Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Book: Old Man's War by John Scalzi

This is my first time reading anything by John Scalzi, and I have to say I really enjoyed this book.  Old Man's War is the first book in the Old Man's War universe, I believe there are four books out currently with at least one more in the works.  The story is told through the voice of John Perry, a 75 year old widower, who has made the choice to join the Colonial Defense Forces (CDF).  He and his wife, Kathy, had planned to join together but she passed away before she could.  Perry made the choice to enlist anyway.  With his wife gone, and his son grown, he didn't think there was anything left to keep him on earth.  He joins the CDF with the plan of putting in his time fighting in the war and hopefully retiring with a younger body on a new planet.  We follow Perry through the transformation process all the recruits undergo, and the friends he makes as he becomes a CDF soldier.  The transformation they go through to become a soldier is like something out of X-Files episode, they move the consciousness from one boy to another.  The new body is not just any ordinary body; it is modified to be a stronger, better body.  There is nanobot technology that improves everything, and a thing called a BrainPal that allows for communication through thought, as well as training and information sharing.  It's like having a smart phone in your brain, but better.  We learn more about the new abilities and technology as we follow Perry through his training and eventual combat.  Perry learns more about the organization he is fighting for and begins to question the motives behind the fighting.  In the Battle for Coral the CDF is fighting the Rraey for possession of the planet Coral.  Perry is part of an assault that goes bad.  The Rraey were able to detect the incoming ships and pretty much thwarted the assault before it happened.  Perry's ship is the only one that makes it through, but despite best efforts Perry was the lone survivor.  He sustained injuries in the landing, and was near unconscious when he was rescued by one of the Ghost Brigade squads.  Perry is in and out of consciousness, and believes he sees the ghost of his wife.  Once he is healed, he tries to get some answers but has a hard time as doors to information seem to be closed at every turn.  

Clearly there is a lot more to the book, but I really don't want to give anything away.  I enjoyed discovering what being a recruit entailed, and the whole process of getting a new body and learning to use it.  The idea of getting to re-live your life on a new planet is a neat idea.  Some of the technology talked about in the book is really interesting too, especially the nanobots.  They made me think of that episode of Star Trek:  The Next Generation where Wesley is studying nanobots and some escape and start causing trouble on the ship (Season 3, Episode 1 - Evolution).  I should say I didn't think of that episode because anything like that happened in the book.  I just thought of it because of the nanobots.  I look forward to following Perry to see what happens with his ghost, and if he gets to retire on a new world with his younger body!

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