Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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 Troopers 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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"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." Booklist
"Smartly conceived and thoroughly entertaining, Old Man's War is a splendid novel." Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Scalzi's imagined interstellar arena is coherently and compellingly delineated....His speculative elements are top-notch. His combat scenes are blood-roiling. His dialogue is suitably snappy and profane." Paul Di Filippo, The Washington Post Book World
"Scalzi's first novel presents a new approach to military sf, boasting an unusual cast of senior citizens as heroes. A good choice." Library Journal
"[A] clever, promising book." Dave Itzkoff, The New York Times Book Review
A stunning novel of the long war for human survival in a universe replete with hostility.
John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife's grave. Then he joined the army. The bulk of humanity's resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force which doesn't want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living to the frontlines of war, light-years from home.
About the Author
John Scalzi won the 2006 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and Old Mans War, his debut novel, was a finalist for science fictions Hugo Award. His other books include The Ghost Brigades, The Androids Dream and The Last Colony. He has won the Hugo Award, the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for science-fiction, the Seiun, The Kurd Lasswitz and the Geffen awards. His weblog, Whatever, is one of the most widely-read web sites in modern SF. Born and raised in California, Scalzi studied at the University of Chicago. He lives in southern Ohio with his wife and daughter.