Review of John Scalzi's "Old Man's War" Series

Gary Schafer, 3 January 2016

I've just finished the latest in this series, the book "The End of All Things". I've come to a realization. There's something wrong with many of the other reviews of this series. Well, maybe not wrong, but something is surely missing.

Allow me to explain. The New York Times review of "Old Man's War" discusses the major themes of the book. But it misses one. The book is, at its core, a love story. The twist is that one of the pair of lovers is dead at the beginning of the story. I realize that other stories, such as the 1999 movie "The Mummy" also have dead people whose lovers are trying to revive them. "The Mummy" even has two people dead at the beginning. But they're bad people.

Normally, the death of the lover happens at the end. It might be one saving the other. It might be both, clinging to each other as they heroically face their demise. So this was a nice twist, in my opinion.

The story also has some excellent science fiction. No doubt about that. But the reason that the science fiction is excellent is analogous to the special effects in a good movie; you don't really notice it. As I read this book, I realized that I wanted to know how John and Jane were going to "find" each other at the end. (NOTE: That's a statement that works on several levels, too.) The technology was merely a prop, something to allow the story to flow properly. Just as it should be.

There's also the aspect of Harry Wilson. Frankly, four of the six books have Harry playing a primary role, the exceptions being"The Last Colony" and "Zoe's Tale". Harry has played a central role in just about every part of the story. Part of me thinks the series is more aptly named, "The Story of Harry Wilson, CDF". Think about it. We see him from a third person view in the first book (through John Perry's first person view), third person in the second, first person in the fifth, and third person in the sixth.

If John Perry's character were to come to life, the first thing he'd do is sit down with John and complain about the lack of air time he's getting with respect to Harry. At which point, John would point out two things. One, you're a fictional character. Two, STFU and get back in the book.

Harry, of course, would simply sit in the pages with a smug look on his face. And he didn't even need the math for it.

I've not seen these particular areas covered in any of the reviews I've read. There are some others, but I don't have the time right now. I at least wanted to cover these two points. I'm going back to my life now.

Here's a Random Fact...