John Scalzi's Old Man's War is born of the heritage of Robert Heinlein's military science fiction classics. Our protagonist John Perry, a seventy five year old widower, joins the mysterious CDF (Colonial Defense Force) thanks to its reputation of making people young again. Of course, it also means defending the far away space colonies from all sorts of vicious and hostile alien races, a rather daunting proposal for a septuagenarian. Of course, the CDF has this accounted for, as all of their recruits are given brand-new genetically and cybernetically enhanced superhuman bodies, complete with green skin and a personal computer built into the brain. We follow John from his initial days as a recruit, to his acclimation period to his new body and following days at boot camp, and finally out to the actual field of battle itself.
Though much of this brief summary seems like old hat for veteran sci-fi readers, the book itself is fresh and interesting thanks to the tone Scalzi keeps throughout. Humor and self-awareness abound, keeping the book from becoming pretentious. This does not mean the novel is without depth, either, as Scalzi plays in a meaningful way with some big themes, most importantly what it means to be human. A wonderful mix of action, humor, wit and philosophy, Old Man's War is enjoyable to both the sci-fi fan and non-fan alike.
Tim @ Central