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Old Man's War Mass Market Paperback – January 15, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
At any rate, I really like the book -- and on its own merits, not just because it reminds me of Heinlein. (Nor is it just because the hero, John Nicholas Perry, hails from the county seat of Darke County in my home state of Ohio, where Scalzi now lives.) Scalzi is a fine writer and his ideas sparkle off the page.
I won't spoil anything for you; just keep your eyes peeled for at least one really cool idea every three or four pages. (And if Scalzi hasn't blown your mind within the first couple hundred pages, it'll happen when Alan Rosenthal explains how the skip drive works.) I can't really tell you anything specific without giving away something better left for you to discover as you read.
I can say in general, though, that Scalzi has a pretty healthy sense of what it will take for human beings to colonize other planets in a universe that contains other sentient species. (And I think he has a better appreciation of moral ambiguity than Heinlein did even on his best day.) He's also got a knack for thinking up clever and gruesome ways for people to die. Oh, and there's a lot of nicely handled bittersweet stuff that may bring tears to your eyes if you're inclined to that sort of thing.
All in all, a fine first novel; I'll look forward to reading his next (_Agent to the Stars_) as well as what appears to be a sequel currently in the works (_The Ghost Brigades_). And welcome to Ohio, John.
This novel begins superbly. The main character is a 75-year old man who has volunteered for military service. He is very likable person, and the story begins with his enlistment and his transformation into a fighting machine. All of this is fun, imaginative and very well done. I had great hopes for the rest of this novel as a result.
Unfortunately, OLD MAN'S WAR takes a bit of a tumble after the first third. This book essentially becomes a military war story, and Scalzi does a subpar job of supplying any of the supporting characters with a distinct personality. To a large degree, I found most of them rather boring and interchangeable. There is a lot of action in this book, and a fair number of characters die, but I couldn't care less because I never really got to know any of them. The result is a less than compelling read.
There is also a ton of jokey dialogue in OLD MAN'S WAR, which I found rather jarring, given the serious themes that Scalzi seemed interesting in exploring. I enjoy humor in a book, but not the sort of endless wisecracking that I found here. As another reviewer commented, it's hard to believe any of these characters is 75 years old. They sound more like a group of smart-alecky college kids, each trying to one-up the other in the joke department.
That being said, Scalzi has a first-rate creative mind, and I enjoyed the world-building he did for OLD MAN'S WAR. He also writes in a smooth style that's pretty easy to read, and the story moves at a fast clip. Many of the fight scenes are well done.Read more ›
No spoilers here, so my discussion of the story will be limited. The essential premise and storyline is that in the near future, Earth/humankind have discovered the "skip drive" which is a method of interstellar space travel. Mankind quickly learns that valuable planets are a scarce commodity and there are several intelligent races in our neck of the Galaxy that as a matter of routine try to use military force to take planets away from other races. Including, of course, human colonial planets. Accordingly, to protect Earth and also to protect colony worlds, the "Colonial Defense Force" enlists elderly human beings on Earth as soldiers to protect the colony worlds. The protagonist in the novel is such a one.
The novel includes pretty strong character development. It manages to make some of the characters both lifelike and alien. This is no small feat and a task that most science fiction authors struggle with. Here, the author succeeds.
The author's speculations about what interaction between mankind and aliens will be like are startling. The reader can decide for him or her self whether they are plausible. I was not able to say that they were implausible, at any rate.
The novel contains dazzling speculation about the future destiny of humanity in space and technology in general. This, combined with a fast-moving storyline and solid plot, earns this one five stars in my opinion.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was a little like a reverse Ender's Game, without the angsty philosophizing. Fast, action packed and characteristic Scalzi smart mouths.Published 3 days ago by Duke Norwood
Good read, but could have had more detail. Better descriptions of some the battles and aliens themselves would have gone a long way.Published 4 days ago by T
An easy and quick read with a decent balance of human interest and action. An interesting premise that had its share of made up science but didn't get bogged down by it.Published 9 days ago by nw-gamer
Scalzi reaches inside the reader's hopes, dreams and imagination and delivers in a way that is both intriguing and frightening. Read morePublished 9 days ago by Kevin McDermott
"The king died, and then the queen died, is a story, while The king died, and then the queen died of grief, is a plot." E.M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Billy Ruffian
John Scalzi creates a sense of place as well as any writer I've ever read. He mixes science fiction and contemporary ideas effortlessly. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Dee Cee
This was not my favorite, nor least favorite. It takes about 75 pages to get into it and past the set-up. It's needed, but it was a little too basic and I felt unengaged. Read morePublished 16 days ago by The Best Out West