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Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

Complete series with 6 novels (two of which are collections of short stories and novellas), and several side short stories.
Genres: sci-fi, science fiction, space opera, military space opera

Series Blurb:

Humanity is at war. In order to get off Earth, they’re left with two choices: become a colonist or join the Colonial Defense Forces to protect the colonists. The Colonial Union has strict guidelines about who can sign up for either choice. But there is one stipulation: once you leave Earth you can never go back. Which means braving the danger of space, with hundreds of alien races fighting for the choicest planets.

Reading Order:

1. Old Man’s War
2. The Ghost Brigades
3. The Last Colony
4. Zoe’s Tale
5. The Human Division
6. The End of All Things

Review:

This was a weird series. It kind of jumped all over the place. The first three books can be considered a trilogy split among two main people. The fourth book is the third book retold from a different perspective. And then the last two books are collections of stories that were originally sold separately, but tie up what happened the first three/four books. Like I said, weird.

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. The science fiction was also absolutely amazing. 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.

The characters are really different, depending on the book. The first and third book feature John Perry is a self-proclaimed old fart. He makes the most worstest dad jokes ever. He is also a new soldier for the Colonial Defense Forces, and very competent. Then there is Jane Sagan, who used to be Perry’s wife before she died, now she is a 9 year old special forces person. Also Jared Dirac who used to be someone else, before he died, too. And Zoe, who is adopted by John and Jane, and beloved of an alien race.

The story presented is actually quite fucked up, all told. And very, very creepy. And terrifying. Earth knows nothing about what is really going on in space. They’re kept technologically in the dark. Then there is the idea of babies with no sense of self that are training for war is horrific, even if they eventually learn how to become human. The things the Colonial Union does to its people is awful. But it makes for great story. They are able to justify even the worst actions possible to themselves. Plus, there is a literal brain in a jar.

The stories are also very science fictionesque. Us vs. them mentality. High technology. Heading up new colonies. War. Diplomacy. Disobedience and rebellion. And sometimes just plain weird things, like chasing a dog to find a crown that binds to the wearer’s head to become the ruler of the planet. Plus everything goes to hell, and then they have to fix it. They’re really nostalgic in a way.

Overall, I really liked the end of the series and I enjoyed reading it. It isn’t my favourite by any means, but I had a lot of fun reading it. I enjoyed many of the concepts. There were some things I would have liked different, but isn’t that true of everyone of every series? As is, it was enjoyable.

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