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Old Man's War

(Old Man's War #1)

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  179,715 ratings  ·  10,842 reviews
John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife's grave. Then he joined the army.

The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce-- and 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
Kindle Edition, 318 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by Tor Books (first published December 27th 2005)
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Charles I would say that Forever War is more a "Hard" science-fiction, building from the concept of time-dilation ala relativity to dive into how societies, t…moreI would say that Forever War is more a "Hard" science-fiction, building from the concept of time-dilation ala relativity to dive into how societies, their technologies, and the stratagems of interstellar warfare change in a seemingly-abrupt way.

Old Man's War is more "flight-of-fancy" and not really grounded in too much hard sci-fi. Also, the depth of the characters in Forever War far-far-far outweigh the shallow development in Old Man's War. Actually this is my main gripe about Old Man's War, and that all the characters are pretty much the same person, just in different bodies.(less)
Delia Binder
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.23  · 
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Mark Lawrence
Nov 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ind
There wasn't anything horribly wrong with this book, but I found myself unattached to any of the characters. And even for a science fiction novel I thought a lot of the plot was just unbelievable; the main character seems to excel at and have the answer to everything while his fellow soldiers get killed left and right. The people he meets are little more than cannon fodder and you don't really get a chance to like them so it's not that big a deal when they bite it. Scalzi chooses to barely descr ...more
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
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
Mario the lone bookwolf
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 philosophic
Maggie Stiefvater
May 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommended, adult
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
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
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
Nov 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Old Man’s War by John Scalzi has been described as an exciting new take on the work of Robert A. Heinlein.

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

A Heinlein fan will compare this most readily t
mark monday
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
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
$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 d
May 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely an enjoyable read. A nice mix of philosophical and humorous observations, especially in the beginning, manage to capture the tone of an older person looking back on a long life.

The beginning starts with John, the main character, entering a recruiter's office to review and sign his enlistment contract. It is a marvelous device, allowing John's internal commentary and reactions to provide needed background to the current political and technological setting. Scalzi's straightforward writ
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 m
Megan Baxter
Apr 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
David Putnam
Nov 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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. ...more
Dec 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Perry enlists in the Colonial Defense Force on his 75th birthday and gets whisked off to war in a new and improved body, defending Earth's colonies against alien races. Will John be one of the few that survives his first year?

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

I've been pretty omnivorous in my reading tastes the last couple of years and I think that's why I like
Dec 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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: (view spoiler)
Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller
[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 ...more
Mayim de Vries
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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, r
This is an odd sort of book. Scalzi has a really neat central premise -- but the story gets lost up against it. The story is told in an oddly clinical fashion that leaves a sort of feeling that you're being given a report on story instead of the story itself. The story moves along briskly enough, but I'm left oddly unmoved by the protagonist's experience.

It doesn't help that while the premise requires that the protagonist excel at warfare etc., he surpasses all expectations -- stuns his drillma
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
*** 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
Rick Riordan
Nov 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I love this guy! It's been a long time since I sat down and read some straight-forward science fiction, and Scalzi seems to have a direct feed to the recorded consciousness of the late great Robert Heinlein. Old Man's War introduces us to John Perry, a seventy-something earth man who has nothing to live for after the death of his wife, so he signs up for the army. You see, in the future, you can either die when you get old, or you can join the Colonial Defense Forces, get a new body designed for ...more
Stjepan Cobets
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 re
Nov 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 Perr
Dec 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Getting old sucks but as the old joke says, it‘s better than the alternative. However, what if there was a way to get to be young again? The catch is that if you do it, you’ll probably die in some horribly bloody and spectacular fashion at the hands of aliens on a distant world. Any volunteers?

In this terrific novel, humanity has spread out to the stars only to find that they’re competing with several types of aliens for habitable planets. The Colonial Defense Force has been waging those wars an
“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. Al
TS Chan
Oct 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Ahmad Sharabiani
Old Man's War (Old Man's War #1), John Scalzi
Old Man's War is a military science fiction debut novel by American writer John Scalzi, published in 2005. Old Man's War is the first novel in Scalzi's Old Man's War series. A sequel, The Ghost Brigades, was published in 2006, followed by two other books, The Last Colony (2007) and Zoe's Tale (2008). Another book in the series, The Human Division, was published as a serial and then collected in a novel (2013). The next book in the series, The End of A
We all have regrets and things we wish we could do differently if life would allow it. What would you be willing to do to have an honest chance to live life over again? In Old Man's War that's not a philosophical question it's a real choice and one that many senior citizens take gladly. One such senior citizen is John Perry who on his 75th birthday chose to live his life over again.

In order to get that second chance John joins the army, well the Colonial Defense Force (CDF) to be exact. The CDF
Kitty G Books
Apr 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-sff-faves
So I finnnnnalllyyy got around to reading this, I have been meaning to for a fairly long time now. I'm definitely glad that I did read this too becuase although it's a short book for me, it actually worked super well as a military SF that I enjoyed (not something too common for me to be honest). This story drew me in fast and then kept me interested right the way through by following the character of John Perry, an old man who joins the Space Army in exchange for somehow becoming younger.

I have
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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.)

Other books in the series

Old Man's War (6 books)
  • The Ghost Brigades (Old Man's War, #2)
  • The Last Colony (Old Man's War, #3)
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