Summary: Old men (and women) make better warriors because they have something to live for, and fight for.
Old Man’s War makes five John Scalzi books in five months. I am not sure I am finished yet.
Like Little Fuzzy and Redshirts, Old Man’s War takes some currently existing story ideas and takes them in a new place.
Much of the first half of the book is roughly based on Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers (the book, not the absolutely horrible movie).
Starship Troopers is one of the best anti-war science fiction books written. It is cleverly written as the story of a young man going to war. In Scalzi’s world, it is old men (and women) that go to war.
After people have lived their life, they can chose to leave earth and become soldiers. But they can never return. Officially they are considered dead on earth. But everyone has the option of joining up at 65 and then leaving for war at 75. The assumption is that somehow they will be made young and after serving for 4 years (with extensions of up to six more) they can either continue to serve or become colonists on one of the worlds that they have been defending.
Scalzi takes the story to a totally different place than Starship Troopers. There is some sense of the futility of war. But more about the sheer different-ness of aliens and the ethical issues of colonization, war with alien races and being a small fish in a very large universe.
This is a more serious novel than Redshirts or Fuzzy Nation and more traditionally science fiction than Agent to the Stars. It is worth reading. But I really like authors that retell stories in a different way. If you take offense at that, you might want to skip Scalzi altogether.
- Redshirts by John Scalzi
- Little Fuzzy by Henry Beam Piper
- Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi
- Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi
- The Android’s Dream by John Scalzi
- Lock In by John Scalzi
- Human Stain by John Scalzi