Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Little Green Men

In a departure from my normal routine, I picked up _Old Man's War_ by Scalzi, and started reading the first few pages. That was a mistake. Over the next couple of evenings (I has a little girl -- 18 months at the time of this writing -- so my time can be limited) I finished the book.

According to the blurb in the book, this is Scalzi's first work of fiction. It was a pretty good entry into the cut-throat competition of the bloated Scifi literature industry...(yes, I'm being a little sarcastic).

Here's the premise. In the future, competition for galactic real-estate is fierce. Sitting down and talking about it takes time, and it's just easier to send over a few divisions and secure the planet via "aggressive negotiations." Earth's answer is to recruit OLD people. People way past their prime. But before sending these geriatric 75 year old shock-troopers to the front line, everything that makes them who they are are transformed into the body of a green skinned, high tech super trooper. And away they go.

Scalzi sets up the premise well. I have no idea what I would do as a 75-year old geriatric transformed into the body of a virile early 20-something, but his idea of nonstop green-skinned nookie sounds about right to me... And while the main character shows a sufficient amount of pluck, he is in no way one of the ├╝bermensch of the book (in fact, besides his ideas an leadership ability, he's quite average...for a supersoldier). Oh, and why are they green? It's the chlorophyll...

There was only one point in the book that bothered me. A small aspect of the plot is an incident where human oil-rig jockeys go on strike. The green-skinned supertroopers escort scabs in to get the rigs working again. The strikers go berserk, assault the troops, and feed them to some shark-like creatures. The oil rigs are retaken, and in a fit of battlefield justice, the ring-leaders are fed -- alive -- to these creatures. While one can argue the crime done was rather inhumane, the fact that the troops perpetuated this action (and it seems had some sort of official license) smacks less of "justice" and more "revenge." But then a long murder trial wouldn't be as kewl and wouldn't show what kind of bad-asses we're dealing with, I suppose...

Next up, more Star Wars...

1 comment:

Bryon said...

I enjoyed Old Man's War as well (though I remember questioning the oil rig incident as well).

I think OMW is Scalzi's first published fiction book, but Agent To The Stars was his first written (and made available online). It's in print now, but still available for free here: http://scalzi.com/agent/ (And as an interesting tidbit, the guy from the Penny Arcade comic did the book's cover.) It's a cute story, but not of the same quality as OMW.

The follow up books to OMW look interesting, but I haven't checked them out yet.