Friday Review: Old Man’s War (Old Man’s War #1) by John Scalzi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

John Perry just turned 75, so he did what any self-respecting 75-year-old would: he visited his wife’s grave, and joined the army. Technically, he joined the Colonial Defense Force (CDF). In this Earth future universe, the CDF doesn’t want young, inexperienced recruits. They want those with the knowledge, experience, and skills of a lifetime. Earth is engaged in a long-running, bloody war with other races, all looking to conquer and colonize the few habitable planets out there. So, the CDF recruits seniors, gives them new, strong, young, enhanced bodies, and sends them off to do battle with the enemy. If you survive, and that’s not at all a guarantee, you are given a hefty pension and a place of your own on one of the colony worlds.

That’s the bare bones of the plot of this space opera story, but I don’t want to give too much away. This is Scalzi’s first novel, but you might not guess that, especially if you have not read many of his more current works. The story moves along nicely, even if the basic plot (us v. the aliens) is a familiar one. There are some nice Scalzi twists that give a fresh look to what could be considered old paint. Characters are developed well and one of the best parts is the interactions and build up of the relationships and comradeship among the recruits. There is a nice balance between character building and action. The action is strong and fast as you would expect in what is basically a war story.

Old Man’s War is a well-written space opera in the tradition of many of the old masters of scifi, with engaging characters, a nicely conceived plot, plenty of action, and a bit of social commentary that does not get in the way of a good story.

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