After a year of suffering Mr. Wheaton's pimpin' (or is that Zombi pimpin'?) John Scalzi's debut science fiction novel Old Man's War I finally got off my not quiet as fat as it used to be ass and picked up a copy during one of my walks last weekend. I think the fact that I bought the book last Saturday and completed it Wednesday evening will tell you more about the book than any words I write here.
I did not tear through Old Man's War because it was an easy read but rather the quality of Scalzi's writing forced me to continue. The novel was perfectly paced and I was compelled to continue reading, even when I should have been turning out the light and going to sleep. (This book is directly responsible for me getting out of bed late twice this week.) However with all this praise I am getting a bit ahead of myself here.
Old Man's War is the story of John Perry and what he did on his seventy-fifth birthday. He visited his wife's grave. Then he joined the army, or rather the Colonial Defense Forces. Mankind has made it out of our own solar system and begun to colonize other worlds. The problem is the universe is full of aliens and worlds worth colonizing are few an far between. This means competition for the usable worlds is fierce and the CDF is the only line of defense for the human colonies. The CDF does not accept young recruits. They want recruits that have a lifetime of experience thus you can only join up once you reach retirement age. Once you join up and leave Earth you can never come back. After your term of enlistment ends, which starts at two years but can be extended to ten, then you are given a homestead.
The mark of any great science fiction is that at it's core the story is about the human condition as it exists today. Actually now that I type that, it is really the mark of ALL great fiction, science or not. Old Man's War clearly fits this definition and takes a place alongside Heinlein's Starship Troopers and Card's Ender's Game as a masterpiece where the social commentary is encapsulated in a military setting. I HIGHLY recommend this book.
Bonus Content Time!!!
Here is John Scalzi speaking at an Authors@Google event in April of 2007: