Old Man's War

Old Man's War

Postby Graham Kennedy » Sat Aug 29, 2015 1:19 am

Just finished book two of this (six and counting) series by John Scalzi. Anybody else read it?

The premise is kind of interesting. It's a crowded galaxy, lots of intelligent species within FTL range of one another. There are relatively few habitable planets, so the competition for them is utterly fierce - essentially, every single species is constantly at war with every single other species. Most often it's "cold war" rather than hot, but any given cold war can turn hot at any moment.

Spoilers for the first book follow...

There's no united Earth government - indeed Earth itself still has the same governments it does today, more or less. But there is a supra-national "Colonial Authority" which was originally set up to oversee colonisation. The CA has acquired technology from aliens (traded or stolen) far beyond anything Earth has, and thus become the de facto "Human government"; all colonisation is done by them, and they run the interstellar military that defends human colonies and/or attacks alien colonies. Nobody on Earth really knows much of anything about life elsewhere - they know that there are aliens and colony worlds, and that there is a constant demand for military recruits, but nothing beyond that.

One fun aspect is the soldiers they use. The CA recruits soldiers from Earth only, all of them at the age of 75 (hence the title). Everyone assumes the CA has some kind of de-ageing technology, but in fact what they do is stick your consciousness into a brand new genetically enhanced supersoldier body. You serve a ten year term before retiring - if you survive to retire, which at least 75% of recruits do not. The bodies can do a lot of fun things, with some aspects of them kind of humerous - for instance most features have an official name that reeks of corporate branding, with "SmartBloodTM" and an inbuilt computer "BrainPalTM".

The first book is kind of reminiscent of Starship Troopers, but it's really a lot less "Rah-Rah-Military!" than Heinlein's book. It's not exactly an anti-war series in the way that, say, Haldeman's Forever War is, but it surely depicts the state of affairs in the galaxy as being a severely messed up one, but one which everybody seems powerless to change. It's not "evil Humans" as such, but the CA certainly does things that are questionable at least, and the soldiers frequently find themselves on unpleasant missions which do take a psychological toll on them.

If you're looking for some military sci-fi, these are definitely worth checking out.
Give a man a fire, and you keep him warm for a day. SET a man on fire, and you will keep him warm for the rest of his life...
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Re: Old Man's War

Postby sunnyside » Tue Sep 15, 2015 4:08 pm

Noted.

I just wanted to drop in a thanks as reviews are useful but often thankless. :)
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Re: Old Man's War

Postby Graham Kennedy » Tue Sep 15, 2015 8:20 pm

I have been accused of liking the soud of my own voice a little too much, so it's nice to think that at least one person enjoyed reading it! :)
Give a man a fire, and you keep him warm for a day. SET a man on fire, and you will keep him warm for the rest of his life...
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