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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.
Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity’s resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force. Everybody knows that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don’t want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You’ll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You’ll serve two years at the front. And if you survive, you’ll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets.
John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine—and what he will become is far stranger.
"Solid . . . [Scalzi] sidesteps most of the clichés of military science fiction, delivers fast-paced scenes of combat and pays attention to the science underpinning his premise."—San Francisco Chronicle
"Scalzi's imagined interstellar arena is coherently and compellingly delineated . . . His speculative elements are top-notch. His combat scenes are blood-roiling. His dialogue is suitably snappy and profane. And the moral and philosophical issues he raises . . . insert useful ethical burrs under the military saddle of the story."—Paul Di Filippo, The Washington Post
"Smartly conceived and thoroughly entertaining, Old Man’s War is a splendid novel."–Cleveland Plain Dealer
"When humanity reaches the stars, it discovers that it must defend its claim to new planets against alien races with similar expansionist tendencies. To ensure the expertise of its soldiers, Earth creates the Colonial Defense Force, an army of men and women otherwise classified as senior citizens, who give up their lives on Earth for an uncertain and perilous future among the stars. Scalzi's first novel presents a new approach to military sf, boasting an unusual cast of senior citizens as heroes. A good choice for most libraries."—Library Journal
"Though a lot of SF writers are more or less efficiently continuing the tradition of Robert A. Heinlein, Scalzi’s astonishingly proficient first novel reads like an original work by the late grand master . . . This virtuoso debut pays tribute to SF’s past while showing that well-worn tropes still can have real zip when they’re approached with ingenuity."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Gripping and surpassingly original. It's Starship Troopers without the lectures. It's The Forever War with better sex. It's funny, it's sad, and it's true."—Cory Doctorow
"John Scalzi is a fresh and appealing new voice, and Old Man's War is classic SF seen from a modern perspective—a fast-paced tour of a daunting, hostile universe."—Robert Charles Wilson
"I enjoyed Old Man's War immensely. A space war story with fast action, vivid characters, moral complexity and cool speculative physics, set in a future you almost want to live into, and a universe you sincerely hope you don't live in already."—Ken MacLeod