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Publisher's Summary

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 of 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.

©2005 John Scalzi (P)2007 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC

What the critics say

  • Hugo Award nominee, Best Novel, 2006

"Scalzi's imagined interstellar arena is coherently and compellingly delineated." (The Washington Post)

What listeners say about Old Man's War

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One of the best books I've read in years

This book is great, my father even loved it and he's not a scifi fan. I'm listening for a 2nd time, would recommend to anyone. #Audible1

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent book, great performance

This book suffers a small amount from the standard military scifi problem where the protagonist is never allowed to be wrong about anything or make any mistakes, unless those mistakes make them even more awesome. That said, this is an excellent read and the author seems to have mainly avoided the above problem. The characters are likeable and human, the plot is well paced and exciting, and the performer has done an excellent job differentiating the characters. one issue I had with the performer (and this is more of an issue with the writing than anything) is that he will be speaking in a character's voice and then drop down to read a "he said", only to immediately go into another character's voice. This happens pretty frequently and can be jarring. I would suggest just leaving these out some of the time, especially when the characters are obvious. All in all, I'm excited to listen to the next one!

2 people found this helpful

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heartfelt. funny. sad. oh ya, sci fi too.

it's got it all, loss, love, rebirth, humor and of couse; cool battles. i loved it for it's honesty.

1 person found this helpful

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A fun read

the whole way through this book is funny, witty, and surprising. can't ask for more

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top notch

absolutely loved this story. i found it to be witty, fast paced, intelligent, and surprising heart warming. the characters were believable and relatable. i loved the old farts. the narration was amazing. the change in voice for each character was brilliant. can't wait for the next book.

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Terrible Narration

The story seemed fine but the narrator made it feel like I was listening to a children's cartoon with horrible voices for every character. I couldn't make it past chapter 3. Just awful.

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good premise, well narrated, ending meh

liked the premise and beginning of the book. dialogue was done well. narration brought life to the story. latter part of book too military focussed for my liking.

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Great story and performance

I found the story so original and entertaining. It contains all the elements of sci-fi that I love such as space travel, aliens and new technologies but it’s also a story about people. There’s action, fighting and also character development, relationships and love. Really great overall.

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Loved it!

This is one of the best stories I've enjoyed in a long time. I'm definitely looking forward in starting the next one. It was well written and the performance was spot on.

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Wow

Worth every minute. If you like military SF, then you need to give this a go.

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  • M. Spencer
  • 2012-10-21

Fun and Witty Military Sci-Fi

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi was the first book that I downloaded with my Audible subscription as I had heard from various sources (including the Sword and Laser podcast) that it was a great read. I have to say that, after reading the novel, I agree wholeheartedly. Old Man’s War was one of the best novels that I’ve read all year. I would even go so far as to say it’s one of my favorite science fiction novels period.

From the start, I really got a kick out of the conceit of the story. In some future United States, elderly people are recruited to enlist and serve in the intergalactic military. With so many novels following a young protagonist (even many adult novels), I found it to be a very refreshing experience to read a novel where the main character was 75 years old.

In addition to that, I really enjoyed Scalzi’s writing style. It had just right combination of dry wit and cynicism to really resonate with me. I should also extend that compliment to William Dufris, the narrator of the audio version that I listened to. I thought he did an excellent job. His tone was perfect for the main characters of the novel.

I don’t want to give anything away in my review so I won’t go into too much detail about the plot, but I really did enjoy the story line a great deal as well. The novel is very much a military story filled with battles and typical military life. In that way, it reminded me of Joe Haldeman’s Forever War, but what I liked about Old Man’s War was a bit lighter and more fun.

The novel really roped me and I had a lot of fun listening to it. In fact, I tended to listen on my iPod while running, giving me the perfect excuse to exercise regularly.

Overall, I really enjoyed the novel and I would recommend it to any science fiction reader.

152 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2012-10-06

Real science fiction, for a change

What made the experience of listening to Old Man's War the most enjoyable?

It was nice to finally read a science fiction book that actually was science fiction, not science 'fantasy'. The science fiction was understandable science, not pulled out of nowhere fantasy stuff that all to often is passed off as science fiction in our largely scientifically barely literate population.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Michael
  • 2011-11-14

As good as Heinlein

This book reminds me of Heinlein ??? which is about the greatest compliment I can give a Sci Fi author. This book has multiple levels. It blends humor with social commentary, politics with action. The Sci Fi is merely a framework for the story and characters (which is as it should be). The characters are multifaceted and change substantially as the story evolves. The story has a lot of funny bits, but the story includes nice emotional and intellectual content. This book made me want to read everything by this author.

87 people found this helpful

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  • Jim "The Impatient"
  • 2015-10-22

I DIDN'T MIND GETTING OLD, WHEN I WAS YOUNG EITHER

This is not good, it is GREAT!!!! It's Science fiction, it's Military Sci-Fi, it's a romance, it's witty, LOL at times, it is character driven, it is everything I ask for in a novel. I think the older you are and the longer you have been happily married the more you will enjoy this. It is so nice to listen to a novel, where elders are respected. The main character was married for around 42 years, if I remember right. They had some ups and downs, but they were in love. As a man who has been married for over 37 years and who is more in love now than when I was as a youth, I feel the pain and longing of the main character.

The science fiction is cool and this platform gives Scalzi, the ability to show off his imagination. The different aliens he comes up with and how they think different then us, makes for some thought provoking and funny situations. Some other reviewers have compared it to Star Ship Troopers and I see that, but I was thinking more of Forever War by Haldeman. It may have a little of both, but it is all Scalzi.

Dufris does a great job.

121 people found this helpful

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  • Diana - Audible
  • 2012-04-17

A welcome listening challenge

Audible’s editors thought it would be fun for each of us try a genre we haven’t listened to before, and for me it was sci-fi. Our resident expert on the topic, Steve, recommended John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War as a place to start—and what a start it was! Filled with space battle, technology of the future (including new and improved bodies), characters you’ll care about, and even a heart-tugging love story, this book was a great way to ease into the category. One of the things I loved most was Scalzi’s insights into what makes us human. Or as he says, “Part of what makes us human is what we mean to other humans and what they miss about us.”

37 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • john s larigan
  • 2008-11-21

Science Fiction is Not Dead

I grew up in the 1950's in the hey day of Heinlein, Asimov, Norton, Dickson and other great hard Science Fiction writers. To a great extent the genre in trying to reinvent itself turned its back on the traditional Science Fiction Fan. John Scalzi's novels, like the juveniles of Charles Sheffield, have reinvigorated the old hard science fiction style. However, John Scalzi has gone Sheffield one better. Old Man's War, Ghost Brigade, etc have not only brought Heinleinian style Science Fiction back to life, but he has successfully put a modern spin on the style which gives a fresh perspective. Old Man's War is an amazing effort and like any good book it stands up to being read and re-read. The audio interpretation is very well done and the reader gets a 5 star rating to complement the story itself.

36 people found this helpful

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  • CrysAnne
  • 2018-07-18

He said, She said

The incessant "He/She/I said" after nearly every bit of dialog was maddening once I noticed it.

6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Dale
  • 2007-10-10

A Keeper

The first part of this book, reminiscent of Heinlein's "Starship Trooper", is a worthy homage. The second part is also a love story with emotional depth. The technology is part of the plot and not simply window dressing. I will look for other works by this author.

48 people found this helpful

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  • Kurt Schwoppe
  • 2018-03-17

Just Wow

I am kicking myself for taking so long to find John Scalzi and the Old Man's War series. Thanks to Jim the Impatient for the great review that now has me hooked on the series. I just read the third book, and the storyline is still going strong.

At first I didn't realize that Old Man's War was written 13 years ago, so I kept thinking that Scalzi was borrowing ideas. Now it's pretty clear that he is one original thinker who has set more than a few recent trends in the SciFi genre. As one reviewer said, he is the new Robert Heinlein.

After binge listening to the first three books, I've decided to pace out the remaining three. I got a few 10 hour road trips in the next couple of months, and I can count on the Old Man Series to help make the drive fly quickly by. In the meantime, John Scalzi is going to get a few more of my credits as I try out some of his other books.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • david
  • 2008-08-18

good find

I really liked "Old man's War". This book has everything I wanted. Sci-fi, aliens, fighting, humor. I enjoy the type of book where you have a person who starts a new situation, learns about the univers and becomes a hero. Ussually it is from the perspective of a young person coming of age, going through bootcamp or some like training. The unique thing about this, is that it is from an old man's perspective.
The writing is well done, the book goes quick. The alien races are an interesting mix. Good book.

34 people found this helpful