Review: Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi

I don’t know what I expected from this. A book about war, obviously, a future war, and one that had gone one for a while. What I knew was I was in the mood for some ‘classic’ style science fiction, and Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi, promised to be just that.

We follow the adventures of senior citizen John Perry as he decides to gamble his life on the promise of… extended life – he quits Earth and join the Colonial Defence Forces for a term of no less than two years, with a high probability of serving the full ten the contract stipulates. He have no idea what is waiting for him, yet he feels he is not ready to die. And the CDF only recruits 75 year old people, people who wouldn’t be expected to withstand the rigours of war. So it’s a given the CDF have a way to make you young again, no?

I haven’t read any Heinlein in ages, yet he was the first reference that came to my mind while reading Old Man’s War; a kind of flashback to my teens when I devoured anything with Heinlein as an author.

I don’t research books too closely before reading them so I had no idea Scalzi himself recognises this debt, but it makes sense.

In the first half of the book Scalzi manages this heritage very well, but the second half don’t live up to expectations – at least not mine. This is mainly due to a couple of all too unbelievable coincidences and going-ons. The writing is still accomplished, and by that point if you have invested in the main character you want to know what will happen next, but the story in itself just didn’t hold up.

The last chapter felt contrived, and should rightly had been labelled ‘epilogue’. I guess the publisher demanded him to axe it, to make the rest into another novel.

Despite above reading this book was an enjoyable experience.


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