OLD MAN’S WAR – John Scalzi

In a rather ironic twist, I am writing a book review on a website about a book that was initially serialized on a blog! John Scalzi is the owner of the domain name and site – has become a well known SciFi author with his series of books entitled:

· Old Man’s War (2005)

· The Ghost Brigades (2006)

· The Last Colony (2007)

· Zoe’s Tale (2008)

These books all take place in a universe hostile to humanity, where the search for and colonization of new worlds is viciously contested by a variety of Alien species and races. While there are some similarities to Robert Heinlein’s – Starship Troopers, the underlying story in itself is surprisingly unique, well thought out and conceived.

In addition to becoming a best selling author through the use of his online blog, Scalzi has also conducted other innovative strategies to popularize his work with his most recent book in the Old Man’s War series – The Human Division – being available via a nominal cost through digital downloads.

Another prolific author (similar to Brandon Sanderson), John Scalzi has written a host of titles in the Old Man’s War universe as already discussed he has also an extremely funny and engaging book called RedShirts that is definitely worth a read also!

John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife’s grave. Then he joined the army.

The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce–and alien races willing to fight us for them are common. So: we fight. To defend Earth, and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has been going on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.


Old Man’s War – the first in the series, tells the story of John Perry.  At the ripe old age of 75 American’s are given the option of “joining” the CDF (Colonial Defence Forces) where they will be made young again.  No one on Earth or its colonies knows how this miracle is accomplished and while they continue to supply the raw material, the CDF is responsible for policing and protecting all of humanity in its struggles with the other alien empires.  Humanities allies are few and far between and its colonized sphere of space is surrounded by enemies numbering in the trillions.

Away from the gravity well of Earth the secret is however made clear.  As CDF soldiers (and for the 25% who survive) eventual colonists learn, regenerating their existing bodies is not an option afterall, but the CDF has come up with a way of transferring their consciousness from their existing bodies into newly cloned ones.  However these clones are better than the originals with faster reflexes, better healing and an integrated computer system.  What they learn during basic training though is that this is the “minimum” that humanity needs to survive in this hostile universe as the aliens they are competing against are just as fast and even more vicious.


After receiving basic training on Beta Pyxis III, Perry is shipped out to the CDF’s Modesto. In his first battle against the enigmatic Consu (a race that seems to model their fighting against whoever they are fighting against and are significantly in advance of humanity in terms of technology), John is able to improvise a tactic that enables the CDF to successfully win the battle.

Through the course of several different engagements his leadership and intuition continues to play a key role, until the battle for Coral.  Here the CDF suffers a huge defeat, losing a significant portion of their fleet and their soldiers where John Perry is the only person to have survived and has crash landed on the planet.

Rescued by the Ghost Brigade forces – Special Forces units of the CDF, John joins up with Jane Sagan (a clone generated from his dead wife’s DNA) and prepares to assault Coral again.

I know, I’ve stopped just when it’s getting interesting!  Trust me – this is one book you’ll love to have in your library and what I’ve told you so far will only get you to the half way point! Get it – you won’t be disappointed.

My Thoughts –

A really well thought out 1st book and a definite page turner.  Will keep you gripped from beginning to end and the concept of the clones being from the elderly vs. just grabbing anyone willy-nilly from Earth is quite a cool idea! I really liked this book and its overall characterizations as well as the writing and would definitely recommend it.

Character Growth & Development – 4/5

The key characters in the series are all believable and Perry is someone that you root for right from the beginning.  Finding Jane is quite traumatic and very surprising and you can really feel for the character throughout the story.

Story Growth & Development – 4/5

Really good and gripping.  While Humanity might be one of the few races to “augment” its people in the battles the obvious question becomes why aren’t other races doing it?  Secondary questions of course include the obvious – why is anyone fighting for real estate in an infinite universe, but that is a key factor in any space based book isn’t it!

Overall Rating – 8/10

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