VGL Classic: John Scalzi and the Old Man’s War

This article is from the original batch of Video Game Librarian articles I wrote for Gaming Target between 2005 and 2007. It was originally written on May 26, 2006.

I first came across John Scalzi’s name in Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine. I nearly did a spit take when I was thumbing through the Spin section of the magazine and saw what I initially thought was my own name listed as the author of the DVD and music reviews. I did a little digging (who was this man who almost had my name after all?) and found his Whatever weblog and became a fan.

Fast forward a few years and I see Old Man’s War sitting on the shelf at the library. It has been in my pile of books to read almost since it was released. But when my fiancee showed me that the sequel (The Ghost Brigades) had just come out, I figured it was time to get cracking on the original.

While I’ll be the first to admit that the name thing was part of the reason why I first picked up Old Man’s War, I also thought the premise of the book was different. You see in the future, humanity has colonized the stars. But colonies will always need soldiers to protect them from native people who may not want to be colonized and from other worlds that might want to challenge your claim to a specific piece of land. That’s where the Colonial Defense Force (CDF) comes in. The CDF knows the value of an experienced soldier. So if you so choose, on your 75th birthday you can join up and the CDF will give you a new body and send you to the stars to fight for the colonies.

What follows is a fast paced and humorous sci-fi yarn through old age, new life, action, adventure, boot camp, bug hunting and just plain fun. But I don’t want to oversell it. What I want to do is mention that in addition to thinking it’s an amazing book, I also noticed that Old Man’s War has the potential to be a huge video game. Now if you had plans to read the book, I suggest you hit the Back button on your browser right now because I’m going to be diving pretty deep into the plot here. Continue reading