Genre: Science Fiction
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.