Book Review: Old Man’s War

Old Man's WarTitle: Old Man’s War

Author: John Scalzi

Genre: Sci-Fi/Space Opera

Read: Oct 26-27 2010

Summary: Top notch fun! If you liked Avatar and want to see how much better a good Sci-Fi novel can be, read this.


This novel borrows heavily from classics like Starship Troopers and Forever War, but who cares. It’s great. A flawlessly breathless read from start to finish. Basically it’s about a normal (for the year 2200) 75 year old man who volunteers to leave the sheltered Earth, gets upgraded, and is thrown into the maelstrom of interstellar alien combat. It’s action driven, idea driven, AND character driven. Not that the characters are painted with some kind of world shattering mastery, but they’re good, and likable. The atmosphere and action are all great. I also enjoyed seeing aliens again in my Sci-Fi. By that, I mean weird and tentacled out hostile aliens. I like my aliens alien.

There are also a lot of good newer Sci-Fi ideas packed into the book, plus a healthy dose of classic 60’s-80’s ones that have been nicely updated. I have a few little bones to pick with the author’s vision of the future. Particularly on Earth where things seem to have barely changed. Hell, there are even magazines in a waiting room. We won’t have magazines 20 years from now. In addition, the alien planets seemed to too often have the coincidental breathable atmosphere. This is common across Sci-Fi but always bugs me. The space marines have combat suits, it could just mention the suit dealing with the issue. And several of the aliens liked to eat humans. Now I liked the gruesome touch, but the reality is that alien biology would be way too different. The odds of them having the same amino acids, salts, etc as life on Earth are astronomical. But as I said, I liked Scalzi’s aliens, particularly the weird militant advanced religious nut warrior bugs.

But still, these complaints are just nitpicks. I loved the book. I downloaded the next two sequels already (via Kindle to my iPad). Enough said.