Old Man’s War

Old Man's War
Old Man’s War

Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi

We read this for my science-fiction book club this month.  Scalzi’s Old Man’s War continues the tradition of adventure space war novels in line with Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, Haaldeman’s Forever War, and Deitz’s The Legion.  Humankind needs defending, and our main character will be launched into space to do it.  Hoo-wah.  A few thoughts:

  • I can’t help but wonder if Scalzi was inspired by Al Franken.  In Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot, Al Franken has a chapter in which he suggests two “uses” for old people that would also help solve the social security crisis.  First, he suggests that we make them soldiers; second, he urges NASA to use them for space exploration.  It’s satire.  Scalzi’s book combines both premises.  (Dang it, this guy also noticed the Franken/Scalzi connection, but doesn’t seem to know about Franken’s book.)
  • I liked the idea of augmented combat bodies being the only way humans can compete with the multitude of monsters out there.  Also, kitty-cat eyes and green skin.
  • I also thought it was funny that the first thing all the old folks do when transferred into young bodies is to sex it up for a week.  Of course that’s what they would do — they know how to party.
  • Most interesting to me is the way Scalzi quickly does away with the Star Trek view of the universe.  In order to expand, we humans need to fight for every inch of every colony we can get on these other planets, mostly with species just as violent and expansionary as us.  It’s a view of nature red in tooth and claw.

A great book in the tradition of space war adventures.  Not a stunning literary achievement, but fun to read and well worth your time.

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