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4.3 out of 5 stars
Old Man's War
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon May 13, 2015
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2006
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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. Also, I was very disappointed in how one of the most important ideas in the book was handled. It was the question of "Why are we investing so much in war versus diplomacy?" The author handles it very clumsily and then essentially avoids that question. Which is a pretty important one, especially considering what is revealed about the most powerful alien species encountered.

So overall, I consider this a fun but of sci-fi reading. There is some depth to it in terms of themes and ideas to think about, but it's not nearly as cerebral or thought-provoking as many other sci-fi stories. With that in mind, I think I can safely say this is a book I liked to read, but not loved to read. That means that four stars seems like a good rating for this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon March 3, 2013
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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on March 22, 2014
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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on November 9, 2012
This one is a great ride! Clever concept, well thought out details and great fast paced action. You can't help but cheer for the heroes and enjoy the journey. Can't wait to read the next book in this series. You can't go wrong with this one, if you love a great Sci-Fi adventure then this one is a can't miss read!
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on September 27, 2014
This book is a must read for anything who likes Ender's game. This book is the perfect combination of alien killing action and witty humor. The futuristic states are made easy to follow and believable by Scalzi's down to earth writing. It is also not a very heavy read and just cannot put it down.
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on April 28, 2014
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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on May 9, 2014
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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