Book Review: Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

Jean-Paul’s rating: 4/5 stars

It has been a long time since I’ve found a science fiction book that was outside my normal list of authors that I read that I would highly recommend to others.  Finally, there is “Old Man’s War”.  It combines a fascinating storyline with a realistic vision of a futuristic Earth and is full of more sciencey goodness than you can shake a stick at.

I got the book because it was part of one of those Humble Bundle packages where you get a bunch of ebooks and pay what you want and some of it goes to charity and such.  If they keep getting quality books like “Old Man’s War” in the bundles, this Humble Bundle project will be a roaring success.

The story starts on an Earth far into the future.  Humans have advanced far beyond our little Sun, but people on Earth are mostly oblivious to that fact and to the technologies that make interstellar travel possible.  People from the poorer countries get shipped off to colonize other planets, but the rest of the world carries on their lives much like we do ours.  With one exception.  When you turn 75, you get an opportunity to join the Colonial Defense Force (CDF) and protect Earth colonies from the dangers of the universe.

Why would anyone want a bunch of 75 year olds for war and why would a bunch of 75 year olds want to go to war?  Good question.  The CDF controls all higher technology.  They don’t allow most of it to be used on Earth and Earth doesn’t even know what technologies exist.  The assumption is that the CDF has technology to make you younger and they will use it on you if you join up.  When you’re 75, the lure of being in a 20-something body is pretty strong.

One of the people that is drawn in by that lure is John Perry.  He and his wife were going to join the CDF together but she had the misfortune of dying before her 75th birthday so John must go it alone. The rest of the book follows John as he explores this strange new universe.  I won’t go into details, but the aliens are cool, the technology is cooler, and the political landscape of the CDF is coolest.

The only reason why I didn’t give the book five  stars is because the ending was a little off in my mind.  It just sort of ends abruptly.  There is resolution to the immediate storyline, but a feeling of “That’s it?” that goes along with it.  Luckily, there are sequels to the book and I will definitely be reading them.  I hope there are questions answered like why is Earth kept so primitive?  I am looking forward to further explorations of the “Old Man’s War” multiverse.

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