Old Man's War

Old Man's War

John Scalzi

Tor Science Fiction

"In this room right now are 1,022 recruits," Lt. Colonel Higgee said. "Two years from today, 400 of you will be dead."

Higgee stood in the front of the theater, again. This time, he had a backdrop: Beta Pyxis III floated behind him, a massive marble streaked with blue, white, green and brown

"In the third year," he continued, "another 100 of you will die. Another 150 in years four and five. After ten years -- and yes, recruits, you will most likely be required to serve a full ten years -- 750 of you have been killed in the line of duty. Three quarters of you, gone. These have been the survival statistics -- not just for the last ten or twenty years, but for the over two hundred years the Colonial Defense Forces have been active."

There was dead silence.

"I know what you're thinking right now, because I was thinking it when I was in your place," Lt. Colonel Higgee said. "You're thinking -- what the hell am I doing here? This guy is telling me I'm going to be dead in ten years! But remember that back home, you most likely would have been dead in ten years, too -- frail and old, dying a useless death. You may die in the Colonial Defense Forces. You probably will die in the Colonial Defense Forces. But your death will not be a useless one. You'll have died to keep humanity alive in our universe."