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.All hail John Scalzi. I have read a lot of fantasy and science-fiction over the years, but somehow this was the first time I stumbled across his brilliancy! Who would think that I would be in love with a novel about 75-year-old men and women having adventures in space. Does that even sound plausible to you? But, I did! I loved this book! It was fresh and original. It surprised me. Books do not really surprise me anymore. It's the books that manage to shock me or inspire me or surprise me that I have to say: Read it! This is one of those books. I have to admit that it has been a while since I actually read this book. It stuck with me, though. This book is inspiring. The fact that the earth is in the middle of a galatic war millions of miles away is not something that I look forward to, but wouldn't it be fantastic if you could live your life here on earth and then join the army when you reach the retirement age and essentially live all over again. I would not mind that at all.
So, essentially this is the story of John Perry. Instead of gathering with his family and friends to celebrate his 75th birthday, which people do nowadays, he visited his wives grave and then joined the army. That is how the story starts. You have no idea what to expect because, really, what army wants recruits with arthritis and other problems of age. Just that alone made me curious. I wanted to know how Scalzi was going to sell this for me because it seemed pretty unbelievable, but he did it. He managed to make a novel that was believable, but at the same time was rather crazy! People that read this blog know that I am not the biggest fan in the world of romance in novels, but the first romance scene in this book actually made me crack up laughing! I know, what's funny about sex later in life. I guess you will have to read the book to find out.
It's hard to write original novels nowadays. Sometimes it feels like everything has been done a million times before. The war and the big battle is nothing new, but the way that Scalzi spins the story is different. The characters are not at all what you expect. This book shows what it truly takes to make a fun, original, page-turning novel. It is the first book in a series that is going to make you want to rush out and read everything else that he has. (Unless you are me, of course, and have issues with reading series in any sort of time frame.) This is what science-fiction is all about. I can not say it enough how much I loved this book. It lived up to its original opening. There will be some surprises along the way, but you will enjoy the ride.
I strongly recommend this novel!
Every time I hear or talk about this book I think of Neil Young and his song 'Old Man'. So, I figure I will post it again!