My friend Will, the same guy who recommended Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion to me, told me to read Old Man’s War at about the same time. I had read the Amazon Kindle sample of Red Shirts a while back, and seen Scalzi on the Forbidden Island episode of Tabletop, but that’s all I really knew about the guy. I should’ve known that a friend of Wil Wheaton’s is a friend of mine.
This book barely left my hands. Every chapter left me wanting more and I kept telling Ber, “I freakin’ love this book,” every time I reluctantly set it down. The writing resonated with me and the plot was perfectly laid out. It had me making guesses and gasping at the real resolutions.
Science fiction often involves of bit of speculation into future technology. Old Man’s War provides this through well contextualized dialogue, instead of forcing the read through narrative ‘rules’ of its universe. It helps that almost every character we meet is going through a phase of exploration, so we learn what they learn. If we don’t understand it’s okay, because they don’t understand it either. We probably ‘don’t have the math for it’ anyway. 😉
The novel also involves quite of a bit of war-time combat which normally isn’t my thing. But I didn’t find myself skimming through the descriptions at all in this book. A big factor in this was that every battle was also involved new techniques of fighting and different strategies. Aliens don’t fight the same way every battle like human armies do. In particular, a scene with ritualist one-on-one combat during a diplomatic session had me holding my breath. So, so good.
When I was reading the book, I was looking up stuff about John. He recently scored a major deal with his publisher, and this quote from a New York Times article seemed appropriate to my discovery of this talented author:
Patrick Nielsen Hayden, the executive editor for Tor, said the decision was an easy one. While Mr. Scalzi has never had a “No. 1 best seller,” he said, “he backlists like crazy.”
“One of the reactions of people reading a John Scalzi novel is that people go out and buy all the other Scalzi novels,” Mr. Nielsen Hayden said.
And that’s about right. I’ve already added this series’ sequel, The Ghost Brigades, to the last spot on my 2015 reading list and reserved it from my local library. Any books I don’t really get into on my list will quickly be replaced by another Scalzi novel.
Icing on the cake? Scalzi uses WordPress.com. Read his blog at whatever.scalzi.com.
Mr. Scalzi, you’ve won yourself a fan.
Old Man’s War by John Scalzi