TITLE: Old Man's War
AUTHOR: John Scalzi
First, it's a pleasure to find a science fiction novel that's under 400 pages these days. But since I tend to like novels that are longer rather than shorter because I hate saying goodbye to characters I love, that's not always a good thing.
Second, Scalzi delivered in this relatively slim tale of a future Earth where retirees are recruited in a never-ending war against alien races in the outer reaches of the galaxy.
The story follows John Perry, taking him from his first days as an enlistee at 75, including receiving a new, young, enhanced body built from his DNA, through his training, and finally, through battles with all manner of aliens. And upfront, he's told only a few survive. The reward at the end of the contracted term of service is a young body and the chance to start over on one of the colony worlds. John figured he had nothing to lose. His wife was dead, and the chance for a second life was one he couldn't pass up. He learns quickly that survival will be tough, but he's got the smarts, and the wit, to succeed.
In John Perry, Scalzi has crafted a true survivor, who never loses touch with his humanity despite all the horror and gore he witnesses and participates in. At the end of this small, surprisingly moving book, I was reluctant to say goodbye to John, and really, what more can one ask of a book?