Old Man’s War, (John Scalzi) and sequels…


So, I just finished re-reading John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War — I initially read it a couple of years ago and was rereading it in preparation to read the sequel (which I am now currently doing), The Ghost Brigades.  Not only are they fun reading, they also engage cybernetic issues as all the characters have been modified both genetically and technologically.  I’m a big fan of John’s work and his blog, Whatever so I was a bit nervous re-reading the novel.  I’m glad to say that it didn’t disappoint and thoroughly withstood a re-reading. 

I find that it engages issues that I am currently interested in quite well — particularly what makes us human specifically and, how technological/cybernetic enhancements affect those definitions?   It explores them without preaching a particular position or ideology or being too heavy handed.  It also manages to engage these issues while also maintaining a quite narrative flow (just a few moments of boggy exposition) and being quite funny.  If you are not already familiar with his work and you like a) good writing b) science fiction and/or c) either Heinlein’s Starship Troopers or Haldeman’s The Forever War, you will also enjoy Scalzi’s fiction. — and his blog. 

The characters are well-developed but they all share a general snarkiness that while I find amusing blends them together in a way.  This is not to say that the characters are not unique because they are.  It’s merely that this shared quality seems a bit pervasive in the ‘verse. 

I liked the main character — Perry — enough to be disappointed that he doesn’t appear (or at least hasn’t yet) in the second book.   But, don’t confuse that with disappointed in the sequel itself.  It explore the issues of humanity and technology even more in-depth that the first novel and does everything a sequel should — it has enough of the familiar to please the readers and is a different enough novel to not be merely doing the same thing over.  Sequels are in many ways harder to pull off than the first novel.  Think of the long list of excellent SF books that were followed by less than stellar follow-ups.  Dune Messiah anyone?   Other SF that you didn’t like the sequels to?



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