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Sivosten webZine :: John Scalzi - Old man's war
John Scalzi - Old man's war

Author: Angel Genchev, Sunday, 14 September 2008.

In Articles :: Literature; Propose a Second Opinion

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I\'ve always been fond of the military science fiction. It\'s not only the piquant of speech, nor the dynamics or the tension adding up to its specific charm, but the way it\'s always original. And then again, it\'s not that the classic war novels can\'t feed us something unique - though they really can\'t. Neither that Earth would need some very solid reasoning to enter a galactic conflict. It\'s just that I\'ve never read really flawed military sci-fi, it\'s always well-covered in the field of social policy and the development of society, or economics, or psychology; the pure politic way, and even the philosophy of the genre is a steady ground to stand on. And when it comes to John Scalzi and his \"Old man\'s war\", frankly, it\'s one of the best I\'ve ever read.

It\'s the Universe, and it\'s not the friendly environment for the kindred of the human. Our good old Earth might be comfortably isolated from the hostilities of the surrounding vacuum, thriving in its trivial problems, but there - outside the comforts of its own backyard star system - every cubic of atmosphere, every piece of land becomes a battlefield, where dozens of races and civilizations grab one another\'s wind pipes in the single quest to exist. And it\'s reasonable. As vast as the Cosmos is, it\'s hardly suitable for sentient life, and that vastness of it\'s exactly, together with the small and rare spots facilitating the species, make it worth almost every sacrifice. And in that kind of roulette the odds the humanity is used to play with - or against - seem negligible, at the best.

By the way, that\'s the exact place Scalzi seems to use for a little harsh, maybe, but well-reasoned and well-founded social critics of the Present, and some of the modern politic tendencies, especially. Actually, Earth itself didn\'t change much in his books.

Beside it, I wouldn\'t hesitate for a second to compare his soldiers - and main characters - to the Mobile Infantry of Heinlein\'s. John Scalzi himself admitted he was inspired by them somewhat, but even that, he did a magnificent work. One might agree \"Old man\'s war\" is not as deep as the \"Starship troopers\" (something he makes up for later in the series, mostly), it\'s not that philosophical, but his wonderful sense of humour, the intensity of the action, the diversity of his universe, the quantity of ideas, even the well-placed phrases and jokes - they all compensate that negligible flaw.

In resume, \"Old man\'s war\" is not only one of the best military, but one of the best science fiction novels I\'ve ever read - not only during the last years, but at all. And it really gives me the hope that the classic, thoughtful and serious sci-fi haven\'t already given up.

Commentary topic: http://www.sivosten.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=208097#p208097

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