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Old Man's War Paperback – Unabridged, 1 Jun 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Tor; Reprints edition (1 Jun. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330452169
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330452168
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 2 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 134,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Scalzi won the 2006 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and his debut novel Old Man's War was a finalist for the Hugo Award. His other novels include The Ghost Brigades, The Last Colony, and The Android's Dream. He lives in southern Ohio with his wife and daughter.

Product Description


'Clever dialogue, fast-paced story and strong characters.' -- The Times

About the Author

John Scalzi is an author and online writer, known for his blog Whatever, at which he has written daily on a number of topics since 1998. Old Man's War, his first novel, was a finalist in the Hugo Awards.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By GOTTON on 14 April 2014
Format: Paperback
I read somewhere that the definition of art is the considered arrangement of elements in order to elicit emotion. With that in mind John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War is certainly a work of art if not a master piece.

I was reluctant to start this book as I am not a fan of war novels and I greatly prefer fantasy to science fiction so therefore no matter how many recommendations I got to read this book I have put it off… now I wonder why.

The Old Man’s War is set in a future where mankind has mastered space travel and have started to colonise other worlds. Going to other worlds is available to all of mankind but there is a catch, you can not go before you turn 75 and once you have gone you have to serve a minimum of 2 years but more likely 10 years in a war that will claim 75% of people who enter it. These old age pensioners are rewarded by being given a new life including the ability to be young again but this is weighed off against a high likelihood of death in the war before they get a chance to retire.

From the start this book it had me smiling and I think there was a grin on my face for most of the novel. The concept itself is fascinating and it is so well told via the title character in first person that you can’t help but be drawn in right from the beginning. The main character has a great sense of humour, he is well rounded, incredibly likeable and somewhat refreshingly he is very capable. There is a trend in Science Fiction and fantasy to have the title characters be incredibly flawed, almost useless and bumbling figures who get carried through the novel via the help and sacrifice of others or sheer luck (I blame the genre’s fascination with the Lord of the Rings and Bilbo Baggins for this overuse of that hero archetype).
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Nick Brett TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 12 April 2011
Format: Paperback
It has taken me a long time to get round to reading this. It has an odd reputation, some regard it as a SF classic and yet others as piece of very superficial military SF. I fall between the two, I read it fairly quickly as it is a very easy and undemanding read with some interesting ideas. Having said that they are not necessarily fresh and it is not a pure classic like Forever War that has stuck in my head years after having read it.

So, here we have geriatrics being recruited to undertake some changes and regain their youth provided they become soldiers in wars being fought a long way from Earth, an Earth they will never return to.

It's easy to be critical because this does lack real depth, but it does remain an easy and entertaining read. It explores some issues about youth, love, marriage and policies of aggression but within a fast moving environment packed full of action.

So I quite enjoyed it and may pick up the sequals, but I am in no rush to do so,
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Read on its own and not in the context of all the similar books that have proceeded it, this is a fun, military SF novel, about mankind in a universe filled with nasty aliens that in most cases MUST BE DESTROYED. The book is solidly written and entertaining, however I would comment on my 4 star rating in saying that I regard it as a low 4 stars in that I debated between 3 and 4 stars.

Essentially what seems to be lacking in this book is some really inventive and new SF ideas. Perhaps I've read too much and I'm a little jaded now! The novels that it clearly draws from are in short more original, more inventive and clearly better. For a book written in 2005 there is no real attempt to push out new ideas about how technology may impact on us in the future. The new tech in the book, skip drives, nano tech cloning dna splicing etc have all been explored before by other writers in the 90s.

However, the most disapointing feature I thought was that nothing was made of the difference between "old" soldiers and the very young soldiers that most Armies have fought with and indeed the characters seem to return to a near teen state of mind once they get their new bodies. I thought there was going to be some really interesting stuff there and it never appears sadly.

That said if read purely as an military adventure novel, then its a fairly gripping read. Similarly to someone less well versed in SF then they might not have the "seen it all before" response that I had to parts of it.
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Format: Paperback
John Scalzi's science-fiction novel enters a competitive and distinguished field of sci-fi books that tell the story of someone enlisting in a future army to fight aliens. Between the military gung-ho enthusiasm of Starship Troopers and the Vietnam influenced cynicism of The Forever War (S.F. Masterworks), the field has been covered by some of the very best sci-fi works. That provides a big challenge to the first time novelist (as Scalzi was at the time).

The book shows some early promise, with a nice twist on the usual military induction clichés by having a future where it is pensioners who get enlisted (medical advances can give them back their health and pensioners have years of experience to call on). Moreover, the secrecy, scale and advanced features of the military's technology evokes a sense of mystery about quite who the Colonial Defence Forces are, what they do and why.

However, these promising starts are not followed up. Most of the mystery quickly falls away and for much of the book it is just an incidental detail that enlistees are pensioners. They don't feel and sound any different from the characters in books where the military inductees are teenagers. The plot sees many of the standard clichés of this genre played out, though without the inventiveness of military tactics seen in books such as
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