Old Man’s War

Old Man’s War – John Scalzi (2005)

There are so many SF authors out there that it’s pretty hard to keep up with all the new ones as they start to make their mark. As much as I enjoy the many tried-and-true personal favorites of mine, I also make it a point to read books from fresh authors every now and then. But with so many authors out there, it’s often hard to decide who to pick. I started hearing good things about author John Scalzi some time ago, but not enough to put him to the top of the ‘read next’ list. But that all changed when he started getting compared to the late, great Robert A. Heinlein, my all time favorite author. Could he really be the next Heinlein?

I almost immediately understood why the comparisons were being made as soon as I started reading Old Man’s War. The tone and story plot were eerily resonant to R.A.H. novels. The story is set in a future in which people can sign up with an offworld defense force upon turning 75. The word is out that those that join have their bodies rejuvenated and thereby fore go the hardships and pains of old age and eventual death. The force is very secretive in many respects, but people who join know they will be fighting wars on other Earth colony planets.It’s only a ten year stint… if you survive.

Our hero, John Perry, enlists along with his wife, but unfortunately she never made it to the ripe old age of 75. When he finally turns 75, he follows through on his pledge and joins. The secrets of the Colonial Defense Forces are revealed and his many adventures begin. Even as he begins to make his mark in the Forces, there are other secrets that are only slowly revealed to him. It’s a great yarn with many intriguing characters and I ate it up as quickly as I could.

So is Scalzi the next Heinlein? Well, not yet. But Old Man’s War was Scalzi’s first novel and already he’s achieved quite high standard. If he continues to hone his craft, as he almost inevitably will, he may indeed be the next Heinlein.

The premise of Old Man’s War is a fertile playground for further novels and I’ve already picked up the sequel The Ghost Brigades. Heinlein wannabe or not, I’m certainly in for the ride.

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