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4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Enjoyment
OK, lets be honest here. When this book initially landed I though "Oh god, do I really fancy this" and put it on my "to be read" pile only for newer books to keep appearing above it. Suddenly out of options (my TBR pile was alas no more) and desperate for something to read I picked up this tale and began.

Not only was I proved wrong about my immediate...
Published on 18 Sep 2007 by Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog

versus
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting but light read
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...
Published on 12 April 2011 by Nick Brett


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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting but light read, 12 April 2011
By 
Nick Brett (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Old Man's War (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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3.0 out of 5 stars redeemed by optimism, 16 Sep 2008
By 
A. J. Mcveigh "andrewmcveigh" (Sevenoaks, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Old Man's War (Paperback)
This was quite a mixed book for me. I found the writing to be fairly poor (actually, I find the writing of most science fiction to be poor). The style is very easy to read, but almost amateurish. The choice of names (Jane, John etc) and the informal style of writing grated on me a bit as did the vulgar names chosen by each person for their "brainpal" (a computer put into their brains).

The story is quite good fun, even if it does have strange fascist overtones. The basic ideas is that when people get to about 75, they are eligible to join the CDF (colonial defence force) who give them new bodies (with green skin and cat's eyes!) and then they go to fight lots of aliens to preserve the human colonies. I laughed out loud as the book then described how all the previously old people had non-stop sex for a fortnight after getting their new bodies! Very funny almost at the level of fantasty, but also quite cliched I think.

The interesting theme for me was the interweaving of the main character's relationship with his wife (new and old). This is definitely worth a follow up, and i'll probably check out the sequel just to follow that aspect.

The endless desctruction of alien empires worried me a bit. This is described in some detail, and reminded me a bit of starship troopers, but without the satirical elements. He does feel a bit guilty when he's crushing buildings created by aliens an inch high, so that's ok then...

An easy read with some fun ideas. Not great literature by any means, though.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but..., 28 Oct 2009
By 
L. R. Richardson (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Old Man's War (Paperback)
I'm conflicted about this book. On the one hand, it's a good science fiction adventure romp with some social commentary thrown in. I love the concept of old men and women enlisting in the army to have a new chance at a longer, if more violent life. On the other hand, it's a but too similar to The Forever War by Joe Haldeman and Starship Troopers by Heinlein, in my opinion. It follows the same basic plot and formula, but it's updated to issues 30 years that are (sort of) pertinent later. Also, while the characters and plot are well-done, the writing itself was sometimes mediocre and felt a little rushed. I found myself jarred out of the prose by a clunky sentence.

The novel started out a bit slow while the main characters were still elderly and crotchety, but it provided some much-needed set-up. Even once they're changed so that they are physically able to fight, I didn't find the story overly intriuging until John Perry, the protagonist, meets Jane Sagan. I don't wish to spoil any major plot points, but after that point I was hooked and read the rest of the book in one sitting. I plan to pick up the sequels at some point, for while although I didn't find the prose earth-shattering, it was great fun and provided some interesting ruminations on the future and the lengths humans will go for war.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Enjoyment, 18 Sep 2007
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
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OK, lets be honest here. When this book initially landed I though "Oh god, do I really fancy this" and put it on my "to be read" pile only for newer books to keep appearing above it. Suddenly out of options (my TBR pile was alas no more) and desperate for something to read I picked up this tale and began.

Not only was I proved wrong about my immediate supposition but it became a book I just couldn't put down. Hugely likeable characters, cracking stories and a non stop adventure among the planets and stars leaves this tale as something in wonderment. In fact I will even go so far as to say how much I loved this. My faith in the old clichéd to hell Sci-Fi universe has been restored to a certain degree and really did make me happy to discover what I feel could become a modern classic in the vein of Robert A Heinlien's Starship Troopers mixed with a touch of Rogue Trooper (if you're too young to remember he was a character in 2000AD) and you've gotten a book that will keep you not only amused but generate a feeling so deep the loss of any one of the characters is pretty damn hard. Complaint wise I have only one, it was a short story (around 250 pages) but that is made up in the fact that the second book in the series (Ghost Brigade) is already out. So that's a bonus.
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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
By 
Patrick Shepherd "hyperpat" (San Jose, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Old Man's War (Hardcover)
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. And where Starship Troopers had a large amount of philosophy directly exposited, Scalzi's opinions in these areas are much more muted, more shown rather than told. Replacement of Heinlein's powered armor with Scalzi's enhanced bodies doesn't cut down on the action, but does highlight the importance of the mind inside the body, its spirit, its willingness to fight not just for himself but for all of his compatriots and the race as a whole. Where Starship Troopers might be considered a treatise on government, civic responsibility, and military organizations, this has a somewhat less lofty goal, of showing why life is worth fighting for.
For anyone who loves Heinlein, this is a must. For those who like military science fiction, this is a must. For those who like a good story, powerfully told, this is a must. I fully expect to see this one on the Hugo nominee shortlist next year. It already has my vote.
--- Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
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4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of twists and turns and a sense of humour to boot., 25 Aug 2014
By 
Yvonne N (Wiltshire England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Old Man's War (Kindle Edition)
I really enjoyed this book. Normally I avoid military sci-fi, as I dislike the endless round of battle descriptions with little plot in between. This book did have some war manoeuvres and battle scenes, which were mercifully, relatively short and to the point. I loved the sense of humour in the story and found it difficult to put the book down as there were lots of twists and turns and good plot lines, which is the meat of a good book. I also liked the idea of using old people, who'd outlived their bodies. Being oldish myself, I could really relate to that. Some of the twists in the plot were excellent and I just didn't see them coming. Scaltzi has written well here. On the down-side. The book seem to lose it's sense of humour towards the end a little, which is a shame as the author seems to excell at this and this is one of the things that sets this book apart from the myriad of other sci-fi mediocre books that are out there. Also I must admit to being a tad disappointed with the ending. I have purchased the second in the series though and I'm hoping that it's at least as good as the first one as this is one is a difficult act to follow.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars MISSING TEXT ON KINDLE VERSION, DO NOT BUY., 4 July 2014
This review is from: Old Man's War (Paperback)
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 "m_farncombe" (Guildford UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Old Man's War (Paperback)
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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33 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life begins at 75, though you may not live to see 76, 28 May 2006
By 
David Roy (Vancouver, BC) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Old Man's War (Paperback)
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?

Scalzi is on record (in a Usenet post when asked about his military experience) as saying that he wanted Old Man's War to be accessible by his grandmother, who has no interest in things military. This meant that he wasn't going to spend a great deal of time on infantry tactics, technology, and the jingoism that many military SF novels embrace. The weapon of choice for the CDF is an adaptable rifle that fires five types of ammunition and can change on the fly, and he spends a bare amount of time making any explanations for the science of the situations he presents, such as the "skip drive" that gets everybody from Point A to Point B. It's the military SF novel for those who can't stand the genre, and I loved it for that.

Still, Scalzi doesn't completely avoid the science, and there are a couple of "theoretical" (as in, one of the characters who doesn't really know a whole lot about it is theorizing) explanatory scenes that seek to get this sort of thing out of the way. I found this appropriate given the situation that Scalzi presents. The humans that are enlisting don't know any of this stuff. The CDF keeps humans ignorant of it intentionally, so Scalzi is able to gloss over it a bit. While I did find it appropriate, I also thought that these occasional theorizing scenes slowed the book down much more than they should have (though certainly much less than they would have if they had been fully explained, and yes, I'm speaking to you, Mr. Weber!)

Scalzi gets the characterization down perfectly, creating a great "hero" in Perry. He's intelligent and he rises through the ranks fairly quickly by using his brain. The friendships that Perry forms when he first enlists seem very logical, as these people have been thrown together into a strange situation with no visible support apparatus. Even the fact that the first thing these older people do when they get young bodies is to enjoy themselves with as many people as possible is certainly understandable, and Perry's first scene like this is hilarious (though none of it is actually shown, for those prudes among us).

There is only one characterization misstep, and I'd say the good and the bad of the character even out. Perry's drill instructor, Master Sergeant Ruiz, is hilariously portrayed by Scalzi, with all of the typical movie drill instructor attitude. Even better is that he acknowledges the drill instructor stereotype, insisting that the recruits get that stereotype out of their heads because he's not going to gain "grudging respect" for them. He doesn't like any of them. This is all refreshing, acknowledging the clichés and then moving beyond them. Unfortunately, after his brilliant opening scene, we don't see a lot of him, and the description of subsequent events make him seem like the drill instructor that we all are familiar with. Only his last scene with Perry really moves above this.

The other small problem with Old Man's War is that it takes a long time to get through the setup of the setting. This is mitigated by the entertaining way that Scalzi writes these sequences, but it takes almost half the book before Perry actually gets into the action. The rest is his journey to the CDF and the establishing of the galaxy and his place in it. It's only a small problem because Scalzi does make it interesting, but I wish some of it could have been condensed.

Overall, Old Man's War is a wonderful book, one that I raced through because I was loving every minute of it. If you absolutely hate the genre of military SF, then you may find that even this book won't be enjoyable. But if you're just annoyed with a lot of the military SF that's out there, give this one a shot. It's an excellent debut novel, setting up an interesting situation, with characters that are a lot more compelling than in others of the genre. This one's worth a shot.

David Roy
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4.0 out of 5 stars Try reading Enders game as a counterpoint(young mans war), 18 Dec 2014
By 
John O'sullivan "narsil" (limerick, ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Old Man's War (Paperback)
Brilliant bit of sci fi, scalzi writes a good book with original ideas and older themes given a new twist. I loved the idea of the ghost brigades and their more evolved com speed. The book should be read cold with no idea of what happens to the old people at their induction to the army, it is a great intro to great story. I had thoughts of Harrison's 'make room make room' when I started reading this! What's going on here?......., brilliantly done sir!. The human psyche and its ability to overcome is well played. That there is a love story at the heart of this book made it just a little special in the genre of military sci fi, easily a classic!
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Old Man's War
Old Man's War by John Scalzi (Paperback - 1 Jun 2007)
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