It’s Fiction Friday, and as promised I’m bringing you a review of a whole trilogy!
Recently I thought it might be good to branch out of my usual genre and pick up some science fiction. My brother-in-law immediately recommended John Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War.” It looked decent, got good reviews, so I decided, why not?
The premise is that in the future, when you turn 75 you can sign up for the army. But not just any army – this is the Colonial Defense Force, and when you join you’ll be shipped off Earth, never to return. No one knows exactly what you’re doing with the CDF, but it’s rumored they have a way of turning you young again. That’s enough for the main character, John Perry. His wife died years ago, his son is grown up, and he’s ready to try out another life.
Once with the CDF he learns that humanity is locked in a vicious war to colonize as many planets as we can before we get boxed in by the many other alien races who want those same planets. It’s basically a land war, with humans on the front line against, well, pretty much everyone else. It’s bloody, brutal, and so much harder than John had imagined.
So, my thoughts: I really, really liked this book. John is a good main character, amusing and intelligent, and the world building is incredible. So many different alien races, so many different rules, and some crazy technological advances. The plot is fairly straight forward, but solid, and the pace kept me turning pages – I finished this book in a day.
“The Ghost Brigades” follows around a different character, Jared Dirac. He’s part of the CDF’s Special Forces unit – soldiers who are essentially created from the DNA of the dead and grown – perfect fighters without those pesky human qualms, which makes them great for any dirty tasks that need to be completed.
Jared is special even for a Special Forces soldier – he’s been grown from the DNA and implanted with the memories of a traitor to all humanity, in the hopes that he’ll be able to explain why this man did what he did, and what his plans are. When Jared wakes up, however, he doesn’t seem to recollect any of these forced memories, and so he joins the Ghost Brigades as just another soldier…until those hidden memories start surfacing. As he comes to understand the man who essentially gave him life, Jared must also make his own choices, because time is running out for all humanity.
My thoughts: I liked this book almost as much as the first one. I didn’t love Jared as a character as much as I liked John Perry, but again the world building was solid and the storyline was intriguing, plus I liked getting to understand the Special Forces a little more. Definitely a worthwhile continuation of the series.
The final installment, “The Last Colony,” returns to John Perry, who is now living in a colony with his wife and teenage daughter…until the CDF reaches out to him for one last favor. They want him to lead a special colonization team made up of colonists from all the major human settlements. Only things aren’t quite as they seem, and as John learns more about their mission, he realizes the CDF might have completely different plans for him and his colony…plans that John isn’t going to be able to walk away from.
As he struggles to survive on a new world and keep his family and his fellow colonists safe, John is forced to take a hard look at some of the uglier aspects of the CDF, and then he has his own choice to make. Will he stand with them, and go along with their plan, or will he make his own?
My thoughts: Okay, I deliberately kept my synopsis of this third book pretty vague to avoid any major spoilers, but trust me, it really is a good final story to this series. Although, I guess it’s not really the final, final story, as I recently discovered there are other books that take place on this world…but anyways, I would highly recommend this whole trilogy to anyone who either likes sci fi, or who’s thinking of getting into this genre.
How about you? Any sci fi fans out there? What’s your favorite sci fi series? And does anyone else think it’s a little funny John Scalzi named his main character John?