Andrew's Reviews > Old Man's War

Old Man's War by John Scalzi
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's review
Aug 19, 2009

really liked it

At the end of the book Scalzi thanks Robert Heinlein, and it's clear why. There's a lot of Starship Troopers in this book, and more than a little bit of Haldeman's Forever war.

But beyond sharing a similar plot and structure, the books share a stylistic similarity that's almost shocking. Old Man's War could have easily been written forty years ago, and while the story moves along at a brisk and constantly entertaining pace, it often seems to gloss over the details. It's a book where things are the way they are, and much like the military protagonist it's your duty to accept them and move on with the business of dealing with it.

Clearly I liked this book quite a bit, as I gave it four stars. And if you look at the reviews and general discussion that surround this book it has the aura of a modern classic, and there's no doubt that Scalzi can tell an efficient and entertaining tale. That said, I wish that it had a little more heft to the world. It didn't t need to reach the depth and complexity of a Stephen Baxter novel, but as it is, I never quite buy into the premises that power the plot.

And if you're okay with that, it's an entertaining ride. The main character discovers what it means to be a genuine hero, the battle scenes are engaging, and the aliens all have uniquely quirky otherworldy qualities. There's even an emotional arc to the book that forms a solid spine, and keeps it from being a boring bug hunt.
It's all the stuff that was the hallmark of 60's space-opera, and for those of us who read the "good stuff" as kids, it's fun to go back and reconnect with that kind of world,especially when you can get through the entire book in a day or two.

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