I love SciFi. Science Fiction has been a part of my reading life since the early days. That’s why I was very excited when a friend of mine who also happens to be a lifelong reader told me that she wanted to start reading SciFi! Y’all know her as FrenchFryWife a recent contributor to RedStarReviews with her Guest Review of The Likeness. After racking my brain for what book would be a good “Welcome To SciFi” book I handed her my copy of Old Man’s War by John Scalzi with only one request: Let me know what you think of your first SciFi book.
Without further ado here are FrenchFryWife’s thoughts on her first SciFi book!
It only took three decades, but I finally read a Science Fiction novel. Old Man’s War by John Scalzi is a military SciFi adventure that takes elderly citizens of Earth and puts their consciousness into genetically modified bodies. In exchange for the fountain of youth (the bodies are basically immortal in terms of natural events), the seniors must serve at least two years with the Colonial Defense Forces. The CDF is a mysterious entity that protects and preserves the human species in all areas of space.
The story follows John Perry, a witty retired writer, as he says goodbye to his home planet and heads into battle with several races of aliens. The new universe is brutal and often cold-blooded. John grapples with his own humanity and really makes you think about how we interact with any group that is different from our own.
I’ve been hesitant to read SciFi because it seems intimidating from the outside. I’m not inclined towards astrophysics and was afraid the material would go over my head. However, Scalzi has found a great way of explaining the science to the average person without coming off as condescending. I was really fascinated by the CDF’s genetically modified bodies and amused by the trademarked features like BrainPal and SmartBlood.
Scalzi falters a bit with character development. Upon arriving at the new space station, John Perry makes a group of friends who call themselves the Old Farts. Reading their dialogue was a bit painful because they all have the same dry sense of humor. At times, it read like a page of snippy one-liners and a pat on the back. He eventually fleshes out a few characters, but I can’t even tell you the names of all the Old Farts because they blended together too easily.
Overall, I really enjoyed my first SciFi novel. I’ve already picked up the sequel (The Ghost Brigades) to see where the story goes. Old Man’s War is a fun, easy read that will get you thinking about what it really means to be human.