The Barnes & Noble Review
Bifocals, denture fixative cream, and an AARP membership card are definitely not required to read John Scalzi's brilliant debut novel, Old Man's War -- a story about a group of septuagenarians (a.k.a. the Old Farts) who, with the promise of a new life, join the Colonial Union army and leave Earth forever to do battle against the many enemies of humankind.
When John Perry turns 75, he does two things: He visits his wife's grave and he joins the Colonial Defense Force. The CDF's enlistment contract is incredibly tempting. When a person reaches retirement age, all they have to do is give up all their worldly possessions and promise never to return to Earth. In return, elderly recruits get to take advantage of the Colonial Union's secretive therapy, which somehow reverses aging. In essence, the soldiers exchange a few years of military service for a new life on one of the Union's many colony planets. Without the faintest clue of what he's really getting himself into, Perry realizes quickly that he has just signed up for "an all-expenses-paid tour of hell." With a brand new, tank-grown, super-modified body -- green skin, cat's eyes, built-in cranial computers, etc. -- Perry and his ultra-human cohorts travel from planet to planet leaving dead aliens in their wake. All's well until Perry sees a very real and very familiar ghost…
The overly obvious comparisons to Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers aside, Scalzi's first novel is reminiscent of another genre master: Ben Bova. Effectively blending hard science concepts with powerfully moving interpersonal intrigue, Old Man's War is both a compelling pedal-to-the-metal science fiction thriller and an endearing love story. Paul Goat Allen
When humanity reaches the stars, it discovers that it must defend its claim to new planets against alien races with similar expansionist tendencies. To ensure the expertise of its soldiers, Earth creates the Colonial Defense Force, an army of men and women otherwise classified as senior citizens, who give up their lives on Earth for an uncertain and perilous future among the stars. Scalzi's first novel presents a new approach to military sf, boasting an unusual cast of senior citizens as heroes. A good choice for most libraries. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
“Though a lot of SF writers are more or less efficiently continuing the tradition of Robert A. Heinlein, Scalzi's astonishingly proficient first novel reads like an original work by the late grand master...This virtuoso debut pays tribute to SF's past while showing that well-worn tropes still can have real zip when they're approached with ingenuity.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Solid…[Scalzi] sidesteps most of the cliches of military science fiction, delivers fast-paced scenes of combat and pays attention to the science underpinning his premise.” San Francisco Chronicle
“Thought-provoking!” Entertainment Weekly
“Smartly conceived and thoroughly entertaining, Old Man's War is a splendid novel.” Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Gripping and surpassingly original. It's Starship Troopers without the lectures. It's The Forever War with better sex. It's funny, it's sad, and it's true.” Cory Doctorow
“John Scalzi is a fresh and appealing new voice, and Old Man's War is classic SF seen from a modern perspective--a fast-paced tour of a daunting, hostile universe.” Robert Charles Wilson
“I enjoyed Old Man's War immensely. A space war story with fast action, vivid characters, moral complexity and cool speculative physics, set in a future you almost want to live into, and a universe you sincerely hope you don't live in already.” Ken MacLeod
Read an Excerpt
"In this room right now are 1,022 recruits," Lt. Colonel Higgee said. "Two years from today, 400 of you will be dead."
Higgee stood in the front of the theater, again. This time, he had a backdrop: Beta Pyxis III floated behind him, a massive marble streaked with blue, white, green and brown
"In the third year," he continued, "another 100 of you will die. Another 150 in years four and five. After ten years and yes, recruits, you will most likely be required to serve a full ten years 750 of you have been killed in the line of duty. Three quarters of you, gone. These have been the survival statistics not just for the last ten or twenty years, but for the over two hundred years the Colonial Defense Forces have been active."
There was dead silence.
"I know what you're thinking right now, because I was thinking it when I was in your place," Lt. Colonel Higgee said. "You're thinking what the hell am I doing here? This guy is telling me I'm going to be dead in ten years! But remember that back home, you most likely would have been dead in ten years, too frail and old, dying a useless death. You may die in the Colonial Defense Forces. You probably will die in the Colonial Defense Forces. But your death will not be a useless one. You'll have died to keep humanity alive in our universe."