Saturday, March 26, 2011
Old Man's War
Recently, a little bored with reading the same old thing over and over again; I started reading science fiction again. I read sci-fi voraciously as a youngster, got into it again in a big way in the late 80s/early 90s, and read very little for the last fifteen plus years. There are a lot of advantages to this approach: you’ve let enough time pass you can go back and re-read old favorites, finding them somewhat fresh after so long, and there is sure to have been a lot of good books published while you were away.
I don’t intend to do any real reviews of the sci-fi I read. Other than a second major in mathematics, I don’t have any real scientific knowledge, and I don’t think I would grow as a person reading the comments explaining how I must be a complete moron because I incorrectly explained the formula to express a closed thermodynamic system. At least from the outside, the sci-fi community seems amazingly argumentative and devoted to feuds, often over the most trivial things. Science fiction writers and readers range from the obsessively politically correct to proudly politically insensitive, and are willing to write tens of thousands of words to fight over things you wouldn’t even notice, let alone hold a grudge over.
(My use of the term “sci-fi” in place of science fiction is enough to piss a large number of people off. I read a comment by a noted sci-fi author where he stated calling science fiction “sci-fi” was the same as calling a black person the “n-word.” Which is so ludicrous I had to use it, despite the knowledge it may be a provocation.)
Without going into detail, I do want to recommend sci-fi books from time to time, although anyone who reads the genre on a regular basis knows these books pretty well. With that in mind, I would like to whole-heartedly recommend John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War series. I just finished reading the first three books, Old Man’s War, The Ghost Brigades, and The Last Colony. They are wonderful stuff, heavily influenced by Robert Heinlein and Joe Haldeman, particularly the respective authors’ books Starship Troopers and The Forever War. They are military science fiction with a conscience and a surprising amount of humor, very well done, and I read through the three of them in just a couple of days. My only regret is I won’t get to read them again for the first time.