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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life Begins at Seventy-Five
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...
Published on 5 Feb 2005 by Patrick Shepherd

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16 of 18 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 18 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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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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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
(REAL NAME)   
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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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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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I don't seem to have read the same book as everyone else!, 7 May 2006
By 
C. Johnston (Lisburn, Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Old Man's War (Paperback)
This novel begins brilliantly, setting up an intriguing situation and some likeable characters. But it fails to maintain this early promise and it turns into a very average shoot'em up with some very silly B-movie alien nasties. It reminds me a lot of that Starship Troopers movie. The idea that genocidal wars between races are natural and inevitable is rather unpleasant too (the only character in the book to disagree with this comes to a bad end, and it's pretty clear that the hero thinks this serves him right).

I hope I'll like this author's future books more. He is being compared to Heinlein, but I'd say he still has a lot of work to do yet before you can honestly compare him to the master.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining rerun of Starship Troopers, 22 Dec 2006
By 
Robert (Uxbridge, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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I really enjoyed this book. Mr Scalzi has rightly credited Robert Heinlein and there are a lot of similarities. But it is still a really good read. The realism of the battle scenes and the reality of classmates dyining across a stellar arena had very slight echoes of Joe Haldeman. Again, nothing wrong with that. Where Mr Scalzi wins out is the fast pace of the story and by rightly keeping mystery to the alien foes. So they never become humans in costumes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 10 July 2014
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This review is from: Old Man's War (Kindle Edition)
Bleeding fantastic
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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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Disappear into another world, 3 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Old Man's War (Kindle Edition)
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 it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A really good tale, 29 May 2014
By 
J. R. Johnson-Rollings (West Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Old Man's War (Paperback)
This is the second book by John Scalzi I've read, after Redshirts (a space opera parody), and the first in his series. It's the first 'hard' science fiction novel that I can safely say I've really enjoyed reading - those I've read recently have either read like pulp paperbacks from several decades ago or were impenetrably dense and lacking in plot or character.

This is the story of a widower of 75, who signs up for the military (as is the custom), and ships out from Earth to defend its colonies in whatever manner is necessary. It's a fascinating universe with an almost endless amount of questions to explore. Scalzi raises an array of moral questions in the grand tradition of science fiction, and allows his characters to explore some of them.

The character is strong and easily relatable, and the first-person narrative gives a really good view on the events and thought processes, unlike some pulp characters who feel more like cartoons than real people. The plot moves at a good pace, with an episodic nature that manages not to feel like it’s breaking the flow.

Overall a really enjoyable story that really made me think. I loved it, and will definitely be returning to the universe to try out the sequels.
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