Saturday, November 01, 2008

Book Review: Old Man's War

(This review contains no significant spoilers.)

A few days ago, I finished reading Old Man's War, the debut novel of author, blogger, and inventor of the Bacon Cat, John Scalzi.  OMW came in third for the Hugo Award in 2006.  Here's my review of the book.

The Setup

Somewhere around the twenty-third century, the Colonial Defense Force, which is responsible for the defense of humanity's numerous colony planets, is recruiting 75-year-old Earth-living humans.  Most of the recruits assume that the CDF has some way of reversing the aging process, because what good would 75-year-olds be in a military force.  No one knows for sure, though, because those who leave Earth never come back.  The story is told in the first person by widower John Perry as he enlists in the CDF, passes through basic training, and is deployed on various missions.  If you think this description sounds like something Heinlein would have written, then you aren't alone;  all the critics agree, as does Scalzi himself.

What I Liked

  • The writing is surprisingly funny.  Hilarious, in fact.  (I'd say the most amusing scene in the book is the one where we first meet the drill sergeant.  If you elect to read this book, let me know if you agree.) 
  • The plot is quite entertaining.  Unlike many books I read, there was not a single thread in which I found myself uninterested.
  • The story moves along very quickly.  There's no time to become bored with any stage of the plot, because we move on to the next one in short order.
  • The universe that Scalzi has built is richly detailed and fully realized.   In particular, the rejuvenation process I mentioned is not, in fact, what everyone expects, but it is well thought-out.  And trademarked.  Additionally, the OMW  universe is populated with numerous interesting sentient species, most of whom seem to be both hostile and deadly to humans.

What I Disliked

  • Frankly, I can't think of anything I dislike about this novel.


Overall, I give Old Man's War 8.5 out of 10.  It's the most enjoyable text-only novel I've read in quite some time, and I look forward to reading the other books that take place in the same universe

1 comment:

  1. Advantages that Scalzi's books have over their Heinlein counterparts:

    1) Greater readability
    2) Absence of batshit neo-Fascist politics (Starship Troopers)
    3) Absence of batshit libertoonian politics (just about everything else)