08 August 2012

Old Man's War

In preparation for being away a fair bit these days, over the last year I have bought several feet of books and resisted the temptation to read them.  Most of them are SF Novels and I've just finished the first set, being a great five book series by John Scalzi titled "Old Man's War".

Set in the far future, Humanity is just one of many hundred sentient species essentially fighting over the same real estate: habitable planets.  The back of Old Man's War reads:

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 aliens willing to fight for them are common. The universe, it turns out, is a hostile place.

So: we fight. To defend Earth (a target for our new enemies, should we let them get close enough) and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has gone on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.

Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity's resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defence Force, which shields the home planet from too much knowledge of the situation. What's known to everybody is 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 your time 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.

The story takes off from there, through numerous twists and turns, the first two books focus on different characters, then they later get together in a climactic finish to the whole series. I REALLY enjoyed these books.  Not because of the big space battles and epic invasions - that's not what you will find here.  Instead the characters are filled with moral and conscious choices about what is right and what is wrong in a rather anarchistic galaxy where the survival of Humanity is constantly threatened.  Some reviewers have compared it to Heinlen's Starship Troopers, but I thought it was more a blend of that and John Haldeman'sThe Forever War for thought provoking ideas.

I'm deliberately being vague because I really enjoyed the twists and dont want to give away spoilers.  
But I highly recommend these books and cant believe I havent read them before.


  1. cheers for the heads up. not heard of these I will seek them out!

  2. I agree, a vrilliant bookseries. Well worth reading.

  3. I like this serie. I'm re reading it at the moment.

  4. There are 5 in the series? Hmmm, must have missed the fifth one.

    Totally agree that they're great books. I preferred them to Forever War, although that was pretty good too.

  5. More for the book list, sounds great.

  6. now this is truly bizarre and a crazy coincidence! i've just finished reading this book a few days ago and am now halfway thru 'ghost brigrades' and have 'the last colony' on tap. i just LOVE this author and read 'redshirts' first whilst waiting for my copy of 'old man's war' from my local library.

  7. Sounds great, thanks for the write up.

  8. You've sold me I'm going to get the first one!

  9. It will go into my wish list for sure!


  10. They sound incredible. I'll have to try and hunt them down.

  11. The first book was interesting, and I'd much recommend it, the 2nd book was OK - if you enjoyed the first.... but I think he milked the series too much - Lost Colony was terrible and Zoe's Tale repeated the LC storyline from a kiddie's POV. Perhaps a ghostwriter did the later books as they seemed more amateurish and corny as they went along. They say everyone has one good novel in them... Mr Scalzi proves the rule as he certainly doesn't have enough material for three. The later books came across like a bad American stereotype - in the gratingly hearty, simplistic, apple-pie heroes and slapstick humour

  12. I really enjoyed this book and the next several.

    You can read another novel from Scalzi, Agent to the Stars, here:http://www.scalzi.com/agent/ It's more humorous.

    Also, his latest novel, Redshirts (as in the expendables in Star Trek), looks pretty amusing, although I haven't started it yet.