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Old Man's War [Hardcover]

John Scalzi
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)

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Book Description

28 Jan 2005
John Perry did two things on this 75th birthday. First he visited his wife's grave. Then he joined the army. The good news is that humanity finally made it to interstellar space. The bad news is that planes fit to live on are scarce and alien races willing to fight us for them are common. Fr from Earth, the war has gone on for decades: brutal, bloody, and unyielding. We fight to defend Earth from our new enemies and to stake our claim to planetary real estate. On Earth, the bulk of the resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defence Force. Only those of retirement age can join the CDF: they want people who carry the skills from decades of living. CDF members are taken off Earth to serve two years at the front. If they survive, they're given a generous homestead on hard-won colony planets, never to return to Earth. John Perry is taking that deal with only the vaguest idea what to expect.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (28 Jan 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765309408
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765309402
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 15 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 824,009 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


"Gripping and surpassingly original. It's Starship Troopers without the lectures. It's The Forever War with better sex. It's funny, it's sad, and it's true."--Cory Doctorow

About the Author

John Scalzi is a prolific journalist, columnist, and non-fiction writer whose books include "The Rough Guide to the Universe" and "The Book of the Dumb." His web journal Whatever is one of the longest-established and most widely-read weblogs on the net. "Old Man's War" is his first novel in print.

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I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting but light read 12 April 2011
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars MISSING TEXT ON KINDLE VERSION, DO NOT BUY. 4 July 2014
DO NOT BUY ON KINDLE... There is a problem with the kindle version where words are randomly missing from the text. About one word in every 200 is missing and it's extremely annoying to have to stop and guess the word to make sense of the sentence.

The book itself seems interesting, fairly well written, missing words aside. I'm not very far in on account of the missing text.

I will amend this review once the issue has been resolved.

Edit: Amazon are aware of the issue and so is the publisher but still no fix. The missing text gets worse further into the book with entire lines of dialogue just missing entirely.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent space opera 18 Jun 2007
By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE
Faced with a choice between dying of old age and being given another life, what would you do? What Perry, the hero of "Old Man's War" does is to take the new life and be reborn from a sick 75-year-old body into a new, young fit one. The little catch is that he has to enlist for 10 years in the military where his mission is to explore the universe, meet strange new life and civilistions... and then blow them to bits.

The personal stuff to do with his enlistment into the military is well-handled, the combat excellent and the tone of the book darkly funny. The best bit is the diversity and sheer alien-ness of the aliens. The book plays out well, and although it ends a bit abruptly, there is a sequel.

Don't understand why this isn't topping the sci-fi best seller lists - it's really very good.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life Begins at Seventy-Five 5 Feb 2005
After reading about ten pages of this, I had to go back and check the title page for the author, sure that it would read Robert Heinlein, not John Scalzi. Mr. Scalzi has obviously spent some time and effort analyzing Heinlein's methods and style, and the result here is an excellent novel that reads just like a brand new Heinlein.
The opening paragraph grabs: "I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday. I visited my wife's grave. Then I joined the army." Simple, direct, and immediately intriguing. And from this idea of geriatric soldiers the entire story unfolds: how these advanced age people are given new, enhanced bodies, interfaced with a remarkably effective internal computer, and sent to fight the baddies of the universe. Why they must fight. What the reasons are for living. Where the human race is heading. The problems with making assumptions about other life forms - and the effect that has on diplomacy.
Plot wise, this is a series of incidents and battles in the life of a soldier, without any strong goal or endpoint in mind. But as the scenes unfold, the person that is John Perry comes into clearer and clearer focus, a quiet, unassuming man who nevertheless can think on his feet, is not dismayed by radically new things, a natural leader with seventy-five years of experience to back up his decisions and actions, a man capable of deep love. Most of the people around him are not so well realized, but they really don't need to be.
Comparison is obviously invited with Heinlein's Starship Troopers with its similar theme and environment. But where Starship Troopers is very much a coming-of-age story, this is an adult trip into the land of survival.
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33 of 41 people found the following review helpful
John Scalzi's debut novel, Old Man's War has an intriguing premise, some interesting science fiction concepts, and a complete ability to ignore military SF cliches that usually turn me off from this kind of book. It's a wonderful little book, violent but not overly graphic (though there are a couple of scenes that go beyond that), and it's certainly worth all of the accolades that have been heaped on it. Only the fact that it's a bit slow to get to the meat of the action drags it down even a little bit.

Earth has reached the stars, and been slammed back into isolation. Humans are out there colonizing the galaxy, but Earth itself is cut off from it, becoming almost a backwater in comparison to everything else. The Colonial Defense Force (CDF) insures that this remains so. On the other hand, once you turn seventy-five, you can enlist in the CDF, go out and see the universe, and kill lots of aliens who are out to kill you too. You'll just never see Earth again. John Perry has decided to take this route, and Old Man's War tells the story of this decision, and what he runs into when he gets out there. What he learns when he gets there is beyond what he could ever have imagined. He gets a new, grown body (green and all) that will make him young again (even if he's not completely human any more) and the extreme possibility of dying out in the mean universe. But he could be dead in ten years anyway, in a broken down body, on Earth, so why not go out where his death means something? Will John be a successful soldier, not only surviving but rising in the ranks? Or will he just be more cannon-fodder for the human colonies?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great book, a little slow at times but does pick up.
Published 7 days ago by Ell
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 13 days ago by Mr. D. I. Scott
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Bleeding fantastic
Published 19 days ago by R P NASH
5.0 out of 5 stars Disappear into another world
Really enjoyed this, it swallows you up into a whole other universe, makes you think what if?
Once I'd finished this I went and bought the whole series, would highly recommend... Read more
Published 1 month ago by kc
4.0 out of 5 stars A really good tale
This is the second book by John Scalzi I've read, after Redshirts (a space opera parody), and the first in his series. Read more
Published 2 months ago by J. R. Johnson-Rollings
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
This is a brilliant read. it is some of the best sci fi I've read in a long time! Time to get the next book in the series...
Published 3 months ago by Zenock
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read, well paced action...
Scalzi's writing is very approachable (you don't have to be a hardened SciFi nut to get through it, yet there is enough to keep a SciFi fan interested) - I think its the way that... Read more
Published 3 months ago by naw
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating premise backed up with really likeable characters
I read somewhere that the definition of art is the considered arrangement of elements in order to elicit emotion. Read more
Published 3 months ago by GOTTON
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW!!!
This is one of the best sci-fi story's I have read in years (and I've read a few!).
The setting and idea is truly original, this whole idea of allowing the old folk on Earth... Read more
Published 5 months ago by S. Beckett
4.0 out of 5 stars An exciting sci-fi war story
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Scalzi's writing style is elegant and easy to read, and suited well to this sort of novel. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Cpl Hicks
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