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Old Man's War Hardcover – Dec 9 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1 edition (Jan. 1 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765309408
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765309402
  • Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 2.9 x 21.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,274,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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. Seventy-five-year-old John Perry joins the Colonial Defense Force because he has nothing to keep him on Earth. Suddenly installed in a better-than-new young body, he begins developing loyalty toward his comrades in arms as they battle aliens for habitable planets in a crowded galaxy. As bloody combat experiences pile up, Perry begins wondering whether the slaughter is justified; in short, is being a warrior really a good thing, let alone being human? The definition of "human" keeps expanding as Perry is pushed through a series of mind-stretching revelations. The story obviously resembles such novels as Starship Trooper and Time Enough for Love, but Scalzi is not just recycling classic Heinlein. He's working out new twists, variations that startle even as they satisfy. The novel's tone is right on target, too—sentimentality balanced by hardheaded calculation, know-it-all smugness moderated by innocent wonder. 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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

With his wife dead and buried, and life nearly over at 75, John Perry takes the only logical course of action left him: he joins the army. Now better known as the Colonial Defense Force (CDF), Perry's service-of-choice has extended its reach into interstellar space to pave the way for human colonization of other planets while fending off marauding aliens. The CDF has a trick up its sleeve that makes enlistment especially enticing for seniors: the promise of restoring youth. After bonding with a group of fellow recruits who dub their clique the Old Farts, Perry finds himself in a new body crafted from his original DNA and upgraded for battle, including fast-clotting "smartblood" and a brain-implanted personal computer. All too quickly the Old Farts are separated, and Perry fights for his life on various alien-infested battlegrounds. Scalzi's blending of wry humor and futuristic warfare recalls Joe Haldeman's classic, The Forever War (1974), and strikes the right fan--pleasing chords to probably garner major sf award nominations. Carl Hays
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday. Read the first page
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on Oct. 3 2006
Format: Paperback
Good pace, simple, but believable portrayal of characters.

Brisk description of technologies.

Not for the 1st time mind transfer makes an appealing appearance.

Fun battle drops and overall good feel to the story, despite some horrors of death and destruction.
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By Rose TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 13 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This may sound funny but I've been avoiding reading Scalzi for years now. Every book recommendation program like the one here on Amazon thinks I would love him, but his books aren't cheap so it was easier to avoid him (not knowing what I was missing) than to shell out gobs of money to buy up everything he wrote if I loved his stories. Well, I broke down and read Old Man's War and now I'm totally screwed. It was good. Real good. So much so that I just can't wait to read more and now I'm going to be poor by the end of summer!!

Reading this felt similar to reading The Forever War. Both are war based without all the annoying "Hut-2-3-4" and "Hooyahs" and all the other "real-life" military stuff that I find bores me to tears. This was full of science, aliens, genetic manipulation and everything science fiction is supposed to be with a dash of humour. That's right...this book has it all!!

Meet John Perry...he's a 75 year old widower from Ohio. Ten years earlier he signed up for the Colonial Defence Force and they only take recruits who are 75. The CDF operates in space protecting Earth from....who knows, as no one on Earth has been told anything. Citizens of Earth aren't allowed to go into space, except 75 year olds who join the CDF but once you join, you're never allowed to go back to Earth.

As it turns out, a lot is happening in space. Aliens are all fighting each other over the prime planets and no one wants to give up what they have. Essentially this is a real estate war.

I enjoyed all of the characters. You don't get to know many very well, aside from John Perry, but after 75 years of life they are interesting, funny, a bit sarcastic, and basically they were people you were sad to see killed off in this war. As I mentioned before I really shouldn't have read this because now I have to run out and get the next books in this series and there are a few of them.
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By A. Volk #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on June 21 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The Old Man's War is really the old person war as both men and women from the distant future are invited to leave Earth and join the Colonial Army. Earth is a relatively technological backwater, largely thanks to the Colonial Government not sharing its alien-related technology. As humanity discovered faster-than-light travel they also discovered a host of alien species. Some were friendly, most were not as habitable planets became resources to compete over. One advantage of that has been the gain of technology, and it is this technology that the Colonial Army offers to old Earth humans. Join up and become young again.

The recruits aren't sure how this happens, but they sign up largely because the alternative (getting even older and dying) is less appealing. Well, the book does describe a way of making them younger that's quasi-realistic. In fact, it can make them even healthier than ever. Unfortunately, it also means participating in military service with only a 10-25% chance of survival. If they live, they get to "retire" in young bodies as colonists on some distant planet.

The strength of the book lies in the details of how John Perry interacts with the people around him. At 75 years of age he's a widower with only one child whom he leaves behind on Earth. He meets fellow seniors and quickly forms a bond with them. There is a fair bit of Starship Troopers-type discussion of what military service means and entails. There's also a reasonable exploration of what it means to be human. Finally, there's also quite a bit of action which keeps the book moving along at a good pace.

The weaknesses of the book is that the rapid body count keeps you from getting too attached to anyone other than John.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
John Scalzi has a wicked sense of humour. Although this is a space opera, and all about fighting aliens, it also is whimsical and funny at times.

Humanity is out and about in the universe and establishing colonies anywhere it can. However, there are other races that have the same idea and just like in real estate it's all about location, location, location. Every race is after the same great planets, and they are willing to do whatever it takes.

In a turn around to the traditional sending the young men off to fight, Scalzi envisions a system where when you reach 75 you join up and go off planet to fight. You are regenerated as a younger physically enhanced version of your self but still have your memories of the first 75 years of your life.

Technology off Earth is superior in all respects to what you can get on Earth, however that's just a rumour as after you sign up for military duty you can never return to Earth.

Great action scenes, great humour, great character development and overall a GREAT read.

Highly recommended as is Scalzi's latest Redshirts, another irreverent space opera novel.
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By John M. Ford TOP 100 REVIEWER on Feb. 16 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Reviews which compare Old Man's War with Robert Heinlein's classic science fiction--not the kinkier, later stuff--are on the mark. Like Heinlein's Starship Troopers, this book takes us on a coming of age journey as the protagonist joins the military and leaves the familiar atmosphere of Earth. In this case the age-coming is in reverse, as a senior citizen is restored to youthful combat-readiness. The "BrainPal" computer implant and physiological enhancements are recognizable Heinlein influences, but different enough to be engaging. The reader will enjoy discovering other similarities without becoming distracted by them.

Some Heinlein weaknesses are there, too. I say this with affection, because they are sentimental reminders of Heinlein's voice. The gadgetry and action are stronger than the characters, who sometimes seem shallow in emotionally complex situations. In the first chapter, there is a well-written melancholy to the protagonist's description of his late wife. This depth does not transfer well to his later reactions to her memory. And this isn't credibly due to a change in the character. It's worth exploring for yourself, though. If you have lost a spouse, I suggest comparing Scalzi's grasp of your experience with Stephen King's in Bag of Bones or Lisey's Story.

Never mind the impefections. :) It's a good story you can enjoy while remembering Heinlein. Buy it, read it, and keep it around to read again right after Thanksgiving dinner.
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