John Scalzi is one of the authors I most consistently enjoy. His books are all interesting, with a variety of characters and personalities, and plenty of fun futuristic ideas. He doesn’t write the massive novels many of my other favorite authors write, which makes reading his novels a unique experience. Frankly, his style is the one I most associate with what I am trying to do in the Galactic Civilizations series (not to compare myself to an accomplished writer like Scalzi).
Initially, Old Man’s War reads as traditional military science fiction with the twist that the military takes old men (and women) to be new recruits. They join because they know the colonial fleet must have unknown technology and figure that they would not take old men into the military unless there was some way to make them younger again. Basically, it is seen as an opportunity to live another life after their term of service is up (the only requirement being you cannot go back to earth and instead must be a colonist).
This is the story of John Perry who lost his wife and joined the military. At seventy-five he began his term of service. Old Man’s War takes you through his indoctrination to the colonial fleet, his adjustments to his new abilities, and his loyalty to those people he serves with. It shows a universe where battles are constantly having to be fought between different alien races and a military system where all that seems to matter is serving with your fellow soldiers and finishing your objectives. The 300 pages fly by…it really is an easy read.
Old Man’s War is Scalzi’s most famous novel and a really fun novel, with a great, high-concept premise. I enjoy it. I enjoy much of his future work even more. Old Man’s War is action set piece, after action set piece. It’s military science fiction to the fullest. I think Scalzi gets more interesting as he develops the universe and further explores the place of the human race in it. But there is no doubt that among Scalzi’s books, this is a great place to begin.