This was a book I hadn’t really heard of until I joined Twitter and came across Scalzi’s account, his shenanigans and his cats. I then had the luck of finding the boxset in an op shop. It then sat on my shelves for over two years before I finally got the kick up the butt I needed when I joined Sci Fi Month.
A new life mission is to read all of his books.
We have reached the stars. Humanity is out in the universe and it turns out we aren’t the only species fighting for space for colonies. The Colonial Defense Forces protect us. Earth is kept mostly in the dark about what is happening in the universe, but at the age of 75 you can volunteer to fight for the Colonial Defense Force. With virtually no information people sign up and head off into space. They have what the Force needs, knowledge. They are taken off Earth, never to return. They must fight for two years and maybe, if they survive, they will get land on a planet that the CDF controls to live out their remaining days. Unfortunately humans are at war with a lot of species, we have a shoot first ask questions later mentality, so surviving two years isn’t easy.
John Perry is saying goodbye to Earth, his son and family. His wife is dead, he is tired and he wants to see something new. He is curious as well, how exactly will the CDF turn 75yr old people into soldiers. Do they replace organs? Do they replace limbs? The CDF is so secretive that they don’t find out until they are on the ship heading for Phoenix, when the procedure is actually being done.
On the trip he meets a huge array of people heading on the same journey he is. He even manages to make a couple of close friends. They are lucky to go through training and uncover all the realities of their new lives at the same time.
John is a fantastic main character. There is something about his laidback nature that makes it easy to like him. He is intelligent, witty, brave and he is someone you would want on your side. We follow him from one battle to another, the CDF are fighting on so many different fronts that there are no breaks. He kills. He kills again and soon he doesn’t feel bad about it, soon he is stomping on a species of little creatures until their entire city is wiped out. Then he gets on a ship, heads to another planet and kills some more. Not all of his group of friends have survived this long, he has done well. He has achieved recognition for his work. He is learning to accept that this is his new reality and that while he feels like a monster, he isn’t.
One day he thinks he sees his wife across a cafeteria, but it’s a Special Forces soldier made from his wife’s DNA and his world is once again thrown upside down.
Old Man’s War is a wonderful, brutal read. It is full of heart and it’s funny. It’s a story full of violence and horror, yet we see the friendships, the character growth, the personal discoveries woven throughout. It’s full of action, but it’s a character driven story. We see species destroyed, and colonies of people hope they can survive. We see that no matter where we are, the governing bodies are absolute warmongers.
I smashed through this series, which is not something I often do. Every single book in this series was as good as the one before it. There was no filler or wasted words. Just solid storytelling that kept me 100% entertained.
Title – Old Man’s War
Author – John Scalzi
Released – 2005
Publisher – Tor