DFW Planetary Society Book Club discussion

Old Man's War (Old Man's War, #1)
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Old Man's War > Old Man's War Discussion (May have Spoilers!)

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Jessica | 82 comments Mod
Post spoiler free comments about Old Man's War here! Feel free to start new topics as well! Use spoiler tags if you just can't help yourself.


message 2: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 04, 2016 11:38AM) (new)

John Perry sounds like Murray's character in Stripes John Winger.

https://youtu.be/5wZ39aAhokQ


Markie (vegoego) | 90 comments Mod
Haha! Joshua, I think that's pretty spot on.


Markie (vegoego) | 90 comments Mod
Just sharing a kinda spoiler-ish thought.

(view spoiler)


message 5: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 04, 2016 11:38AM) (new)

Potential spoiler (maybe)
I wish I could summon Google the way Perry summons his BrainPal


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

I love the naming scheme Scalzi devised for Spec Forces


Mark | 87 comments So, assuming you've read about 20% of the book this isn't a spoiler topic (you've been warned):

Would you sign up for service?


Markie (vegoego) | 90 comments Mod
Would I sign up?

My first thought is "Yeah, totally! Cat eyes and sexy green body!"

But John does go through a lot, you know...cause it's a constant battlefield and they're basically fodder.
People he knows and likes dies in terrible and interesting ways.
But I guess at 75, I'd like the chance to go out in a terrible and interesting way, and see beyond anything any other human would be able to. Visiting alien worlds beyond our solar system is pretty rad.

Yeah, I think I would.


Mark | 87 comments There are so many layers to my answer :)

Generally speaking, knowing what he did at the time: I would sign up. And this is coming from somebody that doesn't fear death in the same way most do. I truly and without hesitation believe that death isn't the end and that I personally have nothing to worry about "on the other side". But hey, getting to live longer is pretty kewl :)

I also have no problem with Gen Modding in general, even human modifications (which is a MUCH more complicated issue than other forms).

My hesitation is in the ethics of military service in this context. I'm as pro military as anybody is in our 'Murican culture and without angst. This isn't a position I come to merely as a product of my culture but with both eyes open having spent a good amount of time thinking through the implications. BUT, I don't know how this interstellar government works and have major concerns with their choices (me being about 80% through the book now).


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

//Spoiler town

I would enlist merely for the notion of getting to travel in interstellar space. However, being the ardent pacifist humanist that I am I would only join the CDF if they would put me in the R & D sector.

Being a staunch pacifist humanist I'm something of a diametric opposite of Mark's pro-military stance. I understand the need for a defense of some sort when there are battle- and blood-hungry alien specie trying to wipe us out; however, I also feel like Bender made a solid point about being too inclined to rely on a militaristic approach if a diplomatic one can be reached. If y'all don't mind my quoting Asimov, "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent."

There is a right way and a wrong way to go about a diplomatic accord - Bender screwed the pooch on that approach.

Pardon my lewdness, but being a Game of Thrones fan myself I had hoped for more description in the lovely space-orgy sequence when everyone is getting acquainted with their new suits. On the other hand I realize that Scalzi wasn't aiming to write a literary porno so meh.

I can't wait to discuss this with y'all over the next hangouts, but I'm also wondering if we can do an in-person meetup this time?


message 11: by Mark (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mark | 87 comments So why R&D but not infantry?


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

R&D is about thinking creatively to solve problems. Infantry is about following orders and (usually) killing another entity. I consider myself too pacifist to be much good in infantry.


message 13: by Mark (last edited Aug 05, 2016 12:38PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mark | 87 comments The Pacifists I've been exposed to I tend to have great respect for, even though I completely disagree. As a whole they are very informed and thorough philosophical thinkers. And the stance from them usually is that they would not participate in a war, even in a support function, even if it meant their deaths. This last part I often point out to people on "my side" who unfairly label Pacifists as cowardly.
That is why I asked the question. After all, creating a better bomb for the military is not neutral, you ARE participating and facilitating violence.


message 14: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 05, 2016 01:18PM) (new)

There is a dichotomy present in the book: live out your life on Earth never getting to learn of the other opportunity, or join CDF and be reborn. I would accept entering into the CDF knowing full well I may get ordered to dispatch (kill) another entity. As they justify it in the story: defending our species - even if it necessarily must include killing another.

Now I also am at somewhat of a disadvantage because I do not know military life, nor could I ever join (deformed feet). I will only ever know the civilian side of life.


David Marchbanks | 16 comments **Possible spoilers!**




I agree with the sentiment that, "Heck yeah young body and awesome new abilities and living longer, heck yes!"

But the whole intergalactic expansionism and wholesale slaughter of alien species as a land grab thing might give me some hesitation. As Mark pointed out, he didn't really have a clear picture of how the CDF worked and what their policies were. Having finished the book and knowing what happens once you join up, I would have huge problems after the fact of essentially being bribed into joining a militaristic and expansionist government.

Knowing what John knew, I would probably join, and then be incredibly regretful shortly after.


David Marchbanks | 16 comments I have to say that for me this book is just okay. I am just going to talk about writing style here to avoid spoilers. I felt like the protagonist is a Marry-Sue-ish authorial stand in. And the banter between the 75 year olds sounds like a mediocre script for a sitcom about 30 somethings. There is constant exposition from unlikely and unreasonable sources, but it is ever present without any subtlety or nuance.

Overall I enjoyed reading this book and it was entertaining. It just feels like a light, unimpressive, action story. There are a few redeeming moments in the development of the characters, but overall I liked it okay, but I didn't love it.


Jessica | 82 comments Mod
It is a bit of a fluffy action read. I will point out that this was Scalzi's first published work. He has since exploded into the genre fiction world. I have only read one other of his books (Redshirts) which was also fun, though it's been long enough since I've read it that I couldn't tell you if the writing itself has been refined.

But I too enjoy it without it landing on any must read lists. Some of the science concepts are fun to think about. The idea of the "beanstalk" is intriguing though the fact that all of the technology is only possible due to our contact with other worlds, is a mild bummer. Totally understandable though.


message 18: by Mark (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mark | 87 comments The beanstalk has been a common theme in SciFi since the 70s. Having just done some checking it looks like the most credit should go to a soviet guy in 1960 who published the idea, and being the first to note it as a tension tether and not a tower concept.
I personally love the idea and consider it our best long term method to reach space. We aren't there yet but as Arthur C Clarke has said, it will get built after everyone stops laughing at the idea. From what I can tell, few scientists laugh it off anymore.


David Marchbanks | 16 comments The space elevator concept is a well researched and potentially feasible one. Which is why I was pretty disappointed when the beanstalk was explained as magic... oops I mean advanced alien technology. Just like a lot of the science and interesting concepts in the book. It works because of alien technology and you don't have the math to understand it. I don't expect a book to be a technical manual, but especially when something as possible and easy to understand as a space elevator are glossed over as physically impossible based on our knowledge of physics but they work because of aliens, it is a little disappointing.

I know I am being kind of salty, and I did enjoy the book. I am just surprised after reading all the rave reviews and seeing the awards it won.


message 20: by Mark (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mark | 87 comments That is a fair rebuke of the way this book handled tech issues.


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