Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

I’ve not really read many Science Fiction novels even though my interests suggest that I’d enjoy them. I’ve read a lot of horror and fantasy stuff but have never really got around to reading much Asimov and the like.

The stuff I have read has been excellent, especially The Gap Cycle by Stephen Donaldson. I’ve not read any Heinlein at all, among a whole host of excellent authors in the genre, but it’s Heinlein that is of most interest with the author of my most recent read: Old Man’s War by John Scalzi.

I’d managed to acquire this book as a free PDF download by signing up for the Tor Newsletter last month. Tor are an interesting-looking book publisher with a whole host of talented authors signed to them. They’re sending out download links by email to people that sign up for their newsletter and there are a whole bunch of other free books to come, so if you’re interested in free Science Fiction then you have no excuse to not go and sign up yourself.

I’ve never attempted to read an e-book before and I don’t have a mobile device to read them on so I had to do it while sat at my iMac, or some other computer. Old Man’s War is only about 310 pages long so I figured it’d be a good introduction to the author.

I started reading it and I was hooked within a few lines. I could barely peel myself away from my iMac to head off to work, but as I’m paid to turn up that’s what I had to do. Lucky for me that I could also download the book there (don’t tell the boss!).

Apparently, Old Man’s War is heavily influenced by the writings of Heinlein. The only work of Heinlein’s that I’ve experienced is Starship Troopers (the movie) and I can see why Scalzi (and a whole host of other Sci-Fi authors apparently)  is linked to him. There’s a whole bunch of beautiful soldiers fighting bug-like aliens while flying around the universe in large space-ships.

However, I really couldn’t care less about his influences – his book is bloody excellent.

The premise of the novel is centred around some future earth where the space-bound Colonial Defence Force recruits soldiers on their 75th birthday. They’re promised rejuvenated bodies if they’re prepared to defend Earth’s colonists for 2 years of their lives. Those that join up are a little surprised by what happens to them once they are blasted into space.

I won’t spoil the plot-line but you’ll probably guess some of the twists early on. The lack of surprises really doesn’t affect the story though, as Scalzi has a fantastic knack of writing with large doses of humour. It’s very-much a boys’ own story with lots of guns, battles, sex and people with computers in their heads.

John Scalzi writes with barely a spare word to be found and the story clatters on at a fair rate of knots. I’d use that old cliché “bodice-ripping page-turner” but that’s, er, a bit of a cliché, and there aren’t actually that many ripped bodices. Well, there are plenty of ripped bodies.

I got through the whole thing in no time and I would highly recommend it to anyone with a passing interest in Science Fiction novels. It’s not exactly Asimov but it’s no worse for that – get it for yourselves. I shall be getting some of his subsequent novels for certain.

%d bloggers like this: