I’ve read more of Scalzi’s blog than his books and he’s just a fun writer. I read Red Shirts (and reviewed it for something like CBR11) and enjoyed it despite my utter lack of Star Trek knowledge so when a friend gifted me this for Christmas, I knew I was in for a good time. And maybe reading only electronic and audiobooks was part of my book exhaustion – getting to actually curl up on the couch with this one made it all fun again.
Scalzi has created a fascinating world here. After several unprecedently technological leaps, humanity is out in the stars, colonizing alongside the rest of the universe. It is hardly a peaceful endeavor, though, and protecting the colonies and colonists requires an endless army. In the United States, recruits sign up at 65 and join at 75 so they know there’s more to it than meets the eye, but no one knows exactly what.
So we meet our hero (conveniently named John) on his 75th birthday as he returns to the recruiting office to make good on the promise he signed ten years prior. It’s an interesting scenario where this army is more interested in the life experience their recruits bring because while they’ve got the technology to fix the old, falling-apart bodies, there’s nothing high tech enough to make up for immaturity.
I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll stop there, but it’s a fun ride. It’s still “white man makes good” and (it is the first in the series so it feels too early to fully judge) there doesn’t seem to be a deeper exploration of what it means to be human in the face of all these changes. That’s my favorite thing in sci fi – how making humanity a small part of the universe in fact puts us under a microscope – but this isn’t a book for learning, it’s a book for fun. Enjoy.