The Old Man's War

Recently, Mick had the pleasure of reading the 2005 sci-fi novel The Old Man's War.

Like all good science fiction, the premise of The Old Man's War is simple. Humanity has started colonizing space and the Colonial Defence Force is tasked with protecting the human colonies from all manner of hostile alien life. The twist on this tried and true formula is that CDF soldiers are not allowed to enlist until they are 75 years old. The plot centers on a new recruit named John Perry as he adjusts to CDF life and experiences life off Earth.

The thing that makes The Old Man's War such an instant classic is that it not only follows in the tradition of science fiction giants like Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, and Orson Scott Card but it reads like it's an active part of that tradition, except without all of the misogynistic baggage that usually comes along with it. Rather, The Old Man's War is about one man's jaunt through space blasting intelligent alien life forms before they devour entire human colonies and his ethical struggle with the horror and inhumanity of war. Another wrinkle in this plot (without spoiling too much) deals with the very nature of what it means to be human as CDF soldiers experience genetic modification in order to assist them in combat across the stars. 

Being that it's a sci-fi novel, the writing isn't particularly splendid. It's certainly not a garbled unreadable nightmare, but you won't be reading Nabokov either. The language is stripped down and simple due in part to the fact that John is the first person narrator and he's not a particularly verbose guy. And let's be honest, nobody reads sci-fi for mind-blowing prose anyways.  

In short, this is a quick and easy book to tear through on a rainy weekend or a cross-country flight. It's fun and translates fantastically to the screen (Netflix is looking to adapt it). The Old Man's War is a must read for anyone who is a fan of the sci-fi genre.