37 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful
anansi reviewed Old Man's War (Old Man's War, Bk 1) on
Helpful Score: 8
This book was such a great surprise to me - extremely fresh while harkening back to some classic Heinlein (and others, like Asimov)at the same time. I enjoyed it so much that I will definitely be reading the 3 sequels and more from Scalzi in general. Its good to see that a new crop of sci-fi authors are continuing the tradition of producing speculative fiction that feels all too real, socially relevant, and in many ways - likely depicting a future just around the corner.
Scalzi keeps getting compared to Heinlein - maybe because the story has some echoes of Starship Troopers mixed in, plus a dash of Haldeman's Forever War. But the story is his own, with our hero going into space at age 75 to fight in a never ending galactic war. Very enjoyable.
This is a must-read for folks who love excellent sci-fi! An exciting and innovative story about old folks who opt to become young again, but at a price. Great premise. The characters are easy to relate to since they are not very different from us.
Sci-Fi/Military is not my genre, but it is a favorite of others in my home. I read this because they insisted I would love it, and they were right. This book is really different, very fast paced (no wasted words here) and it is hilarious in places! A thrilling space adventure with a very human perspective. The main character has a sharp, quick wit-I loved all the characters in this book. A fairly quick, extremely entertaining read. Great fun! I will definitely be reading the next in this series.
This is an excellent book about a space war fought by old men from Earth reincarnated in new bodies. An interesting premise and a good, quick, fast-paced read. The author's vision of the universe and our place in it alone is worth the read.
In Old Man's War, Scalzi deftly creates a story that feels like an instant SF classic. It's filled not only with hardware, technology, aliens, and space battles but also with humor, humanity, and surprising insight. This reads so effortlessly that it doesn't feel like a "deep" book, but it made me feel, and it made me think. Scalzi balances everything so finely that all the comparisons with Heinlein, Asimov, or Haldeman seem apt, but the tale is not derivative; he makes it his own from the very beginning. He writes good characters and believable dialog, with few missteps. I'm a little late in discovering John Scalzi, but I'm sure glad I finally gave his books a try.
I read this last night while looking for a bit of SF from my collection of unread books. And honestly, its not bad. Its a 'hardish' military space opera where our protagonist (and viewpoint character) enlists in the Colonial Defense Forces at the age of 75 (a standard thing for them) and goes off to see the universe, meet interesting aliens and kill them in job lots.
And, oh yeah, he gets a 20 year old body that is substantially more capable than a baseline human...
Likes: Neat technology, great character voices and personality, interesting world building, the logical weirdness of the Ghost Brigades, alien aliens.
Dislikes: Not sure I buy the motivation for combat, questions about how the Colonial Union came to be, got the monopoly on star travel, and how they govern themselves.
John Perry joins the Colonial Defense Force, at the age of 75. The CDF takes the elderly Perry and turns him into a killing machine that any Starship Trooper would be proud to see. While amazed with his new body, he struggles with being less than human. Perry goes off to war fighting the enemies of humanity and deals with the horrors of war.
Fans of Heinlein should find Scalzi's style and story highly entertaining. He manages give Old Man's War the air of a hard sci-fi story without the technical jargon so many others use. There is no need of a degree in rocket science to understand this book. However, the explaination of the science involved does not seem to have been dumbed down or overly handwavist (if such a word exists).
Old Man's War is with out a doubt the best sci-fi novel I have read in well over a decade. There is plenty of action and the character developement gets you invested in the story.Scalzi's crystal clear and easy to read style makes Old Man's War a great new entery into the sci-fi genre.
The new era of Science Fiction has arrived. The universe is a hostile place and real estate is valuable enough to go to war over. You can't join the human interstellar army until you're 75 and you can never go home again. You most likely won't live long enough to muster out and claim your forty acres on a colonized world, but if you do, there's no guarantee that the aliens won't wipe you out to claim your planet and its resources. That's the backdrop for this story that raised the question of what it means to be a person.
Scalzi's debut book is impressive. I'll watch for more from this author.
Toni D. (tonid) reviewed Old Man's War (Old Man's War, Bk 1) on
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Though a lot of SF writers are more or less efficiently continuing the tradition of Robert A. Heinlein, Scalzi's astonishingly proficient first novel reads like an original work by the late grand master. Seventy-five-year-old John Perry joins the Colonial Defense Force because he has nothing to keep him on Earth. Suddenly installed in a better-than-new young body, he begins developing loyalty toward his comrades in arms as they battle aliens for habitable planets in a crowded galaxy. As bloody combat experiences pile up, Perry begins wondering whether the slaughter is justified; in short, is being a warrior really a good thing, let alone being human? The definition of "human" keeps expanding as Perry is pushed through a series of mind-stretching revelations. The story obviously resembles such novels as Starship Trooper and Time Enough for Love, but Scalzi is not just recycling classic Heinlein. He's working out new twists, variations that startle even as they satisfy. The novel's tone is right on target, toosentimentality balanced by hardheaded calculation, know-it-all smugness moderated by innocent wonder. This virtuoso debut pays tribute to SF's past while showing that well-worn tropes still can have real zip when they're approached with ingenuity.
I loved, loved, loved this book! So well written. Scalzi's writing reminds me of Heinlein - who I also love to read.
The other books in this series are also fantastic. Even as I raced through them I was sorry to know I was coming rapidly to the end. I will look forward to reading more from John Scalzi. I hope he has something new to offer very soon.
Great premise for this book: people in the twilight of their lives, with a lifetime of experience, are given a new life and new body, with just one catch, they have to join up with the military and fight wars around the Galaxy.
Fairly easy read. I enjoyed the beginning of this book, with its descriptions of basic training and preparations for combat... kind of reminded me of Starship Troopers at boot camp. Still, as the combat began, and the varied environments / wars were described, I felt that the author was rather stand-offish. More details could have been provided for individual characters at this point in the book. The time flow of the story was very accelerated, and I began to lose interest in keeping up with the characters since so little was explained.
Still, overall, i thought it was a decent book, albeit mostly for the beginning. Great premise, just not good with the follow through/back half of the book.
John Perry's wife is dead and he's 75 years old. The only thing left for him to do is wait to die--or join the Civil Defence Forces (CDF). Who would want an old man in their Army? John and everyone else on Earth isn't entirely sure, but the speculation is that the CDF has the technology to make people young again... And if you survive the service, the CDF promises a plot of land in one of the human colonies.
OLD MAN'S WAR is my first Scalzi novel. I've previously read his novella/short story found in METATROPOLIS and his nonfiction YOUR HATE MAIL WILL BE GRADED, so I suspected that Scalzi's sense of humor and fiction writing would suit me just fine. What I did not expect was falling in love. It's just ridiculous how much to love about OLD MAN'S WAR. In fact, the book is a quick read and ridiculously entertaining.
And not only is it entertaining, it's thought provoking. After all, one cannot hardly use the words "colony" or "colonialism" without realizing that it's a loaded term. Scalzi is a smart guy, so he certainly knows. And rather than give an answer or one way of looking at the topic, he throws out several perspectives to the reader and steps back. I love that sort of writing. Along with colonialism, there's a bunch of other issues raised in OLD MAN'S WAR: mercenary systems, the ease of violence, ownership/withholding of technology, etc. It's enough to chew on for awhile--and enough that I'm surprised that the novel ended up as lightweight as it is.
Also surprising is that amidst a tale of war, Scalzi manages to deftly craft a humble humor. It doesn't always fit perfectly. Hell, John Perry's (the protagonist) humor falls short in one of the earliest scenes to another character, but I have the feeling that Scalzi falls in with Perry on the idea that it's better to try to make someone smile and crack the joke rather than not try at all. I can appreciate that sort of outlook.
Really, I'm a little gushy about how great this novel is and can't seem to get everything out quite right. How unexpected to find a fantastic science fiction novel equipped with a feel for action and a sense of humor? From the beautiful opening scene (in which John Perry visits his wife's grave) the story starts off in increasing speed. Add to that the humble humor of Scalzi (and/or Perry) and you have a winner of a novel. Even with all that, there's not even a hint of pretension in the entire thing, which is perhaps the most amazing thing of all.
The only negatives I'll bring up--from my perspective--that there were a lot of topics that needed more. It's a tease to bring up an idea and then move on blithely. One doesn't have to answer everything, but one does have to explore the idea with the reader. As much as I enjoyed the, erm, latest storyline regarding the Ghost Brigades, it felt like a bit of a cheat from where John Perry had started. Sure, I want him to get to that point with that person eventually, but what about all the questions along the way? Primarily, I wanted more with the ramifications and motivations on recruiting the Earth's old. After all, there's a whole bunch of military science fiction out there, but this particular premise is what makes Scalzi's take on it unique. So give me more. Additionally, I wanted John Perry to have just a little more trouble along the way rather than be the perfect golden soldier. Also, I have a few nitpicks with the military ranks/customs, but I'll write them off as different due to the CDF being an entirely new entity from the Earth Army rather than get bent out of shape.
The negatives are minimal when compared to the list of difficult to achieve positives. After finishing OLD MAN'S WAR, I knew I instantly that I want to read everything Scalzi has published. Such a writer is too rare to miss out on.
Though a lot of SF writers are more or less efficiently continuing the tradition of Robert A. Heinlein, Scalzi's astonishingly proficient first novel reads like an original work by the late grand master. Seventy-five-year-old John Perry joins the Colonial Defense Force because he has nothing to keep him on Earth. Suddenly installed in a better-than-new young body, he begins developing loyalty toward his comrades in arms as they battle aliens for habitable planets in a crowded galaxy. As bloody combat experiences pile up, Perry begins wondering whether the slaughter is justified; in short, is being a warrior really a good thing, let alone being human? The definition of "human" keeps expanding as Perry is pushed through a series of mind-stretching revelations. The story obviously resembles such novels as Starship Trooper and Time Enough for Love, but Scalzi is not just recycling classic Heinlein. He's working out new twists, variations that startle even as they satisfy. The novel's tone is right on target, toosentimentality balanced by hardheaded calculation, know-it-all smugness moderated by innocent wonder. This virtuoso debut pays tribute to SF's past while showing that well-worn tropes still can have real zip when they're approached with ingenuity.
R. E. (re) reviewed Old Man's War (Old Man's War, Bk 1) on
Not what I'd expected. Yes, I've liked SciFi, or as I recently saw a mix of ...what...fantasy and science fiction: SyFy.
This is such a well-done, thought-out, and interesting book, that I absolutely, unlike myself, HIGHLY recommend it. I've liked it so very much that I've placed 2 more of his books on my wishList, so write and ask me about them, if interested. I have another enroute, as I write this.
Wow. I'm very impressed. Scalzi does a fantastic job here on a number of fronts.
The characterizations are fantastic, keeping me hooked *strongly* until the end of the book. The premise is fascinating, taking all the other sci-fi military stories and tipping them on their edge (old people? cool!). The faux-science is plausible in its own strange way, and I love the BrainPal!
Scalzi has rocketed to the top of my "favorite author" list with this one. I'm eagerly anticipating reading some of his other stuff.
Great read. If you've read and appreciated Heinlein you HAVE to pick this up. A new work done in an old style, OMW grabs you and never lets you off the hook. The only good thing about finishing up all too soon is there is a sequel(Ghost Brigades) out already. Space opera and military fiction at it's finest!