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Old Man's War Hardcover – 28 Jan 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 169 customer reviews

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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: 14.5 x 2.9 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (169 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,735,874 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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 "John Scalzi is a fresh and appealing new voice, and "Old Man's War" is classic SF seen from a modern perspective--a fast-paced tour of a daunting, hostile universe."--Robert Charles Wilson

Book Description

A virtuosic debut novel in the tradition of Robert A. Heinlein --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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By Nick Brett TOP 1000 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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In a brief break from reading the things I don’t normally read, I took a moment to read something of the type that I used to read all the time. Fast paced, high energy science fiction that doesn’t slow down till you hit the end. Read through a bunch of reviews and the name John Scalzi kept coming up, so I picked up his first book and gave it a shot.

It starts with an interesting premise. People sign up for the military aged 65 and are inducted into the military aged 75. John Perry, the main character, lost his wife to a stroke a short while ago, and has now come to the point where it’s time to fulfil his obligation.

Two days later and I was done with the book and looking for book two...

It’s not about old people going off to war, the recruits get new bodies with which to fight (Avatar style, but long before Avatar came out...), and while those bodies are state of the art and well beyond the abilities of normal humans, they are the bare minimum required to fight in the wars of the universe.

The book doesn’t focus on the combat aspect of things, rather painting the picture that the world is different out there, and that a person of 75 with a whole lifetime of experience to draw on, would be a far more dangerous person to deal with if you just gave them their youth back. There’s also the psychological aspect, that if a person was at the end of everything and you offered them a decade in service in return for a new life, most would at least consider it.

There are a few action scenes, wars on different worlds with different creatures, but the story doesn’t linger on them at all, using them as a punchline that the wars are deadly and most don’t make it through them.
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Format: 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?
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