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Old 11-20-2010, 01:13 AM   #1
pilotbob
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Discussion: Old Man's War by John Scalzi (spoilers)

ten hut !!!!!

Listen up recruits.... get it out of your system because most of you are going to die very soon....

What did you think... great book eh?

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Old 11-20-2010, 01:34 AM   #2
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Hey Asshole!!!!!



I LOVE this book, and it's prompted me to buy the rest of the series. Definitely reminded me of a bit of Robert Heinlein crossed with some Philip K Dick.

I thought it was kind of interesting the way they became the "new" person, and my "Nemoy" voice narrative went away after he was no longer an old man.

I also got a kind of High School feeling with all the clicks and groups, but with the new bodies and being able to experience it all again, I guess I should have expected it. But it brought back some good memories in that way I guess, it was kind of "cute".

The Ghost Brigade also peaked my interest, especially the fact that while they no nothing other than war or military life, they still do have a small factor of knowing that the body they are in did have another life at one point. I was glad they explored that a little bit, and look forward to more in the sequel "The Ghost Brigades".

Overall, the Sci-Fi Essential read gave more than my expectations, and it'll be re-read every couple years I'm sure.

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Old 11-20-2010, 02:09 AM   #3
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I thought Old Man’s war started well, the setting and the age of the protagonist are nice and original, up until the point where everyone became young, green and started having sex everywhere. If it wasn’t spoiling a quarter of the book it should be called “Young beautiful (green) man’s war”.

At no point in the story old age felt notably relevant or useful, no particular wisdom is shown, just young blood fighting a good old dirty war with muscle and sweat.
John’s “humor” is not really that of a 75 year old and his acknowledgement of it is rather annoying (“good to see I have not lost my form”) and aside “unless you happen to own the testicle” I never really smiled at any of his jokes.

Both “Defecating in your unitard is generally not recommended.” and “the green ones aren’t good eating. They’re not ripe yet” cracked me up though!

The first person narration is interesting but in this case it didn’t really make me feel any closer to John, few doubts, personal thoughts, insight etc.. (yeah, you’re afraid of water but , yet, beat pretty much everyone to it, pheeww that was close!) in the end it’s mostly dialogue followed by “I said” instead of “John said”…

Jane’s character is as shallow as it gets, at least she’s got the excuse of being 6, unlike all these “old” people. And yeah we got the Carl Sagan reference, as John Perry would put it : “I thought explaining it was overkill.”

Succession of battles against various enemies, vaguely described, that mostly serve the point of being in John’s gun sight. Barely no politics, relations between species etc… We just know CDF are only pretty much killing everything rather than discussing. The only poor dude who tries that gets ridiculed and (how unexpected!) killed 10min later. The ‘discussion’ with the one interesting species is resumed by: FIIIGGGHTTTSSS and John trying to be witty because “the Consu would honor it no matter how we comported ourselves at the negotiations, so long as we fought in the accepted fashion.”

I suppose we’ll get more ‘inter species’ politics and relations (or, well, anything else than fights really) as John moves into the higher spheres of CDF, but I won’t stick around to find out.

Don’t know if I’m the only one who found the Asshole naming thing quite annoying? It’s not particularly funny when it starts (and kind of weird coming from a 75 yo) but then it just pops up in serious parts of the story and just sounds ridiculous while killing the mood.

Did I miss the physical description of the Rraeys? Beside bird-like legs? That’s a genuine question, not sarcasm.

Multiverse? Where did that come from and why?

Good points: good pacing, not boring, good action scenes, terrific shuttle crash (with uvula kicking ) believable and well exploited technology (BrainPal), enjoyed the training chapters (mostly for what it reminded me of ender’s game) and Master Sergeant Antonio Ruiz is good fun.

Everything goes with a “in my humble opinion” in front of it obviously. Overall, light and entertaining action packed SF book, but I don’t understand the hype at all (see Amazon review score..). Feel free to react to what I said!
Off to Fondation’s Edge now and to quote Salvor Hardin “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent"
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Old 11-20-2010, 02:25 AM   #4
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Don’t know if I’m the only one who found the Asshole naming thing quite annoying? It’s not particularly funny when it starts (and kind of weird coming from a 75 yo) but then it just pops up in serious parts of the story and just sounds ridiculous while killing the mood.
LOL, I loved it, because it's pretty much how I would react as a synical old man.

And I think that point that it comes up in serious situations IS the point, it's kind of a decision in the beginning made off of raw emotion that they now have to live with. It wasn't mean to be funny during the battle, it's just supposed to be.

I think the book wasn't long enough to fully explore Jane, and I think they got it right, she's "only 6" and is confused by something happening and is reacting the only way she knows how, and I'm sure it will be more explained in subsequent books, although in the sequel John doesn't even show up (I don't believe).

I do agree that the alien races should have been explained in more detail, they just kind of ran through them in like two pages in the first quarter of the book.

I also got the implication that the races aren't interested in "talking" or that it was tried before and the GDC got slaughtered.

And thanks for pointing out the Enders Game parallel, got the same feeling, Enders Game is one of my all-time favs, it's just too bad the copy I have, while autographed, is paperback, and beat up.
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Old 11-20-2010, 09:04 AM   #5
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Overall, light and entertaining action packed SF book, but I don’t understand the hype at all (see Amazon review score..). Feel free to react to what I said!
The hype is more than likely due to his huge online cult following.

I enjoyed the series. And Scalzi's definitely an interesting dude -- check out his "Whatever" blog if you need a good chuckle during the day.

The final book of the series (Zoe's Tale), while still quality writing, is basically a re-telling of The Last Colony from a different character's perspective. That seemed a little cheap to me... so I didn't feel the need to finish it.

But, yeah... great, fun, military-scifi stuff from the current SFWA president.

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Old 11-20-2010, 09:22 AM   #6
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If it's anything like Ender's Shadow, then I'll dig it. I enjoy the whole perspextive thing. They kind of did it in the book Death Star in the Star Wars universe.
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Old 11-20-2010, 09:47 AM   #7
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This is great military Sci-fi. The first book gives the impression that the universe is a hostile and dangerous place and humans must do what is needed to survive. As the series progresses humans look less and less like the good guys.

Here are some of Scalzi's own comments:
http://www.locusmag.com/2007/Issue08_Scalzi.html
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Old 11-20-2010, 11:55 AM   #8
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Definitely a fun read. Not a lot of deep social insight and some things seemed pretty improbable. I mean, aside from the usual SF "would you really be able to transfer people to a new body" kind of improbable. The biggest thing that got me is that they got ANYBODY to sign up. The background is that nobody who is on Earth has seen anybody in the CDF, even the people who work the recruiting stations. Nobody really knows what's supposed to happen to them. How do they know it's not a Soylent Green supply stream? I just doubt that that much uncertainty about the future would be overwhelmed by even a 75 year old's sense of mortality.

And why do the Special Forces have to be derived from dead people's DNA? They've already got the samples from the living recruits, what's stopping them from using that? And what's stopping them from making a few hundred (or hundred thousand) Janes if there's some kind of legal reason they can't use a living individual's DNA? Or as recruits get offed, go back and use that person's DNA to make another one?
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Old 11-20-2010, 11:59 AM   #9
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When I was reading it, the voice that came to mind was the old man in the movie UP! He seemed to fit the roll quite well. And even though the body was no longer old, when he was in his head thinking, it was still that voice. And for those that do not know, that voice is the voice of Ed Asner.
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Old 11-20-2010, 10:06 PM   #10
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I read this book when it first came out, and I pull it out every now and then and re-read it because I enjoy it. I thought the idea of "recycling" the elderly was intriguing; I don't know if I could make the choice to leave everything behind forever, but the lure of starting over in a young body would be a powerful one. Especially since the only alternative is death. In the right mood, it might just be a what-the-hell decision.

I had no problem with John Perry's internal "voice". Don't know about the rest of you, but my internal voice is not commensurate with my actual age - sometimes I don't think that I've advanced beyond age 12. I don't think that one necessarily thinks "old" when one is 75; we may assume that people that age do, but I figure that if I'm still goofy at this age, further ripening isn't going to change that. I think that the outer shell tends to mislead people.
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Old 11-21-2010, 01:28 AM   #11
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In the beginning I thought that promising the older people another life was just a sort of scam to get rid of them and kill them without the rest of the world knowing about it (especially since it was said that something like the beanstalk ist really not possible), something along the lines of „Soyland Green“).

I was pleasantly surprised that the other world really existed and enjoyed the book very much. Only the descriptions during the battlescenes I hurried through. I especially liked John Scalzi's dry humour.

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I enjoyed the series. And Scalzi's definitely an interesting dude -- check out his "Whatever" blog if you need a good chuckle during the day.
Thank you, I just subscribed to that

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I don't think that one necessarily thinks "old" when one is 75; we may assume that people that age do, but I figure that if I'm still goofy at this age, further ripening isn't going to change that. I think that the outer shell tends to mislead people.
I agree with you there. I think a person is a combination of everything he/she ever was; when somebody is 75 he/she has the experience of a lifetime and accumulated knowledge, but as far as the inner self or emotions are concerned, there still exists the child and the young person.
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Old 11-22-2010, 10:23 AM   #12
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I loved the book. Yea it's not ultra serious sci-fi. I do catch the Heinlein parallel. I also felt from a humor standpoint it had some of that Janet Evanovich type humor from the Stephanie Plum series. I liked the humorous undertones in the book and think that is somewhat unique for a sci-fi series. (Hitchhiker's Guide excepted).

Not sure I understand Altoano's question about the multiverse. That is the exact term many cosmologists are using today. From Stephen Hawking on his new book The Grand Design:

"In The Grand Design we explain why, according to quantum theory, the cosmos does not have just a single existence, or history, but rather that every possible history of the universe exists simultaneously. We question the conventional concept of reality, posing instead a "model-dependent" theory of reality. We discuss how the laws of our particular universe are extraordinarily finely tuned so as to allow for our existence, and show why quantum theory predicts the multiverse--the idea that ours is just one of many universes that appeared spontaneously out of nothing, each with different laws of nature. "

I actually thought the explanation of skip drive and the multiverse was a good one.

All in all Old Man's War is not what I'd call thought provoking science fiction. But if you are looking for a fun romp throught the galaxy, this is it. I enjoyed it a bunch. In fact almost finished with book 3. Book two does focus on Jane, and John is nowhere to be found. A little less humorous, but still good. The third is a good read as well. I'll skip Zoe's Tale.
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Old 11-22-2010, 10:34 AM   #13
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It's not deep SF. But it was enjoyable. The premise was different and I rather liked the characters. They were more then just grunts. They have feelings and we got to see that.
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Old 11-22-2010, 10:36 AM   #14
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Not sure I understand Altoano's question about the multiverse. That is the exact term many cosmologists are using today.
I had only started hearing about it and really looking into it from watching that show on either Science Channel or NatGeo, called "Through the Wormhole" that was narrated by Morgan Freeman. I thought that show for the first time brought quantum physics to the lay person (for the most part, you still had to have some sort of IQ to put 2 and 2 together though).

So when I was hearing about it in this book, it was cool to pull that knowledge out.
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Old 11-22-2010, 11:19 AM   #15
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(for the most part, you still had to have some sort of IQ to put 2 and 2 together though).
Is 22 important in particle physics?

BOb
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