Book Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera
Book Series: Old Man’s War #1
Released: 12/27/05 by Tor Books
Pages: 362 Price: $6.99 paperback
Links: Goodreads, Author’s Site
Buy the Book: Amazon Old Man’s War
Source: I own a signed copy of this book.
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.
Redshirts was my introduction to Mr. Scalzi’s work, then I tried Locked In and was approved (and read) his upcoming release of short stories titled Miniatures I figured it was about freaking time to try the series this author is most known for Old Man’s War. When I started the book I knew the odds of me liking it were pretty high and figured I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. I had no idea. Not a clue of what I was getting myself into.
Let me end the suspense, I loved this book like I loved The Martian sort of love, and if you have been following this blog for any amount of time you know just what that means ( I pimp The Martian frequently). I have to say this one is most definitely better: deeper, richer characters, more complex plot, just more… But both are great science fiction stories, just slightly different branches of the genre so it really isn’t fair to compare the two except that they are both these author’s first published work read by me, someone who enjoyed them both.
Like I stated above I really had no clue as to how great this story would be. It is also a story that I didn’t love every single minute of, it does have its faults in my opinion. Let’s start there so we can end with the love. There were a couple of points where I thought some information was conveniently dropped for the reader to have on hand for an upcoming scene. There was one really bad spot where I was reading and thought where the hell did this come from and why are we getting this little tangent only to have the details become uber-relevant in the next scene. Made me roll my eyes a bit when I realized what Scalzi had done. Thought the history or concept we needed to know could have been woven into the story a little smoother. Not a big deal really. Another not really problem I had but more of a feeling I felt was that I didn’t quite like humanity for much of this story. We kind of came off as bullies, arrogant, and entitled in our quest to take over the galaxy. Our less than favorable traits came shining through, which is perhaps a good thing, too often people forget that humans are not infallible and good vs evil is simply a matter of perspective.
On to what I loved. The humanity, yes the very thing I was criticizing is also what I loved about this story. Scalzi shows the good and bad of human nature in this book and we are also treated to just how good humans can be to one another. The characters made this story, getting to know them and grow with them and grieve them. Took my breath away at the end. John is, of course, the main character in this story but also my favorite. He was everything you would want in a hero and in the end Mr. Scalzi brought me to tears over this man. His story isn’t done, I believe we return to him in book 3, but man, I was feeling all the feels for him by the third section of this book. Of course, there were times that I thought he was a bit too perfect, he has all the answers, always lucky, saves the day one too many times. He is the hero, though, and Scalzi is no George R.R. Martin (thank God) and does not feel the need to kill off all the likable characters in a story. If you want that go read A Game of Thrones… No, Scalzi’s Hero is fairly typical for most stories and a bit too perfect at times. Still, I loved him and eagerly await book three to see what happens to him.
This was perhaps the best Science Fiction story that I have read in quite some time, definitely as far as space opera’s go. I must leave this here, as I have book two sitting by my side, go read this book if you enjoy Science Fiction at all. I don’t think you will be disappointed.
My Rating: 5 Stars