Old Man’s War (Old Man’s War #1) – John Scalzi

old man's war

Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Tor

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. Far from Earth, the war has been going on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.

Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity’s resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force. Everybody knows that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don’t want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You’ll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You’ll serve two years at the front. And if you survive, you’ll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets.

John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine–and what he will become is far stranger.

Old Man’s War is an action packed thrill ride in space. After joining the army, John is transported to a whole new world he didn’t know existed. Once there, he makes new friends, learns new skills, and, most importantly, gets a new lease on life.

The opening chapters of this book are the some of the most exciting, more specifically the introduction to the Colonial Defense Force. The Colonial Defense Force is beyond the imagination of anyone on earth, so experiencing it through the thoughts of a seventy-five year old man who has lived a full life was interesting and unique.

After the lengthy introduction of the Colonial Defense Force, the novel goes into the written equivalent of a montage. Throughout the montage, the reader sees John develop into a solider and is given various world building information about the different alien races and the Colonial Defense Force itself. This montage is the perfect length. It conveys all the pertinent character and world building information without being an info dump.

Old Man’s War poses the question: what does it mean to be human? Once John’s training is finished, he’s immediately thrown into the war for control of various planets against different races of aliens. He experiences battle after battle where he is told little to no information about the other race, only the objective and how to defeat them. After defeating and killing countless aliens, John begins to question who he has become and the Colonial Defense Force’s motivations. This line of questioning was interesting, but didn’t go far enough. John speaks to others around him about his concerns, but is quickly reassured. The theme of humanity isn’t revisited for the rest of the novel. I wish the novel would have taken it was step further and explored the grey areas of war and following orders.

“I’m stomping around this city like a monster. I’m beginning to think that’s exactly what I am. What I’ve become. I’m a monster. You’re a monster. We’re all fucking inhuman monsters, and we don’t see a damned thing wrong with it.”

Overall, Old Man’s War is a fun Science Fiction space adventure that focuses heavily on the military aspect of space exploration and war.

4 thoughts on “Old Man’s War (Old Man’s War #1) – John Scalzi

  1. Awesome review! I have been meaning to try a Scalzi book ever since I first heard about it. Glad to hear that it was a pretty solid story with Old Man’s War. It sounds like it could’ve been even more amazing if it just explored the whole question of humanity a bit more and it seems like it really could have nailed it based on what the whole story is about. Thanks for sharing! I’ll have to get my hands on one of his books some day.

  2. Old Man’s War was one of my first scifi recommendation by the fellow scifi addict readers LOL since that day I always wanted to read a John Scalzi novel! You just rekindled that interest in me with this review ❤

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s