Thursday, 3 May 2012

Quick Review: Old Man's War by John Scalzi

There's nothing I enjoy more than reading a good book while sitting with my feet up in my favourite chair, the warm sun streaming through the windows and great music playing in the background. In fact after I took early retirement just about all I did for the first few months was sit and read my way through my extensive book collection. One time I counted up and I'd read 15 books in seven days!

Although I've always been interested in military history I read very little of it today. Most of my time is spent reading science fiction and fantasy and that leads me onto today's review. I've been doing a lot of painting recently so I've decided to take a break and spend a few days just reading. After a quick perusal of my bookshelves I decided to read Old Man's War by John Scalzi again. I first came across this book while I was browsing through my recommendations on Amazon. What intrigued me was the strap line for the book

"John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife's grave. Then he joined the army."

How could anybody join the army aged 75? I had to find out so I bought the book and wasn't disappointed.

Humanity finally made it to interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce and there are lots of alien races willing to fight us for them. The war for available real estate has gone on for decades. Earth is quarantined from space 'for their own good' by the Colonial Defence Force (CDF) and  only those of retirement age can join the CDF. The new recruits are taken off Earth to serve two years at the front. No one on Earth knows why the geriatric pensioners are accepted and not fit young men, or how the old are made young enough again to fight. The old go for the chance to be young again and if they survive, they're given a generous homestead on hard-won colony planets, never to return to Earth. John Perry is taking that deal with only the vaguest idea what to expect.

The science is clever and interesting and forms an integral part of the story rather than something that's just included to allow things like space travel to happen. But I'm not going to go into great detail about the book as to do so would spoil many of the surprises it contains. The story itself can be described as many things. It can be called military sci-fi as there is John's training and the many tales of his combat experiences (my favourite is when they have to fight one inch high humanoid aliens). It could be called a love story about about a man and his dead wife who maybe isn't quite as dead as he thought. It could be a story about friendship and death. It could be a morality tale about power-hungry organisations manipulating people for their own short sighted aims. But the book is more than the sum of it's parts. It's funny, touching, exciting and makes you think. Best best of all it's a great read.

It's also part of a three book series the other two books being 'The Ghost Brigades' and 'The Last Colony'. If you enjoy good sci-fi do yourself a favour and get this book you won't be disappointed.

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree - it's a very interesting book (and series). I haven't been able to get hold of Last Colony, but did find "Zoe's Tale" which is the same story told from the viewpoint of John's adopted daughter


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