Old Man's War series (Scalzi)

Toby Frost

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Yes, I don’t know much about either. I have a strong-but-vague feeling that a writer is entitled to write about whatever they want, but it’s hard to be more clear than that. I also wonder that, if Scalzi is going to write a book specifically about the experience of being an old man in the future (whether or not he succeeds in doing so), he should be obliged to go into much detail about being a woman or anything else in the future that isn’t his primary aim. A lot of good SF works by exaggerating or discussing one issue in the present, without creating a realistically updated world in general. But I suspect that I’m more willing to give writers the benefit of the doubt in this area than others: if a novel includes only one Frenchman, and he is cowardly, I don’t tend to conclude that the author thinks that all Frenchmen are cowardly unless the character is a blatant stereotype or obviously there for comic effect.

But then I’ve not read the book and I can’t really say. I’m afraid that I was rather put off Scalzi by the style of his blog posts: I got the feeling that he’d be writing for a different generation to me. Anyway, at the risk of sounding rude, is Old Man’s War supposed to be deep? Might you be reading too much into this?
 

Wruter

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Big Scalzi fan here. Even I agree there are a number of clunky aspects to OMW - the racist character in particular seems superfluous. Socially, his subsequent work is much more conscious so I think it's a shame one of his earlier less mature books is perhaps his best known. Try Fuzzy Nation or Lock In to see how he has later improved in this respect. Politically, Scalzi has stated that he is only liberal by USA standards - by European standards (and here I'm assuming you guys are British/European) he is slightly right of centre (his own words on his blog) so these differing national sensibilities may be at play.
 
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I read OMW and have to agree with Brian here. I found it to be casually ageist and somewhat racist. To me it falls into a category of many books/movies where there's a single idea for the set up and that's all there is. In this case it's something like "what if old people were the ones fighting wars instead of young people" and very little thought beyond that initial idea.

I expected a lot more from a man of Scalzi's reputation, but in the end the story was very lightweight. I also didn't think it was especially funny except in two or three places where it was mildly amusing. At the end of the day there's not much you can say other than you liked it or not. In this instance I didn't and it put me off trying his others. I bought Redshirts but it's been on my shelves gathering dust.

Interestingly, my wife read it also and had very similar feelings to me and those mentioned here.
 

psikeyhackr

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I found OMW mildly entertaining and I felt whatever agism was there was totally justifiable. I know good and well that I can't run like I did when I was 30 though I could probably do better if I exercised more regularly. I did not see why people comparedit to Starship Troopers beyond a superficial level. So I did not read more of the trilogy for years. I think the series became more interesting later but the consciousness transfer was nonsense along with the one inch tall intelligent aliens.

psik
 

Wruter

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Of course YMMV but I would still hold Scalzi up as the single most entertaining sf author to emerge at the top level in the past decade, and a great ambassador for the genre as a whole.

So to ye of little faith I say: try his other books! :):rolleyes:
 

Tricanthos

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I Liked it for what it was. A light weight Sci Fi book about war, aliens and awkward space humor. For me the series fizzled and died at book 5. He just didn't follow the people I was interested in and trying to switch gears from mostly character driven to politics got boring.
 

Rodders

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I've been meaning to pick this book up for a while as it sound like something I'd enjoy a lot. Just downloaded it today from Amazon for a pound. Once I have finished Toby Frost's Pincers of Death, this will be my next read.
 

Les

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Great series! And very accessible to a wider audience. In fact, I have introduced a few non-sci-fi folk to the OMW series and they’ve all loved it and gone on to read more sci-fi. Result! Scalzi’s best work by far. I haven’t been as impressed with a lot of his more recent work.
 

Rodders

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So, after reading about Skalzi for a while now, I downloaded Old Man's War and finished it last night.

WOW! What an awesome first book. The characters were great and the pacing was great. I can't wait to read the others in the series.
 

Rodders

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I just finished Ghost Brigade and The Last Colony. Not bad.

Ghost Brigade is the story of a traitor whose genetic material is used to create a Clone with a view to transferring the traitors consciousness to interrogate. The personality doesn't appear to take, so the clone is handed to the Special Forces. I suppose the story centres on our individuality. I thought it was a pretty good read. It took me a few chapters to get into, but ultimately it was a pretty good book.

The Last Colony focuses on John Perry and Jane as they are appointed the Administrators of a new colony that the CU founded after a ban on all new colonies by 'The Conclave'. Again, an enjoyable read but the ending felt pretty rushed.

I'm looking forward to reading the others, but I'm going to take a bit of a break
 

sarap001

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It does have that "young white male" stamp on it, one that I feel comes across in Neal Stephenson as well. With both authors, I think it's incidental from having a compelling idea for which the characters serve only as vehicles, and lose dimension as a result. I do think Scalzi's become a better writer since, though, both in terms of social conscience and in skill as a whole. The differences between OMW and Zoe's Tale are substantial.

OMW really hooked me with its treatment of burnout. Watching Perry's transition from fascination to enthusiasm to terror to fatigue to burnout was outstandingly well done. At its core, burning out is a side effect of confronting the insane and finding ways to rationalize it. I felt that traipsing across the universe battling a cavalcade of bizarre aliens was a novel and literal way of illustrating--intentionally or otherwise--a very human phenomenon.
 

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