Old Man’s War review

Old Man's War (Old Man's War, #1)Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s John Perry’s 75th birthday and he has just two things to do: Visit his wife’s grave, and join the army. The Colonial Defence Force is recruiting. They only recruit from the elderly, and in exchange for ten years of your life (assuming you survive – there is a war on, after all) they will make you young again. But there is a catch: You will be declared legally dead, and must leave the Earth, never to return.

John signs up and is shipped out up the space elevator (or “beanpole”) and into a new life as a soldier. In the process he meets a bunch of new friends (“the Old Farts”), gets his rejuvenation, goes through training and off to fight the aliens.

In one sense, this reads like Robert A. Heinlein‘s Starship Troopers but with old people. And indeed Scalzi acknowledges Heinlein’s influence in the introduction. The characterisations are good, although in the early stages of the book, the Old Farts don’t seem to be as old as they should be – there’s less “oldness”; creaking limbs, bad eyesight/hearing, complaints and general crotchetyness than I was expecting. The aliens are mean, vicious, nasty, and not something you want to meet on a brightly lit battlefield yet alone in a dark alley.

It’s not a funny book, yet there is much to laugh about and Scalzi has a humourous twist to his writing. There are moving and poignant moments too, because ultimately this is a war story, and there are battles and not everyone survives.

There are several more books in the series, and I shall definitely be reading them.

I picked up this book as an ebook in a Humble Bundle deal late last year, and it’s the January pick over at Sword & Laser (which gave me a good excuse to read it – and I’m glad I did!)

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See the wrap-up video: http://timarnot.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/old-mans-war-update.html