Profile: Science Fiction, Space Opera, Military
I’ve resisted reading this book for a very long time. The reviews were just too universally good, and I’ve been burned that way before. But after hearing Scalzi interviewed on NPR about his new book, Red Shirts, I finally started wondering what all the fuss was about. And for once, I wasn’t disappointed. Old Man’s War is a tremendous novel in an understated package that handles the horrors of war and the wonders of the final frontier with equal aplomb. It approaches its subject matter with the correct mix of humility, awe and confidence to tie the reader to the plight of the cast, and even this fictional version of the human race.
Old Man’s War is narrated in first person perspective by John Perry, an aging ad copy writer. He and his wife Kathy decided to get a second lease on life by joining the Colonial Defense Force. But Kathy died before their number was up, so John is on his own as he enlists and becomes a part of humanity’s first line of defense. Scalzi’s vision of the future has humanity expanding colonially into the stars, while Earth remains isolated. But the galaxy is not empty and many other species desire the same resources we need. Competition for planets and systems is fierce and humanity isn’t the big kid on the block.