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Old Man's War [Mass Market Paperback]

John Scalzi
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 15 2007
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.

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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! June 18 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Inceredibly captivating read!!! I read it in one breath and can't wait to read his next book. Two thumbs up!!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars All new slant. May 9 2014
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Found this book quite good, it reveal's a whole new premise on how we would deal with hostile aliens using new biological techniques. Excellent read!
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5.0 out of 5 stars excellent May 5 2014
By Gordz
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was an excellent read. Could not put the book down. Will pick up the others in the series to read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, funny and smart April 28 2014
By Matt
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
No, I am not describing the ideal man to most women, but a very good science-fiction novel. I really enjoyed the humour and "human-ness" of the story. The science was also intriguing and interesting concepts were presented in a very plausible way. A good read overall.
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4.0 out of 5 stars First rate debut novel. March 22 2014
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
John Scalzi has come up with a space-war tale with a unique twist: live your normal life span to old age then sign up for another life in a new and better body. Too good to be true? Of course there's a catch. You have joined up with no choice but to leave Earth forever to fight a war against superior alien forces. One more catch, you have very little or no chance of surviving.

A good read and worth passing on to a friend.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling Aug. 15 2013
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a mix between Starship Troopers and Altered Carbon. Excellent stuff. Page turner. A very fun and very well written book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting story about future war June 21 2013
By A. Volk #1 REVIEWER #1 HALL OF FAME
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual concept May 2 2013
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Most unusual story .... I thought it a bit slow at the beginning but later realized it was necessary. Good read.....
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