Friday, May 1, 2009
Old Man's War
This was an excellent book. Anyone who enjoys military Sci-fi will like it. But to really enjoy it you have to have read another favorite of mine; Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein. If you have seen the movie please try to not think about it while I am talking about the original. In fact, try to wipe it from your memory entirely and then read these two books to replace the void.
Starship Troopers is a coming of age novel. A young man joins the intergalactic army (can't remember the name) and we see how he matures and you get some cool tech stuff and fighting aliens. Bad description, but a good book, especially if you remember that it was written as YA and also don't mind a bit of politics with your novels.
Old Man's War tells the same story, but from the other end. The premise is that to join the intergalactic army you have to be 75. You will never some back but you promise to be a soldier for no less than 2 years, maximum of 10. This immediately throws the entire soldier novel tropes out the window because most of them deal with some sort of coming of age theme. What if the soldier thrust into new and difficult situations is an old man? Set in his ways, wiser and less apt to just accept everything he is told?
The amazing thing about this story is how well it works when you already basically know the plot. The general outline is very similar to Starship Troopers, but the details are so very different. Scalzi is a very talented writer to have pulled this off. He manages to pay tribute to Heinlein without feeling like a copy or a repudiation of the original.
Old Man's War. John Scalzi. Tor. 2005