John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife’s grave. Then he joined the army.
The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce-and aliens willing to fight for them are common. The universe, it turns out, is a hostile place.
So: we fight. To defend Earth (a target for our new enemies, should we let them get close enough) and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has gone on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.
Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity’s resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force, which shields the home planet from too much knowledge of the situation. What’s known to everybody is that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don’t want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You’ll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You’ll serve your time at the front. And if you survive, you’ll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets.
John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine-and what he will become is far stranger.
“I’m a seething cauldron of disconnected rage on the inside, Lieutenant.”
“Ah, repression,” Keyes said. “Excellent. Try to avoid taking a potshot at me when you finally blow, please.”
Old Man’s War was utterly ridiculous in a mildly amusing sort of way. It reminds me of those Sci-Fi shows that have very neat, interesting sci-fi elements, but it pays close attention to humor, too. Shows like The Orville. They’re made for the same sort of audience.
Which unfortunately isn’t me. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed reading this book quite a bit at times. I definitely recommend this to people who like comedy sci-fi with some real neat sci-fi stuff. In fact, I passed these books along to my dad as soon as I finished with book one, because it is exactly his type of book – and he loved it! It was just that, at every new step in the journey, I found something new that annoyed me. It was so ridiculous and so over-the-top. This just wasn’t my type of humor, and not my type of fun.
John Perry is a self-proclaimed old fart. He makes the most worstest dad jokes ever. All the time. And every single time he makes one, you can tell the person on the other end of the joke dies a little inside. They’re the same joke you’re certain they’ve heard hundreds, if not thousands, of times before him, because every old person thinks the same jokes. The same type of jokes that make cashiers hate their jobs.
He is also uncannily good at everything he does. He is the person that doesn’t freak out about what is going on when others are. He is the one person that people who hate everyone else, likes. He is the one that figures out what others cannot. John Perry is just that good.
The beginning of Old Man’s War is a bit slow. It takes a long time to get to the cool sci-fi parts. There is a lot of Fooling Around by him and the rest of his friends “before the hell starts”. Which means a lot of sex, if you didn’t get that. Once that part is over, the narration just doesn’t feel very connected to me. Everything prior to the halfway mark felt like it was a story. After that it is basic training, which jumps around a lot, and then it is Perry as a soldier, which jumps around a lot. All of it leading up to an actually really good ending. That end was top notch, and definitely worth putting up with the Sex Times. Mostly.
The science fiction was also absolutely amazing. I saw a lot of the twists coming ahead of time, and I’m not certain if they were actually supposed to be twists or not. But I enjoyed the hell out of the science fiction parts. It is a bit over the top, just like the rest of the book was, but in a great way. A proper science fiction way. It is so far out there, and I loved it. But it is also backed up with real science, in as far as I understand it. This is the first thing I have read by Scalzi, and I suspect that this is something he excels at.
I also really enjoy the setup for the rest of the series. We start Old Man’s War with finding out that certain countries are capable of becoming colonists, and other countries are forced to become soldiers if they are going to step out into space. And if you’re to become a soldier, you have to wait until you’re 75 to join up. Which means that John Perry and everyone else around him are senior citizens. Which explains some of the things I disliked about this book, to be honest. However, throughout the course of Old Man’s War, we find that basic premise isn’t everything. Not by a long shot. And it makes me excited to see where the series is going.
The Old Man’s War series by John Scalzi is not going to be one of my favourites that I am going to read this year. However, Old Man’s War, while I had some issues with it, was good enough to continue on with the series. At least for now. While I had some issues with the main character, I loved other aspects of the story, and am looking forward to seeing where some of it ends up.
To read more reviews for this series, check out the Old Man’s War series page!