro. La primera mitad del libro se movió a un ritmo más lento que la segunda mitad, lo cual le vino bien porque se sintió más orgánico y esa primera parte es la que te atrapa, te engancha y de que manera, dando a las últimas partes del libro un mayor impacto por contraste. Este libro entra dentro de lo que yo llamo joyas, es un libro para sentarte, pasar las páginas y dejarte llevar, se me hizo muy corto. Una maravilla de la que tengo que agradecer una vez más a "Xabi1990" por sus acertadas recomendaciones de CF. Género que aún tiene para regalarme y disfrutar unas cuantas joyas más. 🤩👍

"Mi fusil es mi mejor amigo. Es mi vida. Debo dominarlo como debo dominar mi vida. Mi fusil, sin mí, es inútil. Sin mi fusil, yo soy inútil. Debo disparar mi fusil con precisión. Debo disparar mejor que el enemigo que intenta matarme. Debo dispararle antes de que él me dispare a mí. Y lo haré"
Profile Image for Rick Riordan.
Author 257 books409k followers
November 8, 2013
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 combat, and explore the galaxy protecting humanity. Only one problem: it's a hostile universe, and your chances of survival are slim to none. Scalzi's story is addictively readable. His dialogue crackles and he balances just the right amount of humor and pathos to keep his characters real in a very unreal world. After finishing Old Man's War, I went straight out and bought the sequel, The Ghost Brigades, which is every bit as good. I'm now starting in on book three, The Last Colony. I'm also very much looking forward to his forthcoming book in June, Redshirts, which is a send-up of Star Trek. You know, the guys in the red shirts always die. My older son Haley, 17, is reading this series along with me, and also loves it. Thanks, Mr. Scalzi, for some father-son geek bonding!
73 reviews7 followers
August 5, 2007
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 drillmaster, saves the day in a battle as a private, is the only survivor of an inescapable attack, forces his way onto an elite squad and impresses them too ...

The protagonist himself is so unmoved by these achievements that it is only on looking back that I start to wonder if the guy has purple eyes and red hair (he doesn't *g*). The whole thing is done with a sort of detached air of nonchalance that doesn't really engage.

Briskly paced, entertaining, cool world building (if a little lacking on detail) and oddly clinical. I'm not entirely sure I *liked* it. But it was a good read.
Profile Image for HBalikov.
1,787 reviews674 followers
March 16, 2022
So many space adventures are disappointing -
- they get the science wrong...
- the characters are two-dimensional...
- the plot has no nuance....
- there is nothing to surprise and delight

Scalzi's book is different. He understands science enough to keep on the plausible side. His characters grow (some in unusual ways). The plot is novel, in some aspects, and when Earth's politics are left behind there are many brave new worlds to explore. Added surprise and delights were: his handling of aging, his sensitivity to diversity (some with "aliens"); and his narrative voice.

To say anymore would spoil the experience
Profile Image for Choko.
1,221 reviews2,595 followers
April 9, 2018
*** 4.25 ***

"... “Part of what makes us human is what we mean to other people, and what people mean to us. I miss meaning something to someone, having that part of being human.”... ... ...

“What is it like when you lose someone you love?" Jane asked.
"You die, too. And you wait around for your body to catch up.”...."

This one sentence is how I felt after I lost the person I loved most in this life... It is a good thing we, as humans, always strive and tend to find other humans to relate to in order to keep on going, despite that feeling never being able to be duplicated... But I am ... I am going off into deep, so let's get back to the Old Man's War.

Imagine our world, a place deeply entangled in an interstellar and inter-species war, having the technology to "rejuvenate" human aging, but it only works in space and is only provided when you sign off your life to the Space Military and give up your Earth citizenship for ever. Easier still to picture it is if you have seen the first Starship Troopers movie or read the books by Robert Heinlein with the same name. Now imagine all those young, just out of school recruits and replace them with old ladies and gizzards, no good for our society anymore and close to death, their children already having children and grandchildren. They are no good to anyone but to the modern military, which promises a new lease on life as long as they are willing to fight on the side of the Humans against all sorts of alien colonists for, I believe it is 10 years a tour at least, and promise never to come back to Earth if they survive it. It appears, most of our old folks rather give war a try and die either young or on a human colony on another planet, than just give up and let nature take its course. So, all those old farts get "rejuvenated" and go first to basic training and pretty quickly after, war.

"... “If you’re the best that the Earth has got to offer, it’s time we bend over and get a tentacle right up the ass.”..."

As you might have guessed already, this is a non-too-subtle homage to the Starship Troopers Universe and Scalzy does what he is so good at doing - making tweaks and adding what-ifs scenarios which make us look, through tragedy and humor, deeper into the Human Psyche as a whole and humanities nervous trigger-finger in particular. Shoot first, sort it out later seems to be an old and well honored tradition of our species. He has done an awesome job at portraying both the war and the people and aliens who fight it. It seems none of us learn from previous mistakes very well...

"... “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.” ..."

I liked the book very much, despite it being a bit too close to the work that inspired it once you get past the old-being-young-again thing. I liked the idea that the Space Marines in this case actually prefer the old folks with life experience exactly because of what that life experience and impending mortality do to the human spirit and resolutions. There were a ton of very quotable moments and in order not to burden the review with more of them, I would say, if military Science Fiction and some humor are up your alley, this is the book and series for you! And sarcasm is a real thing in those pages, have that in mind:)

"... “I’m a monster. You’re a monster. We’re all fucking inhuman monsters, and we don’t see a damned thing wrong with it.” ..."

Now I wish you all Happy Reading and may you always find what you Need in the pages of a Good Book!!!
Profile Image for Bharath.
643 reviews476 followers
November 6, 2021
I have wanted to read John Scalzi’s books since long, and finally got to it now. I loved this book, though only time will tell if I will have the patience & resolve to complete the series quickly. It is not difficult to see from the first book why this would do well as a series – in this book Scalzi creates a whole new world – with its own rules, technology and power plays. There is this underlying tension constantly though which links the story to our familiar principles of existence.

John Perry has just turned 75, and is now a loner, with his wife of many years (Kathy) having passed away. His son is well settled, and John decides that joining the ‘Colonial Defense Forces’ is an opportunity to live a second life, making himself useful and providing purpose. The CDF has advanced technology which revitalizes the body, though not much detail is known when you sign up. The CDF’s prime goal is to ensure the survival of the human race, and those enlisted (those over 75 are eligible) are thrown into the thick of things after a period of training & acclimatization.

I generally find passing & sketchy references to places & cultures irritating. This book did get off to such a start with a vague mention of major cities in India being destroyed. That said, the build-up to the new world the book creates was very good, and the best part was the humour – sophisticated and extremely well-written. This is military science fiction with a good amount of violence as one would expect, but a very enjoyable read. There are snippets which provoke thought - What if others inflicted on us the horrors we inflict on animals? What does it truly mean to be human? Is having a purpose in life all we need? Can love find new ways?........

I initially felt the violence in the middle sections seemed to fill space for no purpose, but as I reached the end, I understood why that build-up was needed. I do wish the story had more character continuity, than just with John – but going further would need spoilers, so will avoid that.

If you like science fiction, you are almost certain to love this book. Definitely recommended.

My rating: 4.5 / 5.
Profile Image for Stjepan Cobets.
Author 13 books504 followers
June 27, 2020
My rating 4.8

The book "Old Man's War" by John Scalzi I immediately liked when I started reading it. The first idea that old people are fighting is totally crazy but I have to admit that a writer has a lively imagination. As the writer flips the story, I simply walked into the world, strange aliens, planets, wars, and galaxies, where life and death are linked to angry wool. The question of humanity in this book hangs on a thin thread, and again as if everything is inverted, how humanity can be relevant. I am thrilled with the story that the writer draws us like a magician with a magic stick; you just have to love characters that are sometimes just so crazy. Not to mention how many times I laughed as I read the book. Throughout the book, we are led by the main character, John Perry, who is 75 years old and sign to the army. The army promises him a new life, only has to serve a few years as a soldier in the CDF. But they did not tell him how long his life would last in the infinite universe, in which the human race is fighting for every inhabited planet. I would recommend the book to the fans of space opera and military Sci-Fi.
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,972 followers
February 27, 2011
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 and gathering advanced technologies in the process. Needing volunteers, the CDF has a recruiting pitch that’s hard to top. They’ll take senior citizens from Earth and somehow make them young again. Survive the ten year enlistment, and the reward is getting set up on one of the colonized planets.

John Perry is a widower who joins the CDF on his seventy-fifth birthday. He quickly learns how the CDF makes good on their promise to make soldier young again, and also finds out that the war they’ll be fighting is incredibly brutal and that most won’t survive their enlistments.

The idea of humans fighting wars out in space with advanced technology is nothing new, but Scalzi did a great job of taking fresh approaches to this concept. The idea of an army made up of senior citizens is unique in itself, and the weapons and tech he came up with are also clever and inventive. It’s filed with rip-roaring battle scenes, and the alien opponents he created are also several notches above what you usually get in these space war type books.

But the real hook is here the outstanding job that Scalzi did with the characters, and the sense of humor that he weaves into the story. There’s a lot of very funny stuff in this book amidst the interstellar war, and that’s something that many sci-fi writers forget to include. I particularly loved how Scalzi took the standard war story scenes of the gruff old drill sergeant training the recruits and gave it a twist.

I’ll be checking out the sequels as soon as I can get my hands on them.
Profile Image for Jilly.
1,838 reviews6,243 followers
September 11, 2017
“Our job is to go meet strange new people and cultures, and kill the sons of bitches as quickly as we possibly can."

Well, that's a new concept. Thank goodness we've never done anything like that here on Earth. This is happening in space.

Oh, there's a special day for that? Ooops. Better bring a pie over to the neighbors later. They live in a box on the corner now. I gave them some blankets that my kids used when they had chicken pox,
so they are staying warm. I'll bring them some beer too. Alcohol will help them.

So, when I first read the blurb about this book it sounded kind of interesting, but not so compelling that I needed it now. Boy was I wrong! This book is awesome! It's even got stupid/weird names for everything and lots of alien battles in space and I still like it. It takes some fancy writing to make that happen. Or magic.

Oh, that's right. Like most women, I hate magic. So, I guess it's fancy writing.

Our hero is John, who is one of those old guys that are always cracking jokes and trying to make you smile. In other words, one of the only kind of tolerable old people. The female equivalent bakes you chocolate chip cookies and calls you "dear". Do you hear that, racist grandma? You suck!

I need directions to the nearest nursing home that has been featured on a news expose'

In this story, Earth has learned to travel in space and has been colonizing planets for years. Of course, there is the problem with tricky natives and other alien races that also want the planets. We've got the solution: kill everyone and take what we want. Okay it's not exactly perfect, but it's kinda our thing. Of course, since those pesky aliens fight back, we need a powerful army. Enter the old people!! They have nothing better to do!

Let's face it, it's the perfect plan since most of them will die anyway. Plus, old people are great at learning new technology and love change. What could possibly go wrong?

Okay, yeah, it might be a problem when they fly from planet to planet with the turn signal on, but hey, we can invent something that automatically turns it off, right? I mean, hell, we've mastered space travel at this point. I think a timer on the blinker would be cake.

Alright, it turns out a lot could go wrong, so they have to do a few "alterations" on our oldies to make them new and shiny again. It would be inconvenient to have to stop for hundreds of bathroom breaks on the way to the inter-galactic war. Plus, arthritis. And, eating dinner at 4 pm so they don't miss the Wheel before bed.....

Not exactly, but close enough.

The best part of this book is the characters. John is compelling, complex, funny, and easy to relate to. All of the side characters also feel real and never fit into a simple side-kick box. I loved their banter, and how their age affected their attitudes. Maybe that seems strange, but you get a sense that they have histories, not just that they are characters who feel like they just came into existence for the book's sake. You know what I mean?

"the reasons the CDF selects old people to become soldiers—it’s not just because you’re all retired and a drag on the economy...You've lived long enough to know that there’s more to life than your own life....It’s hard to drill that concept into the brain of a nineteen-year-old. But you know from experience. In this universe, experience counts.”

His resume is a bunch of pictures of "participation" trophies.

You've gotta read this book. Listen to an old lady's advice and maybe I'll bake you some cookies some day. Or, if you prefer, I'll knit you a nice hat. You must keep warm, dear.
Profile Image for TS Chan.
719 reviews886 followers
February 10, 2016
I didn't really know what to expect when I started reading this book. The first half of the book was a breeze to read and was peppered with a lot of humour that had me laughing out loud. The author had a very fluid and easy prose that just flows. The dialogue is often times hilarious and laced with dry humour (my favourite kind). The second half is where the action really starts and the tone of the book changes quite significantly.

While humourous, the story does carry some form of moral/ethical conundrum, which is beginning to appear quite a normal occurrence in stories of humans vs aliens. What the main protagonist had to become and to do in order to defend the human colonists seem to bring him further and further away from humanity. Decimating alien races which have a taste for human flesh might seem acceptable but where does one draw the line in fighting for the ideal planets for human colonization. The one instance which left a huge distaste

The ending was oddly almost non-climactic; or perhaps I'm just too used to fantasy. All in all, a great read which is quite short and enjoyable as far as sci-fi goes. I'll probably continue with the series a bit later on as I've just too much to catch up on.
Profile Image for Zoe Artemis Spencer Reid.
512 reviews108 followers
January 7, 2022
Finally it was over. What an exercise to measure my endurance. The premise was interesting, that was about all. The writing was simplistic, but not in the good way, it was bland and utterly unappealing. A basic rule of great story telling was to show, don't tell. The narrative was all talk with diverse information dumped onto pages, but somehow still telling you nothing toward the real questions surrounding the CDF and its relationship to humanity, no explanation of the history, the whole concept of the entire premise itself. It was as though the writer had this vague idea like a piece of puzzle, but couldn't or didn't want to bother to realize, to make sense of the complete puzzle. The characters? What characters? They were all basically one person, and not even an interesting one at that. They, who all sounded like early 20s not 75 by the way, had the same voice, cracked the same jokes, they were superficial with no nuance, no color, they might as well be numbers. Aren't your POVS supposed to be individuals, not a thousand people? There was just no way to feel any sort of attachment to any single faceless person. Ah maybe, the sense of humour was the saving grace, if crude, dirty, juvenile kind like fart jokes humour appeal to you.

The plot was boring with no drop of creativity or any hint of originality whatsoever executed terribly and far-fetched. Nothing made sense and no a single component has any depth. The writer had this convenient, self-indulgent attitude 'It is this way, because I say it.' Wow, didn't realize I was reading a fan fiction, sorry my mistake.

What was even more ridiculous, how hilarious the attempt at political/ideology sales pitch and the reaction of hundreds people with diverse background and profession which hadn't been transformed into mindless soldiers yet.

“Humanity has two problems. The first is that it is in a race with other sentient and similar species to colonize. Colonization is the key to our race’s survival. It’s as simple as that. We must colonize or be closed off and contained by other races."

And then, “Whatever your feelings about the possibility for diplomacy in the long run, the reality is that on the ground, we are in fierce and furious competition. We cannot hold back our expansion and hope that we can achieve a peaceful solution that allows for colonization by all races. To do so would be to condemn humanity. So we fight to colonize."

And finally, “Our second problem is that when we do find planets suitable for colonization, they are often inhabited by intelligent life. When we can, we live with native population and work to achieve harmony. Unfortunately, much of the time, we are not welcome. It is regrettable when this happens, but the needs of humanity are and must be our priority. And so the Civil Defense Forces become an invading force.”

And what? they all just swallowed that bullshit? Apparently.
I am not talking about morality, but how absurd and groundless the argument was, not to mention how bad it was presented. If you wanted people to buy your bullshit, unreasonable story line, at least made it convincing.

The dreadfulness kept coming. What felt to me the worst of the worst was how unreasonable and unrealistic the psychology element here. I could go on and on, but honestly I didn't know why I bother to still write at this point.

Maybe the book was supposed to be satirical or a black humour thing, but I didn't get the impression though, maybe it was invisible to me if it was there at all. I honestly couldn't care less.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,509 reviews854 followers
March 24, 2019
This book took me by surprise. Like the characters in the book when they reach 75, I was wondering how they would be rejuvenated when they joined the military- and I was fascinated by the answer. Then the ghost brigades. Wow. Thoroughly enjoyed this!
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