Old Man's War

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Starting around 8th grade, I began reading science fiction and fantasy voraciously, a fine escape from teenage wasteland.  This lasted until college where I had the opportunity and means to do other things, and I've never fully recovered the interest. SoOld Mans War - paperback now has a different cover. when I do read these genres, it's usually either something very popular (Harry Potter) or something recommended by a friend.

Old Man's War, by John Scalzi (2005), was in the latter category.  The synopsis clearly indicates a stylistic similarity to a recognized "great" in the genre, Robert Heinlein, and the story itself is not far removed from Starship Troopers, the movie of which some may be familiar.

The premise is one that seems so obvious that I'm surprised it hasn't surfaced before (perhaps it has, but I'm just unaware of it).  A neighbor once commented that "it's too bad youth is wasted on the young."  Being young at the time, I had a sense of what he meant, but it clearly wasn't a concern to me.  Having teenagers, it makes more sense to me now...

The story expands on just that observation.  John Perry is 75 years old when his wife dies, and the end of his days is coming.  So, he enlists in the military, which promises some means of not only sustaining life, but making one physically fit for combat.  It's a natural progression from taking the knowledge and wisdom of the elderly and finding a means for extending it for some productive purpose.  Here, it only takes a few technological terms and a willingness to allow the imagination to leap into the author's vision (a necessary requirement for sci-fi or fantasy) for an entertaining and quick read. 

The plot is nothing extraordinary (as the idea of warring against hostile interstellar forces is hardly new).  Still Scalzi puts much thought into answering a wide variety of questions that a reader might ask given the premise, and he inserts ample humor as well.     

Recommended for those that appreciate sci-fi, humor, and a quick read (particularly during the doldrums of baseball season...).  On to the sequels as Sunday afternoons allow.

Rating: 4 of 5.

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