t’s a pretty simple premise – when you get to a certain age and become a drag on the economy and only have maybe a decade to live, you can elect to join Colonial Defense Force. They will give you a new body, train you to be a soldier, and expect a two-year (but, as it turns out, ten-year) hitch out of you.
You just won’t be coming back to Earth.
You’ll go where they tell you, fight who they tell you, and die when they tell you. Simple.
Well, the new body part is true; manufactured bodies with all sorts of gimmicks that will let you operate under extreme circumstances (like hang around under water for six minutes). And that’s good, since the universe is more like a Risk game with one thousand alien races (who don’t really like each other) playing. Warfare along our frontier is a constant thing. And in the CDF, you are more likely to die than make it through alive.
So we follow John Perry, an old widower, who enlists. His training is interesting, and his early combats scary and crazy-weird. Even with their high-tech MP-99s (that manufacture the ammo they need for the moment), his internal coms and all the other advantages, they are still fighting on the edge of survival. As someone tells him, no army ever goes into a conflict fully equipped – they get “just enough” to get by. And so that’s Perry’s dilemma – having “just enough” for the job and not a bit more.
Old Man’s War is a very interesting look at squad level combat in the future. It is just another great book in our new year which has brought so much good literature to me (I’m nodding to The Book Thief, and there is that collection I’m reading now (posting next week)). The author is John Scalzi, and I know there are more books along the series (which I might be picking up tonight).
You’ve got your orders, Soldier!